Chinese Taipei Wins WAGC 2014


Yityen Chan (left) and Cho-hunyun

Yitien Chan (Chinese Taipei) snatched victory in the 35th World Amateur Go Championship, overtaking Korea by a single tie-break point. Chinese Taipei take home the trophy for the first time ever, and this is also the first time since 1986 (when Hong Kong won) that the winner was not one of the Big Three (China, Japan and Korea). In a tie-break lottery of sum of opponents’ scores, Chinese Taipei scored 46 taking first place, followed by 45 points for Korea and 43 points for China. The top 10 comprised of Chinese Taipei (1st), Korea (2nd), China (3rd), Hong Kong (4th), the Ukraine (5th), the Czech Republic (6th), Russia (7th), Sweden (8th), Japan (9th) and the USA (10th).

In the final round, Hungarian Pal Balogh had no fear of his Korean opponent, launching into the infamous taisha joseki then sauntering around the playing area as his time ticked down. ‘Balogh The Great’ (as he wrote on his score sheet) did not live up to his name however and was toppled by the Korean powerhouse Taewoong Wei.

Luis Enrique Boza Araya (Costa Rica) again put his money on tengen in a last stab at chalking up his first point, but was defeated by the Azerbaijanian Tahirbayov, who had awoken from his morning’s slumber (see Round 7 report).


From the left: Naisan Chan (Hong Kong), Lukas Podpera (Czech Republic), Bogdan Zhurakovsyi (Ukraine) and IGF Vice President Thomas Hsiang

In a tense showdown between Russia and the Ukraine, it was the latter who took control, fending off the Russian incursion into his territory. Despite a completely winning position against India, Mexico’s delegate Ricardo Quintero Zazueta was distraught to give away his game to Sonia Shah with a slip under time pressure.

The day concluded with the award ceremony, at which traditional Korean spoon sets were presented to Lucian Corlan (Romania) and Tiawattananont Thanapol (Thailand) for their fighting spirit, and the grand trophy was handed to its new owner, the young Yitien Chan of Chinese Taipei. Special prizes were presented by IGF director Martin Finke to Nhat Minh Vo (Vietnam), Rafif Shidqi Fitrah (Indonesia), Csaba Deak (Brazil) and Soni Shah (India).

- John Richardson


Stormy Weather


Bomun Lake

This morning treated the WAGC players to a clear sky and magnificent views of Lake Bomun. But news of the approach of Typhoon Neoguri left many worried about their return flights. There was turbulent weather on the Go board too, with numerous upsets and even a disqualification.

The playing room swarmed with referees as Bahadur Tahirbayov’s flag was lowered signaling his disqualification from this morning’s round. The Azerbaijani was nowhere to be seen. Officials were sent on a search party to his hotel room, where it emerged that he had been unable to awake from a deep slumber that cost him his penultimate game.

Lukas Podpera

Lukas Podpera

Japan’s Kiko Emura suffered another defeat, this time at the hands of Czech Lukas Podpera, who played an excellent game winning comfortably with a tight endgame. This means that Japan will struggle to make the top 10, a bitter result for Emura who was pulling out all stops after his disappointing 8th in last year’s tournament.

Russia was dismantled by China. A large Russian group was fatally encirled, leaving Dmitry Surin many points behind. He went all in with a last ditch ko but Ruoran Wang cooly let the Russian take a few points, content with seizing the rest of the board. More wins for China and Chinese Taipei, leaving the three Asian Go giants China, Korea and Chinese Taipei in tied pole position.

Korea and Chinese Taipei have the same tiebreak score (sum of opponents’ scores) of 30 with China close behind with 28. This means, assuming that these players all win their final games, the overall winner will be down to the results of their previous opponents. We will let fate decide.

The anti-doping test will take place immediately after the final round and before the award ceremony.


- John Richardson


Players 2


From top left: Jie Liang, Rafif Shidqi Fitrah, Amir Fragman, Nikola Mitic, Altan Kuntay, Ricardo Quintera Zaqueta.

More photos here.


Field Blown Open by Korean Win Against China


Taewoong Wei (left) and Ruoran Wang

Just as we had thought that the Chinese had it in the bag, Korean maestro Taewoong Wei snatched victory in this afternoon’s game, bringing his score to five wins and one loss, now equal to Chinese player. This throws the field open, as there are now six players sharing the lead. Chances are it will come down to the tiebreak (sum of opponents’ scores) and then only fate will decide whose earlier opponents can provide the points to take pole position. Currently Korea’s SOS is 26 compared to China and Chinese Taipei’s 24.

The tournament leader, Chinese Ruoran Wang, let out a huge yawn at the start of the 6th round (only two to go) of the World Amateur Go Championship 2014. Was it this fatigue that led to his downfall? The game turned into an early running battle with the Korean grabbing many points on the right side of the board. This proved to be too much.


Soni Shah

As the tournament wears on the challengers are cranking up the pace, and many games are now reaching their conclusions before the one hour mark. Players are getting more experimental too, with Francis Roads (United Kingdom) taking two 5-4 points and a number of 3-3 sightings coming from the New Zealand and Swiss camps.

Dominique Versyck (Belgium) delighted over his defeat of India’s 1 Dan Soni Shah, taking apart a large central group that he “didn’t need to kill but, well, might as well”. While “perhaps not the politest solution”, this victory pushes him to a respectable three wins out of six. The 12 year old Nhat Minh Vo (Vietnam) steered his game into a huge central battle, culminating with a semeai where it was his stones, and not those of his Australian opponent Sang-Dae Hahn, that perished in the fight.

- John Richardson


The Crucial Round


Peter Jadron (left) playing Rafif Shidqi Fitrah

China has taken the sole lead with Ruoran Wang’s decisive victory over Chinese Taipei’s Yitien Chan in the fifth round of the 35th WAGC. The game itself was relatively uneventful but it was clear that Wang was in the driving seat throughout. It remains to be seen whether Korea can level the score with the Korea-China showdown this afternoon. Other players still with a chance include Bogdan Zhurakovskyi (Ukraine), Dmitri Surin (Russia), Peter Jadron (Slovakia), Lukas Podpera (Czech Republic), Jie Liang (USA), Merlijn Kuin (Netherlands) and Tiawattananont Thanapol (Thailand), all with four wins and one loss.

The fifth round of the World Amateur Go Championship began at the usual time of 9.30am this morning. A late arrival from Austria helped German Bernd Rainer Radmacher speed to victory, and the Serbian star Nikola Mitic quickly took down Belgium accountant Dominique Versyck, killing a large group just before the clock struck ten. Zhijie Bei (New Zealand) and Khatanbaatar Tsend-Ayush (Mongolia) both had corner groups captured but it was the Kiwi who was able to fight back and win his game against Altan Kuntay from Turkey. A strong performance from Spanish sales manager Carlos Pau brought him victory against the tough opponent Australia’s Sang-Dae Hahn, a surprise to many.


Dia 1                                        Dia 2

The young Polish student Stanislaw Frejlak was drawn against Japan’s Kiko Emura. Against the Japanese’s sanrensei, Frejlak responded with an unusual trick-play (white A in diagram 1). But Emura was quick to churn out the book-line refutation (see diagram 2) and subsequently won the game.

Yet more byoyomi drama ensued with Hungarian Pal Balogh blaming a broken timepiece for his loss on time to Dutch legend Merlijn Kuin. His opponent was too deep in thought to have seen what happened, so the decision went down to the referees. Heated discussion led to the final verdict of victory for the Dutchman.

- John Richarson


Passing on the Torch

The 35th World Amateur Go Championship marks the retirement of Yuki Shigeno from her post as the Secretary General of the International Go Federation (IGF). We look back at all she has contributed to the Go world since she began her work in 2006.


Yuki Shigeno

Yuki Shigeno’s career began in 1986 when she joined the Nihon Kiin as a professional Go player. In 1994 she moved to Italy, where she would stay for just over ten years teaching and popularising go across Europe. In 2006 she returned from Italy back to Japan and in the same year became the Secretary General of the International Go Federation. This was accompanied by the task of organising the 2006 World Amateur Go Championship, a responsibility that she has continued until 2014, which will be her 9th WAGC.

The WAGC was held solely in Japan for 30 years, thanks partly to sponsorship from Japan Airlines that secured flights for participants for a number of years. Many of the veteran players at this year’s WAGC remember the ‘good old days’ when they did not have to shell out for their trip. It was held for the first time outside of Japan in 2010, when Hangzhou (China) hosted the 31st WAGC. Yuki Shigeno was instrumental in this move towards internationalisation and is delighted that this year’s tournament is being held in Korea, with Thailand on the cards for 2015. Furthermore, the period of her activity saw the inauguration of the first non-Japanese IGF President.  

The toughest point in her career was the 2008 World Mind Sports Games, at that time not yet governed by SportAccord. Six hundred participants and a further hundred guests and officials descended on Beijing to take part in what has been one of the largest events to date. Yuki Shigeno, as the IGF technical delegate, was responsible amongst other things for all of the players, including their registration, flights and accommodation. With so many people, flight problems, last-minute cancellations – you name it – the work was so intense that she had enough of the job and wanted to throw in the towel, but thanks to Ruinan Wang’s (former IGF Vice-President) motivation she made it past this gigantic hurdle.

Since then she has been responsible for much of the work behind the scenes keeping the IGF climbing ever onwards and upwards, in particular with organising tournaments across the globe. Her retirement from the post was announced at the IGF Annual General Meeting that kicked off this year’s WAGC.

I am very grateful to all who have helped along the way, especially my husband, who has always been willing to lend a hand. It is wonderful that the young Lee Hajin is taking over and that next year’s WAGC will be held for the first time in Thailand. Fate has brought us here and I believe that same fate will take us forward.

IGF is a platform for friendship and integrity between Go playing nations. We need to keep our fights to the board and act as a family to promote the development of the game across the World. It’s not about who wins. I believe in the future of the IGF and hope to see many splendid achievements in the coming years.

She is looking forward to spending more time with her children’s class in Nagoya alongside her many duties at the Nihon Kiin.

- John Richardson, photo by John Pinkerton


Round 4 – Ge vs Emura

Yongfei Ge

Yongfei Ge

Round 4

White: Yongfei Ge (Canada) 7D
Black: Kiko Emura (Japan) 7D


Click here to start the game viewer.


Commentary/variations  by Yongfei Ge. Recorded by Chris Garlock




Photos by John Pinkerton. From top left: Nhat Minh Vo, Kiko Emura, Taewoong Wei, Merlijn Kuin, Suzanne D’Bel, Niccolò Sgaravatti, Zoran Mutabzija and Dmitry Surin.

More photos here.


Round 3 – Chan vs Wei

35wagc_day1_Yitien-ChanRound 3

White: Yitien Chan (Chinese Taipei) 7D
Black: Taewoong Wei (Korea) 7D

Click here to start the game viewer.

Commentary/variations by Chan & Wei, with assistance by Chengping Chang 3P (Taiwan team leader), Chihyung Nam 1P, Thomas Hsiang and translator Hana Lee.

Transcribed by Chris Garlock


Round Four Roundup

Suzan D'Bel

Suzan D’Bel

After the drama of this morning’s course of events, we expected a less exciting offering this afternoon, but that was not to be the case. China, Korea and Chinese Taipei pushed ahead with their victories against the Ukraine, Hong Kong and Sweden.

Malaysia’s Suzanne D’Bel finally got the chance to employ her trademark tengen strategy, picking black for the first time so far in the tournament. A fight erupted in the first few moves that engulfed the board, eventually leading to the demise of her Portugese opponent Pedro Pereira. See here the game record. Costa Rican system engineer Luis Enrique Boza Araya tried again to mimic D’Bel’s winning strategy but was clinically dispatched by his Swiss adversary Sylvain Gasana Praz.


Matthias Frisch (left) playing Ricardo Quintero Zazueta

Canadian Yongfei Ge snuffed Japan’s Kiko Emura’s ambitions once and for all in an exciting game in which Ge built a gigantic central moyo. Emura went all in with a desperate invasion but it was not enough to shake Canada’s WAGC veteran (game record here).

Elsewhere crazy fighting led to the downfall of Israeli Amir Fragman, and Austrian student Matthias Frisch’s skilful handling of a gigantic semeai dealt him victory against Mexican mathematician Ricardo Quintero Zazueta.

- John Richardson