AlphaGo and the Hand of God

I watched the eagerly anticipated documentary movie AlphaGo

on Netflix ( last night. The IMDb ( gives it a rating of only 8.1. I would give it a 9.9, but then I have never jumped through the hoops required to rate a movie on the website. This reminds me of David Spinks, who lived and worked at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center,

as he did jump through the hoops and relished arguing about how to rate a movie. Upon learning I would rate it so highly David would, no doubt, exclaim, “What? Have you lost your mind? Nobody rates any movie higher than a 9.5!”

I spent an inordinate amount of time watching each and every game during March of 2016 while greatly enjoying the commentary of 9 dan Michael Redmond,

an American who is the highest ranking Western player ever, and Chris Garlock, the editor of the American Go Journal.

If I had to use only one word to describe the movie it would be “poignant.” Many people with no interest in the game of Go, or any game for that matter, would have little, if any, interest in watching a movie, especially a documentary, about a mere game, possibly considering it dry and uninteresting. They would be sorely mistaken. Games are played by human beings and we humans are emotional creatures. Only a psychopath could watch this movie without having feelings evoked. When something is gained something is also lost. The computer program known as AlphaGo gained a victory for artificial intelligence when man lost yet another battle with a machine.

Lee Sedol,

a 9-dan, the highest rank, professional Go player, who has won 18 World Titles, and is considered to be one of the all-time great Go players, lost the match to AlphaGo, 1-4, but won our hearts. Lee Sedol said, “I want my style of Go to be something different, something new, my own thing, something that no one has thought of before.” Unfortunately it was the silicon monster that showed something new, something that no one had thought of before. It is now known all the world over as “Move 37!” (

“In Game Two, the Google machine made a move that no human ever would. And it was beautiful,” writes Cade Metz in Wired.

The move reminded me of the great Go Seigen,

considered to be one of the strongest players of all time, if not the greatest, because it was played on the inside, near the middle of the board, a type of move he made famous.

Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo Move 37 reactions and analysis

In the movie one hears, “Move 37 begat move 78.” From the aforementioned Wired article: “But in Game Four, the human made a move that no machine would ever expect. And it was beautiful too. Indeed, it was just as beautiful as the move from the Google machine—no less and no more. It showed that although machines are now capable of moments of genius, humans have hardly lost the ability to generate their own transcendent moments.” (

Move 78 has become known as the Hand of God move.

Lee Sedol Hand of God Move 78 Reaction and Analysis

Lee Sedol won the fourth game, striking a glorious blow for humans. Unfortunately he lost the final game in a close, hard fought battle. It may have been the last game a human will ever win against any program as the next incarnation of AlphaGo beat the current world No. 1 ranking player Ke Jie,

3-0 in the Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen, China, played on 23, 25, and 27 May 2017.

Before the match it was commonly accepted that it would be at least a decade before any program was able to challenge the best human players. Beating Kasparov at Chess was considered child’s play to beating a human at Go. “The Game of Go is the holy grail of artificial intelligence. Everything we’ve ever tried in AI, it just falls over when you try the game of Go.” – Dave Silver Lead Researcher for AlphaGo

While watching the movie the thought crossed my mind that what I was watching was a watershed moment in the history of mankind, analogous to Neal Armstrong’s “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

“We think of DeepMind as kind of an Apollo program effort for AI. Our mission is to fundamentally understand intelligence and recreate it artificially.” – Demis Hassabis Co-Founder & CEO, DeepMind

A comment from a member of the AlphaGo team has stuck with me: “We do not understand enough about Go to understand what AlphaGo is doing.” I cannot help but wonder if, in the future when programs are exponentially more powerful, humans will allow the programs to make decisions for them while not understanding why those decisions have been made…

This is a great movie. The Chess player IM Boris Kogan said, “The measure of a man is how he comes back after a defeat.” In the two months after Lee Sedol lost to the computer program known as AlphaGo he won every match he played against human opponents.

We have truly entered a Brave New World.


The Shanghai Restoration Project

The Shanghai Restoration Project (SRP) is the Brooklyn based electronic duo of Dave Liang and Sun Yunfan.

In 2011 Liang met multidisciplinary artist Sun Yunfan and the two soon started collaborating – at first on music videos and live performance visuals and later on songwriting and production. The two co-produced Life Elsewhere, a playful album that weaves Zhang Le’s jazz vocals with electronica, samba, bossa nova, world music, and Chinese Taoist philosophy.

The duo’s latest album R.U.R. marks a shift from its more recent whimsical releases towards introspection, a reaction to the changing world. Setting out to find balance in chaos, R.U.R. plays with a more dissonant and polyrhythmic palette featuring atonal analog synth lines and samples including household items, Malaysian rainforest insects, China’s omnipresent in-store marketing chants, and the sounds of outer space.

Rethinking Opening Strategy

Yuan Zhou 7d,

a well known and highly respected Go workshop teacher, has witten a new book, “Rethinking Opening Strategy: The Impact of AlphaGo on Pro Play,” published by Slate & Shell (

The difference between Go and Chess playing programs is that the computer programs are on their own from the first move. In tournaments, such as the ongoing TCEC tournament (, the “engines,” as they are called in Chess, are forced to play opening moves made by human players, even if their algorithm would never play such a move. Who knows what the “engines” consider best play? Who in the Chess world wants an answer to the question of what each “engine” considers best play? How many books, or articles, have appeared concerning the impact “engines” have had on opening play?

Last month Yuan Zhou returned to North Carolina for his 11th Workshop. It was held December 8-10, 2017, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Yuan Zhou excels at explaining Chinese language phrases and meanings relating to Go. This year, in addition to sharing many new expressions, he shared some of the meaning of professional 9 dan Tang Weixing’s name (唐 韦星), tracing the surname Tang back to the seventh century A.D. Dynasty, and the meaning of xing as a celestial star.”

The excellent article by Bob Bacon can be found here:

One of the most difficult things about learning the great game of Go is the language barrier. As a young man in his twenties I studied the Russian language in order to read Chess books and periodicals such as the Shakhmatny Bulletin and 64. Since I subscribed to the Russian Chess periodicals there is no doubt there is an FBI file with my name on it. I have done the same as an old(er) man while learning the myriad Go terms and I am here to tell you it was much easier in my youth. There was no Google translator in the 1970’s as there is now, so we had to do it the old fashioned way and “earn it.”

“They’re here”

Stephen Bassett

is the executive director of Paradigm Research Group founded in 1996 to end a government imposed embargo on the truth behind the so called “UFO” phenomenon. Stephen has spoken to audiences around the world about the implications of formal “Disclosure” by world governments of an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race. He has given over 1000 radio and television interviews, and PRG’s advocacy work has been extensively covered by national and international media.

Mr. Bassett appeared on the Phenomenon Radio program on KGRA web radio, Thursday, January 11, 2017, which is hosted by Linda Moulton Howe of

Live KGRA worldwide web radio Thursday nights –
5 -7 PM Pacific / 8 – 10 PM Eastern.

January 9, 2018 – Tune In January 11th LIVE PHENOMENON Radio with co-hosts Linda Moulton Howe, Reporter and Editor of, and retired USAF Tech Sgt. John Burroughs.

Guests will be Eric W. Davis, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, EarthTech International, Inc., Inst. for Advanced Studies at Austin, Texas;
and Steve Bassett, Executive Director of the Paradigm Research Group (PRG). Dr. Davis will share some of his Institute’s 2008 technical paper about the November 2004 “tic-tac” AAV (Aerial Anomalous Vehicle) fighter jet gun camera 34-second infrared video with pilots reacting — as released from Luis Elizondo’s DoD Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) on December 16, 2017, to The New York Times.

The program, which can be found here ( concerns the possibility of disclosure in the near future of the fact that, “They’re here.”

Near the end of the two hour program Steve Bassett said, “They’re (governments of various countries of earth) playing a difficult game of Chess with the pieces that they have and I think the timing is also somewhat connected to the political realities of Donald Trump.”

Naturally, Vladimir Putin,

Vladimir Putin introducing a ‘Spaceman’

the Trumpster’s buddy, is heavily involved in the variation being played, or is it the TrumPet Putin is playing? It seems there is a battle between Russia and US as to which leader will be first to disclose the fact that aliens are among us.

GM Timur Gareyev Lost In Space

The headline reads:

Delhi GM Open 2018: Walkover Shocker for the fourth-seed
Jan 11, 2018

“The games had begun, the top seeds were comfortably seated on their boards. For the professional star players, it was yet another day at work. 14-year-old Koustav Chatterjee, rated 2288, was the only player waiting anxiously for his opponent. American Timur Gareyev GM,

rated 2605, had ‘left’ the official car and had not reached the venue. He had decided that he will come to the venue on his own. The clock was ticking and the walkover time-limit of 30 minutes was fast approaching.
Timur Gareyev did reach the venue, but not on time. He was three minutes late. The chief arbiter Vasanth BH decided to award the point to the young Koustov Chatterjee.”

The article reminded me of the time a few Chess players were talking about favorite sci-fi TV shows. After naming the original Star Trek

as my favorite, one self-proclaimed ‘legendary’ Georgia player named his.

Upon hearing the name of the show Dubious Dave erupted with, “That’s the difference between you two. Bacon boldly goes where no man has gone before while you (the legendary one) are Lost In Space!” This brought howls of laughter. The legendary one pouted all evening…

I met GM Timur Gareyev

at the 2012 Land of the Sky Chess tournament in the beautiful city of Asheville, in the Great State of North Carolina. It was hours before the first round and I had been talking with the organizer, Wilder Wadford, when Timur came up to speak with Wilder. He noticed the book held in my hand asking if he could look at it.

I gave him the book, he talked with Wilder, then turned abruptly and walked away. I followed, yelled, “Hey you,” or some such, and he turned to gaze at me. After catching up with him I said, “You have my book, sir.” Timur looked flummoxed before saying, “I would like to read it.”
“Who are you?” I inquired. It was then I learned his name. As he was returning the book I said, “It is customary to ask before taking off with someone’s book.” He said, “Yes, of course you are right,” before turning to walk away. Since I had finished reading the book I decided to let him read it, for which he was grateful. Later I noticed Timur sitting in the spectator section reading the book while playing on board one. Someone mentioned later that he had gotten into what looked like trouble against NM Richard Francisco, from my home state of Georgia, while reading the book, before extricating himself from difficulties. Timur went on to tie for first with GM Sergey Kudrin. I enjoyed the conversation we had after the tournament ended, as I have always derived enjoyment from getting into the mind of a top level Chess player. Timur walks to the beat of a different drummer, and I mean that in the best way possible. I liked him immensely. Nothing against “normal” people (whatever “normal” is), but they are not as interesting as we who are, shall we say, “slightly skewed.”

For those of you who do not know, Timur is known as the Blindfold King, and has the website to prove it. ( One finds this applicable quote at the site: “I close my eyes so I can see.” – Paul Gauguin

Timur and I have something else in common; our brains have been studied. His brain was “loaned” to science before setting the blindfold Chess record.

Inside the brain of the man who would be ‘Blindfold King’ of chess

Next month, Timur Gareyev will play nearly 50 opponents at once – blindfolded. Can neuroscientists reveal how he performs such incredible mental feats?

I urge you to read the article:

Standard memory tests showed nothing exceptional. However, brain scans suggest that Gareyev’s visual network is more highly connected to other brain parts than usual Photograph: Jesse Rissman

The scans also found much greater than average communication between parts of Gareyev’s brain that make up what is called the frontoparietal control network – used in almost every complex task Photograph: Jesse Rissman

I have participated in several brain studies at places such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, and the Veterans Administration. All of these studies involved the memory. My brain:

These studies give one a new way of looking at yourself. Examples:

Powerful Poetry

Barb-Tossing Bard: Mysterious Poet Roils Sleepy Tajik Village

Villagers in a sleepy village in southern Tajikistan are under attack, blasted by insulting poems that are mysteriously cropping up in public places where they are sure to sting.

A resident from the sleepy Tajik hamlet of Khojaghalton has put a bounty on a mysterious poet who uses the pen to lash out at fellow villagers and their daily routines.

Outraged residents of Khojaghalton say they don’t know who the author – or the authors – are, but they are certain that he or she lives among them.

The author knows our names and nicknames, our habits and daily routines, the villagers say. Often the snarky sonnets target individuals or mock businesses. Such was the case with Sitora’s shop, which came under fire for being a place where neighbors always borrow goods, instead of buying them.

A man called Khusrav — who only works during harvest season, according to another poem — “sniffles and smokes, sitting idly and watching his life pass by.”

Without naming names, another ridicules “the head of the village, who collects money for different causes every year, but the money always disappears.”

Ashur, notorious for calling for unnecessary village meetings and feeding people “over-salted plov,” is singled out. So, too, is the shopkeeper Jomi, who determines prices as he pleases.

‘I Watch It And Feel Sorry’

Yet another villager is mocked for his gait; another for being blind. And the poet expresses sympathy “for people needing treatment from local faith healer Toj and Mullah Miroj.”

Every four-line stanza ends with the same sentence: “I watch it and feel sorry.” Throughout, even the writer’s sex remains concealed, as verbs and pronouns don’t indicate gender in the Tajik language.

One villager has offered the equivalent of $60 to anyone who could reveal the identity of the mysterious poet, while insisting it is “just out of curiosity.”

“The poems don’t contain any insult, they are a satire,” Qiyomiddin Nizom explains. “We are just curious and want to find out who is writing them. That’s the only reason I offered the prize.”

Nizom, a former village policeman, says his 77-year-old father was mocked for his habit of “sitting idly all day” and people-watching.

“It’s all true,” Nizom admits. “My father said he didn’t mind how he was described.”

During winter days, many Khojaghalton men gather at a small car-repair shop to share tea and catch up on the latest village gossip.

Exposing Realities

The topic of the conversation inevitably turns to the latest works of the local mystery poet, says garage owner Alamkhon Saifov.

Saifov says the poems expose the realities of the village in an up-to-date manner.

“So far the poet has written about some 40-50 people,” says Saifov, once singled out as someone the poet “watches and feels sorry for.”

“Those who haven’t been targeted yet enjoy the poems, while the ‘targets’ want to find the person and rebuke them gently,” Saifov says lightheartedly. “Someone might respond to the bounty offer.”

Sixty dollars is nearly a monthly wage for a village teacher or a nurse. No one, however, has come forward with any information about the identity of the village’s most-wanted person.

Khojaghalton inhabitants recently asked local police to help identify the man or woman behind the lyrics.

In the meantime, the author is expanding the reach of their barbs, writing about the nearby villages of Navobod and Shuroobod.

Written by Farangis Najibullah based on reporting by RFE/RL Tajik Service correspondent Mahmudjon Rahmatzoda.

Hastings Last Round

We will look at how the players profiled in a previous post on Hastings fared in the tournament.

Adam Taylor

finished with a score of 5 1/2 out of 9, which included the upset win over Sengupta in the first round and three draws with GM’s. He drew with Black against GM Alexander Cherniaev (2436) in the second round; Alexandr Fier, with White, in the penultimate round; and Bogdan Lalic (2415),

also playing White, in the last round. Mr. Taylor’s performance rating was 2452, over 200 points higher than his FIDE rating.

Adam C Taylor vs Bogdan Lalic

Last round

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Bg4 3. Bg2 Nd7 4. O-O e6 5. c4 Ngf6 6. b3 Bd6 7. Bb2 O-O 8. d3 c6 9. h3 Bh5 10. Nbd2 a5 11. a3 Re8 12. e4 1/2-1/2

GM Deep Sengupta

won his last round game with Danny Gormally (see below) to tie for first place with IM Yiping Lou,

who settled for a short draw with Arghyadip Das

in the final round to finish with 7 points.

Yiping Lou vs Arghyadip Das

Last round

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 O-O 7. Bg5 dxc4 8. Qxc4 b6 9. Nf3 Ba6 10. Qa4 c5 11. dxc5 bxc5 12. Rd1 Qb6 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. Rd2 Nc6 15. Qg4+ Kh8 16. Qh4 Kg7 17. Qg4+ Kh8 18. Qh4 Kg7 1/2-1/2

After his first round draw with GM Daniel Gormally in round one Kim Yew Chan (2299) beat an FM with Black in the second round. Then the wheels came off as he first lost to GM Alexander Cherniaev with White in the third round. He drew with the Black pieces versus a player rated 1961, Mikolaj Rogacewicz, in the fourth round before losing to a titled woman player rated only 1993 WFM Rasa Norinkeviciute in the fifth round. Unable to take the woman’s Chess punch, he withdrew. His PR was only 2151.

GM Jens Kristiansen (2415),

playing White, managed to draw a long game versus John N Sugden (2059). The GM is sixty five years young, showing fighting spirit the above named players who agreed to quick draws should envy, if not emulate. There is no shame in a game of 70+ moves which ends in a hard fought draw, unlike the aforementioned gentlemen with short drawers.

Jens Kristiansen vs John N Sugden

Final round

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Bd3 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. Nf3 O-O 8. O-O dxc4 9. Bxc4 Nbd7 10. Bg5 Nb6 11. Bb3 Be7 12. Qd3 Bd7 13. Bc2 g6 14. Bh6 Re8 15. Ne5 Nbd5 16. Qg3 Nh5 17. Qf3 Bf6 18. Nxd5 Bxe5 19. dxe5 exd5 20. Qxd5 Bc6 21. Qxd8 Raxd8 22. f4 Rd2 23. Rf2 Rd4 24. Rd1 Red8 25. Rxd4 Rxd4 26. f5 Ng7 27. f6 Ne6 28. Bb3 Rd7 29. Be3 a6 30. h3 Kf8 31. Kh2 Nd4 32. Bxd4 Rxd4 33. e6 fxe6 34. Bxe6 Bd5 35. Bxd5 Rxd5 36. Re2 Rd7 37. Re6 Kf7 38. Rb6 g5 39. Kg3 Kg6 40. Kf3 h5 41. Ke3 Kf5 42. a4 h4 43. a5 Ke5 44. b4 Kf5 45. Kf3 Rd3+ 46. Ke2 Rd7 47. Ke3 Ke5 48. b5 axb5 49. f7 Rxf7 50. Rxb5+ Kf6 51. Kd4 Ke6 52. Rxg5 Rf2 53. Ke3 Ra2 54. Kf3 Kf6 55. Rg4 Ra3+ 56. Kf2 Ra2+ 57. Kg1 Rxa5 58. Rxh4 Rb5 59. Rh8 Rb2 60. h4 b5 61. Kh2 Rb3 62. Rb8 Kf5 63. Rg8 b4 64. h5 Rc3 65. h6 Rc7 66. Rg7 Rc8 67. g4+ Kf4 68. h7 Rh8 69. g5 b3 70. g6 b2 71. Rb7 Kf5 1/2-1/2

Jonah B Willow (2152), with the Black pieces, beat Brian Hewson (2007) in the last round. He also won the previous round game to finish with a flourish. Unfortunately the games between his opening round draw with GM Kristiansen and the penulitmate round were not kind to Mr. Willow.

Hewson, Brian W R vs Willow, Jonah B

Last round

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. e4 a6 8. a4 Bg4 9. Be2 Bxf3 10. gxf3 Bg7 11. Be3 Nbd7 12. Qd2 O-O 13. Bh6 Re8 14. h4 Nh5 15. Bg5 Qa5 16. Nd1 Qc7 17. a5 f5 18. Nc3 f4 19. Bxf4 Nxf4 20. Qxf4 Rf8 21. Qg5 Be5 22. Qd2 Bf4 23. Qc2 Ne5 24. Nd1 Qf7 25. Ra3 Rae8 26. Ne3 Bxe3 27. Rxe3 Qc7 28. Qa4 Rc8 29. Kd2 Rf4 30. Kc2 Rcf8 31. Qa3 h5 32. Qb3 R8f7 33. Qb6 Qxb6 34. axb6 Nxf3 35. Kd1 Ne5 36. f3 0-1

The Najdorf was my weapon in the 1970’s. Like many other players who also played The Najdorf, Bobby Fischer had a tremendous influence on making The Najdorf my weapon in the 1970’s. Returning to Chess from years of playing Backgammon professionally I no longer played The Najdorf simply because of not having the time to keep up with the ever changing and developing theory of the opening. The Najdorf is so much more than just an opening; it is an opening SYSTEM. Players who challenge The System have thrown EVERYTHING against it, yet The System prevails. The System works unless and until someone screws up The System more than Donald J. Trump has screwed up the US system of government. GM Gormally’s handling of The System is such an example.

One thing learned from my time attempting to play The Najdorf is that many of the same moves feature in The System. What is important is WHEN they are played, and in what ORDER. Once one learns The System the moves sort of fall into place as one gets a “feel” for what to play and when to play it. The first thing that hit me when playing over the game was that the move 7…Qc7 is not good because White can obtain a very good position by taking the Knight immediately, playing 8 Bxf6. I never played anything other than 7…Be7. I studied other ways of playing without the move, but found none appealing. Deep refused to play the best move and played 8 Qf3, cutting the Gorm much slack. Unfortunately, the Gorm once again refused to play Be7. When he did finally play Be7 on his ninth move it was the wrong move. He should have played 9…b5. Gormally never played b5. The reason one plays a3 in the Najdorf is to follow with the move b5 ASAP. If one is not going to play b5 then one should not attempt playing The System known as the Najdorf. Frankly, this is a pitiful effort by GM Gormally, especially considering it was the last round. The way he played The Najdorf System resembles something a player learning The Nadjorf System might produce, not something one would expect from a long time veteran like the Gorm. I continue reading his fine book, Insanity, passion and addiction: a year inside the chess world, with his constant comments questioning why he continues playing Chess. After this game the Gorm needs to do some SERIOUS soul searching. Maybe he should get a job, or become one of the GM’s he writes about who stay home and give lessons via the internet.

Deep Sengupta vs Daniel W Gormally

Last round

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qc7 8. Qf3 Nbd7 9. O-O-O Be7 10. g4 h6 11. Bxf6 Bxf6 12. h4 Qb6 13. Nb3 Nc5 14. Nxc5 Qxc5 15. e5 dxe5 16. Ne4 Qc6 17. Bg2 Be7 18. fxe5 O-O 19. g5 Qb5 20. Qg3 h5 21. Nf6+ Kh8 22. Nxh5 Bd7 23. Qg4 Rac8 24. Nf6 gxf6 25. gxf6 Bxf6 26. Qh5+ 1-0