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The Red-Faced King: An Interview with Chou Chun-Hsun

IGF Ranka - Sun, 15/12/2013 - 11:04

Chou Chun-Hsun (right) in his 4th round game with Fujita Akihiko

Chou Chun-Hsun 9p is a player that Chinese Taipei deserve to be proud of. Chou not only won the LG Cup in 2007, but is also one of their finest homegrown players in history. While many top players such as Chou U move to Japan or China to study, Chou Chun-Hsun is still at home and is now training the next generation of young hopefuls. Known as the ‘Red-Faced King’, Chou was inspired to aim for the top by Mikhael Gorbachev, who shares a similar red birthmark, and now stands as the King of Go in Chinese Taipei.

Ranka: How was your game this afternoon with Japan’s Fujita 4p?
Chou: I was content with my position from the beginning until my opponent played an unusual knight’s move, which caused some problems. In the end I lost by resignation. The young Fujita was a very strong opponent. Even though he lost to his Chinese and Korean opponents, I felt that he had a number of chances in those games.

Ranka: How did you start playing go? Do you play other sports?
Chou: My father, a 3 dan amateur, got me into the game when I was seven. In my free time I enjoying running and mountain climbing. I think it’s important to maintain good physical fitness for playing go at a professional level – the time limits are long and it’s important to have the strength to keep full concentration.

Ranka: Tell us about the Haifeng Weiqi Academy.
Chou: This is our top academy for training young children, and we currently have nine students. The academy is named after the great player Lin Haifeng (Rin Kaiho in Japanese), whose daughter married the son of the academy’s founder Lin Wenbo. Lin himself is a very strong amateur player (7 dan) and has acted as a sponsor, giving free tuition to the youngsters. I’m now the main instructor.

Ranka: Do you enjoy teaching go?
Chou: Actually I used to find it a bit of a chore, but now I see it as an important responsibility. There are so many strong young Koreans and Chinese that we need to create similar programs to train the next generation of players for Chinese Taipei. We are still a long way off and need to focus more on nurturing young potential.

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Third day of Competition: Yu Zhiying Clinches a Medal

IGF Ranka - Sat, 14/12/2013 - 15:47

Yu Zhiying

How does men’s go differ from women’s go? Aside from superficial matters such as the players’ average height, some have pointed to a temperamental difference: women tend to play more impetuously–to start a fight at the drop of a hat; men tend to play more patiently, laying deep strategic plans that only slowly mature into victory, sometimes with little or no fighting at all. Others find men’s go more coldly logical and women’s go more ‘human’.

Womanly qualities were on full display in the centerpiece game in the fourth round of women’s individual competition at the SportAccord World Mind Games on December 14th, and what a game it was! The two players, China’s Wang Chenxing and Yu Zhiying, the last remaining undefeated duo, came out fighting to kill from the word ‘go’.
Black (Ms Wang) laid out a loose group on the left side. White (Ms Yu) immediately surrounded it, with lethal intent. Black, with equally lethal intent, cut off and attacked some of the surrounding white stones. White defended them by attacking an adjacent black group–and so it went, both players carefully pondering their moves, with the life of their stones at stake. And then this battle royal had a heartwarming ‘human’ outcome. Every single threatened group lived. Peace descended on the board, the pace of play quickened, and in the end Ms Yu won by 2-1/4 stones or 4.5 points (click here to see the game record). She is now just one more win away from a gold medal, and is assured of at least the silver.

Park Jieun

In the repechage section of the women’s competition, the two women from Chinese Taipei staged another protracted fight that involved many groups and ended with them all alive. Chang Cheng-ping was the winner in this tale of war and peace. She was comfortably ahead on territory when Joanne Missingham resigned.

The two Russians put on a similar show in reverse, starting peacefully enough, but ending in a duel to the death between two opposing groups. The duel was won by Svetlana Shikshina, at which her opponent, go ambassador Natalia Kovaleva, tactfully resigned.

It was left to the two Koreans to show that an entire game can be played without any deadly combat at all. Although one small group died, it was not taken by force; it was essentially given away by its owner Oh Jeonga. The gift was given in hope of compensation that failed to materialize, and Park Jieun won by resignation. The repechage winners will join Wang Chenxing to compete for the right to contest the gold and silver medals with Yu Zhiying, and to compete for the bronze.

Huiren Yang (left) playing hun-Hsun Chou

The third round of the men’s teams event came to an end while the women’s fourth round was still in progress. After losing to powerhouse teams from China and Korea in the first two rounds, the men’s team from Chinese Taipei for the first time found itself facing lower-ranked opponents. The rankings held true and Chinese Taipei won on all three boards, while their North American opponents suffered their third straight shutout defeat. China also defeated Japan on all three boards, and the European team, exuberant after their victory over North America yesterday, were duly chastened, on all three boards, by the Koreans.

These games amply displayed the manly qualities of strategy and deliberation. The young Japanese team in particular seemed determined to make the most of their opportunity to take on three of the best players in China, and their games were among the last to end, even though they all ended in resignation. Two other players, both amateurs, who strove patiently and manfully against strong professional opponents were Daniel Daehyuk Ko, who lost to Wang Yuan-jyun by 6-1/4 stones (12.5 points), and Pavol Lisy. The latter’s effort against Cho Hanseung was broadcast live via YouTube, with commentary by deputy chief referee Michael Redmond.


Men’s team tournament, third round

China 3-0 Japan: Fan Tingyu beat Fujita Akihiko, Zhou Ruiyang beat Hirata Tomoya, Wang Xi beat Tsuruta Kazushi
Korea 3-0 Europe: Park Jeonghwan beat Fan Hui, Kim Jiseok beat Ilya Shikshin, Cho Hanseung beat Pavol Lisy
Chinese Taipei 3-0 North America: Chou Chun-hsun beat Huiren Yang, Wang Yuan-jyun beat Daniel Daehyuk Ko, Lin Chun-yen beat Yongfei Ge

Women’s individual tournament, fourth round

Yu Zhiying (China) beat Wang Chenxing (China), Park Jieun (Korea) beat Oh Jeonga (Korea), Chang Cheng-ping (Chinese Taipei) beat Joanne Missingham (Chinese Taipei), Svetlana Shikshina (Russia) beat Natalia Kovaleva (Russia)

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Benjamin Teuber Takes On Michael Redmond 9p

IGF Ranka - Sat, 14/12/2013 - 10:39

The promising young German, Benjamin Teuber, took on Michael Redmond 9p in a special match held this morning at the venue of the SportAccord World Mind Games 2013. Originally the match was planned for South African Victor Chow (‘RoseDuke’), the winner of the SAWMG 2013 Pandanet tournament, however Teuber was substituted at the last minute as Chow was unable to attend. The handicap was two stones, with a time limit of 30 minutes sudden death.

Benjamin Teuber (left) playing Michael Redmond

The game was calm with Teuber playing a very solid opening, but when he failed to use his thickness to attack, he slowly but surely fell behind. After an attachment on the lower side that proved to be a little too optimistic, Redmond was able to make territory in the center, tipping the balance into his favor. Redmond emerged the victor after Teuber resigned in the endgame. Click here to see the game record with commentary by Michael Redmond.

After the match we asked Teuber his impressions about the game.

Teuber: I thought the game was going well until White was able to build the center. White played more calmly than I had expected, but in the second part of the game I began to gradually fall behind. I was unhappy with a decision in the upper left, unnecessarily fearing a ladder situation that should have been no trouble.

Teuber is currently taking part in the first year of a new training program held in China for top European players. Each year five young hopefuls will be selected to participate in this intense program lasting for five and a half months. The camp is run by strong Chinese pros, including the main coach Wang Yang 5p.

Ranka: Can you tell us about your daily training regimen?
Teuber: We focus on game practice and in-depth reviews. At the start we mainly played in an internal league with the five European players and one guest teacher. But recently we have been taking part in a league held at possibly the largest professional level go school in the world (180 students). Each evening we are expected to solve tsumego as homework.

Ranka: We hear you have also studied in Japan and China in the past. How does your study program differ from before?
Teuber: The training here is much more intense. In Japan we only did one game review per week and were expected to take responsibility for designing our own study program. Now we have a teacher just for the five of us.

Ranka: And how do you find life in Beijing?
Teuber: Like anywhere else there are ups and downs. I like the food and culture of China very much, but we study for six days every week and even on the rest days usually end up playing go, so there has been almost no time for sightseeing. Perhaps the most fun I have had so far was a soccer match against a team headed by Gu Li!

Ranka: How do you see the future of European go?
Teuber: I think European go is making great progress at the moment, particularly with the introduction of the study program in China. We have secured a ten year contract, and so can only expect Europe’s top players to increase further in strength.

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Going to the Max

IGF Ranka - Sat, 14/12/2013 - 09:51

As games wrap up each day in the playing room at the Sport Accord World Mind Games venue in the Beijing International Conference Center, the review room next door fills up with players, pros and fans who review their games while keeping an eye on monitors showing the games still being played. The rapid clicking of go stones competes with the excited swirl of languages from around the world. Eventually, as darkness falls outside, the game room will empty, the day’s results will be marked on the scoreboard, and even the most hard-core players will tear themselves away from the go boards. For now. Until tomorrow, when the cycle begins again.

- Chris Garloc

Categories: World news

Men’s Team Round 2: Kim vs Hirata

IGF Ranka - Sat, 14/12/2013 - 09:01

Jiseok Kim (left) playing Tomoya Hirata

Men’s Team – Round 2

White: Jiseok KIM (Korea) 9p
Black: Tomoya HIRATA (Japan) 3p



Click here to start the game viewer.


Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, transcribed by Chris Garlock.

Categories: World news

Draughted In: Why Zhao Hanqing Changed Games

IGF Ranka - Sat, 14/12/2013 - 08:40

Zhao Hanqing

Once a fervent go player, the 19 year-old Zhao Hanqing began to study international draughts in 2008 and has already secured victory in the World Championship (Junior Girls). She is currently taking part in the SportAccord World Mind Games held in Beijing alongside this year’s go events. The Chinese star gives us an insight into the world of draughts in China.

Ranka: What made you give up go for draughts?
Zhao: I started to play go when I was seven and studied hard for six years. It was at that time by chance that the 1st World Mind Games was being held in Beijing. In those days almost nobody in China could play international draughts, and I was drafted in to help form a Chinese team. Now there are almost 20 million players in China, thanks mainly to the recent promotion of mind games. This includes not only international tournaments such as the SportAccord World Mind Games but also national competitions and the incentive to teach mind games in schools.

Ranka: How does your new sport compare with go? Could you transfer your go skills and experience to draughts?
Zhao: I think both games are interesting and certainly very different, although that doesn’t mean there are no transferable skills. Reading tactical sequences is important in both games and my calculation skills led to quick progress in draughts. Draughts is a very simple game and I think that’s what makes it so appealing. Go is far more complex.

Ranka: How do you spend your time these days?
Zhao: At the moment I am studying draughts and the Russian language at college in Irkutsk. It’s bitterly cold, but I try to get in a game or two of go when time permits.

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Men’s Team Round 1: Zhou vs Ko

IGF Ranka - Sat, 14/12/2013 - 03:42

Ruiyang Zhou

Men’s Team – Round 1

White: Ruiyang ZHOU (China) 9p
Black: Daniel Daehyuk KO (USA) 7d

Daniel Ko, the 7-dan from Los Angeles, California acquits himself quite well in this game against a world champion. Zhou won the first Bai Lin Ai Tou Cup, was a finalist in the 18th LG Cup and a member of the championship Chinese team in the 13th Nong Shim Cup. This game features a modern-style professional opening and competing moyos that both players invade. This could have been a close game but in the key fight in the middle-game, white pulls ahead in territory while attacking black.

Click here to start the game viewer.

Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, transcribed by Chris Garlock.

Categories: World news

Men’s Team Round 1: Hirata vs Shikshin

IGF Ranka - Sat, 14/12/2013 - 02:07

Hirata Tomoya (left) playing Ilya Shikshin

Men’ s Team – Round 1

White: Hirata Tomoya (Japan) 3p
Black: Ilya Shikshin (Russia) 7d

Shikshin had a good start, attacking most of the time but ultimately the attacks don’t yield profit and towards the end of the middle game, Hirata is able to pull ahead in territory.

Click here to start the game viewer.

Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, transcribed by Chris Garlock.

Categories: World news

Men’s Team Tournament: 2nd Round

IGF Ranka - Fri, 13/12/2013 - 16:47

Wang Xi (left) playing Lin Chun-yen

The second round of the men’s teams event started at 12:30 p.m. on December 13, following the second round of the women’s individual event. China was matched against Chinese Taipei, Japan against Korea, and Europe against North America. Deputy chief referee Michael Redmond gave the opening instructions.

On the basis of international tournament results during the current century, China and Korea seemed likely to have the advantage in their matches, but Chinese Taipei’s near upset of Korea in the first round raised doubts about the size of that advantage. The match between Europe and North America was harder to predict. North America had won a similar match two year ago, but by a close 3-2 score, and this year the European team had the advantage of youth.

The results of all three matches were decisive. China beat Chinese Taipei 3-0, Korea beat Japan 3-0, and Europe beat Russia 3-0. Following the games, Ranka talked with Russia’s Ilya Shikshin, who had defeated North America’s (Hollywood’s) Daniel Daehyuk Ko, and Slovakia’s Pavol Lisy, who had defeated Canada’s Yongfei Ge.

Ilya Shikshin (left) playing Daniel Daehyuk Ko

Ilya Shikshin: ‘Our game started out with a complex opening pattern in which my opponent made several mistakes, so I got the lead. I think I was about twenty points ahead. After that I tried to play simple moves, and my opponent started to take risks, trying to draw me into an error, but in the end I killed a dragon and he resigned.’

Pavol Lisy: ‘I had a bad opening, but then somehow I caught up and even pulled ahead. At one point I thought I was going to win by about six points, nearly the size of the komi. Then something happened to a group of mine in the corner. At first it looked as if I was going to lose all my territory there. I was terrified, but I thought for ten minutes and found a way to rescue it, and after I did, my opponent resigned.’

Here’s the position that caused the terror.

Pavol is white. Yongfei invaded his corner with Black 1-9 in Diagram 1, and suddenly what had looked like 18 points of white territory began to look more like a double life. The saving move that Pavol came up with was White 1 in Diagram 2. After White 3, Yongei abandoned the black stones, played a few moves elsewhere on the board, and then resigned. If he had continued, he can only play as in Diagram 3, but the black group ends up in atari while White still has two liberties left.

Here’s a summary of the match results:

China 3-0 Chinese Taipei: Fan Tingyu beat Chou Chun-hsun, Zhou Ruiyang beat Wang Yuan-jyun. Wang Xi beat Lin Chun-yen

Korea 3-0 Japan: Park Jeonghwan beat Fujita Akihiko, Kim Jiseok beat Hirata Tomoy. Cho Hanseung beat Tsuruta Kazushi

Europe 3-0 North America: Fan Hui beat Huiren Yang, Ilya Shikshin beat Daniel Daehyuk Ko, Pavol Lisy beat Yongfei Ge

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Women’s Individual Tournament: 2nd and 3rd Rounds

IGF Ranka - Fri, 13/12/2013 - 14:33

Yu (centre) playing Yoshida

The second and third rounds of the Women’s individual event at the third SportAccord World Mind Games were played on Friday, December 13. The second round began at 9:30 in the morning. China’s Wang Chenxing and Yu Zhiying were paired against Japan’s Fujisawa Rina and Mika Yoshida. Korea’s Park Jieun and Oh Jeonga were paired against Chinese Taipei’s Chang Cheng-ping and Joanne Missingham. All players were in their seats in time for the opening instructions, which were given by deputy chief referee Michael Redmond. Time control was one hour per player, followed by three renewable 30-second overtime periods.

On the China-Japan boards, both Chinese players came out ahead. Neither Japanese player resigned, but eventually Wang Chenxing beat Fujisawa Rina by 4-3/4 stones (9.5 points) and Yu Zhiying beat Mika Yoshida by 2-3/4 stones (5.5 points). China has been very hard to beat in international competition this year.

The games between Korea and Chinese Taipei were split. Park Jieun, 9 dan, who has been winning Korean women’s titles since 2000, played Chang Cheng-ping, 4 dan, who made professional shodan in Korea in 1998 and then in Chinese Taipei in 2000. Park won by resignation. Joanne Missingham, however, defeated Oh Jeonga by 2-3/4 stones (5.5 points). Joanne is playing in her third SportAccord World Mind games, and has represented Australia and then Chinese Taipei in numerous international events. Oh Jeonga, for her part, played for Korea at this year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, winning an individual silver medal and a bronze in pair go.

After an ample break for lunch, the third round began at 3:00 p.m. Starting here, the women’s individual tournament was divided into an undefeated section and a repechage section. In the undefeated section Park Jieun (Korea) was matched against Yu Zhiying (China) and Wang Chenxing (China) was matched against Joanne Missingham.

In one half of the repechage section Natalia Kovaleva (Russia) was matched against Dina Burdakova (Russia) and Svetlana Shikshina (Russia) against Sarah Jin Yu (Canada). The Canadian and the three Russians were now in effect engaged in a knockout to select one player to meet the last player to lose in the undefeated section; the winner of that meeting would proceed into the playoffs for the medals; the loser into the playoff for fourth and fifth places.

Joanne Missingham (left) playing Wang Chenxing

Moving into the other half of the rerpechage section were Yoshida Mika (Japan), who was matched against Chang Cheng-Ping (Chinese Taipei), and Oh Jeonga (Korea), who was matched against Fujisawa Rina (Japan).

The results were a complete triumph for the two Chinese players, a disaster for the women from Japan and North America, and a mixture of wins and losses for the women from Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Russia. Wang Chengxing beat Joanne Missingham; Yu Zhiying beat Park Jieun; Chang Cheng-peng beat Yoshida Mika; Oh Jeonga beat Fujisawa Rina; Natalia Kovaleva beat Dina Burdakova; Svetlana Shikshina beat Sarah Jin Yu. The six winners remain in contention. Joanne Missingham and Park Jieun, who recorded their first losses, are also still in contention. The two Chinese, Wang Chengxing and Yu Zhiying, will contend for the final undefeated position in round four.

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Interview with Svetlana Shikshina

IGF Ranka - Fri, 13/12/2013 - 11:46

Ranka: Please tell us about your present life in Canada.
Svetlana: I moved to Canada in late June last summer. We’ve been living in a village with my husband’s parents, and I haven’t really gone anywhere for the last sixth months. I’ve been to only one tournament, the Canadian Open in Toronto in August. I played simultaneous games and saw many players. They had men’s, women’s, and children’s tournaments running at the same time. The winner of the Open was a young Chinese player. Most of the strongest Canadian players came originally from China, although there are a few Caucasian 5- or 6-dan players. I also met some professional players who were visiting from Korea and had a chance to speak Korean with them. It took three hours to get there, so I stayed there for the tournament, but I can’t do that type of thing often.

Svetlana Shikshina

Ranka: And what were you doing before you came to Canada?
Svetlana: I was living in Russia, and I was doing many things, teaching in schools and playing in tournaments, but I can’t do that in Canada yet. We need to move to a bigger city first.

Ranka: Since you have Korean professional qualifications, will you continue to play in Korean professional tournaments?
Svetlana: In 2007 I moved back to Russia to have a baby. In January 2008 I got a letter from the Korean Baduk Association in which they told my they had promoted me from shodan to 3 dan, but I had to sign some papers agreeing to work to spread the game in Russia and other countries, and not to participate in Korean professional tournaments in the future–only in international tournaments.

Ranka: Are you now teaching Canadian go players?
Svetlana: No, there are very few people in the village where I live, and our house is far away from everything else. Even to go shopping you need a car, but I don’t have a driver’s license, so I just stay home. I only teach on the Internet.

Ranka: Please tell us more about your Internet teaching activities.
Svetlana: I have six or seven students. They’re from Russia or other European countries, but one of them is from Canada.

Ranka: Are you and your husband planning to live in Canada permanently?
Svetlana: Yes, but we intend to travel to Russia every summer, or at least I would like to take my son to Russia every summer, so that he won’t forget how to speak Russian. After going to school in Canada for six months, now when he speaks to me, sometimes he puts in English words when he can’t remember the Russian word.

Ranka: To change the subject, we’d like to ask you how you rate your brother Ilya.

Svetlana: I think he is as strong as the shodan women professional players in Japan and Korea, but still weaker than the shodan men professional players in those countries. But when he won the European championship a few years ago he was the strongest European player, and he is still one of the strongest.

Ranka: Can you tell us anything about the plans to start a professional system in Europe?
Svetlana: There is talk about this, but there was also talk about it a few years ago and nothing has happened yet. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Rank: Please tell us about the time you won the European Championship.
Svetlana: That was in 2006. That was my best tournament ever. I lost only two games and won the other eight. One player I lost to was Professor Lee Kibong, amateur 7 dan, my teacher at Myongji University in Korea. The other was to a Japanese player. The European Championship was an open tournament so anyone could participate. One of the eight players I beat was my brother Ilya. I beat him twice, in the European Championship and in the Masters’ Tournament, which I also won. Because of winning those two tournaments I was able to come to the Fujitsu Cup for one last time in 2007.

Ranka: Finally, what would you like to do to spread the game of go in the future?
Svetlana: If possible, I would like to start teaching children in Canada. When I was in Russia I taught at a chess club. Besides chess, they taught draughts and go. I was teaching primary school children. They liked my lessons, and when I had to leave they were all sad–some children even cried–they didn’t want me to stop teaching them. So I would like to teach children in Canada too, but I need go sets and a big demonstration board. I’ve already talked to the director of the school my son attends. They say I can teach there on a volunteer basis. The parents would probably approve of go lessons, because I wrote a paper about how go makes you smarter. Maybe next spring I’ll be able to start teaching at that school, if we can get the equipment.

Ranka: Thank you very much.

Note:  be sure to check out Svetlanas website.

Categories: World news

Check Out What We Can Learn from Chess

IGF Ranka - Fri, 13/12/2013 - 10:20

Geoffrey Borg

We asked the Chief Executive Officer of FIDE, Geoffrey Borg, to give us the low-down on the chess tournament at this year’s SportAccord World Mind Games.

You can tell by their ears!

A sign of stress, this subconscious signal is enough to guess the outcome of an important game, according to Mr Borg. It seems that chess, like go, has its fair share of ear-reddening games. But what differentiates our two games?

I think one of the great things about go is the ko rule, preventing repetition of positions. In chess we are plagued with draws and it can reduce the entertainment value for spectators. If you think of chess as a game of war, the stalemate rule makes no sense. If your opponent’s king is trapped without a safe place to move, he deserves to lose!

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi, with the formidable Elo rating of 2721, is one of Russia’s hopefuls in this year’s competition. We asked him his impressions of the game of go.

Actually I have never tried to play, but my friend has recently started to learn. As a chess player I am interested in go because, unlike in chess, the top human players are still far superior to computers.

Recently there have been many scandals in chess involving cheating with computers, and with the inevitable improvement of go software, perhaps we can learn from the chess world how to deal with this problem before it arises.

There are also many who are unsatisfied with the dan/kyu ranking system used in go. These ratings do not change dynamically and are in most cases kept as honorary titles for life, and therefore often do not reflect the current strength of the player. Furthermore, there exist many variations in the systems used in each region. But what does Nepomniachtchi think about the so-called Elo system used in chess?

The rating system we use serves as an objective indicator of a player’s current strength. In the past it was updated only twice a year but now ratings are recalculated on a monthly basis. There are also separate ratings for each time setting (e.g. standard and blitz). In chess we make heavy use of rankings to determine tournament qualification, so it is important to ensure they are accurate.

And what about draws in chess? Would an anti-repetition rule benefit the game?

I believe chess is already well balanced and that there is no need to change the rules. Draws are just a part of chess and I see no reason why a draw should not be given if both players are performing at a similar level.

It seems both sports have a thing to learn from each other. Will we see a universal rating for go, or anti-drawing measures in chess?

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Interview with Yoshida Mika

IGF Ranka - Fri, 13/12/2013 - 08:49

After a last minute defeat in a tense game with the young Chinese star Yu Zhiying 4p, Ranka had the pleasure to speak with Japan’s Yoshida Mika 8p, former winner of the Women’s Honinbo.

Yoshida Mika (left) playing Yu Zhiying

Ranka: Could you tell us a little about your game this morning?
Yoshida: A tragic loss! I felt I was playing on top form throughout the early and middle stages of the game, then it all fell apart at the end. I am devastated to have missed this opportunity to secure a victory.

Ranka: We hear you have recently started flamenco dancing – what got you into that?
Yoshida: I love music and dance. My first encounter with flamenco was in my twenties on a visit to Spain. “That’s it!” I thought. But in the end I never got round to learning, and it was only this March when I reencountered the dance and decided to take it up seriously. Looking back at my game this morning, maybe my future is in flamenco…!

Ranka: How else do you spend your free time when away from the go board?
Yoshida: That’s about it these days. I have been very busy with my two daughters.

Ranka: How have you managed your time now you are a mother?
Yoshida: My two daughters are nine and six now, but when they were still young I took a six year break from go. It was impossible to continue playing and studying, and I felt it was an important time to spend with my children. Now they are at school, so I can find some spare time to study in the mornings.

Ranka: We wish you success in the rest of your games.

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Round 1

IGF Ranka - Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:53

Wang Runan (right)

The go competition at the third SportAccord World Mind Games began with the first round of the men’s team round robin, which started at 12:30 p.m. on December 12, and the first round of the women’s individual tournament, which started at 3:00 p.m. First to arrive in the playing room were the referees (nine Chinese amateur and professional players from four Chinese cities) and the game recording crew (thirteen amateur and near-professional players from the Ma Xiaochun Daochang). The first player to arrive was Pavol Lisy (Slovakia), the youngest member of the European men’s team. He was quickly followed by Fan Hui (France) and the red-clad men’s team from Chinese Taipei. By 12:28 all the men’s teams were complete and Wang Runan, the chief referee, delivered the opening instructions: mobile phones off, Chinese rules, 3-3/4 stones (7.5 points) compensation, two hours per player followed by five 60-second overtime periods, and then, ‘Begin!’

The Korean team was matched against Chinese Taipei. In the first round of the men’s team event in the first SportAccord World Mind Games two years ago, Chinese Taipei had given Korea a bad scare by winning on two of the five boards. This year, with only three boards, Korea could not afford two losses. Both sides played deliberately from the outset.

In the match between China and North America, the game between Wang Xi (China) and Yongfei Ge (Canada) was played at contrastingly a rapid pace. Ge challenged Wang to an early ko fight. Wang won the ko and captured five white stones in the center, then used his central power to attack and capture White’s largest group. Ge resigned. The game was over in less than an hour. The other two North American players held out longer, but Huiren Yang resigned to the 17-year-old Ing cup-winner Fang Tingyu in less than two hours, and Daniel Daehyuk Ko, after playing his game out nearly to the end and seeing that he was more than ten points behind, resigned to Bailing cup-winner Zhou Ruiyang. The Ko-Zhou game was broadcast to a live YouTube audience with a running commentary by Michael Redmond.

Hirata Tomoya

The European team put up more stubborn resistance in their match with Japan, but Ilya Shikshin lost by 2-1/4 stones (4.5 points) to 19-year-old Hirata Tomoya; Fan Hui managed to rescue a beleagured group in a ko fight but eventually had to resign against New King (Shinjin-O) title-holder Fujita Akihiko; and in a battle of 18-year-olds, Pavol Lisy struggled to a 14-1/4 stone (28.5-point) loss to Tsuruta Kazuya. The winners comments:

Fujita Akihiko: ‘The ko was a two-step ko, so by the time White had spent three moves winning it he had lost the game.’

Hirata Tomoya: ‘The opening was difficult, but I felt that I got the lead in the middle game and then I played safe in the endgame.’

Tsuruta Kazushi: ‘There were many difficult situations in the game, much was unclear, but I never felt that I was in danger of losing.’

While these matches were ending, the tension was winding up in the match between Chinese Taipei and Korea. Around four o’clock it looked as if the younger player might win on all three boards, and two of the younger players were from Chinese Taipei. Two of these predictions held up: Park Jeonghwan (Korea, age 19) defeated Chou Chun-hsun (Chinese Taipei, age 33) by 1/4 stone (half a point) on board one, and Lin Chun-yen (Chinese Taipei, age 15) defeated Cho Hanseung (Korea, age 31) by resignation on board three. On board two, however, Kim Jiseok (Korea, age 23) fought back to overcome Wang Yuan-jyun (Chinese Taipei, age 17) by 3/4 stone (1.5 points). This was the last of the men’s games to end. Kim’s comment:

Fujisawa Rina (left) and Svetlana Shikshina

‘I was behind from the opening. I finally managed to catch up in the endgame, but because of the large number of prisoners it was hard to calculate the score accurately. It wasn’t until I won the ko on the right side that I thought I might be ahead.’

In the women’s individual competition, Yu Zhiying (China), Chang Cheng-ping (Chinese Taipei), and Oh Jeonga (Korea) defeated Dina Burdakova (Russia), Natalia Kovaleva (Russia), and Sarah Jin Yu (Canada) by resignation, and Fujisawa Rina (Japan) defeated Svetlana Shikshina (Russia) by 6-1/4 stones (12.5 points). Fujisawa’s comment: ‘It was a difficult opening, but I got the lead in the middle game.’

Summary of the first day of competition:
Men’s teams: China beat North America 3-0, Korea beat Chinese Taipei 2-1, Japan beat Europe 3-0.
Women’s individual: Yu Zhiying beat Dina Burdakova, Chang Cheng-ping beat Natalia Kovaleva, Oh Jeonga beat Sarah Jin Yu, Fujisawa Rina beat Svetlana Shikshina.

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Opening Ceremony and Technical Meeting

IGF Ranka - Thu, 12/12/2013 - 05:05

Mr. Wang Wei

The start of the third SportAccord World Mind Games was officially declared by Mr Yang Xiacho, president of the Organizing Comittee and deputy mayor of Beijing, at an opening ceremony held in the main second floor hall of the Beijing International Conference Center, which will be the competition venue for the coming week. The announcement was accompanied by a musical fanfare and projected images of fireworks. It was preceded by greetings from Mr Wang Wei, executive president of the Organizing Committee and vice chairman of the Beijing Olympic City Development Association (BODA), and Mr Marius Vizer, president of SportAccord. Mr Wang noted that mind games were helping to improve the quality of life in Beijing and wished the contestants a pleasant stay in the city. Mr Vizer thanked the Chinese government, BODA, and the city of Beijing for their support and wished the contestants good luck.

Before these greetings, representative groups of contestants, six to eight in each of the five disciplines, had marched onto the stage to witness the raising of the Chinese flag and the SportAccord flag by a crack drill team in white uniforms. Following the greetings, the contestants marched off and the stage was taken by a succession of dance teams. First a team of Chinese college students gave a prizewinning shadowboxing demonstration. Next a kickball dance team demonstrated their skills, which have won prizes in dance competitions in Beijing and Singapore and have been witnessed as far away as Europe and Africa. National champions in military exercises with broadswords and other weapons then demonstrated their skills in a kungfu dance, and finally another student group displayed classical dance skills in a ‘Chess Rhyme’, in which the dancers were dressed as black and white chess queens. There was much in these performances to inspire the spectators, who were already in a good mood following a buffet banquet, and the ceremony ended at a quarter past eight, in plenty of time for everyone to rest up for the week ahead.


For a group of go players and officials, the opening ceremony was followed by a technical meeting. The meeting was presided over by chief referee Wang Runan, with assistance from technical delegate Shigeno Yuki and interpretation by Zhang Wei. The meeting began with greetings from Mr Wang and Ms Shigeno, proceeded through a summary of the rules, and then moved on to the main order of business: the drawing of the team, pair, and player numbers, which were incorporated into a prearranged schedule in each event.

For the round robin men’s team event, the result of the draw was that on the first day of play (December 12) the Chinese team faces the North American team while Europe challenges Japan and Chinese Taipei challenges Korea. The pairings for the next four days were also determined. In three noteworthy matches, North America will square off against Europe on the 13th, Chinese Taipei will tackle Japan on the 15th, and China and Korea will confront each other in the last round on the 16th.


For the women’s double knockout individual event, the draw began with the drawing of numbers 1, 6, 7, and 12, which were scheduled for byes in the first round. Park Jieun (Korea), Yoshida Mika (Japan) Joanne Missingham (Chinese Taipei), and Wang Chengxing (China) had been preselected to receive these byes, Ms Park and Ms Wang being slotted into numbers 1 and 12, Ms Missingham and Ms Yoshida into numbers 6 and 7. Number 1 was drawn to Ms Park and number 12 to Ms Wang; then number 6 was drawn to Ms Yoshida and number 7 to Ms Missingham. This automatically determined the numbers assigned to their fellow countrywomen Oh Jeonga (9), Chang Cheng-Ping (3), Fujisawa Rina (10), and Yu Zhizhing (4). The four women from Canada and Russia then drew for the remaining numbers: Sarah Jin Yu drew a first-round pairing against Oh Jeonga (Korea); Svetlana Shikshina drew Fujisawa Rina (Japan); Dina Burdakova drew Yu Zhizhing (China); Natalia Kovaleva drew Chang Cheng-Ping (Chinese Taipei).

The pair draw was similar to the women’s draw but without byes. The four pairs from the Far East drew for numbers 1, 4, 5, and 8; then the pairs from Europe and North America drew for the remaining numbers, so that the pairs from Europe and North America all drew opponents from the Far East in the first round. Although the pair competition is a single knockout, it will include play-offs for third to sixth places, so even the pairs who lose in the first round will get to play at least one more game.

Although the draw was in no way a competition, the European contingent put on a winning performance. Their non-playing team captain Martin Stiassny and all six of their players attended the meeting, far outshining the other contingents in this respect. This year apparently Europe means business.

- James Davies

Categories: World news

3rd SportAccord World Mind Games Ready to Start in Beijing

IGF Ranka - Thu, 12/12/2013 - 02:00

Press Conference

Approximately 150 bridge, chess, draughts, go and xianqi players flew into Beijing from December 9-11 for the third SportAccord World Mind games. They were greeted by clear skies and sunshine, and by a team of volunteers who drove them from the airport to the Beijing Continental Grand Hotel, where they will stay.

The bridge contingent is the largest: 24 men from China, Monaco, Poland, and the USA and 24 women representing China, England, Israel, and the USA. They will compete as teams for three days, then as pairs for two days, and finally as individuals for two days.

Chess players make up the next largest group: 16 men and 16 women will compete as individuals in a two-day rapid tournament, followed by a three-day blitz and a two-day Basque system. The field is truly international, coming from Armenia, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, India, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, the Ukraine, the USA, and Vietnam.

Natalia Kovaleva (left) and Yu Zhiying

Go has the third largest contingent: 18 men and 12 women from China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, North America, Japan, and Korea. The men will compete as teams, the women as individuals, and the Games will also include pair events.

The draughts players consist of 16 men and 12 women, who will vie in two days of rapid competition, followed by a two-day blitz, and then a super-blitz. Like the chess contingent they are highly international, and they represent both hemispheres, coming from Belarus, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Germany, the Ivory Coast, Latvia, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and the Ukraine.

The xianqi competition has the simplest schedule. The eight men, representing China, Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, the Philippines, and Vietnam, will will play a rapid round robin (one hour per player with 30-second overtime) at the leisurely pace of one round per day. The four women, representing Australia, China, Vietnam, and the USA, will play a two-round knockout.

The first event of the Games was a press conference held on the afternoon of December 11 at the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Press and Publication. Speeches were made by a variety of guests including the President of SportAccord (Marius Vizer) and executives of the Beijing Olympic City. Also present were the two ambassadors for Go, Natalia Kovaleva and Yu Zhiying.

- Ranka

Categories: World news

3rd SportAccord World Mind Games

IGF Ranka - Tue, 03/12/2013 - 02:46

The 3rd SportAccord World Mind Games will be held in Beijing December 12-18. Contestants will compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals in five disciplines: chess, contract bridge, draughts, go, and xianqi. This year the go competition will include a round-robin men’s team tournament, a double-knockout women’s individual tournament, and a single-knockout pair-go tournament. China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Korea are each sending three men and two women. North America is sending three men and one woman, and Europe is sending three pairs, who will also compete in the men’s and women’s events.

The all-new Chinese contingent includes this year’s winners of three major international tournaments (the Ing, Bailing, and Bingsheng Cups), plus the Bingsheng runner-up. The two Koreans who missed winning medals last year will return to try again, accompanied by three Korean players making their first SportAccord appearances. Among the players from Chinese Taipei and Japan are six teenagers, including the granddaughter of the legendary Fujisawa Shuko.

Europe and North America are fielding mixed pro-amateur teams. The European contingent is primarily Russian, but also includes this year’s European champion (from France) and runner-up (from Slovakia). They will be seeking in particular to avenge Europe’s various losses to the North Americans in the first two SportAccord World Mind Games. Three veteran players on the North American men’s team and one young Canadian woman will try to stop them.

Kovaleva (left) and Yu

Representing these thirty go players to the world at large will be Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva and China’s Yu Zhiying, the Go Ambassadors of the 2013 World Mind Games. Besides playing in the women’s and pair-go competitions, they will join some of the world’s top stars in the other disciplines in a program of social and publicity events.

Live coverage of the go competition will be provided to a worldwide audience via the SAWMG YouTube channel and other media, with a running commentary by the popular duo of Chris Garlock and Michael Redmond. In addition, daily reports and commentaries will be posted on the Ranka website.

Categories: World news

3rd SAWMG – Contestants

IGF Ranka - Tue, 03/12/2013 - 02:25
China Chenxing WANG Ruiyang ZHOU Tingyu FAN Xi WANG Zhiying YU Age: 22 Age: 22 Age: 17 Age: 29 Age: 17 5 Dan Pro 9 Dan Pro 9 Dan Pro 9 Dan Pro 4 Dan Pro Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Women’s Ind. Chinese Taipei Joanne MISSINGHAM Yuan-Jyun WANG Chun-Hsun CHOU Chun-Yen LIN Chen-Ping CHANG Age: 18 Age: 17 Age: 33 Age: 16 Age: 32 6 Dan Pro 6 Dan Pro 9 Dan Pro 6 Dan Pro 3 Dan Pro Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Women’s Ind. Europe Russia France Russia Russia Russia Natalia KOVALEVA Hui FAN Svetlana SHIKSHINA Ilya SHIKSHIN Dina BURDAKOVA Age: 26 Age: 31 Age: 33 Age: 23 Age: 26 5 Dan 2 Dan Pro 3 Dan Pro 7 Dan 5 Dan Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Slovakia Pavol LISY Age: 18 6 dan Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Japan Rina FUJISAWA Akihiko FUJITA Tomoya HIRATA Kazushi TSURUTA Mika YOSHIDA Age: 15 Age: 22 Age: 19 Age: 18 Age: 43 2 Dan Pro 4 Dan Pro 3 Dan Pro 2 Dan Pro 8 Dan Pro Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Women’s Ind. Korea Ji Eun PARK Jiseok KIM Jeong Hwan PARK Hanseung CHO Jeonga OH Age: 30 Age: 24 Age: 20 Age: 31 Age: 20 Strenght: 9 Dan Pro Strenght: 9 Dan Pro Strenght: 9 Dan Pro Strenght: 9 Dan Pro Strenght: 2 Dan Pro Cat: Women’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Women’s Ind. North America Canada USA USA Canada Jin YU Daniel Daehyuk KO Huiren YANG Yongfei GE Age: 23 Age: 37 Age: 60 Age: 44 6 Dan 7 Dan 1 Dan Pro 7 Dan Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Men’s Team

Categories: World news

3rd SAWMG – Go Competitions Format

IGF Ranka - Tue, 03/12/2013 - 02:23

Date and Venue:
December 11th to 19th, 2012
Beijing International Convention Center, Room 203

Three events: Men’s team, Women’s individual and Pair go

Competition System:
A total number of 30 players from China, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Europe and North America will participate in the competition, with 18 male players and 12 female players.

Men’s team: 6 teams from China, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Europe (France, Russia, Slovakia) and North America (Canada-USA-USA). Each team has 3 players.
Women’s Individual: 12 players, including 2 players from each of the top 4 countries or regions in the 2011 Beijing 1st SportAccord World Mind Sports Games team event (China, Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei). 3 from Russia, 1 from Canada.
Pair Go: 8 pairs. 1 pair from each of the top 4 countries or regions in the 2012 Beijing SportAccord World Mind Sports Games Pair Go event (China, Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei). 2 pairs from Europe (France-Russia, Slovakia- Russia), 1 pair from Russia and 1 pair from North America (Canada-USA).

Competition Rules
2002 Chinese Weiqi competition rules approved by Chinese Weiqi Association will be adopted in the Competition. If there is any ambiguity or inconsistency among versions in different languages, the Chinese version shall prevail.
If a situation not covered in the rules occurs, the Technical Delegate has the right to take appropriate measures to deal with it. Appeals against referees’ decisions will be made through the procedure of appeal approved by International Go Federation.

Men’s individual (6 teams): Single Round Robin system will be applied with a total of 5 rounds. The time allowance is 2 hours per player, followed by five renewable 60-seconds overtime periods. Players’ will be matched according to numbers determined by drawing during the Technical Meeting before the competition starts.
Women’s individual (12 players): A double knockout system will be applied with a total of 7 rounds. The time allowance is 60 minutes per player, followed by three renewable 30-seconds overtime periods. The top 4 countries or regions in the 2011 Beijing 1st SportAccord World Mind Games Go competition team event will select 1 player each to get a bye in first round. Players’ will be matched according to numbers determined by drawing during the Technical Meeting held before the competition starts. Players from the same country or region may be matched against each other except for the 1st round.
Pair Go (8 pairs): Pair Go will be conducted in 3 rounds by single knockout system. The time allowance is 60 minutes per pair, followed by three renewable 30-second overtime periods. Pairs will be matched according to numbers determined by drawing during the Technical Meeting held before the competition starts.

Prize and Awards

3rd SAWMG – Money Prize (Total Prize USD 400,000) Men’s Team Women’s Individual Pair Go Gold
USD 120,000 USD 40,000 USD 24,000 Silver 60,000 20,000 16,000 Bronze 30,000 10,000 8,000 4th Place
15,000 8,000 6,000 5th Place
9,000 5,000 5,000 6th Place
6,000 2,000 4,000 7th Place
2,000 2,000 8th Place
2,000 2,000 9th-12th Places
1,000 TOT. USD 240,000 TOT. USD 93,000 TOT. USD 67,000


Categories: World news

3rd SAWMG – Go Competitions Schedule

IGF Ranka - Wed, 16/10/2013 - 04:13
3rd SAWMG: Go Competitions Schedule Dec. 2013 Time Tournament Men’s Team Women’s Individual Pair Go Mon 09 All day TD reporting in Tue 10 All day Venue set-up / Referees, Players and ITO reporting in Wed 11 All day Venue set-up / Referees, Players and Officials reporting in 18:30-19:30 Welcome Reception 19:30-20:30 Opening ceremony 20:30-21:30 Technical meeting, drawing of player order Thu 12 12:30-18:00 Round 1 (9 tables)
15:00-18:00 Round 1 (4 tables)
Fri 13 09:30-12:30 Round 2 (4 tables) 12:30-18:00 Round 2 (9 tables)
15:00-18:00 Round 3 (6 tables)
Sat 14 12:30-18:00 Round 3 (9 tables)
15:00-18:00 Round 4 (4 tables)
Sun 15 09:30-12:30
Round 5 (2 tables) 12:30-18:00 Round 4 (9 tables) 15:00-18:00
Round 6 (2 tables) Mon 16 12:30-18:00 Round 5 (9 tables)
15:00-18:00 Round 7 (1 table)
19:00 Prize Giving Ceremony
Tue 17 09:30-12:30 Round 1 14:00 School visiting
15:00-18:00 Round 2 Wed 18 09:30-12:30 Round 3 17:00 Prize Giving Ceremony evening Closing Ceremony Thu 19 daytime Departure

Categories: World news
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