Category: Go

Spain in February

Spain in February

My mom likes to go to Spain in February to escape the Norwegian winter. I was lucky to be able to visit her there and time it perfectly to include a Go tournament in Barcelona. Little did I know that this would be my last trip for a while. And while Europe is now far along the road to recovery, the US has grossly mismanaged the epidemic to the point where we’re now (rightly so) banned from entering Europe.

It may seem frivolous to write about travel in these times, and this blog post was sitting half-finished for months. However, I’m confident that we’ll be traveling again someday; for now, please join me from home. I hope you’re safe and healthy wherever you are, and that looking forward to travel may help you get through this.

I’ll start with the Go tournament; stick with me if you’re interested in some of the architecture Spain has to offer.

Barcelona Go Tournament

It was fun to meet tournament organizer Julio Martinez in person after only knowing him as @liopic on Twitter, and I even got paired against him in the first round. I ended up winning three games and losing two, bringing my European rating back up to 1 dan. The game against the eventual winner of the tournament, Rita Pocsai 4 dan, was a foregone conclusion, but every other game could have ended differently.

In the game against Marco Meyenschein 4 dan, I misplayed the top right corner, but at least got some outside influence while giving him 40 solid points. I was close to resigning; if it had not been the last game, I might have done so and saved my energy for the next game. Playing on, I managed to stake out a moyo large enough that he was forced to invade to reduce it:

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As he was running away, I built up territory, but not enough. He just had to connect out, but after misreading a connection, his stones got trapped and eventually died.

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Not sure what the lesson is: Don’t give up too soon? Beware an opponent who has nothing to lose? Or resign earlier so you don’t have to win this way?

Alicante

The area around L’Albir is really picturesque, with mountains going all the way down to the sea, and narrow streets in the old town of Altea. And a climate that attracts a lot of Norwegians.

Valencia

As a fan of Calatrava (see my trip to his train station in Liège-Guillemins), I stopped in his home town of Valencia to see the City of Arts and Sciences. What a sight! Season 3 of Westworld features many scenes at these futuristic-looking buildings. I only had a few hours, and couldn’t explore the insides, but what an experience to just walk around and take it all in.

Sagrada Família

Barcelona is home to Gaudi, and especially the Sagrada Família. My last trip to Barcelona was in 1992, playing in the Othello World Championship. Since then, the Sagrada Família has made a lot of progress. The outside is still weird:

But the inside is even more magnificent:

Unfortunately, access to the towers is more restricted than it was in 1992, but still well worth it for the spiral stairs, and views into the church from above.

It’s still a construction zone; I’m looking forward to visiting Barcelona again when it’s completed in 2026 (not software, so maybe they’ll even finish on time).

Casa Milà

Another Gaudi building with a lot of controversy. While it’s been derisively nicknamed La Pedrera (the stone quarry), the construction as well as the inside is amazing: lots of light thanks to the dual courtyards, the first underground car garage in Barcelona, arched attic (used for laundry), rooftop with chimneys and ventilation as sculptures.

As with the Sagrada Família, Gaudi figured out the load-bearing structure using hanging chain models, resulting in optimal arches when turned upside down.

Memories and pictures of my trip help keep my spirits up as I remain at home. I’m looking forward to my next trip to Spain – it may be a while, but I’ll definitely be back. Meanwhile, please stay safe.

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Using Strong Go Programs on Macintosh

SmartGo for Mac is not playing strongly, as computer play is using my own pre-AlphaGo engine. However, like SmartGo for Windows, you can use GTP (Go Text Protocol) to connect to strong engines to play against.

The most recent version of SmartGo for Macintosh (0.8.18) includes some improvements in how it handles GTP engines. It’s not perfect, there’s much more to be done, but hopefully it will tide you over while I keep my focus on the new SmartGo for iOS.

The first step is downloading and installing the computer go engines you want to connect to. Here are three I’ve tested with SmartGo for Mac, from easy to hard to install. All assume that you’re somewhat comfortable using the Terminal app; check out this iMore guide if you’re new to the command line.

Pachi

The easiest way to install Pachi on the Mac is using Homebrew (which you probably have to install first). Follow these instructions:

https://brewinstall.org/Install-pachi-on-Mac-with-Brew/

Leela Zero

Find Leela Zero on Github, scroll down to I just want to play with Leela Zero right now, and follow the Homebrew instructions. You’ll also have to download a file with network weights; the link is in that same section.

KataGo

Installing KataGo is more complicated, as you have to compile it yourself. Follow the instructions for Linux at https://github.com/lightvector/KataGo.

smartgo-mac-gtp-preferences

Setting Parameters

Once you’ve installed an engine, you need to add it to SmartGo. Choose SmartGo > Preferences in the menu and click on GTP. Then click on the + icon and navigate to the executable of the engine you want to add. SmartGo uses the engine name to guess reasonable parameters, then tries to run the engine to get its name and version. If you see a green checkmark with the name and version, you’re all set. Otherwise, edit the parameters sent to the GTP engine (the third column in the table). The following basic settings work for my setup:

Leela Zero: -g –playouts 1000 –noponder -w /usr/local/Cellar/leela-zero/0.17/best-network/40b_257a_64k_q

KataGo: gtp -model /Users/anders/work/katago/cpp/models/model.txt.gz -config /Users/anders/work/katago/cpp/configs/gtp_example.cfg

Leela Zero and KataGo take a while to initialize, so even just getting name and version initially can take a minute, and SmartGo may time out. If it does, just try starting a game against the engine anyway (File > New Game, specify the engine in the dropdown for Black or White), and see if it works.

I hope these instructions get you pointed in the right direction. I’m sorry none of this is as easy as it should be.

EGC 2019 in Brussels

A family reunion put me in Ireland right during the US Go Congress; luckily, the European Go Congress lined up perfectly. I arrived in Brussels without jet lag, and definitely did better than two years ago in Oberhof.

I entered as 2 dan instead of 3 dan, knowing that European ranks are tougher than US ranks. However, 1 dan might have been the right rank, as that’s where I ended up (see my EGF ranking). I won half my games in the main tournament, but I was 1-4 in the first week and 4-1 in the second week, a clear sign of being overrated.

The weekend tournament didn’t go as well: I lost all five games. Each game was winnable, but somehow I managed to mess up. I regrouped and analyzed the games, and paid more attention to taking care of my weak groups instead of going for big points, and won the next four games.

A few other observations:

  • I got to practice my Norwegian hanging out with a dozen players from Norway. And it was great to get to know players I’ve long known through Twitter, such as Marcel Gruenauer.
  • I really enjoyed the longer time limits: with two hours per player, games are often four hours long; definitely valuable to spend that much time thinking intensely about the game.
  • Many players stayed only for the first week and the weekend tournament, so that’s certainly an option if you can’t stay for two weeks. Looking at the registered participants, there were 571 players for the first week, 702 for the weekend tournament, and 397 for the second week.
  • Brussels was a great place to have the tournament, with lots of places to eat and explore (more on that below). They had go boards in nearby pubs; maybe playing rengo until 1 am was not conducive to optimal play the next day?
  • The playing space was okay, except for lack of air conditioning – temperatures in Brussels reached 40° C (100° F) during the first week.

Next year, I plan to be at the US Go Congress in Estes Park, Colorado – hope some of the European players will be able to make it.

Side trips

At the US Go Congress, there’s usually a group of us touring the nearest Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. Brussels has a lot of beautiful old buildings, but I found some nearby places that were more to my liking.

The Atomium

I had seen the Atomium before, so I just went to take pictures of this fun structure this time.

Reading Between the Lines

Reading Between the Lines (Doorkijkkerk) is an artwork out in the green, well worth the train, bus, and hike from Brussels.

Liège-Guillemins

I love the Stadelhofen station in Zürich designed by Santiago Calatrava, so when I found out his train station in Liège is only an hour from Brussels, I knew I had to check it out. I was blown away by the size and openness of that space, and the light coming in.

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Port House

The Port House in Antwerp was designed by Zaha Hadid: Not to everyone’s liking, I’m sure, but it just put a smile on my face as I walked around it.

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Maybe one of these will inspire you to visit beautiful Belgium. If not, there’s always chocolate.

Spirit of the Game

The recent ruling in the Transatlantic Go Tournament seems wrong: it puts technology ahead of the game of go. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. There may be circumstances I’m not aware of, but basically, the game between Mateusz Surma and Eric Lui was played online over KGS, Mateusz was ahead on the board in the late endgame, and the move he tried to play with 10 seconds to spare somehow did not make it to the server in time. The final ruling is that he lost on time. To me, this violates the spirit of the game.

In ultimate frisbee, the Spirit of the Game is a guiding principle of the rules. Players call and adjudicate their own fouls; if players disagree, play gets restored as best as possible to what would have happened without that incident.

“Spirit of the Game: Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play.” [Official Rules of Ultimate, 11th Edition]

Even at the professional level, where there are referees, the integrity rule allows players to overrule the referee when it’s to their own disadvantage:

“Any player or head coach can overturn any call made by an official if the official’s call favored the player’s or coach’s own team. Officials shall respect the integrity call. This allows teams to display sportsmanship and remedy an incorrect call against their opponent.” [AUDL Rule Book]

To me, go and ultimate share the same kind of spirit: highly competitive yet friendly play.

Mateusz losing due to a technical glitch makes the game of go subservient to technology. Technology enables long-distance tournaments, but that should be an incidental part of the match: the game is most important. When technology goes wrong, you try to restore the game to what it would have been without the technical glitch. And when a ruling is unfair, the winner should be able to overturn it. Integrity and spirit of the game are important, both in ultimate and in go.

ePubs at gobooks.com

Go books are now available as ePub. I wrote about the plan in November; it took a while to get all the details sorted out.

You’ll see that gobooks.com sports an all-new design, courtesy of Scott Jensen. The previous site was focused on the app; the new design puts the books front and center. You can now also list the books by series and by author. Tap on a book to get details, to download an ePub sample, and to buy it.

Available books: Currently, 81 of the 134 books are available as ePub. Books from Hinoki Press and Good Move Press may not be available as ePub for a while. As for Kiseido and Board N’Stones, I have agreement in principle, but am waiting for their signatures. All the other publishers are on board, and their books are all available as ePub. The button for buying a book will be labeled either EPUB+GOBOOK or GOBOOK ONLY, depending on whether that book is available as ePub.

Issues with ePub: The iOS and Mac apps still offers the best reading experience; ePub readers have a ways to go. Please check out the page on issues and recommended ePub readers. For example, to solve problems, you’ll want to read in single-page (portrait) mode to hide the answer on the next page, as ePub doesn’t support page breaks well. On that page you’ll also find instructions on how to download ePubs of books you’ve already bought.

The Go Books app was released April 11, 2011, almost 8 years ago. It started out with 8 books by 4 publishers, and was limited to iOS. The Mac app was added in January 2015, along with the ability to buy books directly at gobooks.com. Time for the next chapter.