Japan's annual Amateur Honinbo tournament starts with regional Honinbo tournaments in each of Japan's prefectures and ends in a showdown at the Nihon Kiin in Tokyo. This year the 64 players who gathered in Tokyo included the Prefectural Honinbos, five Student Honinbos (primary, middle, and high school, university man and woman), women's amateur champion Arai Miyu, and other seeded players, notably the reigning Amateur Honinbo Nakazono Seizo and Amateur Meijin Hong Suk-eui. They ranged in age from 11 (Takahashi Keisuke, Prefectural Honinbo from Iwate) to 86 (1995 World Amateur Champion Hironari Hirata).
The showdown began with two preliminary rounds played on August 24. Among the thirteen players who lost both games and were eliminated were Takahashi Keisuke and former Amateur Honinbo Tanaka Masato. The first of the six main rounds was also played on August 24, eliminating 19 more players, leaving 32 to compete in the second round the next morning.
The second and third rounds saw the departure of the two women and four more former Amateur Honinbos: Harada Minoru, Miura Hiroshi, Hirata Hironari, and Samejima Ichiro, who in total have won the title 17 times. Mr Samejima's defeat came at the hands of Hiraoka Satoshi, World Amateur Champion in 1994 and 2006 and Amateur Honinbo in 2005 and 2009. By the end of the day the field had been reduced to four: Hiraoka, Hong, Nakazono, and Student Honinbo Tanaka Nobuyuki, a senior at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. In the semifinal round, played in the morning on August 26, Hiraoka beat Hong by half a point and Nakazono recovered from a lost position to defeat Tanaka by 5.5 points.
The final game took place in the afternoon of the 26th, with a public commentary by former pro Honinbo Wang Mingwan (O Meien). Mr Nakazono, playing white, produced an imaginative opening and led for most of the first half of the game, according to Mr Wang. Mr Hiraoka remained calm, however, and won by 2.5 points. His steady and extremely accurate endgame play drew high praise from Mr Wang, who said, 'I thought white was ahead, but Mr Hiraoka may have known all along that he was going to win.' In the third-place playoff, Mr Tanaka defeated Mr Hong.
At the awards ceremony Hiraoka, Nakazono, Tanaka, and Hong received silver cups and gifts from the sponsors (Sagawa Express and the Mainichi Newspaper). Chief referee Takanashi Seiken (7p) lavished further praise on Mr Hiraoka's endgame play, especially in his half-point win over Mr Hong. Mr Hiraoka, his voice finally betraying his excitement, said he was particularly happy to have some progress to show after losing to Mr Nakazono in the final round last year, and Nihon Kiin Managing Director Hirano Norikazu expressed gratification at the large number of young players in the field of 64, a good sign for the future of Japanese go.
The 2nd SportAccord World Mind Games will be held in Beijing, China, December 12-19, 2012. The go competition will include an individual men's tournament (16 players), an individual women's tournmant (16 players), and a mixed doubles tournament.
The European Go Federation has already selected its three players, Ilya Shikshin (Russia), Csaba Mero (Hungary), and Jan Hora (Czechia), who took top places in the qualifier held during the 2nd World Mind Sports Games in Lille, France.
The 2nd SportAccord World Mind Games will be preceded by the 2nd SportAccord World Mind Games Online Tournament, which will be played on the Internet Go Server (IGS, aka Pandanet). This tournament is open to amateur players in all countries and territories belonging to the International Go Federation. The winner will receive an expenses-paid trip to Beijing to watch the Mind Games and meet the players, and other prizes will be given out as well. Registration closes on September 10, 2012, and play starts on September 16. Full details are available here.
The European Go Congress was held at Bonn, Germany from July 21 to August 5. Among the over 600 participating players, three 7-dan visitors from Korea stood out. In the 10-round main tournament, Song Jun-Hyup finished first (undefeated), Kim Young-Sam second (losing only to Song), and Ryu Seung-Hee fourth (she lost only to Song, Kim, and Germany's Zhao Pei). In the five-round weekend tournament, Song finished first (again undefeated), Kim second, and Ryu fifth. Song also won the six-round rapid tournament and the 13 x 13 tournament, and Kim won the lightning tournament, while Ryu took third place in the rapid and second place in the lightning event. In addition, Song and Ryu teamed with Korean 5-dan Choi Woon-Sub to win the rengo tournament.
But that is not the whole story. There were two team tournaments: the Pandanet team tournament, which the Russian team of Ilya Shikshin, Alexander Dinerchstein, Dimitri Surin, Oleg Mezhov, and Alexei Lazarev won by edging out the Czech team of Ondrej Silt, Jan Simara, Jan Prokop, Jan Hora, and Lukas Podpera on tie-breaking points; and the Itemis team tournament, won by a Polish team led by Mateusz Surma. And there were two pair tournaments: an open tournament won by German 4-dan Manja Marz and Chang Huai-Yi, a 3-dan pro from Taipei; and a handicap tournament won by Russians Marina Popova and Alexey Kholomkin.
Returning to individual competition, German 4-dan Jonas Welticke won the handicap tournament and the Sanjang Baduk tournament (go with traditional Korean rules), and German-Canadian 4-dan Oliver Wolf (age 13) won the youth and children's tournament.
In man-machine competition, Romanian 5-dan pro Catalin Taranu gave Crazy Stone a four-stone handicap on a 19 x 19 board, winning one game and losing another, while Japanese 6-dan amateur Noguchi Motoki, playing even against Zen, split two games on a 13 x 13 board and lost twice on a 9 x 9 board.
Throughout the congress, Catalin and a host of professional attendees from the Far East, including the legendary Chinese star Nie Weiping, were busy giving lessons and lectures and commenting on games. But that is still not the whole story.
For top European players, the most important event of all was the European Championship, a three-round playoff among the eight European players with the best scores at the end of the seventh round of the main tournament. The eight qualifiers were Ilya Shikshin (Russia), Cornel Burzo (Romania), Ondrej Silt (Czechia), Thomas Debarre (France), Antti Tormanen (Finland), Pavol Lisy (Slovakia), Jan Simara (Czechia), and Mateusz Surma (Poland). Thomas, Pavol, and Mateusz are still in their teens, and Ilya and Antti are in their early twenties, but youth did not prevail. The winner was Jan Simara, who defeated last year's champion Ilya Shikshin in the final game after having lost to him in the seventh round of the main tournament. Pavol Lisy beat Thomas Debarre in the playoff for third place.
Both the Individual Men's and Individual Women's tournaments got underway on Monday afternoon.
38 women and 78 men are taking part.
Young power, Korean power, and professional-caliber play have marked Japan's Amateur Meijin tournament since its beginning in 2006. So far, all four Amateur Meijins have been in their teens (Tsuneishi Takashi) or twenties (Yoon Chun-ho, Hon Seisen, Hong Suk-eui). For three of them the Amateur Meijin title has been a stepping stone to a professional career: Yoon and Hon went on to qualify as pro shodan with the Kansai Kiin, and last year Tsuneishi made pro shodan with the Nihon Kiin. Yoon, Hon (formerly Hong Mal-geun-saem), and Hong Suk-eui are Korean players who now reside in Japan. Hon operates a highly successful go dojo in Tokyo, while the current title-holder Hong, who majored in Japanese literature in his unversity days in Korea, is pursuring his studies and working as a go instructor in Osaka.
The Amateur Meijin tournament, which is run on the challenger-defender system, starts with a regional knockout in each of Japan's 47 prefectures to determine a prefectural representative. These representatives and a number of seeded players then meet at the Nihon Kiin in Tokyo for a grand knockout to determine the challenger. This year the grand knockout field was exceptionally young; it included six high-school and seven university students. In one of the key games on the first day of play (July 15), Ito Kenryo, an 18-year-old pro aspirant from Shizuoka, forced Amateur Honinbo Nakazono Seizo to resign. Another key game was a clash between former world amateur champions Hiraoka Satoshi (1994 and 2006) and Ha Sung-bong (2008). Ha, who works as an instructor at Hon Seisen's dojo, won by 9.5 points. Considering that before immigrating to Japan in 2009 Ha had also won some 28 Korean amateur tournaments, that he had contested the Amateur Meijin title with Tsuneishi in 2010, and that in the Agon Cup last year he had defeated eight straight professional opponents, he was now a strong favorite.
Ha continued his winning ways the next day, beating Komazawa University senior Kanesaka Shuhei by 17.5 points in the fourth round and former Amateur Honinbo Tanaka Masato by 14.5 points in the fifth round. His last opponent was high-shool senior Yokozuka Riki, a recent insei and pupil of the chief referee, Kamimura Haruo. Michael Redmond gave a public commentary on this game, which Ha won by resignation. Ito defeated Tanaka in the third-place playoff, and the top four all received silver cups and gift certificates from the sponsoring Asahi Newspaper.
The three-game title match between Ha and Hong was played in high style at the Sekitei inn in Yugawara, a go-friendly hot spring resort south of Tokyo. Ha had beaten Hong many times in Korea, but last year Hong had defeated Ha by resignation in the quarter-final round of the Amateur Meijin knockout. In this year's title match Hong prevailed again, by 3.5 points in the first game on July 28 and by resignation in the second game on July 29. Hong, who is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Yoon, Hon, and Tsuneishi, rated his performance at 80%. Ha vowed to get stronger and challenge again, for the sake of the children he instructs in Tokyo.
The third Fair of Good Treatment took place at the end of June 2012. This event is sponsored by CECODAP, an organization that ensures the protection of the rights of children and adolescents. The purpose of the Fair is to present different schools' initiatives in promoting respect and eradicating violence.
The event was held at the E.U. Jesus Maestro, which is part of the network of the Fe y Alegría Catholic schools. These schools are located in areas with high rates of poverty, violence and crime.
Since 2008, Sister Marisela Mujica of Fe y Alegría, who is a wonderful advocate of Go, has been voluntarily teaching the game precisely in this school, in a pilot project called Gakko-no-Go. This project, which is also supported by the Venezuelan Go Association, was chosen to represent the school this year.
The school's experience was presented to many groups of students and teachers from other schools. Each group received a short talk about the game of Go and its educational benefits, and then an explanation of its rules from the Gakko-no-Go students, who were more than willing to show their peers, teachers and community the progress they had made through the game.
The Fair was attended by representatives of the Mayor of Sucre and the Mayor himself, Carlos Ocariz. They were very interested in bringing the project into some public schools. The Fair's success is another step in the consolidation of Go as an educational tool in Venezuela.
- Report: Loli Puerta/Julio Melchert (Asociacion Venezolana de Go)
A go symposium sponsored by the International Go Federation will be held on the opening weekend of the U.S. Go Congress at Black Mountain, North Carolina on August 4-5. The keynote address will be given by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell. The program includes panel discussions on go in China and how to start a go program in your community, a question and answer session with Hikaru no Go author Hotta Yumi, presentations on topics ranging from the ancient history of go through rules, mathematics, Chinese poetry, and supercomputers, and a children's go art contest. Speakers are coming from Africa, Asia, and Europe as well as North America.
The Qingdao Publishing Cup is one of the many new tournaments that have sprung up in the 21st century to accommodate the flood of strong amateur (and professional) players emerging from China's go schools. The sponsor is a large state-owned publishing house located in Qingdao, facing the Yellow Sea. First held last year, the tournament is organized as a ten-round Swiss system divided into upper and lower sections. The 178 contestants in the upper section included China's three top rated amateurs: Ma Tianfang, age 19, who had just scored an undefeated triumph in the inaugural China Software Cup; last year's world amateur champion Bai Baoxiang, likewise 19, who was coming off a first-place finish in the Fengcheng Cup in May and a second-place finish in the China Software Cup; and China's highest-rated amateur Hu Yuqing, age 30, world amateur champion in 2005 and 2009 and a well known go commentator on Chinese television.
Bai Baoxiang stormed through the first two days of play (June 22 and 23) with seven straight wins to take an undisputed lead. In the morning rounds on June 24, however, he lost twice: first to Hu Yuqing and then to Cao Jundi, a pupil of Nie Weiping. That left four players in contention, and they were paired against each other on the top two boards in the final round in the afternoon. The winners of these crucial games were Hu Yuqing and 12-year old Huang Jingyuan. Both ended with nine wins and one loss, but Hu had better SOS points and took the cup, while Huang took second. Third to sixth places fell, in order, to teenagers Bai Baoxiang, Ma Qiao (14), Wang Zejin (13), and Sui Zexiang (19). Seventh place went to 2009 World Student Oza winner Zhao Wei. Cao Jundi came tenth and Ma Tianfang ended in a tie for twentieth.
Runner-up Huang Jingyuan had already created a double sensation by winning the first Spaceflight Cup at age 11 last September and then beating eight straight opponents in the first eight rounds of the prestigious Evening News Cup in January. But while earning a degree from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and working at China Mobile, Hu Yuqin has been winning major amateur go tournaments for nearly a decade and has just proved that he can still hold his own against the rising generation.
The Finnish word 'takapotku', which means a 'sudden backward motion', may have seemed like a bad omen for the faculty of the online Nordic Go Academy, who took the top three spots at this tournament in 2011. No such backlash occurred, however; they finished in the same three spots again. Here's the story.
This year the tournament schedule was moved back from its traditional February slot to June 16-17 (perhaps that was the backward motion). It was held at the New Student House at Helsinki University. Fifty-five Finns, nine Russians, and four players from Sweden, France, and Estonia took part, and over half of these 68 contestants had dan rankings. They played five McMahon rounds, the 4-6 dans being placed in the top group and starting out with 35 McMahon points.
Just one player got through the five rounds undefeated. That was Mikko Nevala, a 3-dan who hails from Oulu, the gateway to Lapland. Since he started with only 33 McMahon points he did not win the tournament, but he finished a highly respectable 8th, ahead of ten higher ranked players, three of whom he beat in direct competition.
So who won? The top McMahon score of 39 was shared by four players, each of whom had won four games and lost one. Three of them were the NGA faculty who, as they had last year, tied themselves up in a trefoil knot, Juri Kuronen beating Antti Tormanen in round 3, Su (Jeff) Yang beating Juri in round 4, Antti beating Su in round 5. The fourth player in the MM-39 quartet was the veteran Russian Alexei Lazarev, who lost to Su in round 3 and was not paired against Antti and Juri. The tie was broken by SOS points, of which Su had 192, Antti had 191, Juri had 188, and Alexei had 187. Su also won this tournament in 2008 and 2011 and Antti won it in 2010. Full results are here.
A recent interview with the winner Su Yang can be read here.
Antti's side of the story, with photos, can be viewed on his blog here.
There are more photos and comments in an article entitled 'The winner was decided by a toss' on the Petrozavodsk State University news and events page here.
This year the annual Bulgarian Go Championship was held outside the Bulgarian capital for the first time ever. Bulgaria's second largest city of Varna, also known as its maritime capital during the summer months, hosted the 9th edition of the event on the 9th and 10th of June. Twenty-seven players gathered from all over Bulgaria and one special guest came from Romania, the first player from outside Bulgaria ever to participate in the Bulgarian championship. This was the greatest number of players in a single event in the history of organized go tournaments in Bulgaria so far.
The games were played at a four-star hotel in the Sunshine, Magnolia & Spa complex, a short walk from a beach on the Black Sea. Boyan Alexandrov 1k, winner of the 2009 championship, managed to cling to the top after a very fierce battle with a couple of dan-level players, in which everyone lost at least one closely contested game to a closely matched opponent. Boyan beat Alexander Savchovsky 1d, Bogdan Sburlea 1k -- the guest from Romania -- and Svilen Pavlov 1k. Runner-up Magdalena Mladenova 1d, winner of the last two championships, lost only to 5th place finisher and former champion Nikolaj Aleksandrov 1d, and Milena Metodieva 7k took a surprising third place.
A brief history of go in Bulgaria can be found here.
Report and photos courtesy of Tsvetomir Varbanov
"Bringing Mind Sports into the Classroom and Beyond” was the title of a one-day conference held at the Harvard Law School on June 13. Twenty-four participants representing the worlds of art, bridge, chess, draughts, education, go, library science, and poker, including Andrew Okun from the American Go Association and Thomas Hsiang from the International Go Federation, met to discuss what mind sports can do for schools and libraries. They started the day with a short session of one-card poker led by professor Charles Nelson, who uses poker as a teaching tool in his law classes, and ended it with another poker session. In between, they discussed topics ranging from New York's chess-in-schools program and the rewards of being a star draughts player in the Soviet Union to mathematical game theory and Hikaru no Go.Mind sports were described as, among other things, “an element in the civic construction of local community” and “a way to make nerds cool”.
The Harvard Magazine carried a one-page report, which can be read here.
The Oetinger Villa, a leftist alternative cultural center in a green area in Darmstadt, Germany, is a place for meetings, parties, art projects, and environmental activities, and above all a place to eat, drink, and listen to music by local bands with names like Nerdsmasher and Fear the Beard. On June 7-10, however, the sounds of rock music gave way to the quieter click of go stones. There were three events. A seminar for beginners and advanced players, up to about 2 dan, was held on June 7. It was followed by two parallel tournaments on June 9-10: a five-round MacMahon that drew 57 players from Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland; and the German Youth Go Championship, a round-robin among the top six German players under 18.
The MacMahon tournament was won by Matthias Terwey, who was also one of the seminar leaders. Matthias is proof that a player can excel at both chess and go. Up until the age of twenty he was an active chess player, with an ELO rating that peaked at 2104 at the end of 2003; then he shifted into go. He has been competing in about twenty go tournaments a year since 2006, and has won at least one tournament every year since 2008. At 4 dan he was the top-ranked player in the Go Days MacMahon field, and he won all five of his games. Second place went to Andre Staedtler (3d), who won four. Both Matthias and Andre beat Thomas Kettenring (3d), who finished third. Complete results are here.
The German Youth Go Championship was won, for the second straight year, by Jonas Welticke (4d). Like Matthias, he was undefeated. Although only half as old as Matthias, Jonas has been playing go even more intensively, competing in about one German tournament every two weeks since January 2011. In an October 2011 interview he said he was also playing three or four hours a day online, against opponents from all over the world. This is the kind of training that pays off: the German Youth Championship was his fourth tournament victory of 2012. His closest competititor was Niels Schomberg (1d), who won three games to finish second. Complete results are here.
Full Time Municipality School of Caroline Campelo Cruz e Silva (Palmas City, Brazil)
The implementation of full time schools in the municipality of Palmas-TO caused changes in the form of organization of educational work and curriculum design in these schools. The additional time the students stay in the school opened up new space for teaching activities not formally acknowledged as school activities before. Among these new spaces is a room properly equipped for teaching chess and checkers.
The first contact with go came about through research about these two games on the Internet. We found out that there was another game, an oriental game played with glass spheres on a wooden board that is related to chess and checkers.
In 2010 we received our first go board at the school in Palmas. At the beginning it was just curiosity about an ancient game still practiced today. Go has gained our attention thanks to its relationship with mathematics. Even more than chess and checkers, because the game demands calculation activities all the time. We also think that looking at the different shapes built on the board and dealing with the delicate goishi could also help develop motor coordination and laterality, both very important in the literacy process.
In 2012 the first project to teach go to all students in the school was elaborated. For two months the students will have specific go lessons. We will also continually offer workshops to be held after the regular classes, where students will have access to the game of go throughout the school year.
The work being carried out with the game of go aims not only to promote it in the school, but also to support the development of the logical thinking of students and the working content of basic math in a fun and exciting way, to stimulate the organization in the management of school items, especially the school notebook, to encourage values in relation to the productive use of human reasoning, and to promote an understanding of their role in building a better society. The go sets were built with the help of students using ethyl vinyl acetate, a sort of rubber very popular in Brazilian schools for the construction of inexpensive teaching materials. Students were encouraged, due to the low cost of this product, to produce their own game sets. This will also help promote go outside of the school. The schedule of activities also provides a workshop for teaching the basics of the game to other teachers so that they can also work with go in an interdisciplinary way. Board games are also an ordinary human language, which may facilitate the approach of our students to people from other places, other cultures and other languages. To help with this topic, the Kiseido Go Server will be implemented in the school computer room, so that students can use the network to play.
According to Abrago (the Brazilian Go Association), this is the first experience with go in Brazilian schools, so we believe the project will pass through successive revisions, however, the way the modality was received by students is a sign that it has come to stay. For the student Sara Beatriz Santos Nogueira, 5th year of elementary school, go has changed the experience she had with board games. In a report presented to the classroom teacher, she says that the game is wonderful, very enjoyable to play. Students Junior Vilson Ferreira and Jorge Marques dos Santos Victor fell in love with the game and in the second week of the project at the school signed up for the workshop held after school hours. According to Vilson, go is the best game he has ever played.
The next step is to check the impact of the practice of the game in school in order to propose the project also to other teaching units. Board games are still new in the school environment in Brazil. Chess, which is most widespread in schools, is usually used by teachers who do not have access to this culture in their academic training.
We thank Abrago who have at all times shown interest in providing educational materials, technical guidance, and helping further in the dissemination of the work, making possiblet the implementation of this initiative. I, the students and the school are particularly grateful to two people who were essential to the success of the project: Roberto Petresco and Everson Batista da Silva, without them we would not have succeeded.
- Luciano Sanches Teixeira, teacher
The 2012 Turkish Go Championship was played on June 9th and 10th at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. Eight dan-ranked players and forty kyu-ranked players competed in a five-round MacMahon. After the first three rounds no dan-level player was undefeated, but Hüsrev Aksüt (2d) had lost only once, and he scored straight wins over Bilen Bertan (2d) and Emre Bektöre (1d) in rounds four and five to become the new Turkish champion. Emre finished second. Bertan, who was coming off a triumph in the Hitit (as in 'Hittite') tournament in May, tied for third place with Altan Kuntay (1d). Özgür Değirmenci, the highest-ranked player (3d), finished fifth. Giray Erdi (2d), the only player to beat the new champion, finished seventh. Gökhan Yıldız (1k), Anıl Haydar Yılmaz (5k), Murat Evirgen (6k), Gökhan Karadağ (10k), and Sinem Cantürk (19k) won four games apiece to finish 6th, 20th, 24th, 32nd, and 42nd, respectively.
Complete results can be seen here.
In 2009 Hüsrev, a graduate student in mathematics at Bilkent University, was part of the winning pair in the Turkish Pair Go Championship and represented Turkey at the International Amateur Pair Go Championship in Tokyo. Since then he has been prominent in the Turkish tournament scene, winning the Alpar Kılınç, Eskişehir, and National Hacettepe go tournaments in 2010 and the Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University tournament in 2011. He played for Turkey at the 2011 World Go Amateur Championship and was captain of the Turkish team in the recent Pandanet European Team Championship.