Gold for Korea, Silver for China and Bronze for Chinese Taipei


Changhun Kim

The 36th World Amateur Go Championship, held this year for the first time in Thailand, ended this afternoon with victory for Changhun Kim 6d of Korea. Second came Aohua Hu 6d of China, scoring seven wins out of eight (losing only to the Korean), and third place was taken by the young Jyun-Fu Lai 7d from Chinese Taipei.

The top ten players were: [1] Changhun Kim (Korea), [2] Aohua Hu (China), [3] Jyun-Fu Lai (Chinese Taipei), [4] Chi-hin Chan (Hong Kong), [5] Satoshi Hiraoka (Japan), [6] Cornel Burzo (Romania), [7] Artem Kachanovskyi (Ukraine), [8] Juyong Koh (Canada), [9] Pal Balogh (Hungary) and [10] Daniel Ko (United States). Click here for the full tournament results. This year was the first to employ an improved pairing algorithm, the MacMahon system, which has been widely used in Europe over the last thirty years. Players are given an initial score based on their playing strength, allowing them to be paired against opponents of a more similar strength.

In Round 7, a surprise victory for Italian representative Matias Pankoke 2d, defeating Vietnamese Khanh-Binh Do 5d despite a three dan rank difference and incurring the largest time penalty so far (58 minutes) for late arrival. It was a busy day for Romania’s Cornel Burzo 6d, first winning by 3.5 points against Daniel Ko 7d of the United States in an exciting game with a number of large blunders from each side, then narrowly losing by half a point from a winning position against the third place winner Jyun-Fu Lai 6d (Chinese Taipei). At the end of the game, there were so many stones captured in ko that the board was completely filled in counting, leaving Burzo with fourteen remaining captures against Lai’s eight.

The final round was followed as usual by the anti-doping test for the top three players and another random player. The players and officials then all gathered in the gardens overlooking the Chao Phraya River at the back of the tournament hotel to await the start of the closing ceremony.

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Dance at the closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony began with speeches, awards and a traditional Thai puppet show, and these were followed by a grand outdoor banquet. The top ten players were awarded plaques and the top three trophies in the shape of Thai elephants. After dinner a troupe of Thai dancers took to the stage, along with the more adventurous players and officials, in celebration of the conclusion of this fantastic tournament.

Many thanks to the organising committee and especially to the Go Association of Thailand for their hard work in preparing and executing this very memorable World Amateur Go Championship. We eagerly await next year’s competition, which will be held in China.

– John Richardson (photos by Yoshitaka Morimoto)

Round 6: Hungary vs Belgium

In this edition of the championship there have been very few surprise results and the game between newcomer Thomas Connors 3d (Belgium) and veteran Pal Balogh 6d (Hungary) concluded as forecast with a win for Balogh, the strongest player on paper. Diagram 1 shows the final board position. Balogh (White) has a clear territorial advantage and with move 140 threatens to cut the marked Black stones at A or B, forcing Black’s resignation (click here for the sgf file).

White’s territorial advantage materialised mainly due to some errors in the direction of play committed by the Belgian. Diagram 2 shows the final stage of the fuseki. Black should have played 3 at 4, which is the key point for both players on the border of their areas of ​​influence.


Diagram 1 (left) and Diagram 2


– Ranka, with game comments by Hong Seok Ui 1p (in pectore) (click here for the sgf file).

Korea Storms Ahead on Third Day of WAGC


Kim (left) playing Lai

Korea’s Changhun Kim 6d remains the only undefeated player after the third day of the 36th World Amateur Go Championship. This puts Korea in first place, with Chinese Taipei, China and Hong Kong as the other possible contenders for the championship title, each with five wins out of six.

The most crucial game of the tournament so far was the clash in Round 5 between the unscathed Chinese Taipei and Korea. The game began with Jyun-Fu Lai 7d (Chinese Taipei) falling behind in the early middlegame after underestimating the power of a double peep, leading to a bad result giving too much thickness to his opponent Changhun Kim (Korea). He struggled on until Kim spotted his chance and launched an all-out attack on Lai’s dragon, which fled to the centre of the board where despite a last ditch ko it was unable to escape to safety (click here for the sgf file). A triumphant grin accompanied Kim’s enormous kill, which secured his place as the tournament leader.

In Round 5, the two young players Rafif Fitrah (Indonesia) and In-Hang Sam (Macau) gave spectators their money’s worth, with the game erupting into a gigantic battle full of cuts and kills that engulfed the entire board. Russia versus Czech Republic was a marathon of a game, with Russian Timur Sankin losing many stones in a capturing race but taking huge territory in return. When the game finally concluded, it was the Russian who came out on top, leaving Silt with a disappointing two wins out of five.

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From the left: Shin (Australia) playing Do (Vietnam)

Round 6 saw Finland’s Vesa Laatikainen 5d rescuing his corner group from the jaws of death with a famous tesuji on the 1-1 point, but the timing was wrong and this allowed Merlijn Kuin 6d (Netherlands) to clock up his third point in the championship. The United States beat Russia, Hong Kong took down Japan, and Australia defeated Vietnam. Demetris Regginos 1d, a musician from Cyprus who has been playing 6-3 points in many of his games, beat Desmond Cann 5d (United Kingdom) to take his fifth win out of six. Stefan Sabo 2k (Slovakia) also remains on five wins, defeating Lithuanian representative Romeika Ernestas 2d in Round 6.

The other major drama of the day was yet another series of late arrivals. Serbian Dusan Mitic failed to appear on time for the third game this tournament, Ondrej Silt (Czech Republic) kept his German opponent Johannes Obenaus waiting for nearly twenty minutes, and Peruvian Leon Rios Joels completed the tardy trio. Despite all incurring time penalties, ironically all three players won their respective games.

With the top ten places still up in the air, there is everything to play for in the final two rounds tomorrow.

– John Richardson

Round 4: China vs Korea


Diagram 1

The showdown between Aohua Hu (China) and Changhun Kim (Korea), considered by many to be one of the most decisive games in the tournament, ended after only 124 moves with the Chinese player resigning after being unable to close the clear territorial gap between him and the Korean.

The final position is shown in Diagram 1. Perhaps the move that most affected the outcome of the game was a highly unusual move played by Hu in the fuseki (Black 1 in Diagram 2). The sequence that continues is almost forced, and the outcome is favourable for White. A more orthodox move like Black 1 in Diagram 3 would lead to a more balanced game with Black able to exert pressure on both the marked groups.


Diagram 2 (left) and Diagram 3

– Ranka, with game comments by Hong Seok Ui 1p in pectore (click here for the sgf file).

Korea Beats China, Chinese Taipei Beats Japan

Jyun-Fu Lai

Jyun-Fu Lai

Jyun-Fu Lai 7d (Chinese Taipei) and Changhun Kim 6d (Korea) remain the only two undefeated players at the end of the second day of the 36th WAGC in Bangkok, Thailand. Lai and Kim defeated their Japanese and Chinese opponents respectively in two closely fought duels running long into the afternoon. Chan (Hong Kong), Balogh (Hungary), Mitic (Serbia), Koh (Canada), Ko (US) and Kachanovskyi (Ukraine) join them in the top 10.

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From the left: Hu ‘China) playing Kim (Korea)

Action commenced just moments into the start of Round 3. Within five minutes, Jie Hui Kwa (Singapore) and Pal Balogh (Hungary) had blitzed out 40 moves, while the Argentinian and Serbian representatives were yet to appear. Argentina’s David Politzer arrived relatively quickly, however Dusan Mitic was nowhere to be seen for 18 minutes. Despite beginning with only 24 minutes on the clock (taking a 36 minute penalty) and spending most of the game in byoyomi, he fought sharply and was able to defeat his opponent, the Dutch representative Merlijn Kuin 6d. Then came a big kill for Portugal, as Pedro Carmona 2k snapped up a fistful of stones from Sandeep Dave 5k of India. Representatives of Japan and France were locked in intense thought, with Hiraoka and Papazoglou almost bumping heads as they leaned far across the Go board. The game was taken by Hiraoka.

In Round 4 the spotlight was on the top two boards, China vs Korea, and Japan vs Chinese Taipei. First, China and Korea. Both players mean business – Korea’s Changhun Kim 6d has received a special training programme before the competition, and China’s Aohua Hu 6d is being accompanied in Bangkok by his personal trainer, a 7 dan professional. In the third round, Hu had dispatched Ukrainian superstar Artem Kachanovskyi 6d, and Korea’s Kim steered a complicated fight to victory against Canada’s Juyong Koh 7d. The final result was a victory for the Korean. In the Japan-Taipei clash, Jyun-Fu Lai 7d (still only 12) pulled ahead of Japan’s Hiraoka Satoshi 8d, twice winner of the WAGC (1994 and 2006), in a tense battle culminating in a 1.5 point victory for Chinese Taipei. Lai is said to have defeated recently last year’s WAGC champion and fellow countryman Yi-Tien Chan, further evidence of the youngster’s strength. This year’s tournament, just as the last, will see a Korea-Taipei showdown that will likely decide the champion.

Fu Kang Chang 5d (Malaysia), also 12 years old, was defeated by Hungarian ex-insei Pal Balogh 6d, a veteran of the WAGC. A catastrophic joseki error made by the Malaysian is shown in Diagram 1 (click here for the sgf file). After playing 1 and 2, White must first push at 3 as in Diagram 2 (the correct way) before continuing to push on the other side to prevent his five central stones becoming captured unconditionally, leading to instant disaster. In the game Balogh chose a less effective variation than Diagram 1 but was nonetheless able to seal the victory.


Diagram 1 (left) and Diagram 2


Diagram 3

A valuable point was taken by Dusan Mitic 6d (Serbia) against Khanh-Binh Do 5d (Vietnam). White (Do) was behind after responding to Black’s kakari at 1 in Diagram 3 with the lukewarm 2, when instead playing at 3 would have been the correct direction (click here for the sgf file). Vietnam’s fate was sealed when Do chose the heavy (and very risky) connection at A. Here Hiroshi Yamashiro 9p recommends the counter-atari at B.

Other results in Round 4 included Chan (Hong Kong) beating Silt (Czech Republic), Kachanovskyi (Ukraine) defeating Papazoglou (France) and Sankin (Russia) losing to Burzo (Romania). Click here for the full standings after Round 4.

– John Richardson, with game comments by Hiroshi Yamashiro 9p and Michael Redmond 9p

Ladder Breaks Chance for Snatch Win: Habu vs Koh

Diagram 1

Diagram 1

The first round of the 36th WAGC saw Poland’s Koichiro Habu 4d miss a critical move that could have allowed him to snatch victory from Canadian Juyong Koh 7d, both playing for their first time at this event. Given their ranks, the clear favourite going into the game was the Canadian 35-year-old insurance broker, who succeeded to reach a good position by the end of the fuseki (click here for the sgf file). But it was in the middlegame where Habu had a moment’s chance to reverse the game and score his first win in the tournament.

In Diagram 1, White (Koh) cuts at move 76 in an attempt to counterattack Black (Habu) and rescue the marked stones. In the game Black answered with the natural-looking nobi at 1 in Diagram 2, however this was a fatal mistake. The game continued until move 8, where Black was confronted by a dilemma. B is the vital point for Black to kill White, however if White manages to play at A the game is over, as the ladder is good for him.

Instead of the nobi at 1, Black should first atari at A. If White plays as in Diagram 3, this time the ladder is good for Black (the stone at A is a ladder breaker) and this could have won the game for Habu. In the actual game however it was Black whose stones were cut off and captured.


Diagram 2 (left) and Diagram 3


– Ranka, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p.

36th WAGC: First Day Report

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From the left: Youngshin Lee, Jinhoon Kim and Michael Redmond

The first games of the 36th World Amateur Go Championship began at half past nine this morning in the Grand Ballroom of the Montien Riverside Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. Chief referee Michael Redmond 9p announced the start of play alongside the other referees Youngshin Lee 5p and Jinhoon Kim 4p.


Ondrej Silt (left) playing Rafif Fitrah

A highlight of the first round was Indonesia’s 12-year-old Rafif Fitrah 4d stealing a surprise victory from Ondrej Silt 6d (Czech Republic). The young Indonesian quickly gained a lead in territory in return for Silt’s thickness and proceeded to succeed in some ambitious invasions. Despite losing a group himself, Fitrah gained momentum for a decisive attack against Silt’s stones on the opposite side of the board.

This was perhaps the only major upset of the day as both Rounds 1 and 2 concluded with few surprises. Refuelled by a lunch of Pad Thai, the players reconvened at 1.30pm for the second set of games of the day. The majority of match-ups concluded relatively early in the afternoon, first with Azerbaijan’s Bahadur Tahirbayov 6d reaching a winning endgame against Peruvian Leon Rios Joels 1d in just over twenty minutes. Tomorrow will be an exciting day as the title contenders begin to face each other. The top five seeded players are still without any losses.

See this link for the full results of Rounds 1 and 2. Pairings for Round 3 will be kept secret until the morning.

36th World Amateur Go Championship begins in Bangkok

The games have begun. Fifty-seven players from all corners of the world have gathered in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, to contend for victory in the Go world’s most prestigious amateur event.

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Players at the Triple Go.

The festivities kicked off on Saturday morning with a friendship event in the main playing hall, a large ballroom decorated with photographs of Go events in Thailand. A handful of guests, selected from the very best players across Thailand, received teaching games from the tournament referees. Michael Redmond 9p, the chief referee, commented that the level of the local players was extremely high, comparable to top Japanese amateurs. Alongside the teaching games, a friendly warm-up was arranged for the tournament participants: Triple Go. Players were split into teams of three and played alternating moves similar to pair Go. Much fun was had by all.


34th IGF Annual General Meeting

As is customary, the afternoon began with the Annual General Meeting of the International Go Federation (IGF). After the opening address by Mr Chimoon Park, the acting president of the IGF, operations summary reports were given from various IGF directors. Reports included last year’s World Amateur Go Championship (WAGC) and the 4th Sport Accord World Mind Games (SAWMG). While the future of the SAWMG is still unclear, mention was made of the possibility of this event being held biennially, restarting in 2016 in China. It is likely that China will host again the World Mind Sport Games, after very successful events in Beijing 2008 and Lille 2012, and this will most likely be held in Macau in 2016. With over 1000 mind sport participants including 250 Go players this will be an exiting event on the Go calendar. China will hold next year’s WAGC, although the exact location is yet to be decided.

The second half of the AGM covered the budget report, anti-doping regulations and the new IGF Code of Ethics. Also reported was the release of the IGF Facebook page and YouTube channel. Players in this tournament can be seen introducing themselves on the Youtube channel. Terms were renewed for current directors and it was announced that director Martin Finke will step down from his post after 5 years of dedicated service. We are very grateful to Martin for his valuable contributions, which include organising the pairings and anti-doping procedures for this tournament. IGF membership applications were reviewed and the logo for a new IGF donor badge was decided. Iran will become a full member of the IGF from this year, increasing the total number of members to seventy-five, and the Asian Go Federation will become an associate member.

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Korsak Chairasmisak interviewed at the press conference.

The afternoon continued with the press conference, where the main figures shared their enthusiasm with national media about holding this year’s WAGC here in Thailand. Korsak Chairasmisak expressed his delight at how the Go Association of Thailand, of which he is the president, has evolved from almost nothing in the early 80s to hosting the WAGC this year. The press conference was followed by a group photograph for the players and officials, and preparations were made for the evening’s opening ceremony.


Traditional Thai performance during the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony began with introductory speeches and a lavish performance of Thai dance and music. Highlights were a traditional Thai drummer, Thai boxing and a ballet performance. Dinner and drinks followed into the evening, while players mulled over their pairings announced for tomorrow’s first round.

– John Richardson

36th World Amateur Go Championship

36wagc_sponsorsPlayers from six continents and assorted islands will gather at the Montien Riverside Hotel in Bangkok for eight rounds of Swiss system competition at this year’s World Amateur Go Championship June 7-10. At stake will be a championship cup and second and third place cups donated by the main sponsors (CP All, The Siam Commercial Bank, and Red Bull); plaques and certificates for fourth to tenth places; and two fighting spirit awards.

The Asian contingent will be young, including 12-year-old contestants from Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, and Malaysia and teenagers from China, Hong Kong, Korea, Macau, Singapore, and the host country Thailand. Japan will field a two-time former world champion, and Europe will field several players who have placed high in past years. Video self-introductions by sixteen of the fifty-eight players can be viewed here.

The schedule also includes a Directors’ Meeting and General Meeting of the International Go Federation on June 6, a “Triple Go” side-event likewise on June 6, and sightseeing with a dinner cruise on June 11. Seven games each round will be broadcast on Pandanet. Ranka online will carry reports of the entire event.

The list of players is here.