The games have begun. Fifty-seven players from all corners of the world have gathered in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, to contend for victory in the Go world’s most prestigious amateur event.
The festivities kicked off on Saturday morning with a friendship event in the main playing hall, a large ballroom decorated with photographs of Go events in Thailand. A handful of guests, selected from the very best players across Thailand, received teaching games from the tournament referees. Michael Redmond 9p, the chief referee, commented that the level of the local players was extremely high, comparable to top Japanese amateurs. Alongside the teaching games, a friendly warm-up was arranged for the tournament participants: Triple Go. Players were split into teams of three and played alternating moves similar to pair Go. Much fun was had by all.
As is customary, the afternoon began with the Annual General Meeting of the International Go Federation (IGF). After the opening address by Mr Chimoon Park, the acting president of the IGF, operations summary reports were given from various IGF directors. Reports included last year’s World Amateur Go Championship (WAGC) and the 4th Sport Accord World Mind Games (SAWMG). While the future of the SAWMG is still unclear, mention was made of the possibility of this event being held biennially, restarting in 2016 in China. It is likely that China will host again the World Mind Sport Games, after very successful events in Beijing 2008 and Lille 2012, and this will most likely be held in Macau in 2016. With over 1000 mind sport participants including 250 Go players this will be an exiting event on the Go calendar. China will hold next year’s WAGC, although the exact location is yet to be decided.
The second half of the AGM covered the budget report, anti-doping regulations and the new IGF Code of Ethics. Also reported was the release of the IGF Facebook page and YouTube channel. Players in this tournament can be seen introducing themselves on the Youtube channel. Terms were renewed for current directors and it was announced that director Martin Finke will step down from his post after 5 years of dedicated service. We are very grateful to Martin for his valuable contributions, which include organising the pairings and anti-doping procedures for this tournament. IGF membership applications were reviewed and the logo for a new IGF donor badge was decided. Iran will become a full member of the IGF from this year, increasing the total number of members to seventy-five, and the Asian Go Federation will become an associate member.
The afternoon continued with the press conference, where the main figures shared their enthusiasm with national media about holding this year’s WAGC here in Thailand. Korsak Chairasmisak expressed his delight at how the Go Association of Thailand, of which he is the president, has evolved from almost nothing in the early 80s to hosting the WAGC this year. The press conference was followed by a group photograph for the players and officials, and preparations were made for the evening’s opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony began with introductory speeches and a lavish performance of Thai dance and music. Highlights were a traditional Thai drummer, Thai boxing and a ballet performance. Dinner and drinks followed into the evening, while players mulled over their pairings announced for tomorrow’s first round.
– John Richardson