World Go News from the American Go Association
May 31, 2007; Volume 8, #44



CHINA’S SHEN WINS WORLD AMATEURS: Thirteen-year-old Ziteng Shen of China swept the 2007 World Amateur Go Championships at the Nihon Kiin in Tokyo, Japan on Thursday, winning all eight rounds. Shen – who studies go 13 hours a day, has taken the pro test three times and will take it again later this year. Although Dong-Ha Woo of Korea won second place, he was undoubtedly disappointed, since a WAGC win would have given him a second – and probably last – chance at turning pro. Hironobu Mori of Japan won third place, Romania’s Cristian Pop took an impressive 4th, Yu Cheng Lai of Chinese Taipei was 5th, Jing Yang did Canada proud with his 6th-place finish, Merlijn Kuin of The Netherlands brought home another trophy for Europe with 7th place and 16-year-old Andy Liu of the United States took a very respectable 8th place with a 6-2 record. “I did OK,” Liu told the EJ after the ceremony as his beaming parents looked on, “but I could have done better. I tried hard.” Rounding out the award-winners were Ondrej Silt of Czechia in 9th and Andrey Kulkov of the Russian Federation in 10th place. “I was very impressed by the intensity with which the players reviewed their games after each round, Chief Referee Awaji Shuzo 9P told the assembled players at the awards ceremony “I wish I could have cloned myself so I could have done even more commentaries.” Game records for Liu’s Round 7 and 8 are attached. Click here for full WAGC results, photos, game records and more. Photos by John Pinkerton

WAGC IMPRESSIONS: The playing hall has already been set up when the players begin to filter in an hour before the 9 a.m. beginning of the day’s first round. Pairs of flags neatly placed at each board show the pairings, but players grab the pairing sheet to see who they’re playing and to scan the results so far. After determining who they’re playing, many head for the stacks of game records to get a look at how their opponents play. As the start time approaches, the players drift toward their seats. Chief Referee Awaji Shuzo 9P stands ramrod straight in the center of the stage, gazing out over the playing area. The tournament director stands at the lectern, with interpreter and longtime go author James Davies beside him. They announce that the round is about to begin and ask the players to take their seats. The referees and staff stand by and even the photographers and camera crews cease roving. An expectant hush falls over the hall. Time seems to slow down and then stop in a dead silence. Then the director says that “Mr Awaji will give you the signal to begin.” After a moment, Awaji steps to the microphone and says, in English, “Please choose colors” and the spell is instantly broken as the sound of 136 lids being removed from their bowls clatters through the hall and 68 handfuls of stones go down on the boards. “Please begin,” says Awaji, and the first stones snap down smartly. Soon, despite the presence of nearly 100 people, quiet falls over the room again, interrupted only by an occasional rattle of stones in a bowl and the click of go stones. Unlike the U.S., where anyone can wander in and out of the playing area, here spectators are kept out, and must watch the games from the sidelines. Guest officials, spectators and professionals mingle casually while keeping an eye on the games nearby. You can’t turn around without bumping into a legendary pro. Abe Yoshiteru wanders through the main playing area, stopping every now and then when a game catches his attention. A white-capped Takemiya Masaki pops in looking like he’s just strolled off the golf course. Ten games from each round are recorded by spiky-haired go players from local university clubs, impeccably dressed in the ubiquitous black business suits that flood up out of the subway stations every morning promptly at 8:45. Every once in a while there’s a flurry of activity when a game ends. Several tournament officials rush over while the players rearrange the stones and then carefully record and confirm the final score for each player. They then place a check mark next to the winner’s name on the results slip and have each player sign it. As one official takes the results to be tabulated, another collects the flags and nameplates and carries them over to a table along the wall, which fills up with a rainbow of national colors as the round winds down. The players relax and begin a preliminary analysis of the game, with the loser ruefully pointing out where he went wrong. Soon they move to the press/review room nearby, where they’ll spend as much as an hour going over the game with a professional go player, exploring variation after variation.
- Chris Garlock;
Photo by John Pinkerton

REDMOND ON THE HONINBO: We caught up with American-born pro Michael Redmond Thursday, who said he’ll be doing commentary on the sixth game of the Honinbo – currently tied 1-1 -- in which Takao Shinji is defending his title against Yoda Norimoto. “Both players came into the match in good style, but then Yoda completely outplayed Takao in both games,” said Redmond. “It’ll be interesting to see what patterns develop over the remainder of the match.” According to Redmond, Yoda’s hugely confident in his endgame and is comfortable nursing a 2-point lead, which happens to be the combined total of the winning margin in rounds 1 and 2. The Honinbo round 2 game is attached. Photo: Michael Redmond 9P (sitting, in suit) reviews Andy Liu’s Round 6 game (attached). Photo by John Pinkerton

SECRETS OF GO: “The secret to being as strong as a pro,” revealed John Power over lunch Thursday, “is being able to quickly clear the board at the end of the game. Pros can do it in twenty seconds.” There seemed to be a twinkle in Power’s eye but we’ve been practicing ever since.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: This week’s coverage of the WAGC would not have been possible without the generous support of the Nihon Kiin – led by Hiromu Okabe -- and all the WAGC sponsors, including Toyota/Denso, Japan Airlines, Autodesk and the Chiyoda Association for Culture and Arts. The Nihon Kiin and WAGC officials and staff not only organized a terrific event that ran incredibly smoothly, but were unfailingly helpful to the E-Journal staff, whether it was finding us an extension cord at the last minute or answering our interminable questions. Special mention must be made of the tireless work done by Hideko Okada of the Nihon Kiin Overseas Department, who always had time for us. Many others stepped in to help me report accurately and promptly, including Thomas Hsiang, John Power, Richard Bozulich, James Davies, Jeremy Banzhaf, Kaz Furuyama, Yoshiko Inaba and Yuki Shigeno. Not only did EJ photographer John Pinkerton promptly track down whatever shot his editor demanded, but he proved to be a stalwart fellow go adventurer as we crammed 26 hours into every day. A very special thanks to AGA President Mike Lash for asking me to be the AGA’s Guest Official this year and to cover the WAGC for the E-Journal. Last but not least, thanks to all the wonderful players and professionals without whom there could be no World Amateur Go Championships. Their strength, their dedication and their unfailing good spirits and quest for truth on the board are truly an inspiration to go players around the world.
- Chris Garlock

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Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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