This is definitely a lifetime highlight for me.
I was walking back from the gym and randomly ran into two professional Go players from Korea at the MIT Student Center. After talking to them, they invited me to play. Sojin On, on the left, is ranked 7 pro, and Dahye Lee, on the right, is ranked 4 pro.
Dahye gave me an 8 handicap stone advantage (a huge advantage to give someone at the start of a match). She then proceeded to play me and 3 members of the MIT Go club all simultaneously. She darted back and forth from board to board playing moves faster than any of us. I was able to hold on to a very slight advantage (about 2 points) by defending the sides and corners of the board. Unfortunately, as the game progressed there was nowhere else I could get more points, whereas Dahye still had potential in the middle of the board. If I were able to fight her evenly in a chaotic battle in the middle of the board to ruin all territory there, I might have been able to maintain my 2 point lead to the end of the game. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. She beat all 4 of us decisively.
The professionals were super friendly. They were here for a few days to represent Korea in the annual US Go Congress, and they will be flying back home shortly. I asked Sojin at what age he started studying Go and he told me he started training when he was 6. Dahye, who beat us all, gave us brownies and reviewed each of our games with us.
Human professional players are so much more fun to play with than computer professional players. AlphaGo may be impressive at playing Go, but I’ve never seen AlphaGo share smiles, stories, and brownies like Sojin and Dahye.