American Go E-Journal » World Amateur Go Championships

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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World Amateurs Set for Japan May 26-June 3

Monday May 9, 2011

The 32nd annual World Amateur Go Championship (WAGC) will be held later this month in Matsue City in Japan’s Shimane Prefecture. Seventy top amateur players from 70 countries and territories will compete to be the best amateur in the world. The tournament runs Thursday, May 26 May through Friday, June 3, and for the third year the E-Journal and Ranka Online are teaming up to bring you complete coverage of this exciting event, with daily updates including game records, commentary, photos, player profiles and news about the tournament.

YOUR MOVE: Where’s the WAGC?

Monday March 21, 2011

“When and where will the next WAGC be held?” wonders Joel Sanet. The 2011 World Amateur Go Championships (WAGC) are scheduled to be held May 27 through June 1 in Matsue City in Japan’s Shimane Prefecture. At press-time we don’t have any post-quake updates on the status of plans for the tournament; we’ll keep you posted as we learn more. Eric Lui 7d will be the U.S. rep at the WAGC, where 70 amateur players from 70 countries and territories compete, and which will be covered in the E-Journal again this year with daily reports, photos and game records.
photo: Matsue Castle, built by the first Lord and founding father of Matsue, Yoshiharu Horio in 1611

MICHAEL REDMOND ON STUDYING, IMPROVING YOUR GAME AND HOW THE PROS TRAIN

Monday June 14, 2010

“My study of the endgame actually had more effect on my opening,” Michael Redmond 9P told the E-Journal during a recent interview during the World Amateur Go Championships in Hangzhou, China. Redmond, who this issue becomes a regular game commentary contributor to the E-Journal (Member’s Edition only; click here to join), shared his tips on studying, improving, and thoughts on the differences in professional training in Japan, China and Korea.

Over the last year or so, Redmond has been studying the classic Castle Games,  with special attention to close games. “The result was that I was reviewing very high-quality games, games in which the players were not being greedy, but were going for the balanced moves, and showing very good positional judgment, and I think that reflected onto my game and helped me a lot,” said Redmond. “I’m much more aware of what’s going on.”

Still, Redmond knew he had to focus on improving his endgame. “What happened was that I ended up with this big collection of close games, and I had them in Word and could print them out.” Redmond pulled a small booklet of clipped-together sheets from his pocket. “So what I did last year was to copy game positions about 30 moves from the end of the game. I like the fact that I don’t have the names of the players, because it brings back memories (of the specific players), so it’s better not to be seeing that. I write the result – for instance in this game, White wins by one point – so I have to hold the position in my head and count it, and by doing that, I think I’m improving my reading ability. Not just reading out an endgame, but life and death problems, as well.”

Redmond explained that “The problem is that you can have two endgame moves that are about the same size, but they each lead to a different endgame.” He launched into an analysis involving calculations of moves as small as 1/6th or 1/12th of a point, “so you have very fine points implicit in the seemingly simplest yose moves, including follow-ups and ko threats, which complicate the calculation.” And, he added, “calculating is not good enough; in fact it’s confusing, because there’s no way to see which move is bigger, you just have to read it out, and then it’s very clear. Right now I can do 30 moves, and I have done a 50-move yose.”

Eventually Redmond expects to be able to read out the last 100 moves, “because top players are capable of reading out the last 100 moves in less than an hour. If I can have a picture of what’s happening when I come to the last 100 moves, it’ll make a big difference.” If all of this sounds a bit confusing,” Redmond’s the first to agree, but said that “it shows that just calculating the size of a move, which is what I’ve been doing for years now, is pretty useless. Or I should say it’s useful, but it’s not exact, and it’s the reason why it’s pretty easy to lose a couple of points with that system.”

Asked about how he and other top professional study, Redmond said that “Everyone has their own system,” adding that “I think one of the weaknesses of Japanese go as a whole is that we don’t have any coaches. We all improvise on our own. The Chinese have coaches, and I think the Koreans do too. I think the idea of having coaches is a very good system.” The downside of the coach system that that “it changes the way a person’s game develops at the lower levels, and I think that in China it makes it more difficult (for individual players) to have a lasting strength.”

Conversely, Redmond said, the Japanese system turns out to have a hidden strength, because while Japanese players don’t have an established counter to the new Chinese or Korean moves, “the strength is for the player himself. In all of his personal study, he will be building a feeling for the game, which should last longer. So I think both methods have their strong points.”

Redmond said he doesn’t play much on the internet these days. “I wasn’t sure it was improving my game. It’s very hard to play at my best when I can’t see my opponent; it makes a difference in my feeling for the game. I think I concentrate better if I have an opponent in front of me. And I enjoy it more.” Redmond added that playing in person is the best way to improve your game. “Someone close to your own strength, a little stronger or even a bit weaker. Gives you a different viewpoint. And review your games. “
- Chris Garlock; photos by John Pinkerton

THE “IMPOSSIBLE” TIAN YUAN TOWER PROBLEM, SOLVED

Monday June 7, 2010

The “Impossible” Tian Yuan Tower problem (5/27 EJ) is “Far from impossible,” writes John Fairbairn, “especially once

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you know the name of the problem, Shenlong Guotu, or Divine Dragon Shedding Its Bones. The Daoist phrase ‘shedding bones,’ or variants such as ‘shedding a skin’, always signify it’s an under-the-stones problem,” says Fairbairn, a longtime go writer and co-author of the Games of Go on Disk encyclopedia (GoGoD). Fairbairn was one of just eight readers to correctly solve the problem:  Steven Burrall, who also knew it was an ishi no shita, or “under the stones” problem; Daniel Gourdeau, Jimmy Guo, Marek Kamiński, Carlo Metta, Solomon Smilack and our very own weekly AGA go problem-meister Myron Souris. We won’t mention the name of the reader who wanted to know “is the problem black to play and kill or white to play and live?”

RANKA’S WAGC LAST THOUGHTS (Parts 1, 2 & 3)

Sunday June 6, 2010

“I’m only sorry that it had to end,” says 2010 World Amateur Go Championship winner Hongsuk Song in an interview just published on Ranka Online, along with several other post-event reports. Song says “the games against the Chinese player in the fifth round, and against the Czech player in the last round” were his toughest. “I would like to become a professional player,” says Song. “If that’s not possible, I may go to work for a company, but I would still like to be active in go. There’s much to be done, including publicity and teaching the game to children, so if I can’t be a professional player, that’s all right too.” Check out Ranka Online for Song’s take on the current competition between China and Korea, his favorite pro and hobbies, as well as brief post-event interviews with a number of WAGC players and officials, including U.S. player Thomas Hsiang, who said “China made it everything we hoped for and then some. The pairing system was very dynamic, better than the system used before. If there had been ten rounds it would have been perfect; then there would have been no accidents. I also liked the tie-breaking system. Of course I’m not satisfied with my own results, but what was absolutely great was the emerging new IGF structure, and the plans of the new IGF president for the future.”

KOREA WINS 2010 WAGC

Sunday May 30, 2010

With a perfect 8-0 score, Hongsuk Song 7d of the Republic of Korea is the new World Amateur Go Champion. Click here for complete results.  CLICK HERE for James Davies’ complete Ranka online report on the Round 8 action: “On the top board, Korea’s undefeated Hongsuk Song faced Czechia’s Ondrej Silt. On the second board, China’s Chen Wang faced Hong Kong’s Naisan Chan. All four of these young players were virtually assured of finishing in the top eight, and one of them would be the new world champion…”
- Chris Garlock; photo by John Pinkerton

WAGC GAME COMMENTARIES: Round 8

Sunday May 30, 2010

See below for Michael Redmond 9P’s commentaries on three Round 8 game records (click on “link” to download the sgf or “read more” for the online viewer): Song Hong Suk 7d (S Korea) vs Ondrej Silt 6d (Czechia) (photo at right); Wang Chen 7d (China) vs Nai San Chan 6d (Hong Kong); Fredrik Blomback 5d (Sweden) vs Cheng-Hsun Chen 6d (Chinese Taipei). CLICK HERE for James Davies’ complete Ranka online report on the Round 8 action & CLICK HERE for latest standings, courtesy of Alain Cano

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5 MINUTES WITH: John Gibson, Ireland

Sunday May 30, 2010

Dubliner John Gibson has an unusual claim to fame, even for a go player. He once played go with Ira Einhorn the infamous “The Unicorn Killer” now serving a life sentence for the 1977 murder of Holly Maddux. In the early ‘80s, Gibson was introduced to “Ben Moore” – a pseudonym of Einhorn’s, while he was on the run — by the Secretary of his Dublin chess club, “and we played a number of games,” says Gibson. “He was about 7 kyu.” Gibson has been playing go for 34 years and participated in the first World Mind Sports Games in 2008. He attends one of the two Dublin go clubs at least once a week and reports that there are ongoing serious efforts to teach go in Ireland, although go is not supported by the Irish government and so they have to supply all their equipment themselves.
- None Redmond, special correspondent for the E-Journal; photo by John Pinkerton

5 MINUTES WITH: Carlos Joels, Peru

Sunday May 30, 2010

Stuck at home sick a few years ago, Carlos Joels 1k of Peru was channel surfing when he came across a strangely fascinating game being played on Japanese TV. He had been a chess player, but was bored with it because of the constant repetition of the moves and, seeing the go board he realized that this offered more scope for innovative play and decided to learn the game. The 25-year-old — who has just graduated with a degree in economics — has now been playing go for a year and a half, playing every day and going to the go club in Lima every week where there are about 10 players. Next year, he plans to go to Taiwan to learn Chinese. “Of course,” he says with great excitement, “there is a go club there where I hope I will improve very fast.”
- None Redmond, special correspondent to the E-Journal; photo by John Pinkerton