The 36th World Amateur Go Championship, held this year for the first time in Thailand, ended this afternoon with victory for Changhun Kim 6d of Korea. Second came Aohua Hu 6d of China, scoring seven wins out of eight (losing only to the Korean), and third place was taken by the young Jyun-Fu Lai 7d from Chinese Taipei.
The top ten players were:  Changhun Kim (Korea),  Aohua Hu (China),  Jyun-Fu Lai (Chinese Taipei),  Chi-hin Chan (Hong Kong),  Satoshi Hiraoka (Japan),  Cornel Burzo (Romania),  Artem Kachanovskyi (Ukraine),  Juyong Koh (Canada),  Pal Balogh (Hungary) and  Daniel Ko (United States). Click here for the full tournament results. This year was the first to employ an improved pairing algorithm, the MacMahon system, which has been widely used in Europe over the last thirty years. Players are given an initial score based on their playing strength, allowing them to be paired against opponents of a more similar strength.
In Round 7, a surprise victory for Italian representative Matias Pankoke 2d, defeating Vietnamese Khanh-Binh Do 5d despite a three dan rank difference and incurring the largest time penalty so far (58 minutes) for late arrival. It was a busy day for Romania’s Cornel Burzo 6d, first winning by 3.5 points against Daniel Ko 7d of the United States in an exciting game with a number of large blunders from each side, then narrowly losing by half a point from a winning position against the third place winner Jyun-Fu Lai 6d (Chinese Taipei). At the end of the game, there were so many stones captured in ko that the board was completely filled in counting, leaving Burzo with fourteen remaining captures against Lai’s eight.
The final round was followed as usual by the anti-doping test for the top three players and another random player. The players and officials then all gathered in the gardens overlooking the Chao Phraya River at the back of the tournament hotel to await the start of the closing ceremony.
The closing ceremony began with speeches, awards and a traditional Thai puppet show, and these were followed by a grand outdoor banquet. The top ten players were awarded plaques and the top three trophies in the shape of Thai elephants. After dinner a troupe of Thai dancers took to the stage, along with the more adventurous players and officials, in celebration of the conclusion of this fantastic tournament.
Many thanks to the organising committee and especially to the Go Association of Thailand for their hard work in preparing and executing this very memorable World Amateur Go Championship. We eagerly await next year’s competition, which will be held in China.
– John Richardson (photos by Yoshitaka Morimoto)