After losing to Russia’s Alexey Lazarev in the morning of the first day at the Korean Prime Minister Cup, Matthew Burral won two games in the afternoon. Ranka spoke with him between these two victories.
Ranka: First tell us a little about yourself.
Matthew: I’m studying civil engineering at the University of California at Berkeley.
Ranka: And please tell us about your game against Alexey Lazarev in the first round.
Matthew: It started with a complex fight that lasted most of the game. I felt he had the upper hand through much of the fight, particularly when I made a reading error that let him kill a group. After that, there there was a moment when if I had had more time to think I might have resigned, but I had no time, so I played a move, and then he made a move which made me happy not to have resigned. The fighting then continued, but just when I had a chance to take advantage of a mistake he made, I played a really idiotic move instead, and then I did resign.
Ranka: And what about your game in the second round?
Matthew: I played one of the Korea women (Ki Young-suk). They are supposed to be 7 to 10 kyu. It was not a hard game, but her opening was certainly better than 7-kyu level. I pulled ahead in the middle game, but a lot of her moves showed good shape. She was calm and confident and played as if there were nothing wrong.
Ranka: How many games do you hope to win?
Matthew: I’m out of practice, so I’ll be happy to avoid any embarrassing losses. I don’t have any plan of attack. I’ll just try to survive.
Ranka: It’s become unusual for the United States to be represented by a player who is not of oriental ancestry. How did you qualify?
Matthew: The qualifying tournament was the U.S. Open. I finished about fifteenth overall and fifth among U.S. citizens, so there were four players who had higher priority than me for representing the U.S., but they all turned it down. I was surprised when I got the call.
Ranka: How do you rate yourself against the players who finished above you?
Matthew: I won three games and lost three in top group at the U.S. Open. I’d say I’m within striking distance of the top U.S. players.
Ranka: Have you been in Korea before?
Matthew: Yes, twice. The first time was six years ago, when I spent three months at the Yang Jaeho Dojang. The second time was the summer between high school and university, when I studied with Kim Myungwan.
Ranka: How much did those experiences help your game?
Matthew: They were a big help, They made me much stronger.
Ranka: Are you glad you started playing go?
Matthew: Yes! Glad I started playing and glad I started studying the game. I guess I’d attribute much of my academic success to the problem-solving skills I acquired through playing go.
Ranka: Thank you very much.