The 25th International Amateur Pair Go (IAPG) Championship was held at the Hotel Metropolitan Edmont in Tokyo on October 25-26, 2014. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of pair go, two professional exhibition games were also held on the 25th, a World Students Pair Go Championship was held on the 26th, and numerous Pair Go Association officials and supporters and pair go promotion partners (PGPPs) were invited from Japan and overseas. Many of these guests took part in the parallel handicap tournament, also held on the 26th, in which nearly 150 pairs competed for the Araki Cup.
After a kickoff party on the 24th, the 32 pairs competing for the IAPG Cup got right down to business by playing the first round of their five-round Swiss System on the morning of the 25th. The Korean pair (Kim Sooyoung and Jeon Junhak) were favored because (1) they are respectively the highest-rated Korean amateur female and male players, and (2) they won this event last year. They made a good start by beating the pair from Germany. The pairs from China and Chinese Taipei and eight of the eleven Japanese pairs also won their first games, but the pair from Hong Kong (Vanessa Wong and Chan Naisan) lost to the Japanese pair from Hokkaido.
In the field of contestants for the IAPG Cup, by far the largest contingent had scholastic occupations: they were students or teachers, from the middle-school level to the university level. But the field also represented many other walks of life, ranging from company president to manicurist, so Ranka decided to ask some of them about their work, starting with six of the winners in the first round.
Dong Qin (China) ‘I’m in charge of the weiqi (go) department of the Hangzhou branch of the China Chess Institute, which is the second largest branch in China. This involves managing the Hangzhou Weiqi Association and Hangzhou’s pro team — that’s my main job.’
Yao Jun (China) ‘I’m chief editor at the Shanxi Shuhai Publishing House. We publish a wide range of books, including textbooks that use go for educational purposes.’
Pau Carles (Spain) ‘I work at a book and game store. We sell mainly science fiction and things like that, but we also have a small go section with books and equipment.’
Isabel Barros (Spain) ‘I work for a game company. We produce board games — not go, but eurogames such as Catan and Carcassonne, and role-playing games.’
Dragan Dubaković (Serbia) ‘I’m a go player and a cook. I like everything about go: the people, the philosophy behind the game, getting away from home and going to tournaments — and maybe it has something to do with China, because I also like to cook Chinese food.’
After lunch there was a huge goodwill pair go match, to which many of the pairs came dressed in national costume. The Germans came in football uniforms and brought a ball. Including players, officials, and PGPPs, they had nearly a complete football team.
After the goodwill games, some of the players watched the professional exhibition games, or listened to the public commentaries given by 9-dan pros Ishida Yoshio and Michael Redmond. In one game Japan’s top men’s and women’s title-holders Iyama Yuta and Hsieh (Xie) Yi-min defeated Korea’s Cho Hunhyun and Lee Hajin; in the other game, which pitted two married couples against each other, China’s Chang Hao and Zhang Xuan defeated Japan’s Chang Hsu (Cho U) and Kobayashi Izumi. Chinese Taipei was also represented, for although Hsieh Yi-min and Chang Hsu live and play in Japan, by birth and citizenship they belong to Chinese Taipei.
The exhibition games were followed by a lavish party that featured the rousing performance of a new pair go song, penned by screenwriter Koyama Kundo (Iron Chef, Departures). His song is quite different from the go songs traditionally sung at American and European go congresses.
In the second round next morning, the Korean pair beat the Japanese pair from Shikoku, while the young pair from Chinese Taipei (Lin Hsiao-tung and Lai Yu-cheng, both students) defeated the pair from China. Ranka continued its occupational survey by speaking with some of the other second-round winners.
Ito Akio (Hokkaido) ‘I have a waterproofing company in Hakodate, with about ten employees. We waterproof the roofs and outer walls of buildings.’
Gyorgy Csizmadia (Hungary) ‘I’m a mathematician. I work as a quant for the Budapest branch of Morgan Stanley, doing mathematical modeling of financial instruments.’
Wembris Isral (Indonesia) ‘I have my own automobile service workshop. I do body repair on European and Asian cars.’
Lie Diana (Indonesia) ‘I’m working for an export-import service, doing network business development. We help our clients ship goods overseas and bring goods from overseas into Indonesia.’
Greatbodin Buranarachada (Thailand) ‘I’m an electrical engineer. I design and check electrical systems for mass transport facilities, such as subways and elevators. And my partner Yanakorn Anusiri is an engineering student at Chulalongkorn University, from which I graduated.’
In the third round, Ito Akio and his partner ran up against the pair from Chinese Taipei, to whom they lost, and the Korean pair overcame the pair from Singapore. Other winners included pairs from Australia and Germany, a pair from the Kinki district of Japan (the area around Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara), and the European champion pair. Five of them offered the following information about themselves.
Wei Xu (Australia) ‘I’m a machinist. I operate a CNC machine — a computer-numerically-controlled machine tool — that makes parts for automobiles and trucks.’
Jana Hollmann (Germany) ‘I studied mathematics and have worked for fifteen years as an actuarial consultant for a worldwide consulting company. My specialty is pensions and benefits.’
Fukuda Satoru (Kinki district, Japan) ‘I work as a photographer for a company that installs utility poles for a power company. I take pictures of the poles to confirm that they have been properly installed.’
Manuela Marz (European champion pair) ‘I’m now a professor of bioinformatics at Friedrich-Schiller University. I do teaching and research — we have a system in Germany where you have to do both simultaneously — but my main activity is research and I love it.’
Benjamin Teuber (European champion pair) ‘I’m a student of life.’
After lunch, in the fourth round, the pairs from Korea and Chinese Taipei faced Japanese opponents and continued to win. The pairs from France, Russia, and the United Kingdom were also among the winners in this round, and they turned out to include a programmer, an economist, an accountant, and an inventor.
Ngoc-Trang Cao (France) ‘Although I’m French and am playing for France, I moved six months ago to work in the United Kingdom. So now I am a game programmer at a British company. We create video games for consoles and PCs.’
Vladimir Gorzhaltsan (Russia) ‘I divide my time fifty-fifty between two jobs. I work as an economist for a financial company, and I’m an executive officer in the Russian Go Federation.’
Alison Bexfield (UK) ‘I’m a chartered accountant. I work for the BBC, in the audit department. I make sure the BBC spends its money wisely.’
Simon Bexfield (UK) ‘I’ve just invented a very nice puzzle called the Perplexing Pyramid. It’s a 3D printed object, made in one piece but with printed hinges, so it’s a fantastic shape that folds into something interesting. Recently I’ve also been making 3D printers and developing various small technical advances in them, which are being used in the Threedy printers that go into schools, and around the world.’
While the second to fourth rounds were being played, the World Students Pair Go Championship was unfolding on four tables at the side of the playing room. The competitors were all university students: two pairs each from China, Japan, and Korea, and one pair each from Chinese Taipei and Thailand. The champion pair was Kim Hyunah and Park Moonkyu from Korea, who beat Hu Shih-yun and Chan Yi-tien from Chinese Taipei to end undefeated. Full results are here.
Then it was the turn of Korea’s Kim Sooyoung and Heon Junhak and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Hsiao-tung and Lai Yu-cheng to play the deciding game for the IAPG Cup, in a special quiet playing room with extended time limits, while the rest of the IAPG field continued with the fifth round. Ranka concluded its occupational survey with four of the fifth-round winners, including the Japanese pair that took sixth place, an American accountant, and an aspiring Swiss novelist, the daughter of the Swiss physicist Marcel Golay.
Kuramoto Minoru (Kinki district, Japan) ‘I’m a freelance go instructor. I play teaching games and give classroom instruction.’
Saito Naoko (Kinki district, Japan) ‘I have my own nail salon.’
Daehyuk Ko (USA) ‘I do accounting and financial analysis for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.’
Monique Golay (Switzerland) ‘My novels are addressed to young people. The names of my characters are Japanese names from the game of go. For example, I have a Dark Lord whose name is Moyo. He’s a five-billion-year-old elf, and he is fed up with life but unfortunately he is indestructible. The only way for him to destroy himself is to time-travel all the way back to the Big Bang and destroy the entire universe. The other characters try to stop him. I’m trying to make young people laugh, and also to bring them to the game of go.’
To time-travel back to reality, the pairs from Korea and Chinese Taipei had gotten into a corner ko fight. At his public commentary, Michael Redmond said he thought the Korean pair came out of the fight slightly ahead, and in fact they went on to win by resignation. At the ceremony that followed, they received numerous cups, trophies, and other awards, as well as a best-dresser prize, which they accepted in national costume. The pairs from Mexico, Serbia, and the United Kingdom also received best-dresser prizes, likewise in national costume. The chief judge was fashion designer Koshino Junko, and the dress she wore for the awards ceremony was stunning too.
In the final standings, the Korean pair won their second straight IAPG Cup, Chinese Taipei took a second straight second place, Hong Kong took fourth place, Singapore was ninth, Czechia was thirteenth, the European champion pair was fifteenth, and the U.S. pair was sixteenth. Nine Japanese pairs filled out the rest of the top sixteen, led by former insei Tsuji Moeka and Tsunoda Daisuke; their third place earned them a cup as the Japanese amateur champion pair. Complete results and pictures of all the players are here.
And as pair go founder Taki Hisao pointed out, while the Japanese go population has been gradually decreasing during the past quarter century, the pair go population has exploded in Japan and throughout the world. The International Pair Go Association now has 70 member countries and territories. One looks forward to the next twenty-five years.
– James Davies