Rahul Chaurasia 4k is the only player representing India in the 1st WMSG. And John Gibson 1k is the only player to participate in this event from Ireland. Yesterday evening we happened to see them reviewing the game that they just played together in the Individual Open tournament.
Ranka: Would you tell us why each of your federations has sent only one player participating in this WMSG?
Rahul Chaurasia: First I think the airfare prevented a lot of players from coming to Beijing. It’s far too expensive. Second, just during the WMSG, all the Indians are celebrating one of our biggest festivals. For us, this is very important. Third, the Korea Prime minister Cup is coming soon. Some players are preparing for that tournament.
John Gisbson: On one side the airfare was too expensive for many players and on the other side we have many opportunities to participate in international go events, like in Korea and Japan.
Ranka: How Go started in your country ?
Rahul Chaurasia: A Japanese NPO runs an orphanage called Rainbow Home in Calcutta. They brought some Go books and sets and introduced this game to the orphans who stayed there. Mr. Horiuchi, a former Japanese consul in Calcutta for 3 years, taught Go in the orphanage and to the students in Calcutta. From there, Indians started to know this game and to love it. For all these years the Indo Go Association has been trying to promote Go among our people. We have built our own website: gogame.co.in
John Gisbson: I learned it from the book Go and Go Moku written by Edward Lasker who was a chess master and learned Go in 1907. I used to run a big chess club. In 1989, I decided to show Go to the people. In summer we opened a summer course. First we gave Go lessons once a month. Then I found that people really liked it. So we increased the lessons to twice a month, every week, till every day….. Now this big chess club has become one of the biggest Go clubs in Ireland. I really think that we have done a nice job. Within 12 years since Go was introduced in Ireland, we have held a European Go Congress successfully.
Ranka: How many players are there in your country? Could you tell us a little more about Go in your country?
Rahul Chaurasia: We have a lot of difficulties promoting it. First, we have very few good Go books. For example, I know all the basic knowledge like atari and liberties, but before I came to the 1st WMSG, I didn’t know what is joseki and what is bad shape. Second, we have very few good Go teachers. There are Go teachers from Japan or other countries coming to teach in India but most of them stay only a short time. Third, we have very few Go sets, especially stones. We can make Go boards by ourselves; it is easy. But the stones are more difficult to produce. Fourth, we have very few chances to play. There are still not so many people playing Go in Calcutta. Most of the time we play on the Internet, but it is different from playing real games on the board. However, Go has gradually got more popular in India day by day. In Calcutta, even children like to play Go.
John Gisbson: It is quite difficult to estimate the Go population in Ireland. I would say that there are 100 plus people playing Go in 4 main cities. Two years ago, however, there was only 1 city. That’s really nice progress. I think that Ireland does better in organizing successful tournaments than producing stronger go players. For myself I like to play on Dragon Go. People play too quick on KGS and IGS.
Rahul Chaurasia: We have local tournaments in India too. We have organized some successful tournaments in Calcutta. There are Go players in Delhi and Mumbay too. But for us it is difficult to organize a national tournament. We could try to solve the accommodation problem for our participants, but then what about the expense of transportation? The Indo Go Association cannot afford this. However, this year we have asked some Japanese and Indian companies for sponsorship. If they agree, we will hold a big Go tournament this December.
Ranka: That’s great news! Are you enjoying this event?
Rahul Chaurasia: This is the first time I’ve seen professional players. Very impressive of course. Look (he showed us his digital camera), I even took a picture of a professional player (Park Young Hun 9p from the Republic of Korea). That’s a very nice experience and I’m very eager to share it with my Go friends in India.
John Gisbson: I have been to the World Amateur Championship in Japan. It was amazing. I have been to the Amateur Championship in South Korea. It was more amazing. And here I’m in the 1st WMSG. It is even better. The Chinese organization has done a splendid job. The accommodation is nice. There are so many friendly volunteers to help us. The tournaments have been run very well. I had the opportunity here to play even games with two strong 5 dans.
Rahul Chaurasia: The strongest player I have played with in this event is a 6d from Hong Kong. I was crushed of course but he was very nice. He appreciated our game and he reviewed the game with me after we played. I think I made many mistakes because of my lack of experience.
Ranka: Do you want to add something more?
Rahul Chaurasia: The crucial problems are that we need good Go books to study and more Go sets to play with. We love this game and we have brains in India. I’m sure if we get support and help in promotion and improvement, in five years, India will be one of the strongest Go countries in the world.
Ranka: Thanks for the interview and have good games!
– Max and Chen