News from the American Go Association

January 9, 2006
Volume 7, #3


YOUR MOVE: Eurogo, New And Improved; The Kim Direction; Beginner Q&A
THE EMPTY BOARD: The Quest for Immortality
ATTACHED FILE: 2006.01.09 Pro Game, Zhou-Kong, go4go

OZA REGISTRATION EXTENDED: Due to a last-minute rush of registrations for this weekend's Toyota/Denso North American Oza Tournament, organizers have extended the registration deadline. "Be sure to use fax or e-mail so that we're sure to get them in time," says New York organizer Roy Laird. There's a $10 penalty to register at the door in New York, and same-day registrations will not be accepted in Las Vegas. The latest additions to the Oza prize list include copies of the Hikaru No Go English-language DVD in English (courtesy of Viz Media), sheets of go stickers for children, and the official AGA "Kifu Keeper" pen, free to all attendees, "just flip the switch to change colors for easy game recording!" says Laird. Previous Oza winners Feng Yun and Hui-ren Yang will play in New York, and West Coast winner Ming-jiu Jiang will top the field in Las Vegas, guaranteeing exciting matches in both locations. Get details - including who's already registered - at where you'll also find info on accommodations, registration forms and more.

ZHANG LAUDED BY NEW JERSEY: The New Jersey State Board of Education has recognized 5th-grader Lionel Zhang for his outstanding performance as a go player. "We are proud to salute this young man's 21st Century achievement in a board game several centuries old," said Governor Richard J. Codey. "Lionel's success at this level and in all of his other extra-curricular activities bodes well for his future accomplishments that we all eagerly anticipate." In 2005, Zhang was the Under-12 champion; the 10-year-old attended Lawrence Intermediate School in Mercer County, NJ. "Lionel's exemplary play under pressure-filled conditions clearly shows a student more mature than his age would initially suggest," said State Board President Arnold G. Hyndman. "The State Board recognizes not only Lionel's winning ways, but also his dedication to being the best he can be as a student, competitor, and representative of his entire school district." Zhang also sings with the Lawrence Intermediate School chorus and has been playing the piano since the age of six. He also enjoys skiing, bicycling, hiking, ice skating, ping pong, and computer games. Lionel Zhang is also bilingual as he also speaks Mandarin Chinese.

YUTOPIAN PUBLISHES "ORIGINS OF GO" BOOK: The E-Journal has learned that Yutopian recently published A Journey in Search of the Origins of Go by Shirakawa Masayoshi, a study of the development of all aspects of the game in both ancient and modern sources.

FENG YUN YOUTH CAMP A SUCCESS: The first winter Youth Camp - held during the recent school holiday break -- was a great success, reports organizer Feng Yun 9P. "We had 32 campers and four teachers -- Eric Lui, Andrew Jackson, Rob Muldowney and myself. Many games were played and reviewed for dan and high kyu level players during the camp." Chuck Robbins directed a tournament on Tuesday evening, while Feng Yun conducted a parent's session featuring an introduction to go and followed by Q&A. "Most of the parents are interested in what their kids can learn from this game, and they're also interested in how I became a pro," says Ms. Feng. The Camp wasn't all go: "Besides go, we also had fun play time, an acrobatics performance at the opening ceremony, a Pool Pizza party and more," she adds. Check out Camp photos at (password: GO2005).

YOUTH TOURNEY DEADLINE LOOMS: This Saturday is the deadline for young go players who want to play in this year's Redmond Cup Tournament and the ING-Redmond tournament. Both events are sponsored by Michael Redmond 9P and his family, the American Go Association, the Ing Wei-Ch'i Foundation and the IGS. The 13th Redmond Cup is for players 18 and under and has two divisions: the Junior League for those under 12 and the Senior League for 12 and older (but younger than 18 on 8/1/2006). Competitors in the Senior League must be playing at dan strength, in the Junior 5 kyu or stronger and must be members of the AGA and either residents of the U.S., Canada or Mexico or citizens of the United States of America living anywhere in the world. Preliminary games will be played on IGS and the four finalists will be invited to the 2006 Congress, where the three final games will be played. The ING-Redmond Tournament is open to players of at least 5d strength who are 30 or under. Similar citizenship and resident rules as the Redmond Cup above apply. A player may register to play in the Ing Redmond but he or she may not play in both the Redmond Cup and the Ing Redmond Tournament. The two ING-Redmond finalists will play their final games just prior to the U.S. Go Congress and the winner is guaranteed a place in the Ing Invitational Tournament at the 2006 Congress. To register, send the following registration form to None Redmond at before 1/15/2006: name, address, phone #, date of birth, email address, AGA rating, citizenship, go club. Be sure to indicate which tournament registering for.

LEE CHANGHO SWEEPS LEE SEDOL TO CHALLENGE FOR KUKSU: Lee Changho 9P swept Lee Sedol 9P 2-0 to become the challenger for the 49th Kuksu in Korea. Changho won both games by resignation. The current title holder is Choi Cheolhan 9P. Choi took the title from Lee Changho in 2004 and successfully defended it against Lee in 2005. Lee will try again in 2006, starting on January 25th in the best-of-five finals.

MILLION-DOLLAR CHO LEADS TOP PRO MONEY WINNERS IN 2005: Cho U 9P of Japan was the number one in the world in terms of total prize money won in 2005, winning the equivalent of nearly one million US dollars. Cho's 2005 title wins include the international LG Cup and Asian TV Cup as well as several Japanese titles: Meijin, Oza, NHK, and NEC--a remarkable performance. It is nearly impossible for pros in other countries to reach this level because their national titles do not carry prizes at the level of the top Japanese titles. In Korea, Lee Sedol 9P did quite well by winning two international tournaments, the Fujitsu and the World Oza, and taking second place in a third, the Zhonghuan Cup, sponsored by JP Morgan and the Taiwan Qiyuan Culture Foundation, as well as winning the Korean Maxim Cup. His total is nearly $600,000 US. Lee Changho 9P made nearly $500,000 US, winning the international Chunlan Cup and anchoring the Korean team in the Nongshim Cup, while also winning several Korean titles. Chang Hao 9P was tops in China, thanks to his winning the international Ing Cup, which is worth about $400,000 US by itself. Chang also won the Chinese NEC Cup and took in a total of over $600,000.

REDMOND A WIN AWAY FROM FINAL 12 IN OZA: While California-born Michael Redmond 9P lost a game to Takanashi Seiken 8P in the preliminaries of the 6 2nd Honinbo, he scored a big victory in the final preliminaries of the 54th Oza when he defeated Yuki Satoshi 9P. John Power reports on the Nihon Kiin's home page that if Redmond can next defeat Yata Naoki 9P, he'll be in the final twelve players in that tournament.

ZHOU WINS CHANG-KI CUP IN CHINA: Zhou Heyang 9P has won the 2nd Chang-Ki Cup, defeating Kong Jie 7P, who won the title last year, by a score of 2-0. Zhou won both games by resignation. This Cup is sponsored by the Ing Foundation in honor of their founder Chang-Ki Ing. It has the largest purse among the Chinese national tournaments, about $50,000 US. We have attached an SGF file of the second game for your enjoyment, courtesy of the site. Zhou wins an early ko and soon forces Kong to resign.

YOUR MOVE: Readers Write

EUROGO, NEW AND IMPROVED: "Your 'Top 10 Websites' (12/23 EJ) li sts the old EGF web site, not the new and improved," writes European Go Federation President Tony Atkins.

THE KIM DIRECTION: "Janice Kim's article (1/2 EJ) spoke to me and gave me direction to begin to study," writes Lee Anne Bowie 4k. "Her pointers are the most useful information I have read about go. Thanks to her for writing it and to you for printing it!"

BEGINNER Q&A: "In the beginning, can playing against a computer improve my go?" wonders Everson in response to Janice Kim's recent column on how to study go (1/2 EJ). "What is the link to download the 'Go Game Assistant' program? Where can I find the complete collection of games from: Shusaku, Dosaku and Jowa (the three Go Saints), and Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru (fathers of New Fuseki)? Thanks very much and congratulations on the E-Journal. It is a good way to improve our go day by day. And I like to see the games that you atta ch!"
       Janice responds: For go resources, I would go to -- that's where I found the link to Go Game Assistant. Another reader pointed out there's a pretty extensive site for tsumego at that isn't (yet) listed on the AGA resource list. The most extensive database for games I've found readily available online is at -- I did a quick search there for games just inputting "Jowa" and found a dozen or so. Since I have access to all the books (and was never very technically-oriented) I haven't kept up with what and where things are on the net, but I do know there's a lot of stuff out there and encourage people to look for it. If one doesn't have human opponents, I think especially at first it's not bad to play against the computer to gain experience and anyway the fun of go is in playing. The limitation is that the computer isn't very strong so you have to remember to keep a skeptical mind and if you are studying go you will surpass the computer in skill in a fairly short time. Also, if one isn't able to play on one of the go servers like IGS or KGS because of rules at school or work, it's possible to play "turn-based" go at places like It's slow but you can submit your moves for multiple games when you have time on the site, it's kind of like checking email so I would think it avoids issues about computer use.

THE EMPTY BOARD: The Quest for Immortality
by William Cobb
  People seem to naturally try to latch on to things that are permanent and to avoid getting attached to things that are temporary. You can see this in everything from assertions of eternal love to the frustrations of having to replace a favorite tool. Go is a particular problem in this regard. Playing the game is a process that is by its very nature ephemeral. Even if you played on a really big board, the game would be constantly changing, and the process wouldn't work if it weren't possible to bring it to an end. So we look to something else in go to provide the permanence that is so comforting, namely, our ratings. Of course these are subject to constant change, but they are much more stable than the process of a game, and they tend to stabilize as time goes by. But what does it mean to say, "I'm playing poorly today, but I am a 5 kyu"? Can we really be anything more than what we are at any given moment? Some people like to distinguish ratings from ranks, meaning by the latter some sort of mark of a level of achievement that is permanent, or at least, can only go up. This is like a title such as Life Master in bridge or Grandmaster in chess; once you achieve it you can never lose it. If there were ranks like that in go, there would be something permanent underlying the constant change of your actual playing strength and the temporal process of playing the game. The AGA has never developed such ranks, as opposed to changeable ratings, though other go associations have established them. But are they a good idea? If life is a constantly changing process, with every aspect of it involved in shifting relationships with every other aspect so that nothing is the same from moment to moment, trying to create supposedly permanent structures that rise above the changing flow seems a bit illusory. The purpose of ratings is to facilitate well-balanced games, not establish unmovable benchmarks in a changing situation. Allowing such ranks only to improve suggests further indulgence in illusion. Of course, your playing strength goes up and down over time and in varied circumstances. Why pretend that the best game you ever played is somehow the "true" mark of your ability?
The Empty Board #46; Past columns are archived at

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Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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