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Updated: 23 weeks 5 days ago

AlphaGo Zero-AlphaGo Master: A Master misread?

Sun, 03/12/2017 - 22:52

“Although the openings in this series are pretty repetitive, the games themselves vary,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his second commentary on the AG Zero games. “So in some, you’ll see a half-point game, and in others we’ll see Master crash. This game is interesting because it’s the first time that Zero has black. Also, later in the game, I get the feeling that Master is acting like it did in the 60-game series earlier this year against top human players, where it thinks its winning and is sort of closing up shop and wrapping up the game. So I wonder whether it mis-read a tsume-go — actually a 60-move sequence — in this game.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, and see below for the sgf commentary.

Video produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf files were created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.

download SGF file

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The Power Report: Obituary: Sugiuchi Masao; Nongshim Cup 2nd Stage dominated by China; Xie regains Women’s Honinbo title

Sun, 03/12/2017 - 17:00

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Obituary: Sugiuchi Masao
I very much regret having to report the death of Sugiuchi Masao, a player who was a part of 20th-century go history who remained active well into the 21st century, when he acquired new fans as the oldest active professional go player ever.

Sugiuchi died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital on November 21. He was born in what is now Miyako-no-jo City in Miyazaki Prefecture on October 20, 1920. As a child, he showed talent at go and in 1933 came to Tokyo to become a disciple of Inoue Ichiro 5P. He became professional 1-dan in 1937, but lost about three years of his career to military service during the war. When he returned to the go world in 1946, he became one of the leaders of the younger generation, along with players like Sakata Eio and Fujisawa Hideyuki (Shuko). The peak of his career came when he challenged Takagawa Kaku (Honinbo Shukaku) for the 9th and 13th Honinbo titles in 1954 and 1958; he lost both matches 2-4. He won the Rapid Go Meijin tournament in 1959 and the 7th Igo Championship in 1963. He played in the Honinbo League seven times and in the (Yomiuri) Meijin league five times. He received a decoration from the Japanese government in 1992, and the Nihon Ki-in awarded him the Okura Prize in 2004. His lifetime record was 883 wins, 677 losses, 12 jigo, and two no result. He also served as a director of the Nihon Ki-in, including a term as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Many decades ago, Sugiuchi acquired the nickname of “the god of Go, ” perhaps for his quiet, self-effacing demeanor and his dedication to the game. In his 90s, he became one of the understated wonders of the go world. Although the Nihon Ki-in had introduced a retirement system, which enabled some players to retire as young as in their 50s, he kept playing. His last official game was played on November 2, so his active go career extends to 80 years. This is a record, as is remaining active until the age of 97. He is survived by his wife Kazuko 8P, who is still active at the age of 90, a record for women players. She is now the oldest active professional at the Nihon Ki-in. Her career has lasted 75 years, so she might break her husband’s record. (By the way, a game Sugiuchi played at the age of 95 with the 15-year-old Onishi Ryuhei, then 1P, set a record for the biggest age gap between the players.)

Nongshim Cup 2nd Stage dominated by China: The first round of the 19th Nongshim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Shenyang City in China from September 19 to 22. It was dominated by Shin Minjun 6P of Korea, who won all four games. In the second round, held in Busan in Korea, he extended his winning streak to six games, but then Dang Yifei of China took over and won the remaining games in the round. Results follow.
Game 5 (Nov. 24). Shin (W) beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by 4.5 points.
Game 6 (Nov. 25). Shin (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) by resig.
Game 7 (Nov. 26). Dang Yifei 9D (China) (W) beat Shin by resig.
Game 8 (Nov. 27). Dang (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P (Japan) by resig.
Game 9 (Nov. 28). Dang (B) beat Kim Myounghoon 5P (Korea) by resig.
The final round will be held in Shanghai and will start on February 26. Players remaining are Iyama Yuta for Japan, who will appear in Game 10), Dang and Ke Jie for China, and Kim Jiseok, Shin Jinseo, and Park Junghwan for Korea. Based on players remaining, Korea has an advantage, but someone has to stop Dang.

Xie regains Women’s Honinbo title: The fifth game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match was held in the Special Playing Room on the 7th floor of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 29. Playing black, Xie Yimin (left) defeated the defending champion Fujisawa Rina by 8.5 titles and regained the title she lost to her last year. She was very relieved to be able to end the year on a good note. In the last year or so, Fujisawa had dominated the women’s titles, winning four to Xie’s one, but this win restored her to her familiar position of multiple title-holder (she already held the Women’s Kisei). Fujisawa is left with the Women’s Hollyhock Cup (sponsored by the Aizu Central Hospital), the Women’s Meijin, and the Senko Cup. This is the ninth time Xie has won the Women’s Honinbo. She and Kusunoki Mitsuko are the only players who have made two comebacks. This is Xie’s 27th title.

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Tokugawa Memorial Go Congress features dozens of high-profile pros

Tue, 28/11/2017 - 01:47

Forty-seven high-profile professional go players — including Michael Redmond 9P — will be participating in the Tokugawa Memorial Go Congress in Shizuoka, Japan next February. The event will run from February 11-18, 2018, with a main daily tournament game, followed by other events including instruction and commentaries by professional go players, as well as a 13×13 tournament, go relay, and kids tournament. Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Shizuoka is a city on the south coast of Japan. It’s known for views of Mount Fuji from Miho no Matsubara beach and the Nihondaira Plateau. A cable car links the plateau to Kunōzan Tōshō-gū, an ornate 17th-century shrine and original burial place of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Sunpu Castle features ruins of the original castle and a recreated turret. The Toro Museum archaeological site displays Iron Age dwellings.

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Your Move/Readers Write: Remembering Joel Olson’s “wonderful smile”; Janice Kim on “An interesting story”; Board size mystery explained

Tue, 28/11/2017 - 01:00

Remembering Joel Olson’s “wonderful smile”: “Reading about Joel Olsen’s interest in music explains an aspect of this old hand go player,” writes Terry Benson. “Every Go Congress, he was a regular at the gathering for silly go songs. There are four editions of the AGA Song Book, so it often took time for everyone to find the words to a song in whatever version they had. Two years ago Joel compiled a concordance to show where any particular song was in each of the editions. I emailed him this past spring expecting him to come to the Congress in San Diego and enjoy his work. Sad that he didn’t get to sing one more time. He always had a wonderful smile which beamed happiness.”  

Janice Kim on “An interesting story”: “An interesting story has popped up, weaving together themes of learning, and human achievement in field of games,” writes Janice Kim. “My thoughts: It would be a little clearer what was going on to non-chess players, if they considered a random person who decided to challenge the Olympic gold medalist in the 400m hurdles after training for a month. 1) WSJ, you don’t have to create drama by suggesting Magnus winning is in doubt. 2) Magnus, I get it. I’d be curious too. 3) Max, you are definitely getting the silver.”

Board size mystery explained: “Having a collection of go-related art I can assure Greg Kulevich (Go Spotting: Art Institute of Chicago 11/12 EJ) that a board size of 25×17 was just the artist’s choice and not a usual board size at any time,” writes Erwin.Gerstorfer. “It might be surprising but hardly any depiction of Go boards in Asian art is coming even close to a 19×19 size, let alone that you find there any kind of reasonable board positions. Obviously Asian artists were more interested in the overall impression and not in depicting the exact details of the game.”





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The Power Report: Iyama defends Oza and Tengen titles

Mon, 27/11/2017 - 03:33

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Oza and Tengen titles: Everything is going well for Iyama Yuta these days, both internationally and domestically. In quick succession, he defended two of his top-seven titles, making sure he ends the year with his Grand Slam intact.

On November 20, the third game of the 65th Oza title match was held at the same venue as the second game (on the 18th, covered in my previous report, published on the 21st), that is, at the Hotel Okura Kobe in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture. My description of the second game needs to be revised in light of the Go Weekly report. Apparently Ichiriki (white, at left) took the lead in the opening and in the middle game he built a winning position. However, Iyama made a do-or-die attack that ended in his capturing a large group and pulling off an upset. In the third game, in contrast, it was Iyama (white) who got a good position in the opening (mainly because Ichiriki was burdened with a heavy group). In the middle game, he kept up the pressure on Ichiriki and forced him to resign after 174 moves. This gave him a 3-0 lead, so he defended his title. It is his third Oza title in a row. One rest day may not have been enough for Ichiriki to recover from the shock of letting slip the second game. The fourth game was scheduled to be played in his hometown of Sendai, but he couldn’t take the match that far. The Oza prize is 14 million yen (about $127,000).

The third game of the 43rd Tengen title match was played at the Munakata Yurikkusu, an entertainment/sports/cultural complex in Munakata City, Fukuoka Prefecture, on November 24. Playing black, Iyama (right) built central influence in the opening, but Ichiriki attacked his centre group and tried to blockade it. In response, Iyama cut the blockading group into two and tried to surround the centre part of it. Ichiriki came up with a clever answer, so his group was able to break out, but in the subsequent fighting he missed the best sequence. After that, the game went downhill for him. Iyama set up and won two successive ko fights, also killing a white group in the second fight. Ichiriki resigned after Black 171. Iyama’s fighting ability gave him the edge over the challenger. This win made the score 3-0, so he completed his Tengen defence just four days after his Oza success. Finishing off both these titles so quickly earns Iyama a lot of extra time for rest and recuperation in December.

Iyama: “In this series, each game could easily have gone either way. I think that in the end I was just lucky.”

Ichiriki (left): “In both the Tengen and Oza matches, I felt a gap between Iyama and me when byo-yomi started.”

The Tengen prize money is 13 million yen (about $118,000). Iyama has now won 48 titles, so he has moved ahead of Kato Masao into equal fourth place with Otake Hideo. It will take him a while to overhaul the players still ahead of him: Kobayashi with 60, Sakata Eio with 64, and Cho Chikun with 74.

Starting with the third game in last year’s Tengen title match, Ichiriki has now lost nine games in a row to Iyama. He has just over seven weeks to regroup before the Kisei title match starts. First of all, he will have to adjust to two-day games.

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In Memoriam: Joel Olson

Sun, 26/11/2017 - 23:00

Joel Olson passed away on November 14 at the age of 76. Olson was a retired meteorologist and veteran. He was a member of a number of local groups in Norman, Oklahoma, including the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) and the Oklahoma Go Players Association and was knowledgeable in so many areas, ranging from the environment to economics, photography and the arts. He also had a strong background in music, having played in marching bands while at school. “But if Joel had to pin a label on himself,” says longtime friend Donna Clifford-Jones, “he would say that first and foremost he was an environmentalist. He cared about our planet and had a strong commitment to promoting solar energy in Oklahoma.”

A long-time member of AGA (#568), Olson was an organizer of the Oklahoma Go Players Association in Oklahoma City for several years. He attended go congresses at least from 2009-2016 (he won the 7-kyu section in 2016) and was part of the U.S.A. delegation to Cuba in 2013 (he was credited for photos in the E-Journal), reports Ted Terpstra.

“Joel loved to learn new things,” says Clifford-Jones. ” Often he did this through the purchase of books, CD’s, DVD’s, and sheet music in particular. He was an avid Great Courses follower and would sit and watch lecture after lecture until the series was over. He was also a fan of science fiction and maintained a large collection of authors. Joel also liked to travel and had driven to most areas of the United States in his lifetime, as well as a trip to Cuba in 2013. He loved to visit the New Orleans Jazz Festival and was planning on that event for 2018. But I think Joel’s greatest gift was his kindness. He was a calm and gentle person who cared about the welfare of others. I will miss him eternally for the great joy he brought to my life.”

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AlphaGo Zero series to officially launch on Black Friday

Thu, 23/11/2017 - 21:00

After taking last Friday off, Michael Redmond’s AlphaGo video commentary series officially launches an AG Zero-Master series Friday at 6p EDT, with at least four more Zero-Master commentaries planned through the end of the year. Click here for the first Zero-Master commentary.

“Zero shows a strong bias for territory, and this makes it’s overall game plan relatively easy to understand,” says Redmond. “Quite often we will see Zero diving into Master’s moyo, with some exciting fighting.”

Meanwhile, click here to check out Redmond’s exploration of Zero’s main openings and here for a playlist of 15 Redmond commentaries on the AlphaGo self-play games.

Video produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf files were created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.

download SGF file

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Pandanet AGA City League Registration still open

Tue, 21/11/2017 - 02:31

Registration is still open for the new year of the Pandanet AGA City League. Play against some of the best players in the US and Canada including most of the AGA Professionals. Check out the rules and email steve.colburn@usgo.org for more information.

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Young Lions Deadline Saturday

Tue, 21/11/2017 - 00:29

There’s less than a week left to sign up for the American Go Honor Society’s Young Lions Tournament. The deadline is this Saturday November 26th. The AGHS website says “Young Lions is a premier youth tournament for the new generation of go players to earn their first titles. Youth players from the United States, Canada, and South America will earn the right to battle for glory. But this road is full of pitfalls and dangers. Who will emerge as the leader of the Pride?” All youth players 18 and under are welcome to participate in this online tournament. The tournament will be held on the 3rd and 10th of December on KGS. Click here to sign up, and click here to view the rules. 

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Former Seattle Go Center manager launches antique go equipment site

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 17:00

Bill Camp, former Manager at the Seattle Go Center, has surfaced in the world go community four years after moving to Australia. With his wife, Marian, he recently launched kimonoquilt.com, which offers refurbished antique gobans, stones, bowls and other go accessories, along with quilts Marian makes “from fabric used and loved and worn in another life.” Like the quilts, the go equipment merges old and new, as Camp uses his experience with fine woodworking to bring antique go equipment back to life.

“Renovating, repairing, sanding, re-printing, oiling and polishing has taken many months of detailed devotion,” says Camp. “Transformed from the years sitting in storage, the stains and dirt removed, each surface carefully and lovingly tended to, these bowls and boards once again approach their original condition.”

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