Yitien Chan (Chinese Taipei) snatched victory in the 35th World Amateur Go Championship, overtaking Korea by a single tie-break point. Chinese Taipei take home the trophy for the first time ever, and this is also the first time since 1986 (when Hong Kong won) that the winner was not one of the Big Three (China, Japan and Korea). In a tie-break lottery of sum of opponents’ scores, Chinese Taipei scored 46 taking first place, followed by 45 points for Korea and 43 points for China. The top 10 comprised of Chinese Taipei (1st), Korea (2nd), China (3rd), Hong Kong (4th), the Ukraine (5th), the Czech Republic (6th), Russia (7th), Sweden (8th), Japan (9th) and the USA (10th).
In the final round, Hungarian Pal Balogh had no fear of his Korean opponent, launching into the infamous taisha joseki then sauntering around the playing area as his time ticked down. ‘Balogh The Great’ (as he wrote on his score sheet) did not live up to his name however and was toppled by the Korean powerhouse Taewoong Wei.
Luis Enrique Boza Araya (Costa Rica) again put his money on tengen in a last stab at chalking up his first point, but was defeated by the Azerbaijanian Tahirbayov, who had awoken from his morning’s slumber (see Round 7 report).
In a tense showdown between Russia and the Ukraine, it was the latter who took control, fending off the Russian incursion into his territory. Despite a completely winning position against India, Mexico’s delegate Ricardo Quintero Zazueta was distraught to give away his game to Sonia Shah with a slip under time pressure.
The day concluded with the award ceremony, at which traditional Korean spoon sets were presented to Lucian Corlan (Romania) and Tiawattananont Thanapol (Thailand) for their fighting spirit, and the grand trophy was handed to its new owner, the young Yitien Chan of Chinese Taipei. Special prizes were presented by IGF director Martin Finke to Nhat Minh Vo (Vietnam), Rafif Shidqi Fitrah (Indonesia), Csaba Deak (Brazil) and Soni Shah (India).
- John Richardson
This morning treated the WAGC players to a clear sky and magnificent views of Lake Bomun. But news of the approach of Typhoon Neoguri left many worried about their return flights. There was turbulent weather on the Go board too, with numerous upsets and even a disqualification.
The playing room swarmed with referees as Bahadur Tahirbayov’s flag was lowered signaling his disqualification from this morning’s round. The Azerbaijani was nowhere to be seen. Officials were sent on a search party to his hotel room, where it emerged that he had been unable to awake from a deep slumber that cost him his penultimate game.
Japan’s Kiko Emura suffered another defeat, this time at the hands of Czech Lukas Podpera, who played an excellent game winning comfortably with a tight endgame. This means that Japan will struggle to make the top 10, a bitter result for Emura who was pulling out all stops after his disappointing 8th in last year’s tournament.
Russia was dismantled by China. A large Russian group was fatally encirled, leaving Dmitry Surin many points behind. He went all in with a last ditch ko but Ruoran Wang cooly let the Russian take a few points, content with seizing the rest of the board. More wins for China and Chinese Taipei, leaving the three Asian Go giants China, Korea and Chinese Taipei in tied pole position.
Korea and Chinese Taipei have the same tiebreak score (sum of opponents’ scores) of 30 with China close behind with 28. This means, assuming that these players all win their final games, the overall winner will be down to the results of their previous opponents. We will let fate decide.
The anti-doping test will take place immediately after the final round and before the award ceremony.
- John Richardson
From top left: Jie Liang, Rafif Shidqi Fitrah, Amir Fragman, Nikola Mitic, Altan Kuntay, Ricardo Quintera Zaqueta.
More photos here.
Just as we had thought that the Chinese had it in the bag, Korean maestro Taewoong Wei snatched victory in this afternoon’s game, bringing his score to five wins and one loss, now equal to Chinese player. This throws the field open, as there are now six players sharing the lead. Chances are it will come down to the tiebreak (sum of opponents’ scores) and then only fate will decide whose earlier opponents can provide the points to take pole position. Currently Korea’s SOS is 26 compared to China and Chinese Taipei’s 24.
The tournament leader, Chinese Ruoran Wang, let out a huge yawn at the start of the 6th round (only two to go) of the World Amateur Go Championship 2014. Was it this fatigue that led to his downfall? The game turned into an early running battle with the Korean grabbing many points on the right side of the board. This proved to be too much.
As the tournament wears on the challengers are cranking up the pace, and many games are now reaching their conclusions before the one hour mark. Players are getting more experimental too, with Francis Roads (United Kingdom) taking two 5-4 points and a number of 3-3 sightings coming from the New Zealand and Swiss camps.
Dominique Versyck (Belgium) delighted over his defeat of India’s 1 Dan Soni Shah, taking apart a large central group that he “didn’t need to kill but, well, might as well”. While “perhaps not the politest solution”, this victory pushes him to a respectable three wins out of six. The 12 year old Nhat Minh Vo (Vietnam) steered his game into a huge central battle, culminating with a semeai where it was his stones, and not those of his Australian opponent Sang-Dae Hahn, that perished in the fight.
- John Richardson
China has taken the sole lead with Ruoran Wang’s decisive victory over Chinese Taipei’s Yitien Chan in the fifth round of the 35th WAGC. The game itself was relatively uneventful but it was clear that Wang was in the driving seat throughout. It remains to be seen whether Korea can level the score with the Korea-China showdown this afternoon. Other players still with a chance include Bogdan Zhurakovskyi (Ukraine), Dmitri Surin (Russia), Peter Jadron (Slovakia), Lukas Podpera (Czech Republic), Jie Liang (USA), Merlijn Kuin (Netherlands) and Tiawattananont Thanapol (Thailand), all with four wins and one loss.
The fifth round of the World Amateur Go Championship began at the usual time of 9.30am this morning. A late arrival from Austria helped German Bernd Rainer Radmacher speed to victory, and the Serbian star Nikola Mitic quickly took down Belgium accountant Dominique Versyck, killing a large group just before the clock struck ten. Zhijie Bei (New Zealand) and Khatanbaatar Tsend-Ayush (Mongolia) both had corner groups captured but it was the Kiwi who was able to fight back and win his game against Altan Kuntay from Turkey. A strong performance from Spanish sales manager Carlos Pau brought him victory against the tough opponent Australia’s Sang-Dae Hahn, a surprise to many.
The young Polish student Stanislaw Frejlak was drawn against Japan’s Kiko Emura. Against the Japanese’s sanrensei, Frejlak responded with an unusual trick-play (white A in diagram 1). But Emura was quick to churn out the book-line refutation (see diagram 2) and subsequently won the game.
Yet more byoyomi drama ensued with Hungarian Pal Balogh blaming a broken timepiece for his loss on time to Dutch legend Merlijn Kuin. His opponent was too deep in thought to have seen what happened, so the decision went down to the referees. Heated discussion led to the final verdict of victory for the Dutchman.
- John Richarson
The 35th World Amateur Go Championship marks the retirement of Yuki Shigeno from her post as the Secretary General of the International Go Federation (IGF). We look back at all she has contributed to the Go world since she began her work in 2006.
Yuki Shigeno’s career began in 1986 when she joined the Nihon Kiin as a professional Go player. In 1994 she moved to Italy, where she would stay for just over ten years teaching and popularising go across Europe. In 2006 she returned from Italy back to Japan and in the same year became the Secretary General of the International Go Federation. This was accompanied by the task of organising the 2006 World Amateur Go Championship, a responsibility that she has continued until 2014, which will be her 9th WAGC.
The WAGC was held solely in Japan for 30 years, thanks partly to sponsorship from Japan Airlines that secured flights for participants for a number of years. Many of the veteran players at this year’s WAGC remember the ‘good old days’ when they did not have to shell out for their trip. It was held for the first time outside of Japan in 2010, when Hangzhou (China) hosted the 31st WAGC. Yuki Shigeno was instrumental in this move towards internationalisation and is delighted that this year’s tournament is being held in Korea, with Thailand on the cards for 2015. Furthermore, the period of her activity saw the inauguration of the first non-Japanese IGF President.
The toughest point in her career was the 2008 World Mind Sports Games, at that time not yet governed by SportAccord. Six hundred participants and a further hundred guests and officials descended on Beijing to take part in what has been one of the largest events to date. Yuki Shigeno, as the IGF technical delegate, was responsible amongst other things for all of the players, including their registration, flights and accommodation. With so many people, flight problems, last-minute cancellations – you name it – the work was so intense that she had enough of the job and wanted to throw in the towel, but thanks to Ruinan Wang’s (former IGF Vice-President) motivation she made it past this gigantic hurdle.
Since then she has been responsible for much of the work behind the scenes keeping the IGF climbing ever onwards and upwards, in particular with organising tournaments across the globe. Her retirement from the post was announced at the IGF Annual General Meeting that kicked off this year’s WAGC.
I am very grateful to all who have helped along the way, especially my husband, who has always been willing to lend a hand. It is wonderful that the young Lee Hajin is taking over and that next year’s WAGC will be held for the first time in Thailand. Fate has brought us here and I believe that same fate will take us forward.
IGF is a platform for friendship and integrity between Go playing nations. We need to keep our fights to the board and act as a family to promote the development of the game across the World. It’s not about who wins. I believe in the future of the IGF and hope to see many splendid achievements in the coming years.
She is looking forward to spending more time with her children’s class in Nagoya alongside her many duties at the Nihon Kiin.
- John Richardson, photo by John Pinkerton
White: Yongfei Ge (Canada) 7D
Black: Kiko Emura (Japan) 7D
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Commentary/variations by Yongfei Ge. Recorded by Chris Garlock
Photos by John Pinkerton. From top left: Nhat Minh Vo, Kiko Emura, Taewoong Wei, Merlijn Kuin, Suzanne D’Bel, Niccolò Sgaravatti, Zoran Mutabzija and Dmitry Surin.
More photos here.
White: Yitien Chan (Chinese Taipei) 7D
Black: Taewoong Wei (Korea) 7D
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Commentary/variations by Chan & Wei, with assistance by Chengping Chang 3P (Taiwan team leader), Chihyung Nam 1P, Thomas Hsiang and translator Hana Lee.
Transcribed by Chris Garlock
After the drama of this morning’s course of events, we expected a less exciting offering this afternoon, but that was not to be the case. China, Korea and Chinese Taipei pushed ahead with their victories against the Ukraine, Hong Kong and Sweden.
Malaysia’s Suzanne D’Bel finally got the chance to employ her trademark tengen strategy, picking black for the first time so far in the tournament. A fight erupted in the first few moves that engulfed the board, eventually leading to the demise of her Portugese opponent Pedro Pereira. See here the game record. Costa Rican system engineer Luis Enrique Boza Araya tried again to mimic D’Bel’s winning strategy but was clinically dispatched by his Swiss adversary Sylvain Gasana Praz.
Canadian Yongfei Ge snuffed Japan’s Kiko Emura’s ambitions once and for all in an exciting game in which Ge built a gigantic central moyo. Emura went all in with a desperate invasion but it was not enough to shake Canada’s WAGC veteran (game record here).
Elsewhere crazy fighting led to the downfall of Israeli Amir Fragman, and Austrian student Matthias Frisch’s skilful handling of a gigantic semeai dealt him victory against Mexican mathematician Ricardo Quintero Zazueta.
- John Richardson
“I think it’s great that so many countries are getting together for an international competition!” were the words of Chai Hui Lim, the second President of the Brunei Darussalam Go Association, on her first visit to the World Amateur Go Championship.
“Go is hardly known at all in Brunei. It’s a real challenge to get people interested in Go but like many other countries we are striving hard to popularise the game,” she continued, with a glimmer in her eye. Miss Lim wants to be a schoolteacher in the future.
Korea and Japan, two of the favourites to top the tournament, both lost by half a point to their respective opponents from Chinese Taipei and China in this morning’s play. To heighten the drama, a broken clock disrupts the Japan-China face-off.
The clocks began to tick at 9.31am this morning, marking the start the crucial second day of the World Amateur Go Championship in Gyeongju, Korea. The pairings included two decisive match-ups whose results will play a large part in deciding the top places in this year’s tournament. Korea versus Chinese Taipei and China versus Japan. Neither game was a disappointment; we were treated to two half-point wins, both gathering large crowds of players, press and officials.
The first result in was a shock to the locals. The young Yitien Chan from Chinese Taipei pushed ahead of Korean star Taewoong Wei to place in great stead for the remainder of the tournament. Wei had been the clear favourite and this could be seen from his dominating posture, but his shoulders began to sink as he realised that victory had slipped between his fingers.
Japan’s Emura, hoping for victory after a disappointing 8th place in last year’s tournament, had his hopes crushed by China’s Ruoran Wang, who snatched a half-point win in this morning’s battle. Both players flailed their fans from side to side as they tussled over an intense endgame where Emura was constantly under time trouble.
But the drama did not stop there. The Japan-China game turned into Whack-A-Mole as Emura slammed his clock button into submission, eventually rendering it unusable. When finally the clock ceased to respond and Emura’s time ran to zero, a crowd gathered around the board awaiting the referees’ decision as to how to continue the game. It was decided to keep playing with a new clock, giving the Japanese player one final byoyomi period. After the game, chief referee Cho Hunhyun had some stern words with Emura but it is unclear whether it was the clock or the Japanese’s enthusiasm that was to blame.
I was happy with how things were going, but before I knew it I wound up half a point behind. I’m used to fast time limits but this clock business added to the stress of this important game.
This turn of events leaves China and Chinese Taipei as clear favourites for the overall winner. Other countries with three wins are the Ukraine, Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
- John Richardson
After a lunch of fish and assorted kimchi, the players returned to the underground playing area, where they would continue to the second round of this year’s World Amateur Go Championship.
Within fifteen minutes Hungary’s Pal Balogh’s game had yet again finished in a flurry, but this time with victory over Khatanbaatar Tsend-Ayush, a hotel manager from Mongolia. Also quick to finish was the US-India game, both players playing very rapidly until the end. Soon after, South African John William Leuner was defeated by Danish postman Arne Steen Ohlenbuch when his group became entangled in a web of black stones.
This was not the only spectacular game this afternoon. A large crowd gathered around the Indonesia-Luxembourg match-up as semeais erupted and dead stones littered the board. The Malaysian representative Suzanne D’Bel launched a fierce attack on Brazilian representative Csaba Deak and, although he managed to avert this assault, another group came under fire, leading in decisive victory for D’Bel.
But the bloodshed didn’t stop there. An audible groan was let out by Francis Roads of the UK as he tried to find a way to save his group from Australian Sangdae Hahn’s onslaught. Not finding a solution, the stone in Roads’ hand was slammed back into the pot, followed shortly by resignation. The candidates from Costa Rica and Portugal joined the list of casualties as large groups were swallowed up by their Belarusian and Lithuanian counterparts.
No suprises again at the top. Korea, China, Japan and Chinese Taipei all won their games. A highlight was Korea-Canada, with Canada’s Yongfei Ge, back again from last year, putting up strong resistance in a relatively peaceful game. His 45-point lower side was not quite enough to overcome Taewoong Wei. Japan vs Singapore took the longest to finish but in the end Kiko Emura’s lead in territory sealed another Japanese victory.
- John Richardson
White: Merlijn Kuin (Netherlands) 6D
Black: Naisan Chan (Hong Kong) 6D
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Transcribed by Chris Garlock. Variations and comments by Kuin & Chan.
This morning at 9.30am representatives from fifty-four countries and territories placed their bets on odd or even and kicked off the 35th World Amateur Go Championship.
Unlike last year, where the first round pairings were announced at the Opening Ceremony, this year no preparation was possible for the competitors, who discovered their opponents only minutes before the clocks were started. The pairings for the first round avoid clashes between the top four seeds but otherwise are drawn at random, with players matched within two subclasses to avoid large rating differences.
The first game to finish was Korea-Denmark, with the local favourite Taewoong Wei off to an impressive start. There were no surprises for the other top seeds as China, Japan and Chinese Taipei all scored convincing victories.
In particular note was the Japan-Hungary match, the game reaching an essentially lost position with only three minutes used on Pal Balogh’s clock. After a twenty minute deliberation, the Hungarian left the playing room but returned minutes later to chose the only possible continuation and struggle through a futile battle to the bitter end.
The next game to finish saw Hong Kong’s Naisan Chan enclosing the Dutch envoy’s central-right stones. No amount of tsumego wizardry could save Merlijn Kuin’s group from inevitable demise. As the sound of byoyomi counting began to echo across the room, a flurry of games reached their conclusion, with more to follow in dribs and drabs until around midday.
Other interesting games included Costa Rica versus Belgium, this year seeing a new player, the Costa Rican system engineer Luis Enrique Boza Araya, attempt a tengen-based strategy. He was unable to use the stone and suffered a crushing defeat to the Belgian accountant Dominique Versyck. Suzanne D’Bel, known by the Japanese press as ‘Tengen Girl’, was White in her game against Andreas Götzfried of Luxembourg, so we are yet to see if she too will employ this unusual opening strategy.
The second round begins at 1.30pm Korean time.
- John Richardson
Why top players love go is as varied as the players themselves, but they all pretty much agree that in order to get stronger, “you must love the game.” So said Japan’s Emura Kiko at a brief press conference on the opening day of this year’s World Amateur Go Championship, echoed by Malaysia’s Suzanne D’Bel Low, Korea’s Taewoong Wei, China’s Ruoran Wang, Vietnam’s Nhat Minh Vo and the Czech Republic’s Lukas Podpera, who were selected to answer questions at the press conference.
“Go enables me to meet a lot of new friends, who become part of my family,” said Low. “Each game reveals my opponent’s style and personality,” added Podpera. At just 13, Vo is the youngest player at the WAGC, but already the game has enabled him to “meet a lot of interesting new people and travel around the world to share the go spirit,” he said.
And while all the selected players said that lots of play and study is necessary to improve, Podpera was the most specific, noting that “In Europe we are failing at life and death (tsume-go) so that’s what we must study to improve.” Wei was even more succinct, saying that the three things necessary to get better at go are “Will, confidence and concentration.”
- Chris Garlock
The International Go Federation Annual General Meeting was held this afternoon at the site of this year’s World Amateur Go Championship, the Hyundai Hotel in Gyeongju, Korea. The lush green grounds of the hotel overlook the beautiful Bomun Lake, a scenic backdrop for the main highlight of the amateur Go calendar.
To begin, some big news: Bangkok has been selected as the location for next year’s World Amateur Go Championship. Thailand’s selection marks the first time this important event will be held outside the Go stronghold of Japan, China and Korea. A promising move towards the internationalisation of the game.
The meeting continued with a roundup of the year’s Go events and report of the IGF finances, all the healthier from the recent slump of the Japanese yen. The main events of last year were the World Amateur Go Championship in Sendai, Japan; the Amateur Pair Go Championship in Tokyo, Japan; and the SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing, China.
The SAWMG will be held again this year in Beijing (December 11th-17th), and Ranka will provide full coverage of the event. The format will be similar to previous years, combining Go, Chess, Bridge, Draughts and Xiangqi events. Poker applied again this year to join, but was denied for the second time. This year’s WAGC will see the continuation of anti-doping tests in order to keep the game of Go in line with sporting regulations, a step on the path towards Olympic recognition, a common goal for the mind games at the SAWMG.
Another exciting piece of news is the birth of the Student Pair Go Championship, which is to take place for the first time this October in Tokyo. This new event will be held together with the standard Pair Go Championship, which itself will be particularly special marking the 25th anniversary of Pair Go. The student championship is planned to be run as a separate event from next year.
We conclude with an announcement of changes to the IGF Board of Executives. This year will see a rotation of roles from Japan to Korea. The new IGF President will be Seokhyun Hong, previously the Korean Ambassador to the US, taking the reins from Koichiro Matsuura. “I will try my best but my work alone is not enough. We need everyone’s input and initiative to bring our plans to a successful creation.” Jae-ho Yang, the Secretary General of the Korean Baduk Association, takes up the role of Office Director, resuming the hard work of Hiroshi Yamashiro. Yuki Shigeno, the long serving Secretary General, gave a tearful farewell, passing the post on to Hajin Lee, the main organiser of this year’s WAGC. Norio Wada, the chairman of the Nihon Kiin, will also join the Board of Directors.
- John Richardson
With the start of the 35th World Amateur Go Championship now less than two weeks away, it is time to take a look at the field. Fifty-seven players from a like number of countries and territories are scheduled to make the trip to Gyeongiu, Korea to compete in the four-day, eight-round Swiss system. Many will be veterans of previous tournaments held in Japan and China, some drawn back to WAGC competition after a long absence, perhaps by the chance to be part of the first WAGC held in Korea. As usual, the largest contingent will come from Europe (30 players) and the youngest from the Far East (15 players, including an 11-year-old from Indonesia).
China, whose players have won this championship seven times so far during the current century, will be represented by Wang Ruorang, a 16-year-old from Nanjing who took third place in the Chinese Evening News Cup in January. Normally the winner of the Evening News Cup represents China at the WAGC, but the winner also has the option of turning pro any time during the ensuing year, and this year’s winner, 13-year-old Yi Lingtao, took that option immediately. In the meantime, Mr Wang has been doing famously, beating a pro opponent right after the Evening News Cup, beating last year’s WAGC runner-up in March, and leading an eight-man Chinese amateur team to victory over a Korean team in April. One recalls that Qiao Zhijian, the Chinese player who won the WAGC two years ago (and then turned pro) was also 16.
Korea, which has won the WAGC four times this century, will be represented by Tae-woong Wi. Mr Wi (age 20) qualified by winning the Korean amateur Guksu title last December, beating the 2010 world amateur champion in the final match. That feat, added to second-place finishes in the Lee Changho Cup and the Nosacho Cup and a 9-3 performance in National League competition, boosted him to second place in the U40 division of the Korean amateur rating system. The Wang-Wi game should be a highlight of the tournament.
Japan, which won the WAGC in 2000 and 2004, will send in Kiko Emura, who represented Japan at the WAGC and the Korea Prime Minister Cup in 2013. Last February Mr Emura also represented all human go players when he trounced Zen, Japan’s and perhaps the world’s strongest go-playing computer program, in consecutive games on 13 x 13 boards.
Other players to watch include Naisan Chan (Hong Kong), who took 3rd place in the 2009 WAGC; Yongfei Ge (Canada), who defeated a professional opponent at the SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing last December; 16-year-old Yi-Tien Chan, youngest of the 22 amateur 7-dans in Chinese Taipei; Sang-Dae Hahn (Australia) and Liang Jie (USA), who also have 7-dan ranks; Czech champion Lukas Podpera; Dutch champion Merlijn Kuin; Finnish champion Juuso Nyyssönen; Hungarian champion Pál Balogh; and Serbian champion Nikola Mitic. Competition for the top ten places should be fierce.
For those who miss out, there will also be two prizes awarded for fair play and fighting spirit. And for everyone there will be a warm week of Korean hospitality. A particular attraction will be the Gyeongju Baduk Festival, July 5, 10:00-12:30 at the tournament hotel (the Hyundai Hotel), where local players will play friendship games with the contestants, Korean pros Lee Hyunwook and Bae Yunjin will play simultaneous games, and former pro world champion Cho Hunhyun will give autographs.
- James Davies
54 Countries and TerritoriesAsia Brunei China Chinese Taipei Hong Kong India Ho Soon ANG Wang RUORAN Yi-Tien CHAN N’ai San CHAN Soni SHAH Age: 24 Age: 16 Age: 20 Age: 21 Age: 36 3 Kyu 6 Dan 7 Dan 6 Dan 1 Dan Indonesia Japan Korea Macau Malaysia Rafif Shidqi FITRAH Kiko EMURA Tae-woong WEI In Hang SAM Suzanne D’BEL Age: 11 Age: 34 Age: 20 Age: 19 Age: 24 4 Dan 7 Dan 7 Dan 5 Dan 3 Dan Mongolia Nepal Singapore Thailand Vietnam Khatanbaatar