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The Power Report: Murakawa evens score in Judan; Iyama wins NHK Cup; Shibano to challenge for Honinbo title; Ichiriki follows two professions

Sab, 11/04/2020 - 19:23

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Murakawa evens score in Judan

Murakawa Daisuke Judan

The second game of the 58th Judan title match was held at the Kansai Ki-in in Osaka on March 26. Taking white, Murakawa Daisuke Judan beat Shibano Toramaru Meijin by 2.5 points after 310 moves. The titleholder seems to have taken the lead in the endgame. This was the first title-match game to be played at the Kansai Ki-in for six years; normally a public commentary would have been held but was cancelled because of the coronavirus. The third game is scheduled for April 16.

Iyama wins NHK Cup

Iyama took revenge on Ichiriki Ryo in the final of the 67th NHK Cup, which was telecast on March 22 (it was his fourth final in a row). Ichiriki had beaten Iyama in the final last year, but this time he was outfought and outmaneuvered Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 128 moves, winning the title for the third time. I think this is Iyama’s 59th title. His record against Ichiriki is now 19 wins to eight losses, though the latter still leads 4-2 in fast games.

Shibano to challenge for Honinbo title

Shibano Toramaru Meijin

The final games in the sixth round of the 75th Honinbo League was held in late March. On March 23, Shibano Toramaru Meijin (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by half a point, and, on March 26, Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yokotsuka Riki 7P by resig. This left three players in the running to win the league: Shibano and Kyo Kagen 8P, both on 5-1, and Ichiriki Ryo 8P, who was on 4-2. Since they were not playing each other, there were various possibilities: either Shibano or Kyo could win outright or there could be a two-way or three-way tie. The best Ichiriki could hope for was a tie.

Following recent practice, all the games in the final round were held on the same day, April 3. All three players in contention won, so the result was a tie between Shibano and Kyo. A play-off was held on April 6 and was won by Shibano, whose marvelous form since last year is continuing. He will now make his second challenge for a big-three title; theoretically, he could quite soon hold four top-seven titles. Ichiriki took third place in the league and Hane Naoki 9P came fourth with 4-3. Kono, Yamashita, Shida Tatsuya 8P, and Yokotsuka all lost their seats. Details of the final round are given below.

Round 7 (April 3). Ichiriki (W) beat Kono by 1.5; Shibano (W) beat Yokotsuka by 3.5; Hane (B) beat Yamashita by 6.5; Kyo (B) beat Shida by resig.

Play-off (April 6). Shibano (B) beat Kyo by resig. after 259 moves.

Ichiriki follows two professions

Ichiriki Ryo has established himself as one of the top professionals in Japan, but he has a second string to his bow. In March, he graduated from the Social Science College of Waseda University and, as of April 1, became an employee of the Kahoku Shinpo newspaper company. The newspaper is primarily focused on Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture, but is also read throughout the six northeastern prefectures. It was founded and run by Ichiriki’s great great grandfather; four generations of his family have served as presidents of the company, so, as an only child, Ichiriki seems to be expected to follow in their footsteps when his father retires. However, for the time being he has been assigned to the Tokyo office of the newspaper so that he can continue to focus on his go career, though he will also work as a reporter. There’s an anecdote reported on the Net that his father permitted him to become an insei only after confirming there was no prohibition on following two professions. (There are pros who have also worked as lawyers or accountants and at one time the great Fujisawa Shuko [Hideyuki] ran a real-estate office.)

Tomorrow: Iyama leads Meijin League; Sumire’s progress; Nyu tops wins list

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Your choice: Redmond commentary vote

Ven, 10/04/2020 - 03:30

Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock continue their Sunday night live game commentary series this Sunday, April 12 at 7P EDT on the AGA’s Twitch channel. And you get to choose the game!
Viewers have asked for a classic game, so the choice is between Shuwa vs Inseki and Shusaku vs. Sanchi. Click here to vote.

One option: Shuwa vs Inseki: Honinbo Shuwa played a challenge match against Inoue Inseki, also known as Genan Inseki, when Inseki wanted to become Meijin. Inseki was thought to have chances against Honinbo Jowa (previous meijin, against whom he would probably be playing with Black without komi, while he had little success against Shuwa. The one dan difference in ranks meant sen-ai-sen, or Shuwa taking White once in 3 games, but Inseki found ways to avoid that, in the hope of winning with White and making a strong claim to be Meijin.

Another option: Shusaku vs. Sanchi: Honinbo Shusaku’s first castle game. His opponent is the 9th Yasui Sanchi (Shuntetsu) a strong fighter. They have opposite game plans, in that Shusaku has Black and tries to play solidly, while Yasui starts by avoiding the Shusaku opening and plays aggressively.

You win, either way! Click here to vote, and tune in at 7P EDT this Sunday, April 12 at 7P EDT on the AGA’s Twitch channel.

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Solve Weekly Go Problems for Prizes

Mer, 08/04/2020 - 22:53

“All are welcome to participate in the AGHS’s weekly go problems program,” says Promotion Head Sophia Wang, “In addition to playing games, practicing go problems is critical to improving reading and practicing new skills. A Google form with a go problem will be sent via email every Sunday with different problems for each level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced).” Sign up for the email list here by April 18, 2020 11:59 pm PT to have a chance at earning points towards prizes.

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Shawn Ray’s new Go club simulator allows clubs to make their own rules

Mer, 08/04/2020 - 08:01

The coronavirus lockdown has inspired creativity in developers, and Shawn Ray has released a Go club simulator that is designed to give online players more of an in-person Go club feel. After being inspired by Haskell Small’s pioneering use of Zoom for Go club meetings as published in our story on Sunday, Ray was inspired to create an online space for players to interact without building in the usual rules by which Go servers are bound.

A note to Go clubs trying to use this as a way to have a club meeting: please watch Ray’s YouTube video describing this venture and explaining the technical details that you may need in order to make this work. The games in play are not governed by any rule-sets and allow players to interact with each other as the might do in person. Ray recommends that his service be used in conjunction with a voice or video chat service such as Skype or Zoom so that players can speak with each other and work out any issues while using the platform.

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2020 Maryland Open canceled

Mer, 08/04/2020 - 00:21

“With a heavy heart, the Maryland Open, the AGA’s longest-running tournament, will be taking a year off” announced Baltimore Go Club head Keith Arnold.  “I will miss all of you and plan to be back, better than ever, next year.”

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Member’s Edition: Guo Juan 5P on a 2 Dan Game

Mar, 07/04/2020 - 07:00

Download SGF File

Commentary: Guo Juan 5P
Game Editor: Myron Souris
Published in the April 7, 2020 edition of the American Go E-Journal

Although Guo Juan 5P covers everything from the opening to the game-ending kill, most players will probably find most useful her discussion of handling a moyo and attacking the inevitable invading stones.

Guo Juan 5P is a popular go teacher based in Amsterdam. Check out her online go school, featuring recorded lectures and problems presented in a Spaced Repetition System. Here you will learn and remember correct play. And there’s a one month free trial!

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Member’s Edition: Yilun Yang’s April Easy Life and Death Puzzle

Mar, 07/04/2020 - 07:00

Download SGF File

Black to play. What is the correct move to attack?
Published in the April 7, 2020 edition of the American Go E-Journal.

Yilun Yang 7P is one of the most popular go teachers in the US. You can reach him at yly_go@yahoo.com.

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Maryland Open to return in 2021

Mar, 07/04/2020 - 04:57

Baltimore Go Club head Keith Arnold has announced that the Maryland Open will be postponed in light of the coronavirus outbreak. “With a heavy heart, the Maryland Open, the AGA’s longest running tournament, will be taking a year off,” says Arnold.  “I will miss all of you and plan to be back, better than ever, next year.”

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Redmond on AG-AG Game 40 Sunday night on Twitch

Dom, 05/04/2020 - 05:51

Tune in to the AGA’s Twitch channel Sunday night at 7p EDT to catch Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock with their latest live game commentary on the AlphaGo vs AlphaGo series. “With so many of us sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re happy to be able to connect with go players around the world,” said Garlock. Tune in at 7p on Sunday, April 5; viewers will be able to ask Redmond and Garlock questions during the live commentary.
PLUS: Check out Redmond’s brand-new YouTube lesson on The Direct 3-3 Invasion Keep it Simple!

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China-US Internet Go Tournament seeks players

Sab, 04/04/2020 - 06:04

The AGA is seeking strong players to participate in an online team tournament against players from the Chinese Weiqi Association. The team will consist of six players, of which at least one will be female and at least one will be under 18 years old. The dates are April 15th and 16th at 9:30 EDT / 6:30 PDT each day. Games will be played on the Tencent – Fox Go Server (English Version).  A setup tutorial video is available on Youtube. Players should contact tournaments@usgo.org to express interest by Friday, April 10.

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Go Spotting: New York Times obituary for Nobel prize winner Phillip Anderson

Gio, 02/04/2020 - 06:30

The obituary for Philip Anderson, a Nobel prize winning physicist, appeared in the New York Times March after his death on Sunday at the age of 96, report E-Journal readers Dan Kastenholz and Larry Russ. Anderson was a professor at Princeton University and consultant at Bell Labs in New Jersey, which had an active Go scene in the 60s and 70s. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1977, and his obituary – authored by Scott Veale – ends with a mention of his being a “first degree master of the Japanese board game Go.” An anecdote describes a conversation Anderson had with economist W. Brian Arthur in the 1990s: “‘Well, I play a bit of Go,’ he said,” Professor Arthur recalled. “I pressed him. ‘Are you any good at it, Phil?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘How good?’ ‘Well, there are four people in Japan who can beat me.’ Then a long silence. ‘But they meditate,’ he added.”

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Go Spotting: Devs

Mar, 31/03/2020 - 07:18

Carol Geary reports that in the latest episode – Episode 5 – of Devs, a drama miniseries available on Hulu, one of the main characters flashes back to her childhood playing Go with her father. The series stars Sonoya Mizuno as Lily, the character in the flashback, and Nick Offerman as her employer at a tech company called Amaya with a mysterious quantum computing division called Devs.

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Member’s Edition: Albert Yen 7d on The Tenuki Strategy

Mar, 31/03/2020 - 07:00

Download SGF File

Commentary: Albert Yen 7d
Game Editor: Myron Souris
Published in the March 31, 2020 edition of the American Go E-Journal

In this commentary, Albert describes numerous concrete examples of how stronger players choose where to play in tactical situations. More importantly, these methods are practical for weaker players to use for immediate benefit.

Albert gives this overiew, “I believe that most high dan players don’t really think faster than weaker players. Instead, we just have more efficient search algorithms. From personal experience, we only seriously consider 3-5 choices before ultimately deciding where to play, so having a better selection of 3-5 moves is key to improving our play.”

Albert goes on to say, “I am sharing a general strategy to find vital points in tsumego and semeai problems. I tried to explain that strategy in my local go club and most people seemed confused, so I am going to flush out the full approach here. I suspect that most strong players already do something similar, but not everyone is aware of it. Obviously, this method doesn’t work every time, but is applicable to many situations. If you cannot see the answer to a problem within 10 seconds, I recommend that you try the tenuki strategy to eliminate possibilities, which is what I do personally.”

Albert Yen is an 8 dan player from Chicago. He first started playing go at the age of five after watching Hikaru no Go on television, and became 6 dan in Taiwan when he was 7. Albert continued to compete in America after he moved to Chicago in fifth grade and studied under Jiang Mingjiu 7p. To date, he has made several showings in national and international tournaments, including winning representation to the World Youth Goe Championship in 2014, 1st place in the Redmond Cup in 2015, and 4th place at the 2019 World Amateur Go Championship. Albert is currently a second year undergraduate student in UIC’s GPPA BA/MD program in Chicago. Outside of go, Albert enjoys running and ping pong.

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Players use Zoom to give online Go an in-person feel

Dom, 29/03/2020 - 06:31

For many players, online play can lack a sense of ownership and connection, but a group of east coast players led by Haskell Small (right) is testing the limits of Zoom’s ability to bring groups together by making online play feel as ‘in-person’ as possible. By creatively positioning computer cameras, players were able to play on real boards with real stones in the first of a recurring Friday night ‘REAL Go’ club.

The camera feed was not a perfect solution for board sharing; “The board is distorted near the ends and we couldn’t see each others’ faces without leaning over, “admits Small, “but except for a few moves near the edges that needed to be clarified, this arrangement sufficed for being able to play the game without needing to relay moves aurally.” 

“We limited it this time to only 4 players at a time,” says Small. “More than this might be difficult to manage, but I think doable by selecting individual participants’ video and muting others.” Here are a few tips from Haskell Small to simplify this approach:

  • Look only at your opponent’s screen and your own physical board without looking at your own camera screen; the orientation will be the same and it will be easier to keep the game flowing.
  • Use Zoom’s ‘gallery view’ to see all the boards through each camera view, and make any one of them larger.
  • A problem came up a few times when one of us neglected to keep up with our opponent’s moves on our physical board – this was easily cleared up once discovered. 

Small encourages other clubs who enjoy the tactile experience of playing with real equipment to attempt this approach and share feedback. “Of course this is still not as good as playing in person,” admits Small, “but for those of us who find playing online impersonal and prefer playing on a physical board, this was great! The games flowed easily and conversation was fluent, and perhaps that is the main advantage of this paradigm – we didn’t have to sacrifice the party atmosphere of a club environment.  I had a blast (and won both of my games)!”

-photo by Betsy Small

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Redmond on AlphaGo Game 39 Sunday night on Twitch

Sab, 28/03/2020 - 22:44

Tune in to the AGA’s Twitch channel Sunday night at 7p EDT to catch Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock with their latest live game commentary on the AlphaGo vs AlphaGo series. “Michael Redmond always makes sense no matter how hard he tries to deal with the impossible and I love him for that,” says Thumper. Tune in at 7p EDT on Sunday, March 29; viewers will be able to ask Redmond and Garlock questions during the live commentary.

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How we’re coping: the Walla Walla Go Club makes connections

Sab, 28/03/2020 - 07:32

“We have used this pandemic as an opportunity to make connections between our Go club and other regional clubs,” reports Stephan Tanner of the Walla Walla Go Club. “Last week, in place of our usual in-person gatherings, the Walla Walla Go Club of Walla Walla, Washington and the Grande Ronde Go Club of La Grande, Oregon met online for a ‘Social Isolation Swiss’ tournament on OGS. Next week we plan to do the same and invite the Idaho Go Club of Boise, Idaho to join us as well.”

“I’d encourage other clubs to see this as an opportunity!” Tanner continues. “Contact another club in your area or in the next state over and arrange to meet online. Use this as a way to strengthen the connections in regional Go communities.”

How are you coping with the COVID-19 pandemic? Playing more online go? Studying more? Producing online go content? We’d especially like to hear if you’re streaming on Twitch or posting videos to YouTube. Email us today at journal@usgo.org. We’ll share the best tips and ideas with your fellow go players!

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WAGC postponed until 2021

Sab, 28/03/2020 - 07:27

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Go Federation has postponed the 41st annual World Amateur Go Championship – originally scheduled to be held in June in Vladisvostok, Russia – until the summer of 2021. “We kindly ask you to understand this critical decision and hope to meet with players from all over the world in Vladivostok in 2021,” said Russian Go Federation Vice President Natalia Kovaleva in an announcement. The pandemic, still growing rapidly around the world with near 600,000 confirmed cases and 27,000 deaths, has brought a near complete halt to most face-to-face activity in the world of mind games. Tournaments scheduled for spring and early summer in Chess, Bridge, Draughts, and Go have been postponed or cancelled outright in many countries. The AGA has urged its chapters not to hold meetings or tournaments for the time being, and while the US Go Congress is still being prepared for August in Estes Park, CO, AGA and Congress staff are monitoring the situation and will issue an update in April. Organizers of the European Go Congress 2020, set for Kamyanets-Podilski, in the Ukraine, have put their preparations on hold. “A decision will be made by mid-May whether EGC will be postponed or held as planned,” according to the EGC website.

-report by AGA President Andrew Okun

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Corona Cup 2020 brings over 350 players across Europe together on KGS

Ven, 27/03/2020 - 06:52

“On Thursday 12th March I was working in the garden for many hours and I knew my country was going to be in a quarantine soon,” says tournament founder and organizer Lukas Podpera, setting the scene for the tournament’s inception. “Many live tournaments had already been cancelled, therefore I started to think about ideas, what could I do for the Go community. And one of the ideas was to run an online tournament, originally planned only for Czechia, maybe Central Europe.” Originally hoping to gather about 100 participants, news of the tournament spread through international Facebook groups, prompting Podpera to send invitations to all EGF associations. “Corona Cup is an online tournament in the times of coronavirus crisis, when tournaments are cancelled around Europe and most of the Go clubs are not meeting. I’m trying to make it look as much as a live tournament as possible.”

Podpera and his team are using Google Docs to post pairings and disseminate information. The tournament will be a total of six rounds over the next three months, with paired players given a week to meet on their own time to play in the Corona Cup 2020 room on KGS and report results. The tournament is sponsored by Jena International Go School and supported by the Czech association who will also publish registration and results. Over 350 players have registered so far, including three professionals. “You can see that many European top players are participating,” says Podpera, “but I hope I can get a good result myself even in this kind of competition!”

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How AI study helped improve my go

Gio, 26/03/2020 - 02:05

by Benjamin Teuber 6d (Germany)

For many years, I was considered the “eternal second” of the German championship. I finished as runner-up nine times – while never winning the title. No matter how well I did, I always managed to lose the decisive game.

Until November of last year, when, to my own and everyone else’s big surprise, I finally became German Champion with a perfect 7-0 record. After the tournament, I got a lot of comments like “you clearly improved” or “you must have studied a lot” from people. But, to be honest, I didn’t prepare much for this tournament. I did no go problems at all, I didn’t play many tournaments, I didn’t take any pro lessons. Please don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend these measures and have used them a lot in the past; that’s how I became 6 Dan, after all. They just can’t be responsible for my recent improvement.

What I have been doing though, was creating my own go study website, ai-sensei.com. It allows you to upload your games and quickly get them analyzed by very strong AI. I believe the key feature of this tool is the focus on big mistakes; that way you can work on your biggest weaknesses instead of getting lost in minor details. So while I didn’t spend as much time studying as I had previously, I did use AI Sensei to review every one of my games and find my biggest mistakes. I would also check an old game every now and then to review my past mistakes. Looking back, I believe this was a very efficient way to spend the limited time I had to study, and it might well be the biggest factor of my recent improvements.

So here’s my advice to anyone using go AI to study:
Focus on your biggest mistakes in each game
Don’t waste time exploring all the variations
Think about the AI recommendations in terms of shape, direction, and strength of groups
Revisit your past mistakes

I invite you to try out AI Sensei yourself; it can be used for free. But whatever tool or AI you are using, I think you’ll find these recommendations useful.

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NY Institute of Go launches new “Epic Battle” series on YouTube

Gio, 26/03/2020 - 02:00

NYIG_Go, the YouTube channel of the New York Institute of Go and the New York Go Association, launched a brand-new series, ‘Epic Battle,’ earlier this week on March 22. This series, produced, directed, and edited by Allen Moy, features professional 1-dan players Stephanie Yin and Ryan Li facing off one another while proving viewers with both players’ perspectives and commentaries; similar to the successful New Year’s special video. Following each game, Stephanie and Ryan will give their reviews of the entire match and their strategies, as well as adding some entertainment and chemistry to the video. Videos are expected to be posted on Mondays and Fridays.

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