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Words from the new world champion Hyunjae Choi: Hyunjae ChoiHyunjae Choi
“Naturally I am delighted to have won the World Amateur Go Championship this year in Sendai. My game with the Chinese representative Hu Yuqing was the tightest battle and this turned out to be a decisive victory. To be honest, I did not think the European players were of a comparable strength, however I still felt a responsibility as the Korean representative to show my best game.
My first encounter with go was from an early age. Rather than playing with my classmates at elementary school, I preferred to absorb myself in ‘gomoku’ – five-in-a-row on a go board. My mother saw how much I enjoyed playing and suggested that I might be interested in go. It went from there. Winning the championship means I gain 40 rating points in the Korean professional qualification system to add to my existing 90. This brings me over the 100 required to be guaranteed a place in the professional world.
At the moment I am still a student at Myongji University, where I am enrolled on the only course in the world for go, although I am currently taking leave from study. There I study go theory and issues in the cultural, historical and educational aspects of the game. My actual practice playing go is not done at college but rather at a famous go club, which I attend from six in the morning until nine at night almost every day.
More than the game itself, I love just sitting down and concentrating on playing. If you were to ask me what kind of a professional I am striving to become, it would be one who works very hard and can inject every last ounce of energy into the game.”
Visit Ranka online to find out more about the 34th WAGC.
The 34th World Amateur Go Championship will open on August 31 and be held on September 1-4 at the Sendai City Information & Industry Plaza in the AER building in Sendai, Japan. Located next to Sendai Station, AER is a popular commercial complex with many shops and restaurants.
The field of 62 players will range in age from 14 to 57 and in official rank from 7 kyu to 8 dan. The field is headed by the contestants from China and Korea (Yuqing Hu and Hyunjae Choi); 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).
Venue of the 34th WAGCVenue of the 34th WAGCChallenging the Asians and Europeans will be a pair of North American high school students: Curtis Tang (USA), 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.
Starting September 1st, Ranka online together with the American Go E-Journal will provide full coverage of the championship.
This year the Yellow River Cup was held at the Armed Police Sanatorium in the Beidaihe seaside resort district in Qinhuangdao, 300 km due east of Beijing.
A total of 288 players ranked 5 dan and up competed for assorted prizes, including 20,000 yuan (about $3200 or €2500) for individual first place. Among the contestants was He Yuhan, the 13-year-old boy wonder who won the Amateur Tianyuan title in February and the Fengcheng Cup earlier in May.
After disposing of his morning and afternoon opponents on the first day of play (May 27), He faced China’s number-three-rated amateur Ma Tianfang in the evening round. He had beaten Ma in the Fengcheng Cup, and now he beat him again. Next morning the other three members of China’s top amateur quartet (Hu Yuqing, Bai Baoxiang, Wang Chen) joined Ma in the one-loss group while He continued to win, adding four more victories on May 28 and 29 to his opening streak. Here the tournament adjourned for a day. When play resumed on May 31, He was drawn down against Bai in the morning round. Bai suffered his second loss while He remained undefeated.
The only other undefeated player at this point was Dai Zhitian, a 17-year-old from Shanxi Province who learned go at the age of seven, trained at the Ma Xiaochun Daochang and now trains at the Ge Yuhong Daochang in Beijing, won the Shanxi Championship in 2011, and took eighth place in the national Evening News Cup in January. He and Dai were paired against each other on the top board in the afternoon round, and here He’s winning streak ended. Dai, playing white, gradually pulled ahead in the middle game. He, unable to shake his opponent’s lead, had to resign.
Four rounds still remained, but as it turned out, the winner of the cup had already been decided. Dai and He continued to beat all comers. Their closest challenger was Li Weiqing, another 13-year-old, who lost to He in the evening round on May 31 and faced Dai in the last round on June 2. In that final match, Dai (black) played a free-wheeling galactic-style game, surrounded a huge area in the center, and won by resignation in 139 moves. Li came in third, He came in second, and Dai finished first with a perfect 13-0 score.
In addition to the cup, Dai received an immediate promotion to 7 dan, the highest amateur rank awarded in China. Asked about future plans, Dai said that his dream is to play go professionally, but if he does not make pro this year, he will proceed with higher education.
Dai was not the only winner. There were also team prizes (the team from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics took first place) and prizes for the best youth, female, and senior players. Even those who do not understand Chinese will enjoy seeing Dai, He, Li, and other winners and contestants in Sports-Sina’s slide show.
Located in the Latin Quarter of Paris, the Lycée Louis-le-Grand is a secondary school with a long list of famous alumni (Degas, Poincare, Lafayette, Voltaire,…). From March 30 to April 1 it hosted a long list of European go talent: a total of 213 players, 50 of them dan ranked, who were competing in the Paris Go Tournament.
The tournament to select the player representing Chinese Taipei in the upcoming World Amateur Go Championship was held at the Ta-an Junior High School in Taipei March 16-17. The entry requirement was an amateur ranking of 6 dan or higher. The 65 participants included several insei and, at the other end of the spectrum, Chen Shi, winner of professional titles in the mid-1980s, who took a decade out to earn a PhD in chemistry in the United States, later retired as a professional go player, and now competes as an amateur.
The 26th Evening News Cup was held on January 6-12 in Xian, once the starting point of the silk road, now a center of China’s software industry. The tournament is sponsored by the Chinese Weiqi Association and the China Evening News Journalists’ Association.
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