Rafael Torres Miranda had a problem. The automotive importer had just discovered the game of go in 1990 but had no one to teach him and, worse yet, no one to play with. Twenty five years later, he’s attending the U.S. Go Congress as President of the Cuban Go Federation, the first time a delegation of Cuban go players has ever participated.
“The high level of play and the variety — as well as sheer quantity — of go activities is very impressive,” Miranda (at right, in white shirt) told the E-Journal. The other member of the delegation is Dr. Lazaro Bueno Perez (far left), a professor of chess and go at the University of Camaguey, and both said that they “will be bringing much back to Cuba from the Go Congress.”
Miranda says that there are some 2,000 go players in Cuba, ranging in strength from 5-dan to double-digit kyu players. “We’ve come a long way in a very short time,” he said. Miranda learned about the game from a Japanese colleague in the automotive business. The game intrigued him immediately. Although his colleague didn’t think he was serious, but he did teach Miranda the rules and they played. “No one in Cuba played go,” he laughs, “everyone played chess.” But as a judo teacher Miranda knew how to study and train and determination did the rest. They have had major support from the Association for International Go Exchange (a group of retired Japanese who love the game) and pros from the Nihon Ki-in. The Cubans make their own go equipment and there are now players in every city in the country.
In addition to the obvious barriers posed by Cuba’s political isolation, perhaps the biggest obstacle to spreading the game and improving Cuban go player’s strength has been one that go players around the world can appreciate: extremely limited internet access. There’s also a real hunger to participate in go tournaments around the world. “Always we want to participate,” Miranda said, chuckling. “We can’t, but we want to.” He hopes that the timing of the Cuban delegation to the U.S. Go Congress as official relations between the United States and Cuba have been established this year may be a harbinger of more opportunities to travel and compete internationally. “We are grateful to the AGA, the American Go Foundation, and to Bob Gilman for making this possible.”
Cuba will host the 17th Iberoamerican Go Championships October 9-11 at the Cuban Go Academy in Havana. Cuba. In addition to the chance for Cuban go players to meet their comrades from other Latin American countries, Miranda said it’s an opportunity for the Cuban Go Federation to be in the spotlight; after all Cuba organized the first four international tournaments in Latin America (1998-2001) before the current Championship series began.
- Chris Garlock; photo by Phil Straus
Yulin Tong Takes Lead in US Open Masters: Yulin Tong is now the leading contender for 2015 US Open Masters champion, defeating Beomgeun (Evan) Cho for a 7-1 record going into the final round Saturday morning. Other contenders include Zexiang Sui, who’s 6-2, and Chen Wang, also 6-2. Defending champion Mark Lee lost to Sui to drop to 5-3, taking him out of contention. Click here for complete results through Round 8.
Albert Yen Leads in US Open: Albert Yen 7D, undefeated going into the final round of the US Open on Saturday, is the favorite to win this year’s Open. Other 5-0 players: Xiaocheng Hu 4D; Yifan Zhang 3D; Gilbert Feng 2D; Brian Kirby 1D; Kelly Liu 1D; Mark Fraser 7K; Sherrie Echols 9K; Ryan Kim 21K. Click here for complete results through Round 5.
Saturday Broadcast Schedule: Catch the US Open Masters Board 1 game live on KGS — with video streaming on the AGA’s YouTube channel — starting at 9a CST. Board 2 will also be broadcast on KGS.
Game Records Wanted: Send in your US Open game records and we’ll add them to the official crosstab. Email them to us at email@example.com
photo: Friday night’s live US Masters Open pro commentary by Myungwan Kim 9P (at board) with E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock; Yilun Yang 7P also provided commentary. photo by Steve Colburn
Amy Wang 5d and her partner Daehyuk (Daniel) Ko won first place in the 2015 North American Pair Go Championship Thursday night at the U.S. Go Congress. “U.S. Pair Go fans should watch for Amy and Daniel to be competing in the upcoming World Amateur Pair Go Championships in Tokyo,” said TD Todd Heidenreich. The Championships will be held the first weekend in December. Forty eight pairs participated in the popular event, including nine professional players. Six of the eight players on boards 3 and 4 were professionals, drawing a lot of interest from spectators. “Special thanks to Dennis Wheeler, Steve Colburn, Susanna Pfeffer, and Garrett Smith for their assistance,” Heidenreich added.
The top table of the Pair Go tournament determined the overall champion. As with many of the tournaments at this year’s Congress, the matches played on the top board of the tournament were broadcast online — in this case on the Pandanet Go Server — along with a live stream on the AGA’s YouTube page. Click here for Steve Colburn’s album of photos.
Top table results: 1st Place – Amy Wang 5d & Daniel Ko 7d; 2nd Place – Melissa Cao 1k & Justin Ching 6d; 3rd Place – WanYu Chen & Andrew Lu 7d; 4th Place – Julie Burrall 2d & Lionel Zhang 7d.
Table Winners: Amy Wang 5d & Daniel Ko 7d; HsiYun Tang 2P & Mark Lee 7d; Jennie Shen 2P & Josh Larson 3d; Mirano Shiraki 5d & Shunichi Hyodo 6d; Agnes Rzepecki 2k & Aaron Broege 1d; Isabelle Peng 5k & Evan Zou 4d; Nqua Xiong 2k & Fernando Torre 3k; Yoko Ohashi 6k & Mark Fraser 7k; Vivienne Blandy 9k & Mark Smith 7k; Kaoru Hidaka 19k & Shigeo Hidaka 2d; Sarah Crites 11k & Bob Crites 7k; Susanna Pfeffer 10k & Rab Beverly 12k
- photos by Eric Jankowski (right) and Steve Colburn (left).
Curious to see how go might be played without a center point, John Goodell didn’t just theorize about it; he produced 3,000 go sets sans center point. They didn’t catch on, but Goodell’s lifetime of promoting the game earned him the American Go Association’s first Edward Lasker Distinguished Service Award in 2002; he died in 2004 at the age of 94. A longtime St Paul resident, he’s been honored this week at the US Go Congress with a prominent display of memorabilia celebrating his life as a go player and promoter.
Goodell (second from right) learned the game in the mid-1950′s while doing customer research for a department store. His idea was to see if board games would help elicit more reliable information from customers. Although that didn’t work, he became deeply involved with go, leading the US team to the second World Amateur Go Championships in Japan in 1964, as well as serving as president of the AGA from 1962 to 1964. Perhaps most famously, he once imported two tons of go stones and distributed them across the country.
John Goodell said that go is “almost like meditation. When you play go, the world goes away.” And though he played the game for more than half a century, he never entered a tournament, where “You play to win; but winning and losing is of almost no consequence.”
A St Paul documentary filmmaker, Goodell was nominated for an Academy Award in 1974 for “Always a New Beginning.”
Click here for more information about the history of the American Go Association.
Nearly twenty videos from the US Go Congress have been posted so far on the AGA’s YouTube channel as part of the E-Journal’s expanded coverage this year. They include Crazy Go, Lightning Tournament, US Open Masters Rd6: Tong Yulin 4p vs Mark Lee 7d, US Open Masters Rd 5: Cao Youyin 3p vs Tong Yulin 4p live commentary by Cho Hyeyeon 9p, and USGC 2015 – Wang Chen 7d interviewed by Kevin Hwang. The videos have been extremely popular, usually with well over 100 viewers for the live streams and some of the videos have now been viewed over 2,000 times.