Mark Lee won the sixth annual Jin Chen Memorial Tournament, held at the Seattle Go Center on January 3. Lee (in yellow shirt) was visiting from California; readers may remember that he was undefeated in the U.S. Open in 2014. Dong (David) Ma placed 2nd in the Open Section of the Jin Chen, which had eight players. The Handicapped Sections had 20 players. The Dan Handicapped Section was won by Zhihong Yao, with Dengda (Dan) Tang placing 2nd. The SDK section was won by John Johnson, with Eric Backus placing 2nd. The DDK section was won by Elan Ma, with Michael Hixenbaugh placing second. Elan Ma, who was undefeated in her games, also won the Youth Prize.
- photo/report by Brian Allen
The Irish Go Association’s AGM will take place this Saturday January 16th at 5pm in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin, after the last round of the Top 8 tournament. The current agenda items are:
1. New venue for Dublin Go club.
2. Executive positions.
The Irish Women’s Championship was been decided in a nail-bitingly close match between Carol Doyle and Michele Renaut over the weekend. In the end, Carol won out by just 6.5 points. Well done to all ladies who participated this year, and we look forward to rematches next year!
In the final set of games in the AGA Professional Qualification Tournament on Saturday morning, Andrew Lu defeated Daniel Gourdeau and Jeremy Chiu beat Sarah Yu. Lu took third place and a seeded place in the next pro tournament, Gourdeau was fourth, Chiu is fifth and Yu sixth.
Thanks to the entire E-Journal team for bringing this week-long event to the world. Dennis Wheeler not only did his usual stellar job recording games, cleaning up game records and helping manage the team, but took on new responsibilities for producing our series of game highlight videos, which I think you’ll agree are an excellent addition to our coverage. The game recording team included regular LA volunteers Richard Dolen and Joe Cepiel, with the welcome addition of Greg Kulevich and Esther Jun, who both did a terrific job. The commentary team included Myungwan Kim 9P, Tyler Oyakawa 6d, Norman Tsai 7d and I-han Lui 7d, who all did excellent work drawing out key lessons for our series of brief videos. Andrew Jackson provided tech support for the videos and Steve Colburn kept the tournament page and crosstab updated. Thanks to Akane Negishi and her team of admins at KGS for their support, as always.
Many thanks as well to the staff of the Hotel Normandie, its architect and go enthusiast Jingbo Lou and the folks at Cassell’s who generously provided not only a calm and elegant venue but all the help we needed and water and coffee when we were thirsty.
Special thanks to Tournament Director Jeff Shaevel for ensuring the event’s smooth operation throughout the week — as he has each year — and a very special thanks to AGA president Andy Okun, who not only coordinated the entire event with Myungwan Kim 9P, but was always there taking care of the myriad details, both tiny and big, to make the event a success, including assuming game recording duties when needed.
Of course, the biggest thanks goes to the eight players who gave it their all this week — Eric Lui 7d, Ben Lockhart 7d (who also participated in a video commentary), Aaron Ye 7d, Andrew Lu 7d, Daniel Gourdeau 6d, Jeremy Chiu 6d, Sarah Yu 6d, and Manuel Velasco 5d — they are all a credit to the game and an inspiration to go players of all levels.
Finally, if you’re interested in being on the E-Journal team at future events — it’s a lot of fun and a great way to improve your game — send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Chris Garlock, Managing Editor, American Go E-Journal; photo by Garlock
For Eric Lui, the fourth time was the charm. Lui (left) has played in all four AGA Professional Qualification Tournaments, losing to Ryan Li in last year’s final, but on Friday afternoon he became the American Go Association’s fifth professional, defeating Aaron Ye by resignation to close out a near-flawless performance this week with a 9-1 score, his only loss a half-pointer in the first round. “It’s been a long week,” Lui told the E-Journal immediately after clinching his win, “but it feels really good. The field was stronger this year.” Lui said that he fully intends to pursue a career as a professional. “Now I have some decisions to make,” he said, smiling tiredly. “Not right away, but soon.” For amateur players who want to get stronger, the new professional’s advice was to “Play a lot of games. Preferably in person, and fast games.”
“Eric’s determination and steadiness are a real inspiration,” said AGA President Andy Okun, who was on hand all week at the Los Angeles tournament. “It heartens me to see his efforts rewarded.”
Ye, in his first pro qualifier, turned in a strong performance with an 8-4 record, taking second place and earning a slot as a seed in the next qualification tournament. In the lower bracket, Ben Lockhart clinched 7th place by beating Manuel Velasco, who finished in 8th place. Andrew Lu defeated Daniel Gourdeau on Friday afternoon, so they’ll play a third-game decider on Saturday morning, as will Sarah Yu and Jeremy Chiu. Lu and Gourdeau will battle for third place, while Yu and Chiu will compete for fifth; the games start at 9:30a Pacific Time on KGS. Full tournament details here; click here for video game highlights.
- report/photo by Chris Garlock
Newly-minted professional Antti Törmänen 1P will play an exhibition match against Hajin Lee 3P on OGS this Saturday, January 9, at 11p EST(4a UTC). Lee, a Korean 3P and secretary of the International Go Federation, is well known to western go players for her entertaining and instructional YouTube channel, where she’s known as “Haylee.” Antti Törmänen is the first Western player to be granted professional status by the Nihon Ki-in since Hans Pietsch in 1997. He offers paid lessons on OGS and publishes a blog chronicling his go career. Calvin Sun, North American 1P and Stephen Hu, AGA 5 dan (right) will provide live commentary on the game. Click here to see a promotional video for the match on YouTube. To watch the game and commentary, log into OGS and click on the banner links posted at the top right of the page.
Thursday morning’s session at the AGA Professional Qualification Tournament featured just two games, Ben Lockhart vs Aaron Ye and Sarah Yu vs Andrew Lu, in a battle to move onto the semi-finals. Lockhart had an early lead but then played a couple of slow moves and Ye was able to pull ahead; a huge semeai then developed and Lockhart missed the critical move to win the capturing race (click here to see Myungwan Kim’s brief video commentary). Sarah Yu, who had played tengen in her Wednesday night match against Lu, played a similar center move Thursday, explaining afterwards that she felt the 7.5 komi was heavy and this would lead to more favorable josekis. However, she failed to make effective use of her unusual move and Lu gained the advantage. This game also developed into a crowd-pleasing semeai (click here for Myungwan Kim’s video commentary).
In the afternoon matchups, Eric Lui defeated Andrew Lu by resignation, advancing to the semi-finals. Daniel Gourdeau won against Aaron Ye; he lost against Ye in the round-robin, so they’ll play again on Friday morning to determine who advances to the final with Lui. Ben Lockhart beat Jeremy Chiu, tying their match at 1-1; they’ll play on Friday morning. Sarah Yu beat Manuel Velasco, knocking him into the bottom bracket; she’ll await the winner in the Lockhart-Chiu game. The live KGS broadcast will start at 9:30a PST.
- report/photo by Chris Garlock, with technical support from Dennis Wheeler. photo (l-r): Sarah Yu, Danny Ko, Manuel Velasco, Daniel Gourdeau, Andrew Lu and Ben Lockhart.
CORRECTION (1/8): Our original report did not indicate that Eric Lui is in the finals and that the winner of the Gourdeau-Ye game will advance to the finals.
The round-robin section of the AGA Professional Qualification Tournament wrapped up Wednesday morning with few surprises except for second-seeded Ben Lockhart’s 7th-place finish. Eric Lui was first, Aaron Ye second, Daniel Gourdeau third, then Andrew Lu in fourth, Sarah Yu was fifth, Jeremy Chiu sixth, and Manuel Velasco eighth.
The knockout section commenced on Wednesday afternoon as Los Angeles enjoyed a second straight day of rain, although of course the eight top-ranked North American go players at the Hotel Normandie were oblivious — or at least impervious –to the weather. The knockout section is a best-of-three, with the first game having already been played in the round-robin. Eric Lui had beaten Manuel Velasco in the round-robin and had no trouble with him on Wednesday afternoon, knocking Velasco down into the lower bracket. Daniel Gourdeau’s win against Jeremy Chiu secured his place in the upper bracket as well. Sarah Yu had lost to Andrew Lu in the round robin, but won on Wednesday; they’ll play to advance on Thursday morning. And Ben Lockhart, who had lost to Aaron Ye in the round-robin, beat him by a point and a half in the knockout, forcing a third game on Thursday morning. Both games will start at 9:30a PST on KGS.
“I like the You Tube highlights from the qualifier games,” says Bob Gilman. “These analyses of important situations provide insights in a readily digestible form. Longer game commentaries are good to have also, but they demand a big time commitment to watch, and it’s easy to forget many of the points made. I hope you continue to do features like these.”
“Just wanted to compliment the short videos,” writes Keith Arnold. “While there is some suggestion that they were born of necessity and bad internet connection, I actually think they have been uniformly excellent, informative and just right for busy modern life and short attention spans.”
The latest batch of pro tourney game highlights includes Sarah Yu (W) vs Manuel Velasco (B), Ben Lockhart (W) vs Aaron Ye (B) and Jeremy Chiu (W) vs Eric Lui (B), all from the fifth round of the round robin.
by Chris Garlock
The AGA’s professional qualification tournament tests the go skills of its young competitors, but it’s also a grueling endurance challenge. With two rounds each day, and each game usually going at least three hours, that’s six to eight hours a day for a full week. The concentration these players bring to bear on each game is fierce; every move is considered, and then reconsidered. I’ve seen players think about a move for twenty minutes, reach into the bowl for a stone, take it out and then put it back and settle in for another ten minutes. Even the most natural, “obvious” move must be fully read out and time, while a factor, seems to be the furthest thing from their minds as they follow the branching trails deep into thickets of strategy and tactics, move and countermove, probe and response.
The silence in the playing room is deafening. Traffic swishes by outside and the sounds of a working hotel drift in throughout the day. The pinging of the elevator doors. Housekeeper carts rumbling overhead. Snatches of conversation as hotel guests walk by the room. The hum of air conditioning.
As fierce as the competition is here — and every single one of the players wants to win — it’s not unusual to see two players who have just spent the last few hours trying to slaughter each other’s groups now peacefully reviewing the game, sometimes for another hour. In fact, the analysis is so cooperative and collegial that it can often be difficult to know which player is the winner and which the loser. Perhaps because they understand that in the shared search for mastery they are both winners.
Garlock is leading the E-Journal’s game recording/broadcasting team at this week’s AGA Pro Qualification Tournament in Los Angeles. photo: Daniel Gourdeau (l) and Jeremy Chiu review their game while Manuel Velasco and Sarah Yu watch.
Ke Jie’s defeat of Lee Sedol in the M-Lily Cup is the buzz of Chinese media. The 18-year-old Chinese phenom has been on a stunning run of success, winning three championships in one year: the Bailing Cup, the Samsung Cup, and then the M-Lily Cup earlier this week. Ke Jie’s record in rated games for the year was 58 wins and 16 losses, with an impressive 34-game winning streak when playing with White, which was broken by Lee Sedol.
Ke Jie is the youngest person in history to win three major international tournaments, taking the mantle from Lee Sedol, who had accomplished the same feat at 22. “I was going to resign,” Ke Jie said in an interview immediately after the M-Lily final. “I still feel like I’m in a dream. I thought I had lost.” Ke Jie’s teacher, Nie Weiping, had been commentating on the game and was worried about his student. He mentioned that the game was “just too exciting.” Ke Jie had felt that he hadn’t played his best. He said “I thought if Lee Sedol is at the top of his game, then there is no way I can win. Strength was not the main factor for deciding who won. I was fortunate to win.”
Ke Jie started learning go at the age of 5 and studied under Zhou Zong Qiang 5 dan. His father was a go enthusiast. Ke Jie lived in Li Shui in Zhejiang province where there were not many places to play, however Ke Jie’s father started his own go center. This attracted many stronger players to come, making for a good environment to learn the game. Ke Jie started studying under Nie Weiping at the age of 8, won the National Youth Tournament in 2007 and became professional in 2008.
- Jonathan Hop, translated from Chinese news reports. Click here for GoGameGuru’s report as well, which includes game records, commentaries, photos and a discussion of how the final game’s result unexpectedly hinged on half point kos and the counting system used, according to Korean professionals.