Romania: Liviu Oprisan 4d bested George Chirila 1d (left) at the 6th Radu Baciu Grand Prix in CSRB on December 14 while Mihai Lita 2d came in third. Ukraine: Also on December 14, the Tournament of 50 parallel finished in Kharkiv with Oleksandr Hiliazov 1d in first, Anton Parafilo 8k in second, and Leonid Shumakov 5k in third. Serbia: Lazar Manojlovic 5d took the 39th Serbian Championship on December 14 in Kragujevac. Mijodrag Stankovic 5d placed second and Dragan Mitic 4d was third.
– Annalia Linnan, based on reports from EuroGoTV, which include complete result tables and all the latest European go news; photo courtesy of EuroGoTV
The 2015 European Go Congress will be held in Liberec, the Czech Republic, from July 25th to August 8th. “I´d like to invite American go players to join us,” says Vladimir Danek, chief of the EGC 2015 Organizing Committee and president of the Czech Go Association. “The motto of this Go Congress is ‘Go, Fun and Relaxation’“ says Danek. “We want to make the Congress attractive for everybody.” Click here to check out their cool video. Liberec is 100 km north of Prague, “very close to Germany and Poland,” Danek adds. The Congress site is the Babylon Center, which, in addition to conference halls, hotel and restaurants, has attractions including the Aquapark, iQpark, bowling, golf simulator and other activities. “The large open terrace on the roof of Babylon will be a great place for meeting friends and playing friendly games,” Danek promises. Although the EGC runs for two weeks, “you can also play for just one week or visit us for a couple of days,” says Danek. Registration goes up after January 1.
photo: still from 2015 EGC video
UK Youth Team Fights Hard, But Loses To Israel: The BGA UK Youth team lost 1-4 to Israel on Sat, 13 Dec 2014, in the European Youth Go Team Championship. They currently rank 10th place overall out of the 13 teams, with 2 rounds left to play.The next round, Czechia vs. United Kingdom, will take place on Saturday, January 17th, 2015.
Joe Cai Sparkles at Christmas in Edinburgh: The Edinburgh Christmas tournament saw a total of 25 players. Tongzhou (Joe) Cai (3d Glasgow) won all four of his games and co-organiser Boris Mitrovic, Alistair Wall, Niall Paterson, Baron Hasslinger, and Greg Cox each took home a prize for three wins.
- compiled/edited by Amy Su, based on reports on the BGA website
Gato Go: “This photo (left) is from the Facebook page of one of the Ecuadorian players I met in Quito,” writes Bob Gilman.
In a surprise victory, Murakawa Daisuke 8P defeated Iyama Yuta 9P on December 16 to win the 62nd Oza. The Oza is Murakawa’s first major title. This is the first time a player from the Kansai Kiin has won the Oza since Hashimoto Shoji 9P did so 33 years ago in 1981. The final game was played in Toba, Mie Prefecture, Japan. The upset attracted a lot of attention in Japan, because former Oza Iyama Yuta currently dominates the domestic Japanese go scene.
- excerpted from Go Game Guru; click here for the full report, including game records.
A new go school in Singapore welcomes students from the United States. The Go Academy offers a wide range of classes, from a 1-day introduction to kyu and dan intensive camps, reports Director Daniel Chan. More info available on Facebook.
“It’s interesting to read about the work of University of Edinburgh to use machine learning to improve the level of playing in computers, (Scottish Neural Network Takes Computer Go to Next Level 12/16/2014 EJ)” writes Nin Lei, Distinguished Engineer and CTO, Analytics and Big Data, STG IBM Systems and Technology Group. “However, the title in their article creates an impression that their research is creating a program that can beat the best human players. If their probability of guessing their next move is only 44%, then their chance of guessing it wrong is 56%. In a sequence of 10 moves, the chance of getting the complete sequence correctly is 0.44 ** 10, which is a very small number.” Noting that checkers “has been solved via machine learning,” Lei says that “it appears it is promising for go as well.” But because machine learning predicates that there is a pattern in the underlying data set, Lei warns that “it could be so complex that machine learning can only attain a certain level of accuracy. It seems to me a program needs to have very high level of accuracy before it can play a good game at strong human level.” Lei also says that “Since machine learning is based on pattern recognition, I wonder if a professional can trick the program by using moves that may not be optimally locally but will create patterns that the program has not seen before. I applaud the work they are doing,” Lei concludes. “It is innovative by using a different approach than the existing strong computer programs. It will be interesting to find out if someday they can come up with an algorithm that can improve the accuracy significantly.”
12/22: the chance of getting the complete sequence correctly has been corrected to 0.44 ** 10 (from 0.56).
Late in the afternoon of December 17, go players at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games attended their second awards ceremony in the Beijing International Convention Center. This time the awards for pair go were given out. China’s Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting collected their second gold medals, Korea’s Choi Jeong and Na Hyun collected their first and second silver medals, respectively, and China’s Cathy Chang (more formally, Chang Kai-Hsin) and Lin Li-Hsiang received their first bronze medals.
Medals were also awarded for individual contract bridge, Basque system chess, super-blitz draughts, checkers, and xiangqi. Four countries picked up their first gold medals here: Monaco, for whom Geir Helgemo came through in open bridge; Cameroon, whose draughts star Jean Marc Ndjofang won the men’s superblitz; Vietnam, whose Ngyuen Hoang-Yen shone in women’s xiangqi; and Italy, which proved to have the world’s top two checkers players.
All told there were 24 separate events in this year’s world mind games, and mind athletes from 20 different countries and territories won medals. Between them, China and Russia took the gold medals in half the events, winning six each. Russia outpointed China in silver medals, but China outpointed Russia in bronze, won medals in a greater number of disciplines (all but draughts), and won the greater total number of medals – by a wide margin if China’s medals in the team and pair events in go and bridge are counted as multiple medals. All of Russia’s medals came in individual competition in chess and draughts. Full results and further details can be found on the SportAccord schedule and results page and news page.
At the closing ceremony at the V-Continent Beijing Parkview Wuzhou hotel, Mr Hai Zhenwen, deputy secretary general of the organizing committee, praised the successful conclusion of the four-year series of SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing. China’s former ace weightlifter Ma Wenguang, representing SportAccord Asia/Pacific, thanked the city of Beijing and expressed a hope that world mind games would continue elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific area in the future. Mr Vlad Marinescu, Director General of SportAccord, said that he had been humbled at finding himself in the midst of so many geniuses but inspired by the enthusiasm of Beijing’s children, and noted that on the publicity front, this year the games had achieved a 50% growth over last year on all media platforms. Mr Chen Jie, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports, thanked the organizers for their hard work, after which he and Mr Marinescu exchanged gifts, and then everyone settled down to a good dinner.
- James Davies
This is the game in which China’s Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting won the gold meal in pair go by defeating Korea’s Kim Choi Jeong and Na Hyun. Click here for the sgf game file.
Black 37 (A in diagram 1, played by Choi) defends against a double peep at B, but lets white jump to C. Black is playing too safe. She should have capped at 1 in diagram 2. If white peeps, pushes, and cuts as shown in the diagram, black can give up two stones, after which white will be unable to reach the center. Then black can develop on a truly large scale by pressing white down on the lower side as shown (moves from 11 to 15 in diagram 2).
Black 43 (played by Na) was also too conservative. Black should have occupied white 52, the junction point of his framework on the right side and the white framework on the lower side. When white got to play 52, the Chinese pair had a territorial lead.
White 64 may have been an overextension. Black 65 immediately started to threaten white’s thin position. With 66, white began dancing around to protect the weak white stones in this area and the weak white group at the top. But white danced successfully. By the time white played 92, white’s weak stones and group were out of danger.
Black 111 (Na) may have been the decisive mistake. Before playing here, black could have made sente moves at 112 and 150. Instead, white was able to play 112 and 148-150 in sente, gaining approximately seven points.
Black’s last chance was to start the ko at 157, but black lacked the necessary ko threats. Black 159 was inadequate. White simply ended the ko with 160, gaining as much at the top as was lost in the bottom left corner. When black renewed the ko challenge at 183, white accepted by cutting at 184. When Yu took the ko with white 194, Na decided that black’s prospects were too poor to continue and offered to resign, and his partner agreed.
- Ranka, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p.
This is the game in which Chinese Taipei’s Chang Kai-Hsin (Cathy Chang) and Lin Li-Hsiang (White) won the bronze gold meal in pair go by defeating Japan’s Fujisawa Rina and Ida Atsushi (Black). Click here for the sgf game file.
The opening pattern up to white 8 has become very popular quite recently and appeared in several SportAccord games.
Up through black 71 (the marked stone in diagram 1) the position is about even. White appears to have more territory, but the white position on the lower side is thin and can easily be invaded, so black is not behind. In fact, if black had played 71 at 1 in diagram 2, black might well have been ahead. White cannot cut black apart. Given the continuation through black 9, black is solidly linked up and the white group cannot make two eyes on the right side, so black will be able to attack it in the center.
The move that Ida Atsushi chose for black 71 was readily answered by white 72, and black 73 let white break up black’s right side territory in sente with 74 and 76. Aside from losing territory, black was placed on the defensive, and would be hampered in going deeper into the white territory at the bottom.
From this point on, the fighting in the center became quite confused. White’s top group seemed to be in trouble, but it could never be killed unconditionally, except at the sacrifice of an even larger black group. When white 168 connected the ko in the top left, white had a clear territorial lead.
By white 186 black’s position had become untenable and the Japanese pair resigned.
- Ranka, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p.
Another series of classic go books has just been released by BadukTV, reports Shawn Ray (Clossius). The first set of four books was “The Profound and Mysterious,” a life-and-death exercise book written between 1347 and 1349, during the Yuan dynasty. The second and just-released series is “The Art of Closing,” a 6-book set filled with ancient problems put together by previous masters and translated by Cho Hye-yeon. “It is a level below that of ‘The Profound and Mysterious’ so players 5-kyu and stronger should be able to benefit greatly from it,” Ray tells the E-Journal. “Though I think anyone can take a lesson or two from it.” Click here to buy both as a bundle of all 10 of the books. For more info e-mail Ray at Clossius.ShawnRay@gmail.com
This is the game in which the Russian brother-sister pair of Ilya Shikshin and Svetlana Shikshina, both former European champions, defeated Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva and France’s Fan Hui to take fifth place in the mixed pairs competition. Click here for the sgf game file.
White 8 to 16 are one variation of a popular joseki. This variation and others appeared several times during the week of World Mind Games.
White 38 (the marked stone in diagram 1) was a mistake. The critical issue here is the relative strength of the groups in the center. If the white pair had played as shown in diagram 2, their own center group would have had the upper hand, and they would then have been free to deal with the loose black framework on the right side.
If black had captured white 98, the white group in the center would have been in serious trouble. Apparently Ilya decided that invading the bottom right corner first would be a safer way to win, but this is not necessarily true. If white had played 123 in sente before black did so, then given the same continuation on the rest of the board, the final margin would have been only half a point. As it was, black won by 1-3/4 stones, or 2-1/2 points.
- Ranka, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p
China won the SportAccord World Mind Games Pair Go Event to complete their sweep of gold medals in the 4th annual event, which wrapped up on December 17 in Beijing, China.
Russia emerged as the SAWMG’s big winners overall this year, as their players took home a total of six gold, five silver and one bronze medal. In total, 150 players from 37 countries took part in the 2014 World Mind Games. There were 14 disciplines across five sports, with 24 medal rounds contested. Click here for full results.
photo: China’s Pair Go Team, Yu and Mi
Blackie’s International Baduk Academy (BIBA) has just announced their Winter BIBA Camp in Hawaii. The camp runs January 29 through February 4 on Kauai Island and will be led by Kim Seung-jun (Blackie) 9P and Koszegi Diana 1P. The cost is 1800 for 6 nights and 7 days, and includes accommodation, meals, renting cars, basic sightseeing programs and study fee. Email email@example.com for details or to register.
The Irish Championship of 2014 is not yet finished, but a date has been set for the event of next year. On the weekend of January 10th – 11th the Top 8 kick-off event will take place at the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin. The Annual General meeting will be held on the evening of Saturday the 10th of January. The AGM will take place on the Saturday, after the Top 8 games finish, provisionally at 5:00pm. Read on to find the AGM agenda.
Discussion items are:
1. The return of qualifier matches to decide who plays in the Top 8.
2. Non McMahon tournaments to be class C for Korea points.
3. The Ladder to be class C for Korea points.
4. Executive positions
5. Korea tax to be increased to 2 points.
6. Korea tax only to apply if you haven’t earned any Korea points in a given year.
7. Inter provincials – Leinster captain sought.
8. Event to mark 60th anniversary of JET in Ireland
9. Creation of a Women’s Championship
The final round of pair go competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games was played in the morning of December 17. Deputy referee Michael Redmond gave the starting instructions. The gold medal game was televised, so Michael next moved into the broadcast booth to do the live commentary.
That game started well for the Chinese pair, due in particular to a couple of overly conservative Korean moves (Choi Jeong’s black 37 and Na Hyun’s black 43, click here to download the sgf file.) in the opening. The Koreans’ conservative style gave their opponents Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting a territorial lead. Although the Korean pair gained ground through good play in the center, forcing the Chinese to go on the defensive, the Chinese pair handled their weak stones very well and maintained their advantage. Then as the endgame began the Koreans missed making a couple of valuable sente moves and found themselves definitely behind in territory. Although they tried to catch up in a ko fight, they lacked adequate ammunition, lost the ko, and resigned. China had swept all the gold medals in go. Korea’s silver is at least an improvement on the bronze the Korean pair got last year.
The battle for this year’s bronze was won by Chinese Taipei. The Japanese pair (Fujisawa Rina and Ida Atsushi) began well enough, but gave away territory in order to embark on a long and confused fight that did not turn out well for them, and eventually had to resign. The new pair from Chinese Taipei (Cathy Chang and Lin Li-Hsiang) played very well this year, as a different pair from Chinese Taipei had also done in winning the silver medal last year.
The all-European battle for fifth place was waged for the larger monetary prize (5000 USD) instead of medals. After some initial fighting, it turned into a close but peaceful contest of very large territories. The winners, with one stone or two points to spare, were former European champions Svetlana Shikshina and Ilya Shikshin. Their opponents Natalia Kovaleva and Fan Hui took sixth place (4000 USD).
- James Davies
“One of the last bastions of human mastery over computers is about to fall to the relentless onslaught of machine learning algorithms,” according to a December 15 report in the MIT Technology review. Why Neural Networks Look Set to Thrash the Best Human Go Players for the First Time reviews the work of Christopher Clark and Amos Storkey at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, who “have applied the same machine learning techniques that have transformed face recognition algorithms to the problem of finding the next move in a game of Go.”
“The question that these guys have trained a deep convolutional neural network to answer is: given a snapshot of a game between two Go experts, is it possible to predict the next move in the game?…Clark and Storkey used over 160,000 games between experts to generate a database of 16.5 million positions along with their next move. They used almost 15 million of these position-move pairs to train an eight-layer convolutional neural network to recognize which move these expert players made next…the trained network was able to predict the next move up to 44 percent of the time, ‘surpassing previous state of the art on this task by significant margins.’”
After just a few days training, Clark and Storkey’s neural network beat GNU Go almost 90 percent of the time in a run of 200 games, but against Fuego 1.1, it fared less well, winning only just over 10 percent of its games.
“There is no suggestion from Clark and Storkey that this approach will beat the best Go players in the world,” the report concludes. “But surely, it is only a matter of time before even Go players will have to bow to their computerized overlords.”
Thanks to John Goon for passing this along.
Yuki Satoshi, who played top board for the Japanese men’s team at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing, came to that event as an established title winner. Last spring, for the fifth time, he won the NHK Cup (Japan’s national TV tournament) and the year before that he won the Judan title (one of Japan’s seven major go titles) and the Daiwa Cup (an online tournament). In Beijing he posted an excellent 4-1 won-lost record, losing only to China’s top-rated Shi Yue, and it was his hair’s-breadth victory over Chinese Taipei’s Chen Shih-Iuan in the final round that gave the Japanese team a bronze medal. But Yuki is more than a go player; he is also a railroad buff. His career description on the Kansai Kiin’s website mentions that if he had not taken up go as a profession, he would probably have become a railroad man.
Ranka: What impressions have the World Mind Games left you with?
Yuki: Competing with all these younger teammates was a stimulating experience. As for winning a bronze medal, well, we accomplished our minimum goal, and it felt good to get up on the dais at the awards ceremony, like the Olympic athletes you see on television.
Ranka: Turning now to railroads, can you tell us something about them?
Yuki: Sure. When I was younger and had the stamina and the spare time, I used to ride trains all over Japan–once even took a sleeping car up to Hokkaido. I don’t have that much time now, but I still like to take railroad trips when the opportunity arises.
Ranka: What types of trips?
Yuki: I like to ride the local lines, especially in Kyushu and Hokkaido.
Ranka: Would that include the steam locomotive that still runs in Kyushu?
Yuki: Between Kumamoto and Hitoyoshi, yes, I’ve ridden that train.
Ranka: What do you think of Japan’s bullet trains?
Yuki: They’re just a means of getting from A to B, not as much fun as the local lines. They’re so fast that you can’t take in the scenery.
Ranka: Have you ridden the railroads in other countries?
Yuki: Not very much, but one trip each in China, Korea, and Taiwan.
Ranka: How do they compare with the Japanese railroads?
Yuki: I haven’t ridden them enough to say, but if I get the time, I’d like to do some more train travel in those countries and find out more about their railroads.
Ranka: Thank you, and we hope you get the chance.
China has swept the SportAccord 2014 World Mind Games go competition, winning gold in the men’s team and women’s individual events. Tuo Jiaxi, Mi Yuting and Shi Yue (right) easily dispatched the US team in the final match to clinch their gold medals.
More SAWMG coverage:
Of love of Go, wine and Hollywood (Interview with France’s Fan Hui 2P)
Final Rounds: Gold Medals for China (Ranka)
Women’s Final: Yu Zhiying vs Kim Chaeyoung (Ranka)
Pair Go Begins (Ranka)
Mind Sports at Beijing Schools (Ranka)
Game Records-Men (Pandanet)
Game Records-Women (Pandanet)
Game Records-Pair (Pandanet)
After the first four days of go competition in the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games, the main issues waiting to be settled were who would win the gold medal in the women's individual event, and who would win the bronze medals in the men's team event. Last year the answers had been China's Yu Zhiying and the men's team from Chinese Taipei. Could Korea's Kim Chaeyoung or the Japanese men's team provide a different answer this year?
The men's teams matches began at 12:30. The team from Chinese Taipei was in their seats early, all in their chipper blue and white uniforms. The black-suited Japanese team arrived just a minute or two before deputy chief referee Michael Redmond began reciting the daily litany: two hours of time per player with five renewable 60-second overtime periods; Chinese rules with 3-3/4 stone compensation; mobile phones off or silenced; the round starts!
An hour and a half later, the women's gold medal game began. Kim Chaeyoung, sole survivor of the losers' bracket, drew white against undefeated Yu Zhiying.
In the team event, the Chinese men clinched their gold medals at about three o'clock, when North America's Huiren Yang and Daniel Daehyuk Ko resigned against Mi Yuting and Tuo Jiaxi. Later Shi Yue defeated Mingjiu Jiang by 5-3/4 stones (11-1/2 points) to complete a shutout victory.
The Korean men clinched their silver medals in similar shutout fashion. First Fan Hui resigned to Park Younghun, then Aleksandr Dinershtein resigned to Na Hyun, and then, after fighting desperately, Ilya Shikshin resigned to Kang Dongyoon. Dead European groups were much in evidence on all three boards.
The next match to end was the women's. Yu Zhiying remained undefeated. She had attacked a weak white group on the right side of the board, starting a huge, confusing struggle that spread through most of the center. There was a point at which white had a chance to win, but she went after the wrong black group and it was the attacking white group that lost the capturing race. The position was still confused, but it was hopeless for white and Kim Chaeyoung resigned. Losing is always bitter. Nevertheless, her silver medal is the best result yet achieved by any non-Chinese go player in three years of SportAccord women's individual competition. Yu Zhiying's two consecutive gold medals would seem to establish her as top in the women's go world, and she is still only seventeen.
And what of the men's team match between Japan and Chinese Taipei? As he had the previous day, Lin Li-Hsiang got Chinese Taipei off to a good start, winning by resignation on board two, but then Seto Taiki evened the score for Japan by defeating Chang Che-Hao by resignation on board three. All now depended on the result on board one, where Japan's Yuki Satoshi was playing Chinese Taipei's Chen Shih-Iuan. Chen (black) had taken the lead by attacking in the center in the opening, but during a difficult middle game Yuki had gradually caught up, and in the endgame it appeared that he might be ahead. When the final score was counted, it turned out that he was indeed ahead. He had won by exactly a quarter of a stone, or half a point. The two players spent considerable time afterward reviewing the endgame, with assistance from Seto Taiki, who interpreted between Chinese and Japanese. Both Yuki and Seto are from the Kansai Kiin, in Osaka. After the failure of Japan's Tokyo-Nagoya based men's team in the 2013, Osaka had come to the rescue.
At the evening awards ceremony, following the presentation of medals for blitz chess and pairs bridge, Mr Park Chimoon, acting president of the International Go Federation, presented the bronze medals to the Japanese men's team, the silver medals to the Korean team, and the gold medals to the Chinese team. Bridge ambassador Fulvio Fantoni gave them their medal certificates; then their national flags were raised and the Chinese national anthem was played. Next the medals for women's individual go were awarded by chief referee Hua Yigang: bronze to Rui Naiwei, silver to Kim Chaeyoung, and gold to Yu Zhiying, who triumphantly mounted the dais as a woman transformed, attired in a long and strikingly attractive flowered skirt. This time it was Ms Wang Wenfei, the other bridge ambassador, who gave out the certificates.
Counting chess and bridge, Chinese mental athletes had had a good day. Their total haul was ten medals: five gold, including one in women's chess; two silver, both won in women's bridge; and three bronze, including two more in women's bridge. The games are not over, but China has already shown that it leads the world in go, and leads the Far East in bridge and chess as well.
- James Davies