THE SURROUNDING GAME

The much anticipated world wide release of THE SURROUNDING GAME is tomorrow, Febuary 15, 2018.

“The rules of Go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play Go.”

– Edward Lasker, Chess Grandmaster

(This is from the website [https://www.surroundinggamemovie.com/] and as most Chess players know, is a mistake. Edward Lasker was awarded the title of International Master, which is below that of Grandmaster, by FIDE, the governing body of world Chess. “Chessmetrics.com estimates his peak strength as 2583, a good Grandmaster by modern standards. The site also estimates his ranking as ranging between 18th in the world and 28th in the world for the nine-year period 1917–26.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Lasker] In addition, there is a dispute about the quote, with some attributing it to former World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker, a distant relative.)

SYNOPSIS

The ancient game of Go is the most complex and elegant game ever discovered. Though the rules are simple enough to teach a child, the complexity that emerges has inspired millennia of study. For three thousand years, master players in East Asia have handed down the game as an art form to foster patience, creativity, and self-reflection. Today in the elite world of the pros, international tournaments offer hundred-thousand dollar prize purses, and top matches are broadcast on 24-hour “Go TV” to millions of fans in China, Korea, and Japan. But in the West, most people have never even heard of the game… until now.

THE SURROUNDING GAME follows the lives of three young Americans vying to become the first-ever Western professional players. Quirky, cerebral, and disillusioned with conventional views of success, they represent a new generation of players, on the doorstep of adulthood. As the competition intensifies and intricate patterns spill out across the board, the line between reality and imagination starts to blur. Their thoughts turn to anxieties about the future, and lead them on a journey through the game’s ancient past to ask what it means to live a meaningful life. Through an intimate portrait of these young players and interviews with the greatest Go masters of all time, the film explores the search for meaning that Go represents to its players, for whom the game is a distillation of consciousness itself.

Director’s Statement

THE SURROUNDING GAME (2017) is the first feature documentary about
the game of Go. Shot over 4 years in China, Korea, Japan, and the United States, the
film reveals the magical world of Go through the coming-of-age story of America’s
top Go prodigies.
Our protagonists Andy, Ben, and Curtis are gifted teenagers who have devoted
thousands of hours to the game. For them, Go is an escape to a world of pure logic
and mathematical beauty, a reminder of the ephemeral place human beings hold in
the universe. As they strive to become the first Western professional players, we
explore the search for meaning that Go represents to its players, for whom the game
is a distillation of conscious thought itself.

In East Asia, the game of Go is hailed as one of mankind’s great cultural
treasures. For thousands of years, masters and disciples have passed the game down
as a window to the human mind.
Now, for the first time, a group of Americans enter the ring, in search of a
prodigy who will change the game forever.

Go is the oldest board game still played in its original form.

Though its rules
are simple enough to teach a child,

the emergent complexity has inspired millennia of study.
In East Asia, Go is lauded as both art and national sport. Today, Chinese and
Korean students as young as five begin training in special Go academies; those with
promise sacrifice their high-school education, training for years to have a shot at
becoming professional players. In the elite world of the pros, international
tournaments offer hundred-thousand dollar prize purses and top matches are
broadcast on 24-hour “Go TV” to millions of fans in China, Korea, and Japan. But in
the West, most people have never even heard of the game.
Enter the American Go community: a ragtag group of gamers, Asiaphiles, and
aging hippies, captivated by the game. For decades, they have struggled to transplant
Go into American society with little success despite their burning enthusiasm. So in
early 2012 they take a gamble, striking a deal to launch the first Western professional
Go system. For the first time, America has a chance to compete on the world stage
against the Asian titans of Go… and everything rests on America’s top young Go
prodigies.

THE SURROUNDING GAME follows the lives of several top American
players, leading up to the competition to become the first Western professional.
Brooklyn-raised Ben Lockhart, America’s top white player, foregoes college to join
an elite Korean Go school. His close friend, Chinese-American Andy Liu, is the
strongest player in North America, despite little formal training. Introverted, quirky,
and deeply cerebral, Andy probes the limitations of his own mind in his quest to
transcend the tedium of normal society.

In the shadow of the game’s three-thousand-year legacy,

the American Go community descends into a small North Carolina town to crown the first American
pros. As they battle over the Go board, the players must confront deeper questions:
Can an intellectual art survive in the modern world? What drives their fanatical love
for Go, and why do they find greater meaning in the game than in real life?
Uncertain about their futures, they make a pilgrimage to meet the world’s greatest
living player, 99-year-old Japanese master Go Seigen.

Despite their diverging paths,
Ben and Andy face the same question: is a lifetime dedicated to Go truly worth
living?

To escape the intensity of the American Professional Certification Tournament, Andy Liu (left) and
Evan Cho (right) play a game atop Chimney Rock in North Carolina.

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The Drumbeats of War are Growing Louder

‘The Military Has Seen the Writing on the Wall’

The United States is preparing for a war with North Korea that it hopes never to have to fight, says Senator Tammy Duckworth.

Uri Friedman Jan 28, 2018

When Senator Tammy Duckworth returned from a recent trip to South Korea and Japan, she brought back a sobering message: “Americans simply are not in touch with just how close we are to war on the Korean peninsula.” In a speech at Georgetown University, she laid out the U.S. military maneuvers over the past several months—including a nuclear-powered submarine heading to South Korea, the movement of three aircraft carriers to the Western Pacific, and the Army testing out “mobilization centers” for deploying troops and training soldiers to fight in tunnels like those beneath North Korea—that inform this worry. In an interview with me, she said the U.S. military seems to be operating with the attitude that a conflict “‘will probably happen, and we better be ready to go.’”

Duckworth, a retired lieutenant colonel who lost her legs during the Iraq War when insurgents downed her helicopter, took the trip along with Ruben Gallego, a Democratic congressman from Arizona and a fellow Iraq War veteran, earlier this month. The two met with top South Korean and Japanese diplomats and defense officials as well as commanders of U.S. forces in South Korea. Duckworth said that she found “all three of the major military actors—American, Korean, and Japanese—…more ready [for war] than they’ve ever been.”

The drums of war are not booming; there have been no major U.S. military movements or public-messaging campaigns by the Trump administration or new advisories to American civilians or companies, for instance. And Duckworth thinks there are ways the country should be more prepared—in particular that Congress should create a dedicated stream of funding for U.S. forces to rehearse and carry out evacuations of non-combatants in the event of a conflict.

But, as Duckworth sees it, the drumbeats are growing louder—even as the administration has stayed comparatively silent about what war would look like and whether the benefits would warrant the costs.

“We have some great plans should, as we say, ‘the balloon go up’ in Korea,” Gallego, a former Marine, told me. “I know what happens with plans when the first bullet goes flying. … What I fear is that someone like Donald Trump

will look at these great plans, look at our great military, which it is, look at their great capability, which we have, and not understand that these are not superhumans—that if we do something wrong, we will potentially kill hundreds of thousands of people, including some of our own troops, and potentially disrupt a good portion of the world’s economy for years to come.” And that’s considering only the early stages of battle and assuming the conflict doesn’t go nuclear.

“You’re basing policy and military action on hopes instead of on reality and sound reasoning,” Gallego said. “Does this sound familiar? For me it does, as somebody who ended up serving on the front lines of the Iraq War, where I was supposed to be greeted as a liberator. Instead I basically got shot at every day.”

Robert Neller, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, acknowledged the limitations of military plans during an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday. “If [a U.S. conflict with North Korea] were to go down, I’m not now so sure it’s going to go down the way we planned. It never does,” he said.

As the World War I historian Margaret MacMillan told me not long ago, “Once you get into a countdown situation, once people begin to think of war as likely, then it becomes that much more likely”—whether as a result of deliberate decisions, tragic miscalculation, or mere mistake.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/duckworth-trump-north-korea/551381/

Masters Of War

Written by: Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war

You that build all the guns

You that build the death planes

You that build the big bombs

You that hide behind walls

You that hide behind desks

I just want you to know

I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’

But build to destroy

You play with my world

Like it’s your little toy

You put a gun in my hand

And you hide from my eyes

And you turn and run farther

When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old

You lie and deceive

A world war can be won

You want me to believe

But I see through your eyes

And I see through your brain

Like I see through the water

That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers

For the others to fire

Then you set back and watch

When the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion

As young people’s blood

Flows out of their bodies

And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear

That can ever be hurled

Fear to bring children

Into the world

For threatening my baby

Unborn and unnamed

You ain’t worth the blood

That runs in your veins

How much do I know

To talk out of turn

You might say that I’m young

You might say I’m unlearned

But there’s one thing I know

Though I’m younger than you

Even Jesus would never

Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question

Is your money that good

Will it buy you forgiveness

Do you think that it could

I think you will find

When your death takes its toll

All the money you made

Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die

And your death’ll come soon

I will follow your casket

In the pale afternoon

And I’ll watch while you’re lowered

Down to your deathbed

And I’ll stand o’er your grave

’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

Copyright

© 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music

The Evil Empire Battles Ukraine

I usually do not comment on a knock-out type tournament, especially one so-called a “world championship,” but the final match between a Russian and a Ukrainian with the situation, Russian encroachments and troops and tanks one the border, is the closest thing the chess world has seen to the situation when American Bobby Fischer challenged the Russian Boris Spassky for the World Championship in 1972 during the Cold War. GM Kevin Spraggett wrote about Natalia Pogonina and Mariya Muzychuk, “…who I understand are friends.” (https://kevinspraggettonchess.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/pogonina-unstoppable/) That friendship may last no matter which player wins the match, but it will not last when the real war with weapons of destruction begins.

Make no mistake, if the insane Rootin’ Tootin’ Pootin’ does not back down, there will be war. The West has no choice but to call Putin’s bluff. “Let us not forget that Ukraine has been guaranteed, in 1994, the protection of its territorial integrity by the United States. Ukraine gave up nukes! Very few people remember it was the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world. [Not honouring the gurantee] is very bad, not only for the United States – Bill Clinton’s signature was there. Ukraine gave up twelve hundred nuclear warheads, more than England, France and China combined, in exchange for guarantees from America and Great Britain. This will have implications way beyond Ukraine’s borders, because it destroys the credibility of the White House, it destroys the credibility of the free world, and it sends a message, let’s say to Iran, that you need nukes to protect your borders. Same can apply to Japan, South Korea, countries that are facing a rising threat from China. It will be a totally different world unless we follow the promises written on paper and signed by the leaders of the free world.” -Garry Kasparov
(http://en.chessbase.com/post/kasparov-on-putin-ukrainian-nukes-nemtsov)

The lead story in the magazine Modern War #16, March-April 2015, is Visegrad: The Coming War in Eastern Europe, by David March. (http://modernwarmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/MW16-v5F-TOC.pdf)
It is also possible to play a board game before the real war begins. (http://shop.decisiongames.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=VASS19)

I have followed the games of the Muzychuk sisters because they play the Leningrad Dutch, most of which I have played over in recent years, so I would be predisposed to pulling for Mariya in this prelude to war. After reading the article, and Putin as Warlord, by Gilberto Villahermosa, in the same magazine, I believe Russia will lose World War III, just as I expect the Russian, Pogonina, to be stopped and lose the match with the Ukrainian, Mariya Muzychuk.

rd4-04

Chess Versus Go

Richard Bozulich is writing a series of essays on various go topics. The first is, The Interplay of Intuition and Brute-Force Analysis in the Game of Go. (http://www.usgo.org/news/2015/03/two-new-books-from-kiseido-and-bozuliuch-launches-online-series/)
The one with interest for the chess world is the second, Chess and Go: A Comparison. (http://www.usgo.org/news/2015/03/spring-sale-at-kiseido/)

“Richard Bozulich (born 1936) is an American author and publisher of go books in English and a college math professor. He co-founded the Ishi Press. Bozulich was born in Los Angeles, California. He attended UCLA and in 1966 graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a BA in mathematics. Bozulich had worked his way through college by buying and selling highly technical used books and upon graduation decided to become a book publisher. He moved to Japan and in 1968 in partnership with Stuart Dowsey founded The Ishi Press, a book and magazine publishing company that primarily published books about the game of go. In 1982 Bozulich founded Kiseido Publishing Company. Richard Bozulich has written or published more than one hundred books and magazine and newspaper articles about the game of go. He is the world’s most prolific author of go materials in English.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Bozulich)

He begins Chess and Go: A Comparison with, “Chess and go are games rich in both strategy and tactics. Because of the relatively small size of the chess board (64 squares), chess is considered to be more of a tactical game than a strategic one, in which gaining a material advantage is the all important first step to the eventual mating of the king. The small size of the chess board does not seem to be conducive to strategic ideas.

Go, on the other hand, with its enormous playing field of 361 points, is generally considered to be a game in which both strategy and tactics are equally represented.

For sure, there are a large number of principles that govern go strategy. With respect to tactics, there are at least 45 different kinds of tesujis that can be used to gain a tactical and, ultimately, a strategic advantage. Many of the strategic and tactical principles of go are encapsulated in a hundred or so go proverbs. In addition, there are a large number of other strategic principles which make up go theory and are instinctively understood by all strong players.

What about chess? What are the principles that guide a player to make sound strategic moves?

When I first started to investigate this, I didn’t expect to find too many strategic principles. I was sure that there would be many more chess ‘tesujis’. ((teh-soo-djee) (skillful play) (http://senseis.xmp.net/?GoTerms) To my surprise, I found more than 60 strategic chess principles, but only 13 chess tesujis.

In spite of the paucity (compared to go) of its tesujis, chess is still a game rich in tactical maneuvers that require deep and accurate analysis. However, due to the small size of the chess board, a small slip in reading is often catastrophic, whereas in go, small mistakes in reading are not necessarily fatal, as compensation can be obtained in other parts of the board.

In a game of chess, there is essentially one battle going on. Only one opening can be played and the opening chosen sets the strategic theme of the game. In go, each corner of the board can feature a different opening (joseki) each with its own strategic theme. Skirmishes also arise on the sides, so there are numerous battles going on simultaneously in different parts of the board, but they are all interconnected and coordinating them into one coherent strategy is what makes go a very difficult and profound game.

There are a number of strategic concepts that exist in go but not in chess. They are analogous to the ones used in decision-making situations in business, geo-politics, or in everyday life.” (http://www.magicofgo.com/roadmap9/chess%20and%20go.htm)

Richard then contrasts Go principles with the principles of Chess in the rest of this highly interesting and provocative look at the differences between the Royal game and Go.

Shocked to Find Cheating on PlayChess.com

Several days ago this notice appeared on the USCF website:

“USCF & Internet Chess Club Join Forces to Provide Online Rated Chess!

The Internet Chess Club (ICC) and the United States Chess Federation (USCF) are delighted to announce the start of USCF online rated tournaments on the ICC. Bonus: 20% off ICC memberships for USCF members!” (http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12816/772/)

Wow, what a “bonus.” How about playing on one of the plethora of places where you can play FREE?

Today a new thread appeared on the forum under “All Things Chess”:

“New form of cheating on PlayChess.com ??”

by MikeMurray on Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:22 am #285620
“The last few days, I’ve experienced what appears to be a new cheating technique on PlayChess.com. What happens is my time seems to simply evaporate and I lose on time the instant my opponent moves. These are rated games. The last occurrence, with a huge material advantage on the board, I had about 25 seconds left and had a “premove” set up. My opponent thought for about 30 seconds, moved, and bingo, I instantly lost on time. This has happened more than once. The first couple of times (with different opponents), I thought I’d simply zoned out and not noticed my opponent’s move. But this last time, I was clearly focused and paying attention.
Anybody else experience this or something similar?
By the way, my premove did execute on the board, so I technically lost on time when it was my opponent’s move!”

A short time later Mike Nolan weighed in, as he does often, with:

by nolan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:07 pm #285622
“This doesn’t sounds so much like a way of cheating as a poorly designed or buggy playing interface.”

Next up was Hal Terrie:
by Hal Terrie on Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:14 pm #285623
“This kind of thing is frequently caused by lag. If you have a slow connection to the server your moves (and the replies of your opponent) will not be transmitted right away but meanwhile the server is still counting down your clock. This can result in the sudden disappearance of time as you have described.”
— Hal Terrie

Mr. Murray answered:

Postby MikeMurray on Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:52 pm #285629
“In the past, the server seemed to be able to account for lag. I’m wondering if some other applications I’m running on my PC might #### this up. I had Skype up, as well as gDrive, couple of browser windows and the usual antivirus.”

Hal took another turn with:

by Hal Terrie on Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:12 pm #285631
“I don’t think it’s related to other applications. I have had the exact thing you describe happen to me – I try to move instantly but 30 seconds or a minute just vanish. I have had this happen on both ICC and Chess.com. Some servers have an internal test for lag and won’t let you start a game if your connection is too slow but I don’t think it always works.r
I get broadband internet from Comcast and there’s a tendency to think it’s very fast. However, when overall usage is very high (for example, in late afternoon when all the kids are getting home from school and simultaneously logging on), I have sometimes found my connection slowing to a crawl. It’s not just the chess servers, web pages take forever to load too. All I can do is just log off and come back later. Sometimes, if I try logging in instead using an alternate ISP (I have a wireless laptop card from Verizon), the problem vanishes.”
— Hal Terrie
(http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=20621&sid=70db42d2bdfc049f1cc046fd44d6b0a0)

Blame it on the “kids”!

I do not play chess on the internet and wonder why anyone would do so. But then, I also wondered why any fool would play poker on a website. If you play against other humans you can at least see them dealing from the bottom of the deck. (http://www.pokernews.com/news/2013/05/audio-tapes-expose-ultimate-bet-cheating-scandal-14986.htm)

I had a problem trying to listen to music from the Hearts of Space (https://www.hos.com/). When the music stopped a message appeared onscreen, “Your internet connection is too slow. You must be in the US, which means your 20th century low-speed internet, unlike the twenty-first century ultra high-speed connection in most other advanced countries, like Japan and South Korea, for example, runs circles around your antiquated, obsolete, low-speed internet, while you pay exponentially more for infinitely less service.” Or something like that…

I was talking with a gentleman from another country in a coffee shop just the other day as his frustration mounted. “I cannot believe how slow the internet is here! It takes me many minutes longer to do my work! In my country all I have to do is THINK about where I’m surfing next and the page will appear ten seconds BEFORE I realize that’s where I wanted to go!”
I told him to have another cuppa joe while he waited. “Good idea,” he said.

Casablanca gambling? I’m shocked!