The mysterious death of John Bender, the Philadelphia go player who died under suspicious circumstances in 2010 (In Memoriam 10/10/2013) was the subject of the September 27 edition of “48 Hours,” reports Phil Straus, who taught Bender to play go in the mid-1980’s. In “Paradise Lost” correspondent Susan Spencer investigates “How did a Wall Street millionaire end up shot dead in his bedroom?” Bender’s go-playing is not mentioned, although his prowess at poker is.
photo: John Bender, lecturing on the importance of plans and ideas, and how unimportant details and final results are, at the 1987 US Go Congress, Mt. Holyoke College, Massachusetts. photo by Phil Straus
The Seattle Go Center is celebrating its 19th anniversary with a tournament this Sunday, Oct. 5. Titled “19×19x19“, the AGA event will have an open section and several handicapped sections. Registration is from 10:00- 10:30 at the Go Center, and the total purse for prizes will be $500. Last year they had 24 players, with six players who were 5 dan or stronger. More information is available at the Go Center website. Photo: Dong Ma 6d plays Edward Kim 7d at the 17th Anniversary Tournament in 2012, with Dennis Wheeler recording the game. Photo/Report by Brian Allen.
European youth go champion Lukas Podpera, who was Czech champion in 2013 and came in sixth in the World Amateur Go Championship in 2014, started the 2014 Korea Prime Minister Cup by beating Lou Mankao, a 5-dan from Macau. The game ended well before lunch, so Ranka took the opportunity to ask him about his experiences at the Choongam Baduk Academy, where he had studied in the past.
Ranka: When did you first attend the Choongam Baduk Academy?
Lukas: I first attended the Choongam Baduk Dojang two years ago when I told Mr Kim Sungrae, who is now one of our referees, that I would like to study baduk seriously somewhere in Korea. He recommended Choongam as the best, the biggest, and the most famous dojang in Korea, so I went there for one month, and then I returned a year later, last year, again for one month.
Ranka: How much do you think those two months improved your game?
Lukas: Both times, after I studied at Choongam there was a European Go Congress and I played really badly in it. I had learned a lot of new stuff, my head was thoroughly confused, and I didn't know what to do. But now, two years after first going to Choongam, I believe I've improved by at least one stone, from average European 5-dan to strong European 6-dan. So I had to be patient a bit and wait for the results, but the results came.
Ranka: How did you study there?
Lukas: I remember that in the morning there was always almost no one there. Some of the kids went to school, because they were generally about five years younger than me. So in the morning I would do life and death problems and replay games. They way they replay games is not like the European way, where we replay from books very slowly, reading the commentaries. They would replay the game really fast. Sometimes it would take them only fifteen minutes to replay a game. So sometimes I replayed ten or fifteen games a day. And also we played some kind of league games, usually with fast time limits, like at most half an hour of basic time.
Ranka: Do you think you learned a lot by replaying all those games very fast?
Lukas: Yes. At least my reading became much better than before. Before I was like all Europeans, much slower than the Asians, because they're reading by shapes and we're only reading by moves. Although I was much better than them at positional judgement, they would always exploit some of my aji, or kill me somewhere, That didn't happen in Europe. So my reading improved a lot, I think.
Ranka: What other foreign students did you meet there?
Lukas: I guess the most well known European student there was Mateusz Surma, a 5-dan from Poland. He stayed there for two years, I think, so he had been there the longest, but there was also Rémi Campagnie from France, another 5-dan; he was studying there for three months. There were no other European students, but from the USA there was Benjamin Lockhart, who is studying there still, and from Canada there was Gansheng Shi, who stayed for two months.
Ranka: How do you hope to do in the KPMC this year?
Lukas: Two months ago I played in the World Amateur Go Championship and did really well, so I would like to get a similar result. I would like to win five games, which is probably what is needed to finish at least in sixth place.
Ranka: Thank you very much.
Postscript: After lunch, Lukas lost to Juang Cheng-jiun (Chinese Taipei) in the second round, but he won his next three games, beating Kim Ouweleen (Netherlands), Thomas Debarre (France), and Doyoung Kim (New Zealand). In his last game he fought valiantly but unsuccessfully with Tsuchimune Yoshiyuki (Japan) for a place in the top six. Tie-breaking points put him ninth.
The 2014/5 season of the European Team Championships started tonight on Pandanet. Ireland were drawn against newcomers Lithuania, the strongest Baltic nation. They managed a fairly solid 3-1 victory over our team, with only new captain James Hutchinson salvaging a point. Hope is not lost though, as Ireland traditional plan is to start slowly, before tilting the head back for a late surge toward the finish line. Next fixture on the list is Portugal.
The 2014 US Open Masters tournament has now been rated, and the other Congress tournaments are expected to follow suit soon. “We are
cleaning up the last few membership issues and glitches in the data,” said AGA President Andy Okun. “I hope to have the games from the US Open rated within the coming week, with the Die Hard, Self-Paired and Midnight Madness very close behind. I am grateful for everyone’s patience.” Okun said that the kinds of issues that sometimes delay ratings “…errant digits in AGA ids, getting everyone’s renewals and new memberships processed, handling overseas guests and the like…” are amplified in a tournament with more than 300 players like the US Open. Watch the EJ for news about Congress ratings.
photo of the 2014 US Open main playing area by Chris Garlock