Nolan Bushnell to Keynote First US International Go Symposium

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Video game pioneer to speak at new symposium on research into world's oldest continuously played game of skill.

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It's just a wonderfully rich and powerful game.

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The father of the computer gaming revolution, Nolan Bushnell, will be the keynote speaker at a symposium this summer for the world's oldest continuously played game of skill, Go. The first US International Go Symposium will bring together Go scholars from around the world to explore educational, cultural, historical, literary, artistic, scientific and technological aspects of the game

Bushnell has called Go 'a wonderfully rich and powerful game' and his 'favorite game of all time'. When he founded a pioneering computer company in 1972, he selected a Go term, atari, for the company's name. Atari's game Pong became the first commercially successful computer game, opening the door to modern computer gaming. Go, considered the most elegant of games, is played with black and white stones on a grid of 19*19 intersecting lines. A few simple rules generate more possible board positions than sub-atomic particles in the known universe. The depth of Go has resisted computer simulation (unlike chess, draughts, and xiang-qi) and its combination of left and right brain thinking makes it an ideal educational tool.

Organized by Peter Shotwell, noted Go scholar and author, the symposium will take place on August 3rd and 4th during the first weekend of the American Go Association's 28th US Go Congress in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The International Go Federation is providing seed funding for the symposium. The Go Congress is the AGA’s premier annual event, with more than 400 participants and at least a dozen professionals from the US. and Asia expected this for a week of playing and learning about go, with the symposium as the opening event.

While millions play Go around the world it is not yet widely played in the US. Like Sumo and other Asian arts, Go has an extensive professional system based mainly in Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan. Until now only three Americans have become pros: Minnesota's James Kerwin, the first US pro, a 1 dan in the Japanese system; Janice Kim, fom New Mexico, a 3 dan in the Korean system; and California's Michael Redmond, a 9 dan, the highest possible rank, in the Japanese system. About a dozen Asian pros now live and teach in the US and some have become US citizens.

The AGA, with the assistance of Myung-wan Kim, a 9 dan Korean professional living in California, and the Korean Baduk Association, is currently developing an American professional certification process. The first pro certification tournament, sponsored by the go server Tygem, will also take place at the US Go Congress in North Carolina. The American Go Association was founded in 1935 by chess master Edward Lasker and Harper's Magazine Editor-in-Chief Lee Foster Hartman. It now has over 100 chapters across the U.S.

In 2004 the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA) was formed to promote an Olympic-style event for mind sports including Go, chess, bridge, draughts and xiang qi. In 2008, the First World Mind Sports Games were held at the Beijing Olympic venue after the Summer Olympics. The U.S. recently formed the US Mind Sports Association as part of the world-wide effort to further promote mind sports.

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