World Amateur Go Championship

May 25th

Today players arrived. In the Narita airport, there was a significant effort to avoid 'pandemic influenza', all employees having masks and all immigrants having to fill a form saying that they did not cough the last 10 days or so. Tomorrow, there is a transfer to the playing site, Kakegawa city, in Shizuoka prefecture. The first two rounds of the tournament will be played on May 27th.

May 26th

After the transfer to Kakegawa city, there was the classical "orientation" session with the reading of the rules and demonstration of the clocks. At the end of this meeting, the pairings for the first round were drawn. Belgium will face Japan on table 23.

Next there was the IGF general meeting. It is interesting to note that the situation of international go is changing. The sponsoring for WAGC is decreasing, and probably next year the flight will not be sponsored anymore. Another change is that the WAGC will not always be organized in Japan, but also in other countries, such China. The next KPMC will be held from 23rd to 28th of October 2009 together with two other events (website)

May 27th

In the morning, I lost my game against Japan. It seems I forgot several proverbs, and I only realized when I was behind in the running battle. In the afternoon I captured three Philipine groups.

Japanese people are very kind and helpful. However, sometimes the language barrier causes some challenges. I spent 20 minutes unsuccessfully asking how to dial an international phone number at the hotel reception desk. Fortunately, modern hotels have broadband LAN and skype supports calls to regular phones.

May 28th

I started the second day by winning from Peru in a fairly interesting game.

During lunchtime there was a tea ceremony. Even though essentially this consists in getting a cup of tea and drinking it, there are a few subtle but important details. There is for instance the rotating of the cup. Even though the cup is perfectly circular, it has a picture which is called the center. The lady offering the cup rotates the cup (to mix and cool the hot tea a bit and) to let the center face the drinker as a sign of respect. Next, the drinker rotates the cup again, as one should not drink facing the center.

In the afternoon, my hallucination contained more liberties than the reality. I had to resort to several too expensive ko fights.

May 29th

In the morning my South-African opponent resigned, after having taken the four corners and (according to the comments of a professional) having missed numerous opportunities to invade correctly the center exploiting my too defensive defence.

In the afternoon my white opponent went for influence by playing a 5-5 and 4-6 opening. The game became interesting and complicated, involving several big ko fights. The amount of mistakes of my opponent nearly approached mine, and he won by 2.5 points.

At the top of the tournament, the last unbeaten players, China and Korea faced each other in the sixth round. In the end China won.

May 30th

My seventh game much resembled my 5th. My opponent used the same joseki variation in the beginning which was not known to the pro but not necessarily bad. I was again forced into playing for influence. It seems my opponent played two kikachi too much, which costed him my 7.5 points margin.

The last round and hence the last chance to score a point was against Russia. It was my second game with white, and my only one with a diagonal fuseki and no moyo. Despite a few mistakes in the fuseki, I managed to capture a few stones in the middle game. However, due to approaching byo-yomi, I forgot about a variation which cutted of 7 of my stones. I was however very lucky that my opponent just lost one liberty in yose, and by enlarging my captured group I could capture 6 stones myself in oiotoshi. Finally, I won by 2.5 points, probably thanks to the 15 stones in 10 minutes byo-yomi rithm which allowed to play reasonable endgame. I was very happy to again score 5 victories.

the tournament was won by China. From our neighboring countries we can note the good results of Laurent Heiser (Luxembourg) and Thomas Debarre (France).

May 31st

On the last day, there was a friendship match with the local people in the morning. It is interesting to see the contrast between the old men who say that they play fast but in fact use quite some time and avoid fights, and the young kids who are asked to think well but play fast and are not afraid of fighting. I have to admit that using a lddder that does not work as a source of ko threats may in some cases be a remarkably good idea.

In the afternoon.the participants went sightseeing to a zen temple. It was a relatively large complex. We got invited to practice zen. The priest first explained that one should sit straight on the mat, look at a point 1 metre in front, and thing nothing. He then continued with hitting the interested participants (making loud snaps), explaining that this was to remmind zen practicers that they should think nothing. Next, he also reviewed the history of the temple.

It took 4 hours to get through the traffic jam to Narita hotel with its English speaking staff.