34wagc_opening2The 34th World Amateur Go Championship began with a rousing opening ceremony and reception at the Sendai International Hotel on the evening of August 31. Norio Wada, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nihon Kiin, welcomed all the players and wished them good games. Emiko Okuyama, the 34th Mayor of Sendai, dressed in jaunty black and white, added her welcome. The Netherlands’ Merlijn Kuin gave the contestants’ pledge, thanking the many sponsrs who had made it possible for all the players to come and saying how happy the were to be in Sendai. Former Honinbo and Meijin Takemiya Masaki, the chief referee, urged the players to enjoy the Championship to the fullest. And in addition there was some swashbuckling pageantry commemorating the founding of Sendai by Date Masamune, plus a lively ‘sparrow dancing’ exhibition with audience participation, and a vigorous demonstration of calligraphy by a team of schoolgirls wielding giant-sized brushes with musical accompaniment on the shamisen.

The first round began under clear skies at 9:30 the next morning, in the large playing room on the fifth floor of the AER complex. The fifty-six players were all in their seats when Takemiya Masaki give the instructions to choose colors and start playing. As at the goodwill match the previous day, the atmosphere was one of quiet concentration. Meanwhile, on the sixth floor, there was an atmosphere of energetic bustle as some 200 local children gathered for a separate tournament, the first of several parallel events that will take place during the World Amateur Championship.

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