News from the American Go Association

February 24, 2005

In This Issue:
LATEST GO NEWS: Big Turnout Expected At Jersey Open; Sedol Wins Maxim Cup; Lee Changho Takes Command In Nongshim Cup; The "Sideways" Go Connection; Reviewers Wanted; Update Online; Arnold Alert Reader
GAME COMMENTARY: Shodan Challenge & Ko Is Not Enough
GO REVIEW: Traditional Yunzi Go Set
ATTACHED FILES: 2005.02.24 Yang Shodan Challenge Commentary; 2005.02.24 Go Review Problem


BIG TURNOUT EXPECTED AT JERSEY OPEN: The New Jersey Open is set for this weekend, February 26 & 27 in Princeton, New Jersey. "Held annually for ove r forty years, the New Jersey Open is a great event for strong players and beginners alike," reports organizer Rick Mott. "Last year, a record 120 players entered, from 30 kyu to some of the strongest amateurs." The Matthews "Accelerated" pairing system ensures even games for top dan players. Weaker kyu players will receive full handicap, while intermediate players will receive partial handicap based on a sliding scale. "As you win games, you will face both tougher opponents and tougher handicapping!" 
       Registration begins in the Frist Campus Center at 9:15A Saturday and ends at 10:45 AM (there is no pre-registration required).  IF YOU ARE NOT THERE, YOU WILL NOT BE PAIRED in the first round.  Cell phones don't work at the site, but if you're lost or late, call 609-851-6351 during the last hour of registration. $35 for full tournament, $25 youth rate under-18; $25 Sat. only / $20 Sun. only ($20/$15 under-1 8); Free to Princeton University students with ID. 1-year Limited AGA membership included for new members
       INFO: Rick Mott, 609-466-1602, or

SEDOL WINS MAXIM CUP: Lee Sedol defeated Yang Jaeho 9P to take the Maxim Cup in Korea. Details in our Monday edition.
LEE CHANGHO TAKES COMMAND IN NONGSHIM CUP: In the Nongshim Cup international team competition, Lee Changho 9P, the last Korean standing, having defeated Cho U 9P of Japan to leave only one Japanese team member, O Meien 9P, also reduced the Chinese team to its last man by defeating Wang Lei 8P. Details in Monday's edition.

THE "SIDEWAYS" GO CONNECTION: "When I moved to New York 12 years ago, my roommate and I hung out in Chinatown," Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti told LIFE magazine last week. "We'd sit around obsessing over movies and trying to figure out how to play Go." Giamatti, who stars in Alexander Payne's comic-tragic film "Sideways," lives in Brooklyn with his wife Elizabeth and 4 year old son and says "Things haven't changed too much. I still like Chinese food; it was good times then, and its good times now - and I still don't know how to play Go." (thanks to Milton Bradley for spotting this item!)

REVIEWERS WANTED: Earn a $25 go vendor gift certificate by reviewing any of the following go books! "Basic Techniques of Go," by Haruyama and Nagahara, Kiseido; "The Chinese Opening," by Kato Masao, Kiseido; "Dictionary of Basic Tesuji, Volume 1," by Fujisawa Shuko, Slate & Shell; "Mastering the Basics of Go," by Lim and Dicky, Slate & Shell; "Whole Board Living Tesujis", by Chatterjee and Yang, Yutopian; "Dictionary of Basic Fuseki, Volume 1, by Rin Kaiho, Yutopian. Reviews should describe the book's content, focus on its effectiveness and usefulness and be no more than 300 words. Send to us at

UPDATE ONLINE! Need to change your email address? E-Journal readers can now instantly update their contact information online! Never miss another action-packed E-Journal: just click on and you'll not only be able to update your email address, but your mailing address and other contact info as well. Plus, you can also find out when your AGA membership expires!

ARNOLD ALERT READER: Keith Arnold (HKA) is this week's Alert Reader winner, winning a $10 go vendor gift certificate for spotting our Alert hidden in last week's game commentary. Honorable Mentions to G Whitten, Alex Kirichenko, Gramalkin ("Very exciting game!), Owen Chen, Mel Melchner, Vincent Solimine, Calvin Clark, MIND Strategy & Marketing, Shai Simonson, Gus Garcia (who notes "Always like reading Lee Changho's games"), E Morse, Matthew William Bengtson, Juan Aristy, Red Iguana, William Manka, Andrei Outkine,  John House (The E-Journal is just great.  If only I had time enough to study all the games and lessons...), Alan Perrin, David S. Hough, Eric Osman, Marjorie Hey & Jonathan Tien. Winners are drawn at random from those who correctly report the Alerts. Keep a sharp eye out and you could be a winner too!

GAME COMMENTARY: Shodan Challenge & Ko Is Not Enough
       Beginners especially will want to check out today's game commentary by Yilun Yang 7P, as he reviews a game between two 20-kyus. Mike Lester, who plays Black in the game, is a participant in the E-Journal's 2005 Shodan Challenge. Shodan Challengers are kyu-level players who have publicly accepted the challenge of trying to achieve 1-dan by this year's U.S. Go Congress in Tacoma, Washington. The E-Journal is following the progress of each Shodan Challenger and has arranged for professional game analysis to help the Shodan Challengers improve their games. See photos of some of the Challengers at   Want to take the Shodan Challenge? Email us today at
       In today's bonus problem from Go Review, ko is not good enough: Black must figure out how to live unconditionally.
       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

By James Kerwin 1P
       When you're starting out it's possible to improve quickly without doing anything speci al.  It doesn't matter that much who you play. A lot of your progress comes from training your perception to see the patterns of the game more quickly and accurately. But when you have progressed to a single digit kyu ranking it will take more effort to improve than it did when your rank was double digit. It is a general truth in every area that the better you are, the harder it is to improve.
       When you get to single digit kyu and above, you should know that the rate at which you can hope to improve depends on the difference in strength between you and your common opponents. You can improve quite rapidly when you are playing much stronger players. If you are mostly playing players of about your own rank or weaker players your improvement will be very, very slow. If you find it hard to get games with stronger players the only way to improve with any speed is to take lessons from a pro.
       But in your efforts to get game with stronger players, I encourage you not to neglect playing weaker players too.  These games can be very useful in learning how to apply go theory.  Stronger players will resist your strategies making it hard to implement them.  Handicap opponents offer less resistance, and it's easier to see how a strategy is supposed to work.  In addition, if no one played weaker players no stronger player would play you either, and then where would you be?
       If you get a decent percentage of your games with stronger players you can make good progress through your own efforts. First, play as much as you can.  But don't play from habit or instinct.  Hopefully, you have picked up some go theory by now: use it to help you think about your move. Know why you think the area you choose to play in is the important area. Knowing the reason you're playing there should help you to know how to play there.&n bsp; Review your games and ask your opponents for comments or advice.
       You do not need to study, but study will speed your improvement. Solving tesuji and life-and-death problems is by far the best study.  Don't try to solve problems that are too hard.  You should be able to solve most of the problems in less than a minute.  You can spend up to 10 percent of your problem time on harder problems, but if you can't solve a problem in 5 minutes it's too hard for you.
       The next best study is replaying pro games.  Much of the game will be beyond you, but you can learn a lot by looking at the 'big picture'. Go through the game once just to understand what happened. Play through it again and focus on which areas they played in at each stage of the game. Try to understand why that area is more important than other areas on the board at that time. At the end of each engagement, look at th e outcome. You know the outcome of the engagement is even. (Even if the division of spoils was uneven enough to decide a game between pros, in an amateur game it can be considered completely even.) Does it look even to you? If not, reconsider your judgment. Don't make much effort to understand the fighting or the tactics; they are far beyond you at this stage.  But it is worthwhile to consider the big tactical issues. If a group looks weak to you and is not reinforced, look carefully at the attack and defense of the group to see why it wasn't reinforced. Or if a group looks strong and comes under attack, try to see why it was vulnerable. If you're playing the game on a board you can spend up to an hour or even an hour and a half on the game. If playing on a computer, expect to take about half that much time. And don't forget to enjoy the game while you're studying it.
       Kerwin can be reached at

GO REVIEW: Traditional Yunzi Go Set
The Go Game Store:
Reviewed by Anton Ninno
       The traditional Yunzi Go Set from The Go Game Store includes the famous flat-sided, Yunzi stones (22.5mm!) and a 1-inch, spruce board that accommodates their larger size: Yunzi stones are 1.0 mm larger than Japanese stones (21.5mm). A Chinese chess board is on the back of the solid board (no hinge), constructed with several pieces of wood glued together. The stones come in traditional Chinese straw  baskets. Overall, this set is a very appealing combination. My first impression after opening the Fedex box was simply, "Wow!" My second thought was that the price was right. Not cheap, but good.
       Obviously well-made, this equipment has high production values. The board is a beaut iful bright color with a pleasant satin finish and mine had no manufacturing errors. Likewise, the stones are well-formed, and must have been carefully checked for imperfections, as I couldn't find any. Tightly woven, the straw baskets are much nicer than I expected. The Yunzi set drew a lot of attention at our weekly CNY Go Club meeting when I first got it last Fall. Players were delighted to discover that if you hold a black Yunzi stone up to the light, it actually appears dark green.
       After playing a game with the Yunzi set, one player said he enjoyed having more room on the larger board. He was also surprised to see that once he got immersed in the game, the "odd" shape of the flat-sided stones didn't seem to matter. Here's a little bonus: if you want your opponent to notice a clever move, flat-sided stones can make a very loud snap! Visit these websites to learn more about Yunzi go stones. Ft. Wayne Go Club: and The Sensei's Library: Goishi

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