Excerpts from the AGA E-Journal

In the manner of Excerpts from the British Go Journal

Archives: 2000–20062004–20082009+

This thread is just a container for any interesting things found in the E-Journal that wouldn’t be better placed elsewhere on the forum. Feel free to go looking for them yourself, especially since I’m still processing the BGJ.

I’d also be very interested to know of any place where scans of the original journal (1949–2003) might be found.


AGA E Journal
May 2021


Not quite on topic, but this is the least cluttered space for it:

Sydney Go Journal 1–15 (2006-07).

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What the heck does this have anything to do with AGA?

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At this point there may as well be a thread just called Go journals with links to access their editions :slight_smile:

I kind of understand wanting a separate thread specifically for excerpts or discussions.

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Swiss Go Journal 1991 and 1992

A number of other resources can be found on the page, including five copies of Suji magazine and an entire book by Takagawa (in German, of course).

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MELTS IN YOUR BRAIN: While the rest of America has been happily munching those black and white M&Ms that popped up a few months ago, the E-Journal staff has been racking their brains trying to figure out a clever way to tie the little morsels into the black and white world of go. Full credit goes to Chuck Robbins, who suggested asking Yilun Yang to fashion one of his trademark life and death problems out of the M&M logo. This was no problem for Mr Yang, who, in addition to the monthly E-Journal problems, creates whole-board problems based on each year’s digits, as well as a popular Historical Go series of life and death problems using the digits of years key to the history of go in America that ran in the old print Journal.

So this week’s challenge is to be the first to solve Mr Yang’s M&M Life & Death Problem, which is laid out (in black and white M&Ms, of course) at http://www.usgo.org/ While we’ve also attached the problem in .sgf format to make it easier for you to work on, you’ll see that the problem itself is quite difficult.

March 15, 2004

Both the image and SGF are very likely lost to time. Still, here’s a picture of said M&Ms to stimulate the imagination:


YAMASHITA HOPING TO JOIN RANKS OF THE COMEBACK KINGS: Again defying all odds, Yamashita Keigo 9d, played Black and forced challenger Hane Naoki 9p to resign in Game Six of the 28th Kisei title match after 177 moves. At one point, Yamashita was down 0:3 and looked like he was about to lose his title to Hane, who had beat him late last year in the 29th Tengen. If Yamashita wins the seventh and deciding game, this will be only the sixth time in 50 years of major Japanese go tournament history that a comeback of this kind has occurred. Yamashita will then join the ranks of go greats Cho Chikun 9p and Rin Kaiho 9p who are the only other players to win a major best-of-seven tournament after being behind 0:3. Cho, who could be called the John Elway of Go (for you football fans out there) did it three times!

Same edition

In the end, Hane did win, and defended the title against Yuki Satoshi the following year.

However, Yamashita was eventually able to regain it and won four consecutive editions from 2006 to 2009, eventually being defeated by Cho U.

On March 18th, challenger Hane Naoki 9p forced title holder, Yamashita Keigo 9p, to resign game seven of the best-of-seven 28th Kisei to win the title and a respectable $390,000 (42 million yen). Hane, who played Black and won after only 155 moves, now holds arguably the most prestigious professional go title in Japan (his first major title), and brings to a close one of the most exciting and hard fought title matches in recent years. The match began in Seattle in January after Hane defeated Cho Chikun 9p to win the right to challenge Yamashita. Hane and Yamashita had just finished battling it out for the Tengen late last year–a match Hane finally won.

March 22, 2004

According to SL, the current Kisei prize is ¥45,000,000, so it hasn’t really increased since then.

THE TRAVELING BOARD: Report from Shikoku
By Solomon Smilack

Whenever I play go with Yokoyama-sensei in his home, Mrs. Yokoyama attends us with food and drink. She gives us each a cup of coffee during our first game, and endless cupfuls of green tea for the remainder of my visit. She usually plies us with small snacks – crackers, biscuits, hard candy – as well as traditional foods such as mochi (sticky rice cakes), anko-filled muffins (anko is a sweet bean paste), buntan and mikan (citrus fruits).

Each time that I arrive, I make an effort to talk to Mrs. Yokoyama. It is easy to simply launch into a game with her husband, but doing so seems almost rude. At first I was afraid that she and I would have little to talk about, but I recently found that we both enjoy choral singing. During my last visit I entered the living room and found her seated at the kotatsu (a table with a heater on the underside). She was sewing large, pink flowers, and she explained that they would adorn the choir robes at her next concert. When I asked for details about the concert, she gave me a complimentary ticket and a flyer. Mr. Yokoyama asked why I would want to listen to a choir of old women. I’m not sure if he was joking or not. My friends have mentioned that Japanese men insult their wives, but it is still hard for me to not be put off by his comment. I have trouble reconciling such harshness with his regular, gentle nature.

My handicap against Yokoyama-sensei shrank to two stones. It was a brief advancement, because I subsequently lost three games in a row, but I felt stronger nevertheless. My handicap shifts after each best-of-five match, and my progress feels tangible. After each of our games we talk about the winning and losing moves without fail, I smack myself in the forehead for having known a proper move but having played a poor one. I do not always have to wait until after the game to be told where I failed. Sometimes I know the losing move when I make it, and sometimes Yokoyama-sensei feigns indigestion. I thought, at first, that his groans meant that I had gained an advantage or found a tesuji; I quickly discovered that they were the laments of a teacher with an inept pupil. Now I fear them more than I fear losing.

April 12, 2004

In 1999, a year after his retirement, Shuko had a falling out with the Nihon Kiin over the price the Kiin charges for dan diplomas, which is a major source of income for the Kiin. Shuko began issuing diplomas himself for a smaller fee and was summarily dismissed from the Nihon Kiin as a result. This made him persona non grata for several years, but in early 2004, he was reinstated in the Kiin. A happy consequence of his reinstatement is that the Nihon Kiin has allowed his famous Dictionary of Basic Tesuji to be reprinted.

April 19, 2004

by Adam Marquis

To hear of an influx of young go players far away in Japan is one thing, but to experience it is another thing altogether. I used to worry whether Hikaru no Go’s popularity would prove a boon or a curse for the go community. Logging into KGS to find people with names like “Hikaru8392” spamming the main room with “NE1 TEACH ME NOW?” gave me serious doubts about a youthful crowd coming in. Recent experience, however, has dispelled these doubts entirely.

At a Learn to Play Go! panel in a cavernous workshop room at Anime Boston 2004 on April 10, co-presenter David Dawidowitz and I worried we’d gotten too large a space for the small number we expected to show up. We targeted those who had heard about the game but not yet played and they trickled in at first, filling the front rows of the room. At half capacity I began to worry, at nearly full I had to send for more chairs. In the end the workshop was packed, standing room only. When I asked how many had played a game of go before, several hands raised, but when I asked how many had seen Hikaru no Go; the room became an uncountable sea of hands.

I’d expected a small number of people with a passing interest in the game, and I initially thought I’d merely gotten a larger turnout of that crowd. But the intent faces in the audience, the salient, thoughtful questions, and even some who were taking notes or videotaping all convinced me that what I was looking at was really a treasure trove: dozens and dozens of people eager to learn and play go. So heartened were we by the response that David and I offered to return for teaching games the next evening and following morning. There, the enthusiasm of new players would continue to surprise me.

The way these new players dealt with their mistakes shamed this experienced player. Errors were met, not with embarrassment or anger, but with the joy of adding a new trick to one’s repertoire. They learned from the mistake and played elsewhere, continuing the game calmly. Players set against one other were respectful of their opponents, from youngest to eldest. I realized that many of these people were already go players in manner; apparently Hikaru no Go communicates the culture of the game quite well.

26 April, 2004

The first husband-wife title match ever occurred in last year’s [2003] contest between Rui Naiwei and Jiang Zhujiu (Jujo) for the Maxim Cup in Korea (Jujo won)

10 May, 2004

I caught up with [Go Seigen] for a few minutes last month at the quadrennial Ing World Goe Championships in Shanghai, China (…) Go˜s brief comments were highly philosophical. (…) When (…) I wondered about the hypothetical handicap a top pro would need to play God, Master Wu said simply “At that level, the issue isn’t winning or losing.”

31 May

I seem to recall a similarly ambiguous response given by either, I think, Jowa or Shuwa when asked how they would fare against Dosaku, to which the answer given was something like “If we played a twenty-game match then the first ten games would be evenly split; after that, who knows…?”

I might be heavily misremembering.

GO HALL OF FAME FOUNDED: John Powers reports on the home page of the Nihon Kiin that the Kiin has created a Go Hall of Fame, in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Kiin. The first four selections have been announced:

First, Honinbo Sansa, who founded the Honinbo house in the seventeenth century, one of the four houses of the classical period of go in Japan; Sansa was also the first godokoro or Minister of Go.

Second, Honinbo Dosaku, fourth head of the Honinbo house, who made significant advances in go theory, especially in the opening.

Third, Honinbo Shusaku, the greatest player in the golden age of go in the middle of the 19th century and creator of the famous Shusaku fuseki; Shusaku was never defeated in the Castle Games, winning nineteen times, an unparalled record.

And fourth, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the warlord who unified Japan at the beginning of the seventeenth century and made possible the flowering of go during the Edo period by extending government patronage to the top players, even establishing an official government officer: the Minister of Go.

The Nihon Ki-in Hall of Fame currently contains:

  • Sansa, Dosaku, Shusaku and Tokugawa as mentioned ('04)
  • Jowa ('05)
  • Shuwa and Okura Kishichiro ('06)
  • Shuho ('07)
  • Shuei and Shusai ('08)
  • Segoe ('09)
  • Kitani ('10)
  • Iwamoto ('11)
  • Shibukawa Shunkai and Chen Yi ('12)
  • Kita Fumiko ('13)
  • Hashimoto ('14)
  • Go Seigen ('15)
  • Genan ('16)
  • Shoriki Matsutoro ('17)
  • Shiki Masaoka ('18)
  • Sakata and Cho Namcheol ('19)
  • Shuko ('20)

It is definitely fun to win. Recently I won all of my games in a tournament and I have to admit it was a lark. There’s a danger in winning, though. It’s a moment in go when you can easily get caught up in yourself and your own feelings and forget that there’s more to this game than just your own winning and losing. Go naturally creates a wonderful community of cooperative and supportive players, which is one of its main attractions.

But when you get excited about a win you can lose sight of the importance of the community and forget about the person you were just playing with. There’s an ancient tradition in go that the winner owes the loser a lesson, which the loser is eager to receive. This practice aims at helping both the winner and the loser continue to have a positive attitude toward and involvement in the interactive community that is the go world. So as the winner you have a burden. You can’t just indulge your glee and dance around happily.

Your job is to help the loser find a positive dimension in the experience. Be generous as well as helpful. Focus on lifting the loser’s spirits as well as improving his or her understanding. If you remember that the community of players is what makes go such a marvelous game, you’ll know what to do.

The Burden of Winning, William Cobb, 12 July 2004

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There are some interesting awards mentioned in Bill Saltman’s report on the 2004 US Congress (2 August edition).

Leaders as of Sunday night:

Champion (greatest excess of wins over losses): JEREMIAH PARRY-HILL;
Giant Killer (kyu player with most wins against dan players): NICOLE CASANTA;
Sensei (player with most games against weaker players): MARTIN LEBL;
Philanthropist (player with most losses): MARTIN LEBL;
Grasshopper (player whose rating increases most during the tournament): ALBERT GUO;
Straight Shooter (player with most wins against players of consecutive ranks): MARTIN LEBL;
Hurricane (player with most wins): MARTIN LEBL;
Kyu Killer (dan player with most wins against kyu players): JAMES BENTHEM;
Dedicated (player with the most games): MARTIN LEBL;
Faithful (player with the smallest rating change): JAMES CARTER;
Optimist (player with the largest ratings decrease): GUTHRIE PRICE.

CRAZY, MAN: Crazy Go was crazier than usual this year, reports organizer Terry Benson. Played as traditional on the night before the mid-week day off at the Go Congress, Benson says there were two full setups for Rengo Kriegspeil (blind, partner go played on five 11x11 boards - only the referee’s central board counts).

Bob Hearn brought the delicate lattice for 3D go. Anders Kierulf provided the computer for color blind go (aka mono go, aka single color go) where all the stones are white, but the computer knows.94 Four-color go used pente glass stones (and lots of diplomacy), and there was Spiral Go, Hex Go and a new version, Grille Go, played on some kind of metal grate which neatly fit small marbles on a true hexagonal grid in which each stone (except the edge) has 6 liberties. “Don’t even try a ladder!” Benson warns. And Ron Snyder came for his traditional game of Oki-go (aka 23 line go).

Two games were busy from the start at 7:30 until long after I went off to bed, reports Benson. Joker go was popular with kids and adults. Many asked if the specially printed cards could be bought and creator Mike Samuel said Maybe. The other was Blind Go, played on a set given to None Redmond years ago. The 9x9 grid of pegs fits slightly conical stones drilled with holes to fit the pegs and nails on the black stones to distinguish them. Players wore blindfolds and really had to feel out their positions. The AGA web site last week featured a photo of this variation.

At least 80 players were crazy enough to try and dozens more walked over from their self-paired games to smile at the craziness of blind go, marvel at the patterns of 3D Go, or laugh as the Rengo Kiegspeil players gave new meaning to the term “bad shape”, concludes Benson.

9 August 2004

Asian Games: The Art of Contest that opens in New York City next month (…) is the first major exhibition to explore Asia as a source of games including chess, Parcheesi, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, playing cards, polo and, of course, go and other games. A highlight of the show is an exquisite early 18th century set with a highly decorated, lacquer board and agate pieces, from the Kozu Kobunka Kaikan Museum in Japan. The set is decorated with the crest of the Tokugawa family, the military rulers of the Edo period, and is thought to be part of the bridal trousseau of a member of the Tokugawa family.

27 September 2004

The expanding world of computer go now includes Hikarunix, the only operating system dedicated to go, according to creator Karl Sigler. Hikarunix is a live Linux CD dedicated to learning, playing and studying go [and] features an interactive tutorial for beginners, while more advanced players can record and organize their SGF games for study and comment.

With Hikarunix you can study from an included library of nearly 7000 historical and professional games, 500 of which are reviewed and commented. You can practice Joseki with “Guess the next move” programs, try to solve nearly 5000 go problems ranging from easy to dan level, and play online with thousands of go players, or start your own go server to play private games, says Sigler.


An unusual tournament, called the Fuseki Follow-On, was held in Guildford, England, on October 17th. Participants had to complete one of Shusaku’s games, starting from move 30 of the original game and playing twice as Black and twice as White. Twelve players took part and those winning three games got prizes.

18 October 2004

After 30 years of trying, Francis Roads 4d finally won the Wessex Tournament, held at the Marlborough Town Hall in Marlborough, England.

8 November 2004

In last week’s item on the Mingren title in China we incorrectly reported that winner Gu Li collected a $300,000 prize; the actual purse was $3,000 US. The error occurred during editing when an EJ editor mistakenly assumed the reported $3,000 prize for a major professional tournament must be a typo.

Westerners are more familiar with the huge prizes attached to the major Japanese tournaments: the Kisei pays out an impressive $400,000 US, and the Meijin winner receives about $350,000. With a bit of luck a Japanese pro can win over a million dollars ina single year. Things are different in other countries.

Besides the Mingren, in China the Tianyuan, another top event, provides $6,000 and the CCTVCup goes up to about $10,000. In Korea, the Kuksu, their oldest pro tournament pays out $28,000 and the Myungin about $26,000. Some of the international events come up to the level of the top Japanese events: the Ing Cup champion gets $400,000, and the winner of the Toyota-Denso World Oza Cup gets about $375,000, counting the value of the fancy car. The winner of the American Pro Ing Cup in 2004 received a prize of $5,000.

10 January 2005

… it’s actually Cho Chikun who’s the only player to have been among the top ten prize winners in Japan every year since 1981 when records starting being kept.

11 February 2005

IIt’s interesting this was still true that late in his career.

Cho famously “crumbled” at the turn of the century, losing the Honinbo in 1999 and both the Kisei and Meijin in 2000, leaving him without major titles. He won the Oza once in 2001, and his final major big seven run was the 2005-07 Judan.

I guess he challenged unsuccessfully for several matches in the early part of this century. Posts I’ve read on Sensei’s Library from around 2004-06 do suggest that he was still a top-flight player on the domestic circuit.