British Go Journal No. 66. November 1985 Page 18.
Richard Granville describes his visit to Japan for the World Amateur Go Championships.
My first involvement with the WAGC arose in February, when Terry Stacey phoned me to say he was unavailable to play. Having myself come seventh in the previous British Championship, I was wondering If the next four players would also be indisposed, but it turned out that Jim Bates could accept. However a few weeks later I learned that I had been selected by the European Go Federation to be "Guest Official for the European Zone".
Despite the short notice, I managed to make arrangements to stay for three weeks in all. Like Francis Roads, who performed a similar role in 1982, my report of what happened is in diary format.
Saturday May 18th. Arrive at Narita Airport at 16.00, having left home at 8.30 the previous day. Together with three of the European players, I proceed to Tokyo by train, where we are staying at the Tokyo Hilton International. Registration takes place later that evening.
Sunday 19th. Not a lot happens on this day, and I take the opportunity to play some Go. The first official event of the WAGC is "orientation", which basically means an informal welcome and instructions for the opening ceremony. In the evening I manage to join the directors of the International Go Federation for a meal at the Nihon Ki-ln (the headquarters of the Japanese Go Federation).
Monday May 20th. The IGF general meeting takes place from 10.00 to 12.30. This is fairly uneventful, but Belgium, Luxemburg and Chinese Taipei are elected as new members. In the afternoon there is a "Press Conference" (at which only a small number of participants are involved).
This is followed by a friendly match, in which I was ineligible to play. After this, a very formal opening ceremony occupied the early evening. The draw for the first round is made. It produces some very bad mismatches and few interesting games.
Tuesday May 21st. The first day of play. I am asked to assist Tom Goodey with the draw, since it becomes apparent that few Japanese understand the Swiss system. We decide that it would be bad for the tournament if the draw was completely random. The five contenders to win (Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei) need to play some games against each other in the early rounds, since it is ordained that the first three must play each other in the final three rounds (regardless of previous results). We also aim to compensate for the unsuitable first-round draw and avoid gross mis-matches where possible. Apart from these constraints, the draw is to be random.
There are no major upsets in the first two rounds. Jim Bates loses to Hasibeder (6 dan) of Austria, but has a good result, beating Cheong (5 dan) of Singapore. In the only clash between the top players, China beats Chinese Taipei - an expatriot mainland player who himself represented China in a previous year. In the evening a group of us are invited to a meal with Otake and Honda Sachiko.
Wednesday May 2nd. In round 3 China beats Hong Kong in what turns out to be the final of the WAGC. Chinese Taipei is knocked out of the running by losing to Korea, while Japan loses to Hong Kong. Only China and Korea are therefore undefeated. Jim Bates beats Siivola (2 dan) of Finland in the morning, but loses to Pocsai (4 dan) from Hungary in the afternoon. In the evening we are invited to play Go at Kobayashi Chizu's Go Salon.
Thursday May 23rd. China beats Japan and finishes the day on 6/6. Jim beats Arnold (2 dan) from Sweden, but loses to Chinese Taipei.
Friday May 24th. The final round, and China beats Korea to win with 7/7 - necessary since Hong Kong finished with 6/7 and a better Sum of Opponents Score. Jim also wins his final game, against Schoffel (4 dan) of Germany to finish 12th with 4/7. The closing ceremony is kept short, as is the farewell party afterward. Once it is over, we are invited to the Tengen Go club where we play until about 22.00.
Saturday May 25th. The Nihon Ki-in has arranged a free trip to Sapporo, and most of the participants decide to come along. We leave the hotel by coach at 7.45 and are taken to Haneda airport, whence we fly to Sapporo. Several hours are spent touring the city, including the ski jump built for the 1972 Winter Olympics. In the evening there is a reception, after which some of us visit a local Go club.
Sunday May 26th. After breakfast at the hotel we take part in a "Friendship Match" against a local team. This Is my first (and only) chance to play Go in an official event during my trip. Fortunately I've managed to get some practice during the previous week and win both of my games fairly comfortably. Jim also wins two games, contributing to a 38-23 victory over the home side.
The match finishes at about three in the afternoon, and five of us decide to do some more sightseeing. We walk to the Hokkaido Shrine (set in a very pleasant park), and catch the subway to the Sapporo beer garden where we sample the local brew.
Monday May 27th. Breakfast at the hotel, then coach to Chitose airport. Most of the party are returning to Tokyo, since this represents the end of the official WAGC activities. But 14 of us have accepted an invitation from the Kansai Ki-in to spend up to five days in Osaka. For this I am supposed to act as team leader. I have already had to liaise between the participants and the Nihon Kiln to set up the visit.
Fortunately everything goes smoothly, and we arrive in Osaka at about 2 p.m. We are met and driven to the Kansai Ki-in where professionals play against us 2 or 3 at a time. I lose comfortably to Inoue (5 dan) on 4 stones. After a short game commentary we are taken out for dinner, and get back to our hotel at about 9.30. Most of the rooms are Japanese style; the hotel also has communal baths which most of us use in the following nights.
Tuesday May 28th. Sightseeing in Nara for the morning and early afternoon. We return to Osaka and play a friendly match at a Go salon which also provides us with a meal. Again I win both games, but my second victory is only due to my 5 dan opponent running out of time.
May 29-31. Mostly more sightseeing. There is also time for many games of Go, including a tournament to decide who should receive a present of a Go set from the Go salon. Jim and I are unfortunately eliminated in the first round. Some of our party depart during this time.
Saturday June 1st. All those remaining in the party leave Osaka today, the end of the organised trip. I take the Shinkansen to Nagoya where I meet Kazuyoshi Hayashi, who shares my interest in computer Go.
June 2-6. During this time I see some of the sights in and around Nagoya, and play some Go against both programs and people (without much success, in the later case).
June 7-8. Leave Nagoya at 2.30 p.m. and catch Shinkansen to Tokyo. Long flight back, eventually arriving home at 1.30 next day.
One of the most notable features of my visit was the lavish hospitality at every stage. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the WAGC sponsors (JAL and the Nihon Ki-in), and all the people who were involved in my trip.