World Go News from the American Go Association
July 26, 2007; Volume 8, #56


SAVING GO: A Modest Proposal to Programmers (Stop!)
EUROPEAN GO CONGRESS SPECIAL REPORT: EGC Snapshots; Upcoming Euro Events; Bogdanov’s Long Road Back; Crossing The Line; Five Minutes With Rainer Stowasser, President of the Austrian Go Federation
: Not So Gnu

U.S. GO CONGRESS UPDATES: “Versatile keyboard virtuoso and Congress Co-Organizer Matt Bengtson 1d will play a recital on a 1785 Anton Walter fortepiano after the Opening Ceremony on Saturday, July 28,” reports 2007 U.S. Go Congress Co-Director Peter Nassar. Walter built Mozart's instrument. Bengston’s program includes one of the first sonatas ever written in America, the "Philadelphia Sonata no. 3" by Alexander Reinagle, one of Mozart's late piano sonatas, KV 533/494, and Beethoven's famous "Moonlight" Sonata, which Nassar says “is especially atmospheric on a period instrument. Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear an early piano in live performance.” The Congress starts this Saturday: click here for the schedule of Congress events Watch for top boards broadcast live daily on KGS, updates on the AGA website and daily Congress Editions of the E-Journal!

SEOK UI HONG GETS UNEXPECTED SHOT AT EGC CHAMPIONSHIP: Jong Wook Park 7d’s iron grip on the lead for the 2007 European Go Congress Championship was broken Thursday when he fell ill and missed Round 8, giving Seok Ui Hong 7d a chance to erase Park’s 1-point lead. Park was a perfect 7-0 while Hong, 6-1 had only lost to Park and defeated 5-game winner Yoshida Takao 6d in Round 8, improving his score to 7, just half a point behind Park’s 7.5, giving him a clear shot at winning the tournament with two more victories. Park, who is expected to remain hospitalized for the remainder of the 10-round tournament, will get half a point for each missed round. Click here for full round-by-round results through Round 7. TODAY’S GAME COMMENTARIES include Alexandr Dinerchtein on his final-round Masters game against Ilya Shiksin and Yoon Young-Sun 5P and Kang Seung-Hee 2P on the Round 4 Dali Cup game between Rui Naiwei 9P and Park JiEun 6P. Dozens of top-board games, commentaries and problems are posted online

WHEN HALF A POINT IS REALLY BIG: Although half-point victories are not unusual in pro tournaments, they sometimes have a much bigger impact, as illustrated in a number of tournaments this year. Park Yeonghun 9P of Korea won the international Fujitsu this year, making it into the finals with half-point wins in both the third round and the semifinals. Park Jieun 7P of Korea won the international Women's Dali Cup by taking the decisive third game from Kim Hyeoimin 4P by just half a point. Cho U 9P became the challenger for the Japanese Meijin title when he won two half-point games in the Meijin League, which gave him his margin of victory. Similarly, Yokota Shigeaki 9P got into the finals of the Japanese Gosei tournament, which he won to become the challenger, by a half-point victory. Kang Kongyun 5P of Korea beat Lee Changho 9P to take the Electron-Land Cup, after he won his third-round game by a half point. There are a number of other, less dramatic examples of the impact of half-point decisions this year as well. So close, and yet so much can be won -- and lost.
- reported by Bill Cobb

SAVING GO: A Modest Proposal to Programmers (Stop!)
By Paul Celmer
Now that checkers has been crushed and a computer has defeated the world champion at chess, will go be the last great game to fall to the robots? Let’s hope not. I hereby call upon any programmer working on computer go to stop now.
Why? First of all, computer go would devalue human achievement. Professional go players start training at a young age and work for years to attain top rankings. Professional-level go-playing computers would devalue these heroic efforts, making these rare skills available at the local big-box computer store. When computers took over chess, former world champion Gary Kasparov, arguably one of the greatest chess players in history, retired from the game that allowed his brilliance to sparkle and is now reduced to seeking worthy challenges in politics. I don’t think even the most cold hearted of us would want our spectacular champion go players to suffer such a fate.
Computer go would also mar the beauty of our game. Part of beauty is mystery, and if go is ever “solved,” it too, would be reduced to mindless tic-tac-toe. It would be an amazing technical achievement to develop the software and hardware to create an entire orchestra of symphony-playing robots. But shouldn’t some things -- music, art, and poetry, just to think of a few -- remain our own human domain? The go board should be preserved as a place where humanity can dream free.
I am no anti-technology Luddite. I embrace useful advances in science and technology, have owned a computer since the dawn of the PC age and of course I have a DVD player and a cellphone. I have no grudge against programmers and think we actually need even more in many areas including alternative energy development and medical diagnostic software. But we just don’t need a computer go program that can beat humans.
No good can come from having our noble game and all its beautiful traditions reduced to digital bits. Just because something can be done does not mean it should be done. Who remembers the names of those who programmed the computer
that defeated Kasparov? Programmers, turn your praiseworthy ingenuity and drive towards another mountain and leave go to stand unconquered, gleaming and majestic. You will give up the chance to win the millions promised to the first to develop a pro-level program, but you’ll save our art and better yet, when next we meet, I’ll buy you a drink to celebrate!
Celmer 1d is a technical writer in Garner, North C

E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock is filing reports online from the 51st European Go Congress in Villach, Austria. Click here for latest results. Game records are posted online as well as videos and photos Check the main website and the news page for all the EJ’s EGC reports (use the arrows to scroll back day by day). Top right photo: Chris Garlock

(top right) Atop Hochstuhl (Veliki Stol) mountain on the Austria- Slovenia border, 2,236 meters up, Chris Garlock (l) plays tengen against Andreas Hauenstein while an Alpendohle (Pyrrhocorax graculus) kibitzes. Photo by Steffi Hebsacker

(left) Teaching go at the Villach Street Art Festival during the European Go Congress. photo by Chris Garlock

(right) 3D Go close-up. Photo by Martin Chrz. (below right) Guo Juan 5P – who is now headed to the U.S. Go Congress -- lectures in the main playing hall. Photo by Chris Garlock

UPCOMING EURO EVENTS: The European go scene is very active; check out the European Go Federation site for info and links. Upcoming events include the Casino Go Tournament October 5-7 in Bratislava, a European Cup event which includes the Bratislava Championship; the International “Go to Innovation” Go Tournament November 16-18 in Berlin, Germany; the 34th London Open Go Congress December 28-31 in London, UK; the 2008 European Youth Go Championship March 6-9 on South Moravia, Czech Republic; the 2008 European Go Congress July 26-August 9 in Leksand, Sweden; the 2008 Go Isle of Man get-together August 24-29; the 2009 European Go Congress in Groningen, The Netherlands;.

BOGDANOV’S LONG ROAD BACK: It was good to see our old friend Victor Bogdanov (l) of Russia here this year. Victor suffered a terrible stroke in 2003 during a game on the last day of a tournament in Russia, just a couple of months before the start of the St. Petersburg EGC, for which he was the main organizer. His recovery was slow but steady and we saw and interviewed him back at the EGC in Prague 2005. Victor’s still using a cane to help him walk; although he used play as a 6-dan, winning many tournaments, his playing powers still have not completely recovered and he’s now playing around 5d. "I planned to play in the pair tournament, but my partner could not make it,“ Victor told us, "Instead, I took part in the 13x13. I lost two, so I didn't play well. Recently in Russia, I had some success. In the European Pair Championship on the Volga river, we finished second. My partner was Elizaveta Karlsberg (2-dan). But with the Karelia team we won the Russian Championship! I played with Alexei Lazarev and two more players from the North.“ Lazarev won the European title twice; in Namur (Belgium, 1991) he finished second after Shutai Zhang from China and one year later in Canterbury (UK) he came third after Takashi Matsumoto from Japan.
- Peter Dijkema. Photo by Chris Garlock

CROSSING THE LINE: European Go Congress organizers face some challenges that their U.S. Congress colleagues face on a much smaller scale. “Getting to a European Go Congress inevitably involves crossing borders,” Rainer Stowasser, President of the Austrian Go Federation, told the EJ. “Some borders are between national states and others are just bureaucratic barriers.” While Austria is part of the Schengen treaty, which allows people within its borders to travel anywhere they want, Stowasser says the borders of the Schengen territory itself “are well guarded and controlled by the use of visas.” Thus, while some visitors – Japanese, Koreans and U.S., for example -- only need a passport and can stay up to six months, visitors from the eastern European countries must often prove that they have enough money to return home. “There is also a concern that such visitors may stay and move freely from Italy to Sweden,” adds Stowasser, “since there are no borders within the territory.” Officials try to control this process with a visa process, which requires certain visitors to fill out forms, provide copies of letters by someone within the Schengen territory and, in some cases, pay money, “although not officially of course.” While organizers were able to help most of those who wanted to attend the Congress, sometimes all their efforts were to no avail. Because they couldn't prove that they have enough money to stay and come back, for example, the whole Moldavian team was barred from visiting. “And some of the Bosnian players were treated strangely,” said Stowasser, “not by the Austrian embassy officials in Sarajevo, but by the local guys employed there, who basically tried to extort money from the players in return for the proper papers. After a phone call to the Austrian foreign ministry, all the Bosnian players suddenly got their visas.”

FIVE MINUTES WITH: Rainer Stowasser, President of the Austrian Go Federation
Austria, one of the original places in the West where go first took root and flowered over 100 years ago, is now in the midst of a very modern go boom. “We’ve seen an six-fold increase in activity thanks to Hikaru No Go,” Austrian Go Federation President Rainer Stowasser (l) told the EJ Tuesday night as the harried but always cheerful EGC organizer grabbed yet another smoke outside the Congress Center. A former Austrian youth champion, the 37-year-old 2-kyu works for the Austrian Science Board and has been playing go for two decades. Stowasser says the Gote Go Club in Vienna alone has over 100 members now, many of them young players who have come to the game through exposure to Hikaru and playing on the Internet. There are an estimated 3-4,000 go players in Austria, nine clubs in Graz, Linz, Krems and Vienna, “where you can play go every night.” Stowasser also credits the presence of professional go player Kobayashi Chizu 5P, who’s teaching weekly classes and helping inspire a new generation of players. Indeed, Stowasser reports, that new generation has begun to assume the reins of leadership as youngsters like Victor Lin 1d (16), Lothar Spiegl 3d (23), and Thomas Kerbl 2d (24) push their way into the top ranks of Austrian players. Following up on hosting this year’s European Go Congress, the next big step for the Austrian Go Federation is re-establishing their own go center in Vienna after a 10-year hiatus. Details are still being worked out, but Stowasser promised the EJ we’ll be the first to know when plans are finalized. - interview/photo by Chris Garlock

A (VERY) SHORT HISTORY OF GO IN EUROPE (Part 2): As noted in Part 1 (7/20 EJ), go in Europe followed two main routes of transmission in the late 19th century, the first from China to England, the other from Japan to Germany, as merchants, missionaries, travelers and scientists moved back and forth between Europe and Asia. While the game “did not develop continuously and remained within a few family circles” in England, according to Franco Pratesi in his thoroughly-researched Eurogo Vol. 1 (Arachne, 2004), “the German path that started from Leipzig soon reached Vienna and other towns.” From 1900 to 1920, go’s Austrian and German roots flourished in Vienna and in Berlin (where Eduard and Emanuel Lasker – no relation, and key to the later development of go in the U.S. – learned the game), as well as in Pola -- now Pula in Croatia – an Austrian navy base where go was popular among navy officers, led by Lieutenant Artur Jonak von Freyenwald. Go’s development in Europe took a major leap forward with the publication by Professor Leopold Pfaundler of the 4-page handwritten Deutsche Go-Zeitung starting in February 1909. The Go-Zeitung was critical to helping build a vibrant go community as “For the first time, players from Bonn, Berlin, Graz and Vienna could exchange technical opinions.” Unfortunately, it lasted just a year and then WW1 “significantly decreased the number of players and interrupted most of the private contacts among them.” During the post-war years, Pratesi reports, “the community of German-speaking Go players grew and became more established,” and the Go-Zeitung was re-established as go groups began to spring up in other cities. Although economic depression and the rise of the Third Reich presented challenges for the growing go community, the interest and active support of world chess champion Emanuel Lasker provided a major boost for go. “Go obtained a wide popularity in 1936,” writes Pratesi, “when Felix Dueball and Mr. Hatoyama, a Japanese diplomat, subsequently Premiere minister, played a game of Go by telegraph and had this event sponsored and continuously reported in the newspapers.” The next fascinating chapter in European go history involves how go players – who were concentrated in Germany and Austria and disproportionately Jewish – dealt with the Third Reich, which heavily controlled or monitored all aspects of life, including go clubs. Key go players like Emanuel Lasker, Marseille, Kastillan and Rosenwald fled, and “both Kastillan and Rosenwald were active for some years in the American Go organization and were elected several times as top officers of the AGA.” European go history becomes exceedingly rich and varied after this period, spreading throughout the continent, and Pratesi’s Eurogo runs two more volumes, comprising a total of more than 700 pages, the last, printed in 2006, bringing things up to 1988. Eurogo is available online from Shaak-en Gowinkel het Paard

UPDATES & CORRECTIONS: NOT SO GNU: “As far as I know, GnuGo uses the older traditional go-knowledge techniques,” writes Russ Williams (Mueller On Computer Go’s “Revolutionary” Advances, 7/23 EJ). “According to my notes, Martin Mueller was playing a program called Valkyria which beat him with the newer Monte Carlo techniques.” Adds Mueller himself, quoting from the EJ article, “’All without a single line of programming.’ That sounds odd. I'm sure I did not say this. Of course there must be lots of programming.” Guo Juan 5P tells the EJ that the bottom line on her series of 9x9 games with MoGo is that “Without komi, the computer is stronger, but with komi the computer is weaker.” Our apologies for the errors and thanks for the corrections! MISSING VAN DAM CREDIT: The photo accompanying the “Korean Throwdown & Dinerchtein On Masters Final” story (7/23 EJ) was by Judith van Dam.

COVERING THE EGC: Meet The Team: This year’s European Go Congress editorial team is not only larger – and more international -- than in years past, but has undergone a significant shift in focus from paper to online reporting. Traditionally, Editor-in-Chief Peter Dijkema of Amsterdam has published as many as half a dozen hard-copy bulletins during the course of the 2-week Congress, which have included game commentaries, EGC news, photos and other useful EGC information like good local places to eat. Dijkema may be a familiar name to some of our readers: he published top-pro game commentaries in the Amsterdam-based GO MOON for six years beginning in 1988. He’s also helmed the EGC bulletins in Maastricht, Tuchola and Prague. An exciting new development in EGC coverage is the video coverage posted by Harry Weerheijm, also from Amsterdam. Weerheijm founded his site just a couple of weeks ago, storing the short videos on the popular YouTube site. Before the Congress even started, eurogotv already contained 172 short videos, mainly shot in Amsterdam during the Amsterdam International Tournament, the Computer Games Olympics and at Hamburg, an international tournament on the Panda-Net tour. The videos include interviews, game reviews by professionals, videos from games in progress and general tournament impressions. The well-shot and edited videos add a real “you are there” quality to the website coverage. Martin Chrz is a professional photographer from Czechoslovakia; earlier this year he covered the Wijk aan Zee chess tournament in the Netherlands and his stunning go photographs have a luminous quality that brings out the beauty of the game and the people who play. American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock of the United States provided first-time-ever coverage of the event for the EJ and website and coordinated the live broadcast team -- Thomas Weniger (who also does the graphic design for the EGC bulletins) of Austria, David Hilbert of Austria, Hu Bin of China – which broadcast the top three boards daily on IGS. Garlock, who covered the World Amateur Go Championships in Tokyo earlier this year, edits the American Go E-Journal and American Go Yearbook and has covered the last six US Go Congresses and other go events in the US and elsewhere, posting news and photos online and in the E-Journal. Photo by Martin Chrz: seated: Peter Dijkema (far left), EGC Press Officer Thomas Szekely, Chris Garlock & Thomas Weniger.

Published by the American Go Association
Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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