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July 25th, 2010

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Lyon Go Club

I’m just back from a conference trip, during which I paid a visit to the Lyon Go Club in Lyon, France. The club meets in a games shop in the city centre, with a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Wearing my SA Go t-shirt, I was immediately recognised and made to feel at home by Remi, the guy-in-charge. The strongest players there were 1 kyu, which I felt was more like the SA 1 dan level – I played 3 games, all hard-fought, and only managed to win them by luck. Check out the photos in the gallery. Thanks to the club members for a memorable evening.

Posted by konrad as Articles, Gallery at 10:22 PM, No Comments »

April 14th, 2010

Presentation on Go and AI

I recently gave a talk on AI techniques, and why Go is the new frontier for AI research. The slideshow for the talk, which includes an introduction to Go, is available here.

Posted by Chris Welsh as Articles at 10:23 AM, No Comments »

July 24th, 2008


From Leela’s website:

Leela is a new, strong Go playing program combining recent advances in Go programming and further original research into a small, easy to use graphical interface.

Leela lite is a slimmed down version of Leela which omits the 19 x 19 board, the highest playing levels and the analysis mode. This makes it an ideal introduction to the game. It is freely available.

According to Chris Welsh, the free Leela lite version is much stronger than programs like Many Faces of Go and Igowin, and has a far nicer interface. So this may actually be a better program to send beginners to. I know Konrad has given it a try.

So, give it a try, and leave your impressions in a comment…

Posted by Steve as Articles, Links, News at 5:39 PM, 1 Comment »

June 3rd, 2007

Interview with Mori Hironobu

This is a lengthy interview by Peter Mioch with the Japanese representative at the recent WAGC, Mori Hironobu. Its a very interesting article about a very strong player who refuses to become a pro. Interview with Mori Hironobu

Posted by Chris Welsh as Articles, Links at 1:41 PM, No Comments »

May 7th, 2007

The Magic Principle to Improve, Lesson 2

The Magic Principle to Improve part 2

Translated by Aki & Victor

Subject Diagram 1

This is a 4-stone handicap game.

After being attacked by black 22,24, white play 25. Now black has a tesuji. If white 25 played A, black would play B. White has been cut off.

Diagram 1: Normal moves

At Subject Diagram 1, because of white N, even black 14, 16 have built a influence, it was ineffective. Black 14 should have played 1 to build a root, follow by 3 which is a big point. Otherwise, depends on different playing style, you can play A to attack white right group, or play B to attack 2 white stones.

Diagram 2: other advantageous moves

At subject 1, black 1 is another good move instead of black 22. After white 2, black playing wedging is very important. Until 9, whitegroup is weak because of leaving two cutting points. At this moment, if white play 10 to count attacking black, black would be safe by playing diagonal toward centre.

diagram 3: tesuji

About white 25 at subject 1, black 1 double hane is tesuji. If white 2 pulling back, black 3 atari is the sequence. Until 5, black 1 and white 2 exchanging got big profit. White shape becomes an empty triangle.

diagram 4: black got a good result

White rather play 2, 4 for this diagram than diagram 3. Black still has a strong Atari at 5, with this move black gains control of centre. The white stone at N becomes inefficient.

diagram 5: black is sufficient

White 2 can hane without atari at diagram 4, black 3 atari is still a snug move. Black 5 is important as this move completed black thickness in centre.

diagram 6: dubious strategy

Cutting off the white connection might be considered by many players, but this is a dubious strategy as white has invasion at B and big endgame move at A. Worst of all, after white jump into centre with 4, black can no long establish central thickness.

(black 9=A) diagram 7: actual game continuation

This is the actual game continuation. Black 5,7 overplay here as white gains thickness with 10, and black’s corner is insecure.

Posted by daver as Articles, SAGA at 8:46 PM, 1 Comment »

April 16th, 2007

Steve reports back on SA Open

I’ve posted a blog entry on my experiences at the SA Open, if anyone is interested.

Posted by Steve as Articles, SAGA, Tournaments at 10:49 AM, No Comments »

March 31st, 2007

Translated article from Victor and Aki

The Magic Principle to Improve

Translated by Aki & Victor

If opponent’s position is vulnerable, you should break it into groups. Vice versa, maintain grouped formation.”

Subject Diagram 1

This is a 5-stones handicap game.
White 23 ’cap’ is normal means to reduce the thickness of black. Then black 24 ‘counter-cap’ is aggressive against white 23. White 25 initiated contact plays against black. What should black do?

Figure 1 (black has initiative)
White 25 overplayed in Subject Diagram 1. White usually plays jumps at 1 and 3; but this group is under attack on both sides after black answers at 2 and 4, as in Graph 1. Black 2 and 4 are very important as they not only take white’s root away but also connect the black groups.

Graph 2 (attack overcautious)
Black 1 is a normal move. Until 6, although black still takes away white’s root and are attacking white continuingly, but comparing with Graph 1, black is flattened. White’s shape is improved in comparison to 1 and 3 in graph 1.

Graph 3 (right answer: storming attack with severe cut)
Black 1 is right answer. In black dominating area, as stated by the principle, white will be suffering after the cut. Due to the ladder at A is in black’s favour, white can only play the extension at 4, and thus pass the initiative to black in the local fight. Black has many strong continuations here.

Graph 4 (black profit significantly)
The two white stones on left side are more valuable than the two white stones in centre. In this situation, black 1 should be played opposite to the side which he wishes to take. Also black 3 is good shape. Black 5 and 7 defend left-side territory solidly. In addition, white can’t cut at ‘A’ any more.

Graph 5 (black succeeds)
If white want to save two left stones, black has an advantage by simply answer it. Until black 7, white still need to settle left group, else it would be captured by black ‘A’. After the battle, black gets sente and switches to attack the white stone on top side by playing ‘B’. Thus, white falls into defensive situation, and black’s lead extended.

Graph 6 (unorthodox attack, in special situation only)
Many players will be tempted to atari at 3 which is a vulgar atari move. As after the sequence till 8, black 3 has been captured. However, black 11 can launch a new attack to destroy white’s eye shape. This unorthodox attack works in very limited situations, and thus to be played with great degree of cautiousness.

Graph 7 (The real game continuation)
Black played the gore move at 1, which is a bad shape as it is appeared to be hane at two stone’s head. Black captures only one stone in centre but gives white breathing space to settle on the side.White 10 is a tesuji, and black 11 is an even better counter move. But up to 18, white has settled without paying much cost. ‘B’ is attractive to black but the weakness at ‘A’ is a major concern. If black play ‘A’ to connect his stones, white will save the white stone on top side; if black play ‘B’ to take white root away, white will cut black stones’ connection with central stones by playing ‘A’. Thus, black must have played a bad move in the process, but which one?

Graph 8 (white overplay)
If white 12 on Graph 7 play as white 1, black 2 is severe. Although white 3 cuts off black, but black can capture white left-side two stones with the sequence in this graph. That’s why black’s stone at A is a good move.

Graph 9 (the correct move: let white two strong groups connect)
On Graph 7, black 17 is a bad move. The correct move is to play at 6 ‘cut’. Even though white 7 take about 10 point value in the corner, it only connects two strong groups. Black stones have connected by sente and switch to play the big move at 8. Black is still keeping the lead in this position.

The guideline to cutting off opponent’s groups is that:

  1. if both groups are weak and unsettled, the efficiency is 100%
  2. if one group is weak, the efficiency halved
  3. if both groups are alive, then it is a waste

Hope this lesson is useful for you.
– Aki & Victor

Posted by daver as Articles at 10:54 AM, No Comments »

November 15th, 2006

Leander reports back

Leander represented South Africa at the 1st Korean Prime Minister’s Cup earlier this year. He has kindly set up an interesting report on his experience. The report is a MS-Word document just over 1 Megabyte.

Leander has indicated he would consider writing another report on his leisure activities in Korea if there is a good response, so please leave your comments if you want another report from Leander.

Leander, count me in!

Posted by Steve as Articles, SAGA at 6:49 PM, 4 Comments »

October 16th, 2006

WC Meijin Challenger’s League yields upsets galore

This weekend was the Western Cape Meijin Challenger’s League, and upsets were definitely the specialty of the weekend. In a tournament of 10 games, only one game saw a higher ranked player actually beat a lower ranked player.

That game was the first one completed in the tournament, with Lloyd having a narrow lead but little time in the endgame in his first game against Steve. Steve looked like making it a 1 point game either way until a blunder cost him 7 points, and he ended up losing by 8.5. A while later, the other game of the first round provided the first upset with something even more unusual: Reinhardt claimed a win on time after an unusual opening and a strong attack against one of Bernard’s groups. This also gave Reinhardt a well-deserved promotion back to 3k.

In the second round, Andrew developed a strong position against Bernard after what seemed a decisive victory in a complex fight, but Bernard countered by trying to develop a moyo. Andrew decided (perhaps incorrectly, he conceded later) that the moyo would be too large, and went in deep, allowing Bernard to create considerable complications. In the end, Andrew went down on time. In the other game, Reinhardt managed to secure territory while reducing Lloyd’s moyo to claim a comfortable 25.5 point win.

Interestingly, all of the games so far had seen both players in byo-yomi, and two losses on time, despite some players indicating they thought the time allowance was too liberal!

In Round 3, both games were decided by resignation, with Reinhardt losing to Steve (a tight battle until Reinhardt missed a endgame clamp sequence under time pressure) and Andrew going down against Lloyd.

That signalled the end of the day’s events, and at this stage, the tournament was still wide open: any player could still win the tournament; meanwhile, Lloyd and Reinhardt had secured their positions in next year’s league with two wins each.

The next morning, Steve faced off with Andrew. In a very tense game with both players scurrying to look after weak groups, Steve finally had to prevent Andrew scoring more than 10 points in the centre in the endgame. The final count gave Steve a 5.5 point victory, and a promotion to 2 kyu. This game secured Steve his position in the 2007 league. On the other board, Lloyd forced Bernard to resign, claiming a third win, and by virtue of his seeding in the league, the right to challenge Konrad for the title of 2nd Western Cape Meijin.

The last round was all about who was to be relegated. With Bernard on one win and Andrew on zero. Andrew had to beat Reinhardt, Steve beat Bernard for Andrew to avoid relegation. However, things began to look bleak for Andrew early in Steve’s game, when Steve ended up with two weak groups in Bernard’s sphere of influence. A skillful attack (or perhaps poor defence) cause Steve to weaken the one group too much trying to save the other, and Bernard seemed to have a huge group captured. In the attempt to rescue it, a misread or two worsened the situation, and academic interest was the only thing that caused the game to be played out to the end, with Bernard scoring a huge 128.5 point win. This left Reinhardt playing Andrew, but taking the seeding into consideration, the final positions were already determined. A look at the board revealed a corner group of Andrew’s to be dead, and he was about 30 points behind. After he resigned, a post game analysis showed that, had he played differently, the result in the corner would have been a seki, potentially leading to a very tight endgame indeed.

Full results and the tournament table are available at the Western Cape Closed page. Once again, thanks to Andrew Davies for being willing to host the tournament at his house. Hopefully, I’ll be able to add some pictures from the tournament later this week.

Posted by Steve as Articles, Rank Changes, Tournaments, Western Cape at 10:51 AM, No Comments »

October 3rd, 2006

SA Champs 2006: insider’s report (or: who’s who in SA Go)

The weekend before last saw the completion of this year’s South African Championship, the flagship event on the SA go calendar. I thought I’d write a summary of the event, giving my personal perspective on the tournament and our current go scene. Enjoy!

The annual championship starts with four players pre-qualified for the final stage – this year they were Victor Chow (6d, defending champion) and Ben Gale (3d), Welile Gogotshe (1d) and myself (1d), who finished in joint second place last year. Everyone else had to qualify from scratch, including the very strong Cheng Lai, who finished joint first with Ben and myself in 2004, when he was still at the start of his learning curve, but had to withdraw at short notice from last year’s event due to an academic commitment. (Before the championship he was still rated at a laughable 2d – Ben judges him closer to 4d and I agree.)

The initial qualification stage of the championship is currently under review, as it depends rather strongly on ranks. However, the existing system does force players to participate in at least one regional tournament even if the result of that tournament doesn’t count all too heavily. This rules out our strong overseas players, notably Clive Hunt 2d and Chris Visser 1d (who won our most recent internet tournament in convincing style). It also happened to rule out Andre Connell (underrated at 2k – having lost to him in the recent Stellenbosch Open I predict that he will mount a strong challenge to qualify for the final stage next year), who got a fine result in the SA Open but was unable to play in any of the regional events. At least it meant that we had a fine non-playing arbiter for both the Candidates and Contenders stages.

On to the Candidates – 12 players go in, they play on the internet at fairly fast time limits, only 4 come out. This is always a real cutthroat competition, and getting more so every year as the quality of our players improve. This year we had Cheng Lai (2d), Julius Paulu (1d), Paul Edwards (1d), Tristen Taylor (1d), Andrew Davies (underrated at 1k) and Sipho Mampe (underrated at 2k) all taking serious shots at the four top spots. In the end, Cheng and Julius qualified as expected, Sipho stormed in to join them, Tristen didn’t make it, and Paul managed to win a tense game against Andrew for the final spot. Tough luck to Tristen and Andrew (who has now come within a hair’s breadth of qualifying for 3 years running) – both of them can consider themselves very unlucky to miss out.

Finally, we get to the Contenders – this is the actual championship, played as a round robin event with comfortably slow time limits (1 hour thinking time plus 15 mins / 10 stones byo yomi – enough to be able to play out the endgame without terrible blunders, although it does tend to lead to 4 hour games when you pair up the slowpokes (i.e. me and Ben), especially when the endgame turns out to be a half point affair…) When Victor is playing it’s always easy to predict the winner (no one in this field can make him break a sweat), but second place is usually tightly fought, not to mention the question of which four players get to qualify for next year. Despite not having played enough rated games to get off his official rank of 2d, Cheng had to be the favourite for second place, especially when considering his recent record against Ben. As for me, while I’ve managed the odd win against both Cheng and Ben in the past, the rate of improvement of the Soweto trio meant that I would be quite happy with a 4th place showing – one slip and I’ll have to try making my way through the Candidates meat grinder.

The first round (Friday night) saw the top seeds win their games easily (Cheng showing that he hasn’t stood still over the last two years by making me look like I needed a handicap), while Paul and Julius embarked on an epic battle – when I looked at the board I saw 4 stones in the corners and a solid 4×7 block of black and white stones tangled in the centre, all of them alive (for the moment). Paul obtained what looked like a winning position but lost his way, after which both players treated us to a prolonged display of fireworks. When the smoke cleared it was Julius who had won.

Saturday and Sunday both had 3 rounds. Round 2 saw the critical game of Ben vs Cheng, with Ben scoring a great result as he got one back, having lost a number of previous games against Cheng. I managed to beat Sipho in a longish endgame; Victor and Welile won; Julius and Paul lost. Highlight of the round was a venue mix-up causing us to get kicked out of the room in mid-byo-yomi – here I am waiting with 12 seconds on the clock to make my next move and instead of moving Sipho calmly asks how to stop the clock so we can go in search of another room…

In round 3, the crunch game was me vs Ben – we were both reasonably satisfied with the opening, although Victor afterwards said it was good for me. At any rate, the game escalated into a series of middle game battles with much see-sawing going on. Going into the endgame, Victor’s opinion was that it should be my game (“territorially even but more potential”) – but after some mistakes on my side it was too close to call. In the end it came down to Ben omitting a defensive move and me having to find the appropriate punishment – I thought I did well to find a neat sequence, but saw a defense and had to be content with a two-point push-in, which left me short of victory by …drum-roll… half a point. After which Victor pointed out the simple refutation for the “defense” I had spotted. Oh well, I guess it was karma getting back at me after I beat Cheng by the same score two years ago…

Round 4 was a quicker affair – like everyone else I failed to trouble Victor, and Cheng and the Soweto trio all finished early. When I left Ben was still playing against Paul, but without any more real problems remaining on the board.

Sunday morning, and round 5 faced me with another tough one. My game against Welile looked to be the decider for who gets to qualify for next year. Last year I lost to Welile, and this year he again had me on my knees with his trademark start at tengen followed by direct attack at all costs, to the sound of prolonged, loud and enthusiastic praising of the Lord from the church service next door (that’s the Westdene Recreation Centre for you). Not much strategic depth here, but if you’ve got the fighting strength to pull it off that’s all you need – before I knew it I was scramble to save two separated groups while he was solidifying territory in the course of the attack. When my groups were finally out of danger I had to “try bogus invasion” (in-joke for those who played with the many faces of go program in the 90s) or concede a 30-point loss. My bogus invasion turned out to be just that, but Welile fell for a trick that allowed me to pull out my invading stones and the game was close. As we proceeded to play out a long ko-fight, followed by another half-point ko at the end just for good measure, I kept wondering what all the spectators were finding amusing. It turns out (I think) they were just amused at the ridiculously full board and the prospect of counting a game where both players end up with negative scores. But no, in the end I had 3 points to Welile’s 4, which with komi made for a comfortable enough victory. Phew! I was completely unaware of the other games in this round – but no big surprises anyway.

Round 6, no surprises either. Julius found himself having to kill a large group to stay in the game against me, but the proverb (“large groups don’t die”) proved as reliable as ever. Ben and Victor both remained unbeaten, leaving everything to play for in the last round. Round 7 started early with most players suffering from go fatigue and playing quick games to end the tournament. Ben had a decent start against Victor, but the result was never in doubt. Still, his 2nd place is an excellent result – despite a scare against me his results against everyone else show that he clearly deserves his 3 dan rank. By the time I had won my game against Paul the playing hall was empty and another SA Championship was concluded – the strongest Contenders thus far. Neither Paul nor Julius managed to win any since their exciting first round game (Paul suffering a demotion to 1kyu which in my opinion is more indicative of deflation in our rating system than a decrease in his playing strength), with Sipho doing well to beat both of them – hopefully he’ll get his promotion to 1 dan soon, he’s certainly playing at the required level. My pick for the most dangerous up-and-coming player is Welile – his fighting strength is impressive and I was lucky to survive my game against him – this is backed up by his results against the rest of the field – he’ll almost certainly be back for revenge next year. Cheng is probably slightly disappointed with 3rd place, but at least he finally got promoted to 3 dan, not a moment too soon. And though I narrowly missed another joint 2-4th place I’m happy to have qualified to fight on next year.

Finally, a massive thanks to Andre Connell, who organised both the Candidates and the Contenders and ensured that everything ran smoothly – an excellent job! (Plus he took the photos which should make their way onto the gallery soon…)

Sorry for blabbing on but at least the historians will have something to file away…until next year.

Konrad Scheffler

Posted by konrad as Articles, SAGA, Tournaments at 3:32 PM, 5 Comments »

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