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The Power Report: People’s Honor Awards confirmed for Iyama and Habu; Lee Sedol wins World Meijin; Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense

Friday January 26, 2018

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

People’s Honor Awards confirmed for Iyama and Habu: At a cabinet meeting held on January 5, it was officially decided to give People’s Honor Awards to go player Iyama Yuta and shogi player Habu Yoshiharu in recognition of two unprecedented achievements. In Iyama’s case, it was getting a grand slam of the top seven titles for the second time; in Habu’s case, it was qualifying for lifetime titles in all the top seven titles (equivalent to an honorary title in go). As I mentioned in my final report for last year, it was announced that the government was “considering” making these awards, so it has now been confirmed. The awards will be given by the prime minister, Abe Shinzo, in a ceremony at the prime minister’s official residence on February 13. (By the way, so far Iyama has qualified for three honorary titles, the Kisei, Honinbo, and Gosei.)

Lee Sedol wins World Meijin: On January 8 and 9, the Dongjun Pharmaceutical Co. Cup: 5th World Mingren Tournament was held at the Yongji Qiyuan in Baoshan in Yunnan Province. Baoshan is a town very close to the Myanmar border and is famous for its go stones. The Yongji Qiyuan (= Ki-in) is an eight-storey building erected in 2016, so go must be prospering in this area. This is an invitational tournament, pitting the holders of the Meijin (= Mingren in Chinese and Myeongin in Korean) against each other. Iyama Yuta Meijin represented Japan and Lian Xiao Mingren China, but the Korean Myeongin title has been discontinued, so the Korean Baduk Association chose Lee Sedol as its representative. Lee repaid the faith shown in him by winning the mini-tournament.

 The tournament followed the usual “irregular” format for a three-player knockout. After drawing lots, Iyama and Lian were paired to play in the opening round on January 8. Taking white, Lian won this game by resignation. Iyama then played Lee in the second round; taking black, Lee won by resignation, so Iyama took third place. In the final, played on the 10th, Lee beat Lian (Go Weekly does not give the details) and took the first prize of 500,000 yuan (about $31,000). The Legend Pair Go tournament was held as a parallel event. This was won by the Korean pair of Yun Yongmin 3P and Suh Bongsoo 9P. The Japanese pair of Yoshida Mika 8P and Otake Hideo 9P came second.2018.01.26_42kisei1_5

Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense: As usual, the honor of starting the official tournament program in Japan fell to the players competing for the Kisei title, though they beat two women players by just a day. The challenger for the 43rd Kisei title is Ichiriki Ryo 7P, who is making his fourth challenge for a top-seven title. The only way to win one of these titles is to overcome Iyama Yuta, as he holds all of them. So far, Ichiriki has been unsuccessful; his best effort was in the 42nd Tengen title match in 2016, when he won the second game, but he has had no luck since, losing the next two games here, and suffering whitewashes in the 65th Oza and the 43rd Tengen title matches at the end of last year. Since he also lost the final of last year’s NHK Cup (the 64th), that gave him nine successive losses to Iyama. Still, his becoming the challenger for three successive titles shows that he is one of the top players in Japan.

   The top-three title matches, with their eight-hour time allowances spread over two days, are a different world from the other title matches, so such a match represents a new challenge but also a new opportunity. Ichiriki also had a break of seven weeks to prepare, though he may have been distracted by university exams in January.

   The first game was played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on January 18 and 19, with Otake Hideo, Hon. Gosei, acting as referee. Ichiriki drew black in the nigiri. In the opening, Iyama went for territory and Ichiriki set up a large moyo. As usual these days, there were some moves influenced by AI go-playing programs, such as a 3-3 invasion by White on move six and a shoulder hit against the lower stone in a knight’s-move corner enclosure by Black with move 13. As usual with top-level games, the play was too complex for an amateur such as myself to follow. To summarize briefly, White invaded Black’s moyo with White 40. He came under severe attack but managed to settle his group in sente, so he was able to expand his territorial moyo at the top. At this point, Iyama had the lead. Ichiriki successfully invaded the top territory and perhaps took over the lead here. However, he later played a move that, in the words of the Go Weekly reporter, “lacked subtlety.” Actually, the three-page report in the go newspaper is a little hard to understand. The headlines on the second and the third pages read, “Iyama’s tenacious upset” and “Ichiriki misses his winning chance” respectively, but they are not concretely explained in the text. That’s why I wrote “perhaps” above. It seems that Ichiriki missed the best move in a center fight that concluded the game. The Yomiuri Newspaper commentator So Yokoku 9P identified Black 203 as “the final losing move.” Black resigned after move 240.

   After the game, Iyama commented: “I thought that if Black played correctly in the center the game was no good for me. It was a tough game, but I was lucky.” Ichiriki: “I didn’t know what was correct in the center. I made mistakes in delicate positions that were fatal.” The next game will be played on January 25 and 26.

Tomorrow: Ueno makes good start in Women’s Kisei; 73rd Honinbo League; Obituary: Shiraishi Yutaka

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AGA City League this weekend

Thursday January 18, 2018

2017.10.03_PANDANETThis weekend is the second round of the Pandanet AGA City League. Watch some of your favorite young pros and many of the strongest players in the US and Canada. Check the schedule to see your favorite team’s matchups! This Sunday LIVE at 3PM, AGA City League and AGA City League (Manual) rooms.

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Go Spotting: “Counterpart”

Thursday January 18, 2018

In the opening montage of “Counterpart”, a new sci-fi thriller television series on Starz, “there is part of a stylized go board grid2018.01.07_counterpart with black and white stones appearing on it,” reports Joe Maia. “I’m guessing this might suggest that go will appear regularly, though briefly if the first episode is any guide, on the show.” 

An espionage, sci-fi thriller with a metaphysical twist, “Counterpart” tells the story of Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons), a lowly cog in a bureaucratic UN agency who is turning the last corner of a life filled with regret, when he discovers the agency he works for is guarding a secret: a crossing to a parallel dimension. Through Howard and his “counterpart” on the other side, the show navigates themes of identity, idealism, what ifs, and lost love. Check out a trailer here.

“In the first scene, Simmons is is sitting outside with another man, with an almost finished go game in front of them,” says Maia. “They talk about other things, and make only a mention or two about the game. Later in the episode, Simmons is again seated across from the same man, again with an almost finished go game in front of them. I was interrupted so I was unable to watch the last 20 minutes of the episode, so I do not know if there were additional scenes with go in them. I could not tell if the games looked real or not. The camera angle did not allow a full view of the board.”

“Counterpart” premieres on Starz on January 21.

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Gordon Marsh wins Portland tournament

Tuesday January 16, 2018

Gordon Marsh 1-dan won last weekend’s Portland Tournament, sweeping all five games. Twenty-one players ranging from 6-2018.01.14_portland-tourneydan to 13-kyu participated in the event, held at the University of Portland, Oregon on January 13th and 14th, reports TD Roy Schmidt. Three players tied for second place with 4-1 records: Jim Levenick 2d, Peter Drake 5k and Noah Balena-Doss 1. Masaya Kittaka 1k picked up a special goban prize for best performance by a newcomer.
photo (l-r): Kittaka, Levenick, Marsh, Drake, Balena-Doss, and TD Roy Schmidt. 

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The Shanghai Restoration Project’s “AlphaGo” single

Sunday January 14, 2018

The advent of AlphaGo has inspired…well, many things. Chief among them, of course, is self-reflection among serious go players:2018.01.11_Alpha Go-SRP What is it like to be superseded by artificial intelligence? Conversely, what can AlphaGo teach us about being human? Google’s AI inspired a movie, a belief that future health care will be better, endless cartoons and the belief that soon Al will be able to create knowledge itself. But music? It seems so. The Shanghai Restoration Project (SRP), a contemporary electronic music duo of Dave Liang and Sun Yunfan, recently dropped their new album R.U.R., with a single entitled “Alpha Go.” The group tells the E-Journal that R.U.R. explores a world in where robots have supplanted the extinct human civilization that predated them. ‘Alpha Go,’ the musicians say, is both “a tribute and an elegy” to Ke Jie’s defeat by the Google AI; it mixes in human elements with decidedly artificial ones. The tune is an airy, abstract melody. It’s evenly paced but turns on a dime, delivered by Yunfan ‘s vocals, which are digitally manipulated. Both musicians played go growing up, with Ms. Sun playing briefly for her school team. The cover art for the album is currently on display at NYC’s Society Of Illustrators until Jan 27 as part of the Illustrators 60 exhibition. “Alpha Go” can be listened to on YouTube or the SRP website.
– Charles “Doc” Sade, with thanks to Santana Afton for the tip

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2018 Australian Go Congress set for September

Saturday January 13, 2018

For those making 2018 go travel plans, our friends Down Under have just launched the 2018 Australian Go Congress2018.01.07-australia-congress website and Facebook page. The Congress will be held at the University of Sydney, Australia between September 27th and 30th 2018. “Please note some details are yet to be finalized but the rooms are booked, we have at least two pro teachers and we already have registrations,” report Congress organizers.

 

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Yuan Zhou’s new book on impact of AlphaGo on pro play

Friday January 12, 2018

Slate & Shell has just brought out a new book by Yuan Zhou, “Rethinking Opening Strategy: The Impact of AlphaGo on Pro 2018.01.07_yuan-zhou-bookPlay”. Zhou discusses several new moves introduced by AlphaGo that professionals are using in important games. He explains the moves and several recent games where they have been used by top players.

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Yi Wang wins Zheng Youth Tournament

Thursday January 11, 2018

Dozens of young go players turned out last Sunday, January 7, to contest the Second Zheng Youth Tournament in Irvine, 2018.01.11_Zheng Youth Tournament-kidsCalifornia. The venue is located on the second floor of a bowling alley, next door to an amusement park featuring miniature golf, Go Karts racing, bumper boats and a rock climbing wall, the perfect place for kids and adults after go activities.
The four-round AGA rated handicapped event was sponsored by Jingwei Zheng. Fourteen-year-old Yi Wang 6D (below, left), of San Diego, won the top section. 2018.01.11_Zheng Youth Tournament-Yi WangHe is a seasoned tournament player with 7 to 8 years of playing experience.

One of the goals of this southern California tournament was to encourage young beginning go players to enter tournament competition and gain experience. The youngest player in the event was five-year-old Eric Yang 30K and several other 30K players participated. This youth tournament is part of the Zheng Go Tournament. The main event, the 5th Zheng Go Tournament, will be held March 3-4, also in Irvine.

The group leaders were:
Dan Section: First place: Yi Wang 6D; Second place: Seowoo Wang 2D.
Kyu Section One: First Place: Barnett Yang 4K; Second Place: Zongli Huang 11K; Third place: Xiang Cai 18K.
Kyu Section Two: First Place: Tony Yang 30K; Second Place: Ziyu Xia 33K.

– includes reporting by Yixian Zhou and Kevin Chao, edited by Ted Terpstra

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Go events in Japan this summer

Thursday January 11, 2018

The dates have been set for the third annual Go Congress in Japan, as well as Osaka Go Camp 2018, reports Ryo Maeda 6p of 2018.01.10_japan-go-congress-17the Kansai-Kiin. Maeda has been a popular lecturer at the last eighteen U.S. Go Congresses.
The camp, held from June 24th through July 12th, 2018, will feature morning league games, with English instruction taught by professionals in the afternoons. Outside of the classroom, sightseeing opportunities include trips to downtown Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and a two-day trip to Okayama. Friendship events with go players from Okayama and Kansai will be held on Fridays.
The 3rd Japan Go Congress will be held in Takarazuka, immediately following the Osaka go camp, from July 13th through July 16th. The event features a number of tournaments, as well as a go symposium, game reviews, and simultaneous games with Japanese pros.
If you’re a go fan, interested in seeing Japan, be sure to check out this website, which features information about both events. “I promise that everyone can improve quite a lot through the camp and the congress and will have a lot of fun,” says Maeda. “We are looking forward to seeing you in Osaka and Takarazuka!” The cities are only eleven miles apart.
photo: at the 2017 Japan Go Congress
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Go Spotting: Yoshida Kenkō

Thursday January 11, 2018

Fred Baldwin found this on a Twitter feed. Yoshida Kenkō  was a Japanese author and Buddhist monk. His most famous work is2018.01.07_Yoshida Kenkō-quote Tsurezuregusa (Essays in Idleness), one of the most studied works of medieval Japanese literature. Kenko wrote during the Muromachi and Kamakura periods.

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