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2013 Amateur Meijin: Three for Hong

Hong Suk-euiHong Suk-euiThis year Japan's Amateur Meijin title match had a new twist: the challenger, Wu Poyi, was a native of Taiwan. He learned to play go there in kindergarten. Inspired by the feats of Taiwan-born Chang Hsu (Cho U), Wu dreamed of becoming a pro in Japan, but he remained in Taiwan until 2009, when Miaoli County, where he had entered junior high school, granted him financial assistance to study as an insei in Tokyo. Over the next four years he worked his way up from class F to the top of class A in the insei rankings, but was never able to take one of the top two places in the Tokyo round robin that annually qualifies two new pro shodans. In March 2013, being 17 years old, he had to retire as an insei, but he has not abandoned his dream. He now lives and studies at Hong Mal-geun-saem's dojo in Tokyo, and will attempt to win his way into the round robin as a non-insei, the age limit for doing which is 22.

Since Japanese insei do not compete for Japanese amateur titles, the Amateur Meijin was Wu's first major amateur tournament in Japan. To become challenger, he had to start by earning one of the two places reserved for Tokyo residents. His start was promising: he won the Tokyo Amateur Meijin preliminary in April. Then he had to win a six-round challenger knockout held July 14-15. His six straight victories in the knockout began with a resignation win over a 14-year old opponent from Nagasaki prefecture, and ended with a 3.5-point ko-powered win over an opponent his own age from Tomiyama prefecture. In between, he defeated the oldest player in the knockout, Nishimura Osamu, winner of the Asahi Amateur Best Ten tournament (the forerunner of the Amateur Meijin) in 1972.

And then Wu faced his toughest opponent, the defending Korean-born Amateur Meijin Hong Suk-eui (Japanese reading: Hon Soggi). While Wu had been working his way toward the challenger's spot, Hong had been competing with remarkable success in the Agon Kiriyama Cup, defeating seven pro opponents, culminating in a victory over a 9-dan that put him into the best-16 stage (where he finally lost). In 2009, while still living in Korea, Hong had accomplished a similar feat in the BC Card Cup. He had also won about half a dozen Korean amateur titles. 'If I lose to him, it will be only natural,' Wu said.

The best-of-three Amateur Meijin title match was held at the Sekitei inn in Yugawara. Since Hong now lives in Osaka and Wu in Tokyo, the match was an east-west confrontation, something that Japan revels in. Drawing white in the first game on July 27, Wu played aggressively in the opening and middle game, but Hong found a successful counterattack that forced Wu to resign. In the second game on July 28, Hong took an early lead but relaxed in the middle game and then had to fight hard to recover. In the end he out-read Wu and won again by resignation. Hong is the first player to win the Amateur Meijin title three times, and he hopes to make it four next year.

 

U.S. Go Congress Coming Up in Early August

The 2013 U.S. Go Congress, to be held in Tacoma, Washington August 3-11, will include 18 separate tournaments. In addition to the U.S. Open, there will be open tournaments on 13 x 13 and 9 x 9 boards, open tournaments for women and pairs, an open lightning tournament, a teachers' workshop, and an open song and poetry contest. No less than five youth tournaments are scheduled, plus a youth-adult pair tournament. At the high end of the competition, there will be the annual masters'tournament and a strong players' tournament, each restricted to 16 invited professional and amateur players, and the final match of the Pandanet-AGA City League. Pros from China, Japan, and Korea will be in attendance to teach and comment.

Tacoma is located on the Puget Sound and is within easy reach of Seattle. For further details of the Congress and the many local attractions, visit the congress website.

The registration deadline is July 31.

 

2013 European Go Congress Begins Soon in Poland

The 2013 European Go Congress will be held the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland, July 27-August 11. Attendance is expected to approach one thousand, including most of the strongest European players, some strong Far Eastern amateurs, and pros from China, Japan, and Korea. In addition to the ten-round main tournament, there will be a five-round weekend tournament, a nine-round rapid tournament, and a six-round blitz tournament, plus tournaments for pairs, teams, children, and computers, tournaments on 13 x 13 and 9 x 9 boards, and more. For those who can tear themselves away from the go board, there will be equipment for other board games, plus a gymnasium, basketball and volleyball courts, and a football field.

For those with academic interests, the congress will include a new event: the first EGC Science Conference, covering go-related topics in computer science as well as the history, culture, psychology, and pedagogy of go. Olsztyn is in the Masurian Lakes district of Poland, so there will also be opportunities for swimming and boating.

Further information can be found at the congress website.

 

Chinese Pros Dominate Early Rounds of Mlily Cup

Kong JieKong JieThe first two rounds of the 64-player knockout to determine the winner of the Mlily Cup were played in Beijing July 9 and 11. Of the four Korean amateurs who won places among the 64, Oh Jangwook drew as his first opponent Taiwan's 19-year-old 6-dan pro Joanne Missingham, aka Hei Jiajia. This game caught the eye of the media (Joanne attracts attention whenever she sits down to play), but that did not bother Oh; taking white, he won by 1-1/4 stone, the Chinese equivalent of 2-1/2 points.

But that was to be the only win by an amateur player. In the second round Oh drew Korean 9-dan Choi Chulhan, men's gold medalist at the 2012 World Mind Games, and lost by resignation. The other three amateurs (Choi Hyeonjae, Jeong Seunghyeon, and Lee Changseok), lost to 9-dan pros Kong Jie (China) and Yuki Satoshi (Japan) and 15-year-old 2-dan pro Kun Yanyu (China) in the first round. The other two women competing also departed in the first round: Song Ronghui, women's gold medalist at the 2008 World Mind Sports Games lost to Choi Chulhan, and Wang Chenxing, whose eight straight wins powered the Chinese women's team to victory in the Huang Longshi Cup last year, was beaten by Korean 9-dan Cho Hanseung.

In some other notable games, six 4-dan and lower-ranked pros overcame famed 9-dan opponents: China's Tang Weixing, who won the men's individual gold medal at the recent Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games, beat Ing Cup winner Fan Tingyu; Na Hyun, who led the Korean men's team to a gold medal in the Indoor & Martial Arts Games, beat LG Cup winner Shi Yue; China's An Dongxu beat Japan's Meijin Yamashita Keigo; China's Mi Yuting eliminated former Fujitsu Cup winners Kang Dongyun and Lee Sedol; Chinese shodan Lei Zhenkun beat former winner of almost everything Lee Changho; and China's Dang Yifei beat Xie He, whose victory over Lee Changho gave China the Nongshim Cup in 2012. Dang, Mi, and Tang were among the thirteen Chinese survivors of the second round, giving China a tremendous edge over Korea (two survivors) and Japan (one survivor). The third round will be played on August 9.

Game records are available at the go4go website

 

Lukas Krämer wins German Championship

From the left; Obenaus, Krämer, Radmacher and Welter (photo: Klaus PetriFrom the left; Obenaus, Krämer, Radmacher and Welter (photo: Klaus PetriThe 2013 German Championship was played in two stages. The first was a six-round Swiss system among sixteen players, held in mid-June in Kassel. The final stage was a round robin among eight players, played July 4-7 in Darmstadt. Both stages featured a 6-point compensation, which produced two draws in the Swiss system and one in the round robin, and helped sort out the standings with less need to use tie-breaking points.

The stars of the first stage were Lukas Krämer, Bernd Radmacher, and Marlon Welter. They beat each other (Lukas beat Bernd, who beat Marlon, who beat Lukas) and won all their other games to take the top three places and proceed to the final stage. Joining them was Mathias Terwey, who won four games and finished fourth.

The round robin began on the morning of July 4 at Darmstadt's Gastspielhaus, a mecca for players of games ranging from Abenteuer Menschheit to Zug um Zug. Franz-Joseph Dickhut, the oldest contestant at age 44, was now the player to beat: he had won eleven previous German championships, including the last three in a row. His first-round opponent was Lukas, the youngest contestant at age 20. Lukas has compiled an impressive record over the past five years, starting with the German youth championship in 2008, and he now added another victory to it. Bernd Radmacher also made a good start, by beating 2006 German youth champion Johannes Obenaus.

The tournament then moved to the Bertolt-Brecht School. There Lukas beat Johannes on the afternoon of the 4th, took an undisputed lead by downing Jun Tarumi and Benjamin Teuber on the 5th while Bernd lost to Franz-Josef, and clinched the championship with wins over Marlon and Matthias on the 6th, while Bernd lost to Marlon in a dramatic ko fight. Lukas finally dropped a game, to Bernd, in the last round on the 7th, which gave Bernd second place (five wins). Johannes finished third; after losing his first two games, he had scored four wins and a draw.

Full results, pictures, and further information (in German) can be found here.

 

Win a trip to the 3rd World Mind Games in Beijing

The 3rd SportAccord World Mind Games will be held in Beijing, China, December 12-18, 2013.

The Mind Games will be preceded by the 3rd 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 August 18, 2013.

Full details are available here.

 

 

Seok-Bin Cho Sweeps Vienna

The first annual Vienna International Go Tournament drew 90 players to Austria to enjoy a mid-June weekend of go at the edge of the Vienna Woods, and to compete for prizes ranging from €70 for tenth place to €1000 for first place. Five McMahon rounds were scheduled, with starting points assigned according to the European rating system. The top group consisted of fourteen players rated over 2500, led by Germany's Seok-Bin Cho (2795) and including Ilya Shikshin (2735) and Alexander Dinerchtein (2717), who dominate Russian go and have won ten European Championships since 1999.

The first round started at a leisurely 11:00 on June 15th, with the top fourteen paired against each other. The seven winners included the above three, two from Czechia (Ondrej Silt and Jan Hora), another German (Benjamin Teuber), and one Spanish player (Lluis Oh). In the second round the two Germans kept winning but the Russians were upended: Benjamin beat Ilya and Lluis beat Alexander. Seok-Bin was drawn down against Czechia's Vladimir Danek, whom he beat, and Jan defeated Ondrej in an all-Czech match. In the third round Seok-Bin and Lluis bested Jan and Benjamin to end the day undefeated.

The climactic game was the next morning's confrontation between Seok-Bin and Lluis, both of whom grew up in Korea. Victory went to Seok-Bin, who then downed Ilya in the final round to win the tournament with a perfect 5-0 score. This was Seok-Bin's fourth unbeaten triumph of the year, following Madrid, Amsterdam, and Strasbourg, and it sent his rating over 2800. Meanwhile, Ondrej beat Benjamin and Lluis in the last two rounds to take second place with a 4-1 score. Jan and Lluis tied for third with 3-2 scores and equal SOS points. Also finishing in the money were Benjamin (5th), Ilya (6th), Pavol Lisy (Slovakia, 7th), Pal Balogh and Csaba Mero (Hungary, tied for 8th), and Alexander, who split the tenth-place prize with Austria's Viktor Lin.

Below the McMahon bar, Austrian champion Schayan Hamrah came in 18th; three kyu-ranked players from Czechia (Ondrej Jurasek, Tereza Salajkova, and Petr Kratochvil) earned two books apiece and raised their ratings substantially by winning all their games; and many others earned single-book prizes by winning three of their first four games.

Complete results, pictures, and a firsthand report (in German) are here
 

Dai Zhitian Stops He Yuhan in Yellow River Cup

This year the Yellow River Cup was held at the Armed Police Sanatorium in the Beidaihe seaside resort district in Qinhuangdao, 300 km due east of Beijing. A total of 288 players ranked 5 dan and up competed for assorted prizes, including 20,000 yuan (about $3200 or €2500) for individual first place. Among the contestants was He Yuhan, the 13-year-old boy wonder who won the Amateur Tianyuan title in February and the Fengcheng Cup earlier in May.

After disposing of his morning and afternoon opponents on the first day of play (May 27), He faced China's number-three-rated amateur Ma Tianfang in the evening round. He had beaten Ma in the Fengcheng Cup, and now he beat him again. Next morning the other three members of China's top amateur quartet (Hu Yuqing, Bai Baoxiang, Wang Chen) joined Ma in the one-loss group while He continued to win, adding four more victories on May 28 and 29 to his opening streak. Here the tournament adjourned for a day. When play resumed on May 31, He was drawn down against Bai in the morning round. Bai suffered his second loss while He remained undefeated.

The only other undefeated player at this point was Dai Zhitian, a 17-year-old from Shanxi Province who learned go at the age of seven, trained at the Ma Xiaochun Daochang and now trains at the Ge Yuhong Daochang in Beijing, won the Shanxi Championship in 2011, and took eighth place in the national Evening News Cup in January. He and Dai were paired against each other on the top board in the afternoon round, and here He's winning streak ended. Dai, playing white, gradually pulled ahead in the middle game. He, unable to shake his opponent's lead, had to resign.

Four rounds still remained, but as it turned out, the winner of the cup had already been decided. Dai and He continued to beat all comers. Their closest challenger was Li Weiqing, another 13-year-old, who lost to He in the evening round on May 31 and faced Dai in the last round on June 2. In that final match, Dai (black) played a free-wheeling galactic-style game, surrounded a huge area in the center, and won by resignation in 139 moves. Li came in third, He came in second, and Dai finished first with a perfect 13-0 score.

In addition to the cup, Dai received an immediate promotion to 7 dan, the highest amateur rank awarded in China. Asked about future plans, Dai said that his dream is to play go professionally, but if he does not make pro this year, he will proceed with higher education.

Dai was not the only winner. There were also team prizes (the team from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics took first place) and prizes for the best youth, female, and senior players. Even those who do not understand Chinese will enjoy seeing Dai, He, Li, and other winners and contestants in Sports-Sina's slide show.

 

Swiss Go Championship

The 2013 Swiss Go Championship was played in seven leisurely McMahon rounds May 18-21 at Veyrier, near Lake Geneva. Sebastian Koch (3 dan), Felicien Mazille (2 dan), and Sebastian Ott (1 dan) ended with identical 6-1 scores (Koch beat Ott, who beat Mazille, who beat Koch), but Koch was one SOS point ahead of Mazille and Ott, and Mazille was two SOSOS points ahead of Ott, so they finished in order of their ranks. This is Sebastian Koch's fourth Swiss championship, following 1997, 2002, and 2004 (and a near miss in 2009). Sylvain Praz (2 kyu) took 8th place and will represent Switzerland at the World Amateur Go Championship in Sendai, while Sebastaian Ott will play in the Korea Prime Minister Cup. Noted author and translator Monique Golay (7 kyu) took part and finished 19th. Last year's champion Armel-David Wolff, who came in 6th in Amsterdam earlier in May, did not compete, but Amsterdam winner Seok-Bin Cho (8 dan) was on hand to analyze games.

Further information and pictures are available here.  Complete results are here

 

34th World Amateur Go Championship

Venue of the 34th WAGCVenue of the 34th WAGCThe 34th World Amateur Go Championship will open on August 31 and be held on September 1-4 at the Sendai City Information & Industry Plaza in the AER building in Sendai, Japan. Located next to Sendai Station, AER is a popular commercial complex with many shops and restaurants. 

Entry applications from 60 countries and territories have been received so far; a lively tournament is anticipated.

In the past the World Amateur Go Championship has been held in the spring, but this year the schedule was moved back because of the effects of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.

Thanks to support from all over the world during the past two years, most of the regions hit by the earthquake are now recovering. It is hoped that through the game of go this tournament will give the world proof of the recovery and encourage the local people to press ahead with the long recovery process.

 

Korean Amateurs Shine in Mlily Cup Preliminaries

The preliminary rounds of the Mlily Cup, a new world go open tournament sponsored by a noted manufacturer of mattresses, pillows, and other bedding supplies, were played at the Chinese Weiqi Association's quarters in Beijing May 21-24 under the auspices of the International Go Federation. The purpose of the preliminary rounds was to select 50 players to join 14 seeds in the main tournament that starts in July. Four of the 50 slots were reserved for female pros, and four were reserved for amateurs.

The amateur slots were contested by sixteen players from China, eight from Korea, three from Japan, two from Chinese Taipei, and one each from Europe and North America. China and Korea chose their participants through national qualifying tournaments. Japan sent in three young players (Yamado Mao, Shimizu Kosuke, Wu Poyi) who are currently studying at the Hong Dojo in Tokyo with hopes of making pro shodan this fall. Chinese Taipei sent junior high-schooler Huang Shih-yuan (a top insei) and the veteran Dr. Chen Shi. The North American player was Toronto University student Ryan Li, winner of the Waterloo Go Tournament in March. Europe was represented by Dr. Manuela ('Manja') Marz, a junior-professor of bioinformatics at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany who made the trip to Beijing accompanied by her three-month-old daughter Larissa.

The victor of Waterloo and the professor of bioinformatics fell in the first round on May 21. In an unusual development, Manja's game was temporarily suspended at move 119 so that she could breastfeed Larissa. Three Korean and five Chinese players also lost, as did both of the players from Chinese Taipei and all three of the Japanese. Hong-sensei spoke with his three pupils by phone afterward. 'They felt as if they had run into a wall,' he said.

Joanne Missingham (photo from the Mlily website)Joanne Missingham (photo from the Mlily website)The Chinese accordingly outnumbered the Koreans 11-5 in the second round, but the Koreans now stood their ground, even dispatching Wang Chen, one of China's top four amateurs. The other three of the top four (Hu Yuqing, Bai Baoxiang, and Ma Tainfang), together with China's Zhao Yiwu, advanced into the third and final amateur round on May 23, but there disaster awaited them. Jeong Seunghyeon, Lee Changseok, and Oh Jangwook, currently ranked 9th, 12th, and 15th in the Korean insei league, defeated Bai, Zhao, and Ma, respectively, and in a game that may foretell the outcome of this year's World Amateur Championship, Choi Hyeonjae (Korea's amateur Kuksu) defeated China's top-rated Hu Yuqing. Choi, Jeong, Lee, and Oh will return to Beijing for the first round of the main tournament on July 9.

The day after the Korean amateurs' smashing success, Chinese pros closed out the professional preliminary rounds in smashing style themselves, taking 32 of the 42 men's slots (Koreans got the other 10) plus three of the four women's slots. The fourth winning female pro was Australian-born Joanne Missingham, aka Hei Jiajia, who has played for Oceania in the Denso Cup and for Chinese Taipei in the World Mind Games and now gets another chance at a world title.

 

Fengcheng Cup: He Yuhan Does It Again!

Just three months after winning the Amateur Tianyuan title, 13-year-old He Yuhan has added the Fencheng Cup to his trophy bag. Fengcheng is a central Chinese city that has prospered through agriculture and coal mining. The prizes in the Fengcheng Cup ranged from 50,000 yuan (over $8000 or €6000) for 1st place down to 500 yuan for 33rd-50th places. There were also prizes of 5000 to 600 yuan for the best ten seniors (age 35 and up) and cups for the members of the best teams. Over 150 players took part. The games were played at the four-star Hongzhou Hotel.

The competition began on May 12. In the afternoon round on that day He Yuhan was paired against Qian Liuru, the only player he lost to in the Amateur Tianyuan. Revenge was duly taken: He won; Qian ended up in 59th place. Round six featured a match between China's two top rated amateurs, Hu Yuqing and Bai Baoxiang. Bai (number two), the Fengcheng Cup winner last year, won this game to stay undefeated. Also undefeated at this point were number-three-rated Ma Tianfang and He Yuhan.

In the seventh round He took undisputed possession of the lead by beating Ma while Bai lost to Ye Lingyun, who eventually finished 8th. For the rest of the tournament He could not be dislodged from first place. In the next two rounds He defeated Liao Yuanhe, a player near his own age but even younger, who was on his way to a 4th-place finish, and Kang Rui, who finished 14th. He finally lost in the tenth round, to Xie Ke (who finished 7th), but then He defeated Bai Baoxiang by resignation in the eleventh and final round on May 17, sending Bai down to 13th place, although with the consolation of a team cup. Ma Tianfang, the Fengcheng Cup winner in 2009, finished 2nd with a 9-2 score, one game behind He's 10-1. Click here for a Java replay of the He-Bai game (He is black)

 

Amsterdam Go Together

Dutch go organizers took advantage of a four-day weekend to stage no less than five tournaments in and around Amsterdam on May 8-12, drawing players from all over Europe to celebrate Ascension Day on the go board. There were six different winners, representing the Netherlands, Germany, and Russia.

The action started with a five-round handicap blitz for early arrivers, held on ther evening of May 8 at the Cafe Batavia in Amsterdam. The victor was Kim Ouweleen, who works at the Het Paard Chess and Go Bookshop, which sponsored the event. Niels van den Bogaert shared second place with a pair of players from Finland: Olli Pukkinen and Johannes Laire.

The largest event (81 players) was the 42nd annual Amsterdam International Tournament that began the next day. German players have done well in this tournament for the past few years, and this year they did so again. Seok-Bin Cho, a former Korean insei who moved to Hamburg in 2005, won in all six rounds to take first place for a third time (he also won in 2006 and 2012). Lukas Krämer (Bonn) finished right behind him in second place. Bernd Shütze and Matthias Terwey finished eighth and ninth, giving Germany four of the top ten spots. This was Seok-Bin's second triumph in eight days: he also won the Madrid Tournament in Spain on May 4-5. Full results are here.

In parallel with the Amsterdam International, the European Pair Go Championship was played at the Natalia KovalevaNatalia KovalevaEuropean Go Cultural Centre in Amstelveen, with 24 competing pairs. Ilya Shikshin and Svetlana Shikshina, the brother-sister pair from Kazan, Russia were the unbeaten winners; they will now represent Europe at the SportAccord Mind Games in December. Alexander Vashurov (also from Kazan) and Natalia Kovaleva (Chelyabinsk) led the group of seven pairs with 4-2 results to take third place. Czechia's Jan Hora and Klara Zaloudkova defeated Alexander and Natalia to finish second. Complete results are here.

May 10 was given over to the DNM Amsterdam Rapid, a five-round handicap tournament with 30-minute sudden-death time limits. As in the pair championship, two Russian players proved unbeatable, but this time it was Ilya Shikshin and Natalia Kovaleva who won all their games. Natalia had defeated Seok-Bin Cho with a two-stone handicap in the second round, and she did likewise against Ilya in an extra playoff game to win the tournament. Full results are here.

The fifth tournament was the Kunwa Children's Tournament, which was held on the last day of the Go Together. Although most of the six contestants were from the Netherlands, the winner was a guest from Germany: Ferdinand Marz. Pepijn Joost Jacob took second place.

 

Kodomo No Hi, a Tradition of Tomorrow

Last week, once again, members of the Argentine Go Association (AAGo) gathered at the Japanese Garden of Buenos Aires for the celebration of Kodomo No Hi (Children’s Day in Japan) to teach the game of Go to the ones interested, activity which thankfully is becoming regular.

Amongst other great things for the day, the nice people of the Japanese Garden built a giant 7x7 Go board on the floor, with tape and black and white pillows, which was a source of great fun for both kids and grown-ups. Besides, for the latter, big explanatory posters were printed, with a brief history and explanation of the game, so everyone could quickly understand what was going on.

As times goes by and the events held jointly by the AAGo and the Japanese Garden become recurrent, everything gets bigger and, at the same time, easier. Some of the kids had been there already last year, so they knew what was going on and, better yet, they were looking forward to it. Everyone had a really good time, and the possibility of opening up a special course of Go for kids at the AAGo appeared. With some luck, this may come true sometime this year.

One of the aims of these experiences, besides having the kids and the parents know that this great game exists, is to build, step by step, a new reality in which Go is actually played and enjoyed by people of all ages. To take every chance to play some good Go is, of course, the next goal. But above all, having little ones as young as 5 or 6 years, playing and learning Go just in front of you, makes the future, and the present, look brighter than ever.

Report and photo by Luciano Salerno (AAGo).