Interview with Bill Lin

Canada’s Bill (Tianyu) Lin was one of the first four players to be eliminated, losing to China’s Jiang Weijie in round 1 and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chun-yen in round 2. He then became the first player to give Ranka an interview.

Bill Lin (right) playing against Jiang Weijie

Ranka: Do you prefer to be called Tianyu or Bill?
Lin: I prefer Bill. When I registered for the World Mind Games I was still officially named Tianyu, so that’s how I’m listed in the program, but after that I officially changed my name to Bill in Canada.

Ranka: Where were you born, and when did you emigrate to Canada?
Lin: I was born in Ningbo, a city south of Shanghai. When I was ten, in my fifth year in primary school, my parents decided to emigrate. One reason was that a lot of their friends had emigrated, and another reason was that they didn’t like the school examination system in China. So we moved to Vancouver.

Ranka: Could you speak any English when your arrived?
Lin: Only greetings. I took classes in English as a second language for two years. After that I had no problems.

Ranka: And when did you start playing go?
Lin: When I was six years old, still going to kindergarten. My father had been crazy about go in his university days, and there was a go board in the house. I became very interested in playing five-in-a-row, and then I started playing go. An amateur 5-dan named Fan Jiunling had a go school that I attended twice a week for four and a half years until we emigrated. By then I was an amateur 3 dan in China.

Ranka: And you kept the game up in Canada?
Lin: Yes. I liked reading Chinese go literature. Not doing life-and-death problems, just reading go books.

Ranka: How did you get those books in Canada?
Lin: My father owns a factory in China, where they manufacture home electronics goods: coffee makers, for example. Like many emigrants, he’s constantly traveling back and forth between Canada and China. Each time he comes back he brings the latest go books with him. I must have two or three hundred of those books on my shelves now.

Ranka: When did you start participating in Canadian tournaments?
Lin: My first tournament was the Canadian Open. My mother contacted a go player in Vancouver, and was told about it. It sounded interesting, so I registered in the B division, which was 3-5 dan. The competition was close, but I took first place. After that I continued to play in local and national tournaments, and tournaments in the United States. I didn’t study a lot but I kept improving. I guess you improve as you mature.

Ranka: And how did you qualify for the World Mind Games?
Lin: I saw a notice about the first SportAccord World Mind Games last year. It looked like fun, so I registered for the qualifier. The qualifier was played online and it was tough. I beat Feng Yun, a 9-dan pro, but still failed to qualify. So I tried again this September, but without expecting to win. I was rather surprised when I did win. It was a smaller field, so I only needed to win three games.

Ranka: And what of your results here in Beijing?
Lin: I did as well as I expected. When I saw the results of the draw for pairings, I knew my chances would be slim. I played my best, but I had no chance at all against Jiang Weijie in the first round. In the second round I may have had some chances.

Ranka: Do you like living in Canada?
Lin: Yes. It’s hard to explain, but I like having space

to express myself. I can do more things. In China all I did was study and play go. In Canada I’ve done some swimming and tried other sports.

Ranka: Where are you going to school now and what are your future plans?
Lin: I’m going to an all-boys’ school. I think it’s considered the top school in British Columbia. I have college entrance examinations coming up soon. I’d like to study engineering or business in college, perhaps in the United States, maybe even in Europe. I like to go to different places.

Ranka: Thank you.

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