With the aim of promoting Go among women world-wide the International Amateur Pair Go Championships (IAPGC) were started in Japan in 1990. Now representatives of 22 countries and all regions of Japan come together annually for this world championship, held each November in Tokyo. In addition there are separate handicap groups, that get in excess of 300 Japanese players.
In 1990 only Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan took part. In 1991 there were 12 countries as France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, UK, USA, Canada and Hong Kong joined. In 1992 two more European countries were added on rotation (Czechia and Poland in 1992). For subsequent years 8 or 9 European countries took part, with the four of the big five taking part on rotation and others selected to take part with priority given to new countries and ones that had not played recently. From 2004 a points system was introduced based on the country Go playing population size and the results in the European Pair Go Championships (again with priority given to new countries). By 2006 some 35 European countries had taken part. 2009 was a special celebration as it was the 20th edition and in 2014 the 25th anniversary was celebrated.
Until 1999 Japan had won most often (six times), having the home advantage of having several teams taking part, but Korea has now won more than 10 times. China have won five times, North Korea twice and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) once. The most famous winner is Umezawa Yukari (now Yoshihara Yukari), who is now 5 dan pro, who won in 1994.
A feature of the IAPGC is always the best dressed couple prize, which helps encourage a smart turn out from the competitors. In addition on the first day of the event the international competitors are encouraged to wear national dress. This leads to some very bright and colourful costumes being seen, though of course some of the countries struggle to work out what their national dress might be! The UK's Kirsty Healey and Matthew Macfadyen won a prize in 2009 and Alison and Simon Bexfield won a prize in 2014.
As part of the celebrations of the 25th Anniversary edition, a new Pair Go pop song was introduced, a duet with lyrics in Japanese with English transalation. It is called Pair Go, My Dream.
Also on the first day an international friendship match is played, with partners drawn at random. As well as the IAPGC competitors, various professionals and important Japanese players (such as Go journalists, trainers and sponsors) take part. So you can find yourself playing against a 9p such as Mike Redmond or partnering a lady in a beautiful Japanese kimono. This always is a pleasant and interesting time.
The selection of UK representatives is based on a points system. Players earn a point for each game won in the British Pair Go Championships towards earning the right to represent the UK at the IAPGC. The best Pair are selected using the combined points from each Pair and their points are reset to zero when they take part.
2008 was held as part of the WMSG in Beijing.
Hungary have had two places in the top 7: seventh in 1997 and fourth in 2003, when father and daughter Tibor and Rita Pocsai won 4 games out of 5. Hungary was also 9th in 2011. Germany were eighth in 2005. Natalia Kovaleva and Dmitry Surin from Russia won 4 games to come 6th in 2007 and in 2013 they again won 4 to take 4th place.
In order to encourage promotion of Pair Go around the world, the IAPGC players are afterwards encouraged to sign up as Pair Go Promotion Partners. They are given the red PGPP passport book to remind them of what the aims of Pair Go are. They are then expected to enthuse about Pair Go back in their own country, hence promoting the game.
One of the biggest Pair Go championships outside Japan is played in America. In the Pair Go at the annual US Go Congress, up to 100 players take part. The US then started other local Pair Go events, such is the popularity of Pair Go.
Many other countries also run Pair Go events and championships.
Of course the IAPGC is the senior event of the year. You can read reports about some of the editions by following the results links above.
The World Pair Go Association was set up during 2007 and founded on 29th May 2008, to enable Pair Go to be promoted as a serious event.
In March 2010 the first Pair Go World Cup was held in China with 8 pro pairs from the Orient and 8 pairs from the rest of the world; it was won by Rong Hui Saong and He Xie of China. Pair Go became part of the Asian Games from 2010 (the first event being won by Korea's Park Jeong Hwan and Lee Seu La). It was also featured in the first Chinese Mindsports Games.
Pair Go also features in the World Mind Sports Games, won in Beijing in 2008 by Fan Weijing / Hang Yizhong of China and in 2012 in Lille by Osawa / Nakasone of Japan. The top game records from 2012 are on the Pandanet website.
A booklet, The Path of Pair Go, was published in 2009 tracing the history of Pair Go.
Every year the best Japanese women professional players are allocated a top male professional partner for the Professional Pair Go Championship, known for its first years as the RICOH Cup. The first such event was in 1994. Qualifying stages were played early in December, followed by a final early in the new year.
In 2010 only the event was changed to select two pairs to take part in the new Pair Go World Cup, being launched to celebrate 20 years of Pair Go.
The winners were:
Competitions are also now held for professionals in China and Korea. In April/May 2013 a Tri-Nation Pair Go Championship for professionals was held in Heifei in China. The winners were Chenxing Wang 5p and Chang Hao 9p of China, ahead of Korea and Japan.