World Go News from the American Go Association

July 20, 2007; Volume 8, #52

WORLD GO NEWS: Lee Changho Holds Off Yun In Wangwi
Euro Congress Tourney Update; Czechs Master Small Board; Taking It To The Streets; Stump The Pro; Pietsch Legacy Nurturing New Generation;
A (Very) Short History Of Go In Europe (Part 1); In The Strong Player’s Room; Friends Don’t Mind When Friends Get Stronger; A Stone Too Far; Rosetta Sto

18 PROS TO ATTEND U.S. CONGRESS: The addition this week of Myungwan Kim (l), a 29-year-old Korean 8 dan professional, not only brings the total numbers of pros attending this year’s U.S. Go Congress to an impressive 18, but marks the first time in several years the Koreans have sent a pro. “We’re thrilled to be able to make so many professionals available to this year’s Congress attendees,” said an elated Peter Nassar, Congress Co-Director. “The participation of this many professionals is a testament to their commitment to spreading go in America,” added AGA President Mike Lash. The other pros are Yasuhiro Nakano 9P (JP), Feng Yun 9P (NJ), Yasuichi Narusawa 9P (JP), Yongji Huang 8P (CN), Yilun Yang 7P (CA), Ming Jiu Jiang 7P (CA), Yunsheng Ruan 7P (CN), Ryo Maeda 6P (JP), Isoko Ashida 6P (JP), Ping Yu 6P (CN), Nakayama Noriyuki 6P (JP), Yoshiaki Nagahara 6P (JP), Guo Juan 5P (NL), Liping Huang 4P (IL), James Kerwin 1P (MN), Xuefen Lin 1P (CA), Huiren Yang 1P and Liping Huang 4P, (IL).

GO CAMPERS IN ACTION: With six hours of instruction and practice each day in one of four classes, West Coast go campers have had plenty to think about this week; here (photo at left) they work on solving problems. Favorite afternoon games have included Capture the Ball, and Ultimate Frisbee. In the evening, campers often found more time for go. Camp finishes up on Saturday.
- report/photos by Brian Allen

GOT QUARK? WAY TO GO! The American Go Foundation is looking for a volunteer to help update the classic "The Way To Go." With more than 40,000 copies in circulation, the little 48-page booklet is due for its seventh printing, and updating, as well. "The perfect volunteer is someone with skills and access to Quark Express and who will be at the Go Congress, so we could complete the update right there," says AGF President Terry Benson. "But we'll be happy to work with anyone who can help us update this terrific resource.” Those interested can contact Benson at

AGA CONSIDERS ISSUING RANK CERTIFICATES: Should the American Go Association (AGA) begin issuing rank certificates? The AGA Board of Directors is considering a proposal from the Rank Certification Committee to implement a rank certification program honoring members for significant achievement in playing strength. Click here to let us know what you think. Your responses will help the Board and the Committee decide whether to proceed with this proposal and if so, what approach members would find most favorable. In contrast to other cost-based certification programs, where actual playing strength is irrelevant, the AGA program would be strictly merit-based. Players would have to earn their honors on the go board. The proposal envisions that an AGA official would certify that the player has performed at the required level for a required amount of time and number of games and the certificate could then be validated by a professional player. The proposed program would not affect current rating or placement in tournaments. All players in AGA rated tournaments would continue to receive ratings expressed in rank equivalents on the AGA ratings page as they do now. The goal is to offer players an attractive, highly respected recognition of their achievement. "This survey will be open for responses for one week," says AGA Board Chairman Roy Laird. "The Committee and Board will then close it and study the results, so please respond now to make your opinions heard!"


LEE CHANGHO HOLDS OFF YUN IN WANGWI: Lee Changho 9P defeated tenacious teenager Yun Junsang 6P on Wednesday, July 18th, in the final game of their best-of-five-game match for Lee's Korean Wangwi title to claim the title for the twelfth consecutive year by a score of 3-2. Earlier this year, Yun defeated Lee to take the Korean Kuksu title by a score of 3-1. In the Wangwi title match, Lee won the second and fourth games by a half point and 1.5 points respectively, but he finally forced a resignation in game five. The only other title Lee holds at the moment is the Korean Myeongin, which he has also held twelve times, though he lost it to Cho Hunhyun 9P in 1997.

E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock has been filing reports online this week from the 51st European Go Congress in Villach, Austria. As part of the EGC communications team, he’s also been coordinating live broadcast of top-board games on IGS, which are posted online The team – which includes EGC Bulletin Editor-in-Chief Peter Dijkema, videographer Harry Weerheijm, photographer Martin Chrz, graphic designer (and game recorder) Thomas Weniger and game recorders Hu Bin and Ron Polak, has been publishing regular print reports for EGC attendees, posting videos and photos Check the main AGA website and the news page for all the reports (use the arrows to scroll back day by day). Unless otherwise noted, the reports below are by Garlock. Photo, top right: barmaids at a pub popular
with Congress attendees offer a highly-favored local beverage; photo by Chris Garlock. Photo, right: American Russ Williams (now living in Poland) in the main Congress playing area; photo by Martin Chrz.

EURO CONGRESS TOURNEY UPDATE: The main 10-round European Go Congress Open Championship tournament started off Sunday with 231 boards; while more than 700 have registered, some come for the first week, some for the 2-day 5-round weekend tournament between weeks 1 and 2 and some for the second week. The top 16 boards – also known as the “Supergroup” – plays in a separate room with Japanese rules, while everybody else plays by Ing rules. The Supergroup was enlarged to 34 players this year when the European Go Federation (EGF) added two 'wild-card' players. Who gets into this top group -- and who doesn’t -- is a delicate and complicated matter. While the EGF needs to ensure a minimum number of Europeans in the Supergroup, it also wants to encourage up-and-coming new young talents, and of course Asians resident in Europe are among the strongest players on the continent. The EGC championship often has two winners: the outright winner, who collects the cash prize, and the top European player, who wins the European Champion title. One of the Supergroup requirements is that the players must participate in all ten rounds. All of which helps to explain why a few nominal 8-dans from Korea did not make the Supergroup cut. Click here for latest results in the main tournament, or here for the Rapid Tournament results. NOTE: watch for LIVE broadcast of top boards tomorrow (Saturday) on IGS starting at 10A Central. See attached for two game records, plus all top board games are posted online
– reported by Peter Dijkema

CZECHS MASTER SMALL BOARD: Bronislav Snidal 1d (CZ) won the EGC 13x13 tournament event Wednesday, with fellow countryman Ondra Kruml 2d (CZ) taking second place, making the Czechs the undisputed masters of the small board. Antti Törmanen 4d (FI) was undefeated and might have won the 6-round tournament – played with handicaps -- if he hadn’t missed the first round. A total of five players – Snidal, Kruml, Cherbakov 5d (RU), Butala 4d (SI) and Tormanen -- wound up with identical scores with the results decided on SOS. - reported by Ron Polak

TAKING IT TO THE STREETS: This year’s European Go Congress is being held in Villach’s convention center, instead of the customary university campus (as in the United States). This means that players are on their own for meals, which can be a bit disconcerting, but provides a very pleasant and relaxed feel as each day unfolds unhurriedly. The main tournament game of the day begins at a very civilized 10A, although even that’s apparently too early for some players, undoubtedly the same ones availing themselves of the opportunity to play late into the night at the local cafes. With lunch breaks optional, many players continue right through until the end, after which they repair to the center’s restaurant/bar downstairs, where they can eat, drink and smoke as they replay their games. The choice of such a public space for the Congress was intentional, organizer Simon Gemel told the EJ. “We wanted to draw greater public attention to the Congress and to help build interest in Austrian go,” Gemel said, adding that free public go lessons are offered daily at 11A. The strategy has paid off well, drawing newspaper, radio and TV coverage in the Austrian media, along with public exposure to the game as hundreds of go players disperse into the town’s cafes, restaurants and shops each day. Photo, right: Top players and friends relax outside a popular pub Thursday night; photo by Chris Garlock

PIETSCH LEGACY NURTURING NEW GENERATION: “The best teachers don’t teach,” Harald Kroll said. That his words had multiple levels of meaning is appropriate, given Kroll’s occupation as a translator. Kroll, a German, founded the Hans Pietsch Memorial School in 2004, after Pietsch, a 4-dan German professional on a promotional go tour for the Nihon Ki-in in Guatemala, was murdered in 2003. But it’s not just that Pietsch does not teach at the school named after him; even the instructors don’t teach, at least not in the traditional manner. “They just play,” Kroll told the EJ over lunch on Thursday. Krall learned to play in an Italian café some years ago when two regular players there taught him. “Later, this Japanese player started showing up who turned out to be 4 dan but he was very quiet about his strength, just played.” The Pietsch Memorial School focuses on recruiting and training young go players in Germany, some as young as six, providing equipment and travel expenses. Last year the school took students to a dozen events at a total cost of over five thousand Euros. Yuki Shigeno is one of three pros on the school’s board; the other two are Hideki Enda and Kim Hyo Jung. One of few Western go professionals, Hans Pietsch moved to Japan in 1990 and became a disciple of Kobayashi Satoru. He became a 1-dan professional with the Nihon Ki-in in 1997, the same year he beat Yoda Norimoto by half a point in the first round of the 1st LG Cup. Promoted to 4-dan in 2000, he was posthumously promoted to 6-dan by the Nihon Ki-in on January 21st, 2003 “for his great contributions to the worldwide promotion of go” and also won the 36th Kido International Award. Over 70 go supporters contribute to the school; click here to find out more about it or email Kroll at

Stump The Pro: “I have nothing to say about this game,” the pro announce
d. “I have no idea if it’s good or bad. I just don’t know.” Robert Jasiek 5d of Germany played the unusual opening (at right) in his second-round game against Vesa Laattikainen 5d of Finland. The game – which Jasiek lost – is attached.
How To Lose: “There are many ways to lose games,” said Kobayashi Chizu 5P, the Nihon Kiin pro on a year-long assignment to teach go in Austria. “Everybody's going to lose, but you must try to learn something from each loss.” Kobayashi commented a Round 4 game (attached) between Matti Siivola 5d of Finland and Ui Hong-Seok of Korea. “This way of losing is the hardest. White tried to use his power against a strong player; this is the fastest way to lose. As in aikido, you must use your opponent's power against them.”

A (VERY) SHORT HISTORY OF GO IN EUROPE (Part 1): With well over 700 players from virtually every European country participating in the 51st annual European Go Congress it’s obvious that go is widespread here. There are go clubs in cities, towns and villages across the continent, as well as an active calendar of events and tournaments. While it’s likely that the Portuguese – who first made contact with Japan nearly 500 years ago – were the first Europeans to learn go, the roots of the game go deepest in the Netherlands, “the only Europeans allowed to enter the Japanese territory for a couple of centuries,” reports Franco Pratesi in his invaluable EuroGo Vol. 1 (Arachne, 2004). In 1669 Arnoldus Montanus published an extensive description of Japan that includes two references to go, “in both cases as a usual occupation of Japanese guards,” including an illustration showing two players at a goban with two kibitzers watching. “A fundamental question is to define the place and time of the starting point for go being played correctly in Europe,” writes Pratesi. But like so much in European history – in all history, for that matter – specifics are difficult to nail down. What is clear is that the game came to Europe as merchants, missionaries, travelers and scientists moved back and forth between Europe and Asia. First came descriptions of a strange new game, then a few sets and books in Chinese and Japanese. Pratesi identifies two main lines of transmission, the first from China to England, the other from Japan to Germany. In neither case, however, did go spark a game craze, as had some other board games, remaining primarily a local phenomenon “within a few family circles.” but it doesn’t really take root until the latter half of the 1800s in Germany. The Johnny Appleseed of European go was Oskar Korshelt, who spent ten years in Japan from 1876-1886 and who learned the game there during a long illness. (TO BE CONTINUED) Photo of an EGC exhibition of go-related materials from the collection of Arthur Jonak, a naval officer in the Austrian monarchy who founded the first known go club in Europe; photo by Chris Garlock.

IN THE STRONG PLAYER’S ROOM: In stark contrast to the cheerful hubbub of the main playing area each morning as hundreds of players mill about, the strong player’s room is not only quiet, it’s empty until the round begins at 10A, except for the young Lithuanian players in their green team t-shirts who come in just before then to set all the clocks and neatly place the bowls on each board. Promptly at 10, as if by magic, all the strong players appear, sit down at their boards and, without prompting or preliminaries, begin playing. Players get two and a half hours each and lunch breaks are optional by agreement between the players, and many of them don’t bother to stop, playing through, often until mid-afternoon. As the games end, players usually quietly review a couple of key points and then leave the room, which by late afternoon, is once again empty and still, as though all the mayhem on the sixteen boards had never happened. It’s been a real treat to get to meet the people behind some of the top names in European go this week. Familiar names like Alexander Dinershteyn 1P of Russia and Antoine Fenech 5d of France, both of whom are regular contributors to the EJ, as is Romania’s Cornel Burzo 6d. Then there’s Burzo’s countryman Cristian Gabriel Pop 7d, as well as Csaba Mero 6d and Pal Balogh 6d of Hungary, Czechs Vladimir Danek 5d and Ondrej Silt 6d, who I last saw in Tokyo at the World Amateur Championships with his girlfriend – and Pair Go partner -- Rita Pocsai 4d of Hungary (who’s here as well). Russians Illya Shiksin 6d (whose sister, 2006 European Champion Svetlana Shiksina 1P, passed up the chance to defend her title this year to give birth on July 1 to her son Vyacheslav) and Andrej Kulkov 6d are here, as is Benjamin Papazoglou 5d of France and Gert Schnider of Austria. There are many more, of course, whose names are not yet widely known and who we can look forward to following in the months and years to come. Photo of Alexander Dinershteyn 8d (r) & Cho Seok-bin 7d in the 2nd round; photo by Chris Garlock

FRIENDS DON’T MIND WHEN FRIENDS GET STRONGER: Csaba Mero 6d and Pal Balogh 6d are longtime friends from Hungary. They’ve played each other many times, and after both won their first games, they met this week in the second round on Monday. Mero is a bit older and dominated the game in the beginning, but Balogh just returned from studying in Japan and Mero didn’t seem unhappy to admit that “Pal is much stronger now (and) today, he beat the hell out of me.” - Peter Dijkema

A STONE TOO FAR: There are many dramas that play out on and around the go boards at a major event like the European Go Congress, where hundreds of players have traveled many miles (often at great expense) to compete, not just for themselves, but – unofficially – for their countries, too. In one of the smaller scuffles, a player from a former Iron Curtain country was accused in Tuesday’s round of adding a stone to the board when his opponent went to the bathroom. Hot denials ensued, game records were flourished but in the end pure mathematics prevailed when a count of the stones revealed that there was indeed an extra stone on the board. This being Europe, diplomacy carried the day, as well, when tournament organizers declined to eject the player, who resigned, of course.

ROSETTA STONES: With hundreds of players from dozens of countries, there’s a constant babble of languages at the European Go Congress. In just a few steps you pass from German to Dutch to Finnish, Czech and French, not to mention the Japanese tour group (70 of them!), the Russians, Swedes, Poles and Romanians, just to name a few. English is the lingua franca, although when it comes to go, of course, the stones speak for themselves.

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