American Go E-Journal » World Amateur Go Championships

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Kicking It With The Kids

Saturday May 29, 2010

“I almost got beat by a 6-year-old!” exclaimed Mexico’s Emil Garcia Bustamente. None of the other players in the room responded: they were too busy battling with other pint-sized go-terrors. Friday’s 6th round had just concluded a few hours previously, but the casual player’s room was jammed with WAGC players taking on young dan students from the Hangzhou Go Association who were equally eager to take on the world’s best amateurs. The kids played with blazing speed as the older players – even 17-year-old Thomas Debarre of France was an oldster compared to the six- and seven-year-olds — muttered their disbelief – and appreciation — in a dozen languages.
- Chris Garlock, photos by Garlock (l) & John Pinkerton (top right)

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5 MINUTES WITH: Vesa Laatikainen, Finland

Saturday May 29, 2010

When Vesa Laatikainen was a high school student he bought a book about different games and decided to learn go because it looked attractive.  He enjoyed the different patterns the stones made on the board. He’s now been making those patterns for 27 years.  He studies every day — mostly professional games — and when he is at home he goes to the go club in Helsinki twice a week, where there are between 10 and 20 players of varying strengths. He’s also enjoying passing along his love for the game to his 10-year-old daughter.
- None Redmond, special correspondent for the E-Journal; photo by John Pinkerton

GO PHOTOS: Player Portraits

Saturday May 29, 2010

- Photos by John Pinkerton

5 MINUTES WITH: David Ormerod, Australia

Saturday May 29, 2010

When David Ormerod (l) and a friend saw the film “Pi” in 2002, they thought that go looked like an interesting game, so they found a go board and taught themselves to play, eventually hooking up with a go club in Melbourne. They started a small go club in the university and later on Ormerod began his own company selling chess and go equipment online. Although he had no difficulty selling chess equipment to schools — for a while he worked teaching chess in school — selling go equipment and teaching go, proved difficult because no one had ever heard of it. Ormerod met his wife Jing Ning Xue at university in Melbourne, and the two recently married and moved to Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory, where they both work for the Australian government. In addition to playing go together, the two enjoy biking and Latin dancing. While they were part of a community of several hundred go players in Melbourne, Canberra, is a much smaller place and it’s a good thing it just takes two to play, as often Ormerod and Australian Go Association President Neville Smythe are the only attendees at the local go club.
- None Redmond, special correspondent for the E-Journal; photo by John Pinkerton

WAGC GAME COMMENTARIES: Round 6

Saturday May 29, 2010

See below for Michael Redmond 9P’s commentaries on five Round 6 game records (click on “link” to download the sgf or “read more” for the online viewer): Ondrej Silt 6d (Czechia, at right) vs Fredrik Blomback 5d (Sweden); Song Hong Suk 7d (S Korea) vs Chan Nai San 7d (Hong Kong); Wang Chen 7d (China) vs Cheng-Hsun Chen 6d (Chinese Taipei); Gerardus Petrus Gronen 6d (Netherlands) vs Fernando Aguilar 7d (Argentina); Yohei Sato 6d (Japan) vs Kasper Hornbaek 5d (Denmark)
CLICK HERE for latest standings, courtesy of Alain Cano.

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WAGC GAME COMMENTARIES: Round 5

Friday May 28, 2010

See below for Michael Redmond 9P’s commentaries on four Round 5 game records (click on “link” to download the sgf or “read more” for the online viewer): Cheng-Hsun Chen 6d (Chinese Taipei) vs. Nai San Chan 6d (Hong Kong); Fernando Aguilar 7d (Argentina) vs. Yohei Sato 6d (Japan); Leszek Soldan 5d (Poland) vs. Yongfei Ge 7d (Canada); Alexey Lazarev 6d (Russia) vs. Bogdan Zhurakovskyi 5d (Ukraine).
CLICK HERE for latest standings, courtesy of Alain Cano.

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ROUND 5 HIGHLIGHTS: S. Korea Beats China, Hong Kong Over Chinese Taipei, DPR Korea Defeats U.S., Japan Downs Argentina

Friday May 28, 2010

(Posted May 28 2P local time) The rain that began during the previous evening’s excursion to West Lake was still falling Friday morning , lending a misty aspect to the view from the Tian Yuan Tower, where players were gathering for the fifth round of the World Amateur Go Championship. At the top board, Hongsuk Song 7d (r) of Korea and Chen Wang 7d (l) of China silently eyed each other, while at board two, Naisan Chan of Hong Kong awaited his opponent Cheng-hsun Chen of Chinese Taipei, who arrived shortly, accompanied by his mother, beaming for photographers. Next were Yohei Sato of Japan and Fernando Aguilar of Argentina, facing each other in silence while at the next board, Taewon Jo of DPR Korea was seated facing an empty chair, waiting for Thomas Hsiang of the United States, who arrived after the official start time but beat the forfeit deadline with minutes to spare.
The first of the top games to finish was Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong, Chen against Chan, with Chan winning by resignation. “I had a bad opening,” said the 17-year-old boy from Hong Kong, “but Chen made a mistake in the middle game and I captured three or four very important stones. He played on for about a hundred moves after that, but I didn’t give him any chance to catch up. He plays very well, but he is very young and hasn’t had enough experience yet, so he gets nervous during the game and that leads to mistakes.”
Next up was DPR Korea-U.S., with Taewon Jo winning. “This was similar to my loss against the Chinese player (Chen Wang),” Hsiang said. “Both of them played a very balanced game. In both games I tried to initiate fighting, but they avoided it altogether. Then in the endgame they landed punch after punch. They are so strong that they can hold off in the opening and middle game, and if there are no accidents, then in the endgame we mortals just cannot catch up. From the one game I’ve played with each of them, I can’t say which is stronger. They don’t need to fight against a player like me. If they play each other, then perhaps we’ll see some fighting.”

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Japan-Argentina was the third top game to end, Japan’s Sato winning by resignation. “This was a tough fight right from the opening,” Sato said, “the kind of game in which one false step would be fatal for either side. Aguilar played extremely strongly. He never let up, always making the most severe move. He made some overplays, however, and that’s where I got ahead.” (click on “link” at left or “read more” below for Michael Redmond’s commentary on Aguilar’s Round 4 game against Chinese Taipei’s Cheng-Hsun Chen)
That just left the game between Wang and Song. The Korean Song had taken an early lead on a joseki exchange in the top right corner and was playing conservatively to defend it, but Wang was not giving up. The game continued through ko fight after ko fight, both players intent on the board, their expressions revealing nothing. One by one, the other games finished, Czechia over Venezuela, Hungary over France, Colombia over Thailand, Canada over Poland, Russia over the Ukraine, Serbia over Israel, Sweden coming from behind to beat Singapore, Mexico losing on time to Denmark. Eventually Wang and Song were the only two still playing, surrounded by a crowd of two dozen spectators. Both players were in byo yomi. Song was playing most of his moves in ten to twenty seconds, while Wang several times went dangerously close to the thirty-second mark. Another ko exchange took place. Referees brought in additional bowls of stones. Finally, as his clock announced twenty-five, Wang tapped the board twice and slumped back in his seat in defeat. A post-mortem immediately began, with two former world amateur champions assisting: last year’s champion Yuching Hu, who had been giving a live commentary on the Wang-Song game on Chinese television, and Daichun Li, world champion in 2001, who currently coaches Hangzhou’s amateur and professional teams. After nearly half an hour the players and analysts went upstairs for lunch, Song to prepare for Friday afternoon’s showdown with Chan of Hong Kong, Wang to prepare for a game with Chen of Chinese Taipei.
- based on James Davies’ report in Ranka online; photo by John Pinkerton. A Round 6 report should be posted online by 7A EST

WAGC GAME COMMENTARIES: Round 4 (China-US; Hong Kong-Sweden; South Korea-Poland)

Friday May 28, 2010

Michael Redmond 9P has picked out a single significant point to comment on in each of these three Round 4 game records (click on “link” to download the sgf or “read more” for the online viewer):
China-US; Hong Kong-Sweden; South Korea-Poland

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WAGC UPDATES: Twice The Coverage; Chinese Pairing; Where To Get Shanghai Coffeeshop Lessons

Friday May 28, 2010

Twice The Coverage: Ranka online and the American Go E-Journal have teamed up again this year to provide comprehensive coverage of the WAGC. While there’s some overlap between the two sites’ reports, each site has a great deal of original content, so you’ll want to check both to get the full picture. Several recent Ranka posts of special interest include an interview with WAGC Chief Referee Lingdai Chen and player comments on what it’s like “Losing to the Best” amateur players in the world. Also, check out the Ranka site for WAGC latest results and a collection of game records.

Chinese Pairing: “You mentioned the Chinese pairing system producing interesting results in the Round Three Highlights article this week,” writes Steve Colburn. “Could you give us any information on how it is different than other pairing systems?” According to James Davies’ Round 3 Ranka report, “After the first two rounds, all but one of the fifteen players with two wins had taken black and white in one game each, so following the Chinese system, they were paired for the third round in order of the player numbers they had drawn before the tournament began. The highest numbered (1, Korea) played the second highest (5, Canada) and so on down to the fifteenth highest in this group (57, Sweden), who played the highest numbered player (2, Germany) in the one-win group. The one-win and zero-win groups were paired similarly, with the lowest numbered player in the one-win group (60, Vietnam) being drawn down against the highest numbered player in the zero-win group (7, Chile). All very clear and fair.”

Where To Get Shanghai Coffeeshop Lessons: “I’m going to Shanghai soon,” writes a reader, “is there anyway to find” the coffeeshop in the “Coffee Shop Lessons” (5/23 EJ) report?” Contact Danny Wang at Danny.Wang@live.com for directions, as Wang tells the EJ that “we may be moving in the near future.”

GO PHOTOS: Pictures of Concentration

Friday May 28, 2010

- Photos by John Pinkerton