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.
Register for the 2016 US Go Congress by midnight Monday and save $50! The $25 registration will increase to $75 Monday, 6 June at 11:59 pm EST. The US Go Congress is the largest go activity in the United States. It happens once a year and runs July 30 – August 7 in Boston, MA this year. Events include the US Open, the largest annual go tournament in the US, professional lectures and game analysis, continuous self-paired games, and all kinds of go-related activities from morning to midnight. “Come for the go. Come for the camaraderie of old friends,” says Congress Director Walther Chen. “Whatever your reason, we are looking forward to seeing you there.”
I last competed in the WAGC in 2005. At the time I was working in computer security at a university. Since then I’ve been working in the same department at the university, but there have been some organizational changes, and now I’m looking for a new job. As for go, we held the European Go Congress in Finland in 2010, which had some importance for me. Mainly, I was involved in bringing it to Finland. I’ve also been playing at my club, and helping to organize some other go tournaments, like the European pair go championship in Helsinki, and I’ve started doing organizing work for my sailing club, in particular for the offshore world championship.
I started sailing as a kid when my father built an Optimist dinghy. Later, when I started to play go, that took up most of my time, but a couple of years ago I thought that go had become rather stable in Finland, and our sailing club had become involved in some European championships and then the offshore world championship, so I decided to get back into sailing. After starting out in the Optimist, which is just a child’s boat — an adult would be too heavy for it — I had sailed a Windmill, which they have in Finland and the United States, and my father had some bigger boats, such as an H boat and a Senorita Helmsman, so in the summer, when I wasn’t playing go, I went sailing again. I partnered with my father in a Windmill in the Finnish championship, and we took third place.
Henceforth, May 21 will be a memorable date in the history of Russian go. On that date, more than 200 go fans gathered in Saint Petersburg, Russia, for a massive simultaneous go game. The event took place on the street near architectural masterpiece the Kazan Cathedral. Even cold wind and drizzling rain did not deter players who turned out to challenge their country’s strongest go masters, including Alexander Dinerchtein 3P, Ilya Shikshin 1P and Natalia Kovaleva, who’s been European Female Champion. Some passersby got intrigued and played go for the very first time in their life, adding to the game’s fanbase. Every participant got a memorable souvenir and anyone who could defeat a master got an additional prize. Overall 218 people played on 191 boards, setting a national record. Click here for a video of the event (added 6/9).
- report by Daria Koshkina; photos by Mikail Krylov
Candidates have come forward for each of the four available seats on the AGA board. Current candidates are: Eastern – Gurujeet Khalsa, Central – Doc Sade, Western – Andrew Jackson, At-Large – Ed Zhang, Steve Colburn. Nominations, including self-nominations, may be made by full members for the region in which the member resides or nationwide for the At-Large seat and must be received by June 15. Nominations and questions must be emailed to email@example.com. Click here for complete election information and qualifications.
On June 5, at 9 am EST, Nikola Mitic of the Nordic Go Academy, currently a class A insei at the Nihon-Kiin, will give a lecture on the direction of attack in the early game. The lecture will take place in the Advanced Study Room of KGS and it is free to attend. Mitic, whose user name on KGS is nidza92, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Advanced Study Room can be found under the heading “lessons” in the room list on KGS.
The Mexican Go Association’s 3rd Annual Go Congress in Mexico City will be host to three professional teachers, including one each from the US and Canada. With the aid of AGA, Stephanie (Mingming) Yin 1p from NY and William (Gansheng) Shi 1p from Vancouver will be visiting Mexico, and with the support of the Korea Amateur Baduk Association, Cho Hye-yeon 9p from Seoul will teach as well. This is the first time a Mexican Congress will have this many pros.
“Western go is developing in a tremendous way. While America and Europe already have pro systems, in Latin America we don’t even have a Congress type of event. We can’t lag behind compared to other regions,” said Emil García, Mexican Go Association president. “The main purpose of the event is letting the local players grasp some of the deep insight pros have and for them to teach us through lectures, game reviews and simul games.”
Airfare for the two North American players is courtesy of the American Go Foundation, said AGA president Andy Okun. “When we received an invitation from the Mexican Go Association for pro teachers for their event,” said Okun, “I thought about the projects on which we’ve cooperated with Mexico and their success in promoting the game to kids. I also thought about the many years of generous support we have received from the go associations in Asia and thought this would be a chance for us to ‘pay it forward’ for the good of the game.”
The three-day event will also hold the 3rd Mexican Go Open with a prize pool near $1,000 US and will take place in the Tlatelolco University Cultural Center, Mexico City, Mexico. You can check more info about this event in its webpage.
The AGA Summer Go Camp includes a week of go learning in a friendly kid’s summer camp setting,” says Co-Director Fernando Rivera. “Campers enjoy morning and evening go lessons with a professional teacher throughout the week, and outside of the daily lessons enjoy more traditional summer camp activities.” Matthew Qiu writes “at go camp [last] year I made a lot of good friends, and played a lot of go. Go camp is a fun way to meet new people, and improve your game.” With a mix of lessons, outdoor activities, tournaments, and other Go related activities, the camp is an ideal place for kids to make friends and have fun while also improving their go skills. “Outside of the go classroom, we did many fun-filled outdoor activities,” writes camper Leon Chang, “we went canoeing in the lake, shot arrows at the archery range, climbed ropes courses, and much more!”
Perhaps 12-year-old Joe does the best job of summing up everyone’s feelings after a great week at camp: “When I left camp I was sad that I will miss all my new friends, but when I came back home I was happy because I was beating everyone and showing that I improved.” Go Camp will take place from July 3-9 at YMCA Camp Campbell Gard in Hamilton, Ohio. The camp will be run by Nano Rivera and Frank Luo. Youth who played in the NAKC or the Redmond Cup are eligible for a $400 scholarship, and need-based scholarships of up to $250 are also available courtesy of the American Go Foundation. For more information on the latest camp-related news, and to download the registration forms, visit the camp website, or e-mail Nano Rivera at email@example.com. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Quotes and photos by Nano Rivera.
The AGA YouTube channel will broadcast a live commentary as China’s Ke Jie 9p and Korea’s Park Junghwan 9p face off in the round of 16 of the LG Cup tomorrow night in Korea. The game starts at 5 p.m. PDT on Tuesday May 31 in the US. Each player has three hours main time and there will be no lunch break. Commentary by our own Myungwan Kim 9p, hosted by Andrew Jackson, will begin at 7 p.m. PDT and last likely until 11 p.m. PDT.
Zhengbokang Tang 7d won the 2016 Maryland Open Sunday, after the event ended in a four-way tie at the top on 4-1 and a two way tie on both SOS and SODOS tiebreakers. Tang topped the field by virtue of winning the head-to-head match with Shiuyao Qiao 1p. Tang (at left in photo) also bested the other pro in the field, Calvin Sun 1p, while falling only to Zhaonian Chen 7d. Seventy one players, including two professionals, attended the 43rd Maryland Open, directed by Gurujeet Khalsa, assisted by Todd Heidenreich.
Open Section: 1st – Zhangbokang Tang 7 dan; 2nd- Shiyao Qiao 1p; 3rd- Zhaonian Chen 7 dan; 4th – Calvin Sun 1p
A Section: 1st – Gabriella Su 5 dan; 2nd- Ashish Varma 4 dan
B Section: 1st- Muyuan Wang 3 dan; 2nd – Jared Beck 3 dan
C Section: 1st- Adam Jiang 2 dan; 2nd – John Wang 1 dan
D Section: 1st – Terry Luo 1 kyu – Kyu Champion; 2nd- Neil Ritter 2 kyu
E Section: 1st- Chenzi Wang 6 kyu (only player to go 5-0); 2nd – Tevis Tsai 7 kyu; 3rd – Amanda Miller 8 kyu
F Section: 1st – Jimmy Yang 15 kyu; 2nd- Sarah Crites 10 kyu
G Section: 1st – Antonina Perez-Lopez 20 kyu; 2nd – Tianfeixue Han 28 kyu
Fighting Spirit Prize – Justin Ching 6 dan
Greg Lefler Award – Feng Yun Go School
- reported by Keith Arnold (at right in photo). photo by Gurujeet Khalsa; click here for more photos.
If you are planning to attend the US Go Congress in Boston this year but haven’t signed up or paid, you’d best get cracking! The early bird price expires at the end of May, i.e. Tuesday, with the registration fee going from $375 to $425. And if you haven’t decided yet to come to Congress this year, why not? Aside from a location steeped in history, culture and seafood, this Congress boasts an illustrious complement of pro teachers, a powerful lineup of strong players and a tremendous roster of attendees, swelled by the work of the Congress team as well as all the exciting new developments in the world of go. Sign-ups are well into record territory with more than 330 paid attendees already and nearly 430 altogether in the process. See the Congress website for more details and to sign up.