Davis/Sacramento Go Club

Volume 3 Issue 4 - December 1997

Next Tournament:

Dues for 1998

Dues were raised to $16.00 to avoid having to collect fees at tournaments. Non-members will be charged $2.00 to play, but those weaker than 20 kyu will play free.

With membership you receive notification of our tournaments and other special events and four newsletters. As a member, you are also eligible to win the club's yearly championships in Division I or II, which are based on the most wins in the four tournaments of the year. The winners in each division receive a free membership for the following year and a small cash prize. Most important, however, your membership supports the opportunity to play Go.

1997 Numbers:





Number of members:



Davis/Sacramento Go Club
c/o Frank Berkenkotter
Box 4, Guinda, CA 95637

The Club Committee:

Frank Berkenkotter


Will Haynes


Steve Burrall


Peter Kent



On November 30th, the D/SGC held its fourth tournament of 1997 at the Yolo County Library in Davis. There were 14 players in attendance in 2 divisions.

In Division I, Peter Kent, 1k, broke a tie with Brian Jang, 2k, with his victory over Jang in their match. Peter should probably be Shodan, but it is customary for the big leap to dan level to require an undefeated record.

In Division II, Dean Sniegowski, 4k, continues to rise with a 4-0 record and a promotion to 4k. Jeff Murphy was second, and Matt and Kristen Burrall tied for third.

Division I

  1. Kent 1k


  • Jang 2k
  • 3-1

  • S. Burrall 4D
  • 3-1

  • Shiah 3k
  • 2-2

  • Berkenkotter 3k
  • 2-2

  • Newmiller 3k
  • 1-3

  • Sawada 4D
  • 0-4

    Division II

    1. Sniegowski 5k*


  • Murphy 5k
  • 3-1

  • M. Burrall 15k
  • 2-2

  • K. Burrall 13k
  • 2-2

  • Newbold 5k
  • 1-3

  • Berdner 7k
  • 1-3

  • Kreiss 9k
  • 1-3

    *-- promoted to 4 kyu

    Final Standings for the Club Championships

    The Division I champion with 10 wins is Steve Burrall, 4D. The Division II winner is Dean Sniegowski, 4k, with 11 wins. Both players will receive cash awards of $25 and a free membership for 1998. This award is given to the club member with the most wins in three or more tournaments in the year. Congratulations to all.

    Division I

    1. S. Burrall 4D

    10 wins

  • P. Kent 1k
  • 9 wins

  • Haynes 1k
  • 5 wins

    Division II

    1. Sniegowski 6k

    11 wins

  • Newbold 5k
  • 9 wins

  • Murphy 5k
  • 8 wins

  • Newmiller 3k
  • 7 wins

    Player Biography

    By Nick Ballard, 5D

    Nick Ballard was born in 1957 in Evanston, Illinois. From an early age, he ravenously played board games, but it was at the age of 8 that he discovered his first real love, chess. A few years later, his family moved to England for 2 years, then 3 years in the south, before his father, William Ballard (previously Director of Music at Northwestern University in Chicago) was hired to head the San Francisco Boys Chorus (which he directed for 13 years before retiring). At the age of 16, Nick graduated from high school and supported himself by playing backgammon, mostly in the Bay Area.

    At 18, Nick was hired as a clerk to arbitrage gold on the Comex (New York exchange), then to trade stock options in Chicago. When he reached legal age (21), he bought a seat on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, trading gold, treasury bills, feeder cattle, pork bellies and currencies. The following year, he headed trading for the firm Chicago Research and Trading.

    Nick returned to San Francisco and his main love, games, in 1982, the same year he won the World Backgammon Championship. His favorite hobbies became Rubiks puzzles and racketball. Along with a bout of tournament volleyball doubles and ultimate frisbee, he resumed Go, which he had learned several years earlier in SF. His main senseis wer friends Paul Ohmart and Bob Hamilton, the latter of whom became his partner in Gamescape, a game store in SF (which now has outlets in Palo Alto and San Rafael). A couple of years later, Nick sold his interest to Bob and moved to Seattle, where he immersed himself in tournament Scrabble and for several years founded and ran a national postal organization ("Letter Getters") as well as publishing a worldwide Scrabble newsletter which catered to expert players.

    Nick, semi-retired, returned again to San Francisco in 1994, where he still has a secondary residence. In July of 1997, Davis became his primary residence, where he lives with his girl-friend Charli and 15-month old daughter Mihaela. In addition to practicing yoga and playing the piano, Nick has finally found time for Go again, so when not traveling, Nick enjoys coming down to Café Roma on a Thursday or Sunday to play favorite game.

    Revised Go Club Hand-Out and Web Site

    Jeff Newmiller has revised our hand-out on Go and the club. They are also computerized and on our web-site (http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/~jdnewmil/go). Revisions will now be much easier. Each member should have a copy since it is a great aid in recruiting new members. We need several new members each year to compensate for those lost to moving out of the area or loss of interest.

    Our thanks to Steve Burrall for his editing recommendations and to Jeff Newmiller for the skillful and rather large job of updating the hand-out. And while we are recognizing people, our thanks go to Willard Haynes for layout and word processing for the newsletter. The transition from the 1996 team has gone well and hopefully it will continue for many years to come.

    Computer Go, Part 2

    by Peter Kent

    [The first part of this article appeared in the October 1997 issue of this newsletter.]

    Although I don't have a working go playing program yet, some things are pretty well decided. Each time it's the program's turn, it will look through the list of all its legal moves, each of which has been assigned a value indicating how many points that move is worth, and then it will choose one (possibly randomly) from among the highest-valued moves and make the move chosen. Then the board position will be updated - with new values assigned to some moves affected by the change in board position. Then when the opponent's move is made, the values of moves on the board will be updated to reflect that as well. This is roughly the cycle to be repeated every turn. The challenge is determining an accurate enough value of any given potential move in a timely way.

    There are two extreme approaches I've considered for doing this. One is to ignore tactical sequences, and look up the values of the moves entirely from a table of patterns and associated values. The other is not to use patterns, but to search through trees of tactical move sequences, each sequence starting with the potential move in question, and exploring the future's possibilities, deriving the value for the move form the results of the search.

    In its purest form, the move sequence approach is time consuming because of the sheer number of possible sequences starting at a given move. Even if each sequence is confined to a localized area around the potential move in question, say 6x6, there are still on the order of 35 factorial sequences to consider. And realistically, although it may be that each sequence doesn't have to completely fill any given area to determine a value for it, most of the time the value will depend on what could happen in a much wider area than that, sometimes over the whole board.

    The other extreme, using a table of patterns with associated values, looks a little more hopeful, depending on how the patterns are defined. If the are defined to be the configuration of stones inside some arbitrary shape, say a rectangle, then that rectangle would have to be very big to have even a minimal chance of determining an accurate value for a move.

    [This article will be continued in the next issue of the newsletter.]


    1998 Tournament Schedule

    There was only one request for a change in the schedule and that was to all Saturdays. So the tournaments in 1998 will be on the following Saturdays unless there is strenuous objections.

    Dues payments

    Please make checks payable to Frank Berkenkotter, not the club, as a club bank account would be too expensive.

    AGA Membership

    The club is an affiliate of the American Go Association. If you are interested in individual membership in the AGA, dues are $25 per year. Please write to:

    American Go Association
    P.O. Box 397
    Old Chelsea Station
    New York, NY 10113

    Modified last on January 2, 1998 by Jeff Newmiller.
    (Comments and suggestions welcome.)

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