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