Archive for December, 2007

Decline in Go/Baduk Interest in Korea

Monday, December 31st, 2007
I was very surprised and sad to read today’s blog entry about a decline in Go/Baduk interest in Korea. In case you don’t know about this blog already: it is an amazing view inside the life of a 7 dan professional player in Korea, Cho Hye Yeon.

It is interesting also to read this so soon after my Go/Baduk Affected By “Internet Entertainment”? very recent blog entry, where I was commenting on some 2007 statistics which showed a decline in the revenue of Baduk clubs in Korea. My conclusion there was that players moved out of traditional clubs and play online more. After reading Hye Yeon’s blog, though, I understand that there is a real decline in Baduk in Korea: many Baduk schools are closing, less books being published, less children dream of becoming pro players… Sounds very much like the situation in Japan that started in early nineties (maybe earlier?). The reasons for this situation seems to be related to both extra sources of entertainment (when it comes to explain the decline in amateur players) and to the fact that attending top universities in Korea became more difficult, so parents are less inclined to gamble their kids future while letting them study Baduk (when it comes to explain the decline in the number of inseis). Here’s also a quote from a 2 years old blog entry of Mr. Ooijer’s:
So why do all these kids want to be a professional? It is hardly rational. They gamble with their career. Some western Baduk players do not see this hard life and have a much too romantic view about the life of a Baduk professional.
Let’s hope that in the new year 2008 Go/Baduk/Weiqi will grow again.

Happy New Year everybody!

Go/Baduk Affected By “Internet Entertainment” ?

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007
According to this source, Go / Baduk in Korea seems to be affected by other sources of entertainment available online: the article reports several changes in spending patterns in Korea, and apparently there was a 21% decrease in the revenue of Baduk clubs during the last five years:
“[...] there has been a plunge in revenue of bowling alleys (-35 percent), book rental stores (-32 percent), photo studios (-27 percent) and baduk clubs (-21 percent). The NSO attributed this to the growing popularity of Internet entertainment.”
This may not be alarming news in the end, though: I am sure a lot of regular Baduk club members have moved online, and the article seems to only count revenue change in “brick and mortar” businesses and clubs.

Play Computer-Go Online at 361points.com

Monday, December 24th, 2007
I just added a new feature at 361points.com: the capability of playing computer-go online, against the GnuGo engine. You can try it out here and please let me know what you think. If 361points doesn’t work well (it happens when many people try to play at the same time), one can also play computer-go on the original eidogo.com page. I am using the wonderful, recently released open-source library EidoGo for the user interface. I coded the server side myself – while EidoGo does come with integrated PHP scripts for GnuGo interaction, my website is based on Django, which is a Python web development framework, so I had to write the equivalent functionality in Python. Also, the first 9×9 game I tried on the EidoGo website, I realized that after both players pass there is no ending of the game: I found that frustrating so I added an “Estimation” button which makes a special call to GnuGo to retrieve a score estimation. That is pretty accurate in the end of the game, provided GnuGo can understand the status of all stones on the board. I also added the possibility to select the color one wants to play with, and the GnuGo level. I know GnuGo has interfaces in most of the popular SGF viewers – but being able to play against it online makes it so convenient. Myself I haven’t tried playing computer-go in a couple of years I think – and now that I’ve played several games against it while testing my website I was surprised of how well it does in many close fights. I got captured a couple of times very unexpectedly so be warned to count your liberties twice :-) .

Kono Rin defends Tengen title

Sunday, December 16th, 2007
I got asked in this blog comment: “How about covering the Tengen?” I started writing a belated reply, when I realized that I’d better turn it into a blog entry. Here it is: The reason I didn’t cover Tengen (and other recent tournaments) on the website is because I realized that I don’t have the resources (and by resources I mean “time” :-) ) to keep track of all current titles and tournaments. I did follow Tengen myself though – it was especially interesting for me because Kono Rin (he is the Tengen titleholder, he just defended it against Yamashita Keigo Kisei) was insei when I was (he kicked my butt by 2.5 points in the only game we played – since he was mostly 1-2 classes above me.) He was still insei when I quit (he became pro 1 or 2 years later) and I would have never guessed that he’ll become a title holder. His style, just like his personality, was very quiet, deep-thinking type, never spectacular or attracting attention. He was very serious all the time, I am sure he must have studied very-very hard.

Kiseido Publishes Out-of-Print Books in PDF Format

Sunday, December 9th, 2007
This is very cool news: Kiseido Digital is extending their PDF offer soon, to include out-of-print Go books. (I also wrote a blog entry when I first heard about their PDF GoWorld offering.) Here are the first PDF Go books that will be available:
  • What’s your Rating?, by Miyamoto Naoki
  • Kato’s Attack and Kill, by Kato Masao
  • Enclosure Josekis, by Takemiya Masaki
  • All About Thickness, by Ishida Yoshio
  • The Breakthrough to Shodan, by Miyamoto Naoki.
They seem to sell them together, as a “bookshelf”, for a total price of US$39.95.