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.
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.
The final stage of the 2013 Belgian Championship was a round robin among ten players, held on two weekends in March at a bar–restaurant in Antwerp. Two of the contestants were unbeaten on the first weekend: Lucas Neirynck, the highest ranked at 5 dan, and Kevin Prist, 2 dan. On the second weekend these two dropped one game apiece, Kevin losing to Jan Ramon (4 dan) and Lucas to Kwinten Missiaen (3 dan), and then they met in the final round. In that showdown Lucas beat Kevin by half a point to take the championship for a second straight year, while Jan finished second by one tie-breaking point. Kwinten came in third and Kevin fourth.
Complete results are here. Further details of the final game are here.
here.The 2013 British Go Congress was held April 5-7 in Stevenage, a town near London, at a hotel that was formerly the home of Oliver Cromwell's secretary. It began with a 9-dan pro lesson from Michael Redmond, who was attending the Congress as part of a one-week teaching tour of Britain. This was followed by a lightning handicap tournament won by ten-year-old Oscar Selby, a fast-improving 12-kyu from Epsom. Then came the British Open, a six-round McMahon event. Sixty-seven players participated, fifteen of them in the top (2-4 dan) group. All but two were British, but the two exceptions did rather well. Zebin Du, a Chinese exchange student taking a semester abroad at Nottingham University, won all his games to finish first. His key victories were over fellow-student Yuanbo Zhang, who finished second, and last year's winner Andrew Kay, who finished third.Zebin's triumph was reported as far away as Ningbo, China, with a photo and comments that can be read in English
Full results of the British Open are given here.
Located in the Latin Quarter of Paris, the Lycée Louis-le-Grand is a secondary school with a long list of famous alumni (Degas, Poincare, Lafayette, Voltaire,...). From March 30 to April 1 it hosted a long list of European go talent: a total of 213 players, 50 of them dan ranked, who were competing in the Paris Go Tournament. The schedule included a 6-round McMahon main tournament and an evening blitz tournament on March 31. Most of the contestants were from France, but the top ten finishers in the main tournament also included players from Austria, Romania, Czechia, and Spain.
The undefeated winner was Junfu Dai of France (formerly China), who also won in 2010 and 2012. He clinched first place by defeating Europe's top rated player Hui Fan in round 5. Junfu has been a major force in French go for the past five years and is the author of a French go book about the middle game. Working as a financial director at Ascendeo has not slowed down his go activity; this year he was undefeated in large tournaments in Antony in February and Levallois in March as well. Photos of him playing in Paris can be found here.
Three more players would have been undefeated if they had not lost to Junfu Dai, and they took the next places. Finishing second was Lluis Oh of Barcelona, Spain (formerly of Seoul, Korea), who lost to Junfu in round 3. Lluis came to Spain as part of Korea's overseas baduk promotion program. He tells his own story in English and Spanish here.
Third and fourth places went to Cristian Pop (Romania) and the former Chinese 2-dan pro Hui Fan (France), who were making strong returns to major competition after periods of inactivity. Fifth to seventh places fell to Czech Go Baron Ondrej Silt, Romanian go instructor Cornel Burzo, and French youth champion Tanguy le Calvé, who won the blitz tournament. Eighth and ninth places were taken by a pair of Austrians, Hamrah Schayan and Viktor Lin, who might also have been undefeated if they had not encountered Junfu, Cristian, Hui, Ondrej, and Cornel. Tenth place went to France's Antoine Fenech, winner of the European Youth Masters' Cup in 2007, who downed Hungarian star Pal Balogh in round 5.
There was one other undefeated contestant. France's Kévin Trouilleux (1 kyu) upset Jean-Loup Naddef (3 dan) and Romania's Lucretiu Carlota (5 dan) in the last two rounds to earn 35 McMahon points and finish 26th. Full results are available here.
The tournament to select the player representing Chinese Taipei in the upcoming World Amateur Go Championship was held at the Ta-an Junior High School in Taipei March 16-17. The entry requirement was an amateur ranking of 6 dan or higher. The 65 participants included several insei and, at the other end of the spectrum, Chen Shi, winner of professional titles in the mid-1980s, who took a decade out to earn a PhD in chemistry in the United States, later retired as a professional go player, and now competes as an amateur.
Dr. Chen was one of sixteen who survived the initial rounds played on the 16th. About half of the other survivors were insei, but most of them fell in the next two rounds, which narrowed the field down to just four players. All four were junior high-school students: Wang I-nan, the local favorite since he attends Ta-an Junior High; Huang Tao-lung of Yuang-lin Junior High; Tseng Ping-sin, who attends Yung-an Junior High and played for Chinese Taipei in the International Amateur Pair Go Championship in 2011; and Lin Hsin-wei of Fushan Junior High in Kaohsiung. Lin was the only insei left and he was in good form; he had posted the best record (12-2) in the February Southern Taiwan Insei League. In his last game on the 16th he had beaten Lo Sheng-chieh, men's bronze medalist at the World Mind Sports Games in Lille last August.
In the afternoon playoff among these four, first Tseng defeated Wang and Lin defeated Huang; then Lin decisevely beat Tseng to win a place at the WAGC, plus a first prize of 30,000 Taiwan dollars (about 1000 U.S. dollars). Wang beat Huang to take the third prize (10,000 Taiwan dollars).
here.The Irish Go Congress, held on the first three days of March at the Teachers Club in Dublin, began with a handicapped five-round Swiss System rapid tournament played on the evening of March 1. Sixteen players participated, bearing six nationalities and ranks ranging from 4 dan to 10 kyu. Chinese 4-dan Yuanbo Zhang took first with a perfect 5-0 score, beating Zebin Du, another Chinese 4-dan, in the final round. Thomas Shanahan (7-kyu) and Irish champion Roman Pszonka (3-dan) scored 4-1 results to take third and second places, while Du Zebin finished fourth. Full results are
Next came the main event, the 2nd Confucius Cup, a five-round McMahon tournament played on March 2-3 with sponsorship from the Confucius Institute for Ireland. The field now expanded to 48 players of 11 nationalities, ranked 6 dan to 20 kyu. In the first round Roman Pszonka lost to the 6-dan, Hungary's Csaba Mero, who had won the 1st Confucius Cup last year. Csaba then beat the eventual 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th placers -- Zebin Du (China), Antoine Fenech (France), Brunner Vit (Czechia), and Renaud Julien (France) -- in succession to take first place, while Roman placed eighth. The key game was Csaba's half-point victory over Zebin Du in round 2. Two kyu-level players, Roger Daniel (UK) and Mikulas Kubita (Czechia) also finished unbeaten. Full results are here.
This year's European Youth Go Championship, held at the Budai Sport Hotel in Budapest March 8-10, was again dominated by Eastern European players. As last year, they won all three divisions: under 20, under 16, and under 12.
Seventeen youths from ten different countries competed in the U20 division. Slovak champion Pavol Lisy (6d) started out by beating Germany's Jonas Welticke (4d) and Israel's Ali Jabarin (6d) in rounds 1 and 2. Then he disposed of last year's winner and runner-up Lukas Podpera (6d, Czechia) and Aleksandr Vashurov (5d, Russia) in rounds 3 and 4, and finished by beating Frantisek Caha (5k, Czechia) and Dominik Boviz (3d, Hungary) to win the championship with a perfect 6-0 score. His opponents came in 5th, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 9th, and 6th, respectively.
The U16 championship was contested by 47 players. Nearly a third were Hungarian, but it was Stepan Popov (3d, Russia) and Silvestru State (1d, Romania) who ended on top with identical 5-1 scores. Stepan had beaten Silvestru in round 2 and took first place on tie-breaking points despite losing his final game to Vjacheslav Kajmin (2d, Russia), who took third place. For Stepan it was a case of coming through on the third try: he had finished second in 2011 and 2012.
The U12 division had 64 contestants, with large blocs from Russia, Hungary, and the Ukraine. Valerii Krushelnytskyi (1d, Ukraine), the only dan-ranked player, defeated five Russian opponents and one Romanian opponent to finish first with a perfect 6-0 record for the second consecutive year.
By winning the U16 and U12 divisions, Stepan and Valerii earned berths in the World Youth Go Championship scheduled for August in Praha.
There was also a U99 McMahon side tournament, won by the Ukraine's Viktor Redila (8k).
Complete results, pictures, and further information are available at the tournament website.
Will some future history of go in the Netherlands refer to this decade, and perhaps several decades to come, as the Kuin dynasty? This year Merlijn and Marika Kuin, the Netherlands' outstanding go-playing couple, won both the Dutch Championship and the Dutch Women's Championship, as they also did in 2011. This was Merlijn's fifth championship and Marika's third.
The Dutch Championship was an 8-round Swiss system with 16 contestants, played at the European Go Cultural Centre in Amstelveen over a span of two weeks in January. Reigning champion Alexander Eerbeek and 2010 champion Geert Groenen got off to bad starts by losing their first games. So did Zeno van Ditzhuijzen, whose victory over Merlijn Kuin last year had given the 2012 championship to Alexander. Zeno then made a splended recovery by winning all seven of his remaining games, including another victory over Merlijn in round 5. This was Merlijn's only loss, so he and Zeno finished in a 1-2 tie with seven wins apiece while Frank Janssen took undisputed third place with six wins. Since the Dutch Championship is not awarded on the basis of tie-breaking points, a best-of-three playoff between Merlijn and Zeno was scheduled for mid-February.
While the championship rounds were finishing up on January 26-27, Marika Kuin sailed undefeated through the Dutch Women's Championship, as she also did in 2011 and 2012. Marieke Overbeek took second place with four wins in this 5-round, 8-player Swiss system. Please read Marika's perspective here. The championship playoff was held with live coverage on EuroGoTV. Merlijn won the first game, played at the EGCC on February 16, by resignation. Next day the playoff moved to the Hotel Theater Figi in Zeist and Merlijn won again, this time by 2.5 points. Full results of both championships, with clickable game records of the playoff (bekijk partij), are available here.
Two weeks before China's 16-year-old Fan Tingyu became the youngest player ever to gain a major international professional go title by winning the Ing Cup, 13-year-old He Yuhan showed that even younger players can gain big titles by winning the Amateur Tianyuan, a major national tournament in China. This is actually his second major triumph; he won the top youth division of the Lark Cup in 2011, at age 12.
Also known as the Qingyun Cup, the Amateur Tianyuan was played at the New World Hotel in Lishui on February 18-22. The tournament drew seventy amateur players to this city in a part of China noted for its forests and mineral resources. Most of the players had 5-dan rankings, but the field included three 7-dans: Hu Yuqing, Wang Chen, and Qian Liuru, who finished 1-2-4 in this year's Evening News Cup. He Yuhan was one of seventeen 6-dans. The tournament was run as a 9-round Swiss system with 75-minute time limits and no overtime.
He's first opponent was Sha Xingyu, who was five years older and had won the Hotel Cup last November. The game was played in the evening of February 18 and He made a good start by winning it. After drawing somewhat easier opponents in the next three rounds, He then scored his fifth straight victory by beating China's top-rated amateur Hu Yuqing in round 5 on February 20. In round 6 He beat the only other undefeated player left to take sole posession of the lead. Next morning, however, He lost to Qian Liuru. Hu Yuqing also lost in this round, to Feng Yi. He, Qian, and Feng won in the afternoon to stand neck-and-neck at 7-1.
The deciding final round was held on the morning of February 22. He's last opponent was Beijing University student Wang Tianyi, who won a gold medal playing xiangqi (Chinese chess) at the 2012 World Mind Games. Not only is Wang China's xiangqi champion; he is also rated among China's top fifty amateur go players, but He prevailed. Meanwhile Feng beat Qian to tie He with eight wins and one loss, but He had better SOS points. He's triumph brings honor to his native city of Chongqing and to the Nie Weiping Daochang where he trains.
The 26th Evening News Cup was held on January 6-12 in Xian, once the starting point of the silk road, now a center of China's software industry. The tournament is sponsored by the Chinese Weiqi Association and the China Evening News Journalists' Association. Although its financial rewards are modest (10,000 yuan -- about 1600 dollars or 1200 euros -- for 1st place) it is China's foremost amateur tournament because since 1992 the winner (or runner-up in 2002-2005) has represented China at the World Amateur Go Championship. The winner also receives a promotion to 7 dan and has the option of turning pro, as Qiao Zhijian did last year. This year the field included four former world champions who remained amateur: Sun Yiguo (1993), Li Daichun (2001), Hu Yuqing (2005, 2009), and Bai Baoxiang (2011). It also included 2010 WAGC runner-up Wang Chen, winner of the 120,000-yuan Chenyi Cup in 2011 and the Amateur Tianyuan in 2012 and ranked, along with Hu and Bai, among China's top four amateur players.
The Evening News Cup is both an individual and a team competition. Most of the players participate as members of three-person teams representing evening newspapers from all over China, their aggregate score determining their team's standing. The field (166 players this year) was divided into A and B blocks. An 11-round Swiss system in each block was followed by a two-round combined play-off for 1st to 8th places. The players played two games per day (one on January 8), with 85-minute time limits followed by 10-second-per-move overtime.
For the first five days block A was dominated by Wang Chen and block B by Hu Yuqing. Nobody could beat them. Wang downed Bai Baoxiang in round 7, and Hu defeated Qian Liuru, a rising teenaged star who contested the 2012 Chenyi Cup with Bai (Bai won), in round 6. On day six Hu remained invincible, winning block B with a perfect 11-0 score, but Wang lost twice, throwing block A into confusion: three players ended up with nine wins apiece and two had eight. SOS points sorted out the top three, putting Wang first, Jinglong Cup winner Li Ziqi second, and teenaged Cheng Honghao, master (mingren) of Anhui and Anqing in 2010 and 2011, third. Bai, who had lost to Cheng in round 10, squeaked into fourth place on a third-level tie-break.
In the semi-final round the next morning block B's No. 1 Hu defeated block A's No. 2 Li, but Block A's Wang, Cheng, and Bai prevailed over, respectively, the 2nd-, 4th-, and 3rd-place finishers in block B: Qian Liuru, eleven-year-old Wang Bo, and teenager Dai Zhitian. In the final round in the afternoon, Hu Yuqing won by resignation over Wang Chen to capture the cup, completing a remarkable week of thirteen straight victories against tough opponents, most of them about half his age. Li Ziqi beat out Qian Liuru for third place, Cheng Honghao beat Bai Baoxiang again to take fifth, and Wang Bo beat Dai Zhitian to take seventh.
On January 13 the top six finishers challenged strong professional opponents (Piao Wenyao, Jiang Weijie, Shi Yue, Tan Xiao, Nie Weiping, Xie He). Historically the amateurs, playing at handicaps ranging from even to two stones, have won more than half of these games. This year the amateurs took black with no compensation and the pros beat them on all six boards.
The team competition was won by a team representing the Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening News, no suprise since the team members were Hu Yuqing, Wang Chen, and 2003 World Student Oza Champion Ye Lingyun. Best woman was Zhao Guanru, who finished 35th in block A. Veteran world amateur champions Li Daichun and Sun Yiguo turned in good results by finishing 7th and 12th in block B.
Sixteen university students from five continents assembled in Tokyo's Ginza on February 26 and 27 for the 11th World Students Go Oza Championship. The tournament is sponsored by the All-Japan Students Go Association and the Nikkei newspaper, with the cooperation of the International Go Federation. Also cooperating was Pandanet, which organized the online qualifying tournament.
The first round matched the eight players from the four big powers, China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan (one male and one female player from each), against eight players from Australia, Chile, Finland, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Thailand, and the U.S.A. (one player from each). All but one of these games were won by the big powers, but in losing, Finland's Antti Tormanen gave Korea's Kim Youwhan what he later described as his toughest match of the tournament. In the one game that the big four lost, Maojie Xia, formerly a student at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China and now studying accounting at the University of Montana in the U.S.A., bested Ouyang Yizhuo, the Chinese female player.
In the next round Maojie Xia nearly did it again. His opponent Go Risa, a former Japanese insei of Korean ancestry, won by resignation but she had to come from far behind. 'A miracle' was how she described her victory. Meanwhile. Serbia's Dusan Mitic handed Ouyang Yizhuo her second loss. In the third round Maojie Xia was back in form, beating Japan's Yanagida Tomoya, who had won the Japanese Students Top Ten tournament last November. Go Risa lost to China's Su Guangyue, Kim Youwhan bested his teammate Chae Hyunji, and Antti Tormanen beat Dusan Mitic.
That left only Kim and Su undefeated. Kim won the deciding game between them in the fourth round to take the championship, while Su took second place on tie-breaking points. Antti Tormanen took third place by beating Lin Hung-ping. This was fairly remarkable, because Lin had started the year by winning the Five Kings Cup in Taiwan, thereby becoming only the second woman in the history of go in Taiwan to earn an amateur 7-dan ranking. Go Risa beat Chae Hyunji to take fourth place, and Lo Sheng-chieh, Taiwan's male player, beat Maojie Xia to take fifth.
The new World Student Oza Kim Youwhan is a student at Myongji University, majoring in baduk, that is, in go. He hopes to make a career of promoting the game after he graduates. 'I was suprised at the strength of the players from countries outside the professional zone,' he said. This sentiment was echoed by Go Risa, who added that she had enjoyed the tournament because it gave her a chance to speak Korean. Runner-up Su Guangyue is studying law at the Shanghai International Studies University and hopes to open a go classroom for children in the future.
Complete results are here.
A group of 12 American players, including AGA President Andy Okun, visited Cuba on February 16th-17th for a friendship match with local players. Follows a report in Spanish by Rafael Miranda of the Cuban Academy of Go.
El sábado 16 y domingo 17 pasado; se celebró en la Academia Cubana de Go, el 2do Intercambio Cuba-EUA, el primero fue en el año 2000,organizado por Peter Shotwell, en ese entonces 28 norteamericanos viajaron a la isla y el intercambio fue solo amistoso no competitivo como en esta oportunidad, donde 12 jugadores organizados esta vez por Robert Gilman, se entusiasmaron en conocer la Academia Cubana de Go y sus jugadores, el torneo se organizo en tres grupos, Grupo Dan, Grupo Kyu fuerte y Grupo Kyu débil, en un sistema de 3 partidos diarios, dos en la mañana y uno en la tarde, a una hora finish con Komi de 6 1/2 puntos. El equipo norteamericano fue el mismo para los dos días de competencias; hubo dos equipos Cuba para diferentes días. El sábado 16 ganó el equipo norteño 24 por 9 donde Cuba solo supero en el Grupo Kyu Débil y el domingo 17 repitió la victoria los del norte esta vez 20 a 13 siendo Cuba superior en los Kyu Fuertes. En el grupo norteamericano integraba la nómina Andy Okun 1 Dan, presidente de la Asociación Americana de Go. Los partidos fueron muy buenos y en oportunidades bien reñidos. Durante la semana se estuvieron realizando partidos amistosos y entablándose una relación de amistad muy bonita entre visitantes y nacionales. Este intercambio dejó la perspectiva de seguir desarrollándose en próximas ediciones.
Last February 10th, the Mexican Go Association together with the Chess National School held their first Under 15 Youth Tournament. We had participants from Lancaster School, Chess National School and Pipiolo Art School accompanied by their respective teachers: Emil García, Iván Olguin and Siddhartha Ávila. It was a great event were the children got the chance to play with kids from different schools, backgrounds and styles. The event was mainly dominated by the students from Pipiolo school which also belong to the Mexican Go Community and have more experience competing. The surprise was given by Chess School student Angel Calvo, whom with little experience finished second. “This is the first of many steps to come in the road of linking the different sectors that are promoting youth Go in Mexico”, Mexican Go Association organizer and teacher Emil García reports.
1st - Leonardo P. - Valdovinos Pipiolo Art School
2nd - Angel Calvo - Chess National School
3rd - Samuel Suaustegui - Pipiolo Art School
The Mexican Youth Go Community drew 31 pairs to their first Pair Go Tourney, held in December in Mexico City. “The kids wanted to play go with their parents but they didn’t know how, so they asked us for workshops and lessons,” reports organizer Siddhartha Avila. “Then we thought, why not make go an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family, this way each family will spread the game even when their kids grow up and leave elementary school. We had a great response, with pairs including the kids, parents, relatives, or friends,” said Avila.
1st -Mariana (5th grader) and her mom
2nd - Melanie (2nd grader) and her dad;
3rd - Diego Armando (1st grader) and his mom.
A special thanks goes to the Principal Marcela Zepeda, Go teacher Marcos Arámbula and Israel Rodriguez President of Asociación Mexicana de Go, who helped with the pairings.