After losing to Thailand's Vorawat Tanapatsopol in the first round, Mexico's ebullient Emil Garcia reeled off five straight wins to capture sixth place in the 2014 Korea Prime Minister Cup. In his last two games he downed a pair of veteran Nordic players, Vesa Laatikainen (Finland) and Thomas Heshe (Denmark), who have a long history of winning their respective national championships and competing with considerable success in past World Amateur Go Championships and KPMCs. Emil talked with Ranka the day after the 2014 KPMC ended.
Ranka: How did you start playing go?
Emil: The first time I saw go was in a movie called Pi (Faith in Chaos). It was a movie about a guy that had started in the stock market. He plays go with his neighbor and they find a lot of patterns, sacred geometric things. I got really intrigued with this game. I thought, 'Oh, I want to know what this game is.' Luckily, two days after that, I found a neighbor who had a go board, so it was like 'Oh a go board, that's it -- the game I saw in the movie! I want to learn.' At that very moment I became a go addict. I started playing every day with that guy until I beat him two months later. So that's how I started playing go.
Ranka: How old were you at that time?
Emil: I was fifteen years old. Now I'm almost thirty, so I've been playing go for more than half my life.
Ranka: Could you tell us something about go in Mexico?
Emil: Well, actually I am now the president of the Mexican Go Association. We are working very hard to promote and develop go in our country. There are clubs in each state. We have several places in Mexico City where you can play. What I am doing now is mainly for people in the capital, but there are also clubs in cities like Puebla, Guadalajara, and so on. As for tournaments, we do one national Internet tournament. Our fifth Internet go tournament is taking place right now. We also have what we call the Torneo Mexicano Presencial. You can call it the Mexican Open in English; it's going to be held in November. And this year we are going to have our first Mexican Go Congress. This is going to be our very first go congress and we are getting a professional player to come from Korea. They are sending one professional player to Mexico, so he can teach us and we can learn their techniques.
Ranka: Have you enjoyed yourself here in Korea?
Emil: Oh, I've had one of the most wonderful times ever at a go tournament. This year I managed to finish in sixth place, out of fifty-two. This is the best result in the entire history of Mexican go. It's also one of the best results for any Latin American person except Fernando Aguilar. Besides that, the organizers have been very kind, their attention has been really great, the interpreters have been wonderful, everything has been wonderful. I've really loved it. I want to bring the mood of the tournament, and its events, back to Mexico so that people who do not have a chance to come here can experience it in their own homeland. That is one of the purposes of the Congress, actually: to be able to bring this wonderful Asian environment back to America.
Ranka: Thank you very much.
- Photo: Ito Toshiko
America's Benjamin Lockhart, 7-dan, was paired against Hungary's Alexandra Urbán, 1-dan, in the first round of the 2014 Korea Prime Minister Cup. After winning that game, Benjamin beat a series of steadily stronger opponents -- Tomas Hjartnes (2-dan, Norway), Alvin Han (3-dan, Singapore), Dejan Stanković (5-dan, Serbia), and Dmitry Surin (6-dan, Russia) -- until his victory streak was finally stopped by Wei Taewoong (7-dan, Korea) in the final round. Both the American Go Association and the Choongam Baduk Dojang, where Benjamin is currently training, can take pride in his fifth place finish.
Ranka: Where are you from?
Benjamin: New York. I grew up in Brooklyn.
Ranka: And where did you learn to play go?
Benjamin: My father is a mathematician and so he knew about it; computer and math people usually know about go. He taught me and my brother when I was maybe nine years old. I then studied and played on and off until I was about sixteen and started taking it pretty seriously. For the past five years I've been studying it pretty much every day. For the last three years it's really been my whole life.
Ranka: How did you get into the Choongam Baduk Dojang?
Benjamin: When I was eighteen I went to Budapest. Lee Youngshin, who is a professional player, was living and teaching there, and I became very good friends with her. When I came to Korea a year later, she and Yang Geun, a 9-dan pro, helped me get into Choongam. They recognized that I needed a dojang to study at, and Choongam had just been recreated by merging three dojangs, so it all fit together. They told Choongam who I was and that I wanted to study, and Choi Gyubyung, the 9-dan pro who runs Choongam, let me in. I've been studying there for three years.
Ranka: What made you decide to do this?
Benjamin: Anyone who wants to study go seriously has to move to Asia.
Ranka: Do you want to become a professional player in Korea?
Benjamin: I don't think that I can become a professional in Korea unless I become a Korean citizen, but I can become a professional in America through the American system. I hope to play in the next American pro qualifying tournament, whenever they have it. It's still very unclear, but as I placed in the top division of the US Open I think I can get a spot. That's why I came to the KPMC.
Ranka: Please tell us about your game against the Russian player in the fifth round of the KPMC.
Benjamin: He died immediately in the opening, and so the game was kind of easy. I played very carefully, very solid. I won by a point and a half in the end, which was pretty tight, but I was just being very careful. Maybe I was lucky that he didn't play so well in the beginning.
Ranka: How was your game against the Korean player in the last round?
Benjamin: I'm not happy about it, because I didn't play very well, but I at least played with some fighting spirit. I kind of went for an all-out victory, got too excited about it, and started misreading. It was over after I misread. I got drunk on my own thoughts of victory, which is a mark of inexperience.
Ranka: Thank you and more power to you.
- Photo: Ito Toshiko
The most anticipated go event in decades concluded on September 28, when Lee Sedol 9p (right) defeated Gu Li 9p in their historic jubango, winning the eighth game by 2.5 points. The 350-move game was the longest in the series, and took place in Gu Li’s hometown, Chongqing, China. With this victory, Lee Sedol took the lion’s share of the 5,000,000 RMB prize money (more than $800,000 USD), and cemented his place in go history. The final score for the series was 6-2 in Lee’s favor, although this statistic belies how tightly fought several of the games were.
As with the previous seven games, Go Game Guru will release a detailed commentary soon; in the meantime, you can find all the commentaries and videos from the match on GGG’s jubango page and click here to see An Younggil 8p’s preliminary comments on Game 8. Once completed, all eight commentaries will form the basis of a book about the match.
- based on reporting by Go Game Guru
Korea’s Jeju Island hosted the 18th China Korea Tengen from September 23 to September 26. Defending champion China’s Chen Yaoye 9p (left) has won the tournament for the past three years. With four total wins, Chen matches the accolades of Gu Li 9p and Lee Changho 9p. However, Park Junghwan 9p seemed determined to seek revenge for fellow Korean player Park Younghun 9p who was unable to stop Chen in last year’s tournament. As the only person to defeat Chen at the Tengen in the past, the pressure on Park Junghwan was high but he prevailed. Park won games one and two by resignation and restored the game record for overall wins to 9-9.
The China Korea Tengen is an annual tournament where the winners of Korea’s Chunwon and China’s Tianyuan play a best of three match. For more information about this year’s Tengen including photos and game records, please visit Go Game Guru.
—Annalia Linnan, based on a longer article by Go Game Guru; photo courtesy of Go Game Guru
Romania: The 5th Radu Baciu Grand Prix — stage 6 Sibiu finished on September 14 with Adrian Nedan 1k in first, Alexandru Acsinte 4k in second, and Sorin Padurariu 3k in third. Russia: Igor Nemlij 5d bested Andrej Kulkov 6d at the Russian Championship Semifinal in Moscow on September 21. Grigorij Fionin 5d placed third. Switzerland: Also on September 21, Sylvain Praz 1d (left) took the Veyrier-Ko Go Club 2014. Behind him were Semi Lee 3d in second and Sebastien Ott 2d in third.
– Annalia Linnan, based on reports from EuroGoTV, which include complete result tables and all the latest European go news; photo courtesy of EuroGoTV
Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico held their first ever three country online tournament for youth on July 27th, reports Chilean organizer Sebastian Montiel. Dubbed “Las Tres Águilas” the matches were held on the OGS go server. Ecuador took first and second places, while Chile finished third. Diego Albuja organizer of “La Piedra en el Lago” Academia de Go reports “go in Latin America has taken shape recently for youth, but it’s imperative to develop a study system. Playing online tournaments is a way for under-18 players to test their skills. ‘Las Tres Águilas’ tournament is the first initiative to match children in Latin American countries in a friendly and competitive spirit. We’re delighted for the success of the tournament, especially because now Ecuador’s players have worthy opponents in other countries. Finding people who share the idea that the future of go is in youth, enhances our go teaching activities.”
The matches were organized by Sebastien Montiel of Club de Go Aonken (Chile), Siddhartha Ávila of Gimnasio de Go (México), and Diego Albuja of Academia de Go (Ecuador). Winners Report: 1. Joaquín Proaño (Ecuador); 2. Mateo Mena (Ecuador); 3. Benjamín Mimiza (Chile); 4. Matias Nicolás Salinas (Chile); 5. Axel Fematt (México); 6. Dante Zavala (México); 7. Samuel Suástegui (México); 8. Maximiliano Lobos (Chile); 9. Agustín Madrid (Ecuador); 10. Vicente Ignacio LH (Chile); 11. Jorge Luis Girón (Ecuador). -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor
Tsuchimune Yoshiyuki is a youthful-looking 41, but he is a veteran of numerous national and international tournaments. He represented Japan at the 2008 World Amateur Go Championship, taking fifth place, and at the 2010 Korea Prime Minister Cup, where he finished second. In 2008 he also beat two pros in the Agon Cup, and last year he captained the TIS Alliance, a three-man team that won the 13th Japanese Prime Minister's Cup Amateur Team Go Championship. Ranka interviewed him during and after the 2014 KPMC, in which he finished fourth.
Ranka: Please tell us how you were chosen to come to the KPMC this year.
Tsuchimune: This year the KPMC conflicted with the big national tournament to select the Japanese player for the next World Amateur Go Championship in Thailand. The strong players -- Emura, Hiraoka, Mori, and the rest -- all wanted to play in the WAGC qualifier. In the end someone had to decide to pass up the chance to compete for a trip to Thailand, and that person was me.
Ranka: How often have you been to Korea?
Tsuchimune: Once four years ago for the KPMC, of course, and several other times in connection with my work.
Ranka: What differences did you note between the KPMC this year and four years ago?
Tsuchimune: The main difference was that four years ago it was held in Changwon, in the southeast part of Korea, and this year it's in Seoul in the northwest. Another difference is that this year the field was smaller and I was one of the 'old men' in it: one of the ten oldest. But in terms of tournament organization, the number of interpreters, and so on, the KPMC was just as good this year as in 2010. Both times it was a very interesting and enjoyable tournament.
Ranka: Please tell us about your games on the first day.
Tsuchimune: Even though I won the first two games, the Belgian player I met in round one was strong, and the Israeli player I met in round two was stronger. And then in the third round I was simply outplayed by that boy from Chinese Taipei. He had better ideas than me. At some point the flow of the game went wrong. It didn't develop into the sort of game I like. The position was still difficult, but I lost without being able to accomplish much of anything.
Ranka: And how about your three games against the players from Hong Kong, Serbia, and Czechia on the second day.
Tsuchimune: Those games were also difficult, but they turned out well. I was able to play the kind of go I'm good at. Still, although I won all three, the Czech player I faced in round six was very strong: strong enough to get the best of me in one part of the game. If I had lost to him it wouldn't have been at all surprising. My general impression is that the competition from the European players is a lot stiffer than it used to be.
Ranka: Are you satisfied with your performance?
Tsuchimune: I guess I got the results I was worth, and did about what was expected of me, but I can't say that I'm satisfied. I wanted to win the tournament. If I get the chance to compete again, I'll try to do better.
Ranka: Thank you.
- Photo: Ito Toshiko
Applications are now being accepted for the American Go Foundation(AGF) college scholarship. The program recognizes high school students who have served as important youth organizers and promoters for the go community . To apply, download and complete the application form here. Applicants should describe their accomplishments and volunteer work in a short essay. Letters of recommendation may also be included. Applicants whose enthusiasm and ambition have helped spread go in under-served areas will be given special consideration. Strong players who spend much of their time voluntarily teaching will also be considered, although the award focuses on promoters and organizers who have made substantial contributions during their go career. Applications are due Nov. 1st this year, a change from last year. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story accidentally listed the wrong date, and provided an incorrect link.
Vorawat Tanapatsopol (formerly Charoensitthisathien) is no stranger to Seoul. He studied at Blackie's International Baduk Academy for a month in 2011, and last August he took part in the international preliminaries for the Samsung Cup, losing to American 7-dan Eric Lui. Ranka caught him for a brief interview during the 9th KPMC closing banquet at the Olympic ParkTel on September 21.
Ranka: First, please tell us how you were chosen to represent Thailand.
Vorawat: I qualified for the KPMC by playing in an eight-man knockout tournament in Thailand. We had to play three rounds to decide the winner.
Ranka: Can you tell us something about other tournaments in Thailand?
Vorawat: In the past few years there have been many tournaments in Thailand. First prize is generally about two thousand dollars. Three rounds is typical but each tournament has a different system: some use the knockout system and some use the Swiss system. Now we have three big tournaments in Thailand. One is the King of Kings tournament, another is the Coke Cup, sponsored by Coca-Cola, and the third is sponsored by the Bank of China.
Ranka: And what international tournaments have you taken part in, besides this one?
Vorawat: I played in the KPMC three years ago, and last year I played in the World Amateur Go Championship in Japan. I also took part in the Asian Games in Guangzhou four years ago. Those have been my main international tournaments.
Ranka: Your third place finish at the KPMC this year is very impressive.
Vorawat: I think my pairings were a bit lucky. The strongest player I played was Emil Garcia, from Mexico. He took fifth place. That was my hardest game. But my other opponents were very strong too, like the players from Singapore, Vietnam, and Germany: they all won four games.
Ranka: What tournament are you looking forward to next?
Vorawat: I hope to take part in the World Amateur Go Championship in Thailand next year. I’ll do my best to win the qualifying tournament and represent Thailand again.
Ranka: And we hope to see you there. Thank you very much.
- Photo: Ito Toshiko
Live coverage of the eighth round in the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango starts Saturday night at 9pm PST (midnight Sunday morning EST). It takes place in Gu’s hometown, Chongqing, and with the score currently at 5-2 in Lee’s favor this game is a kadoban for Gu and might be the last of the match. Commentators on Baduk TV will replay and analyze the game from the beginning and Go Game Guru’s An Younggil 8p will translate and discuss the game with Baduk TV Live viewers. Access to the game costs $2.70 with a Baduk TV Day Pass. If you plan to watch the game from the very start, remember to subtract three hours from the times given above. Baduk TV starts the coverage three hours later because the games go for so long.
- Go Game Guru
“Recently I was watching the movie 13 Assassins,” writes Cylis Dreamer. “Around the 42 minute mark the two main characters mention playing go together. There might have been more times it was mentioned, but I missed them. I didn’t see a board or stones either.” The 2010 Japanese film was directed by Takashi Miike.
Nick Sibicky will start up the popular Double Digit Kyu Players Class (DDK) on Monday, September 29, at 6:30, at the Seattle Go Center. The class is open to anybody who can finish a 19×19 game. The class is free, and a new member’s first 10 visits to the Go Center are also free.
Nick tapes his lectures and posts them on youtube.com. He has 79 lectures posted now, and he has gathered a world-wide following. All his lectures have thousands of views, and youtube lecture #46 has more than 15,000 views. Nick’s lectures have brought donations from Austria, and visitors from Los Angeles and North Carolina.
This class was started for players in the 25 kyu to 10 kyu range, but stronger players have certainly benefited from these lectures as well. Dan Top will be the alternate teacher when Nick is not available. Dan and Nick play a game in youtube lecture #79.
This completes the Fall class lineup at the Seattle Go Center. The Beginner’s Class with Carlos Encalada is on Thursday Evenings, the DDK class is on Mondays, and the more advanced SDK class with Andrew Jackson is on Wednesdays. Visitors can also find informal instruction on Tuesday, the most popular day at the Go Center, and on Saturdays.
“In your recent article (Your Move/Readers Write: Where to Play Go in Japan 9/13 EJ), Devin Flake states that the Diamond Go Salon is ‘mainly for women,’” writes” Adam Harding. “I am a long term member of that salon and I would say that DIS (Diamond Igo Salon) is not as much ‘mainly for women,’ but more for young and middle-aged players. The salon owners do run a monthly ‘Igo for women’ session which is for women only.” Harding says that Diamond’s other strong points include “a strong connection to the professional world; the owner runs her program on the Igo/Shogi channel; the atmosphere is that of a high-class wine bar instead of smoky back-room, with drinks and food available and the age range of players is about 20-50 on Wednesdays and Fridays instead of 40-60 as seems to be at most other places.” While Harding says DIS “is most slightly more expensive,” he notes that membership brings the entrance price down to that of other salons.” Click here for DIS lesson and Go Circle information and the club’s instructor listing (all in Japanese).
Last year a new force appeared in Korean amateur go. Wei Taewoong, who had just turned twenty, came out of essentially nowhere to finish as runner-up in the Lee Changho Cup and the Nosacho Cup. Then at the end of the year he won the Guksu, Korea's top amateur tournament, and earned the right to represent Korea in the 2014 World Amateur Go Championship. Shortly after taking second place in the WAGC, he competed in an eight-player knockout to decide who would represent Korea in the upcoming Korea Prime Minister Cup, and he won that too, beating last year's KPMC champion Park Jaegeun.
Ranka interviewed Wei shortly after he won the 2014 KPMC.
Ranka: Please tell us how you got started and about your playing career up to now.
Wei: There was a baduk academy in my neighborhood and I started going there when I was seven years old. That's how I learned to play, although I don't remember the name of my first teacher. Later I went to another baduk academy for ten years, but I wasn't making very good progress there, so a year and a half ago I switched over to the Choongam Baduk Academy. I now train at Choongam from morning to evening five days a week, preparing for what I hope will be a professional career. Often I don't get home until midnight. On weekends I study at home or take part in other tournaments.
Ranka: How have your parents reacted to your decision to try to make pro?
Wei: They haven't come out clearly for or against it. They've just said, 'If you think you can keep it up then go ahead.'
Ranka: Had you played in other international tournaments before the World Amateur Go Championship in Gyeongju this summer?
Wei: No, that was my first international tournament.
Ranka: Did it make a deep impression on you?
Wei: Yes it did, because I lost to the player from Chinese Taipei and ended up in second place by one SOS point. That loss left a deeper impression on me than anything else in my career so far.
Ranka: How would you compare Chan Yi-tien, the player who beat you in Gyeongju, with Juang Cheng-jiun, the player from Chinese Taipei you beat here?
Wei: After losing to Chan, I was worried about Juang because he was so young, but he turned out to be a little weaker than Chan.
Ranka: Had you played Benjamin Lockhart, the American player, at Choongam?
Wei: No, but I had heard that he was at about the same level as a few other trainees I knew there, so I had some idea of what to expect.
Ranka: Does that mean you were able to relax when you played him in the last round?
Wei: Actually I relaxed too much.
Ranka: How would you describe your style of play?
Wei: I seem to have a reputation for liking to fight.
Ranka: But your game against the Chinese player in the fifth round appeared rather peaceful.
Wei: It may have looked that way, but there was a lot of invisible fighting going on.
Ranka: Is there any professional player that you particularly admire?
Wei: Lee Changho.
Ranka: How do you feel about winning the KPMC?
Wei: After finishing a sad second in Gyeongju I was pretty uneasy about how I might end up here, but now that it's over and I've managed to come in first, I feel very happy.
Ranka: What will your next tournament be?
Wei: I'm not sure whether it will be my next or not, but I plan to compete in the new Jeongseon Arirang Cup in early October.
Ranka: Thank you and good luck.- Photo: Ito Toshiko