The Syracuse Go Club had its largest turnout ever for a weekly meeting on Monday, June 13, when 14-year-old Zhangbokan “Tony” Tang 7d played a simul against all comers. Tang, recent winner of the Maryland Open, faced 17 opponents, giving handicaps ranging from 4 stones (for 1 dan players) to 13 (for 20 kyus) — seven other players chose to watch. Only three of his opponents emerged victorious, but a good time was had by all. Tang, who is staying with a host family in Syracuse for three more years until he finishes high school, is about to return to China to visit his family for a few weeks, but he will be returning in time for the US Go Congress, accompanied by his teacher Weijei Jiang 9P.
- report/photo by Richard Moseson
Demo board for sale: Full size magnetic demo board made in China for sale.The board is in great condition (see photo). The magnetic stones are used, but most of them are in good condition. Price: $100 plus shipping. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Go magazine & books: Go Review Jan 1972 to Spring 1977; Go World 1-78; The American Go Journal vol. 9 no. 1 (Jan 1974) to Fall/Winter 2002/2003, plus a couple of mimeographed predecessors; about 30 Ishi Press books (numbers on request); the Ranka 1976 yearbook; a small stack of Japanese and Korean publications, including two copies of Ahop Jul Baduk, a booklet about 9-line go; and some non-Ishi books like Lasker, Korscheldt, the Treasure Chest Enigma, and a couple of go proverb books. email email@example.com
Redmond Responds: “Andrew Feenberg (Rational Play? The Master of Go vs. AlphaGo) clearly knows his stuff,” writes Michael Redmond 9P, “but I think it’s confusing that he leaves the challenger’s name as Otake. I was told that Kawabata just happened to choose that name, and it probably has nothing to do with Otake Hideo, who was a young player at the time. The challenger was Kitani Minoru, of course.” Redmond adds that he disagrees with Feenberg’s comment that “in the case of the actual match the inferior player wins through manipulating the new meta-rules and upsetting his adversary rather than through superior play.” Redmond says that “I would not call Kitani or AlphaGo the inferior player,” and adds that “I think most pros would agree with me when I say it was Honinbo Shusai who tended to manipulate the old traditions to take more advantage than any of his predecessors did. The new rules were in part an attempt to keep the match fair.”
Feenberg Strikes a Chord: “Andrew Feenberg‘s article, Rational Play? The Master of Go vs. AlphaGo, struck a chord in me,” writes Joel Sanet. “I can remember decades ago feeling great admiration for Otake Hideo when he said that he would rather lose the game than play an ugly move. Today I am learning how useful the empty triangle can be.”
China’s Baoxiang Bai (right) defeated Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu to win his second world amateur championship with a perfect 8-0 record. Korea’s Kibaek Kim was second, and Chinese Taipei’s Chia Cheng Hsu was third. Benjamin Lockhart of the US was 13th, Manuel Velasco of Canada was 28th and Emil Garcia of Mexico was 36th. The tournament took place June 5-8 in Wuxi, a city of six million located slightly northwest of Shanghai. Full results here. Click here for more WAGC reports on Ranka.
“In the 1949 movie ‘Stray Dog’ Toshiro Mifune plays a homicide detective looking a criminal,” writes David Matson. “Ten minutes before the end he scans a room for suspects. The two men who best fit the description are both in their late 20′s, wearing white linen suits and white hats with wide black bands. Both men are reading newspapers. One man has an open-collared white dress shirt with no tie, sunglasses and a watch on his left wrist. The other has a crew-neck sweater with horizontal stripes. I watched this on Hulu, viewed on a small laptop, but I think both newspapers showed go game diagrams (different games).”
Where’s the 2015 Yearbook? “Last year you published the 2014 Member’s Edition Collection of Games, including a zip file of all files,” writes Joe Maia. “I didn’t find a similar page for the 2015 Game Collection. Are here any plans for a game collection (with zip file) for the 2015 Game Collection?”
The online 2015 Yearbook — the Member’s Edition Collection of Games, Commentaries & More — is in production now; members should keep an eye out for a notice about publication soon. If you want to get the Yearbook and the weekly Member’s Edition, click here to join the AGA now.
Seeking Go Players in CA: “Trying to find Igo players (any strength) in Marin County, California,” writes Myoun Korin, “Cities like San Rafael, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Fairfax,etc.”
Click here for Where to Play Go across the US, including clubs in California.
It is a strange and very bitter feeling. I finished in 9th place at the 37th WAGC, a very disappointing result. Before the tournament, many people close to me said that I had the level to take 3rd place, and with luck, that I could finish even higher on the podium. Even myself, I had the same illusion, because Satoshi Hiraoka, the representative of Japan and twice winner of the WAGC, had been defeated by players from Europe, but I had never lost against a European. In the end, my sense of pride and lack of practice cost me dearly.
I had quite a difficult draw, because at the end I had the third highest SOS despite my three defeats. Starting from the third round, my opponents where all higher than 6-dan, excepting the final round. After having beaten the USA’s Benjamin Lockhart (7-dan), I was drawn against the winner of the tournament, China’s Bai Baoxiang, in the 4th round. He is considered to be one of four titans of amateur go in China, and his level is at least 4 or 5 professional dan. He turned down many chances to become a professional because he makes a good living from the many amateur tournament in China which have high prize pools. I tried with everything, but he had a solid victory without leaving me the slightest chance. It was the first time in 10 years that I had the feeling of losing a game without creating any problems for my opponent. Very sad. For the 5th round, my opponent was the player from Hong Kong (6-dan). He took a lot of territory but was unable to resist my attacks. With 4 wins from 5, I regained my confidence and was on track for a podium finish.
The turning point came in the 6th round. After losing to Taiwan, Japan’s Satoshi was without any significant victory. I was convinced that I was bound to defeat him, and that he would undoubtably make some blunder and I would have an easy win. In the game, my play was completely unbalanced. I could not recognise myself. I started to wake up when he had almost enclosed his gigantic moyo. Despite my tesuji in his centre, contrary to my illusions, he responded well and I was lost. Later, Mr Satoshi lost by not more that 2.5 points against Bai Baoxing because of bad yose. Actually, he is very strong. If I had appreciated his level, then I would have played differently against him in my game! After this defeat, I had said goodbye to the podium.
Round 7, is the game against my old friend Cristian Pop (7-dan) from Romania. Cristian made his usual moyo but I brought the game under my control. Then, at the crucial junction, I played the losing move, an instinctive play without a second of reflexion. Cristian took advantage of a ko and a good threat to take back control of the game. The last round was against a Belgian player and I won easily. Thanks to my high SOS, I took the 9th place but it was really a mediocre result and I felt a little ashamed. After the championship, I had the impression that the level of amateur players had progressed globally. The European players also had very good results. Notably the Ukrainian Andrii Kravets took 4th place ahead of Japan.
Even if it was a disappointing tournament for me, I met many new friends from all around the world. Notably I established a good relationship with the administration of the IGF. I hope that I can contribute more to the development of Go in the world because of my ability with languages (Chinese, French, English and a little Japanese). I hope that I can train a little more so as not to drop down in level, and I hope to make a better result if I am able to represent France again.
Based on the original report in Revue Francaise de Go, which includes game records and pictures.
More AlphaGo effect: “My uncle teaches math at Colorado Mesa University and asked me to give a presentation about go and AlphaGo,” writes Sirocco Fury Hamada. “Dr. Edward Bonan-Hamada’s mathematical modeling class at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, CO is interested in mathematically modeling human reasoning. He asked me to teach his students about go so they could understand it and think about the math behind AlphaGo. It was a small class, just seven students, but they asked great questions and are very interested in go now. A lot of them expressed interest in wanting to learn more about it and playing it online or with each other. AlphaGo is creating interest in go in unusual (or not) places!”Go classifieds work: “The classified ad you ran for me (books, semiprecious stones, and kaya bowls for sale) was an unqualified success,” writes Donald Garratt. “All the items have been sold! Thank you. I will contact you in the future when I am ready to sell some more go equipment.” Go Classified ads are free; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Andrew Feenberg
This is the story of two go matches. In March, Google’s artificial intelligence computer AlphaGo defeated world champion Lee Sedol 9P 4-1. This is considered a great triumph for artificial intelligence. Does it mean that AI is almost human? Or that humans have simply become machine-like? Another historic match in 1938 provides some useful perspective.
Games are ambiguous phenomena. On the one hand they are models of rationality. There are unambiguous rules, actions, and measures of success and failure. On the other hand games are social events, collaborative performances governed by meta-rules such as sportsmanship that contextualize the play. The players need each other in order to perform. They produce an object together through their combined efforts. The effect of this activity is to contribute to their own personal development as human beings. And we often qualify the product of their activity in aesthetic terms: a beautiful play in football for example.
Rationality as found in games is also a general attribute of the culture of modern societies. Modern societies contain many game like systems. Individuals act as players in these systems in order to get a raise, get a job, learn new skills, take a plane, avoid paying taxes, and so on. Thus games can appear as models of modernity and what happens with games can tell us something about what happens in modern societies in general.
This is why the Nobel prize-winning Japanese author Kawabata chose the game of go for one of his most famous novels. “The Master of Go” is based on a real match that Kawabata witnessed as a newspaperman in 1938. This was the last match of the old master Shusai and his challenger, called Otake in the novel. Each player represents an era. The old master represents traditional play, while his challenger represents modernized play, influenced by Western ideas. Traditional play is all about the human side of the game, deference, the notion of way or vocation as practiced in Japanese martial arts for example, and beauty, the beauty of the moves and the board as the game evolves. Modernity is about winning. Just that.
The novel recounts the game’s play as it reveals the characters and the historical background. The whole intrigue centers on a single move in the game, move 121. The reason this move is so important has to do with Western innovations introduced by the challenger and favored by the newspapers. In the old days the master would have regulated the flow of play, deciding when to start and end each day’s session. But the 1938 match was organized around time limits and sealed moves at the end of the day as in Western chess. Of course players are equal in the game play, but the traditional way of playing recognized the differences between the players in the world outside the game. Now the equalization internal to the game was being extended outward into the world of play. One can see how this might appeal to the challenger and to the newspapers, both of whom would prefer not to be subject to the whims of the old master. To the old master it seemed a lack of due deference.
As it happened, the challenger began to run out of time toward the middle of the game. To gain time to reflect on a difficult position in the center of the board he sealed a final move off in a corner. This trivial move required the master to respond away from the central struggle. The manipulation implied in this use of the time limits and sealed moves upset the master. He was offended and said that the beauty of the game was lost. As a result he made several mistakes and the challenger won. Modernity triumphs over tradition. But we are left with the clear impression that the old master was the better player of the two.
Kawabata wrote after World War II that he would only write elegies, elegies for the lost beauty of the old Japan. The novel is obviously a critique of modernization. But note that it is not about the contrast between rational modernity and the irrational tradition. There is nothing strategically irrational or inferior about the old master’s play. So the contrast of modernization and tradition is not about strategic rationality vs. irrational sentimentality. It is about the place of strategic rationality in the real world. Tradition is a set of meta-rules that contextualize and organize the rationalized sectors of social life such as games. Modernity extends the rationality of games into the real world. This has counterintuitive consequences. For example, in the case of the actual match the inferior player wins through manipulating the new meta-rules and upsetting his adversary rather than through superior play.
Here is the how Kawabata described his elegy for traditional go: “It may be said that the master was plagued in his last match by modern rationalism, to which fussy rules were everything, from which all the grace and elegance of go as art had disappeared, which quite dispensed with respect for elders and attached no importance to mutual respect as human beings. From the way of go the beauty of Japan and the Orient had fled.”
The losers of the two matches were Shusai and Lee Sedol. The winners were Otaké and AlphaGo. What do they have in common? If we understand games in all their ambiguity as both strategic exercises, rational systems, and also ways of self development and aesthetic achievement, then I would suggest that their reduction to mere winning is a disaster. The matches reveal the limits of modernity as a way of understanding and organizing human life. In reorganizing the social world around strategic rationality, modernity prepares the triumph of the machine.
This essay is based on a talk presented at the McLuhan Centre at the University of Toronto in early March. It has been condensed and updated. Feenberg has written extensively about Kawabata’s novel previously in his book Alternative Modernity.
“I just listened to one of my favorite podcasts called Freakonomics Radio with Steven Dubner,” writes Aaron Murg. The title of this episode is called “How to Win Games and Beat People,” and it is all about board games. In it, they interview a board game historian who mentions go within the first 5 minutes! The podcast would be very interesting to any board game player and informational as to the economics of board games.
There’s just a week left to register for Padanet’s 13×13 Internet Go Tournament. Registration is free but you must sign up by June 19. “This year we are holding an open tournament in which all games are played on even and a handicap tournament based on Pandanet ratings,” Pandanet’s Keiko Sota tells the E-Journal. The open tournament is for players 3-dan and higher; the winner will earn the right to challenge Yuki Satoshi 9-dan in a 13×13 game and the second place winner will earn the right to challenge Sakai Hideyuki 8-dan, also in a 13×13 game. The handicap tournament is divided into A class (2-dan~2-kyu) and B Class (3-kyu and under); there are no handicap stones; the handicaps will be in komi. Click here for details and applications; if you are not already a member of Pandanet, register and get an ID here first.
Slate & Shell has just re-issued Yilun Yang’s “Whole Board Thinking in Joseki Volume 2.” Long out of print, this is a continuation of Mr. Yang’s exploration of joseki, written in collaboration with former AGA president Phil Straus. “The title of this book is a bit misleading,” notes Slate & Shell. “It does not aim to teach you josekis. It aims to teach you how to decide which joseki to use in a particular situation (assuming you know the relevant josekis). So what it is really about is judging how to play in the early opening. To narrow down this enormous topic and provide a very thorough treatment of it, Yang focuses on situations in which a few opening moves have been made, including in all four corners, and your opponent has approached your 3-4 stone in one corner. The issue is how should you respond: by settling the corner, trying to get out (in the proper direction), or attacking from the outside. It depends on the rest of the board, of course, and this book shows you how to determine the correct response in terms of the whole board situation. This is very useful knowledge even if your understanding of how to achieve the correct goal in that situation is somewhat limited. At least you will know what you should try to do instead of just guessing the proper continuation.” 181 pages, $26
Automatic game recording app “JustGo” will be demonstrated at this year’s US Go Congress. Lei Chen 7d and Yi Tang 2p from WanTong technology will be on hand at the Congress with their newest technology. Click here to see a demo; the app will be available both in iOS and Android.
Save the dates of October 22-23 on your calendar for the 2016 Cotsen Open. The popular tournament returns to the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles this year, thanks to the support of the Korean Consulate and KCCLA. The 2016 tournament will feature all of the things that previous participants have come to expect and look forward to from the Cotsen Open, including roving masseuses, free lunches, gorgeous trophies, a game between Yilun Yang 7p and another top pro, and thousands of dollars in prizes. “This is a tournament you won’t want to miss!” say local organizers. Registration will open soon; stay tuned for more details and get updates on the Cotsen Open Faceboo page. photo: Mark Lee gets a massage at the 2015 Cotsen Open; photo by Chris Garlock
Slate and Shell Go Stones (Used) Needed: Mr. Wan is collecting all types of shell & slate go stones. If you have such stones in good condition and willing to sell, please email email@example.com with your offer price and pictures.
Philadelphia-area go players will want to check out the interesting and unusual go and music event scheduled for this Sunday, June 12. “Introduction to Applied Go Studies” is a day-long workshop in which participants will learn how to play the game, “and we will ask if music, art, improvisation, or philosophy has anything to learn from Go,” say organizers. “What bridges can be built? And which models will we smuggle across?”
The event runs from 12-8pm at the University Arts League, 4226 Spruce Street, and is being put together by Penn Go Society club member Quinn Dougherty. RSVP on Facebook here or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dougherty can be reached for further inquiries at email@example.com or 484 883 9487.
More than 30 participants turned out for the June 5 tournament sponsored by the Huaxia Chinese School of Greater New York held at White Plains High School, NY. Go players came from various cities in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut for the first AGA-rated tournament organized by Leon Lei and Jie Tang. Attendees included children 6-12 and go students from the Chinese school who competed in a casual round-robin tournament while adults (AGA members) played in rated games.
The tournament featured a special guest, Matthew Hu 2P from California. Along with Yingshyan Ku 3k, the two of them gave a presentation on the highlights of the Lee Sedol v. Alpha Go games. Hu also played simultaneous games with students of the Huaxia Chinese School.
“The tournament was a great success, and there are plans to host another tournament in the Tri-State Area next year,” reports organizer Leon Lei. “The attendees provided positive feedback on their experiences and appreciated the opportunity to play go at this convenient location.”
photos courtesy Leon Lei
Park Junghwan 9p and Lee Sedol 9p face off tonight in the first game of a best of three for the quarterfinals of the 8th Ing Cup Professional. Myungwan Kim 9p will give his commentary on the AGA YouTube channel starting at 8 p.m. PDT tonight, hosted by Andrew Jackson. After the Ing match, probably around 11pm, if time permits, Myungwan and Andrew will continue with the final match of 6th 黄龙士双登杯 (HuangLongShi ShuangDengBei), the Nongshim Cup for women. The final players are Choi Jung 6p of Korea and Wu Zhiying 5p of China. Both of them are the strongest women professionals in their country and whoever wins will bring the trophy home.
Making good on their promise to support both go and educational initiatives, the developers of AlphaGo Monday announced the division of the $1 million prize fund they won in March’s historic match with Lee Sedol 9p, including grants to both the American Go Association and the American Go Foundation.
“Pleased to confirm the recipients of the #AlphaGo $1m prize! @UNICEF_uk, @CodeClub, and the American, European and Korean Go associations,” tweeted DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis. “@theaga, EGF and KBA will use the #AlphaGo donation to raise awareness of Go worldwide and encourage participation especially at youth level.”
The biggest recipient, UNICEF UK, will receive $450,000 to support global education work including girls’ education and gender equality, while $100,000 will be granted to Code Club UK for the creation of more clubs around the world for children to learn to program. The go community grant is $150,000 each to European Go Federation, the Korea Baduk Association and the American go entities. The AGF will receive $60,000 and the AGA $90,000, DeepMind said.
“It has become clear that the AlphaGo match was the biggest promotional boost the game of go has received in many years, and most of the credit for that is due to DeepMind’s people and how hard they worked from the start to make sure the match gave the widest and most positive exposure possible to the game,” said AGA President Andy Okun. “The announcement of these grants shows they are continuing that good work. I am happy to express to them the thanks of our whole North American go community for the love and respect they have shown for the game.”
“Go is good for kids and the Google grant will help us reach and teach more of them. Broaden the base!” said AGF President Terry Benson.
AGA’s proposal to DeepMind was to use the AGA grant as the basis of a North American pro championship tournament over six years, and for AGF to use the grant to explore methods of more effectively spreading go in schools, said Okun.