American Go E-Journal » Columns

Redmond on Go Seigen vs Kitani, The Tengen Game, and AlphaGo vs The World

Saturday July 4, 2020

Tune in to the AGA’s Twitch channel at 8p Sunday night for Part 2 of Michael Redmond 9Ps live commentary on the 1939 game between Go Seigen and his friend and rival Kitani Minoru. If you need your Redmond fix sooner, not to worry, check out the latest Redmond Review featuring The Tengen Game between Honinbo Dosaku and Yasui Santetsu, which originally aired back on May 3. “What a treat!” says Sev.

And Redmond’s brand-new series, AlphaGo vs. The World — in which he and AlphaGo to Zero co-author Chris Garlock do short reviews of the 2016-17 Master vs human games — is now up to Game 11. “Some really beautiful moves by white in this great game,” says Rory Mitchell. “The placement of stones looks so calm, light, and impressive. Thanks so much for the video!”

Also, for the French Redmond fans, jonathan4055 has just posted subtitles in French for Redmond’s recent AlphaGo to Zero: Revisiting AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol, Game 2 commentary. And of course there’s always Redmond’s YouTube channel, as well.

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The Power Report: Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei; Tournaments canceled; Retirement: Honda Kunihisa

Wednesday July 1, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei

   The play-off to decide the challenger for the 45th Gosei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on June 29. Taking white, Ichiriki Ryo 8P beat Cho U 9P by 4.5 points, so he will make his first Gosei challenge. The first game with Hane Naoki Gosei will be played on July 18.

Tournaments canceled

   The Nihon Ki-in has announced that two Japanese-sponsored international tournament have been cancelled for this year. They are the World Go Championship 2020 and the Senko Cup World Go Women’s Strongest Player 2020. These tournaments had already been postponed and it had been hoped to hold them in the autumn, but that came to look less and less feasible. 

Retirement: Honda Kunihisa

   Honda Kunihisa 9P of the Kansai Ki-in retired as of June 15, which was his 75th birthday. Born in Ishikawa Prefecture, he became a disciple of Hashimoto Utaro 9P and qualified for 1-dan in 1961. He reached 9-dan in 1973. Back in the late Showa period (1926-89), he was one of the mainstays of the Kansai Ki-in. He was also known as probably the least talkative player in the go world. He won the rating tournament four times, the Kansai Ki-in No. One Position tournament four times, and the 31st NHK Cup in 1984. He played in the Kisei leagues three times, the Meijin League seven times, and the Honinbo League once. He also won a number of Kansai Ki-in prizes.

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The Power Report: Iyama extends lead in Meijin League; Kisei S League; Suzuki to challenge for Women’s Hollyhock Cup

Tuesday June 30, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama extends lead in Meijin League

   With Iyama maintainaing his unbeaten record in the 45th Meijin League, it’s looking more and more as if he will be the one to challenge the new Meijin, Shibano Toramaru. Shibano has won their only previous title match, but he is finding Iyama a different proposition in two-day games. We shouldn’t make any predictions, however, as Ichiriki Ryo is following hard on Iyama’s heels with just one loss. Recent results follow. Incidentally, Iyama’s win below is his ninth in a winning streak that started on March 5.

(June 15) Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by 3.5 points.

(June 18) Kyo Kagen 8P (W) beat Rin Kanketsu 8P by resig.

(June 25) Iyama Yuta Kisei (B) beat Kyo Kagen by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki Gosei by resig.; Ichiriki (B) beat Rin Kanketsu 8P by resig.

Kisei S League

   The S League in the 45th Kisei tournament completed its first round with the games below.

(June 18) Kono Rin (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.

(June 22) Kyo Kagen 8P (W) beat Murakami Daisuke Judan by resig.

Suzuki to challenge for Women’s Hollyhock Cup

   Suzuki Ayumi, holder of the Women’s Kisei title, won the play-off to decide the challenger to Fujisawa Rina for the 7th Hollyhock Cup. At the age of 36, she seems to be enjoying a renaissance in her career. Her opponent in the play-off was the 23-year-old Iwata Saeka 1P, who is a new name to me. Though born in Tokyo and a disciple of Ishida Yoshio, she is a member of the Kansai Ki-in. She let slip her first chance at glory.

Semifinals (June 20) Suzuki Ayumi, Women’s Kisei, (B) beat Xie Yimin 6P by half a point; Iwata Saeka 1P (W) beat Nyu Eiko 2P by half a point.

Final (June 21) Suzuki (W) beat Iwata by resig. 

Tomorrow: Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei; Tournaments canceled; Retirement: Honda Kunihisa

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The Power Report: Shibano takes Judan title, sets new records; Iyama extends lead in Honinbo title match; Sumire’s “second start” improves on her first

Monday June 29, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano takes Judan title, sets new records

   Even though professional go resumed on June 1, it took over two weeks for the 58th Judan title match, which had been interrupted with the score tied at 1-1, to get underway again, so in the end there was a break of close to three months. On June 17, the third game was finally played at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo. Taking white, the challenger, Shibano Toramaru Meijin, forced Murakawa Daisuke Judan to resign after 176 moves. 

   The fourth game was held at the same venue on June 26. Playing black, Shibano won by resignation after 141 moves. This gave him his third concurrent title, to go with the Meijin and Oza titles, and broke some records set by Iyama Yuta. At 20 years seven months, he is the youngest player to secure a triple crown, the previous record being Iyama’s 23 years one month. Shibano achieved this feat five years nine months, after becoming a professional; that put a big dent in the previous speed record, Iyama’s ten years three months. 

Iyama extends lead in Honinbo title match

   I gave the result of the second game of the 75th Honinbo title match in my previous report (June 22), but I have some supplementary information, so please bear with me. The game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on June 13 & 14, having been transferred from the originally scheduled venue, the Kokura Castle Garden in Kita-Kyushu City, because of a recent resurgence of the coronavirus in that city. It is the first Honinbo title game to be held at the Ki-in for 45 years. The last such game was the 7th game of the 30th title match. As it happened, the referee for this game was Ishida Yoshio, also known as 24th Honinbo Shuho, and he played in the 1975 game, beating Sakata Eio and winning the Honinbo title for the 5th year in a row. 

   As with Game One, there were no party or other related events, though what was called a “mini” press conference was held. Iyama took a small lead in the middle-game fighting and used great skill to convert this into a solid lead. Shibano resigned after 143 moves.

   The third game was played at the originally scheduled venue of the Takarazuka Hotel, Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture. Taking white, Iyama played positively in the opening and scored another convincing win. Shibano resigned after move 172. This was Iyama’s third one-sided win in a row, so Shibano’s Honinbo challenge seems to be in bad trouble. 

Sumire’s “second start” improves on her first 

   Japan’s youngest professional player, eleven-year-old Nakamura Sumire 1P, had a very successful first year, scoring 24 wins to 17 losses in 2019 and posting the best winning percentage for a 1-dan. Things had been a little tougher for her this year, though her record of 7-10 before Covid-19 put a stop to professional go, was nothing to be ashamed of for a new 1-dan. The enforced break does not seem to have affected her form and she has already evened her score for the year. On June 18, taking black, she beat Sano Takatsugu 8P by resignation after 141 moves in Preliminary C in the 69th Oza tournament. This was her first official game since April 6 and was played at the Kansai HQ of the Nihon Ki-in. On June 25, taking white, she beat Ms. Deguchi Mariko 1P in the final round of the preliminary tournament for the 5th Senko Cup by half a point. This secured her a seat in the main tournament (the best 16). Deguchi being her senior, this game was played on her home ground, the Kansai Ki-in. On June 29, Sumire (W) beat Araki Issei 4P by 6.5 points in Preliminary B of the 30th Ryusei tournament. Araki is a fellow member of the Nihon Ki-in’s Kansai HQ, so that is where the game was played. Just for the record, Sumire’s score to date is 27-17. Three straight wins is a great way to get back into the swing of across-the-board. Sano 8P commented that he had checked out some of the games Sumire played on the net during the enforced break and he got the impression her game was maturing. To his cost, he was able to confirm this.

Tomorrow: Iyama extends lead in Meijin League; Kisei S League; Suzuki to challenge for Women’s Hollyhock Cup

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AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol Game 2, revisited, plus AlphaGo vs. The World

Sunday June 28, 2020

If you missed the live commentary — originally aired on May 17 on Twitch — by Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock on the second game of the historic 2016 AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol match, it’s now been released on the AGA’s YouTube channel. Click here to check it out. “Those days of Lee Sedol and you two doing the commentary were some of the most enjoyable times during that AlphaGo match,” said Mike Young. “I got really excited about Go for awhile.”

While there was no live broadcast this Sunday, Redmond and Garlock will return on Sunday July 5 at 8 PM EDT on AGA Twitch. Meanwhile, you can check out their new AlphaGo vs. The World series playlist, with new releases of commentaries on the AlphaGo Master games every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 11 AM EDT.

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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #15

Friday June 26, 2020

By William Cobb

I was chatting with the young man to whom I am teaching go the other day and I remarked that he was beginning to make a lot more plays that were like those of a real go player. His reply was that that might be true but in fact he felt like most of the time he had no idea what was going on.  It struck me immediately that I feel that way a lot of the time also. Moreover, often when I did think I knew what was going on I was mistaken. This feeling of being caught up in a rapidly shifting and somewhat puzzling situation is an inescapable characteristic of the game of go. This, of course, is another of the many ways in which playing go is like living life. Hopefully, with time and experience you begin to get some idea of what is going on in life. You recognize more of the actual opportunities facing you and you get a more realistic idea of what you are likely to be able to do in particular situations. Plus you also develop a better sense of what to expect from others.

Lately we’ve all been dealing with a host of realities we had not really been expecting though we knew such things were possible. It is very frustrating, not unlike playing an even game against a player who is much stronger than you. The new restrictions on living are too much like being told you can play a game of go but you have to hold the stones two inches above the board, drop them, and not move them afterwards. It would be hard to enjoy playing that way just as it is hard to enjoying living the way we have to now. Actually, the present situation has made playing go seem more like a very orderly activity—certainly one that involves virtually no frustrations. The lack of clarity about what is really going on in a game is now rather comforting in comparison with just living life.

photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

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50 years aGO — June 1970

Thursday June 25, 2020

Keith Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

On June 4 the Nihon Kiin Igo Festival was held.  There were a variety of events, but the greatest excitement was created by the 2nd place finish in the All-Japan Ladies Amateur Championship of an 11-year-old prodigy, Ashida Isoko (pictured)  She would enter the pro ranks in 1975. Today she’s a 6d player with Kansai Ki’in. Her biggest tournament victory so far was taking 1st place in the Kakusei in 1985.

On June 9, veteran player Hashimoto Utaro completed his victory in the Asahi Pro Best Ten (picture) with three straight wins over Kato Masao. (game records: Game 1; Game 2; Game 3).  He held off other young players – Rin Kaiho, Ishida Yoshio and Otake Hideo in the course of this triumph.

Go Review reports that William Pinckard returned to Japan and was furthering his go studies at Iwamoto’s Go Salon and had achieved 2 dan.

Finally, on June 14, the North American Honinbo match was held via telephone.  New York’s Takao Matsuda turned back the challenge of the West Coast’s Shigeo Matsubara.

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The Power Report: Korea dominates opening rounds of 25th LG Cup; Iyama makes good start Honinbo defence; Iyama leads Meijin League; Kisei S League starts

Monday June 22, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Korea dominates opening rounds of 25th LG Cup

After a gap of two months caused by the shutdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19, professional go activity resumed in Japan in June with the holding of two major events. On June 1, the 25th LG Cup King of Go, a Korean-sponsored international tournament, started its opening round. With international travel restrictions still in effect throughout north Asia, the games were played on the Net. Moreover, the 16 games were spread over three days, presumably to ensure there was no overcrowding in the local venues. This year Korean players did well in the international qualifying tournament, also held on the Net, so half of the 32 players in the first round were Korean. They were joined by nine players from China, five from Japan, and two from Chinese Taipei. Each game featured a Korean player. With 18 players last year, China scored ten wins in the first round; with two fewer players, Korea did almost as well this year, winning nine games. Japan had two more players than last year, thanks to Son Makoto and Onishi Ryuhei winning seats in the qualifying tournament, but, like Chinese Taipei, were unable to pick up a win. Onishi came closest, losing by just half a point. As an elementary-school pupil, Onishi spent some time studying in a Korean dojo, and he remembered that his opponent, Lee Taehyun, often reviewed his games for him.

   In the second round, Korea won six games to China’s two, but one of the Chinese wins went to Ke Jie, so Korea won’t be counting its chickens just yet. The next round will be played in November.

   Games were played at the headquarters of the respective go associations. Players were spread out to maintain social distancing and there were extra cameras, so that the opposing countries could monitor the playing room. With no opponent on the other side of the go board, players were able to dispense with their masks. The time allowance is three hours each, followed by byo-yomi of 45 seconds x five times. Komi is 6.5. There is no break for lunch.

Round 1

(June 1)  Byun Sangil 9P (Korea) (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 9P (Japan) by resig.; Kang Dongyun 9P (Korea) (W) beat Kyo Kagen 8P (Japan) by resig.; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.; Lee Donghoon 9P (Korea) (B) beat Son Makoto 7P (Japan) by resig.; Lee Taehyun 7P (Korea) (B) beat Onishi Ryuhei 5P (Japan) by half a point; Shin Minjoon 9P (Korea) (B) beat Wang Yuanjun 9P (Chinese Taipei) by resig.

(June 2) Tang Weixing 9P (China) (B) beat Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) by resig.; Lian Xiao 9P (China) (B) beat Lee Younggu 9P (Korea) by resig.; Yang Dingxin 9P  (China) (B) beat Seol Hyunjoon 5P (Korea) by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (B) beat Park Kunho 4P (Korea) by resig.; Hong Kipyo 8P (Korea) (B) beat Li Xuanhao 5P by resig.

(June 3) Zhao Chenyu 8P (B) beat Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) by resig.; Ding Hao 5P (China) (W) beat Park Seunghwa 8P (Korea) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (W) beat Fan Yunro 8P (China) by resig.; Gu Jihao 9P (China) (W) beat Kim Sanghyun 2P (Korea) by 4.5 points.

Round 2 (June 5, 8)

(June 5) Kang (W) beat Tang by resig.; Lee (B) beat Lian by resig.; Shin Minjoon (B) beat Ding by resig.; Yang (W) beat Lee by resig.

(June 8) Ke (W) beat Shin Jinseo by resig.; Park (W) beat Hong by resig.; Byun (W) beat Zhao by resig.; Weon (W) beat Gu by 1.5 points. 

Taking Shibano’s temperature

   If official go activity as such in Japan resumed on June 1 with the LG Cup Net games, the first pre-virus old-style face-to-face game was played on June 2 and 3. This was the first game of the 75th Honinbo title match and, despite fears about too many unplayed title games piling up, it was only a couple of weeks behind schedule. It was held, as originally planned, at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, but minus all the “trimmings.” Usually securing a title-match game is a coup for a provincial city or town, and the local dignitaries and notable go players do their best to make a big occasion of it. They stage an elaborate welcome party for the players and their large “entourage” of go officials and reporters and also hold side events, such as tournaments for children, public commentaries on the title game, and sightseeing for the players. None of that took place this time, but at least the face-to-face game got played, though everyone wore masks and had their temperatures checked. 

Iyama makes good start Honinbo defence

   Shibano drew black in the nigiri, but the game was dominated by Iyama. He showed excellent judgment in deciding that he could afford to sacrifice a large group. Shibano resigned after 182 moves.

   The second game was originally scheduled to be held in the Kokura Castle Garden in Kita-Kyushu City, but it was switched to the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo (I haven’t seen an explanation of the reason). It was played on June 13 and 14; taking black, Iyama won by resignation after 143 moves.

   The third game will be played at the Takarazuka Hotel in Takarazuka City on June 22 and 23.

Iyama leads Meijin League

   Iyama Yuta and Shibano Toramaru have just started their first best-of-seven title match, but the chances look good there will a second one in the autumn, as Iyama, on 5-0, has kept his sole lead in the 45th Meijin League. At present, the main threat to him would seem to be Ichiriki Ryo 8P, the only player with only one loss. However, he still has four games to go and his loss was to Iyama, so he will need outside help to catch up. Incidentally, after losing every game in the Honinbo League, Yamashita finally picked up his first win in the Meijin League. Results since my last report follow. 

(June 4) Hane Naoki Gosei (W) beat Rin Kanketsu 8P by 5.5 points. 

(June 8) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by 11.5 points; Iyama Yuta Kisei (W) beat Hane by resig.

(June 11) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Kyo Kagen 8P by half a point. 

Kisei S League starts   

   The first game in the 45th Kisei S League was played on June 11. It was between the players promoted from the 44th A League. Ichiriki Ryo (W) beat Cho U by resig.

Retirement

Sanno Hirotaka 9P retired as of May 29. He was born on May 29, 1940 in Hiroshima Prefecture. In 1952, he became a disciple of Segoe Kensaku, Hon. 9P. He made 1-dan in 1957 and reached 9-dan in 1979. He reached the landmark of 500 wins in 2006. He made instruction tours of Europe and the US in 1964. He is a fan of Shusaku and contributed a number of game commentaries to “Invincible.”

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Tonight: Redmond on Mutsuura Yuta 7P vs Iyama Yuta Kisei, Honinbo, Tengen (9P)

Sunday June 14, 2020

Tune in to the AGA’s Twitch channel at 8p tonight for Michael Redmond 9Ps live commentary on the “Golden Panda Cup” tournament game between Mutsuura Yuta 7P and Iyama Yuta Kisei, Honinbo, Tengen (9P). Hosted by Pandanet, the tournament setup is similar to Nongshim in that there are three teams of five players, and player 1 from team A plays team B, winner plays team C, etc. with the winning player continuing into the next round and losing teams supplying the next player. Mutsuura was a player in the Shibano (Meijin, Oza) team and Iyama was the captain of the Iyama team. This was game 5 of the tournament, and Mutsuura 7P already had 3 wins. He took out former Gosei Kyo Kagen in round 2, and continued to beat Xie Imin and Fujisawa Rina in 3rd and 4th rounds. The Iyama and Ichiriki teams had lost two players each while the Shibano team was untouched. “The Iyama team apparently figured they needed their top player to stop Mutsuura and maybe hoped Iyama could take it away from there,” says Redmond. After winning this game Mutuura was the MVP, called the Golden Panda in this tournament.

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Redmond launches new AlphaGo video commentary series

Monday June 8, 2020

In the first days of 2017, rumors started to ricochet around the online go community. A mysterious online player had been making huge waves by defeating dozens of top professionals on go sites in Asia in recent days. “Master” first appeared on December 29, 2016, registering from Korea. Achieving 30 consecutive wins against many former and current world go champions, Master defeated Park Junghwan four times and Ke Jie twice. After that, Master appeared on a different go site and logged another 30 consecutive wins. That made it 60 games in a row with no losses. Was AlphaGo the Master?

Michael Redmond had been on holiday when the games were being played but word had of course spread swiftly through the professional community about the mysterious online player racking up win after win. “That kind of record was simply mindblowing,” he says, “and even before I got the game files off the internet it was clear that something new was happening. Anyone – or anything – that could win 60 straight games could probably give a 2-stone handicap, and these were top professionals who were losing to a player no-one had ever heard of.” The 60 Master games were not only evidence that AlphaGo had attained a whole new level of play, but an incredibly rich “treasure trove for professionals,” says Redmond.

Working again with American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock, Redmond is launching a new series of videos in which he’ll focus on the key points of each of the 60 Master games in brief videos, most of which will be 15 minutes or less. The commentaries will also be the basis for Volume 2 of AlphaGo to Zero: The Complete Games, “as well as a chance to introduce viewers to the professional go players who tackled Master,” notes Garlock.

The first video will be released on Tuesday, June 9 on Redmond’s YouTube channel and the series will be linked on the AGA’s YouTube channel  as well. Stephen Hu is producing the series.

The human player in this first game is 15-year-old Pan Tingyu 1P, who finished #1 in the Chinese professional qualification tournament in 2015. Pan has Black and plays a modern version of the mini-Chinese, and AlphaGo shows a new move in the upper left corner, which has since become the standard move for White in the Chinese opening pattern.

NOTE: The AlphaGo vs AlphaGo series, now up to Game 41, will continue through Game 55. 

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