American Go E-Journal » Go Spotting

Go Spotting: Go Minimal

Saturday June 25, 2022

Earlier this year Go Minimal was released for direct download on the Nintendo Switch. The game features local and online multiplayer. Another Go game for the Nintendo switch, Being Stronger While Playing! SilverStar Go DX, has local multiplayer only, but includes a tutorial mode and AI of various levels.

Gomoku, or the “connect five” variant of Go, is included in Clubhouse Games™: 51 Worldwide Classics, as well as the standalone Gomoku, also on the Nintendo Switch.
Derek McGuire

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Go Spotting: Jewel in the Crown

Wednesday February 16, 2022

Christine Ames reports that in the Korean historical drama Jewel in the Crown, Palace Lady Jang keeps a go board in her room. The first time we see her there, in Episode 5, she is studying with a beautiful go set. 

Image/editing by Derek McGuire

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It’s Just a Game. Or Is It?

Tuesday February 1, 2022

“As an adolescent, I fancied myself a devotee of the ancient Chinese board game Go. I had never actually played it, but in one of my favorite novels — “Shibumi,” by Trevanian — the super-assassin hero praised Go as a fitting pastime for the kind of warrior/poet/lover he was and that I hoped to become. “Go is to Western chess what philosophy is to double-entry accounting,” he says, probably before killing someone with a toothpick. Sadly, when I actually tried to play Go, it turned out be … a board game, and a difficult one at that. I gave it up when I realized that in return for the labor of truly learning Go, I would become not an enlightened international assassin, but just a guy who could play a game.” Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” reviews Oliver Roeder’s “SEVEN GAMES A Human History” in The New York Times; read more here.

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Go Spotting: Blade Runner: Black Lotus

Wednesday December 15, 2021

Cylise Snow reports that the anime series Blade Runner: Black Lotus features Go.

– screen capture by Cylise Snow, editing by Derek McGuire

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Go Spotting: Turtle Bun

Sunday December 5, 2021

Colin Williams reports that the Turtlebun store features go equipment in many of its product photographs.

-photo and editing by Derek McGuire

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Go Spotting: The Economist

Friday November 26, 2021

In its November 13 issue, The Economist described last year’s flare-up in the decades-long Sino-Indian border dispute as though China and India were engaged in a match of go. These two powers have largely avoided direct conflict, for they “were focused on building their own core structures,” as go players in the early stages of a match might do as they peacefully lay claim to the corners and sides of the board. At times, India has sought to define its border with its neighbor. But China—as any go player would—resisted, knowing that the unsettled border is one that can be exploited for further advantage. Now, with these two powers entering the later stages of the game where “the board fills up and one player emerges dominant, there should be no surprise for [China] to push the advantage.”

You can read the piece here. The article is behind a paywall which may require either registering an account that will grant limited access for free, or becoming a paid subscriber.
– Paul Adamski, with thanks to Bart Lipofsky and Pete Schumer for flagging this.

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GoSpotting: Aji’s Quest

Saturday November 20, 2021

Ted Terpstra reports that a new children’s book highlighting Go and Go terms, has become available. “Aji’s Quest is a fascinating story of a young Quoll who goes in search of a great Go master, Tenuki, so he can learn to become a Go master himself,” says Terpstra. “During Aji’s quest, he learns much about the game of Go and is tested repeatedly at the board. The book is best appreciated if the reader has a basic knowledge of Go.”

Aji’s Quest is a comic series by Collette Bezio originally released online that is now published in print by Board’N’Stones.

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Go Spotting: GOD, HUMAN, ANIMAL, MACHINE: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning

Thursday August 26, 2021

“Imagine sitting down to a game of Go,” writes Becca Rothfeld in The New York Times, “not in a cafe or a park, where you could banter with your adversary or discuss strategy with onlookers, but alone in front of a screen. Your opponent is not a person but an algorithm, AlphaGo, a program created by Google’s machine-learning subsidiary, DeepMind. Squinting into the cool glare of your monitor, you manipulate digital pieces. You touch nothing tangible: You are unable to scrutinize the expressions of your faceless competitor.”

“These, roughly, are the strange and surgical circumstances under which Lee Sedol, one of the best Go players in the world, was vanquished in a best-of-five match in 2016,” Rothfeld writes. “As the essayist and cultural critic Meghan O’Gieblyn reports in her nimble new book, ‘God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning,’ one former Go champion watched the game and exclaimed that AlphaGo’s winning maneuver was “not a human move.” Read the rest of the review here.

Thanks to Ted Terpstra for sending this in.

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Go Spotting: Beyond the Visible; Hilma af Klint

Monday August 23, 2021

“I always have enjoyed when people spot and report where a Go set or play has been viewed,” writes Rick Whitehead. “Last night I watched a documentary that I can’t imagine many of this community have seen;  ‘Beyond the Visible; Hilma af Klint’.  We watched it on Kanopy, but I think it’s viewable on a variety of streaming services.  They interview people about this female painter from circa 1910 or so.   One is a German man, an art historian, and in the background of the room next to where he’s talking (in his home) is a nice Go board on a side table with two nice Go bowls.  It’s never mentioned, but quite prominently appears each time they return to his interview. HIlma’s art is quite nice too, and historically relevant.”

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Go Spotting: Go and Polyominoes

Sunday July 25, 2021

by Xinming Simon Guo

My former math instructor, professor George Litman from National Louis University, recently invited me to visit his personal library. There, I found a mathematics book he purchased in 1995: Polyominoes: Puzzles, Patterns, Problems, and Packings. In the preface, the author, Professor Solomon Golomb, mentioned that polyominoes were first observed in patterns formed by 5 connected stones/markers on a Go game board in 1907.

Coincidentally, I also discovered these patterns in 2011 on the Go board, but I didn’t know they were polyominoes. In a Go game forum, I posted a puzzle about the possible shapes formed by 8 connected stones, which proved to be too challenging at the time. So I changed the difficulty level to 6 stones (Hexomino), and found all 35 shapes.

The unexpected discovery about polyominoes has led to the formal integration of these shapes into my Go and Math curriculum. The photo below captures all the shapes of pentominoes (5-stone string):

Photo by Jane online summer camp student Jane, 2020

By the way, there are 363 shapes of octominoes (8-stone string), a number arrived at by adding an extra stone based on 7-stone strings, removing duplicates, and counting the distinct shapes. No formula has been found yet to calculate the number of shapes.

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