American Go E-Journal » World Amateur Go Championships

World Amateur Go Championship: Rounds 2 & 3

Monday May 30, 2011

THIS JUST IN: Click here for all the latest news from the 2011 World Amateur Go Championships (WAGC) live from Japan, including a report on Round 4 results, reported by our colleagues at Ranka Online, the bulletin of the International Go Federation.

Round 2 of the 2011 WAGC started just after 1:30 on May 29 with all players present. This time the bye went to Mykhailo Halchenko of the Ukraine. The player with the bye receives a teaching game from one of the referees, so Mykhailo 5D found himself playing Yasuhiro Nakano 9P at two stones. This was a tough challenge, and Mykhailo went down to honorable defeat by resignation.

In the real competition, six players now faced opponents of equal rank. The game between Thomas Debarre of France and Cornel Burzo of Romania, both 6D and hopeful of finishing in the top ten, was particularly intense. The winner, by 3.5 points, was Burzo, who earned a pairing against China’s Baoxiang Bao in the next round. In another duel of 6D players, Merlijn Kuin of The Netherlands triumphed over Franz-Josef Dickhut of Germany, and in a clash between two 7D players, Chinese Taipei’s Tsung-Han Wu overcame Canada’s Jun Fan. These four players are also expected to contend for places in the top ten.

At the 5D level, Kanh Binh Do of Vietnam picked up his first win by downing former European champion Zoran Mutabzja of Croatia. At the 1D level, Francisco Pereira of Portugal overcame Michael Galero of the Philippines, and Aliaksandr Suponeu of Belarus bested Manitra Razafindrabe of Madagascar. At the 1k level, Miroslav Smid of Slovakia scored a win over Mario Miguel Aguero Obanda of Costa Rica.

Unlike Round 1, round 2 produced some upsets. In one of the most unusual games of the afternoon, Kamil Chwedyna 4D of Poland used his patented second-line opening to defeat Viktor Lin 5D of Austria. In the closest game Salvador Larios 1k of Mexico squeaked past Hock Doong Ho 1D of Malaysia by half a point, and in the biggest surprise of the day, James Hutchinson 1k of Ireland upended Torben Pedersen 3D of Denmark.

Round 3: Once again most of the spectators chose to watch the game of the Japanese player, Hironori Hirata (in photo at right). Yesterday they had seen him sail serenely past opponents from the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and this morning they expected him to do likewise against Morten Ofstad from Norway. For most of the game it looked as if their expectations would be fulfilled, but the Norwegian 4D did not give up easily and his perseverance was rewarded: a critical mistake in a life-and-death situation forced the Japanese 8D to resign. Mr Hirata accepted defeat with good grace and bowed in apology to his onlooking supporters.

The spectators then moved into the outer playing area to watch the game between Chi-hin Chan of Hong Kong and Tsung-han Wu of Chinese Taipei, which was still in progress. The outcome was impossible to predict: both players are young and strong, both represent territories where go is booming among the younger generation, and the position on the board was tense. After a thrilling endgame it was Tsung-Han Wu, clad in blue jeans, a plaid shirt, and a black vest and sporting earrings, who walked away the winner by a point and a half.

In another 1.5-point finish, Choltit Rattanasetyut of Thailand defeated Xiang Zhang of Singapore. The Thai player led throughout the first half of the game, but victory did not come easily: the lead changed hands twice before the end.

These results left the players from Norway, Chinese Taipei, and Thailand undefeated. Joining them in the all-victorious group were Baoxiang Bai (China), Woo-soo Choi (Korea), Kamil Chwedyna (Poland), and Eric Lui (US), who defeated opponents from Romania, The Netherlands, Spain, and Slovenia in round 3. The Poland-Spain game featured another remarkable opening. Playing black, Kamil Chwedyna placed his first four stones in a pon-nuki shape in the center of the board; then he fought his way to a 6.5-point victory. In the next round the players from China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei will tackle the players from Thailand, the US, and Norway.
- James Davies, Ranka Online; edited by Jake Edge

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World Go News May 2011

Monday May 30, 2011

36th Kisei League

On 24 May 2011, the Nihon Ki-in announced players who will take up the last four spots in the 36th Kisei League. Seto Taiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in, Akiyama Jiro 8P, Kono Rin 9P and Kobayashi Koichi 9P. These players were selected based on playing through single knock out preliminary matches and will join top performers from the 35th Kisei League. The winner of the 36th Kisei League will earn the right to challenge Kisei title holder, Cho U 9P, in 2012 for the 36th Kisei. The 36th Kisei League players are Iyama Yuta 9P, Yamashita Keigo 9P, Hane Naoki 9P, Kato Atsushi 8P, Kono Rin 9P, Seto Taiki 7P, Takao Shinji 9P, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P, Yoda Norimoto 9P, Ryu Shikun 9P, Kobayashi Koichi 9P and Akiyama Jiro 8P.

Joanne Missingham turns 17

On 26 May 2011, Joanne Missingham 5P, who plays professionally under her Chinese name, Hei Jiajia, turned 17 while playing in the 4th Taiwan Qiwang, a Taiwanese Go tournament. She received a received birthday cake in the shape of a Go board as a surprise gift from fans. The cake even had edible stones! Missingham’s rapid promotion (she was promoted to 2P in late 2010 and 5P in early 2011) has not escaped the notice of international Go bodies. Japan has invited her to take part in this year’s Nakano Cup, a prestigous tournament for under-20s. Previous winners of this tournament include none other than this year’s Judan and Bosai Cup winner, Iyama Yuta, who won the Nakano Cup in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

32nd World Amateur Go Championships begin

On 28 May 2011, as a prelude to the 32nd World Amateur Go Championship (WAGC), Otake Hideo 9P played an exhibition match with local school girl Ohara Moeka in a Castle Game reenactment at Matsue Castle in Shimane Prefecture. Ohara was a quarter finalist at the Japanese Girls High School Go Tournament in the individual division and received a 3 stone handicap from Otake. Both players donned elaborate kimonos to evoke the Edo period, during which the famous Castle Games took place. Shimane Prefecture was the birth place of two famous players – Honinbo Dosaku in 1645 and Iwamoto Kaoru in 1902.

- Jingning; based on her original report at Go Game Guru. Photos: Joanne Missingham 5P (top right) and Ohara Moeka reenacts castle game with Otake Hideo 9P (bottom left)

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.

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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