American Go E-Journal

World Amateur Go Championship; Round 1 Update

Sunday May 29, 2011

The playing area on the third floor of the Shimane Prefectural Assembly Hall is divided into a main inner room with nineteen boards, fourteen of which have official game recorders, and a smaller outer area with ten boards. In round 1 the solo seat went to Spain’s Joan Flos. The signal to start the games on the other boards was given by chief referee Takemiya Masaki just after 9:30a on Sunday, May 29, and live online broadcasts of four of the recorded games began immediately. AnotherWorld Amateur Go Championship (WAGC) was under way. photo at right: the Seicho Yasuragibushi Preservation Society gives a performance of traditional songs and dances, accompanied by drums and shamisen at the opening ceremonies of the 32nd annual WAGC.

In the inner room, spectators gathered around Board 13, where Hironori Hirata (Japan) was playing Alexander Selby (U.K.). Next to them Thomas Debarre (France) was taking on Kanh Binh Do (Vietnam); this game also attracted attention.

The tournament is being played with time limits of one hour per player, followed by three renewable 30-second overtime periods. Timing was handled by new tournament clocks, made by Citizen Corporation for the Nihon Kiin. The beep tones of the clocks provided a soft electronic background to the click of slate and shell on wood.

Following WAGC tradition, in the first round the middle half of the field drew for opponents from the upper and lower quarters. At the end of the round, every game turned out to have been won by the higher-seeded player. Ranka asked its professional commentator Hiroshi Yamashiro 9P of the Nihon Kiin and referees Shimpei Kuwamoto 6P (also of the Nihon Kiin) and Yasuhiro Nakano 9P (Kansai Kiin) for their observations on the round.

“They are strong,” said Shimipei Kuwamoto. “In the post-mortem reviews they were all very definite about their ideas. It was clear that they were bent on playing their own games. One player (Kamil Chwedyna, Poland) played several of his opening moves on the second line. At first glance it looked as if his hand must have slipped, but he knew what he was doing. I guess he had worked this strategy out in advance.” Chwedyna won his game.

“The age range was impressive,” noted Yasuhiro Nakano. Aside from 84-year-old Hironori Hirata of Japan, there are quite a few players in the 50-70 age bracket, and then there are the young players from Southeast Asia. “It will be very interesting to see how strong the ones from Indonesia (14), Singapore (22), Thailand (21), and Vietnam (22) become,” said Nakano. The players from Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand won their first games, as did Hironori Hirata.

“The game between the two young players from Austria (Viktor Lin, 19, at left, above) and Israel (Jonathan Lidor, 18, right) was riveting,” said Hiroshi Yamashiro. “Since this was the first round, most of the games were somewhat one-sided, those two players were extremely well matched. Their game wasn’t recorded, but it was very good, with interesting content. They are both already playing at the 6-dan level. They have a bright future.” Viktor Lin emerged the winner in that game, with opponent Jonathan Lidor wryly commenting that  “Yesterday I played a friendly game against Viktor. We said that whoever won that game would have to lose today, and that’s what happened, after I blundered.”
- James Davies, Ranka Online; click here for his complete report. Note: the American go E-Journal team of Chris Garlock and John Pinkerton was unable to attend this year’s WAGC due to a family emergency.

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