News from the American Go Association

December 16, 2005
Volume 5, #108

WEEKEND GO ACTION: Arlington VA, Davis CA & Iowa City IA
GAME COMMENTARY: Old Openings & Rascals
GO REVIEW: Reflections on the Game of Go
ATTACHED FILES: 2005.12.16 Pro Game, Park-Lee, Dinerchtein; 2005.12.16 McGuigan Series #6

KEIGO & RIN IN TENGEN DEAD HEAT: Yamashita Keigo 9P came back to tie up his defense of the Tengen title against Kono Rin 7P at 2-2. Details on Monday.

SAMSUNG CUP FINALS SET: The finals of the international Samsung Cup will be Lee Changho 9P of Korea against Luo Xihe 9P of China. Details on Monday.

HESS LATEST LIFE MEMBER: Nathan Hess 15k of Austin TX joins a select group this week as the latest Life Member of the American Go Association. A one-time fee grants full membership for the life of the member, plus recognition in the annual Yearbook as Life Member. Find out more at

JIE LI DEMO IN SAN DIEGO: US Masters and Ing Champion Jie Li 9d will appear at the San Diego club Monday night to review his 2005 U.S. Go Congress demonstration game against Japanese pro Kim Myung-Wan 7P. The game review begins at 8P at Twiggs Coffeehouse, 4590 Park Boulevard at Madison in San Diego. For more info:

CHRISTMAS GO WITH JOEY: Joey's Hung's Go School is having a special Christmas Go Camp from Dec 19 - Dec 30 at Fremont, CA. Check it out at or call 510-659-8220. Space is limited!

INVESTING IN GO'S FUTURE: Over the last two years the American Go Foundation (AGF) has sent out $32,000 worth of boards, stones, demo boards, books, Way To Go booklets, and small grants to over 300 programs in schools, clubs, and community centers around the country. Find out more in Monday's EJ and watch your snail-mail for a letter soon!

CHESS PROGRAMS PUSH "THINKING" BOUNDARIES: "It is now plausible to argue that computers are playing subtler, more imaginative chess than the humans they have been designed to emulate," writes Tom Mueller in the December 12 issue of The New Yorker. Last year, three top programs - Hydra, Fritz and Junior - outscored three leading grandmasters by 8.5-3.5. "(computer programs) make a lot of counterintuitive, even absurd-looking, moves that on closer inspection can turn out to be outrageously creative," international master John Watson tells Mueller. "By generating countles s new ideas, they are expanding the boundaries of chess." Whether these programs are actually "thinking" is now the subject of debate, reports Mueller. "As the model exhibits patterns and behaviors whose existence its programmer never suspected, it is, in some real sense, creating. And while this may not constitute true machine intelligence, a growing number of cognitive scientists and philosophers see no fundamental distinction between computers and human brains." Not mentioned is that go-playing computer programs continue to play at fairly weak amateur levels.

JANICE KIM RETURNS! We're very pleased to welcome Janice Kim 3P back to the E-Journal as a regular columnist in "Ask a Pro," which will debut in Monday's EJ. Her dispatches from "Life in B-League" - which began back in the quarterly American Go Journal -- were always among our most popular columns, and many readers have asked after her in recent years. "A lot of people write me with questions," Janice says. "I often try to answer at length and thought perhaps other people might be interested." Author of the award-winning, best-selling go series "Learn to Play Go," Janice Kim was the 1984 Fuji Women's Champion, won 2nd place in the 1985 World Youth Championship and 3rd in the 1994 EBS Cup. She's now a columnist with Hikaru no Go in Shonen Jump magazine. Got a question for the Pro? Email it to us at today! All questions are welcome, though we can't promise that every one will be answered.

TOOLS FOR LOCAL ORGANIZERS: AGA Community Outreach Coordinator John Goon has established a Yahoo Group site as a resource for local go organizers. "If you're interested in establishing a go game outreach infrastructure in your area, check out the website," says Goon:

JING WEI LIM WINS ALERT READER: Jing Wei Lim of Hanover, NH (and a member of the Upper Valley Go Club) is this week's Alert Reader winner, winning a $10 go vendor gift certificates for spotting our most recent Alert hidden in a game commentary. Winners are drawn at random from those who correctly report the Alerts. Keep a sharp eye out in ALL our game attachments; you could be a winner too!

WEEKEND GO ACTION: Arlington VA, Davis CA & Iowa City IA
- December 17: Arlington, VA
Holiday Helper
Allan Abramson 703-684-7676
- December 17: Davis, CA
Da vis/Sacramento Quarterly Tournament
Fred Hopkins 916-548-8068
- December 18: Iowa City, IA
All-Iowa Go Tournament
Duncan H. Brown 641-919-7066 (Cell)

GAME COMMENTARY: Old Openings & Rascals
       In today's game commentary, Lee Sedol 9P tries out a decade-old opening on Park Yeonghun 9P in Round Two of the 1st Korean Yeongnam Ilbo Cup, played on October 29, 2005. The commentary is by Alexandre Dinerchtein 1P, from his website, where Dinerchtein's commentaries on both pro and strong amateur games are available by subscription. The site also contains a host of free go materials.
       "You rascal!" says Haruyama Isamu 9P in the latest installment of Questions from Actual Play "You've g ot something up your sleeve. But I didn't know how to react to this." Find out how Haruyama solves the problem. Translated by Robert McGuigan and used by permission of the Nihon Kiin which published the original text in 1979.

GO REVIEW: Reflections on the Game of Go
By William S. Cobb
Slate & Shell:
Reviewed by Chris Garlock 3d
       One of the best English-language go books published this year is also the briefest. And therein lies the challenge of Bill Cobb's Reflections on the Game of Go: how can you make these 116 exquisite pages last longer than few hours it would take to devour at one sitting, as I did?
       In the interests of full disclosure, let me sa y at the outset that Mr. Cobb is my tremendously capable Assistant Editor at the E-Journal and Yearbook and in fact I edited many of the Reflections articles when they first appeared in the pages of the Journal or E-Journal. Unfortunately, I can claim very little of the credit for the originality and brilliance of the jewels collected here; at best I simply helped to polish them a bit.
       While there has been a veritable deluge of English-language go books in recent years (thanks in no small part to the efforts of Slate & Shell, the U.S.-based publisher co-owned by Cobb), there are still very few non-technical books. Those of us interested in the history, art, culture and philosophy of the game must content ourselves with the relevant sections of resources like The Go Player's Almanac, GO! More Than a Game and Invincible, as well as the novels Master of Go, First Kyu and The Girl Who Played Go. Terrific books, all, but slim pickings nonetheless.
       Reflections packs 44 fascinating essays into this slim book, elegant investigations into philosophical questions raised by the game of go. It was philosophy that brought Cobb to go, when his studies in Buddhism led him to Japan and Japanese literature put a copy of Kawabata's Master of Go in his hands. Cobb not only learned the game but has been certified as an International Go Instructor by the Nihon Kiin and in the mid-1990's brought his many interests together in a popular course on go and Eastern philosophy at th e College of William and Mary, where he was a long-time faculty member in the Philosophy Department.
       A practicing Buddhist, Cobb's explorations of the philosophical implications of go are always solidly grounded in the here and now. Some of my favorite essays deal with losing: in "Two Ways to Lose," for example, Cobb differentiates between useless and useful losses. Sometimes the philosopher even dabbles a toe in controversial waters, as when Cobb weighs in on the deeper implications of clock use in tournament play. The essays shine with originality and can be re-read for deeper revelations.
       Accessible to go players of all strengths, Reflections is an especially useful read for newer players who will find it a wide and welcoming window into the world of go. More experienced players will savor the reminders of the complexity of this simple game.


PLAYERS WANTED: NC: Looking for other players in Hickory NC area to play with. If enough people, perhaps even start up a club.

PLAYERS WANTED: TX: Stephen F. Austin University student (in Nacogdoches TX) wants to start a club. Anyone in the area who's interested, please contact Isaac Lowe

Published by the American Go Association
Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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Articles appearing in the E-Journal represent the opinions of the authors an d do not necessarily reflect the official views of the American Go Association.

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Editor: Chris Garlock
American Go Association P.O. Box 397 Old Chelsea Station New York, NY 10113-0397