American Go E-Journal » China

Young Players Wanted for Li Min Cup First Session

Saturday April 2, 2016

Young North American players are being sought for the first session of the new Li Min Cup World Best Go Star Championship from April 25 to 30 in Hangzhou, China. Note that this a separate event from the Li Min Cup Finals, which we reported on earlier this week (AGA Seeks Young Player for Li Min Cup 3/27/2016)The events have different deadlines, structures, and compensations; most notably, players will cover all expenses to attend the first session, while organizers cover costs for the finals, so they are in fact quite different despite the title.

Eligibility: US/Canadian citizen born after Jan. 1, 1993 for amateur players and US/Canadian citizen born after Jan. 1, 1996 for professional players. Players must also meet AGA’s/CGA’s eligibility requirements too. Prizes (Pre-tax amounts): 1st round: 3,000 RMB (if you are top 32 player). 2nd round: 4,000 RMB (if you are top 16 players)

Interested players should respond before midnight April 7th. Please email cherry.shen@usgo.org

- Joel Sherman

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AGA Seeks Young Player for Li Min Cup

Sunday March 27, 2016

The AGA has received a request to send a young North American (US or Canadian) player to Hangzhou, China, for the new Li Min Cup World Best Go Star Championship Finals in mid-October. The tournament format will be a single elimination knockout of the final 32 players. The organizers will provide food and lodging, and travel expenses of up to 10,000 RMB.
Eligibility: US/Canadian citizen born after Jan. 1, 1993 (must meet AGA’s/CGA’s eligibility requirements too).
Awards (before tax): 1st round: 5,000 RMB (32 players), 2nd round: 8,000 RMB (16 players), 3rd round:10,000RMB (8 Players), 4th round: 10,000 RMB (4 Players), Champion: 400,000 RMB, Runner-up: 120,000RMB
Interested players should respond before midnight April 3rd. If there are multiple interested players, a quick single elimination play-off may be held based off of ratings on the April 9/10 weekend.
If interested, email cherry.shen@usgo.org with your KGS ID, best form of contact, AGA ratings. Please confirm in the email that you are born after Jan. 1, 1993.

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Ke Jie defeats Lee Sedol to win Nongshim Cup for China

Sunday March 6, 2016

Ke Jie 9p defeated Lee Sedol 9p in the final game of the 17th Nongshim Cup on March 5, enabling Team China to take the Cup back home for 2016.03.06_Ke-Jie-trophy-Nongshim-Cupanother year. While Korea has dominated this event, winning it 11 times, China now has five wins; Japan has won it only once. The Nongshim Cup is a team event between China, Japan and Korea, sponsored by the Korean instant noodles company. Lee Sedol had scored three consecutive wins, beating Gu Li, Lian Xiao and Iyama Yuta. The match against Ke Jie was Lee’s fourth in as many days and though some worried that he’d be tired going into the final round, others said it was a great opportunity for Lee because of his form’s sweeping upturn. Although Ke Jie was the last man standing for China, his head-to-head record against Lee was 7-2 and he demonstrated a superior sense of balance in the Nongshim final, resolving a tense middle game with a trade and employing his excellent endgame technique to close out the win.
- adapted from a longer report on Go Game Guru, which includes more details, game commentaries and more photos.

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Categories: China,Japan,Korea
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Korea Tops IEMG Pair Go

Thursday March 3, 2016

Koreans Park Jeonghwan 9p and Choi Jeong 6p defeated the Chinese team of Tang Weixing 9p and Yu Zhiying 5p to take first place in the three 2016.03.04_mind-games-pair-goround pair go competition at the IMSA Elite Mind Games in Huaian.  

Playing for North America, the Canadian team off Ryan Li 1p and Sarah Yu 6d, took sixth place overall, losing to Ilya Shikshin 1p and Natalya Kovaleva 5d.  Li and Yu lost in round one to the Taiwanese team of Joanne Missingham 7p and Lin-li Hsiang 6p, but scored a win in round two against Ali Jabarin 1p of Israel and Elvina Kalsberg 5d of Russia.  

Japan secured third place with Tomoya Hirata 7P and Hoshiai Shiho 1P defeating Missingham and Hsiang.
- Andy Okun, Special Correspondent for the E-Journal, with reporting by Hajin Lee
photo: Pair go top medalists with Pair Go founder Mrs Taki and local CP official

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Korea, China Win at IEMG, with NA Players in 5th Place; Li Scores Against Japan Pro

Tuesday March 1, 2016

Two of the three go events at the IMSA Elite Mind Games ended Monday with Korean and Chinese victories, while the North American Men’s2016.03.02_1st_IEMG_team_korea team and lone woman contender Sarah Yu 6d each took 5th place.  In the course of the match, each of the three men players defeated a pro with Ryan Li 1p scoring a final round win against the young Japanese talent Mutsuura Yuta 2p.

The men’s team, comprising Li, Jiang Mingjiu 7p and Eric Lui 1p, were winless in the first three matches of the five match round robin, losing to Korea (see team photo at right), Taiwan and China.  Round four was against the European Go Federation team of Fan Hui 2p, Ali Jabarin 1p and Ilya Shikshin 1p, expected to be the main competition for North America.  On board three, Lui beat Shikshin while on board two, after falling behind early on, Li scrapped hard and fought gallantly, but was unable to catch up with Jabarin.  The match turned then on board one, where Jiang beat Hui, recently in the news for his October match against AlphaGo, in a hard fought half-point game.

North America’s final day match against Japan could not have moved North America out of 5th but was the deciding factor in Japan or Taiwan taking 3rd place in the match.  Japan, needing the win to stay on the medal stand, won by 2-1.  Although Li beat the strong 16-year-old Mutsuura, Lui lost to Toramaru Shibano 2p, another 16-year-old with a strong record in his two years of pro play.  Jiang meanwhile, lost to Hirata Tomoya 7p, although both a disappointed Jiang and some observers in the room thought he had a chance to win.

Li’s win was in line with the opinion expressed by the Asian team captains present, that the young AGA and EGF pros had improved significantly, approaching in strength a new Chinese pro and matching weaker Japanese pros. They mainly need more  opportunities for serious tournament play in order to improve.

Korea effectively won the tournament by beating main rival China by 2-1 in round two.  Both were undefeated against the other teams.  Japan staked its claim on third place against main rival Taiwan in round one when Mutsuura and Shibano prevailed in their games.

In the women’s individual tournament, a 12-player double elimination, Sarah Yu lost in round one to Korea’s Oh Yujin 2p, but then won against Rita Pocsai 4d of Hungary and then Elvina Kalsberg 5d to guarantee at least a fifth place finish.  Her round four match against Yu Zhiying 5p went beautifully until the players were in byo yomi and the Chinese pro took control of the game. Yu Zhiying went on to win the tournament.  Yu’s last game was against Cao Youyin 3p.  Cao won, taking fourth.  Joanne Missingham 7p of Taiwan was third and Choi Jeong 6p of Korea took second.

A three-round pair go event started Tuesday, with Yu and Li facing off against Taiwanese teammates Missingham and Lin Li-Hsiang 6p.

- reported by Andy Okun from Huaian, Jiangsu Province, China; photo courtesy Ranka Online

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IMSA Elite Mind Games Update

Tuesday March 1, 2016

Despite being pushed to the loser’s bracket, Yu Zhiying 5P defeated Yu Jin 6D and Joanne Missingham 7P to make it into the women’s final at 2016.02.29_MingjiuJiang-IEMGthe IMSA Elite Mind Games, where she’ll play Choi Jeong 6P for the gold medal. In the men’s team division, North America defeated Europe 2 to 1, thanks to Jiang Mingjiu 7P’s (right) dramatic half-point victory over Fan Hui 2P and Eric Lui 1P’s win against Ilya Shikshin 1P. The match between North America and Europe attracted a lot of attention because for the first time, both teams were represented by professional players. Meanwhile, China defeated Japan 3-0, Korea defeated Chinese Taipei 2-0 and with just one round to go, the Korean team is leading with four wins while the Chinese team has three wins and one loss.
- adapted from a report on Ranka Online 

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Chess Players Counsel Calm As Computers Close in on Go

Monday February 29, 2016

by Special Correspondent Andy Okun, with reporting by Natalya Kovaleva

In the run-up to AlphaGo’s challenge match with Lee Sedol 9p in Seoul in a little over a week, go players have been worrying about the new age whose beginning might be marked by an AlphaGo victory.  What will the go world be like when computers are so good?  Will people still want to play go?  What will change?  Taking advantage of the collegiality of the IMSA Elite Mind Games in Huaian, we sought counsel from a community that has been through this before.  We asked chess players how the game was affected by Garry Kasparov’s historic loss to IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997, the steady growth in strength of computer chess since, and how go players should greet the news.  The general view was that go players should not be afraid of the new age, but that things will be different.  There may even be some new and interesting problems to handle, as there have in chess.

“So many cheats!” said KwaiKeong Chan (right), a long time chess player, arbiter and organizer from Hong Kong. Chan is helping run the chess 2016.02.29_Kwai Keong Chansection of the IEMG as deputy chief arbiter.  The software is so strong that it has become very easy to find new ways to cheat, Chan said.  “Hiding in the toilet is primitive,” he said dismissively of a toilet-based chess scandal last year in Dubai, although he refused to detail some of the more subtle methods people use.  Strong computers also are how officials crack down on cheats, he said.  Chess software is so good that given a board position and an ELO rating, you can predict the exact set of moves a player of that strength will likely draw from.  If a player consistently picks better moves than are likely for his or her rating, officials know to pay close attention.  “You cannot play beyond yourself.   It’s not humanly possible,” said Chan, who himself had designed some very early chess-playing software.

Beyond that, chess players don’t really care about computers’ strength and said go players shouldn’t either, he said.  Rather, the advent of strong computer go will bring publicity to the game, as Deep Blue did for chess, Chan said.  “That is always a good thing, publicity, good or bad.  Publicity is what you need.”  Chess is being played more than ever before, and while Deep Blue is not the main reason for that – he cited years of community effort in presenting chess well – it did produce a second surge of new players after the Bobby Fischer surge of the 1970s.

2016.02.29_Alexandra KosteniukThe presence of such strong computers has had other effects on how chess is played and the nature of chess expertise, players suggested.  Since strong computers can provide weak and middling players with solid and accurate analysis, the role of the chess master is different than it was, said Russian player Alexandra Kosteniuk (left), a grandmaster, former Women’s World Chess Champion and author of “Diary of a Chess Queen.”  The strength of players has gone up, but the best players don’t command the same respect they might have in years past because the best critique is available to everyone.  “Maybe in a few years, there will be no go masters,” she said.

Shahriyar Mamedyarov, a 31-year-old Azerbaijani grandmaster and former rapid chess World Champion, said it used to be that when he was in world championship tournaments, he might have seven or eight fellow players with him helping him prepare for the games.  He doesn’t need to do that now, since any questions he has or analysis he needs done can be done by computer. Valentina Evgenyevna Gunina, a three-time Russian women’s champion, said computers had raised the standard of training and that “we need to memorize much more than we did before.”

Kirsan ILyumzhinov, the controversial president of both the Federation Internationale des Echecs and the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, as2016.02.29_ponomariov03 well as the head of IMSA and a long time sponsor of computer go competitions, said in the early days of the computer go project, human players and human programmers would work hard to develop the computer player and make it stronger.  “Now the computer develops and trains the human.”

Perhaps the bluntest argument against fear of computers learning to play our games well came from Ruslan Ponomariov (right), a Ukrainian grandmaster and FIDE World Champion from 2002 to 2004.

“What we can do?” he asked with a shrug.

photos credits: Kirill Merkurev (Chan); chessqueen.com (Kosteniuk); en.chessbase.com (Ponomariov)

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Korea, Japan Ahead in Elite Mind Games Men’s Tourney, N.A.’s Sarah Yu Scores Win

Sunday February 28, 2016

After two rounds, the Korean and Japanese men’s teams are undefeated in the first International Mind Sports Association (IMSA) Elite Mind Games in Huaian, China, while North America’s sole woman player scored a win to stay alive in the women’s Individual event.

After losing to a Korean pro in round one, Sarah Yu 6d (right) of Canada beat the European team’s Rita Pocsai 4d of Hungary in round two, moving 2016.02.28_Jin_Yu-imsaon in the double elimination tournament. Yu said she and Pocsai were well matched and that she had benefited from a few mistakes in her opponent’s endgame play. On the other hand, playing against Oh Yujin 2p in round one was daunting, the strong amateur said. “When you are playing against a pro, you just have to try to make the game last longer,” Yu said. “It forces you to play better.” In the game against Oh, “there were never any chances.”

2016.02.28_Eric_LUI-iemgOn the men’s side, the North American men were winless against Korea and Taiwan, though Eric Lui 1p believes he had an opportunity against Lin Shih-Hsun 5p of Taiwan. Lin and Lui, who are friends, reviewed for two hours after the game. Lin made left a major group vulnerable late in the game and Lui (left) attacked but was unable to bring off the kill. “Unfortunately, I went for a small part of the group instead of trying to kill the whole group, which clearly would have been the right thing to do,” Lui said in an interview in the bright white marble lobby of the New Century Grand Hotel Huaian. While the game wasn’t over then, Lin didn’t let down his guard again and won by resignation. His game on day one against Kim Jiseok 9p was not so suspenseful. “The thing about active young pro players today is their game is so well-rounded,” Lui said. “Their game has no real weaknesses.”

On board one, Jiang Mingjiu 7p lost to Lee Donghoon 5p on the first day and Taiwan’s Chen Shih-Yuan 9p on the second. Ryan Li 1p of Canada lost to Park Jeonghwan 9p of Korea and Lin Li-Hsiang 6p. The Korean and Chinese teams are thought to be the strongest, so Korea, in addition to defeating North America, may have effectively taken the lead in the round robin tournament when it defeated China by 2-1 in the second round. Japan’s very young team, including two 16-year-old 2 dans, is also undefeated, having beaten Europe in a clean sweep and Taiwan by 2-1.
- Andy Okun, reporting from Huaian, China. For more IEMG reports, game records and the tournament contestants, go to Ranka Online’s website.

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IMSA Inks Deal Guaranteeing Three More Years of Elite Mind Games in Huaian

Sunday February 28, 2016

The International Mind Sports Association will hold three more IMSA Elite Mind Games in Huaian, Jiangsu Province, China over the next three2016.02.28_imsa_ban600x90 years, according to IMSA Secretary General (and AGA VP) Thomas Hsiang. IMSA signed a memorandum of understanding on Feb. 28 at the first IEMG with officials from the Jiangsu Sports Bureau, the government of Huaian and the China Qiyuan (the Board and Card Games Administrative Center of China’s General Administration of Sport) under which a second, third and fourth IEMG will be held the second week of January in 2017, 2018 and 2019. “I am very grateful to our friends at the China Qiyuan for their crucial role in making the first IEMG possible, and now for adding three more rounds of IEMG,” said Hsiang. “The local organizational efforts have also been just marvelous! The past few days have been most enjoyable and I look forward to having this event become a regular fixture on the mind sports scene.” As part of the MOU, IMSA will open an office and a mind sports academy in Huaian and all the parties have agreed to work to spread mind sports generally and also to promote Huaian as the “Mind Sports City of the World.” The IEMG were in part prompted by the end of the successful four-year run of the similarly structured SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing.
- Andy Okun, reporting from Huaian, China

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Myungwan Kim 9P to Comment Live on Nongshim Cup Starting March 1

Friday February 26, 2016

Myungwan Kim 9P will be providing live commentary in the Nongshim Cup starting Tuesday, March 1st.  The game will begin at 10p PST (1a 3/2 EST) and commentary on the AGA’s YouTube channel will begin at 10:30p PST 1:30a 3/2 EST, UTC-8).  2016.02.26_Nongshim10BracketsThe Nongshim Cup is a win-and-continue team match between Japan, China, and Korea.  On Feb 29th, Gu Li — on a 3-game winning streak after beating Choi Cheolhon, Kono Rin, and Park Jungwhan — will face Japan’s next player, Murakawa Daisuke.  Lee Sedol will face the winner of that match up, and the AGA will continue to broadcast games as long as Lee keeps winning; the remaining games are scheduled for March 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.
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Categories: China,Japan,Korea,World
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