Once a fervent go player, the 19 year-old Zhao Hanqing began to study international draughts in 2008 and has already secured victory in the World Championship (Junior Girls). She is currently taking part in the SportAccord World Mind Games held in Beijing alongside this year’s go events. The Chinese star gives us an insight into the world of draughts in China.
Ranka: What made you give up go for draughts?
Zhao: I started to play go when I was seven and studied hard for six years. It was at that time by chance that the 1st World Mind Games was being held in Beijing. In those days almost nobody in China could play international draughts, and I was drafted in to help form a Chinese team. Now there are almost 20 million players in China, thanks mainly to the recent promotion of mind games. This includes not only international tournaments such as the SportAccord World Mind Games but also national competitions and the incentive to teach mind games in schools.
Ranka: How does your new sport compare with go? Could you transfer your go skills and experience to draughts?
Zhao: I think both games are interesting and certainly very different, although that doesn’t mean there are no transferable skills. Reading tactical sequences is important in both games and my calculation skills led to quick progress in draughts. Draughts is a very simple game and I think that’s what makes it so appealing. Go is far more complex.
Ranka: How do you spend your time these days?
Zhao: At the moment I am studying draughts and the Russian language at college in Irkutsk. It’s bitterly cold, but I try to get in a game or two of go when time permits.
– John Richardson