American Go E-Journal » Tools: books, software & hardware

AGF invests in KGS

Wednesday December 4, 2019

-Paul Barchilon, AGF Vice President and KGS Liaison

The AGF is instituting a series of changes to the KGS Go Server to make it more available and more useful as a tool for promoting go. As a first step, KGS+ events will now be free with users able to make a donation – not only to support KGS+ but to cover server costs and fund improvements on the software. All of this year’s saved lectures are now also free, and can be viewed under the KGS Plus menu.

For those that haven’t tried it, KGS+ provides lectures and lessons with professionals and very strong amateurs. In the past, sales of KGS+ provided enough income to pay for itself as well as the server costs. However, attendance has dropped in recent years and the server has not been able to meet its costs for quite some time now. The AGF Board hopes that by opening the lessons to everyone, more people will attend, join the community, and support KGS.

We recognize that the software is now almost 20 years old, and we have a very long list of things we want to improve.  Our current all-volunteer model for making those changes and maintaining the server has not kept up.  Those with the necessary skills are far too busy.  As a first step the AGF will be hiring a software engineer to write a web based registration module. This will allow people to register from any device, including phones and tablets, and from any computer whether it is running Java or not. The current requirement for Java has kept the server blocked entirely from many environments (such as public schools in the US and many international locations).

While the AGF is willing to run KGS at a loss as a service to the go community, we would rather a smaller loss or to break even with any added money invested back into KGS. We hope that by switching to a donation model, we will generate the revenue for upgrades, fund more events, and provide a stable platform for play.  Since the AGF is a 501c3 charity, donations to support KGS will be tax deductible.

Although KGS has seen declining attendance in recent years, there are still between 350 and 800 players on at any given moment. We feel that KGS builds community in a way that other servers don’t.  The chat and room functionality allow people to meet new friends, create virtual go clubs, and learn together with what are still some of the best game editing tools available. Our hope is that the community shares our regard for KGS and will contribute to help keep it afloat. If you would like to donate to the server, through Paypal or with your credit card, click here.

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Go Spotting: The inscrutability of artificial intelligence in go… and nuclear warfare

Sunday October 6, 2019

In a September 7th article titled “Battle algorithm,” The Economist writes of a “paradox” that may be familiar to readers who analyze their games using Leela Zero and other AIs. “AI might at once penetrate and thicken the fog of war, allowing it to be waged with a speed and complexity that renders it essentially opaque to humans.” The article notes that in AlphaGo’s March 2016 victory over Lee Sedol, the AI “played several highly creative moves that confounded experts,” and this led a workshop at the Chinese Academy of Military Science to conclude that, in the words of one source, “an AI could create tactics and stratagems superior to those of a human player in a game that can be compared to a war-game.”

While the article in The Economist focuses on conventional warfare, the strengths and weaknesses of go-playing AIs also appear in recent publications on nuclear warfare.

In 2017, the American think tank RAND Corporation held a series of workshops on AI and nuclear war, which noted that AlphaGo’s victory “astonished even AI and strategy experts.” “[T]he decisionmaking in Go is far simpler to address than in nuclear war…. but by the year 2040, it does not seem unreasonable to expect that an AI system might be able to play aspects or stages of military wargames or exercises at superhuman levels.” It is “likely that humans making command decisions will treat the AI system’s suggestions as on par with or better than those of human advisers. This potentially unjustified trust presents new risks that must be considered.”

This year, an August 16 commentary by two American researchers also cites AlphaGo. The commentary notes that AlphaGo Zero “learned through an iterative process”; “in nuclear conflict there is no iterative learning process.” “The laws of war require a series of judgments…. Software that cannot explain why a target was chosen probably cannot abide by those laws. Even if it can, humans might mistrust a decision aid that could outwardly resemble a Magic 8-Ball.” Nonetheless, the commentary argues for having AI take more control over US nuclear weapons.

Thanks to Fred Baldwin for once again spotting go, this time in “Battle algorithm.”

-edited by Joe Cua

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Leela for all, maybe Bender and Fry too

Wednesday August 28, 2019

Plenty of go players have tested their hand against Leela, but what about Bender, or Fry? Ever wanted to play a go game against Dr. Farnsworth? Andreas Hauenstein has modified Leela Zero – an open source superhuman-strength go program – and created different “players” with different strengths after some experimentation and public feedback. That those “players” should be named after Futurama characters, Leela being the strongest, seems natural. To read a little more about his process and to test your skills against the character of your choice, take a peek at his English translation of a piece he wrote up for the German Go Journal here.

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Go-inspired clothing

Tuesday August 27, 2019

Would you like to have a t-shirt that shows a Go board with a Go stone getting captured? How about a tank top that depicts a ko fight? Tenuki Normal is a new clothing brand offering apparel with Go-themed imagery. T-shirts are available in men’s, women’s, and children’s styles, and tank tops and sweaters are also available. Check out Tenuki Normal’s website here; you can also find them on Facebook.

“Our goal is to create Go/weiqi/baduk/igo style clothing for comfortable and casual wear that stays true to the aesthetics of the game,” reports the company’s website. Founder Matthew Leong tells the E-Journal that Tenuki Normal is a nonprofit organization, and that 20% of proceeds will be donated to the American Go Association in support of its efforts to promote and sustain the American go community.
– Roger Schrag

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Multilingual Go Book Completes French Version, Reports Progress on Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, and Russian Versions

Thursday August 22, 2019

Earlier this year, the E-Journal reported on Haris Kapolos’s Multilingual Go Book project, the goal of which is to create a book “that could circulate in libraries, schools, universities and game shops… in more languages [than just English and Greek] and have it be free for everyone.”

Kapolos recently wrote us to announce “the full translation of the book in French. The translation was made almost entirely by Jean-Luis Tu.” Significant progress has also been made on a Brazilian Portuguese translation, with almost three chapters complete, by Lucas Félix de Oliveira Santana. The website has also been fully translated into both languages.

“The whole English version has been proofread and some diagrams were corrected,” writes Kapolos, “Also, I have re-aligned most of the text boxes and image boxes in the book and it looks much better now.”

Kapolos is looking for more collaborators: “The current [translations] that have volunteers working on them and on which it would be great to receive more help are the Dutch, the Russian and the Brazilian Portuguese versions.”

If you’re interested in getting involved, the project is looking for people to create translations in their own language, proofreaders, and donations.

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AGF imports blind go sets

Wednesday August 21, 2019

The American Go Foundation has purchased 12 new go sets designed for the visually impaired. Both black and white stones are slotted on the back, and click into a 19×19 grid, with a 9×9 grid on the backside. Black stones also have a raised dot in the middle, so they feel different from the white ones. Sets have been sent to the National Go Center and the Seattle Go Center, and one will be available at the US Go Congress each year as well. Milan Mladenovic ran a pilot program last year at Perkins Institute for the blind in Boston, and it was well received . “Ever since I learned to play go my brain has reconnected with my love for thinking ahead and mind games,” reported S, a student at Perkins. 

AGA Board member Steve Colburn approached the AGF about purchasing the sets. “The AGA Webmaster receives dozens of emails a month from people around the country,” writes Colburn. “Most of these have pretty easy answers, but there are others that can take years to answer.” Colburn says he has received multiple requests for blind sets over the years. “This time we were helped from some users on Go (Baduk, Weiqi) Players on Facebook, which is a nice group of worldwide go players to chat with. Earlier this year someone asked if they knew where to buy a blind go set. Someone in the thread found the right site for the Japan Braille Library Equipment Business Division. After a short consultation with the AGF they agreed to import some of the sets to the US,” said Colburn. Importing proved fairly complicated. Joshua Guarino’s Japanese was crucial to get through the many issues with ordering, importing and payment, and the sets finally arrived at the AGF warehouse just before the Go Congress.

“Adding go sets for the visually impaired to our equipment offerings was a natural extension of what the AGF does to promote go in institutional settings and to underserved populations,” says AGF President Terry Benson. The sets will be free for institutions that are working with the visually impaired. Individual players who are blind can also contact the AGF if they are interested in acquiring a set. -Story and photo by Paul Barchilon

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ArenaGo: New Go Database App

Saturday August 17, 2019

ArenaGo is a new Android app that contains over 50,000 professional matches searchable by player, country or date. Nice stone graphics, flags to represent nationality, and the ability to select favorite players might interest go enthusiasts. Users can manually advance through games or choose an adjustable auto-play speed. Game records are current as of 7/27/2019 with over 1,400 players and 23 countries represented.

The following link will take you to the app in the Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.arenago.android

An IOS version is under development.

-editing and screenshots by Ryan Woolgar

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Jasiek releases two new endgame books

Tuesday June 25, 2019

Robert Jasiek has released two new endgame Go books, his 15th and 16th. “Endgame 3 – Accurate Local Evaluation” distinguishes local gote from sente endgames objectively and evaluates local endgames accurately. “Even for long local sequences, we determine the right moments of playing elsewhere,” Jasiek says. Click here for sample pages. “Endgame Problems 1” has 150 problems, of which 20 are new tactical problems on the 11×11 board and 130 are evaluation problems. “Their detailed and correct answers calculate the counts, move values and, if necessary, gains of the initial local endgame and every follow-up position,” says Jasiek. Click here for sample pages.

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Interactive go books now available on Android and Windows

Friday March 15, 2019

Reading interactive go books used to be limited to iPad, iPhone, and Mac. “Not any more,” says SmartGo publisher Anders2019.03.18_go-books-website Kierulf. “Most of the 134 books at gobooks.com are now available as ePub, so you can also read them on Android and Windows.” Diagrams and problems in the ePubs are interactive. “The DRM-free ePubs let you read your books on different devices, and future-proof your investment in books.” Click here for more information.

Go Books now contains 134 books about go, and includes new books by Richard Bozulich on “Attacking and Defending Weak Groups” as well as “Sabaki – The Art of Settling Stones”.  The GoGoD game collection now contains over 102,000 pro games, and is part of SmartGo KifuSmartGo for Windows, and SmartGo for Macintosh. To stay up-to-date, follow @smartgo on Twitter or SmartGo on Facebook.

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Review: Deep Learning and the Game of Go

Thursday March 14, 2019

Deep Learning and the Game of Go  by Max Pumperla and Kevin Ferguson, teaches all the aspects of deep learning that went 2019.03.13_DeepLearning-Pumperla-DL-HIinto Alpha Go. It is complete with code in Python3, with all code based upon building a go-playing program starting with code for the board structures/objects. It does not teach Python and does not assume you know anything about learning algorithms. I am only in the 4th chapter and so far I find the text very readable and the explanations clear. By the end of the book you can have a complete Go bot for playing or experimenting. One very nice thing that Manning does is that all the code is available for downloading, and buying the paper book allows you to signup for electronic versions in a variety of formats, so you can copy/paste the examples if you don’t want to type them and you can search the text electronically rather than paging through the book. About the only thing not covered in the book is parallelization for multiple GPU/CPUs.
– David Doshay

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