American Go E-Journal » China

Han Han 5P: “Harder than I expected”

Tuesday August 23, 2022

The competition at this year’s North American Masters Tournament was “harder than I expected,” Chinese professional Han Han 5P told the E-Journal earlier this month after closing out his 7-0 sweep of the field. “In a few of the games, I was actually behind and had to fight hard to get back in the game.” Han’s 4th-round game against Michael Chen 8D was especially tough, he said. While American professionals are improving in strength, they don’t get enough opportunities to play in high-level competitions with other professionals to develop and hone their skills, Han said.

Born in Beijing in 1989, Han Han became a professional go player at the age of 14 and achieved 5 dan in 2009. He used to play in the National Go League A and defeated more than a dozen world champions in tournaments. He has been teaching go for more than 15 years and helped many kids become professionals. He’s also lectured on go many times at Tsinghua and Peking University since 2015, and is currently a columnist for the most popular go magazine in China. Outside of go, he loves art and is zealous about classical music. He now lives in California, near San Diego.

Han’s advice to amateur players looking to improve their game is to “practice life and death problems, that’s a basic reading skill.” AI analysis is of limited use for all but the most advanced players, Han said. “The basics – life and death, tesuji – are so, so important.”

Han, who several times during the NAMT raised concerns about the possibility of cheating through use of AI go programs, said that steps need to be taken to reduce that possibility, including metal detectors at tournaments (these were used at the recent U.S. pro qualifier), having observers or referees, and either delaying live broadcasts (as is done in poker tournaments) or not permitting commentary during the broadcast.
– report/photo by Chris Garlock; thanks to NAMT TD Kevin Chao for translation assistance.

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“A Contemporary Art Experiment, From Go Seigen to AlphaGo” is winning exhibition

Tuesday May 17, 2022

The proposed exhibition “A Contemporary Art Experiment, From Go Seigen to AlphaGo” has been selected as the winning exhibition for the 2021 OCAT Research-Based Curatorial Project, “ at the OCAT Research Center in Beijing. The selection “means we get to stage another, bigger exhibition for the next stage with the entire museum space at our disposal later this year,” reports Zhiyan Yang, who will curate the show with Chen Jiayi.

“We were happy to be one of the ‘Artists’ providing materials,” says AGF President Terry Benson, who along with longtime AGAers Roy Laird and Barbara Calhoun recorded some Silly Go Songs showing the broader cultural of Go in the west. Some of the old covers of the American Go Journal (below) were also included.

A total of 29 proposals were initially made, with a resulting shortlist of five, including “The Flow of Broken Mirrors: Rewriting ‘Modernity’ in Perception of Boundaries,” “Why Everything Has Not Disappeared,” “The Fragile and Dangerous Domain of Optimism – Redefinition and Reproduction of Failure,” “Algorithms: The Magician of Exhibition Knowledge Production” and the winner, “Go, A Contemporary Art Research Experiment – From Wu Qingyuan to AlphaGo” which “explores how go, as an ‘old media’ and a rearguard culture in the contemporary context, transcends its own attributes as a game, and produces more diversity in the process of blending with cultural practice and artistic creation.” CLICK HERE for a walk-through of the exhibit featuring the five finalist projects.

An expanded exhibition – with more materials from the AGA – will be mounted in Beijing later this year.

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Chinese Go player gets one-year ban for using AI during national competition

Monday March 21, 2022

photo by VCG

The Chinese Weiqi Association on March 15 suspended Liu Ruizhi from attending competitions overseas for a year after he violated the “no use of AI” rules when participating in a national chess competition earlier that day. According to the statement, Liu Ruizhi used an AI program during the first round of the Chinese professional Go Championship preliminaries, and his supervisors did not fulfill their supervisory responsibilities. According to the rules of the competition, the use of AI is strictly prohibited, and players who break this rule will be banned for one year. If the player is a member of the national training team, they will be expelled from the team immediately.

Zuo Shiquan, head of the equipment manufacturing research institute under the China Center for Information Industry Development, told the Global Times on Wednesday that AI can guide a player by calculating the next step after analyzing the historical data of contestants input in advance and that this counts as cheating during a match.

Liu Ruizhi was born in 1996; his career began in 2019, but he had not won any major matches during his career, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Chinese Professional Go Championship is a professional tournament with the longest history and the largest participation in China. A total of 231 people signed up for the competition – a new record – of which 194 participated in the preliminaries.

– adapted from a report by Chen Xi in the Global Times

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Redmond on Shin Minjun’s masterpiece: Live commentary Sunday night

Saturday December 11, 2021

Shin Minjun 9P

Rounds 5-9 of the 23rd Nongshim Cup were played November 26-30. The Nongshim is a team tournament with teams of five players each for China, Japan, and Korea. Iyama Yuta 9P showed up early to play as Japan’s third player after Shibano Toramaru 9p and Kyo Kagen 9P had been eliminated. Michael Redmond 9P will do a live commentary on Iyama’s 9th-round game against Korea’s Shin Minjun 9P on his YouTube channel on Sunday, December 12 at 7p EST.
“After a well-researched opening, Shin Minjun reduced Iyama’s moyo with a brilliant sequence that will be one of the main focuses of my commentary,” says Redmond. “The game ended in a spectacular fight in which a big dragon died.”  – Chris Garlock

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Inaugural Quzhou Lanke Go Supermatch

Wednesday December 1, 2021

Ke Jie 9p vs. Lian Xiao 9p

This evening, Wednesday, Dec. 1st at 10pm EST/7pm PST, Game 1 of the Quzhou Lanke Go Supermatch will be streamed live on the official AGA Twitch channel. Stephen Hu will host commentary by Michael Redmond 9p starting at 10:30pm EST, and the broadcast will be produced by Eva-Dee Beech.

The match is between Ke Jie 9P (China) vs. Lian Xiao 9P (China). Time controls are 2 hours main time, followed by 5 periods of 1-minute byo-yomi.

The event is taking place in Quzhou, China, where the Legend of the Rotten Axe took place, in which a woodcutter observed two immortals playing a game of Go.

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Top pro titles: A primer

Saturday August 21, 2021

by Yuan Zhou 

73rd Honinbo title match (2018), Iyama Yuta 9p v. Yamashita Keigo 9p.

Most western go players are probably familiar with the top professional titles in Japan, but less so with those in China and Korea. Here’s a quick primer.  

The top three tournaments in Japan are the Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo, all currently held by Iyama Yuta 9p, who’s been dominant for some years. The Honinbo is the oldest pro title in the world, first held in 1941: the current occurrence of the contest for that title is the 77th. The other four big Japanese titles are Gosei, Oza, Judan, and Tengen.  They also have been running for many years, and in terms of a long, stable tournament history, Japan is the best in the world.

The oldest title in Korea is the Myeongin, equivalent to the Japanese Meijin and to the Chinese Mingren. Currently being contested for the 44th time, it was discontinued for several years, but is being actively fought for this year. The last previous winner was Lee Sedol 9p in 2016. The final match this year is a five-game contest between Shin Jinseo 9p, who holds several other Korean titles and is currently considered number one in Korea, and Byun Sangil 9p. Shin Jinseo also holds several other Korean national titles and the Asian TV Cup. He defeated Ding Hao 6p of China for the latter title.

The oldest title in China is the Tianyuan, which was contested for the thirty-fifth time this year: Gu Zihao 9p defeated the previous holder of the title, Yang Dingxin 9p, by a score of 2-1. The next oldest Chinese national title is the Mingren, which was won most recently by Mi Yuting 9p. Ke Jie 9p, who has won more international titles than any other player currently active, has not done as well at the national level, but he does hold four national titles currently, including the Changqi Cup, which is one of the more prestigious titles, and the Qisheng. As a result he is considered number one in China.

There are also pro titles in Taiwan, of course, though the Taiwanese pros have not had much success at the international level. This is partly because the best Taiwanese players usually moved to Japan to play very early in their careers. Some of these have done quite well in Japan, such as the well-known Cho U 9p, Rin Kaiho 9p, and O Rissei 9p, all of whom have held some of the top Japanese titles. In fact, O Rissei 9p recently won the 1st Shinan International Senior Baduk Cup, playing for Taiwan and defeating such famous older players as Japan’s Kobayshi Koichi 9p and China’s Yu Bin 9p as well as Seo Bongsoo 9p of Korea. Both Cho U and O Rissei won the Japanese Kisei title three times in a row when they were playing as members of the Nihon Ki-in. O Meien is also a native of Taiwan who joined the Nihon Ki-in and won the Honinbo title in 2000 and 2001.

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The Power Report: Kisei S League; Iyama plays in top Chinese league

Monday August 16, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei S League
   Two players were undefeated in the 46th Kisei S League on 3-0, so their clash on July 26 was the key game of the league to date. Ichiriki Ryo beat Yo Seiki, so the former took the sole lead. On 2-1, Murakawa Daisuke is still in the running if Ichiriki falters and he wins his remaining two games, as he is ranked above Ichiriki and there are no play-offs within the league. For the same
reason, Yo, though on 3-1, is out of the running, but he could come second and make the knock-out tournament to decide the challenger. Takao Shinji is also in the running for second place. Results since my last report follow.

(May 31) Yo Seiki 8p (B) beat Takao Shinji 9p by resig.
(June 10) Yo (W) beat Kono Rin 9p by resig.
(June 17). Ichiriki Ryo Tengen (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 9p by resig.; Takao (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9p by 3.5.
(July 15) Takao (W) beat Kono by resig.
(July 26) Ichiriki (W) beat Yo Seiki by resig.

   In the A League, Onishi Ryuhei 7p and Shibano Toramaru Oza share the lead on 4-2. In the B1 League, Shida Tatsuya 7p has the sole lead with 5-1. In the B2 League, So Yokoku 9p and Son Makoto 7p share the lead on 5-1. In the C League, four players have started with three straight wins: Yamashiro Hiroshi 9p, Numadate Sakiya 7p, Otake Yu 5p, and Yuki Satoshi 9p. Scores of the female players in this league are: Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo, 1-2; Xie Yimin 6p 1-1; Nakamura Sumire 2p 0-2.

Iyama plays in top Chinese league
   The Chinese A Class League, a large-scale team tournament, probably represents the top level of go competition in the world. Unfortunately, information about it is hard to come by for people who do not know Chinese, but the ejournal published an excellent article by Yuan Zhou on July 20. This year Japan’s top player, Iyama Yuta, is participating for the first time, and he played his first game on June 12. This happened to be the day after he suffered his third
 successive loss in the Honinbo title match. Iyama is a member of the Zhejiang Ticai team, and his opponent was Xie Ke, one of China’s top players, who represented the Supoer Hangzhou team. Taking black, Iyama scored a good win, keeping the initiative throughout the game. This game was actually in the 10th round of the league; so far his team has three wins, four losses, and three draws, and is running 10th out of 16 teams. By the way, earlier in the year, Shiban
o Toramaru and Ichiriki Ryo both played a game in this league but lost.

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Honinbo title, matches Cho’s record; 4th Wu Qingyuan Cup

Monday August 9, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama Yuta celebrates 10th consecutive Honinbo win
Yu Zhiying 7p (China)

Iyama defends Honinbo title, matches Cho’s record
   As of our previous report (June 4), the 76th Honinbo title match between Iyama Yuta, also known as Honinbo Monyu, and Shibano Toramaru Oza was tied 1-1. When the defending champion won the first game, Shibano fans would have been worried that this match might follow the path of last year’s Honinbo and Meijin title matches, both of which were one-sided, ending in 4-1 victories for Iyama. However, Shibano roared back in the second game, crushing Iyama in 96 moves.
   The third game was played at the Hotel Agora Osaka Moriguchi in Moriguchi City, Osaka Prefecture, on June 1 and 2. Taking black, the challenger, Shibano Toramaru Oza won by resignation after 149 moves. In the opening, Shibano staked out a large moyo. Iyama was confident he could erase it, but a large group of his inside the moyo got into trouble. When he was unable to save it, he had to resign. This was another convincing win for Shibano, who incidentally took a lead over Iyama for the first time in a best-of-seven.
   The fourth game was held at the Art Hotel Kokura New Tagawa on June 10 and 11. This game also featured aggressive fighting and once again Shibano came out on top, capturing a large group. Iyama (black) resigned after just 124 moves. O Meien 9P, the newspaper commentator, said: “I felt Shibano’s reading was awesome. Iyama can’t often have been outread like this. It was a convincing win for Shibano.” This was the first time Iyama had fallen behind 1-3 in the Honinbo title.
   Game Five was the first kadoban (a game that can lose a series) for Iyama.It was played at the Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, on June 21 and 22. The game started peacefully. In the middle game, a kind of trade took place, with Iyama (white) capturing a group in exchange for letting Shibano put a large white group into ko. The game was dominated by this ko, which went on for 90 moves. In the end, Shibano captured the group, but was forced to let White take a fair bit of profit with his ko threat. Shibano resigned after White 218. Yamashita Keigo, the newspaper commentator, said: “There’s no move that I can clearly label as bad among the Honinbo’s moves.” This convincing win by Iyama changed the flow of the match.
   Game Six was played at the Todaya hotel in Toba City, Mie Prefecture, on June 29 and 30. Iyama (B) took a small lead on the first day. In the middle game, the lead became confused, but Iyama was saved by a mistake made by Shibano, who resigned after move 153. Iyama saved his second kadoban and tied the match. He now seemed to have better momentum than the challenger.
   The final game was held at the Tokiwa Hotel, Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture,  on July 6 and 7. Iyama drew white in the nigiri. He convincingly outplayed Shibano and won by resignation after 180 moves. He made an excellent recovery after losing three games in a row by returning the courtesy to his opponent. Having won the title ten years in a row, he matched Cho Chikun’s record. Shibano missed out on his chance to become the youngest tournament Honinbo. First prize is 28 million yen (about $254,500).

4th Wu Qingyuan Cup
   The opening rounds of the 4th Wu Qingyuan (Go Seigen) Cup World Women’s Go Tournament were held on the Net on July 18 to 20 with 16 players competing. Of these, three Chinese players and one Korean survived to make the semifinals. For Japanese fans, the highlight of the tournament was Nakamura Sumire’s scoring her first international win. The best performer for Japan was Fujisawa Rina, who picked up two wins. The dates of the semifinals and final have not yet been decided. Below are the results so far.

Round 1 (July 18). Fang 4p (China) (B) beat Stephanie Yin 1p (US) by resig.; Oh Yujin 7p (Korea) (W) beat Natalia Kovaleva 5d (Russia) by resig.; Cho Seunga 3p (Korea) (W) beat Hei Jiajia 7p (Ch. Taipei) by resig.; Li Xinyi 3p (China) (W) beat Manuela Marz 3d (Germany) by resig.; Lu Minquan 6p (China) (B) beat Xie Yimin 6p (Japan) by 1.5; Ueno Asami 4p (Japan) (W) beat Luo Yuhua 3p (Ch. Taipei) by 0.5; Suzuki Ayumi 7p (Japan) (W) beat Feng Yun 9p (US) by resig.; Nakamura Sumire 2p (Japan) (W) beat Kim Jaeyoung 6p (Korea) by 0.5.
Round 2 (July 19). Fujisawa Rina 5p (W) beat Li by 2.5; Yu Zhiying 7p (China) (W) beat Ueno by resig.; Wang Chenxing 5p (China) (W) beat Suzuki by resig.; Zhou Hongyu 6p (China) (W) beat Nakamura by resig.; Choi Jeong 9p (Korea) (W) beat Lu by resig.; Fang (B) beat Rui Naiwei 9p (China) by resig.; Cho (B) beat Tang 4p (China) by 1.5; Oh (W) beat Li He 5p (China) by 2.5.
Quarterfinals (July 20) Yu (W) beat Fujisawa by resig.; Fang (W) beat Cho by resig.; Wang (W) beat Oh by resig.; Choi (B) beat Zhou by resig.
Semifinal pairings (date undecided). Wang v. Yu; Choi v. Fang

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Inside the Chinese A League

Tuesday July 20, 2021

by Yuan Zhou    

There’s a very important professional go event that western go players probably don’t know much about. Known in English as “The Chinese A League” and started in 1999, the annual format changes, but currently it consists of sixteen teams, each of which is associated with a particular city that is the home of the corporate sponsor of the team. Divided into two groups of eight teams each, they play each other twice in a round robin event that is extremely popular among Chinese go fans. The teams contain six pro players each, and teams in the stronger “A” league (there is also a “B” league) are allowed to add one foreign pro to their team (this is expensive, of course). Each encounter involves four games between the two teams so only four of the six play each time. Three of the games involve relatively long basic times, two hours each, but one game is fast play, one minute per move. This latter difference is to accommodate having one of the games in each meet shown on TV. After the round robin season, the two teams with the best records have a play-off to determine the ultimate winner, and the two with the worst records have a play-off to see which gets eliminated from the League.

Ke Jie 9p of China

This event means that Chinese pros are regularly involved in very high-level games during the year, which is made even more valuable by having top foreign pros involved. For example, in the most recent running of this event, the foreign players included Shin Jinseo 9p of Korea (known as “AI Shin” because of his devotion to studying the AI strategies and considered by many to be Number One in Korea), Shin Minjun 9p who is challenging for first place in Korea, Park Junghwan 9p of Korea, as well as Lee Donghoon 9p and Kim Jiseok 9p of Korea, and also Iyama Yuta 9p who holds the top titles in Japan, Ichiriki Ryo 9p of Japan who is challenging Iyama these days, and Shibano Toramaru 9p.

This extraordinary amount of high-level competition, combined with exclusive access to the best of the AI programs, Fine Arts, is probably the main reason Chinese pros are currently dominating the international go scene, winning most of the titles. If you look at the list of title holders on the go news web site mentioned below, you will see the overwhelming number are Chinese.

Because of the high level of expertise and the decent basic playing time, these Chinese A League games are some of the best in the world every year. I have provided commentaries of several of them over the years in the E-Journal. You can access reports of these games on the go news site gotoeveryone.k2ss.info/news, where some of the game records can also be downloaded.

Yuan Zhou is a popular teacher and longtime contributor to the E-Journal; find out more on his website.

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Chinese Weiqi Association publishes Chinese-English Dictionary of Weiqi Terms

Friday February 26, 2021

Bob Bacon reports that earlier this month, several Chinese news organizations such as Xinhua Net and SINA English reported that the People’s Publishing House and the Chinese Weiqi Association have jointly published the Chinese-English Dictionary of Weiqi Terms. With 643 definitions over six chapters, the dictionary took seven years to compile and was first used during the World Weiqi Summit in Rizhao, China in 2019. “‘As a spiritual symbol of Chinese culture, as well as an internationally recognized public product with positive effects, Weiqi has special requirements in terms of language. It has its own way of thinking, terminology paradigm and communication mode. An important aspect of the Chinese Weiqi Association’s goal is to promote a unified and standardized Weiqi language,’ said Lin Jianchao, chairman of Chinese Weiqi Association.” Informal sources indicate that while the resource is not yet available publicly, it will be made available soon.

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