American Go E-Journal » U.S. Pro Tournament

Ryan Li promoted to Professional 4 Dan

Wednesday January 11, 2023

Ryan Li’s recent win at the 2022 North American Professional Go Championship in Toronto (Toronto Go Spectacular lives up to its name 1/6/23) not only netted him the $6,000 top prize, but a promotion to Professional 4 dan, after he reached 60 points in the North American Go Federation’s Professional Rank Promotion System.

“It was a tough tournament,” Li told the EJ, “especially after unluckily drawing Alex in the semi-finals. The three games in the finals were unpredictable yet exciting. Having our own professional tournament means a lot to the pros and we look forward to the next one!” Added American Go Association President and North American Go Federation board member Gurujeet Khalsa (at left in photo), “I was honored to be in Toronto to watch the game that Ryan played to secure the championship and then present the trophy. He is a terrific representative for North American Go.”

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Toronto Go Spectacular lives up to its name

Friday January 6, 2023

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

A group photo of the participants
Group photo at the Toronto Go Spectacular

Those looking for evidence that in-person go events can still attract a crowd need look no further than the Toronto Go Spectacular, held at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC) from December 28 to 30. Organized by the North American Go Federation and sponsored by Deep Mind, the event attracted nearly 200 players and included youth, novice, Open and professional tournaments.

“It was a fantastic event and a real pleasure working with the Canadian team,” said American Go Association president Gurujeet Khalsa. “We are excited to be exploring more possibilities with them for North American cooperation.” “We’ve been talking about hosting a North American go event in Canada for many years,” added Canadian Go Association president James Sedgwick. “I was very pleased the stars finally aligned and we were able to make it happen.  The event was all I could have hoped for, and we are especially grateful to all the American participants who made the effort to attend and make this a truly North American event.”

The E-Journal team arrived bright and early for the invitational youth and pro events on Wednesday, December 28. Because only a few competitors were expected, this was the calm before the storm. Sixteen youth players — eight players under sixteen years old and eight players under twelve — arrived from throughout the US and Canada to contest two age group championships. They played a marathon knockout of two out of three matches that lasted for the entire event.

Also arriving on Wednesday were the four professionals battling for the 1st North American Professional Championship, with a $6,000 first prize at stake. Drawing for the initial pairings for the one-round semifinal, Alex Qi 1P of New Jersey drew his teacher Ryan Li 3P of New York, while Andy Liu 1P, also of New York, drew Henry Yu, a Canadian student living in Hamilton, who is certified 2p in Taipei.

The E-Journal broadcast Board One on OGS, where Ryan Li notched a steady and solid win over Alex Qi. At least that was the assessment of In-seong Hwang, one of the two guest teachers, in a lecture that evening. So there was great surprise when AI analysis revealed that Qi had actually held the advantage for most of the game. Meanwhile, on Board Two, Henry Yu made a comeback to win a close game with Andy Liu. (Game records: Semifinal Board One, Semifinal Board Two.)

The other main event began on Thursday, December 29, with the start of the six-round open event, as well as a novice tournament for beginners. When everyone had checked in, there were 184 players participating in the many events. Nick Prince kept check-in and pairings running smoothly with his Leago pairing software, and players could easily find their places either on the huge screen in the playing hall or on their phones.

Meanwhile the kids continued to play in the invitational room, and the North American Pro Championship continued. In the championship round, semifinalists Li and Yu would play a three-game final match to determine first and second place, and Liu and Qi would play a best-of-three match for third place. In the first games, Li defeated Yu, and Qi defeated Liu. (Game records: Final Game One, Third Place Playoff Game One.)

Open players were able to have their games reviewed by guest teachers In-seong Hwang 8d and Mateusz Surma 2p, who also offered his excellent series of kyu level go problems for sale. Food was provided onsite by by the JCCC, saving the players time during the busy event.

The huge and beautiful space of the The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre was filled with the joyful noise of children, including a contingent decked out in identical blue sweatshirts from the New York Institute of Go, along with three other large groups from Canadian go schools. The largest was Gofun Studio, but We-Go Club and the students of Ms. Mu Miao were also well represented.

The final day, Friday, December 30, brought the crucial games in all the Spectacular’s events. In the morning, in the Pro Championship, Henry Yu evened the final, defeating Ryan Li by resignation, while Alex Qi defeated Andy Liu a second time to secure third place. (Game records: Final Game Two, Final Game Three, Third Place Playoff Game Two.)

Up to this point in the Pro Championship, White had won every game on Board One. “Invincible gote” seemed to be the motto, with pros choosing White every time they had a choice. For the final round on Board One, Ryan Li won the nigiri and, following the pattern, took White. In a very entertaining game, he managed to fend off Henry Yu’s relentless attacks to win a final capturing race. In-seong Hwang’s post-game review produced a riot of laughter from the crowd, particularly from the good natured Henry Yu, who laughed the loudest. Hwang’s lectures were broadcast on the AGA Twitch channel.

U12 tournament report: Waterloo youth Crane Kuo 3d came in as the favorite. Fighting hard to challenge him were Albert Tang 2d and David Fang 2d. They played a tight match with two of three games decided by less than two points, but in the end Tang earned the right to challenge Kuo. In the final match, Kuo won 2-0 with solid wins in both games. “We have played friendly games before and I won a fair percentage of them,” said Tang. “But in this match I had no chance at all. It seems Crane has taken a leap upwards in his playing level, it will be interesting to see what he can do from here.”

U16 tournament report: This event featured four strong 5d players who were expected to be fighting for the title. On one side of the bracket Shengda Tan 5d (a student from Montreal) sailed smoothly through to the final. He has been dominating play in the Canadian league the last couple of sessions, so this strong result was not a surprise. But on the other side of the bracket another Vancouver youth Ben Gong entering as 3d/4d knocked off both Derek Zhou 5d and Yuxin Fu 5d. However in the final Ben Gong could not take down Tan. They played two long and hard-fought games, but in the end the title went 2-0 to Shengda Tan.

Novice tournament report: 41 novice players from 25k-10k competed in a five-round one-day novice tournament. Although the level of play might not have attained that of the other events, the passion to compete was clearly no less, and the joy after victories on the (mostly) young faces was a pleasure to behold.

Open tournament report: The sixth round of the open was the last to finish. 124 players took part, with a very strong field of 25 competing in the championship group for the $1,000 first prize. In the end a tiebreaker was needed between Ivan Lo, Remi Campagnie, and Brady Zhang (a past North American representative in the Globis Cup who has recently started his studies at the University of Toronto), the three top players who finished 5-1; the tiebreaker went in Ivan Lo’s favor, and he took home the title. USA stars Albert Yen and Zhaonian Michael Chen both scored respectable 4-2 results, but couldn’t quite recover from early losses to put themselves in contention. (Selected game records from the Open: Round 2 Board 3, Round 4 Board 2, Round 5 Board 1, Round 6 Board 1.)

The closing ceremonies were hosted by Canadian Go Association President James Sedgwick, with the assistance of Irene Sha, Nick Prince, Sedgwick’s daughter Alice and niece Veronika Keras. American Go Association President Gurujeet Khalsa and NAGF President Andy Okun joined Sedgwick and Prince in awarding trophies, medals and gifts to the winners.

If the Spectacular becomes an annual event, whoever takes the torch from James, Irene, and their team truly will have a tough act to follow.

NOTE: The Open report has been updated; there were no players undefeated after five rounds.

U12 players (champion Crane Kuo 4th from right)

Image 1 of 13

Includes reporting by James Sedgwick. Photos courtesy Keith Arnold, Yunshi Li, Edward Zhang, Cyril Maurice, Shirlie Zhu, Nick Prince, Irene Sha, and multiple parents.

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Kevin Yang 1P Wins Lanke Cup Prelim

Sunday October 16, 2022

Kevin Yang 1P has won the preliminary qualifying round of the first Quzhou Lanke Cup World Weiqi Open Tournament, an international professional event organized by the Chinese Weiqi Association. Yang will represent North America in the tournament, which kicks off December 24, 2022.

The Quzhou Lanke Cup offers a prize of 1,800,000 RMB (about $250,000 USD) to the winner. In total, 32 players are invited: 14 from China, 8 from South Korea, 5 from Japan, 2 from Chinese Taipei, 1 from Europe, 1 from North America, and 1 additional player will be nominated by the organizing team as a wild card once all 31 competitors are finalized.

Among professional players based in North America, four entered the preliminary qualifying round. The format was double elimination (see below for results), and the event was held on OGS with video recording requirements. In addition, for the final match, proctors were also present with each player. The North American Go Federation appreciates the generous gift of Edward Zhang, which supported the presence of proctors.

– reported by Hajin Lee

Preliminary Round Results
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Kevin Yang and Alexander Qi top 2022 NAGF professional tournament

Friday July 1, 2022

Kevin Yang and Alexander Qi

A pair of precocious 14-year-olds are North America’s newest professional go players.

Kevin Yang and Alexander Qi topped a competitive field at the North American Go Federation’s (NAGF) 2022 Pro Qualification tournament this week. Click here for final standings, game records and links to video commentaries.

Held at the National Go Center in Washington D.C., the pro qualifier featured eleven top North American amateurs facing off in two rounds a day over five grueling days starting last Monday. Yang swept Group A, defeating Eric Yoder, Qiyou Wu, Eric Lee, Yuan Zhou and Val Lewis. Qi was also undefeated in Group B, beating Remi Campagnie, Edward Zhang, Nate Morse and Tyler Oyakawa.

Yang and Qi then faced off in a best-of-three match, splitting the first two games, with Yang winning the third game on Thursday morning to clinch the first pro spot. Qi then took on Eric Yoder for the second pro slot, going 2-0.

American Go Association president Andy Okun congratulated all the players for their “extremely high level of play,” and said that it was a “special pleasure” to award Yang and Qi the 2022 NAGF professional certificates after their impressive performances this week. Okun thanked the NAGF for organizing the qualification tournament, I-Han Lui for directing, and the National Go Center for hosting. The qualification tournament was partly sponsored by the Iwamoto North American Foundation for Go (INAF).

Yang, who hails from California, started playing go when he was nine years old and in addition to his mother, who got him started, credits professional instruction for improving his game. His favorite part of the game, he told the EJ, “is probably the fighting in the middle game. It really gets your adrenaline flowing, you know?” His advice to amateurs who want to improve is “study life and death and don’t get too caught up in AI game analysis” because the AI moves are so high level they can be confusing “until you get up around 6-dan.”

Qi, who’s from New Jersey, started playing go when he was eight years old, learning from his father. He credits studying life and death with helping improve his game, along with reviewing pro games. Although he says he doesn’t have a lot of time for other hobbies, he does enjoy playing table tennis.

Special thanks to all the game recorders at the NGC this week, and to the amazing team at Baduk Club – led by Devin Fraze – who provided the online game commentary for the NAGF Pro Qualification tournament.
– report by Chris Garlock
NOTE: (7/6) Post updated to reflect INAF’s sponsorship.

Clockwise from top left: Postgame analysis of the final Qi-Yoder game; Rene Campagnie ponders Yoder’s broken ladder magic; postgame analysis of the final Yang-Qi game; Yang (standing in yellow) and Qi at the 2018 Cotsen Open; Yang-Qi final round game; AGA president Andy Okun, TD I-Han Lui, Yang and Qi with their pro certificates and winner’s checks. photos by Chris Garlock except the 2018 Yang-Qi photo by Robert Qi.
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Yang v. Qi in decisive Game 3 Thursday morning for next NAGF Pro

Wednesday June 29, 2022

Yang (left) and Qi; photo by I-Han Lui

The next NAGF professional will be decided at Thursday morning’s final between Kevin Yang and Alex Qi, who split games on Wednesday. Yang — the top player in Group A — prevailed in their head-to-head match Wednesday morning, but Qi — the top player in Group B — bounced back to take Game Two on Wednesday afternoon, setting up the exciting finale on Thursday.

Eric Yoder and Remi Campagnie, who had both placed second in their groups and lost their semifinal placement games, mirrored the top-board battle, with Yoder taking the Wednesday morning game and Campagnie returning the favor that afternoon. The winner of their next match on Thursday morning will play the loser in Group A, and the winner of that final best of three showdown will become the second North American professional.

Campagnie (left) vs Yoder; photo by I-Han Lui

Complete standings here, and follow the NAGF Pro Qualifier’s live streaming coverage at 9:30am ET and 2:30pm ET, click here for live pairings and game files. Click here for photos, follow on Twitter, tournament details and player profiles here.

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Kevin Yang & Alexander Qi lead in NAGF Pro Qualifier

Tuesday June 28, 2022

With a 4-0 record, Kevin Yang leads Group A in the NAGF Pro Qualifier taking place at the National Go Center in Washington, DC, while Alexander Qi is 3-0 in Group B. Complete standings here, and follow the NAGF Pro Qualifier’s live streaming coverage daily at 9:30am ET and 2:30pm ET, click here for live pairings and game files. Click here for photos, follow on Twitter, tournament details and player profiles here.

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NAGF pro qualies kick off in NGC; early round results

Monday June 27, 2022

The 2022 North American Go Federation pro qualifiers kicked off today. Players are split into two groups, and from each group two will make it to a playoff round. Eleven players are competing, after one late withdrawal. After two preliminary rounds, Kevin Yang and Eric Lee are 2-0 in Group A, while Edward Zhang, Remi Coulon and Alexander Qi are 1-0 in Group B.
Click here for informal standings (stay tuned for a formal version with SGF links) and here for photos. Tournament details and player profiles here.

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NAGF Pro Qualification Tournament: Player Profiles

Thursday June 23, 2022

The 2022 Pro Qualification Tournament, organized by the North American Go Federation (NAGF) will be held next week, from June 26 to July 1 at the National Go Center in Washington, DC (read more here).
Here are profiles of some of the players.

photos: top row (l-r): Alexander Qi, Qiyou Wu, Kevin Yang; bottom row: Eric Yoder, Edward Zhang, Yuan Zhou.

Alexander Qi
Alex is 14 years old and lives in New Jersey.  He started playing go six years ago.  His teachers include Feng Yun, Zhongfan Jian, and Ryan Li.  Some of his recent accomplishments include first place in the 2022 Stone Brook Sakura Matsuri Go Tournament, and second place in the 2021 Canadian Open in 2021. Representing the US he took second place in the 2021 CCTV World Youth Amateur Online Go Tournament (13 and under group). He also represented the US in the 36th World Youth Goe Championship Junior Division in 2019.

Qiyou Wu

I first started playing go at the age of 7 back in China, achieving the rank of 5D at the age of 10, when I came to Canada. I took a detour into chess before realizing that go is my true passion. The evolution of AI in the game was fascinating, as I now find joy in watching Ai games and studying with it. The thing I love the most about go is the endless possibilities for remarkable moves. I hope to play some good games this tournament and learn from the best amateurs in North America.

Kevin Yang
I was born in Rhode Island in the United States and now live in Los Angeles, California. I am 15 years old. I began to learn Go at the age of 9 and developed a strong interest in it. I have studied with Yilun Yang 7P and Han Han 5P. I like playing basketball and piano. I have two younger brothers and one sister. They all like to play go.

Eric Yoder

I learned about go from a friend in 2009, and played a few games online before giving up.  Then, in 2011 I read the manga Hikaru no Go, and this time something clicked, as I climbed up the ranks.  With not many people nearby who played go, I learned and played almost entirely online, before going to my first tournament in 2016, the Go Congress that year. I’ve gone to congress most years since, and enjoyed making new friends and getting better and better at go over the years.

Edward Zhang

Edward Zhang learned go in 1986. Major past titles include the US Pair Go Championship, NOVA Cherry Blossom, Virginia State Champion, Minnesota Open, Carolina Spring Tournament and the Maryland Open. Edward has served the AGA as tournament director, National Tournament Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator and Board Director. He lives in Fairfax Virginia and is the father of two children. He was educated at Peking University, University of Minnesota. Recent records: 2021 Canadian Open: 4W-2L; 2022 Midwest Open: 3-1; 2022 Pandanet-AGA City League: 7-0. Instructors include Yoonyoung Kim 8P (金仑映),Niu Yutian 7P(牛雨田) and Cao Hengting 5P (曹恒珽).

Yuan Zhou

Yuan Zhou (AGA 7 dan) joined AGA in 1989.  Zhou was the president of the University of Maryland Go club, winning 34 go tournaments in the US.  Zhou was also elected to the AGA board of directors in 2005.  He’s represented the US in international tournaments many times (WAGC, Korea Prime Minister Cup, World Pair Go Championship, etc).  In addition to his competitive successes, Zhou is a popular go teacher and lecturer, frequently giving lectures and teaching lessons at various Go clubs in the US. He has also published many books and lives in Maryland.

Other players: Rémi Campagnie; Eric Lee; Val Lewis; Nate Morse; Tyler Oyakawa.

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2022 NAGF Pro Qualification Tournament set for June 26-July 1 in DC

Monday April 4, 2022

The North American Go Federation (NAGF) will hold the 2022 Pro Qualification Tournament at the National Go Center in Washington, D.C. from June 26 to July 1, 2022.

Because last year’s tournament was canceled due to covid, the NAGF will certify the top two players from this tournament as new professional players. For more information on the tournament, including eligibility requirements, please click here. The details of the competition rules and the selected contestants will be announced in May.

Any player who is eligible and interested in participating in the tournament must submit the application form by the end of April 24 to be considered for entrance.

For questions regarding this tournament, please contact the NAGF at contact@nagofed.org

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NAGF Pro Qualification Tournament postponed

Tuesday August 17, 2021

Due to growing concerns about the COVID outbreak across North America, the NAGF has postponed the Pro Qualification Tournament scheduled for this week. 

Ryan Hunter and Justin Teng putting up the banner at the National Go Center in preparation for the now-postponed NAGF Pro Qualification Tournament

Organizers carefully considered the rapid increase in the rate of new cases particularly in Washington DC, where the tournament was to be held. The tournament would have taken place indoors at the National Go Center over many hours — which is a serious concern for viral spreading — and the Delta variant is known to make even some fully vaccinated people sick.

“I recognize this is a bitter disappointment, most especially for the players,” said AGA president/NAGF chair Andy Okun. “But the safety of the players and their families back home, as well as the tournament staff, had to our highest priority.”

The new dates of the tournament are yet to be announced.

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