Interview with Leon Rios, Peru
My first World Amateur Go Championship was in Hangzhou in 2010. At the time I was about to finish my university studies, majoring in economics, and I had decided to move to Taiwan to work and study Chinese. Work and study and, as it turned out, meet some go players. I made the move in July 2011.
After three years in Taiwan I had learned the language well enough to open a Peruvian restaurant, which was the only way for me to get my native cuisine there. It’s been a nice experience, and it’s given me a place of my own at which to play go. Starting three months ago, a group of us have been playing go every Tuesday at my restaurant. This has created opportunities for me to encounter local players, improve my game, and play with foreigners as well. One of them is a Spanish go friend I had made before coming to Taiwan. He had been interested in my plans to move to Taiwan, and later he came over himself, so now we have two Spanish-speaking go players in Taiwan, which is pretty remarkable.
Five years after Hangzhou, I had the chance to represent Peru at the WAGC again, this time in Thailand. It was a really, really nice tournament. They introduced a new pairing system, the McMahon system, at that WAGC. The pairings were weighted according to the players’ strength, which gave people like me a chance to score more wins. It was also the first time the WAGC was held outside Japan, China, and Korea. The organization of the whole tournament was simply spectacular, from the moment we arrived at the airport up to the very end. Thai go players are quite good, and they excel in their will to make improvements in go in their country. Their expectations from the WAGC were very high, and they treated us wonderfully. The tournament atmosphere was excellent. There were always strong Thai players in the playing room. After the rounds they let us hang out with them and play against them, which was very nice.
Taipei, which is where I live in Taiwan, is a fascinating city. It presents a mixture of Chinese and Japanese culture, and the people are very warm-hearted, just like Latin Americans. It was this combination of things that made me choose to live there. Now I have a wife, who is Taiwanese, and a four-month-old daughter. I’m really happy.