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Redmond and Garlock release “AlphaGo to Zero”

Dom, 08/03/2020 - 10:30

Four years ago today, the whole world watched as a computer program took on one of the top go players in the world. And won. From the historic AlphaGo-Lee Sedol showdown in Seoul in March 2016 to the release of AlphaGo Zero in November 2017, Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock have had a front-row seat, commenting, analyzing and reporting as the AlphaGo AI upended thousands of years of human history. Today, on the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match, they’ve released Volume 1 of AlphaGo to Zero, the first of a 4-volume EPUB series that will thoroughly cover the AlphaGo phenomenon.

Redmond (right) and Garlock commenting AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol 9P Game 1, March 8, 2016

Redmond and Garlock will discuss the book and review games from the AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol 9P match on Twitch at 7p EDT on Thursday, March 12. They’ll also discuss their experience doing the commentary on the historic match and take viewer questions.

Since the 2016 AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match, Redmond and Garlock have released a popular series of AlphaGo videos and game commentaries on the American Go Association’s YouTube channel. In AlphaGo to Zero, Redmond and Garlock use the power of the EPUB platform to take an in-depth look at the March 2016 showdown between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol 9P. The EPUB not only includes new insights into the match and each game, it enables readers to easily review video game summaries Redmond and Garlock recorded after each game, including some never before released to the general public. The game commentaries include clickable diagrams and Redmond’s original commentaries alongside brand-new comments. It’s also illustrated with color photos of all the action, including some never previously published.
In addition to EPUB, the book is also available in the Go Books app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

As the AlphaGo Team says in their introduction, “Chris and Michael experienced first-hand the anticipation and excitement felt by the entire AlphaGo team, and understand better than anyone the significance of these games in showcasing what can be achieved when human and machine come together to solve complex problems.”

“This book is our attempt to capture that story,” say Redmond and Garlock, “to tell you what we saw at the time, what we see now, and to try to place this moment in the history of the game, to get a sense of where we may be headed. When AlphaGo defeated Lee Sedol, some said it was the end of go. As we have seen since then, it is rather more likely that in many ways the game has just begun.”

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Su and Kim top 7th North American Kyu Championships

Gio, 05/03/2020 - 23:15

Jiayang Su 1k and Andrew Kim 2k topped the 85-player field at the 7th North American Kyu Championships on February 1st held on the KGS Go Server. Su (Junior champion) and Kim (Senior champion) will both have the opportunity to test their strength against stronger opposition in the Redmond Cup starting later this month. Nearly 80% of the field was made up of Junior Division players (12 and under) and international representation was strong with 18 players from Mexico and 5 players from Canada. Final tournament results including all division winners and the crosstab can be found here. Each winner received a crystal trophy engraved with his or her name, and all participants who participated in each round are eligible for a $200 scholarship to the 2020 US Go Congress in Estes Park, Colorado.

Special thanks to Jeremy Chiu and Andrew Zhang for helping to direct the tournament, as well as Zhongfan Jian and Stephanie Yin from the New York Institute of Go and Sid Avila from the Mexican Go Association for helping the tournament run in a timely fashion.
Justin Teng, AGA Youth Coordinator

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November AGA Board Meeting minutes posted

Gio, 05/03/2020 - 06:14

The AGA board minutes from their November meeting were approved at the meeting on February 23rd, and are now available online here. A summary of the meeting was first published here on January 19th. Do you have questions or comments about what you see in the minutes? Feel free to submit them here.

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2019 Annual Summary of Go in New York

Gio, 05/03/2020 - 06:00

by Stephanie Yin and Felipo Jian

The New York Institute of Go (NYIG) and the New York Go Association (NYGA) are happy to bring you our annual summary of achievements.  We concluded the year 2019 with lots of prides and great memories, through which all Go players in our community were bounded closely.

Tournament Achievements (Adult) Our two prominent professional players, Ryan Li 1P and Stephanie Yin 1P, continued to be among the top Go players on the North American Continent. Ryan Li competed in the 3rd International Elite Mind Games, and Stephanie Yin 1P participated in the 10th Qionglong Bingsheng Cup and 3rd Go Seigen Cup World Women’s Championship. The AGA City League New York team, consisting of Ryan Li, Hancheng Zhang and Stephanie Yin, won the 2019 Pandanet-AGA City League again.

Tournament Achievements (Youth) The youth training section has always been our focus. Through various Go classes and after-school programs offered by New York Institute of Go (NYIG), our students improved significantly and won numerous achievements nationwide.

The 6th North America Kyu Championship (NYKC), February 2019
Division B: 1st Place Toranosuke Ozawa 3k
Division E: 1st Place Alan Yang 17k
Division F: 1st Place Jeremy Wong 21k; 2nd Place Jason Yang 21k

2019 North American School Team Tournament, April 2019
Top Division: 
– 2nd Place New York Institute of Go Team 2: Chase Lin 1k, Cathy Liao 3k, Alex Huang 4k
– 3rd Place New York Institute of Go Team 1: Patrick Zhao 3d, Sophie Lin 2d, Marcos Yang 1d
Division 2: 
– 1st Place New York Institute of Go Team 6: Jack Zhang 9k, Brandon Zhu 12k, Alan Yang 13k
– 2nd Place New York Institute of Go Team 4: Jason Long 10k, Jonathan Chen 11k, Lillian Wu 12k

The 1st U20 Eastern Youth Open, August 2019
Division B: 1st Place Sophie Lin 2d
Division C: 1st Place Chase Lin 1k, 2nd Place Samantha Soo 4k, 3rd Place Jerry Ju 3k
Division D: 1st Place Xinyu Chen 6k; 2nd Place Jonathan Chen 9k; 3rd Place Crystal Pang 8k 

2019 North American Young Lions Tournament, December 2019
Division A: 1st Place Toranosuke Ozawa 2d; 2nd Place Sophie Lin 2d; 3rd Place Chase Lin 1d
Division B: 3rd Place Samantha Soo 1k
Division D: 2nd Place Joshua Wong 10k
Division F: 1st Place Noah Carrafa 21k, 2nd Place Enzo Aozono-Araldi 23k, 3rd Place Roger Eckner 25k

Go Promotion By holding various go tournaments and events in 2019, the NYGA promote the interests, activity and outreach of go players within the New York City and Tri-state community. 

New York Go Honor Society The New York Go Honor Society is a non-profit chapter supported by the New York Go Association (NYGA). The NYGHS executive team includes multiple honorary members from Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Princeton. The board members, such as the chairman and board of directors, will be selected in a self-recommended fashion, by NYGA officers and honorary presidents. 

The mission of the NYGHS is to learn the philosophical ideas that have been embedded in Go for thousands of years. It is a platform that provides young Go players an environment to enrich their Go experience, improve their organizational skills, and broaden their horizons. Specifically, through the NYGHS, our Go players will work together to hone their leadership, logical reasoning, and problem-solving abilities. They will also communicate and cooperate with students from top American colleges to expand social skills and enrich personal accomplishment.

Tournament Organization
– 4th, 5th and 6th US Go Ranking Competition, New York Division
– The 1st U20 Eastern Youth Open, August 2019
– NYGA Monthly Tournaments

Classes We offered a series of go classes to both youth and adult players from beginner to dan-level.  

After-school Programs
– St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s School
– PS 77 Lower Lab School

Social Media Our official Youtube Channel “nyig_go” reached 7000 subscribers in November.

We appreciate everyone who has participated in our Go activities in 2019. We shall continue to bring you more exciting events in the upcoming year 2020. More information can be found here: www.ny-go.org

photos provided by Stephanie Yin

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Member’s Edition: Albert Yen 7d on a City League Game

Mar, 03/03/2020 - 08:00

download SGF file

White: Albert Yen 7d
Black: Leo Li 5d
Commentary: Albert Yen 7d
Game Editor: Myron Souris
Published in the March 3, 2020 edition of the American Go E-Journal

In this game from round 4 of City League between Chicago and Canwa Vancouver 3, Albert describes lots of variations with relatively straightforward results that readers should be able to easily relate to situations from their own games.

Albert introduces this game, “I came out of a slump from round 3, where I made a huge blunder in the first joseki and lost the game immediately. If not for my near instant defeat, I would’ve commented on that game. Anyway, this game was interesting to me, because it exemplifies the importance of shape. There are no complicated fights or difficult semeais. Rather, this game was decided by a few shape mistakes.”

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

Mar, 03/03/2020 - 08:00

download SGF file

Black to play. Using the inside stones is key.
Published in the March 3, 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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Upcoming Go Events: Little Neck and Seattle

Lun, 02/03/2020 - 21:47

March 7: Little Neck, NY
NYGA Monthly Tournament March
Zhongfan Jian tournaments@ny-go.org 617-921-4105
Stephanie Yin info@ny-go.org

March 9: Seattle, WA
Mr. Daiki Komatsu 3P at Seattle Go Center
Mike Malveaux programs@seattlego.org 206-545-1424 or 253-906-0095

Get the latest go events information.

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AGA players invited to the Canadian Go Association summer camp

Dom, 01/03/2020 - 23:46

The Canadian Go Association summer camp is ready to welcome you! Running August 23-28 at Jouvence resort inside Mount Orford National park (near Montreal Quebec), it will combine a sojourn in nature with top-notch Go instruction, luxury meals, and great company. Since the resort is a non-profit, all of this is at a great price! See our web site for full details, and please reach out if you have any questions.

report by Canadian Go Association President James Sedgwick

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New 3D tsumego app BadukPop launches

Dom, 01/03/2020 - 22:36

BadukPop is a new mobile app that provides Go problems with fun visuals and game mechanics featuring a 3D-animated Go board, a curated library of Go problems for all levels, and a global leaderboard. Players start at Level 1, low double-digit kyu, and can progress up to Level 6, the high-dan to professional category.

Hajin Lee, a former professional Go player and creator of “Haylee’s World of Go” on YouTube, participated in the design and development of BadukPop. “Many Go players are too busy to play a full game every day. Playing BadukPop can be helpful practice – it’s quick, fun, and trains your intuition, pattern recognition, and reading skills,” Lee says.

The app is currently available in English, Korean, and Chinese, and is compatible with all recent Android and iOS phones and tablets. It can be downloaded for free on both Google Play (Android) and the App Store (iOS). Visit https://badukpop.com for details.

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Redmond’s Reviews, Episode 20: Michael Redmond 9P vs Shiraishi Yuichi 7P

Sab, 29/02/2020 - 02:15

Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock present their latest Redmond’s Review, Episode 20, posted on the AGA’s YouTube Channel.

In this game — from the B section of the Judan tournament — Redmond takes on Shiraishi Yuichi 7P, a player in his 30’s who’s very active on social media and also puts out video commentaries, like Redmond. He’s also one of the players who’s been adopting the computer style of play. “This is the game I said would involve a lot of dead groups,” Redmond says, and in it he makes a series of increasingly bigger sacrifices. “Some of them you might say were captured by my opponent, so perhaps not really valid sacrifices,” he admits. “Some of them worked, and some of them were not working.”

The commentary was originally streamed live on Twitch, which gave viewers a chance to interact with Redmond and Garlock; follow the channel to get notified of live streams.

Video produced by Stephen Hu, Allen Moy, Chris Garlock and Andrew Jackson.

download SGF file

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Learn to Play Go series now available as ePub

Lun, 24/02/2020 - 16:00

The five volumes of Janice Kim’s popular Learn to Play Go series are now available as ePubs from SmartGo Books, which opens them up to readers on Android and Windows. “Janice Kim’s award-winning series takes the complete beginner step-by-step all the way to playing real go,” says SmartGo’s Anders Kierulf.

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Minghan Jiang wins WMGC winter tournament with a perfect record

Dom, 23/02/2020 - 21:20
Weiqiu (Rachel) You 2k, 3-1; Neil Ni 2d, 3-1; Minghan Jiang 1d, 4-0; Joel Kenny 4d, 3-1; Stephen J. Choung 2k, 3-1

The Western Massachusetts Go Club had a respectable turnout of 18 players for the winter tournament, held on February 22 and hosted by Springfield College. There were 3 double-digit kyu players, with the remaining players from 3k to 5d. Players traveled from throughout New England – 200+ mi from Vermont, by Uber and bus from Boston, and from New York City.

Minghan Jiang 1d was the only undefeated player with a 4-0 record. Four other players had 3-1 results (right), and David Richardson 14k won the DDK division. Click here for full results, and here for more photos of the event.

report and photo provided by Trevor Morris.

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4th Latin American Go Congress set for Buenos Aires in October

Dom, 23/02/2020 - 16:00

The fourth Latin American Go Congress will be held October 3-12 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. European pro Mateusz Surma 2P has been confirmed for both a weekend workshop October 3-4 and the boot camp October 5-9. “Mateusz will also be present during the tournament days offering game reviews, etc,” reports Congress Coordinator Haroldo Brown. “We welcome players from all over the world to the biggest go party in Latin America!” Brown adds.

The bird in the Congress logo is the “hornero,” or ovenbird, native to South America. The “hornero” is known for building mud nests that resemble old wood-fired ovens. The other protagonist of the logo is the “tatú carreta,” the largest living species of armadillo, found in most Latin American countries and considered vulnerable to extinction.

For more info on the Congress, email latino2020@go.org.ar

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50 years aGO – February 1970

Sab, 22/02/2020 - 23:44

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Humbled by drafting this column in the midst of John Power’s latest excellent reports from Japan, we bring you a slightly less up-to-date view of the Honinbo and Meijin leagues. Fifty years ago, Fujisawa Shuko 9 dan and Kajiwara Takeo 9 dan led the Meijin league and Sakata Eio 9 dan led the Honinbo League. 

In this photo (right) of the competition in the Honinbo league from February 4, we see Kato Masao 6 dan in the foreground against Kano Yoshinori 9 dan.  Kato, of course, is well-known in the West, and Kano has a place as well, as author of the 4-volume graded go problems for beginners.  Behind in the center we see the first tournament 9 dan, Fujisawa Hosai, taking on Hisai Keishi 6 dan.  Finally, in the game on the right, Takagawa Kaku 9 dan takes on Fujisawa Shuko 9 dan.  Takagawa had already held the title for nine straight years and published two English texts – How to Play Go, and Vital Points of Go.  Game records can be found here: Katō v Kano; Takagawa v Shuzo; Hōsai v Hisai.

We can’t leave my favorite player Shuko without comment.  In the photo at left, we see him winning by half a point in the first game of the first All Japan First Place Tournament, which would later become the Gosei.  Shuko had a penchant for making the finals of tournaments in their first year, and usually won them. His opponent is Otake Hideo, who, as the current Judan, we will call 10 dan. The game record is here.

photos courtesy Igo Club

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The Power Report: Amateur makes Kisei C League; Cheating discovered in Korean qualifying tournament; Virus upsetting tournament schedule; Promotions; Yoda suspended for six months

Sab, 22/02/2020 - 19:00

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Amateur makes Kisei C League

For a number of years now, the top four place-getters in the Net Kisei tournament for amateur players have earned places in the professional Kisei qualifying tournament, called the First Tournament. So far the best performance by an amateur had been three wins, but this year Kurita Yoshiki won five games in a row and secured a place in the C League. In the final, held on February 13, he beat Sotoyanagi Sebun 3P playing with black. The C League is an irregular Swiss System: there are five rounds, but players drop out with their third loss.

Cheating discovered in Korean qualifying tournament

On January 14, one of the competitors in the Korean professional qualifying tournament was discovered to be cheating. The player (gender unknown) had concealed a small camera inside his or her clothing and had a wireless earphone hidden in a bandage. An accomplice outside the venue was relaying the moves suggested by an AI program. The player was immediately disqualified; after an emergency meeting of the officials on January 17, it was decided to proceed with a criminal prosecution.

Virus upsetting tournament schedule

The corona virus still shows no signs of letting up in China and is daily getting worse in Japan, so it is beginning to take a toll in deferments of international tournaments. As noted above, the second game of the Wild Fox final was put off, even though it’s a Net tournament. The 13th Chunlan Cup, scheduled to start on February 24 in Taizhou City in China, has likewise been postponed indefinitely. We can expect other casualties. There is no word yet on the Nihon Ki-in’s World Go Championship, scheduled for March 17~19 in Tokyo.

Promotions

To 7-dan: Iwamaru Taira (120 wins, as of Jan. 24)
To 2-dan: Aoki Hirotaka (30 wins, as of Feb. 7)

Yoda suspended for six months

The mills of the Nihon Ki-in grind slowly; whether or not they grind fine is another matter, but they have caught up with Yoda Norimoto. In the E-Journal issue of August 23 last year, I reported that the sponsors of the Masters Cup had cancelled it because of distaste for criticism Yoda was making of the Ki-in administration in tweets and via the Ki-in’s mailing list. When the medium was criticized as inappropriate, Yoda withdrew his tweets, but did not apologize to the persons who felt they had been libeled. Kobayashi Satoru 9P, chairman of the board of directors, said at the time that in due course Yoda would be punished for disturbing and defaming the Nihon Ki-in and causing it to lose a sponsor. On February 12, the Ki-in announced that a board of directors meeting had decided that he would be suspended from tournament participation for six months (from this day to August 11). The decision was announced at a press conference attended by Kobayashi and Obuchi Morito 9P, a director. They said the decision had been transmitted to Yoda through his lawyer. The next day, Yoda turned up to play a previously scheduled game, but was denied access to the playing room. It’s hard to get a full picture, but Yoda’s criticism was said to be related to the dismissal in May 2018 of his wife Hara Sachiko 4P as a director for—what else?–slandering other candidates in an election, though the timeline doesn’t seem to match.

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The Power Report: Nakamura Sumire receives Kansai prize, scores 20th win; Shin Jinseo wins LG Cup; Fourth-generation professional

Ven, 21/02/2020 - 19:00

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Nakamura Sumire receives Kansai prize, scores 20th win

On January 27, Sumire was awarded the 2019 New Power Prize by the Association for Promoting the Kansai Cultural Sphere. The committee gives a number of prizes to Kansai figures who have had a national impact. Iyama received prizes in 2011 and 2018. Sumire was busy playing on the 27th, so Goto Shungo 9P, a Nihon Ki-in director, attended in her place. Sumire did send a video message.

Sumire has made a slow start this year, starting out with one win to four losses, but she has now improved her score to 4-4. Her cumulative record is a commendable 21-11; at this rate, she could earn promotion this year. Below are her 2020 results. (Unless otherwise indicated, games were played at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in.)

(Jan. 13) Miyamoto Chiharu 1P (B) beat Sumire by 2.5 points (Hakata Kamachi Cup preliminary). (Miyamoto also beat her in the Young Carp tournament last September.)
(Jan. 23) Iwamaru Taira 6P (B) beat Sumire by 10.5 points (semifinal of 46th Kisei First Tournament. (This win earned Iwamaru promotion to 7-dan—see below.)
(Jan. 27) Sumire (W) beat (Ms.) Osuga Seira 1P by resig.; Yahata Naoki 2P (B) beat Sumire by resig. (both games in the 7th Globis Cup preliminary round).
(Jan. 30) O Keii 3P (B) beat Sumire by resig. (Women’s Hollyhock Cup preliminary, played at the Nagoya headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in).
(Feb. 3) Sumire (W) beat Yanagawa Hiromasa 7P by 7.5 points (Preliminary C, 46th Gosei tournament).
(Feb. 10) Sumire (W) beat Yoshida Naoyoshi 4P (Preliminary C, 46th Meijin tournament).
(Feb. 13) Sumire (W) beat Ono Ayako 1P by resig. (5th Senko Cup preliminary, played at the Kansai Ki-in).

Shin Jinseo wins LG Cup

Shin Jinseo 9P (aged 19) has been the world’s top-rated player for a while without winning a major international tournament, but he redressed that in the 24th LG Cup. After beating Ke Jie 9P of China in the semifinal, he beat Park Junghwan 2-0 in an all-Korean final. In Game 1 (Feb. 10), he won by resig. with white; in Game 2 (Feb. 12), he won by resig. with black. First prize is 300,000,000 won (about $253,000). The venue was probably in Korea, but I checked three Net sites without being able to confirm this.

Fourth-generation professional

The 2020 Women’s Special Qualification Exam (actually a tournament) concluded on February 8. It was won by the 13-year-old Cho Kosumi, who scored seven wins to one loss. The results have to be ratified by a screening committee and then by a Nihon Ki-in directors meeting, but these are formalities, so Cho should start her professional career on April 1. As a professional, she could hardly be more of a blue blood: her father is Cho U 9P, former Kisei; her mother is Kobayashi Izumi 6P, daughter of Kobayashi Koichi 9P, also a former Kisei, and Kobayashi Reiko 6P, the former Kitani Reiko; her great-grandfather is Kitani Minoru 9P, a legendary player of the mid-20th century. Kosumi is the first fourth-generation professional at the Nihon Ki-in and the second in Japan. The Sekiyama family at the Kansai Ki-in was the first to have four generations of professionals. Incidentally, all the members of Kosumi’s family mentioned above have won titles: the family haul is 125 titles.

Tomorrow: Amateur makes Kisei C League; Cheating discovered in Korean qualifying tournament; Virus upsetting tournament schedule; Promotions; Yoda suspended for six months

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The Power Report: Suzuki wins Women’s Kisei title; Shibano to challenge for Judan; 75th Honinbo League; 45th Meijin League

Gio, 20/02/2020 - 19:00

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Suzuki wins Women’s Kisei title

In the last year or so, women’s go has been dominated by two players, Fujisawa Rina (Women’s Hollyhock Cup, Women’s Meijin, Senko Cup) and Ueno Asami (Women’s Honinbo, Women’s Kisei). This year things may be different. In the 23rd DoCoMo Cup Women’s Kisei title match, Suzuki Ayumi 7P, who at 36 qualifies as a veteran, challenged the 18-year-old Ueno Asami. Suzuki won the match 2-1 and took her first title for 16 years (she won the Strongest Woman Player tournament in 2003 and 2004). The first game was played at the Hotel Sun Life Garden in Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, on January 16. Ueno is known for her fighting strength, but in this game Suzuki (W) outplayed her. She won by 3.5 points after 241 moves.

In the second game, played in the Ryusei Studio at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on Jan. 27,Ueno took revenge. Playing white, she fought fiercely and secured a resignation after 144 moves.

The deciding game was played at the same venue on February 10. Ueno (W) seemed to be doing well in the first part of the game, but little by little Suzuki overhauled her and secured the lead. She won by 3.5 points after 285 moves. Winning her third title after a gap of sixteen years is quite an achievement. Like many of the women professionals, Suzuki has been busy with child-rearing in recent years; she has two daughters, Yuzuki (five) and Yuri (two). Yuzuki was happy for her win; Yuri was happy because her mother brings home sweets for them when she’s won a game. Her husband is Rin Kanketsu 8P, who commented: “With [my wife] now falling behind, now taking the lead, any number of times I thought my heart was going to stop.”

Shibano to challenge for Judan

The play-off to decide the challenger for the 58th Judan title was held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on January 30 and featured a clash between the current top two: Iyama Yuta and Shibano Toramaru. Taking white, Shibano won by resignation; it was the first time he had qualified for the main section of the Judan (the best 19—the seeding process is too complicated to describe), so he made the most of his opportunity. The title match with Murakawa Daisuke will start on March 3. At 20 years three months, Shibano will be the youngest-ever challenger for the Judan title (the previous record, 20 years 11 months, was set by Ida Atsushi 8P). If Shibano wins, he will draw (almost) even with Iyama as a triple crown-holder.

75th Honinbo League

After two games in the fifth round, Shibano Toramaru and Ichiriki Ryo have the provisional lead on 4-1, but they are closely followed by two players on 3-1: Hane Naoki 9P, and Kyo Kagen 8P. However, Kyo and Hane meet in this round. 2020 results:

(Jan. 9) Ichiriki (W) beat Shida Tatsuya 8P by resig.

(Jan. 16) Shibano Toramaru Meijin (B) beat Kyo Kagen 8P by resig.; Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.

(Jan. 23) Yokotsuka Riki 7P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 10.5 points.

(Feb. 6) Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Yokotsuka by resig.

45th Meijin League

After three rounds, Kyo Kagen has the sole lead with 3-0. However, Ichiriki and Iyama Yuta, who had byes in the second and third rounds respectively, are also undefeated. Results so far this year:

(Jan. 9) Cho U 9P (B) beat Rin Kanketsu 8P by resig.

(Jan. 16) Iyama Yuta Kisei (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.

(Jan. 30) Kono (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke Judan by resig.; Kyo Kagen 8P (B) beat Hane Naoki Gosei by resig.

(Feb. 13) Ichiriki (B) beat Yamashita by resig.; Kyo Kagen (W) beat Cho U by resig.; Murakawa (W) beat Hane by half a point.

Tomorrow: Nakamura Sumire receives Kansai prize, scores 20th win; Shin Jinseo wins LG Cup; Fourth-generation professional

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Go Spotting: Smithsonian Magazine

Gio, 20/02/2020 - 08:48

This month, Smithsonian Magazine published an article called Great Board Games of the Ancient World; naturally Go is included, though towards the end of the article, along with Mancala, Senet, the Royal Game of Ur, Mehen, Backgammon, the Game of the Goose, and others. Thanks to Steve Zilber for spotting this article.

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The Power Report: Iyama close to defending Kisei title; Iyama ahead in international final; Park wins New Year’s Cup

Mer, 19/02/2020 - 19:00

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama close to defending Kisei title

Iyama Yuta made a great start in the 44th Kisei best-of-seven, racing to a 3-0 lead, but Kono Rin picked up his first win in the fourth game, so Iyama won’t be counting his chickens. In his previous challenges to Iyama for big-three titles—the 26th Meijin, the 41st Kisei, and the 74th Honinbo—Kono scored two wins each time. He can still improve on that record, but each game is a kadoban for him.

The title match got off to a start on January 9 and 10, with the first game being played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo. Iyama, who drew black in the nigiri, won by 5.5 points. Kono started well, taking the initiative in the opening, but he made an error of judgment in the crucial fight, and this cost him the game.

The second game was played at the Renkeiji Temple in Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, on January 20 and 21. Iyama (W) took the lead in the opening, but Kono caught up in the middle game. However, Iyama again secured the lead in the endgame. Kono resigned after 198 moves. There was a complication under the surface that became clearer later. After playing move 114, Iyama began muttering bitter self-recriminations; after the game, he said he had overlooked a simple counter by black. Fortunately, Kono was out of the room at the time; when he came back, Iyama reverted to a poker face. Kono took his move on trust and didn’t think to query it, so Iyama got away with his blunder.

The third game was played at the Olive Bay Hotel in Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture on February 1 and 2. In a word, Iyama (B) simply outfought Kono and forced him to resign after 153 moves.

The fourth game was played at the Kyushu National Museum, Dazaifu City, Kyushu, on February 14 and 15. Kono (B) won by resignation after 231 moves, thus saving his first kadoban. The fifth game will be played on February 26 and 27.

Iyama ahead in international final

The 1st Wild Fox Contest for Supremacy is an online tournament run by a Chinese server, Wild Fox, and has a top prize of 500,000 yuan (about $71,700). It was open to the 32 top-ranked players on the server. As no. 30, Iyama just made the cut, but he has done very well, winning eight games in a row to make the final, a best-of-three in which he started off with a win. In order, he beat Son Tengyu, Li Weiqing, Tang Weixing, Jiang Weijie, Chen Zijian, and Xie Ke to reach the semifinals; there he beat Chen Yaoye 2-0. His opponent in the final is Tong Mengcheng. The first game was played on January 29, with Iyama eking out a win by half a point. The second game of the best-of-free was scheduled for February 12 but has been deferred because of the corona-virus crisis in China.

Park wins New Year’s Cup

The 8th CCTV New Year’s Cup, which celebrates the Chinese New Year, is an invitational mini-tournament for one player each from China, Japan, and Korea. This year it was held in Zhengdu City with a first prize of 800,000 yuan (about $112,000). Game conditions follow the NHK format. With three participants, the tournament is an irregular knock-out. After drawing lots, the pairing for the first game (Jan. 20) was Park Junghwan 9P of Korea versus Ke Jie 9P of China. Taking white, Park won by 1.5 points and went through to the final. The first-game loser gets a second chance. In the second game (Jan. 21), Ke (W) beat Shibano Toramaru by resig. The loser of this game is the only player who doesn’t get to play two games; Shibano suffered the same fate last year, though his opponent then was Park. In the final (Jan. 22), Park (B) beat Ke by resig., winning this tournament for the third year in a row.

Tomorrow: Suzuki wins Women’s Kisei title; Shibano to challenge for Judan; 75th Honinbo League; 45th Meijin League

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The Power Report: 2019 review

Mar, 18/02/2020 - 19:00

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Most wins
Shibano Toramaru, the youthful new Meijin, topped this list for the third year in a row. Considering the level of his competition now, as he’s playing top-flight opponents in leagues and title matches, that’s a significant achievement and testimony to his great form for most of the year. Also significant are the two best results ever attained by female players, with Ueno Asami and Fujisawa Rina coming third and fourth respectively. In particular, their good results against male players show that the level of women’s go is steadily rising. Here are the top 12.

  1. Shibano Toramaru: 52 wins, 18 losses
  2. Ichiriki Ryo 8P: 47-14
  3. Ueno Asami, Women’s Honinbo: 44-25
  4. Mutsuura Yuta: 38-20; Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Hollyhock Cup: 38-28
  5. Otake Yu 3P: 36-12
  6. Kono Rin 9P: 35-18
  7. Iyama Yuta Kisei: 34-27
  8. Suzuki Shinji 7P: 33-15; Son Makoto 7P: 33-19
  9. Kyo Kagen 8P: 32-17
  10. Xie Yimin 6P: 31-23

Most successive wins

  1. Ichiriki Ryo, Fujita Akihiko 7P (twice): 16
  2. Kono Rin: 13
  3. Yokotsuka Riki 7P, Fujisawa Rina: 12
  4. Hane Naoki Gosei: 11
  5. Shibano Toramaru, Adachi Toshimasa 6P, Muramoto Wataru 2P (twice), Nyu Eiko 2P: 10

Best winning percentage

  1. Ichiriki: 77.05
  2. Otake Yu, Fujita Akihiko (30-10): 75
  3. Shibano Toramaru: 74.29
  4. Oomote Takuto 3P (20-7): 74.07

2019 Prize-money promotions
There are three ways to earn promotions. One is through cumulative wins, which is the slow way. The fast way is through a tournament success, which will enable a low-ranked player to skip some intervening ranks. The conditions are fairly complicated, so here is a summary. Promotion to 7-dan: challenging for one of the bottom four (Oza, Tengen, Gosei, Judan) of the top seven titles; winning the Agon Kiriyama Cup or the Ryusei tournament; winning a place in the Kisei S League or the Honinbo or Meijin League. To 8-dan: winning one of the bottom four of the top seven titles; challenging for one of the top three titles (Kisei, Meijin, Honinbo); coming second in an international tournament. To 9-dan: winning a top-three or an international title; winning one of the bottom four of the top seven titles a second time. In theory, a new 1-dan could go straight to 9-dan by this system. In practice, however, it’s unlikely because it would take close to two years to go from the first qualifying round to a top-three title match, during which time a player strong enough to do this would have already made 2-dan or 3-dan.
The third way to get promoted is by coming first or second in the prize-money list for each dan from 1-dan to 5-dan; the top 6-dan is also promoted. Only prize money won in the top seven titles is counted. These promotions take effect on January 1 and are based on the previous year. (Players who earn promotions through the cumulative-wins system are not considered.) The promotions for 2019 are given below.

To 7-dan: Adachi Toshimasa
To 6-dan: Terayama Rei, Yo Chito
To 5-dan: Onishi Ryuhei, Koike Yoshihiro
To 4-dan: Otake Yu, Hirose Yuichi
To 3-dan: Seki Kotaro, Torii Yuta
To 2-dan: Chotoku Tetsushi, Sakai Yuki

Top prize-money winners for 2019 (in yen)

  1. Iyama Yuta: 108,259,237 (about $984,000)
  2. Shibano Toramaru: 67,669,600
  3. Ichiriki Ryo: 36,847,129
  4. Cho U: 32,272,656
  5. Fujisawa Rina: 26,593,572
  6. Yamashita Keigo: 26,177,458
  7. Kono Rin: 25,230,600
  8. Hane Naoki: 21,004,400
  9. Ueno Asami: 20,777,172
  10. Kyo Kagen: 19,044,240

Top news of 2019
The readers of Go Weekly chose the following as the hottest news topics of the year.

  1. Shibano Toramaru’s breakthrough
  2. The blossoming of Nakamura Sumire
  3. The rising dragon Ueno Asami
  4. Iyama Yuta stays on top
  5. The new Gosei Hane Naoki
  6. Death of Ogawa Tomoko
  7. Busy year for Fujisawa Rina
  8. Retirement of Lee Sedol
  9. Cho U’s win in China-Japan Agon Kiriyama Cup
  10. Ichiriki’s success rapid-go titles
    Just missing the top ten was Sakai Hideyuki retiring from go to resume his medical career.

Tomorrow: Iyama close to defending Kisei title; Iyama ahead in international final; Park wins New Year’s Cup

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