American Go E-Journal

The Power Report: Shibano takes Judan title, sets new records; Iyama extends lead in Honinbo title match; Sumire’s “second start” improves on her first

Monday June 29, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano takes Judan title, sets new records

   Even though professional go resumed on June 1, it took over two weeks for the 58th Judan title match, which had been interrupted with the score tied at 1-1, to get underway again, so in the end there was a break of close to three months. On June 17, the third game was finally played at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo. Taking white, the challenger, Shibano Toramaru Meijin, forced Murakawa Daisuke Judan to resign after 176 moves. 

   The fourth game was held at the same venue on June 26. Playing black, Shibano won by resignation after 141 moves. This gave him his third concurrent title, to go with the Meijin and Oza titles, and broke some records set by Iyama Yuta. At 20 years seven months, he is the youngest player to secure a triple crown, the previous record being Iyama’s 23 years one month. Shibano achieved this feat five years nine months, after becoming a professional; that put a big dent in the previous speed record, Iyama’s ten years three months. 

Iyama extends lead in Honinbo title match

   I gave the result of the second game of the 75th Honinbo title match in my previous report (June 22), but I have some supplementary information, so please bear with me. The game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on June 13 & 14, having been transferred from the originally scheduled venue, the Kokura Castle Garden in Kita-Kyushu City, because of a recent resurgence of the coronavirus in that city. It is the first Honinbo title game to be held at the Ki-in for 45 years. The last such game was the 7th game of the 30th title match. As it happened, the referee for this game was Ishida Yoshio, also known as 24th Honinbo Shuho, and he played in the 1975 game, beating Sakata Eio and winning the Honinbo title for the 5th year in a row. 

   As with Game One, there were no party or other related events, though what was called a “mini” press conference was held. Iyama took a small lead in the middle-game fighting and used great skill to convert this into a solid lead. Shibano resigned after 143 moves.

   The third game was played at the originally scheduled venue of the Takarazuka Hotel, Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture. Taking white, Iyama played positively in the opening and scored another convincing win. Shibano resigned after move 172. This was Iyama’s third one-sided win in a row, so Shibano’s Honinbo challenge seems to be in bad trouble. 

Sumire’s “second start” improves on her first 

   Japan’s youngest professional player, eleven-year-old Nakamura Sumire 1P, had a very successful first year, scoring 24 wins to 17 losses in 2019 and posting the best winning percentage for a 1-dan. Things had been a little tougher for her this year, though her record of 7-10 before Covid-19 put a stop to professional go, was nothing to be ashamed of for a new 1-dan. The enforced break does not seem to have affected her form and she has already evened her score for the year. On June 18, taking black, she beat Sano Takatsugu 8P by resignation after 141 moves in Preliminary C in the 69th Oza tournament. This was her first official game since April 6 and was played at the Kansai HQ of the Nihon Ki-in. On June 25, taking white, she beat Ms. Deguchi Mariko 1P in the final round of the preliminary tournament for the 5th Senko Cup by half a point. This secured her a seat in the main tournament (the best 16). Deguchi being her senior, this game was played on her home ground, the Kansai Ki-in. On June 29, Sumire (W) beat Araki Issei 4P by 6.5 points in Preliminary B of the 30th Ryusei tournament. Araki is a fellow member of the Nihon Ki-in’s Kansai HQ, so that is where the game was played. Just for the record, Sumire’s score to date is 27-17. Three straight wins is a great way to get back into the swing of across-the-board. Sano 8P commented that he had checked out some of the games Sumire played on the net during the enforced break and he got the impression her game was maturing. To his cost, he was able to confirm this.

Tomorrow: Iyama extends lead in Meijin League; Kisei S League; Suzuki to challenge for Women’s Hollyhock Cup

AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol Game 2, revisited, plus AlphaGo vs. The World

Sunday June 28, 2020

If you missed the live commentary — originally aired on May 17 on Twitch — by Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock on the second game of the historic 2016 AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol match, it’s now been released on the AGA’s YouTube channel. Click here to check it out. “Those days of Lee Sedol and you two doing the commentary were some of the most enjoyable times during that AlphaGo match,” said Mike Young. “I got really excited about Go for awhile.”

While there was no live broadcast this Sunday, Redmond and Garlock will return on Sunday July 5 at 8 PM EDT on AGA Twitch. Meanwhile, you can check out their new AlphaGo vs. The World series playlist, with new releases of commentaries on the AlphaGo Master games every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 11 AM EDT.

Your Move/Readers Write: More on “Gotham Go back in action”

Sunday June 28, 2020

“I am very disappointed by the E-Journal article “Gotham Go back in action,” writes Roger Schrag. “The article includes a photo of two people playing go ‘safely’; one player is wearing a mask incorrectly with their mouth and nose completely outside the mask, while the other player is not wearing a mask at all. Scientists and epidemiologists the world over agree that wearing masks is key to slowing the spread of Covid-19. By suggesting go players don’t need to wear masks in order to play safely in person does a gross disservice to the go community.”
Gotham Go organizer Peter Armenia responds: “I would guess most epidemiologists would think the situation depicted here is quite safe. They are two low-risk individuals, in a currently low risk (less than 1% positive test rate for Covid19) location, outside 4+ feet apart. The kid’s parents and adult pictured were provided detailed information on playing safely and urging every individual to assess their risk and personal situation to determine what is safe for them. It’s not up to the AGA or the Gotham Go Group to tell people what they can choose to do.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in letters to the editor are not necessarily those of the American Go Association. The E-Journal welcomes letter to the editor, which are subject to editing.

The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #15

Friday June 26, 2020

By William Cobb

I was chatting with the young man to whom I am teaching go the other day and I remarked that he was beginning to make a lot more plays that were like those of a real go player. His reply was that that might be true but in fact he felt like most of the time he had no idea what was going on.  It struck me immediately that I feel that way a lot of the time also. Moreover, often when I did think I knew what was going on I was mistaken. This feeling of being caught up in a rapidly shifting and somewhat puzzling situation is an inescapable characteristic of the game of go. This, of course, is another of the many ways in which playing go is like living life. Hopefully, with time and experience you begin to get some idea of what is going on in life. You recognize more of the actual opportunities facing you and you get a more realistic idea of what you are likely to be able to do in particular situations. Plus you also develop a better sense of what to expect from others.

Lately we’ve all been dealing with a host of realities we had not really been expecting though we knew such things were possible. It is very frustrating, not unlike playing an even game against a player who is much stronger than you. The new restrictions on living are too much like being told you can play a game of go but you have to hold the stones two inches above the board, drop them, and not move them afterwards. It would be hard to enjoy playing that way just as it is hard to enjoying living the way we have to now. Actually, the present situation has made playing go seem more like a very orderly activity—certainly one that involves virtually no frustrations. The lack of clarity about what is really going on in a game is now rather comforting in comparison with just living life.

photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

Your Move/Readers Write: More applause for AGA Statement on Injustice

Friday June 26, 2020

“Add my applause to the AGA statement on injustice,” writes Steven Burrall. “Even though Go players are a very nice bunch of people and perhaps need to hear the message less than members of most organizations, I think it is a great time for all organizations to publicly affirm the principles that are now building momentum to correct persistent inequities in racial justice.  Anyone who has done work for the AGA knows that there was no waste of money and resources in calling attention to the issue; a volunteer stepped up to write an excellent statement and I appreciate it.”

Gotham Go back in action

Thursday June 25, 2020

photo courtesy Peter Armenia

The Gotham Go Group was back in action — safely — on Tuesday at the Hungarian Pastry Shop.

50 years aGO — June 1970

Thursday June 25, 2020

Keith Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

On June 4 the Nihon Kiin Igo Festival was held.  There were a variety of events, but the greatest excitement was created by the 2nd place finish in the All-Japan Ladies Amateur Championship of an 11-year-old prodigy, Ashida Isoko (pictured)  She would enter the pro ranks in 1975. Today she’s a 6d player with Kansai Ki’in. Her biggest tournament victory so far was taking 1st place in the Kakusei in 1985.

On June 9, veteran player Hashimoto Utaro completed his victory in the Asahi Pro Best Ten (picture) with three straight wins over Kato Masao. (game records: Game 1; Game 2; Game 3).  He held off other young players – Rin Kaiho, Ishida Yoshio and Otake Hideo in the course of this triumph.

Go Review reports that William Pinckard returned to Japan and was furthering his go studies at Iwamoto’s Go Salon and had achieved 2 dan.

Finally, on June 14, the North American Honinbo match was held via telephone.  New York’s Takao Matsuda turned back the challenge of the West Coast’s Shigeo Matsubara.

AGA President Andy Okun on the AGA’s Statement on Injustice

Wednesday June 24, 2020

As the president of the American Go Association, I too am worried about the ways in which our members are affected by current events like Covid-19 as well as ongoing injustice. I am supportive of the recent efforts by the Board and the Code of Conduct committee to address these crises and proud of our members for their ongoing dedication to improving the community.

After hearing and reading different responses from the community, including letters to the editor in the E-Journal and conversations with different AGA leaders, I feel it is important to once again emphasize the AGA’s position: we welcome all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, age, or other creed. In this moment, it is particularly important to recognize the uniquely difficult experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). We have made strides in the last few years in making our community more welcoming to women; now it is past time for us to make a concerted effort to redress the lack of representation from BIPOC.

I also want to make clear that the AGA sponsors and runs the E-Journal as a journalistic publication covering the Go community, and as such gives the E-Journal maximum flexibility to apply its own journalistic ethics and to cover all points of views, even when the AGA may not agree with some of the sentiments expressed. We will work to make clear when something published in the EJ is intended to be a statement of the AGA and/or its leadership, since some readers may not be fully aware of the distinction between the E-Journal and the AGA, leading to confusion, for which we deeply apologize.

We as an organization always have room to grow, particularly in regards to being welcoming to people of color, and the recent dialogue has served to emphasize that. Many members reached out to thank us or share their support after the publication of our statement on injustice; we could not do it without you. We appreciate your patience as we learn from our mistakes and as we evaluate how we can do a better job of handling issues like this in the future.

The 2020 New York Youth Open to take place online July 25

Wednesday June 24, 2020

New York Youth Open is taking place online this year. “We are all Go thirsty while staying at home,” says AGA Vice President of Development Stephanie Yin 1 dan professional, “So we want to provide opportunities for Go players to play serious Go games.” This time, all youth players who want to improve their Go skills are welcomed to join!

The New York Youth Open (NYYO) is a 4-round open youth tournament hosted by the New York Go Association (NYGA) for all young players at all levels who are under 18 years old. Prizes are awarded in all divisions. Starting in 2017, the NYYO provides easy access to high standard formal tournaments. Young Go players improve their skills and gain experience through participating in NYYO, which prepares them for competing in bigger stages.

The NYYO will take place on Saturday, July 25. There will be four non-handicapped games starting at 12:00 ET. Top three players in each division will receive trophies and certificates, and every player who completes all rounds will receive a one-month FREE subscription (worth $9.99) for NYIG_Go YouTube class membership. More information can be found here: https://www.ny-go.org/youtube-memberships

Registration will be open until July 20, 2020. For registration and more information about the NYYO please visit: https://www.ny-go.org/2020-nyyo

report by Stephanie Yin, Felipo Jian

Your Move/Readers Write: Reactions to the AGA’s Statement on Injustice

Monday June 22, 2020

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: The letters below have been edited from correspondence sent to the E-Journal in response to the recently-published “Statement on Injustice from the AGA Code of Conduct Committee.” This note is in response to concerns raised by membership and leadership regarding publication of the letters. As editor of the E-Journal, I believe strongly that we should not ignore controversy in our community and that it’s important to have these conversations. Therefore, we publish most letters to the editor in excerpted or edited form, except where nongermane or duplicative. The E-Journal has long been a staple of the American Go community and AGA leadership often works closely with EJ staff;  however, the stories within do not explicitly express the views of AGA leadership,unless otherwise noted. On this selection of letters to the editor, this distinction has been noted, and this will be made clear in all future publications of letters to the editor.
Chris Garlock, Managing Editor 

“The AGA’s recent “Statement on Injustice from the AGA Code of Conduct Committee” was really outstanding!” writes Aaron Julian Congo. “As an African American AGA member I wanted to thank you for the statement.”

“This statement and its pandering to political correctness and its virtue signaling is contemptible,” wrote Anthony Lizotte. “Go players are welcoming and decent people for the most part. Good conduct, sportsmanship and polite interactions are expected at all AGA events regardless of skin pigmentation. The AGA has limited funds and resources, please do not waste time discussing a non-existent issue. If people really feel strongly about getting more people of color to play go, it is as simple as going to a black neighborhood and starting up a go club at a school, church, or library. And this I would strongly encourage and applaud.”

“Is white not a color?” wonders Trevor Snyder. “Just say minorities if you’re going to reference a specific ethnic group. Race and ethnicity are not synonymous. Until we educate ourselves, there will always be a divide and until you can communicate appropriately there will always be ignorance. Thank you for your attempt to be mindful but please choose your language adequately.”

NOTE: The opinions expressed in letters to the editor are not necessarily those of the American Go Association.