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 Post subject: Why did AGA not continue the pro certification program?
Post #1 Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2021 3:09 pm 
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Sorry if I was late but I tried asking this elsewhere but couldn't find the answer.

Why did AGA not continue the pro certification program?

I want to see an AGA pro or EGF pro become world Champion one day for the promotion of Go.

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Post #2 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2021 9:00 am 
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And China become world champion in football. Neither of these is going to happen. There's no cultural or economic ground for this desire.

A professional system exists because enough people are willing to spend money supporting the profession, aka a market. There are a few exceptions, mostly in the arts, where there's a tradition to support and governments do so because of cultural motives. Go is not part of the Western tradition so there goes the only chance.

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Post #3 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2021 3:52 pm 
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Market is good response. Hope for an official response since it did run.

Pro status in Go means Pro strength. If you are amateur 5 dan but makes a living teaching kids how to play go in China, you are still not "pro".

Go is a treasure to the world regardless of culture. It's like paper, everyone uses it and there is something universal about Go that transcends culturan boundaries like Chess. There are Chinese GM's in Chess. There should be pros in AGA and EGF!

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Post #4 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2021 4:02 pm 
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I'm afraid it's not exactly like paper. But I like the creative comparison - as paper was invented in China. I'm sure that was on purpose :)

Cheers

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Post #5 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2021 4:18 pm 
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Hello!
First, the market in the US is too small, it's impossible to live from just playing go, and seems too hard to attract sponsors, so giving more pro certificates is kind of no use.
Second, The only way a European can be world champion if is raised and trained in Asia for his whole life, which kind of doesn't count, until the infrastructure in Europe is big enough to create a world champ, it may need around 200-300 more years.

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Post #6 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2021 6:54 pm 
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Norway isn't exactly a powerhouse in chess and I all know what happened with Magnus.

So I think we just need to have a scatter of 5D plus in Europe running schools for children. In the 40's the best Chinese players were probably about 6D on the European scale but look at where it is now.

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Post #7 Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:53 pm 
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I can't see it any time soon, but you never know! It would be cool if it were more global, even a champion from elsewhere in Asia would be cool.

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Post #8 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 3:39 am 
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baduk wrote:
The only way a european can be world champion if is raised and traines in asia for his whole life,which kind of doesnt count,until the infrastructure in europe is big enoogh to create a world champ,it may need around 200-300 more years


I think the westerner that came the closest up to now, is Michael Redmond 9p from the USA. He is past his prime now, but he may have been in the top 100 of the world at his peak in the nineties.

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Post #9 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 3:41 am 
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In the 40's the best Chinese players were probably about 6D on the European scale but look at where it is now.


No - nowhere near so low.

Go Seigen was already pro strength in China before he left for Japan before the war, but he only just held his own with a group that included Gu Shuiru, Liu Dihuai, Wang Yunfeng and Yi Ding. Gu was considered the strongest by Iwamoto. He had studied in Japan - the first Chinese to do so - and had trained under Hirose Heijiro (Hirose being Iwamoto's teacher). In 1942 he was given a 4-dan diploma by the Nihon Ki-in. Nowadays that would equate to about 6-dan pro. Liu Dihuai similarly held a NK 3-dan diploma. Wang Yunfeng was elderly when the Japanese first went to China. He was approaching 60 when Takabe Dohei went and much later found he had to take 2 stones from Segoe. Yi Ding was even older and had to take 3 stones from Segoe. Gu took 3 stones frpm Shusai, but that was in an age when even Japanese pros took handicaps from Shusai. But there were apparently many cases where Shusai refused to play games in China to a finish because he was behind and didn't want Japan's Meijin to lose face. He was roundly condemned by Segoe for this, not least because he did not refuse the handsome game fees.

The Chinese players during most of the 20th century suffered from two hugely limiting factors. The first was the gradual changeover from Chinese rules (with group tax) to Japanese rules under Japanese occupation. Then there was the war, of course, but after the war the Cultural Revolution also had a huge dampening effect on go.

On the other hand, the Chinese had some marvellous resources. They had a wealth of games and theory manuals (admittedly based on group tax) to refer to. They had rich patrons in the early part of the 20th century. They had help from Japanese players, but then, and perhaps most notably, from Fujisawa Hideyuki after the Cultural Revolution.

If you were to look at the situation in China in terms of resources and compare it to the Europe and USA of today, you could argue that we have even more of the written sources and perhaps even more help from foreign pros. We even have some decent patronage. What I see as the main differences are twofold. One is the much smaller fan base here, although I'm not really sure how that plays out in practice. There are fewer amateurs for pros to tap into, but with the internet it's much. much easier to tap into them all.

I think the biggest difference may be in how the game is run. Here the game is run almost entirely by amateurs, and, to the tiny extent it is run by our few pros, it is run in an entirely amateur and, at worst, incompetent way. In CJK, the pros have always attempted to run their affairs in a professional way. They have had plenty of stop-starts on the way but (a) persevered and (b) sought and accepted outside expert help. Almost a quarter of Iwamoto's biography is about Hirose's health-affecting efforts to promote go for professionals in a professional way, in both Japan and China, with Iwamoto hanging on his coat tails. But he was far from alone in Japan. In Korea the likes of Cho Nam-ch'eol and Kim In learned from their time in Japan. In China the State intervened, of course, mainly in the form of vice-premier, but for all their justifiable beefs with the Japanese outside of go, they were never too proud to learn from Japanese go players about how to run the game.

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Post #10 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 4:13 am 
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John, what do you think distinguishes a “professional” from an “amateurish” way? Which current shortcomings are most glaring to you?

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Post #11 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 6:05 am 
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gennan wrote:
baduk wrote:
The only way a european can be world champion if is raised and traines in asia for his whole life,which kind of doesnt count,until the infrastructure in europe is big enoogh to create a world champ,it may need around 200-300 more years


I think the westerner that came the closest up to now, is Michael Redmond 9p from the USA. He is past his prime now, but he may have been in the top 100 of the world at his peak in the nineties.

Yes right,he learned go from a very young age and send to japan when he was 11,so he could become quite a formidable player.

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Post #12 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 6:08 am 
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xiaodai wrote:
Norway isn't exactly a powerhouse in chess and I all know what happened with Magnus.

So I think we just need to have a scatter of 5D plus in Europe running schools for children. In the 40's the best Chinese players were probably about 6D on the European scale but look at where it is now.

It would be nice but i cant see a way to finance that....

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Post #13 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 6:55 am 
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John, what do you think distinguishes a “professional” from an “amateurish” way? Which current shortcomings are most glaring to you?


There's quite a lot of things, and since I've already either written about some of them or pointed out where others have written about them I don't want to spend time repeating that. Those who care about being a viable pro should have already been looking at what exists, and perhaps disagreeing with it but at least thinking about it. That would be the "professional" approach.

But if I had to pick one thing that would mark a step-change from amateur to professional to the absolutely necessary admin, it would be the appointment of an officer (and preferably officers) responsible for organising facilities and patronage not just for oneself but for one's organisation. This could, and maybe should, be a paid post.

It is absolutely vital that this officer would have a proper sense of priorities: facilities and securing patronage. Most definitely not what we have seen so far: fussiness about rank accreditation, network lag, cheating verification, website click bait for casinos. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns!

However, I can't really blame people for not seeking such a role. As we know from the extensive material about the heroic efforts of Hirose and Segoe, and at lower levels by the likes of Kato Shin and Iwamoto, it is a very self-sacrificing role. Which is why I think a paid post is essential. There are western amateur organisations - certainly the British and American Go Associations, and may be the Russians, and in this case I'd guess the CJK amateur organisations too, who have the funds (via legacies such as the T Mark Hall Fund) to offer support to any western pro who is willing to take on the responsibility for a fee.

The various legacies and other funds tend not to be doled out because typical requests are such, when read between the lines, can be reduced to "I want to go and study in Japan," "My daughter wants to learn Chinese by playing go" or "I want to go to Korea and a degree for myself." It is not the purpose of these funds to cater for individual holidays and self-improvement, and so such requests don't get much traction. Other common requests are to fund tournaments. These do get some traction, but grudgingly because most tournaments have no benefit to the wider go community.

I suggest a western pro, preferably a speaker of at least one oriental language, should ask, say, 20 organisations (including CJK) and any number of individuals for £1,000 to £2,000 a year as a salary for promoting western pro go in the way I describe (facilities and securing patronage). Obviously no-one is going to toss money into an open pit, so an achievable business plan, with specific goals and not the waffle I have seen so far, is needed.

For free, I'll toss out an idea that I already know has a good chance of success. In the early days of the China Weiqi League (Division A), I put it to the British Consulates in Shanghai and Chongqing (the Chongqing team led by Gu Li then being the league leaders) that they should get in touch with British companies about sponsoring one of the teams in the league, as a way of getting a presence in the Chinese market. Several companies showed strong interest (naturally: when the British Foreign Office and the Department of Grade & Industry talk to you and wave pound notes under your nose as subsidies, you do listen). From memory, in the end Cadbury's Chocolate and British Telecom were willing to take matters further, and eventually BT made a decision to go ahead and seek a partner for this in China. It was scuppered at the last moment when a new chairman took over the company and slashed the advertising and sponsorship budget.

That idea still remains relevant, but a new twist is possible. Instead of sponsoring a Chinese team, western companies could be asked to sponsor a western team in Division C. This covers "facilities" (the chance to play stronger pros in Asia) and obviously covers "securing patronage."

But I'm sure there are plenty of similar and workable ideas. If you meet a western pro, ask him: "Have you contacted your country's trade representatives in C, J or K?" And when he says no, which I'm sure he usually will, ask him why not.


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Post #14 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 7:30 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
There are fewer amateurs for pros to tap into, but with the internet it's much. much easier to tap into them all.


Huh? As a source of future pros or as fans and students? I think I'm missing something, here.

EDIT [added]:

What do you mean by "fussiness about rank accreditation"? I thought the EGF path was clear enough (not so the AGA, but...). Although I miss some attention towards the older Asian ranks.

Take care.

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Post #15 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 7:52 am 
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The EGF and national Go associations are already organizing many activities for young players, for instance
  • SEYGO tour
  • EGF academy
  • European Youth Go Championship
  • EYGTC
  • Partnership with China via the CEGO Academic program
  • National training camps
  • Online training programs
  • European players are regularly invited to participate in competitions in Asia (well, that was before the Covid, now competitions are held online like this one).

What is missing is a large player base...


Last edited by jlt on Fri Jan 08, 2021 8:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post #16 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 8:07 am 
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What do you mean by "fussiness about rank accreditation"?


I'm thinking of things like arguments here over whether tournaments with short time limits should or should not count towards promotion. But also the rule-obsessed mentality so characteristic of western go in general. It's all a species of angelology.

Go (like chess) is often touted as a model for learning lessons about life. I don't see much evidence of that among western pros when it comes to organising their own communal affairs. They prefer pinheads to the world's globe.

Quote:
The EGF and national Go associations are already organize many activities for young players, for instance


Just producing more people of the same predominant self-centred type we already have isn't going to get anything done. Even if we have a bigger army, we still need a general.

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Post #17 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 8:30 am 
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baduk wrote:
Hello!First the market in the Us is too small,its impossible to live from just playing go,and seems too hard to attract sponsors,so giving more pro certificates is kind of no use,2. The only way a european can be world champion if is raised and traines in asia for his whole life,which kind of doesnt count,until the infrastructure in europe is big enoogh to create a world champ,it may need around 200-300 more years


I wonder if the rise of AI has changed this situation a lot. It's no longer necessary to travel to Asia to learn high level new moves, study go, play strong opponents etc. I think it's conceivable that a future world champion could come through the internet and using AI as a study tool route rather than through a formal training programme.


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Post #18 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 8:43 am 
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John, what do you have in mind when you say “facilities”?

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Post #19 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:19 am 
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dust wrote:
I wonder if the rise of AI has changed this situation a lot. It's no longer necessary to travel to Asia to learn high level new moves, study go, play strong opponents etc. I think it's conceivable that a future world champion could come through the internet and using AI as a study tool route rather than through a formal training programme.


You can certainly learn many things by yourself, not just go, but we are not just neural networks. Humans are social animals, and our brain not only produces rational thinking but also emotions. It's very difficult to be motivated without enough human interaction. Online academic programs could be useful, although less good than real human contact.

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Post #20 Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:41 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Just producing more people of the same predominant self-centred type we already have isn't going to get anything done. Even if we have a bigger army, we still need a general.


I'm wondering several things, in kinda the same vein.

First, I'm not convinced we need professionals in the competing sense. IIRC, there was a kinda of "teaching professional" diploma from the Nihon Kiin, and that we do need, and sort of have. Now, I can't talk about the quality of the instruction, because I haven't tried either nor do I likely have the level to appreciate it, but we do have people on the internet earning some money teaching through KGS and such, from Europe. Or using Patreon. To put two examples from the same country, we have Tanguy Le Calvé and "HisokaH". One is a certified pro (and has a school and some offers), the other has been covering Go on Youtube for the last 6 years. Including a series of, so far, 15 videos and almost 7 hrs on Go Seigen. Redmond 9p doesn't have a book in English, that I'm aware of, on his own teacher, but an Amateur in France got in front of a mike. Who is more useful to the amateur? Except for the very last book by Michael Redmond (and an amateur) on AlphaGo, and Antti Törmännen's two books (one of them also on AlphaGo), how many books have been written by Western pros, of late? Surma 2p has a series of tsumego; anyone else? Granted, they have other things that require their time (competing, real life classes...). And yet, my question remains: who is more useful for the European Ama?

With that in mind... Do we need a general? There was an essay some years ago [1999], by a USMC General, on something called "The Strategic Corporal", and I have to wonder if that doesn't suit us better. Common citizens, with their strengths and leanings, taking advantage of those. Using internet to get in touch, get a network of events going. Sure, many of them will be a ship in the night. So?

dust wrote:
I wonder if the rise of AI has changed this situation a lot. It's no longer necessary to travel to Asia to learn high level new moves, study go, play strong opponents etc. I think it's conceivable that a future world champion could come through the internet and using AI as a study tool route rather than through a formal training programme.


It's no longer necessary to travel to Asia to play against high level moves. I'd say learning them is something different. Mind you, the first part can be quite valuable on it's own, but people historically played TWO GAMES against their sensei. One must assume that he did something else besides that. Can AI fill those invisible roles?

Take care.

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