Players from six continents and assorted islands will gather at the Montien Riverside Hotel in Bangkok for eight rounds of Swiss system competition at this year's World Amateur Go Championship June 7-10. At stake will be a championship cup and second and third place cups donated by the main sponsors (CP All, The Siam Commercial Bank, and Red Bull); plaques and certificates for fourth to tenth places; and two fighting spirit awards.
The Asian contingent will be young, including 12-year-old contestants from Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, and Malaysia and teenagers from China, Hong Kong, Korea, Macau, Singapore, and the host country Thailand. Japan will field a two-time former world champion, and Europe will field several players who have placed high in past years. Video self-introductions by sixteen of the fifty-eight players can be viewed here.
The schedule also includes a Directors' Meeting and General Meeting of the International Go Federation on June 6, a "Triple Go" side-event likewise on June 6, and sightseeing with a dinner cruise on June 11. Seven games each round will be broadcast on Pandanet. Ranka Online will carry reports of the entire event.
The list of players is here.
On April 5, at the height of the cherry blossom season, a memorial was held at the Nihon Kiin in Tokyo to honor Go Seigen, who died on November 30 last year.
The altar was adorned with seasonal flowers patterned to represent a go board and stones, and with a smiling picture of Go Seigen taken when he was younger. Oikawa Shoichi, executive advisor and senior deputy chief editor of the Yomiuri Newspaper, and Rin Kaiho, honorary Tengen, delivered memorial addresses.
In all 300 people attended, including family members and professional and amateur go players, among whom was Nie Weiping, 9-dan, who flew over from China. To express their condolences, instead of offering flowers they offered stones, by placing one black or white stone apiece on a go board.
This ceremony was followed by a congenial social gathering in another room, where people traded recollections of Go Seigen and played rengo, with Chang Hsu (Cho U) and his wife Kobayashi Izumi presiding.
Those who attended the reception for the 28th World Amateur Go Championship in Tokyo in 2007 will recall the great impression that Go Seigen, who was invited as a special guest, made on the assembled players. At that event he presented the IGF with an ink inscription of the word chuwa, which he had chosen because its two characters (中和) expressed his deep love of the game of go, with its stress on harmony, and his sincere wish for a peaceful world through go. These are ideas will be passed on to multitudes of go players and should be handed down to eternity without end.
The 13th World Students Go Oza Championship was held on February 24 and 25, 2015, at the Ginza Internet Forum in Tokyo. The contestants were sixteen university students: ten from the Far East, three from Europe, two from the Americas, and one from Oceania.
The event was organized by the All-Japan Students Go Association, Nikkei Inc., and Pandanet, with the cooperation of the Nihon Kiin and the International Go Federation. For the eighth time, the winner was Chinese. This year it was Su Guangyue, a fourth-year law student who had been runner-up in 2013. He defeated Johannes Obenaus (Germany), Chidsanupong Jangmark (Thailand), and Park Jongwook (Korea) in the first three rounds. Meanwhile, Yeh Kang-ting (Chinese Taipei) was doing equally well, beating Petr Kouba (Czechia), Tsukada Karin (Japan), and Niwa Junya (Japan), but in the deciding fourth-round game between the two undefeated players, Su Guangyue (black) successfully invaded the top left corner and then the upper side, leaving white about 20 points behind. Shortly afterward, he was reporting victory to his father, Su Demin, in Luoyang, China.
According to an article that appeared in the Luoyang Evening News the next day, Su Guangyue took his triumph rather calmly. He told his father he felt 'relatively happy', but winning came as no surprise. After finishing second two years ago, he had been determined to finish first this time.
The article went on to describe how Guangyue had learned to play go almost before he learned to talk, by watching his father play. Seeing how much his son liked the game, his father enrolled him in a go class at a Luoyang primary school. Within a year, Guangyue had run out of opponents, so his father started taking him to clubs where grownups played, making great efforts to persuade them to treat his son seriously. After three more years, Guangyue and go had become inseparable, and his father decided to pay his room, board, and tuition to train with the Henan Provincial Go Team, where he could get professional instruction.Later, Guangyue went alone to Beijing for more professional training, but in 2011, finding himself still an amateur, he decided to apply to the Shanghai International Studies University. He was accepted on the strength of this go accomplishments, and began to combine university coursework with his go playing. He seems to thrive on serious study, both on and off the board. 'I've never had time to feel homesick or be lazy, and I love playing go, so I never feel tired,' he said.
In the rest of the field, SOS points put Yeh Kang-ting third, behind Korea's Park. Fourth to seventh places also went to students from the Far East (Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan). Johannes Obenaus defeated Chidsanupong Jangmark and Ke Yi-ning (Chinese Taipei) to finish 8th. Zhu Haichen (U.S.A.) defeated Johannes Obenaus and Laura Avram (Romania) to take 9th place. Full results and the record of the Su-Yeh game are here.
- James Davies (photos courtesy of the Nihon-Kin)
Tlatelolco Cultural Center was the hosting venue of the1st Mexican Go Congress held from November 15 to 17, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. This 1st Congress counted with the distinguished presence of Hajin Lee 3P and an Kim Sooyong 4P both sent by auspice of the Korean Baduk Association.
The 3 day Congress was the host for several events such as the 1st Mexican Open Tournament, a 13x13 tournament for kids, Go and Origami workshops and of course both Korean Pros shared with the Mexican Go community their skill trough reviews from the Open Tournament games, lectures and simultaneous games exhibitions.
Organized by the Mexican Go Association and sponsored by UNAM, Mexico's main public university and KABA, this Congress is pioneer in the development of Go in Mexico and Latin America. With a 45 players field for the Open Tournament and more than 300 attendants in total, the event turned out to be a huge success.
"This Congress was a multi-purpose event" reports Mexican Go Association president, Mr. Emil García, "The players not only had the chance to play in an official tournament and feel the seriousness of it, but also had the opportunity to gain insight of how pro players think of the game trough the several activities we had with them. It was also a great chance of sharing and learning for the youngest players, I'm surprised by the amount of youngsters that participated in the 13x13 Tournament and in the workshops, kids are increasingly becoming a main actor in Mexican Go.
"European and American Go are developing really fast, and they are getting a lot of support from International entities, Mexican and LatinAmerican Go shouldn't lag behind, that's why we are working really hard to be able to catch up with you guys" says Mr. García. "2015 will be a year full of surprises for Mexican Go, so stay tuned!"
For picture galleries of this Congress check the event website.
While five outstanding Korean professional go players were competing for medals at the World Mind Games in Beijing last month, 136 outstanding Korean amateurs competed in Seoul for the Amateur Guksu (or Kuksu) title, and the right to represent Korea at the next World Amateur Go Championship in Thailand. The competitors included some who are training in hopes of winning professional credentials in Korea's tough insei league, so the Guksu tournament was also viewed as a contest between this elite group and Korea's large general amateur population.
A double-elimination preliminary qualifier held on December 13 reduced the field from 136 to 64, who then competed in a six-round knockout on December 14 and 15. After four of the six rounds, three of the four survivors were insei: Kim Changhoon, Park Jaegeun (winner of the 2013 Korea Prime Minister Cup), and Song Jihoon. Song also won one of the two semifinal games, greatly improving on his performance the year before, when he had been retired in the first knockout round. But insei dominance was not complete. The winner of the other semifinal game was Hong Moojin, who ranked No. 2 in the junior (U40) tier of Korean amateurs, second only to 2013 Guksu and 2014 KPMC winner Wei Taewoong. Song, for his part, ranked No. 3 among the insei.
Could the third best insei beat the second best general amateur? The answer to that question, after a 247 move thriller in the final round, was yes -- by half a point. In a post-game interview Song Jihoon described his Guksu triumph as follows:
'I was lucky to win. All my games were tough, especially my second-round game against Song Hongsuk [who was 2009 amateur Guksu and 2010 world amateur champion] and the final game against Hong Moojin. The final game was a struggle all the way, with the lead constantly shifting back and forth, but Hong made the last mistake.'
Aged seventeen, Song Jihoon is regarded as a rising star among the insei. In October he and Kim Changhoon competed alongside pros in the Samsung Cup. His style of play is often compared to that of Lee Sedol, whom he hopes to emulate. To quote him again, 'I'm now preparing for the professional qualifying tournament by working on my opening, which is my weak point. Now that I've won the Guksu, I'm determined to win the world amateur championship and get the 40 professional qualification points that will be worth. Then I'll try to win a professional world title within five years of making pro.'
In the meantime, to further his training he has the ₩2-million Guksu first prize (roughly $1800 or €1500). Hong Moojin, who has already amassed 90 of the 100 points needed to qualify as a pro, received ₩700,000 as runner-up, and took over the No. 1 amateur rank, pushing Wei Taewoong down to No. 2. Last year Wei narrowly missed being world amateur champion. Can a different Korean do better this year? That question will be answered in Bangkok next June.
Postscript: Song Jihoon made pro in February 2015. The Korean player at the next World Amateur Go Championship will be someone else, currently undecided.
- James Davies
After the first four days of go competition in the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games, the main issues waiting to be settled were who would win the gold medal in the women's individual event, and who would win the bronze medals in the men's team event. Last year the answers had been China's Yu Zhiying and the men's team from Chinese Taipei. Could Korea's Kim Chaeyoung or the Japanese men's team provide a different answer this year?
The men's teams matches began at 12:30. The team from Chinese Taipei was in their seats early, all in their chipper blue and white uniforms. The black-suited Japanese team arrived just a minute or two before deputy chief referee Michael Redmond began reciting the daily litany: two hours of time per player with five renewable 60-second overtime periods; Chinese rules with 3-3/4 stone compensation; mobile phones off or silenced; the round starts!
An hour and a half later, the women's gold medal game began. Kim Chaeyoung, sole survivor of the losers' bracket, drew white against undefeated Yu Zhiying.
In the team event, the Chinese men clinched their gold medals at about three o'clock, when North America's Huiren Yang and Daniel Daehyuk Ko resigned against Mi Yuting and Tuo Jiaxi. Later Shi Yue defeated Mingjiu Jiang by 5-3/4 stones (11-1/2 points) to complete a shutout victory.
The Korean men clinched their silver medals in similar shutout fashion. First Fan Hui resigned to Park Younghun, then Aleksandr Dinershtein resigned to Na Hyun, and then, after fighting desperately, Ilya Shikshin resigned to Kang Dongyoon. Dead European groups were much in evidence on all three boards.
The next match to end was the women's. Yu Zhiying remained undefeated. She had attacked a weak white group on the right side of the board, starting a huge, confusing struggle that spread through most of the center. There was a point at which white had a chance to win, but she went after the wrong black group and it was the attacking white group that lost the capturing race. The position was still confused, but it was hopeless for white and Kim Chaeyoung resigned. Losing is always bitter. Nevertheless, her silver medal is the best result yet achieved by any non-Chinese go player in three years of SportAccord women's individual competition. Yu Zhiying's two consecutive gold medals would seem to establish her as top in the women's go world, and she is still only seventeen.
And what of the men's team match between Japan and Chinese Taipei? As he had the previous day, Lin Li-Hsiang got Chinese Taipei off to a good start, winning by resignation on board two, but then Seto Taiki evened the score for Japan by defeating Chang Che-Hao by resignation on board three. All now depended on the result on board one, where Japan's Yuki Satoshi was playing Chinese Taipei's Chen Shih-Iuan. Chen (black) had taken the lead by attacking in the center in the opening, but during a difficult middle game Yuki had gradually caught up, and in the endgame it appeared that he might be ahead. When the final score was counted, it turned out that he was indeed ahead. He had won by exactly a quarter of a stone, or half a point. The two players spent considerable time afterward reviewing the endgame, with assistance from Seto Taiki, who interpreted between Chinese and Japanese. Both Yuki and Seto are from the Kansai Kiin, in Osaka. After the failure of Japan's Tokyo-Nagoya based men's team in the 2013, Osaka had come to the rescue.
At the evening awards ceremony, following the presentation of medals for blitz chess and pairs bridge, Mr Park Chimoon, acting president of the International Go Federation, presented the bronze medals to the Japanese men's team, the silver medals to the Korean team, and the gold medals to the Chinese team. Bridge ambassador Fulvio Fantoni gave them their medal certificates; then their national flags were raised and the Chinese national anthem was played. Next the medals for women's individual go were awarded by chief referee Hua Yigang: bronze to Rui Naiwei, silver to Kim Chaeyoung, and gold to Yu Zhiying, who triumphantly mounted the dais as a woman transformed, attired in a long and strikingly attractive flowered skirt. This time it was Ms Wang Wenfei, the other bridge ambassador, who gave out the certificates.
Counting chess and bridge, Chinese mental athletes had had a good day. Their total haul was ten medals: five gold, including one in women's chess; two silver, both won in women's bridge; and three bronze, including two more in women's bridge. The games are not over, but China has already shown that it leads the world in go, and leads the Far East in bridge and chess as well.
- James Davies
The 4th SportAccord World Mind Games (chess, contract bridge, draughts, go, xiangqi) will be held in Beijing December 11-17. The go competition will follow the same format as last year: 18 men representing China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, Japan, Korea, and North America will vie in a three-man team round-robin; 12 women from the same areas will compete as individuals in a double knockout; and 16 of these players will also compete in a single knockout mixed pair tournament. Click here for player lists and photos.
Last year the Chinese and Korean men's teams staged a riveting fight for the gold medal, which went to the Korean team when their third player beat his Chinese opponent by a fraction of a point. China will try to even the score this year with a team of three young world title-holders. Korea will counter with a team consisting of two of its medalists from 2012 and 2013 and a young player named Na who recently won the Korean Prices Information Cup. Japan, after going home empty-handed last year, will field an all new team drawn from Nagoya and Osaka. Their first assignment will be to avenge last year's defeat at the hands of Chinese Taipei.
The fight for the women's medals will be very tough. Judging from recent international competition, the field includes the world's current top three women, or at least three of the top four, all Chinese or Korean. Players from the other areas will be trying to break the Chinese-Korean medal monopoly of previous years.
In pair competition, China, Japan, and Korea will enter five teenaged players and one (Na) who is just twenty. Chinese Taipei, whose teenaged pair took the silver medal last year, will let a new and older pair to try to match or better that feat. Europe is entering three pairs and North America one; it should be a lively three rounds.
Tuo Jiaxi from the Chinese men's team and Lee Hajin, secretary general of the International Go Federation, will also act as go ambassadors. They and the ambassadors from the other four disciplines will take part in various social and publicity events.
Ranka will once again provide daily reports and commentaries.
Chimin Oh Wins Go to Innovation Was it the lure of the thousand-euro first prize or the chance to play some serious handicap go? Whatever it was, on November 14-16, 2014 the annual Go to Innovation tournament drew fifty-five players from far and wide to Berlin. An eight-round Hahn system was used, which meant that starting scores were assigned according to the players' EGF ratings. Additional points were earned in amounts that depended not only on who won or lost each game but also on how much he or she won or lost by and whether he or she had won in the previous round. All games were played with appropriate handicaps or komi according to the players' current scores.
The highest-rated contestant was former Korean go instructor Chimin Oh, 7-dan, who currently resides in England. His starting score immediately put him in the lead. In his first game he beat German champion Lukas Krämer (6-dan), but then he lost a two-stone handicap game to Austrian champion Viktor Lin (5-dan). Next day he lost to Hungarian champion Pal Balogh (6-dan) and then to Lluis Oh (6-dan, Spain). Following these defeats, however, he rebounded with a string of victories over Nordic champion Yaqi Fu (6-dan, Sweden), Zebin Du (6-dan, China), Jan Hora (6-dan, Czechia, with a two-stone handicap), and Jan Prokop (5-dan, Czechia, with a three-stone handicap). His final Hahn score put him far ahead of Viktor Lin, whose four wins were good enough for the 500-euro second place prize. Zebin Du won six games and finished third (250 euros). The best performance by a female player was turned in by by Rita Pocsai (4-dan, Hungary), who earned a 500-euro prize from Omikron Data Quality in addition to her 100-euro tenth-place prize. Complete results are here.
There was also a jackpot prize for winning eight games, but nobody claimed it. In fact, no one managed to win even seven games. The Hahn system does not give anyone an easy time in any round, and in some sense it rewards the players according to how well they played, regardless of how many games they won. Jan Hora, for example, won only three games, but all his opponents ended among the top ten and he finished seventh. Perhaps next year more 7-dans will try this system out.
- James Davies
Go to Innovation is the name of a go tournament that will be held at the Wuhldeheide Innovation Park in southeast Berlin, November 14-16. True to its name, the tournament will feature an innovative eight-round Hahn system, which adds some new twists to the usual McMahon system. There will also be prizes ranging up to a thousand euros for first place, a jackpot for winning eight games, and free draught beer on the 15th.
The list of registered players so far includes over twenty dan-level players (up to 7-dan) and over twenty kyu-level players (down to 18-kyu) with strong representation from Germany and Czechia. Some very strong players are also coming from Great Britain, Sweden, Austria, and Spain.
Further information is available in English here and here.
On the afternoon of September 21, 2014, Hiraoka Satoshi, three times amateur Honinbo and twice world amateur go champion, found himself facing a neurosurgeon. More precisely, he was facing Osawa Shinichiro, a member of the faculty of the Department of Neurosurgery in the Graduate School of Medicine at Tohoku University. Between them was a go board, and they were about to play the game that would decide which of them would represent Japan at the 2015 World Amateur Go Championship in Thailand.
Hiraoka had been seeded into the 60-player selection knockout and given a bye in the first round, so he reached the final game by defeating only four opponents: a veteran from Chiba, a middle-school student from Fukuoka, an insei from the Kansai Kiin, and Mori Hironobu, another seeded player, who had played in the WAGC in 2007. Dr. Osawa, the amateur meijin of Miyagi, had entered at the first round and downed five opponents, including a former amateur Honinbo and an insei from Nagoya. Those were in addition to the opponents he had beaten in the Miyagi qualifying tournament. His appearance in the final game was no surprise; he has beaten professional opponents in the Agon Cup. The presence of insei among Hiraoka's and Osawa's opponents was a little unusual -- Japanese insei rarely take part in amateur tournaments -- but in any case, none of the insei reached even the semifinal round.
Instead, all four of the semi-finalists were in their thirties or forties, far past insei age. In contrast, the last eight world amateur go champions have all been in their teens or twenties. And none of them have been Japanese. Japan did rather well in the WAGC in the last decade of the 20th century, taking five championships against three for China and two for Korea, but since 2001 Japan has won the WAGC only once, and after Mori's third place in 2007, no Japanese player has finished higher than fifth.
The job of lifting Japan's sagging fortunes will fall to Hiraoka, for he beat Dr. Osawa by 9.5 points. Hiraoka was in his mid-twenties when he first won the WAGC in 1994, and in his mid-thirties when he won it again in 2006. Can the JR freight railwayman win another world championship in his mid-forties, or can he at least restore Japan to a place among the top four? We'll find out next summer.
- James Davies
SportAccord is proud to present the 10 ambassadors for the 2014 edition of the World Mind Games to be held in Beijing in China from the 11th to the 17th of December. Representing the best practices in their respective sports discipline, the following ambassadors would be the faces of their respective sports at the World Mind Games this year.
International ambassador- Alexandra Kosteniuk
Chinese ambassador- Wenjun Ju
International ambassador- Fulvio Fantoni
Chinese ambassador- Wang Wenfei
International ambassador- Viktoriya Motrichiko
Chinese ambassador- Ala Tenghua
International ambassador- Hajin Lee
Chinese ambassador- Jiaxi Tuo
International ambassador- Hok Him Wong
Chinese ambassador- Sinan Tang
The SportAccord World Mind Games ambassador programme is a step taken towards increasing the profiles of the constituent member sports at the annual event. Chosen carefully by the international federations, the ambassadors are the representatives of their respective sports, tasked with helping reach out to a wider audience of mind sports. Also part of their responsibility is community outreach at the World Mind Games, where they are supposed to conduct sports clinics with young children, inspiring them to consider the pursuit of mind sports through informal and formal means.
Each sport has 2 ambassadors, one international and the other Chinese. The purpose of this classification is to ensure that the appeal of each sports does not remain restricted to either the international or the domestic audience.
Full details of the SportAccord World Mind Games ambassadors can be found here.
- Source: media.sportaccord.com
The 25th International Amateur Pair Go (IAPG) Championship was held at the Hotel Metropolitan Edmont in Tokyo on October 25-26, 2014. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of pair go, two professional exhibition games were also held on the 25th, a World Students Pair Go Championship was held on the 26th, and numerous Pair Go Association officials and supporters and pair go promotion partners (PGPPs) were invited from Japan and overseas. Many of these guests took part in the parallel handicap tournament, also held on the 26th, in which nearly 150 pairs competed for the Araki Cup.
After a kickoff party on the 24th, the 32 pairs competing for the IAPG Cup got right down to business by playing the first round of their five-round Swiss System on the morning of the 25th. The Korean pair (Kim Sooyoung and Jeon Junhak) were favored because (1) they are respectively the highest-rated Korean amateur female and male players, and (2) they won this event last year. They made a good start by beating the pair from Germany. The pairs from China and Chinese Taipei and eight of the eleven Japanese pairs also won their first games, but the pair from Hong Kong (Vanessa Wong and Chan Naisan) lost to the Japanese pair from Hokkaido.
In the field of contestants for the IAPG Cup, by far the largest contingent had scholastic occupations: they were students or teachers, from the middle-school level to the university level. But the field also represented many other walks of life, ranging from company president to manicurist, so Ranka decided to ask some of them about their work, starting with six of the winners in the first round.
Dong Qin (China) 'I'm in charge of the weiqi (go) department of the Hangzhou branch of the China Chess Institute, which is the second largest branch in China. This involves managing the Hangzhou Weiqi Association and Hangzhou's pro team -- that's my main job.'
Yao Jun (China) 'I'm chief editor at the Shanxi Shuhai Publishing House. We publish a wide range of books, including textbooks that use go for educational purposes.'
Pau Carles (Spain) 'I work at a book and game store. We sell mainly science fiction and things like that, but we also have a small go section with books and equipment.'
Isabel Barros (Spain) 'I work for a game company. We produce board games -- not go, but eurogames such as Catan and Carcassonne, and role-playing games.'
Dragan Dubaković (Serbia) 'I'm a go player and a cook. I like everything about go: the people, the philosophy behind the game, getting away from home and going to tournaments -- and maybe it has something to do with China, because I also like to cook Chinese food.'
After lunch there was a huge goodwill pair go match, to which many of the pairs came dressed in national costume. The Germans came in football uniforms and brought a ball. Including players, officials, and PGPPs, they had nearly a complete football team.
After the goodwill games, some of the players watched the professional exhibition games, or listened to the public commentaries given by 9-dan pros Ishida Yoshio and Michael Redmond. In one game Japan's top men's and women's title-holders Iyama Yuta and Hsieh (Xie) Yi-min defeated Korea's Cho Hunhyun and Lee Hajin; in the other game, which pitted two married couples against each other, China's Chang Hao and Zhang Xuan defeated Japan's Chang Hsu (Cho U) and Kobayashi Izumi. Chinese Taipei was also represented, for although Hsieh Yi-min and Chang Hsu live and play in Japan, by birth and citizenship they belong to Chinese Taipei.
The exhibition games were followed by a lavish party that featured the rousing performance of a new pair go song, penned by screenwriter Koyama Kundo (Iron Chef, Departures). His song is quite different from the go songs traditionally sung at American and European go congresses.
In the second round next morning, the Korean pair beat the Japanese pair from Shikoku, while the young pair from Chinese Taipei (Lin Hsiao-tung and Lai Yu-cheng, both students) defeated the pair from China. Ranka continued its occupational survey by speaking with some of the other second-round winners.
Ito Akio (Hokkaido) 'I have a waterproofing company in Hakodate, with about ten employees. We waterproof the roofs and outer walls of buildings.'
Gyorgy Csizmadia (Hungary) 'I'm a mathematician. I work as a quant for the Budapest branch of Morgan Stanley, doing mathematical modeling of financial instruments.'
Wembris Isral (Indonesia) 'I have my own automobile service workshop. I do body repair on European and Asian cars.'
Lie Diana (Indonesia) 'I'm working for an export-import service, doing network business development. We help our clients ship goods overseas and bring goods from overseas into Indonesia.'
Greatbodin Buranarachada (Thailand) 'I'm an electrical engineer. I design and check electrical systems for mass transport facilities, such as subways and elevators. And my partner Yanakorn Anusiri is an engineering student at Chulalongkorn University, from which I graduated.'
In the third round, Ito Akio and his partner ran up against the pair from Chinese Taipei, to whom they lost, and the Korean pair overcame the pair from Singapore. Other winners included pairs from Australia and Germany, a pair from the Kinki district of Japan (the area around Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara), and the European champion pair. Five of them offered the following information about themselves.
Wei Xu (Australia) 'I'm a machinist. I operate a CNC machine -- a computer-numerically-controlled machine tool -- that makes parts for automobiles and trucks.'
Jana Hollmann (Germany) 'I studied mathematics and have worked for fifteen years as an actuarial consultant for a worldwide consulting company. My specialty is pensions and benefits.'
Fukuda Satoru (Kinki district, Japan) 'I work as a photographer for a company that installs utility poles for a power company. I take pictures of the poles to confirm that they have been properly installed.'
Manuela Marz (European champion pair) 'I'm now a professor of bioinformatics at Friedrich-Schiller University. I do teaching and research -- we have a system in Germany where you have to do both simultaneously -- but my main activity is research and I love it.'
Benjamin Teuber (European champion pair) 'I'm a student of life.'
After lunch, in the fourth round, the pairs from Korea and Chinese Taipei faced Japanese opponents and continued to win. The pairs from France, Russia, and the United Kingdom were also among the winners in this round, and they turned out to include a programmer, an economist, an accountant, and an inventor.
Ngoc-Trang Cao (France) 'Although I'm French and am playing for France, I moved six months ago to work in the United Kingdom. So now I am a game programmer at a British company. We create video games for consoles and PCs.'
Vladimir Gorzhaltsan (Russia) 'I divide my time fifty-fifty between two jobs. I work as an economist for a financial company, and I'm an executive officer in the Russian Go Federation.'
Alison Bexfield (UK) 'I'm a chartered accountant. I work for the BBC, in the audit department. I make sure the BBC spends its money wisely.'
Simon Bexfield (UK) 'I've just invented a very nice puzzle called the Perplexing Pyramid. It's a 3D printed object, made in one piece but with printed hinges, so it's a fantastic shape that folds into something interesting. Recently I've also been making 3D printers and developing various small technical advances in them, which are being used in the Threedy printers that go into schools, and around the world.'
While the second to fourth rounds were being played, the World Students Pair Go Championship was unfolding on four tables at the side of the playing room. The competitors were all university students: two pairs each from China, Japan, and Korea, and one pair each from Chinese Taipei and Thailand. The champion pair was Kim Hyunah and Park Moonkyu from Korea, who beat Hu Shih-yun and Chan Yi-tien from Chinese Taipei to end undefeated. Full results are here.
Then it was the turn of Korea's Kim Sooyoung and Heon Junhak and Chinese Taipei's Lin Hsiao-tung and Lai Yu-cheng to play the deciding game for the IAPG Cup, in a special quiet playing room with extended time limits, while the rest of the IAPG field continued with the fifth round. Ranka concluded its occupational survey with four of the fifth-round winners, including the Japanese pair that took sixth place, an American accountant, and an aspiring Swiss novelist, the daughter of the Swiss physicist Marcel Golay.
Kuramoto Minoru (Kinki district, Japan) 'I'm a freelance go instructor. I play teaching games and give classroom instruction.'
Saito Naoko (Kinki district, Japan) 'I have my own nail salon.'
Daehyuk Ko (USA) 'I do accounting and financial analysis for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.'
Monique Golay (Switzerland) 'My novels are addressed to young people. The names of my characters are Japanese names from the game of go. For example, I have a Dark Lord whose name is Moyo. He's a five-billion-year-old elf, and he is fed up with life but unfortunately he is indestructible. The only way for him to destroy himself is to time-travel all the way back to the Big Bang and destroy the entire universe. The other characters try to stop him. I'm trying to make young people laugh, and also to bring them to the game of go.'
To time-travel back to reality, the pairs from Korea and Chinese Taipei had gotten into a corner ko fight. At his public commentary, Michael Redmond said he thought the Korean pair came out of the fight slightly ahead, and in fact they went on to win by resignation. At the ceremony that followed, they received numerous cups, trophies, and other awards, as well as a best-dresser prize, which they accepted in national costume. The pairs from Mexico, Serbia, and the United Kingdom also received best-dresser prizes, likewise in national costume. The chief judge was fashion designer Koshino Junko, and the dress she wore for the awards ceremony was stunning too.
In the final standings, the Korean pair won their second straight IAPG Cup, Chinese Taipei took a second straight second place, Hong Kong took fourth place, Singapore was ninth, Czechia was thirteenth, the European champion pair was fifteenth, and the U.S. pair was sixteenth. Nine Japanese pairs filled out the rest of the top sixteen, led by former insei Tsuji Moeka and Tsunoda Daisuke; their third place earned them a cup as the Japanese amateur champion pair. Complete results and pictures of all the players are here.
And as pair go founder Taki Hisao pointed out, while the Japanese go population has been gradually decreasing during the past quarter century, the pair go population has exploded in Japan and throughout the world. The International Pair Go Association now has 70 member countries and territories. One looks forward to the next twenty-five years.
- James Davies
Peter Smolárik, Slovakia's representative at the 2014 Korea Prime Minister Cup, is a university student who has been an active go player for more than half his life. His extensive tournament career in Slovakia includes 2nd place in the Košice City Championship last November, 5th place in the Slovak Championship last May, and 9th place at the Slovak Go Festival last June. In the KPMC he scored one win, over a young opponent from Australia. Ranka talked to him during the lunch break on the second day.
Peter: This is my first time in Korea and it's been very good. Ranka: How do you like being in Korea?
Ranka: Do you see any similarities between Korea and Slovakia?
Peter: Both have lots of natural beauty, lots of mountains and hills, and very good skiing.
Ranka: Do you ski?
Peter: No, but the mountains and hills are also good for bicycle riding, which I enjoy.
Ranka: Please tell us how you learned to play go?
Peter: I learned from my father, more than ten years ago, and after that, I went to go clubs. We have a couple of clubs in Košice, where I live, and some more in Bratislava. Mostly I play at the Košice go club, but when I have time I'll go to other clubs for tournaments and competitions.
Ranka: How many tournaments does Slovakia have per year?
Peter: About ten.
Ranka: We understand that Pavol Lisy, who recently became the first European go player to qualify as a pro in Europe, also lives in Košice. Has his becoming a pro made any big changes?
Peter: It didn't draw a big reaction from the news media, but one change it made was that he couldn't come here to the KPMC. So I came instead. But Pavol can still compete in other amateur tournaments in Slovakia.
Ranka: Thank you and good luck this afternoon.
Photo: Ito Toshiko