“Thousands of students, parents, and residents from the Chicago area visited a 4-hour Chinese Cultural Festival on Sept. 27th,” reports organizer Xinming Simon Guo. “This fun and educational event is held to promote Chinese culture and art, and also to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Confucius Institute Day. It is organized by the Confucius Institute in Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, and the Confucius Institute at Valparaiso University. Weiqi/go is one of the most popular booths among 20 different Chinese cultural and art activity booths. As one of the organizers, I couldn’t stay at the booth to promote weiqi as usual. So I turned to the AGA for help. An E-J announcement soliciting help drew two volunteers from the Chicago weiqi community, Nathan and Nicole. They were put in charge of an activity called “Weiqi in 5 minutes” to introduce fundamental rules to passersby. Participants who could solve 80% of the go problems got gift tickets which could be redeemed during the event,” said Guo. CCTV (China Central Television), the largest network in China, broadcast the cultural festival on its international channel. A one-minute video clip featuring the weiqi booth, is here. “It is said that CCTV plans to promote more weiqi on their channels,” says Guo. “I believe the major reason is that Xi Jinping, the President of China, knows how to play weiqi, which was confirmed by Nie Weiping 9P.” - Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor, Photo by Xinming Simon Guo: Nathan and Nicole teach kids how to play go.
This is a continuation of an interview Ranka had with Alexandra when she played in the first World Mind Sports Games in Beijing six year ago. At that time she had interrupted her university studies in Hungary to study go at the International Baduk Academy in Korea. That interview ended with Ranka asking Alexandra what her future plans were. She said she wanted to get stronger at go, see how much progress she had made a year later, and then decide what to do next. What she eventually decided to do was to enroll as a graduate student in Korean literature at a Korean university. Studying Korean literary theory and writing a thesis in Korean left her little time to play go, so when she earned her degree and returned to Hungary, she was playing only at about the 1-dan level. Nevertheless, when a call went out on the Internet for someone to represent Hungary at the 2014 Korea Prime Minister Cup, she answered it.
Ranka: How did you get started playing go?
Alexandra: Actually I got started by accident when I was fifteen. I was looking around on Internet sites, I think Japanese-related sites, and I found this site about go and I got really interested in it. So I started to play on KGS and later looked for some Hungarian players, and that is how I started the game.
Ranka: And how did you come to pursue a graduate degree in Korean literature?
Alexandra: That actually developed from my interest in Korea. After I spent one and a half years in Korea I went back to Hungary and graduated from my university, and after that I went to one of these reading evenings. It was something like a reading circle. They were reading Korean writers' short stories, and I really liked them. I really liked their atmosphere. They were very, like, harmonious. And so when I later applied for a scholarship to Korea, a governmental scholarship, I thought, I could study Korean literature in Korean, which is an asset, and I'm also kind of interested in Korean literature, so why not?
Ranka: Can you tell us about one Korean author that you particularly like?
Alexandra: Of course! To start with, I like female writers a lot, because in Hungary thare are not that many of them; it's still mainly male writers that dominate the scene. One of the writers I like is Kong Ji-young. She's quite famous and has a lot of works in translation. I particularly like her because I wrote my thesis about her. She's one of the first female writers that got really famous. She writes about things in a very female way that I like very much.
Ranka: What does she write about?
Alexandra: Well, she writes about several things, but the short stories I particularly like from her are about making the transfer from the eighties, when Korea was still sort of a dictatorship, to the nineties when they finally became democratized. It became an inner struggle inside Korean people, especially Korean youth, university students. At one time in the eighties they thought that socialism was going to be the way to go, but at the end of the eighties a lot of Eastern European socialist states became democratic. So they had this whole world collapsing inside them. How were they to overcome the collapse?
Ranka: You now work as a translator. Have you translated any go books from Korean into Hungarian?
Alexandra: No, because the go population of Hungary is only about 100 to 150.
Ranka: What do you translate?
Alexandra: Well, right now I'm just starting out, so I'm trying to establish myself as a freelancer. So far I've mostly translated literature, and that's what I'm most interested in. Much of my work has been proofreading translations by Koreans who are translating Hungarian literature into Korean: famous Hungarian writers or famous Hungarian historical books. I've also worked as an interpreter; I interpreted for a well-known writer when he was in Hungary. His name is Yi Mun-yeol and he's very famous in Korea, so I was really happy to have that chance.
Ranka: We wish you good luck in your career.
Alexandra: Thank you.
- Photo: Ito Toshiko
The American Go Association’s Twitter account is about to cross the 1,000-follower mark. Those following @theaga are the first to get the AGA’s go news, like Monday’s posting that the 2014 US Open ratings had been released or the Cotsen Open’s request for “Volunteers Needed to help with setup on Friday,October 24, 11am -5pm. Pizza lunch provided.Please contact Samantha at CotsenOpen@gmail.com” Please follow us now @theaga and retweet widely.
Andre Connell is a Johannesburg-based information technology consultant who represented South Africa at the 2014 Korea Prime Minister Cup in Seoul. Ranka spoke with him after he had played two rounds and split two games with very different Asian opponents.
Ranka: How did you learn about the game of go?
Andre: I learned about the game at Stellenbosch University, which is where I studied. We have a student center where the students can go and get fairly cheap food, and the go club used to meet there. So one evening I walked past and asked the guys, 'What are those? Can you eat them?' Which is kind of the standard question. It started from there and I've been playing ever since.
Ranka: How many years ago was that?
Andre: That was in '95, so it was nineteen years ago.
Ranka: How has go developed in South Africa during those nineteen years?
Andre: It's grown. During the Hikaru no Go phase when everyone was watching the manga, it grew quite a lot. We've kept a few of those players, and I think the general level in South Africa has improved quite a bit. We have one very strong player, Victor Chow, who has been playing in South Africa and is pretty much the strongest guy around in our country, but there are a lot of the rest of us who have also increased our level. I'd say we've got between five and ten players at around the two to four dan level now, which is much better than, let's say, fifteen or twenty years ago when I started, when we had only a couple of dan players. So that's basically where we are at the moment. We're not as strong as many of the European countries, for example, but we're doing fairly well.
Ranka: Does Victor Chow teach the rest of you?
Andre: Yes. We generally play against him in tournaments. Every time you get to a tournament, which can be about two to five times a year, you get to play a game against him, and it's pretty much a teaching game.
Ranka: Do you also go into the places where the original African population lives?
Andre: The townships, for example. One of our strongest clubs is actually in Soweto. We have a couple of players from there who have actually gone to the World Amateur Championships and to the KPMC. I think about seven or eight years ago Julius Paulu went to the World Amateur Champs, and Welile Gogotshe went to the KPMC four years ago. Julius was around 1-dan. He's unfortunately passed away since then, but Welile is one of the strongest players in South Africa. He's probably around 3-dan. He's doing very well.
Ranka: And now, can you tell us about your first game, this morning?
Andre: My first game this morning was against Mongolia. It was quite a tight game. I had a large lead up to about move 100, and then I kept losing little chunks of territory and stones, and eventually managed to sneak it by 2-1/2 points, but it was quite tight at the end. It was one of those that almost got away. At least it was 'almost' -- it didn't get properly away.
Ranka: And what was the story this afternoon?
Andre: I played against the Korean player. He is very strong, quite a few stones stronger than I am, but it was a lot of fun. I tried to attack one of his groups. It didn't work out too well, and then he had one of my groups on the run. It managed to live, but he ended up taking a quarter of the board in return, so he was twenty or thirty points ahead and there was no way I could catch up, unfortunately.
Ranka: Thank you and good luck in the upcoming rounds.
Postscript: In the remaining rounds Andre faced four European opponents and beat one of them to finish 36th.
- Photo: Ito Toshiko
October 18: Minneapolis, MN
TCGO Fall 2014 Rated Games Day
Aaron Broege 612-384-8789
Get the latest go events information.
Go Club Tango and the Slovak go association will host the 2014 Winter Solstice Bratislava on December 27 and 28 at Hotel Viktor. The 13 EU fee must be paid-on site but organizer Julius Masarovic requests that all players register online before December 10. Players who wish to stay at Hotel Viktor for the duration of the tournament will enjoy a discount. Cash and material prizes will be available for top players. To register or for more information, please visit the Klub Taogo website.
The British Go Association and Central London Go Club will host the 41st London Open Go Congress 2014 from December 28 to December 31 at the International Students House. Cash prizes will be available for the top 4 players, the top 2 players “below the bar,” and the top player who started the tournament with a GoR of 10 kyu or below. In addition to the main tournament, there will be lectures, pair go, and lightning games as well as a rengo tournament and New Year’s Eve meal for those who wish to stay for celebrations. Students and junior players (under age 18) will receive discounts. Players who wish to play only for one or two days will also receive lower rates but all players must register before December 15. To register or for more information, please visit the official London Open website.
—Annalia Linnan; for complete listings, check out the European Tournament Calendar
“This is a call to all the metro DC area go players,” writes Nick Jhirad. “There are two excellent Kiwons in the Annandale area which I’ve been attending recently:
The Korean-American Baduk Association of Washington ($15 per day)
7535 Little River Turnpike G 100-A Annandale VA (entrance inside the parking garage)
This one has a monitor broadcasting BadukTV, study material, complimentary drinks, and nonsmoking indoors.
The Washington Hankuk Baduk Club ($10 per day)
4110 Horseshoe Dr Annandale VA (There are two entrances to Horseshoe drive, it’s on a loop, if you’re having difficulty finding it, just keep driving around, it has a sign out in front in Korean and a number of cars in the driveway and around)
This one is a house that is also used as the club, they have a nonsmoking section on the first floor and a deck and basement where smoking does take place.
Both have a good number of players every day and are available from the morning to late at night. In the interests of their profitability and continued existence it would be great if AGA players would make use of them. The average level of the players is a bit stronger than what you might find at clubs that meet once a week, but there are people at all strengths.
Their existence and their openness to outsiders is truly unique, let’s do what we can to make them successful!”
photo: playing on the deck of the Washington Hankuk Baduk Club; photo by Nick Jhirad
Lorenz Trippel is a Swiss 1-dan who works at an office in Zurich, likes cycling, is an active go organiser and is also a prolific provider of go information on the Internet. Ranka talked with him shortly after he arrived in Seoul for the 2014 Korea Prime Minister Cup.
Ranka: Please tell us about go in Switzerland.
Lorenz: We have a long history of go in Switzerland. We started in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and from there we have been growing slowly, like everywhere else in Europe, I think. Now we have about 150, maybe 200 active go players. We have the tradition that every club holds a tournament each year, so we have eight or nine tournaments a year. As we are small, our organization has waves. Sometimes the people get very active and do a lot, and some other times things go a bit slow. But still, we are maintaining quite a good tournament schedule. We also try to promote the game on some special occasions where we can put up a stand, talk to the public, and explain the rules. That's probaby, from my point of view, the most important thing the organization can do: to promote the game.
Ranka: How did you get started in go?
Lorenz: I got started through my family. My father played, my aunt played, and I have an older brother who played -- a half-brother, who is much older than me. When I was like ten he was already in his thirties. So they would play against each other, my father and my brother, and I would watch them playing. That's how I started, just by observing the older family members. And then one day I started to play myself, but I don't really remember the moment when I started to play.
Ranka: Please tell us more about your go-playing aunt.
Lorenz: She's now over one hundred years old, and she has a very emotional connection to the game. She's not a strong player. She just has this feeling about it, about playing the stones. She likes the game, but she is not competitive at all. To her, it's more of a social doing.
Ranka: And what are you looking forward to in the KPMC?
Lorenz: In this tournament I really couldn't say what I'm looking forward to. I just want to play good games. I cannot win a prize. I'm sure that if I play too well in the beginning I will meet some very strong opponents and get crushed, so how well I do cannot be counted by numbers. I just want to to play good games.
Ranka: Thank you and we hope you do.
Postscript: Lorenz played quite well on the first day of the KPMC, beating 2-dan and 3-dan opponents from Norway and Spain and losing only to a 4-dan from the Netherlands. His prediction then came true: on the second day he was matched against a pair of 5-dans from Thailand and Germany and a 4-dan from Israel, lost all three games, and finished 35th. But that was still second highest among the eight 1-dans competing.
- Photo: Ito Toshiko