American Go E-Journal » Your Move: Readers Write

Your Move/Readers Write: Ukiyo-e at Shizuoka

Monday January 8, 2018

“I read your article about the Tokugawa Memorial Go Congress set for February 2017 in Shizuoka,” writes Erwin 2018.01.07_Ukiyo-eGerstorfer. “One additional bit of information that might be interesting to the readers of the American Go E-Journal is an exhibition of go-related Ukiyo-e — woodblock prints and paintings — in the Tokaido Hiroshige Art Museum of Shizuoka that will take place from February 6th to April 1st, 2018. There was a go related Ukiyo-e exhibition in Villach, Austria in 2007 in conjunction with the European Go Congress but this one will be bigger and more exciting and taking place in a dedicated Ukiyo-e museum.”

“I have met one of the Japanese organizers of the go festival at the European Go Congress in Oberhof last summer and my impression is that this event is well worth a visit. They are very dedicated to that event and especially interested in international participation. You can reach Shizuoka from Tokyo by train (Shinkansen) in about 90 min and there are several trains a day.”

Image: Kubo Shunman’s “Outfit for the Go Game” 

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Your Move/Readers Write: Remembering Joel Olson’s “wonderful smile”; Janice Kim on “An interesting story”; Board size mystery explained

Monday November 27, 2017

Remembering Joel Olson’s “wonderful smile”: “Reading about Joel Olsen’s interest in music explains an aspect of this old hand go player,” writes Terry Benson. “Every Go Congress, he was a regular at the gathering for silly go songs. There are four editions of the AGA Song Book, so it often took time for everyone to find the words to a song in whatever version they had. Two years ago Joel compiled a concordance to show where any particular song was in each of the editions. I emailed him this past spring expecting him to come to the2017.11.27_A Chess Novice Challenged Magnus Carlsen Congress in San Diego and enjoy his work. Sad that he didn’t get to sing one more time. He always had a wonderful smile which beamed happiness.”  

Janice Kim on “An interesting story”: “An interesting story has popped up, weaving together themes of learning, and human achievement in field of games,” writes Janice Kim. “My thoughts: It would be a little clearer what was going on to non-chess players, if they considered a random person who decided to challenge the Olympic gold medalist in the 400m hurdles after training for a month. 1) WSJ, you don’t have to create drama by suggesting Magnus winning is in doubt. 2) Magnus, I get it. I’d be curious too. 3) Max, you are definitely getting the silver.”

Board size mystery explained: “Having a collection of go-related art I can assure Greg Kulevich (Go Spotting: Art Institute of Chicago 11/12 EJ) that a board size of 25×17 was just the artist’s choice and not a usual board size at any time,” writes Erwin.Gerstorfer. “It might be surprising but hardly any depiction of Go boards in Asian art is coming even close to a 19×19 size, let alone that you find there any kind of reasonable board positions. Obviously Asian artists were more interested in the overall impression and not in depicting the exact details of the game.”





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Your Move/Readers Write: More pro go news wanted

Wednesday September 27, 2017

“I love the E-Journal updates of what is going on in the professional go world,” writes Howard Cornett. “But I want more! Where are links to the game records? Is there any more detailed coverage in English somewhere? And an in-depth explanation of all the leagues and their rules would be great, too. Are they in English somewhere? I recently started re-reading the manga Hikaru No Go and want to be able to follow the professional go world like others follow football, baseball, or soccer. What resources are there in English? If not in English, what language will I have to learn or plug into Google Translate?”
Send your responses/suggestions to journal@usgo.org. We’re always looking for reporting/translation assistance/support here at the E-Journal, as well; if you’re interested in being part of the team, email us at journal@usgo.org

 

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Your Move/Readers Write: How to grow a go community?

Wednesday August 30, 2017

How to grow a go community? For the last couple months, I had been hosting a regular club on sundays to try and establish a go community in Wichita,” writes Billy Bloomquist. “I have a made a group on Facebook to try and publicize it, and so far I do have a few people I have taught and that have been continuing to play, so that’s great. However, I am reaching out to see if I could get any tips on how to expand this kind of thing/keep it visible in a place where hardly anyone knows of the game. A good list of learning materials for people starting from scratch could be helpful as well, just anything you think could be useful for me to invest in. I’d love to see it grow in popularity here in Kansas, and am willing to continue putting in whatever effort I can at least here in my city.”
Email your suggestions to journal@usgo.org

 

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Your Move/Readers Write: Gary Kasparov on AlphaGo

Tuesday August 29, 2017

By Michael Bacon

Enjoyed the coverage of the Go Congress immensely! Could not help but poke a few of my chess friends in the eye while contrasting all the coverage it received with all the coverage the recent US Open did not receive on the organ of US chess, the USCF webpage. I’ve also been transfixed by Michael Redmond’s videos. The man is a national treasure!

Former World Human Chess Champion Gary Kasparov, who will always be remembered as the human who lost to a ‘machine,’ in his apologia for having lost to the computer chess ‘engine’ called ‘Deep Blue’ — not for having turned Kasparov a deep shade of blue, and a whiter shade of pale, I might add — writes about go in ‘Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins‘:2017.08.27_Deep Thinking-Kasparov
“The nineteen-by-nineteen Go board with its 361 black and white stones is too big of a matrix to crack by brute force, too subtle to be decided by the tactical blunders that define human losses to computers at chess. In that 1990 article on Go as a new target for AI, a team of Go programmers said they were roughly twenty years behind chess. This turned out to be remarkably accurate. In 2016, nineteen years after my loss to Deep Blue, the Google-backed AI project DeepMind and its Go-playing offshoot AlphaGo defeated the world’s top Go player, Lee Sedol. More importantly, and also as predicted, the methods used to create AlphaGo were more interesting as an AI project than anything had produced the top chess machines. It uses machine learning and nural networks to teach itself how to play better, as well as other sophisticated techniques beyond the usual alpha-beta search. Deep Blue was the end; AlphaGo is the beginning.” (pgs. 74-75)

Please note the author capitalizes “Go,” but not “chess.” I find that curious as I have always capitalized “Chess.” (note: the EJ does not capitalize go, consistent with AP style) In addition, Lee Sedol, as all go players know, was not the “…world’s top Go player,” when he lost to the computer program known as AlphaGo.

2017.08.27_kasparov-bookWe move along to page 104 where one finds this:2017.08.27_Kasparov-playing
“The machine-learning approach might have eventually worked with chess, and some attempts have been made. Google’s AlphaGo uses these techniques extensively with a database of around thirty million moves. As predicted, rules and brute force alone weren’t enough to beat the top Go players. But by 1989, Deep Thought had made it quite clear that such experimental techniques weren’t necessary to be good enough at chess to challenge the world’s best players.”

Finally, on page 121, Kasparov, or his co-author Mig Greengard, writes this paragraph:
“More success was had with another method for allowing machines to extend their thinking into the hypothetical outside of the direct search tree. Monte Carlo tree search simulates entire games played out from positions in the search and records them as wins, draws, or losses. It stores the results and uses them to decide which positions to play out next, over and over. Playing out millions of “games within the game” like this was not particularly effective or necessary for chess, but it turned out to be essential in Go and other games where accurate evaluation is very difficult for machines. The Monte Carlo method doesn’t require evaluation knowledge or hand-crafted rules; it just keeps track of the numbers and moves toward the better ones.”

While reading I continually thought of former World Human Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker’s famous quote, “If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go.”

Not chess; go!

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Your Move/Readers Write: On AlphaGo, an air of defeat, and a haiku

Monday August 28, 2017

“At the recent US Go Congress I sensed an air of defeat among some of the players with respect to AlphaGo,” writes John O’Conner. “They gave 2017.08.27_alphago-lee-sedolme the impression that they consider the study of go to be somewhat of a dead end process because they believe that no one will ever be able to compete with AlphaGo. Well I think just the opposite, and here’s why. It is human nature to observe, study, and discover. We see this in astronomy, geometry, electronics, and really in any scientific area. It’s how we learn to live our lives. I believe that as we observe and study AlphaGo, we will discover new concepts that will lead to the defeat of AlphaGo. Of course those new concepts will be programmed into ‘BetaGo’, and the cycle will continue. So I think that this is perhaps the most exciting time to be playing and studying go, with the goal of being the first to surpass AlphaGo. I’ve re-stated it in the haiku below.”

AlphaGo is king
Wood, fire, earth, metal, water
So who will be next

photo: Lee Sedol playing AlphaGo in 2016

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Your Move/Readers Write: Naked go classes; Who wrote ’42 Life story? Next AlphaGo series?

Sunday August 27, 2017

Naked go classes: “The August 12th issue of The Economist relates the decline of Japan’s public baths,” writes Phil Waldron. “From a high of 2700 there are now fewer than 600, and those that remain are struggling to reinvent themselves. Some are turning into spas to cater to upscale clientele or foreigners while others are putting on performances and concerts. The Economist mentions one particularly creative establishment, however, which has gone a different route. In an attempt to appeal to the younger crowd, it now offers naked go classes!”

Who wrote ’42 Life story? “Does anyone know who wrote the May 18, 1942 go article in Life magazine?” wonders Jonathan Chetwynd. “Most articles have a writer, but not this one…”
Email journal@usgo.org 

Next AlphaGo series? “When will the next set of Alphago videos be put on YouTube?” asks George Shutack.
Production has just begun; we’ll keep you posted.

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Your Move/Readers Write: More on go libraries; Redmond on Kobayashi? Clued in

Wednesday August 16, 2017

More on go libraries: “As a retired librarian, I was very pleased to read about go books in various libraries (Go books go global…and local,” writes Robert Barber. “When I worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I prevailed upon the Collections Development people to purchase at least 20 books for the library.  Later, Mark Rubenstein and I gave a dozen books to the Evanston Public Library.  And recently, Mark 2017.08.16-crossword‘inherited’ the library of our friend Ian Feldman.  Mark plans to make the books available to the members of his club.”

Redmond on Kobayashi? “I hope you can get Michael Redmond to do a review of his recent game with Kobayashi Koichi, either for the EJ Members Edition or as a You Tube video,” writes Bob Gilman.
A Redmond video commentary on the game with Kobayashi is in production, as is the next set of Redmond’s Alphago-AlphaGo commentaries.

Clued in: In the New York Times crossword no. 0705 (Wed, Aug. 9th), the clue for 43-across is “Travel edition of a classic board game?” reports Roy Schmidt. “Partial spoiler,” Schmidt adds, “our game is part of the answer!”

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Your Move/Readers Write: Crosstabs, explained

Saturday August 12, 2017

“I’m looking at the Crosstabs page on the AGA web site but there is insufficient information to make heads or tails of it,” writes Chuck Bell. “Is 2017.08.12_crosstab-screengrabthere an explanation of these tables anywhere? They don’t appear to me to be self-explanatory.”

The AGA Crosstab system is a very odd duck. It was really something that was semi-cobbled together and since then has had very few changes. In the current/existing system the page reads as: Player – ## (this is the number from the TD system), Rounds and results (Try hovering your cursor over the numbers, it will show you the name of their opponent), and overall result for the tournament. In the rounds columns the numbers display as something like “4B+”. This means that the the player’s row you’re looking at played player #4, they played as Black, and they won the game. If you look at player 4, it will show they played player X, played as White, and lost the game. Hovering over the result will again show you the name of the opponent.
The system is far from perfect but the reality is that we’re an all-volunteer organization and often have to settle for “good enough.” That said, we’d welcome anyone who’d like to jump in and help. Most of the software that the AGA uses is on GitHub. This set of code can be found here. Anyone who would like to work on projects like these, please email us at operations@usgo.org or journal@usgo.org
- Steve Colburn

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Your Move/Readers Write: Go Clock Recommendations

Friday March 10, 2017

Leap PQ9903: “The MGA battled about this for about a year before finally settling on the Leap PQ9903,” writes Neil 2017.03.10_Leap PQ9903Ritter in response to the February 25 Your Move/Readers Write: Looking for go clocks posting, noting the clocks were more affordable through Alibaba compared to Amazon. It’s “perhaps important to note explicitly that this clock doesn’t do Canadian Byoyomi particularly well,” Neil adds. A thread summarizing the Massachusetts Go Association’s discussion on the topic can be found here.
 
DGT3000: “I believe the best game clock for the money is the DGT3000,” 2017.03.10_DGT3000suggests Dave Baran. “I am aware of three clocks that currently available that have both Japanese and Canadian byo-yomi:  the DGT3000, the Cronos, and the Duel Timer.” Dave notes that the Excalibur is an affordable option that might be available on EBay, but has been discontinued from production. Dave adds that, “the byo-yomi time control on the Zmartfun II chess clock is inadequate.”
 
Amazon.com: “You can get just about anything from Amazon.com,” points out Ralph Meyer, suggesting searching for “Chess Clocks”.
- Edited by Brian Kirby
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