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

AGA releases updated COVID guidelines for local play

Saturday July 24, 2021

With an increasing percentage of the American public vaccinated and many localities easing or lifting COVID restrictions, the American Go Association – which last year urged all chapters and clubs to avoid face-to-face play – has released recommendations[CK1]  for resumption of local play and tournaments.

“We are being very conservative in our recommendations,” said Andy Okun, AGA President, “but we do want to acknowledge people’s desire to get competing again. With a little inconvenience and some patience, it should be possible for most people to play with reasonable safety.”

Basic FAQ:

It is now safe to play go face-to-face?
Everyone, and every club, has to take responsibility for the safety of their own activities. That said, with basic safety precautions (see below), it should be possible for most people to play with reasonable safety.

Can I re-open my local AGA chapter for face-to-face play?
Chapters may decide on their own whether to re-open; AGA can’t decide for you. We recommend you only re-open if you follow basic safety precautions (see below).

Can a local chapter require proof of vaccination for players?
That’s a local decision to made in consultation with members of your chapter. AGA has no objection to such a requirement.

Do we have to wear a mask if playing outside?
That is your choice and may depend on local conditions.  Follow local guidelines on masking but be aware that according to the CDC, there’s still risk of transmission and the safety of a chapter attendees is the responsibility of local organizers so erring on the side of extra caution is well-advised.

Do we need to wash stones and/or boards and bowls?
We don’t think so. Touch transmission has been assessed by the CDC as a very low risk.
HOWEVER: The AGA strongly recommends that sanitizer, gloves and spare masks be made readily available to all; supplemental funding is available to AGA chapters to offset the costs of providing these supplies; email planning@usgo.org.

Why so strict on being masked at all times?
Two people sitting across from each other for an hour in a closed room is the exact situation in which COVID is most readily transmitted.

Can my local chapter hold a tournament?
YES; providing you follow basic safety precautions (see below).

Are there more detailed organizer’s resources available?
Yes: see AGA recommendations, tournament announcement templates for Low  and Moderate level risk categories, best practices, and Basic Characteristics of COVID-19 Relevant to Board Game Play. Any further questions — email planning@usgo.org.
These documents are intended to assist organizers get us back to competing again, not quite like the good old days, but as safely as we can be in these trying  times.

RECOMMENDED BASIC PRECAUTIONS

Wear masks: All attending should be required to be masked or shielded [CK3] at all times (unless eating). Refusal to comply may result in expulsion from the event.
– Be vaccinated: We recommend that  organizers ask unvaccinated people (except kids too young) stay at home. Organizers wishing to check vaccine status are free to do so.
Sanitizer, gloves and spare masks to be provided: Frequent hand washing or sanitizing will be encouraged, particularly after touching one’s face, particularly nose, eyes and mouth. Sanitize after you do. Supplemental funding is available to AGA chapters to offset the costs of providing these supplies; email planning@usgo.org
– Post Signage in highly visible locations (e.g., at entrances, in restrooms, on televisions) that promote everyday protective measures and describe how to stop the spread of germs, such as by properly sanitizing and/or washing hands, and properly wearing a mask. Provide signs and messages in multiple languages as needed. Prominently post copies of the AGA Guidelines for Safe Board Game Play (below).
Urge players to stay home if they are in doubt: Encourage all potential participants to stay home if they have any symptoms that resemble those of Covid-19. People also should not participate if they have been recently exposed to someone with COVID. Consult current CDC and or local criteria regarding when a person may return to group activities after having had, or been exposed to someone with Covid-19, and with respect to vaccination status.
If possible, play outside, but if you play inside, try to have the room as well ventilated as possible.
Post tournament pairings online or on a large wall screen: to prevent crowding, do not use wall charts.
Observe standard social distancing guidelines: Spectators should observe normal social distancing practice. A brief look at a game is OK, but extended kibitzing in close proximity to the players is discouraged.

Updated July 24, 2021

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NYGHS Summer Open concludes, Tony Tang 7D finishes as Dan Division Champion

Saturday July 24, 2021

The NYGHS is proud to announce the conclusion of our first official tournament. The tournament ran smoothly despite the unconventional format. Participants spent their first competition day, June 27th, competing for a seed in the second day. On the second competition day, which took place on July 3rd, players were placed into brackets based on their seeds and competed for first, second, and third place in their respective divisions. All tournament participants were given a chance to play on the second competition day regardless of how they had initially performed. 

Totaling 32 players, participants were split into three divisions with each division featuring a $75 prize for first and a $50 prize for second. Top three players in each division will also receive a one month silver subscription to the NYIG YouTube channel. The tournament concluded with a first place finish from Tony Tang 7d in the Dan Division after his win against runner-up Eric Yoder 6d. 

Full Results:
Division A:
1st place – Tony Tang 7D
2nd place – Eric Yoder 6D
3rd place – Jate Greene 3D 

Division B:
1st place – Albert Tang 1K
2nd place – Michael Sherman 2K
3rd place – Jamie Tang 5K

Division C:
1st place – Della Tang 12K
2nd place – Benjamin Lo 9K
3rd place – Ajay Dheeraj 14k

“Thank you so much to all our engaged participants who were able to make the tournament possible,” says Patrick Zhao. “We will do our best to provide and improve upon events such as these in the future. After other summer Go events, namely the e-Go Congress, stay on the lookout for the return of the NY GO League. We hope to see you soon!”

-report by Patrick Zhao

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Still time to bid on the goban. And the lessons, the dojo, books, periodicals…

Friday July 23, 2021

The closing ceremonies of the annual US Go Congress are just hours away and the Congress won’t be complete without the auction of a goban to benefit the American Go Foundation. And this year you can bid on so much more. “Help raise much-needed funds and get yourself some prizes along the way!” says Solomon Smilack. Click here and then use the buttons to register, so that you can bid on the auction items. Click Auction to review the current offerings, select Donate to give financial support to the AGF directly, or Donate Item to add something to the auction. “There are go lessons from online teachers, dojo membership, go equipment, go books, old go periodicals, and more!” says Smilack.

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Pete Schumer named AGF Teacher of the Year

Friday July 23, 2021

“I’m quite overwhelmed and deeply humbled to be chosen as this year’s AGF Teacher of the Year,” said Schumer. “It’s quite an honor to join all the past recipients who have done so much towards the teaching, promotion, and dissemination of go.” Ordinarily a Teacher of the Year wins a free trip to the US Go Congress. As that is online this year, Schumer will be invited to the 2022 Go Congress in Estes Park as a guest of the AGF.

Schumer has been teaching a course on go at Middlebury College in Vermont since 1987.   “The course is more about introducing and promoting the history, spirit, and cultural aspects surrounding go as much as it is about improving one’s measurable ranking,” says Schumer.  “Self awareness and self-improvement is a large part of the course’s intent, but developing a deeper appreciation of the game and a humble respect for its great practitioners is even more important.   The course is also a writing course where students write and revise papers on the rules of go, on the theme of ‘Go as a Metaphor’, on the concept of ‘Collaboration versus Competition’.  The students also research a related East Asian art or tradition and give a presentation on their findings.  The ‘aha’ moment for many of them is when they discover the powerful connections and interdependencies between the spirit of go and that of the art they have been studying.”

Schumer has also created and run the Vermont Go Club, which has been active for over 30 years.  “The best way to promote go is through friendships and through such rich, joyful, meaningful get togethers.  In addition, I add one weekend meeting a month devoted to teaching new players about the game.   Again I am more interested in simply making them aware of this wonderful game, teaching them the basics, making sure they have a fun and positive experience (say beating me on a 9×9 board with a five stone handicap), and leaving it at that.  The analogy I like to give is that more people take art appreciation courses in college than become studio art majors.  Museums rely on an educated public that appreciates beautiful art whether or not most people can produce beautiful art.  Similarly, the American public seems to support and love football (based on the number of people who watch the Super Bowl, say), yet very few of us reach the level of even playing at the college level – or even care to.  We should continue to strive to educate the public about the game and foster a deep appreciation of it.  Our commitment and affection for the game can truly inspire others.”

“I want to thank the selection committee for their warm support and confidence in me.  I promise to redouble my effort to ‘pay it forward’ by continuing to pass along my knowledge and enthusiasm of the game to the younger generation,” adds Schumer. -Paul Barchilon, EJ Youth Editor. Photo: Schumer with a young opponent at the Osaka Go Camp in 2018

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Ritter and Fraze win in AGA Board elections

Tuesday July 20, 2021

Dan Ritter and Devin Fraze have won election to the AGA’s Board in the Easter and Central regions, respectively. The Western region winner will be announced August 2.
– Arnold Eudell

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Triangle Go Group summer park tournament a success

Thursday July 15, 2021

A summer tournament was held at Umstead State Park in Raleigh, NC on July 11, 2021. Twenty four Go players participated. This was the Triangle Go Group’s first paired tournament in nearly 2 years. In keeping with tradition, all entry fees were returned to the players as prize money.

In the very competitive Open Section, there was a 3 way tie for first place honors: Jeff Kuang, Nianci Gan and Sheng (Thomas) Huo each racked up 3 wins and 1 loss. Second place was earned by Xiaoping Wu. Strengths in the top band ranged from 1d to 4d.

Players enjoyed typical North Carolina summer weather that varied from comfortably warm to occasional late day showers, perfect for playing Go. Tournament Director Jeff Kuang ran the show smoothly and pairings appeared quickly. Charles Alden provided invaluable offsite support. A pizza lunch was provided by the Triangle Go Group, along with donuts and iced water.

First place in Section B was captured by Leroy Anderson III with an impressive 3-1 record, losing only to a strong player from the Open Section. Justin Blank placed second with 2 wins and 2 losses. Section C was won by Tom Roncoli, finishing the day with a 3 and 1 tally, and second place was shared by 4 players each winning 2 games: Stephen Gilbert, Andrew Thieman, Harrison Pedigo and Bob Bacon.

The only perfect record of the day was attained by Justin Su in Section D, handily winning all 4 of his games. Second place in Section D was awarded to Russel Herman with a 3-1 performance.

-report and photos provided by Bob Bacon

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Registration open for the 2021 New York Youth Open

Thursday July 15, 2021

The annual New York Youth Open (NYYO) will take place on Saturday, August 7, 2021 in the KGS AGA Tournament Room. The NYYO is a one-day, 4-round open Go tournament for all players under the age of 18. The tournament will begin with a short opening ceremony online at 11:30 – 11:45 AM EDT on Saturday, August 7, 2021. There is no rank requirement to enter. 

The top three players in each division (based on rank) will receive certificates and trophies. For registration, schedule, and rules, tournament video requirements, please visit the website. Registration will close on August 4, 2021. Interested players can also join other young fighters preparing for the tournament at the NYIG summer Go camp.

-report by Stephanie Yin

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AGA City League Finals and League Winners

Tuesday July 13, 2021

Congratulations to all of the players for this year’s Pandanet AGA City League. Each of these teams fought hard in their games to win their leagues. The top two leagues are very tough with the strongest players in the US and Canada. The other two leagues are no slouches either. All of those players battled their many opponents to find out the strongest team across many cities.

The AGA City League Finals will take place on July 23rd at 8pm EST/5pm PST on Pandanet in the AGA City League room. These games will be played between New York City, the reigning champs, and Canwa Vancouver 1. Based on their last matchup this will be an exciting series of games. They will be reviewed starting at 9pm on the AGA Twitch channel with Michael Redmond 9p and Chris Garlock. Make sure to tune in to watch these games and reviews!

Congratulate your cities teams on their winning performances this year:


A League
1/2 – Watch on July 23rd!
3 – Greater Washington
4 – Toronto
5 – Chicago

B League
1 – Boston
2 – Seattle 1
3 – Los Angeles
4 – Chicago 2

C League
1 – Seattle 2
2 – Canwa Vancouver 3
3 – Washington DC 2

D League
1 – North Corvalis
2 – New Mexico
3 – New York City 4

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Boulder Kids and Teens Go Club Back in Action

Tuesday July 13, 2021

Children laughing, stones clacking, and general excitement returned to the Boulder Public Library in Colorado as the Boulder Kids and Teens Go Club had their first in-person meeting in over a year on Sunday, July 11th. Seventeen kids and about the same number of adults attended. The club moved online for the duration of the pandemic, but it was very hard to teach beginners both how to play and how to use the software at the same time, “it’s much, much, easier in person”, said club co-founder Dave Weiss. Also missing online was any ability to find new players, and the club has always relied on curious passersby in the Children’s Department to reach new kids. “The children’s area is a really important community hub,” said Children’s Library Specialist Ruth Smith, adding that she loved seeing all the families return to the library. Now in its 17th year, the club was forced to celebrate both its 16th and 17th year anniversaries online. Weiss bought two cakes and ice cream to mark the return to in-person play.

The club sent out a press release to mark their return, and the Boulder Daily Camera sent a reporter. The club was on the front page the next day, the article can be seen here.

Boulder County is 78% vaccinated, and many parts of the city are closing in on 90% vaccinated. State and county health officials all felt safe resuming much of normal life after the pandemic shut down so much. Colorado policy is now that masks are optional, and recommended only for unvaccinated people. As the vaccines are only available for ages 12 and up, most club attendees were still masked. Library staff all decided to wear masks as well, so the kids didn’t feel singled out. Kids did take their masks off to enjoy cake and ice cream, but most were masked for the bulk of their visit. -Story and photo by club co-founder Paul Barchilon

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Applications Open for South Central On-Line Leagues Season 2

Sunday July 4, 2021

Registration is open for the second season of The South Central On-Line Leagues, a system of six-player leagues in a round robin competition played on KGS and OGS. There will be one game every two weeks, with six players in each league. In the first season, 90 players enrolled in 15 leagues. Recruitment is underway for Season 2, scheduled to begin early August. Organizers are looking to fill 42 open slots, with 43 players returning from Season 1. The basic rules can be found here, and the application form to participate is can be found here.

-report by Bob Gilman

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