Ranka: Could you tell us about Go in Thailand?
Vanthanee: The current spread of go in Thailand is mainly due to the conviction of Mr. Korsak Chairasmisak (president of Go Association of Thailand, Ed.) and his emphasis on the value of go in education. He thinks go is a good brain trainer and can help children’s mental development in acquiring cognitive skills and socially valuable attitudes such as strategic planning, problem solving, caution, and the curiosity to study new things.
We started off by introducing go among university students in 1993. At that time, we were not confident of success. However, we only knew that we wanted to “go ahead” and move forward with our intention of promoting go among Thai youth. We did not even know how to teach and organize proper tournaments. Luckily enough, we had opportunities now and then to receive many go visitors from Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Singapore who gave us good advice and recommendations. They told us our rights and wrongs. From them, we gradually learnt to walk our way on the track, and gained our own experience.
Now, we estimate that approximately 1.5 million Thais know about go. In 2007 we succeeded in making go a discipline of the SEA Games (a multi-sport event organized by the East Asian Games Association, Ed.). There are 2 annual international go tournaments in Thailand, the Go Goodwill tournament in January and the Asian U-Go tournament in October.
Ranka: What do you think the key to the success the Go Association of Thailand has had is?
Vanthanee: I think teamwork and networking are very important. We support our local go clubs around the country, from north to south. We help them all we can, providing them with equipment, sending experienced staff to help organize go activities, training the trainers, conducting go leadership courses, etc. etc. Over time, to our pride, many go players from different parts of the country have taken their turn in assisting the Association when we held important or big go tournaments. Why? We have the same “dream”. That’s why!
Ranka: How did it happen that you started promoting go in Thailand?
Vanthanee: When I accepted a job at the Seven Eleven Company 18 years ago, I offered to give Mr. Korsak any possible assistance. He pointed at a picture of him playing go and explained to me in brief what go is, and described its values. He further stressed his appreciation of go and his intention to share it with others.
Actually, he had already been introducing and promoting go to his friends, colleagues, and staff in the Company for quite some time. He said perhaps I could help him.
I have been keeping my word and keeping my promise since that day. Together with friends and colleagues, we work day-in and day-out in introducing go to the Thai community, of course with Mr. Korsak’s kind and understanding support. So far, we have managed to cover educational institutions at all levels, as well as businesses and institutions in both the government and private sectors. Go is now included in the Official National Games, Annual Youth Games, etc. To our pride, many leading government and private universities accept go players on their special sports quota, and lots of students are even offered scholarships. Additionally, C.P. All Public Company Limited and their associates offer job opportunities to go players.
Though 18 years have elapsed, I personally increasingly find go more charming and valuable. Our concerted efforts now seem to be paying off. We are seeing many great opportunities open up for Thai kids – rich, poor, advantaged, disadvantaged, all alike. They can and do appreciate go as a game. On the other side of the coin, they can and do passionately experience the values of go.
Ranka: Lastly, do you have anything to say to our readers?
Vanthanee: Please come and see the enthusiastic Thai go scene for yourselves and experience Thai hospitality. You would be very welcome.
Ranka: Thank you very much.