For most of the competing players, the 2016 World Amateur Go Championship began with a three-hour bus ride from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Wuxi on June 3, a sumptuous dinner, breakfast, and lunch at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, and then the 35th Annual General Meeting of the International Go Federation. Presided over by outgoing IGF Secretary General Hajin Lee, the meeting went exceptionally smoothly. After an opening greeting by acting IGF President Chimoon Park, Vanthanee Namasonthi reported on last year’s WAGC by showing a video, which featured Thai dancing and boxing as well as go. ‘Thailand is a small country in one corner of the world, but we’re proud of what we accomplished with your support,’ she said. IGF Director Hiroko Taki then reported on the 2015 International Amateur Pair Go Championship, the 2015 World Student Pair Go Championship, and the 2016 World Students Go Oza tournament. IGF vice-president Thomas Hsiang reported on the first World Mind Games sponsored by the International Mind Sports Association, noting that go was now considered one of the big three world mind sports, along with contract bridge and chess, and giving the welcome news that a second IMSA World Mind Games will take place in China in January 2016. All this was followed by the financial report, with the further good news that thanks to special contributions from China, Japan, and Korea, the IGF is in excellent financial shape. Hajin Lee also drew attention to a database that has been set up on the IGF website, giving the results of IGF events for the past ten years, together with an IGF code of ethics and much other information.
Moving from the past to the present, Mr Wang Yi spoke for everyone in thanking the city of Wuxi and the extraordinarily hard-working and helpful staff they provided for the 2016 WAGC. Future IGF events were also announced, including an International Amateur Pair Go Championship and World Student Pair Go Championship scheduled for December and a professional Pair Go World Cup scheduled for July, both in Tokyo, with participation of top pros such as Iyama Yuta, Ke Jie, and Park Jeonghwan in the World Cup event. The next World Amateur Go Championship and World Students Go Oza Championship will be held in 2017, although the specific dates and locations have yet to be decided. A third World Mind Sports Games, originally planned to follow the 2016 Olympics in Brazil as the first and second WMSGs followed the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in Beijing and London, has been postponed due to financial uncertainty; negotiations are proceeding with with at least two alternative locations. The Icelandic Go Association’s application to join the IGF was accepted, bringing the number of member countries and territories to seventy-six.
The meeting also approved a new board of IGF directors, largely identical to the existing board but headed by Mr Zhenming Chang as president, with Wang Yi replacing Hajin Lee as Secretary General. Mr Chang closed the meeting by pledging to work for the increased popularity and development of go and further improvement of the IGF website. He also thanked AlphaGo for attracting worldwide attention to our game, mentioned a unified set of rules, a point-based international ranking system, and raising the level of play in Europe and the Americas as future goals, and concluded by wishing everyone a happy stay in Wuxi.
But the meeting was not quite over. Thomas Hsiang brought it to a truly happy end by presenting a surprise bouquet to Hajin Lee, who recently married and will soon move to Switzerland to study international organization management.