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Arirang Team Wins Thailand 15-Dan Go League

The inaugural Thailand 15-Dan Go League unfolded over a three-month period from February through April 2013. Although it ended in victory for a team from Korea, there were lots of prizes for teams and individuals from Thailand as well, thanks to sponsorship by several Thai companies.

Twenty-six teams participated, each limited to five dan-ranked players with a maximum total strength of 15 dan. Most of the teams were organized by Thai firms, but there were also teams from Chinese Taipei, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam, as well as a combined Laos-Singapore team. The field was divided into two sections, thirteen teams apiece, and a full round-robin was played in each section in February and March. During this stage the Thai teams competed weekly at the CP Tower in downtown Bangkok, while the foreign teams competed online from their home countries. Each team fielded four players in each match.

Arirang, the Korean team, got off to a good start in the Black section by shutting out the Thai Panasonic team 4-0 in round 1. Arirang met with stiffer resistance in rounds 2 and 3, drawing 2-2 against teams representing Zorus and Ichitan. The Ichitan team was led by Vorawat Charoensitthisathien, who was soon to win the WAGC selection tournament and will represent Thailand at the next World Amateur Go Championship. In round 4, however, Arirang began a six-match winning streak by shutting out the Foremost team, headed by 'Iron Hammer' Pariwat Sompaokaew, a 5-dan veteran of the 2007 World Student Go Oza and Korean Prime Minister Cup and the 2008 World Mind Sports Games. Although Arirang drew once more, against the Glory-Thai team, they remained undefeated and finished first in the Black section, while Foremost took second place.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese team from Saigon was winning the White section, with the team representing MFEC, a Thai IT services company, coming in a close second. The Saigon team was led by WAGC and KPMC veteran Le Mai Duy (7th in the KPMC in 2007). The MFEC team was led by Nuttakrit Taechaamnuayvit, also known as 'The Killer'. who gained third place in a tournament held last November in Nanning and had his 4-dan Thai rank officially raised to Chinese 5-dan.

The final stage was a round-robin among the four teams that took the top two spots in each section, each team now fielding all five of its members. The two foreign teams made the trip to Bangkok to compete in person. The action started with Arirang defeating MFEC and Foremost defeating Saigon on the morning of April 26. In the afternoon Arirang defeated Saigon and MFEC defeated Foremost. This established a clear pecking order that was finalized the next day, Arirang beating Foremost again and MFEC beating Saigon.

At the awards ceremony on the afternoon of April 27, Korsak Chairasmisak, president of the Thailand Go Association, presented the victory cup to the Arirang team (Yunjeong Jang, 5-dan; Sunghyun Park, 4-dan; Solbin Kim, 3-dan, Hyunwook Cho 2-dan, Eunjin Park 1-dan). This came with a prize of 90,000 bahts (about $3,000 or €2,000). MFEC received the 80,000-baht prize for the best Thai team, while the Foremost team took home a 70,000-baht runner-up prize. Pariwat Sompaokaew won the MVP award for being the Thai player to win the most games. MFEC's Phatraphon Aroonphaichitra won the Woman Warrior award for being the Thai woman to defeat the most male opponents. PTT's Nonthawat Tanthanasiwakun won the Rising Star prize awarded to the Thai high-school student who won the most games. These three individual prizes were also worth 70,000-bahts apiece, and in addition, all twenty players in the final stage received a 10,000-baht participation award.

The winning teams. Korsak Chairasmisak (tan jacket) and two other sponsoring officials (dark jackets) are at center in the back row, surrounded by the victorious Arirang team (white shirts). The MFEC team (Nuttakrit Taechaamnuayvit 4-dan, Krit Jamkachornkiat 4-dan, Warit Jamkachornkiat 3-dan, Phatraphon Aroonphaichitra 3-dan, Kamolrod Dechawongwiset 1-dan) is to the left; the Foremost team (Pariwat Sompaokaew 5-dan, Peerapat Permsuwanchareon 4-dan, Todsawat Manutsatien 3-dan, Wasupol Cheng 2-dan, Chayathorn Muneewong 1-dan) is to the right.(Photo by Thaigogenius)The winning teams. Korsak Chairasmisak (tan jacket) and two other sponsoring officials (dark jackets) are at center in the back row, surrounded by the victorious Arirang team (white shirts). The MFEC team (Nuttakrit Taechaamnuayvit 4-dan, Krit Jamkachornkiat 4-dan, Warit Jamkachornkiat 3-dan, Phatraphon Aroonphaichitra 3-dan, Kamolrod Dechawongwiset 1-dan) is to the left; the Foremost team (Pariwat Sompaokaew 5-dan, Peerapat Permsuwanchareon 4-dan, Todsawat Manutsatien 3-dan, Wasupol Cheng 2-dan, Chayathorn Muneewong 1-dan) is to the right.(Photo by Thaigogenius)

Photos of the awards ceremony and charts of the Black and White round-robin results can be found here.

The video clip of the awards ceremony at the bottom of this page is worth a look even if you don't understand Thai.