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Check Out What We Can Learn from Chess

IGF Ranka - Fri, 13/12/2013 - 10:20

Geoffrey Borg

We asked the Chief Executive Officer of FIDE, Geoffrey Borg, to give us the low-down on the chess tournament at this year’s SportAccord World Mind Games.

You can tell by their ears!

A sign of stress, this subconscious signal is enough to guess the outcome of an important game, according to Mr Borg. It seems that chess, like go, has its fair share of ear-reddening games. But what differentiates our two games?

I think one of the great things about go is the ko rule, preventing repetition of positions. In chess we are plagued with draws and it can reduce the entertainment value for spectators. If you think of chess as a game of war, the stalemate rule makes no sense. If your opponent’s king is trapped without a safe place to move, he deserves to lose!

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi, with the formidable Elo rating of 2721, is one of Russia’s hopefuls in this year’s competition. We asked him his impressions of the game of go.

Actually I have never tried to play, but my friend has recently started to learn. As a chess player I am interested in go because, unlike in chess, the top human players are still far superior to computers.

Recently there have been many scandals in chess involving cheating with computers, and with the inevitable improvement of go software, perhaps we can learn from the chess world how to deal with this problem before it arises.

There are also many who are unsatisfied with the dan/kyu ranking system used in go. These ratings do not change dynamically and are in most cases kept as honorary titles for life, and therefore often do not reflect the current strength of the player. Furthermore, there exist many variations in the systems used in each region. But what does Nepomniachtchi think about the so-called Elo system used in chess?

The rating system we use serves as an objective indicator of a player’s current strength. In the past it was updated only twice a year but now ratings are recalculated on a monthly basis. There are also separate ratings for each time setting (e.g. standard and blitz). In chess we make heavy use of rankings to determine tournament qualification, so it is important to ensure they are accurate.

And what about draws in chess? Would an anti-repetition rule benefit the game?

I believe chess is already well balanced and that there is no need to change the rules. Draws are just a part of chess and I see no reason why a draw should not be given if both players are performing at a similar level.

It seems both sports have a thing to learn from each other. Will we see a universal rating for go, or anti-drawing measures in chess?

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Interview with Yoshida Mika

IGF Ranka - Fri, 13/12/2013 - 08:49

After a last minute defeat in a tense game with the young Chinese star Yu Zhiying 4p, Ranka had the pleasure to speak with Japan’s Yoshida Mika 8p, former winner of the Women’s Honinbo.

Yoshida Mika (left) playing Yu Zhiying

Ranka: Could you tell us a little about your game this morning?
Yoshida: A tragic loss! I felt I was playing on top form throughout the early and middle stages of the game, then it all fell apart at the end. I am devastated to have missed this opportunity to secure a victory.

Ranka: We hear you have recently started flamenco dancing – what got you into that?
Yoshida: I love music and dance. My first encounter with flamenco was in my twenties on a visit to Spain. “That’s it!” I thought. But in the end I never got round to learning, and it was only this March when I reencountered the dance and decided to take it up seriously. Looking back at my game this morning, maybe my future is in flamenco…!

Ranka: How else do you spend your free time when away from the go board?
Yoshida: That’s about it these days. I have been very busy with my two daughters.

Ranka: How have you managed your time now you are a mother?
Yoshida: My two daughters are nine and six now, but when they were still young I took a six year break from go. It was impossible to continue playing and studying, and I felt it was an important time to spend with my children. Now they are at school, so I can find some spare time to study in the mornings.

Ranka: We wish you success in the rest of your games.

- John Richardson

Categories: World news

Round 1

IGF Ranka - Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:53

Wang Runan (right)

The go competition at the third SportAccord World Mind Games began with the first round of the men’s team round robin, which started at 12:30 p.m. on December 12, and the first round of the women’s individual tournament, which started at 3:00 p.m. First to arrive in the playing room were the referees (nine Chinese amateur and professional players from four Chinese cities) and the game recording crew (thirteen amateur and near-professional players from the Ma Xiaochun Daochang). The first player to arrive was Pavol Lisy (Slovakia), the youngest member of the European men’s team. He was quickly followed by Fan Hui (France) and the red-clad men’s team from Chinese Taipei. By 12:28 all the men’s teams were complete and Wang Runan, the chief referee, delivered the opening instructions: mobile phones off, Chinese rules, 3-3/4 stones (7.5 points) compensation, two hours per player followed by five 60-second overtime periods, and then, ‘Begin!’

The Korean team was matched against Chinese Taipei. In the first round of the men’s team event in the first SportAccord World Mind Games two years ago, Chinese Taipei had given Korea a bad scare by winning on two of the five boards. This year, with only three boards, Korea could not afford two losses. Both sides played deliberately from the outset.

In the match between China and North America, the game between Wang Xi (China) and Yongfei Ge (Canada) was played at contrastingly a rapid pace. Ge challenged Wang to an early ko fight. Wang won the ko and captured five white stones in the center, then used his central power to attack and capture White’s largest group. Ge resigned. The game was over in less than an hour. The other two North American players held out longer, but Huiren Yang resigned to the 17-year-old Ing cup-winner Fang Tingyu in less than two hours, and Daniel Daehyuk Ko, after playing his game out nearly to the end and seeing that he was more than ten points behind, resigned to Bailing cup-winner Zhou Ruiyang. The Ko-Zhou game was broadcast to a live YouTube audience with a running commentary by Michael Redmond.

Hirata Tomoya

The European team put up more stubborn resistance in their match with Japan, but Ilya Shikshin lost by 2-1/4 stones (4.5 points) to 19-year-old Hirata Tomoya; Fan Hui managed to rescue a beleagured group in a ko fight but eventually had to resign against New King (Shinjin-O) title-holder Fujita Akihiko; and in a battle of 18-year-olds, Pavol Lisy struggled to a 14-1/4 stone (28.5-point) loss to Tsuruta Kazuya. The winners comments:

Fujita Akihiko: ‘The ko was a two-step ko, so by the time White had spent three moves winning it he had lost the game.’

Hirata Tomoya: ‘The opening was difficult, but I felt that I got the lead in the middle game and then I played safe in the endgame.’

Tsuruta Kazushi: ‘There were many difficult situations in the game, much was unclear, but I never felt that I was in danger of losing.’

While these matches were ending, the tension was winding up in the match between Chinese Taipei and Korea. Around four o’clock it looked as if the younger player might win on all three boards, and two of the younger players were from Chinese Taipei. Two of these predictions held up: Park Jeonghwan (Korea, age 19) defeated Chou Chun-hsun (Chinese Taipei, age 33) by 1/4 stone (half a point) on board one, and Lin Chun-yen (Chinese Taipei, age 15) defeated Cho Hanseung (Korea, age 31) by resignation on board three. On board two, however, Kim Jiseok (Korea, age 23) fought back to overcome Wang Yuan-jyun (Chinese Taipei, age 17) by 3/4 stone (1.5 points). This was the last of the men’s games to end. Kim’s comment:

Fujisawa Rina (left) and Svetlana Shikshina

‘I was behind from the opening. I finally managed to catch up in the endgame, but because of the large number of prisoners it was hard to calculate the score accurately. It wasn’t until I won the ko on the right side that I thought I might be ahead.’

In the women’s individual competition, Yu Zhiying (China), Chang Cheng-ping (Chinese Taipei), and Oh Jeonga (Korea) defeated Dina Burdakova (Russia), Natalia Kovaleva (Russia), and Sarah Jin Yu (Canada) by resignation, and Fujisawa Rina (Japan) defeated Svetlana Shikshina (Russia) by 6-1/4 stones (12.5 points). Fujisawa’s comment: ‘It was a difficult opening, but I got the lead in the middle game.’

Summary of the first day of competition:
Men’s teams: China beat North America 3-0, Korea beat Chinese Taipei 2-1, Japan beat Europe 3-0.
Women’s individual: Yu Zhiying beat Dina Burdakova, Chang Cheng-ping beat Natalia Kovaleva, Oh Jeonga beat Sarah Jin Yu, Fujisawa Rina beat Svetlana Shikshina.

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Opening Ceremony and Technical Meeting

IGF Ranka - Thu, 12/12/2013 - 05:05

Mr. Wang Wei

The start of the third SportAccord World Mind Games was officially declared by Mr Yang Xiacho, president of the Organizing Comittee and deputy mayor of Beijing, at an opening ceremony held in the main second floor hall of the Beijing International Conference Center, which will be the competition venue for the coming week. The announcement was accompanied by a musical fanfare and projected images of fireworks. It was preceded by greetings from Mr Wang Wei, executive president of the Organizing Committee and vice chairman of the Beijing Olympic City Development Association (BODA), and Mr Marius Vizer, president of SportAccord. Mr Wang noted that mind games were helping to improve the quality of life in Beijing and wished the contestants a pleasant stay in the city. Mr Vizer thanked the Chinese government, BODA, and the city of Beijing for their support and wished the contestants good luck.

Before these greetings, representative groups of contestants, six to eight in each of the five disciplines, had marched onto the stage to witness the raising of the Chinese flag and the SportAccord flag by a crack drill team in white uniforms. Following the greetings, the contestants marched off and the stage was taken by a succession of dance teams. First a team of Chinese college students gave a prizewinning shadowboxing demonstration. Next a kickball dance team demonstrated their skills, which have won prizes in dance competitions in Beijing and Singapore and have been witnessed as far away as Europe and Africa. National champions in military exercises with broadswords and other weapons then demonstrated their skills in a kungfu dance, and finally another student group displayed classical dance skills in a ‘Chess Rhyme’, in which the dancers were dressed as black and white chess queens. There was much in these performances to inspire the spectators, who were already in a good mood following a buffet banquet, and the ceremony ended at a quarter past eight, in plenty of time for everyone to rest up for the week ahead.


For a group of go players and officials, the opening ceremony was followed by a technical meeting. The meeting was presided over by chief referee Wang Runan, with assistance from technical delegate Shigeno Yuki and interpretation by Zhang Wei. The meeting began with greetings from Mr Wang and Ms Shigeno, proceeded through a summary of the rules, and then moved on to the main order of business: the drawing of the team, pair, and player numbers, which were incorporated into a prearranged schedule in each event.

For the round robin men’s team event, the result of the draw was that on the first day of play (December 12) the Chinese team faces the North American team while Europe challenges Japan and Chinese Taipei challenges Korea. The pairings for the next four days were also determined. In three noteworthy matches, North America will square off against Europe on the 13th, Chinese Taipei will tackle Japan on the 15th, and China and Korea will confront each other in the last round on the 16th.


For the women’s double knockout individual event, the draw began with the drawing of numbers 1, 6, 7, and 12, which were scheduled for byes in the first round. Park Jieun (Korea), Yoshida Mika (Japan) Joanne Missingham (Chinese Taipei), and Wang Chengxing (China) had been preselected to receive these byes, Ms Park and Ms Wang being slotted into numbers 1 and 12, Ms Missingham and Ms Yoshida into numbers 6 and 7. Number 1 was drawn to Ms Park and number 12 to Ms Wang; then number 6 was drawn to Ms Yoshida and number 7 to Ms Missingham. This automatically determined the numbers assigned to their fellow countrywomen Oh Jeonga (9), Chang Cheng-Ping (3), Fujisawa Rina (10), and Yu Zhizhing (4). The four women from Canada and Russia then drew for the remaining numbers: Sarah Jin Yu drew a first-round pairing against Oh Jeonga (Korea); Svetlana Shikshina drew Fujisawa Rina (Japan); Dina Burdakova drew Yu Zhizhing (China); Natalia Kovaleva drew Chang Cheng-Ping (Chinese Taipei).

The pair draw was similar to the women’s draw but without byes. The four pairs from the Far East drew for numbers 1, 4, 5, and 8; then the pairs from Europe and North America drew for the remaining numbers, so that the pairs from Europe and North America all drew opponents from the Far East in the first round. Although the pair competition is a single knockout, it will include play-offs for third to sixth places, so even the pairs who lose in the first round will get to play at least one more game.

Although the draw was in no way a competition, the European contingent put on a winning performance. Their non-playing team captain Martin Stiassny and all six of their players attended the meeting, far outshining the other contingents in this respect. This year apparently Europe means business.

- James Davies

Categories: World news

3rd SportAccord World Mind Games Ready to Start in Beijing

IGF Ranka - Thu, 12/12/2013 - 02:00

Press Conference

Approximately 150 bridge, chess, draughts, go and xianqi players flew into Beijing from December 9-11 for the third SportAccord World Mind games. They were greeted by clear skies and sunshine, and by a team of volunteers who drove them from the airport to the Beijing Continental Grand Hotel, where they will stay.

The bridge contingent is the largest: 24 men from China, Monaco, Poland, and the USA and 24 women representing China, England, Israel, and the USA. They will compete as teams for three days, then as pairs for two days, and finally as individuals for two days.

Chess players make up the next largest group: 16 men and 16 women will compete as individuals in a two-day rapid tournament, followed by a three-day blitz and a two-day Basque system. The field is truly international, coming from Armenia, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, India, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, the Ukraine, the USA, and Vietnam.

Natalia Kovaleva (left) and Yu Zhiying

Go has the third largest contingent: 18 men and 12 women from China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, North America, Japan, and Korea. The men will compete as teams, the women as individuals, and the Games will also include pair events.

The draughts players consist of 16 men and 12 women, who will vie in two days of rapid competition, followed by a two-day blitz, and then a super-blitz. Like the chess contingent they are highly international, and they represent both hemispheres, coming from Belarus, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Germany, the Ivory Coast, Latvia, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and the Ukraine.

The xianqi competition has the simplest schedule. The eight men, representing China, Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, the Philippines, and Vietnam, will will play a rapid round robin (one hour per player with 30-second overtime) at the leisurely pace of one round per day. The four women, representing Australia, China, Vietnam, and the USA, will play a two-round knockout.

The first event of the Games was a press conference held on the afternoon of December 11 at the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Press and Publication. Speeches were made by a variety of guests including the President of SportAccord (Marius Vizer) and executives of the Beijing Olympic City. Also present were the two ambassadors for Go, Natalia Kovaleva and Yu Zhiying.

- Ranka

Categories: World news

3rd SportAccord World Mind Games

IGF Ranka - Tue, 03/12/2013 - 02:46

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 Yu

Representing 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.

Categories: World news

3rd SAWMG – Contestants

IGF Ranka - Tue, 03/12/2013 - 02:25
China Chenxing WANG Ruiyang ZHOU Tingyu FAN Xi WANG Zhiying YU Age: 22 Age: 22 Age: 17 Age: 29 Age: 17 5 Dan Pro 9 Dan Pro 9 Dan Pro 9 Dan Pro 4 Dan Pro Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Women’s Ind. Chinese Taipei Joanne MISSINGHAM Yuan-Jyun WANG Chun-Hsun CHOU Chun-Yen LIN Chen-Ping CHANG Age: 18 Age: 17 Age: 33 Age: 16 Age: 32 6 Dan Pro 6 Dan Pro 9 Dan Pro 6 Dan Pro 3 Dan Pro Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Women’s Ind. Europe Russia France Russia Russia Russia Natalia KOVALEVA Hui FAN Svetlana SHIKSHINA Ilya SHIKSHIN Dina BURDAKOVA Age: 26 Age: 31 Age: 33 Age: 23 Age: 26 5 Dan 2 Dan Pro 3 Dan Pro 7 Dan 5 Dan Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Slovakia Pavol LISY Age: 18 6 dan Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Japan Rina FUJISAWA Akihiko FUJITA Tomoya HIRATA Kazushi TSURUTA Mika YOSHIDA Age: 15 Age: 22 Age: 19 Age: 18 Age: 43 2 Dan Pro 4 Dan Pro 3 Dan Pro 2 Dan Pro 8 Dan Pro Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Women’s Ind. Korea Ji Eun PARK Jiseok KIM Jeong Hwan PARK Hanseung CHO Jeonga OH Age: 30 Age: 24 Age: 20 Age: 31 Age: 20 Strenght: 9 Dan Pro Strenght: 9 Dan Pro Strenght: 9 Dan Pro Strenght: 9 Dan Pro Strenght: 2 Dan Pro Cat: Women’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Women’s Ind. North America Canada USA USA Canada Jin YU Daniel Daehyuk KO Huiren YANG Yongfei GE Age: 23 Age: 37 Age: 60 Age: 44 6 Dan 7 Dan 1 Dan Pro 7 Dan Cat: Women’s Ind./Pair Cat: Men’s Team/Pair Cat: Men’s Team Cat: Men’s Team

Categories: World news

3rd SAWMG – Go Competitions Format

IGF Ranka - Tue, 03/12/2013 - 02:23

Date and Venue:
December 11th to 19th, 2012
Beijing International Convention Center, Room 203

Three events: Men’s team, Women’s individual and Pair go

Competition System:
A total number of 30 players from China, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Europe and North America will participate in the competition, with 18 male players and 12 female players.

Men’s team: 6 teams from China, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Europe (France, Russia, Slovakia) and North America (Canada-USA-USA). Each team has 3 players.
Women’s Individual: 12 players, including 2 players from each of the top 4 countries or regions in the 2011 Beijing 1st SportAccord World Mind Sports Games team event (China, Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei). 3 from Russia, 1 from Canada.
Pair Go: 8 pairs. 1 pair from each of the top 4 countries or regions in the 2012 Beijing SportAccord World Mind Sports Games Pair Go event (China, Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei). 2 pairs from Europe (France-Russia, Slovakia- Russia), 1 pair from Russia and 1 pair from North America (Canada-USA).

Competition Rules
2002 Chinese Weiqi competition rules approved by Chinese Weiqi Association will be adopted in the Competition. If there is any ambiguity or inconsistency among versions in different languages, the Chinese version shall prevail.
If a situation not covered in the rules occurs, the Technical Delegate has the right to take appropriate measures to deal with it. Appeals against referees’ decisions will be made through the procedure of appeal approved by International Go Federation.

Men’s individual (6 teams): Single Round Robin system will be applied with a total of 5 rounds. The time allowance is 2 hours per player, followed by five renewable 60-seconds overtime periods. Players’ will be matched according to numbers determined by drawing during the Technical Meeting before the competition starts.
Women’s individual (12 players): A double knockout system will be applied with a total of 7 rounds. The time allowance is 60 minutes per player, followed by three renewable 30-seconds overtime periods. The top 4 countries or regions in the 2011 Beijing 1st SportAccord World Mind Games Go competition team event will select 1 player each to get a bye in first round. Players’ will be matched according to numbers determined by drawing during the Technical Meeting held before the competition starts. Players from the same country or region may be matched against each other except for the 1st round.
Pair Go (8 pairs): Pair Go will be conducted in 3 rounds by single knockout system. The time allowance is 60 minutes per pair, followed by three renewable 30-second overtime periods. Pairs will be matched according to numbers determined by drawing during the Technical Meeting held before the competition starts.

Prize and Awards

3rd SAWMG – Money Prize (Total Prize USD 400,000) Men’s Team Women’s Individual Pair Go Gold
USD 120,000 USD 40,000 USD 24,000 Silver 60,000 20,000 16,000 Bronze 30,000 10,000 8,000 4th Place
15,000 8,000 6,000 5th Place
9,000 5,000 5,000 6th Place
6,000 2,000 4,000 7th Place
2,000 2,000 8th Place
2,000 2,000 9th-12th Places
1,000 TOT. USD 240,000 TOT. USD 93,000 TOT. USD 67,000


Categories: World news

3rd SAWMG – Go Competitions Schedule

IGF Ranka - Wed, 16/10/2013 - 04:13
3rd SAWMG: Go Competitions Schedule Dec. 2013 Time Tournament Men’s Team Women’s Individual Pair Go Mon 09 All day TD reporting in Tue 10 All day Venue set-up / Referees, Players and ITO reporting in Wed 11 All day Venue set-up / Referees, Players and Officials reporting in 18:30-19:30 Welcome Reception 19:30-20:30 Opening ceremony 20:30-21:30 Technical meeting, drawing of player order Thu 12 12:30-18:00 Round 1 (9 tables)
15:00-18:00 Round 1 (4 tables)
Fri 13 09:30-12:30 Round 2 (4 tables) 12:30-18:00 Round 2 (9 tables)
15:00-18:00 Round 3 (6 tables)
Sat 14 12:30-18:00 Round 3 (9 tables)
15:00-18:00 Round 4 (4 tables)
Sun 15 09:30-12:30
Round 5 (2 tables) 12:30-18:00 Round 4 (9 tables) 15:00-18:00
Round 6 (2 tables) Mon 16 12:30-18:00 Round 5 (9 tables)
15:00-18:00 Round 7 (1 table)
19:00 Prize Giving Ceremony
Tue 17 09:30-12:30 Round 1 14:00 School visiting
15:00-18:00 Round 2 Wed 18 09:30-12:30 Round 3 17:00 Prize Giving Ceremony evening Closing Ceremony Thu 19 daytime Departure

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