Wang Chen Wins 2014 World Students Go Oza

Wang Chen (photo: the Nihon Ki-in)Wang Chen (photo: the Nihon Ki-in)Not long ago, on February 24 to be exact, sixteen globetrotting, go-playing university students gathered at the Hotel Monterey La Soeur Ginza in Tokyo for a reception to kick off the 12th World Students Go Oza (throne) Championship. Half of them, four young men and four young women, came from China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, where go is a major intellectual sport. Another six young men and two young women came from Brazil, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Russia, Thailand, the Ukraine, and the USA. Ahead of them were two days of competition to determine the champion and put the others in their places.

If you imagine a typical go-playing university student to be slight of build, serious, studious, and quiet, then there was one who looked the part perfectly. That was the young man from China: Wang Chen. But for the past few years Mr Wang has also been one of the 'Four Heavenly Kings' who rule China's amateur rating list.

A native of Dalian, Mr Wang learned go at age seven and started taking part in the annual Chinese professional qualification tournament at age ten. After nine straight failures to make pro, he gave up and enrolled at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, where he studies economic reporting and captains the university's go team. In the meantime, he had begun winning major amateur tournaments in China, at least one each year since 2009.

(Photo: the Nihon Ki-in)(Photo: the Nihon Ki-in)Chinese amateur tournaments have significant monetary prizes. When he won the Chenyi Cup in 2011, Mr Wang earned as much as a white-collar worker in China might make in two years. Essentially he was putting himself through college by playing go. Last July he won the first Chinese International University Weiqi (go) Tournament, and this year in January, after taking fourth place in the Evening News Cup, he beat one of China's top pros in the Evening News pro-amateur team match, so this unassuming economist-to-be landed in Tokyo with excellent prospects of winning yet another championship.

And that's what he did. In the first round on the morning of February 25 he downed Ken (Kai Kun) Xie, who had been New Zealand champion at age twelve in 2006. Playing black, Wang killed two groups of white stones and won by resignation in 175 moves. (When played out to the end, a typical game of go lasts nearly 300 moves.)

In the second round Wang faced Yamikumo Tsubasa, an Osaka University student who has consistently done well in the Japanese Students Top Ten Tournament. Playing white, Wang killed a black group at the 120th move. Mr Yamikumo conceded the game 44 moves later. Next morning Wang defeated the other Japanese player, Ritsumei University coed Go Risa. She came out of the opening badly and resigned after only 90 moves. Wang's last opponent, Chung Chen-En, a student at Taiwan's National Central University, put up more resistance than the other three, but in the end he too resigned, following a futile last-ditch attack on one of Wang's groups.

Yamikumo, Go, and Chung did not lose to anyone else, so they finished as part of the four-way tie for runner-up. Tie-breaking points put Yamikumo second, Chung third, and Go fourth. Taiwan's Hu Shih-Yun also lost only one game and came in fifth. The opponent she lost to was the USA's Maojie Xia, who had played the two Japanese and finished a highly commendable sixth.

In his championship interview Mr Wang said that all of his games had gone well. None of his opponents would argue with that. He added that after graduating he hopes to continue his amateur career and is particularly interested in coaching talented young players.

And what about the rest of the world? Viktor Ivanov (Russia, 9th place) and Kwan King-Man (Hong Kong, 10th place) matched Maojie Xia by winning two games apiece, and although Yanqi Zhang (France, 12th place) won only once, the opponent she beat was Zhou Shiying, the Chinese female player. At both the reception and the awards ceremony, officials in the All Japan Students Go Association, which handled all the organizational work (drinking party included), remarked on the rising level of play in countries outside the Far East.

Complete results and clickable game records can be found here.


35th World Amateur Go Championship — Gyeongju

GyeongjuGyeongjuThe 35th World Amateur Go Championship will be held in Gyeongju, Korea during the week from July 4 (arrival day) to July 11 (departure day). The tournament itself (July 6-9) will be an eight-round Swiss system.


Also scheduled are a general meeting of the International Go Federation, an opening ceremony, and a reception (all on July 5), an awards and closing ceremony (July 9), and a sightseeing tour of Gyeongju (July 10).


The tournament venue will be the Hyundai Hotel in the Bomun Lake resort area of Gyeongju. Players from 74 countries and territories are being invited.

Hyundai HotelHyundai Hotel

The WAGC is organized by the IGF. This year the preparatory work is being done at the Korea Baduk Association in Seoul, Korea.

Gyeongju, a former capital of Korea, was once famed far and wide for its architectural and other riches. Now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major tourist destination. Participants will find much to see, both on and off the go board.





The 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games in Retrospect

Wang Chenxing (left) and Zhou RuiyangWang Chenxing (left) and Zhou RuiyangThe 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games in Retrospect The short story of the 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games is that Beijing treated the 150 competing mind athletes to a week of good food, good weather, and warm accommodations, and China took the lion's share of the medals. There was no mistaking the look of joy on the faces of China's Wang Chenxing and Zhou Ruiyang when they won the pair go tournament, adding gold medals to the silver medals they had already won in women's individual and men's team competition. China's bridge, chess, and xiangqi players also did well, so China can be very happy with the outcome of the Games. But so can many other countries: Korea for the gold medal won by its men's go team; Chinese Taipei for its silver and bronze medals in go; Russia for the numerous medals won by its chess and draughts players; even countries such as the Ivory Coast, Latvia, and Vietnam, whose players captured medals in draughts and xiangqi. The grand tally can be found here.

Team KoreaTeam KoreaIt was encouraging that although the North American go contingent finished nearly winless, it took evident satisfaction in having played well against professional opponents--and having beaten one of them. Europe's performance was also encouraging. European players finished only fifth in men's team, women's individual, and pair competition, but they trounced the North Americans, they nearly beat the spirited team from Chinese Taipei, and in that match Ilya Shikshin overcame a strong Asian pro, after defeating some strong Asian amateurs earlier this year. European go may now be near the level of go in Chinese Taipei one generation ago. It has a group of strong and dedicated young players, and its future looks bright.

Coming at the end of a year dominated by Chinese professional go players, the Korean men's team's gold medal was particularly exciting. The Koreans carried the momentum of that triumph into the new World Team Championship held in Guangzhou the week afterward. Fielding a team consisting of top medalists at the SportAccord World Mind Games this year and last year, they triumphed once again, beating Chinese teams three times. An interesting year lies ahead, and its climax will come at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing.

- James Davies


Mi Yuting beats Gu Li to Win Mlily Cup

Mi Yuting started the month of December by winning the best-of-five title match for the Mlily Cup, defeating Gu Li. He lost the first game on November 30 by the narrow margin of 3/4 stone, but then won the second, third, and fourth games on December 2, 4, and 6, all by resignation. The games were played in Nantong in Jiangsu Province, China. Mi's victory earned him 1,800,000 yuan (over €200,000, nearly $300,000) and an immediate promotion from 4-dan to 9-dan. Wang Xi and Zhou Ruiyang, the two players that Mi and Gu beat in the best-of three semi-final matches in October, will seek consolation in the upcoming SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing.

Born in 1996 in the city of Xuzhou in Jiangsu Province, about 400 kilometres northwest of Shanghai, Mi qualified as pro shodan when he was only eleven years old, becoming, at the time, China's youngest professional go player. In 2010 he joined the Jiangsu team, which was currently playing in the B League of China's National Team Tournament (sometimes called the City League). The team took first place and moved up to the A League in 2011. There Mi promptly reeled off nine straight wins, including victories over Chinese stars Gu Li and Kong Jie, which propelled Jiangsu to a sixth place finish among twelve teams competing in the A league. With Mi in their lineup the team has continued to advance, finishing fifth in 2012 and third in 2013. In the meantime, Mi won China's individual men's championship in 2012 and began to make his mark on the international scene as well, reaching the rounds of sixteen in both the BC Card Cup and the Samsung Cup, beating Korea's Park Jeonghwan and Lee Changho along the way. The opponents he defeated in 2013 to win the Mlily Cup included, in addition to Wang Xi, Korea's Kang Dongyoon and Lee Sedol and China's Kong Jie, all of whom are multiple title-winners, and Chinese teenager Dang Yifei. Game records of the Mi-Gu match are available at the go4go website


3rd SportAccord World Mind Games

The 3rd SportAccord World Mind Games will be held in Beijing December 12-18. Contestants will compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals in five disciplines: chess, contract bridge, draughts, go, and xianqi. This year the go competition will include a round-robin men's team tournament, a double-knockout women's individual tournament, and a single-knockout pair-go tournament. China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Korea are each sending three men and two women. North America is sending three men and one woman, and Europe is sending three pairs, who will also compete in the men's and women's events.

The all-new Chinese contingent includes this year's winners of three major international tournaments (the Ing, Bailing, and Bingsheng Cups), plus the Bingsheng runner-up. The two Koreans who missed winning medals last year will return to try again, accompanied by three Korean players making their first SportAccord appearances. Among the players from Chinese Taipei and Japan are six teenagers, including the granddaughter of the legendary Fujisawa Shuko.

Europe and North America are fielding mixed pro-amateur teams. The European contingent is primarily Russian, but also includes this year's European champion (from France) and runner-up (from Slovakia). They will be seeking in particular to avenge Europe's various losses to the North Americans in the first two SportAccord World Mind Games. Three veteran players on the North American men's team and one young Canadian woman will try to stop them.

Kovaleva (left) And YuKovaleva (left) And YuRepresenting these thirty go players to the world at large will be Russia's Natalia Kovaleva and China's Yu Zhiying, the Go Ambassadors of the 2013 World Mind Games. Besides playing in the women's and pair-go competitions, they will join some of the world's top stars in the other disciplines in a program of social and publicity events.

Live coverage of the go competition will be provided to a worldwide audience via the SAWMG YouTube channel and other media, with a running commentary by the popular duo of Chris Garlock and Michael Redmond. In addition, daily reports and commentaries will be posted on the Ranka website.


A complete listing of the competing players, with photos, is available here.
The competition schedule is available here.