Archive for April, 2007

New “Sydney Go Journal” issue

Monday, April 30th, 2007
Issue 11 – May 2007 – of Sydney Go Journal is out. Enjoy reading it at the usual page:

Cho won the 45th Judan title 3-2

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007
Cho Chikun defended the Judan title 3-2! He won the last game by 3.5 points. Interestingly, this last game was played on a Western-style table, instead of the traditional tatami mat – see pictures here and here. I am very glad Cho Sensei won – he is one of the last representatives of the old Kitani School that is still competing successfully with the newer generation of players in Japan.

“Do you think this exchange is good for you?”

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

I wrote a new article/lesson titled “Do you think this exchange is good for you?”

It is based on the commentary that Cho Seokbin (ex-insei in Korea, now living in Germany; he is currently on a Go tour in the US) made for the decisive game in the Cherry Blossom Seattle Go Tournament

The title – “Do you think this exchange is good for you?” – seems to be one of Seokbin’s favorite questions during game commentaries.

This is a great question to ask before every move we want to play: just consider what is the opponent’s most logical response to our intended move, and ask ourselves: “Is this exchange good for me?”. This may bring a new perspective on the way we play.

Final showdown in the Judan title

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007
Just a reminder: Today is the final game of the Judan title, between Cho Chikun Judan and Yamashita Keigo Kisei – all games so far have been shown live on both IGS and Cyberoro. The score so far is 2-2. Because of the evolution of the score, Yamashita has statistically more chances to win this last game, since he came from behind (Cho had 2-0 at some point). On the other hand, Cho is known for doing his best under pressure, so the title is still open, statistically speaking :-)

Cherry Blossom Tournament – and Cho Seokbin

Monday, April 23rd, 2007
I played yesterday in the Seattle Cherry Blossom Tournament – which was held at the Seattle Center, together with the Cherry Blossom Festival,the annual Japanese event here in Seattle. I managed to win the tournament with 3-0 (normally there are 4 rounds, but the 3rd one ran late and it wasn’t time for the 4th one for some players) after a lucky win against Steve Stringfellow (6 dan AGA). The highlight of the day though was the visit by Cho Seokbin (also spelled Cho Seok Bin in some other sources) – the famous ex-insei from Korea (just to avoid confusion: many insei from Korea are as strong as professional players) who is now living in Europe (Germany) and winning a lot of tournaments there. Seokbin is on a Go tour in the US – he is in Seattle for the next week or so, and will visit Tacoma and Portland next. He is not only a very strong player, but also a great Go teacher: he commented my final game with Steve, and today he gave a very nice lecture on joseki – I’ll post both the game commentary and some highlights form the lecture on my website in the next few days. Just in case you are in the Seattle area (or nearby): Cho Seokbin will present another lecture on Tuesday, April 24th at the Seattle Go Center (from 7 pm), and will play simultaneous games on Wednesday, April 25th, also at the Seattle Go Center, from 6 pm to 9 pm. Also, if you are interested in one-on-one lessons with Cho Seokbin while he is in the US, please send an email to Jon Boley (”jon at”).

Beyond joseki – and Go World

Friday, April 20th, 2007
I wrote a new lesson: “Beyond joseki”. The reason was that I already found enough (as in 3) English Go literature references to professionals playing tenuki in the famous close-combat taisha joseki (which is famous for getting one into trouble even without playing tenuki…). The most recent source I found a taisha tenuki example in was Go World 43, which was published way back in 1986. I bought one copy of each older issue that Kiseido still had in stock about 1-2 years ago, but only very recently (couple of weeks ago) started to read them. What I do is read on the bus the articles and problems, and study the game commentaries at home, on a real goban. This is how I found the wonderful “Commentary on a Commentary” article with 3 young professionals that comment in 1985 on that year’s Meijin title game 2; then Takemiya sensei comes and comments on their comments. One of the 3 young professionals was Tei Meiko sensei, who was insei instructor when I was insei in Japan. And back to Go World: even with getting all available printed archive issues, I only used to have the issues from 40 to 108. I’ll soon have the whole collection, though, in PDF format, since I just ordered it online from

Software Development and Go

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007
I just saw this article – the title caught my attention: Software Development Lessons Learned from Go (since I am also a software developer).

Fujitsu Cup 2007

Sunday, April 15th, 2007
The International Fujitsu Cup 2007 started this weekend – and unfortunately everybody’s favorite “pro killer” amateurs – Fernando Aguilar and Jie Li – were eliminated in the first round. I wrote a few thoughts on their games – unfortunately none of them seem to have had any chance. Of the two, Aguilar’s game is by far the more exciting. Official matches between amateurs and professionals are unfair both ways: they are unfair for the amateur player, because the professional player has so much more experience and is playing Go for a living, but they are also unfair for the professional player because of the psychological pressure involved: there is nothing special if the amateur loses, actually that is 99% the expected result, while it’s such a painful outcome for the professional to lose…

How to learn from Go problems

Monday, April 9th, 2007
There is a new article in the “Korea Times” series: Lesson 90: Life-and-Death Problems (Part 2) It makes a few very good points about how to learn from Go problems:
  1. find the right problem set for your level - most of the time it’s in very simple situations where mistakes occur, so there is no real benefit to study very complicated problems if you’re missing simple ones
  2. don’t look at the answers – in the real game there’s no Fujiwara-no-Sai to tell you the answer :-) I don’t suppose there is any harm in looking at the answers eventually – but just don’t look before putting a significant effort into solving the problems.
In order to read other articles in this series, here is the index page.


Monday, April 2nd, 2007
There is a new volume of the Hikaru-no-Go manga coming out tomorrow: number 9 of the series:

Hikaru-no-Go manga, number 9

Each time I visited Japan (I participated 3 times in the World Amateur Go Championship as the Romanian representative), and also while I lived in Japan as an insei, I noticed a lot of people (mostly men) reading manga (comics) on the train in the Tokyo area, during their commute between home and work. I never got interested in manga while in Japan – I always regarded it as some sort of childish activity for people who don’t have time to read real books. I only understood the manga phenomenon when I first read Hikaru-no-Go, years later: maybe it is because of the Go topic, or because it is about the places where I lived for one and a half years (both Nihon Ki-in and the Igo Kenshu Center are very accurately depicted), or just because it’s well written – but I enjoyed it a lot, and found it really awesome! I also found it to be an excellent way to attract kids to Go: I showed the first few video episodes to my 6 years old daughter and a couple of her friends her age, and they immediately wanted to play Go! I really hope they’ll make some follow up to the original story, and have … <removed spoiler from here>