Mexico to organize the 1st Latin American Go Congress

logo amgoRecently the Ibero American Go Federation (FIG) chose Mexico as the host country of this year’s Ibero American Go Championship (CIG) -the biggest Go event of the Latin American region-. The idea is to upgrade this event into the 1st Latin American Go Congress.

“Latin America is lagging behind in its Go development compared to other regions of the western world such as North America or Europe” reports Mexican Go Association’s president Emil García.
“We need to start moving forward in order to catch up with the rest of the western world, that’s why last year we launched the 1st Pandanet Go Latin American Team Championship (PGLATC) which is a 10 team league whose teams are conformed with the top players of each participating country”. Find more about this league here.

The agreement with Pandanet is that the top 2 teams at the end of the league will get the chance to play an over the board final in the host country of this year CIG -which now we know is Mexico- with travel expenses sponsored by Pandanet.

“That’s how we came up with the idea of the Latin American Go Congress, run both the CIG and the PGLATC final plus some activities with pro players for the participants, in the fashion of the US Go Congress or the European Go Congress”, tells Emil García.
The event is planned to take place in Cancun, Mexico on October 13th-15th, 2017. Soon more information will be available in the Mexican Go Association’s new website.

CITICS 2016 China-Korea Amateur Go Cultural Exchange Tournament Held in Suzhou, China on 18th December


Mr. Wang Yi, IGF Secretary General, hosting the opening ceremony

Launched in 2011, this tournament takes place annually in China or Korea by turns, gathering players from the two countries together under the banner of friendship. So far it has attracted thousands of Go people, including fans, top amateurs and even some public figures.

This year each country sent 30 players to compete in two rounds, producing 60 exciting games. In the first round, the Chinese players treated their guests a little harshly by scoring 22 wins.

Former world amateur champion Chang Hao 9p

In the second round, although the Korean players did better, they were still defeated. Overall, China won the tournament 39:21.

Later the same day, there were simultaneous games between the players who had participated in the main tournament and some well-known professionals (including Chang Hao 9p and Hua Yigang 8p). This event has always been an important part of the tournament.
Everyone had a great time here, enjoying their games and making friends. The next holding of this tournament is expected to take place about a year later in Korea.
Source (text and photos):

37th World Amateur Go Championship

The 37th World Amateur Go Championship will take place in June 2016 in Wuxi, a city of six million located slightly northwest of Shanghai. Ranka will be on hand to cover the entire event.

During its 3000-year history, Wuxi has produced many famous statesmen, writers, and artists. A recent addition to its honor roll is Yu Zhiying, who now tops the world in women’s professionial go. Last year Wuxi ventured into the international amateur go arena when a local trading company sponsored a match between a team of Chinese players and a mixed Japanese-Korean team. This year Wuxi has moved straight to the center of the arena by holding the WAGC.

The 37th world amateur champion will be decided in eight rounds played June 5-8, preceded by meetings on the 4th and followed by friendship games and sightseeing on the 9th. In the competition for the award-winning places, WAGC newcomers from Canada, Czechia, Chinese Taipei, France, Germany, Korea, the Ukraine, and the USA will challenge a strong lineup of WAGC veterans from Europe and the Far East. Also worth watching will be a trio of thirteen-year-olds from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, all ranked 4 or 5 dan. The full list of players can be viewed here. For everyone it will be a great chance to meet old friends, make new friends, and take on opponents from the four corners of the earth.

Deep Learning Takes Computer Go to the Professional Level

Two human vs computer even game matches were played in Europe last October. In one, former German champion Franz-Josef Dickhut disposed of Zen 3-1, apparently reaffirming human superiority. But as reported in the 28 January issue of Nature, in the other match AlphaGo, a new program from Google DeepMind, trounced European Champion Fan Hui 5-0. Fan earned a 2-dan professional ranking in China before emigrating to France, so it appears that go software has reached the level of professional play. The new ingredient responsible for this startling advance is deep learning, a technique also coming into use in fields such as speech recognition and medical diagnosis.

In the first of the five AlphaGo-Fan games, both sides played conservatively and AlphaGo won by 2.5 points. In the rest of the match Fan played aggressively, but AlphaGo outfought him and won four times by resignation. Fan described AlphaGo as “very strong and stable…like a wall.” Game records can be found here.

This March, plans call for AlphaGo to take on a tougher professional opponent, in fact, one of the toughest there is: Korean 9-dan Lee Sedol, winner of numerous world titles since 2002. The outcome of this match is hard to predict, but it is worth noting that the AlphaGo programming team reports that AlphaGo can beat the best rival computer programs with a four-stone handicap. That is something that several other 9-dan pros have had trouble doing in the past few years.

Further information can be found, here, here, here, and elsewhere on the Internet.

The 1st IMSA Elite Mind Games to take place in Huai’an, China

IEMG_logo_240pxThe 1st IMSA Elite Mind Games (IEMG) is being held from February 25 to March 3 at New Century Hotel Huaian, China. IEMG is featuring five mind sports as official disciplines – Go, chess, bridge, draughts, and Xiangqi. In Go, 30 top players around the world will be competing for total prize money of 200,000 EUR in three medal events: Men’s Team, Women’s Individual, and Pair.

IEMG is a re-branded event of SportAccord World Mind Games, which was hosted in Beijing four times annually from 2011 to 2014. As SportAccord goes through restructuring and becomes unable to host World Mind Games, IMSA (the International Mind Sports Association), the co-organizer of the SportAccord World Mind Games, took responsibility and succeeded in bringing the event back under the new title. It is expected that IEMG will continue to be held on an annual basis as a major mind-sport event.

You can check here the list of players the tournament outline and the schedule for Go.
Daily reports and commentaries will be posted on the Ranka website.

36th World Amateur Go Championship

36wagc_logosPlayers 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.

Mexico performs their 1st Go Congress ever

Kim Sooyong (right)Tlatelolco Cultural Center was the hosting venue of the1st Mexican Go Congress held from November 15 to 17, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. This 1st Congress counted with the distinguished presence of Hajin Lee 3P and an Kim Sooyong 4P both sent by auspice of the Korean Baduk Association.

The 3 day Congress was the host for several events such as the 1st Mexican Open Tournament, a 13×13 tournament for kids, Go and Origami workshops and of course both Korean Pros shared with the Mexican Go community their skill trough reviews from the Open Tournament games, lectures and simultaneous games exhibitions.

Organized by the Mexican Go Association and sponsored by UNAM, Mexico’s main public university and KABA, this Congress is pioneer in the development of Go in Mexico and Latin America. With a 45 players field for the Open Tournament and more than 300 attendants in total, the event turned out to be a huge success.

Group Photo“This Congress was a multi-purpose event” reports Mexican Go Association president, Mr. Emil García, “The players not only had the chance to play in an official tournament and feel the seriousness of it, but also had the opportunity to gain insight of how pro players think of the game trough the several activities we had with them. It was also a great chance of sharing and learning for the youngest players, I’m surprised by the amount of youngsters that participated in the 13×13 Tournament and in the workshops, kids are increasingly becoming a main actor in Mexican Go.

“European and American Go are developing really fast, and they are getting a lot of support from International entities, Mexican and LatinAmerican Go shouldn’t lag behind, that’s why we are working really hard to be able to catch up with you guys” says Mr. García. “2015 will be a year full of surprises for Mexican Go, so stay tuned!”

For picture galleries of this Congress check the event website

Song Jihoon wins Korean Amateur Guksu Title

Song Jihoon (right) beats Hong Moojin by 1/2 point (photo courtesy of Cyberoro)While five outstanding Korean professional go players were competing for medals at the World Mind Games in Beijing last month, 136 outstanding Korean amateurs competed in Seoul for the Amateur Guksu (or Kuksu) title, and the right to represent Korea at the next World Amateur Go Championship in Thailand. The competitors included some who are training in hopes of winning professional credentials in Korea’s tough insei league, so the Guksu tournament was also viewed as a contest between this elite group and Korea’s large general amateur population.

A double-elimination preliminary qualifier held on December 13 reduced the field from 136 to 64, who then competed in a six-round knockout on December 14 and 15. After four of the six rounds, three of the four survivors were insei: Kim Changhoon, Park Jaegeun (winner of the 2013 Korea Prime Minister Cup), and Song Jihoon. Song also won one of the two semifinal games, greatly improving on his performance the year before, when he had been retired in the first knockout round. But insei dominance was not complete. The winner of the other semifinal game was Hong Moojin, who ranked No. 2 in the junior (U40) tier of Korean amateurs, second only to 2013 Guksu and 2014 KPMC winner Wei Taewoong. Song, for his part, ranked No. 3 among the insei.

Could the third best insei beat the second best general amateur? The answer to that question, after a 247 move thriller in the final round, was yes — by half a point. In a post-game interview Song Jihoon described his Guksu triumph as follows:

‘I was lucky to win. All my games were tough, especially my second-round game against Song Hongsuk [who was 2009 amateur Guksu and 2010 world amateur champion] and the final game against Hong Moojin. The final game was a struggle all the way, with the lead constantly shifting back and forth, but Hong made the last mistake.’

Aged seventeen, Song Jihoon is regarded as a rising star among the insei. In October he and Kim Changhoon competed alongside pros in the Samsung Cup. His style of play is often compared to that of Lee Sedol, whom he hopes to emulate. To quote him again, ‘I’m now preparing for the professional qualifying tournament by working on my opening, which is my weak point. Now that I’ve won the Guksu, I’m determined to win the world amateur championship and get the 40 professional qualification points that will be worth. Then I’ll try to win a professional world title within five years of making pro.’

In the meantime, to further his training he has the ₩2-million Guksu first prize (roughly $1800 or €1500). Hong Moojin, who has already amassed 90 of the 100 points needed to qualify as a pro, received ₩700,000 as runner-up, and took over the No. 1 amateur rank, pushing Wei Taewoong down to No. 2. Last year Wei narrowly missed being world amateur champion. Can a different Korean do better this year? That question will be answered in Bangkok next June.


Postscript: Song Jihoon made pro in February 2015. The Korean player at the next World Amateur Go Championship will be someone else, currently undecided.

– James Davies

2014 SportAccord WMG Day 5: Gold Medals for China

After the first four days of go competition in the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games, the main issues waiting to be settled were who would win the gold medal in the women’s individual event, and who would win the bronze medals in the men’s team event. Last year the answers had been China’s Yu Zhiying and the men’s team from Chinese Taipei. Could Korea’s Kim Chaeyoung or the Japanese men’s team provide a different answer this year?

The men’s teams matches began at 12:30. The team from Chinese Taipei was in their seats early, all in their chipper blue and white uniforms. The black-suited Japanese team arrived just a minute or two before deputy chief referee Michael Redmond began reciting the daily litany: two hours of time per player with five renewable 60-second overtime periods; Chinese rules with 3-3/4 stone compensation; mobile phones off or silenced; the round starts! 

Men’s Team at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind GamesAn hour and a half later, the women’s gold medal game began. Kim Chaeyoung, sole survivor of the losers’ bracket, drew white against undefeated Yu Zhiying.

In the team event, the Chinese men clinched their gold medals at about three o’clock, when North America’s Huiren Yang and Daniel Daehyuk Ko resigned against Mi Yuting and Tuo Jiaxi. Later Shi Yue defeated Mingjiu Jiang by 5-3/4 stones (11-1/2 points) to complete a shutout victory. 

The Korean men clinched their silver medals in similar shutout fashion. First Fan Hui resigned to Park Younghun, then Aleksandr Dinershtein resigned to Na Hyun, and then, after fighting desperately, Ilya Shikshin resigned to Kang Dongyoon. Dead European groups were much in evidence on all three boards.

The next match to end was the women’s. Yu Zhiying remained undefeated. She had attacked a weak white group on the right side of the board, starting a huge, confusing struggle that spread through most of the center. There was a point at which white had a chance to win, but she went after the wrong black group and it was the attacking white group that lost the capturing race. The position was still confused, but it was hopeless for white and Kim Chaeyoung resigned. Losing is always bitter. Nevertheless, her silver medal is the best result yet achieved by any non-Chinese go player in three years of SportAccord women’s individual competition. Yu Zhiying’s two consecutive gold medals would seem to establish her as top in the women’s go world, and she is still only seventeen.

And what of the men’s team match between Japan and Chinese Taipei? As he had the previous day, Lin Li-Hsiang got Chinese Taipei off to a good start, winning by resignation on board two, but then Seto Taiki evened the score for Japan by defeating Chang Che-Hao by resignation on board three. All now depended on the result on board one, where Japan’s Yuki Satoshi was playing Chinese Taipei’s Chen Shih-Iuan. Chen (black) had taken the lead by attacking in the center in the opening, but during a difficult middle game Yuki had gradually caught up, and in the endgame it appeared that he might be ahead. When the final score was counted, it turned out that he was indeed ahead. He had won by exactly a quarter of a stone, or half a point. The two players spent considerable time afterward reviewing the endgame, with assistance from Seto Taiki, who interpreted between Chinese and Japanese. Both Yuki and Seto are from the Kansai Kiin, in Osaka. After the failure of Japan’s Tokyo-Nagoya based men’s team in the 2013, Osaka had come to the rescue.

Women's Individual at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind GamesAt the evening awards ceremony, following the presentation of medals for blitz chess and pairs bridge, Mr Park Chimoon, acting president of the International Go Federation, presented the bronze medals to the Japanese men’s team, the silver medals to the Korean team, and the gold medals to the Chinese team. Bridge ambassador Fulvio Fantoni gave them their medal certificates; then their national flags were raised and the Chinese national anthem was played. Next the medals for women’s individual go were awarded by chief referee Hua Yigang: bronze to Rui Naiwei, silver to Kim Chaeyoung, and gold to Yu Zhiying, who triumphantly mounted the dais as a woman transformed, attired in a long and strikingly attractive flowered skirt. This time it was Ms Wang Wenfei, the other bridge ambassador, who gave out the certificates.

Counting chess and bridge, Chinese mental athletes had had a good day. Their total haul was ten medals: five gold, including one in women’s chess; two silver, both won in women’s bridge; and three bronze, including two more in women’s bridge. The games are not over, but China has already shown that it leads the world in go, and leads the Far East in bridge and chess as well.

– James Davies