American Go E-Journal » World

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, 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.


International professional go scene getting more interesting

Monday June 21, 2021

by Yuan Zhou

International professional go play is becoming more interesting with the recent addition of pro players in the United States, as well as in Europe. Non-Asian players have been included in some international tournaments by invitation in recent years, but it is very unusual for one of them to survive the first round of the final competition. There are a large number of international events nowadays, and the title winner can receive as much as the equivalent of $400,000 US. Most of the well-known events are open to anyone who can survive the competition in their own countries to gain a place in the international event, although some are restricted to female players and others are a competition between the winners of similar titles in other countries. In some cases even amateurs can gain admission.

The most striking thing about the current international scene has been the dominance of Chinese pros in recent international events. Only one international title is now held by Japan: Cho U 9p of Japan won the playoff between the holders of the Agon Cup from China and Japan. Recently most of the top titles were held by Chinese players, although currently the Koreans are making a comeback. The Chinese player Ke Jie 9p holds eight international titles, more than any other active player, and is widely considered the strongest active player in the world. However, Shin Jinseo 9p of South Korea has won nine games in international tournaments this year, which is more than any other player. The Korean team of five won the Nongshim (Spicy Noodles) international event in February of this year. This win-and-continue event between five player teams is one of the oldest competitions and very popular among fans. Occasionally a single player will manage to wipe out most of another country’s team. This year, Shin Jinseo 9p of Korea won the last five games in the contest, defeating two Japanese and three Chinese players, including Ke Jie of China in the last game.

One of the oldest top tournaments is the LG Cup, now in its 26th year. The second round was held on June 1st, leaving eight players in the contest. Three are from China, including Ke Jie, Mi Yuting 9p, and Yang Dingxin 9p. Four are from Korea, including Park Junghwan 9p, who has been ranked as number one in the world in recent years, Shin Jinseo 9p, Shin Minjun 9p, and Byun Sangil 9p. The one remaining player from Japan is Ichiriki Ryo 9p, who currently holds five titles in Japan, including two of the top five. All of these names will become familiar as we continue to follow the current international pro scene. The LG Cup will conclude with a three game finals match early next year. Last time’s winner of the title was Shin Minjun of Korea, who is in his early twenties, as are most of the current top pros.

Categories: Main Page,World

Go Magic teaching platform launches

Saturday May 29, 2021

A new go teaching platform, Go Magic, is now in beta. “Our project is aiming to help everyone discover Go and improve their skills in a way that is both efficient and entertaining,” says Vadim Efimenko, a 4d amateur from Russia, who’s working with professional Alexander Dinerstein 3p and Anton Proskurin, the chief author, developer and cofounder of the project. Go Magic is billed asOne platform that combines everything you might possibly need on your way to Go mastery,” and features video courses, a Skill Tree for beginners and even some gamification to appeal to modern gamers. They’ve also got a  YouTube channel, streaming on Twitch, and are on Discord as well. A 4-minute video outlines the project.

Categories: Main Page,World

Celebrating dsaun’s memory, wisdom and kindness

Monday March 29, 2021

With the approach of the one-year anniversary of the passing of David Saunders, also known as dsaun, some of his friends on KGS are organizing a celebration in his honor.

The event will take place at 20:00 GMT on Tuesday, April 30th, and 03:00 GMT on Wednesday the 31st (use this time zone converter to determine your local time). In the Tsumego room there will be three boards with 20 tsumego (life and death) problems, and the corresponding solutions will be available in the Dsaun’s Friends room as you progress.

“There are no gifts, money, or prizes up for grabs,” reports Samuel Adams. “The lucky ones will be able to find dsaun’s smile under a stone.”

Categories: Main Page,World

New Go server for beginners allows players to visualize influence

Tuesday March 16, 2021

Color Go Server, a brand new Go server geared towards beginners, promises to inject a little fun and a lot of learning into beginner play. The programming includes basic Go server features, allowing players to play, watch and review games, and chat. On top of the basics and allowing players to customize their colors and themes, CGS allows players to visualize areas of influence and includes optional aids such as viewing liberty counts, highlighting Ko and Atari, and viewing potential results in real time. “Even if the rules of Go are easy to understand, the final goal, to control a bigger territory than the opponent, remains hard for beginners to visualize. CGS will help new players to learn the game rules in a more intuitive way,” says Max Moussalli, creator of CGS.

The server launched in January and is available in 19 languages. CGS allows players to play real-time or correspondence games in a web browser without requiring downloads. Learn more about CGS by visiting the Color Go Server website.


ICYMI: Kim Eunji 2p’s AI cheating incident; Playing Go with Darwin; Remembering John Conway

Monday March 1, 2021

Kim Eunji 2p’s AI cheating incident
Thirteen-year-old professional Go player Kim Eun-ji was suspended from competing for one year in late November after she admitted to using artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance her gameplay in an online Go competition. The Korea Baduk Association took the punitive measure against Kim Eun-ji, a 2-dan professional Go player who had been considered a genius in the Korean Go scene and the youngest professional player, for violating the rules as a professional Go player and on ethics which stipulate that a player cannot receive outside advice in official competitions. Fellow Korean pro Yeonwoo Cho devoted one of her videos to the incident.
– Excerpted from a report in The Korea Times

Playing Go with Darwin
In Playing Go with Darwin (Nautilus 12/16/2020), David Krakauer writes that “Meditating on some subtleties of (Go’s) strategy can, I think, illuminate our understanding of the strategic character of evolution.” He adds that “Go today has become an epitaph on the tombstone in the cemetery of human defeat at the hands of algorithmic progress” and says “Charles Darwin was very likely the first person to have understood nature in terms of a game played across deep time. I have wondered how much further the Chess-playing naturalist might have taken this metaphor if, like Kawabata, he had studied Go.” It’s a fascinating article about how new research elevates evolution from a tactical process to one of strategic possibility. Thanks to Peter Freedman for passing it along.

John Conway

Remembering John Conway
John Conway is one of Three Mathematicians We Lost in 2020 (The New Yorker 12/31/2020), and midway through the story there’s this:
At Princeton, he could usually be found not in his office—which resembled a mathematical apothecary shop hit by a tornado—but in the large and somewhat soulless common room of Fine Hall, the massive looming tower, on the edge of the Princeton campus, that is the home of the mathematics department. The common room would come to life only in the mid to late afternoon, just as things were revving up for the daily “tea,” a small box-cookie reception roughly marking the time when most classes had ended and a few seminars were about to start. Conway would often hold court there, hard to miss, a cross between Rasputin and a Middle Ages minstrel, loudly talking philosophy and mathematics, playing the board game Go, or engaging in some other kind of mathematical competition, surrounded by adoring and admiring students, faculty, and visitors.

Categories: Main Page,World

2021 South Central Go Tournament On-Line draws 76 players

Friday February 26, 2021

From 2016 to 2020, there were five consecutive South Central Go Tournaments held in Dallas over the weekend preceding Presidents’ Day. In 2021, because the pandemic rendered in person play unsafe, the tournament was held online February 13 and 14. Altogether there were 76 players – 16 in the Open Section ranging in strength from 8d to 3d, and 60 in the Handicap Section, ranging in strength from 3d to 24k. The online format allowed wide participation; 73 players from the USA from 16 different states, two players from Canada, and one from Vietnam. There were 28 players aged 13 and under, and 17 double digit kyu players.

The champion in the Open Section was Alexander Qi, who was also the top player aged 13 and under. Kevin Yang finished second, and Zhixun Zhao took third place overall but captured the title of 2021 Texas State Champion as the highest placing Texas resident. “We were delighted to bring together such a wide range of players from so many places and with such a mix of Go experience,” said tournament organizer Bob Gilman.

-report and photos provided by Bob Gilman


Spanish translation of A Go Guide From a Beginner completed for the Multilingual Go Book Project

Monday February 22, 2021

The Spanish translation of the Multilingual Go Book Project’s book joins the already existing English, French and Greek translations and is now available. This is yet another step in the project’s goal of making Go content more accessible to new players in their native language. Like with the previous versions, the book can be downloaded for free from the project’s webpage and the addition of the Spanish language is accompanied by a full re-upload of the latest corrections of the English version. 

The Multilingual Go Book Project was started by H. Kapolos in order to provide instructional material to new players for free in their native languages. There are currently 20 printed copies of the book in English, which are available to be distributed for free. Anyone interested in receiving a copy can contact the project via the contact form on its website or through its Facebook page.


Michael Redmond 9P joins Osaka Go School teachers

Friday November 13, 2020

After two months of successful operation, the Osaka Go School staff is excited to welcome new teacher Michael Redmond 9P, who joined the school in November. The Osaka Go School opened in September with 25 students, including 10 American players. Redmond joins teachers Ryo Maeda 6P, Francis Meyer 1P, and Ting Li 1P of the Kansai-Kiin. “Mr. Redmond will play special teaching games every month,” reports Ryo Maeda 6P, who founded the school and is one of the primary organizers. The school offers players teaching games, game reviews, and professional lectures all online every month, giving players a chance to continue to study and have fun with Go during a time when much activity is restricted due to COVID-19. Mr. Maeda invites all interested players to the International Osaka Go School website for more information. “Please come join us!”

Categories: Japan,Main Page,World

Team Boston wins Xiamen Kōdō Cup International Youth Go Tournament team competition

Wednesday October 21, 2020

Team Boston, comprised of students from the Newton Chinese Language School (NCLS) and New Legacy Cultural Center (NLCC), was the champion of the Xiamen Kōdō Cup International Youth Go Tournament over the weekend of October 10/11. Players from the USA, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Australia, and New Zealand – 130 in total – competed every weekend of a two months of competition season. The players formed 10 teams for post-season competition; team Boston beat team Melbourne (8:0), Toronto (7:1) and Ninghai (5:3) to win the championship. Team members are Andrew Xu 3d, Jenny Li 2d, Ruihan Cao 4d, Albert Tang 1k, Yao Xiao 1d, Steven Chen 3k, Christopher Huang 3k, and Ernest Lam 6k, coached by Ke Lu 4d. Andrew Xu was named MVP of the post-season. Corey Zhao and Charles Gu participated in the regular season. Youth players interested in participating in the second Kōdō Cup next year should contact Ke Lu at

-report and photos provided by Ke Lu