News from the American Go Association

February 10, 2006
Volume 7, #13

GAME COMMENTARY: Andy's Good Start & Two Ways To Attack
ASK THE PRO: How To Know When to Play for Territory or Thickness (Part 2)
ATTACHED FILE(S): 2006.02.10 Fujitsu, Jiang-Lui, Feng Yun.sgf; 2006.02.10 Challenge, bbyk-Hop, Hung.sgf

FUJITSU FINAL FEATURES YANG VS. JIANG LIVE: Hui Ren Yang 1P will face Mingjiu Jiang 9P in the Fujitsu Qualifier Final, which will be played on KGS this Saturday, February 11 at 7PM Eastern US time. Jiang beat Zhi Yuan (Andy) Lui (see the attached game commentary) and Ed ward Kim in Rounds 2 and 3 last weekend, while Yang defeated Moon Chong Kim and Jong Hoon Lee. Observers are welcome; over 400 watched the games last weekend.

NORTH KOREA OPENS UP GO TOURNEY: The Baduk Association of DPR (North) Korea has issued an invitation to go players to enter the Go Competition of the 2nd International Martial Arts Games (IMG) to be held August 22-29 in Pyongyang, Korea. "The Games are an important opportunity to exchange experiences and cherish friendship among go players worldwide," says Ryu Song Il, President of The Baduk Association of DPR Korea and the 2nd International Martial Arts Games. Get details at

CHINESE TEEN BEATS LEE SEDOL: Lee Sedol 9P of Korea lost to Chen Yaoye 5P, a Chinese teenager, in an international team match between China and Korea , the Kangwon-Land Cup. Details on Monday.

RUI NAIWEI DEFEATS PARK JIEUN TO MOVE UP IN WOMEN'S KUKSU: Rui Naiwei 9P has defeated Park Jieun 6P in the losers' section of the Women's Kuksu in Korea, earning a spot in the finals against Cho Hyeyeon 6P. Details on Monday.

NEW AGA STRUCTURE POSTED: The American Go Association's new organizational chart (New AGA Structure Approved, 2/3 EJ) is now posted online at

EJ ARCHIVES UPDATED, EXPANDED: Missed or misplaced your copy of the E-Journal? You can easily download copies of the EJ online 24/7 at  Plus check out samples of the bonus material included in the Friday Member's Edition, including game commentaries from the recent 2006 Toyota/Denso North American Oza Tournament!

COMING UP MONDAY: Feng Yun 9P reviews the Fujitsu Final, Lionel Beats the Best and Bill Graham on Seeing Both Sides Now

GAME COMMENTARY: Andy's Good Start & Two Ways To Attack
      Zhi Yuan (Andy) Lui gets off to a good start in his Fujitsu Qualifier Round 2 game against MingJiu Jiang 7P, played February 4 on KGS. But a few moves later, he falls behind, says commenter Feng Yun 9P, when "Black is too generous. Black must invade." Check out the detailed commentary in the attached game commentary and don't miss the Fujitsu Qualifier final tomorrow on KG S at 7P EST.
      Joey Hung 8d explains the two ways to attack in his commentary on a game played by Shodan Challenger Jonathan Hop 8k. Find out when to use the direct or the indirect attack.
       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

Reviewed by Philip Waldron 6d
    My first introduction to go databases was a demonstration of MasterGo in 2002. A t the time, I was sure that go databases would become extremely important study tools. Several years later, this has turned out to be the case and MasterGo has proven to be a solid contender in the field.
    Like other go databases, MasterGo allows both full- and partial-board searches, depending on the user's interests. Searches are extremely fast, taking only a second or two even on outdated computers. Each search result includes a list of possible variations for the next move, and the frequency and winning percentage for that line of play. A handy "tenuki meter" indicates how often players left a joseki position unfinished, and the option to restrict searches by date allows the user the examine the evolution of a fuseki or joseki pattern. For those interested in studying a particular position or player, the program includes bookmarks for saving your favourite games.
    While most of MasterGo's features can be found in o ther database programs, it pulls away from the crowd with its user interface. Data is always presented clearly and I never found myself cursing a poorly designed dialog box or obscure menu item. The documentation is superb: a twenty-three page electronic manual and dozen videos give a thorough explanation of all the program's features.
    MasterGo is an excellent program, but it does have a couple of drawbacks. The program does not save the results of previous searches, so systematically studying a position requires reentering it each time. With a retail price of $100, MasterGo also feels a little overpriced. A free trial version is available, however, to allow users to decide for themselves.
    Drawbacks aside, MasterGo is a polished and well-designed piece of software, and I have no hesitation giving it a strong recommendation.

ASK THE PRO: How To Kn ow When to Play for Territory or Thickness (Part 2)
by Janice Kim 3P
    "How do you know when it is better to play for territory instead of thickness?" asked Kirk Martinez. In Part 1 we looked at some of the philosophical implications of this question. Now let's take a serious look at a specific issue: when to enclose the corner territory when you've got a knight's move enclosure from the star point.
    On the surface, the answer would be, almost never. Two reasons: one is that it's a very inefficient way to surround corner territory, because you've spent three moves doing it. If you've played on a star point to begin with, you were going for a speed opening, not concentrating on enclosing corner territory quickly but on getting to the side star points more quickly. The second reason is because we can't get our opponent to answer. Almost all moves that just enclose territory fail the compelling test. They don't follow the flow of the game, the story you're trying to tell, which is, I'm going to get something first, and get you to answer me, and then I'm going to get something else first and get you to answer me. The flow of the game is kind of like the Race Into Space. Doesn't really matter what part of the moon you land on, as long as you get there first and plant your flag.
    The same principle applies to thickness. It would probably be a pretty rare situation when you would just want to play a thick move, or one that just defends a weak group. There are times when you have to make the gote play, but it's rare and you might want to think about an exchange instead to maintain the flow and not get into a response pattern. I'm reminded of once how my husband, who's about 1-dan, was watching a game I was playing with a strong amateur. My husband was proud of himself for seeing a move that would kill a group and wondering how we bo th could miss it. Later in the game my friend finally made life with the group, and with a sigh told my startled husband that it would probably cost him the game to take gote (which it did).
    I don't mean this to sound like cavalier advice for weaker players, that it doesn't really matter where you play as long as you tenuki. But this principle of the flow of the game is true on all levels. At some point you'll get to a higher plane that I like to call Subtly Sente. That's when your opponent knows that you are trying to take the initiative, and is trying to do that too, and has a lot of skill besides, and you can play a move that tells a kind of secret story -- to the casual observer, this move may look fairly innocuous, but you know that your opponent has to answer in a certain way or the flow is going to turn into a tidal wave.
    Sometimes we get into a style issue. Some people are more comfortable making territory direct ly, others like to do it indirectly by playing for influence. Some styles are thicker than others. Part of it is that you want to play your own game, and that's part of flow. But you don't want to become so rigid in your style of play that regardless of what your opponent is giving you, you always go for the big wall or the corner territory or whatever. If you can find a nice way of making territory or influence while keeping the initiative, grab it. One final thought about territory v. influence -- remember all games come to an end, and influence is an indirect way of making territory, so it loses value as time passes. It doesn't make a lot of sense to trade territory for influence or thickness if your initiative has nowhere to go -- it's better earlier than later. But if you have it early, you can really rack up the points in the most natural way in the world.
    So my suggestion to guide your thinking is to ask yourself some questions. Is that mov e really sente? If your opponent hasn't made a compelling move, ask yourself, what can I get, and how can I get it for free by getting my opponent to answer me? As you ask yourself those questions, you will be getting stronger, and your opponents will be getting stronger too, and the frustrating question of "where should I go?" might become more of the challenging fun of "how can I get there?"


PLAYERS WANTED: Venice, Fl. Looking for go players at the high-school level. Just need enough responses to begin a local go club. Kyle Weeks (1/27/06)

WANT TO BUY: Used go books; (1/27/06)

FOR SALE: Equipment: 1) ceramic stones and plastic bowls (181 white and 181 black); 2) 1-inch thick shin Kaya go board , sturdy and good-looking (seldom used, bought it new online). The stones, bowls, go board are an $80 value. Asking $40 plus shipping fee. Contact (1/27/06)

Published by the American Go Association

Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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