The annual auction benefiting the American Go Foundation got a boost this year when go bowls signed by AlphaGo programmer Aja Huang and Fan Hui 2P were added to the auction, conducted at the closing banquet at the US Go Congress on Saturday, August 6. Brady Daniels’ $500 bid won him the bowls, while John Tromp’s $1,700 bid enabled him to take home the board signed by all the professional go players attending this year’s Go Congress. The American Go Foundation is dedicated to promoting go in the U.S. With its support, thousands of American children have learned go in hundreds of schools, libraries and community centers across the country. The AGF also provides scholarships and resources for youth who play go, and supports go in institutional settings such as prisons, and senior centers.
photo: Tromp and Daniels with AGA president Andy Okun (far left); photo by Steve Colburn
Newly-elected AGA board member Lisa Scott is definitely not new to the AGA scene. She served as a Central Region board member from 2010 to 2013, and has just been appointed US Go Congress Coordinator for the AGA. Scott learned to play go on KGS during her first year of college, and found out about the Go Congress in 2006, when she asked around about why most go players seemed to drop offline during the first week of August. Scott has directed the Women’s Tournament at the Go Congress every year since the Lancaster, PA in 2007, her first Go Congress. The first year, 23 women played in the tournament. Participation has been lower some years, but at the 2015 Go Congress in St. Paul 40 women played, and this year that number grew to 46. “With around 90 rated women registered for the Go Congress this year, including pros,” Scott says with a smile. “That means over 50% of them are playing in the Women’s Tournament!” Scott’s biggest goal of the tournament is to build community and give women a chance to meet other female players outside their own clubs. With the number of female registrants and Women’s Tournament players rising each year, more players are getting the chance to meet and play against new people. “I like finding people good games to play.”
- report/photo by Karoline Li, Congress Tournament Liaison
Although just one name goes on the annual Congress Director plaque, there are literally dozens of volunteers who work for months to ensure a fun-filled week of go for the hundreds of go players who attend the largest event on the U.S. go calendar. To those volunteers we say Thank You for a job well-done!
- Walther Chen, Director, 2016 US Go Congress
Our core Congress team went far above and beyond: Jason McGibbon, Chun Sun, Yuan Cao, Matthew Hershberger, Becci Torrey, Stephen Hu, James Carrier, Neil Ritter, Dan Ritter, Andrew Hall, Li Chen, James Peters, Tim Holman, Brian Lee, I-Han Lui, Milan Mladenovic.
The core team would like to give a special thanks to the following people, who made the Boston 2016 US Go Congress possible by helping plan and prepare ahead of time, by working all day on registration day, by staying late to set up boards, by helping run events, and so much more. These people are all extended members of our core team: Srividya Kalyanaraman, Krishna Artis-Mickens, Greg Kulevich, Cat Thu Nguyen Huu, John Kane, Chris Kirshner, Ted Terpstra, Alice Peng, William Wright, Dan Steinbrook, Audrey Wang, Joe Chaves, William Luff.
We would like to thank the following people for volunteering to help prepare and run the Boston 2016 US Go Congress: Wei Shi, Shurun Fan, Keith Arnold, William Wright, Graham Higgins, Helen Higgins, David Hampton, Shawn Ligocki, Wen Zheng, Mark Huang, Eva Casey, Wanda Metcalf, Cat Huu, David Spitz, Mark Nahabedian, Gabriello Adler-Abramo, Alice (Siyu Peng), John Fuhrer, James Putnam, Rob Campbell, Thao Tran, Julia Grunewald, Michael Williams, Eric Reid, Danni Chen, Alan Yin, Spence Konde, Briana Sextonstalone, John Piermarini, Henry Galperin, Brianna Sextone-Stallone, Spence Kande, and many others!
Thanks also to the translators: Moon Ki Cho, Yumin Guo, Tracy Zhao, Yekan Ji, Xinying Jiang, Seon Kinrot, Brian Kirby, Chenchen Luo, Wei Tang, Tony Cha, Richard Dolen, Joshua Guarino
Community: David Kahn, the Massachusetts Go Association, and the Boston Go Community; all the friends and family who don’t play go but helped anyways
For Amateur Team Relay Go: Neil Ritter, Dan Ritter, Chun Sun, Andrew Hall, Becci Torrey, James Peters, John Kane, Tim Holman, Dave Felcan, Yuan Cao, Shawn Ligocki, Dan Steinbrook, Andrew Jackson, Nick Sibicky, Brian Lee, Tim Holman, Steven Xhu. And finally, a special thanks to the professional players who volunteered to be team captains and do commentary: Jenny Shen, Mingjiu Jiang, Yilun Yang, Feng Yun, Willian Shi, Andy Liu, Eric Lui, Calvin Sun, and Ryan Li
photo by James Pinkerton
Bao Yun Clinches ’16 US Open Masters; Battle Underway for Runner-Up: There’s still one more round to play in the 2016 US Open Masters but the name of this year’s winner can already be inscribed: Bao Yun 7D. Bao defeated Song Zirui 1P Friday night by 3.5 points to build an unassailable 8-0 lead and clinch the 2016 title. The action now moves to the battle for second place. Zhang Hanchen will have to beat Ito Kenryo to take second place; if Ito wins, tiebreaks will determine the winner. In other Round 8 action, Andy Liu let certain victory against Zhang Hanchen slip away when he neglected to secure the life of a group in the endgame on Board 2 (click here for an sgf of the commentary by Feng Yun 9P and Yilun Yang 7P); Ito Kenryo 1P beat Ryan Li by half a point on Board 3, Eric Lui 1P defeated Sun Shuo 7d by 4.5 points on Board 4, Jian Zhongfan 7d beat Zhang Siyuan 7d by a half-point on 5 and Zhaonian Chen 7d won by 8.5 points over Albert Yen 7d on Board 6. Click here for the 2016 Masters Division crossgrid, with results and top-board game records. Click here for the US Open crosstab, updated through Round 5.
10a: US Open Masters Round 9 (final): Live pro commentary on the AGA YouTube Channel.
10:30a: US Open Masters Round 9: Live pro commentary on KGS.
PLUS: Check all the pro game commentaries from the week here.
US Go Congress Tournaments Schedule: Saturday 8/6
9:00a: US Open, round 6; US Open Masters, round 9
Exactly 100 players ranging from the low 27 kyu to 7d decided they did not need a day off on Wednesday 8/3 — “because rest is for babies” — and gathered in the main playing room for the annual Diehard Tournament. Both Ted Lin 3k and Alexander Foti 4k were undefeated with four wins.
Click here for a Facebook album of all this year’s pairs, and read here for the tournament story and results to find out who will be representing North America in the International Pair Go Championships in Japan!
Visit live.gocongress.org for final tournament crosstabs. Chunlin Xu 7k won all four games to be the only undefeated player in the tournament.
Visit live.gocongress.org for final tournament crosstabs.
Players are on their own to find and complete their playoff games, and both the dan and kyu section playoffs have not yet reached the semi-final round. With just one more day left of play, will they complete before the end of the Go Congress? Will we be left without lightning champions? Stay tuned to find out!
- report by Karoline Li, Congress Tournament Liaison; photos by Chris Garlock
The 2016 North American Pair Go Championship attracted 120 players, including seven professionals, on Thursday night. The overall champions this year are Gabriella Su 6d and Jeremy Chiu 7d (right), who will represent North America in the International Amateur Pair Go Championship in Tokyo in December. Always one of the most popular events of the week, Pair Go provides everyone an opportunity to play in a fun unrated tournament. Pair Go promotes the formation of partnerships which combine the diverse skills and personalities of each player. Since everyone can play, Pair Go is especially attractive for those who don’t play in the rest of the competitive tournaments during the Go Congress. The North American Pair Go Championship is supported by World Pair Go Association and the Japan Pair Go Association.
The top table of the tournament determined the overall champions. As with many of the tournaments at this year’s congress, the matches played on the top board of the tournament were recorded onto the Pandanet Go Server along with a live stream on the AGA’s Official YouTube page. Click here to see an album of photos of all of the pairs in the tournament.
Top table results: 1st Place – Gabriella Su 6d and Jeremy Chiu 7d; 2nd Place – Yin Li Wang 6d and Daniel Liu 6d; 3rd Place – Melissa Cao 4d and Justin Ching 7d; 4th Place – Wan Chen 4d and Ricky Zhao 7d
Table Winners: Table 2: Tongyu Wang 7d and Xiangnan Zheng 7d; Table 3: Irene Sha 6d and James Sedgwick 6d; Table 4: Lee Dahye 4p and Cam Wagner 1d; Table 5: Nqua Xiong 2d and Michael Chen 7d; Table 6: Yasuko Imamura 6d and Nick Blake 3d; Table 7: Marina Watabe 3d and David Glekel 3d; Table 8: Seowoo Wang 1d and Andrew Jackson 4d; Table 9: Ai-Lin Hsiao 2p and Yihsiu Chen 10k; Table 10: Lee Anne Bowie 3k and Dave Hampton 3k; Table 11: Jesy Feliccia 4k and Kilin Tang 7k; Table 12: Alexandra Patz 13k and Marc Palmer 1d; Table 13: Wanda Metcalf 5k and Mark Nahabedian 13k; Table 14: Emily Briley 19k and Jonathon Green 2k; Table 15: Antonina Perez-Lopez 20k and Chris Lahey 11k
- Todd Heidenreich, Tournament Director; photos by Chris Garlock; photo at left: Tselmuun Ganbaatar (r) and her partner Eric Hookway.
As you might imagine, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into broadcasting games from the annual US Go Congress, whether on KGS, Pandanet, YouTube or Twitch. Most of the time, everything works, and go fans around the world can follow the top-board action from the comfort of their own homes or at work.
But sometimes things go sideways. Like Thursday morning. With just minutes to go before the sixth round in the US Open Masters was scheduled to begin, and with Bao Yun and Ito Kenryo — the last two undefeated players left — seated at Board 1, the internet connection for the game recorder’s computers and the livestream feed went dead. The E-Journal team quickly scrambled to troubleshoot the problem, find workarounds and implement backup plans. The BU tech guys were called in, cables and adapters were swapped and software settings were rapidly reconfigured. As always, the priority was to ensure no disruption or distraction for the players while working to bring the best possible broadcast to viewers on the various platforms. At home, viewers probably didn’t even notice the 2-minute delay in the start of the round, which otherwise went off without a hitch. The way we like it.
- Dennis Wheeler & Chris Garlock; photo by Garlock
It’s only August and already Hajin Lee has had one heck of a year. She got married, stepped down from her post as Secretary General of the International Go Federation, got promoted to 4-dan professional at the Korean Baduk Association and got accepted to an MBA program in Switzerland. Oh, and there was that whole AlphaGo thing.
The AlphaGo games against Lee Sedol in March came just before the end of Lee’s tenure at the IGF and the huge crush of media interest generated headlines and news reports around the world as hundreds of journalists descended on Seoul, where she’d spent years as a pro. “Working at that event was really crazy, it was one of the busiest times of my life, but it was still fun,” she said. In addition to witnessing the most massive promotion of go in the history of the game, Lee came away with a personal memento of the moment: “DeepMind sent me a beautiful set of Wedgewood tea cups and pots” for her wedding to fellow go player Dan Maas.
But the tea party will have to wait; Lee is moving to Switzerland this Fall to get an MBA focusing on international organizations. “When I applied for the program, I wanted to get some kind of job at the UN. But right now, I am open to other options because there are many organizations that do education or philanthropy work and I am mostly interested in those sectors,” building on her work at the IGF. “I really enjoyed working with the global community and the international context [at the IGF],” she told the E-Journal.
Lee was also recently promoted to 4P by the Korean Go Association. “In the Korean pro system, it’s a cumulative point system,” she explains. Her last promotion was to 3D in 2007. As for the question on many of her fans’ minds, Hajin — known for her popular go broadcasts as Haylee on YouTube — says this, “For the time being, my plan is to continue my YouTube broadcasts in Switzerland. The hope is to continue it for as long as I can.”
- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress . photo: Lee with husband Dan Maas at the Pair Go tournament Thursday night at the 2016 US Go Congress; photo by Chris Garlock
The US Open Masters Division is the tournament for the best of the best, with the biggest prizes and most intense schedule. The invitational event, with 44 top players this year, is a 9-round event at the US Go Congress, with 6 rounds played at the same time as the US Open and an additional three rounds played Sunday, Tuesday and Friday nights. The new format replaced the 4-round North American Masters Tournament (NAMT) and the 4-round Strong Players Open in 2014. Eligibility in the Masters Division is limited to professionals, 7 Dan or stronger players and NAMT qualifiers. The top prize will be $5000 for first place, plus a $2000 for the top-placing North American Masters Tournament qualifier. Click here for the 2016 Masters Division crossgrid, with results and top-board game records.
Top row: Bohan An, Matthew Burrall, Fan Chen, Zhaonian Chen, Jeremy Chiu, Yuan Fu, Yongfei Ge, Thomas Hsiang, Alan Huang, Kenryo Ito, Zhongfan Jian
Second row: Xinying Jiang, Dae Hyuk (Daniel) Ko, Jung Hoon Lee, Haoshen Li, Ryan Li, Jie Liang, Tianyu (Bill) Lin, ZhiYuan (Andy) Liu, Benjamin Lockhart, Mengxue Luan, Eric Lui
Third row: Qipeng Luo, Bowen Man, Irene Sha, Gansheng Shi, Zirui Song, Gabriella Su, Calvin Sun, Shuo Sun, Zhengbokang Tang, Tongyu Wang, Zehua Yang
Bottom row: Albert Yen, Bao Yun, Feiming Yun, Cheng Zhang, Hanchen Zhang, Hugh Zhang, Lionel Zhang, Siyuan Zhang, Zhongxia (Ricky) Zhao, Xiangnan Zheng, Yuan Zhou
photos/collage by Chris Garlock
Melissa Cao 4D
Lives in: New Jersey
Home Club: Feng Yun Go School
Years playing go: 4
Favorite thing about go: “I like how sometimes when you fight you get the outside, you get a wall and you’re able to use that wall to make territory and use that for other battles during the game.” Melissa said she’s mostly been playing that way this tournament, and that’s her typical style. “I usually like go because it helps my concentration too. Before I wouldn’t concentrate as much but after I’ve been playing go I would concentrate more.”
Edward Gillis 2D
Lives in: Boston, MA
Years playing go: 44
Favorite thing about go: “The rules are simple, but the strategy is complex. The margin between winning and losing is narrow so it makes it a good game from the point of view of developing strategies.” Edward used to play chess, but transitioned to go at a young age. “I like go better than chess because it seems more universal. It’s simple rules, you can cultivate a sense of attack and defense or who has the ability to force his opponent (sente). I only heard about go much later than chess. I was making a go board for myself in high school shop class. It turns out my [math] teacher was a go player, so I advanced rapidly. That got me a good start, so I was lucky.”
- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress
Bao the One to Beat: Yun Bao 7d prevailed over Kenryo Ito 1P Thursday morning in the sixth round of the US Open Masters, giving the “Blindfold Go” master a 6-0 record with just three rounds to go. The game was hard-fought by both players, with Ito in a dramatic byo-yomi that had viewers on the edge of their seats. Click here for the game record and here for the livestream broadcast on the AGA’s YouTube channel. Bao has beaten the players with 5-1 records — Andy Liu, Hanchen Zhang, and Eric Lui — so unless something unusual happens in the next couple of rounds, he’s the odds-on favorite to win the 2016 US Open Masters title. Of course, there remain strong opponents who will try to block Bao in the next three rounds; see below for the schedule. Complete US Open Masters results through Round 6 and top-board game records here. Click here for the US Open crosstab, updated through Round 4.
AlphaGo Keynote Video Posted: Aja Huang and Fan Hui’s AlphaGo keynote speech has now been posted on the AGA’s YouTube channel.
Pro Game Commentaries
US Open Masters Round 6, Ito Kenryo 1p (W) vs. Bao Yun 7d (B) Hajin Lee 4p with Stephen Hu 5d
US Open Masters Round 6, Andy Liu 1p (W) vs Danny Ko 7d (B) Liao Guiyong 9p with Louie Liu 3d & Matthew Harwit 5d
US Open Masters Round 6, Zirui Song 1p (W) vs Eric Lui 1p (B) Liao Guiyong 9p with Louie Liu 3d & Matthew Harwit 5d
US Open Masters Round 6, Cheng Zhang 7d (W) vs Michael Chen 7d (B) Liao Guiyong 9p with Louie Liu 3d & Matthew Harwit 5d
US Open Masters Round 6, Shuo Sun 7d (W) vs Hanchen Zhang 1p (B) Liao Guiyong 9p with Louie Liu 3d & Matthew Harwit 5d
US Go Congress Tournaments Schedule: Friday 8/5
9:ooa: Us Open, round 5; US Open Masters, round 7
1:00p: Senior Cup, round 4; Youth Team Match
3:00p: Women’s Tournament, round 4
7:00p: US Open Masters, round 8; Evening League, night 5
Youth Lightning / 9×9 / 13×13
The youth room has been abuzz with tournaments and impromptu games of relay go in the basement all week, presided over by Devin Fraze, Youth Room Coordinator. Table winners in the Lightning: Albert Yen 7d, Young He 5d, Jessica Wu 3d, Kilin Tang 7k, and a tie between Brian Ye 19k and Stephanie Tan 22k. Table winners in the 9×9: Kilin Tang 7k, Sarah Crites 10k, and Billy Ganbaatar 14k. Table winners in the 13×13: Tony Xie 6d, Patrick Zhao 2k, and Gabriello Adler-Abramo.
Under 16 Girls Championship
Taylor Shu 6d (right) defeated Gabriella Su 6d to clinch the championship in the second annual Under 16 Girls Championship Tournament. Gabriella took second place, while Melissa Cao 3d and Jessica Li 3d placed third and fourth respectively.
Evening League: Latest updates here.
- report by Karoline Li, Congress Tournament Liaison; photos by Chris Garlock except for Under 16 Girls Tournament (bottom right) photo by Ted Terpstra.
Michael Chen 8d and Melissa Cao 4d won the top table at Youth Adult Pair Go on Tuesday at the Go Congress. The event was a big hit with both young and old, drawing 56 players to the Youth Room. Seven tables competed, with first and second place at each table winning prizes, including go books donated by several publishers, Hikaru no Go manga, and several new sets of various anime series donated by Winston Jen. Devin Fraze has taken over in the Youth Room this year, allowing longtime organizer Paul Barchilon to actually play in the event, pictured below with his partner, 5 year old Tselmuun Ganbaatar (who was violating all known standards of Pair Go rules and etiquette by telling her partner how it important it was for him to play where she told him). Every table saw exciting games, many with giggling kids – and astonished adults as the kids outplayed everyone nonetheless. Other events in the Youth Room included lightning go on Sunday, 9×9 and 13×13 tourneys on Monday, and relay go on Thursday. One youngster said he enjoyed relay go the most, because he “really likes to run.” Fraze, whose day job is teaching fifth grade, was clearly up to the challenge of managing so many kids at once.
Winners Report: Table one: 1st place: Michael Chen 8d and Melissa Cao 4d, 2nd place: Daniel Liu 6d and Jinli Wang 6d; Table two: 1st place: Frederick Bao 3d and Sai Sun 5d, 2nd place: Kelly Liu 2d and Yunbo Yi 6d; Table three: 1st place: Yungyan Wu 1k and Tao Wu 1d; Table four: 1st place: Owen Sedgwick 12k and Irene Sha 6d; Table five: 1st place: Liya Luk 9k and Allen Noe 1k; Table six 1st place: Sarah Crites 10k and Bob Crites 7k; Table seven: 1st place Zoey Zhang 30k and Yunzhe Zhang 6d.
- Story and photos by Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor
AlphaGo has brought go global attention but it’s organizations like the American Go Association that must now figure out how best to capitalize on the new interest in the game. Anyone with questions about the AGA, or who would like to find out more about how you can get involved in promoting go, should plan to attend at least one of the AGA’s organizational meetings on Friday and Saturday at the US Go Congress.
On Friday at 2p, AGA leadership will meet with strong players to discuss issues of concern to them, include the latest on the postponement of the World Mind Sports Games. On Friday at 3p, the AGA board of directors convenes its Congress board meeting. All attendees are welcome and encouraged to observe. From 4:30 to 5:30p, AGA’s IT man and web admin Steve Colburn will be available to discuss the AGA’s website and Internet presence.
Then on Saturday, at 2p, find out what’s involved in hosting a Go Congress in your area. “It’s fun and easy,” promises AGA president Andy Okun. At 3p, the AGA Chapter Assembly — comprised of representatives on the AGA’s chapters — meets.
The agenda includes discussion of the chapter rewards program, future Congress hosting ideas, plus next year’s Congress.
All meetings will be held in Room 312 in Boston University’s George Sherman Union. For further info, email Okun at firstname.lastname@example.org
photo: DC-area organizers meet to plan to new National Go Center, earlier this week at the US Go Congress; photo by Chris Garlock
Demonstrating the continuing fascination with all things AlphaGo, it was standing-room-only on Thursday afternoon at the US Go Congress when Fan Hui 2P presented a detailed commentary on Game Five of the AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match. Blending his trademark self-deprecating humor and intense commitment to the game, Fan — who was the first pro to play AlphaGo in October 2015 — illustrated some of the key parts of the game with ideas and comments he’s gleaned from reviews with many other professionals including Gu Li 9P, as well as AlphaGo’s own estimates of where Lee Sedol should have played. Although many of the proposed moves were not terribly sure in Fan’s estimate, he joked that “One thing for sure is that AlphaGo thinks it’s good for white, so I think so too,” drawing a laugh from the audience.
DeepMind is due to release commentaries on games one and two as well in the coming weeks, for which Fan gave brief trailers. In conclusion, Fan said AlphaGo had not just changed the course of go history, but the day-to-day lives of go players around the world. “Before, when you told friends or family members you play go, they’d look at you in puzzlement and ask what go is. Now they know it’s the game in the famous ‘Man versus Machine’ match. Now you can be proud to say ‘I am a go player.’”
In a brief presentation before the lecture, American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock and AGA president Andy Okun made both Fan and AlphaGo programmer Aja Huang honorary members of the E-Journal team “in appreciation for your incredible work publicizing go to a global audience,” presenting them with E-Journal caps. They — along with Garlock — were also given letters by the Empty Sky Go Club’s Steve Colburn from members of go clubs in Upstate New York thanking the entire AlphaGo team for making go “worldwide headline news” and “breaking a barrier that has not been seen in the world of go until now.” Huang and Fan then signed the lids of two go bowls that will be auctioned off at the Congress closing night banquet to benefit the American Go Foundation.
- Andy Okun; photo by Todd Heidenreich
One of the workers behind the scenes at this year’s US Go Congress is US Open and US Open Masters Tournament Director Matthew Hershberger. Often working until the wee hours of the morning to prepare the next day’s pairings and then working through the afternoons to pair the US Open Masters tournament that evening, Hershberger pairs over 200 games per day. He doesn’t remember when he first learned about go, since there were a lot of strategy games around his house growing up. Then he discovered Hikaru No Go. “It was a bit of a feedback loop,” Matthew says, “I started reading Hikaru No Go because I was interested in go, then that made me realize that I could actually learn and play online.” His first Go Congress was the European Go Congress in Finland, and then he ran his own Congress in 2014 in New York City. He enjoys tournament play the best because of the ability to completely focus on go without distraction. This led him to get some experience running local tournaments, and now a local in Boston himself, he stepped up to the plate when the 2016 Boston team was looking for a US Open director. His calm and congenial manner mask how much work he successfully completes on a day to day basis here at Go Congress, managing over 400 go players in competition for some of the US Go community’s top prizes.
- Karoline Li, Congress Tournament Liaison; photo: Hershberger mentally pairing the next round; photo by Chris Garlock
“Crazy go. It’s insane!” The 19 variations of go available Tuesday night at the US Go Congress have grown from just two that TD Terry Benson played at a Go Congress in Cambridge, England in 1976; Rengo Kriegspiel, a game of pair go where none of the four players can see each other or the board, and a variation of team go involving three-player teams and a lot of beer. Benson’s lineup on Tuesday included Rengo Kriegspiel, Joker Go, Blind Go (where both players are blindfolded, not just one as per Bao Yun), Galactic Go, and Zen Go, which is a three-person go game, which means that every turn you play for the opposite color. “In terms of actual instruction in go, Zen Go is the best,” says Terry. “You have to change your perspective each turn!”
- report/photos by Karoline Li, Congress Tournament Liaison
Aniket Schneider 1D
Lives in: Boston, MA
Home Club: Massachusetts Go Association
Years playing go: 14
Favorite thing about go: “Exploring the space of probabilities after the fact… We moved through this landscape of possibilities and just seeing where else we could have gone in the game. In many ways I play games of go so that I have something to analyze later, not analyze so I can play more games. It’s also why I enjoy go problems so much.”
Lives in: Warsaw, Poland
Years playing go: 1
Favorite thing about go: “I like the elegance of it and I like the satisfaction that comes with it. And I like that you’re really learning a lot very quickly. Mostly I play with my friends, so it’s not really a learning thing, it’s just for fun. I feel I’m starting to be interested in it during this tournament. After three games that I’ve already had at this tournament I feel I know a lot more about this game.”
- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress
Ilya Shikshin 1P has won the 2016 European Championship title, defeating Ali Jabarin (1p, Israel) at the 60th European GoCongress in St Petersburg. This is Shikshin’s fourth European Championship and the win makes the Russian the third most successful European player, in terms of all titles won, behind Guo Juan and Alexandr Dinerchstein. Fan Hui had won the last three years but has been at the US Go Congress this week. Shikshin said he was “delighted” to reclaim the title, noting that “All the matches were memorable in their own way. I had to be enormously involved in my games and when you are involved, the matches become very emotional.” Lucas Podpera (Czech Republic) took third place, beating Mateusz Surma in the play-off.
Click here to see video of commentary on the final by Wu Hao 2P and Li Cong 3P with Vadim Efimenko 3d.
- Daria Koshkina, special correspondent to the E-Journal at the European Go Congress
10-year old Ary Cheng 4d (r) swept the Junior Division Finals to defend his Redmond Cup title. Despite falling to 12-year old Luoyi Yang 4d (l) in the preliminaries, Cheng bounced back in the finals, seemingly unfazed by his opponent’s strength. In game 1, Cheng utilized the slightest bit of aji in a corner to start a large ko, after which he was able to kill a group on the side and cruise to a victory. Yang fought back in game 2, however, with a huge fight developing in the center of the board as Cheng aggressively tried to kill a dragon. While there was a decisive opportunity to launch a counterattack and seal the game, Yang, perhaps slightly fatigued by jet lag, having arrived at Congress from China just one day before the first match, made a crucial mistake during byo-yomi giving Cheng the chance to close out the series. Both players will receive trophies at the banquet at the conclusion of Congress, with Cheng receiving $300, and Yang receiving $200.
In the Senior Division, 16-year old Albert Yen 7d is intent on defending his title. Yen stumbled in game 1, after making a severe miscalculation early in the game. His opponent, 14-year old Jeremy Chiu 6d, capitalized immediately on the error to kill a large group and essentially end the game. Switching his strategy to a moyo-based opening in game 2, Yen was able to take a territorial lead after Chiu made a slow move when invading Yen’s framework. Game 3 will occur tomorrow, 8/4, at 3 pm EDT, and will be broadcast live on KGS, Youtube, and Twitch with commentary by Gansheng Shi 1p and Andrew Lu 7d. Videos of the earlier matches are below.
The Redmond Cup is a premier youth tournament named after Michael Redmond 9p for dan players under the age of 18. Players compete in an online preliminary tournament in April to determine two finalists in both a Junior (under 13) and Senior (under 18) division. Finalists are given a free trip to the US Go Congress to compete in a best-of-three finals. -EJ Special Report by Justin Teng. Photo by Paul Barchilon.
Monday was the usual non-stop super busy day for the E-Journal staff, with morning rounds from 9a-1p, evening rounds from 7p-11p and the usual “stuff as assigned” in between. For many years I’ve been one of the handful of top-board game recorders at the morning US Open Masters games, but this year we have a crew of five recorders, so I’ve been managing the recording team, which is great, but to be honest I was missing game recording. So when I was asked to be the game recorder for the Blind Go exhibition match Monday afternoon between Bao Yun 7d and Eric Lui 1p (apparently I have established a reputation for being good at it, especially after a Chinese article was published last year), I was both thrilled and honored. Bao Yun is famous for setting the world record for playing and winning five simultaneous games while blindfolded.
As experienced as I am at recording games, I’ve never had to call out the move coordinates to the players before. Turns out it’s not as easy as you might think. Game recording is easy — you just click the mouse in the same location that the players place a stone, but for this game I had to carefully check the coordinates, recheck to be sure and then check once more to be absolutely certain before calling them out so that Bao Yun, sitting next to me with a bright blue blindfold, could consider his move.
It felt to me like Eric Lui had a strategy in mind to try and trip up Bao Yun. It was quite impressive to be sitting at the same table with them both, Bao Yun blindfolded and with his back to us. He’d call out the coordinates of the move he wanted to play, and I’d place it on the board for Eric. Eric would play his move, and I’d call out the coordinates for Bao Yun. I also pressed the clock for Bao Yun and would occasionally call out the remaining time. Of course, the Ing clocks called out the time once we got into byo-yomi. Impressively, the game went all the way to counting, including filling all the dame.
I couldn’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for Bao Yun to keep all those coordinates in his head for a full game, and I was especially worried about a “misclick” if I gave him the wrong coordinates, which I did once. Bao was of course expecting the actual move, so he adjusted easily enough after I said “oops.”
Mingjiu Jiang 7p was across the large open room giving a blow by blow commentary for a good size audience of Go Congress attendees, but far enough away that he was out of our earshot. In the end, Eric managed to win by a small margin. Though apparently we forgot to announce the ruleset to be used, which sparked a brief discussion as to the exact score, though the one point difference would not have changed the result. Black won by 5.5 by AGA counting. Click here to download the game record.
Special thanks to both Peter Armenia and Peter Gousios for helping relay and verifying the coordinates for my fading hearing in the loud open room.
- photos by Chris Garlock
A highlight of the US Go Congress is the teacher training program. At Myungwan Kim 9p’s Tuesday afternoon lecture on teaching opening theory, Kim (right) said that one of the most important things players need to develop is evaluation, both global (whole board) and local (small area) evaluation. “If you are winning globally, or if you are weak locally, how should you play?” he asked the crowd attending the teaching seminar. “Defensive,” he told us after we shouted out a few answers. He also shared a mathematical approach to deciding between invading a territory or reducing it from the outside, in which the player calculates how many points he or she can let the opponent have and still win. If the opponent will make too many, invade. Otherwise, play from the outside. “That’s how you will find exactly how Lee Sedol will play,” explains Kim, “It’s not that difficult. But if you don’t have this type of theory, how can you find what he played? It’s way more difficult.” He also had something to say about losing stones. “The difference between sacrifice and giving up is whether you planned it or not,” he argued, getting a laugh from the crowd. Kim’s next teaching lecture is on Thursday, 8/4, at 1pm.
Antoine Fenech of Strasbourg, France, came to the US Go Congress specifically to exchange teaching ideas with American go clubs and for the seminars for go teachers. Kim’s Tuesday talk was Fenech’s first teaching lesson. “We don’t have this in Europe,” he said afterwards. Fenech (left) is a middle school math teacher who’s also a 5 dan go player. He runs programs in 10 primary schools in the city and teaches kids from 6-13 years old, a program started by his father in 1982, and responsible for training up many strong players. Fenech himself is a product of that program. “The most important thing is that the kids have fun” so that they come back, he said. Asked whether there’s a secret to teaching go he’d like to share with teachers in America, Fenech said that “We have a method to teach go very fast. In like five minutes, they can learn the real go game. And then after that, we don’t need to talk to them anymore, they can just play with each other. I have some kids who play every week and who just play together and I just taught them for five minutes the first day. If they’re already happy playing a lot with each other, then they don’t need someone to tell them more.” But that doesn’t mean the Strasbourg go program isn’t going to produce strong players. “I have some kids who want to improve, who want to play with me,” Fenech explains. “The new generation, we hope that some of them will become stronger, become the best French players.” The Strasbourg go club also developed a website so that kids can keep playing.
- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress