The last German Championship was not so good for me. I seemed to be in bad shape, and I finished sixth. After winning the championship for the previous three years that was a rather shocking drop in performance. So my hope here in Sendai is to get back to what my usual game used to be, and maybe find some inspiration to fight back in Germany in the future. But there are quite a few strong German players coming up now. One of course is Lukas Krämer who won the championship this year, and who will go to China with Benjamin Teuber to study go for half a year. Another is Jonas Welticke, who studied in Japan for three months. Another is Johannes Obenaus, who is 23 years old and will be going to Taiwan for almost a year. After they come back, my chances of becoming German champion again will be rather slim. There are now a lot of German players who are getting stronger. This is good for us because we need to improve our position in relation to the rest of Europe; we’ve lost out place in group A in the Pandanet League and we’d like to regain it.
When I was four years old I started collecting beer caps. When I was five years old I had thousands of them. I was playing with the white and brown ones, because they were the ones I had most of. My father saw me playing with them and remembered the game of go, so we made a board out of paper and that’s how I got started. I began going to tournaments in Slovakia, and I had a teacher: Miroslav Poliak. He’s now 1 dan but he used to be 3 dan. We used to play, like, once a week.
In the spring of 2009 I went to King’s Baduk Center in Korea for three months. That was the first time I studied go from books. We had to solve life and death problems. I was doing that for maybe three hours a day. I also replayed professional games, and played against an 8-dan professional player. I went to Korea as a 1 kyu and came back 3 dan. That motivated me; that’s when I began playing go seriously. I started to play on KGS, and began to focus on doing better in tournaments. I don’t think I could play go professionally in Asia, but now we are starting to organize a professional league in Europe, with support from China. If it becomes possible to play go professionally in Europe, that is something I will really try to do.
- James Davies
Artem Kachanovskyi (Ukraine, 6d) reviewed his second game of the tournament, where he lost by 7.5 points to Shin-Wei Lin (Chinese Taipei, 7d).
Artem: The game took a sour turn in the opening, leaving me with a position I didn’t know how to save. I invaded his large central territory and gained a good result, taking good compensation in exchange for sacrificing a group with ko. A big fight followed, where I was left with a choice: to attack his weak group or to take points calmly. Thinking I was ahead, I chose the latter, but he unexpectedly made many points too, leaving an unclear endgame that I finally lost. I was a little disappointed.
Ranka: What have you been doing recently, and what are your hopes for the tournament?
Artem: I am studying at university, with a part time programming job in the afternoon developing factory systems. This is my third time in Japan, and of course I would like to reach a high position in the tournament, but I have no specific goals.
Ranka: What about your go study? You seem to spend less time on KGS these days.
Artem: Actually I have been taking a bit of a break from go and didn’t really do any serious study for two years. It is only since this year’s European Go Congress that I properly got back into it. Since then I have begun to play on Tygem, where I want to reach 9d as soon as possible to be able to play the strongest possible opponents. In terms of study methods, my preferred approach is reviewing professional game records, in particular games commented by the players themselves. I like to see how they are thinking.
- John Richardson; photo John Pinkerton
In these first-round games, very strong players make short work of their weaker opponents. Curtis Tang 6D (US) needed just 100 moves to force a resignation from 4-kyu John Erickson Javier (Phillipines), while Alexandr Bukh 5k (Kazakhstan) didn’t last much longer against Bill Tianyu Lin 7D (Canada), resigning after 103 moves.
In his game commentaries, Michael Redmond 9P shows how the games were actually over much earlier.
Commentaries transcribed by Chris Garlock
The first round was paired by the traditional WAGC method, which matches the middle half of the field (28 players this year) at random against the first and fourth quarters (14 players each). The field was so strong that the contestants from Canada and the USA, two countries that have frequently finished in the top eight in the past, found themselves placed in the middle group. Both of them won their first games, along with all 14 players in the top quarter of the field.
On paper the closest first-round match was between a pair of 3-dan’s: Malaysia’s Suzanne D’Bel and Colombia’s Santiago Quijano. Suzanne opened on the tengen point, framed a huge area in the center, and won by resignation. The closest games on the board were the half-point wins by Xuqi Wu (4 dan) of New Zealand against Alberto Zingoni (2 kyu) of Italy and Artem Kachanovskyi (6 dan) of the Ukraine against Krysztof Giedrojc (4 dan) of Poland. The New Zealand-Italy game was very nearly an upset. ‘I got an easy game when my opponent made a mistake in the opening,’ said Alberto, ‘but I made a one-point mistake near the end.’ The Ukraine-Poland game was the last to finish. While Artem and Krysztof were painstakingly playing out the endgame, Kikou Emura (7 dan) of Japan and Javier Savolainen (5 dan) of Finland were engaged in a lengthy, serious, and mostly silent post-mortem analysis of their game, which was won by the Japanese player.
- James Davies
I’m 1 dan in South Africa and this is my first WAGC. The tournament is amazingly well organized, a very slick operation, impressive in many respects.
I lost my first game, but I had a very strong opponent (Franz-Josef Dickhut of Germany), and I guess my performance was reasonable.
Go is not as popular in South Africa as it is in some European countries. We have perhaps a hundred registered players. Perhaps fifty of those are regular club and tournament players. There are some initiatives to bring go into the townships in South Africa, which are going encouraging well, but its difficult make these initiatives happen. The South African Go Association is a completely volunteer organization, and it’s hard to get people to spend their days teaching and evangelizing about the game.
So we’re finding it very difficult to grow the game organically.
The Hikaru no Go thing was a big external boost. Something like that would be great. I work as a computer programmer, and I only took up the game in my late thirties, so I’ve only been playing for seven or eight years. I regret not starting sooner. I may already have plateaued at my upper limit, but we’ll see. I’ll keep trying. Go is my main non-work activity. It’s kind of an obsession, as I suppose it is for many people.
Playing online? I guess I play online a lot, because it’s so easy, but I don’t really enjoy it. It’s a good way to try out openings, but I prefer to play when there’s something at stake, some rating points perhaps–then I can get motivated and bring my best to the game.
- James Davies
Fresh from his first game this morning, the Kazakhstani representative Alexandr Bukh (‘zoigo’ on KGS) gave us an insight into his background and the evolving go scene in Kazakhstan.
Ranka: Tell us a bit about how you got into go.
Alexandr: I have been playing for around 5 years. For as long as I can remember I have been captivated by Japanese culture, both the new and the old, and this led me to discover the game of go. I spent some time working in a company importing used vehicles from Japan, and through this I had the chance to learn some Japanese.
Ranka: So this opportunity to visit Japan means a lot to you?
Alexandr: Yes. It is my first time in Japan… and my excitement is hard to put into words.
Ranka: Could you describe go scene in Kazakhstan?
Alexandr: Each week I travel to the city of Karaganda to play at its go club, which has roughly ten regular players, and aside from this I have met another twenty or so other players across the country. Recently there has been a surge in interest – in fact, this year is the first we have been represented in the World Amateur Go Congress. The most popular sports in Kazakhstan are ice hockey, soccer and martial arts – I hope go will soon become one of them.
Ranka: Do you have any interests other than go?
Alexandr: My first love is anything to do with computers, but I also am interested in aircraft modeling and electronics. And now is a great opportunity to deepen my interest Japanese culture first hand.
Ranka: Thank you for your time, and we hope you enjoy the tournament.
- John Richardson
The 34th World Amateur Go Championship began with a rousing opening ceremony and reception at the Sendai International Hotel on the evening of August 31. Norio Wada, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nihon Kiin, welcomed all the players and wished them good games. Emiko Okuyama, the 34th Mayor of Sendai, dressed in jaunty black and white, added her welcome. The Netherlands’ Merlijn Kuin gave the contestants’ pledge, thanking the many sponsrs who had made it possible for all the players to come and saying how happy the were to be in Sendai. Former Honinbo and Meijin Takemiya Masaki, the chief referee, urged the players to enjoy the Championship to the fullest. And in addition there was some swashbuckling pageantry commemorating the founding of Sendai by Date Masamune, plus a lively ‘sparrow dancing’ exhibition with audience participation, and a vigorous demonstration of calligraphy by a team of schoolgirls wielding giant-sized brushes with musical accompaniment on the shamisen.
The first round began under clear skies at 9:30 the next morning, in the large playing room on the fifth floor of the AER complex. The fifty-six players were all in their seats when Takemiya Masaki give the instructions to choose colors and start playing. As at the goodwill match the previous day, the atmosphere was one of quiet concentration. Meanwhile, on the sixth floor, there was an atmosphere of energetic bustle as some 200 local children gathered for a separate tournament, the first of several parallel events that will take place during the World Amateur Championship.
“Think for yourself, play your own game, and make your best effort.” That was the advice Kikou Emura (left) of Japan gave to amateur players who want to improve their game, in response to a question from E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock at the Saturday afternoon press conference at the World Amateur Go Championship.
“You must love go,” said China’s Yuging Hu , adding “and try hard.” Korea’s Hyunjae Choi said that “Studying and playing a lot helps.”
Ilya Shikshin of Russia agreed that “you must love go and play a lot, but also I think you must never give up. There’s always another way to learn, even when you get frustrated.”
And Malaysia’s Low Khin Su said that “The important thing is to enjoy the game and always make an effort to improve.”
The players also shared their favorite players. For Emura, it’s Fujisawa Shuko and Sonoda Yuichi; for Yu, Fujisawa Shuko; Choi’s favorite is Cho Chikun, Shikshin’s is Go Seigen and Su’s is Ohashi Hirofumi.
In other comments, Shikshin said that “I know many in Europe are expecting a good performance from me, and I will do my best despite disappointing results at the European Go Congress earlier this month,” while 32-year-old Yuging Hu acknowledged that “the majority of strong Chinese players (are) in their 20s” and said that “This is all the more reason to take this competition seriously and work harder.”
- includes reporting by John Richardson; photo by John Pinkerton.
The program of the 3rd WAGC (1981) is now available in PDF file format. Click here to download a copy.
The last year has been a very successful one for the International Go Federation, its leaders reported Saturday at the annual IGF General Meeting, held the day prior to the launch of the World Amateur Go Championship, this year in Sendai, Japan. In addition to successful editions of the WAGC, World Student Oza, World Mind Sports Games, International Pair Go Championship and SportAccord Mind Sports Games, the IGF for the first time directly funded two new projects. The Central and South American Go Propagation Project resulted in 140 go workshops in Venezuela and the 1st International Go Symposium at the 2012 U.S. Go Congress generated tremendous participation from contributors around the world. IGF VP Thomas Hsiang called both efforts “A very good start.”
The IGF also enjoyed financial success in 2012-2013, thanks largely to major financial support from the China Ki-In for the 2012 WAGC and SAWMSG, reported Secretary-General Yuki Shigeno.
Another exciting new event, the first Mlily Cup, came together quickly with support from a new sponsor, and although the late start precluded participation by western players this year, the IGF expressed hope that in the next edition of the cup will be slots for players from both the U.S. and Europe.
The 24th annual International Pair Go Championships are coming up in November in Tokyo, and the 3rd edition of the SportAccord Mind Games will be December 12-18 in Beijing (and will be covered again this year by Ranka and the E-Journal).
New countries participating in the 2013 WAGC are Brunei and Kazakhstan, and those players received warm welcomes from the IGF leadership and the assembled players.
The final bit of news is that the 2014 and 2015 editions have been confirmed for Korea, the 2014 location definitely in Seoul, with details to be announced at a later date.
- report by Chris Garlock; photos by John Pinkerton
For the players at the 2013 World Amateur Go Championship, the first official event was a Goodwill Event held on Saturday morning, August 31, at the AER complex in Sendai. Naturally, it was a go-playing event. The Championship contestants were paired against a group of local players of all ages.
Quite a few local people also turned out to watch the match, and some of them had harrowing tales to tell of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Sendai in 2011.
The event started with an exchange of gifts: one contestant received a bottle of Japanese sake, and a small kimono-clad local girl received a South American yerba mate teapot.The games were played in an atmosphere of quiet concentration followed by a lot of good-natured fraternization. To add to the good cheer, introductory lessons in go were being held for a large and lively group of local children on the same floor.
Click here to see more pictures of the event.
The 34th World Amateur Go Championship will open on August 31 and be held on September 1-4 at the Sendai City Information & Industry Plaza in the AER building in Sendai, Japan. Located next to Sendai Station, AER is a popular commercial complex with many shops and restaurants.
The field of 62 players will range in age from 14 to 57 and in official rank from 7 kyu to 8 dan.
The field is headed by the contestants from China and Korea (Yuqing Hu and Hyunjae Choi); those two countries have not dropped a single game to any other country in this event since 2006. The players from perennially strong Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Hong Kong (Wei-shin Lin, Kikou Emura, and King-man Kwan) will also bear watching, particularly 14-year-old Lin, who will move on from the World Amateur to a pro career in Taiwan.
These Asians will be challenged, however, by a strong European contingent, led by Slovakian prodigy Pavol Lisy, who finished runner-up to former Chinese pro Fan Hui in this year’s European Championship. Joining Pavol will be four other young finalists from the European Championship: Thomas Debarre (France), Ilya Shikshin (Russia), Artem Kachanovskyi (Ukraine), and Nikola Mitic (Serbia). Also competing will be such established European stars as Ondrej Silt (Czechia), Csaba Mero (Hungary), Cornel Burzo (Romania), Merlijn Kuin (Netherlands), and Franz-Josef Dickhut (Germany).
Challenging the Asians and Europeans will be a pair of North American high school students: Curtis Tang (USA), who trained for a year at a go academy in China, and Bill Lin (Canada), who played in the World Mind Games last December and is coming off a 3-1 defense of his Canadian Dragon title.
The Southern hemisphere will be represented by Hao-Song Sun (Australia, 11th place at the 2008 World Mind Sports Games), Xuqi Wu (New Zealand, 12th place at the 2009 Korea Prime Minister Cup), and a pack of hopeful new players from South America and South Africa.
In the past the World Amateur Go Championship has been held in the spring, but this year the schedule was moved back because of the effects of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Thanks to support from all over the world during the past two years, most of the regions hit by the earthquake are now recovering. It is hoped that through the game of go this tournament will give the world proof of the recovery and encourage the local people to press ahead with the long recovery process.