Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Go Master

There has been a lot of web chatter recently about the release of the film, The Go Master, about the life of Wu Qingyuan (Go Seigen). [not to be confused with the older, Go Masters, film] Throughout forums and blogs, Go players and fans are searching for a Region 1 version of the DVD. At this time, only a Region 3 (Asian Encoding) is available. I contacted Fortissimo films, the distributor of the film, to find out if a Region 1 encoding was soon to be released. Sadly, an email sent to an office in the United States and two other countries were all ignored. is also listed as a distributor, but also does not have a release date for the Region 1 encoding of the film. It could be possible that will release a Region 1 version for their members and Fortissimo will wait and measure the success of the film in Asia to decide if a Region 1 version is warranted. For now, the Region 3 encoding is available both through and Yesasia also has a VCD which will play on most DVD players. If you would like to save yourself future trouble, purchase a region free DVD player, buy the Region 3 version of the film, and next time you won't have to wait.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

And Now.. Guess That Go Server!


AnotherSai: HI EVERYONE!
Hue: Please don't yell.
Hue: You are.
Hue: All caps. It is hurting my ears.
AnotherSai: ok... sorry... ???


AnotherSai: Go is great!
HikaruHead: I love Go.
AnotherSai: How long have you been playing?
HikaruHead: Six months, prolly.
AnotherSai: Where are you from?
BigSmug: Please keep topic on Go. See TOS.
AnotherSai: Sorry... umm... Anyone want to play a
quick game?
BigSmug: Please do not make requests directly in room.

-After the Game-

AnotherSai: My opponent, Loco666, escaped on me!
BigSmug: Please do not publicly denounce anyone.
AnotherSai: Come on! What is this?

-And Later Still-
AnotherSai: ok, it's getting late
AnotherSai: I think I'm going to go to sleep.
AnotherSai: Good night everyone
Holyness: Please do not press Enter key so often.
Flooding is against TOS.

AnotherSai: Flooding? What is that?
Holyness: No trolling.
AnotherSai: What? Trolling! Flooding! No capital letters.
No game requests on a game server. What is this place?
Next you will tell me I have only 50 characters to
type in a byo-yomi period!

[You have been booted from server. Have a nice day!]

[Ed. Note]
With the help of expert ISP trackers, Internet wizards, and the special late edition of a television crime fighting psychic, I was able to track down the owner of this Go server. He hides behind multiple ISP's, using an assumed name, maintaining strict control in anonymity. He is feared when one floods or trolls. He is a true power in the Internet Go world. Who is this man?


Friday, September 07, 2007

Go Teachers

In GO, it is noble to learn the art by oneself. Yet noble and wise do not always belong together. While listening to a Audiogolessons lecture, see post, Guo Juan stated that Dan level players hit a sticking point because because, in her opinion, they learned on their own and eventually this catches up to them. She created a series of lectures to go back to the beginning and teach the basics and bring the player all the way to the top levels. Learning from books is the most cost affordable solution, though when one has a question, one cannot ask, "Book, why can't I play a kakari here instead?" One can ask, and if one gets an answer, there are other issues at hand. Most importantly, the errors in play themselves must be found and the skill must be guided. The teacher, or master, has been a large part of most traditions, including Go, going back beyond recorded history. The teacher is the one that provide this guidance.
Finding a teacher can be a daunting task. One must search blogs, web pages, or google, then attempt to compare the results and make a decision. Below is a list of active Go teachers. This will be an ongoing list, updated as new teachers ask to be included or those already on the list change information. At each update, the date of change will be noted.
The majority of teachers provide services in Euros, therefore I have decided to keep the majority of them in Euros. Rather than convert those provided in dollars, I have provided a Currency Converter link, given that rates change of a daily basis.
Keep in mind that most teachers below offer bulk discounts. Paying for 5-10 lessons at a time will lower the cost of each individual lesson. Almost all accept payment through Paypal.

1.5 HR
Alexander Dinerchtein 1PBreakfast
Guo Juan 5Pguojuan35€50€23€linkemail
Li Ang 3PLyonweiqiemailemailemaillinkemail
Shen Jing 2PJennie25€

Dragos Bajenaru 6D1toxxicu15€

Vit Brunner 4DTasuki10€

Cornel Burzo 6D1Cornel15€


2 hr


Cho Seokbin 7D1bin7674
Li Yue 9Dliyue15€22€20€linkemail
Christian Pop 7D1Solaris


2 Hr

Xu Jian 6Dyesniu


2 HR

Yuan Yuan 5DCGA4DAN$10
Will Zhang 6Dwillzhang

1= European Go Federation Rating

Currency Converter

To be added to the list, to make changes, or comments, please email at:


Saturday, September 01, 2007



Somewhere on KGS

After the game....

No Go players were hurt during this simulation.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Those of you that have taken part in lectures on KGS will be familiar with Guo Juan and her online go school. I visited her site recently and discovered that she offers audio lessons there as well as at a separate address, Unlike personal, one-on-one lessons which can costs a fortune, these lessons cost only one Euro. As of today, after the conversion, that doesn't even make it to $1.50 a lesson. Very affordable. From the information on the website, each lesson is available for one month after purchase.

Categories include:

-Middle Game
-Pro Games

-French Lectures

-A Step By Step Course

In addition, the website also offers a few free lectures as well. Stop by her site.

UPDATE: 09-05-07
For comments on the site: Sensei's Library-Audio Go Lessons



Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Maya's Little Bot

Contrary to the modern perception, Frankenstein was not the monster with the big square-shaped head and the two prongs jutting out of his neck. Frankenstein was the professor. It was Frankenstein's monster that came to life with a few leftover body parts and the help of lightning (so I was told, I have never read Mary Shelly's book). In some Eastern views, that which is created can be disassembled piece by piece and put back together again, and it will function as it it did before. Life is unborn, was never created, and has always been. Therefore, when you take apart a human being, piece by piece, and put it back together again, it does not work the same as it did before it was cut apart.

Man has a fascination with tapping into this unborn world. In another sense, man begins to lose his sense of humanity amongst technology. Frankenstein's monster is this sort of beast, not of what we can create, but of what we fear we might become. Japanese anime tell of humans becoming so much machine that the human cannot be found. Even less than this, it is now evident that humanity has begun to define itself more and more through television. A little box tells us what to think. We don't need to become machines if we are controlled by one. I have read far too many reports of surveys taken in the seventies, eighties, and nineties which show the drastic effect that television suddenly has seized upon our identities. Our social groups are forming around internet chat rooms and text messages.

With all that being said, if you would like your little taste of Frankenstein's monster, you can host your own KGS Go robot. This website has all the details. Why, you ask? I cannot understand the fascination with advancing the machine in Go. There will come a day when the computer will outplay any human on the planet, but that is little worry. Go, like most Asian arts, is more than a game. In it, you can find the way, or Dao. The dao is not found just by winning, or reaching Shodan, or even by your state of mind while you play. It is beyond these things. No computer will ever reach the dao in Go, or any other art. Go is a game of war. There is nothing and then there is duality. This brings conflict. Once it is resolved, the board returns to the original state of nothingness. Two great masters understand 'the way' and would never care if they might lose to a Go robot.

Perhaps one day we will have bots of compassion to pat us on the back when we have had a bad day. Then perhaps we will have bots of tolerance which will accept our yelling and angry shouting on our bad days. Of course, the "I" in humanity is defined by the "other." We could never define ourselves by machines. Between the border of "I" and "other" we see that playing a Go robot is as empty as threats of Maya.


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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Oda Nobunaga

Those who play Go know well that one must learn to adapt to new styles of play and never fall victim to trends or convention. A bannerman for this ideal would be Oda Nobunaga. A brash youth from a moderate family, he quickly rose to power by adapting to the era, new weapons, new tactics, and nearly united his country.

Nobunaga's first real sign came at the Battle of Okehazama. Here, an army estimated at 25,000 men marched on Kyoto, headed by Imagawa Yoshimoto. Nobunaga dared to challenge Imagawa with a tiny force of only 5,000 men. While the forces of Imagawa camped, Nobunuga launched an unexpected attack during a thunderstorm. Many of the Imagawa forces fled without a single weapon drawn. When Yoshimoto left his tent to investigate the commotion, he found a spear in his chest. The lopsided battle had been won by cunning.

source: Samurai Sourcebook : Turnbull

During the Sengoku, or Warring States, Period, rival warlords fought for control of Japan. The times were changing. The Portuguese had reintroduced the matchlock (which was originally introduced from China) which was met with strong resistance from many samurai who held to tradition. Not so with Nobunaga. Not only did he bring these 'arquebuses' into his forces, he pioneered their use. While most lords used them among the ashigaru, or field soldier, as an unorganized unit, Nobunaga saw the true value of the arquebus. His ashigaru were organized into strong units which would fire in sequence, one after the other, one firing while the other loaded, and soon the other warlords learned the merit and strategy of the arquebus.
His ingenuity did not stop at matchlocks. Nobunaga was most likely the first to have organized, highly disciplined ashigaru spear units. (The samurai typically fought individually with a spear on horseback. The sword came into prominence at a later time.) Nobunaga also lengthened his spear from a standard 2.5 ken (1 ken=1.6 meters) to 3.5 ken.

Space does not permit a full biography of the Sengoku nor of Nobunaga. His cunning and ingenuity led him to the edge of his dreams. It was here that they fell apart. Readers of Hikaru No Go Manga #6 might remember the small bonus at the end entitled, "Assasination at Honnoji Temple." Of course, the assassination is of Nobunaga himself. Nobunaga had stopped off at Honnoji temple and was surrounded by only a few bodyguards when one of his own generals turned on him and led forces against him. Akechi Mitsuhide was the downfall of every dream and every right turn. Nobunaga was forced to commit seppuku.
Incidentally, a certain Oda Nobunaga watched Honinbo Sansa play Go and with the placing of one brilliant stone Nobunaga was amazed and shouted out, "Meijin!" and thus was born the title.

Turnbull, Stephen Samurai Sourcebook London: Cassell & Co 1998


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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Strategy in History: Genpei Wars

It must be remembered that Go is a martial art. Among the other skills that a samurai would learn, such as archery, the sword, the horse, and the bow, were skills that refined him. Like the study of the Analects, and Buddhism, the more well-off samurai studied Go, the skill of which would be put to good use as a field commander or general in battle. In todays game we see no ties with life or death, except for the odd Go problem, and we tend to lose touch with the origin of the game in worn-torn China.

As Sun-Tzu said, "All warfare is based on deception." The more deceptive, or those who can deceive at a much deeper level, will be the victor.

In twelvth century Japan, war was very stylized. In many cases, a small group of warriors would separate from a group, have an archery battle, and then the next group would step forward. This was long before the age of the sword. At the Battle of Kurikara, Minamoto Yoshinaka (married to Tomoe Gozen) had a plan to divide his army in two and surround the Taira forces. He had two problems. He had to conceal the movements of his forces. He had to hold the Taira into position.

Using the customs of battle of his age to his advantage, Minamoto proceeded to fight the most stylized battle possible. With so much emphasis given to the declaring of deeds between warriors, and the battles limited to such small numbers, Minamoto knew that neither side would have an edge before morning. Of course, in the morning, his other force would flank the Taira army and the tables would turn greatly.

'All warfare is based on deception.'

On the other side of the Genpei war, at the Battle of Yashima, the Taira hung a fan from the mast of a ship and challenged the Minamoto to hit it. The tactic there was to get the Minamoto to waste arrows to no end.

The human mind, though trained like iron, can bend so easily when a weakness is found. We must look for the simple solution, the simple strategy. Complex ideas do not work. Think of how you may hang your fan on the Go board and cause you opponent to waste precious stones trying to kill a group that is already safe/dead. Looking to the past is the greatest way to understand this game and take it into the future.


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Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Path of Emptiness

The sage, skilled in the arts of war, Go being one of the highest, understands that having a plan or strategy in the mind is to invite defeat. If we plan to open a game of Go with a San-Ren-Sei opening without adapting to the moves of the opponent we shield ourselves off from the reality of the game and lose contact with the movement of the stones. The mind is to be devoid of both thought and non-thought, plan and non-plan. Go was, afterall, created in the lands of Chan (Zen) where "empty-handed I go, and behold the spade is in my hands; I walk on foot, and yet on the back of an ox I am riding; When I pass over the bridge, Lo, the water floweth not, but the bridge doth flow."

When we understand emptiness in this way we see Go through the eyes of the sage. We will have no ranking, no joseki, no plan of attack. We will have no form. Like water, moves take the form needed.

As the master swordsman Miyamoto Musashi wrote in his Go Rin No Sho in 1645, "Taking straightforwardness as basic, taking the real mind as the Way, practicing martial arts in the broadest sense, thinking correctly, clearly, and comprehensively, taking emptiness as the Way, you see the Way as emptiness.

"In Emptiness there is good but no evil. Wisdom exists, logic exists, the Way exists, mind is empty."

The Scroll of Emptiness

Go Rin No Sho



Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Sharp Sting

Sparring is a part of a life in the dojo. To the shugyosha it becomes second nature to test his skills with an opponent in a controlled environment, letting his bruises mark next weeks lessons in improvements. When we face our senior, the shodan or above, the infamous black belt, we expect that the senior might take certain liberties with the rules of sparring in order to give lessons not provided by the usual sparring session.
After a long session of sparring, many years ago, I traded partners and ended up sparring with a black belt. I was very fatigued at this point and had trouble maintaining a proper guard. He repeatedly warned me to raise my hands. Just in time I would block the punches that were launched at my shoulders. Again the warning would come. Again I would agree, but fatigue countered. Finally the black belt had seen enough. Faking to the side and waiting for me to inhale, he struck me squarely on the forehead, followed by the words, "I said, keep your hands up."
There are those who feel victimized by this sort of treatment and turn inwards, not learning the valuable lesson. Others know that practice prepares us for a time when our life may be on the line and second chances are not an option. A sharp sting on the forehead may be what it takes to keep the hands up no matter how bad the lungs are burning, how full the legs are with lead, and the mind whispers to give in. I never let my hands down again.
And now, after many months off the goban, I am ready to begin again, stone against stone. There will be many losses. What I can be sure of is that there will be a sharp sting, a lesson that, while it may hurt, will serve a greater purpose. The teachers are gracious in there punishment. Most will show us the lessons in our failure. We are all just fellow shugyosha on the path.



Friday, April 21, 2006

Otogi Zoshi

Those who enjoy the famous Hikaru no Go manga or anime might be interested in learning more about the Heian period in which Fujiwara no Sai is placed. During the Heian period, the powerful Taira clan had control of Japan and fought continuously with the Minamoto. During the Gempei war, the Minamoto gained control and established the shogunate. It is at this time period, within the Minamoto clan, that we find the anime Otogi Zoshi. Minamoto no Yorimitsu, also known as Raiko, has taken ill, and his sister Hikaru must disguise herself as Raiko and attempt to save a Kyoto full of corruption. Hikaru must find missing Magatama, curved beads resembling one half of a yin yang. With these Magatama, there is hope of reviving of dying world.
Each DVD disc is accompanied with a companion disc which explains the accuracies and inaccuracies of the series from a University professor. For those who enjoy anime, it might be a fun way to learn about the Heian period, but the companion discs are a must. It is an enjoyable series, but I had hoped for more. When I read about an anime placed in the Heian period, I had hoped for more history. It has action and drama, as well as more Taoism and the 5 element theory than I would have expected, but is a little light on the history lessons.
Apart from Minamoto no Raiko, look for Abe no Seimei, the famous Onmyoji.
The 10 discs are probably a better deal to watch through than buying... and save your money for the Hikaru no Go anime.



Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dragon Go Server Monitor App

For those of you that haven't played a game on the Dragon Go Server, it is a turn-based server that works much like an email based system would work. There is a graphic interface on the website that both players view and make their moves with. The difference between this and other servers is that either player may be on at separate times. Black may make a move early on Monday, at which time the server will leave a notification for White that it is his turn. Later that day, White will play. These games can have a time limit of many months.
To find out if it is your turn, you must either check your email or log onto the site and check. Thanks to user Coljac this is no longer necessary. He has created an application that will notify that user in how many games it is their turn from their desktop, without signing into email or the Dragon Server Website.



Monday, April 10, 2006

Go.... Stop... Go

I started blogging years ago, which at the time I would refer to as 'writing in an online journal', and my posts were spiritual in nature. Blogging came full steam at the same time that I attempted to learn to truly appreciate the art of Go. Everything about those few months was very enjoyable but it had to come to an end. I began to work on a Buddhist blog on the side, but that quickly began to consume all of my time. It wasn't that the blog itself needed the time, but that I needed the time to sit, quiet my mind, and penetrate into the nature of emptiness, form, and this silly little reality we call "everything." Sitting down Go stones and arranging them and then picking them up again had made me think about quotes from famous Zen monks, monks who enjoyed the game of Go. It was time to think about dependent origination and not joseki. My hope was that my time away would strengthen my mind and when I returned to Go, I would return with a better mind to play the game. Ha! Like that will happen. Over the next few weeks I hope to get out my Go board a few times. I marked my calender. May 1 I hope to return to the Go world... and play here and there... study a few joseki... try to win 1 game in 20 and, most importantly, enjoy myself as much as I did before. Go was invented in China along with a 'Way' that has no rules, that cannot be defined, and cannot be won and held in the hand. The 'Way' can be followed to perfection once it is learned, and for that we look to the men of old. Until the clouds part, the moon's light will not illuminate this soul.



Sunday, December 04, 2005

Mandala of Compassion

Last weekend we went to observe the construction of the Chenrezig (Guan Yin, Avalokitesvara) Mandala by Tibetan monks of the Drepung Gomang Monastic University in India. For four days these monks work their tools to contruct this beautiful mandala made of colored sand.

On the first day, the monks began with a blessing and performed the necessary rituals to begin the mandala. We thought initially that we would stop by from time to time, but after feeling the peace and serenity of the room, the fellowship with other Buddhists, and beautiful handiwork of the monks, we spent every second that we could.

The mandala is very complex and a detailed explanation of its parts would be too lengthy for a go blog. The mandala is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional mandala, which displays an outer fortress which represent the inner cosmos.

During the construction of the mandala we put other, more mundane matters to the side. I played very little Go and had no time to study.

Here (above), at the entrance to the gate of the fortress, two deer listen to the Buddha and his teachings. The Buddha had required that no image be made of him and so in early Buddhism we find his represent by the Dharma Wheel, which stands between these two deer. The Buddha gave his first teaching in the Deer Park, and so this may have some significance as well.

Here you see the corner of the fortress and the intricate detail (above)

Day 4-The completed mandala. Everyone gathered around to look at it one last time.

To demonstrate the impermanent, transient nature of our existence, the pain-staking effort of the mandala is washed away with brush, and all that is left is the impression in the mind. A ceremony of chanting followed.

Following the chanting, the monks proceeded to the river to cast the sand into the water, allowing it to disperse among the elements, and manifest of something else in the future.

The ceremony and serenity of the sound of tools working and calm minds of the monks had a strong affect of me personally. My usual practice of meditation saw increased benefits as I approached each session with a calmer mind. The most surprising affect was using this calm mind in games of Go.

I don't believe I have lost a game of Go since this ceremony. Compare this with previous periods where I could have stated, "I don't believe I have won....."

I played a game against a 25k on Orobaduk, with a surprising win. I had a big loss against a 22k player on IGS, and taking advantage of a mistake in the endgame, forced a come back forfeit. Finally, in an effort to rid myself the ? in my rank on KGS, I played against the 23k Liberty bot with a 3 stone handicap, making it a 26k game. Thinking myself around 28-29k, I expected to lose. I was very surprised to win by 29.5. My next game was an even game against the 28k bot, which I expected to lose, but won by the large margin of 94.5. The most surprising win was a 6 handicap game against the 13k GnuGo program. I won by 3.5 and have not yet removed the shocked look from my face. With the ? behind my rank, the KGS program tends to inflate the ranking. As of today my ranking is 14k?. There is no real meaning behind this. When my rank loses the ?, I am sure it will balance out at around 27k. The point of placing this story in with the mandala is that my rank too is transient, and will soon return to the sea with the sand.