American Go E-Journal » U.S./North America

Players use Zoom to give online Go an in-person feel

Sunday March 29, 2020

For many players, online play can lack a sense of ownership and connection, but a group of east coast players led by Haskell Small (right) is testing the limits of Zoom’s ability to bring groups together by making online play feel as ‘in-person’ as possible. By creatively positioning computer cameras, players were able to play on real boards with real stones in the first of a recurring Friday night ‘REAL Go’ club.

The camera feed was not a perfect solution for board sharing; “The board is distorted near the ends and we couldn’t see each others’ faces without leaning over, “admits Small, “but except for a few moves near the edges that needed to be clarified, this arrangement sufficed for being able to play the game without needing to relay moves aurally.” 

“We limited it this time to only 4 players at a time,” says Small. “More than this might be difficult to manage, but I think doable by selecting individual participants’ video and muting others.” Here are a few tips from Haskell Small to simplify this approach:

  • Look only at your opponent’s screen and your own physical board without looking at your own camera screen; the orientation will be the same and it will be easier to keep the game flowing.
  • Use Zoom’s ‘gallery view’ to see all the boards through each camera view, and make any one of them larger.
  • A problem came up a few times when one of us neglected to keep up with our opponent’s moves on our physical board – this was easily cleared up once discovered. 

Small encourages other clubs who enjoy the tactile experience of playing with real equipment to attempt this approach and share feedback. “Of course this is still not as good as playing in person,” admits Small, “but for those of us who find playing online impersonal and prefer playing on a physical board, this was great! The games flowed easily and conversation was fluent, and perhaps that is the main advantage of this paradigm – we didn’t have to sacrifice the party atmosphere of a club environment.  I had a blast (and won both of my games)!”

-photo by Betsy Small

Share

How we’re coping: the Walla Walla Go Club makes connections

Saturday March 28, 2020

“We have used this pandemic as an opportunity to make connections between our Go club and other regional clubs,” reports Stephan Tanner of the Walla Walla Go Club. “Last week, in place of our usual in-person gatherings, the Walla Walla Go Club of Walla Walla, Washington and the Grande Ronde Go Club of La Grande, Oregon met online for a ‘Social Isolation Swiss’ tournament on OGS. Next week we plan to do the same and invite the Idaho Go Club of Boise, Idaho to join us as well.”

“I’d encourage other clubs to see this as an opportunity!” Tanner continues. “Contact another club in your area or in the next state over and arrange to meet online. Use this as a way to strengthen the connections in regional Go communities.”

How are you coping with the COVID-19 pandemic? Playing more online go? Studying more? Producing online go content? We’d especially like to hear if you’re streaming on Twitch or posting videos to YouTube. Email us today at journal@usgo.org. We’ll share the best tips and ideas with your fellow go players!

Share

NY Institute of Go launches new “Epic Battle” series on YouTube

Wednesday March 25, 2020

NYIG_Go, the YouTube channel of the New York Institute of Go and the New York Go Association, launched a brand-new series, ‘Epic Battle,’ earlier this week on March 22. This series, produced, directed, and edited by Allen Moy, features professional 1-dan players Stephanie Yin and Ryan Li facing off one another while proving viewers with both players’ perspectives and commentaries; similar to the successful New Year’s special video. Following each game, Stephanie and Ryan will give their reviews of the entire match and their strategies, as well as adding some entertainment and chemistry to the video. Videos are expected to be posted on Mondays and Fridays.

Share

Go players keep going during pandemic

Monday March 16, 2020

Go players are coming up with creative ways to keep playing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Go Center in Washington DC is “working to set up both formal and informal offline play,” reports Gurujeet Khalsa. “We have a room on the KGS Go Server where anyone can go. For those of you already familiar with KGS, if you sign in, go to the Rooms Menu, then Room List, you will get a pop-up menu to select a room. Our room is under Clubs on that menu. Click on Clubs and then scroll down to National Go Center.”
There’s also a National Go Center presence on Discord, the free application that many gamers use for voice communication and text chat. It is a good supplement to KGS. KGS has a voice option but the quality is somewhat spotty. Click here for the NGC Discord. “Folks can meet and play informally on KGS anytime,” Khalsa adds. “We’ve been having discussions with the Seattle Go Center and others and are looking at some inter-league type play as well.”

Meanwhile, in New York City, organizer Peter Armenia has created a Gotham Go Group – Manhattan group on OGS (Online Go Server). “So maybe folks can meet there on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to keep as much normalcy in these less than normal times as possible,” says Armenia. “I don’t normally play go online, but I will try to be there to get a game with some familiar faces.”

Armenia adds that “Some folks are talking about getting a KGS Gotham Go Group room going. If that happens I will let you know.”

And this just in from Jonathan Hop: “I just wanted to drop you guys a line and let you know I opened my new site.” The subscription service provides full access to the video library, go problem sets, and a dashboard to track your progress in different skills. “It’d definitely give people something to do while we’re all practicing social distancing!” says Hop. 

Got go news? Email it to journal@usgo.org!

Share

AGA Encourages Players to Stay Home

Saturday March 14, 2020

The following statement has been released by the American Go Association’s Board of Directors.

“Generally, the AGA considers promoting face-to-face go to be one of it’s biggest priorities. As COVID-19 has progressed, however, it has become clear that practicing social distancing is something that everyone needs to do for their health and the health of those around them.

With that in mind, the AGA is encouraging folks to cancel or postpone all planned club and tournament events in March and April. This is a developing situation that is changing weekly (and lately daily), and we hope that we will be able to resume in-person play soon – once the pandemic has subsided.

The Seattle Go Center in Seattle and the National Go Center in Washington, DC have both suspended tournaments and face-to-face play and are closely monitoring the situation. Updates are at seattlego.org and nationalgocenter.org.

At this time, the AGA is making no recommendations about events in May or any time after that. Preparations for the US Go Congress in Estes Park at the beginning of August are continuing, even as we develop contingency plans in case the effects of the pandemic continue into the summer. Congress staff are working closely with the YMCA and monitoring recommendations from public officials. Colorado has declared a state of emergency and recommended postponing gatherings of 250 or more for the time being.

Stay safe – and maybe take this opportunity to rediscover online go playing, read some go books, and watch some of the many videos available on Twitch and YouTube!”

Share

Stay home, watch go! Pandanet City League this weekend

Friday March 13, 2020

Self-Isolation? Recovering from St Patty’s Day? Miss other sporting events? Logon to Pandanet this Sunday March 15th at 3pm EST/12pm PST and watch some go! Many of the country’s top players are playing throughout the day. Check out our schedule pages for your favorite players and local teams for the times they’re playing.

A League B LeagueC LeagueD League

Share

Registration Open for 2020 AGHS School Team Tournament

Thursday March 12, 2020

“Registration for the 2020 AGHS School Team Tournament is now open through March 31st, ” says Promotion Head Sophia Wang, “All participants must be North American residents in grades K-12 and attend the same school as their teammates. Each team has 3 players, with no more than 5 teams per institution. A total of four rounds will be held on two Sundays—April 5th and 12th—at 10am and 1pm PST each day. Players of all four rounds will receive a participation prize, and the top teams in each division will receive cash and trophies.”

Click here for registration
Click here for detailed rules

Share

Canadian Open update

Monday March 9, 2020

Plans for the Canadian Open to be held late June in Vancouver have been cancelled. “The host organization has had to withdraw, due to the issues with COVID-19 virus,” reports Canadian Go Association president James Seddwick. The CGA is looking into alternate arrangements, with an initial target of holding something on Labour Day weekend September 4-7; stay tuned for a future announcement. “I also wish to offer our sympathies to CGA members with families & friends in China,” Sedgwick added. “I know it has been a tough time with ill family members who cannot be visited, and business and personal impacts. Hopefully lives will return to normal soon.”

Plans for the U.S. Go Congress — scheduled for Estes Park, CO, August 1 – 9 — are moving forward; organizers are monitoring the situation closely with the safety of the attendees and community paramount; stay tuned for updates.

Share

2020 Redmond Cup and AGA Girls Cup Registration Closing Soon

Monday March 9, 2020

Registration for the 27th Redmond Cup and 3rd AGA Girls Cup will be closing soon on March 11th and March 18th respectively. Competitors must be residing in the US, Canada, or Mexico and be members of their respective national Go association. The Redmond Cup is restricted to players under 18 with an accredited rank of 1 dan or stronger, while the AGA Girls Cup is restricted to females under 16 with an accredited rank of 10 kyu or stronger. The two finalists in the AGA Girls Cup and the Junior (12 and under) and Senior (13-17) divisions of the Redmond Cup will be invited to the 2020 US Go Congress with all reasonable expenses paid for by the American Go Foundation to play in a best-of-three match. All other participants who complete either preliminary tournament will be eligible for a $200 scholarship to the 2020 US Go Congress.

The Redmond Cup will begin on March 15th with preliminary matches played online through early-mid June. The AGA Girls Cup will follow a similar schedule starting on March 22nd. Players eligible for both tournaments may participate in them simultaneously. Interested players can read more about the Redmond Cup rules here and register here. Likewise, players can read more about the AGA Girls Cup rules here and register here.

–Justin Teng, AGA Youth Coordinator

Share

Su and Kim top 7th North American Kyu Championships

Thursday March 5, 2020

Jiayang Su 1k and Andrew Kim 2k topped the 85-player field at the 7th North American Kyu Championships on February 1st held on the KGS Go Server. Su (Junior champion) and Kim (Senior champion) will both have the opportunity to test their strength against stronger opposition in the Redmond Cup starting later this month. Nearly 80% of the field was made up of Junior Division players (12 and under) and international representation was strong with 18 players from Mexico and 5 players from Canada. Final tournament results including all division winners and the crosstab can be found here. Each winner received a crystal trophy engraved with his or her name, and all participants who participated in each round are eligible for a $200 scholarship to the 2020 US Go Congress in Estes Park, Colorado.

Special thanks to Jeremy Chiu and Andrew Zhang for helping to direct the tournament, as well as Zhongfan Jian and Stephanie Yin from the New York Institute of Go and Sid Avila from the Mexican Go Association for helping the tournament run in a timely fashion.
Justin Teng, AGA Youth Coordinator

Share