Interview with Sin-Voon Chin, Brunei
You can call me Ignatius, which is my Christian name. I’m the founder of the Brunei Darussalam Go Association. I learned about the game from watching the Japanese anime Hikaru no Go in 2003. At first I didn’t understand the rules, but then I learned them from a friend, whom I call the co-founder of go in Brunei. He had some go software, but we had no other opponents and no go set, so we used othello (reversi) equipment — the othello board is the same size as a 9 x 9 go board.
When we were studying for our GCE A-level exams at prep school, we started a go club as an extracurricular activity. We got quite a good turnout, and soon we had to procure more othello sets. Later I made contact with the president of the Malaysian Go Association and we started to get proper go equipment through them.
In 2004 or 2005 I was struck by the sight of a team I saw at the beach, wearing jerseys, representing Brunei in some international sports event. At that instant I realized that we should form a Brunei Go Association and get recognition from the government. I had also been reading a book called Things You Never Learned at School. One thing that book said is that when you find yourself wondering why somebody doesn’t do something, that may be a sign that you should do it yourself. This had stuck in my mind, so now I went into action. After we got organized, I contacted Yuki Shigeno at the International Go Federation, and we joined the IGF. Then we started sending players to international tournaments: the Korea Prime Minister Cup, the World Amateur Go Championship, the Asian Go Championship held in China, and so on. I competed in the KPMC four times before leaving Brunei to study architecture at Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
Now I’m back in Brunei, working as an architect. I’m also continuing to play go, but the go community in Brunei is still small. There are only about thirty active players, out of a population of 400,000. Because of its gas and oil, Brunei is a wealthy kingdom (yes, it has a king), and the people are very laid back. The main amusements are movies, European board games, trekking, things like that. Most of the go players belong to the 10% Chinese minority. One thing we lack is professional instruction, but even so, we have hopes of introducing go into the school system in Brunei, and one of my ambitions is to get the royal family interested in the game. This may well be possible. Because of Brunei’s small size, our go activities already get good attention in the local media.
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