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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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Go Spotting: Fujisawa Shuko Documentary

Monday November 4, 2013

E-Journal reader Zhiping You sent us a link to a terrific 2009 NHK documentary about Fujisawa Shuko that’s been posted on YouTube with English narration. The 26-minute video provides an excellent overview of Fujisawa’s fascinating life, with an emphasis on his role as a stern but inspirational teacher for many top players.

One of the best players of his era, Fujisawa was one of the “Three Crows” along with Toshiro Yamabe and Suzuki Keizo (and later Kajiwara Takeo). Even though he was known for controversial acts, such as a drinking habit, his go skill shone through. Besides go, he was known for gambling and was a successful real estate dealer. He was also known for his calligraphy and had several exhibits of his works.

Fujisawa, a student of Fukuda Masayoshi, began studying at the Nihon Kiin in 1934 and turned pro in 1940. Although he struggled at first, taking 23 years to reach 9 dan, he started a title run in the early 1960′s, continuing through the 70′s and 80′s. He won his first major title in 1962, the Meijin. He then won two Asahi Pro Best Ten titles in 1965 and 1968. He held the Oza for three consecutive years from 1967 to 1969. The same year that he lost the Oza, he won the NHK Cup. The Meijin title was Fujisawa’s again when he won it in 1970. He then went on a dry streak of titles. By 1976, he won his first title since the Meijin in 1970, the Tengen.

Perhaps the crowning achievement of his go career was winning the Kisei title on its inception in 1976, at the relatively advanced age of 51, and holding it for 6 straight years from 1976 to 1982. By 1980, nobody thought anyone else but Fujisawa would win the Kisei, but that was silenced when he finally lost it to Cho Chikun in 1982. He won the first three games, controlling each and every move Cho made. It looked like Fujisawa would hold the Kisei for the 7th year in a row, but Cho fought back and won four games, Fujisawa making a blunder in a winning position in the seventh game. After his run of consecutive Kisei titles, the Japanese Nihon Ki-in awarded him Honorary Kisei. He is known to play a very flexible fuseki but infamous in making errors, or poka later in the game.

Fujisawa was getting old now, and wouldn’t win another title until ten years later. Again he won the Oza and held it for two years at the age of 67. He had set a record for the oldest player to defend a title, a record which still stands to this day. In October of 1998, he decided to retire from the Go world at the age of 74. The following year Fujisawa was expelled from the Nihon Ki-in for selling unsanctioned rank diplomas to amateurs in protest against what he considered improper Ki-in policies. In June, 2003, the dispute was resolved and Fujisawa was reinstated in the Ki-in. Fujisawa died on May 8, 2009.
- report based on the YouTube video text

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Korea Wins Korea Prime Minister Cup; Canada is 3rd & US 16th

Monday October 14, 2013

Korea and China fought it out for the top spot in the 8th Korea Prime Minister Cup International Amateur Baduk Championship, held October 10-15. Korean student Park Jae-geun 6d, 17, took first place with a win over China’s Li Fu 8d, 39, principal of the Haikou FuLi Go Training Center. The US representative, Hugh Zhang 7d, came in 16th place with five wins, his only loss being to the 4th place finisher from Hong Kong. Canada’s Bill Lin came in a very strong 3rd place also with five wins and a loss, to the winner Park. The US player was seeded somewhat lower than Canada’s because of mixed US results in prior years, according to tournament organizers. The tournament attracted 62 players from all over the world to the small industrial city of Gumi in the province of Gyeongbuk-do. Gumi was the birthplace of the late Korean leader Park Jeong-hee and benefited from a great deal of industrial development during his 1961-79 time in power, growing from a village to a major city with Samsung, LG and other factories.
- report by Andy Okun; photo by Ling Shan

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Sino-British Weiqi Exchange Held in London

Sunday September 15, 2013

Wang Runan 8P, President of the Chinese Weiqi Association, was the guest of honor at the Sino-British Weiqi Exchanges, a cultural exchange event held September 7 at the British Museum in London. Organized by the UK Research and Development Centre for Chinese Traditional Culture (UKCTC) in association with the East Midland Youth Chinese Organisation (EMYCO) and in cooperation with the British Go Association (BGA), the event was sponsored by Chen Yongqing, a businessman who is a promoter and advocate of weiqi culture in China and is President of the Xi’an Fuji Vocational Weiqi Club, and Vice Chairman of the Xi’an Weiqi Association. He also traveled from China for the event.

The event was organized to promote cultural exchanges between China and the UK through the game of go (known as weiqi in China), set up a platform where go enthusiasts can not only learn about the game’s culture but also enhance their go skills, and enable go enthusiasts in the UK to find more friends and encourage more people to take up go, facilitating its promotion as a result.

UKCTC President Sherry Kuei welcomed the guest speakers and the hundred or so attendees to the event, introducing Counselor Li Hui of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in London, who thanked the British Museum for the venue, UKCTC for their continuing contribution to the promotion of Chinese traditional culture - something now highly valued in China - and the EMYCO for inviting the guests. Admitting he himself was not a player, Li said he looked forward to learning more about this “magic art”.

Chen Jiuxuan, Chairman of the EMYCO and son of Chen Yongqing, next introduced his organisation, a recreational, non-religious, non-political, not-for-profit organisation for the youth of the large Chinese community in the England’s East Midlands region. The EMYCO recruits twice-yearly from students at the University of Nottingham and the Nottingham Trent University, which have strong links with China.

British Go Association (BGA) Vice President (and AGA member) Francis Roads took the stage next and gave an overview of the activities and growth of the BGA since its founding in 1952, noting that he’s been a member for much of that time, having joined not long after learning the game 48 years ago. During his 5-year tenure as President of the BGA in the early ’70s, he had written to the Chinese embassy with an invitation for their nation to engage with the UK’s go community. To laughter from the audience, organizers and guests he related how the only reply he received was “a little red book entitled ‘The Thoughts of Chairman Mao.’” Roads said that it gave him great pleasure to participate in the kind of cultural exchange he had hoped for then.

Dr Chan Cheng, Honorary President of the UKCTC, introduced Wang Runan 8P by reading the Ten Principles of Weiqi, also known as the Ten Golden Rules, from Wang’s fan (see China Calls For Return of Ancient Go Manuscript 9/9 EJ; an English translation of these core strategies of the game, together with discussion, can be found at Sensei’s Library).

Wang, a small, slight man with highly mobile features and eyes sparkling with good humor, spoke with animated enthusiasm as Wang Ren translated. He first expressed his great pleasure at finding himself speaking at the British Museum, an institution he had learnt of at school since it holds a good number of Chinese antiquities including the oldest known manual of his game (since transferred to the British Library; see same 9/9 EJ referenced above).

Wang gave a brief history of go, beginning with its origin in China “over 4000 years ago” and including colorful legends of historic figures such as General Xie An, who allegedly sat calmly playing go, leaving battle reports undispatched, as his army of 80,000 faced and overcame a force of 800,000  invaders. Or General Guan Yu who, in the absence of anesthetics, is said to have used a game of go to distract him from the pain of having the marrow scraped from his arm to remove poison from an arrow-wound (left). Wang indicated he personally would prefer to have the anesthetics now available if he found himself in similar circumstances.

Wang told how the game spread to Korea, to Japan, and from there it spread to Europe, North America and other parts of the world after Japan had reached a dominant position in mastery of the game over the last several hundred years. But, he pointed out, in recent years China has once again excelled in international competitions.

He drew attention to the application of go’s ideas in many fields of life and especially to strategy, claiming that the upper echelons of the US military and the CIA also now study the game as key to understanding East Asian strategic thinking. He also referred to US President Obama’s gift of a goban to Chinese Premier Hu Jintao on the first presidential visit to China since Nixon’s time (see 12/14/09 EJ), expressing puzzlement, however, that the President chose a Chinese cultural artifact rather than an American one such as perhaps a basketball.

Wang provided a few tips for newcomers to the game, suggesting that they “Avoid concentrating on local play, disregarding the rest of the board,” instead taking what he referred to as the “helicopter view” of the whole board. He also said players should deploy their stones widely about the board, use strategy like probe stones which may be sacrificed,  and stressed the importance of reading accurately, noting that professionals may look up to 30 moves ahead; beginners should try to read at least three moves ahead.

After a short break, the house reassembled less formally for actual play, with Wang playing simultaneously with four volunteer players from the BGA. On board one was Matthew Cocke 5d of Epsom Go Club (above right, 2nd from top), one of the UK’s strongest players, who was given a 3-stone handicap. This game was televised on a large screen, with Francis Roads giving a running commentary over the PA  with the help of a laser pointer (right). Cocke was visibly shaken when, towards the end of the middle game, he realized he had allowed four stones to be cut off, an oversight which quite possibly cost him the game. Out of courtesy to the British who, like other Westerners, have the Japanese traditions deeply imbued, territory scoring was used rather than the Chinese tradition of area scoring. Cocke lost by 4 points. At the next board was was British Under-10 Champion Oscar Selby 8k, who took nine stones and lost by six points, earning praise from Wang. Next was engineer Mark Baoliang Zhang 1k of Diss (no club) who took seven stones and was behind when the game had to be halted because the museum was closing. Michael Webster 2d of the Central London Go Club, taking six stones, had perhaps the best result of the four, with Wang conceding that Webster had the lead at the point play stopped in this also unfinished game.

After the play it remained only for fond farewells and a seemingly endless round of photographs of various combinations of personages before the last of the party reluctantly left, the doors behind them closing securely on the British Museum’s priceless collection of treasures from around the world.

- report/photos by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the EJ. Top right: Lisa Quastella of the British Museums’s Sales and Marketing Dept presenting Wang with the gift of “Lotus Flower Print” by Ding Liangxian; group photo: (seated, l-r) Wang Ren, Francis Roads, Dr Chan Cheng, Wang Runan, Sherry Kuei, Chen Yongqing, Chen Jiuxuan. Translations were provided by Wang Ren,  friend of the UKCTC (Wang, Dr Chan) and Yuki Kuan of the EMYCO (Kuei, Chen, Roads), who also provided extensive assistance with the compilation of this report.
NOTE: the original report has been updated to reflect that Wang Runan is President of the Chinese Weiqi Association, not Vice Chairman, as originally reported. 

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EJ & Ranka Coverage of 34th WAGC To Start 9/1

Thursday August 29, 2013

China and Korea are favorites again this year to win the 34th edition of the World Amateur Go Championships, which will be held on September 1-4 in Sendai, Japan. Beginning September 1st,  Ranka Online and the American Go E-Journal will provide full daily coverage of the championship.

The field of 62 players from as many countries will range in age from 14 to 57 and in official rank from 7 kyu to 8 dan. Yuqing Hu will represent China and Hyunjae Choi is playing for Korea; those two countries have not dropped a single game to any other country in this event since 2006. The players from perennially strong Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Hong Kong (Wei-shin Lin, Kikou Emura, and King-man Kwan) will also bear watching, particularly 14-year-old Lin, who will move on from the World Amateur to a pro career in Taiwan.

These Asians will be challenged, however, by a strong European contingent, led by Slovakian prodigy Pavol Lisy, who finished runner-up to former Chinese pro Fan Hui in this year’s European Championship. Joining Pavol will be four other young finalists from the European Championship: Thomas Debarre (France), Ilya Shikshin (Russia), Artem Kachanovskyi (Ukraine), and Nikola Mitic (Serbia). Also competing will be such established European stars as Ondrej Silt (Czechia), Csaba Mero (Hungary), Cornel Burzo (Romania), Merlijn Kuin (Netherlands), and Franz-Josef Dickhut (Germany).

Challenging the Asians and Europeans will be a pair of North American students: Curtis Tang (US), a UC Berkeley student who trained for a year at a go academy in China, and Bill Lin (Canada), who played in the World Mind Games last December and is coming off a 3-1 defense of his Canadian Dragon title.

The Southern hemisphere will be represented by Hao-Song Sun (Australia, 11th place at the 2008 World Mind Sports Games), Xuqi Wu (New Zealand, 12th place at the 2009 Korea Prime Minister Cup), and a pack of hopeful new players from South America and South Africa.

In the past the World Amateur Go Championship has been held in the spring, but this year the schedule was moved back because of the effects of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Thanks to support from all over the world during the past two years, most of the regions hit by the earthquake are now recovering. It is hoped that through the game of go this tournament will give the world proof of the recovery and encourage the local people to press ahead with the long recovery process.
- Ranka Online
NOTE: This report has been updated to reflect Curtis Tang’s status as a college student, not high school.

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Phoon Wins AGF Scholarship

Monday August 26, 2013

Joey Phoon 5k is the winner of the American Go Foundation’s College Scholarship. Phoon is off to college on familiar turf this month, as he starts the fall term at George Mason University, site of the 2009 Go Congress, which he attended when he was 14. “Walking through campus brings back memories of running through the rain to get to simuls and occasionally getting lost in the huge campus,” Phoon told the E-Journal. Phoon started a go club at George C. Marshall High, in his junior year. “At first it was only me and a couple of friends that I had taught in preparation for the club,” said Phoon, “but we slowly gained momentum and gained member after member. At the end of the year we had 11 members. Every Wednesday we would play a few games then review life and death problems. From just these sessions, the students learned quickly and got to 20 kyu within a couple weeks. I took two of the members to their first AGA rated go tournament and one of them won first place in the 25 kyu division. The go club carried on the following year and we gained 3 new members.” Phoon says running his club “made me understand that teaching a complete stranger is different from teaching a friend. They may be complete novices when it comes to the game but they show great potential. I hope now that I have graduated they will continue the club, and promote go to other people.”

Phoon says going to the Go Congress as a young man had a big impact on him: “Us Eastern shore kids finally got a chance to participate in one of the largest go events in the Western hemisphere. Naturally, my friends from the Great Falls Go Club and I decided to attend as it was a once in a life time chance for us. The Go Congress gave me a chance to meet children around my age throughout the United States that had an interest in go. Not only that, but I met many famous pros along the way like Ryo Maeda and Feng Yun. Their lectures were not only compelling but also gave me a glimpse into the pro go world. Overall, go has changed the way I look at life and how I treat every situation. Rather than focusing on a particular aspect of life, stepping back sometimes can help you find a better solution, because then you can see life from a broader point of view.”

The AGF College Scholarship is presented annually, usually to one male and one female student. There were no female applicants in this past cycle though, so only one scholarship was awarded. Applications for the AGF Scholarship are open through November 20th, and interested students can find more information on the AGF Website. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo by Joey Phoon.

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Go Spotting: Chinese Military Fantasy Novels

Saturday May 25, 2013

An article in the May 23 issue of the magazine Foreign Policy entitled “Pulp Liberation Army” surveys the strange and terrifying underground world of Chinese military fantasy novels. One such novel, 2066: Red Star Over America, “portrays the United States in the throes of a Cultural Revolution, where bands of marauding U.S. students fight battles in the country’s ravaged countryside. China is the world’s top superpower, and an earthquake has sunk Japan, erasing it from the map. The protagonist, a Chinese Go player and diplomatic envoy, tries to return civilization to a crumbling United States.” Go player to the rescue! Read the full article here. Thank you Matthew Curran for sharing this.

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Deadline May 31 for China Collegiate Trip

Monday May 20, 2013

Two years ago, the Shanghai Ing Chang-Ki Wei-Chi Education Foundation hosted a group of 11 American college students to participate in a week long go summer camp in China.  This year, they are hosting a new event in Shanghai, July 7-13, and inviting college students from America to compete in an international tournament.  Students from 50 different colleges will be invited, and  attendees will also have a chance to explore Shanghai and Hangzhou, while  learning a bit more about a culture that is on the opposite side of the world.  Organizer Michael Fodera reports that  “housing, food, travel within China, and Ing sponsored tourist trips are all free.  All ranks are welcome, even beginners as week as 20kyu.  The tournament is not just limited to college students; college or university faculty members are also eligible. Though they will have to compete in the open section, which will be full of  top amateur players.”  To register for the event, visit the American Collegiate Go Association website. Photo by Will Lockhart: American students vs Fudan and Jiaotong University students, from the 2011 trip to China.
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Andrew Kay on Course to Retain British Championship

Friday May 10, 2013

Reigning British Champion, Andrew Kay 5d, has taken first place at the Candidates’ Tournament, with six straight wins. The tournament, held at Edinburgh University in Scotland this year for the first time ever, is part of the British Championship. Twenty-one contenders, selected on grade, were invited by the British Go Association (BGA); an ineligible player  also competed to even out the pairings.

In fact, Kay did not even need to compete, as the current Champion qualifies automatically for the Challengers’ League, between the eight best players from the Candidates’, who also earn qualifying points for selection as the British entrant to the World Amateur Go Championship. The top two players will be pitted against one another in the Title Match itself, decided on the best of three games.

Also qualifying were Des Cann and Matt Crosby with five wins each, and Tim Hunt, Andrew Simons, Boris Mitrovic, Alex Kent and Alex Rix with four. Francis Roads will be the reserve player, Richard Hunter having stood down.

The location in the far north of the UK was deliberately chosen to encourage more Scottish entrants, a ploy which was completely successful, since more Scots (and indeed more women) attended than in any previous year.

The Challengers’ League is due to take place at the Fitzrovia Room, International Student House (ISH), 229 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5PN between Friday May 24 and Monday May 27 and the Title Match is provisionally scheduled for Sunday June 30 in Cambridge.

Click here for full results of the Candidates’ Tournament.

-Tony Collman. Compiled from material on the BGA’s website. Photo: Andrew Kay, courtesy of his website.

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North American College Players Invited to July Tournament in China, But Must Act Quickly

Thursday May 2, 2013

The Shanghai Ing Foundation has opened its first International Collegiate GO Tournament to US and Canadian college students, according to Michael Fodera of the American Collegiate Go Association. Students who attend the July 7-13 event will play go with players from all over China and the world, travel around Shanghai and Hangzhou and play teaching games with stars Gu Li 9P and Chang Hao 9P. While players must cover their own travel costs to China, their food, accommodation, travel within China, tour costs and sponsored events will be paid for by the Shanghai Ing Foundation. “I was one of the players that attended the [Ing-sponsored] 2011 go summer camp,” Fodera tells the E-Journal, “ and I can honestly say that this is a chance of a lifetime. The Ing Foundation really does not spare any expense when it comes to these events.” The opportunity is open to players who have attended college or will attend college —  undergraduate or graduate — in the 2013 calendar year, and who do not hold a professional certification from a recognized go association.

Act fast, however. The deadline for registration is May 15, and, while there is currently no cap on the number of North American students who can attend, the event includes students from the rest of the world as well and if room runs out, requests will be handled on a first-come first-served basis, Fodera says. Click here for details of the trip, as well as links to the registration form and schedule. Questions may be addressed to Fodera at mdf116@brandeis.edu or to the Shanghai Ing Foundation’s Min Xiao at min_xiao@harvard.edu.
- Andy Okun

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Categories: Youth
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