Martin Stiassny

Martin Stiassny, the President of the European Go Federation since 2009, discusses this year’s SportAccord World Mind Games and the new changes to look forward to in the go world.

Ranka: What has been your role in organizing this particular event?
Martin: I’m here as the team leader for the European players and as a member of the IGF board of directors. As a team leader, I look after all the players, helping with any problems they encounter and even sometimes getting them out of bed! In preparation for the event I helped to collect all the required information for the flights and visas, as well as coming up with an appropriate qualification system to find this year’s participants.

Ranka: Could you describe your planned changes to the qualification system?
Martin: At the moment we have a three-way qualification system designed to cover each of the three events. For the Men’s team event we held a special qualification tournament, inviting the players with the highest European ratings. We also thought it was important for pair go to select players who had performed well in pair go events. We were reluctant in the past to use the European Go Congress as a qualification tournament because many top players were unable to attend for the full two weeks. From 2015 we are planning to reschedule the congress so that the main tournament is only for one week, and this will allow us in the future to use the EGC to decide qualification for the SportAccord World Mind Games.

Ranka: How about the format of the games next year? Can we expect any changes?
Martin: Firstly let me explain the rules for designing the go events. SportAccord allocate us a total of 30 players to take part and 7 days to fill with events. 30 is not such a convenient number (32 would be better) and that makes it all the more complicated. Personally I like the team events and would like to see more Women’s games. We would like to keep the pair go, another important way of promoting women’s go. The next option to consider is the introduction of blitz events. We would need to adjust the schedule to fit them in, but the more the merrier! Reducing time limits would not be good for the quality of the games, but the increased entertainment value for spectators would more than make up for that.

Ranka: Does the IGF have any plans to update present rating systems?
Martin: My personal opinion (and I’m not the only one!) is that we need an internationally standardized system like in chess. Europe and America have their own rating systems and Japan and Korea have no amateur rating system at all. These need to be combined but it’s not so easy with the systems being so far detached. I can see problems with image – players from countries with relatively inflated rating systems will not be keen to lose their hard-earned ranks. One way I see of getting around this is to introduce a system a bit like t-shirts! When you buy clothes there are often a variety of sizes indicated – Japanese, European, … we could do the same with go. At least at the start players could keep their various local ranks and when an international rating is available we would use that for tournaments. It’s not the first priority of the IGF however, and we therefore have no immediate plans for implementation.

Many thanks to Martin for all his hard work.

– John Richardson

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