Six top European players are currently studying in Beijing, China under a program sponsored by CEGO China. The Chinese Go magazine Qi-Shi recently published an interview with five of the players: Pavol Lisy (Slovakia), Ali Jabarin (Israel), Lukas Podpera (Czech Republic), Jan Simara (Czech Republic), Dusan Mitic (Serbia). Andrii Kravets of the Ukraine was not available. Lisy and Jabarin are two new European pros. The report was translated by Jennie Shen and Kevin Huang and edited by Chris Garlock.
Podpera: There are about 250 active go players in Czechia, and their level is getting stronger and stronger. Last year, for example, the Czech team won the European team championship. There are four European 6ds in Czechia; we (Lucas and Jan) are two of them.
Lisy: I’m from Slovakia. There are about 50 active players there, including eight dan players.
Jabarin: Israel has about 50 players. I feel like the talent level is pretty high, because even though some countries have more players, we can beat them. We have some promising young players.
Qi-Shi: How long have you been playing go? What’s your background?
Podpera: I started to play go at the age of 7. My father introduced me to the game because he used to play the game in the university.
Simara: I started [to play go] because I played chess, then I met go. When I was about fifteen, I switched from chess to go.
Simara: Go has much more possibilities.
Mitic: It’s the same as with Lukas — I learned go from my father.
Lisy: I started to play go at the age of five. My father taught me.
Ali: I got introduced to the game by a friend. I just started to play when I was twelve, started going to the tournaments, then kept playing since then.
Qi-Shi: You came to Bejing to study at the Ge’s Academy. What did you learn here? Do you have a goal?
Podpera: The European pro qualification which I would like to try to pass. Otherwise I don’t have any real future planning; let’s see how it will go.
Simara: I think I’m improving in all areas.
Lisy: I feel like I’m improving in the school because I spend lots of time on go. I improved mostly at the endgame I think.
Qi-Shi: Do you have a plan for your future? Do you want to be a pro or want to do things related to go?
Simara: About the future, not exactly sure…come back and see, play some games..
Mitic: I have no plans for the future, except I’ll try to become pro.
Lisy: My plan for the future: to get good results at the international tournaments, win some games against Asian pros, but that’s just a dream.
Jabarin: I was in university and I stopped before I came here, and I told myself I that for at least two or three years, let’s see what I can do with go. The dream is to be able to play competitively in Asia. It’s not a plan; I would say it’s a dream, but that’s the end goal. I hope I can improve as well, I know it’s not very easy.
Qi-Shi: What do you think is the most interesting thing about go?
Podpera: The endless numbers of variations.
Qi-Shi: Which part of go is the most difficult to improve?
Podpera: For me the most difficult thing to improve is the endgame. It’s very hard to count the points exactly, most of the games are decided by the endgame. But here they found how to improve in those go schools with practice.
Simara: The most difficult part to improve I think is reading.
Mitic: I agree with most of the things Jan said, I think the most difficult part of go is reading.
Lisy: The most difficult part of go, maybe the judgement, I don’t know.
Jabarin: I think something which is very important is mentality. When you play and also when you study. Having the will to win, the will to try hard, so you’ll study a lot, staying calm while playing is very important, that’s one of the things that I’m trying to improve here. Other than that, I feel like I gained a little bit of knowledge also. I always learn new moves, not just josekis, but new techniques. Then something which I learned about the game, I can just say that to me go is very deep, just feels different from all the other games. It’s not just a game.
Qi-Shi: Who is your go idol?
Podpera and Simara: Iyama Yuta
Pavol: Chen Yaoye
Lisy: I was very happy. The tournament was very good. I enjoyed it, I think, For example the time setting helped me, because I’m used to playing fast games. It was not so difficult to overcome the pressure.
Jabarin: We (Pavol and Ali) just came back from Japan from a tournament, (where) we had decent results. For me, I was feeling a bit more confident. And I was quite proud of some of the games I played in the [Silk Road] tournament. I regret the game I lost to Pavol. The tournament was a lot of fun, so it was good, of course I was happy with the prize money.
Qi-Shi: People think westerners and Asians think differently. Do you think that western go players and Asian go players think differently?
Pavol: I don’t know how they think. I think there’s a difference that they care more about the beginning of the game, they know how to finish the game, that’s the difference.
Qi-Shi: Some Asian pros think the feeling/instinct is very important. Do you play more with your feeling/instinct or reading and judgement?
Ali: Both. I think I understand what he means. The feeling is somehow much more important. Sometimes we play much less territorial, play more for a moyo, maybe not myself, but I think many players in Europe, they play much more moyo style. Sometimes t’s just like ‚Oh wow, this move looks good, feels good,“ not saying it like it is much more precise.
Qi-Shi: What do you want to do for European Go?
Podpera: We can bring some knowledge from China to Europe, open go schools and teach.
Simara: We are all part of the [pro] system. So if some of us are successful, naturally this system is also successful, that’ll be good for everyone.
photos: top right: the Go school in Beijing; 2nd left/3rd right: pro lesson with WangYao 6P; bottom left: Silk Road (also called 1st Qinling Mountains Cup) amateur tournament awards, Pavol won first place, the prize money was 60,000 RM, (US$10,000).
Click here for more info and photos.
Ukraine: Svitlana Tarasenko 5k took the Open Championship of Rivine on January 31 while Yaroslav Malko 8k placed second; Andrii Pylypchuk 3k came in third. France: Manuel Frangi 1d bested Guillaume Attia 3d at the 19th Orsay tournament on January 25 while Mathieu Daguenet 3d placed third. Turkey: The 1st Istanbul City Handicap Go Championship Finals finished on January 31 with Ertug Akkol 1d (left) in first, Dogac Kose 1d in second, and Hande Olgar 14k 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
by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Iyama Extends Lead in Kisei Title Match: The second game of the 39th Kisei title match was held at the Hachinohe Park Hotel in Hachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, on January 29 and 30. Playing white, Iyama Yuta (right) won by resignation after 228 moves. This gives him a 2-0 lead over the challenger, Yamashita Keigo 9P. The third game, scheduled for February 5 and 6, is close to being a must-win affair for Yamashita if he is going to stop Iyama from winning the title for the third year in a row. The game got off to an interesting start, with Yamashita coming up with a new variation in an old joseki. Iyama showed his flexibility, however, by playing a bad-shape move that actually worked well for him. Early in the middle game, Iyama went on the offensive, and Yamashita found himself forced into playing a territorial strategy that didn’t suit his style. Having fallen behind a little, he did his best to catch up by attacking aggressively, but Iyama countered with the strongest moves and finally took a decisive lead. When Yamashita resigned, Iyama had a lead on the board.
Xie Defends Women’s Kisei Title: The second game of the 18th DoCoMo Cup Women Kisei title match was held in the Ryusei Studio (in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo) on January 29. This was a do-or-die game for the challenger, as this title is a best-of-three, but she was outfought by the defending champion, Xie Yimin (left). After 273 moves, Xie, taking black, won by 5.5 points. She won this title for the third year in a row and extended her overall tally to 19, eight ahead of the next woman player (Aoki Kikuyo 8P, with 11).
Iyama Tops Prize-Money List for 2014: Even though he lost two titles last year, Iyama Yuta still earned enough in winnings to top the prize-money list for the fourth year in a row. It was the third year in a row that he topped 100 million yen. Only three other players have reached this mark: Cho Chikun (five times), Cho U (four times) and Kobayashi Koichi (three times). The top ten for 2014 are given below. Fujisawa Rina, aged 16, is probably the youngest player ever to make the list. Xie Yimin made the best ten for the seventh year in a row.
1. Iyama Yuta: ¥140,788,528 (about $1,203,320)
2. Kono Rin: ¥44,983,332
3. Takao Shinji: ¥37,903,600
4. Yamashita Keigo: ¥30,779,458
5. Ida Atsushi: ¥19,210,200
6. Ichiriki Ryo: ¥17,002,800
7. Fujisawa Rin: ¥16,736,161
8. Hane Naoki: ¥13,477,000
9. Xie Yimin: ¥12,931,771
10. Cho U: ¥12,470,600
Annual Promotions: Besides the promotions through the cumulative-win system, a number of promotions are made every year based on prize-money winnings in the top seven titles: the top 6-dan and the top two in the ranks underneath are promoted one rank. The following promotions based on 2014 winnings are dated to January 1.
To 7-dan: Ohashi Naruya
To 6-dan: Tajima Shingo, Shiraishi Yuichi
To 5-dan: Muramatsu Hiroki, Suzuki Shinji
To 4-dan: Hirata Tomoya , Obuchi Kotaro
To 3-dan: Takeuchi Kosuke, Numadate Sakiya
To 2-dan: Tanaka Nobuyuki, Koyama Kuya
Macworld senior contributor Kirk McElhearn provides a terrific overview of go apps on his January 31 Improve your game of Go (or just keep playing) with this collection of apps column. “If you want to play Go, or want to improve your game, there are a number of excellent iOS apps that can help you learn how to play and try to master the game. Here are the best ones,” writes McElhearn. McElhearn writes The Ask the iTunes Guy column and writes about Macs, music and more on his blog Kirkville.
January was the first month of the AGA Chapter Rewards program (AGA Institutes New Chapter Rewards Program 12/31 EJ) in which AGA chapters can earn rewards points from new or renewing memberships or members playing rated games. The points will credit to a chapter only if the member has set that as their affiliated chapter in their member profile.
Don’t know your chapter or want to change it? Here’s how: In the menu on the left of the AGA home page select Member/Chapter Login under the Membership and Chapters section. This will take you to the login page where you can login by email address or AGA number. There are links there if you either forgot your password or never set one. Log in and you’ll get to the home page for the Members/Chapters area. From there, click on the link to view or update your membership info. Once you reach that page, scroll down to the section titled Other Info. There is a field there for Chapter with a drop down box that will give you a list of active chapters to choose from. Pick the chapter you would like to be affiliated with and then click on Save at the bottom of the page.
The recent resumption of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba has renewed hope that a Cuban delegation will be able to attend this year’s US Go Congress. An effort last year stalled because of problems getting visas from the US State Department. “We are quite hopeful of better success this year,” says Bob Gilman, AGA Director for the Central Region. “We have learned some things from the 2014 effort, and the recent thaw in US – Cuban relations can only be helpful.”
The AGA has invited three Cuban players to the 2015 Go Congress in St. Paul, MN, including Rafael Torres Miranda 2d, President of the Academia Cubana de Go, Roylan de la Torre Marrero 5d and Orlando Mederos Trujillo 5d.
The invitation builds on 2013 visit by US players to Havana, where a friendly competition between US and Cuban players was a great success. “There are Cuban go players in all provinces of the country, and they were a serious and enthusiastic group,” says Gilman, who organized the visit.
Fundraising is now underway to enable the Cuban delegation to attend the Congress. “Cuba is a poor country, and the Cuban players cannot afford this trip without help from the US go community,” says Gilman. “The US go community has received wonderful support from Japan, Korea, and China and we’re now in a position where we can help the growing go community in Cuba.” While the details are worked out and the costs are finalized, those interested in helping can make a pledge here. As in 2014, if donations cannot be used, they will be returned, e.g., if visa problems should again prevent some invitees from coming. Contributions will be made through the American Go Foundation (AGF), and may be taken as a deduction on the donor’s federal income tax.
Pandanet has begun posting E-Journal articles on their site, translated into Japanese. The first one is the EJ’s recent report on the AGA pro tournament. “We’re tremendously pleased that EJ reporting is now available in Japanese,” said E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock. Pandanet plans to post a translated EJ article each week.
Go drives the plotline in a second-season episode of JAG entitled “The Game of Go.” “Harm and a Colombian drug lord play a high-stakes game of go, with the prize being a Marine who was left behind during a covert mission, as Webb and the JAG team once again butt heads,“ reports Dave Holland.
“My recollection of the episode is that several moves were spread out over the unfolding of the plot with closeups of the contested part of the board. It represented middle game fighting. A little far-fetched for a US Navy lawyer and a drug kingpin to be such accomplished players but good exposure for the game nevertheless.“ Note that the moves are played inside the board squares rather than on the intersections.
“I enjoy the EJ’s ‘Go Spotting’ column as go has a way of showing up in unexpected places,” says Holland. “I live in Minneapolis and recently met a young player from northern Minnesota whose grandfather learned baduk during the Korean War. He also went to high school with Bob Dylan.“