American Go E-Journal » Go Spotting

Go Spotting roundup: Darwin, the NY Times, Buzzfeed, Cyberpunk 2077

Saturday January 16, 2021

David Matson and Peter Freedman report an article published in issue 94 of Nautilus on understanding evolution through the lens of games, called Playing Go with Darwin.

Roy Laird reports on Go’s puzzle appearance: “#120 across in the Dec 20th NYT crossword puzzle: “Piece in the game go” – five letters, I wonder what it could be?”

Michael Goerss found two references to weiqi in 1636: The China Venture by Eric Flint & Iver P. Cooper. “A character showing photographs in China  (p. 188), ‘Here’s a print of you and your father playing weiqi.’ And in the epilogue (p. 426) while mentioning an omen in a letter, ‘This happened just as I was playing the board game Weiqi . . . with the Beijing minister of war.’

Goerss, along with reader Liam McFadden, also reported on the appearance of Go in the new video game Cyberpunk 2077. “Oddly enough, as you get further away from the board, the texture switches from showing a 19×19 board to a 10×10,” says McFadden. Goerss noticed this as well; “While the positions look like reasonable board positions, the board has ten lines.  However, stones are placed midway between intersections, too, which would make the board 19×19.  Maybe the graphics for a true 19×19 board were too hard?”

EJournal and Buzzfeed reader David Bogie reports on this list at Buzzfeed, book #28: “If you liked watching “The Queen’s Gambit”, you should read “The Girl Who Played Go”, by Shan Sa.”

-photos courtesy of Liam McFadden

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Go Spotting: Sanjuro

Tuesday December 29, 2020

“The movie Sanjuro has a couple of scenes with a nice go board in view,” reports Daniel R. Grayson. Sanjuro is a 1962 black-and-white Japanese jidaigeki film directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune. It is a sequel to Kurosawa’s 1961 Yojimbo (Wikipedia)

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EJ Mailbag: 2020, Part 1

Monday December 28, 2020

A more-or-less random selection of go-related stuff that somehow we just never got around to publishing this year, but that we don’t want to forget, file or delete. Thanks to everyone who sent us tips and suggestions this year and we promise to do better in 2021!

The wild and crazy folks at Shut Up & Sit Down tackle go. Thanks to Peter Freedman for the link.

Understanding Chinese Culture via the Board Game Go
Ze-Li Dou tackles ancient Chinese civilization, Confucianism and Daoism through the lens of go, “examining how philosophical attitudes are reflected in Go by literary means, which will also illustrate the interconnectedness of literature, philosophy, history, and art in China.” Or, put another way, “Go is like a little stone found on the bank of our grand metaphoric river; a close inspection of its polish and patina may throw light on the nature and history of the river itself.” Thanks to Roy Laird for passing this along.

Go Seigen vs. Fujisawa Kuranosuke – Breakdown
EJ reader Geoff Pippin found this piece by a small Australian classical ensemble called “Nonsemble” on YouTube, about the famous 1953 game between Go Seigen and Fujisawa Kuranosuke. “The best part is that it is really an excellent piece!” says Pippin.
From the Nonsemble website: “A 30 minute work for chamber septet, using the moves of 1953 championship game of Go as stimulus for harmonic, rhythmic and melodic material. It’s an experiment in extracting musical ideas from abstract patterns and sequences, and allowing these ideas to develop intuitively into a large-scale work.”

Why Do People Love Games?
The Game Maker for The New York Times (Yes! There is a Game Maker) explains. “Although Go’s origin is unclear, many scholars speculate that it was created to teach tactics and strategy. When we enter the magic circle, we give ourselves permission to explore, to fail, to lose. When we stop playing Go, we carry that experience with us.” Thanks (again) to Roy Laird for the link.

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Go Spotting: Jeopardy

Monday October 26, 2020

Bart Lipofsky reports that on a recent episode of Jeopardy, aired on October 16, 2020, featured Go about two minutes into the segment. “‘Category: 2 letter words – The name of the game seen here,’ with a nice view of a stone being placed on the board,” says Lipofsky.

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Go Spotting: Rain Dogs; The Vegetarian

Friday October 16, 2020

Dave Weimer reports that in Adrian McKinty’s novel, Rain Dogs, the protagonist – a Northern Ireland detective investigating a murder – goes to Finland to interview the prime suspect. When he arrives, he finds the suspect playing Go. In a later chapter entitled “Kami no Itte” the suspect cleverly eludes trial.

Weimer further reports that on page 162 of The Vegetarian, by Han Kang (translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith. London: Hogarth, 2016. Winner of the Man Booker International Prize and one of NYT 10 Best Books of 2016), there is the following passage: “There’d been a time when she could spend hours like this weighting up all the variables that might have contributed to determining Yeong-hye’s fate. Of course it was entirely in vain, this act of mentally picking up and counting the paduk stones that had been laid out on the board of her sister’s life.”

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Go Spotting: All Is Fair In Love & Go

Thursday September 3, 2020

Andrew Okun reports that Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s book This is How You Lose the Time War and its inclusion of Go features in a new tor.com article called All Is Fair in Love & Go: Strategy Gaming in This is How You Lose the Time War. In the article, author Em Nordling states that “Go, in the context of Time War, is time travel. It isn’t just the 19×19 coordinate options that lend the game its complexity (though the 3^361×0.012 = 2.1×10^170 potential moves don’t hurt), but the positionality, the contingency. With the meaning of each move changing over time, its narrative is not linear. Where most strategy games unfold with the grace of a plotted story, Go moves map like a messy history, where meaning is made only in hindsight, where brilliance can turn obsolete and banality groundbreaking.” The book was first featured in Go Spotting by Adam Anaya in June of this year.

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Go Spotting: The History of Home

Wednesday September 2, 2020

Tyler Keithley, president of the Southwest Missouri Go Club, reports that the second episode of The History of Home Narrated by Nick Offerman includes a mention of Go at 48:27 in a transition between explaining the historical importance of board games and the modern pastime of playing video games, and is again mentioned by Twitch streamer Sonja Reid (OMGITSFIREFOXX) around 50 minutes and 30 seconds into the episode.

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Go Spotting: Windy City Blues

Sunday August 23, 2020

Ted Terpstra reports that in Sara Paretsky’s 2009 collection, Windy City Blues, there is a 13-page story called “The Takamoku Joseki” beginning on page 246, in which her female private detective, V.I. Warshawski, solves a murder mystery at a Go gathering of Japanese, Korean, and American Go players at an apartment in Chicago.

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Go Spotting: Distinguishing humans from computers in the game of go: A complex network approach

Monday July 13, 2020

EJournal reader Mel reports that other readers may be interested in an article from the October issue of EPL (Europhysics Letters) focusing on telling the difference between human and computer players. He notes that the article is not free to read, but the abstract is available.

Distinguishing humans from computers in the game of go: A complex network approach
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1209/0295-5075/119/48001
Abstact:
We compare complex networks built from the game of go and obtained
from databases of human-played games with those obtained from
computer-played games. Our investigations show that statistical
features of the human-based networks and the computer-based networks
differ, and that these differences can be statistically significant
on a relatively small number of games using specific estimators. We
show that the deterministic or stochastic nature of the computer
algorithm playing the game can also be distinguished from these
quantities. This can be seen as a tool to implement a Turing-like
test for go simulators.

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Go Spotting: Beyond the Visible – Hilma Af Klimt

Wednesday June 10, 2020

Larry Russ reports that in this documentary about the Swedish artist and mystic Hilma Af Klint, from about 1:15 to 1:30 at the beginning of the documentary there is a Go board with bowls in the room where the speaker is being filmed. The documentary can be rented to view online here.

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