American Go E-Journal » World

50 years aGO – March 1972

Sunday March 20, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

We start this month with a report from the former editor of Go World, author of Invincible and translator of many go books, John Power. If you go back to the team match photo from last month’s column, I only identified the first three boards. Power’s sharp eye offers that Board 4 was Horst Mueller of Austria, Board 5 was Stuart Dowsey “cofounder of Ishi Press and founder of the London Go Centre,” and Board 6 was William Pinckard whose book on go art is one my favorites. I myself recognized Dowsey, but did not want to make everyone squint, but I am happy to offer this addendum simply out of pride that Mr. Power takes the time to read my efforts.

Speaking of Stuart Dowsey, on March 10 Dowsey and Manfred Wimmer taught Max Euwe, the President of the World Chess Federation and former World Chess Champion, how to play go during a visit to the Nihon Ki’in.

March 19 saw the start of the the Amateur Best 10 tournament. James Davies 4d made it to the second round, while Wimmer 5d made it to the third.

Mr. Wimmer had a busy month, here we see him playing on NHK TV. His opponent is the female junior high champion, Endō Keiko. According to Go Review, Wimmer demonstrated his knowledge of the taisha jōseki on his way to a three and a half point win.

On March 22, Ishida Yoshio began his defense of his Asahi Pro Best Ten title. The challenger, Iwata Tatsuaki 9d, was not a frequent challenger for top titles. Indeed, responding to the surprise of the go world, Iwata responded “That’s right, it is indeed a fluke.” Iwata, known for calm courtesy, was perhaps being modest, you do not defeat fellow senior Kitani disciple Ōtake Hideo, Hashimoto Shōji, Sugiuchi Masao and Sakata Eio in succession and not be worthy. Still the challenge created an almost modern style pregame show with various pros opining as to who would win. Katō Masao 7d backed Ishida, while Kanō Yoshinori 9d (author of Graded Go Problems for Beginners) believed Iwata had a very good chance because of the similarity of their styles. Rin Kaihō diplomatically and prudently suggested that in his experience, the winner of the first game usually won. Ishida took the first game by a half a point, but Iwata leveled the match on March 28. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2.)

As of March 23, the former title holders were still holding on to the lead in the leagues. Rin was 5-0 in the Hon’inbo, and Fujisawa Shūkō was 3-0 in the Meijin. Ishida had bounced back from his poor start in the Meijin League to level his result at 2-2.

World Chess Federation President Max Euwe learns to play Go

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Game records courtesy of SmartGo, photos from Go Review

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50 years aGO – February 1972

Sunday February 20, 2022

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

We start with another quick tidbit about inflation. The Nihon Ki’in released the prize leaders for 1971. Rin Kaihō led the pros with a princely income of $25,000.

On February 11, the Nihon Ki’in Team Tournament began. At the urging of Fujisawa Hōsai 9d, a “gaijin” team entered the event for 15 player teams. 11 Americans, 2 Austrians and 2 British made up the “Ishi Press Team.” Their first three boards were Manfred Wimmer, Richard Bozulich and James Davies – you can make them out in the attached picture from the event. Other notables were one time AGA President Robert McCallister and Congress Director Stuart Horowitz. Unfortunately full names are not given and we are left to speculate whether “Hall” was T. Mark Hall, co-creator of GoGOD. The top boards had a solid 70% win rate, but the tail end of the team was not as successful, and they were eliminated in the initial stage.

The Jūdan title match went the full 5 game distance. Beginning the month knotted at one game apiece, Sakata Eio took the lead in the third game played on February 9 and 10. Hashimoto Utarō managed to even the score by half a point on February 16 and 17. However, Sakata returned from the wilderness, taking the title on February 23-24. (Game records: Game 3, Game 4, Game 5.)

The Ishi Press Team at the Nihon Ki'in Team Tournament

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Photos from Go Review, game records from SmartGo

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Online go school continues to offer chance to learn and improve during pandemic

Friday February 4, 2022

When the COVID pandemic forced the closure of the popular Osaka Go Camp, the Kansai-Kiin’s Ryo Maeda 6P — like many — went online. The result was the International Osaka Go School. In operation since September 2020, the school provides students with online lectures and the opportunity for professionally reviewed games. The teaching staff includes Ryo Maeda 6P, Ting Li 1P, and Francis Meyer 1P, and Michael Redmond 9P is also available for game reviews.

The school welcomes players ranging from 15kyu to 6d, and there are multiple membership tiers available. For example, the two-month membership plan ($200USD) provides students with eight games played between the school’s league members, two teaching games with an instructor, and four lectures. Each game is personally reviewed by one of the teaching staff, and all the games and lectures are made available as video links, which are archived and accessible to members. A cheaper Observation plan allows students to access the lecture and game review videos. The wealth of learning opportunities is immense. Players can even request reviews of games played outside of the Osaka School. 

The school’s mission, along with conveying the charm of the game of go and providing accessible learning for go fans of all levels, is to ensure that learning during the pandemic remains fun. “It is still a severe time,” says Ryo Maeda 6P, “but we hope as many people [as possible] can have a joyful go experience.” 
– Edited by Hailey Renner

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Categories: Japan,Main Page,World
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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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KGS and OGS partner for AI review

Monday November 1, 2021

KGS is launching a new client with built in AI analysis. The effort is a partnership with OGS and will give both servers access to greatly expanded capacity for AI analysis. OGS users have had AI review available for the past couple years, but as demand increased, their cloud servers needed more capacity. Lead programmer Akita Noek wrote the code and implemented AI services for KGS in consultation with the AGF.

KGS, as always, will be free, and all users will now get a brief AI analysis after their games, with the top three mistakes highlighted and variations shown. Users who would like a full interactive analysis for the game can choose from a $5 monthly plan with 5 million deep reading operations or a $10 plan with 15 million operations. The service only works in the full Java version of the KGS client (cgoban) and is not available on ShinKGS or GoUniverse.

To download the new client visit the KGS AI page here or download from the KGS home page here.

A user guide for the service is here.

-Paul Barchilon, AGF Vice President

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The most popular international professional go event

Monday October 25, 2021

by Yuan Zhou

At the launch of the 23rd staging of ‘The Three Kingdoms of Korea, China, and Japan Baduk’ and Nongshim Shin Ramyun World Baduk Championship.

My title may be a slight exaggeration, but the Nongshim Cup does get a lot of attention among Asian fans. “Nongshim” in English is “spicy noodles” and the event is named for the Korean instant noodle company that sponsors it. The 23rd running of the event – officially the Nongshim Shin Ramyun World Baduk Championship – began this month. The tournament is being held online again this year; the second round starts November 26 and the finals begin February 21, 2022.

The tournament is a win-and-continue contest among three teams of five players each from China, South Korea, and Japan. The games are played one at a time so there have to be at least ten games (all of the members of two teams must lose), though thirteen or fourteen is normal.

The competing countries send their strongest players to this popular event, which makes for a lot of exciting games and, since they are representing their own countries and not just themselves, the players feel more pressure/stress than in regular international events. The Korean team for the up-coming session contains the top five ranked players, which will be the strongest Korean team ever in terms of ranking. The Chinese team always includes all the current holders of world titles, and the Japanese team is normally the major seven Japanese title holders.

22nd Nongshim Cup winners

Occasionally, one of the players will have an amazing winning stretch. In the 22nd Nongshim Cup, for example (which ended in February of this year), Shin Jinseo 9p, Korea’s number one player, who was the fourth player on the Korean team, won five games in a row to win the event for Korea. He defeated the top two players of the Japanese and the Chinese teams: Iyama Yuta 9p and Ichiriki Ryo 9p of Japan, and Yang Dingxin 9p and Ke Jie 9p of China. The year before, Yang Dingxin was the first member of the Chinese team up, and he managed to defeat three members of the Japanese team and four of the Koreans before being defeated by Iyama Yuta 9p of Japan. The lone remaining Korean was Park Junghwan 9p who won four times: defeating the last member of the Japanese team, Iyama Yuta 9p, and three of the remaining Chinese. However, Park Junghwan lost the final game to Ke Jie 9p of China.

In 2018, another Chinese player, Fan Tingyu 9p, defeated Ichiriki Ryo 7p in the second game (Ichiriki had just defeated Lee Sedol 9p of Korea) and went on to win seven games in a row before losing to Park Junghwan 9p of Korea. Park Junghwan then knocked out the last Japanese player, Iyama Yuta, but lost the final game to Fan Yunruo 5p of China. Korea has won the Cup 13 times. The Chinese team has triumphed more than the others in recent years, their cumulative record is 8 Cup wins. Their last previous loss was in 2010 when Choi Cheolhan 9p of Korea won the last five games of the match, defeating Kong Jie 9p of China in the final game. Lee Changho 9p of Korea won the first six runnings of this Cup, starting in 2000, and then twice more. The Japanese have won the Cup only once: in the seventh running, Yoda Norimoto 9p of Japan defeated Lee Changho in the final game.

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

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50 years aGO – August 1971

Monday August 30, 2021

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Ōtake Hideo defends the All Japan First Place Title
Ōtake Hideo defends the All Japan First Place Title

From August 10 we see Ōtake Hideo 9d in triumph over Katō Masao 7d in the All Japan First Place Title. Ōtake’s 2-0 victory meant that he now had held the title for 4 straight years. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2.)

The first game of the Meijin Title took place on August 20 and 21. Fujisawa Shūkō, the title holder, confidently dominated his young challenger, Rin Kaihō…until he made one of his fateful blunders on move 131, going on to lose the game. Sakata Eio watches as Rin shares his thoughts with a dismayed Shūkō. (Game record: Meijin Game 1.)

Rin Kaihō wins Meijin Game 1
Rin Kaihō wins Meijin Game 1

On August 15, the ladies of Koyukai once again took on the best foreign players for the fourth time. The games ended 4-4-2 so for the first time the guests did not win. Wins by notables Manfred Wimmer, Horst Mueller, and James Davies were offset by losses by Richard Bozulich and James Kerwin.

On 29 to 30 August, Nihon Ki’in’s young professional players went on a biking trip at the Cycle Sports Center in Izu, by invitation from the Japan Bicycling Promotional Association (Nihon Jitensha Shinkōkai, which later would be absorbed into the present-day Japan Keirin Autorace Foundation).

Nihon Ki'in's young professionals on a biking trip
Nihon Ki’in young professional players on a biking trip

Photos courtesy of Go Review, Go Weekly, and Igo Club, game records thanks to GoGod

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Ryan Li 3P and Ilya Shikshin 4P advance to Transatlantic Professional Go League final

Saturday August 14, 2021

The final round of the 1st Transatlantic Professional Go League will feature a showdown between North American pro Ryan Li 3P and European pro Ilya Shikshin 4P. The players will compete for a first-place prize of €1,000.

In the semi-final round, Li defeated Artem Kachanovskyi 2P and Shikshin defeated Tanguy Le Calve 1P to earn their seats at the final table. Kachanovskyi and Le Calve will play on Saturday, August 14 to determine the third- and fourth-place finishers. The final best-of-three match between Li and Shikshin will begin on Sunday, August 15.

All games will begin at 11AM EDT (5PM CEST). The European Go Federation will broadcast the match with professional commentary on its Twitch channel. For full details on the Transatlantic Professional Go League, visit the official website.

-report by Hajin Lee

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Amateur Pair Go Championship postponed due to COVID

Friday July 30, 2021

The 32nd International Amateur Pair Go Championship has been postponed to next year. It had been scheduled to be held on December 11 and 12 this year, but due to the fact that the COVID-19 situation in Japan is not improving, organizers decided that “it’s just too difficult to safely invite players from overseas.” The Championship is expected to be held in late November or December of 2022.

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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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