One of the people present throughout the World Mind Games was Jin Qianqian, a well-known female professional player (5p), coach, and instructor. Her star pupil is Chen Yaoye (9p), who took the Tianyuan title from Gu Li and has now defended it twice. She kindly consented to be interviewed by Ranka.
“I started playing go when I was ten years old. Back in those days China didn’t have any dan ranking system or professional system. Players were not referred to by their ranks. When they began assigning ranks in 1982, I was immediately ranked at 4 dan, skipping ranks 1-3. I was nineteen at the time. In December of the same year, when I was still nineteen, I was promoted to 5 dan. Now I work as a go instructor.
“The class I teach is open to a wide range of players. The typical student starts out in his or her second or third year of elementary school. Some start even before that, however, and some start from middle-school age, if they can also handle their regular school studies. The requirement for participation in the go class is that the student must be one of the top sixteen prospects. The class gets one three-hour lesson per week. Ten minutes before the class begins I give them a life-and-death problem. To start the class I present the day’s topics, and then we study these. Then the students play each other and review their games. Sometimes we take up a particular game and analyze it in detail, seeing what moves would lead to what results. Finally they show their answers to the life-and-death problem. They have to get it right before they can go home.
“Chen Yaoye joined the class in 1998, when he was nine years old. Two years later he was professional shodan. He was so promising that he was immediately put on the Chinese national team, eligible to represent China internationally. I no longer teach him. The people I teach now will be the next generation of Chinese pros.
“I also coach the Beijing team in the Chinese City League, and accompany the team when they compete. I’m here right now because two of the Beijing team members, Kong Jie and Xia He, are playing in the World Mind Games. I might add that the current Chinese national women’s champion, Tsao Youying, is also on the Beijing team.
“The post of ‘coach’ is just a title. It’s been a long time since I’ve competed professionally. The team members are much stronger than me. The only thing I have is greater experience. So I’m not like a basketball coach who can tell the players what to do, I’m more like a swimming coach, who is not as good a swimmer as the athletes she coaches but can still make suggestions.
– James Davies