Nordic Go Academy, general partnership & Summer Camp Announcement

We’ve come far since the original launch of Nordic Go Academy back in 2011 June. The KGS program has gone through several different phases and finally got forged into what it is now. It is thanks to our students that now we can take the next big step.

Nordic Go Academy, general partnership, was established in February 2013.

We are now a legal company in Finland, which opens many opportunities to grow the program even more. On the other side, we’ve become liable to Finnish taxation, which can be slightly negative for our students. We haven’t had the chance to explore smart pricing models in detail yet, so for now we are just upping the price of the program by 5€ starting March.


For our first expansion, I am glad to announce Nordic Go Academy Summer Camp 2013, held in July. We’ve got a very nice site and are excited about the camp. I warmly invite everyone to attend! For our non-Finn students, it’s an opportunity to meet the teachers in real life and receive direct teaching, in a good environment beneficial for your learning. Feel free to ask any questions from us teachers!

Site rehaul

I renovated the NGA website quite heavily today. All old’ish information has been updated to match the current program. I also felt several pages were a bit wall-of-texty, so I rewrote some parts and made them clearer. Several pages now feature a color theme, which should also make the pages easier to view.

The front page is changed to provide a short summary of the program, for easier access to the site for new guests. Also don’t miss the Prizes-section!

NGA wishes everyone a happy new year!

Happy new year to everybody! Year 2012 saw its pinnacle for NGA with the Finnish championship final that was held between two of our teachers, Tien and Namii, on December 29. The best of three final was broadcast live on KGS, and proved to be good entertainment for the observers. Finally, Tien took the championship by winning the first game by resignation, and the second game by half a point. Game 1 is downloadable here and game 2 is downloadable here.

NGA January is starting this week—there is time to register until Thursday evening. The general content is fairly normal, but we are introducing a few changes to keep things abuzz.

  • As usual, we’re holding four lectures and two simultaneous games.
  • We’re having a background tournament, similar to what we had last July. The players who opt for it play one tournament game a week, with reduced handicaps (one stone’s difference translates to six points reduction in komi, and the stronger player takes white). The winner of the tournament receives a 10e discount for further NGA studies. Once a player loses a game, they drop out of the tournament and continue with regular NGA training games.
  • We’re holding A and B class tsumego competitions as usual, with 10e discounts each as the main prizes.
  • We’re introducing a new “coaching option”. In addition to having option 1, 2 or 3, by paying 10 euro extra one can apply for the coaching option, which contains two biweekly summaries by Jeff on how your play in general is going (what are the strong and weak points, why some games were won and lost), and what you should do in the future to improve as efficiently as possible. The coaching option is recommended for players who are really serious about studying go and improving. You can opt for coaching by contacting one of our teachers, or by checking the coaching radio box in the online registration form.

Tien is currently working on translating his bachelor’s thesis to English, which will be publicly available from Go of Ten. The subject of the thesis is how expertise develops, which should be a fairly interesting read for serious go players.

We’re hoping to see you in January!

NGA teachers in Finnish Championship Finals! & NGA taking a break for December.

NGA teachers in Finnish Championship Finals!

Having become 1st and 2nd respectively in the Finnish Championship League, Juri and Antti will be battling for the title of the 2012 Finnish Champion in the Finnish Championship Finals on 29th to 30th of December.

You may see the full results with downloadable links to all games here: http://www.suomigo.net/wiki/SM-sarja2012.

As the finalists were already certain after round 4, Juri and Antti decided to provide some quality entertainment for the spectators in their 5th round game. To read more about the peculiar opening, check http://gooften.net/2012/04/01/new-opening-theory/.


NGA taking a break for December.

On another note, we are announcing our annual break for December. The month is very hectic, and I bet the time-off will be relaxing to both the teachers and the students! See you again in January and expect a lecture on Antti’s and Juri’s games!

For our current students without a recurring subscription, we will send a reminder after the New Year’s.

Friendship match with Korean-style Insei League

There was an exciting event last Sunday, when Nordic Go Academy (NGA) prepared to battle against Korean-style Insei League (KSIL). Both programs had gathered 8 of their finest men, ready to protect the honor of their programs. Here are the rosters and results!

Nordic Go Academy 4-4 Korean-style Insei League
Bolko 2d 0-1 KShirahama 4d
Asum 2d 0-1 Shedal 4d
komi 1k 0-1 Rodolphe 4d
Gorim 2k 0-1 AppleEye 1k
bhind 3k 1-0 veinarde 1k
sanniti 4k 1-0 Elvenio 6k
Calwen72 4k 1-0 romaroma 7k
Xirxaven 7k 1-0 vdk 7k

Thus, after very exciting games, the match finally ended in a draw! All in all, it was a fun match. Our thanks to the Korean-style Insei League students for the games!

July aftermath & August information

We took a leap of faith with July, holding an entirely different NGA month, but the experience turned out to be very positive for both the students and the teachers. As Antti and Jeff are at Bonn right now for the EGC and NGA is having a rather long break of 3 weeks, I decided to use this opportunity to write a bit about what we learned from July.

Tsumego
   It was mutually agreed on by all students that the tsumego was a great thing. This, for now, is the only feature we will directly be adding in August as it received such positive feedback. I can’t provide the exact details right now, but we’d give either weekly or biweekly tsumego homework, 2-4 different files with 10-15 problems each. The files’ difficulties would vary to provide tsumego from challenging to warm-up difficulty, taking both dans and kyus into consideration.

Pairing
   By random chance, I had the great opportunity to pair the July league’s classes in a round robin. This enabled me to do the entire month’s pairing at once. As the league went on, I began noticing that the games would get played with such great flexibility that I could only wonder why we haven’t paired NGA in a similar manner before. We’ve also talked about how we’re going to get slightly stricter with long game delays in July&August onwards, so we are going to be a little more enforcing about our two weeks policy. However, thanks to the lesson learned in July, we will now be doing two weeks’ pairing at once, enabling greater flexibility to our students in getting their league games played. Basically, the model we are trying to head towards is that after receiving the pairing (of two weeks at a time), you are to play your games within two weeks of their scheduled date. However, if this is not possible, you should contact a teacher to request a time-extension. Promoting more student-teacher interaction is the main idea, as then we will be able to know what’s going on. We used this policy in July and I didn’t decline a single time-extension request, so actually this should not become a source of worry to any of our students. We will also be reminding about this policy in the weekly letters, possibly highlighting the match-ups which require attention.

Competition
   Generally, the competitive aspect of the leagues was liked. Opinion was very split here, however: some liked the tournament, others only the tsumego. Since NGA is primarily ‘learning-oriented’, we will keep fully competitive months like this to a minimum. There was a suggestion made by one of our students about a team tournament/competition, which sounded like something that could add some competitive flavor to our normal league. This feature will not be included in August though, so I won’t talk more about it now.

Afterword
   Something that was missed were the simultaneous games. Luckily, August will naturally include the usual 2 simultaneous games per month with at least one participation chance per student. The kyu/dan splitting of the lectures was also well-received. All in all, July was a great experience and we learned a lot!

NGA July Competition Results may be found here: results.php.

 
August information
   For August, we’ll return to normal NGA. As mentioned earlier, we will be including tsumego homework as a new feature and also the pairing will use the new flexible model. For other bonus content, there will be at least 6 lectures and 2 simultaneous lesson games. There are no changes to the pricing, and as normal, you may choose your amount of weekly league games. (Refer to the Payment Details page for the prices.)
   Due to EGC, NGA August will skip the first weekend of August, which means the first league games will be paired for the Aug 11 – Aug 12 weekend. The fourth weekend will be borrowed from September (Sep 1 – Sep 2) as September has a total of five weekends. The deadline for registration for August is Aug 8, Wednesday, 11.59 PM (CEST). On Aug 9, Thursday, the first information letter with the first two weeks’ pairing and will be sent to all students. Registration is handled through our Registration Form. Old students may just send a message to any of the teachers!

See you in NGA August!

July’s special program

This July we’ll have a slightly special program at the Nordic Go Academy! Because two of our teachers, and possibly several of the students, are going to the European go congress, there are only three weeks in July to use effectively. With this reduced time, we decided to create a special go congress preparatory NGA program — of course also suitable for the students who aren’t going to the congress!

Normally studying at NGA is more “learn for the sake of learning” oriented, but with the congress in mind, this July’s keyword will be “competitiveness”. It will however be possible to participate with a more relaxed outlook, too. In a nutshell, July’s content will be as such:

  • There is only one program option for July, with two games a week for three weeks (six games in total), a lot of extra content, and some prizes for the students. Participation costs 40e for everybody.
  • Registration for July closes at midnight (CEST time) between June 26 and 27.
  • The students are divided into two groups, A class and B class. A class is from 1 kyu up, and B class is from 2 kyu down.
    • As the gap between KGS 2 kyu and 1 kyu is relatively wide, 2 kyu players can opt for A class if they want, and 1 kyu players can likewise opt for B class. We teachers would like to have the final word in the matter, but are of course open for discussion.
  • Inside each class, a six-round tournament takes place. On each of the three weeks, everybody has exactly two tournament games to play, and these games are reviewed offline as is customary to NGA.
    • These games are played with reverse komi handicaps, KGS ranks as a guideline (we teachers will do the final judging). One ranking difference equals a 6-point komi. With one rank’s difference, white has a 0.5 point komi, with two ranks’ difference, black receives a 6.5-point reverse komi, with three ranks’ difference black receives a 12.5-point reverse komi, and so on.
  • The winner of each class gets a free NGA month at option 1 (one game a week) as a prize!
    • The winner is judged primarily by the amount of wins, secondarily by the sum of opponents’ scores, and finally by a playoff.
  • Every week, a tsumego homework package is sent to the students — naturally, A class tsumego is harder than B class tsumego. The students are recommended to send their answers in an sgf file to the teachers.
    • It’s fine to not do the tsumego, but the students who do send their answers are in on the tsumego competition. After three weeks, the best record holders in each class get a free NGA month at option 1 (one game a week) as a prize.
  • For the bonus content, we have one weekly lecture for all the students, with opening game and trick joseki as a general theme. As a special addition, each class will also have a separate study group meeting once a week, led by one of our teachers.
    • A study group meeting is similar to a lecture, but with the difference that the students are supposed to speak more, and the teacher less. Our teacher will of course still be directing the conversation. The study group meetings’ topics will be any extra games that the NGA students play with each other — so, if you want to have extra reviews, just arrange for a game with another student outside the tournament, and send the sgf file to a teacher to be discussed! If many extra games get played, we try to pick the discussed games in a fair way to everybody.
    • We still didn’t decide if we do study group meetings as audio or text-only sessions. You can vote by leaving a message in the “something to say” box in the registration form!
  • After the three weeks, we would like to ask for the students’ opinion on how the month’s program worked out for them. If the feedback is clearly positive, we may gear the coming NGA months more towards style July’s style!

Takapotku domination

For the second year in a row, our teachers claimed the top three spots in the biggest Finnish annual tournament, Takapotku! This year’s results can be found here. Interestingly, even the internal order of us teachers stayed the same from last year. Look forward to our potential hat trick next time around!

Site migration, news and summer plans

The Nordic Go Academy site was hosted at gospelare.se up to now, and we’d like to thank them for providing us with a server. As of recently, we’ve switched our domain name to nordicgoacademy.com and switched servers, and as a result should have close to 24/7 uptime.

Since April we’ve had the Sunday lectures, two additional lectures and simultaneous games as a fixed part of the program, and in April we also had one extra lecture by Tien (for a total of seven lectures, including one by Namii and one by Jeff). The additional three lectures were held at different times during the week, which weren’t accessible to everybody, but on average everything has worked out well. For the past four months, we’ve had over 15 students each month for a fairly lively studying community. In the future, we’re looking to expand even further!

In May, Antti finished his insei studies for the time being, and returned back to Finland. Juri took a week off from teaching while he went to represent Finland in the World Amateur Go Championships, and got a grand result of six wins and two losses, reaching the seventh place, which is in fact a record score for Finland!

As for the summer, NGA is having a special month in July. Our teachers will be attending the European Go Congress, which only leaves three weeks for July — we’re planning a special “preparing for the congress” program for that, with more information published later. People who aren’t going to the congress can of course also participate. On a general level, the July program is going to be more competitive than NGA usually is. NGA August will initiate on August 11.

April League – Major Changes

When Antti became an insei in September, he started holding weekly lectures for the program as a bonus feature, to create a study circle to discuss about new theory he was learning as an insei. From October to February, as a promotional feature, we offered commented simultaneous lessons against Jack 2p (smartrobot 9d@KGS). Both of these features, albeit they weren’t part of the academy’s core, received immense popularity.

As of now, Jack is very busy and Antti is returning to Finland in May, so that would see the end of these extra features. However, we’ve also started feeling a bit sentimental about these features, and given the great feedback we’ve received, from April onwards we are making both of these features a permanent part of the academy’s program. Since we didn’t want to pause the simultaneous games for March, we held them twice as a service :)

As permanent features, they will be included in our pricing. But this shouldn’t be a source for worry, we will continue being affordable as always! Thus, from April onwards, our monthly fee will be increased by 5€. This increase immediately comes with additional lectures as a counterweight. Other features are being planned, possibly implemented already in May!

This new model to include extra features in the pricing gives us plenty of room for improvement and changes. In the future, the students might have more options to pick from. For now, we decided that we wouldn’t include any extra featureless options because frankly, we don’t want students not participating in the side content! Participation would be very beneficial for their improvement! We’re open to feedback, so please share your ideas with us!

A smaller update: we are lifting the minimum entry level to 7 kyu. Historically, it’s been a bit troublesome fitting 8 kyu to 9 kyu players in the league, because we haven’t had many players from that range. Now, all our 8 kyu to 9 kyu students have already improved well past 7 kyu, so a new aspiring student below that level would be a nightmare for us to include in the program! However, if you’re not quite KGS 7k yet, but would still like to get in, please contact us and we’ll see if we can figure something out!

The first games for the April league will be played on the 7th and 8th of April and the deadline for registration is the 3rd of April.