After a bad year in the Japanese tournaments (‘My worst yet!’) Seto Taiki scored four wins against only one loss for the Japanese men’s team at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing, but as he put it, all of his games were tight: he had chances to beat the Korean opponent he lost to in the first round, and the opponents he beat from North America, China, Europe, and Chinese Taipei in the remaining rounds all managed to put him in danger of losing. He described receiving the bronze medal as a memorable experience, the first time he had won any kind of medal for playing go.
But he has some medals in other sports, and two years ago he also had a fling at recording a popular song.
Ranka: Please tell us something about Monotone, the song you recorded.
Seto: I recorded it with two players from the Nihon Kiin: Takanashi Seiken, 8-dan, and Hsieh Yimin, women’s meijin. It was Takanashi Seiken who came up with the idea, and when he put it to me I decided to give it a try. The whole project, including making a promotional video, took almost a year. I had some professional coaching in recording an acting. We released one thousand copies of the CD, and got some favorable reactions from within the go community, but sales in general were not very good. We’re not planning a second release.
Ranka: What are your feelings about the project in retrospect?
Seto: It was a good experience, but I think we could have done some things better. I should have rehearsed more, and we could have looked for some more imaginative ways to boost sales. But since we’re professional go players, perhaps we couldn’t have expected any great success in this area.
Ranka: Getting back to go, how did you feel in Beijing?
Seto: This was my first chance to play on a team representing all of Japan in an international tournament, and considering my poor record this year I figured it might be my last chance, so I felt more pressure than I’ve ever felt before. That may have done me some good. I think I played reasonably well. I hope I can keep this momentum going into next year.
Ranka: Aside from the pressure, did playing as part of a team make a difference in your approach to the games?
Seto: Yes, especially in the last game, against the player from Chinese Taipei. The opening went well and later I was moving toward killing a large group of stones. If it had been an individual tournament, I would have gone for that kill, but here I thought about the team. If I won, we might take third place and get the bronze medal. If I went after the group, failed to capture it, and lost, we’d be fourth and get no medal. So since I was ahead anyway, I decided to let the group live and play to win conservatively.
Ranka: Finally, how would you evaluate the European and North American opponents you faced during the World Mind Games?
Seto: They were both strong. There was a point during my game with the North American player (Daniel Dae-hyuk Ko) when he had the upper hand, and my European opponent (Ilya Shikshin) really knew how to put the pressure on in the clinch. For him to defeat a pro would not be surprising.
Ranka: Thank you very much.