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Prevailing over drum ensemble, Trevor Morris tops Boston Winter Open

Sunday December 10, 2017

Nearly three dozen players — 32 to be exact — ranging in strength from beginner to 6d, made their way to the Stratton Student Center at MIT to participate in the Boston Winter Open on December 2. The tournament was divided into two divisions, a 12 person Open Division with dan players playing even games, and a 20 person Handicap Division with kyu players playing handicap – 2 games.

Open Division players competed for cash prizes and our winners were: 1st place Trevor Morris, 6d (4-0), 2nd place David Cho, 5d (3-1), and 3rd place Qingbo Zhang, 5d (3-1).

Handicap Division prizes were awarded to those with 4-0 and 3-1 records. Our winners were: Adam Prescott, 9k (4-0), Jin Greene, 12k (3-1), Eva Casey, 5k (3-1), Michael Scudder, 2k (3-1), and Matt Clarke, 2k (3-1).

This tournament was made particularly unique due to the surprising addition of live music starting in the middle of the third round. The source turned out to be a Senegalese Drum Ensemble participating in MIT’s World Music Day in the auditorium beneath the playing area. In investigating the event, we discovered it would last through our final round and were kindly given a box of ear plugs. We also confirmed the hypothesis that go tournaments and drums do not go well together (in case you were wondering). Fortunately our players are awesome and seemed mostly amused. We will try to be more aware of adjacent events for future tournaments.
Neil Ritter


Thanks to everyone for coming and to the MIT Go club and the MGA for organizing!



AlphaGo Zero-AlphaGo Master: A similar “taste” but things turn sour quickly

Friday December 8, 2017

“AG Zero and the Ke Jie version sort of resemble each other, in the way that they play around the 3-3 invasions, and there’s a 2017.12.08_ag-ag-zero-master-3‘taste’ to their play that’s quite similar,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his third commentary on the AG Zero games. “That said, the Ke Jie version tends to jump into fights more quickly and that’s very exciting, but in the Zero version, there’s a lot of hidden reading, like we saw in Game 2. Just as Master did against human players, Zero is controlling the game to a much greater degree, and a lot of the reading is not actually coming out on the board.”

“In this game, Master has black again and will be playing a lot of moves towards the center,” Redmond says. “So there are lot of stones floating around in the center of the board and looking kind of neat. I think Master had a good opening in this game and then there’s one move I really don’t like, that’s really the turning point of the game. And just like when I’m playing a formidable player, I find that just one move can turn things very sour quite quickly.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, and see below for the sgf commentary. To support this content, please consider joining or renewing your membership in the American Go Association; click here for details.

Video produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf files were created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.



Google’s AlphaZero destroys highest-rated chess engine in 100-game match

Thursday December 7, 2017

Chess changed forever today. And maybe the rest of the world did, too.2017.12.07_alphazero-stockfish

A little more than a year after AlphaGo sensationally won against the top Go player, the artificial-intelligence program AlphaZero has obliterated the highest-rated chess engine.

Stockfish, which for most top players is their go-to preparation tool, and which won the 2016 TCEC Championship and the 2017 Computer Chess Championship, didn’t stand a chance. AlphaZero won the closed-door, 100-game match with 28 wins, 72 draws, and zero losses.

Oh, and it took AlphaZero only four hours to “learn” chess. Sorry humans, you had a good run.

That’s right — the programmers of AlphaZero, housed within the DeepMind division of Google, had it use a type of “machine learning,” specifically reinforcement learning. Put more plainly, AlphaZero was not “taught” the game in the traditional sense. That means no opening book, no endgame tables, and apparently no complicated algorithms dissecting minute differences 2017.12.07_michael-adams-demis-hassabisbetween center pawns and side pawns.

This would be akin to a robot being given access to thousands of metal bits and parts, but no knowledge of a combustion engine, then it experiments numerous times with every combination possible until it builds a Ferrari. That’s all in less time that it takes to watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The program had four hours to play itself many, many times, thereby becoming its own teacher.

“It’s a remarkable achievement, even if we should have expected it after AlphaGo,” GM Garry Kasparov told “It approaches the ‘Type B,’ human-like approach to machine chess dreamt of by Claude Shannon and Alan Turing instead of brute force.”

You can read the full paper here. GM Peter Heine Nielsen said that “After reading the paper but especially seeing the games I thought, well, I always wondered how it would be if a superior species landed on earth and showed us how they play chess. I feel now I know.”

After the Stockfish match, AlphaZero then “trained” for only two hours and then beat the best Shogi-playing computer program “Elmo.”

“[This is] actual artificial intelligence,” said Nielsen. “It goes from having something that’s relevant to chess to something that’s gonna win Nobel Prizes or even bigger than Nobel Prizes. I think it’s basically cool for us that they also decided to do four hours on chess because we get a lot of knowledge. We feel it’s a great day for chess but of course it goes so much further.”

Excerpted from Mike Klein’s December 6 report on photo: Deepmind’s Demis Hassabis (right) playing with Michael Adams at the ProBiz event at Google Headquarters London just a few days ago. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/


AlphaGo doc now available to rent or buy

Wednesday December 6, 2017

“AlphaGo,” the 2016 documentary about the historic AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match, is now available on the Google “Play” store for2017.12.06_alphaGo-movie rental and purchase.
“AlphaGo” chronicles a journey from the backstreets of Bordeaux, past the coding terminals of Google DeepMind, to Seoul, where a legendary go master faces an unproven AI challenger. As the drama unfolds, questions emerge: What can artificial intelligence reveal about a 3000-year-old game? What will it teach us about humanity?

“This is such a beautiful telling of this historic moment,” comments Ben Murdoch on the site. “An intimate and at times tense portrayal of a milestone moment in AI history. Captivating!” says Marek Barwiński.


Danny Ko takes over from Roy Schmidt as AGA Treasurer

Wednesday December 6, 2017

After nearly seven years as Treasurer for the American Go Association, Roy Schmidt (right) has passed the ledgers to Daniel Daehyuk2017.12.06_Roy-Schmidt Ko.

Both urge anyone sending paper correspondence — especially membership forms and checks — to use the new address: Treasurer, AGA, PO Box 3678, Gardena, CA  90247.

“Organizers, if you have a supply of membership forms printed for use at 2017.12.06_Daniel-Daehyuk-KOyour next tournament, you can still use them,” says Ko (left), “but make sure to mail them to the new address to avoid a delay in rating your event.  Revised forms are already available on the AGA website for download.

“If tournament participants see organizers using a form with the Portland address at the bottom, ask if they are aware of the change of address, and point them to the AGA website for current contact information,” Ko adds.

Schmidt began playing go in Taiwan in the mid 1970s. “I became an honorary life member of the Taiwan Go Association as appreciation for a translation of the Ing rules.  In 1976 I was the referee for a Telex match between Taiwan and the USA using Ing rules for the first time internationally. Keeping it in the family, I married a go friend’s sister.” After years of organizing local clubs and tournaments back in the States, Bob Barber nominated Schmidt for the AGA Board.  After four years on the board he took a break and then returned as Treasurer. “Back to local now, I am directing a tournament in Portland in January,” Schmidt says.

Danny Ko learned go at the age of five from his parents in Korea and started actively playing at the age of 15 at local go clubs in his hometown. “After finishing the mandatory military service in Korea, I moved to the US in 1998 for my college education.  Since then I have casually played go in local Korean Go clubs in the LA area. In 2006, I have joined American Go Association (AGA) and started playing at AGA tournaments. After playing in numerous domestic and international events for many years, I have decided to contribute to the American go community in different way.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have had such dedicated, responsible and diligent volunteers take on the critical role of Treasurer,” said AGA president Andy Okun. “Both deserve the thanks and appreciation of every AGA member, to which I add my own, along with best wishes for Roy and anticipation of great work in the future with Danny.”





AGA YouTube channel hits 10,000 subscribers

Tuesday December 5, 2017

The American Go Association’s YouTube Channel hit the 10,000 subscriber mark this week. “This is an awesome number to hit 2017.12.05_aga-youtube-10,000-screengrabfor a channel,” said the AGA’s Steve Colburn. “We are reaching almost every country on the globe,” added AGA president Andy Okun, who credited Michael Redmond 9P — whose AlphaGo video commentaries with American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock have been hugely popular this year –as well as pr2017.12.05_aga-youtube-10,000-colburnoducers Andrew Jackson and Michael Wanek “for growing and expanding our coverage of this game.”

Noting that “10,000 represents four times the current AGA membership right now,” Okun urged fans of the channel to join the AGA to support ongoing coverage.

To celebrate the achievement, Colburn (left) made a brief video that should not be attempted at home.


Eric Lui 1P on AI impact on opening theory

Tuesday December 5, 2017

“At the Bay Area Go Players 2017 workshop in Berkeley, California Nov. 18-19, Eric Lui 1p presented a fascinating and2017.12.03_eric-lui-analyzes extensive coverage of the impact of AI on current go opening theory in addition to the staples of game analysis and tsume-go drills,” reports Steve Burrall.

photo: Lui analyzes a game for Mish Awadah (left), president of the SF Go Club; photo by Steve Burrall


Ryan Li wins Gotham tourney

Monday December 4, 2017

Ryan Li 1P (right) won the recent Gotham Go Tournament, held November 18 in New York City. The handmade ceramic bowls went 2017.12.03_gotham-Lockhart-Lito Tianning Dia via random draw of all first place winners. Other winners in the Open section were Michael Chen (2nd), Alan Huang (3rd) and Ben Lockhart (4th, at left).

Other first-place winners were: High dan: Qingbo Zhang; 1d-2k: Tianning Dia; Single-digit kyu: Brian Ye; Double-digit kyu: Richard Chalfant.

Click here for more photos.

- report/photo courtesy Peter Armenia


AlphaGo Zero-AlphaGo Master: A Master misread?

Sunday December 3, 2017

“Although the openings in this series are pretty repetitive, the games themselves vary,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his2017.12.01_ag-ag-zero-master-2 second commentary on the AG Zero games. “So in some, you’ll see a half-point game, and in others we’ll see Master crash. This game is interesting because it’s the first time that Zero has black. Also, later in the game, I get the feeling that Master is acting like it did in the 60-game series earlier this year against top human players, where it thinks its winning and is sort of closing up shop and wrapping up the game. So I wonder whether it mis-read a tsume-go — actually a 60-move sequence — in this game.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, and see below for the sgf commentary.

Video produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf files were created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.



The Power Report: Obituary: Sugiuchi Masao; Nongshim Cup 2nd Stage dominated by China; Xie regains Women’s Honinbo title

Sunday December 3, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.22_sugiuchiforever

Obituary: Sugiuchi Masao
I very much regret having to report the death of Sugiuchi Masao, a player who was a part of 20th-century go history who remained active well into the 21st century, when he acquired new fans as the oldest active professional go player ever.

2017.12.03-SugiuchiSugiuchi died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital on November 21. He was born in what is now Miyako-no-jo City in Miyazaki Prefecture on October 20, 1920. As a child, he showed talent at go and in 1933 came to Tokyo to become a disciple of Inoue Ichiro 5P. He became professional 1-dan in 1937, but lost about three years of his career to military service during the war. When he returned to the go world in 1946, he became one of the leaders of the younger generation, along with players like Sakata Eio and Fujisawa Hideyuki (Shuko). The peak of his career came when he challenged Takagawa Kaku (Honinbo Shukaku) for the 9th and 13th Honinbo titles in 1954 and 1958; he lost both matches 2-4. He won the Rapid Go Meijin tournament in 1959 and the 7th Igo Championship in 1963. He played in the Honinbo League seven times and in the (Yomiuri) Meijin league five times. He received a decoration from the Japanese government in 1992, and the Nihon Ki-in awarded him the Okura Prize in 2004. His lifetime record was 883 wins, 677 losses, 12 jigo, and two no result. He also served as a director of the Nihon Ki-in, including a term as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Many decades ago, Sugiuchi acquired the nickname of “the god of Go, ” perhaps for his quiet, self-effacing demeanor and his dedication to the game. In his 90s, he became one of the understated wonders of the go world. Although the Nihon Ki-in had introduced a retirement system, which enabled some players to retire as young as in their 50s, he kept playing. His last official game was played on November 2, so his active go career extends to 80 years. This is a record, as is remaining active until the age of 97. He is survived by his wife Kazuko 8P, who is still active at the age of 90, a record for women players. She is now the oldest active professional at the Nihon Ki-in. Her career has lasted 75 years, so she might break her husband’s record. (By the way, a game Sugiuchi played at the age of 95 with the 15-year-old Onishi Ryuhei, then 1P, set a record for the biggest age gap between the players.)

Nongshim Cup 2nd Stage dominated by China: The first round of the 19th Nongshim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in2017.12.03-Dang (L) beats Shin Shenyang City in China from September 19 to 22. It was dominated by Shin Minjun 6P of Korea, who won all four games. In the second round, held in Busan in Korea, he extended his winning streak to six games, but then Dang Yifei of China took over and won the remaining games in the round. Results follow.
Game 5 (Nov. 24). Shin (W) beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by 4.5 points.
Game 6 (Nov. 25). Shin (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) by resig.
Game 7 (Nov. 26). Dang Yifei 9D (China) (W) beat Shin by resig.
Game 8 (Nov. 27). Dang (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P (Japan) by resig.
Game 9 (Nov. 28). Dang (B) beat Kim Myounghoon 5P (Korea) by resig.
The final round will be held in Shanghai and will start on February 26. Players remaining are Iyama Yuta for Japan, who will appear in Game 10), Dang and Ke Jie for China, and Kim Jiseok, Shin Jinseo, and Park Junghwan for Korea. Based on players remaining, Korea has an advantage, but someone has to stop Dang.

Xie regains Women’s Honinbo title: The fifth game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match was held in the Special2017.12.03_Xie left wins #5 hon05_06 Playing Room on the 7th floor of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 29. Playing black, Xie Yimin (left) defeated the defending champion Fujisawa Rina by 8.5 titles and regained the title she lost to her last year. She was very relieved to be able to end the year on a good note. In the last year or so, Fujisawa had dominated the women’s titles, winning four to Xie’s one, but this win restored her to her familiar position of multiple title-holder (she already held the Women’s Kisei). Fujisawa is left with the Women’s Hollyhock Cup (sponsored by the Aizu Central Hospital), the Women’s Meijin, and the Senko Cup. This is the ninth time Xie has won the Women’s Honinbo. She and Kusunoki Mitsuko are the only players who have made two comebacks. This is Xie’s 27th title.