American Go E-Journal

Correction: Kim Broke WYGC Record in 1985

Thursday August 25, 2016

2012.04.27_janicekim-2008-10-sf“Congratulations to Aaron Ye on the WYGC (EJ 8-13)” writes eagle-eyed reader Keith Arnold, “he may be the first to finish third, but he is not the first to finish in the top three. Janice Kim took second place in the World Youth Championship in 1985.” Arnold also noted that Bellamy Liu tied for third place back in 1995, and that several contestants besides Calvin Sun had also placed fourth in the past.  “Keith, repository of go lore, is correct in all things,” responded Janice Kim 3p when asked for comment, “I myself wasn’t sure if he had the year right, so I had to go look at the trophy. The year before (’84) I came in 9th, interestingly, my recollection is that Lee Chang-ho 9 dan came in 3rd, and Ryu Shi-hoon 9 dan came in 4th (he was a Korean insei who went to Japan and even won a title there). Kim Young-hwan (not sure what dan he is now) won. The next year when I came in second, Kong Byung-ju (again, not sure what dan he is now) won. The Korean insei system got started around 1980-81, and that first cohort was a POWERHOUSE, headed by Yoo Chang-hyuk 9 dan, the oldest of us. I think I was riding the wave of that team, and see sometime soon something similar for young US go players. I should note that I was studying in Korea, but representing the US, and in those early days the insei system in Korea wasn’t really formalized.”

“To be an insei (or ‘wonsaeng’ in Korean) back then you just kind of had to show up and ‘represent yourself,’ as one might say,” Kim continues. “When Kong Byung-ju came to Seoul, one of the older pros had him take 2 stones against Yu Chang-hyuk, who had already been granted professional 1 dan status for coming in 2nd in the World Amateur Championships a bit earlier. I think Yu was 18, making him one of the oldest of us, he was pretty strong already, in just a couple of years he was challenging Cho Hoon-hyun 9 dan in title matches. That strong younger generation coming in with the lower dan ranks, was one of the reasons why Korean low-dans were globally feared back then.”

“I remember distinctly when Yu was playing this 2-stone evaluation game with Kong, they went to just the early middle game, and then Yu Chang-hyuk said “Andennundayo,” basically, it’s not happening, I can’t give him two stones. That was enough to put Kong Byung-ju at wonsaeng 3 kyu or ‘gup’, in A League. The games that A Leaguers or lower-dan pros played in the wonsaeng study room were fascinating to watch, they were all even, and I remember once a huge, complex capturing race with big eyes, where one side had over 20 liberties, the other, one less, although I wasn’t able to see that before the resignation came. I could not believe my own eyes that a player short a liberty so far down a twisting path would resign at that point, certain of defeat. It’s informed my go sensibilities to this day what it means to be truly strong, although many people would look only at the loss.”

“When Kong and I played in the final at the World Youth, I think I believed I could win, but maybe subconsciously didn’t, I used to watch everyone’s games and wonder inside if I could possibly be playing at that level. Afterwards we went to the top of the hotel we were staying at in Taipei, and tried to drink the beer they had given us at the banquet out of our trophies. I have never cared for beer though, even under such circumstances, so we ended up just singing instead.”

-Paul Barchilon, EJ Youth Editor