American Go E-Journal

Go Spotting: More Go Behind Bars

Monday February 22, 2010

Another tale of go behind bars – this one from Poland – comes from E-Journal European Correspondent Peter Dijkema. Seems that Slawomir Sikora picked up the game while serving a 25-year prison sentence for the brutal 1994 murders of two men who were blackmailing him and his business partner. The case became world-famous when the film “Dlug (The Debt)” came out in 1999. According to Dijkema’s sources (his wife is a Polish journalist), after learning go from a book his mother gave him in prison, Sikora and his fellow inmates made their own sets out of cardboard and paper, and when he soon had his cell-mates taking serious handicaps, they concluded he was the dan-player, while they were weak kyu’s. The film helped Sikora become a hero in the eyes of many and he was freed in 2005, pardoned by the President of Poland after many prominent Poles signed a petition on Sikora’s behalf. “We do not know of any of his games outside jail, nor how his dan-level would match up on the Polish ranking list,” Dijkema reports. Click here to read more about the case.

Categories: Go Spotting

Nakayama Noriyuki 6P Dies

Friday February 19, 2010

Nakayama Noriyuki 6P died on February 16. The prolific author, reporter and go writer was well-known to American go players who met him during his many trips to the United States over the last three decades. “Nakayama’s deep and abiding love for the game of go and his irrepressible sense of humor endeared him to everyone who was fortunate enough to cross his path over the years,” said American Go Association President Allan Abramson. “He’ll be missed by his many friends around the world.” Said Ji Li 7D, one of the top American amateur players, “Nakayama made significant impacts and contributions to the American go community.” One of Nakayama’s most popular books in the West, The Treasure Chest Enigma, was re-issued in 2005; he ghost wrote books for many top professionals and authored several for himself. Well known as one of the professionals who most toured the West to spread and teach go, Nakayama – born September 3, 1932 — loved to play amateurs and – a twinkle in his eye – would respond to their questionable moves by saying, with a quizzically cocked head, “Ah! New Joseki, neh?!”, or “Oohh! Strong move! But maybe… this (playing his move…) better!!!” Although Nakayama never won a title, “He was funny and approachable,” said longtime fan Keith Arnold 5d. “There was an unmistakable quiet dignity that did not ask for, yet clearly demanded respect. Respect for a dedication to the game, to teaching, and to spreading its joys, winning players with a smile.”
– Chris Garlock, includes reporting on Sensei’s Library; photo by Phil Straus; click here for his album of Nakayama photos


NAKAYAMA’S LAST LECTURE: Longtime Congress favorite Noriyuki Nakayama 6P announced at the 2006 US Go Congress that it would be the last year he’d be attending the U.S Go Congress. His wife had been ill recently and it was a great hardship for him to be away for the month it took to attend both the U.S. and European Congresses. At a standing-room only lecture at the Congress, the irrepressible Nakayama said that “I’m afraid the answer might be ‘jigo’ if my wife asks me which is more important, my American go friends or her.” Much-loved for his cherubic delight in teaching go to players of all strengths, Nakayama said “The best thing about go is that you make many friends.” At the lecture, he set up two life and death problems and invited members of the audience to come up and try to solve them, gleefully refuting the wrong moves until somebody solved the problem correctly. For the game section of the lecture, he showed part of the game he won to get promoted to 2P.
– Chris Garlock; Photo by Jian Zhang


LETTER FROM JAPAN: Goodbye, The Congress I Love

By Noriyuki Nakayama 6P

I participated in the US Go Congress this year (2006) as I have for last 21 years. The US Go Congress, which started in 1985, could just as well be described as “the US Open Go Festival.” Participants include players from European countries, Japan and many other countries who love this “Festival” as well as go enthusiasts and go maniacs from every corner of the United States. For many participants, these events are a vacation involving spouses and other members of the family. Many wives and children learn go and participate in events like Pair Go, the 9×9 tournament and Kid’s Go.

I have been engaged in activities to introduce and popularize the game of go in the USA before the US Go Congress was organized, but unfortunately, this year’s visit will be the last one due to my wife’s health problems. I know that I will miss the Go Congress and my friends there very much since I started this journey when I was 49 and it has lasted a full quarter-century since then.

On August 19, 2006, my last lecture started after all the Congress events were finished. It had become a kind of Congress custom for me to present a lecture as the final event but this year’s — literally “the last lecture” – attracted most of the approximately 250 people at the Congress. In the standing ovation which lasted long after I finished, overwhelmed by the emotion, I could not find the words to say Goodbye Go Congress, Goodbye America, Goodbye my dear American go friends!
– A longer version of this letter appeared in the October 9, 2006 edition of the Nihon Ki-in’s weekly Go magazine. Translated by Frank Fukuda and edited by Chris Garlock. This letter also appears in the 2006 American Go Yearbook.

As it turned out, Nakayama was able to attend one last U.S. Go Congress, in 2007…



“There are three steps to get better,” Noriyuki Nakayama 6P said at a lecture at the 2007 U.S. Go Congress. “Step 1: buy a book. Step 2: read it! Step 3: practice!” As entertaining as always, Nakyama kept the attentive crowd laughing appreciatively as he mixed game analysis of Takemiya’s games with fascinating and amusing anecdotes from the go world. “Replay professional games,” Nakyama advised. “Eventually you will start playing better moves because your fingers will know where to play. Not your mind, your fingers.”

“Ah, The Clam Shells Are Heavy”

Excerpted from The Treasure Chest Enigma; A Go Miscellany, by Nakayama Noriyuki

A little before six in the evening, Kajiwara, who had been glaring at the board hard enough to bore a hole in it, suddenly raised his head and glanced at the scenery outside in the gathering dusk. Not surprisingly, he bore signs of considerable fatigue.

The game recorder’s voice rang out. “Time is up. Kajiwara Sensei, please seal the next move.”

Kajiwara gave a deep nod of assent, then shifted his gaze back to the board. Some five minutes passed by. Suddenly he called out in a flurried tone, “What? The next move’s the sealed move.” His eyes were riveted on the board.

With his whole being concentrated on the go board, Kajiwara had only half taken in the game recorder’s words when he first spoke.

“Yes. The next move – is – the sealed move.” The game recorder replied slowly and carefully, enunciating each syllable clearly.

Kajiwara finally seemed to have grasped that the next move was the sealed move. He let out a long sigh. “Oh? The sealed move?” After a little while he sighed again. “I’m tired out,” he muttered. Preoccupied though he was with his own game, Tainaka happened to overhear these words. Glancing over at the neighboring board, he commented sarcastically: “Why? You’ve only played four stones.”

Kajiwara’s reply to this was a masterpiece. Glaring at the board with a look of complete exhaustion on his face, he muttered: “The clam shells are heavy today.”

The essays in Treasure Chest were translated from a collection titled Jitsuroku Igo Kodan. Gokyo Monogatari (Tales of a man crazy about go), reports Bob McGuigan

Photo: Nakayama and Yoshiaki Nagahara 6P watch a casual game at the 2007 Congress; photo by Roy Laird


IN MEMORY OF NAKAYAMA SENSEI: A number of Nakayama appreciations, tributes and memories has been posted on , including a record of a game between Nakayama and Kojima Takaho, which made the Kido yearbook’s section on noteworthy games, posted by John Fairbairn.


Published by the American Go Association
Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb
Website Editor: Gurujeet Khalsa
Games Editor: Myron Souris
Professionals: Yilun Yang 7P; Alexandr Dinerchtein 3P; Fan Hui 2P
Contributors: Paul Barchilon (Youth Editor); Lawrence Ku (U.S. West Coast Reporter); Brian Allen (U.S. West Coast Photographer); Keith Arnold (Go Quiz); Peter Dijkema (Dutch/European Correspondent); Marilena Bara (Romania/European Correspondent); Ian Davis (Ireland Correspondent); Jens Henker (Korea Correspondent); Nicholas Roussos (Cyprus Correspondent); Horatio Davis (Australia/New Zealand Correspondent).
Columnists: James Kerwin 1P; Kazunari Furuyama; Rob van Zeijst; Roy Laird; Peter Shotwell
Translations: Bob McGuigan (Japan)
Formatting: Adam Wright

Text material published in the AMERICAN GO E JOURNAL may be reproduced by any recipient: please credit the AGEJ as the source. PLEASE NOTE that commented game record files MAY NOT BE published, re-distributed, or made available on the web without the explicit written permission of the Editor of the E-Journal. Please direct inquiries to

Articles appearing in the E-Journal represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the American Go Association.

Big Tourney Weekend Coming Up

Monday February 15, 2010

Well over 100 players are expected at the New Jersey Open this weekend in Princeton, NJ. The 51st annual tournament is one of six events this weekend across the country, including the triple-threat Southern Cal Championship, US Youth Qualifier and NAMT/FUJITSU Qualifier in Alhambra, CA, the Chinese Spring Festival tournament in Columbus, OH and the John Groesch Memorial tourney in College Park, MD. “Princeton’s own Zhaonian (Michael) Chen ’11, who missed last year’s 50th anniversary NJO due to a schedule conflict, will play this year,” says NJO TD Rick Mott. “He has won in the past and it should be a great group of strong players contending for the title.” Also, Mott reports, “Feng Yun 9P has cancelled her classes for this weekend in order to allow her students to attend, so the expected total over both days is around 120 players.” Look for top boards to be broadcast live on KGS by the E-Journal. Look for top boards to be broadcast live on KGS by the E-Journal. Photo: young players review game at 2009 NJO; photo by John Pinkerton

Feng Yun-Jie Li Win Pair Go Qualifier As Pair Go Celebrates 20 Years

Monday February 15, 2010

The Pair Go team of Feng Yun-Jie Li will represent North America at the World Pair Go Association’s 2010 World Cup, after defeating Jin Yu-Jing Yang in last week’s North American Qualifier. The Cup is scheduled for March 20-23 in Hangzhou, China. In related news, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the International Amateur Pair Go Championship, the Japanese Pair Go Association has just published ten essays about Pair Go. Manja and Micha Martz won first place with their thorough, entertaining and well-illustrated essay on the history of Pair Go in Europe and longtime U.S. go organizer – and IGS rep –Thomas Hsiang contributed A Few Memories of Pair Go, noting that “Pair Go has not only been accepted but flourished beyond anyone’s imagination. Aside from frequent regional tournaments held worldwide, Pair Go was featured as the only mixed-gender mind-sport in the First World Mind Sport Games in 2008 and will be a medal event in the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games.” Hsiang also points out that “the US go scene that was once almost exclusively male-dominated now sees a much greater participation by female players, especially among the young….Pair Go has brought together many couples in US and Europe, and not a single couple has been broken up by it!” Click here to read the Pair Go essays.

Kirschner Hopes to Stage “Honinbo” at Go Congress

Monday February 15, 2010

Plans are afoot once again to stage the world premiere of “The Honinbo” go musical at the 2010 U.S. Go Congress. The full-scale parody of “The Mikado” was penned by former AGA president Bob High, and features a cast of go playing characters singing go-themed songs. “We have obtained cooperation from the UCCS Drama department to get facilities and some student assistance,” reports Chris Kirschner, who’s had a longtime dream of producing the musical. “Our job is to get a cast together and prepare to make good use of them.  Plans are just starting, so we are looking for volunteers to launch this production.  Mainly, we need people willing to get up on stage and play the parts.  There are 10 named roles, and several choruses.  Some musical ability is desirable, but don’t hesitate for lack of a voice of gold.  And we will want some production people back-stage as well.” Contact Kirschner at for details.

WORLD GO NEWS: Hane Naoki To Play Kono Rin In NEC Cup Final; Lee Changho Advances To Kuksu Finals; Lee Changho And Lee Sedol Play To Help Haiti; Three-Way Tie In Honinbo League

Monday February 15, 2010

HANE NAOKI TO PLAY KONO RIN IN NEC CUP FINAL: Hane Naoki (NEC) and Kono Rin 9P will face each other in the 29th NEC Cup final match after winning their respective semifinal matches against Ko Iso 7P and Yamashita Keigo (K). Both victories were by sizable margins of 7.5 points. Hane was seeded into the second round, where he defeated Cho U 9P before meeting Ko Iso. Kono started off by defeating Iyama Yuta 9P, then Kataoka Satoshi Click here for the games.
– JustPlayGo

LEE CHANGHO ADVANCES TO KUKSU FINALS: Lee Changho 9P defeated Joo Hyeongwuk 5P by resignation in the semi-final match of the 53rd Kuksu (National Champion) tournament on February 10. Lee will face either Hong Kipyo 4P or An Hyungjun 2P in the tournament finals. The winner will play current Kuksu title holder Lee Sedol in the title match. Lee Changho has held the Kuksu — Korea’s highest honor in professional tournament play — nine times and played in 16 of the last 20 Kuksu title matches.
– JustPlayGo

LEE CHANGHO AND LEE SEDOL PLAY TO HELP HAITI: Lee Changho and Lee Sedol played a benefit match last week to help the victims of Haiti’s devastating earthquake. Charitable donations for the refugees were raised through the Go TV broadcast of the game and given to the UNICEF South Korea Committee.
The game was the idea of go sponsor Kingsfield Ltd, which has just signed an advertising contract with Lee Sedol. Lee has not met Lee Changho since their three-game match-up in the KBS Cup final 11 months ago, so there was great interest in their first encounter since Lee Sedol’s reinstatement in January. The players waived their usual fees. Although it was a “real game”, the result didn’t really matter, the players said, and they concentrated on producing an entertaining game. Lee Changoho won. Click here for the game.
– JustPlayGo and CyberOro, with translation assistance from John Fairbairn

THREE-WAY TIE IN HONINBO LEAGUE: With only two more games for the players in the Honinbo League to determine the challenger for the title held by Hane Naoki 9P, three players have records of 4-1. Iyama Yuta 9P, who had the lead earlier with 4-0, lost to Yamashita Keigo 9P, who is also at 4-1. The third player is Takao Shinji 9P. Of these three, only Takao has held this title–he was Honinbo for three years, 2005-2007; he lost the title to Hane in 2008, and Hane defended it successfully in 2009 against Takao as challenger.
– Go News, GoGameWorld, Sensei’s Library

Categories: Go News,World

Ward Grins In Cheshire:

Monday February 15, 2010

Winner David Ward 3d (Cambridge) had the last grin when the Cheshire tournament returned after a year gap for the British in Chester and ran again alongside the Frodsham Chess Tournament on February 13. Ward beat Sam Aitken 3d (Warwick) in the final. In the Handicap Section, Justin Neeves 7k (Manchester) was the winner at 5-0. On 4/5 were Jack Ley 8k (Warwick) and Brian Timmins 9k (Shrewsbury). Jamie Taylor 5k (York) was the top junior winning 3-2. 28 players took part. Click here for results.
– Peter Dijkema, based on a report on the British Go Association’s website

Categories: Europe,Go News

EUROPEAN GO NEWS: Pedersen Wins Ambassador’s Cup In Denmark; Karlsruhe Narrows Gap With Hebsacker In German League; Blanchard Brooms Antony; Bogaerts Tops Leuven; Danek Dominates Erdinger; Bochum Blitz; Macfadyen Wins Wanstead; Danigabi Keeps Lead In KGS Insei League

Monday February 15, 2010

PEDERSEN WINS AMBASSADOR’S CUP IN DENMARK: Torben Pedersen 1d won the Japanese Ambassador’s Cup in Copenhagen February 13-14, undefeated in six rounds. This full handicap tournament offered chances to kyu players: Jeppe Juul 4k lost only to Pedersen and took silver, while Rasmus Bisschop-Larsen 7k won bronze, with best SOS of those with four wins. All winners and a majority of the 24 participants came from the organizing Kobenhavn Go Klub. Click here for results.
– Peter Dijkema

GERLACH GRABS GÖTTINGEN: Current German Champion Christoph Gerlach 6d swept the A-group of the 19th Göttingen Open last weekend, ahead of Willem-Koen Pomstra 5d (4-1) from Holland and local Marion Welter 3d (3-2). From B-group Dutchmen Gijs van Swaaij and Zeno van Ditzhuizen (both 1k from Utrecht) moved to A-group on Sunday, where they continued to win. Click here for the A-table with 18 and here for the B-table with 34.
– Peter Dijkema, from

KARLSRUHE NARROWS GAP WITH HEBSACKER IN GERMAN LEAGUE: Karlsruhe defeated Hamburg St. Pauli in the sixth round of the German Bundesliga on February 11, while leader Hebsacker (also from Hamburg) drew Berlin Blunders. With three rounds left to play, Hebsacker leads Karlsruhe by a single match-point. With two lost matches and a draw, the Frankfurt Dragons are third. Next month, Frankfurt meets Karlruhe. The Hebsacker-Karlsruhe top-match is scheduled for April. In the final round in May, Hebsacker will face the Dragons and Karlsruhe Berlin Igoist, now in 4th place.
– Peter Dijkema, based on

BLANCHARD BROOMS ANTONY: Benjamin Blanchard 1d from Tours won – with a perfect record – the jubilee 25th edition of the tourney in Antony, near Paris in France on February 6-7. Mathieu Dagenet 1d and Dai Junfu 7d finished 2nd and 3rd with 4-1 each. In Antony 118 took part. Also Antonin Vivès 3k and youngsters Lina Nguyen, Nicolas Richard (both 15k) and César Simonot (16k) won all five games. For full results, click here
– Peter Dijkema, after a tip found at Facebook

THREE TOP LEUVEN: Despite losing the last round to emerging star Kim Ouweleen 1d from Amsterdam (Holland), Jan Bogaerts 3d from Le Pantin (Brussels) still finished first on SOS in the jubilee 20th Leuven Open – celebrated with home-baked cakes  – in Belgium on February 6-7. Huang Yong Sen 3d also won four, to take silver. Marie Jémile 4k and BGF-President Cédric Declerfayt 5k (both Le Pantin) won all five. 43 players participated. Click here for results.
– Peter Dijkema

GERMANY UPDATES: Danek Dominates Erdinger: Veteran Vladimir Danek 5d (Prague) swept the 13th Erdinger tournament in Bavaria, Germany the first weekend of February, ahead of Jonas Fincke 4d (Munich), while 15-year-old fellow townsman Lukas Podpera 3d took home bronze on SODOS, ahead of Thomas Kettenring 3d (Munich). In the field of 128, only Stefan Fischmeister 5k (Linz, Austria) also won all five. On top of 128 in the main, five more players showed up in Erdingen just to compete in the 13×13-marathon. 1st Bochum Blitz: The Bochum club, already famous for its yearly Bambus (‘Bamboo’) tournament, now lays more claim to fame with their seasonal Bochum Blitz. The first Blitz will be this Saturday, February 20. Participation is free. For details, or to sign up, click here and then click on “mailformular”.
– Peter Dijkema, after

MACFADYEN WINS WANSTEAD: Matthew Macfadyen got his first tournament win of the year at Wanstead, which returned to its early-year spot on January 30) at the same Wanstead House venue in East London. Other players winning all three were: Mike Cumpstey 3k (Manchester), Eric Hall 5k (Swindon) and Gary Gibson 7k (Wanstead). 32 players participated. Click here for a gallery of photos.
– Peter Dijkema, after

DANIGABI KEEPS LEAD IN KGS INSEI LEAGUE: Argentina’s ‘danigabi’ has increased his unbeaten lead in the February KGS Insei League to 13-0, while ‘ha’ had moved into second place with 4-2, ahead of 2-1 by both ‘Artem92’ and ‘malexander’. Like ‘ha, ‘Arlequ1’ is from France. Meanwhile, a debate has begun on go-sensations about whether the winning percentage is a fair measure. “A 20-2 result should be better than 12-0,” according to  ‘danigabi’, while others argue that a player might be inclined to stop competing after a good initial score, while others would like to challenge him and play as much as possible, because of the free commentaries earned for every four games played in the league.
– Peter Dijkema

Categories: Europe,Go News

Go Spotting: The Taste Of Tea

Monday February 8, 2010

Go figures prominently in Katsuhito Ishii’s 2004 film, The Taste of Tea (Cha no Aji). “Although go is not the only focus of the film, it is one of its essential ingredients and appears more often than in other films like Pi and A Beautiful Mind,” reports Pete Schumer. “It’s worth checking out!” According to Wikipedia, “The film is concerned with the lives of the Haruno family, who live in rural Tochigi prefecture, the countryside north of Tokyo. Nobuo is a hypnotherapist who teaches his son, Hajime, to play go. Hajime becomes an excellent go player, but he has a rough time with girls and puberty. Nobuo’s wife, Yoshiko refuses to be an average housewife, and works on animated film projects at home. She uses assistance from Grandfather Akira, an eccentric old man who is a former animator and occasional model. Uncle Ayano, a sound engineer and record producer, moves in with the family. He is looking to restart his life again after living in Tokyo for several years. Meanwhile, Yoshiko’s daughter Sachiko, believes that she is followed around everywhere by a giant version of herself, and searches for ways to rid herself of it.” “Katsuhito also directed the film Promises of August (1995) and Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (1999) as well as providing some animation in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill vol. I,” adds Schumer.

Categories: Go Spotting

U.S. GO NEWS: Feng Yun/Jie Li Win North American Pair Go 1st Round; USYGC Season Opens; Kirby Sweeps N. California Tourney; SmartGo In S. Korea And Coming Soon To Ipad.

Monday February 8, 2010

FENG YUN/JIE LI WIN N.A. PAIR GO 1ST ROUND: Feng Yun and Jie Li defeated Wan Chen and Curtis Tang Sunday night in the first round of the North American World Pair Go Qualifier, played on IGS. “One pair withdrew at the last moment, and one member of another pair did not show up, so two games were not played,” reports Allan Abramson. Feng Yun and Jie Li will have a bye for the second round, and play the final game on Thursday night. Jing Yang and Jin Yu will play White vs Yuan Zhou and Yinli Wang on Tuesday night – also on IGS, in Round Two.

USYGC SEASON OPENS:  The 2010 United States Youth Go Championship is kicking into gear, with qualifiers now scheduled across the country.  First up is the Orange County Go Club, in Los Angeles, on Feb. 21-22.  New Qualifier locations have been added as well, with Boston, New Jersey, Colorado, and San Francisco all hosting events.  There will also be an online qualifier, hosted by the AGHS <>.  This year, the AGA is also adding National Single Digit Kyu (SDK) and Double Digit Kyu (DDK) championships to the event.  The winners will receive trophies, and prizes will be awarded in the following brackets: 1-4 kyu, 5-9 kyu, 10-15 kyu, 16-20 kyu, 21-25 kyu, 26 and up kyu.  In the dan brackets, the strongest kids in the country will be competing for the right to represent the US at the World Youth Go Championships this summer.  Low dan youth will have a chance at prizes and trophies too, with prizes for 1-5 dan as well.  The event is sponsored by the AGA and the AGF, and Guo Juan has donated audio go lessons <> as bonus prizes for youth in all categories.  For more information, visit the tournament webpage <>
-Paul Barchilon; photo: young players study at the 2009 U.S. Go Congress; photo by Chris Garlock

KIRBY SWEEPS NORCAL TOURNEY: Brian Kirby topped February’s monthly ratings tournament in Northern California, February 6 in Menlo Park, CA. There were 25 players, ranging from 25 kyu to 7 dan, and two played in their first tournament ever. The next monthly ratings tournament will be March 6 in Palo Alto, CA. Winners report: Four game winner: Brian Kirby 2k 4-0. Three game winners: Lucas Baker 2d 3-1, Samuel Gross 1d 3-0, Roger Schrag 7k 3-0, Larry Qu 15k 3-1.
– Roger Schrag

SMARTGO IN SOUTH KOREA AND COMING SOON TO IPAD: SmartGo Pro for the iPhone/iPod touch is now available in South Korea under the name “Smartgo Pro Baduk,” reports SmartGo author Anders Kierulf. “It comes with over 15,000 professional games and 2,000 problems.” Search for Baduk in the iTunes App Store. Kierulf also tells the EJ that “I’m working on a version of SmartGo optimized for Apple’s upcoming iPad.”