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The Janice Kim Files: Email Bankruptcy & The Parking Lot Incident

Monday September 14, 2015

by Janice Kim 3P

Despite my well-known penchant for pompous, florid, and illiterate writing for comedic effect, it is literally true that I declared email bankruptcy several years ago. For the most part I let the bulk of all communication go by, reserving only ever-changing email addresses and phone numbers for specific day-to-day purposes, like I think I’m Tom Cruise who thinks he’s a super spy.

Even with filtering out spam and junk mail, I had just a hair under 28,000 emails in my inbox when I screwed my courage to the sticking point and went through them all in one blur of a Labor Day weekend. Doubtless some were overlooked, but I was touched by the emails I’ve received from people I’ve met in the go community, and it fills me with regret that many people wrote me more than once, and some wrote me only once, and all were doubtless confused why I did not answer. Perhaps I should also have been moved by the numerous overlooked opportunities for self-help, gainful employment or contribution to society in these emails, but that’s one of the beauties of go. One learns not to value oneself based on short-term specific results in a shifting, highly complex landscape involving other players.

[link]

Go teaches us that excuses are merely tools we use to remain at a plateau, but in sifting back through years of thoughtful emails from wonderful people that went unanswered, I noted that the date of the declaration of email bankruptcy appears to be somewhat co-related to the date in which I lost the connection, could not escape, and appeared to not be able to live except by repeatedly playing elsewhere through ko, when I was severely beaten up in a parking lot. It was not fatal, as I am fine now, but I can speak to the Asian truth of nearly dying of shame and embarrassment, why that’s not as peculiar and ridiculous as it may sound, even if meant literally. As you may have gleaned by reading previous entries of the Janice Kim files, it may also have something to do with constantly tripping over a super-selective eidetic memory. I will disavow any knowledge of this message, and it will self-destruct in five seconds. Meanwhile, here’s my long-promised actual piece with go diagrams, incorporating my parking lot incident in the way I was thinking about it.

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The Power Report, Special Edition: Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp/Meijin match

Thursday September 10, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.09.06_Meijin-Iyama-Takao-review-1st-game

Last week, as Tokyo correspondent for the American Go E-Journal, I was invited to attend some special events held in connection with the Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp and the Meijin title match (at right). Here is my report.

Teaching Game: This year’s summer camp, which has become an annual event at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, was held for two weeks, from Friday, August 21, to Thursday, September 3. The camp had a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with 16 players of both sexes from 13 countries taking part and go ranks ranging from around 3-dan to double-digit kyu. One point that struck me was that, besides the Western countries you might expect, there were also participants from places like Hong Kong, China, and Singapore where there’s no shortage of local instructors. Word-of-mouth on this event must be good.

There was a full program, with morning and afternoon sessions every day. The 
program included sessions studying life-and-death and tesuji problems, lectures and simuls by professionals, goodwill matches with Japanese amateurs, and also a league tournament. A repeat participant, Michael Webster of England, was taken on as an intern at the Nihon Ki-in beforehand to help plan the camp; he also selected the life-and-death problems, including problems of various levels to cater for everyone. All the participants I got to speak to were happy with what they called a very enjoyable camp. The double-digit kyu-player referred to above told me that he was actually a virtual beginner but that he had a great time at the camp and that his motivation was now very high.


2015.09.09_NHK-Redmond-game-commentary.jpgThe event I was invited to attend was a teaching game played from 
noon to about two o’clock on Wednesday, September 2. This game was a reward for the winner of the camp league, who was Tyler Oyakawa 3D of the US. The professional was Fujisawa Rina 3P, holder of the Women’s Honinbo title and, at just 16, the great hope of women’s go in Japan.  Coincidentally, another American did a simultaneous public commentary in the same room: this was Michael Redmond 9P, who was assisted by his charming elder daughter Emi, who is about 1-dan amateur. Emi speaks three languages, Japanese, Chinese, and English; she is in her final year at Sophia University (Jochi) in Tokyo, and she is also interested in helping to spread go. The game, on three stones, was a relatively peaceful one because, for the most part, Rina did not, in Michael’s words (in conversation later), “play wildly, as I would have done.” If the handicap is correct, the pro can expect to catch up in the endgame, and this seemed to be Rina’s strategy; she ended up getting a good lead, however, leading Tyler to resign.

I found the commentary very instructive and so asked Michael to write it up f
or the E-Journal. He cheerfully complied, so you can click on his commentary here. After having the bright idea of making this request, I just sat back and enjoyed the game instead of taking notes. Just for the record, the Nihon Ki-in is also holding a winter camp this year, but it is of a different nature. It is open to go educators and instructors from the ASEAN countries, seven of which have go associations: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The camp will be mainly concerned with teaching and propagation methods.

Clash of the Honorary Meijins: In the afternoon on Wednesday, we were all invited to attend a special event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Asahi Meijin title and starting at 3:30. This was a public game between the only two players to have qualified as Honorary Meijin, Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi. Kobayashi has already assumed the title, as he turned 60 three years ago, but Cho Chikun is 59, so it’s not yet official for him. The criterion is winning the title five times in a row or ten times overall. Cho won the 5th to 9th titles, thus qualifying one way, then almost qualifying the other when he won the 21st to 24th titles. Kobayashi won the 10th title, then had a long run lasting from the 13th to the 19th.

2015.09.09_NHK-pro-game-commentary-600x450.jpgThis game was played in the Wisteria Room of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, informally known as just the Chinzanso, where the Meijin title match between Iyama Yuta and Takao Shinji was due to start the following day. The main commentator was 24th Honinbo Shuho, otherwise known as Ishida Yoshio 9P, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, among others. Prominent Meijins of the past in the audience, such as Otake Hideo, Rin Kaiho, Takemiya Masaki, and the incumbent, Iyama Yuta, were also called up on stage for their comments. Several people commented on how serious both Cho and Kobayashi seemed about the game. (As is usual with these public games, there were playing on the same stage as the commentary, but in theory the players are too absorbed in the game to pay attention to what is being said. That’s the theory, anyway.) In the past, these two were great rivals, especially in the 80s. Cho achieved success earlier and has outstripped Kobayashi (74 titles to 59); however, Kobayashi wrested his big titles, the Kisei and the Meijin, from the hands of Cho. The biggest regret of Kobayashi’s career is undoubtedly three successive Honinbo challenges rebuffed by Cho. Cho and Kobayashi hold the record for the most games between two players, at 129. We didn’t get an up-to-date breakdown at the public commentary, but someone did say that it was 63 wins each a couple of years ago (by the way, this game does not count, as it was unofficial).

As usual with these two, the game was a good contest and entertained the stan
ding-room-only audience. Takemiya commented: “The game is so fierce you’d think there was a big prize at stake. Each one thinks, this is the one player I don’t want to lose to.” Iyama also expressed admiration for their fighting spirit. The highlight of the game was an attack on a weak group launched by Kobayashi (White) on move 108. Everyone thought Cho was in trouble, but he came up with a clever counter that linked up his weak group at the cost of a two-stone sacrifice. At this point, Cho was ahead, but Kobayashi pulled off an upset in the endgame while Cho was in byo-yomi. Kobayashi ended up winning by 1.5 points.After the game–Kobayashi: “Black 109 was the kind of move you expect from Cho.” Cho: “Next year I can call myself Honorary Meijin, but forget about this honorary stuff. I’m going to become the real Meijin.”

Actually the game review was the most entertaining part of the event. Cho is 
a compulsive joker; you rarely hear a straight line from him. On the stage, he was like a runaway train. Poor Ishida in particular was the butt of his humor, with comments like, “I may play badly sometimes, but not badly enough to lose to Ishida.” Cho’s fellow pros take his humor in their stride, and Ishida kept trying to review the game with Kobayashi although drowned out by Cho. A number of times, Cho said to the audience: “Do you have any idea what those guys are going on about? I don’t.“   He also reproached Ishida with not giving his clever move at 109 adequate appreciation at the time, so he was certainly listening to the public commentary.

The eve party: In Japan, there’s a strong tradition of holding parties on the eve of major events. There’s a special word for it, “zenyasai” or “night-before festival.” The tradition is honored in go, and these parties are big events (about 240 people attended on Wednesday), especially for games played away from the major cities. They are like showcases for the local go community. The summer camp group was also invited to the eve party held from 6 pm. on the 2nd. Persons in attendance ranged from the heavies of the go world to ordinary go fans who apply by postcard for invitations.

At the party there were the usual speeches and, of more interest, short speeches by the players expressing their resolve for the match. Takao: “This year my results have been bad and I have a minus record. I hear it’s the first time ever the Meijin challenger has had a minus record, so I have set an unprecedented record. Just between you and me, it’s because I have staked everything on the Meijin title, so at present things are proceeding according to my scenario. I also have a scenario for after this, but it’s a secret. It’s not so often in a lifetime that you get to play a best-of-seven, so this is a valuable period for me. It’s important for me.” Iyama’s reply: “I don’t know what kind of scenario Takao Sensei is writing, but the Meijin is a special title. This title alone I can’t hand over.”        

Among the guests appearing on stage was Michael Redmond, who, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, did a public commentary on the game on Friday afternoon. On Thursday morning, the summer-camp participants were invited to watch the start of the game in the playing room.

photos courtesy Tom Urasoe, Nihon Ki-in Overseas Dept. 

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The Power Report (3): Women’s Meijin League; Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense; Vacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled

Wednesday September 9, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Women’s Meijin League: The final game in the first round of the new league was played on August 28. Aoki Kikuyo 8P (W, at right) beat Okuda 2015.09.07_Aoki KikuyoAya 3P by 7.5 points. On September 3, Okuda recovered from her bad start, beating Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) by 5.5 points. On the same day, Mannami Nao 3P (W) improved her score to 2-0 by beating Kato Keiko 6P by 6.5 points.

Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense: The first game of the 40th Meijin best-of-seven was played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on September 3 and 4. Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 180 moves. Iyama owed his victory to his skillful play in rescuing a group under attack. Iyama had given Takao this attack as compensation for winning a large ko. After the game, the challenger Takao Shinji 9P commented that perhaps his positional judgment had been a little slack. He said that he played a little mildly in a couple of areas because he thought he was ahead when he may not have been. The second game will be played on September 17 and 18.

2015.09.07_Motoki-KatsuyaVacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled: The following four players have won seats in the 71st Honinbo League, due to start in October. They are Takao Shinji Judan, Yo Seiki 8P, Ichiriki Ryo 7P, and Motoki Katsuya 3P (left). The first two, Takao and Yo, won their way back in immediately after dropping out of the previous league. The other two, Ichiriki (aged 18) and Motoki (aged 20), will be making their debuts. Motoki earned promotion to 7-dan for his feat. Ichiriki set a record for youngest player in the Kisei league when he was sixteen years nine months; he is now 18 years two months, the second-youngest player to win a seat in the Honinbo league. He fell just nine days short of breaking the record set by Yo Seiki last year.

Promotions
To 8-dan: Miyagawa Fumihiko (150 wins) (as of August 28). Miyagawa, born on February 18, 1972, is a disciple of Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P; he is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He also serves as a director of the Nihon Ki-in.
To 7-dan: Motoki Katsuya 3P (for winning a place in the 71st Honinbo league; as of September 4)

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The Power Report (2): Yamashita Keigo wins S League; Kyo wins Kisei C League

Tuesday September 8, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei Leagues Updates2015.09.07_Yamashita-Keigo-67th-Honinbo

Yamashita Keigo wins S League: Three important games in the 40th Kisei S League were played recently. The results were: (August 27) Murakawa Daisuke Oza (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. (September 3) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 2.5 points; Murakawa (W) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resig. Yamashita (right) finished the league with 4-1, securing first place and a seat in the final play-off to decide the challenger. Since he will start this play-off with a one-win advantage, there’s a good chance we will see the third successive Kisei title match between him and Iyama. Thanks to his win, Murakawa, who ended on 3-2, earned a seat in the knock-out tournament — he goes directly into the semifinal. Yoda finished with the same score, but was ranked fourth to Murakawa’s second, so he drops to third place. Yoda’s loss to Yamashita was probably his most expensive of the year. One game is still to be played in the final round, so we do not know yet who will drop out. The final games in the B Leagues were also played on the 3rd. Awaji Shuzo 9P won the B1 league with a 5-2 score and Yamada Kimio 9P the B2 League, also with 5-2. There will be a play-off between these two to decide the overall B League winner. The winner will join the knock-out tournament at the bottom rung (see the end of the next item).

Kyo wins Kisei C League: After four rounds in the 40th Kisei C League, there were only two players with undefeated records; they were Kyo Kagen 3P and Akiyama Jiro 9P. The game between them in the final round, played on August 20, was in effect a play-off to decide the league winner though this league is nominally a Swiss System. The 17-year-old Kyo (not 15, as I wrote in my previous report; just for the record, he will be 18 on September 19) won this game, taking black, by resignation. This earned him a place in the knock-out tournament to decide the challenger and (assuming he doesn’t become the Kisei challenger) promotion to one of the B Leagues next year. Kyo: “The new league system for the Kisei tournament encourages young players. I aim to be the challenger.” Incidentally, Kyo is leading the most-wins list with 32 wins to six losses (next is Yamashita Keigo on 29-19, followed by Ichiriki Ryo on 27-13). Recently, there have been more and more signs that Kyo may be the strongest teenager in Japan. To summarize the knock-out stage of the Kisei tournament: The C League winner, Kyo Kagen, will play the overall B League winner (Awaji or Yamada); the winner then plays the winner of the A League, Kono Rin; the winner of this game then plays the S League number two, Murakawa; the winner then joins the final match with Yamashita to decide the challenger.
Tomorrow: Women’s Meijin League; Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense; Vacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled

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The Power Report (1): Yi Sedol repeats in TV Asia Cup; Yuki reaches Tengen final; Oza semifinal; Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Agon Kiriyama semifinal

Monday September 7, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Yi Sedol repeats in TV Asia Cup: 
Our previous report took this tournament as far as the first semifinal, in which Park Junghwan 9P (B)2015.09.07_Lee-Sedol-27th-Asian-TV-Cup-300x418 of Korea beat his compatriot Lee Donghun 5P by resig. In the second semifinal, played on August 27, Lee Sedol 9P of Korea, made his first appearance; as the previous winner, he was seeded. Lee (B) beat Yang Dingxin 3P of China by resig. In the final, Lee (B) beat Park by resig., winning this title for the second year in a row and the fourth time overall. This matches the record of Takemiya Masaki, who won the first four titles. By my count, this is Lee’s 17th international title, not counting his jubango win. Though he is rated the world’s number one, Park has been unable to win this tournament in five appearances. For more on this tournament, click here for Go Game Guru’s report, with more photos and game records.

Yuki reaches Tengen final: The second semifinal of the 41st Tengen tournament was held on August 24. Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) came out ahead in an endgame contest, beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points. He will play Iyama Yuta in the final to decide the challenger to Takao Shinji.

Oza semifinal: The second semifinal of the 63rd Oza tournament was played on August 24. Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by 2.5 points. He will meet Iyama Yuta in the final, scheduled for September 7.  2015.09.06_Xie reviewing the play-offThis will be the first game between the two. Whoever wins, the title match will be an all-Kansai affair, as the titleholder is Murakawa Daisuke of the Kansai Ki-in.

Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo: In the play-off to decide the challenger to Fujisawa Rina for the 34th Women’s Honinbo title, held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 27, Xie Yimin (left), Women’s Meijin and Kisei, (W) defeated Chinen Kaori 4P by resig. Xie will challenge for the title she lost to Mukai Chiaki two years ago (Fujisawa took it from Mukai last year). Xie has an even record, 2-2, against Fujisawa in official games, but this will be their first series. The best-of-five starts on October 8.

Agon Kiriyama semifinal: In the first semifinal of the 22nd Agon Kiriyama Cup, Iyama Yuta (B) beat Son Makoto 3P by 7.5 points, as already reported. The second semifinal was held on August 31 between Yo Seiki 7P and Kyo Kagen 3P. It was held on Yo’s home ground of the Kansai Ki-in, with Kyo traveling from Tokyo. Apparently these two are good friends, often putting each other up when they travel for games, but on the morning of this game there was no chitchat. Kyo (W) won the game by resignation. The final will be played on October 10.  This is the third tournament final that Iyama has qualified for recently.
Tomorrow: Yamashita Keigo wins S League; Kyo wins Kisei C League

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Why We Play: Kevin Hwang 3D

Friday September 4, 2015

Age: 322015.09.03_Kevin-Hwang
Years playing go: 12
Lives in: Dallas, Texas

“Go is possibly one of the last things in this world that involves long-form communication. In a society of five-second videos and messages, go is one of the few opportunities you have to sit down with someone and do something for at least 30 minutes. That chance to interact, to discuss, and to mutually change one another, is what I like most about go.” photo by Phil Straus

First in a series; if you’d like to participate, tell us your favorite thing about the game of go, include your name, age, how long you’ve played go and where you live, and email to journal@usgo.org. Be sure to include a current photo!

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The Power Report (2): 28th Women’s Meijin League starts; Japan eliminated from TV Asia Cup; New women’s tournament with biggest prize; Death of Cho Chikun’s wife

Tuesday September 1, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.09.01_Fujisawa Rina

28th Women’s Meijin League starts: The first two games in the 28th Women’s Meijin League were played on August 20. The main interest this year is the debut of Fujisawa Rina (right) in the league. The sixteen-year-old lived up to expectations, defeating Kato Keiko 6P in her opening game. Taking black, Fujisawa forced a resignation. In the other game, Mannami Nao 3P (W) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by resignation. Xie Yimin has held this title for nine years in a row.

2015.09.01_Lee Donghun 5PJapan eliminated from TV Asia Cup: The opening round (three games) and the first semifinal of the 27th TV Asia Cup have been played in Seoul. Unfortunately for Japan, its representatives have already been eliminated, so the tournament is now a contest between China and Korea. On August 25, the first two games in Round One were played. Lee Donghun 5P (Korea, at left) (W) beat Ida Atsushi 8P (Japan) by resignation. In the second game, Park Junghwan 9P of Korea (B) beat Liao Xingwen 5P (China) by resignation. The final game of this round was played on the morning of August 26. Yang Dingxin 3P (China) (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P (Japan) by half a point. In the afternoon, the first semifinal was played, with Park (W) beating Lee by resignation.  The second semifinal will be played on August 27. Yang will meet Lee Sedol 9P (Japan), who as last year’s cup winner was seeded into the semifinals. The winner of that game will meet Park in the final on August 28.

2015.09.01_Xie-YiminNew women’s tournament with biggest prize: Financial incentives are getting better and better for women players in Japan. First of all, a new tournament, the Aizu Central Hospital Cup, founded last year, raised the bar by offering a record prize of seven million yen. That has now been topped by the Senko Cup, founded by the Osaka-based Senko Corporation. The Senko Cup Women’s Igo Strongest Player Tournament, to give it its full name, offers a first prize of eight million and a second prize of four million yen. The second prize in itself almost matches the three long-established women’s titles (to be specific, their top prizes are 5,800,000 yen for the Women’s Honinbo and 5,000,000 each for the Women’s Meijin and the Women’s Kisei). The new tournament is open to all professional women players in Japan and the preliminaries start in September. The main tournament, in which the top 16 participate, will start in January 2016 and the semifinal and final will be held in July. Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo, Xie Yimin (left), Women’s Meijin & Kisei, and O Keii, Aizu Central Hospital Cup-holder, will be seeded in the main tournament. The time allowance will be three hours per player.

Death of Cho Chikun’s wife: Cho Chikun’s wife Kyoko died of pancreatic cancer on August 7. She was 65 years old.

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The Power Report (1): Young players make Agon Kiriyama Cup semis; Iyama reaches Oza final; Yoda stumbles in top Kisei league, Kono wins A League

Monday August 31, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.08.30_Yo Seiki

Young players make Agon Kiriyama Cup semifinals: The remaining two quarterfinals of the 22nd Agon Kiriyama Cup were played recently. On August 10, Kyo Kagen 3P (B) (aged 15) beat Shuto Shun 7P by resignation.  On August 13, Yo Seiki 7P (B) (aged 20) beat Matsumoto Takehisa 7P by resignation. Kyo and Yo will play each other in one semifinal; the other matches Iyama Yuta (aged 26) and Son Makoto 3P (aged 19). As you can see from the ages, all four are young players, though Iyama is already a veteran in experience. The recent results of the Taiwanese players Yo and Kyo show that they both have exceptional promise; they will probably be titleholders before too much longer.

Iyama reaches Oza final: The first semifinal in the 63rd Oza tournament was played on August 17. Iyama Yuta (B) beat Yuki Satoshi by resignation. The other semifinal pits Ko Iso 8P against Yo Seiki 7P. The winner will meet Iyama in the play-off to decide the challenger on September 7.

2015.08.30_Yoda Norimoto 9PYoda stumbles in top Kisei league, Kono wins A League: In a game played in the S League, the top league, in the 40th Kisei tournament, on August 13, Yamashita Keigo 9P improved his score to 3-1 when he beat Takao Shinji Tengen (W) by 2.5 points. At this point he was in second place. League leader Yoda Norimoto 9P (left) suffered a painful loss in the S League on August 20. Taking white, he lost to Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by half a point. On 3-1, Yoda now shares the lead with Yamashita Keigo 9P, who has the advantage of being ranked higher (number one) ? there is no play-off within the Kisei leagues. Yamashiro goes to 2-2, so his chances of keeping his place improve. Kono Rin scored his sixth successive win in the A League in a game played on August 13. Taking black, he beat Cho Riyu 8P by 2.5 points. Everyone else in the league has at least two losses, so Kono wins the league regardless of his result in his final game. He also secured promotion to the S League next year. In the knock-out tournament, he will have to win four games in a row to become the challenger whereas the winner of the S League has to win only one game in what is called an “irregular best-of-three.” How this works is that Kono would have to beat the winner of the game between the B and C League winners (both of whom have to win five games to become the challenger), next win a game against the second-place-getter in the S League, then beat the winner of the S League twice in a row. The latter is given an advantage of one win in the final play-off, so his opponent can’t afford to lose a game. That means that in practice, there can’t be a third game in this “best-of-three,” as the winning score will always be 2-0. 
Tomorrow: 28th Women’s Meijin League starts; Japan eliminated from TV Asia Cup; New women’s tournament with biggest prize; Death of Cho Chikun’s wife.

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The Janice Kim Files: Everything You Wanted to Know About Go But I Was Afraid Was True

Tuesday August 18, 2015

by Janice Kim 3P2012.02.21-janiceKim

Let me start off by alienating the half of the audience that may not be alienated after reading this, by giving away the title of my next installment, Why Go Is Better Than Chess, Really (From the Non-Chess-Playing Perspective).

For those of you who aren’t having a bad day and easily saw past that ruse, may I offer some unvarnished truths, in the form of the real answers to questions that I cavalierly and annoyingly dismissed when asked earnestly by those to whom I was only too happy to present myself as knowledgeable in the past. This is in opposition to talking around the subject, which I never do despite the difficulty in following my convoluted English, which I’ve used to actually talk myself out of traffic tickets, thanks very much. I’m never not honed in like a hawk eyeing a field mouse when I’m answering a question someone asked me five years ago. I’ve either missed it entirely, or am dead on.

Q. How much is the ability to memorize involved in go-playing?

A. Let me tell you a story about my father. My father once memorized a 50-page poem when he was in high school. In English. Which he didn’t speak. It’s not clear to us whose memory is better, because he remembers things I don’t and vice versa. This has something to do with whether he or I was there or paying attention, I believe.

No one cares or truly believes this wild talent, except perhaps exes who are literally rendered speechless and apoplectic when I quote what they said verbatim years ago by way of reply to questions posed as to how I’m doing, etc. now. It really only comes in handy these days when my son asks me what lithium is and I send him running out the door with a tour of the periodic table sung to the tune of “Beautiful Dreamer,” which my father did for me when we went for a walk when I was eight.

My dad taught me how to play go by spending about ten hours a week on it with me for a long time. So that’s the answer to the other question, how did I make progress so quickly. Because I was young and it was easier to learn when I was young and I’m very smart and talented, yes, yes, that must be it. Spending ten hours a week on Netflix now has nothing to do with stalled progress. If only he’d spent ten hours a week on video games with me for a long time, I’d be a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.

Which is not to say that I think memorization of moves plays a big part in go playing. I barely remember any specific actual moves, or generally even where my opponent played last. Which is not to say I didn’t write a whole go book entitled The Palace of Memory. Which enervated many people that there were many typos. And apparently enervated no one that I said I remembered like ten things, but had a lot of jingles and off-topic anecdotes and references that actually constitute what I know about go that you may secretly suspect is true.

But seriously, folks. How many of you read Lee Sedol 9 dan’s book of commented games? When I heard about it I thought that was the holy grail and almost flew to Korea. I could not contain myself. Lee Sedol 9 dan became the world champion because he spent a lot of time on go, and that time had emotional content, because his father spent a lot of time teaching him and his father wanted him to be world champion and then his father died. Remember, Bruce Lee said emotional content, not anger. The point isn’t to get angry at ourselves or our opponents, but to find what is meaningful to us in the conversation with our hands that we are having. If we spend even a few minutes trying to extract what we and our opponents were trying to say as we played, with respect for our words, surely we can find something, if we are looking for it, that we can remember to take away with us. So I knew it would be the holy grail, before I even read it.

I actually don’t remember the moves of the games I read (I can only recreate games if I paid attention throughout and remember the first few moves and how I was thinking about them at the time and exactly who the players are, then, it all follows logically), but Lee Sedol (who means a lot to me because his brother was a good friend long ago who said he would sacrifice his own career to make sure Lee Sedol would be world champion) made one comment in a matter-of-fact, off-hand way that entirely changed my perspective on go and made me realize what I had been doing that had been frustrating me and causing me to lose most of the time even the few times when I was way ahead. It was because I was ahead. I could only knock out my opponent because I had no idea how to pull a punch and wait, and stronger opponents don’t get knocked out easily. That will be the actual subject of my next installment.
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Categories: The Janice Kim Files
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The Power Report: Shida qualifies for Samsung; Iyama defends Gosei; Rin Kaiho wins 1,400 games

Sunday August 9, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.08.09_Shida qualifies for Samsung

Shida qualifies for Samsung: The General Preliminary Tournament for the 20th Samsung Cup was held in Seoul from August 1 to 5. This is a massive tournament and the preliminary is held on a proportionate scale, with additional qualifying sections for women and senior players besides the open section. Five Japanese representatives took part in the open section, of whom one was successful. Shida Tatsuya 7P (at left) won a place in the main tournament by defeating Pak Seung-hwa 6P of Korea in the final. Oya Koichi 9P and Goto Shungo 9P competed in the senior section but without success. The opening rounds of the main tournament will be held in Beijing on September 8 and 10. Nineteen qualifiers through the preliminary will join 13 seeded players. The seeded players for Japan are Ida Atsushi 8P and Yoda Norimoto 9P.

2015.08.09_Iyama wins 40th GoseiIyama defends Gosei, maintains quadruple crown: The fourth game of the 40th Gosei title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on August 7. Playing white, Iyama (left) forced a resignation2015.08.09_Gosei White 128 after just 122 moves and so defended his title by a 3-1 margin. He has now won this title for four years in a row, so one more win and he will qualify for the title of Honorary Gosei. Iyama has beaten Yamashita Keigo in the three title matches they have contested so far this year; the others were the Kisei and Honinbo. Incidentally, three matches in the same year equals for record for the same two players. They have played 16 games with each other this year, which also equals the record. Iyama seemed to gain a slight advantage in the first major fight of the game, which occurred when he set out to reduce Black’s top moyo. Yamashita went all out and got back into the game, but then went wrong in the decisive fight. Iyama cut off and killed a large group, deciding the game. As mentioned in my report in May, when Yamashita became the Gosei challenger, two pairs of players had previously played three matches in the same year. They were Otake Hideo and Cho Chikun in 1982 and Kato Masao and Kobayashi Koichi in 1988. It was the latter two who previously played 16 games in one year.
2015.08.09_Rin Kaiho wins 1,400th game
Promotions: To 3-dan: Fujisawa Rina (40 wins) (as of August 7); To 2-dan: Bian Wenkai (30 wins) (as of August 7)2015.08.09_takemiya and Rin review the game

Rin Kaiho wins 1,400 games: On August 6, Rin Kaiho, Honorary Tengen (left), became the second Nihon Ki-in player to win 1,400 games when he beat Takemiya Masaki 9P in a game (right) in the 41st Gosei Preliminary B.  Taking white, Rin won by half a point. The first player to reach this landmark was 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun. Rin was born in 1942 and became a professional in 1955.

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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