Saturday, September 29, 2007

An interview with Gu Li, 9-dan

Gu Li, 9-dan won 9 games straight (against Chang Hao, Wang Yao, Tuo Jiaxi, Li Kang, Wang Haoyang, Cho Hanseung(twice), Cho Hyeyeon and Kang Dongyun). We decided to meet him and ask about this record.

How many games straight did you win? Do you know?
Yes, I know!

What is your own record?
7 years ago I won 16 games straight, but after that I was not able to break this record. Maybe I can do it this time! It’s very hard to win so many games straight, because all opponents on my road are very strong!

Which games were the hardest?
My game against Chang Hao, first of all. Also it was difficult to beat Cho Hanseung and Li Kang. I cannot remember any easy wins at all!

What was the most painful game you lose during this year?
It was my game against Han Sanghoon, 1-dan (Korea), 12 LG second round. My condition was not good and I made lot of bad moves. After that game I saw lot of articles with titles like "Gu Li lost to unknown Korean 1-dan". It was painful to read them

What do you think about Lee Changho, 9-dan. Is he still World #1 player?
Yes, without any doubt. He is losing more games than before, but any way he is the best master in the world

If we make a united Chinese-Korean-Japanese rating list, which place will you occupy?
I think, I must be somewhere in best 10. First one is Lee Changho, second is Lee Sedol. It's hard to say who the next one is. Maybe Cho U, maybe Park Yeonghun or Choi Chelhan.

Translated from korean by Alexander Dinerchtein

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

An interview with Kong Jie, 8 dan

Kong, 8-dan becomes the top Chinese, according to September national rating. He was the first one in August, 2004, but after that he was always behind Gu Li, 9-dan. The current situation is:
1. Kong Jie, 8-dan
2. Hu Yaoyu, 8-dan
3. Gu Li, 9-dan
4. Wang Xi, 9-dan
5. Chang Hao, 9-dan

Congratulations! What is your current score in 2007?
Thank you! I played lot of tournaments and cannot remember the total score

Few weeks ago you won 13 games straight against Chinese masters, but after that you lost to Yoo Changhyuk, 9-dan (Korea) at the 1st round of the Samsung cup. What do you think about this game?
I made lot of mistakes. It was a very bad game

Did you cry after losing it?
It's normal. You cannot win all of your games – sometimes you have to lose too.

Your achievements on international arena are not so high. What is the reason?
I don't feel any difference between international and Chinese games. I try to make my best in every game. Maybe it’s a matter of time or luck

If we make an ideal Chinese team for playing international matches, which board will you take?
Gu Li, 9-dan must be the first one. Chang Hao – second. I will probably sit at the third board.

Chang Hao, 9-dan got the wild card for the Nongshim cup. What do you think about the decision of Chinese Weiqi Association and the chances of the Chinese team?
It was the right decision. Chang Hao, 9-dan is good at important matches. Chinese team never won this tournament before, but this time the chances are very high, because the team members are strongest ( A.D.: Chang Hao, Gu Li, Wang Xi, Hu Yaoyu, Peng Quan)

Lee Changho, 9-dan, as usual, will be the first board of the Korean team. Who has better chances against him? Gu Li or Chang Hao?
It's hard to say. Everything will depend on their current form.

You played against Lee Changho, 9-dan in 2003 during the Chunlan cup and beat him. What do you think about your current chances?
That time I was much weaker and it was a big sensation. I became stronger and I feel that I have good chances, if we meet each other again.

What do you think about your chances against Hu Yaoyu and Gu Li?
I played lot of games with Hu Yaoyu and feel that we are about the same strength. Gu Li has much better score in our games, so it seems that he is stronger than me.

Kong Jie, 8 dan, 25 years old.
Current record - 47 games, 34 wins, 13 losts, 4 place.

Translated from korean by Alexander Dinerchtein

Monday, September 17, 2007

An interview with Yoon Youngsun, 5-dan

Yoon Youngsun, 5-dan is getting married in September.

Here you can read an exclusive interview with Yoon Youngsun, 5-dan. The questions were compiled by Alexander Dinerchtein:

Congratulations! How did you meet Rasmus?
We met in Sweden Leksand Baduk Camp. We played Rengo together but we were just friends. I visited Europe several times and met him. Finally we become close to each other.

Does he have any brothers, who are not yet married?
He has one sister. She is 3 years younger than him and single.

Is it true that Antonio Banderas is your favorite actor?
No. I liked Brad Pitt but not anymore...

Rasmus is currently a 2-dan amateur. Of course he will be happy to take some Go lessons from you. What will you ask him in return? Will he wash the dishes or clean the floor?
Many people think that I play or teach him a lot, but it is not true. I play with him very rare. I'm sorry about it.

What can you tell us about your friend Kang Seunghee, 2-dan. Will she make an international family too?
She likes to live here. But she doesn't know yet. She wants to teach many nice people here. I will try to help her as much I can.

Time to ask some Go questions. Is it true that you play Go on KGS (Kiseido Go Server) and your ID is "tartaric"?
No. It is not me. I have one ID. But I played only teaching games.

Your life story is similar with Guo Juan, 5-dan. She got married in Holland and stopped playing in pro tournaments. Will you take part in European tournaments, like Guo Juan?
No, I will not play tournaments here. I'm not allowed to play in Europe.

Everyone is getting weaker without practice. If you stay in Germany, you will not be able to play in pro tournaments often. Will you try to keep yourself in good shape and how?
I know. But when I came here I already gave game up. I want to teach a lot of children who has talent. Sometimes I study pro games. It is really interesting!

What do you think about the current system of Female World Go Championships? Usually they are not inviting any players except Chinese, Koreans and Japanese. Feng Yun, 9-dan can play for USA, you can play for Germany, Guo Juan for Holland, Svetlana Shikshina for Russia. Is it necessary to change the system and give them a chance?
Actually I didn't think about it. If I can play, it would be nice, but I would like to give them a chance.

We know that your playing style is very aggressive (just one example for our readers) Will it become softer after marriage?
Well ... I don’t think so ... I like to fight. It is more fun and interesting.

We read your Go books about shapes and ko-fights. They
are useful, but there are lots of other books on these topics. Will you write us something special? Maybe without Go diagrams at all?

I'm just a beginner in writing books. I'm happy that people like it. There are a lot of nice books in Europe. At least I tried to show Korean style. I already finished my third book. It is called "100 tips for Amateur players". I think the people don’t need difficult or complicated things. Basic is the most important. I felt it from teaching here. I hope you like my new book!

You may also read an opinion of another Korean professional – Cho Hyeyeon, 7-dan : blog Cho Hyeyeon By the way, her Go blog is quite interesting. As well as I know, it's the only English blog of an Asian pro.

Alexander Dinerchtein

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Few interviews with Samsung cup participants and spectators opinions

First 2 rounds of the Samsung cup were played this week. We saw several big sensations. You can check the tournament table and game records here: 12 Samsung Cup tournament table

1. Yoo Changhyuk, 9-dan
What do you think about your game with Heo Yeongho, 6-dan?
The position was complicated. It was necessary for him to fight actively, but he missed the chance to start the battle.
What do you think about the pairing and new tournament system?
Kong Jie, 7-dan decided to play with me ( A.D.: They used new system. This time it was possible to decide the opponents for the first round). I was quite angry. Did he think that I am old and weak? I cannot say good words about the new system. It's attractive, of course, for spectators, but it’s not a friendship match. It's a World Go Championship!
Did you prepare well for this tournament?
Recently I am not studying Go at all, I am meeting my friends and drinking soju (A.D: Korean vodka), if I have a free time. I just skipped few meetings, because of this tournament :)
Your next opponent will be Gu LI, 9-dan. What do you think about your chances?
He show much better results than mine recently, but I don’t think that I am weaker!
What is your main goal in Samsung cup?
I already won it about 10 years ago and I will try to repeat my success. It’s not a big difference for me: to lose the first game, or the final one. I must win all of my games!

2. Lee Sedol, 9-dan
Your next opponent is Chang Hao, 9-dan. What do you think about this game?
It will be difficult. I have a good score against Chang Hao, but if the check the game records, we can see that I won some bad positions. I will prepare well and show my best
Your wife and daughter were waiting at the tournament room during the second round. Did they help you or not?
Yes, of course, but I can say that my condition was not so good that day.

3. Han Sanghoon, 1-dan
What can you tell us about your game with Lee Changho, 9-dan?
I was much behind after the opening, but later I made the position closer. Finally Lee Changho, 9-dan made a blunder at the endgame stage. He presented me few points and let me win the game
You enter the quarterfinals of both Samsung and LG cups. Are they different?
I thought that I can show good results in both tournaments. I will try to win at least one of them!
What is the strongest point of your Go?
My opening skill is not yet good, but I feel myself confident in the middlegame. Usually I try to avoid any mistakes in my games and I can do it better, if the time control is long

Opinions of Chinese professionals:
Yu Bin, 9-dan: It was a very hard task to win 4 games from 4 and I am happy that they did it!

Peng Quan, 7-dan: All Chinese masters played well. Chang Hao, 9-dan used a new plan in his game and got a dubious result, but later he take the revenge. Hu Yaoyu, 8-dan played a good opening and keeps his advantage well. Gu Li, 9-dan used his unique style and got an advantage against Kang Dongyun. Later the position was risky for him, but he was lucky. We did not think, that Huang Yizhong, 6-dan will be able to beat Cho Hunhyun, but he surprised as a lot.

Hu Yaoyu’s father: Recently young Chinese players improved a lot and I was not surprised that Huang Yizhong, 6-dan showed an excellent results by beating Choi Chelhan and Cho Hunhyun. My son lost his last game against Huang at the Chinese City League and told me that he is a very dangerous opponent. Of course, it's a pity that they will play each other, but it's important that at least one Chinese will reach the semifinals for sure. I think that Gu Li, 9-dan must be very careful in his next game against Yoo Changhyuk. Yoo is a very experienced opponent and he is good at important matches.

Translated from korean by Alexander Dinerchtein

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

An interview with Chang Hao, 9-dan

The Chinese City League is not yet finished (Editors note: The final round was played on August,25. Chang Hao lost his game to Liu Xing, 7-dan, but his team still won the tournament), but you already showed an outstanding result by winning 9 games straight. What do you think about your achievement?

I take part in Chinese League every year and it was not the first successful league I played. During the 2nd League I also won 9 games from 10, by losing only to Xie He, 7-dan.

Your score in the previous Chinese League was not good. Did you prepare well this time?

I cannot feel any difference. This time I was just luckier. After losing the first game to Lee Sedol, 9-dan, the member of the Guizhou team, the position of our team was difficult and it was necessary to play every game seriously.

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

He is still the strongest one in the world. His recent score is not so good, if we
compare it with his past results, but we can see that his score is still outstanding, if we compare it with the score of any other master in the world

What is the main weak point of his Go?

His endgame is getting weaker. He was the strongest endgame skill holder of the past and won lot of his games by 0.5 points. Nowadays he is often losing his games in endgame

Can we say that Lee Sedol, 9-dan is not much weaker than Lee Changho, 9-dan?

Do you really think so? Lee Changho, 9-dan won more than 20 World Go Championships and I bet that nobody will be able to break his record in next 10 years. Lee Sedol, 9-dan is a difficult opponent for Lee Changho, because of his aggressive playing style, but we cannot say that Lee Sedol, 9-dan is stronger, if you look at his results with other players.

You won the Samsung World Go Championship in the beginning of the year, but later you was not able to win any important tournaments. What was the reason?

I spend all my power in Samsung cup. You may know that it's hard to play many tournaments straight. It’s necessary to find a goal and reach it. I don’t feel that I am getting weaker. Please wait for my next goal!

Will you try to win the Samsung cup again? ( Editors note: The first round will be played tomorrow)

Yes, I will make my best. This time there are not many Chinese players in the main tournament, so the task will be harder (Editors note: 9 Chinese will take part in Samsung cup this year and last time they had 11 players in the main tournament)

Alexander Dinerchtein