Posté par northlecale le 2 janvier 2017

As if a birthday wasn’t enough to remind you that you are getting older, the arrival of the new year serves to shout the fact loudly at you through a hangover. Time then to celebrate that there is little to do today, and to pretend to wisely invest my time in recording what I am likely to be doing over the next year. Naturally we leave out unrelated nonsense like developing a taste in contemporary Irish history, or trying to speak French without sounding like a complete cretin. No, here I reveal, almost exclusively, what I intend to do over the next year in regards to that game we love to call Go.

  1. For a bit of fun I started an exposition on a different kind of ;San Ren Sei
  2. Then there is the joy of satire in EuroGoHebdo
  3. Continuing to play Go, and not only through ICC but maybe even a real tournament(?)
  4. Continuing proofreading for the EGF newsfeed and translating for the RFG/AGA-EJournal

I think that’s more than enough to be getting on with, don’t you?

Publié dans Baduk, Go, Weiqi | Pas de Commentaire »

Breaking Tiebreakers

Posté par northlecale le 14 novembre 2016

Tiebreakers are not as unimportant as some people might wish them to be. Unless you’re using something like GoDraw, your pairing will be influenced by the tiebreakers which have been chosen by the tournament director. In other words, it is not just at the close of the event that the tiebreakers come into play. The EGF has a page which describes its current policy on tiebreakers - - these date from 2007. This page is not as clear as it might be, and at times is offering some bad advice, but it is relatively useful all the same.

In a recent competition the following criteria were used

Swiss Score, Direct Comparison, SOS-2 – SOS-1, and SOS.

This is an unusual choice, but we can see where it came from. On the EGF’s page we have

If only one tiebreaker is used, then these tiebreakers are recommended:

  • Number of Board Wins.
  • Direct Comparison.
  • SOS-2.
  • SOS-1.
  • SOS.
  • Rating.
  • Previous Order.
  • Lottery.

What the organiser missed is

Recommended Order of Equal Players or Tiebreakers

  • This general order of priority is recommended:
  • Playing more rounds.
  • Playing playoff rounds, possibly with short thinking times.
  • Having equal players.
  • Using tiebreakers.
  • If only one tiebreaker is used, then the recommended order of priority is given by the list of tiebreakers that may be used.
  • Only one of SOS-2, SOS-1, or SOS may be used.
  • If more than one tiebreaker is used in a relative order of priority, then this is given by the relative order in the list of tiebreakers that may be used.

What he might have been further mislead by

Recommended Usage of Tiebreakers

  • Number of Board Wins: It can be applied only in a team tournament. There it is highly meaningful and should be the first tiebreaker.
  • Direct Comparison: Provided it can be applied at all, it is very meaningful because it might be interpreted as an already performed knockout playoff among the tied players. So, for the final results, generally it should be the first or even the only tiebreaker.
  • SOS-2, SOS-1, SOS: They should be used only in McMahon or Swiss. They express a mixture of opponents’ strength, statistical noise, and pairing luck. Their apparent numerical precision is greater than their true significance. Therefore they must be used with care. Application for the final results is doubtful while application for making pairings is reasonable. SOS-2 filters more noise than SOS-1 than SOS; more noise can be filtered in more rounds more easily.

Direct Comparison is a total devil if we try to use it to break ties between more than 1 player, in which case it is not at all a play-off game but an imagination which has run wild. SOS is much better suited to Swiss and McMahon pairings as it is considering the actual tournament performance, and not just extrapolating from 1 game.

An advice he was not given is that Direct Comparison should not be used in pairings, it should only be used at the end of the event in tiebreaking. It should never be used in making the pairings. It was then all rather unfortunate that this system was chosen. We have to consider why it was chosen.

  1. It was chosen because the TD studied the 2007 page and tried to apply it.
  2. It was chosen because the EGF does not validate or rubber stamp championship tournament systems
  3. It was chosen because nobody was brusque enough, or competent enough, to dispute it

Publié dans Baduk, Go, Weiqi | Pas de Commentaire »

Of Wizards and Men

Posté par northlecale le 1 novembre 2016

About a month ago I rediscovered John Terry’s blog about go and the promotion of go. It contains quite a lot of interesting articles, even if it is slightly infected with a grudge against the American Go Association‘s leadership or officialdom, and indeed the use of the word Go as opposed to go. A week ago he wrote an interesting piece about John Power and his legacy in the promotion of the game.

Go Review is dead. Go World is dead. What is left?

To my mind, only go is left. And that is what I promote.

I wish that more people would understand this. Promotion requires an active interest in the sporting aspects of a game.

John Terry doesn’t strike me as an expert on promotion, his video idea was a bit of a dead duck, but he makes some interesting points in his blog. How many opportunities get squandered because we think communication and promotion means sending an email? How can we adapt to a world were the printed medium is commercially inviable – there are no subscriptions we can make to english language publications about Go now. What is the key starting point to getting people interested? Can we be stand offish and hope to entice people with the resources we have, or do we have to decamp to the schools to catch (indoctrinate) them while they’re young? They are big questions; questions which don’t interest most players since they prefer playing instead.

Recently I volunteered as a sort of proofreader for the EGF‘s news feed. As I understand it, the article authors fight over whether to write Go or go. The material is more relevant and vibrant than any of that which has sat on its site for many a year – yet it still remains stand offish. There is no official advert saying « Contributors wanted from Turkey, Ukraine, UK… » – instead you have something of an authorship clique. Viktor Lin is seemingly intent on publishing sporting material – i.e. articles about the games themselves – which should be great. I wonder though, how many people actually read and appreciate what they have on the website? Is it going to be enough to draw interest and sponsors in the new era of the EGF? Time will tell. For now I feel that the new culture is still missing something in terms of inclusivity.

Publié dans Baduk, Go, gossip, Weiqi | Pas de Commentaire »

Lines and Numbers

Posté par northlecale le 3 août 2016

The EGD has a Calculator to find rating(GoR) change after any tournament. At the moment, there are at least 2 variations of the rating system with regards to tournament results submission. This means that you can have a different exit rating depending on the country you play in. To show this, we will look at an improving player with an out of date rank – of course he could also be a total sandbagger. His last rank was 10-kyu so he enters at this rank, but actually he is 2-kyu online (about 1800?). Thus he smashes up his opposition – that is he wins 5 games out of 5.

Scenario 1 is the straight up normal mode of operation.

Round Opponent P.Change O.Change
1 1000 +35.6 -34.4
2 1100 +46.5 -42.1
3 1225 +57.3 -47.1
4 1350 +63.9 -47.6
5 1500 +67.9 -44.8

Thus our player (P) moves his rating from 1000 to 1271.2. Notice that opponent 5 loses less GoR than opponent 4. At first sight this seems illogical, but there is an explanation. This is because opponent 5 is in a higher rating bracket, thus his modifier is lower. The total loss in rating for the opponents is 216.

Scenario 2 is where either the Tournament Director, the EGF Member (e.g. Finland’s or France’s Go Association), or the EGD administrators themselves look at the results, decide that (P) needs his rating changed, and do it. Let us pretend his rating is changed to 1300 by one of these three entities before they enter the results into the database. That is, they alter the tournament data before submission.

Round Opponent P.Change O.Change
1 1000 +7.4 -8.3
2 1100 +11.9 -13.0
3 1225 +20.9 -21.4
4 1350 +32.8 -30.8
5 1500 +44.8 -37.5

Thus our player (P) moves his rating from 1300 (or perhaps 1000) to 1417.8. The total loss in rating for the opponents is 111.

Here I do not say which system is better. I only want to say that after all these years we should have only one system, i.e. one complete end to end method of working, in the European Go Federation. One system which we all accept and agree to use. If we do not, then the ratings between one country and the next might not be the same. That is inherently a bad thing for rating integrity.

Publié dans Baduk, Go, Weiqi | Pas de Commentaire »

A few lines

Posté par northlecale le 4 juillet 2016

The following is a small representation of activity in the Irish Go scene. It uses only the European Go Database as a source for data, and thus it is obviously incomplete. We can add some further points, like 2016 being incomplete, some tournaments being split into 2 parts and myself not having the resolve to handle that, and perhaps some events never ever being submitted. Still, it might help to show a few things about the progress of Go in our country. To start with I should explain that Ireland is meant in the geographical sense, that is to say that we blown up the border between the North and the South for the purposes of this little chart. New players are not just those guys who are new to the game, they are also migrant players who happen to pop over to live in Ireland – which is incidentally a very good and proper thing to do.

Album : ActivityChart
1 image
Voir l'album
Given the lack of any other data source, you can’t make any great pronouncements about what you see here on this chart. I would say it shows that we had a boom in activity that started around 2007 / 2008. Although it hasn’t translated into membership numbers as much as we might like it have done, the blue line of new players shows us that we are still in a reasonably healthy state. Even if not all of us have as much time to play as we would like to, Go is still progressing into the country.

Key Definition
New The number of international players playing their first tournament in Ireland AND the number of irish playing their first tournament in a given year
Act The total number of tournaments any Irish Resident or Irish Citizen played in the given year
All The number of Irish (Resident or Citizen) playing a tournament in the given year

Publié dans Go | Pas de Commentaire »

Rational Play

Posté par northlecale le 16 juin 2016

Rather a depressing idea isn’t it? Reading an article such as Rational Play in the AGA EJournal leaves me wondering why they need to see a computer program in this light. Is it really so bad to have waved goodbye to some of the outdated ideas of the Edo period at the expense of home-taping killing the Music industry? (And by the way EMI, up yours something Rotten.) No. These days having longer than 15 minutes to spare for a game of Go is a rare occurrance. One way to continue playing is to choose an opponent who doesn’t mind if you escape. I have found that Leela is just such an opponent. Not being quite up to the standard of AlphaGo, and currently retailing for freem it lends itself to being rather a reasonable opponent for myself. So far, whilst sipping a coffee of a day in work, I have progressed up to the mediocre level of 2-kyu. That’s means I have managed to beat Leela when it gave me 7 stones. Not such a hard thing to do I suppose, but I am in no rush for the stressful levels that await me higher up the scale. After a while I might even get in some decent practice against it.

Publié dans Baduk, Go, gossip, Weiqi | Pas de Commentaire »


Posté par northlecale le 5 mars 2016

I thought that it was worth taking the time to thank John Doyle for his newsletter initiative. You can read follow it on his own website CorkGo or on the GoogleGroup. He’s aiming to give everyone a summary of the upcoming events in Ireland for the next month. Hot on the list for March is the Confucius Cup, which my son decided we weren’t going to this year. Maybe he is right, he can enjoy the snow at home.

Rory Wales has also put together an archive for all the newsletters on the IGA website, I can recommend reading them for the nostalgia.

Publié dans gossip | Pas de Commentaire »

Romanian History

Posté par northlecale le 9 novembre 2015

The reason I started this blog was to record the history of Irish Go. However here we have something a little different, a brief diversion to Romania in 1989. In other words, I have begun a translation of the work of Radu Baciu’s work Go In Competition. I suppose that this is a manual which would normally be left by the wayside as having little to no significant value in terms of instruction. Nevertheless it is historically a very important piece in the development of Go in Romania, and I at least find it quite an interesting piece of work in terms of thinking about the game. You can find the initial Version 1 here at It contains 7 contemporary games, an introduction and a glossary.

Publié dans Baduk, Go, gossip, RaduBaciu, Weiqi | Pas de Commentaire »

Obituary – Bernard Palmer

Posté par northlecale le 9 août 2015

Whilst on holiday with my family I learnt of the sad death of Bernard Palmer. To most people in Ireland he was probably better known as a Chess player. These days you can look through his game history with websites like or whatever, to get a feel of the length and breadth of his career, but that gives you little indication of what type of man he really was. At the Chess board, or even just debating about Chess Politics, he could exhibit a fell temper sometimes backed up by even worse threats. One can suppose that this relatively bad behaviour originated out of the very character of the game itself, for when playing Go, nothing of the sort could be seen. Most people remarked that he was a completely different and affable character.  I’m sure that those who have played Go in Ireland prior to 2008 will remember his larger than life figure, many might also remember Bernard for his role as a guide around the bars of Dublin. My first meeting with Bernard was inside the half light of the Pembroke Inn, when I noticed a large man drinking what was probably Carlsberg lager at the bar.  Over the years to come I remember seeing him playing Go there, and not seeing him playing Go there, several more times in the same circumstances. He seemed to have something of a natural gift for the game, for without displaying most of the skills normally associated with the calculating chess player, his positional instinct was powerful. Bernard was the challenger in the 1992 / 3 final against Noel Mitchell – you can see one of his games here. I believe it illustrates the fact that Bernard simply wasn’t up to the same level as Noel in the technical details associated with close quarter fighting. It also illustrates the perhaps forgotten fact that Bernard was one of the early powerhouses of Irish Go. He never progressed significantly beyond his level of 3-kyu he attained in 1992, which at the time made him one of the strongest players in the country, and the strongest player at Collegians. He was persistent though, playing in many further Top 8 competitions, and he ended up travelling to Japan twice to represent Ireland – once for the International Amateur Pair Go Championship, and once for the World Amateur Go Championship. The latter he was interviewed for by Peter Mioch. He was actually just 57 years old when he died, and with his passing we lose something of the history of Collegians Chess and Go Club.

Publié dans Baduk, Go, Weiqi | Pas de Commentaire »

The year of unfinished business

Posté par northlecale le 2 mai 2015

We all know that feeling. Suddenly you notice that your eyes are sore, the primal energy seems to have gone from your body, tiredness is the only thing left, and you realise that, despite all your best intentions, you just didn’t get a thing done today. Somehow, 2014 seemed to go that way for the Irish Go Championship. It is not for me to guess as to why it happened, but it just never seemed to finish. To begin with, only 6 players actually turned up for the Top 8 that year. It was something along the lines of that one slept in, while the other just forgot about it. So, what with a quarter of the games out of the way, you’d imagine that it might motor along to a quick completion. Far from it! It is true the championship league was, whilst not strictly speaking finished within the period the rules allowed, completed well before Christmas. The 3-game final just simply didn’t appear. There was one game that was played, but months passed, 2014 turned to 2015, and as I sit writing here, despite promises to get around to playing it, we are into May 2015, and it just hasn’t happened. Both players are, strangely enough, still playing in the 2015 championship, which is still in progress, and nearly running to schedule. So we have to imagine that the final will eventually be played, it is just a case of when. For now, the record is a year of 17 months – how long will that run on for?

Postscript – the committee adjudicated the result on the 31st of May. (spoilsports)

Publié dans gossip | Pas de Commentaire »


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