The opening ceremony and reception for the 30th World Amateur Go Championship were held at the Kakegawa Grand Hotel in Kakegawa City in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, on the evening of May 26. Kakegawa, where the players and staff are staying, is next to Fukuroi City, where the tournament will be held. Fukuroi and Kakegawa are not large cities, but they outdid themselves in getting the tournament off to a lively start by staging a gala event, including performances of traditional Japanese music and dancing and some interesting greetings from the sponsors and officials.
Mr Yoshinobu Ishikawa, governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, reminded the audience that Shizuoka had played an important historical role in the development of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which had given Japan two and a half centuries of peace and spawned the Japanese system of professional go. Two of the greatest players of the Tokugawa Era, Jowa, the famous “Iron Arm”, and Shuwa, who laid the foundations of modern go, had hailed from Shizuoka Prefecture.
Mr Hideyuki Harada, Mayor of Fukuori, extolled the virtues of Shuzoka’s green tea and tangerines. Speaking from personal experience, Mr Harada said that six grams of the former and two of the latter, taken daily, may not directly improve your skill on the board, but they will keep you in perfect health, which is an important factor for a serious go player.
Mr Jun Mtasui, president of the Shizuoka Shimbun and Shizuoka Broadcasting System, added melons to the list of Shizuoka’s notable products. Mr Yasushi Abe of NEC recounted NEC’s long involvement with go, including its sponsorship of the China-Japan Super-Go series in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Mr Hideo Otake, the tournament chairman, expressed his hope that all the players would have a wonderful time in Shizuoka, a sentiment echoed by the above three speakers and by Lih-Chen Wang (O Rissei), the chief referee, following the contestants’ pledge, which was given by Mandesh Singh, the player from India. Mr Otake also ceremoniously passed the flag of the International Go Federation to Mr Runan Wang of China, where the world amateur go championship will be held next year.
The results of the drawing for the pairings in the first round were announced during the reception, with photos of each pair of players projected onto a screen. The WAGC drawing system always manages to produce at least one close match in the first round. This year it produced several. Three to keep an eye on are the games between Viktor Lin of Austria and Mijodrag Stankovic of Serbia, between 16-year-old Thomas Debarre of France and Jia-Cheng Tan of Singapore, and between Robert Jasiek of Germany and Paisal Thunthadaluk of Thailand.
– James Davies