World Go News from The American Go Association




WAGC SNAPSHOTS: Frank Janssen, Go Player
COMPLETELY ADDICTED TO THE GAME: An Interview With Matthew Macfadyen

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May 30, 2008; Volume 9, #26

The American Go E
-Journal is covering the 29th annual World Amateur Go Championship this week in Tokyo, Japan. Top amateurs from 68 countries are competing in the 8-round tournament. Watch the AGA website for real-time updates – including event reports, photos and game records – as well as special WAGC editions of the EJ this week. Unless otherwise noted, all reporting is by EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock and photographs are by John Pinkerton.

ARGENTINA LEADING TOPSY-TURVY FIELD AT WAGC: Dark horse Argentina has vaulted into the lead in this year’s World Amateur Go Championships, edging out top seeded Korea, while 16th-ranked Luxembourg and 11th-ranked Hong Kong have nudged aside both China and Japan. In a highly-anticipated showdown, Korea’s Sung Bong Ha defeated Yuzheng Guo of China in Round 5 Friday morning, while Fernando Aguilar (l) defeated Frank Janssen of the Netherlands. Aguilar then beat Laurent Heiser of Luxembourg in Round 6 Friday afternoon to give him a 3-point SOSOS lead over Korea and setting up a 7th-round head-to-head with Korea on Saturday morning. Aguilar has competed in the WAGC six times and finished 5th in 1982. Mozheng Guan of the US defeated Antonio Fernandez Caballero in Round 5 but lost by 2.5 points to 15-year-old Nai San Chan of Hong Kong in Round 6 for a 4-2 result thus far with two final rounds to play on Saturday. There’s been a lot of movement in the top seeds this year, with Luxembourg moving up from 16th to 3rd in the rankings, Hong Kong jumping from 11th to 4th, China slipping from 1st to 5th, Japan dropping from 3rd to 7th and Thailand moving up from 29th to 10th. Click here for complete results and game records. Click here for online albums of photos from Thursday and Friday

VT ORGANIZER DROPS BY: Vermont go organizer Peter Schumer turned up at the WAGC this week with his 18-year-old daughter Amy. “This is a great way to combine a cultural experience for her with an opportunity for me to see the World Amateurs,” Schumer told the EJ Thursday afternoon. Although his daughter – who just finished her first year in college -- doesn’t play, “she knows the rules well enough to beat me in a game on a 9x9 board we played downstairs” at the Nihon Ki-in, Schumer said. He spotted several homeless players engrossed in a game while he and his daughter were exploring Tokyo earlier in the week and snapped this shot (r).

WAGC SNAPSHOTS: Frank Janssen, Go Player: “I’m always fine when I’m in Japan,” Frank Janssen (l) of The Netherlands told the EJ Friday morning when we bumped into him at the green tea dispenser. “It’s the only place I can just be a go player,” the manager of the European Go Center in Amsterdam said. He was in the early stages of what would turn out to be a ferocious 5th-round battle with Fernando Aguilar of Argentina, but Janssen was relaxed as we sipped our paper cups of the green brew that fuels this tournament. He was reminded of a character in the 2005 film “Sky High,” a son of superhero parents who has no super powers himself but who proudly introduces himself as “Ron Wilson, bus driver” and said “That’s me when I’m here; ‘Frank Janssen, go player’” He laughed happily and returned to the battle.

COMPLETELY ADDICTED TO THE GAME: Matthew Macfadyen (r) once drove 24 hours non-stop to play go. It was February of 1979 and “On a whim, a couple of us got in a beat-up car and drove to Prague,” Macfadyen, the UK rep to the WAGC, told the E-Journal Wednesday night over dinner. A couple of years later, when his request for paid leave to attend the WAGC was denied, Macfadyen quit his job as a meteorologist and went to Tokyo anyway. “It takes a certain amount of obsessive dedication to get to the top,” the 6-dan said cheerfully. Go is an obsession the 54-year-old has been pursuing for over forty years. “I don’t think I’d know how to conduct my life without playing go,” Macfadyen admitted as he took another bite of crispy tempura. “I mean, if I’m in a room with a go problem book, I have to pick it up and take a look at it.” Between rounds here at the WAGC – where he’s been a regular contestant going back to the beginning of the 29-year-old event – if he’s not chatting with old go pals he’s making new ones by enthusiastically leaping into the nearest game review. “The game of go is just a part of who I am.” If Macfadyen can be accused of obsession, however, it’s really with life itself. The frizzy-headed, snaggle-toothed Energizer Bunny who’s been a fixture at countless go events – he’s won the British Championship 21 times and four European Championships in the 1980’s is also an avid bird-watcher, maintains an interest in old card games by traveling the backwaters of Europe searching out old players and sings in a community choir in Warwick, England. For over 20 years he’s been exploring England’s extensive canal system with a small group of mathematician friends who bought and rebuilt an old canal boat. He’s an Oxford-bred electrician with a degree in physics. “It helps me get the wires where they’re supposed to go,” he laughs. Macfadyen has some interesting theories about go involving neural pathways and estimates that he’s played out over 20,000 professional games, the old-fashioned way on an actual go board. “It’s what’s given me a rather extensive vocabulary of shape,” he says. His wife Kirsty, a shodan, is his Pair Go partner and co-host of their local go club every Thursday night. He doesn’t blame recent declines in UK club and tournament turnout on online go. “I don’t see the complete addiction to the game that my mates and I had, where we’d drive up to London and play all weekend. It doesn’t really matter what you do in life as long as you do it to the limit.”

WELCOMING IRISH READERS: We’re very pleased to welcome the members of the Irish Go Association as EJ readers this week and took the opportunity to chat with Ireland’s WAGC rep, Ian Davis (l). Davis is probably better-known to legions of online players as javaness, an administrator on KGS, and recently he became the EJ’s Irish correspondent. The 29-year-old 1-dan has been playing for seven years, though he had a 3-year layoff when there were no players available. He picked up the game again when he was working in Cambridge, where there’s a strong club, and now plays regularly in Belfast, where he’s a computer programmer. “We’re having a bit of a mini boom in Irish go at the moment,” Davis says, “we now have four tournaments a year, up from just one.” The tournaments are organized by the country’s four go clubs in Belfast, Galway, Cork and Dublin. Most Irish players are kyu players, Davis reports, perhaps because “Our clubs tend to meet in pubs and involve beer. “We do have Chinese 3- and 5-dans, who have really helped to grow the Cork club.” Lately there’s also been an influx of Eastern European players who have come to work in Ireland, Davis says, bringing strong new blood to the Irish go scene.

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Published by the American Go Association
Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb
Professionals: Yilun Yang 7P; Alexandr Dinerchtein 3P; Fan Hui 2P
Contributors: Paul Barchilon (Youth Editor); Lawrence Ku (U.S. West Coast Reporter); Brian Allen (U.S. West Coast Photo Editor); Peter Dijkema (Dutch/European Correspondent); Marilena Bara (Romania/European Correspondent); Ian Davis (Ireland Correspondent)
Columnists: James Kerwin 1P; Kazunari Furuyama; Rob van Zeijst; Roy Laird; Peter Shotwell
Translations: Chris Donner (Japan); Bob McGuigan (Japan); Matt Luce (China)

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Articles appearing in the E-Journal represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the American Go Association.

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