Ranka interviewed Daniel Daehyuk Ko just after he won the decisive game in North America’s match against Europe by defeating Ilya Shikshin.
Ranka: How do you feel?
Daniel: Great! We had a really painful loss last year – we lost three-nothing. So I felt that we should win at least one game this time. Even just one game! But luckily one of my teammates won too, so we ended up winning the match.
Ranka: How did your game go?
Daniel: In the opening I was trying to get more territory, while Ilya was trying to make a moyo and start a fight. He tried to attack the invading stones I played to reduce his territory, but he was really too aggressive. Throughout the whole game he was aiming at my weak groups, but every time, they were able to survive successfully. This was my game plan. I was still jet-lagged, so I had decided to take more territory and let him attack my weak stones, but make sure I knew how to save them. Each time I gave him a weak group to attack, I had a plan to save it.
Ranka: You seemed to be winning throughout the game. While you were fighting the final one-point ko, were you aware of how far ahead you were?
Daniel: I wasn’t sure exactly how many points I was winning by, but I thought that I was quite far ahead. I guess the final margin was about seven or eight points. I could have won by ten points or more, but I tried to play safe at the end (click here to download the game record).
Ranka: And now, please tell us how you learned to play go in Korea.
Daniel: I learned to play from my dad, who was like ten kyu. I saw my mom and my dad playing each other when I was five. By watching them, I learned the rules in just one game. After that I was interested in learning more, but there was no go club or dojo in my home town, so mostly I just learned by myself. Then when I was fifteen, one of the stronger amateurs in Korea moved to my town and opened a go club, so I went there and learned from him. I quickly became about six or seven dan – in about one year – but it was already a little too late to try to become a pro, so I decided not to be a pro but to stay an amateur. After graduating from highschool in Korea, I moved to the U.S. to go to college and stopped playing go. There was a period of seven or eight years in which I didn’t go to any tournaments.
Ranka: When did you resume?
Daniel: About eight years ago. After graduating from college and getting a job, I joined the American Go Association and started playing in tournaments again.
Ranka: How many American tournaments have you won?
Daniel: I don’t know, but more than ten. Probably fifteen or twenty, counting small local tournaments.
Ranka: If the American professional system continues to develop, would you consider becoming an American pro?
Daniel: I might think about it, but I’m happy to remain an amateur.
Ranka: Thank you.