By 2:35 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, most of the contestants in the 33rd World Amateur Go Championship had made a good start on recovering from jetlag, had sampled the breakfast and lunch buffets at Guangzhou’s Baiyun Hotel, and were ready for the orientation meeting. The meeting opened with an address by chief referee Hua Yigang (8p), who described go as a sport, an art, and a good platform for communication, and noted that east or west, Canton cuisine is the best. Executive chief referee Liu Jing (8p) then went over the tournament rules and the computerized pairing system, which were the same as used in Hangzhou in 2010, and announced that since only 55 contestants were coming, an extra Chinese player had been added to make an even number.
Next came the main business, which was to draw the numbers that the computer would use in determining the pairings throughout the tournament. The four players from China, Korea, the U.S.A., and France, the countries that took the four top places last year, drew for numbers 1, 16, 31, and 46; then the remaining players drew the remaining numbers. In the first round, odd-numbered players would play black against even-numbered players: 1 against 2, 3 against 4, and so on. In subsequent rounds a similar player-number-based system would be used in each band, with variations from round to round, and with the bands sliced so as to give each player the black stones approximately half the time. When the tournament ends, in retrospect, the numbers drawn at the orientation meeting will turn out to have been a major factor in determining the opponents each player met, but before play begins, it is impossible to predict whether this factor will work to the player’s advantage or disadvantage. In any case, this Chinese pairing system, operating by lots and computer algorithms without human interference, is completely fair and above-board.
As a result of the draw, in the first round the four seeded players from China, Korea, the U.S.A., and France drew opponents from Italy, Brazil, Norway, and Slovakia. The powerful low-teen duo from Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong drew opponents from Colombia and Switzerland. Japan’s Seizoh Nakazono drew Saechen Panjawat from Thailand. DPR Korea’s Ri Kwang-Hyok drew the added Chinese player, Fang Xiaoyang, 3 dan. And in three of the closer match-ups, 5-dan players from Czechia, Russia, and Sweden drew 5-dan opponents from New Zealand, Slovenia, and Argentina.
Shigeno Yuki, Secretary-General of the International Go Federation, closed the meeting in cheerful style by saying she hoped everyone would have a good time and enjoy some good food, and the players dispersed to dress for dinner.
– James Davies