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Korea Go Report: KBA and University of Seoul Sign Agreement on Digital Go Education and Go Globalization; 27th LG Cup Qualifications

Sunday May 22, 2022

by Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal

KBA and University of Seoul Sign Agreement on Digital Go Education and Go Globalization
The Korean Baduk Association (KBA) and the University of Seoul have agreed to cooperate with the aim of creating a metaverse and an A.I.-based platform for Go education. The business agreement focuses on the development of Go contents using Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT), research on Go educational methods to vitalize Go education, and the implementation of a Go meta world using metaverse space. The president of the University of Seoul, Seo Soontaek commented, “We expect that the A.I.-based Go education platform to be developed through the business agreement will play a leading role in the domestic and overseas Go education market and contribute to the expansion and globalization of Go.” KBA Secretary-General Yang Jaeho added, “We have tried to spread Go globally, such as the United States, Europe, and South East Asia, but we faced difficulties due to the lack of a Go educational system. I hope we can develop together with the University of Seoul a great Go educational program and spread Go around the world.” 

27th LG Cup Qualifications
The 24 participants of the 27th LG Cup were determined via seeds, qualifiers, and a wild card. Among them, 13 Korean players were selected which included five seeds (Shin Jinseo, Park Jeonghwan, Byun Sangil, Shin Minjun, and Kim Myeonghoon), seven qualifiers (Cho Hanseung, Kim Jiseok, Won Seongjin, Park Hamin, Park Jinsol, Seol Hyunjun, and Park Geonho), and one wild card (Kang Dongyun). Kang Dongyun, currently ranked 8 in the Korean ranking list, was the highest ranked player among the eliminated players of the Korean qualifiers and has won the 20th LG Cup in 2016. Veteran Cho Hanseung (40) qualified for the first time in nine years. His best achievement in the LG Cup was reaching the semifinals in the 7th, 9th, and 11th editions.Meanwhile, seven players from China will participate, namely: Yang Dingxin, Ke Jie, and Mi Yuting (seeded), while Shi Yue, Ding Hao, Gu Zihao, and Zhao Chenyu qualified. Furthermore, Shibano Toramaru and Yu Zhengqi were seeded, while Sada Atsushi qualified from Japan. In addition, Wang Yuanjun from Chinese Taipei will also join, completing the round of 24. The main tournament will begin on May 29th and 30th, followed by the round of 16 on June 1st. The quarter-finals and semi-finals will take place in November, and the finals are set for February next year.

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Korea Go Report: First Hoban Women’s Team Cup Kicks off; Park Jeonghwan wins 23rd Maxim Coffee Cup

Saturday May 21, 2022

by Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal

Team Korea (l-r): Oh Yujin, Heo Seohyun, Choi Jeong, Lee Seulju & Kim Chaeyoung.
Photo courtesy Cyberoro.
The Hoban Cup starts May 22nd, with one game at 2pm (KST) every day until 28th.

First Hoban Women’s Team Cup Kicks off
The opening ceremony of the 1st Hoban Seoul Newspapers International Women’s Paewang Cup was held in the Riverside Hotel in Seoul on May 12th. In this new tournament, three female teams compete in the win-and-continue format. Team Korea consists of Choi Jeong 9p and Oh Yujin 9p (ranking seeds), Kim Chaeyoung 7p (sponsor’s wild card), as well as teenagers Heo Seohyun 3p (19) and Lee Seulju 1p (16) who won the qualifiers. They will compete against Yu Zhiying 7p, Zhou Hongyu 6p, Lu Minquan 6p, Le He 5p, and Wu Yiming 3p from China, and Xie Yimin 7p, Suzuki Ayumi 7p, Fujisawa Rina 5p, Ueno Asami 4p, and Nakamura Sumire 2p from Japan.
After Ueno Asami’s recent victory in the 2022 Senko Cup World Women Championship in April, she commented that the difference in strength between the female players of the strongest Go nations has reduced. In an interview, Choi Jeong agreed with her assessment, adding that she is eagerly looking forward to fierce competition in the new Hoban Cup. The first stage of seven games will be played from 22nd to 28th of May, one game a day. Maybe some fans want to cheer their favorite female players during the live broadcasts. In round 1, Wu Yiming 3p (15) from China will face the youngest participant, 13-year-old Nakamura Sumire 2p from Japan. The winner of that match will play against Lee Seulju 1p (16) from Korea.

Park Jeonghwan wins 23rd Maxim Coffee Cup

Extra caffeine, please: Park Jeonghwan celebrates Maxim Coffee Cup win

The Maxim Coffee Cup is a domestic tournament restricted to 9 dan players, it is sponsored by the Korean instant coffee giant Maxim Coffee. The main tournament started with the round of 32 which included strong players such as last year’s winner Kim Jiseok, and the runner-up Lee Jihyun. Also present were Lee Changho who received one of the sponsor’s wild cards and the top-ranked players Shin Jinseo, Park Jeonghwan, Lee Donghoon, Byun Sangil, Shin Minjun, Won Seongjin. 

Shin Jinseo surprisingly was knocked out in the round of 16 by Yoon Yunsang. The final was a repeat of the Wooseul-Bongju title match held in March between Park Jeonghwan and Lee Donghoon. On the way to the finals, Park Jeonghwan defeated Choi Jeong, Park Seunghwa, Kim Jiseok, and Shin Minjun, while Lee Donghoon defeated Kim Hyemin, Choi Cheolhan, Yoon Junsang, and Lee Younggu. The allotted time was 10 minutes, followed by a byoyomi of 40 seconds three times. Park Jeonghwan defeated Lee Donghoon 2:0 in the best-of-three final match. In a post-match interview Park said, “I think it worked well for me to put my mind at ease and do my best in each game. I’m weak at fast games, so I prepared more this time. Before the final, Kang Dongyun 9p sparred with me, and thanks to that, I was able to win.” The winner’s purse was 50 million KRW ($39,000) and the runner-up took home 20 million KRW ($15,500). Park Jeonghwan has now won the Maxim title for the fourth time following his victories in the 13th, 14th, and 18th editions. Coincidently, the Maxim Coffee title is also the fourth title he is holding currently.

Tomorrow: KBA and University of Seoul Sign Agreement on Digital Go Education and Go Globalization; 27th LG Cup Qualifications

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Korea Go Report: Pair Go World Cup & Friendship Dream Match; Asian Games Postponed

Monday May 16, 2022

by Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal

The Pair Go World Cup 2022 was held in Japan under the auspices of the Japan Pair Go Association and the World Pair Go Association. It consisted of three main events: the Pair Go Friendship Dream Match, the International Pair Go Online Tournament, and the Japanese Professional Pair Go Championship 2022 which were held both in-person and online.
In the Pair Go Friendship Dream Match, 16 pairs of players- Japan (7), China (4), South Korea (4), and Chinese Taipei (1)- made up of top-ranked pros, legends, and young pros participated. The organizers came up with the refreshing idea of hybrid matches – while the players placed their moves on the board in their respective countries, they faced two amateurs who placed the opponent’s moves. In addition, videos of the players were broadcast live, so they could see each other (see photo). For the fans, it was a special experience because they could watch the pros playing on the board and see the opponents’ reactions concurrently – just like in an in-person match. In the pictures, you can see Japan’s Yoshihara Yukari 6p and Cho Chikun 9p playing South Korea’s Park Jieun 9p and Cho Hoonhyun 9p. After a spectacular roller-coaster match, Yoshihara & Cho emerged as victors. Since it was a friendship event, most pairs played only one game regardless of the outcome and no overall winner was declared. The players, results, and game records can be found here.

Pair Go Friendship Dream Match 2022. Photo courtesy of Nihon Kiin and KBaduk.

Pair Go Friendship Dream Match 2022
In the International Pair Go Online Tournament, two teams from Japan, Europe, and North America together with a team each from Africa, China, Oceania, South America, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, competed on Pandanet IGS. The South Korean team, made up of Lee Rubee 6d & Heo Youngrak 2p (photo below left), won the tournament undefeated followed by the team China. They repeated the success they had in the 30th International Amateur Pair Go Championship held in 2020. Heo Youngrak became a pro in July 2021 but had qualified prior for the 2021 Amateur Pair Go Championship which was postponed due to the pandemic. The third-fourth place match between Japan and Thailand was won by Japan, placing Japan third and Thailand fourth. For further information, check the link here.

19th Asian Games Postponed, Top Go Nations’ Player Selections Nearly Complete
The Hangzhou Asian Games scheduled for September 2022 was postponed to 2023 due to Covid-19. On the day of this announcement, the months-long qualification process to select six male and four female players to represent Korea came to an end. The successful male candidates are Shin Jinseo 9p, Park Jeonghwan 9p, Byun Sangil 9p, Kim Myunghoon 8p, Shin Minjun 9p, and Lee Jihyun 9p. Meanwhile, the female team consists of Choi Jeong 9p, Oh Yujin 9p, Kim Chaeyoung 7p, and Kim Eunji 2p. The male team consists of the 1-3, 7, 10, and 12th national-ranked players, whereas the female team has the four strongest players (as of May). The players’ age ranges from 14-year-old (Kim Eunji) to 29-year-old (Lee Jihyun and Park Jeonghwan). The selected players will compete with other Asian teams in three competitions: the 5-player male team event, the 3-player female team event, and the male individual event (2 players).
Meanwhile, the player selections for the Chinese, Japanese, and Chinese Taipei teams are almost complete, as shown in the table below. The line-up for each country is impressive, and fierce competition can be expected. It will also be interesting to see how the teams from fast-growing amateur Go nations Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore fare against the “Big-4”. Furthermore, Indonesia and Malaysia now have pros affiliated with the Nihon Kiin (as reported here) who might partake in the games. So, we can await exciting match-ups next year.

Table: Selected players for the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022. * Nihon Kiin affiliated Taiwanese player
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Yoonyoung Kim 8P back in Korea’s Top 5

Saturday April 9, 2022

Per a recent report by the Korean Baduk Association, which regularly updates professional player ratings, Shin Jin-seo 9P has been No. 1 in the among Korean professional rankings for 27 months. Popular go teacher and Asian Games gold medalist Yoonyoung Kim 8P ascended to #5 after going 3-1 in the recent Daeju Cup.

As a new mom, Kim says she enjoys a balanced life juggling family, tournaments and teaching. Speaking of promoting go via Twitch streaming, where she has 3,600 followers, she said “I hope to meet many of you over there.” 

She and her husband temporarily moved from Canada to Korea a year ago and in January, Kim defeated Jung dongsik 6P, Cha Sukwun 8P and Kim Chanwoo 6P to make the final 16. Her fourth match was broadcast live on TV on Feb. 11. The Daeju Cup, which invites men over 50 and women over 30, has a top prize of 15 million Won ($12,400 USD).

Report by Edward Zhang, Capital Go Club

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Korea Go Report: Park Jeonghwan first Wooseul-Bongjo League champion; 7th Future Star Rookie Championship; Award for ‘Baduk’ magazine; International Women’s Team Go Cup announced; Jubango under discussion; KBF elects new president Seo Hyoseok

Tuesday April 5, 2022

by Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal

Park Jeonghwan first Wooseul-Bongjo League champion
The Wooseul-Bongjo Korean Baduk Association Championship, a.k.a. Wooseul-Bongjo League is a new domestic tournament established last year. It was named after one of the sponsor Infobell’s products. The qualifiers took place in three stages, from February to August 2021, to select ten players who joined the seeds Shin Jinseo and Park Jeonghwan in the two parallel leagues. The league games began in August 2021 with a thinking time of 90 minutes and five periods of 40 seconds byoyomi.
Ranked #1 and #2 on the Korean rating list since January 2020, Shin Jinseo 9p and Park Jeonghwan 9p were expected to win their respective leagues and meet in the final; however, Lee Donghoon 9p pulled a surprise by defeating all five players in the Wooseul League. Meanwhile, Park Jeonghwan went undefeated in the Bongjo League. From February 20th to March 8th, the two league winners met in the best-of-five finals. Park swept the first three games and became the first Wooseul-Bongjo League champion. This is Park’s first domestic title in two years.
The final Wooseul-Bongjo ranks shown in the table were determined after matches between the same-ranked players in each league. The total prize money was 250 million KRW ($205,000), including 50 million KRW ($41,000) and 20 million KRW ($16,000) for the 1st and 2nd placed players. The prize money for the 3rd to 12th place ranged from 4 million to 10 million KRW.

7th Future Star Park Shinyoung 2p (left) and runner-up Han Woojin 3p. Photo courtesy of Han Chankyu/Hangame.

7th Future Star Rookie Championship
The Future Star Rookie Championship, a national tournament, was launched in 2015 with the help of Mok Jinseok 9p and some individual sponsors. This year, Han Woojin 3p and Park Shinyoung 2p advanced to the finals. Han Woojin (16) became a pro in 2019 and was promoted to 2 dan and 3 dan in 2020 and 2021, respectively. His winning rate in 2022 was an astonishing 77.4% which elevated him to rank #58 on the Korean rating list. The other finalist was Park Shinyoung (19) who started his professional career last year. Even though he was lower in rank (#92), he had a better winning rate (78.3%) than Han Woojin 3p in 2022.
In the final, both rookie pros showed high ambitions to win their first title and had a fierce fight from the very beginning. In the early opening, Park Shinyoung started a ko with Black 33, after creating ko threats in the lower right corner. As the proverb says, “There are no ko threats in the opening”, Black ignored White’s ko threat, and KataGo’s winning rate jumped to 85% proving his judgment right. He managed to maintain his lead until his mistake, Black 111, turned the match into a close game. When Han tried to capture a black group with White 122, he missed a big chance and allowed Black to regain his advantage. White should have defended his group at 127 instead. Due to the thinking time of 2 hours, and byoyomi of 1 minute 3 times, a long match was expected, however, it ended rather quickly after 2.5 hours. Park won the first title match in his career by resignation after 131 moves. The winner’s purse was 10 million KRW ($8,200), and the runner-up received 5 million KRW ($4,100).

Award for ‘Baduk’ magazine
The Korean Magazine Association selected the monthly magazine ’Baduk’ as an “Excellent Content Magazine” in the category of sports, hobbies, and leisure. The annual award comes with a publication subsidy from the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. ’Baduk’ is published by the Korean Baduk Association. This is the sixth award for the magazine.
It is the only Go magazine in South Korea with a 54-year history dating back to August 1967 when the first edition called ‘Baduk World’ came out. It was later renamed ’Baduk’ in 1969. The 657th 2022 April issue took pride in putting the award banner on its cover.

International Women’s Team Go Cup announced
The Korean Hoban Women’s Go Championship has been transformed into an international team women’s Go tournament, combined with a revival of the defunct Paewang title. The official name of the new competition is “Hoban Cup Seoul Shinmun Paewang World Women’s Baduk Championship”. It is sponsored by the Hoban Group and co-hosted by the Seoul Shinmun and the Korean Baduk Association. The Seoul Shinmun has been published since 1904 and is known as the oldest daily newspaper in South Korea.
This is the first international women’s Go tournament hosted by South Korea since 2011. In the past, South Korea hosted the Bohae Cup (1994-1998), and the Jeong Kwan Jang Cup (2002-2011). Currently, there are only a few world women’s Go championships held, with the majority not opened during the pandemic. China hosts the Wu Qingyuan Cup (also known as Go Seigen Cup), the Bingsheng Cup, the Huang Longshi Cup, and the Tiantai Mountain Cup, while Japan hosts the Senko Cup.
The new tournament is modeled after the Nongshim Cup with teams consisting of five female players from China, Japan, and South Korea who will compete in a “win-and-continue” format. The first stage of seven games is scheduled for May 22nd to 28th, while the second stage will be held in October. The total prize money is 300 Million KRW ($246,000) with the winning team taking home 100 Million KRW ($82,000). In addition, there is an incentive of 2 Million KRW ($1,600) for a 3-win streak, as well as for each additional win thereafter.

Jubango under discussion
At the end of March, the Korean Baduk Association has proposed a jubango between the #1 ranked players of China and South Korea, Ke Jie (24) and Shin Jinseo (22). The match would not only be a good opportunity for the Go development in both countries, but also for promoting Go worldwide. KBA’s proposal stated face-to-face games and that the entire USD 1 Million prize would go to the winner. While both players expressed their interest in such a spectacular event, the Chinese Weiqi Association has yet to respond to the proposal. When the last jubango took place in 2014 between Lee Sedol 9p and Gu Li 9p, it gained worldwide attention among Go fans.

KBF president Seo Hyoseok (right). Photo courtesy of Seo Hyoseok.

KBF elects new president Seo Hyoseok
The Korean Baduk Federation (KBF), the national amateur Go organization, elected Seo Hyoseok (76) as its 8th president. He is known as a passionate amateur 6 dan who has been playing Go for 60 years. He has served as an advisor to the KBF and as a director of the Korean Baduk Association (KBA). The owner of Pyunkang Oriental Medicine Clinic has been sponsoring Go activities generously, such as the international Pyunkang Cup and since 2016 the Pyungkang Cup Senior Baduk League.
Concerned with the lack of publicity, he stepped forward and wrote in March an article for a Korean newspaper titled “Let’s teach Go for children’s happy future” in which he emphasized the educational benefits of Go. In his inauguration speech, Seo said, “There was a time when we saw a Korean Go population of 15 million, but now there are only 7 million. As the president, I will do my best to help Go regain its former popularity and grow beyond that.”

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Korea Go Report: 15-year-old Wins First Title 9 Months after Becoming Pro; Team China wins 1st Uijeongbu International Rookie Team Championship

Thursday March 10, 2022

By Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal

Pro newbies Kim Hyoyoung 1p (left) and Kim Minseo 1p. Photo courtesy of Han Changkyu/Hangame.

15-year-old Wins First Title 9 Months after Becoming Pro
The 1st Mediheal Millenium Women’s Go Championship was won by 15-year-old Kim Hyoyoung 1p who became pro just nine months prior on April 29th, 2021. The sponsor Mediheal is a Korean-based international cosmetic company. The championship was open to female players born in 2000 or later. 15 pros and one amateur competed in the double-elimination round of 16. Amateur Ko Misoo (20) defied all expectations by defeating three pros before she was toppled by Kim Hyoyoung 1p in the semi-finals. It was a 135-minute battle of 264 moves which the teen pro barely won by half a point.

In the final, which took place on February 4th, Kim Hyoyoung 1p encountered another newcomer: 14-year-old Kim Minseo 1p, who became pro seven months prior and is currently the youngest among the 393 pros affiliated with the Korean Baduk Association. Each player had a thinking time of 30 minutes plus byoyomi of 40 seconds 3 times. Kim Hyoyoung took home 5 million KRW ($4,200) and Kim Minseo 3 million KRW ($2,500).

The Winner Rookie Team from China (from left: Zhou Hongyu 6p, TuXiaoyu 6p, Wang Xinghao 6p). Photo courtesy of Kim Sookwang/Cyberoro.

Team China wins 1st Uijeongbu International Rookie Team Championship
The Ujieongbu Cup is a new tournament sponsored by Uijeongbu city (Korea) where a Go stadium is being built. A team each from China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, and South Korea competed. Each team consisted of two male and one female player born in 2002 or later as shown in the table below. From March 3rd to 5th three rounds of round-robin were played online with a thinking time of 1 hour and a byoyomi of 40 seconds three times. The second table shows the final standings. Check out the game records to get a peek into the ability of new rising Go stars. The prize money was 40 Million KRW ($32,000) for the victorious team China, 15 Million KRW ($12,000) for team Korea which placed second, and 10 Million KRW ($8,000) each for teams Chinese Taipei and Japan who came in third and fourth, respectively.

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Korea Go Report: Team Korea wins Nongshim Cup; Shin Jinseo sweeps LG Cup

Wednesday March 9, 2022

By Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal

Nongshim Cup Team Korea (From left: Park Jeonghwan, Shin Minjoon, Shin Jinseo and Won Seongjin). Photo courtesy of Han Changkyu/Hangame.

Team Korea wins Nongshim Cup
The third and final stage of the 23rd Nongshim Cup began in February. The thinking time of 1 hour and one minute overtime is relatively short for an international tournament; this perhaps contributes vastly to its popularity among Go fans because a lot of upsets happen in the heat of the byoyomi battle.
The situation didn’t look promising for Korea at all with only one player remaining in the tournament, while Japan had three and China two. Unlike previous editions, the first stage of the competition was very balanced because no player managed to win more than one game before being eliminated (see table below). The real hero emerged in stage 2 where Iyama Yuta won four games in a row, a first-time record for a Japanese player in the history of the Nongshim Cup. Unfortunately, the three-month break before the third stage didn’t do him any favors – he lost momentum and was defeated by Mi Yuting 9p from China.
Now the last Korean player, Shin Jinseo 9p, entered the fray and sparked a series of events that could only be described as a “miracle”. After a controversial ending to a game against Mi Yuting 9p, which Shin won on time, there was an appeal by the Chinese team about a technical glitch by the server. A rematch was organized after lengthy consultations amongst referees in Korea, China, and Japan. Shin wasn’t thrown off by the incident and in fact, won the rematch comfortably the next day.
Out of the three remaining games, the clash between the current world-top Go players, Ke Jie and Shin Jinseo was the most highly anticipated. Ke Jie fell behind after making two mistakes in the opening (moves 39 and 43), and never really recovered. Untypical of him, he didn’t show his special ability to complicate and reverse the game.
Shin Jinseo seems to be invincible in international matches these days – since June 8 last year, he has not lost to any non-Korean player. He won 28 times in total, including 23 against Chinese players.

Table. Players are marked according to their professional affiliation: South Korea (blue), Japan (orange), and China (green).

The Nongshim Cup prize money has increased from 200 million to 500 million KRW ($160,000 to $410,000) since the 17th edition, making it one of the most lucrative international Go competitions. Different from other team competitions, there is no prize money for the second and third-placed teams. In the Korean team, the prize money split was calculated based on each player’s contribution to the victory. Shin Jinseo, who recorded a four-win streak and won the deciding match, received 195 million KRW ($158,000). Next, Park Jeonghwan and Won Seongjin each received 96 million KRW ($78,000) for winning a single game; lastly, Byun Sangil and Shin Minjoon each received 83 million KRW ($67,000) for participating but not winning a single game.

Shin Jinseo 9p. Photo courtesy of Han Changkyu/Hangame.

Shin Jinseo sweeps LG Cup
On February 8th and 9th, Shin Jinseo 9p, from Korea, defeated Yang Dingxin 9p, from China, 2:0 to win the LG Cup trophy for the second time in his career. Yang had a strong start in the first game, his winning rate had climbed to 95% after 184 moves. However, Shin managed to turn the table by playing complicated moves which confused his opponent. Most notably the double peep 186. This induced Yang’s three decisive mistakes in byoyomi which allowed Shin to reverse the course of the game and snatch a dramatic last-minute victory. In the second game, Shin led till the middle game until an overplay turned the game into another nail-biter. After 6.5 hours and 247 moves, Shin finally won by resignation. The winner’s trophy came along with a cash prize of 300 Million KRW ($250,000), while the runner-up received 100 Million KRW ($83,000).

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Korea Go Report: Saudi Arabia Includes Go in Government Project

Saturday March 5, 2022

By Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal

Kim Myungwan teaching Go in Ryiadh/Saudi Arabia. Foto courtesy by Kim Myungwan and Majed Alharthi

The Saudi Arabian government’s Vision 2030 strives to reduce its dependency on oil. One of the vision’s components, the “Quality of Life Program” (QLP), was launched in 2020 with a huge budget of 35 billion USD and aims to enrich the standard of living of Saudi citizens by creating new opportunities for cultural, arts, and sports activities. In this regard, the government has selected the mind sports Go, chess, and bridge to be part of the QLP.
The leader of the Go project, Dr. Majed Alharthi from King Abdulaziz University, explained that they had conducted some research on which mind sports to include in the program. At the end of 2019, after coming across some studies on the positive educational effects of Go, he visited the Secretary-General of the International Mind Sports Association, Thomas Hsiang (who is also VP of AGA and IGF), to discuss the idea of selecting Go. Naturally, Hsiang strongly affirmed that idea and recommended contacting Kim Myungwan 9p as he had plenty of experience teaching Go abroad during his ten-year stay in the USA until 2018.
Plans were delayed due to the pandemic but recently, Alharthi invited Kim Myungwan 9p to Saudi Arabia to offer a 9-day workshop from January 15th to 23rd to 12 Saudis from various professions: teachers, chess players, and government officers in their 20s to 50s. Kim’s mission was to provide a beginner’s course to train future Go teachers. As part of the daily six-hour training, he taught the participants basic Go techniques, concepts and had them play practice games. It is hoped that each participant would teach twenty new Go players and grow the game steadily in their local communities.
“Saudi Arabia’s enthusiasm for Go is amazing. Before I arrived, they even had made their own Go textbooks, despite being beginners themselves”, recalls Kim after his visit. For now, they aim to target university students and increase awareness of Go in students’ mind sports clubs. However, in the future, they intend to expand the program to elementary school students. Alharthi, who participated daily in the workshop commented, “Let’s find a way to continuously and efficiently promote Go in Saudi Arabia.” The enthusiastic project leader hopes to soon sign an MOU with the Korean Baduk Association to grow the seed planted.

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Korea Go Report: Wild Card Wins Crown Haitai Cup; 1st Hoban Title Winner

Monday February 7, 2022

By Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal.

Wild Card Wins 5th Crown Haitai Cup

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Byun Sang-il (left) and Han Seung-joon fought for the Crown Haitai title. Photo courtesy of KBA.

The Crown Haitai Cup is a Korean U25 tournament which has been held since 2017. Previous winners include Park Jeong-hwan 9p, Park Ha-min 9p, Song Ji-hoon 7p, and Lee Chang-seok 8p. In November 2021, 97 players participated in the preliminaries, and 28 made it to the main event of the 5th Crown Haitai Cup. The previous year’s winner Lee Chang-seok 8p and runner-up Seol Hyun-joon 7p were seeded, while the sponsor gave two wild cards to Byun Sang-il 9p and Cho Seung-ah 5p. The tournament employed a knock-out format and had a relatively short thinking time limit of 20 minutes plus 20 seconds per move (Fisher time). The final was held from January 24th to 27th between Han Seung-joon 9p (Korean rank #9) and Byun Sang-il 9p (rank #3). Han (26) had won the Korean President’s Cup in 2021, and he demonstrated his strength by winning the first game. However, the younger Byun (25) has more experience when it comes to title games, having already won four titles including the recent international 2021 Kuksu Mountain title. He relied on this experience to edge out a 2:1 victory and take home the title. Interestingly, Byun Sang-il has played in this tournament since its inception in 2017 without any success; he eventually prevailed on this his fifth attempt and walked away with $25,000. Runner-up Han Seung-joon received $10,000.

1st Hoban Title Winner

The Hoban Strongest Female Player’s Cup is a new tournament which began in August 2021. The sponsor is the Korean conglomerate Hoban Construction whose CEO Kang Sang-yeol has shown his interest in Go by supporting a female Go league team since 2016. In the qualifiers of this new competition 41 players competed out of which four qualified to join the three top ranked players (Choi Jeong 9p, Oh Yoo-jin 9p and Kim Chae-young 7p) and Cho Hye-yoon 9p who received the sponsor’s wild card. The main event, a round robin tournament, had a thinking time of 2 hours and a byoyomi of 1 minute three times. Choi Jeong  and Oh Yoo-jin recorded the most wins, 6:1 and 5:2, respectively, and met in the finals from January 17th to 28th. In an interview before the best-of-five title match, both players were confident of winning 3:0 whereas Go experts anticipated a 3:2 result. The two rivals’ overall head-to-head score was 29:7 in favor of Choi. Last year, however, Oh Yoo-jin defeated Choi Jeong to win two major titles. As expected, the clash was very exciting and unpredictable, for instance the 3rd and 4th games took more than 5 hours to complete. In the end, Choi Jeong prevailed 3:1 to win the 1st Hoban title and her 22nd career title. She took home 30 million KRW ($25,000), while Oh Yoo-jin received 10 million KRW ($8,000).

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Choi Jeong (left) and Oh Yoo-jin competed in the Hoban title match. Photo courtesy of KBaduk.

Choi Jeong had probably one of the busiest schedules amongst the pros; besides the Hoban Cup, she also competed in the Nongshim Classic Super Match, the Korean League, the Wooseul-Bongjo Cup, and the Maxim Cup. In total, she played 15 games in January 2021 alone. Impressively, she had a winning rate of 66.7%.  

Obituary: KBF President Lee Jae-yoon 

The president of the Korean Baduk Federation, Lee Jae-yoon passed away at the age of 73 on 21st January 2022. The Korean Baduk community mourned his sudden demise profoundly. He made great contributions to the development of amateur Go throughout his life. Just over a year ago, he was elected the 7th president of the Korean amateur Go association (KBF), and dedicated his time, energy, and financial resources to revitalize the organization which had faced many difficulties over the years. He also took leadership of the Korean Society for Baduk Studies (2008-2010) and the Daegu City Baduk Association (2020). He had a great passion for Go and sponsored the Amateur Deokyoung Cup for 39 years, as well as Daegu’s team in the Korean Amateur National Go League.

Korean Go Professional Association Elects 35th President

The Korean Go Professional Association elected Han Jong-jin 9p (43) as their new president. Han Jong-jin 9p received 168 votes (57%), 44 more votes than the current president Cha Min-soo 6p (a.k.a. Jimmy Cha). The presidency term runs for two years. Han Jong-jin will represent 392 Korean professionals, and promised to “expand the size of professional competitions, attract sponsors to launch new competitions, actively support Go promotion projects, introduce a professional referee system, and solve the problem of pro’s retirement compensation.”

Trinks is an associate professor in the Department of Baduk (Go) Studies College of Arts & Physical Education at Myongji University in South Korea.

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Korea Go Report: LG Cup set for Feb 7-10; Best-Paid Go Pros; Nongshim Korea-China Classic Super Match

Sunday February 6, 2022

By Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal. Trinks is an associate professor in the Department of Baduk (Go) Studies College of Arts & Physical Education at Myongji University in South Korea.

Upcoming LG Cup Title Match February 7-10
The highly anticipated title match of the 26th LG Cup will take place online at 10 a.m. (KST) on February 7th, 9th and 10th. Yang Dingxin 9p (23) from China will face Shin Jin-seo 9p (21) from Korea in the best-of-three matches. They have met ten times so far, with both winning five games each. Interestingly, both players’ first major international title was the LG Cup: Yang won the 23rd, and Shin the 24th LG Cup. Last year’s 25th Cup was won by Shin Min-joon 9p who defeated Ke Jie 9p 2:1 in the final. Who will be the next title holder? Besides fame, a high prize money is at stake: the first prize is about $250,000 and the second is $84,000.

2021 Best-Paid Go Pros in Japan and Korea in Comparison

Table: Top 10 Earners 2021 in Japan and South Korea. Female players are marked with an asterisk (*). Annual prize money converted at $1 = ¥115.1 and $1 = 1,189 KRW.

Every year, the official incomes of Go professionals who earned the most are published in Japan and Korea, while those in China are not. The table below gives the annual prize money of the top ten earners in Japan and South Korea. In both countries, the current #1 ranked players are also the top earners – Iyama Yuta 9p (from Japan) earned $1.16 million and Shin Jin-seo 9p (from Korea) earned $890,000. Iyama Yuta 9p has been at the top of the list for eleven years in a row, while Shin Jin-seo 9p only surpassed Park Jeong-hwan 9p as annual top earner in 2020. In both countries, only two female players (*) made it into the top 10, surprisingly, both are ranked #5: Fujisawa Rina 5p (from Japan) earned $278,000 and Choi Jeong 9p (from Korea) earned $202,000. Choi’s best results came in 2019 when she earned about $380,000 which put her in the #3 spot in Korea. The #2 ranked female player in Korea, Oh Yoo-jin 9p, earned about $115,000 in 2021, which put her in the top-ten list for the first time. In Japan, Ueno Asami 4p, earned $204,000, which put her on the 6th spot. Remarkably, the youngest top earners were similar in age in both countries – Japan’s Ueno and Seki (21) and Korea’s Shin Jin-seo (22). Meanwhile, the oldest top earners in Japan are in their 40s – Kono Rin (41) and Hane Naoki (46), in contrast to Korea’s Kim Ji-seok and Kang Dong-yoon who are in their 30s.

Table: Top 10 Earners 2021 in Japan and South Korea. Female Players are marked with an asterix sign (*). Annual prize money converted at $1 = ¥115.1 and $1 = 1,189 KRW.

The table lists the official prize money, before tax and other deductions. Furthermore, game earnings from for example the LG Cup and Ing Cup (finals are yet to be played), and Iyama’s winning streak money from the Nongshim Cup are not included.

Nongshim Special Match: Korea vs. China

Nongshim Korea-China Supermatch. Team Korea (left) won against Team China 5:4. Photo courtesy of KBA.

The Nongshim Korea-China Classic Super Match was held January 10th-12th as a side event of the on-going current 23rd Nongshim Cup. It is a binational team competition, similar to the legendary NEC Japan-China Super Go matches in the 80s and 90s. Each team consisted of one player each in their 60s, 40s, and 20s, out of which two were male and one female. Team Korea was represented by the legendary Cho Hoon-hyun 9p (69) and Lee Changho 9p (47), supported by #1 female player Choi Jeong 9p (26), while team China was represented by Liu Xiaoguang 9p (62), Chang Hao 9p (46) and Yu Zhiying 7p (25). They played three rounds so that each player would meet the other team’s player once. The Chinese team started off well with a 2:1 lead, but team Korea came back strongly and won the subsequent rounds of games 4:2. For their prize, team Korean took home $50,000; additionally, Choi Jeong 9p received a bonus of $4,200 for winning all her games.

Meanwhile, the main 23rd edition of the Nongshim Cup will resume this year. The highly anticipated 3rd round will begin on February 21st, with three Japanese players, two Chinese players, and one Korean player left to battle it out. Will Iyama Yuta 9p extend his four-game winning streak, and lead team Japan to their first victory in 16 years? We have to wait and see – and cheer for our favorite team.

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