This morning at 9.30am representatives from fifty-four countries and territories placed their bets on odd or even and kicked off the 35th World Amateur Go Championship.
Unlike last year, where the first round pairings were announced at the Opening Ceremony, this year no preparation was possible for the competitors, who discovered their opponents only minutes before the clocks were started. The pairings for the first round avoid clashes between the top four seeds but otherwise are drawn at random, with players matched within two subclasses to avoid large rating differences.
The first game to finish was Korea-Denmark, with the local favourite Taewoong Wei off to an impressive start. There were no surprises for the other top seeds as China, Japan and Chinese Taipei all scored convincing victories.
In particular note was the Japan-Hungary match, the game reaching an essentially lost position with only three minutes used on Pal Balogh’s clock. After a twenty minute deliberation, the Hungarian left the playing room but returned minutes later to chose the only possible continuation and struggle through a futile battle to the bitter end.
The next game to finish saw Hong Kong’s Naisan Chan enclosing the Dutch envoy’s central-right stones. No amount of tsumego wizardry could save Merlijn Kuin’s group from inevitable demise. As the sound of byoyomi counting began to echo across the room, a flurry of games reached their conclusion, with more to follow in dribs and drabs until around midday.
Other interesting games included Costa Rica versus Belgium, this year seeing a new player, the Costa Rican system engineer Luis Enrique Boza Araya, attempt a tengen-based strategy. He was unable to use the stone and suffered a crushing defeat to the Belgian accountant Dominique Versyck. Suzanne D’Bel, known by the Japanese press as ‘Tengen Girl’, was White in her game against Andreas Götzfried of Luxembourg, so we are yet to see if she too will employ this unusual opening strategy.
The second round begins at 1.30pm Korean time.
- John Richardson
Why top players love go is as varied as the players themselves, but they all pretty much agree that in order to get stronger, “you must love the game.” So said Japan’s Emura Kiko at a brief press conference on the opening day of this year’s World Amateur Go Championship, echoed by Malaysia’s Suzanne D’Bel Low, Korea’s Taewoong Wei, China’s Ruoran Wang, Vietnam’s Nhat Minh Vo and the Czech Republic’s Lukas Podpera, who were selected to answer questions at the press conference.
“Go enables me to meet a lot of new friends, who become part of my family,” said Low. “Each game reveals my opponent’s style and personality,” added Podpera. At just 13, Vo is the youngest player at the WAGC, but already the game has enabled him to “meet a lot of interesting new people and travel around the world to share the go spirit,” he said.
And while all the selected players said that lots of play and study is necessary to improve, Podpera was the most specific, noting that “In Europe we are failing at life and death (tsume-go) so that’s what we must study to improve.” Wei was even more succinct, saying that the three things necessary to get better at go are “Will, confidence and concentration.”
- Chris Garlock
Why top players love go is as varied as the players themselves, but they all pretty much agree that in order to get stronger, “you must love the game.” So said Japan’s Emura Kiko at a brief press conference on the opening day of this year’s World Amateur Go Championship, echoed by Malaysia’s Suzanne D’Bel Low, Korea’s Taewoong Wei, China’s Ruoran Wang, Vietnam’s Nhat Minh Vo and the Czech Republic’s Lukas Podpera, who were selected to answer questions at the press conference. “Go enables me to meet a lot of new friends, who become part of my family,” said Low. “Each game reveals my opponent’s style and personality,” added Podpera. At just 13, Vo is the youngest player at the WAGC, but already the game has enabled him to “meet a lot of interesting new people and travel around the world to share the go spirit,” he said. And while all the selected players said that lots of play and study is necessary to improve, Podpera was the most specific, noting that “In Europe we are failing at life and death (tsume-go) so that’s what we must study to improve.” Wei was even more succinct, saying that the three things necessary to get better at go are “Will, confidence and concentration.”
- Chris Garlock; photo by Ivan Vigano
The International Go Federation Annual General Meeting was held this afternoon at the site of this year’s World Amateur Go Championship, the Hyundai Hotel in Gyeongju, Korea. The lush green grounds of the hotel overlook the beautiful Bomun Lake, a scenic backdrop for the main highlight of the amateur Go calendar.
To begin, some big news: Bangkok has been selected as the location for next year’s World Amateur Go Championship. Thailand’s selection marks the first time this important event will be held outside the Go stronghold of Japan, China and Korea. A promising move towards the internationalisation of the game.
The meeting continued with a roundup of the year’s Go events and report of the IGF finances, all the healthier from the recent slump of the Japanese yen. The main events of last year were the World Amateur Go Championship in Sendai, Japan; the Amateur Pair Go Championship in Tokyo, Japan; and the SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing, China.
The SAWMG will be held again this year in Beijing (December 11th-17th), and Ranka will provide full coverage of the event. The format will be similar to previous years, combining Go, Chess, Bridge, Draughts and Xiangqi events. Poker applied again this year to join, but was denied for the second time. This year’s WAGC will see the continuation of anti-doping tests in order to keep the game of Go in line with sporting regulations, a step on the path towards Olympic recognition, a common goal for the mind games at the SAWMG.
Another exciting piece of news is the birth of the Student Pair Go Championship, which is to take place for the first time this October in Tokyo. This new event will be held together with the standard Pair Go Championship, which itself will be particularly special marking the 25th anniversary of Pair Go. The student championship is planned to be run as a separate event from next year.
We conclude with an announcement of changes to the IGF Board of Executives. This year will see a rotation of roles from Japan to Korea. The new IGF President will be Seokhyun Hong, previously the Korean Ambassador to the US, taking the reins from Koichiro Matsuura. “I will try my best but my work alone is not enough. We need everyone’s input and initiative to bring our plans to a successful creation.” Jae-ho Yang, the Secretary General of the Korean Baduk Association, takes up the role of Office Director, resuming the hard work of Hiroshi Yamashiro. Yuki Shigeno, the long serving Secretary General, gave a tearful farewell, passing the post on to Hajin Lee, the main organiser of this year’s WAGC. Norio Wada, the chairman of the Nihon Kiin, will also join the Board of Directors.
- John Richardson
The 35th World Amateur Go Championship got underway Saturday morning in Gyeongju, Korea with the traditional Friendship Match between local go players and the WAGC players from around the world. Gathered in the main playing area on the first floor of the Hotel Hyundai, the WAGC players’ places were marked as usual by their nation’s flags and the locals eagerly joined them for a spirited round of friendly but intense matches. At the head of the room were pro Kim In 9P (at right in photo at lower left) playing a teaching game with a local luminary beneath the WAGC banner. Gyeongju City, along with the Republic of Korea, is hosting the WAGC in this scenic resort in the Bomun Lake resort area. In the back of the room, professional Hyun Wook Lee (at right in bottom right photo) played a 10-on-1 simul while Ms. Yun Jin Bae gave some three dozen avid youngsters a go lecture. After an opening ceremony and banquet on Saturday night, the tournament will begin Sunday and run through Wednesday, with games scheduled each morning and afternoon. The E-Journal and Ranka are teaming up again this year to provide full coverage of the WAGC, including updates on each round, player interviews, game commentaries, photos and final daily results at the end of each day.
- report/photos by Chris Garlock
July 15 is the deadline to reserve the lowest hotel prices for US Go Congress attendees at the Hotel Pennsylvania. “After July 15, we cannot guarantee room availability or prices, so you’d have to book rooms at the hotel’s normal rates instead of our special discounted rates,” says Congress Director Matthew Hershberger. “We’ve negotiated incredibly low rates with the Hotel Pennsylvania for go players, so don’t miss out!” Late fees for Congress registration will also go up after July 15. The US Go Congress runs August 9-17 in New York City.
Local organizers are looking for volunteers to help teach go at the final weekend of the Smithsonian’s Folk Life Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC this Saturday and Sunday. Local players Julian Erville (left) and Juan Pablo Quizon were joined by fellow DC-area club members Todd Heidenreich, Ed Hsu, Sam Lee, Mike Pak, Yi Weng, Justin Teng, and John Goon last weekend “as they taught weiqi/go to some promising young talent,” says Goon, who coordinated the effort reaching more than 200 each day. China and Kenya are the centerpieces of the festival, which ends on Sunday. Contact John Goon at Spineyone@yahoo.com for details on how to volunteer.
-photo by John Goon
Ballots for the 2014 American Go Association Board elections have been sent to chapters and members, reports Arnold Eudell. “If you have not received your ballot and believe you should have, first check your spam folder,” Eudell says. “Then send a note to email@example.com.” Note that only one ballot can be sent per email. If an email is duplicated, such as for a child’s membership, only one voting code will be sent. Contact the email address above with a unique email to receive all ballots. Also, comments sent through Ballot Bin are anonymous; if you want a response send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Voting closes August 8.
Impressive Ge: “7 Dan is impressive,” writes Chris Uzal about our profile of Canada’s Yongfei Ge (2014 WAGC Player Profiles: Americas & Oceania 6/29 EJ). “Playing go in the womb is even more impressive: ‘Yongfei Ge 7D is a 30-year-old software architect from Scarborough. He’s been playing for 30 years…’”
That would be impressive indeed! In fact, Ge is 45 and has been playing since he was 15.
Looking for Spanish Go News: Uzal also asks “Where can I find go news in Spanish? I work for a local Spanish newspaper. I have enough influence to get go stories published. I’d like to see more on the Latin American players.”
Send your tips on where to find go news in Spanish to us at email@example.com and we’ll pass it along.