Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The new life of Seo Bongsu, 9-dan

55 years old Seo Bongsu, 9-dan became famous in Korea in 1972 after taking the Meijin title from Cho Namchul, 9-dan. He reached this goal really quick, few years after becoming the professional. He learned Go at the age of 14, which is very late, comparing to current traditions, so we may see that he has a talent.

He was the Korean number two player for a very long time, until the century of Yoo Changhyuk and Lee Changho started. During that time he played more than 50 title matches against Cho Hunhyun, 9-dan, unfortunately losing most of them.

Nowadays it’s hard to meet his name in Korean tournaments. They did not even invite him to take part in Korean League-2007 (It was possible to give him the wild card, but team coaches decided to invite another players, including young 1-dans)

Last year he surprised the world by entering the semifinals of the Samsung cup, which was very unusual in his age. He lost the semifinal match to Chang Hao, 9-dan, but any way, it was an outstanding performance.

We decided to meet him and ask few questions.

- How is your health?
- It's getting weaker. If I visit doctors, they say that everything is fine, but I don’t feel myself same as before. 10 years ago I almost died during one night because of strong cough. So, next day after that episode I completely stopped smoking. If my health condition will improve, one day I will show everyone one more comeback. Young players will probably laugh at me, but they must know that the old tiger is still alive. I will show them who is Seo Bongsu!

- You divorced with your wife after 20 years of living together and created a new family with Vietnamese woman, who is 29 years younger than you. What can you tell us about your new family life?
- 2 and half years passed from my marriage and I enjoy my life a lot! Still I cannot speak Vietnamese, but my wife is good at Korean, so the conversation is not a problem in our case. She eats spicy Korean food well and enjoys watching Chinese and Korean movies. Usually she stays at home. You see, that all main problems are solved! Because of my young wife I am trying to make my best in Go tournaments. If everything will be fine with our financial situation and health, we will plan to have a child in near future.

- Did you visit her home country?
- Yes, few months ago. I meet some Go players and they ask me to help them to develop Go in Vietnam. I feel that I cannot play the role of Cho Namchul, but I will make some efforts for making this game popular. I found a sponsor and next year we will organize a big tournament for Vietnamese players.

- What do you think about the current Korean League? Were you disappointed, because nobody invited you to take part?
- I lost my place during the qualification tournament, but I still thought that coaches will give me the wild card. Maybe they feel that I am too old for playing blitz. And I agree, that if the players have equal power, younger always have an advantage in fast Go. I won few blitz tournaments around 1984, but I feel, that I have to practice blitz more. Maybe I will a chance to enter the league next year, if I train hard. I will take part in Seniors vs Females cup soon and this is a blitz tournament too. It will put a big pressure on me. Our team is already losing a lot (A.D. Here is the tournament table: http://igo-kisen.hp.infoseek.co.jp/ga.html ) It will be a big shame, if our team, including Cho Hunhyun and myself will lose to 15-years old girls.

- What are your future plans?
- As I said before, I will pay attention on my health. I will try to make more money and I hope we will have a child soon. I will try to make everything possible, so my wife can feel: "It was the right decision to get married with Seo Bongsu!"

Translated from korean Alexandre Dinerchtein

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