American Go E-Journal

Kuksu Mtn. a hit with kids

Wednesday August 28, 2019

Children compete at the Kuksu Mountains Tournament in Korea.

The Sixth Kuksu Mountain International Baduk Festival was held in Korea August 2-7, in Jeollanamdo. Children from ten countries attended, in teams of varying sizes, and local Korean children participated as well. The US sent three kids: Jiayang Su, Henry Lyman, and Sun Lee.

“Henry and Jiayang won all of their matches and got a special certificate,” reports his mother Christin Lyman. “The team got to play a simul with a pro. They had 3 pros playing 8 kids each. The closing ceremony was amazing with traditional folk performances (dancing and singing). We visited Lee Sedol’s birthplace (a remote island called Sinan), a celadon museum (Gangin is the celadon capital of Korea), and a water park that was lots of fun for the kids.”

Jiayang Su, Sun Lee, and Henry Lyman, representing the US in Korea.

Sponsored by the Korean Baduk Association, the Kuksu Mountains event has been drawing lots of kids in a spirit of international cooperation. Children attended from China, Japan, Russia, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, the US, the Philippines, Thailand, Mexico and Korea this year. – Paul Barchilon, EJ Youth Editor. Photos by Christine Lyman.

New US Go Congress room on KGS

Wednesday August 28, 2019

“Can’t wait for the next Go Congress?” asks Terri Schurter, founder of the Wings Go Club. “Perhaps you want slow games with people you know. Experience the fun and fellowship of a Congress all year long on KGS. Chat and play with people you know from previous years, and with people who hope to attend a Congress in the future. Make online go less hurried and impersonal by hanging out with friends. Join us in the “US Go Congress” room on KGS, under Social in the room list, and consider adding your AGAID# to your info.”

First U20 Eastern Youth Open this weekend, online registration closes Wednesday

Wednesday August 28, 2019

Young Go players under the age of 20 will compete for a $1,500 prize pool at the August 31 U20 Eastern Youth Open. The event is being organized by the New York Go Association, which intends to host this competition annually and make it the largest youth Go tournament in the East. “It is time to provide an opportunity for young players to compete in a high quality face-to-face tournament,” says New York Institute of Go founder Stephanie Yin. 

All players must be under 20 years old by the date of the tournament, ranked 10 kyu or higher, and current AGA or CGA members. Players whose AGA ranks are out of date but who have a KGS rank with at least 10 most recent games at the rank of 10 kyu or higher may enter. Pre-registration is required.

The U20 Eastern Youth Open will be held Saturday, August 31 from 9:30AM-4:00PM at the New York Institute of Go, 255-05 Northern Blvd, 2FL, Little Neck, NY.

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.

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

Cotsen registration opens

Sunday August 25, 2019

Registration is now open for the 2019 Cotsen Open. The Cotsen is an annual go tournament, sponsored by go-lover Eric Cotsen, held in Los Angeles, CA. This year’s tournament will be held on October 26-27, 2019 at MG Studio in downtown Los Angeles. The Cotsen Open features thousands of dollars in prizes, an extremely competitive Open Division, live commentary on top board games, masseuses to massage players during their games, free food truck lunches to all those who pre-register on both Saturday and Sunday of the tournament. And, as always, everyone who pre-registers and plays in all 5 of their matches has their full entry fee refunded.

The Power Report: 1200 wins for O Rissei; Iyama’s second marriage; Sakai to resume medical career; Promotions & Obituaries

Sunday August 25, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

1200 wins for O Rissei: In the final play-off on July 18 for one of the places in the main tournament of the 58th Judan tournament, O Rissei (W) beat Akiyama Jiro 9P by resig. This was his 1200th win as a professional. He had 688 losses, 1 jigo, and 1 no-result, for a winning percentage of 63.6. O is the 9th player at the Nihon Ki-in to reach this mark. He is 60 years eight months old, and it took him 47 years three months. He has won 22 titles, including the Kisei from 2002 to 2004.

Iyama’s second marriage: According to Go Weekly, Iyama Yuta got married for the second time on July 20. No details were given of his wife except to say that she is an “ordinary woman.” In Japanese newspaper jargon, that means that she is not a celebrity or a professional entertainer or sportswoman. Iyama was previously married to Murota Io, a shogi professional. They had the same birthday, May 24, 1989, so they got married on their birthday in 2012. However, they split up amicably in 2015, the reason being that they were unable to spend much time together. Iyama was traveling constantly for title games (a two-day game takes four days with travel on the day before and the day after the game and a one-day game may take three days). Murota was very popular with shogi fans and so she also spent a lot of time away from home. 

Sakai to resume medical career: Born on April 23, 1973, Sakai Hideyuki is a player who has had an unusual career and it is now taking another twist. While in high school and at medical school he was one of the top amateur players in Japan and he won the World Amateur Go Championship in 2000. In 2001, very soon after graduating from the Kyoto University College of Medicine, he became a professional with the Kansai Ki-in, being awarded the rank of 5-dan after winning some test games with professionals. He became one of the top players at the Kansai Ki-in, winning numerous internal titles; he also won the Gosei title in 2010 and played in the Meijin League nine times and the Honinbo League once. He was noted for his meticulous study, especially of the opening, and preparation. He has just announced, however, that he has submitted an application for leave of absence from the Kansai Ki-in so that he can resume his medical career as of September 1. Apparently he has been dissatisfied with his results in recent years. He plans to work in a hospital. This would be the real start to his medical career; he must have kept up with medical advances to gain professional acceptance. There are professional players who have pursued careers as lawyers or in other professions while also playing go, but I don’t know of any other case of retiring from go like this. The term “leave of absence” suggests that he might later be able to make a comeback as a go professional if he wished.

Promotions

To 7-dan: Yamamori Tadanao (120 wins, as of August 2)
To 4-dan: Onishi Kenya (50 wins, as of July 26)

Obituaries

   Takabayashi Takuji 6P died of multiple organ failure on July 7. Born on May 21, 1942, he became a disciple of Okubo Ichigen 9P. He made 1-dan in 1961 and reached 6-dan in 2000. He had a number of disciples, including Kyo Kagen Gosei.

  Matsumoto Tokuji 8P died on July 14. Born on November 5, 1921 in Yamaguchi Prefecture, he was a disciple of Kitani Minoru. He became 1-dan in 1941 and reached 7-dan in 1967. He retired in 2002 and was promoted to 8-dan. He won the Okura Prize for spreading go in 2000.

The Win or the Way: Finding meaning in the game of Go

Sunday August 25, 2019

by Brian Olive

Regular readers of the American Go Association E-Journal will be well-acquainted with the contributions of William S. Cobb, both as author of The Empty Board, a column published regularly in this journal for many years, as well as the publisher of many excellent go books through his own Slate & Shell publishing company. Through his writings, Cobb has challenged us all to think more deeply about why we love this game so much. Through his publishing – and, by extension, through Slate & Shell’s generous sponsorship of countless go tournaments around the country – he has worked selflessly to spread his own love of the game.

Mining the same veins of thought expressed in The Empty Board, Cobb has published other, deeper musings on the meaning of Go, especially as it relates to the core teachings of Buddhism. One such article (available here) was published in 1999 in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Entitled simply “The Game of Go”, this article explores Go as an aid in the search for enlightenment, an endeavor that, Cobb posits, is on par with other traditional meditative practices such as the tea ceremony and karate. Twenty years later, this essay still shines as exemplary on two fronts: its easy introduction to the game for those not familiar with it, and its deep look into the meaning of the game. It is worthwhile and fresh reading, even for those who have been playing go for years.

As a tip of our collective hat to Cobb’s contributions, what follows is a brief recap of some of the key ideas that emerge from his article in Tricycle. Although this comes at the risk of losing some context, or inadvertently reinterpreting Cobb’s views, the hope is that something said here will encourage you to both read the article for yourself and to think deeply about the meaning of Go. What does the game mean to you? Is Go all about ‘the win’? Or, perhaps, can this millennial endeavor be a way to enlightenment? Feel free to share your thoughts. Here are some of Bill’s:

Go fosters humane attitudes

Cobb rests squarely on the history and tradition of Go to support this claim. From the days of buddhist monks teaching go to samurai, to the continued popularity of the game in Asia and its growing presence in Europe and America, Go has been used as a means to “instill the virtues of overcoming fear, greed and anger”. Any Go player who has played – and lost – any significant number of games can feel the sweet pain of truth in this idea. We’ve all suffered from our greed mid-game, and we’ve all won games based on mustering up sufficient patience and balance of play. Go teaches us these things.

When played properly, you lose about half of your games

On the surface, this statement speaks to Cobb’s full embrace of the handicap system in Go. In theory, when playing with a handicap, we should win about half of the time. If we are improving, and therefore winning more times than not, then we adjust the handicap and get back to winning just half of the time. Most see this as a way to give other, weaker players, a fair chance. This is perhaps true, but Cobb takes it further: this is how go should be. We are, in his opinion, better off when constrained to both winning and losing. Equally. Put another way…

It cannot be good to win in go, because it is not bad to lose

Tightly woven into this surprising idea are the core threads of Cobb’s idea of Go as kido or, the Way. Many play with the singular motivation of winning. For many, it’s all about ‘the win’. We watch go videos, read go books, attend go lectures, all to improve our play and win games. We track our rating, with our sights set on ranking up. Cobb, on the other hand, proposes that the point of playing is to open oneself to the initial emptiness of the go board, to explore the interconnectedness of the stones, to appreciate the impermanence of value and structure, good and bad on the go board, and to lose oneself (i.e. experience no-self) in this act of creativity. Much of the article expounds on these key ideas, which happen to represent the four fundamental Buddhist principles.

In case you missed it, find the article here. photo by Phil Straus.

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AGA FYI: Mailing lists old and new

Sunday August 25, 2019

The AGA has maintained a mailing list for Chapters for years. This list has been a handy resource for Chapter and Club leaders to find out information from others and AGA leadership. If you have any chapter or organizational related question you can ask it there.

The AGA has a new mailing list for Tournament Directors. This group is to help Tournament Directors who are new or need help with running tournaments. This list should be used to ask questions, give updates, and provide instruction on the different aspects of running a tournament with the AGA.

You can find both lists from our main menu on the left.

  • Steve Colburn

The Power Report: Shibano to challenge for Meijin title; Kyo becomes Tengen challenger; 6th Kuksu Mountains Cup

Saturday August 24, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano to challenge for Meijin title: The final round of the 44th Meijin League was held in Tokyo and Osaka on August 1. All of the games were important to the players playing them, either for winning the league or retaining their places. Three players were in the running to be the challenger: Iyama Yuta, Shibano Toramaru, and Kono Rin. They were not playing each other, so a three-way tie was possible, but only the two higher-ranked players would qualify for a play-off. This meant that Iyama and Shibano had an advantage, but Iyama lost his final game while Shibano and Kono won, so these two made the play-off. Results of games played since my last report are given below.

   The play-off between Shibano and Kono was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 8. Taking black, Shibano won by half a point after 202 moves; he took revenge for losing the Honinbo play-off to Kono earlier this year. He will be making his first challenge for a top-seven title. Without intending any disrespect to Kono, it’s safe to say that the Japanese go public has been eagerly awaiting Shibano’s title-match debut. When the best-of-seven starts, on August 27, he will be 19 years nine months old, making him the second-youngest challenger ever for the Meijin title (Iyama holds the record of 19 years three months). Shibano took four years 11 months from the start of his career to make this challenge, the quickest for any top-seven challenger (previous record was held by the late Kato Masao, who challenged for the Honinbo title five years after becoming a pro. Becoming the challenger for a top-three title earned Shibano an automatic promotion to 8-dan, effective the following day. He is the fastest to reach this mark.

(July 4) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Suzuki Shinji 7P by 2.5 points.
(July 11) Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Mutsuura Yuta 7P (W) beat Son Makoto 7P by resig.
(July 18) Iyama (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(August 1) Hane (B) beat Iyama by resig.; Kono (W) beat Yamashita by 3.5 points; Shibano (B) beat Suzuki by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke Judan (W) beat Son by resig.

Kyo becomes Tengen challenger: The play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta for the 45th Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 15. Taking black, Kyo Kagen Gosei beat Sada Atsushi 4-dan (Kansai Ki-in) by resignation. Kyo’s form has picked up this month. The title match will start on October 11.

6th Kuksu Mountains Cup: This is a Korean-sponsored tournament that was a team tournament for its first four years but switched to an individual tournament last year. Players have a time allowance of 30 minutes plus 40 seconds by three times. First prize is 50 million won. The four rounds were held over three days, from August 3 to 5 and, which must be very unusual, as three different locations.

   This year Chinese players dominated the tournament, with “veteran” Chen Yaoye 9P, who is 29 years old, defeating Liao Yuanhe 8P in the final. Of the three Japanese participants, only Yamashita Keigo picked up a win, but that was over Park Junghwan, many times a world champion. Results follow (I don’t have full details for most of the games):

Round 1 (August 3). Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) beat Wang Yuanjun 9P (Chinese Taipei); Byun Sangil 9P (Korea) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig.; Lee Tonghun 9P (Korea) beat Fan Tingyu 9P (China); Liao Yuanhe 8P (China) beat Lee Jihun 9P (Korea); Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P (Japan); Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) beat Xu Haohong 6P (Chinese Taipei); Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) (B) beat Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) by resig.; Chen Yaoye 9P (China) beat Lee Changho 9P (Korea).

Quarterfinals (August 4) Byun beat Shin Minjun; Liao beat Lee Tonghun; Shin Jinseo beat Kim; Chen beat Yamashita.
Semifinals (Aug. 4). Liao beat Byun; Chen beat Shin
Final (Aug. 5). Chen beat Liao  

   As a side event, an invitational Pair Go tournament was also held. Results: 
Round 1 (Aug. 3). Yu Li-chun 2P & Wang Li-ch’eng 9P (O Rissei) (Chinese Taipei) (B) beat Heo Seohyun 1P & Yoo Changhyuk 9P (Korea) by resig.; Gao Xing 4P & Yu Bin 9P (China) (B) beat Tsuji Hana 1P & Yamada Kimio 9P (Japan) by resig.
Final (Aug. 5). Yu/O (W) beat Guo/Yu by resig.
(Play-off for 3rd) Heo/Yoo (W) beat Tsuji/Yamada by resig.

Tomorrow: 1200 wins for O Rissei; Iyama’s second marriage; Sakai to resume medical career