News from the American Go Association

January 28, 2005

In This Issue:
LATEST GO NEWS: Brooklyn Go Club Goes West; Weekend Tourney Action; Yuki Evens The Score In Kisei; Kato Tomoko Reaches Women's Kisei Finals
GAME COMMENTARY: Amateur Dan Game & Zigzag Shape
GO REVIEW:  Numb3rs
THE EMPTY BOARD: Shifting Sands
ATTACHED FILES: 2005.01.28 Liping Huang Commentary; 2005.01.28 Furuyama Lesson #29


BROOKLYN GO CLUB GOES WEST: Tonight's meeting of the peripatetic Brooklyn Go Club will be hosted by Bar bara Calhoun at her Upper West Side apartment at 39 W 67th St #402 beginning at 8P (212-580-5882). "We will have the pleasure of Mike and Daphne (Ryan)'s company," reports BGC organizer Jean-Claude Chetrit.

WEEKEND TOURNEY ACTION: This weekend's tournament actions ranges from the Rocky Mountains to the canyons of New York City. Players in the West can check out the Rocky Mountain Winter Tournament tomorrow, January 29 in Denver, CO, while East Coast players have the Mid-Winter Tournament (non-AGA-rated) in New York City (also on the 29th). For more info:
DENVER: U. Tamm 303-466-2865
NEW YORK CITY: Wren Chan 646-775-8199

YUKI EVENS THE SCORE IN KISEI: Yuki Satoshi 9P of the Kansai Kiin captured a big dragon and won the second game of the 29th Japanese Kisei title match against Hane Naoki, the title holder, on January 27th, to even the score at one game each. You can download the game record at . Hane resigned after only 128 moves. The next game will be on February 2nd and 3rd.
KATO TOMOKO REACHES WOMEN'S KISEI FINALS: Kato Tomoko 5P defeated Izawa Akino 3P on January 26th to win a place in the finals of the 8th Women's Kisei tournament in Japan. Her opponent will be Chinen Kaori, currently the Women's Honinbo. Chinen won this tournament four times in a row before losing to Mannami Kana 2P last year. The Women's Kisei is a fast play tournament: 30 seconds per move with ten "thinking" periods of one minute each.

GAME COMMENTARY: Amateur Dan Game & Zigzag Shape
       Liping Huang 4P provides the detailed commentary on this g ame between two dan-level amateurs. Liping Huang lives and teaches in the Chicago area. The game was played on the turn-based go server, Dragon Go Server, at
In today's bonus file, Kaz Furuyama explores more of the many ways to live and die in the corner; the key is "zigzag shape."
        To view the attached .sgf file(s), simply save the file(s) to your computer and then open using an .sgf reader such as Many Faces of Go or SmartGo. Readers who need .sgf readers can get them for most platforms at Jan van der Steen's

GO REVIEW:  Numb3rs
Review by Phil Straus, 3d
       Numb3rs, a cop show with a mathem atical bent, premiered Sunday night on CBS.  David Krumholtz plays mathematical genius Charlie, whose brother Don (Rob Morrow) is an FBI agent. Together, they use math to help solve crimes. It's a delight to see mathematics portrayed in such a positive light in a popular TV show and though the dialog is predictable and the plot unlikely, I enjoyed my hour watching the show. In addition, in contrast to movies like "Good Will Hunting," the mathematics is integral to the plot, not merely problems whose details are never mentioned. The show uses computer graphics effectively to illustrate complex ideas, most with some connection to the plot, and some even to mathematics. Interestingly, the geeky mathematician has the best lines. After Charlie explains that there's no rational reason to expect a batter to get a hit after a string of outs, the batter hits a high fastball into the stands, exactly what Don predicted. "It's an anomaly," says the surprised Charlie. The line is fu nny because it sits right on the mathematical issues explored in the show -- what's predictable, what's expected, and how human behavior can and cannot be modeled by equations: Charlie didn't realize the game was taped and Don had already read the box scores. The show moves to Fridays at 10P EST tonight.

THE EMPTY BOARD: Shifting Sands
by William Cobb
     People search for foundational truths on which to form the basis of their judgments about right and wrong, good and bad. "Build your life on rock and not on sand" is the standard advice. So what are the foundational truths in go?
    As we seek a winning strategy, it would be nice if there were some solid principles we could fall back on, but in go, it seems there is a lot of sand and not much rock. Aside from the basic rules (and there are slippery spots ev en there), about the only thing that seems to qualify as real knowledge are joseki patterns, which at least guarantee an equal result for both players. Yet even joseki themselves don't seem to be a dependable foundation.
    The pros are continually coming up with new joseki, which only means some inadequacy has been discovered in an old joseki. That is, a pattern which was assumed to yield equality has been found capable of manipulation to one side's advantage. There seems to be no end to this process of revision. Even the truths represented by joseki turn out to be shifty.
    So, if go is sand all the way down, does that mean we can't make judgments about good and bad? In a sense, it does. You can never be certain that any particular play is the best possible. You always have to be on the lookout for a more effective alternative. In real life, a lot of people think that this lack of certainty would be a disaster; people want to know f or sure that their basic decisions about how to live are correct, and a lot of people act like they have that kind of certainty. However, in go, we see that the lack of such certainty is a key reason why the game is so interesting. Not having a rock to stand on can make for a much more challenging and enjoyable enterprise.
    Maybe it also works that way in real life.
The Empty Board #42; Past columns are archived at

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