News

Don’t Worry, We Will Have a Space in the New Building

Plans are proceeding for the development of the Seattle Go Center property. The project has passed the “Early Design Guidance” phase, so now many of the parameters of the building have been established. The building will be 23 stories high! We will have the 2nd floor space marked “office” on the plans. The rest of the building will be apartments. The big cork tree next to our entrance will be protected. We will have some parking on the basement levels, accessed from the alleyway, also know as Roethke Mews.

Installing Seattle Dept. of Construction and Inspections sign

The Go Center is currently closed due to COVID-19 precautions, while our tenant, Caring Pet Clinic, is open with social distancing guidelines. If the development plan goes ahead, the Go Center will be able to occupy the current building at least until the end of 2021, once the pandemic is under control. Then we move to a temporary location while the new building is being constructed.

Test drilling for foundation engineering

75th Anniversary of the Atom Bomb Game

August 6, 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.  Our generous benefactor, Mr. Kaoru Iwamoto 9p, was almost killed by this bomb.  His Honinbo championship game with Mr. Utaro Hashimoto was moved at the last moment to the outskirts of Hiroshima, about 10 kilometers upwind from the center of the destruction. The blast disrupted the beginning of the last day their three-day game, but nobody in the playing room was badly hurt, so they set up again and finished.  Only later, as they walked to their host’s house, did they get the terrible news of what happened as refugees came streaming from the center of Hiroshima.

Iwamoto Sensei’s wartime experiences motivated him to continue to share and teach the game of Go as a pathway for international understanding.

Back in 1926, he was one of the Japanese pros who encouraged the Chinese prodigy Wu Qingyuan to come to Japan.  Mr. Wu, better known as Go Seigen, became one of the strongest players of the 20th Century.  After the war, which ended in 1945, Iwamoto Sensei devoted a lot of his efforts to teaching and outreach. He still played tournament Go, successfully defending his Honinbo title in 1947, and playing in tournaments until the mid 1970’s, but that wasn’t his only focus. For example, in the 1970’s, James Kerwin of Minnesota, the first western pro in the Nihon Ki-in, was one of Iwamoto’s students.  

Iwamoto Sensei’s success in the Tokyo real estate market in the 1980’s allowed him to expand on his ability to teach and share Go internationally by endowing Go Centers in Seattle, New York, Sao Paulo, and Amsterdam. Thanks to Iwamoto Sensei’s generosity, Seattle has had a Go Center for 25 years. We were happy to have him visit us in 1995 and 1996.  Mr. Iwamoto passed away in 1999, after 97 years.

The other player in the Atom Bomb Game, Mr. Hashimoto, also helped the Seattle Go Center significantly, if indirectly. He was the founder of the Kansai Ki-in, the professional Go association in the region of Japan around Osaka. The Kansai Ki-in has sponsored many trips by the professional Ryo Maeda to Seattle. Mr. Maeda is one of our favorite teachers.

Like Iwamoto Sensei, the Seattle community seeks to promote the crucial necessity of international understanding through its beautiful yearly memorial to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb victims. “From Hiroshima to Hope” generally uses floating lanterns at Green Lake — except that this year, it is a virtual event. To find links, go to Hiroshima to Hope.

You can see the Atom Bomb Game below if you are viewing this post on the news page, rather than the front page. It is the 3rd Japanese Honinbo, title match #2.  Mr. Iwamoto had black.  (Mr. Hashimoto won the game; Mr. Iwamoto eventually won the championship.)  The last move before the atomic bomb blast was 106, which was played at the end of the 2nd day, Aug 5.  The game was long form – each side had 13 hours. That is why it took three days. On the third day the players had just finished setting up and replaying the previous days’ moves when the blast came.  This game is displayed on the outside west wall of the Seattle Go Center. In this setting, it is played out to move 74.  There is a detailed analysis of the game in Modern Master Games, Vol. 1, The Dawn of Tournament Go by Rob van Zeijst and Richard Bozulich (Kiseido Publishing)

Mid-May Update

The Seattle Go Center has been closed due to coronavirus precautions for over two months now. Brian still goes there to check on the building, and to do office work. The neighborhood is much quieter, due to a huge reduction in traffic on nearby I-5, and in jets crossing above. The veterinary clinic downstairs is still open for urgent care, so the building doesn’t feel too lonely. They recently changed their name to “Caring Pet Clinic”, and put up new signs.

Our financial situation is stable for now, but we worry about the effects of a long closure on the Go Center. Meanwhile, the plans for developing the property, with space for us in a new building, are proceeding energetically, despite COVID-19 worries. The property is owned by our benefactor, the Nihon Ki-in of Japan.

Tuesdays were our big days, with 20-40 visitors each Tuesday this winter. All that has changed.  Some of those Tuesday players are meeting on go servers now at the same time of the week.  Go Center Member Bob (Mingcun) Fan reports that he is now playing Mr. Yao on OGS, and then they have a phone call to review the game.  This is happening with some of the meet-ups too. The Zoka coffeehouse group that used to meet in person on Monday and Friday mornings now meets on KGS, using the Go Center “room”.  Member Frank Brown writes that about six players have made the transition. 

Seattle Go Center members have been taking advantage of online Go education for years.  Some have private online lessons with pros, while others are part of the American Yunguseng Dojang.

Our Wednesday SDK class with Jonathan (Chin Jung) Cheng has now gone completely online.   This class is designed for 9K – 1D players.  He is doing a series on using opening moves suggest by AI.  Jonathan teaches the class live on Wednesdays from 6-7 pm PDT through Zoom, and later posts the lectures on YouTube.

Nick in front of imaginary Go demo board
Nick Sibicky in Cyberspace

Before COVID-19, Nick Sibicky used to give his DDK lectures in front of a live audience at the Go Center on Monday nights, and then post them on YouTube.  Now he is recording them at home. He is up to lecture #388!  Nick’s popular lessons were originally intended for double digit kyu players, but his scope has widened to include many issues of interest to stronger players as well.  His most recent lecture at the Go Center was with Nihon Ki-in Pro Daiki Komatsu in early March.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee recently announced “Washington’s Phased Approach” to reopening, with four phases.  The Go Center Board of Directors will meet online to decide how our organization fits into the opening rubric. The earliest the Go Center might be able to reopen would be late June 2020. In the meantime, Brian is working on washing all the go stones.

COVID-19 Closure and Cancelation: 03-24 update

Seattle Go Center remains closed due to the COVID-19 emergency. On 3-23, Governor Inslee issued a proclamation, that (among other measures) closed all non-essential businesses and banned all recreational gatherings regardless of size, for at least two weeks. This means the soonest the Go Center might be able to re-open would be April 9.

Accordingly, the April monthly ratings tournament (that was scheduled for April 5) is canceled. The annual Spring Go Tournament, scheduled for May 3, is uncertain at this time.

Every year, volunteers from the Go Center share the game with attendees at certain festivals. We’ve received confirmation that the following events, originally scheduled for April and May, are canceled: Sakura-Con, Cherry Blossom Festival (at Seattle Center), and University District Street Fair.

The online community resources for playing Go and chatting have been getting increasing use. The Discord server in particular has about 40 users, and the players who meet up regularly at Zoka Coffee on Monday and Friday mornings have been finding each other in the “Seattle Go Center” club room on KGS.

— Mike M.

Online Community Resources

While Seattle Go Center is closed for the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ll keep the community GOing online:

East-vs-West League

Our sister Go Center in the other Washington, the National Go Center, is planning to organize an East Coast vs. West Coast online league. All strengths are welcome to join. If you’d like to participate, please complete the form below.

[ Read more… ]

COVID-19 Response

Seattle Go Center suspended routine operations effective March 13 due to the concern for everyone’s health and safety during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak and emergency response. We will be closed (see “Closed during COVID-19 emergency” for specifics) at least through March 29, at which time we will reassess. We continue to monitor the guidance from public health authorities at https://kingcounty.gov/covid and we encourage everyone to take appropriate precautions. Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones, and we wish a speedy recovery to all.

Though closed for face-to-face games, we are using online resources to keep the community GOing. Please join us virtually Tuesdays and Saturdays to play Go, or just chat and hang out.

— Mike M.

Closed during COVID-19 emergency

The Go Center is suspending most routine operations effective immediately, due to concern for everyone’s health and safety while the COVID-19 novel coronavirus emergency plays out.  We encourage everyone to keep playing Go at home, and to return to the Go Center when we reopen.  And we will be exploring online options for the Seattle area Go community.

We will be closed at least through March 29.  We will reassess then about whether to open on March 30 or March 31.

The Saturday “Programming Computer Go AI” meetup is suspended as far as face-to-face meetups go, but it is available through the Slack channel, and a dedicated Google Groups email list (ask Drew to add you if you’re not already on it).  Drew will be reaching out through Meetup.com, Slack, and the AI email list to keep the momentum going.

The twice-monthly Shogi meetups will be online during this emergency, at 81Dojo.  Up-to-date event details can be found on the Seattle Shogi Meetup page (no meetup.com account needed to see the info) and Brandon reports that the March 7 event “was the first ever live-streamed on Twitch. Attendance was actually higher than a typical in-person event and we even got some strong players from outside Washington to participate! This success in spite of COVID-19 is encouraging so far.”

DDK class updated info — the Monday “Double Digit Kyu” class also is suspended during the covid-19 emergency.  Dr. Nick will make further announcements about the DDK lectures.

Paid Private Instruction (which usually happens when the Go Center is closed) can continue, as long as teacher and student agree to observe certain precautions.  Contact us for details.

The annual Go Center membership meeting, where Directors are elected, is postponed until (probably) mid-April.  Please stay tuned for further announcements.

The Board of Directors meeting scheduled for March 22 will happen as scheduled, with additional precautions about interpersonal distance and cleaning.  And, most the Directors will attend by teleconference technology.  (These meetings are open to observation, but honestly, most Go players would rather play Go than observe the Directors discussing finances and long-term planning.  That’s why we’re so grateful to the Directors — they take care of the boring stuff, so the rest of us can focus on on our Go.  If you want to observe, contact us to make arrangements.)

The monthly AGA ratings tournament scheduled for April 5 is uncertain.  We will reassess on March 29 whether to hold it as scheduled, postpone it, or cancel until May.

The April outreach eventsSakura-Con, Cherry Blossom Festival (at Seattle Center) — seem to be planning to run as scheduled, so if things have settled down by then, the Go Center may be participating.

This was a difficult decision to reach, because we believe in the importance of face-to-face community games.  But safety must come first.  Several of our community are at elevated risk for severe illness, or live with / take care of people at elevated risk.  Helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 is the right thing to do.

— Mike M.; updated 2020-03-17 by Mike M.

COVID-19 Outbreak

The Seattle region has been impacted by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, and the Go Center continues to monitor the guidance of health authorities at www.kingcounty.gov/covid which includes restrictions on small gatherings of people.

As of March 12, the Go Center is planning to stay open to the degree practicable (though note we are closed on March 12). We are increasing precautions — sanitizing surfaces, spacing Go boards farther apart, laundering tablecloths — Brian has even begun sanitizing the stones. And we have more precautions to implement.

Several members of our Go-playing community, or their loved ones, are in groups at risk of severe illness: over 60 years of age; pregnant; having medical conditions such as lung disease, compromised immune system, diabetes, etc. There are risks associated with contact and gathering together, and safety must come first.

If you or someone you live with / care for is at increased risk of severe illness, you probably should stay home for now. If you have symptoms like fever, coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath — you should stay home, and consult your doctor.

Please check back for further developments. And, please wash your hands, cover your cough with your elbow, stay appraised via www.kingcounty.gov/covid, and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Mr. Komatsu, 3 Dan Professional, March 9 – March 12

Mr. Daiki Komatsu, 3 Dan professional Go player of the Nihon Ki-in, has been visiting Seattle! Here is his profile page.

  • March 9 – Mr. Komatsu lectured at Nick Sibicky’s “Double Digit Kyu” class!
  • March 10 – Mr. Komatsu played simultaneous games, defeating seven challengers at once. Pizza for participants was provided courtesy of the AGA Chapter Rewards program.
  • March 11 – Mr. Komatsu visited the Uwajimaya weekly Go outreach meetup that Go Center volunteers have facilitated for many years.
  • March 12 – Mr. Komatsu will visit the Couth Buzzard weekly Go outreach meetup.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak, two school visits had to be canceled.

Daiki Komatsu faces multiple opponents.
Daiki Komatsu 3 Dan battles multiple Go players.
Mr. Komatsu engaged 7 players simultaneously

— Mike M.

Strong Japanese Player Coming to Seattle Feb. 29 – Mar. 3

The Seattle Go community is fortunate to have frequent strong visitors, teaching and competing at the Go Center. A good example — Feb. 29 – March 3, 小野慎吾 (Ono Shingo) will be here.

Mr. Ono is a strong Japanese amateur and friend of Chris Scribner’s. He’s ranked as a Japanese amateur 7 dan, but in tournaments he plays at a 12d rating.  He’s not an accredited pro, but his strength is close to pro 1 dan.  Chris listed a few of Mr. Ono’s achievements from his profile page:

  • Won the central Japan Meiyo Honinbou (amateur) tournament 7 times in a row
  • Won the amateur Ryusei (national) tournament in 2015
  • As a senior in college, won the national Jikketsu tournament (a tournament for college students)
  • In his third year of middle school, won the national boy’s and girl’s tournament
  • He’s also placed highly in many amateur tournaments. Recently he placed in the top 16 for the national amateur Honinbou tournament
Go player in black faces multiple opponents

Mr. Ono has generously offered to play simultaneous games, with up to 4 players at a time.

Go players consider their boards.

He also will be competing in the monthly AGA ratings tournament on March 1, which is an outstanding opportunity for a up-and-coming dan level players!

Further, he’s interested in getting together with other strong players.  If you’re interested, please email and I’ll pass it along to Chris and Mr. Ono.

— Mike M.
Updated with photos, 2020-03-12