News from the American Go Association

October 6, 2006

Volume 7, #85 (Member's Edition)

Round Top NY, Somerville MA & Princeton NJ
The Power of Threat
GO REVIEW: The Go Master
ATTACHED FILES: 2006.10.06 Zhou-Cho, World Oza, Dinerchtein; 2006.10.06 Single-digit kyus, Yang; 2006.10.06 Yang October Puzzle

HSIANG BEATS LI IN NAMT PLAYOFFS: Thomas Hsiang 8d narrowly defeated defending champion Jie Li 9d Thursday night in a 3-point game in this year's North American Master's Tournament (NAMT). A full weekend of NAMT A League playoffs kicks off tonight when Zhaonian Chen plays Yang Yilun 7P beginning at 5P PST (8P EST) on IGS. Huiren Yang plays Jie Li at 10A Saturday and on Sunday, Mingjiu Jiang plays Jie Li at 12:30P, Thomas Hsiang plays Zhaonian Chen at 1P and Huiren Yang plays Yilun Yang at 1P (all times PST). The schedule is subject to change and is posted online at  The NAMT A League kicked off with two games last weekend. Yilun Yang 7P defeated Hsiang, who was last year's runner-up, and Mingjiu Jiang 7P defeated Lin Xuefen 1P. Both games were won by resignation. Tournament Director Jon Boley is assisted thi s year by Dennis Wheeler, scheduler and game referee, and John Hogan, game referee.

WILL ZHOU TOPS CHI TOURNEY: Will Zhou 6d won top honors in the September 30 "In Cold Blood" tournament in Chicago, IL. Full report in Monday's E-Journal.

CHINESE GIANTS BATTLE IN CHUNLAN: It's Chang Hao 9P against Gu Li 9P in the finals of the 6th international Chunlan Cup. Details on Monday.

CHO U FIGHTS BACK IN MEIJIN: Down 0-2, Cho U 9P won the third game in his defense of the Japanese Meijin title against challenger Takao Shinji 9P. Details on Monday.

THREE YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP VENUES ANNOUNCED: Three of the 2007 US Youth Go Championship Qualifier venues have been set for Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago. More details in Monday's edition.

QUIZMASTER WANTED: Will Shortz-wannabe wanted to help run the E-Journal's popular Go Quiz. Encyclopedic go knowledge not necessary but enthusiasm, reliability and sense of humor a must. Interested? Drop us a line at

WEEKEND ACTION: Round Top NY, Somerville MA & Princeton NJ
- October 6-8: Round Top, NY
Guo Juan woodlands workshop
Jean-Claude Chetrit 718.638.2266
- October 8: Somerville, MA
MGA Fall Handicap Tournament
Zack Grossbart 617.497.1232
- October 8: Princeton, NJ
Princeton Fall Self-Paired
(come anytime 9A-6P, full handicap)
Rick Mott 609.466.1602

CLARK WINS QUIZ: Calvin Clark of Menlo Park, California, is this week's Go Quiz Winner. His name was selected at random from those who knew that Shimamura Toshihiro's game was described as 'oxidized silver'. Shimamura (1912-1991) won 15 titles and challenged for the Honinbo twice, before suffering a stroke during a Meijin League game in 1982. He was a leader of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Kiin, his leading disciples were Hane Yasunaga 9 dan (father of Hane Naoki 9 dan) and Yamashiro Hiroshi 9 dan). He won the Tengen at age 65, a record for oldest title holder, until broken by Fujisawa Shuko, Hon. Kisei. "Ibushi-gin" -- or oxidized silver -- is the name for Shimamura's much admired style - calm, steady and tenacious in the endgame. (Go World 64). Clark wins a go vendor gift certificate.

THIS WEEK'S GO QUIZ: What was the first English-language periodical about go: Go World, Go Review, The American Go Journal or The British Go Journal? If you think you know, click here to enter our Go Quiz Question of The Week: One winner will be drawn at random from the correct answers and will be awarded a go book or $15 gift certificate from one of our fine go vendors.

GAME COMMENTARY: The Power of Threat
       Zhou Heyang 9P of China and Cho U 9P of Japan gently battle in the August 26 1st round of the 3rd Toyota & Denso Cup in today's lead game commentary by Alexander Dinerchtein 1P. The game is an instructive example of the power of threat, with much of the game's fighting merely implied.
       Two single-digit kyu players duke it out in a turn-based game commented by Yilun Yang 7P, who does his usual thorough analysis of the ups and downs of the game.
Yang also created today's bonus, the latest in his original series of life-and-death problems based on the names of each month.
       To view the attached .sgf file(s), simply save the file(s) to your computer and then open using an .sgf reader such as Many Faces of Go or SmartGo. Readers who need .sgf readers can get them for most platforms at Jan van der Steen's

GO REVIEW: The Go Master
By Roy Laird & Chris Garlock
       Popular culture references to go are few and far between, so last weekend's New York Film festival screening of an entire feature film about the legendary Go Seigen was much anticipated in the U.S. go community. After all, the game's appearance in Ron Howard's 2001 film A Beautiful Mind sparked one of the biggest-ever surges of interest in go (and won Best Picture).
       Unfortunately, director Tian Zhuangzhuang has turned in a boring and confusing biopic that even the most dedicated go player will be hard-pressed to sit through, much less recommend to non-playing friends.
       This turgid film manages to transform the fascinating life of the 20th century's greatest player into a one-dimensional portrait slapped carelessly onto celluloid. In 104 very long minutes we learn virtually nothing about either the game of go or Go Seigen himself. After a promising beginning in which we glimpse the still-active octogenarian himself, we plunge into 1930's Japan where the young Go Seigen is about to take on Shusai, the last hereditary Honinbo (whose historic game against Kitani five years later became the basis for Kawabata's classic novel The Master of Go). But the film seems to lose interest in this titanic struggle -- between old and new, age and youth, Japan and China -- and spins off in ever more confusing subplots.
       The racism and exclusion from tournaments that Go faced in the 1930's, his deep rivalry and even deeper friendship with Kitani, the co-creator of the "Shin Fuseki" that revolutionized modern go, Go's struggle to regain the top after a devastating accident at the peak of his career, are all simply hinted at amid disconnected fragments of his classic jubango matches and sketchy jumbles of other vignettes. Even film basics break down: at one point, several minutes after we see Go felled by a motorcycle on a Tokyo street, a superimposed title helpfully informs us that "in 1961, Go was involved in an accident . . ." While director Tian Zhuangzhuang is shooting in Japanese, which he does not speak, and recently came off a 9-year break during which he was barred from film-making for years by the Chinese authorities, this hardly explains the failures of his latest effort.
       The film's strongest theme revolves around Go's "retirement" from play to pursue involvement in Jiu, a religious sect where, according to the film, he fell under the spell of the sect's leader and self-styled "living goddess." In reality, Go - always a deeply spiritual person - did belong to this sect, but his "retirement" lasted just over a year, from March 1945 to August 1946, a period when not much professional go was being played anywhere in Japan. It's interesting to note that the negative portrayal of religious involvement as cult-like takes place within the ongoing controversy over the Chinese government's actions toward the Falun Gong movement.
       Go Seigen's life had more than his share of triumph and tragedy. The tragedy of The Go Master is that a fascinating life has been sold terribly short. Other than a handful of exquisite shots of Go playing, the film is virtually unwatchable. Only the film's last shot finally gets it right - Go is playing a ceremonial retirement game, and his opponent begins by playing on the central, or tengen point, a nice homage to the man who revolutionized a 4,000 year-old game. Hopefully, we won't have to wait 23 years to see another film about go but in the meantime your best bet is to find a copy of the 1983 "The Go Masters," and settle in with your popcorn and soda for a truly remarkable film.
       Got a different opinion on this or other reviews? Send it to us at!

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

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