Myungwan Kim 9P will analyze the Fan Hui-AlphaGo games on the AGA YouTube and TwitchTV channels this Friday at 9p EST (6p PST). And for the first time, the broadcast will be simulcast on weiqitv.com in China. Yesterday’s news that Google’s go-playing AI, AlphaGo, had swept Fan Hui 2P 5-0 rocketed around the world, receiving international coverage including write-ups in the New York Times, Bloomberg News, the BBC, Wall Street Journal, MIT Technology Review, Wired, NPR and blowing up on the AGA’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.
“I was shocked at how Alphago played,” Kim (left) told the E-Journal. “It played like a human professional. I am sad that this computer program might beat me, but I don’t think it can beat Lee Sedol. I will tell you why in my commentary.” Google DeepMind, the British artificial intelligence company which developed AlphaGo, has issued a challenge to Lee Sedol 9P from South Korea, the top player in the world for much of the last 10 years, to play a 5-game, million-dollar match in March. Andrew Jackson will host the livestream broadcast.
In a stunning development, the AlphaGo computer program has swept European Go Champion and Chinese professional Fan Hui 2P 5-0, the first time that a go professional has lost such a match. “This signifies a major step forward in one of the great challenges in the development of artificial intelligence – that of game-playing,” said the British Go Association, which released the news on January 27, based on findings reported in the scientific journal Nature this week (click here for the video, here for Nature’s editorial, Digital intuition and here for Go players react to computer defeat). NOTE: This story was posted at 1p EST on Wednesday, January 27; be sure to get the latest breaking go news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
“AlphaGo’s strength is truly impressive!” said Hajin Lee, Secretary General of the International Go Federation and a Korean go professional herself. “Go has always been thought of as the ultimate challenge to game-playing artificial intelligence,” added Thomas Hsiang, Secretary General of the International Mind Sport Association and Vice President of International Go Federation. “This is exciting news, but bittersweet at the same time,” said American Go Association president Andy Okun. “I think we go players have taken some pride in the fact that we could beat the best computers. Now we’re down to Lee Sedol fighting for us.”
Google DeepMind, the British artificial intelligence company which developed AlphaGo, has issued a challenge to Lee Sedol 9P from South Korea, the top player in the world for much of the last 10 years, to play a 5-game, million-dollar in March. “I have played through the five games between AlphaGo and Fan Hui,” said Hsiang. “AlphaGo was clearly the stronger player. The next challenge against Lee Sedol will be much harder.” While Hajin Lee agreed, saying “I still doubt that it’s strong enough to play the world’s top pros,” she added “but maybe it becomes stronger when it faces a stronger opponent.” Fan Hui (left) is a naturalized French 2-dan professional go player originally from China. European Champion in 2014 and 2015, Fan is also a 6-time winner in Paris as well as Amsterdam.
Just as the Kasparov/Deep Blue match did not signal the end of chess between humans, “so the development of AlphaGo does not signal the end of playing go between humans,” the BGA pointed out. “Computers have changed the way that players study and play chess (see this 2012 Wired article), and we expect something similar to occur in the field of go, but not necessarily as assistance during play. It has been recognised for a long time that achievements in game-playing have contributed to developments in other areas, with the game of go being the pinnacle of perfect knowledge games.” Added Okun, “go has for thousands of years been a contest between humans and a struggle of humans against their own limits, and it will remain so. We still cycle in the Tour de France, even though we’ve invented the motorcycle.”
The BGA noted that that achievements in game-playing technology have contributed to developments in other areas. The previous major breakthrough in computer go, the introduction of Monte-Carlo tree search, led to corresponding advances in many other areas.
Last year, the Facebook AI Research team also started creating an AI that can learn to play go and earlier today Mark Zuckerberg reported on Facebook that “We’re getting close, and in the past six months we’ve built an AI that can make moves in as fast as 0.1 seconds and still be as good as previous systems that took years to build. Our AI combines a search-based approach that models every possible move as the game progresses along with a pattern matching system built by our computer vision team.”
Game 1 of the AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui 2P match appears above right. Click below for the match’s remaining game records:
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 2
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 3
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 4
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 5
Update (11:44pm 1/27): Myungwan Kim 9P will analyze the games played between Fan Hui and AlphaGo during a live stream on the AGA YouTube Channel and TwitchTV this Friday; more details will be posted at 7a EST.
Robert Jasiek has released his 12th book, “Positional Judgement 2 – Dynamics.” Targeted at players 5 kyu to 5 dan, the book focused on “the dynamic aspects of the middle game (influence, aji, fights etc.) and the related positional judgement with theory and examples,” says Jasiek. “While territory characterises peaceful positions, our assessment of dynamic positions includes reductions, aji, potential, influence, thickness and fights. The general theory applying to these concepts raises the quality of our middle game and enables our very profound positional judgement.” 276 pp., EUR 26.50 (book), EUR 13.25 (PDF). Click here for sample pages, a review, and all of Jasiek’s books.
Korean pair Jeon Yujin-Song Hongsuk won the 26th International Amateur Pair Go Champion in Tokyo held December 5-6 at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont. Amy Wang 4D and Danny Ko 7D represented the United States. It was the second time the two had represented the US. “Amy represented in 2013 and I represented in 2014, so we pretty much knew the drill,” says Ko.
There were 32 teams including 12 Japanese pairs. “We drew a difficult first round match-up and fell to one of the strong Japanese pairs (7 Dan male and 6 Dan female) on Saturday morning (Dec 5). The game was somewhat competitive but we fell behind after a mid-game fight and lost about 10 points.”
After the first round, players and guests prepared for the goodwill game wearing national costumes. “Amy and I decided to wear ‘old western’ costumes. It was a great chance to meet other players and guests. I paired with a 6 Dan Japanese lady and played against Hajin Lee 3P and a Japanese 6-dan male player (left). It was my first time to play Hajin although we have been good friends for many years.”
“Sunday morning, we played Indonesia in the second round. We led the game with comfortable margin and won the game by resignation,” Ko told the E-Journal. “We drew the one of Japanese pairs (7-dan male and 5-dan female) again in the third round. The game was very competitive and both teams had many chances throughout the game. We pretty much lost the game at the last fight and lost about 5 points.”
In the 4th and 5th rounds, the US team played Mongolia and Finland. winning both games in less than 100 moves by resignation. Their 3-2 result resulted in 16th place for the US. “The result was a little disappointing since we were hoping to win four games,” says Ko. “But we played very competitively against two Japanese pairs so it was not a bad performance. Click here for complete results.
Judan challenger: Iyama or Yo: The new tournament year at the Nihon Ki-in got off to a good start on January 7. Most of the interest focused on the semifinals of the 54th Judan tournament. The Judan is the only top-seven title Iyama Yuta doesn’t hold; if he becomes the challenger, he has a chance of achieving a simultaneous grand slam. In his semifinal, Iyama (B) beat Imamura Toshiya 9P by resignation. His opponent in the play-off to decide the challenger to Ida Atsushi will be Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in. In his semifinal, Yo’s opponent, Shida Tatsuya 7P (B), forfeited the game because of an illegal move when he recaptured a ko immediately, without making a ko threat. (To be precise, Yo’s ko threat was a ko capture in a position that was a double ko; Shida, who was in his last minute of byo-yomi, should have captured the other ko.) Last year Yo lost the play-off to decide the Oza challenger to Iyama, so he will be seeking revenge. This chance comes on January 21.
Meijin League Update: The first game of the second round of the 41st Meijin League was played on January 7. Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation. At this point, Ko, on 2-0, took the provisional lead. On January 11, Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. and joined Ko in the provisional lead.
Lead shared in Honinbo League: The first game in the fourth round of the 71st Honinbo League was played on January 7, with Ichiriki Ryo 7P (B) beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points. On January 14, Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 7P by resig. This was Motoki’s first loss, so he now shares the lead with Yo; both are on 3-1. Takao also has only one loss, so he has a chance of joining them in the lead.
Women’s Meijin League concludes: The final round of the 28th Women’s Meijin League was held on January 7. Aoki Kikuyo 8P had already won the league in the fifth round, but she won her final game as well to finish with a perfect score. Results: Aoki (W) beat Fujisawa Rina 3P by resig.; Okuda Aya 3P (B) beat Kato Keiko 6P by resig.; Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) beat Mannami Nao 3P by 2.5 points. The title match with Xie Yimin will start in March.
Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense: The first game of the 40th Kisei title match was held at the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in the city of Aizu-wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture on January 14 and 15. The defending champion Iyama Yuta (aged 26) drew white in the nigiri to decide the colors. The challenger Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (aged 37) made a positive start, playing aggressively in the opening. The game was decided by a ko fight in which Yamashita sacrificed a group in order to win a ko started after White invaded a black position. Iyama took the lead in this exchange and hung on for a win, rebuffing some do-or-die attacks by Black. Yamashita resigned after 202 moves. The second game will be played on January 28 and 29.
The upcoming South Central Go Tournament in Dallas February 13-14 “aims to bring together players in the south central part of the country to enjoy a weekend of competition, and to build a sense of community amongst one another,” says organizer Bob Gilman. As of January 18, 22 players have registered, 14 from Texas and 8 from other states. Find more information on Facebook. Note that there is a special rate at the Residence Inn, Plano, Texas for players coming from out of town. This rate is available through January 22. Also, provided there are sufficient registrations, players will get access to video reviews of selected games by prominent teacher In-seong Hwang. Registration for the tournament is open here. For more information comment on Facebook or write Bob Gilman.
Registrations for the North American Kyu Championship (NAKC) are due by January 26. Any kyu players under the age of 18, from Canada, the United States, or Mexico are welcome to join. Junior (under 13) and Senior (under 18) players will compete with each other, but crystal trophies will be awarded to both the best Junior player and the best Senior player in each bracket – all the way down to double digit kyu. The winner of the top bracket will also be allowed to join the Redmond Cup, a youth tournament traditionally only open to dan players. Thanks to the AGF, any participant who competes in every round, win or lose, will be eligible for the choice of a $400 scholarship to the summer AGA Go Camp or a $200 scholarship to the 2016 Go Congress. All four rounds will be held on KGS on January 30. For more details, visit the NAKC’s official Rules and Format page. To register, click here. -Story and photo by Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth editor. Photo: Kyu players honing their skills at the 2015 US Go Congress in St. Paul.
Three of the eight competitors in the recent 2015 AGA Professional Qualifying tournament are players from the AGA City League. They are tournament winner Eric Lui 1p of the Greater Washington team, Aaron Ye (Bay Area team) and Jeremy Chiu (San Francisco 1 team). Ye (right) gave Eric Lui (left) a tough challenge in the final matches of the tournament. Other professionals who play in the AGA City League are Ryan Li 1p (2014 AGA professional, Canwa Vancouver 1 team), Tim Song 1p (Greater Washington), and Huiren Yang 1p (Boston).
- Steve Colburn; photo by Chris Garlock
Round three of the AGA City League will take place this Sunday, January 24 at 3p EST. Throughout the day you can catch your local and favorite players from around the US and Canada. Check the schedules for each league to see when they are playing: League A, League B, League C.
Round three will have a game review from Hajin Lee 3p. Watch all of the live coverage on Pandanet app on your Windows, OSX, linux 32bit and 64bit, iOS, or android. Games will be played in the ‘AGA City League’ and ‘AGA City League (Manual)’ Rooms.
- Steve Colburn
In the handicap section Sam Tregar 5k, Luke Weatherby 8k and James Acres 1k all had perfect 3-0 records with Tregar winning the title on tie-breaker over the 18 contestants.
Players came from as far as Los Angeles and Phoenix, to enjoy a day of fierce competition. The tournament was co-hosted by the San Diego Go Club and the UCSD Go Club.
An added bonus was that newly minted AGA pro Eric Lui 1P dropped in to observe, comment and join half the contestants for the post-games dinner at a local Japanese restaurant.
- report/photos by Ted Terpstra; (top left) Mark Lee (left) playing Weihan Huai (with Eric Lui watching, back, second from right); (top right) Mark Lee (left) receiving his cash prize from Ted Terpstra (president, SD Go Club); (bottom right) Group shot of 2016 SD Go Championship. (bottom left) Sam Tregar (right) Handicap-section winner.
The first Japan Go Congress will be held July 15 through 18 in Takarazuka, Japan, and organised by the Kansai Ki-in. In addition to a main tournament, the Congress — at which 200-300 participants are expected — will offer a variety of side events such as lectures, teaching games with professionals, and other traditional Japanese games. Famous for its Grand Theater, Takarazuka is also known as the “city of opera.” Situated northwest of Osaka, it is outside of typical urban tension, but still easily accessible. Available accommodations include Daikin Dormitory, the Takarazuka Inn Hotel and the Takarazuka Hotel; click here for details. “The Kansai Ki-in warmly welcomes players from abroad,” reports their Go Congress Team.
Just before the Japan Go Congress, the 4th Osaka Go Camp — also organized by the Kansai Ki-in — will be held from June 26 to July 14. Last year there were more than 70 participants at the camp, where “You can train with professionals in a cozy environment and do sight-seeing,” report organizers.
Weiqi Teacher Needed in Maryland: The Hope Chinese School is looking for a go teacher for a Saturday afternoon class, reports Edward Zhang. “It’s a great school with several hundred students registered.” The class is at Winston Churchill High School, 11300 Gainsborough Road, Potomac, MD 20854. Hourly rate is at least $23; contact Ms. He 703-585-7164.
Turing, Mrs Morcom and Go: “Not sure if anyone has submitted this one,” writes John Hager, “but in the book ‘Alan Turing: The Enigma‘ (chapter 3) it mentions that Turing taught his friend’s mother, Mrs. Morcom, to play go. “Also mentioned (is that) not much go (was) played at Princeton when Alan Turing was in residence.”
Speaking of Princeton, we have it on good authority that this year’s New Jersey Open — the 57th — will be held March 19-20; details should be posted on our calendar soon.
Taranu’s Timing: “Aren’t you forgetting Romania’s Catalin Taranu?” writes Michael Alford. (Our “Finland’s Tormanen becomes pro shodan, 12/30 Power Report” said that Tormanen “is the first Westerner to become a professional at the Nihon Ki-in since the late Hans Pietsch 6P in 1997.”) “I think Catalin became Nihon Kiin pro in 1998. Catalin is 5p.”
The Igo Nenkan (the Yearbook put out by the Ki-in) just gives 1997 as the year both Pietsch and Taranu became pros. Go World 79 (page 9) has more details. Catalin Taranu won the qualifying tournament at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in and became pro 1-dan in April (probably as of April 1, as that is the usual practice, but this is not specified). Go World says: “Catalin was followed by Hans Pietsch at the Tokyo branch of the Nihon Ki-in. . . . Hans was given special permission to become professional shodan and he made his debut in late April.” So Hans is the most recent before Antti, though just by a matter of weeks. Btw, Catalin, like Michael Redmond, became pro the legitimate way, strictly through competition. (They are the only two. None of the Western pros at the Korean Ki-in made it through competition.) Hans Pietsch, Manfred Wimmer, and James Kerwin were all given special permission to become pro. However, the probationary status is regularized when you gain promotion, as Wimmer and Hans did. Hans earned promotion to 4-dan on merit.
– John Power
Wrong Rank: “…this is mostly tongue in cheek,” writes Keith Arnold. “In your nice thank you article (AGA Pro Tourney: Final Results and Team Credits) you got one of the ranks wrong. You list ‘Eric Lui 7d’…missed your first chance to say ’1p’ Had to do it.”
Go in WSJ: “Here’s a nice article freshly enpixellated in the Wall Street Journal on go and computers,” writes Matt Bengtson.
In February, a strong North American Go team will head to Huai-An in Eastern China’s Jiangsu Province, for the first ever International Mind Sports Association Elite Mind Games. Mingjiu Jiang 7p and Eric Lui 1p of the US, along with Ryan Li 1p and Sarah Yu 6d of Canada will play from Feb. 24 to March 4 in the city of five million. The three men will play in a men’s team competition against teams from Europe, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, while Yu, who just competed in Los Angeles as the first woman candidate for AGA pro, will play in a 12-player woman’s individual tournament. Yu and a male player will also take part in a three-round pair go knockout. The IMSA Elite Mind Games are similar in format to the SportAccord World Mind Games, which took place each December from 2011 to 2014 but not in 2015.
The second Australian Go Congress kicks off this Friday, January 15 and runs through the 19th at the Sydney Parramatta Novotel in Parramatta, NSW, Australia. The main tournament will be played over five days; in addition there will be other competitions, lessons and opportunities to play simultaneous games against some of the world’s top professional players. There is a substantial prize and gift pool across different divisions.
The Congress will be held in the heart of Parramatta, close to the central business district, restaurants and cafés. It is also close to Parramatta’s shopping centre and public transport. It takes just 30 minutes by train to reach Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, Opera House, harbour, casino and more.
To assist people on their first visit to Sydney, Congress organizers will also provide a free city tour. Click here for Congress details.
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
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.