American Go E-Journal » Latin America

Mexico edges out Korea in special cross-cultural tournament

Friday December 28, 2018

Mexico edged Korea, 13-12, in the December 8 cross cultural baduk tournament “Encuentro de Baduk México-Corea 2018.” The 2018.12.08_Mexico-Korea baduk match15-round event was organized by the Korean newspaper “El Coreano.” Playing for Team Mexico was its leader and current Mexican champion Abraham Florencia 5d, followed by Sebastián Ríos, Mario Mercado, Alejandro Curiel and José Chacón. Team Korea consisted of Changha Kim, Jungik Jang, Chaejoong Kook, Sungoh Kim and team leader Nicolas Kim. There were special extra matches for junior players as well: Diego Luciano and Mateo Nava played for Mexico against Chan Kong; the three of them are 12 years old and around 1-2 Dan.

2018.12.08_Mexico-Korea baduk match4Kijin Song, Director of the Korean Cultural Center in Mexico City, where the event took place, welcomed the contestants with praise for baduk – as go is called in Korea — as a valuable cultural element. Sungmin Lim from “El Coreano” then introduced the players and explained the rules. There was a lot of excitement about the event, which Mexico finally clinched by the narrowest of margins after five rounds of intense games. The Fighting Spirit award went to Changha Kim, a korean 5-dan player who went undefeated. Trophies were awarded to all the members of the winning team on behalf of Chun Bee-ho, Korea’s Ambassador to Mexico. International observers included Philipp Neubert, from the Department of Baduk Studies at Myongji University and Alvaro Tirado from the Venezuela Go Association. All agreed the event was very well organized event and the intention is for it to be held annually and attract more players from both countries at future editions.
- reported by Sid Avila

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Historic Mexico-Korea baduk match set for Dec. 8

Friday December 7, 2018

Encuentro de Baduk México-Corea 2018,  a cross cultural baduk (go in Korean) tournament is set for December 8th in Mexico 2018.12.07_Mexico-Korea baduk matchCity.  The match will be held in honor of  South Korea’s ambassador to Mexico, the event will take place at the Korean Cultural Center and the opening ceremony will feature its Director, Mr. Kijin Song. The format is a fast-paced, round robin match consisting of 5 team members, on one side Mexican nationals and on the other Korean residents and/or Korean descendants born in Mexico. Philipp Neubert, a german student from Myongji University who is doing  field research for his Ph.D thesis about go in Latin America is invited as an international observer.

The Korean Cultural Center and a Korean newspaper “El Coreano,” both with established headquarters in Mexico City, are organizing the event. “For many years there have been active Korean players with a limited interaction in their own community,” reports organizer Sid Avila,  “perhaps only Kim Chang-Ha,  a gentle friend and strong player has showed up and participated at the successful Mexican Go Congresses organized so far.”

“Since the  Korean Cultural Center opened their baduk workshop two years ago, there has been a steady increase in public interest for go. There have been two Baduk Festivals, workshops at universities, exhibitions and even international events like the recent Pan-american Baduk Championship 2018 where Aaron Ye, from the US claimed the title.  The Korean community seems to be welcoming the exciting idea that there are strong Mexican players who can compete with them. They are also surprised that baduk is taught at elementary schools, and played at universities, and that there are quite well organized events by the Mexican Go Association,” adds Avila. -Paul Barchilon, EJ Youth Editor.

 

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Ye, Velasco, Trujillo top Pan-American Championship

Saturday November 24, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 3.21.40 PMAaron Ye 7d of the US took first place in the Pan-American Championship in Mexico City on November 10th.  Canadian Player Manuel Velasco came in second and Cuban player Orlando Trujillo placed third.  Mr. Kijin Song, the director of the Korean Cultural Center in Mexico presented the winners with certificates and cash prizes of $30,000, $20,000, and $10,000 Mexican pesos for their respective placings in the tournament. The online qualifiers drew players from Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Peru, Cuba, the USA, and Canada. The finals were held at the Museo Nacional de las Culturas, within walking distance of the Zocalo Plaza in Mexico City. The event drew a large audience from the local go community. “The 2nd Baduk Festival in Mexico was held at the same time,” reports organizer Sid Avila, “we had free games amongst the public participants, the majority of them being children; 2 raffles were held so that 18 people could play simultaneous games with Soohang Ryu 7P, from the Korean Baduk Association.Later prizes were raffled for the public, and we had a baduk book exhibition and a photographic exhibit as well.”

Online preliminaries were held in August, and determined the top five players from different countries. They were invited to Mexico City, with all expenses paid, to compete in the final stage. In addition to Ye and Velasco,  Fernando Aguilar of Argentina (who had to cancel due to family complications), Alfonso Artique of Uruguay, Abner Turkieltaub Melo of Chile, and Orlando Trujillo of Cuba (by invitation) were the finalists.  As the host country, Mexico was excluded from the online qualifier and received a seeded seat into the finals.  The Korean Cultural Center in Mexico held a separate online qualifier for Mexican players, which was won by Abraham Florencia, a high-dan  player who placed 8th at the World Amateur Go Championships earlier in the year.

A great amount of attention was focused on the game between Ye (black) and Velasco (white).  Velasco had a strong opening and held a large territorial lead until a detrimental mistake in the middle-game. Ye successfully seized the opportunity and killed a large group, ultimately securing a win-by-resignation.  After the tournament, the game was displayed on a projector in the background and was reviewed by Ryu.

Ye reports ” I was glad to have the opportunity to attend the event and make new go friends from Latin American countries. Organizing a Pan-American tournament was a creative and innovative idea to connect go players from North and South America. After all, an important part of the game is connecting with the community. I was surprised but excited to see the event attract quite a lot of local Mexican go players. The experience was very unique and memorable and I hope to continue to promote go on the continent in the future.”

The event was sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the Korean Cultural Center in Mexico, with the valuable support of the National Museum of World Cultures, the Korean Baduk Association, the Tygem Go Server, the Korean Sports Promotion Organization, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. For more pictures, click here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo by Korean Cultural Center in Mexico photographer Seol Ha Kim.

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Guatemala hosts successful 2nd Latin American Go Congress

Saturday October 27, 2018

By Terry Benson2018.10.26_LatinAmericanCongress-Porta Hotel Pool Grounds Photo TB#2

Following up on last year’s first-ever Latin American Go Congress in Cancun, Mexico, the Ibero American Go Federation staged a well-run event October 13-15 at the Porta Hotel Antigua in Antigua, 2018.10.26_LatinAmericanCongress-Congress Banner TB#1Guatemala.

The Porta Hotel has five stars but still feels authentic and local, with Guatemalan art, crafts and design throughout. The playing room was large and could be set up simultaneously for lecture, simuls and the tournament rounds.

Forty six players – including ten above 3 dan – were spread over six MacMahon bands, run by TD Adrian Ramirez 5k of Guatemala. Abraham Florencia 5d from Mexico won the 2018 Latin American Championship, and Mexico also took the second Pandanet Team Latin American Championship, beating Chile in the final of the 10-team event which started back in January. The second Latin American Youth Tournament was taken by Juan David Ramirez 3d of Colombia, while the winners of the third Latin American Pair Tournament were Eun-kyo Do 1p of Korea and Hector Paiz of Guatemala.

Like the US Go Congress – on which it’s modeled — there was a lot to do at the Latin American Go Congress. Korea once again sent two excellent 2018.10.26_LatinAmericanCongress-Zirui Song TB#4representatives; Cho Hye-yeon was her effervescent and engaging self and Eun-kyo Do was quiet, charming…and deadly. From the U.S., Zirui Song 1d (right) from Chicago attended with funding from the American Go Foundation. The pros played simuls every day, offered free commentary on games as they finished, and each gave a lecture. Zirui’s contribution on Friday detailed two high level games – including one of his own from the last US Go Congress. He led the group though multiple variations – including the “why you can’t cut there” sort of questions which are obvious to the pros but not to the strivers.

2018.10.26_LatinAmericanCongress-Crazy Go Galactic Go 23 line Marco Hernandez v Abraham Florencia  Watching Esli Esquivel TB#5On Sunday I ran Crazy Go (left) – known in this case as “Go Loco” — with the usual laughter at Rengo Kriegspeil, puzzled looks over the spiral board, and real interest in Coupon Go – including from Zirui.

Antigua is a beautifully preserved and restored Spanish city catering to tourists. The food at the Congress was superb – especially the2018.10.26_LatinAmericanCongress-Antigua Guatemala TB#6 included lunch – and reasonably priced for the location. Other than the last day, when the cultural tour encountered several hours of torrential downpour, the weather cooperated – the thunder storms came while we were playing and the temperature was always temperate.

2018.10.26_LatinAmericanCongress-Emil Garcia DS #2Great credit goes to the team from Guatemala including main Congress organizer Jose Romero (at far right with Abraham Florencia, and two Korean pros), to IberoAmerican Go Federation president Emil Garcia (left), and to the many other volunteers who helped in the typical spirit of go congresses.

The venue for next year’s Latin American congre2018.10.26_Do Cho Florencia Director Jose Romero DS #1ss is uncertain, though Buenos Aires is a prime candidate. What is certain is the quality of the event and the fun of an international gathering like this, which will only grow as Latin American players come to know the unforgettable experiences at a Go congress.

Benson is president of the American Go Foundation; photos by Daniela Salamanca and Terry Benson

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Inaugural Latin American Go Congress sparkles in Cancun

Wednesday October 25, 2017

Known worldwide for sparkling beaches and water, these attractions were but a pretty side element at the first Latin American Go Congress in Cancun, Mexico from October 13th to 15th. Sixty-four players from 15 countries played in the six-round 19th Ibero American Go 2017.10.25_Latin American Go CongressChampionship (CIG). After a slightly delayed start on the first day (familiar to many U.S. Go Congress participants), TD Milosh Trnka Rodriguez kept the McMahon event moving smoothly. Time limits were short to fit two rounds each day before lunch – generally 35 minutes per player plus 5 x 30 overtime. The overall winner was Kim Hyuneoo of Korea. The Ibero Championship (limited to citizens of the Ibero-American member states) was won by Fernando Aguilar 7d (below left) of Argentina, the perennial top player from the region.

The first Latin American Youth Go Championship was run by Siddhartha Avila of Mexico and had 16 players from six countries divided in two categories. Division A was won by Soomin Oh 2d from Korea and in Division B Shanti Ramírez 12 kyu from Mexico came out on top. In the first Pandanet Go Latin American Team Championship (PGLATC) Mexico bested guest Argentina in a 3-board match with a 2-1 score.

With generous international support, six pros attended: Enda Hideki 9P and Komatsu Daiki 2P from Japan; Cho Hye-yeon 9P and Youngshin Lee 5P from Korea; Mateusz Surma 1P from the European Go Federation; and Eric Lui 1P from the AGA with funding provided by the American Go Foundation. After the main games, the pros provided quick game analysis and each afternoon half of the players took on the pros in simuls. Few of the amateurs won!

aguilar_DSC0186There were lectures on pros games (including an especially lively one analyzing a victory over a fellow 9P by Cho Hye-yeon, 9P) and sessions on teaching go by a leading Korean expert from KIBA, Mr. Kwon Kapyong 8P. And, of course, there was lots of casual play and discussion of games whenever players sat around a board.

The evening events included Crazy Go (with 19 variants) on Friday night run by AGF President Terry Benson. Rengo Kriegspiel was run for the first time in Spanish. As usual, everybody won. On Saturday evening, The Surrounding Game film was screened.
Each of the three evenings included a round of the second Ibero-American Pair Go Championship – with many of the pros and the Congress Director playing – won by Samy Suastegui, 8k of Mexico and Youngshin Lee, 9P of Korea.
The Emporio hotel provided a classy setting for the event. There was an included opening dinner at the hotel, box lunches each day, and plenty of coffee and water. The closing dinner at Porfirios had a classic Mexican atmosphere – good food and mariachi music. There was even a little impromptu singing of Go songs. And a new one – in Spanish – written by Benson and Ester Monroy added to the canon.
Funding for the event came from the International Go Federation, Pandanet, Nihon Ki-in, Korean Baduk Association, American Go Association, American Go Foundation, and Mexico’s National University UNAM.

The Mexican Go Association Congress team led by Emil Garcia and including Marco Hernandez, Temilotzin Ibarra, Ester Monroy, Dafne Rios, with additional support from UNAM students staff and media team gave a good start to the tradition of Latin American Go Congresses.
The site of the 2018 event will be announced before the end of the year with Bogota, Colombia and Buenos Aires, Argentina the likely candidates. For those who like an international Congress diet, there is a new hearty entrée on the menu.
- report/photos by Terry Benson

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AGF sets up Cuban go development fund

Thursday June 1, 2017

by Roy Laird2017.06.01_cuba

What if a set of go equipment cost $2500? That’s the situation Cuban go players face today. The Cuban peso is worth about $.04, and no local game stores sell go equipment in Cuba, so to purchase a $100 go set on the Internet would cost 2500 pesos – when the average monthly income in Cuba is 750 pesos. In addition, shipments weighing over 1.5 kilograms require a surcharge of $10 US or 250 pesos per kilo.

Cuban Go Association president Rafael Torres estimates that there are as many as 2000 go players in Cuba, mostly playing on homemade sets or donations from abroad. Scarce equipment is the main thing holding back the Cuban go community, he said. In response, The American Go Foundation has established the AGF Cuban Go Development Fund, kicking it off by arranging to send small shipments of equipment to Havana and Camaguey, the two main Cuban go communities at present. Each site will receive ten “Club Classic” full size go sets from The AGF Store. In addition, Slate and Shell has generously agreed to kick in ten each each per site of their two Spanish language books, Como NO Jugar al Go by Yuan Zhou and Sube a Shodan by Rin Kaiho. “Helping the Cuban go playing community to grow is good for the US too,” said AGF president Terry Benson. “As our nearby neighbors develop, we can look forward to stronger international ties, more cultural exchange, and lots of friendly time over the go board.”  Click here to contribute to the Cuban Go Development Fund, then click on “Send special instructions to the seller and type “Cuban Go.” Tax deductible earmarked contributions to the fund are welcome, and will be applied to an equipment drive planned for later this year.
photo: Laird is at left front during the recent visit to Cuba

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Feast of “food for thought” at recent Conference on Mind Sports

Sunday May 21, 2017

by Dr. Roy Laird2017.05.21_CIDEMgroupphoto-laird

A fabulous feast of “food for thought,” the International Conference on Mind Sports in Camaguey, Cuba came to a successful close on May 5 after affording some 70 participants a chance to get to know enthusiasts of other sports. Mornings were devoted to lectures and presentations, with various events , friendship matches and exhibitions in the afternoon. In an indicator of the level of interest Cubans have in mind sports, the first day of the conference was televised.

Here’s a rundown of some of the interesting presentations.
ARE MIND SPORTS REALLY SPORTS? If you’ve ever told a sports fan about mind sports, you’ve probably heard a version of this question. International Mind Sports Association Secretary General Thomas Hsiang took on this question head-on in his opening remarks, reviewing the rigorous requirements for admission to IMSA. Noting that “there is no doubt that mind sports have a beneficial impact on players, especially children,” Hsiang concluded by saying “with educational benefits for the young and health benefits for the old, promotion of mind sports is a social responsibility.”
PROMOTING WEIQI IN CUBA: Dr. Zhang Wei, Director of the Confucius Institute in Havana, musing on why weiqi is not more widely known throughout the world, theorized that the lack of economic development and constant warfare in western Asia had interfered with cultural exchanges throughout history. He also expressed the hope that weiqi would grow in Cuba throughout the world because it is good for the moral fabric of society since “no bad person plays weiqi.”
THE FUTURE OF MIND SPORTS IN CUBA: Dr. Lazaro Bueno said that notables from Simon Bolivar to Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez have all spoken of the importance of mental competition and chess in particular. Dr. Bueno 2017.05.21_Pitarra-lairdalso unveiled plans for a large Mind Sports Complex to be built soon in Camaguey.
TEACHING CHESS IN PRESCHOOL: Columbus introduced chess to Cuba in 1492, and the subsequent history of chess in Cuba is filled with distinction. The Cuban school system has included chess in its curriculum since 1989, and at present chess is taught in more than 9000 primary schools and over 1000 high schools. Luis Enrique Perez Pena said chess is now being introduced to preschool children. With Cuban children starting at such a young age, the world may see another Capablanca before long.
PITARRA – INDIGENOUS OR UBIQUITOUS? Maria Cristina Quintanar Miranda from the Universidad Queretaro in Mexico gave an intriguing presentation, describing the evolution of Pitarra (right). Played only by indigenous Mexican tribes, she theorized that it had developed as an ancient folk tradition. However, it turns out that “Pitarra” is identical to Nine Men’s Morris, a game dating back to the Roman Empire and still played in Europe. Not only that, another attendee recognized the game from his childhood in Taiwan as “The Watermelon Game,” and it is played in Cuba as “Tres,” named after the central principle of lining up three pips in a row. Ms. Quintanar came to the conference with an interesting finding and left with an even more interesting question.
SPANISH SCRABBLE: A2017.05.21_play at cide conf Spanish version of Scrabble is a big seller in Latin America, and Mexico in particular, where it is so widely played that some Mexicans call it “Lexico.” Javier Guerrero, the head of the International Spanish Scrabble Federation (FISE), said that FISE aspires to IMSA membership, but since IMSA does not admit sports that involve any amount of luck Scrabble advocates have proposed a form of “duplicate Scrabble” in which each player would play against a computer programmed to assure randomization of moves. However, Scrabble faces an even bigger hurdle — IMSA does not admit mind sports that are copyrighted or trademarked.
UNDERSTANDING ASIAN THINKING THROUGH GO: Fernando Aguilar of Argentina is one of the strongest Latino go players and certainly among the best known, having scored upset victories against two Japanese 9Ps in the 2002 Toyota Denso Cup and having played in many international tournaments. Aguilar was not able to attend the conference, but submitted a paper entitled “Go As A Way to Understand Oriental Thinking” in which he identified five sets of contrasting concepts that are spelled out in detail in Sun Tzu’s classic “The Art of War,” noting that their meaning can be more deeply understood through the study of go. The strong player maintains a balance between Attack and Defense; Efficiency and Concentration of Forces; Transparency vs. Deception; Emptiness and Solidity; and “Chi” (potential) vs. “Li” (material gain).

Other speakers held forth on the importance of physical exercise and fitness if one is to play one’s best, the superiority of in-person game play over video and computer game, the social and cultural significance of dominos, and draughts (10×10 checkers) as a metaphor for life. The overarching theme that emerged, and with which participants surely agreed, was well stated by the Scrabble representative: “The family that plays together is a happy family.”

Dr. Laird, former president of the American Go Association, attended the conference, presenting on “Play Go and Grow.”

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Cuban Mind Sports Conference gets underway

Wednesday May 3, 2017

by Roy Laird
The first Cuban Mind Sports Conference got underway today (Wednesday) in Camaguey, the island’s second largest city, at the Santa Cecilia Conference Center in the Plaza de los Trabadores under the auspices of the University of Camaguey. Under the watchful gaze of several images of Che Guevara, seventy or so participants assembled for the kickoff. Dr. 2017.05.04_cuba-lairdLazaro Bueno, the principal organizer, introduced Thomas Hsiang, the Executive Director of the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA), which helped to sponsor the event. Dr. Hsiang explained the rigorous criteria for admission to IMSA, and reviewed recent developments such as the University-Industry Cooperative Program, through which anyone who achieves dan level in go is guaranteed a job. The university, where the program began, now partners with more than 30 local businesses. After a brief discussion of Chinese go, Dr. Hugo Beltre spoke about various orthopedic injuries he has treated in many mind sports competitors, possibly the first such presentation at a mind sports conference. After a lunch break, the afternoon was devoted to a Cuban – American informal friendship matchup, and a demonstration of contract bridge.
To this observer, Cuba seems to be a remarkably friendly and welcoming place. I am staying at a “Casa Familiar,” a very picturesque small hotel with seven rooms, a rooftop bar, and its own restaurant. Prices are almost embarrassingly low. My lovely room is only $40 per night, and I found a decent slice of pizza for about $.25. At the same time, there are surprising challenges. No Internet, and some wireless phone plans do not work here. You have to purchase a card and be in the right place to use it. But that adds to the charm – no Internet dishes, no cell towers, and forget about any chain restaurant you have ever heard of. There are two separate currencies, with similar denominations, but one is worth 25 times the other, so keeping them straight is important. Fortunately, the unfailingly honest and helpful Camagueyans were always eager to help. The streets, often barely wide enough for one car, twist and wind through the city, but the downtown area is small and easy to learn. Street traffic includes bicycles, pedicabs, horse-drawn carts, and a few cars now and then, many of them vintage autos from the 1950s. On a nighttime walk, I felt quite safe. Many buildings that seemed abandoned during the day turned out to be occupied, and the residents had thrown their doors and windows wide open. In many cases they could have reached out and shaken my hand as I passed without getting up. A group of perhaps 50 people had gathered in a side street, listening quietly as a middle-aged woman spoke passionately to them. When I passed by later on my way home, they were still there.
The conference continues tomorrow and Friday, and appears to be a harbinger of great things to come, in Camaguey and perhaps throughout Cuba. Dr. Bueno told us that the university plans to begin a serious program of research into the benefits of competitive games. Considering Cuba’s prominence in the world of chess, it seems likely that we can expect great things from our neighbor to the south. The next time there’s an event in Cuba, sign up if you can!

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Shogi meets go in Mexico City

Monday April 24, 2017

The Shogi and Go Meeting was held on March 25 in collaboration with Shogi Mexico, the Mexican Go Association and the 2017.04.24_mexico-shogiJapanese Embassy-located at one of the main avenues in Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma. The Japanese ambassador to Mexico, Akira Yamada, happens to be a passionate Shogi player, board member of the International Shogi Popularization Society and a go player too, and his support made this successful event possible.Mr. Yamada gave a presentation on “Shogi and Go in the Japanese Culture,” which was attended by more than 100 people followed by a beginner go workshop  given by Siddhartha Avila, the current Youth Coordinator for the MGA. The event also included a Shogi workshop for beginners by José Martínez, President of Shogi Mexico and a talk about Shogi and Anime by Yrvinn Campos, a Shogi Mexico organizer, there was a group of instructors2017.04.24_mexico-go of both disciplines who arranged free games for the newcomers, while existing players played simultaneous games and reviewed games.

“It was really great to see people from all ages at the meeting,” said Amaury Olivo, Shogi Mexico organizer. “The biggest impact we had was with the kids. I’d be really happy if among them we have a strong Shogi player in the future.”

Encouraged by the success of this event, the participating organizations  are ready to start a new collaboration between Mexico and Japan to promote go, Shogi and both cultures, with the support of the Nihon Kiin and the Nihon Shogi Renmei. There is a brief report and gallery in Spanish here. There’s an album of photos here.
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Mexico tapped to host first Latin American Go Congress

Wednesday April 19, 2017

logo-amgoMexico has been chosen as the host country for this year’s Ibero American Go Championship (CIG) the biggest go event in Latin American.  “Last year we launched the first Pandanet Go Latin American Team Championship (PGLATC) a 10-team league with teams formed of the top players of each participating country” reports Mexican Go Association’s president Emil García. The agreement with Pandanet is that the top two teams at the end of the league will get the chance to play an over the board final  at the CIG in Mexico- with travel expenses sponsored by Pandanet.  More information about the league can be found here.  “Our idea  is to make this a Latin American Go Congress, run both the CIG and the PGLATC final plus some activities with pro players for the participants, in the fashion of the US Go Congress or the European Go Congress,” adds García.

The event is planned to take place in Cancun, Mexico on October 13th-15th, 2017.  More information will be available soon on the Mexican Go Association’s new website.
- Siddhartha Avila, Latin American Correspondent for the E-Journal.

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