Thursday, August 30, 2007

An interview with Kang Dongyun, 7-dan, the winner of the Korean King of Kings tournament

Kang, 7-dan was my former classmate. We studied Go together with Park Yeonghun, 9-dan, Park Shiun, 8-dan, Ko Keuntae, 6-dan, Hong Minpyo, 5-dan and others in Yangchun Baduk Academy from 1997 to 1998. That time most of us were amateurs. Together with Kang Dongyun we stayed in the second group of our school league and played lot of games with each other. I think that my score was slightly better. I won 60% of my games against Kang or so. That time I was already a strong 6-dan player (around 2600 EGF) and he was … just an 8-years old child. He was one of the youngest and one of the most talented kids in our school. I remember his playing style well. His Go was always thick and solid. Other kids in our club (Ko Keuntae or Lee Tahye for example) were fighting a lot, while Kang Dongyun always played close games, deciding them in endgame. Other kids were so nervous and aggressive. They were laughing loudly, fighting with each other, discussing computer games while playing. Kang Dongyun was the only one who was 100% concentrated on his games. He was always serious and silent.

His Go style did not change much since that time. He is still playing Go slowly and solidly.

Recently he won his first big title by beating Lee Changho, 9-dan in the final match of the 4th Korean King of Kings tournament ( list games ) Kang’s recent score is very nice. He played 59 games and won 44 of them. Today you can read a short interview with him.

Congratulations! What can you tell us about the final match with Lee Changho, 9-dan?

I was lucky. The last game was hopeless and I was already thinking about resigning

Was you far behind?

Yes, I was. It was necessary to think more in the beginning of the game, but I played it too fast and got a bad position early. Later I destroyed his big territory, but only because of his mistake.

Can we say that Yun Chunsang, 6-dan is your main competitor on professional ring?

I don't think so. I prefer to say that they are Hong Seongji and Lee Youngkyu

You got the title at the age of 18. It very early, right?

Yes, it's early, but I don't think that I played well in my match against Lee Changho. I won it only because of luck. I am not sure that I am strong enough for keeping the title

Do you have any future plans? Would you like to win some international tournaments?

I don't feel a big difference. The main problem that only top players of Korean rating allowed to take part in such events. So, first of all I will try to improve my local ranking.

What do you think about the recent shape of Lee Changho, 9-dan?

It seems that his form is far from ideal. We can find some mistakes almost in every game he plays, which was impossible in the past.

What can you tell us about your strong points?

I think that I am good at winning unfavorable positions

We have a standard question for you. If you play against God, how many handicap stones will you need for winning?

I am not the right person for asking such a difficult question. You will better ask the World Champion or someone stronger than me.

Alexander Dinerchtein

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What a beautiful sane world

An article by Simon Gemel, the main organizer of the EGC-2007

In order to organise a good congress, we had to be aware of possible problems in advance. I thought that there might be some problems with the police because of some partying from the participants very late at night, disturbing the neighbours. Therefore I warned the mayor of Villach that such problems may arise, and in order to avoid unnecessary conflict, such cases should be reported to us to be taken care of before it would be passed onto the police. Fortunately the mayor agreed to this suggestion, and this was a big relieve for me. Until today (Thursday 26th July 2007), we have not been told that such incidents occurred. The owner of "Moby Dick" (a pub located near the venue, where many Go players gathered together in the evening) was thankful for the business, hence she would have not found it too bad having to pay for the noise late at night. It would have been worse to have lost the potential income by being told by the police to close at regular times.

However we were not able to predict every single problem. I would like you to take a look what happened behind the curtains.

Just a few days before the congress started, we were taken by the shock of 20 Koreans cancelling their trip including their confirmed accommodation which we had already guaranteed full payment. Since we wanted to be as helpful as possible, we accepted their wish to pay the fee on spot. Due to their absence we are responsible for the whole cancellation penalties.

We put in a lot of effort preparing for the congress however things turn out to be different when it actually happens. If our preparation could be considered as Fuseki, then it seems as though if we were already in Byo-yomi when the middle game started. The organisation team was put into massive stress before the opening of the congress. Team members were hardly able to find time to sleep – Outcome: one team member spends a night in the hospital. When I think about the speech I held at the opening ceremony, it seems as if it had happened 5 years ago. I was just about able find some time to take a shower (instead of sleeping) on the night before the ceremony. There is still no time to catch up with the sleep I need. Some unregistered go-players paid a surprise visit at 3 'o clock in the morning expecting to be told where they could find their accommodation. We created name tags with original fonts for each participant (who had filled in the appropriate column on the online registration site) from different countries in order to bring in an international flair. This was not an easy task for the IT team. Unfortunately 5% of the English (German) letters were not decoded properly, thus they had to be removed from the tags. This had been such a big problem for one participant. He requested to reprint his name tag with proper Slovakian spelling and got upset by the fact that the registration team could not take care of this problem immediately. (When this happened the team was overloaded with work, and at the same time had to solve the communication problem regarding breakfast for 20 – 30 people) "The game of Go brought great people together and you could feel safe at EGC"… no… there is a pick-pocket among us. It is very likely (99%) that 3 wallets were stolen at the congress centre. We have already warned the next EGC organisers. People should be very careful before deciding to write an invitation (necessary procedure) for somebody wishing to apply for a Visa. This is something I have not told my team until now… Our website has been accessed over 100 times by a Russian immigration platform located in USA…

But let's go back to the things which had actually happened and stop talking about things which "could have" happened. We have already faced enough trouble… A group of French participants puking out of the window late at night, some Koreans ruining the wooden floor while taking a shower (different system to that of which they are use to)… And even one of our Dutch organisers went mad late at night after quarrelling with another team member, shouting and damaging some private belongings of the accommodation and leaving Villach without returning his room key. The worst bit for me was to get out of bed and to go out onto the streets to calm them down at 03:30 in the morning after working 14 hours each day without sufficient sleep. The reason why they quarrelled does not concern me. Some people seem to think that a Go congress is an open market. For example: the organisers found out through an internet forum that a British programmer is selling his newest program at the venue without informing any one of us. This became a problem as he occupied the space we needed to use for our shop. He simply declared that he was there in the beginning hence did not want to move. One Ukrainian participant decided to sell Go books. Unfortunately some of his offers were already in the stock of our official shop, though packed in a box. He demanded us to prove him that we really have the same books.

It gets even more exciting. Nakayama Sensei from Nihon-Kiin arrives. Surprisingly he presents a Japanese letter stating who is financing his stay in Austria. This matter could have been clarified in advance, through a letter written in English. Announcement: "Doctor! Please come to the reception urgently!" A japanese child hit her head, fell unconscious. After 20 seconds of silence, she started screaming. Doctors' advise: "Go to hospital for observation". The ambulance arrives 5 minutes later. One of our team members accompanies the family to the hospital.

Before the event started, a German player known as a Japanese interpreter as well as a Children Go Operator offered his interpretation service at EGC. I declined his offer since we were low on budget and we had enough staff who could speak Japanese. He made a second attempt with another team member who ironically knew the story through the same Email correspondence. Meanwhile I got to know through one professional Go player that we should not work together with him because of two reasons. First his Japanese is not the best and second, he lacks of respect and manners. Apparently he tried to convince the professionals that he would do them a great favour by interpreting their lectures. He acts friendly, though at the same time tells them that their English is not good enough for the audience, which is not true. I stuck to my decision and did not accept this suspicious and expensive offer. Therefore he took revenge on the people who were in charge of the work he wanted to do. While Nakayama Sensei was giving a lecture, he told some Japanese audience that the interpretation of our Japanese speaking staff is totally wrong. Besides that he told some EGC participants that the whole event is an absolute mess. He even suggested people not to take part in our arranged tours such as the Salzburg trip, telling them that it is far too expensive (ˆ 99,- Villach-Salzburg-Villach, with guide and entrance fees included… As a comparison, the return train ticket costs approx. ˆ60,-) He seems to try to convince everybody that no Go congresses could be arranged properly without his help.

Our Japanese speaking staff (interpreter) is born in England, raised bilingual, and has been managing her own company (incoming tour operator mainly for the Japanese market) over 5 years. Her Go skill is at a high kyu level (near Shodan) therefore she is capable for serious interpretation with specific Go language.

By the way, the "Interpreter/Child Go Operator" from Germany was interfering with the above mentioned incident – "the child being carried to the hospital".
1. As the incident happened, he was stroking the head of the child who was brought to the hospital for hitting her HEAD.
2. We asked him to stop this action, however he replied with "Shut up" in Japanese.
3. Then he tried to snatch the screaming child away from her own mother
4. He pointed his finger to our Japanese speaking staff, telling her "you go along as a translator", though everything had already been organised before he even mentioned this.

Further, he complained about a team member who was holding a beginners workshop, claiming that she does not qualify to teach the rules of Go.

Some participants are not satisfied with the prizes we have prepared (ˆ 15,000 in total for the main tournament). Two Korean winners of the weekend tournament complained about the fact that they only got vouchers as a prize. They asked for cash in hand instead.

We are happy to announce that Jong Wook Park does not have tuberculosis. Therefore we do not have to halt the congress due to emergency. He has already left hospital, and we all wish him a fast recovery.

Please do not worry about the trouble and disasters which happened behind the curtains. Dear friends, I really wish you a good time. 70% of my vision I had for "European Go Congress 2007" has been fulfilled. This project means a lot to me, and I would be very happy to know that you are enjoying it to the fullest.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Compare some results

There are 3 famous tournaments for amateurs. World Amateur Go Championship (WAGC), European Go Championship (EGC) and US Open. Which tournament is the hardest one? I thought a lot about this question and decided to compare the results of the players, who took part in few of these tournaments:

Cristian Pop (Romania) was 4th in WAGC-2007, but got 8th place in EGC-2007
Ondrej Silt (Czechia) was 9th in WAGC-2007, but got 11th place in EGC-2007
Andrey Kulkov (Russia) was 10th in WAGC-2007, but got only 28th place in EGC-2007
Francesco Marigo (Iltaly) was 21st in WAGC-2007, but got 29th place in EGC-2007

Ge Yongfei from Canada who is now leading the US open, after defeating Jiang Mingjiu, 7-dan pro, got only 10th place in WAGC-2006

Another example: Cornel Burzo (Romania) got the 7th place in US Open-2005, but he was only 12th in EGC-2007.

Now the subject is pretty clear.

Today we will talk about the results of EGC-2007 in Villach. You may check them here:

Ilya Shikshin, 6-dan from Russia is a new European Champion! We both scored 7 points from 10, our SOS was exactly the same, but he was 2 points ahead on SODOS. I beat him at the 8th round, but he was lucky with the pairing. Ilya improved a lot since the EGC-2006 in Italy (he was only 16th that time).

It seems that it's necessary to change the rules of the European Championship. This time Ilya lost to the 2nd prizewinner and did not played with the 3rd one (Cristian Pop, 7-dan).

Last year in Italy Svetlana Shikshina became a champion without playing with #2 and 3 (Dinerchtein and Kulkov). She won the tournament, because of her good results against Koreans. Cristian Pop, 7-dan was far from the winners list in EGC-2005 without losing a single game to European players. He lost all of his 4 games to Koreans! If you like to win the European championship next year, you must study Korean Go!

There are several proposals for next European Championships. They were shortly discussed during the EGF members meeting in Austria. I thought about these ideas and think that the proposal from Sweden is the most suitable one. "In order to make the competition for the title more distinct, let the first eight rounds of the EGC proceed as usual. Then let the leading four European nationals after eight rounds
play knock out for the title. The new rule can be implemented for the first time in the EGC 2008".

Everything sounds fair and it will be still interesting for strong Asian players to visit future EGCs. If we make a separate tournament for top Europeans, the open championship will be too dull for Asians, according that they are 3-4 stones stronger than regular European 4-dan players.

Alexander Dinerchtein