The playing area on the third floor of the Shimane Prefectural Assembly Hall is divided into a main inner room with nineteen boards, fourteen of which have official game recorders, and a smaller outer area with ten boards, one of which is reserved for the player with a bye. In round 1 the solo seat went to Spain’s Joan Flos. The signal to start the games on the other boards was given by chief referee Masaki Takemiya just after 9:30 a.m. on May 29, and live broadcasts of four of the recorded games began immediately on the Internet. Another World Amateur Go Championship was under way.
In the inner room, spectators gathered around board 13, where Hironori Hirata (Japan) was playing Alexander Selby (U.K.). Next to them Thomas Debarre (France) was taking on Kanh Binh Do (Vietnam); this game also attracted attention.
The tournament is being played with time limits of one hour per player, followed by three renewable 30-second overtime periods. Timing was handled by new tournament clocks, made by Citizen Corporation for the Nihon Kiin. The beep tones of the clocks provided a soft electronic background to the click of slate and shell on wood.
The players had been seeded from 1 to 57 for pairing purposes. Following World Amateur Go Championship tradition, in the first round the middle half of the field drew for opponents from the upper and lower quarters. At the end of the round, when the results had all been tallied, every game turned out to have been won by the higher seeded player.
Ranka asked its professional commentator Hiroshi Yamashiro (9-dan, Nihon Kiin) and referees Shimpei Kuwamoto (6-dan, Nihon Kiin) and Yasuhiro Nakano (9-dan, Kansai Kiin) for their observations on the round 1.
Shimipei Kuwamoto: There were many types of players. They all had good manners, but it was a delight to see that some of them were taking pictures and generally seemed to be in a sightseeing spirit. And they are strong. In the post-mortem reviews they were all very definite about their ideas. It was clear that they were bent on playing their own games. One player (Kamil Chwedyna, Poland) played several of his opening moves on the second line. At first glance it looked as if his hand must have slipped, but he knew what he was doing. I guess he had worked this strategy out in advance.
Note: Kamil Chwedyna won his game.
Yasuhiro Nakano: The age range was impressive. Aside from Japan’s Hironori Hirata (84), there were quite a few players in the 50-70 age bracket, and then there were all those young players from Southeast Asia. It will be very interesting to see how strong the ones from Indonesia (14), Singapore (22), Thailand (21), and Vietnam (22) become.
Note: The players from Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand won their first games, as did Hironori Hirata.
Hiroshi Yamashiro: The game between the two young players from Austria (Viktor Lin, 19) and Israel (Jonathan Lidor, 18) was riveting. Since this was the first round, most of the games were somewhat one-sided, but those two players were extremely well matched. Their game wasn’t recorded, but it was very good, with interesting content. They are both already playing at the 6-dan level. They have a bright future.
Viktor Lin emerged the winner in that game. His opponent Jonathan Lidor added the following wry comment: “Yesterday I played a friendly game against Viktor. We said that whoever won that game would have to lose today, and that’s what happened, after I blundered.”
– James Davies