Hiroko Taki is well known to pair go players as the Vice President of the World Pair Go Association. She was in Hangzhou to attend the IGF Directors’ Meeting on the 25th. The next day she took time to speak with Ranka.
Ranka: Please tell us about the recent professional Pair Go World Cup.
Taki: This was held here in Hangzhou last March, with the cooperation of the Hangzhou Weiqi Association and the China Weiqi Association. There was a reception on the 20th, the games were played on the 21st and 22nd, and it was a big success. There had been sixteen Japanese professional pair go championships in the past, but this was the first world pair go cup. The Japanese pairs were the two pairs that finished first and second in the Japanese pair go championship last December. They then trained for Hangzhou and made a real effort to get a medal. In the end the Chinese pairs finished first and third and a Korean pair finished second, but the Japanese pairs did their best. China, Japan, and Korean all sent in their best pairs. What made the tournament a success was that these countries and Chinese Taipei made a serious effort to win, and at the same time, the players enjoyed the event in true pair go fashion. And it was also a success for the amateur pairs that participated from other countries, even though they all lost in the first round, because they had a chance to get some top-level pair-go experience.
Ranka: And now please tell us what will be happening in pair go over the next few years.
Taki: We’re hoping to hold more pair go world cups, not next year but perhaps once every four years, like the football world cup. The next big international tournament will be the Asia Games, where pair go will be one of the events, along with men’s go and women’s go. Looking beyond that, the World Pair Go Association now has 64 member countries. Our Chairman is Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, former Director-General of UNESCO, so we’re expecting to develop further under his leadership. We are also now participating in the International Go Federation, and will be working with them.
Another important element will be playing pair go on the Internet, through Pandanet, but in pair go it’s always important for people to meet face to face over the board. We will be working hard online, but pair go will never be just a network game.
Looking back, when we started the pair go movement twenty years ago, we wrote a lot about the significance of fostering pair go, communication in black and white, international goodwill, and so on. At the time, there was a need to attract more players to the game of go, both in Japan and in western countries. There was a particular need to get more women into the game, and of course that would attract more men. We wanted to present pair go as a game played by ladies and gentlemen, to make it more accessible to women. Our no-smoking policy was a big change. Over these twenty years, I’d say that we have reached and exceeded our goals. In the future I hope to see pair go become an established part of every major go tournament.
Originally we called ourselves the Japan Pair Igo Association, using the formal Japanese name for the game, but then we changed the name to Pair Go, using the internationally recognized word, and now we even write it that way in Japanese, using katakana script. I’m very happy about what we’ve accomplished and I’m looking forward to the future.
– James Davies