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.

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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

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