World news

Pair Competition Begins

IGF Ranka - Wed, 18/12/2013 - 03:20

Sarah Jin Yu (left) and Daniel Daehyuk Ko

At 9:30 a.m. on December 17th deputy chief referee Michael Redmond greeted the sixteen contestants taking part in the pair go competition, reviewed the time control and other details, and gave the instruction to start the first round. On board one the draw had matched the Korean pair (Park Jieun and Kim Jiseok), who had already won medals in men’s and women’s competition, against the North American pair (Canada’s Sarah Jin Yu and California’s Daniel Daehyuk Ko).

‘Tomorrow it’s my turn to win,’ Daniel had said the day before, after seeing Yongfei Ge (Canada) defeat Lin Chun-yen (Chinese Taipei) in the men’s team event. For a moment it looked as if these words might come true. He and Sarah Jin swallowed up two white stones in the bottom left corner, putting the medal winners at a disadvantage early in the opening. Some black overplays in the bottom right let the Koreans catch up, however, and get ahead, then further ahead, and still further ahead–the North American pair was about ten stones behind (20 points behind) when they resigned.

Dina Burdakova (left) and Pavol Lisy

On board two the pair from Chinese Taipei (Joanne Missingham and Wang Yuan-jyun) was matched against the first European pair (Russia’s Dina Burdakova and Slovakia’s Pavol Lisy). Gone were yesterday’s red jackets; Ms Missingham was dressed in black and Mr Wang was sporting a purple T-shirt. The dapper duo from Chinese Taipei began the middle game by forcing a black group to live in ko, and used their ko threats to invade a framework that Black had built in the bottom right. Their position then looked quite good until Mr Lisy found a knight’s move that both threatened the invaders and broke a ladder. Mr Wang took twenty minutes to consider his reply. Unfortunately for the European pair, a mistake by Ms Burdakova soon allowed White to reach a favorable exchange. Eventually the Europeans, behind in territory and burdened by two weak groups, took one risk too many, lost one of the weak groups, and resigned.

On board three, the Japanese pair (Fujisawa Rina and Fujita Akihiko) and the second European pair (Svetlana Shikshina and Ilya Shikshin) both held steady to the end. The Russian brother-sister pair played well, but the Japanese pair played a little better. Shortly before noon, with the game almost over and the Japanese pair comfortably ahead, the Russians resigned.

The game on board four ended more quickly. The Chinese pair (Wang Chenxing and Zhou Ruiyang) constructed a large black framework. Their European opponents (Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva and France’s Fan Hui) tried a surprisingly deep invasion, initiated by Ms Kovaleva. This lead to a ko exchange, and already the Chinese side had the lead. Abandoning all thoughts of a peaceful territorial victory, the European pair plotted a comeback in a double attack, but the Chinese refuted it in another ko and won by resignation.

In the second round, played in the afternoon, the Chinese pair played the Japanese. An adventurous move by Ms Wang in the opening led to a fight that turned out well for the Japanese, and Ms Fujisawa and Mr Fujita seized the lead. Their one worry was a large baseless ‘dragon’ group in the center. Big groups are hard to kill, but by harrying the dragon the Chinese pair gradually diminished their opponents’ lead, and then reversed it. The Japanese pair staged an honorable resignation by sacrificing the dragon.

Chinese Taipei (left) playing Korea

While this drama was unfolding, the pairs from Korea and Chinese Taipei were engaged in an even more dramatic running battle that eventually morphed into a ko fight. Korean players are noted for their prowess in fights and battles, but players from Chinese Taipei like them too, and when the ko stage was reached the lead was unclear. The remaining endgame was not simple, but Ms Missingham and Mr Wang came out clearly ahead, whereupon Ms Park and Mr Kim resigned.

While the second round was in progress, a first playoff round was being held to determine which pairs would advance into tomorrow’s playoff for fifth and sixth places. The game between North America (Ms Yu and Mr Ko) and Europe (Ms Burdakova and Mr Lisy) was televised. The North Americans started out very badly, but they recovered in the middle game and may have even led briefly. At the end, however, the soft-spoken Europeans were ahead by 1-1/4 stone (2.5 points).

The all-European game between Ms Kovaleva and Mr Fan (black) and Ms Shikshina and Mr Shikshin (white) was won by Ms Shikshina and Mr Shikshin. By capturing a scattered assortment of black stones they gained enough territory to make the game even on the board, and won by size of the compensation.

The entire Russian contingent then gathered around one of the monitor screens outside the playing room to watch the outcome of the second-round games, but the keynote remark of the day had already been uttered by Dina Burdakova after her pair’s loss to Chinese Taipei. ‘I enjoyed the game,’ she said. ‘Pavol Lisy played good moves.’

- James Davies

Categories: World news

China and Chinese Taipei Rule Pair Go

IGF Ranka - Tue, 17/12/2013 - 12:03

Chinese Taipei (left) playing Korea

Pair go is a little like contract bridge with stones instead of cards, and with your partner sitting beside you instead of opposite. The pair go competition at the World Mind Games began with the pairs from the Far East beating the pairs from Europe and North America in the morning, and then they tackled each other in the afternoon. The Chinese and Korean pairs were favoured to win, but both met with stout opposition.

Matched against China, the Japanese pair made a good start and led for most of their game. The Chinese pair, however, gradually crept up on them and got slightly ahead near the end. The Japanese pair lost in style by offering a sacrifice of a huge group of stones, which the Chinese pair of course accepted.

The Korean pair had an even harder time with Chinese Taipei. In fact, Joanne Missingham and Wang Yuan-jyun beat them, after an extended running battle and a big ko exchange. Tomorrow Ms Missingham and Mr Wang will play Ms Wang and Mr Zhou for the gold and silver medals, while the Japanese and Korean pairs duel for the bronze and two European pairs vie for fifth place. No predictions are offered for the outcomes of these matches. In pair go anything can happen.


Pair knockout, first round: Park Jieun and Kim Jiseok (Korea) beat Sarah Jin Yu and Daniel Daehyuk Ko (North America), Joanne Missingham and Wang Yuan-jyun (Chinese Taipei) beat Dina Burdakova and Pavol Lisy (Europe), Fujisawa Rina and Fujita Akihiko (Japan) beat Svetlana Shikshina and Ilya Shikshin (Europe), Wang Chenxing and Zhou Ruiyang (China) beat Natalia Kovaleva and Fan Hui (Europe)

Pair knockout, second round: Ms Missingham and Mr Wang (Chinese Taipei) beat Ms Park and Mr Kim (Korea), Ms Wang and Mr Zhou (China) beat Ms Fujisawa and Mr Fujita (Japan)

Pair knockout, first playoff round: Ms Burdakova and Mr Lisy (Europe) beat Ms Yu and Mr Ko (North America), Ms Shikshina and Mr Shikshin (Europe) beat Ms Kovaleva and Mr Fan (Europe)

Categories: World news

Meeting the Masters: 2013 SAWMG School Visit

IGF Ranka - Tue, 17/12/2013 - 10:07

The much anticipated SAWMG school visit took place on Tuesday afternoon. This was a chance for a lucky few Beijing schoolchildren to meet the top players and officials from the World Mind Games taking place this December in Beijing.

Rows of children enjoying a game with their heros

The school selected was Huajiadi Experimental Primary School, known for its cutting-edge approach to teaching and for boasting 956 junior grade go players. The visit began with a tour of the school’s go facilities, including a classroom clad in go-related pictures – from photographs of famous players to prints of Hikaru no Go. On the walls of the corridor outside hung posters of go proverbs and manners.

The guests were greeted by two rooms of children buzzing with excitement. In the first classroom, a hands-on lesson on nakade grabbed the children’s attention, and in the second the pupils quickly settled down and answered questions about the history and rules of the game. The guests were then taken downstairs to the gymnasium, where boards had been set out for the 40 kids who would take on top professionals in nine-stone handicap games.

A star of the future delivers a powerful welcome message to the guests

Matsuura Koichiro, the former Director-General of UNESCO and now President of the International Go Federation, gave a speech expressing his support of the event. “We hope that you not only learn about the game, but also develop skills in strategy and planning. I only started to learn the game when I was 18 and am very glad that you have encountered it at such an early age.”

We chatted with two of the participants, Xiaotong and Jialin, both seven years old, after their games with Kim Soojang 9p. They told us how much fun they have playing go, spurred on by a very enthusiastic teacher, and how happy they were to play with Mr Kim.

At the farewell ceremony, everyone who took part was given a goody bag containing a SAWMG official t-shirt and watch from the sponsors (Swatch Group). We hope that this unique event has helped to inspire the next generation of go talent in Beijing.

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Women’s Individual Final: Yu vs Wang

IGF Ranka - Tue, 17/12/2013 - 08:37

White: Chenxing WANG (China) 5p
Black: Zhiying YU (China) 4p


Click here to start the game viewer.


Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, transcribed by Chris Garlock.

Categories: World news

Do Bridge Players Have All The Fun?

IGF Ranka - Tue, 17/12/2013 - 04:45

Fantoni (left) and his Polish counterpart Buras.

“Let’s have dinner! We drink vodka!” Not the first words you would expect to hear after the tense final of an international go final. But this is how bridge superstar Fulvio Fantoni greeted the rival Polish team at the conclusion of yesterday’s Pairs Open at the 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games. “We’re all good friends,” Fantoni told Ranka. “We’ve known each other for many years.”

Even during games you can see players chatting with their opponents. “We sometimes share a joke,” says Fantoni. “It doesn’t affect the game but it is very important for bridge players to get on – even with our rivals.” At the all-important bidding phase a barrier drops down to separate the players from their partners – so in bridge it’s adversaries who sit on the same side of the wall.

Because bridge is played with partners, relationships are important. Fantoni says that his partner Claudio Nunes is technically stronger, but that Fantoni has different qualities to bring to the table. “There are no particular roles in a team – both players have the same importance. But you need to balance your qualities, you need a good rapport.”

Fantoni (left) peering under the barrier

To become a top go professional it is usually necessary to start at a very young age and to study relentlessly for many years. While of course an immense level of commitment and thousands of hours of hard graft are also necessary to reach the top in bridge, Fantoni explains that the situation is not as clear cut as in go. “There are some things you can only really absorb when you are young, but that is no reason not to take up bridge later in life. There are millions of situations that can appear in a game, so ideally you need to get familiar with as many as possible. There’s always something you can learn, but finding unknown territory gets harder the more you play. I think that at the top level it is concentration that becomes the most important, and that is something that can mature with age.”

With a jovial atmosphere and promise of drinks over at the bridge camp, we ask ourselves – are we playing the wrong game?

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Gold Medals for China and Korea

IGF Ranka - Tue, 17/12/2013 - 01:50

Wang Yuan-jyun (left) playing Ilya Shikshin

The fifth and final round of the men’s team event at the 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games began at 12:30 on December 16th, with chief referee Wang Runan presiding. Excitement was in store in all three matches. In the match between Chinese Taipei and Europe, for example, after Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chun-yen had beaten Slovakia’s Pavol Lisy by resignation on board three, Russia’s Ilya Shikshin struck back for Europe by defeating Wang Yuan-jyun on board two. Ilya’s summary:

‘The opening was even. I got a little behind later, but after I invaded his main territory and captured some of his stones inside it, I was far ahead. Then I played a very bad endgame, so I only won by half a point.’

On board one France’s Fan Hui also seemed to be winning, but he made a few small mistakes in the final stages of the endgame and Chou Chun-hsun eked out victory by the narrowest possible margin. Both players came out of the playing room in states of high agitation. This result secured the match and the bronze medal for Chinese Taipei, but it had been an awfully close call.

Tsuruta Kazushi (left) playing Yongfei Ge

Not to be outdone, the North American team also scored a win, its first of the tournament, in a game against Japan. The winner was Canada’s Yongfei Ge, who defeated Tsuruta Kazushi, likewise by the narrowest possible margin, on board three. Yongfei’s summary:

‘I actually played well in the opening, and I got a chance to take a big lead in the middle game, but I missed it. The fighting after that was very close. We traded the lead back and forth, and I was the lucky one in the end. Thank goodness, because this is the only game I’ve won here!’

The other two North American players both lost, so Japan won that match. As a result, Japan finished fourth, Europe fifth, and North America sixth.

In the meantime, the fight between China and Korea for the gold medal was looking promising for the Chinese team. Zhou Ruiyang had defeated Kim Jiseok by resignation on board two, and Fan Tingyu and Wang Xi also seemed to be winning their games. On board one, however, Park Jeonghwan found a wedging tesuji (diagram below) that no one else had seen, gaining a ko for a black group that Fan thought he had killed. Park had plenty of ko ammunition, and when the ko fight ended with the black group alive, Fan could only resign.

Wang Xi’s opponent on board three was Cho Hanseung, who had won a place on the Korean team by beating last year’s gold and silver medalists (Choi Chulhan and Kang Dongyoon), but had then lost his first game to Chinese Taipei’s Lin. Cho now constructed a large framework that enveloped the right side and much of the center. Wang invaded and lived inside it. Advantage–Wang, but there followed a lengthy endgame in which Cho came from behind to win, once again by the narrowest possible margin. Match and gold medals to Korea; silver medals to China. Overall lesson: the endgame may be the least exciting part of the game, but it is the most important part.

Here’s the tesuji that Park Jeonghwan found. The complete game record, with Michael Redmond’s commentary, is here.

Park’s gold-medal tesuji

Still to be determined was the fate of the gold and silver medals in the women’s individual competition. China’s Wang Chenxing and Yu Zhiying began playing the deciding game at three o’clock. Ms Yu, with black, took the initiative from the outset, constructing a large framework and grabbing territory as well. Ms Wang spent much of the opening reducing Ms Yu’s framework from above, without gaining much territory for herself. Ms Yu’s lead held up through the middle game and endgame, and when she won a late-endgame ko fight, Ms Wang resigned.

Go, Chess and Bridge medallists at the awarding ceremony

Team Korea

An awards ceremony was held in the evening. Following the awarding of medals for pair bridge and blitz chess, the men’s go teams from Korea, China, and Chinese Taipei took the dais to receive their medals and witness the raising of their flags, accompanied by the playing of the Korean national anthem. The Korean team placed their hands on their hearts. The team from Chinese Taipei added color to the pageant with the bright red jackets that they had also worn throughout their matches. Next three women took the stage to receive their medals: the gold for Yu Zhiying, the silver for Wang Chenxing, and the bronze for Park Jieun. Two Chinese flags and one Korean flag were raised and the Chinese national anthem was played. Ms Wang adds the silver medal to the Bingsheng women’s world championship cup she won in September; Ms Yu adds the gold medal to the Bingsheng runner-up cup. These two would seem to have displaced last year’s gold and silver medalists (Li He and Rui Naiwei) as the leading ladies of the go world.

Yu Zhiying

The medals carry with them substantial monetary prizes, ranging from $120,000 for the gold-medal men’s team to $10,000 for the women’s individual bronze. There are also monetary prizes, in gradually diminishing amounts, for the teams and individuals who finished fourth and below. Everyone gets at least something.

And what if Europe had won that game on board one against Chinese Taipei? It would have made no difference to the final results. Chinese Taipei, Europe, and Japan would have been tied with identical 2-3 match scores, but the tie would have been broken on the basis of total games won. Thanks to the victories by Lin Chun-yen in the first round and Yongfei Ge in the last round, and to Japan’s shutout of Europe in the first round, Chinese Taipei would still have finished third, Japan fourth, and Europe fifth. But in any case, the last-round heroics by North American and European players give the North American and European pairs tremendous encouragement in the pair competition that starts on December 17th.

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Men’s Team Round 3: Ge vs Lin

IGF Ranka - Mon, 16/12/2013 - 12:04

Chun-Yen LIN

Men’s Team – Round 3

White: Yongfei GE (Canada) 7d
Black: Chun-Yen LIN (Chinese Taipei) 7p

An early overplay by Chun-yen Lin gives Yongfei Ge a chance to go on the attack but when he fails to do so, Lin quickly grabs the initiative to take control of the game.

Click here to start the game viewer.

Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, transcribed by Chris Garlock.

Categories: World news

Medals for Korea, China, and Chinese Taipei

IGF Ranka - Mon, 16/12/2013 - 12:00

The men’s team competition came to a dramatic finish as China battled Korea for the gold medal. The games on the first two boards both ended in resignation after intense fighting, Korea’s Park Jeonghwan winning on board one and China’s Zhou Ruiyang on board two. On board three Korea’s Cho Hanseung, who had lost a game in the match against Chinese Taipei in the first round, faced China’s undefeated Wang Xi. The winner? Cho, by a fraction of a stone, and the Korean team takes home the gold medals.

The other two matches were also dramatic. Chinese Taipei defeated the European team to capture the bronze medal, and Japan defeated North America to finish fourth, but Canada’s Yongfei Ge ended the North Americans’ winless streak by beating a Japanese opponent on board three. The European team also won a game, and they very nearly won two; Chinese Taipei’s lead player Chou Chun-hsun was sweating profusely after a last-minute come-from-behind victory over France’s Fan Hui.

In women’s individual competition, Yu Zhiying defeated Wang Chenxing in the all-Chinese final match. Ms Yu takes the gold, Ms Wang takes the silver, and Korea’s Park Jieun receives the bronze medal.


Men’s team tournament, fourth round

Chinese Taipei 2-1 Europe
Chou Chun-hsun beat Fan Hui
Ilya Shikshin beat Wang Yuan-jyun
Lin Chun-yen beat Pavol Lisy

China 2-1 Korea
Park Jeonghwan beat Fan Tingyu
Zhou Ruiyang beat Kim Jiseok
Cho Hanseung beat Wang Xi

Japan 2-1 North America
Fujita Akihiko beat Huiren Yang
Hirata Tomoya beat Daniel Daehyuk Ko
Yongfei Ge beat Tsuruta Kazushi

Women’s individual tournament, seventh round
Yu Zhiying (China) beat Wang Chenxing (China)

Categories: World news

Designing a Tournament with Martin Stiassny

IGF Ranka - Mon, 16/12/2013 - 10:03

Martin Stiassny

Martin Stiassny, the President of the European Go Federation since 2009, discusses this year’s SportAccord World Mind Games and the new changes to look forward to in the go world.

Ranka: What has been your role in organizing this particular event?
Martin: I’m here as the team leader for the European players and as a member of the IGF board of directors. As a team leader, I look after all the players, helping with any problems they encounter and even sometimes getting them out of bed! In preparation for the event I helped to collect all the required information for the flights and visas, as well as coming up with an appropriate qualification system to find this year’s participants.

Ranka: Could you describe your planned changes to the qualification system?
Martin: At the moment we have a three-way qualification system designed to cover each of the three events. For the Men’s team event we held a special qualification tournament, inviting the players with the highest European ratings. We also thought it was important for pair go to select players who had performed well in pair go events. We were reluctant in the past to use the European Go Congress as a qualification tournament because many top players were unable to attend for the full two weeks. From 2015 we are planning to reschedule the congress so that the main tournament is only for one week, and this will allow us in the future to use the EGC to decide qualification for the SportAccord World Mind Games.

Ranka: How about the format of the games next year? Can we expect any changes?
Martin: Firstly let me explain the rules for designing the go events. SportAccord allocate us a total of 30 players to take part and 7 days to fill with events. 30 is not such a convenient number (32 would be better) and that makes it all the more complicated. Personally I like the team events and would like to see more Women’s games. We would like to keep the pair go, another important way of promoting women’s go. The next option to consider is the introduction of blitz events. We would need to adjust the schedule to fit them in, but the more the merrier! Reducing time limits would not be good for the quality of the games, but the increased entertainment value for spectators would more than make up for that.

Ranka: Does the IGF have any plans to update present rating systems?
Martin: My personal opinion (and I’m not the only one!) is that we need an internationally standardized system like in chess. Europe and America have their own rating systems and Japan and Korea have no amateur rating system at all. These need to be combined but it’s not so easy with the systems being so far detached. I can see problems with image – players from countries with relatively inflated rating systems will not be keen to lose their hard-earned ranks. One way I see of getting around this is to introduce a system a bit like t-shirts! When you buy clothes there are often a variety of sizes indicated – Japanese, European, … we could do the same with go. At least at the start players could keep their various local ranks and when an international rating is available we would use that for tournaments. It’s not the first priority of the IGF however, and we therefore have no immediate plans for implementation.

Many thanks to Martin for all his hard work.

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Interview with Park Jieun

IGF Ranka - Mon, 16/12/2013 - 09:50

Park Jieun

Ranka interviewed Korea’s Park Jieun after she had taken the bronze medal in the women’s individual event at the World Mind Games.

Ranka: Congratulations on winning the bronze medal.
Park: Thank you.

Ranka: Please tell us about how you learned to play go.
Park: My father played go. When I was ten years old, by Korean counting, which actually means eight or nine, I thought it looked interesting, so I asked him to teach me. I then discovered that it really was interesting. After I had been playing for a few years I began going to a go school–a baduk dojang. It was operated by an amateur player, but professional players would come and teach, so I had many professional instructors. After another year or so I made professional shodan.

Ranka: Were you also going to school during this time?
Park: Yes, but I spent almost one hundred percent of my time on go rather than school subjects.

Ranka: How popular was go in Korea back then?
Park: Seoul was full of go players. There were go classes in my school, although I didn’t attend them because I was already studying at the dojang. There were also amateur tournaments, I guess, but I didn’t attend them either because I was completely focused on training to become a pro. Anyway, this was a golden age of go in Korea, back in the 1990s and the first few years of the 21st century.

Ranka: How has it changed since then?
Park: Over time we professionals have continued to make technical progress in the game, but some things have been lost. Go used to be not only a game but also a cultural activity, with a lot of aspects that are hard to define, but they were enriching to the players. Now it’s a sport, and it’s only about winning. Go is still played in Korean schools, as an extracurricular activity, and there are go clubs at most universities, but go may not be as popular as it was before.

Ranka: Besides competing, are you also teaching now?
Park: Yes, one of my friends runs a go school, and I teach there once a month. I play teaching games, I review games the students have played, and so on–whatever I’m asked to do.

Ranka: What does go mean to you?
Park: When I was young go was interesting, it was fun, and I was simply enjoying it. As I’ve gotten older it’s become more complex. Sometimes I feel confused about my own feelings about the game.

Ranka: Do you have a future goal?
Park: My performance lately has not been so good, so my short-term goal is to recover my previous performance level. I intend to train more.

Ranka: What has been your high point so far?
Park: Winning the Jeongganjang Cup in 2003, when it was a women’s individual championship. That was my first world championship.

Ranka: Do you remember the game you played against Yoda Norimoto in the first Toyota Denso Cup?
Park: Yes, I was still very young. I expected to lose, so I tried playing a territory-oriented game, which was unusual for me at the time. Surprisingly, it worked–I won, so I was very happy.

Ranka: Thank you.

Categories: World news

Japan’s National Team

IGF Ranka - Mon, 16/12/2013 - 04:25

From the left: Tsuruta Kazushi, Fujita Akihiko and Hirata Tomoya

Last April Japan took the unprecedented step, in Japanese go, of creating a national team. The members, drawn from Kansai Kiin as well as the Nihon Kiin, form the pool from which Japan now selects the players who represent it in international competition. Ranka talked about the team (nicknamed ‘Go-Go Japan’) with the five members who are in Beijing for the SportAccord Mind Games.

Ranka: Did you do any special preparation for the Mind Games?
Fujita Akihiko: I’m playing in the pair go section with Fujisawa Rina, so we played three games of pair go at our training group.
Fujisawa Rina: Aside from those pair games, I just kept up my usual individual study and group training program.
Hirata Tomoya: I also kept up my normal training and study, nothing in particular for the Mind Games.
Tsuruta Kazushi: Me too, but before this tournament I think that I spent a little more time studying than I usually do.
Yoshida Mika: I had intended to practice playing quickly and get used to playing in overtime, but my daughter got sick, so I had to look after her for two weeks and had no time for anything else.

Ranka: What about online practice games?
Hirata: That’s something the National Team started doing a little before we were chosen for this tournament. Every week on Friday and Saturday the team members play each other on the net. We arrange our own opponents. I’m online there almost every week.
Tsuruta: Living in Nagoya, I don’t get into Tokyo very often, so these online games have been a really valuable opportunity. My most frequent opponent is Yamashita Keigo.
Fujisawa: I’ve played about sixty-five games online, against several strong team members. It’s a very good way to learn.
Fujita: I play when I have the chance.
Yoshida: Before these weekly practice sessions I had never played online before. Going onto the Internet used to make me feel queasy, but now I’ve managed to stifle that reaction and I’ve played about ten games.

Ranka: What changes if any has the National Team made to your approach to the game? Has it provided any inspiration
Tsuruta: The online games are doing me a lot of good.
Hirata: I wouldn’t say that being on the the National Team has inspired me to try harder–I’ve always been trying hard–but the existence of this team is certainly a very good thing.
Yoshida: The only tangible change has been the online games, but they’re on a volunteer basis, so my methods of studying haven’t changed much. But there has been a psychological boost. This is important. To improve at go you need the right mental attitude.

Ranka: Have you been taking part in the preliminary rounds held in China and Korea for the big international cups, and will being on the National Team make any difference to this?
Yoshida: I took part before getting married, but once a woman has children, she’s tied down. A man can go off and leave the kids for his spouse to look after, but a woman can’t escape.
Fujita: I’ve been playing in about one international preliminary a year. That will probably be my pace in the future.
Tsuruta: I play in the international preliminaries almost every chance I get.
Hirata: I’ve been going overseas for those preliminaries ever since I became a pro, and I plan to continue.

Ranka: At your own expense?
Hirata: Sure, that’s what I’ve been doing so far, so there’s no issue there.

Ranka: What else has the National Team been doing and what would you like to see it do in the future?
Yoshida: This is a very important question. Aside from mental attitude, we need to study the separate parts of the game, the endgame, for example, more thoroughly. A strong coach to instruct the team would be a help. We haven’t done enough yet.
Fujisawa: There’s a four-day training camp planned for the under-twenty members at the end of the year, in Hamamatsu. Besides playing practice matches we’ll analyse games, and work on the endgame and on life-and-death.
Fujita: The National Team program is still just getting started, but I hope there will be more activities like this training camp in the future.

Ranka: Thank you all very much.

Categories: World news

Women’s Individual Round 4 – Yu vs Wang

IGF Ranka - Mon, 16/12/2013 - 03:57

Yu Zhiying

Women’s Individual – Round 4

White: Zhiying YU (China) 4p
Black:  Chenxing WANG (China) 5p


This game features a fairly complicated — and exciting — opening, but when the dust settles, Black fails to punish White’s bad position and loses the chance to gain an advantage.


Click here to start the game viewer.

Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, transcribed by Chris Garlock.

Categories: World news

Fourth day of Competition

IGF Ranka - Mon, 16/12/2013 - 02:58

Huiren Yang (left) playing Park Jeonghwan

In the fourth round of the men’s team event at the 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games China rolled over Europe 3-0 to remain completely undefeated. Korea rolled over North America 3-0, but on the top board in this match, the USA’s Huiren Yang, the oldest player competing, played an outstanding game against Korea’s top-rated pro Park Jeonghwan. The Koreans following the action on the monitor screens outside the playing room praised Mr Yang’s opening and thought he had ample opportunity to win, even though Mr Park prevailed in the end. In contrast, Daniel Daehyuk Ko was completely hamstrung by Kim Jiseok on board two, and Yongfei Ge, who tried an unusual opening with a three-stone corner enclosure on board three, was quickly beaten by Cho Hanseung.

Attention now focused on the match between Japan and Chinese Taipei. The game on the top board, between Chou Chun-hsun (Chinese Taipei, black) and Fujita Akihiko (Japan, white) was played to a YouTube audience with live commentary from Michael Redmond. Black framed the lower side. When White made a capping invasion, Black jumped into the lower left corner. In the next twenty moves White let Black capture the corner but built a solid wall above it, reducing Black’s framework to thirty points of territory buried under the wall. ‘At this point I thought White had a slightly better position,’ Fujita said. After a black mistake in the choice of joseki in the top right corner and a favorable (to White) exchange on the top left, White had a taken over large area stretching from the left side into the center and had a clear lead. Black tried unsuccessfully to reduce White’s area, and then resigned. First game to Japan.

On board two, Hirata Tomoya (black) started well for Japan, but then made a life-and-death mistake and lost a big group. ‘This game was very tough for me,’ said his opponent Wang Yuan-jyun. ‘In the opening I made a mistake that let Black capture five stones and get a strong position. Then Black made a minor mistake and I caught up a little, but I made another mistake that let him thrust out into the center and I was then even further behind. My only chance was to attack one of his groups and try to kill it. This should not have been possible–there were many variations and none of them worked–but fortunately for me he overlooked a move and the group died.’ Second game to Chinese Taipei.

The result of the match now rested on the outcome on board three, where Japan’s eighteen-year-old Tsuruta Kazushi was playing Chinese Taipei’s fifteen-year-old Lin Chun-yen. Mr Lin described what happened this way: ‘I felt that I had the advantage in the opening–I may have been about ten points ahead–but I lost that lead in the middle game. Now I was behind and the game was quite unfavorable for me, but I managed to regain the lead in the endgame. At the point when my opponent resigned I was about ten or fifteen points ahead.’ Match to Chinese Taipei by a 2-1 score, putting them in a strong position to capture the bronze medals. They also won the bronze medal last year in men’s individual competition, after Japan beat them to take the bronze in mixed team competition two years ago.

In the fifth round of women’s repechage competition, played in the morning before the men’s team round, Wang Chenxing (China) was matched against Svetlana Shikshina (Russia) and Park Jieun (Korea) against Chang Cheng-ping (Chinese Taipei). Ms Park and Ms Chang played a classical opening, and their game looked close until Ms Chang (black) let Ms Park (white) isolate four black eyeless stones on the lower side. Black fought desparately to counterattack, and succeeded in slicing White apart, but could not kill the cut-apart pieces. Instead, another black group died and Black resigned.

Svetlana Shikshina (left) playing Chen-Ping Chang

In the Wang-Shikshina game, White (Ms Wang) forced a weak black group to live with just two small eyes. Both sides then made big territories elsewhere. White declined a chance to start a major fight and the game ended without incident, Ms Wang winning by 5-1/4 stones (10.5 points).

The final game of the women’s repechage was therefore played between Ms Wang and Ms Park. Their game proceeded until all the territories had been completed and only neutral points remained to be filled. At this point Ms Park counted that she was a bit behind and resigned to take possession of the bronze medal. Ms Wang will play China’s Yu Zhiying again tomorrow to see who gets the silver medal and who gets the gold.

While Ms Wang was defeating Ms Park, a playoff for fourth place was also taking place. Ms Chang and Ms Shikshina played a lively game that proceeded with lots of skirmishes but no decisive battles. White found herself increasingly on the defensive, however, forced to concede territory in order to keep her groups alive. Late in the endgame, when Black succeeded in capturing five white stones in the center, White resigned. Fourth place therefore goes to Chinese Taipei’s Chang Cheng-ping while fifth place goes to Russia’s Svetlana Shikshina.

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Men’s Team Round 3: Cho vs Lisy

IGF Ranka - Mon, 16/12/2013 - 01:54

Cho (left) playing Lisy

Men’s Team – Round 3

White: Hanseung CHO (Korea) 9p
Black: Pavol LISY (Slovakia) 7d

Lisy played well in this game, considering his late start (he showed up 15 minutes after the round began) against a top pro. He maintained his chances to win until a key point in the middle game, when an overplay gave Hanseung Cho the chance to take control of the game..

Click here to start the game viewer.

Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, transcribed by Chris Garlock.

Categories: World news

Men’s Team Round 2: Lisy vs Ge

IGF Ranka - Mon, 16/12/2013 - 01:52

Ge (left) playing Lisy

Men’s Team – Round 2

White: Pavol LISY (Slovakia) 6d
Black:  Yongfei GE (Canada) 7d

Click here to start the game viewer.

Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, transcribed by Chris Garlock.

Categories: World news

Bronze medals for Park Jieun and (probably) Chinese Taipei

IGF Ranka - Sun, 15/12/2013 - 11:47

Tsuruta (left) playing Lin

In the fourth round of the men’s team competition, the teams from China and Korea disposed of the teams from Europe and North America without dropping a game, but the match between Chinese Taipei and Japan was a show-stopper. Japan got off to a good start on board one: Fujita Akihiko dominated Chinese Taipei’s veteran Chou Chun-hsun nearly throughout the game. When Chou resigned it looked as if Japan was also in good shape on boards two and three, but Wang Yuan-jyun launched a desperate counterattack on board two that succeeded against all odds, and then Lin Chun-yen magically turned a middle-game deficit into an endgame lead and won on board three. Match to Chinese Taipei, two games to one. Tomorrow the Chinese and Korean teams will play each other for the gold and silver medals, and if Chinese Taipei can beat the European team, they will have a bronze medal.

The medals are also beginning to fall into place in the women’s individual competition. Chinese players will win the gold and silver medals. Yu Zhiying will play Wang Chenxing again tomorrow to decide who gets which. Park Jieun, who won in the morning but lost to Ms Wang in the afternoon, has the bronze medal. Chang Cheng-ping, who lost in the morning, won the afternoon playoff for fourth place.


Men’s team tournament, fourth round

Chinese Taipei 2-1 Japan
Fujita Akihiko beat Chou Chun-hsun
Wang Yuan-jyun beat Hirata Tomoya
Lin Chun-yen beat Tsuruta Kazushi

China 3-0 Europe
Fan Tingyu beat Fan Hui
Zhou Ruiyang beat Ilya Shikshin
Wang Xi beat Pavol Lisy

Korea 3-0 North America
Park Jeonghwan beat Huiren Yang
Kim Jiseok beat Daniel Daehyuk Ko
Cho Hanseung beat Yongfei Ge

Women’s individual tournament, fifth round
Wang Chenxing (China) beat Svetlana Shikshina (Russia)
Park Jieun (Korea) beat Chang Cheng-ping (Chinese Taipei)
Women’s individual tournament, sixth round
Wang Chenxing (China) beat Park Jieun (Korea)

Categories: World news

The Red-Faced King: An Interview with Chou Chun-Hsun

IGF Ranka - Sun, 15/12/2013 - 11:04

Chou Chun-Hsun (right) in his 4th round game with Fujita Akihiko

Chou Chun-Hsun 9p is a player that Chinese Taipei deserve to be proud of. Chou not only won the LG Cup in 2007, but is also one of their finest homegrown players in history. While many top players such as Chou U move to Japan or China to study, Chou Chun-Hsun is still at home and is now training the next generation of young hopefuls. Known as the ‘Red-Faced King’, Chou was inspired to aim for the top by Mikhael Gorbachev, who shares a similar red birthmark, and now stands as the King of Go in Chinese Taipei.

Ranka: How was your game this afternoon with Japan’s Fujita 4p?
Chou: I was content with my position from the beginning until my opponent played an unusual knight’s move, which caused some problems. In the end I lost by resignation. The young Fujita was a very strong opponent. Even though he lost to his Chinese and Korean opponents, I felt that he had a number of chances in those games.

Ranka: How did you start playing go? Do you play other sports?
Chou: My father, a 3 dan amateur, got me into the game when I was seven. In my free time I enjoying running and mountain climbing. I think it’s important to maintain good physical fitness for playing go at a professional level – the time limits are long and it’s important to have the strength to keep full concentration.

Ranka: Tell us about the Haifeng Weiqi Academy.
Chou: This is our top academy for training young children, and we currently have nine students. The academy is named after the great player Lin Haifeng (Rin Kaiho in Japanese), whose daughter married the son of the academy’s founder Lin Wenbo. Lin himself is a very strong amateur player (7 dan) and has acted as a sponsor, giving free tuition to the youngsters. I’m now the main instructor.

Ranka: Do you enjoy teaching go?
Chou: Actually I used to find it a bit of a chore, but now I see it as an important responsibility. There are so many strong young Koreans and Chinese that we need to create similar programs to train the next generation of players for Chinese Taipei. We are still a long way off and need to focus more on nurturing young potential.

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Third day of Competition: Yu Zhiying Clinches a Medal

IGF Ranka - Sat, 14/12/2013 - 15:47

Yu Zhiying

How does men’s go differ from women’s go? Aside from superficial matters such as the players’ average height, some have pointed to a temperamental difference: women tend to play more impetuously–to start a fight at the drop of a hat; men tend to play more patiently, laying deep strategic plans that only slowly mature into victory, sometimes with little or no fighting at all. Others find men’s go more coldly logical and women’s go more ‘human’.

Womanly qualities were on full display in the centerpiece game in the fourth round of women’s individual competition at the SportAccord World Mind Games on December 14th, and what a game it was! The two players, China’s Wang Chenxing and Yu Zhiying, the last remaining undefeated duo, came out fighting to kill from the word ‘go’.
Black (Ms Wang) laid out a loose group on the left side. White (Ms Yu) immediately surrounded it, with lethal intent. Black, with equally lethal intent, cut off and attacked some of the surrounding white stones. White defended them by attacking an adjacent black group–and so it went, both players carefully pondering their moves, with the life of their stones at stake. And then this battle royal had a heartwarming ‘human’ outcome. Every single threatened group lived. Peace descended on the board, the pace of play quickened, and in the end Ms Yu won by 2-1/4 stones or 4.5 points (click here to see the game record). She is now just one more win away from a gold medal, and is assured of at least the silver.

Park Jieun

In the repechage section of the women’s competition, the two women from Chinese Taipei staged another protracted fight that involved many groups and ended with them all alive. Chang Cheng-ping was the winner in this tale of war and peace. She was comfortably ahead on territory when Joanne Missingham resigned.

The two Russians put on a similar show in reverse, starting peacefully enough, but ending in a duel to the death between two opposing groups. The duel was won by Svetlana Shikshina, at which her opponent, go ambassador Natalia Kovaleva, tactfully resigned.

It was left to the two Koreans to show that an entire game can be played without any deadly combat at all. Although one small group died, it was not taken by force; it was essentially given away by its owner Oh Jeonga. The gift was given in hope of compensation that failed to materialize, and Park Jieun won by resignation. The repechage winners will join Wang Chenxing to compete for the right to contest the gold and silver medals with Yu Zhiying, and to compete for the bronze.

Huiren Yang (left) playing hun-Hsun Chou

The third round of the men’s teams event came to an end while the women’s fourth round was still in progress. After losing to powerhouse teams from China and Korea in the first two rounds, the men’s team from Chinese Taipei for the first time found itself facing lower-ranked opponents. The rankings held true and Chinese Taipei won on all three boards, while their North American opponents suffered their third straight shutout defeat. China also defeated Japan on all three boards, and the European team, exuberant after their victory over North America yesterday, were duly chastened, on all three boards, by the Koreans.

These games amply displayed the manly qualities of strategy and deliberation. The young Japanese team in particular seemed determined to make the most of their opportunity to take on three of the best players in China, and their games were among the last to end, even though they all ended in resignation. Two other players, both amateurs, who strove patiently and manfully against strong professional opponents were Daniel Daehyuk Ko, who lost to Wang Yuan-jyun by 6-1/4 stones (12.5 points), and Pavol Lisy. The latter’s effort against Cho Hanseung was broadcast live via YouTube, with commentary by deputy chief referee Michael Redmond.


Men’s team tournament, third round

China 3-0 Japan: Fan Tingyu beat Fujita Akihiko, Zhou Ruiyang beat Hirata Tomoya, Wang Xi beat Tsuruta Kazushi
Korea 3-0 Europe: Park Jeonghwan beat Fan Hui, Kim Jiseok beat Ilya Shikshin, Cho Hanseung beat Pavol Lisy
Chinese Taipei 3-0 North America: Chou Chun-hsun beat Huiren Yang, Wang Yuan-jyun beat Daniel Daehyuk Ko, Lin Chun-yen beat Yongfei Ge

Women’s individual tournament, fourth round

Yu Zhiying (China) beat Wang Chenxing (China), Park Jieun (Korea) beat Oh Jeonga (Korea), Chang Cheng-ping (Chinese Taipei) beat Joanne Missingham (Chinese Taipei), Svetlana Shikshina (Russia) beat Natalia Kovaleva (Russia)

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Benjamin Teuber Takes On Michael Redmond 9p

IGF Ranka - Sat, 14/12/2013 - 10:39

The promising young German, Benjamin Teuber, took on Michael Redmond 9p in a special match held this morning at the venue of the SportAccord World Mind Games 2013. Originally the match was planned for South African Victor Chow (‘RoseDuke’), the winner of the SAWMG 2013 Pandanet tournament, however Teuber was substituted at the last minute as Chow was unable to attend. The handicap was two stones, with a time limit of 30 minutes sudden death.

Benjamin Teuber (left) playing Michael Redmond

The game was calm with Teuber playing a very solid opening, but when he failed to use his thickness to attack, he slowly but surely fell behind. After an attachment on the lower side that proved to be a little too optimistic, Redmond was able to make territory in the center, tipping the balance into his favor. Redmond emerged the victor after Teuber resigned in the endgame. Click here to see the game record with commentary by Michael Redmond.

After the match we asked Teuber his impressions about the game.

Teuber: I thought the game was going well until White was able to build the center. White played more calmly than I had expected, but in the second part of the game I began to gradually fall behind. I was unhappy with a decision in the upper left, unnecessarily fearing a ladder situation that should have been no trouble.

Teuber is currently taking part in the first year of a new training program held in China for top European players. Each year five young hopefuls will be selected to participate in this intense program lasting for five and a half months. The camp is run by strong Chinese pros, including the main coach Wang Yang 5p.

Ranka: Can you tell us about your daily training regimen?
Teuber: We focus on game practice and in-depth reviews. At the start we mainly played in an internal league with the five European players and one guest teacher. But recently we have been taking part in a league held at possibly the largest professional level go school in the world (180 students). Each evening we are expected to solve tsumego as homework.

Ranka: We hear you have also studied in Japan and China in the past. How does your study program differ from before?
Teuber: The training here is much more intense. In Japan we only did one game review per week and were expected to take responsibility for designing our own study program. Now we have a teacher just for the five of us.

Ranka: And how do you find life in Beijing?
Teuber: Like anywhere else there are ups and downs. I like the food and culture of China very much, but we study for six days every week and even on the rest days usually end up playing go, so there has been almost no time for sightseeing. Perhaps the most fun I have had so far was a soccer match against a team headed by Gu Li!

Ranka: How do you see the future of European go?
Teuber: I think European go is making great progress at the moment, particularly with the introduction of the study program in China. We have secured a ten year contract, and so can only expect Europe’s top players to increase further in strength.

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Going to the Max

IGF Ranka - Sat, 14/12/2013 - 09:51

As games wrap up each day in the playing room at the Sport Accord World Mind Games venue in the Beijing International Conference Center, the review room next door fills up with players, pros and fans who review their games while keeping an eye on monitors showing the games still being played. The rapid clicking of go stones competes with the excited swirl of languages from around the world. Eventually, as darkness falls outside, the game room will empty, the day’s results will be marked on the scoreboard, and even the most hard-core players will tear themselves away from the go boards. For now. Until tomorrow, when the cycle begins again.

- Chris Garloc

Categories: World news
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