Monday, December 8, 2008

An interview with Kang Changbea, new Korean professional

Kang Changbea, 7-dan (22 years old)(rights on photo), who won the Korean Prime Minister Cup in 2007, finally became a professional!

He won the Qualification tournament, open for both inseis and amateurs. The second winner of the qualification is Park Siyoul (19), who is also the former insei of the Korean Baduk Assosiation.

You may heared about Kang before. He became famous in Korea after winning the KPMC-2007 with the perfect 8-0 score. Former WAGC winner Hu Yuqing from China was second (most people think that Hu is the strongest amateur in the world). Here is the KPMC tournament table:

Since 2006 Kang won five other important amateur tournaments and several times he successfully played in qualification stages of Profesional World Championships. He crushed such a strong opponents as Ko Guntae, 6-dan pro and O Chusong, 2-dan pro in Samsung cup qualification.

Some other info: Kang is a student of Chang Suyong, 9-dan and he is the 4th professional, produced by Chang's Go school. First 3 are almost unknown. Kang became amateur in 2005 — he was not able to stay in insei league anymore, because of his age. Kang started to play Go at the age of 7. His favorite professional is Lee Changho, 9-dan

Here you can read some interview questions, from the official KBA website.

Congratulations! Was it hard to win the qualification?
Yes, I met lot of inseis and it's much harder to beat them than regular amateurs. It's a pity that I cannot play in amateur tournaments anymore — I enjoyed them so much! I even took part in the Amateur Taewang tournament in Taegu city few days before the 1-dan qualification tournament. (A.D. Kang won it by beating Park Seunggyun, 7-dan in the final)

How do you think, can you show a good score on professional arena?
I know, that it will be very hard. Top 10 professionals are much stronger than me, but others are about the same level with top amateurs. Any way, I have a big dream — I want to win a World Professional Championship one day.

How did you study Go since 2005 the year you became an amateur?
I played in amateur tournaments it was very useful. Also, I still learned a lot from my teacher Chang and other students and teachers of his Go school. I studied even more seriosely than I was an insei!

Translated from korean by Alexander Dinerchtein

Monday, December 1, 2008

An interview with Takao Sinji, 9-dan (Japan)

Takao, 9-dan stopped the outstanding winning streak, showed by Kang Donyun, 8-dan (Korea) in Nongshim cup.

Congratulations! What do you think about your game with Kang? Most people said that he had no chances in this game.
Yes, I never was behind. Both fuseki and middlegame were good for me. Later it was a bit difficult for me to estimate the balance, because of byoyomi, so I was not sure, that I am still winning.

You are the last member of the Japanese team, but your team still has chances of winning the cup, if you win 5 games straight. What do you think about your chances?
I was afraid that Japanese team will not win any games at all. There are 4 players, who are still alive — Lee Changho, Lee Sedol, Gu Li and Chang Hao. All 4 are very good players and I cannot even think about winning 5 games straight. It will be very difficult for me to win a single game in the next stage.

Nongshim cup is a very popular tournament in Korea and China. Why is it almost unknown in Japan?
Maybe because of our bad results. I cannot see any other reasons.

According to the Nongshim cup rules only native-born players can take part in the competition. So, we cannot see Cho U and Cho Chikun in Japanese team. What do you think about this rule?
Yes, it's a pity that they cannot play. We cannot change the rules, so the only way for us is to improve the level of other candidates.

Translated from korean by Alexander Dinerchtein

Saturday, November 29, 2008

An interview with Gu Li, 9-dan, who entered the final of the LG cup-2008

What do you think about your game with Lee Changho, 9-dan?
It was a hard game for me, which was very close till the lunch break. I know, that Lee Changho, 9-dan is very good at yose, so I was afraid that I will lose my game. Our score was 4-4, but I lost two very close games 0.5 and 1.5 points. It's a very common thing for Lee Changho, 9-dan to win all close positions by several points. I was surprised that I won my game in yose, after his mistakes.

You won 2 very important games against Lee Changho — LG cup semifinal and the final game of the Fujitsu cup few months ago. Can we say, that you found a key?
I believe, that Lee Changho, 9-dan is still the best master in the world. I can get good positions in fuseki against him, but it is still hard for me to keep them. I still have lot of things to learn from Lee Changho.

Your recent results in International events are very impressive. Do you think, that your Go improved a lot?
I feel, that Chinese victory in Nongshim cup was very important. Chang Hao, 9-dan won his games against Park Yeunhyun and Lee Changho. Our team got the cup even without my help as a board number one player. We got the feeling that our masters are not weaker than Koreans. It was a very important feeling!

Korean professionals think that you start playing better after winning the Fujitsu cup (by beating both Lee Sedol and Lee Changho). Do you feel so?
Yes, probably. I trust them :)

You will meet Lee Sedol in the final of the LG cup. What do you think about your chances?
Lee Sedol, 9-dan showed much better results than me on International arena. We are about the same age, but I am far behind on number of won events. I am happy, that I will meet him and I am sure, that I can learn a lot from our match.

Two aggressive players (You and Lee Sedol) won their games against two players of defending styles ( Lee Changho and Park Yuenhun). Can we say, that your styles are better?
I agree, that we have similar styles with Lee Sedol, but it's hard to say, that we show better results than players of other styles. Yes, we both won our games yesterday, but who knows, who will win next time? Both Lee Changho and Park Yeunhyun are very strong players and it's always hard to beat them.

Translated from korean by Alexander Dinerchtein

Thursday, March 27, 2008

An interview with Seo Bongsu, 9-dan

An interview with Seo Bongsu, 9-dan, who will take part in King of King’'s Tournament on Tygem Go server, using his real name.

There are 32 players in total, and only one of them Seo Bongsu, 9-dan decided to show his face and play under his real name. The winner of this tournament will get $30.000, the runner up will receive $10.000.

Seo-sabonim, can you please describe us your current life?
Recently I play Go on Tygem Go server all day long. Also long time ago I decided to learn how to play on saxophone and I am taking lessons from my friend now. I thought, that it’s easy to use it, but actually it’s necessary to put a lot of efforts for creating any sound. The only sound I can create now is "Piiik…"

Why did you decide to play in King of King’s Tournament under your real name?
I know that almost all players, who will take part in this event are professionals. It’s good that I can learn something from them – it’s the main goal I have

When did you start to play Go on Tygem?
About 2 months ago. I reached 9-dan exactly in 2-months

What do you think about internet Go?
It’s interesting! Also, it’s interesting to observe games, because they are usually fast. I was a beginner few months ago. I made mouse slips often and was angry every time, when my opponents escape or write bad words about myself. Nowadays I am getting more experience and I don’t pay much attention on such things

It’s possible to choose opponents from 4 countries: Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan. Which players do you play more?
Usually I play in Chinese Room. My opponents are quite strong and it’s hard for me to keep a good score. I heard, that most of Chinese 9-dans on Tygem are professionals, so it’s not surprising that they beat me easily

Do you remember the nicknames of the opponents, you played?
Yes, of course. I have to remember them, so I can take revenge in future. Also I wrote 5 names of players with bad manners and attached this paper near my computer. I will never play them again!

What do you think about your chances in King of King’s Tournament?
They depend on pairing luck. I know, that there are lots of participants, who are stronger than me. I can finish the tournament quickly, if I meet them in first rounds

It’s a 5th King of King’s Tournament , but you are the first professional, who will take part in this event under his real name. Can we say, that it’s easier to play, if people don’t know you?
Yes, it’s true, but I will play for getting pleasure, first of all

Translated from korean by Alexander Dinerchtein

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

An interview with Lee Sedol, 9-dan, the winner of the LG World Go Championship

Lee Sedol, 9-dan won the final match against Han Sanghun, 2-dan with 2-1 score on February, 28

Congratulations! What do you think about the 3rd game of the match?
I was behind in the opening. I allowed him to take so many points. I got my lead in the middle game. Later Han, 2-dan had some chances of changing the situation, but he did not use them.

How about the first two games?
They were hard for me in the beginning too. I played bad fusekis and I am not satisfied of my play in general.

What can you say about your opponent?
His Go is very thick and solid. It’s not surprising, that recently he is showing very good results.

Will he enter the Top group of Korean players soon?
Hmmm. It’s hard to say. Right now he has not much experience of playing important games. We will see how he will feel himself after losing the final match of the LG cup.

How do you think, who enjoyed your victory most of all?
My wife, of course! (laughing)

You won 2 World Championships this year. What are your future plans for 2008?
I will try to win 1-2 more

Which international tournament is the most important one for you?
Ing cup. It has biggest prizes and they held it only once per 4 years.

Lee Changho, 9-dan set the record of the highest tournaments income in 2001 ( A.D.: It was about $1.000.000). What do you think about your chances of earning more money than Lee Changho in 2001?
I will try, of course, but I am not sure, that it’s possible.

You will play Lee Changho, 9-dan a lot in 2008. What do you think about your chances?
His health condition in 2007 was not good, but now he feels himself better, so he is a very dangerous opponent again. I think, that our chances are about equal and I still have lot of things to learn from him. For example, he is much stronger than me in fuseki.

Do you work on fuseki stage yourself?
Yes, but it’s not improving at all. Fuseki theory is developing very quickly and it’s getting harder and harder to follow it.

Can we compare Korean and Chinese Go? Which country is stronger right now?
Korean players were stronger few years ago, but now the situation changed a lot. I think, that if we play a big match with China, the chances will be 50-50.

Translated from korean by Alexander Dinerchtein

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An interview with Chang Hao, 9-dan

An interview with Chang Hao, 9-dan

We counted the current rating points and noticed that you can become the top player in the first Chinese rating list of 2008. Do you know about it?
Hmm, probably I will. I did not count myself, but it looks possible. I lost 14 games in 2007 and only 3 of my opponents (Piao Wenyao, Wang Yao and Liu Xing) were lower than me in the Chinese rating list (A.D: according to the Chinese Weiqi Association rules, the player lost a lot of rating points, if he loses to someone weaker than himself). My other opponents, who beat me, such as Gu Li, Lee Changho, Lee Sedol, Wang Xi, Hu Yaoyu and others were higher than me in the rating list, so I lost only few rating points after losing my games.

What can you tell us about your impressive performance in Chinese City League - 2007?
Yes, it was a successful event and I usually play well in Chinese Leagues. For example, I scored 90% in 2000 (9-1) and about 80% in 2001 ( 16-3 or something similar). This year I played all rounds - won 20 games and lost only 2. Unfortunately my achievements in other Chinese tournaments in 2007 were much lower. I did not even reach any quarterfinals. Yes, I won the Samsung cup on International arena, but any way we cannot say that the year of 2007 was very successful for me.

Somewhere on the internet I read that you tried to avoid the game on the first board of the Chinese City League against Lee Sedol, 9-dan (Shanghai vs Guizhou teams), because you was afraid of losing. Is it true?
Really? I never heard about it before. I think that Lee Sedol, 9-dan plays in the Chinese City League for making our players stronger and for attracting new sponsors. If I lose my game – I will feel myself sad, and even if I win it – it will not make me happy. I will play him a lot in future during the international tournaments. Our game in Chinese City League would have no meaning, so I decided to play on another board A.D: Chang Hao played against Wang Lei, 8-dan and Lee Sedol, 9-dan crushed Hu Yaoyu, 8-dan instead of Chang. Lee Sedol's team won that match by 3-1 score (2007-09-27)

Lee Sedol's score in 2007 was excellent. He won a lot of important tournaments. Can we say that his era is started?
Yes, Lee Sedol, 9-dan showed us a lot of good games in 2007. He is extremely strong and popular among Go fans, but we cannot say that his Go has no weak points. You saw his recent match against Park Eunhun, 9-dan. Lee, 9-dan lost it after winning first the two games – we have to notice this episode.

Did Lee Sedol, 9-dan become stronger in 2007?
We can say so. Also his Go style improved a lot. He was always fighting like crazy in the past, but nowadays we can often see him playing solidly, especially, when he is leading. And if the position is unfavorable for him, he is very good at making games complicated, like he did a lot in the past.

Can you please compare Lee Changho's and Lee Sedol's achievements?
I am sure, that Lee Sedol, 9-dan cannot be on the top as long as Lee Changho, 9-dan, who was unconditionally the best master in the world during the last 15 years, but we can say that the overall level of Go players was lower. Nowadays there are too many masters of the same level. It's hard to keep the high winning percentage against such players.

Not long time ago you won a pair pro tournament in China together with your wife Zhang Xiang, 8-dan. Will you take part in Pair Go tournament during the Beijing Olympiad and fight for the gold medal?
We will not. According to the rules, it's possible to choose one tournament only, so I will probably take part in Individual Championship or in Team Championship. Also, I don't think that my wife will play in the Pair Go Championship at all.

Translated from korean by Alexander Dinerchtein