On April 5, at the height of the cherry blossom season, a memorial was held at the Nihon Kiin in Tokyo to honor Go Seigen, who died on November 30 last year.
The altar was adorned with seasonal flowers patterned to represent a go board and stones, and with a smiling picture of Go Seigen taken when he was younger. Oikawa Shoichi, executive advisor and senior deputy chief editor of the Yomiuri Newspaper, and Rin Kaiho, honorary Tengen, delivered memorial addresses.
In all 300 people attended, including family members and professional and amateur go players, among whom was Nie Weiping, 9-dan, who flew over from China. To express their condolences, instead of offering flowers they offered stones, by placing one black or white stone apiece on a go board.
This ceremony was followed by a congenial social gathering in another room, where people traded recollections of Go Seigen and played rengo, with Chang Hsu (Cho U) and his wife Kobayashi Izumi presiding.
Those who attended the reception for the 28th World Amateur Go Championship in Tokyo in 2007 will recall the great impression that Go Seigen, who was invited as a special guest, made on the assembled players. At that event he presented the IGF with an ink inscription of the word chuwa, which he had chosen because its two characters (中和) expressed his deep love of the game of go, with its stress on harmony, and his sincere wish for a peaceful world through go. These are ideas will be passed on to multitudes of go players and should be handed down to eternity without end.
The 13th World Students Go Oza Championship was held on February 24 and 25, 2015, at the Ginza Internet Forum in Tokyo. The contestants were sixteen university students: ten from the Far East, three from Europe, two from the Americas, and one from Oceania.
The event was organized by the All-Japan Students Go Association, Nikkei Inc., and Pandanet, with the cooperation of the Nihon Kiin and the International Go Federation. For the eighth time, the winner was Chinese. This year it was Su Guangyue, a fourth-year law student who had been runner-up in 2013. He defeated Johannes Obenaus (Germany), Chidsanupong Jangmark (Thailand), and Park Jongwook (Korea) in the first three rounds. Meanwhile, Yeh Kang-ting (Chinese Taipei) was doing equally well, beating Petr Kouba (Czechia), Tsukada Karin (Japan), and Niwa Junya (Japan), but in the deciding fourth-round game between the two undefeated players, Su Guangyue (black) successfully invaded the top left corner and then the upper side, leaving white about 20 points behind. Shortly afterward, he was reporting victory to his father, Su Demin, in Luoyang, China.
According to an article that appeared in the Luoyang Evening News the next day, Su Guangyue took his triumph rather calmly. He told his father he felt 'relatively happy', but winning came as no surprise. After finishing second two years ago, he had been determined to finish first this time.
The article went on to describe how Guangyue had learned to play go almost before he learned to talk, by watching his father play. Seeing how much his son liked the game, his father enrolled him in a go class at a Luoyang primary school. Within a year, Guangyue had run out of opponents, so his father started taking him to clubs where grownups played, making great efforts to persuade them to treat his son seriously. After three more years, Guangyue and go had become inseparable, and his father decided to pay his room, board, and tuition to train with the Henan Provincial Go Team, where he could get professional instruction. Later, Guangyue went alone to Beijing for more professional training, but in 2011, finding himself still an amateur, he decided to apply to the Shanghai International Studies University. He was accepted on the strength of this go accomplishments, and began to combine university coursework with his go playing. He seems to thrive on serious study, both on and off the board. 'I've never had time to feel homesick or be lazy, and I love playing go, so I never feel tired,' he said.
In the rest of the field, SOS points put Yeh Kang-ting third, behind Korea's Park. Fourth to seventh places also went to students from the Far East (Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan). Johannes Obenaus defeated Chidsanupong Jangmark and Ke Yi-ning (Chinese Taipei) to finish 8th. Zhu Haichen (U.S.A.) defeated Johannes Obenaus and Laura Avram (Romania) to take 9th place. Full results and the record of the Su-Yeh game are here.
- James Davies (photos courtesy of the Nihon-Kin)
Tlatelolco Cultural Center was the hosting venue of the1st Mexican Go Congress held from November 15 to 17, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. This 1st Congress counted with the distinguished presence of Hajin Lee 3P and an Kim Sooyong 4P both sent by auspice of the Korean Baduk Association.
The 3 day Congress was the host for several events such as the 1st Mexican Open Tournament, a 13x13 tournament for kids, Go and Origami workshops and of course both Korean Pros shared with the Mexican Go community their skill trough reviews from the Open Tournament games, lectures and simultaneous games exhibitions.
Organized by the Mexican Go Association and sponsored by UNAM, Mexico's main public university and KABA, this Congress is pioneer in the development of Go in Mexico and Latin America. With a 45 players field for the Open Tournament and more than 300 attendants in total, the event turned out to be a huge success.
"This Congress was a multi-purpose event" reports Mexican Go Association president, Mr. Emil García, "The players not only had the chance to play in an official tournament and feel the seriousness of it, but also had the opportunity to gain insight of how pro players think of the game trough the several activities we had with them. It was also a great chance of sharing and learning for the youngest players, I'm surprised by the amount of youngsters that participated in the 13x13 Tournament and in the workshops, kids are increasingly becoming a main actor in Mexican Go.
"European and American Go are developing really fast, and they are getting a lot of support from International entities, Mexican and LatinAmerican Go shouldn't lag behind, that's why we are working really hard to be able to catch up with you guys" says Mr. García. "2015 will be a year full of surprises for Mexican Go, so stay tuned!"
For picture galleries of this Congress check the event website.
While five outstanding Korean professional go players were competing for medals at the World Mind Games in Beijing last month, 136 outstanding Korean amateurs competed in Seoul for the Amateur Guksu (or Kuksu) title, and the right to represent Korea at the next World Amateur Go Championship in Thailand. The competitors included some who are training in hopes of winning professional credentials in Korea's tough insei league, so the Guksu tournament was also viewed as a contest between this elite group and Korea's large general amateur population.
A double-elimination preliminary qualifier held on December 13 reduced the field from 136 to 64, who then competed in a six-round knockout on December 14 and 15. After four of the six rounds, three of the four survivors were insei: Kim Changhoon, Park Jaegeun (winner of the 2013 Korea Prime Minister Cup), and Song Jihoon. Song also won one of the two semifinal games, greatly improving on his performance the year before, when he had been retired in the first knockout round. But insei dominance was not complete. The winner of the other semifinal game was Hong Moojin, who ranked No. 2 in the junior (U40) tier of Korean amateurs, second only to 2013 Guksu and 2014 KPMC winner Wei Taewoong. Song, for his part, ranked No. 3 among the insei.
Could the third best insei beat the second best general amateur? The answer to that question, after a 247 move thriller in the final round, was yes -- by half a point. In a post-game interview Song Jihoon described his Guksu triumph as follows:
'I was lucky to win. All my games were tough, especially my second-round game against Song Hongsuk [who was 2009 amateur Guksu and 2010 world amateur champion] and the final game against Hong Moojin. The final game was a struggle all the way, with the lead constantly shifting back and forth, but Hong made the last mistake.'
Aged seventeen, Song Jihoon is regarded as a rising star among the insei. In October he and Kim Changhoon competed alongside pros in the Samsung Cup. His style of play is often compared to that of Lee Sedol, whom he hopes to emulate. To quote him again, 'I'm now preparing for the professional qualifying tournament by working on my opening, which is my weak point. Now that I've won the Guksu, I'm determined to win the world amateur championship and get the 40 professional qualification points that will be worth. Then I'll try to win a professional world title within five years of making pro.'
In the meantime, to further his training he has the ₩2-million Guksu first prize (roughly $1800 or €1500). Hong Moojin, who has already amassed 90 of the 100 points needed to qualify as a pro, received ₩700,000 as runner-up, and took over the No. 1 amateur rank, pushing Wei Taewoong down to No. 2. Last year Wei narrowly missed being world amateur champion. Can a different Korean do better this year? That question will be answered in Bangkok next June.
Postscript: Song Jihoon made pro in February 2015. The Korean player at the next World Amateur Go Championship will be someone else, currently undecided.
- James Davies