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 Post subject: Cho Hun-hyeon on promoting go
Post #1 Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2022 5:48 am 
Oza

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Cho Hun-hyeon is now largely absent from the go scene, as a result of becoming a politician and having formally to avoid clashes of interest. But he is of course able to talk about go in his political work, and he was a principal author behind a report published in December 2021 by the government agency responsible for culture, physical education and tourism.

Taking as a slogan the idea of go being a mind sport appropriate to the coming age of centenarians, the report highlights five areas that need attention. These refer, as I see it, mainly to Korea, but globalisation is mentioned. The problems are certainly not the ones we would draw up if we made our own list, I think.

The first problem mentioned is the complex system of grade certification. This has evolved from the growth of online go. Five servers are mentioned. They all have different systems and even different ranges. Some have 1 to 9-dan; others have 1 to 7-dan. Some handle kyus down to 30, others only to 18. This is also contrasted with the practice in meat-space go clubs which grade kyus (or geups) but not dans - that is reserved for the Hanguk Kiwon. Clearly this is a problem we would not identify with easily.

The second topic is the mismatch in rules and terminology. The report highlights the stand-off between Japan and China on rules, but does not take a position on Korean rules. These are basically Japanese rules, but it may be relevant that many of the top Koreans are playing often in China (and so this is an important market for them, with diplomatic overtones). But, along with go terminology (shicho and atari were mentioned) this is obviously seen as more of a globalisation issue.

The third issue is the declining go population. The decline is quite sharp, apparently, and go in Korea is turning into an old man's game. 30% of the go-playing population is over 60. Only 9% is in the age range 20~30. They seem to think that it's less of an educational issue - young people learn go easily - and more of a problem of creating opportunities for young people to take part in tournaments.

The fourth area is seen as involving professional players. Obviously Cho has been grinding the Hanguk Kiwon axe, and this is another problem we don't easily relate to, but broadly speaking they are adumbrating a future go world in which pros have to expect to be teachers, commentators, judges etc as well as tournament players, and this is also seen as being tied up with creating a satisfactory retirement system.

The final area, again not one we can always relate to, is the huge gap in investment in AI go between China and Korea. The report calls for more investment. This seems to me more about national pride than about promoting go among humans - a sort of arms race. The Evergrande crisis might solve that problem for the Koreans, of course.


This post by John Fairbairn was liked by 4 people: ez4u, gowan, jeromie, serbes
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 Post subject: Re: Cho Hun-hyeon on promoting go
Post #2 Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2022 9:59 am 
Gosei

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Does any of this report address the issue of active (amateur) players who are not connected in any way with the formal go organization(s)? In the USA there are many young-seeming players on servers who are not members of the American Go Association. Of course, it is sometimes difficult to determine the nationality of online players. As for governmental support, naturally during the Edo Shogunate in Japan there was governmental support for the major Houses, and "pros" gave lessons for pay. But how much go activity was there in that era? Without having any historical reading, I wonder whether growth of amateur go in Japan might really have begun with the establishment of the Nihon Ki-in. No doubt other pre-Nihon Ki-in go societies, such as the Hoensha, contributed. Amateur go developed at least in part to create support for pros. I've noticed that young people play video games rather than "meat space" board games. There a quite a number of Youtube go teachers. Does anyone know how well they are doing? Patreon makes it possible for people to make a living playing or demonstrating on Youtube.

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 Post subject: Re: Cho Hun-hyeon on promoting go
Post #3 Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2022 10:39 am 
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I think all of these are pretty relatable in the West, or at least in the United States.

The fact that different servers have different ranking systems has always been confusing to beginners, and the significance of achieving a dan rank means that knowing which one is "the real ranking" is significant for more advanced players, too. I think a lot of this could be handled by making it easier to get a rating from the AGA. In particular, they need to figure out a way to allow rating adjustments in online games. I think that making this possible would also vastly increase participation in the national association. For the many people who play primarily online and rarely (if ever) make it to a face-to-face club or tournament, there is very little reason to join the AGA.

Rules differences are also confusing to beginners, and anything that confuses beginners makes it harder to get new players. I think that is the biggest issue facing go (which aligns with Cho's third point). There is always going to be a limited pool of players; there is just so much competition for people's attention, and relatively few people are willing to invest the time it takes to appreciate a game with the depth of go. (I do know plenty of people who play face-to-face board games, but most of them play a wide variety of games where new players can be reasonably competitive right away. I like those sort of games too, even if go is my favorite.) I think Cho's comment about tournaments highlights that keeping new players will depend, in large part, on a healthy community.

To the last point, one thing that has changed a lot since I started playing is that people on a go server are a lot less likely to interact with one another. Part of that correlates with the development of AI. It used to be common to review a completed game with one's opponent, but now that anyone can get a strong review from a computer immediately there's less incentive to do so. I've noticed that even common greetings are less common, though that could be related to the culture of the particular server I've been playing on recently. There are still places to engage with the community outside of the games, of course, but I'm curious how these types of cultural shifts will affect the future of the game. I think that the AGA figuring out online rated games/tournaments could help with this, as it will provide a shared experience for many people. Face to face experiences are even better, but they are inaccessible for many.

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 Post subject: Re: Cho Hun-hyeon on promoting go
Post #4 Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2022 3:07 pm 
Gosei

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I think that the character of the game is changing. Before the development of go servers that allow playing on line there were differences between geographically separated groups of players. In the USA it used to be the case that the meaning of AGA ratings differed from East to West coast communities. Similarly there was a differrence between European go ratings and AGA ratings. The development of go servers could tend to homogenize go since people are not mostly restricted to playing in their geographical community. There used to be differences between styles of go in Asian countries even for pros, only for about the past few decades have there been opportunities in the world at large to play with Korean or Chinese players. As for the standardization of go ranks, the existence of the top level AI players allows measurement of ranks relative to,say Katago for example, so that the same rank would have the same meaning in playing strength all over the world. Such a standard might mean that an amateur shodan everywhere might need 11 or 12 stones versus Katago.

Something was said asking to have AGA include online results in rating calculations. There are well known problems with using online results in "official" ratings. Some of these problems include cheating and substituting a stronger player for a weaker player in rating games.

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 Post subject: Re: Cho Hun-hyeon on promoting go
Post #5 Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:16 pm 
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Yes, online ratings could be manipulated by cheating. But the stakes are so low, I think it’s worth it for the AGA to allow rated games online. As long as professional events and prestigious tournaments (e.g. the US Open) are held in-person, nothing is really lost by having a few people falsify their online rating. As it is, folks who are only occasionally able to participate in face To face events probably have to use their rank on one of the go servers to enter the tournament, since the official rating is likely to be woefully out of date.

And I think it’s key to remember that this stance is intended to aid in the promotion of go in the US. I think the AGA is the organization best equipped to do that, but it’s difficult for them to fulfill that mission when they are irrelevant to the majority of players.

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 Post subject: Re: Cho Hun-hyeon on promoting go
Post #6 Posted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:16 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Cho Hun-hyeon … the report highlights five areas that need attention.

Thank you for the posting and the translation. Is this report public available?

greetings from Germany

Wilhelm

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