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US Go Congress Player Profiles: Chen, Liang, Lee & Chiu

Monday August 4, 2014

The American Go E-Journal will be broadcasting top-board US Go Congress games live on KGS beginning this Sunday, August 10. This week we’re profiling some of the top players who will be competing at the Congress.

Michael Chen 7D (top right) is a 25-year-old financial analyst from Princeton, NJ who’s been playing go since he was 7 years old. Titles include the 2006 North America Ing Cup, 2009 Canadian Open, and he took second place in both the 2009 and 2011 US Opens. His favorite thing about go is “winning” and hobbies include soccer and Starcraft.

Jie Liang 7D (top left) is a 42-year-old software engineer from Nashua, NH who’s been playing go for 29 years. His favorite thing about go is that it’s a “brain game” and he loves its competiveness. Married, with one child, Liang’s hobbies include photography and deep sea fishing.

Joshua Lee 5D (bottom right) is a 27-year-old IT consultant from Arlington, VA who’s been playing just 7 years. His favorite thing about go is the game’s “infinite strategy” and that “there are world-class players with entirely different styles from one another.” Lee enjoys scuba diving, Texas Holdem, tennis and playing the guitar.

Jeremy Chiu 6D (bottom left) is a 12-year-old student who’s been playing since he was 5. “I like the complexity of the game and how it allows you to play the game however you want,” he says. He won the United States Youth Go Championship junior division in 2013 and was the Under-12 US representative to the World Youth Go Championship in 2013. Hailing from San Jose, CA, Chiu’s hobbies include playing music and video games.

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WAGC Final Edition: Cho Hunhyun: “No shortcuts”; Striving in Brunei; 2015 WAGC Set for Bangkok; EJ, Ranka & IGF Team Up; 2014 WAGC Final Standings

Thursday July 10, 2014

Cho Hunhyun: “No shortcuts” to Stronger Play and World Go
“There are no shortcuts” to getting stronger at go, Cho Hunhyun 9P told the E-Journal in an interview during the World Amateur Go Championship in Korea, where he served as chief referee. “You must study hard. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and you must know these and focus your energies accordingly.” Considered one of the greatest go players of all time, Cho has played and won more professional games than any player in the world, with nearly 160 titles and 1,900 wins. After giving the signal for games to begin each day at the WAGC, Cho (right), impeccably attired in a crisp gray suit and perfectly adjusted tie, would quietly move about the playing area observing the games. And while he was impressed with some of the play, he says a lot of work remains to be done. “In the past, Japan has put a lot into developing go around the world, as have China and Korea in recent years, but many other countries should put more effort in as well.” Cho called the recent development of professional systems in both the United States and Europe “a big step for international go” but acknowledged that cultural barriers remain a challenge. “For example, chess is not very popular or very strong in Korea and it’s not easy to change the circumstances or situation, so figuring out how to popularize go in the West is not an easy question.” Cho was quietly optimistic, however, noting that “It took us a lot of time to get to where we are now, proving that the time we have invested in world go has not been wasted.”
- Chris Garlock; photo by John Pinkerton

Striving Hard in Brunei: “Go is hardly known at all in Brunei,” said Chai Hui Lim, President of the Brunei Darussalam Go Association, on her first visit to the World Amateur Go Championship. “It’s a real challenge to get people interested in go but like many other countries we are striving hard to popularize the game,” she said. This was Brunei’s second year of participation in the WAGC. “I think it’s great that so many countries are getting together for an international competition!” said Lim.
- Ranka; photo by Ivan Vigano

2015 WAGC Set for Bangkok; IGF Meeting Highlights: Bangkok has been selected to host next year’s World Amateur Go Championship. Thailand’s selection, reported at the July 5  International Go Federation Annual General Meeting in Gyeongju, Korea, marks the first time this major event will be held outside the traditional go strongholds of Japan, China and Korea, as part of the IGF’s ongoing efforts to internationalize the game. Other IGF meeting highlights included improved IGF finances and successful 2013 events, including the World Amateur Go Championship in Sendai, Japan, the Amateur Pair Go Championship in Tokyo, Japan, and the SportAccord World Mind Games (SAWMG) in Beijing, China. The SAWMG will be held again this year in Beijing from December 11-17, and a brand-new event, the Student Pair Go Championship, is set to take place this October in Tokyo, in conjunction with the standard Pair Go Championship, which this year celebrates the 25th anniversary of Pair Go. Also announced were changes to the IGF Board of Executives. This year will see a rotation of roles from Japan to Korea. The new IGF President will be Seokhyun Hong, previously the Korean Ambassador to the US, taking the reins from Koichiro Matsuura. “I will try my best but my work alone is not enough,” said Hong. “We need everyone’s input and initiative to bring our plans to a successful creation.” Jae-ho Yang, the Secretary General of the Korean Baduk Association, takes up the role of Office Director, carrying on the hard work of Hiroshi Yamashiro and, as previously reported, Yuki Shigeno, the long serving IGF Secretary General, passed the post on to Hajin Lee, the main organizer of this year’s WAGC. Norio Wada, the chairman of the Nihon Kiin, will also join the IGF Board of Directors.
- John Richardson, Ranka; photo by Ivan Vigano

EJ, Ranka & IGF Team Up Again: The American Go E-Journal, Ranka and the IGF teamed up again this year to provide comprehensive coverage of the 2014 World Amateur Go Championship in Gyeonjiu, Korea. John Richardson (second from right) contributed illuminating and entertaining game reports, Ivan Vigano (far right) maintained the tournament grid on the Ranka site in virtually real-time and edited the Ranka posts, photographer John Pinkerton (far left) always had the perfect shots for the daily EJ reports, and Chris Garlock (second from left) did game commentaries as well as edited the EJ posts. New IGF Secretary General Hajin Lee (center) not only organized the event, but made sure the team had whatever we needed and even found the time to play some early-morning tennis with the EJ team. Special thanks to Chihyung Nam, Thomas Hsiang, the entire WAGC staff and of course the players themselves, who not only made this such a great event but who were so generous with their time. Finally, James Davies and Michael Redmond were much missed; see you next year in Bangkok! - photo by Yoshitaka Morimoto of the Nihon Ki-in  

2014 WAGC FINAL STANDINGS (left to right)
Row 1: 01 Chinese Taipei–Yi-Tien CHAN; 02 Korea–Tae-woong WEI; 03 China–Wang RUORAN; 04 Hong Kong–Nai San CHAN; 05 Ukraine–Bogdan ZHURAKOVSKYI; 06 Czech Republic–Lukas PODPERA; 07 Russia–Dmitri SURIN; 08 Sweden–Fredrik BLOMBACK; 09 Japan–Kiko EMURA
Row 2: 10 U.S.A.–Jie LIANG; 11 Singapore–Tan JIA CHENG; 12 Netherlands–Merlijn KUIN; 13 Finland–Juuso NYYSSÖNEN; 14 Thailand–Tiawattananont THANAPOL; 15 Serbia–Nikola MITIC; 16 Denmark–Arne Steen OHLENBUSH; 17 Hungary–Pál BALOGH; 18 Poland–Stanisław FREJLAK
Row 3: 19 France–Antoine FENECH; 20 Malaysia–Suzanne D’BEL; 21 Canada–Yongfei GE; 22 Macau–In Hang SAM; 23 Israel–Amir FRAGMAN; 24 Slovakia–Peter JADRON; 25 Indonesia–Rafif Shidqi FITRAH; 26 Vietnam–Nhat Minh VO; 27 Norway–Oeystein VESTGAARDEN
Row 4: 28 Germany–Bernd Rainer RADMACHER; 29 Croatia–Zoran MUTABZIJA; 30 New Zealand–Zhijie BEI; 31 Belgium–Dominique Valérie J. VERSYCK; 32 Lithuania–Andrius PETRAUSKAS; 33 Belarus–Aliaksandr SUPONEU; 34 Turkey–Altan KUNTAY; 35 Switzerland–Sylvain Gasana PRAZ; 36 Spain–Carlos PAU
Row 5: 37 Australia–Sang-Dae HAHN; 38 Romania–Lucian CORLAN; 39 Slovenia–Timotej SUC; 40 Luxembourg–Andreas GÖTZFRIED; 41 Austria–Matthias FRISCH; 42 Portugal–Pedro Miguel DE BRAGANÇA REIS PEREIRA; 43 India–Soni SHAH; 44 U.K.–Francis ROADS; 45 South Africa–John William LEUNER
Row 6: 46 Mongolia–Khatanbaatar TSEND-AYUSH; 47 Argentina–Haroldo BROWN; 48 Italy–Niccolò SGARAVATTI; 49 Ireland–John GIBSON; 50 Mexico–Ricardo QUINTERO ZAZUETA; 51 Azerbaijan–Bahadur Bayram THAIRBAYOV; 52 Brazil–Csaba DEÁK; 53 Brunei–Ho Soon ANG; 54 Costa Rica–Luis Enrique BOZA ARAYA
photos by John Pinkerton; photo collage by John Pinkerton & Chris Garlock
Click here for all the EJ’s WAGC reports, here for Ranka’s reports and here for complete 2014 WAGC results 

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2014 WAGC Player Profiles: Europe (Part 2)

Friday June 27, 2014

Third in a series of profiles of players in the 35th World Amateur Go Championships, which will be held July 4-11 in Gyeongju, Korea.

Germany: Bernd Radmacher 4D (left), 42, lives in Meerbusch (near Düsseldorf, Cologne) where he’s “just looking after my children at the moment.” He’s been playing go for 25 years, placing second in the 2013 German Championship, and played in the 2008 WMSG amateur tournament in Beijing. He likes go’s “creativity and beauty, creating shapes on the board” and the game’s “magic, even for pros, who study it all their lives. It has surprises in every game.” Hobbies include other board games, and playing piano. Married, he has one daughter (18), and two sons (16, now 2-dan, and 13). 

Luxemburg:
Andreas Goetzfried 4D (right) is a 24-year-old student in the capital city of Luxemburg. He’s been playing for 10 years and like go because of “Its rather simple rules compared to its very complex structure.”

Netherlands: Merlijn Kuin 6D (left) is a 32-year-old Program Manager/Project Leader in Amsterdam who’s been playing go since he was 15. He’s been Dutch Go Champion “many times” and was part of the 2011 European Team Champion team. His favorite thing about go is that “It’s near infinite possibilities allows one to be creative and come up with new and surprising high level strategies to slowly but inexorably move towards control of the game and then give the game away during byo-yomi endgame.” He suggests “reinstat(ing) decent thinking time in the WAGC or should we change the name to WA Rapid GC?” His hobbies include reading, studying go strategy or teaching go and playing other strategy games and he enjoys “Teasing people in a hopefully fun way (for example by filling out online forms unconventionally)” In response to our query about non-go accomplishments he said “I’ve got a job. How much time do you guys think I have, next to becoming and staying 6d?”

Norway: Oeystein Vestgaarden 2D (right) is a 35-year-old project manager for digital learning software in Oslo. He won the Oslo Open in 2012 and 2013 and was the Norwegian participant in the 28th WAGC in 2007 and the 31st WAGC in 2010. He’s been playing since he was 19 and likes “The simplicity of the rules combined with being infinitely difficult to master. Go has a certain beauty that no other board games can match. On the more practical side, I like that the game is equally enjoyable in both silent ‘study-like’ environments and more relaxed environments like a café or pub.” For hobbies, “I sing in a choir, play the bass in a band, play football, indoor climbing, reading, mountain hiking.” Other accomplishments include working as an editor in a publishing company for seven years.

Poland: Stanisław Frejlak 4D (left) is an 18-year-old student in Warsaw. He’s been playing since the age of 6 and was Polish Youth Go Champion Under 16 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011, Under 18 champion in 2010 and Polish Go Champion in 2012. “My favorite thing in go is the exciting fights between big groups on which a game’s result depends.” Hobbies include maths and he was Laureate of Polish Mathematical Olympiad (2013, 2014) and took 3rd place with the Polish Team on “The Baltic Way mathematical contest” (2013).

Romania: Lucian Corlan 5D (right) says go is “A many-splendored thing.” His hobbies include reading, basketball and tennis. The 34-year-old software engineer hails from Bucuresti.

Serbia: Nikola Mitic 6D (left) is a 22-year-old student from Nis. He won the 2013 Serbian Championship and the 2014 Serbian Cup. He started playing at the age of 6 and likes “Fighting on the board, meeting people off the board.” Hobbies include reading, basketball, football, and video games.

Slovakia: Peter Jadron 4D (right) is a 33-year-old psychiatrist who currently lives in Karlstadt, Germany. He’s been playing for about 20 years and was the Slovakian Champion in 2008. “I like the fact, that only a well balanced combination of intuition, creativity, flexibility, knowledge and deep reading leads to success in the game of go,” he says. He’s married and has two children. Hobbies include cycling, nature, photography, classical music, composing and medicine.

Slovenia: Timotej Suc 3D (left) is a 30-year-old EM physician in Ljubljana. “I like complex battles,” he says, adding that “Because of go I have traveled many places in Europe and also elsewhere.” He’s been playing for 15 years and achievements include 1st place in the 50th Ljubljana Open in 2011, Slovenian team champion with the Ljubljana Go club  from 2005-2013,  Balkan student champion in 2007,  1st place in the 2005 Rijeka Open, 2nd place in the Slovenian championship in 2008 and 2012, and  3rd place in the Slovenian championship in 2010,’11 and ’13. He’s married and has three children (5y, 3y, 6m) and his hobbies include playing football.

Spain: Pau Carles 3D (right) is a 37-year-old salesman from Barcelona. Winner of the Spanish Go Championship in 2008, his favorite thing about go is “The friendship environment.”

Switzerland: Sylvain Praz 1k (left) is a 27-year-old history student who lives in Lausanne. He’s been playing go five years and his hobbies include reading, seeing friends and having a drink. His favorite thing about go is “When, during a game, anything else stops existing.”

Ukraine: Bogdan Zhurakovskyi 5D is a 26-year-old data analyst from Kyiv who holds a Phd in Statistics. He’s been playing since he was 11, and was the 2005 European youth vice-champion the 2008 Ukrainian champion and 2014 Ukrainian vice-champion. His favorite thing about the game is its “Mix of complexity and simplicity.”

United Kingdom (England): Francis Roads 1D (though he notes “formerly 4 dan”) is a Retired Music Education Advisor who lives in London. Roads (left) learned to play at 22, has been playing for 49 years and his titles are “Too many to count.” His favorite thing about go is “The people that you meet.” Hobbies include West Gallery Church Music and he currently serves as Honorary Secretary of the West Gallery Music Association, and Music Director of London Gallery Quire. He retired as Head of Music Curriculum Support for Essex County Council. “My selection as British representative to the 2014 WAGC results from the points system in our Challengers League, which rewards persistence as well as competence,” he notes.

Missing (we hope to include in a future edition): Azerbaijan, Denmark, Portugal, Russia, Sweden.

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2014 WAGC Player Profiles: Europe (Part 1)

Thursday June 26, 2014

Second in a series of profiles of players in the 35th World Amateur Go Championships, which will be held July 4-11 in Gyeongju, Korea. Fifty-seven players from a like number of countries and territories are scheduled to make the trip to Korea to compete in the four-day, eight-round Swiss system. Many will be veterans of previous tournaments held in Japan and China, some drawn back to WAGC competition after a long absence, perhaps by the chance to be part of the first WAGC held in Korea. As usual, the largest contingent will come from Europe (30 players) and the youngest from the Far East (15 players, including an 11-year-old from Indonesia). Click here for Ranka’s June 24 WAGC preview.

Austria: Matthias Frisch 1D, 21 (right), is a student and works in a hotel in Vienna. He first started playing five years ago “but I quit very fast and then I got interested in it again about three years ago.” His favorite thing about go is “not the game itself, but rather the people you meet.”  Hobbies include soccer and snowboarding; “I like to do many things if there is enough time besides my studies.”

Belarus: Aliaksandr Suponeu 1D (left) is a 64-year-old engineer who’s been playing go for 30 years. Winner of the Belarusian Championship, this will be his eighth World Go Championship.

Belgium: Dominique Versyck 2D (right) is a 31-year-old accountant in Lennik. He’s been playing for 9 years and says that “Each game is different, there is no luck involved, go is simply perfect!” His hobbies include chess and quizzes. He’s married, with a 2-year old son, and a daughter due at the end of October.

Bulgaria: Teodor Nedev 3k (left) is a 44-year-old teacher in Ruse. He’s been playing 10 years and won the 2013 Open Championship in Bulgaria (Pomorie). Go is “a representation of the Universe,” he says. Hobbies include reading books and extreme sports: he’s a master in martial arts (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Philippines), chess (International, Chinese, Japanese), healing arts and yoga.

Croatia: Zoran Mutabžija 5D (right) is a 69-year-old retiree. He’s been playing go for 49 years, winning the 1967 European Championship, 1st place in the 1971 European Championship, and was a first-place winner in the Croatian Championship many times. Hobbies include programming and his favorite thing about go is “Seeing places and people at tournaments.” He’s married and his children now run his web hosting company.

Czech Republic: Lukas Podpera 6D (left) is a 19-year-old student in Prague who’s been playing since he was 7 years old. His favorite thing about go is its “huge number of variations and creativity” and his hobbies include soccer, cycling and music.

Denmark: Arne Ohlenbusch 4D (right) is a 23-year-old postman in Oldenburg. He’s been playing for 10 years and his favorite thing about go is that there’s “basically no luck involved and you can use unlimited much time getting better.” Hobbies include soccer and pc games.

Finland: Juuso Nyyssönen 5D (left) is a 21-year-old student from Helsinki. He won the 2013 Finnish Championship. “Every game brings new surprises,” he says, “even though I’ve played thousands of games by now.”

France: Antoine Fenech 5D (right) is a 28-year-old mathematics teacher in Strasbourg. Titles include the 1996 and 1997 Under 12 European Youth Championship, the 2003 Under 18 European Youth Championship under 18  and the 2013 French Pair Go Championship. His favorite thing about go is “Travelling around the world and meeting people from different cultures.” Hobbies include soccer.

Ireland: John Gibson 4k (left) is a 65-year-old interior designer who lives in Dublin. He’s been playing since his early 20′s, won the 1992 Irish Handicap Championship and says that go is “Such a satisfying game. Great also for travelling and meeting new people wherever one goes.” He’s married and has three daughters, including one, Naomi, who won the Irish Ladies Go Championship in 1992 “but has not been active recently.” Hobbies include chess, Jamble, Pits, and tennis.

Italy: Niccolò Sgaravatti 2k (right) is a 24-year-old IT Developer in Padova. “This game is a constant challenge to see the reality of things,” he says. He enjoys “walking the hills, reading sages about anthropology, bronze age, biology and so on.”

Lithuania: Andrius Petrauskas 3D (left) is 39-year-old manager in Vilnius. He’s been playing since the age of 12 and has been Lithuanian champion several times. His favorite thing about go is that it’s an “Interesting, deep game.”
Tomorrow: Europe, Part 2.

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2014 WAGC Player Profiles: Asia

Tuesday June 24, 2014

First in a series of profiles of players in the 35th World Amateur Go Championships, which will be held July 4-11 in Gyeongju, Korea. The American Go E-Journal will once again be teaming up with Ranka  to provide comprehensive daily coverage of this major amateur tournament featuring top players from 74 countries and territories around the world. These are the players from Asia; missing are China, Indonesia, Korea, Macau, Mongolia, Vietnam; we hope to have their profiles in a future post. 

Brunei: Ho Soon Ang 2k (right) is a 24-year-old student who’s been playing for three years. His favorite thing about go is “Meeting new play style” and hobbies include badminton and PC games.

Hong Kong: Nai San Chan 6D (left) is a 21-year-old student at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. He’s been playing go since he was 6 and won the HK Go Open (2005-2010, 2013) was WAGC 2nd runner up (2009) and WAGC 3rd runner up (2008,2010). His favorite thing about go is “Fighting.” Hobbies include ball games.

Indonesia: Rafif Shidqi Fitrah 4D (right) is an 11-year-old elementary school student in Bandung. He started playing at age 7and says his favorite thing about go is “Attacking each other.” He was the runner up at the 2013 Japan Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science Cup Elementary School Team Competition as part of a team consisting of Rafif and Rafif’s two little brothers, Faishal Umar and Faiz Utsman. His hobbies include reading books.

Japan: Kikou Emura 7D (left) is a 34-year-old graduate school student in Hyogo. He’s been playing since the age of four, and has won the 2006 sekaigakuseiouzasen, and the the 2012 and 2013 sekaiamaigosenshuken. He likes that “go is deep” and hobbies include mah-jongg and karaoke.

Malaysia: Suzanne D’Bel 3D (right) is a 24-year-old programmer living in Itabashi, Japan. She’s been playing since the age of 14 and says that “The broadness of the game means that go can be mixed with many interesting fields such as art and design, technologies, music, medical etc.” She also says the game is great for “Making new friends and partners!” Hobbies include traveling around to play go, crafting with electronics, mixture of art and technology, anime.

Nepal: Narendra Sowal 1D (left) is a 28-year-old small businessman in Bhaktapur. He’s been playing for 16 years and won the Nepal Go Championship in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2014. Long term thinking is his favorite thing about go. He’s married with one son.

Singapore: Jia Cheng Tan 6D (right) is a 29-year-old engineer who’s been playing since he was 6. His favorite thing about go is “The calculation involved and requirement to play with an open mind to adapt to changes.”

Taipei: Yi-Tien Chan 7D (left) is a 21-year-old student from Changhua. He’s been playing since the age of 7 and loves the “Self challenge” of the game.

Thailand: Thanapol Tiawattananont 4D (right) is a 23-year-old student. He’s been playing since the age of 10 and says that go is “an art of life and a way of life. It’s a philosophy of life. And it makes friends all over the world!” Hobbies include soccer, table-tennis, travelling and bird-watching.

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Japanese Professionals Minematsu & Kobayashi Tour UK

Sunday March 16, 2014

The recent European Youth Go Championship (EYGC) and British Go Congress held in Bognor Regis, England saw Japanese professionals Minematsu Masaki 6p and Kobayashi Chizu 5p visiting the UK under the auspices of the Nihon Ki-in. As previously reported (Podpera Takes Top Prize at European Youth Go Championships, 3/9 EJ), they gave teaching sessions  and reviewed games throughout the long weekend, finishing off on Monday March 4 with a full teaching day for adults as the European youth battled out the final rounds.

Additionally they both paid a visit on Thursday February 27, the evening before the start of the EYGC, to the Oxford City Go Club where Harry Fearnley had assembled 13 players from 20 kyu to 5 dan. They initially divided into two teams to play one against the other, each member of a team taking two consecutive turns before handing the baton to the next, and the pros used the moves in this game to make teaching points. After that, each pro took on 6 participants in a simul (right). Click here for Harry Fearnley’s full report of the Oxford visit, including more photos and the record of Fearnley’s game against Minematsu.

After the EYGC, Kobayashi alone went on to visit two more UK clubs: North London Go Club in Hampstead on Tuesday March 4 and Edinburgh University Thursday March 6.

I caught up with her at the North London venue, where 11 attended, from beginner to 6d. Club Secretary Michael Webster was our host. Proceedings started with a similar exercise to that at Oxford, but with only about eight present initially, we formed one team to play by turn –two moves each — against the pro while she made observations about our moves (left). This gave time for a couple of latecomers to find the Parish Church tucked away in the back streets of Hampstead, and we all then went on to look at some joseki, before most of us took on Kobayashi individually in a simul. During the simul she helpfully suggested better moves and at close of play made general suggestions about how I could play more effectively.

Between times I got the chance to ask Kobayashi her impressions of UK go and the EYGC in particular. She has long had a mission to spread the game and Japanese go culture in the western world, especially Europe, and particularly focusing on the young. In 2007 she lived in Vienna  and has also spent time in Berlin and Paris, where she was heading after the UK tour. In 2008 she was appointed Special Advisor for Cultural Exchange for the Japanese Government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs and later also became a director of the Nihon Ki-in. Talking about her work, she likened the promotion of go culture to the cultivation of a garden. She mentioned points of go etiquette during the evening too, such as opening an even game as black with a play to the top right corner and not rattling the stones in the bowl whilst thinking. She told me she saw much promise amongst the young players at the EYGC – some of whom, such as new Under-20  European Champion Lukas Podpera, she had already met – but emphasised that those aspiring especially to pro status should take professional go tuition at the earliest age possible. She related how her father, a strong amateur, had applied for insei at age 19 but was told, “too late.” For that reason he sent his children to learn young, with Kobayashi Chizu herself starting at age 6. She studied under Kitani Minoru and she and two of her brothers, Satoru and Kenji all became professionals. Of Oscar Vazquez 2d, Under-12 European Champion, she said he was “very calm” and had a reputation for “never making mistakes”.

The next day, Kobayashi took the long train ride north to Edinburgh in Scotland, where she appeared on the evening of Thursday March 7 at the Appleton Tower of the University. Boris Mitrovic, a postgraduate research student at the University’s School of Informatics and a challenger for the British Go Championship last year, hosted. There 15 sat around a single board (right), starting off with the same two-moves-each against Kobayashi exercise as at N. London, as she commented with instructive criticism. They then solved a few tsumego together, after which three or four pairs of the attendees each played the first few moves of games which became the subject of the pro’s comments. At the end of the evening – and the tour – Kobayashi was taken for a meal at the Favorit restaurant.

Click here for Kobayashi’s own photo album of her UK visit.

Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal. Photos: Minematsu considers his next move against Harry Fearnley, by Oxford club member; Francisco Divers contemplates the position as Michael Webster looks on, while Kobayashi smiles at a comment by another onlooker, by Tony Collman; Katherine Power makes one of two consecutive moves for Kobayashi’s consideration at Edinburgh University, by Boris Mitrovic.

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Categories: Europe,Go News
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Bitcoin.io: A New Server With Unique Prizes

Sunday March 9, 2014

What do you get when you cross the world’s oldest game with the newest form of currency? A bitcoin go tournament, such as the ones being organized online every week at Bitcoingo.io. “Bitcoins are an ideal currency for an international game like go,” founder Steven Pine told the EJ.  “It allows students and teachers to connect and transact without concern for currency exchanges or waiting on a check or wire transfer to clear. The same is true for tournaments. I think the currency has lots of potential to transform the go community in many positive ways.”

Anyone can sign up, enter a tournament and begin playing on Bitcoin’s own Python/mySQL-based server. Komi is 6.5 points, and each player starts with 15 minutes; there are five 30-second overtime periods. Territory counting is used but no full rule set has been formally adopted. A tournament win earns the victor at least one point, depending on how many points their opponent has. A new tournaments starts, and the old one finishes, at midnight each Saturday. The self-paired “most points” format favors active competitors, so if you plan to play to win, you may need a comfy chair. The winner of the February 10 tournament had 78 points.

Bitcoins are notoriously unstable – last week it was discovered that as much as 5% of the total bitcoin money supply had been stolen from a prominent exchange without detection several years ago; the exchange declared bankruptcy. (NY Times 2/25/14) If you plan to convert your winnings to real-world money you may face a challenge. The weekly pot has been 6,000,000 “satoshis” but before you start planning your retirement, you should know that it breaks down to about $40 depending on the bitcoin’s daily value relative to the USD. (On 3/1/14 one bitcoin was valued at $556.85 on Coindesk, which monitors exchanges, down more than ten percent from just ten days before.) “Although the ‘satoshi’ – the smallest fraction of a bitcoin that can be transacted, currently .00000001th of a bit coin —  is not well-known, we decided to use it as a base unit to drive home the point that bitcoins are easily divisible and can facilitate micro payments,” Pine said. “Some services talk about ‘millibits,’ but we thought it would be more fun for people to win like 1,000,000 satoshis.” Pine and cofounder Jonathan Hales are underwriting the prizes themselves, hoping that tournament and teaching fees will make the site revenue positive.

If you check it out, bear in mind that it’s a work in progress.  Traffic is very low; a private room on an established server would probably bring in more users. But if you enjoy checking out new servers, Steven and Jonathan will appreciate your visit!
- Roy Laird 

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Oxford and Cambridge Battle to Draw in 1st WBaduk Varsity Match

Wednesday January 1, 2014

Two teams representing the ancient British universities of Oxford and Cambridge met over the board on the evening of Monday, December 30 as a side event to the London Open, with neither coming out on top. The two rounds constituting the match, in which each team fielded two alumni and two students of their respective universities, were both drawn 2-2. Accordingly, all players shared the champagne earmarked for the winners as well as each taking a £40 cash prize and the team sweaters worn during play. Both teams also took away a set each of the five-volume Learn To Play Go series of books by Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun.

Playing for Oxford were alumni Matthew Macfadyen 6d and Alex Rix 2d and students Jiang Junnun 4d and Stephane Thao  4k  (who was given three stones) and for Cambridge, alumni Andrew Simons 4d and Chris Bryant 1d and students “Tony” Lou Yusiang 5d and Jamie Taylor 1d. Rix and Lou were the only players to win both their games. Games were half-hour main time, plus five minutes Milton Keynes overtime then five minutes sudden death.

The match, which was broadcast live on the WBaduk site with the help of four volunteer BGA game recorders, was the first in what it is hoped will be an annual event, the WBaduk Varsity Match, and was sponsored by WBaduk — a South Korean government-backed website for the promotion of go worldwide — and organized in cooperation with the British Go Association (BGA). As well as the prizes, the sponsors also donated magnetic go sets, beginners’ books and T-shirts to both universities’ go clubs. The total budget for the event was $5,300. Organization on the ground was by Toby Manning of the BGA and Lee Semi, wife of London Open guest, top European-rated  Korean player Hwang In-Seong, on behalf of WBaduk. For further details, including player profiles and game results, visit WBaduk’s event page.

Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal. Photos – top: Tony Lou Yusiang (Cambridge, on the left)  v Matthew Macfadyen; bottom: Andrew Simons (Cambridge, on the left) v Jiang Junnun. Banner graphic courtesy of WBaduk.

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Berlin Feasts On Full Week of Go

Wednesday December 4, 2013

If go was food, Berlin go players would surely be loosening their belts after a sustained feast of the game last week, with the Go to Innovation Tournament kicking off Berlin Go Week, topped off with the Berlin Championship and followed by the Kranich Tournament for dessert.

The Go to Innovation Tournament, with a first prize of 1,000 EU, was played November 22 – 24 at the Innovationspark Wuhlheide, 12555 Berlin. Unusually, it uses the Hahn system, whereby the tournament is won on a point score with game points awarded according to the size of win/loss. It was won by Korean Hwang In-seong 8d (right) for the eighth time, with Bernd Sambale 2d (left) in second place and Lluis Oh 6d third. Click here for Eurogotv’s report with photos, video and game records, here for full results, and here for an after-tournament interview with Hwang, in which he reveals plans to extend his Yunguseng Dojang internet go academy to American time zones in the near future. “I got this plan because I have about 10-15 American time zone go players in my go school and they can’t fully enjoy because the time (is better) suited for Europeans,” Hwang old the E-Journal. “Therefore, I will open one more go school which has same system but (a more) suitable time for American go players.” He expects the new classes to start in January 2014.

Berlin Go Week continued on Monday November 25 with a simultaneous prize challenge: Bernd Schutze, Michael Budhan and David Seibt (all 4-dans) v the Rest of the World. Tuesday saw the Iron-Man tournament with several go variations to compete in: Five-in-a-row, Tsunami go, Blind go and Globus go or Risigo. Then on Wednesday there was a two-hour workshop with Hwang Inseong and on Thursday the order of the day was to “bring a travelcard and a magnetic go set” for an evening of go games on Berlin’s Ring Railroad (Ringbahn).

The Berlin Championship 2013 (Berliner Meisterschaft) title match was held, according to tradition,  at the end of Berlin Go Week on Friday November 29.  The previous title-holder, Johannes Obenaus 5d, is currently studying in Taiwan, so the final was between Michael Budahn 4d and David Seibt 4d. The event, held at Humboldt University, Berlin, was beset by difficulties and errors, starting with Hwang In-seong being unable to deliver the expected live TV commentary due to a lack of equipment. The byo yomi of 5 stones in 5 minutes was not set properly at first, and then with both players in overtime, both lost groups under pressure. When Seibt then pressed the clock with the wrong hand and Budahn raised an objection, the game recorder thought it was all over and failed to record the subsequent moves as the game continued, thinking the players were simply analysing it. Finally, however, Seibt was declared the winner by 10 points and took the title of Berliner Meister 2013. Click here for the Eurogotv report, including photos, video and correct game record.

Last weekend, November 30 – December 1, Berlin Go Week gave way to the five-round Kranich Tournament (Berliner Kranich Turnier), also held at the Humboldt University, Berlin and featuring traditional Japanese food provided  by a team of Japanese housewives as well as a calligraphy stand and bookstall. It was won by Czech student Lukas Podpera (left), who entered as a 5d and left as a 6d after seeing his European Go Rating (GoR) exceed 2600. In second place came Robert Jasiek 5d and third was Kevin Sanow 4d. Click here for Eurogotv’s round-by-round report, including photos, videos and game records, here for full results and here for an after-tourney interview with Podpera, his first ever.

Click here to connect with Berlin Go Club’s Facebook page with photos from the entire week.

Report by Tony Collman. Photos: Viktor Lin 6d (L) plays Go to Innovation Tournament winner, Hwang In-seong 8d; The Berliner Meister trophy; Kranich Tournament victor, Lukas Podpera 6d – all courtesy of Eurogotv. Photos of play by Judith van Dam.

CORRECTION: the player at left in the top photo has been updated to Bernd Sambale 2d, rather than Viktor Lin 6d as originally reported.

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Yunxuan Li On How His LA School Club Pulled in 100 Teens

Tuesday November 5, 2013

“I started a go club in my school this year, and more than 100 people signed up in the first week,” reports Yunxuan Li 6d, a sophomore at Diamond Bar High, a suburb in the LA metro area. Li, who has won the Young Lions Tournament for the past two years in a row, is well known on the AGA circuit, having also been a Redmond Cup finalist, and representing the US at the 2013 Samsung World Baduk Masters Championship. “In the game of go, there are no formulas or equations,” says Li, “it is all about creating your own tactics and solutions to everything. In a way, it is very similar to life. I was very happy to see my club be successful because it showed that people appreciate and are interested in this wonderful game. We have had five meetings so far, with 30-50 people showing up and participating actively. I have taught everyone the basic steps slowly and they all seem to understand the process very well.” Li has a few tips for youth who want to start a club at their school. “First, I think it is necessary to make an attractive poster, it will give people a reason to join your club.* Second, I think it is necessary to make good flyers and handouts that introduce the game. These make people think your club is organized and give them detailed ideas about what will happen. Third, don’t take out the go boards and play on the first meeting. The first meeting is better if it is a lot of fun and gives people a reason to stay in your club. Fourth, it is a good idea to use a large demonstration board when teaching; it makes people understand the concepts so much easier than going around with a small board. If you don’t have a demonstration board, you can use KGS with a projector. Fifth, hold some tournaments, so members develop a competitive mindset” *Editor’s note: Posters, playing sets, and everything you need to launch a school club, are all included in the AGF Classroom Starter Set, which is free for any US school that wants to launch a go program. Details on the AGF website here.
-Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photos by Yunxuan Li: Upper left: Yunxuan Li 6d talks about tengen; Lower right: More students than chairs, at a recent meeting.  

 

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