News from the American Go Association

August 4, 2006
Volume 7, #64 (Member's Edition)

Joey Hung 8d Reviews A Kyu Game
ATTACHED GAMES: 2006.08.04, Anonymous kyus, Hung.sgf; 2006.08.04 Yang's August Puzzle.sgf

GO MASTERS WANTED: With the 2006 U.S. Go Congress just a week away, final preparations are being made for the year's biggest go event, set for Black Mountain, NC from August 12-20. There's still time to sign up: more than 400 go players already have! Check out the list and the latest Congress updates at  New this week: Day Off activities, including touring the famous Biltmore estate, whitewater raft trips, shopping at the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild, hike in Chimney Rock Park or to waterfalls. "We are still looking to fill one key position," reports Congress Director Paul Celmer. "TD for the Midnight Madness tournament." This tournament debuted at last year's Congress in Tacoma and was "a huge success, giving players who want to maximize the Congress experience a chance to fill the idle hours that most normal people would us e for such mundane activities such as sleep," says Celmer. The tournament is one game each night of the Congress, starting Sunday night and including the final Saturday night. "Tourney founder Chuck Robbins has offered to run the pairings, but he needs someone to manage the tournament and to report the results." Assistants for the U.S. Open are also still needed; if interested in either event, contact Paul Celmer at Congress organizers plan to show movies and episodes of Hikaru No Go each night of the Congress. Anyone willing to lend the Congress a copy of The Go Masters on DVD or tape should contact Peter Armenia at (they'll pay shipping costs).

MEMBERSHIP BACK UP OVER 2,100: Reversing a 3-month decline, membership in the American Go Association increased in July, nudging back over the 2,100 mark. After hitting an all-time high of 2,180 back in January, membership had dropped off in recent months, dipping to 2,090 in June before increasing to 2,102 in July. Membership was up in several categories last month, including Sponsors, Sustainers, Limited, Youth and Chapters, which are a record high of 148.

PARK JIEUN REACHES KOREAN WOMEN'S MYEONGIN FINALS: Park Jieun 6P defeated Cho Hyeyeon 7P to gain the finals of the Myeongin (Meijin) challenger's tournament. Details on Monday.

TAKAO SHINJI TO CHALLENGE FOR JAPANESE MEIJIN: Takao Shinji 9P, the current Honinbo, will challenge Cho U 9P and current Meijin for the Meijin title. Details on Monday.

LEE SEDOL WINS KOREAN PRICES INFORMATION CUP: Lee Sedol 9P has defeated Choi Wonyong 4P to win the 2nd Prices Information Cup. Details on Monday.

THIS WEEK'S GO QUIZ: Go Seigen's playing career was cruelly shortened by an accident, when he was hit by: a truck, a motorcycle or a car? Click here to vote:  One winner will be drawn at random from the correct answers and will be awarded a gift certificate from one of our fine go vendors, or a free Limited membership.

GAME COMMENTARY: Joey Hung 8d Reviews A Kyu Game
      Today's game between a 6 kyu and a 10 kyu was played on the Dragon Go Server and is commented by Joey Hung 8d, one of the strongest amateurs in the US. Hung runs a go school in California (see ) and regularly does game commentaries for the E-Journal. He was the 2006 US representative to the World
      Our bonus file today is Yilun Yang 7d's August life-and-death problem, an original tsume-go problem created especially for the E-Journal. Be sure to turn off your "next move" utility before opening the file.
      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
      Congress first-timers have probably been thinking I would never get to you. This week's column is for you: first I'll give a couple of comfort tips and then I'll suggest how you can get the most from the Congress.
      Congresses are often held at colleges and universities. These sites are relatively inexpensive, but the accommodations can be quite Spartan. Dorm rooms tend not to be very comfortable, and the quality of the food varies from barely edible to downright frightening. The good news is that this year's Congress should be better, and I congratulate the organizers for choosing a site that should provide more comfort.
      The biggest problem with dorm rooms is ventilation and temperature control. I remember spending a really uncomfortable week at one Congress simply because I couldn't cool my room. It got hot during the day and cooled off at night, but there was no ventilation in the room and I couldn't get the cool night air in. Even though I put my mattress on the floor, I slept very poorly that Congress. A bad night's sleep can be disastrous for tournament play the next day.
      This year some rooms are air conditioned but some rooms are not. There will be cheap fans for sale and I highly recommend buying one. They should cost about $20 bucks and even if you abandon them after the Congress, they'll be worth every penny. What has worked for me in the past was to put the fan in my doorway blowing out into the hall. That pulled outside air in and cooled my room down quickly.
      One other comfort note, occasionally mealtimes vary in unexpected ways. You should confirm that the meal times are the same every day. If not make a note so you don't get caught out.
      There is such a wealth of activities at the Congress that it can be hard to know which to choose. I suggest you sample each of them during the first couple of days and decide what you like best. Then for the rest of the Congress you can concentrate on those activities.
     The Congress will likely be your first experience with the national and international go community. It is a great place to make new go friends that you can play on line afterwards. Joining this community may be the very best thing about the Congress; many people make lifelong friends there.
      The Congress can be a little alienating for the first-timer. It's not that people are unfriendly, far from it. But there are three factors that can make it so. First, as a first-timer, almost everyone there will be a stranger and you may feel awkward approaching them to introduce yourself and ask for a game. I'm a shy person myself and I feel that way. Second, there are constant activities and everyone wants to get as much in as s/he can. This may make the other participants seem a little brusque. Finally, many players attend the Congress every year and get to know the other regulars. Their familiarity with each other may make you feel left out, but I encourage you to make the effort and reach out. Meal times are a good opportunity to get to know people. Meals are cafeteria style with large group tables. You will have a name tag, but introduce yourself to the group at your meal table anyway. Find out who they are and start gettin g to know them. Ask them if they would play a self-paired tournament game with you.
      The self-paired tournament is not strictly speaking a tournament at all. There is no real winner, but there are various prizes. When you ask someone to play, be sure to specify that is a self-paired game because both players must agree it is a tournament game and not a casual game. Then you play a game at the appropriate handicap and turn in the result. There is no time limit and no clocks, but be courteous in your use of time. Play one game with each opponent. During the Congress you play as many or as few games as you want. These games are another good opportunity to get to know your fellow go players. Ask anyone and everyone to play a self-paired tournament game. If they don't want to play, fine, ask someone else.
      I think you will find the Congress exhilarating. It's awesome to be in a large group none of whom need go explained to them. And the opportunity to play as much go as you want can be heavenly.

GO REVIEW:  WinHonte
Reviewed by Phil Waldron 6d
      With their poor graphics and retarded play, the first computer go programs did little to impress. Advances in algorithms combined with faster computers, however, have led to programmers to make marked improvements over the past years. And so it was with interest that I loaded up WinHonte to see what modern computer go players could do.
      I began by giving the program a nine-stone handicap, and I saw immediately just how much go programming had improved. WinHonte built good territories and stayed connected, giving me few opportunities to complicate the game. It knew which cut-off stones were not worth saving and didn't get preoccupied with stones that I had sacrificed. I was particularly impressed with WinHonte's tactics; it came up with clever sequences often enough that it couldn't be by accident. The program generally played well enough to keep the games close, usually losing by 10-20 points. Most surprisingly, WinHonte plays very much like a human, making similar moves and mistakes to other players of its level. WinHonte's author rates the playing strength of the program at 4-9 kyu, an assessment that seems fair from my experiences.
      While WinHonte plays well, away from the board it is not so strong. Its user interface and SGF game editor are best described as minimalist; most basic features are present, but lack the polish of many other go programs. More seriously, WinHonte's teaching options are also quite limited. For example, while it is possible to get WinHonte's to give its territorial assessment of a position, it is not possible to get its suggestion for the next move, nor is it easy to move back in the game tree to explore variations after a disaster. With the users of computer go players largely being beginners, these features seem too important to leave out.
      Overall, I found WinHonte to be a worthwhile go playing program. Its low price ($30) compares favourably to competitors, and it is strong enough to give beginners a good game.
      WinHonte can be purchased from Jellyfish Software:

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