Written in 2006
Will Brooks is the reigning British Youth Go Champion. He has now won the title for three years in a row, and so in 2007 will have the chance to take a record-breaking fourth title. Also in 2004 he became the only junior player to have won the treble of Youth Go Championship, UK Go Challenge and Youth Grand Prix. His current playing strength is 2.9 dan according to the European rating database, so he is on the brink of official promotion to 3-dan. This means that he is one of the strongest juniors ever born in the UK; we believe that the strongest was Adam Pirani who played at the London Go Centre and reached 4-dan while still a junior.
Will is 17 years old, and in his last year at Hills Road 6th Form College in Cambridge. We asked him a few questions about Go:
How did you get into Go in the first place, and how long have you been playing now?
I went along to a Chess and Go club when I was about 7 and really enjoyed Go and I have been playing ever since (and, you'll be glad to hear, I stopped playing chess)
Have you always been interested in games? Are there other games you like to play apart from Go?
I am fascinated by many games and really enjoy playing board games with other people. I used to play Tantrix quite a bit but I have never taken a game as seriously as Go.
What do you like best about Go?
Go has a very interesting strategy to it, and unlike most other perfect information strategy games, it is not full of set openings that players need to follow. Also the fact that computers cannot play it makes it an interesting mental challenge.
What was your best result in a Go tournament? And the tournament that you enjoyed most? Are there any people you particularly like to play?
At the London Open this year, as a 1-dan, I got 6/8 and beat a 4-dan. I really enjoy the Isle of Man go congresses because they have a great social atmosphere and you can really get to know other go players away from the go board.
Do you play online? If so, where do you like to play online?
I predominantly play on KGS where my handle is Twillo and I use this as a chat room most of the time, but i also play on http://www.online-go.com/ which is a turned based server and which makes me look up josekis and improve my game by actually thinking about my moves.
What is your secret for winning? Do you practice a lot, or read Go books? Are there any tips you could give to someone just starting playing Go?
I would love to be able to say that it is all natural ability but it takes a lot of work to improve. My advice to someone wanting to improve is try and ensure you play at least 4 or 5 times a week (the Internet is very useful for this) and try and read books on the areas of your game that you feel are particularly lacking. Also don't feel embarassed to ask a strong player to look at game records - they can be very good at pointing out aspects of your game that you might not notice yourself.
Are you very competitive? Do you hate losing?
To be honest, I really don't hate losing as long as I feel I played well. However I do hate playing badly, so often I will feel worse after winning a bad game than losing a good one. If you think about it, you really won't care about a game you lost when you were 20k when you get to 10k.
Do you think Go will become more popular here in the future, like it is in Japan, Korea and China?
I hope so but I think it is unlikely. Most board games these days are being pushed out of the main stream by TV and computers and Go does not have the recognition that, say, chess does. Try going up to 10 people and ask them what chess and go are and most will know only chess. I hope that Hikaru no Go can have as large an impact in the UK that it has done in France
What do you like doing in your spare time, apart from Go?
Well I am playing Go, reading or chatting about it most of the time but in my spare time I am taking Double Maths, Physics and Electronics A-levels.
What do you plan to do when you leave school?
I am hoping to study Maths at a university with a good Go club near by (Cambridge, Warwick or Durham) and then go into a boring well paid job.