Dear Go players,
allow me to introduce myself. My name is Michael, and it’s my pleasure to be able to report on the first World Mind Sports Games for you. I am 25 years old, from Germany, and have been playing Go for about 6 years. This is my first time in Asia, and I hope to be able to share with you something of the atmosphere, of Asia in general, and this special occasion in particular.
I arrived at Beijing Capital Airport yesterday, shortly before 6 in the morning. It’s a very large airport – taxiing from the runway to the terminal took longer than at any other airport I’ve been to, and then I had to take a train to another part of the airport to get my luggage. Being so early afforded me an opportunity to see one of the facets of Chinese culture which doesn’t exist in Europe – a group of women, all in the same friendly orange outfit, marching through the airport in an orderly fashion to take up their work. It’s quite an interesting experience from a European perspective, where individualism is cherished.
Anyway, after a quick stop at Starbucks, getting some cash from an ATM, and buying a Chinese SIM card, I got on the bus to the convention center, where I discovered that I’d actually been on the same plane as a rather large group of German bridge juniors. (In bridge, of course, they consider anyone below the age of 28 to be a junior.) They were already quite in the spirit of things, discussing previous tournaments and wondering whether they would play against Latvia again. At the convention center, we obtained our ID cards, and were then packed off into another bus to check in for our accomodations. This bus was smaller than the previous one and got quite full with all our luggage; fortunately, it was only a 2 minute ride.
After we all checked in for our accomodations, I was separated from the bridge players, there being, after all, 10 different appartment buildings. I stood around a bit confused, as it wasn’t immediately obvious which way to go to get to building G. But a helpful Chinese man spotted me in this state, and led me through a door, where there was a short discussion in Chinese – it seemed to be about who would have the honor to drive me – before I was pointed to one of the cars and dropped off right in front of the door of my appartment building. The Chinese people are all very helpful, and generally I get the feeling that I don’t have to worry about anything at all. It’s certainly a good atmosphere to concentrate fully on Go (or Bridge or…)
So, let me tell you about the appartments where I am staying, along with almost all of the players. They are very nice appartments with a living room, balcony, kitchen, laundry room, several bathrooms, and 3 sleeping rooms with two beds each. The standard is that of a medium-priced hotel, and, indeed, there are cleaning ladies who will tidy up and replace any missing shampoo, etc. every morning, very comfortable indeed.
Today, Mr. Zhang Wendong 9p, the president of the Go Competition Committee, invited me to attend a rehearsal of the draw and the explanation of the rules. Allow me therefore to explain how the draw will work. For the men’s individual, first, four players from each of China, Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei will be drawn into 8 groups, making sure that no group has more than one player from each country. After this stage, each group will contain 2 players. One more player will be drawn into each group: the 5th player of each of the aforementioned countries, and 4 professional players from other countries: Michael Redmond 9p and Yang Huiren 1p from the USA, Kang Zhanbin 6p from Singapore and Yang Shi Hai 8p from Hong Kong. Interestingly, both Catalin Taranu 5p (Romania) and Alexandre Dinerchtein 3p (Russia) are playing in the team competition, but not the individual. After this, the groups will be filled up by rank, the strongest player being placed in Group A, the 8th and 9th strongest in Group H, the 16th and 17th strongest again in Group A, and so on. Again, no country will have more than one player in each group.
For the women’s individual, it is much the same, except that there are only 4 groups, with 3 seeded players each from China, Japan and Korea, 2 from Chinese Taipei, and then: Kan Ying 2p (Hong Kong), Joanne Missingham 1p (Australia), Diana Koszegi 1p (Hungary), Svetlana Shikshina 3p (Russia) and He Xiaoren 5p (Canada). Only 2 players from each group will reach the Knockout phase, but of course we hope that they will not all be from the “big four”. And then, of course, there is always the Individual Open, where professional players are not allowed to participate, and I see that many countries have entered their strongest players in that tournament.
Well, that concludes my report for today. Of course, I will report from the opening ceremony, hopefully with pictures, but there are still two days to go until then. Perhaps I will find someone to interview for you before then. In any case, I wish you all a lot of fun reading our reports from Beijing, and of course some enlightenment about this wonderful game of Go, as we will be presenting you with some professional commentaries once the tournaments begin.
Until then, yours truly,
– Michael Goetze