Automatic game recording app “JustGo” will be demonstrated at this year’s US Go Congress. Lei Chen 7d and Yi Tang 2p from WanTong technology will be on hand at the Congress with their newest technology. Click here to see a demo; the app will be available both in iOS and Android.
Save the dates of October 22-23 on your calendar for the 2016 Cotsen Open. The popular tournament returns to the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles this year, thanks to the support of the Korean Consulate and KCCLA. The 2016 tournament will feature all of the things that previous participants have come to expect and look forward to from the Cotsen Open, including roving masseuses, free lunches, gorgeous trophies, a game between Yilun Yang 7p and another top pro, and thousands of dollars in prizes. “This is a tournament you won’t want to miss!” say local organizers. Registration will open soon; stay tuned for more details and get updates on the Cotsen Open Faceboo page. photo: Mark Lee gets a massage at the 2015 Cotsen Open; photo by Chris Garlock
Slate and Shell Go Stones (Used) Needed: Mr. Wan is collecting all types of shell & slate go stones. If you have such stones in good condition and willing to sell, please email email@example.com with your offer price and pictures.
Philadelphia-area go players will want to check out the interesting and unusual go and music event scheduled for this Sunday, June 12. “Introduction to Applied Go Studies” is a day-long workshop in which participants will learn how to play the game, “and we will ask if music, art, improvisation, or philosophy has anything to learn from Go,” say organizers. “What bridges can be built? And which models will we smuggle across?”
The event runs from 12-8pm at the University Arts League, 4226 Spruce Street, and is being put together by Penn Go Society club member Quinn Dougherty. RSVP on Facebook here or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dougherty can be reached for further inquiries at email@example.com or 484 883 9487.
More than 30 participants turned out for the June 5 tournament sponsored by the Huaxia Chinese School of Greater New York held at White Plains High School, NY. Go players came from various cities in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut for the first AGA-rated tournament organized by Leon Lei and Jie Tang. Attendees included children 6-12 and go students from the Chinese school who competed in a casual round-robin tournament while adults (AGA members) played in rated games.
The tournament featured a special guest, Matthew Hu 2P from California. Along with Yingshyan Ku 3k, the two of them gave a presentation on the highlights of the Lee Sedol v. Alpha Go games. Hu also played simultaneous games with students of the Huaxia Chinese School.
“The tournament was a great success, and there are plans to host another tournament in the Tri-State Area next year,” reports organizer Leon Lei. “The attendees provided positive feedback on their experiences and appreciated the opportunity to play go at this convenient location.”
photos courtesy Leon Lei
Park Junghwan 9p and Lee Sedol 9p face off tonight in the first game of a best of three for the quarterfinals of the 8th Ing Cup Professional. Myungwan Kim 9p will give his commentary on the AGA YouTube channel starting at 8 p.m. PDT tonight, hosted by Andrew Jackson. After the Ing match, probably around 11pm, if time permits, Myungwan and Andrew will continue with the final match of 6th 黄龙士双登杯 (HuangLongShi ShuangDengBei), the Nongshim Cup for women. The final players are Choi Jung 6p of Korea and Wu Zhiying 5p of China. Both of them are the strongest women professionals in their country and whoever wins will bring the trophy home.
I was born and grew up in Jilin, a medium-size city in a province of the same name. I started to play go when I was five years old, going on six. I reached amateur 5 dan at about the age of ten by going to a school that taught go; not a go daochang (dojo), just an ordinary go school. Then I moved to Beijing and started attending about five go daochangs, with hopes of pursuing a professional career.
Those hopes were dashed when I was sixteen years old. The age limit for participating in the professional qualification tournament was eighteen. I presented a birth certificate showing that I was still only sixteen, but that year they also checked people’s age by taking bone x-rays, and my x-ray showed that my ‘bone age’ was eighteen and a half.
You can imagine my disappointment, but over the next few years I began to realize that this was a blessing in disguise. Of course if I had become a pro I could have trained and competed with some of the world’s top players and perhaps become a stronger go player than I am now, and if I had been able to sign with one of the teams in China’s professional inter-city league, I would have had a good income, but if I had gotten into that league I would have been under terrible pressure to win, and if I had not gotten in, I would have had a somewhat restricted set of tournaments in which to compete. As an amateur, I was under less pressure and had all sorts of tournament opportunities. By now I think I must have competed in amateur tournaments in a hundred different cities in China.
This year, for example, I competed in and won the Evening News Cup — that’s how I qualified for the World Amateur Go Championship — and along with Ma Tianfang, who is another of China’s four ’titans of amateur go’, I played for the Nanning team and helped it win the Chinese amateur inter-city league. We beat out the Chengdu team, which had Hu Yuqing and Wang Chen, the other two titans. I also played this year in the amateur MLILY Cup, the Dujuanhua Cup, the Qinhuangdao Cup, the 700 Net Cup, which has a fantastic first prize of 700,000 RMB, the Feng Cheng Cup, where I finished second to Hu Yuqing, and more minor tournaments than I can remember. I missed the Yellow River Cup because it ended just before the WAGC began and I wanted to get some rest for the WAGC, but even so, it’s been a busy year, and it’s not half over yet. Another inter-city league is about to start. Besides amateurs, it’s open to Chinese pros who are not ranked in the top 100, and has an additional bracket for foreign players. Chengdu is fielding a Korean 9-dan pro, Choi Chulhan, no less, in the foreign bracket, so I may get a chance to play him.
Anyway, I’m very happy with my life as an amateur go player. When I won the Evening News Cup in 2011 I had the option of turning pro — that’s one of the rewards of winning that tournament — but I aleady knew I wanted to stay amateur. I’m not worried that my game will lose its edge. Playing in some ten big national tournaments a year, I get lots of chances to keep in form by playing tough opponents.
Go is not quite my whole life. I also play amateur football — I’m a defensive midfielder. And I like to read, especially the martial arts novels of Jin Yong.
Of my games in this year’s WAGC, my hardest was against Japan’s Satoshi Hiraoka. He put a lot of thought into the middle game and got the better of me at one point, so I may have been behind for a while, but I managed to win by two and a half points in the endgame. I won all the rest of my games by resignation.
Once again the central garden of the Ramada Plaza Hotel, a miniature wetland with trees and a large pond, was filled with early morning birdsong, but rather than indulge in birdwatching, almost all the contestants at the World Amateur Go Championship chose to get some extra rest in preparation for the final day of play. On their way to the playing venue, in place of bird calls, they were serenaded by the throbbing beat of a karaoke program being televised from the third floor.
A few of the seventh-round games finished quickly. The women contestants continued to find the going tough. Switzerland’s Armel-David Wolff won a 4-dan match-up with Australia’s Amy Song, and Azerbaijan’s Elchin Hasanxan Aliyev (1 dan) proved superior to Belarusian 5-kyu Anastasiya Ilkevich. Anastasiya was then drawn up to play Amy in the final round.
In the middle of the playing room, Vietnam’s Nhat Minh Vo bowed early to an opponent twice his height, Russia’s Dmitry Surin. The players from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore also lost to European opponents (Germany, Belgium, Hungary), and Brunei’s Ignatius Chin lost to Colombia’s Santiago Espinose Uribe. Of the Southeast Asian contingent, only Vorawat Tanapatsopol (Thailand) emerged victorious from the seventh round; he beat Slovenia’s Gregor Butala.
At the high end of the room, the pace of play was slow and deliberate. On the top board, Japan’s Satoshi Hiraoka played doggedly to the end of his game against Baoxiang Bai, but lost by two and a half points, moving China a big step closer to the championship. On the next two boards, Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu and Korea’s Kibaek Kim and rebuffed the challenges of, respectively, Luxembourg’s Laurent Heiser and Serbia’s Dusan Mitic. Chia-Cheng was then drawn up to play Baoxiang Bai in the final round, while Kibaek was drawn to play Germany’s Lukas Kraemer.
Of the four WAGC rookies who took 4-2 records into the seventh round, only New Zealand’s Chahine Koleejan managed to win, and his opponent was also one of the four: Tal Michaeli of Israel. As his final-round opponent, Chahine drew Andrii Kravets, who defeated Poland’s Stanislaw Frejlak.
The fate of the awards was decided by eight tense games in the final round. On the top board, China’s Baoxiang Bai defeated Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu to win his second world amateur championship with a perfect 8-0 record. On the next board, Korea’s Kibaek Kim disposed of Germany’s Lukas Kraemer to finish a clear second at 7-1. Of the six players who ended with 6-2 records, Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng took a clearly deserved third place. He had lost only to Bai and Kim, and beaten the players from the Ukraine, Japan, and Serbia, who finished fourth, fifth, and eighth.
The Ukraine’s Andrii Kravets got fourth place by beating New Zealand’s Chahine Koleejan in his final game. Chahine looked disappointed, but he had done rather well to score five wins in his first WAGC attempt. Japan’s Satoshi Hiraoka captured fifth place by winning his final game against Hong Kong’s Chi Hin Chan (avenging last year’s loss) and winning a tie break with Hungary’s Csaba Mero, who beat Luxembourg’s Laurent Heiser to finish sixth. The tie break was carried out by deducting the first-round results from Japan’s and Hungary’s SOS scores. Serbia’s Dusan Mitic beat Russia’s Dmitry Surin in his last game to finish seventh, despite having beaten Csaba Mero in round four. Romania’s Cristian Pop was drawn down and beat Macau’s Kei Chon Wan to take eighth place. France’s Junfu Dai beat Belgium’s Niels Vets to capture a well earned ninth place; he had lost only to the players from China, Japan, and Romania. Chi Hin Chan took tenth place, having lost only to the players from the Ukraine, France and Japan.
Elsewhere in the playing room, Battulga Byarnbaakhuu rescued Mongolia’s honor by downing India’s Supravat Pal, and the distaff contest between Australia and Belarus was won by Amy Song, a 4 dan beating a 5 kyu.
The round ended at five o’clock. The awards were presented at a refreshingly brisk closing ceremony at 6:30, followed by a buffet dinner in the hotel. Many of the players then repaired to the second-floor lounge, where go boards were set up throughout the week, and continued to play or to carry out post-mortems.
Full results here.
– James Davies
This is perhaps my tenth visit to China, but my first to Wuxi. It impresses me as a pretty city, even though we’ve arrived in the middle of the rainy season. I first competed in the World Amateur Go Championship in the early 1990s, when it was always held in Japan. Although I won it on my first try, during the following quarter century, frankly, China and Korea have opened up a clear lead over Japan. The percentage of the population that learns to play go is higher in those countries than in Japan. So Japan has some catching up to do.
One good sign for the future is the new All-Japan Go Association. This is an amateur-based organization started by Yasuro Kikuchi about three years ago with the aims of stimulating go activity and increasing the number of players in Japan. Its main activity so far has been collecting signatures to petition the government to have go incorporated into Japan’s primary school curriculum. The goal was to get ten thousand signatures. The Association also holds about four tournaments a year and rates players according to the results. These are face to face tournaments, played in Tokyo, not online. I happened to win one of them and went right to the top of the rating list. I’m not sure I’m still at the top, however, because some strong younger players are coming in now: high-school students, and young people aiming at pro careers. Not insei, because they’re not supposed to compete in amateur tournaments, but people who are over the insei age limit of 18 but still under the age limit of 25 for becoming a pro. Anyway, we hope to increase participation further and establish a Japanese national rating system. If go regains its popularity in Japan, I expect that we’ll be able draw even with China and Korea again.
Following some evening thundershowers and early morning rain, the grounds of the Ramada Plaza Hotel were drenched with moisture but alive with birdsong as the World Amateur Go Championship contestants tramped down to breakfast, then up to the playing venue for the fifth round. Play commenced at 9:00 and finished by 11:30, and for two players in particular it was a good morning. Italy’s Filippo Gorlero scored his first WAGC triumph by overcoming India’s Supravat Pal, and Australia’s 15-year-old Amy Song, whose only win so far had been a bye, scored her first victory on the go board against Slovakia’s silent veteran Miroslav Poliak. Filippo and Amy were visibly delighted by these outcomes.
In the middle section of the field, a pair of young Southeast Asians scored their third wins by downing 5-dan North American opponents: Malaysia’s Fu Kang Chang toppled Canada’s Manuel Valesco, and Vietnam’s Nhat Minh Vo ambushed Mexico’s Emil Garcia. Also scoring his third win was Romania’s Cristian Pop, who was drawn up against German champion Lukas Kraemer and rose to the occasion by beating him. This last result was viewed with some disappointment by Lukas’ bevy of young female admirers in the referee corps.
In the 3-1 group, interest centered on the game between France’s Junfu Dai and Hong Kong’s Chi Hin Chan. Chi Hin has become accustomed to finishing fourth in the WAGC, but that may be difficult this year, for Junfu got the better of him. The players from Chinese Taipei, Japan, Luxembourg, Serbia, and the USA also improved their records from 3-1 to 4-1. In the top group, China’s Baoxiang Bai and Korea’s Kibaek Kim stayed undefeated by ending the two-day winning streaks of the Ukraine’s Andrii Kravets and Indonesia’s Rafif Shidqi Fitrah. That set the stage for a China-Korean showdown in the afternoon.
The sixth round began at 2:30. Both undefeated players arrived early, first Kim, who was scheduled to play black, and then Bai. Kim had the upper seat, and could watch the rest of players as they came in and sat down. Bai watched Kim watching them. When the Bai-Kim game began, black got prior occupation of three corners by allowing one of his corner stones to be pincered. An early ko fight developed in the pincered corner, and this time there was to be no disappointment among the Chinese staff. White won the ko and went on to win the game by resignation.
Baoxiang Bai’s next opponent will be Satoshi Hiraoka, who defeated France’s Junfu Dai to stay in the group with only one loss. Also remaining in this group were Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu, who defeated Andrii Kravets; Luxembourg’s Laurent Heiser, who defeated Rafif Shidqi Fitrah; Serbia’s Dusan Mitic, who defeated the USA’s Benjamin Lockhart; and of course Korea’s Kibaek Kim. The pairing algorithm matched Hiraoka against Bai, Hsu against Heiser, and Kim against Mitic in round seven. The one-loss group is still very much in the running for the championship, if at least one of them can defeat Baoxiang Bai tomorrow.
The championship may now be out of reach of the fourteen players who ended the day with 4-2 records, but they are still competing for the second to tenth place awards. Among them are four WAGC rookies: Lukas Kraemer, who defeated Turkey’s Emre Polat in round six; Chahine Koleejan (New Zealand), who defeated Macau’s Kei Chon Wan; Nhat Minh Vo, who defeated Norway’s Pal Sannes; and Israel’s Tal Michaeli, who defeated Slovenia’s Gregor Butala.
And what of pair who scored their first wins in the morning? In the afternoon Amy Song succumbed to Finland’s Matti Siivola, but Filippo Gorlero added a second victory to his score. This time his victim was Anastasiya Ilkevich, the electronics engineer from Belarus, who had a bye in round three and will be seeking to add a real victory tomorrow.
Full results here.
– James Davies
I was born in Shanghai at the end of 1983. In 1988 Shanghai had an outbreak of food poisoning, from seafood, and both of my parents were stricken. During the year-long break they took to recover, they started playing five-in-a row, and I learned to play too. I was only five years old, but I learned well — maybe too well — after a while I was beating everyone in my family. Thinking that I had talent for black-and-white board games like this, my grandfather took me to see a friend of his who ran a local club in our district, and that’s where I learned to play go. So it was purely by accident that I took up the game. My family were under the impression that go was something similar to five-in-a-row.
After that, I had to go to school, but I continued to drop in at the club to play go on weekends, and I was lucky enough to get some good instruction. Within a year or so I had reached 1 kyu. After that I had a private tutor, or rather a series of private tutors, each about four stones above my current rank, who would give me one teaching game per week. That really helped me a lot. Around the age of ten I reached 5 dan without ever having trained at a formal go academy. My tutor then became Liu Jun, who won two world amateur go championships. I took private lessons from him for three or four years, and under his tutoring, I became one of the reigning powers of amateur go in Shanghai. I started playing for Shanghai in national tournaments, sometimes even beating Liu Jun in official competition.
But I continued my scholastic career, graduating from a good high school and passing the entrance exam for Jiaotong University, which was the fourth or fifth ranked university in China. So my scholastic level may not have been as high as my go-playing level, but I was on a proper career path. I didn’t have to sacrifice my academic life to play go.
In 2007 I went entered EM Lyon, a French business school ranked eighth in the world. One reason I chose a school in France was that my father was working there as a diplomat. Another reason was that my father had taught French, and I had lived in France for nine months when I was eleven years old, so I already had a kind of attachment to the country and could speak the language well. Still another reason was that after graduating from Jiaotong University I had gone to work for China Mobile, as a kind of sales representative for business to business service. I was under a lot of pressure in that job, and the salary structure was weak. Everyone told me that if I graduated from a good school in France, I could work there and earn a more comfortable living.
All that has changed, incidentally. Chinese salaries have doubled, and France is in the middle of an economic crisis. But I have a good job as a financial director in the innov8 group, for a wholesale firm that supplies accessories for smartphones.
I don’t play go now as much as I used to. Mainly I play in tournaments near Paris; I don’t have time to travel around. For that reason, even though I have one of the highest ratings in the European rating system, I’m not well known to most European go players. They see me only if they come to Paris.
But I’ve written a couple of French go books, one about strategy in the middle game and one about the endgame. Another ambitious project I have is to introduce people to go by associating go theory with Chinese culture: with I-ching, yin and yang, Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the Thirty-Six Strategies, and so on. I want to do something to help the international go community, and I’d like to promote go in this way, rather than by the Hikaru-no-Go method.
Making good on their promise to support both go and educational initiatives, the developers of AlphaGo Monday announced the division of the $1 million prize fund they won in March’s historic match with Lee Sedol 9p, including grants to both the American Go Association and the American Go Foundation.
“Pleased to confirm the recipients of the #AlphaGo $1m prize! @UNICEF_uk, @CodeClub, and the American, European and Korean Go associations,” tweeted DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis. “@theaga, EGF and KBA will use the #AlphaGo donation to raise awareness of Go worldwide and encourage participation especially at youth level.”
The biggest recipient, UNICEF UK, will receive $450,000 to support global education work including girls’ education and gender equality, while $100,000 will be granted to Code Club UK for the creation of more clubs around the world for children to learn to program. The go community grant is $150,000 each to European Go Federation, the Korea Baduk Association and the American go entities. The AGF will receive $60,000 and the AGA $90,000, DeepMind said.
“It has become clear that the AlphaGo match was the biggest promotional boost the game of go has received in many years, and most of the credit for that is due to DeepMind’s people and how hard they worked from the start to make sure the match gave the widest and most positive exposure possible to the game,” said AGA President Andy Okun. “The announcement of these grants shows they are continuing that good work. I am happy to express to them the thanks of our whole North American go community for the love and respect they have shown for the game.”
“Go is good for kids and the Google grant will help us reach and teach more of them. Broaden the base!” said AGF President Terry Benson.
AGA’s proposal to DeepMind was to use the AGA grant as the basis of a North American pro championship tournament over six years, and for AGF to use the grant to explore methods of more effectively spreading go in schools, said Okun.
For a third straight day, players with rooms on the north side of the Ramada Plaza Hotel were awakened by a cock crowing at 4:00 a.m., but today, for the first time, this call to action was followed by a sunrise and patches of blue sky. After breakfast, the excitement and upsets that had marked the first two rounds gave way to a relatively clear and calm third round, punctuated by only a few minor upsets. In the undefeated group, Turkey’s Emre Polat (4 dan) downed Singapore’s Yi Fei Yue (5 dan). In the middle group, Hong Kong’s Chi Hin Chan (6 dan) made up for his second-round loss to Andrii Kravets by beating Romania’s Christian Pop (7 dan). And in the winless group, 3-dan David Pollitzer (Argentina) bested 4-dan Amy Song (Australia) while 5-kyu John Gibson (Ireland) upended 1-dan Supravat Pal (India). At the end pf the round, the winless group had been whittled down to just seven players, representing China, Chinese Taipei, Korea, France, Indonesia, Turkey, and the Ukraine.
In the fourth round the host country’s Baoxiang Bai faced his first serious challenge. He was paired against France’s Junfu Dai, a former star of amateur go in Shanghai. The two had not played each other before. ‘If you count five years as one generation,’ Junfu said, ‘he’s two generations after me.’ Victory in their inter-generational encounter went to the Chinese player, by resignation. ‘I didn’t feel that I even came close,’ added his somewhat crestfallen opponent.
While Bai was dealing with Dai, Korea’s Kibaek Kim also faced a serious challenge: his opponent was Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu. Victory in this game went to the Korean. In the fifth round tomorrow Kim will take on Indonesian wonder boy Rafif Shidqi Fitrah, who defeated Turkey’s Emre Polat in round 4, while Bai plays the Ukraine’s Andrii Kravets, who was drawn down and defeated Singapore’s Yi Fei Yue. If Bai and Kim win these two games, which does not seem unlikely, the crunch will come when they lock horns in round six.
In the meantime, midway through the tournament, players from seventeen countries and territories have posted winning records: seven each from Asia and Europe, one from North America (the USA’s Bob Lockhart), and two from the Middle East (Turkey’s Emre Polat and Israel’s surprising 3-dan Tal Michaeli, who dispatched a 5-dan Canadian in round 4). The traditional Asian go powers may come out on top in the end, as they did last year, but that remains to be seen. The rest of the world is clearly closing the gap.
Full results here.
– James Davies
My first World Amateur Go Championship was in Hangzhou in 2010. At the time I was about to finish my university studies, majoring in economics, and I had decided to move to Taiwan to work and study Chinese. Work and study and, as it turned out, meet some go players. I made the move in July 2011.
After three years in Taiwan I had learned the language well enough to open a Peruvian restaurant, which was the only way for me to get my native cuisine there. It’s been a nice experience, and it’s given me a place of my own at which to play go. Starting three months ago, a group of us have been playing go every Tuesday at my restaurant. This has created opportunities for me to encounter local players, improve my game, and play with foreigners as well. One of them is a Spanish go friend I had made before coming to Taiwan. He had been interested in my plans to move to Taiwan, and later he came over himself, so now we have two Spanish-speaking go players in Taiwan, which is pretty remarkable.
Five years after Hangzhou, I had the chance to represent Peru at the WAGC again, this time in Thailand. It was a really, really nice tournament. They introduced a new pairing system, the McMahon system, at that WAGC. The pairings were weighted according to the players’ strength, which gave people like me a chance to score more wins. It was also the first time the WAGC was held outside Japan, China, and Korea. The organization of the whole tournament was simply spectacular, from the moment we arrived at the airport up to the very end. Thai go players are quite good, and they excel in their will to make improvements in go in their country. Their expectations from the WAGC were very high, and they treated us wonderfully. The tournament atmosphere was excellent. There were always strong Thai players in the playing room. After the rounds they let us hang out with them and play against them, which was very nice.
Taipei, which is where I live in Taiwan, is a fascinating city. It presents a mixture of Chinese and Japanese culture, and the people are very warm-hearted, just like Latin Americans. It was this combination of things that made me choose to live there. Now I have a wife, who is Taiwanese, and a four-month-old daughter. I’m really happy.
I grew up in Rivne, a small city in the western part of the Ukraine, where about 85% of the population speaks the Ukrainian language instead of Russian. I started to play go at the age of seven, so I’ve already been playing for nineteen years. There was a go club in Rivne headed by a man named Viktor Shevchuk. He taught a group of young players that included me, Artem Kachanovskyi, and a few others. None of us were very strong, but we all grew up together, pushing ourselves to gradually higher levels. When I was sixteen I went to Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, and I’ve lived there since then. In Kiev there were high dan players, and in one year I had reached the 5 dan level. But then complications set in: I needed to get a job to earn some money. So for three or four years I stopped playing actively and worked as an appraiser, calculating the prices of houses and cars. But then I got the opportunity to go to China and study go there, so I went — twice, in fact. My ambition was now to become a European pro. Last year I reached the finals of the European pro qualification tournament, but I lost to Artem, so my current goal is to become pro next year.
Playing go has become my full time occupation. I’ve been playing go for practically my whole life, so I don’t see any point in doing anything else. The economic situation in the Ukraine is difficult; it’s hard to find a good job. For the money that people are willing to pay you, it’s really not worth working. I decided that it would be better just to play go and see what happens. People who have jobs, like Artem now, for example, are always thinking about what they have to do at work the next day. If you’re not working, you spend your time thinking about go: the mistakes you made in your last game and how to correct them.
So how do I feed myself? Although salaries are extremely small in the Ukraine, so is the cost of living. Prices are very low. If you can get a few hundred euros per month, that’s enough to live on. In my case, I still have money that I saved while I was working regularly, so I’ll be able to live without working at all for a few more years. In addition, there are some go tournaments with good prize funds, like the European Grand Slam: ten thousand euros for first place! In the future I plan to make a real career out of go, playing and, who knows, perhaps teaching. I’m not sure I’ll succeed, but at least now I have lots of free time.
When I was in China I was studying go ten hours a day. When I got back from China, I decided not to study there again. The environment was too different. But still, it was a good experience, because while I was there I learned to study on my own. Of course in China you have good professional teachers who can explain things to you, but the rest is the same wherever you are. You can study at home by doing tsume-go probems and playing through professional games. You can also play online on Tygem against professional and other very strong opponents. I play perhaps fifty to a hundred fifty games a month online, and there are some professionals living in Europe now, so when I have questions, I can ask them. Studying go in the Ukraine is basically just like studying in China, but not as strict. I try to train daily. And here at the WAGC, I don’t feel any pressure to win the championship — after all, there’s no prize money — but I’m trying to win each game I play, just taking them one at a time.
You can call me Ignatius, which is my Christian name. I’m the founder of the Brunei Darussalam Go Association. I learned about the game from watching the Japanese anime Hikaru no Go in 2003. At first I didn’t understand the rules, but then I learned them from a friend, whom I call the co-founder of go in Brunei. He had some go software, but we had no other opponents and no go set, so we used othello (reversi) equipment — the othello board is the same size as a 9 x 9 go board.
When we were studying for our GCE A-level exams at prep school, we started a go club as an extracurricular activity. We got quite a good turnout, and soon we had to procure more othello sets. Later I made contact with the president of the Malaysian Go Association and we started to get proper go equipment through them.
In 2004 or 2005 I was struck by the sight of a team I saw at the beach, wearing jerseys, representing Brunei in some international sports event. At that instant I realized that we should form a Brunei Go Association and get recognition from the government. I had also been reading a book called Things You Never Learned at School. One thing that book said is that when you find yourself wondering why somebody doesn’t do something, that may be a sign that you should do it yourself. This had stuck in my mind, so now I went into action. After we got organized, I contacted Yuki Shigeno at the International Go Federation, and we joined the IGF. Then we started sending players to international tournaments: the Korea Prime Minister Cup, the World Amateur Go Championship, the Asian Go Championship held in China, and so on. I competed in the KPMC four times before leaving Brunei to study architecture at Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
Now I’m back in Brunei, working as an architect. I’m also continuing to play go, but the go community in Brunei is still small. There are only about thirty active players, out of a population of 400,000. Because of its gas and oil, Brunei is a wealthy kingdom (yes, it has a king), and the people are very laid back. The main amusements are movies, European board games, trekking, things like that. Most of the go players belong to the 10% Chinese minority. One thing we lack is professional instruction, but even so, we have hopes of introducing go into the school system in Brunei, and one of my ambitions is to get the royal family interested in the game. This may well be possible. Because of Brunei’s small size, our go activities already get good attention in the local media.