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e-Go Congress Registration Tops 450; Bob High Memorial Song and Poetry Contest open

Tuesday July 21, 2020

Registration for the e-Go Congress continues to climb, passing 450 registrants on Monday, July 20.  “We just hope everyone can actually attend – it’s so wonderful to be able to bring a solid week of go events to people during this pandemic!” says Congress Coordinator Lisa Scott. Registrants hail from 46 countries, and every age group from toddler to senior.

Registration includes 120 double-digit kyu players – far more than usually make it to the US Go Congress. With such high registration, caps will be put on some tournaments, with new registrants joining a waitlist. The first two tournaments to be capped will be the Double-Digit Kyu Tournament and the Relay Go Tournament. “Relay go is proving more popular than we’d expected!” says Tournament Director Audrey Wang. “To make sure that everyone can participate fully, we will cap the tournament at 100 registrants.” Registration for that tournament is currently at 82 people. The Double-Digit Kyu Tournament will be capped at 120 people, with current registration at 91.

In addition to tournaments, the e-Go Congress will feature some opportunities to “hang out” with Go friends, as well as the Bob High Memorial Song and Poetry Contest.  For more information about the contest, check out the rules and entry form here.  For the first time, e-Go Congress attendees and viewers will be able to vote for the winner from among the finalists!  More information about that to come.

For a complete schedule of events, check out the website here!

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AlphaGo, KataGo, and the future of AI

Saturday June 6, 2020

Visualization of ownership predictions by KataGo

“There’s something magical about the game of go,” writes Branton DeMoss in a recent blog post. “For thousands of years, it has captured the imagination of those who want to learn what it is to learn, to think about what thinking means. With the recent advent of strong, open source go AI that can beat top professionals, it’s worth tracing the history of the game, why it remained so difficult to beat humans for so long, and what the future of go may hold.”

DeMoss explores the evolution of computer go, and then discusses how AlphaGo differs from the open source Katago. “KataGo attempts to predict a greater number of game outcomes than just value,’ says DeMoss, “in particular, KataGo also predicts final territory control, final score difference, and from each board state the opponent’s next move. As a result of these improvements, KataGo massively outperforms Leela Zero and Facebook’s ELF bot in learning efficiency. KataGo achieves a factor of fifty improvement in training efficiency vs. ELF”.

The creator of KataGo, David J. Wu, answers some of DeMoss’s questions at the end of the article. “I think the AlphaZero-style training loop using MCTS (Monte Carlo Tree Search) is not the last word on [things like] this,” says Wu. “Blind spots are just the most visible of the flaws, but there are some technical and theoretical details you can dig into that start to make it clear that there are some practical problems with how exploration and move discovery work in this loop, some basic theoretical flaws involving mismatches between the neural net’s training distribution and usage, and also some fundamental ‘missing’ capabilities in current bots in terms of using search effectively.” The full blog post can be read here. -Story by Paul Barchilon. image from Accelerating Self-Play Learning in Go, by David J. Wu.

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Redmond to review Ichiriki-Shibano game from Pandanet’s “Golden Panda Cup”

Saturday May 30, 2020

Ichiriki

For this Sunday’s live game commentary on Twitch (8p EDT; note new time!), Michael Redmond 9P – hosted by E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock — will review Pandanet’s “Golden Panda Cup” final-round game between Ichiriki Ryo — one of the top up-and-coming young players — and Shibano Toramaru, who won the prestigious Meijin tournament in 2019 at age 19, becoming the first teenager to achieve one of the seven major Japanese titles. Pandanet hosted the the “Golden Panda Cup”; Golden Panda is also what they called the player with the most wins, thus knocking out the most opponents.

Shibano
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KGS Adds Web Registration

Saturday May 23, 2020

The KGS Go Server just got easier to join and use. The Java client for KGS has been an ongoing problem for some computers and blocked by many schools. The KGS Home Page features a new link to sign up for a free account. Using ShinKGS, a web-based client developed by Justin Kramer, phones, tablets, or computers can now play on the server while avoiding Java completely. 

The American Go Foundation has been steadily working on improving KGS, but mostly behind the scenes until now. “This is the first of many upgrades to KGS that the AGF wants to see happen.” says AGF President Terry Benson. “To make KGS a better go community, we could use help on the open source ShinKGS code.  While so many people are stuck at their computers, go is a great way to stay busy and connected to other people.”  ShinKGS is still missing some features and has a few bugs, a list of areas that need work is here, access to the code is on Github here. GoUniverse, a plugin for the Chrome Web Browser developed by Ilya Kirillov, is  another way to access KGS without Java, and has almost all of the features in the full client. GoUniverse is also open source, and can be accessed on Github here.

KGS has seen a boom in users with everyone staying home due to Covid-19, and many clubs now meet virtually on the site. The AGF hopes to expand that user base by improving services and growing the community. “Many thanks to lead KGS developer Lee Schumacher for his tireless work on behalf of the server. Our thanks also to Oren Laskin, on the development team, and to all the admins who work daily to keep KGS a safe and friendly space for all,” adds Benson. – Paul Barchilon, AGF Vice-President

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BadukPop app adds AI opponent

Friday May 22, 2020

BadukPop has added several improvements in its latest update, including the ability to play against artificial intelligence. The popular go problem app, developed by Hajin Lee 4P and Dan Maas, works on both Android and iOS. The interface was designed to be fun for all ages, including kids, and now features 7 humorous AI characters you can play against. The weakest is Bobby – perfect for people who have just learned to play. Next up is Kevin whose “mind wanders off into deep space – and so do his go moves.” As players work their way up, the AI gets much stronger. “I love playing against Cora,” says Lee “she’s my new rival – I have about a 50/50 win rate against her, and it’s really fun to have a quick game with her now and then.” At the top is Max “a powerful AI that plays at human professional level.”

The app only supports games on 9×9 for now, but 13×13 and 19×19 are coming soon says Maas. A new section of lessons has been added as well. Designed as short sequences to teach new players, you can go from learning the rules to mastering basic corner and side positions. Like everything in BadukPop, the lessons are designed to be quick so one can learn something in just a few minutes, but build deep knowledge over time. Lee goes over the new features on her Youtube channel here. The app is free, but has in app purchases for extra features. Download from the Apple or Android stores, or from BadukPop’s website here. -Paul Barchilon, EJ Youth Editor

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Go video feast on AGA YouTube

Tuesday April 28, 2020

If you’re hankering for some more online go content, here’s our latest release schedule on the AGA’s YouTube channel:

April 28: Southeast Asia (SEA) Go Congress: Masters Round 6 (Yang Shuang 2p): US Masters runner-up Jian Zhongfan takes on top Korean amateur Kim Do Hyup in the top division of the Southeast Asia Go Congress.
May 5: Redmond’s Reviews, SEA Edition: Michael Redmond 9P reviews an assortment of Japanese professional games, as well as the third-place match of the Singaporean 7-dan title tournament.
May 12: SEA Congress, Singaporean 7-dan Title Match G2 (Yang Shuang 2p): Having won the first game in the best-of-3 final, can Lin Youzhi 6d go one step further to reach the summit of Singaporean Go?
May 19: China-US Internet Go Tournament, Day 1 (Kim Yoonyoung 8p): Six of the best players in the United States team up against a very strong line-up of Chinese top amateur players.
May 26: China-US Internet Go Tournament, Day 2 (Cho Hyeyeon 9p): The competition is really heating up on Day 2: will there be upsets, and who will survive the ultimate fights in byo-yomi?
Plus tune in on our Twitch channel Sunday nights at 7p EDT for more live broadcasts by Michael Redmond and Chris Garlock; details TBA soon!

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New York Go Honor Society takes New York Go League international

Wednesday April 15, 2020

After initially announcing a league in March of this year that would allow New York players to compete both in-person and online, the New York Go Honor Society has taken the New York Go League international in light of the recent pandemic and the inability of players to meet in person. “We are proud to announce that we will be opening the league to all players, not just those who reside in New York,” says NYGHS vice-president Patrick Zhao. Participants will play two games per week be allowed to schedule their games with their opponents on their own time. Entry and play in the league is completely free and open to any player with a stable rank with any association or credible Go server. All players interested in joining the league should fill out the Google registration form before the registration deadline of May 1, and take time to read the rules and regulations. Players should address any questions to co-president.nyghs@ny-go.org

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WAGC postponed until 2021

Saturday March 28, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Go Federation has postponed the 41st annual World Amateur Go Championship – originally scheduled to be held in June in Vladisvostok, Russia – until the summer of 2021. “We kindly ask you to understand this critical decision and hope to meet with players from all over the world in Vladivostok in 2021,” said Russian Go Federation Vice President Natalia Kovaleva in an announcement. The pandemic, still growing rapidly around the world with near 600,000 confirmed cases and 27,000 deaths, has brought a near complete halt to most face-to-face activity in the world of mind games. Tournaments scheduled for spring and early summer in Chess, Bridge, Draughts, and Go have been postponed or cancelled outright in many countries. The AGA has urged its chapters not to hold meetings or tournaments for the time being, and while the US Go Congress is still being prepared for August in Estes Park, CO, AGA and Congress staff are monitoring the situation and will issue an update in April. Organizers of the European Go Congress 2020, set for Kamyanets-Podilski, in the Ukraine, have put their preparations on hold. “A decision will be made by mid-May whether EGC will be postponed or held as planned,” according to the EGC website.

-report by AGA President Andrew Okun

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How we’re coping: WMGC & SiliValley

Monday March 23, 2020

“The WMGC (Western MA Go Club) held it’s usual Thursday night meeting via Zoom last week,” reports Trevor Morris. “Ten of us showed up on-line. At times, it was a bit chaotic, with three different conversations going on simultaneously! Several of us used OGS for the first time. I signed up as a supporter there; I really like the AI analysis.” The club is hoping for an even bigger turn-out this Thursday. “Perhaps some out-of-town friends would like to join us?” Trevor wonders. “I’m hoping that Zoom’s breakout rooms with cut down on the chaos.” Reach him at gotrevor@gmail.com

“The SiliValley Go Group is, of course not meeting,” says David Doshay. “I am playing correspondence go both via OGS and email, sending coordinates back and forth. I am trying to help some of our folks who are not computer savvy to get set up on OGS, and last night I was setting up Zoom sessions so that I can continue teaching the child of a friend how to play. We will try the first lesson tonight. I am not playing any games in real time via go servers. Other than that we are well stocked with food and are watching streaming content, avoiding zombie-pandemic movies.”

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!

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How’re you coping with the crisis?

Sunday March 22, 2020

Playing more online go? Studying more? Producing online go content? We’d like to hear about how go players around the world are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Email us today at journal@usgo.org. We’ll share the best tips and ideas with your fellow go players!

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