This morning at 9.30am representatives from fifty-four countries and territories placed their bets on odd or even and kicked off the 35th World Amateur Go Championship.


Referees at the 35th WAGC: (from the left) Cho Hun-hyun, Park Seung-chul and Nam Chi-hyung

Unlike last year, where the first round pairings were announced at the Opening Ceremony, this year no preparation was possible for the competitors, who discovered their opponents only minutes before the clocks were started. The pairings for the first round avoid clashes between the top four seeds but otherwise are drawn at random, with players matched within two subclasses to avoid large rating differences.

The first game to finish was Korea-Denmark, with the local favourite Taewoong Wei off to an impressive start. There were no surprises for the other top seeds as China, Japan and Chinese Taipei all scored convincing victories.


Kiko Emura (left) playing Pal Balogh

In particular note was the Japan-Hungary match, the game reaching an essentially lost position with only three minutes used on Pal Balogh’s clock. After a twenty minute deliberation, the Hungarian left the playing room but returned minutes later to chose the only possible continuation and struggle through a futile battle to the bitter end.

The next game to finish saw Hong Kong’s Naisan Chan enclosing the Dutch envoy’s central-right stones. No amount of tsumego wizardry could save Merlijn Kuin’s group from inevitable demise. As the sound of byoyomi counting began to echo across the room, a flurry of games reached their conclusion, with more to follow in dribs and drabs until around midday.



Other interesting games included Costa Rica versus Belgium, this year seeing a new player, the Costa Rican system engineer Luis Enrique Boza Araya, attempt a tengen-based strategy. He was unable to use the stone and suffered a crushing defeat to the Belgian accountant Dominique Versyck. Suzanne D’Bel, known by the Japanese press as ‘Tengen Girl’, was White in her game against Andreas Götzfried of Luxembourg, so we are yet to see if she too will employ this unusual opening strategy.

The second round begins at 1.30pm Korean time.

– John Richardson

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