News from the American Go Association

June 23, 2006
Volume 7, #52 (Member's Edition)

Hanover, NH
GAME COMMENTARY: Playing Bravely
GO REVIEW: SmartGo 2.1
ATTACHED FILE(S): 2006.06.23 Lee-O, CSK Asian Cup, Dinerchtein.sgf

NAMT ROUND 2 SET FOR SATURDAY: The second round of the North American Master's Tournament (NAMT) B League will be held this Saturday, June 24 at 4P EST on KGS. The pairings for this round: Board 1: Sorin Gherman vs Eric Lui; Board 2: Wei Chen vs Yuan Zhou; Board 3: Jung Hoon Lee vs Seung Hyun Hong; Zhaonian Chen 11331 gets a bye. For more about the NAMT tournament, check out

BOULDER KID'S CLUB HOLDS TEAM TOURNEY: The Boulder Kids and Teens Go Club held their first team tournament on Sunday June 18, reports local organizer Paul Barchilon. "We modeled it on the Hikaru no Go manga, with a first, second and third chair in each team," says Barchilon. "We further stipulated that each team had to have a total combined kyu rank of around 50. That way, even the new kids were able to join in the fun." Nine teams of three kids each competed in the team section, and there was also an individual section; all told, 29 kids competed. The winning team was comprised of Jessica Lin, Sang Lee, and Justin Pappas. Victor Li and Ben Alpert took first and second in the individual section.

GO CONGRESS EXTENDS EARLY REGISTRATION DEADLINE: "Due to the rush of registrations -- we are now at 340 - we're extending the early registration deadline through this weekend," says Congress Co-Director Paul Celmer. The new deadline is this Sunday at midnight, after which the registration fee will increase $50. Register now at  DOGWOOD COTTAGE AVAILABLE: The 6-bedroom Dogwood cottage is now available, Celmer reports. The cottage has 2 baths and 12 beds: details at  TWO MORE PROS CONFIRMED: Yoshi Sawada reports that Chien Kaei 9P of the Kansai Ki-in is confirmed to attend the Congress. "He's a Chinese born pro from Hong Kong who moved to Japan after he won the world amateur for China. He was granted 5p from Kansai Ki-in to start as a professional in Japan and later became 9p in the Japanese professional ranking system. He's fluent in Japanese as well as Chinese so I hope he'll be great for teaching." This is the second pro this week to be confirmed: Ming-jiu Jiang 7P, author of Punishing and Correcting Joseki Mistakes, was confirmed Monday.

AGA LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE: Earlier this week the AGA's website switched over to a new, more robust Linux-based server. While we expect the new site will be much more useful (see the new Calendar at for an example), we need your help finding any problems created by the switch (broken links, etc). Send us your reports now at Everyone who submits will be eligible for a random drawing of cool go prizes from our vendors!

TOURNAMENTS COORDINATOR WANTED: The American Go Association's Tournaments Coordinator creates and maintains the national calendar of tournament AGA events and oversees the development of new national tournaments. In addition, the Tournaments Coordinator manages the selection of US representatives to compete in foreign events. This coordinator will also work with Directors of national events to assure consistency and support from of the AGA. Interested? Email AGA President Mike Lash at

MACFADYEN AND BEI GE TO VIE FOR BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIP: Matthew Macfadyen 6d and Bei Ge 4d will play for the 2006 British Championship. Details on Monday.

LEE CHANGHO AND PARK JUNGSANG IN ELECTRON-LAND CUP FINALS: It's Lee Changho 9P and Park Jungsang 6P in the finals of the Electron-Land Cup in Korea. Details on Monday.

TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS UNDERWAY IN JAPAN: The NEC Cup, which includes the holders of the top seven Japanese titles and other top players for a true battle of champions, has nearly completed the first round. Details on Monday.

CAMP KEY TO IMPROVING: Do you want to become a stronger player? A Youth Go Camp scholarship applicant says, "The skill I so long for and wish to acquire in the go camp, I would put it in good use, to create new players, and to make go clubs grow." What are your reasons? Become a stronger player at the East Coast Go Camp! The deadline is approaching quickly: visit

SMARTGO REBATE ENDS SOON: The $20 rebate on SmartGo expires at the end of June. "Upgrade your tools and get in shape for the Go Congress now," says SmartGo's Anders Kierulf. Go to, click on the Buy Now button, then enter ejournal as your coupon to get your discount on the game-playing and recording software.

June 24, 2006: Hanover, NH
Upper Valley Go Club Handicap Tournament 2006
Karen Plomp 603.448.0791
Jing Wei Lim 917.572.2134

GAME COMMENTARY: Playing Bravely
      Lee Sedol 9P plays his usual brave game against O Meien 9P in last month's second round game of the 5th CSK Asian Cup. Alexandre Dinerchtein 1P provides the entertaining commentary. The CSK Asian Cup is a team tournament, involving four five-member teams, from China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. The 5th Cup was won by the Chinese team, which was undefeated. The Koreans were second, losing only to China. This game is from the match between the Korean team and the Taiwanese, most of whom were members of the Nihon Kiin. Commentary taken by permission from the go4go site, which includes a wealth of information about the world of pro go and offers commented pro and strong amateur games by subscription.
      Non-members: get these game commentaries every week by signing up for the Member's Edition now at
      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
      Let's face it; go players are competitive. Losing bums us out. This week the focus is on positional judgment, a key skill for successful play. For those of you already following my training tips, this will be an add-on to what you're already doing, but even for those who are not in training, the tips in this series should help you improve your play and enjoyment.
      While - as stated previously - it's true that there's not enough time before the Congress to improve, if you can judge the game state more accurately you will be more consistent and are more likely to improve your winning percentage. Start practicing this skill now in every game you play.
       The great value of judging the game state is that it points you toward reasonable strategies which are relatively easy to accomplish. The additional benefit of judging the game state is that it takes you out of the flow of the game and makes you look at the whole board. One of the most common mistakes of kyu players, and even low dan players, is getting caught up in one area and making small moves there instead of big moves elsewhere.
       To judge the game state, first estimate the balance of territories. If you are comfortable counting territory and believe you get an accurate count, by all means do so. If you don't think you can count accurately, then I recommend pairing off your territories with the opponent's. Next, estimate the balance of power. If you're not sure what power is, for the present it will be enough to say it is increased by walls and strong positions and lessened by weak groups.
       The importance of judging the two balances is that it will help you make better strategic decisions. If you're ahead in both balances you have a game you should win. You don't need further gains, you just need to take what is coming to you. Be prepared for your opponent to get a little wild. If you're behind in both balances you will lose the game unless you can turn it around. Stay calm but look for opportunities to resist or counter punch. You can afford to wait for a good opportunity and don't need to play rash moves. In addition, in amateur play the opponent is likely to give you a chance even if you don't do anything special.
       Most games are relatively even with one player leading in territory and the other leading in power. These are the games where judging the game state can really help your strategic thinking. The balance of territory tells you how much the player with less territory needs to catch up. If you're behind in territory, don't try for 40 when you only need 20. And of course don't try for 20 when you need 40. If you're ahead, be prepared to let the opponent gain, as long as he's not gaining enough. If he needs 20 and is trying for 10, don't fight him over the 10.
       The balance of power tells you how much the player with the power lead is entitled to catch up. If you have a power lead it's not hard to catch up 10 or 15 points. Stay calm and squeeze your opponent's groups. If you need more, you'll have to press harder. Conversely, if you're ahead on territory and he has the power lead you should think the game even unless you're more than 15 points ahead. Don't coast, but keep working hard.

GO REVIEW: SmartGo 2.1
Reviewed by Philip Waldron 6d
      Of the many commercial go-related software programs, SmartGo has one of the longest lineages. First begun as a doctoral thesis project by Anders Kierulf in 1984, it has since evolved into a comprehensive go package.
      Users of the previous SmartGo versions will be relieved that its core features remain as good as ever in 2.1. A graceful and intuitive SGF editor allows game records to be reviewed, commented and printed. The computer go player is still present and has slightly improved in strength. Finally, a tsume-go module, capable of solving many dan-level problems only a few seconds, is a hidden gem for players of all strengths, and I found it extremely useful when trying to determine why my solution to a tsume-go problem was incorrect.
      Of the new features in SmartGo, two stand out in particular. An automated problems module has been added to make studying easier, and comes complete with over 2000 problems for a range of player strengths. The most exciting addition, however, is the improved game database, which has been completely integrated into both the game editor and computer go player. Users can check out patterns of interest, and the computer player's access to the database has noticeably enhanced its openings.
      Software that attempts to be a jack-of-all-trades often ends up being master-of-none, and at times SmartGo falls victim to this. Both the tsume-go module and the new IGS client feel as if they were bolted on as an afterthought rather than being a truly integrated component of SmartGo. Data presentation within the database module also felt lacking compared to dedicated databases. Alternate game variations were presented well, but additional information such as frequency of play and winning percentages were not.
      Regardless of its rough spots, I found SmartGo to be a well designed and extremely useful package. While individual features are sometimes better implemented by other dedicated programs, as a complete suite SmartGo is tough to beat.
      SmartGo is available from


GO LIBRARY FOR SALE: 360 Japanese Go Magazines from 1960 through 2006. Most in good to excellent condition. Classic magazines include Takagawa's 9th defense of 15th Honinbo Title (1960), Hashimoto wins 1st 10 Dan (1962), Sakata takes 2nd Meijin (1963), Rin Kaiho takes 4th Meijin (1965), Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi's first titles, etc. $15 apiece OBO. 400 other items available, including books signed personally by Go Seigen, Sakata, etc. Contact: (6/16)

CONGRESS COUPON FOR SALE: $350 AGA coupon for sale for $250 OBO; coupon can be used as $350 cash in the coming Go Congress. Contact Wenjie Xu at or call 646-270-1180 (6/9)

Classified ads are free for AGA members and run for 4 weeks: send your ad to us at

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Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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