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Go Spotting: The Rise of the Phoenixes

Monday May 11, 2020

“The one minute trailer for the 2018 Chinese historical drama The Rise of 
the Phoenixes: Season 1 references Go four times,” reports Joel Sanet. “The first time shows a beautiful woman looking downward then cuts to a single black stone wobbling on an otherwise empty go board. The second time shows two men talking. One says, ‘Are you going to let one stone destroy your entire Go Board?’ The 3rd time shows a man placing the 3rd corner stone but it’s white! (Were the rules different back then or were the film makers just being lazy?) The 4th time is similar to the 3rd. The 3rd and 4th time go appears are preceded, separated, and followed by action scenes so at the least it is being used metaphorically. Hey, that’s better than just window dressing!”

Categories: Go Spotting,Main Page

Letter From Seattle

Saturday May 9, 2020

Brian Allen, Operations Manager, Seattle Go Center

Nick Sibicky in Cyberspace

The Seattle Go Center has been closed due to coronavirus precautions for almost two months now. I still go there to check on the building, and to do office work. The neighborhood is much quieter, due to a huge reduction in traffic on nearby I-5, and in jets crossing above. The veterinary clinic downstairs is still open for urgent care, so the building doesn’t feel too lonely. They recently changed their name to “Caring Pet Clinic”, and put up new signs.

The pet clinic pays us rent, so it is very good to see them still open. Our financial situation is stable for now, but I worry about the effects of a long closure on the Go Center. Meanwhile, the plans for developing the property, with space for us in the new building, are proceeding energetically, despite COVID-19 worries. The property is owned by our benefactor, the Nihon Ki-in of Japan.

Our March calendar showed that we were planning to be open five days a week.  It also showed nine weekly meet-ups in the Seattle-Tacoma area, and two major festivals for outreach in April: Sakura-Con and Cherry Blossom Festival.  Tuesdays were our big days; we had 20-40 visitors each Tuesday this winter. All that has changed.  Some of those Tuesday players are meeting on go servers now at the same time of the week.  Go Center Member Bob (Mingcun) Fan reports that he is now playing Mr. Yao on OGS, and then they have a phone call to review the game.  This is happening with some of the meet-ups too. The Zoka coffeehouse group that used to meet in person on Monday and Friday mornings now meets on the KGS server, using the Go Center “room”.  Member Frank Brown writes that about six players have made the transition, while three others have not, for various reasons. 

Member Dan Cooper is sad that the Seattle Go Center closed. He really enjoyed watching other people’s games in person. Now he spends a lot of time watching games on KGS in his apartment. Deborah Niedermeyer misses “Go Center players’ quiet wry humor, accompanied by the rhythm of clicking stones.” Now she sometimes plays quick games online, sandbagging as “Goldilocks”.

Seattle Go Center members have been taking advantage of online Go education for years.  Some have private online lessons with pros, while others are part of the American Yunguseng Dojang.  Our Wednesday SDK class with Jonathan (Chin Jung) Cheng has now gone completely online.   This class is designed for 9K – 1D players.  He is doing a series on using opening moves suggest by AI.  Jonathan teaches the class live on Wednesdays from 6-7 pm PDT through Zoom. He also posts the lectures afterwards on YouTube .

Before COVID-19, Nick Sibicky used to give his DDK lectures in front of a live audience at the Go Center on Monday nights, and then posted them on Youtube.  Now he is recording them at home. He is up to lecture #387!  Nick’s popular lessons were originally intended for double digit kyu players, but his scope has widened to include many issues of interest to stronger players as well.  His most recent lecture at the Go Center was with Nihon Ki-in Pro Daiki Komatsu in early March.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee recently announced “Washington’s Phased Approach” to reopening, with four phases.  The Seattle Go Center Board of Directors will meet online to decide how our organization fits into the opening rubric. Certainly, it will be a while before we open.  In the meantime, I will finish washing all the go stones.
Photo and Report by Brian Allen, Operations Manager, Seattle Go Center.


Go Spotting: the Economist

Saturday May 2, 2020

Dave Weimer reports that the April 25th to May 1st issue of The Economist includes an obituary for mathematician John Horton Conway on page 82, who died at age 82. He taught at Cambridge and Princeton, and was famous for inventing the Game of Life, which was widely played after it was published in Scientific American in 1970. He discovered “surreal numbers” and made contributions to a variety of fields in mathematics. “He seems to have been a bit eccentric,” says Weimer. “The following passage caught my attention: ‘Or, ensconced in some hallway nook, he would just observe a game. It had been while watching Go players that he realized each game contained many sub-games; and this had led him, first, to surreal numbers, and second to the light-bulb thought that playing games was not a distraction from mathematics. It was mathematics.'”


Mark your calendar: Upcoming Redmond commentaries

Thursday April 30, 2020

Honinbo Shuwa-Genan Inseki or Honinbo Dosaku-Yasui Santetsu? That’s the choice for this Sunday’s live video commentary by Michael Redmond 9P on the AGA’s Twitch channel with E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock. Click here to vote!

Then on May 9, Redmond will review one of his own tournament games.

And on May 17, Redmond and Garlock will review one of the AlphaGo-Lee Sedol games and discuss their new book AlphaGo to Zero. Click here to vote on which AG-Sedol game you’d like to see reviewed.


New York Institute of Go Wins 2020 AGHS School Team Tournament

Tuesday April 28, 2020

“The 2020 AGHS School Team Tournament has concluded,” reports Promotion Head Sophia Wang, “Twenty-two teams competed in four rounds. Each round consisted of three games between two teams, and the team that won two or more games won the round. In Division 1, the New York Institute of Go Team 1 took first place after winning all four rounds. The New York Institute of Go Team 3 came in second, and the Feng Yun Go School Team A came in third. The team from CNY Chinese School won Division 2, going undefeated. In second place was the team representing Russellville High School, and in third was the Saint Ann’s School. All players and substitutes who competed in each of their rounds will receive a T-shirt participation prize, and the top three teams in each division will also be awarded trophies.” – Lionel Zhang, EJ Youth Correspondant


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!

Categories: Main Page,World

Nominations open for 2020 AGA board elections

Monday April 27, 2020

This year four American Go Association (AGA) Board of Director seats are open for the Eastern, Western, Central regions and the At-Large position. The current terms of office expire this September. If you know of someone who you believe would offer guidance and service to the AGA, please consider making a nomination. Nominations, including self-nominations, may be made by full members for the region in which the member resides or without restriction for the At-Large seat and must be received by June 15, 2020. Nominations and questions must be emailed to Click here for complete election information and qualifications.


Redmond on AlphaGo vs AlphaGo Game 41 Sunday night on Twitch

Saturday April 25, 2020

Tune in to the AGA’s Twitch channel Sunday night at 8p EDT (note later time!) to catch Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock with their latest live game commentary on the AlphaGo vs AlphaGo series. SpaceTime Machine calls it “my favorite YouTube series hands down.” Tune in at 8p on Sunday, April 26; viewers will be able to ask Redmond and Garlock questions during the live commentary.
PLUS: Check out None Redmond’s captivating story about “11 year old Michael meets a legendary Go player” on Redmond’s YouTube channel.


AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 38: Trippy stuff with ladders

Friday April 24, 2020

Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, reviews the 38th game of the amazing AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo selfplay games. The 50-game series was published by Deepmind after AlphaGo’s victory over world champion Ke Jie 9p in May 2017. Redmond: “This game starts with a complicated variation on the 3-3 invasion, then goes on to a completely different part of the game where a ko is the focus, and then there’s a lot of trippy stuff with ladders and finally there’s some life and death problems.” Garlock: “A little bit of everything.”
Produced by Stephen Hu, Allen Moy and Chris Garlock



50 years aGO April 1970

Friday April 24, 2020

by Keith Arnold, hka with Patrick Bannister

Deprived of face-to-face go, we gaze with great longing at this fantastic photo of the climax of the 24th Honinbo league on April 8, 1970 (right).

In the foreground at left is my favorite player, Fujisawa Hideyuki, forever to be known as Shuko.  A truly brilliant — if erratic — player, his passion for go was without equal.  And you can see him living the game in his face in this photo. We can surmise that perhaps poker would not be his best game, but of course we know go was.  A favorite player of my teacher, Yilun Yang, he played a prominent role in supporting go in China and his teaching boot camps were legendary.  We can access them through Hinoki Press’ two volume “Shuko: The Only Move, as well as Slate and Shell’s 4 volume “Basic Tesjuji” and finally (though first) Ishi Press’ “Reducing Territorial Frameworks”

Foreground right is Kato Masao, the kid in the room, and his manner evokes a quiet respect for his far more emotive elder.  Indeed, in all of my reading about this great player, who went on lead the Nihon Kiin, I have never read a word suggesting anything but kindness about him.  He game was far more aggressive, “Killer Kato” was his reputation, and he shared his skill in Ishi Press’ “Kato’s Attack and Kill”.  He was the first of the “Three Crows” of the Kitani school to make a name for himself, but the last to breakthrough.  He needs to win this game to catch another player in the room to challenge for the title.  Game record here.

Background right, hunched over the board, is Fujisawa Hosai – the older nephew of Shuko and the first Oteai 9 dan.  A player of extraordinary concentration and determination who once played a match with his letter of resignation in his pocket, Hosai was known for his deliberate play, which is evidenced by the far fewer stones on the background board.  Although he could not win the league, he is determined to make his opponent earn it.

His opponent is “Razor Sharp” Sakata, and his personality also shines in this picture.  Wiry and erect, cigarette in hand, Sakata seems amused by time Hosai is taking, his mind racing from one brilliant counter to the next to whatever ploy Hosai comes up with.  This is a man in his element, not showing the pressure of needing this win to become the challenger.  Hosai’s determination would take them until after midnight, and Sakata became the challenger.  Game record here.

April 25-26 featured what was billed the “First International Team Tournament” in New York city.  Fourteen three player teams competed from the USA, China, Korea, Canada, Japan and Yugoslavia.  The Chinese team emerged victorious, followed by Japan and the US.  The US team was Matsuda, Ryder and Kaslow – all 5 dan – as good as it got in those days.  The match was featured in the NY Times and we can clearly see (top left) the great Edward Lasker playing.  In an early moment of “fake news” the Times says the event took place at “The Chess House” but I trust Mr. Horiguchi’s report in Go Review stating the event happened in the Nihon Kiin Chapter House at the same address.

Finally the first game of the Honinbo title took place on April 27 and 28.  I am not sure challenger Sakata and Honinbo Rin Kaiho are actually interested in whatever Takagawa is saying in this staged photo (top middle).  We will be hearing a lot about Rin who was in the young and early stages of his dominance.  Reading Go Review it seems that the go press was not yet buying it, and seemed to expect Sakata to be the victor. We shall see…Game One record is here.