43rd World Amateur Go Championship 2023 in ShenzhenThe World Amateur Go championship (WAGC) is a major event for international go, with players from all over the world facing each other over 7 rounds to determine who is the best amateur player in the world. The tournament has mostly been hosted in Japan, especially in the past years, but also a few times recently in China, and in Thailand, Korea and Russia once. You will see this is an important thing to remember later in the article, as we may expect it to change more often in the future.
For Europeans, this tournament is a tough one, in particular because Korea, China and Taiwan often leave no room on the podium. Well... in fact, sometimes Europeans manage to have pretty good results, as Artem Kachanovskyi (Ukraine) who took the 3rd place in 2013, or other players who took the 4th place, as Thomas Debarre 6d (France) last year online on Fox, or in the past Lukas Podpera 7d (Czechia), Stanislaw Frejlak now 1p (Poland), Andrii Kravets now 1p (Ukraine), and Ilya Shikshin now 4p (Russia).
How to qualify? It depends on your country and the rules they set there. In some federations, you qualify by winning the national championship, in others, you accumulate points depending on your ranking in the national championship, and elsewhere the best player or a player who illustrated themselves during the year with impressive results and improvements would be sent.
This year, China was the host country for the 43rd edition of the event, inviting about 46 players in the city of Shenzhen, from December 15 to 19th, in an extremly "go friendly" atmosphere. Before the game started, the International Go Federation held its annual meeting there.
We will talk about the key outcomes from this meeting with Mirta Medak from Croatia, but first let's have a look at the tournament thanks to Amir Fragman 6d, representative of Israel, who generously shared his impressions with us.
As for the EGF members participating, here is the list of the players (you will find the table of results at the very end of the article).
Jonas Welticke 7d (Germany 🇩🇪)
Amir Fragman 6d (Israel 🇮🇱)
Elian Grigoriu 6d (Romania 🇹🇩)
Schayan Hamrah 5d (Austria 🇦🇹)
Janne Kössö 5d (Finland 🇫🇮)
Benjamin Blanchard 4d (France 🇫🇷)
Andreas Goetzfried 4d (Luxembourg 🇱🇺)
Petr Cipra 4d (Czechia 🇨🇿)
Søren Ohlenbusch 4d (Denmark 🇩🇰)
Karl Irwin 4d (Ireland 🇮🇪)
Gerard Nederveen 4d (Netherlands 🇳🇱)
Timotej Suc 4d (Slovenia 🇸🇮)
Mirta Medak 3d (Croatia 🇭🇷)
Jan Fraczak 3d (Poland 🇵🇱)
Ernestas Romeika 3d (Lithuania 🇱🇹)
Dragan Dubakovic 3d (Serbia 🇷🇸)
Michal Kralik 2d (Slovakia 🇸🇰)
Bende Barcza 2d (Hungary 🇹🇯)
Timothy Hunt 2d (UK 🇬🇧)
Anton Silfver 2d (Sweden 🇸🇪)
Frederic Schlattner 2d (Switzerland 🇨🇭)
Bram Vandenbon 2d (Belgium 🇧🇪)
Leonardo de Francesco 1d (Italy 🇮🇹)
Stian Valle 1k (Norway 🇳🇴)
Sergey Divissin 4k (Kazakhstan 🇰🇿)
WAGC - by Amir Fragman''I arrived at Shenzhen airport to be received by an organizer and a translator who escorted me to the hotel.
The hotel was awesome, they serve you hot tea at the reception, free amazing vanila ice-cream and a robot sent on room service missions (it calls the elevator and waits for the door to open and enters and acts like a normal passenger)
The only point of improvement is the elevators, 2 of them handling 15 floors of guests. At some point it took some of us 7 minutes to get to our desired floor 😵
The little one.
The games of the tournament took place in a venue 5 minutes walk from the hotel, that did not stop the organization from hiring around 20 people to guide us through 2 streets.
The organization was excellent and everyone was attentive and happy to help.
Scaning for cheating devices.
The venue had a hand holding a go stone over a globe.
The games took place on the third floor and at the same time on the fourth floor 8 of the top chinese pros were fighting for the title of the 3rd GBA tournament.
The opening ceremony was very impressive, with nice promos to the event and Chinese Weiqi Association president, Chang Hao 9p, gave a speech.
All the foreigners received an earpiece to get the live translation of the event.
How thoughtful can you be you might think, well we were sitting on black and white cushions which resembled go stones!
The tournament for me was very interesting, China lost against Chinese Taipei on the second round and opened the race to the title to many (Korea, Japan, Hong Kong (the baduk doctor!) and to Taipei itself).
At the end, Korea was undefeated, China finished second and Taipei closed the top 3.
I got to play with Slovenia, Vietnam (0.5 win with a lot of excitement), Japan, Ireland, China, Singapore (heartbreaking game after losing a 99.5% winning rate game) and Switzerland.
My final result was 4 wins and 3 losses, finishing in 14th place.
The closing ceremony combined both the pro tournament and the WAGC winners.
The top ten players in WAGC received a trophy and a diploma, the top three received special trophies as well and the Winner got a 8d certificate issued by the IGF by Gu Li 9p, vice-president of the Chinese Weiqi Association.
The winner of the 3rd GBA was Yang Zhiwen 9p after defeating last years winner, Ding Hao 9p.
All in all I think the event was very fun, meeting old friends and making new ones, like 10 years old 2 dan Bende and his mom, Alina from Hungary, the future of Go is near 😀 ''
Big thanks to Amir for this testimonial!
Sadly, the tournament doesn't have a website so there is no clear table, but the organisation there was outstanding. Participants were welcome with gifts and the staff cared very much for their confort. Many games were broadcasted on Yike go Server. There were also places to review games or play, even with funny opponents.
We just saw this french dude on the picture, he can tell us more about it!
In France, the selection is made by points, and Benjamin Blanchard 4d had enough to be in the possible participants this year. He also ended-up the tournament with 4/7, just like Amir, but only finished 20th.
He tried the "AI bot", which is a very fierce opponent. You can't event beat it by cheating.
As shown in the video below, Benjamin comments the moves of the bot and tells us that when you try to cheat, the bot will simply...solve it! Powerful.
Now let's make another transition with a few pictures.
International Go Federation Annual Meeting - by Mirta Medak
"The IGF annual meeting was the most efficient meeting I've attended.
All the documents and discussion topics were sent in advance. The meeting was held in Chinese but we had the translator earpiece.
Here are the main points of the meeting:
1) Mr Chang Hao 9p, the chairman of Chinese Weiqi Association (CWA), was elected president of the IGF, Ms. Zhang Wei, the director of the CWA International
Communication Department as the IGF Secretary General, Mr. Martin Stiassny (EGF president) as IGF Vice President.
2) Kyrgyz Go Federation and Dominican Republic Go Association became new members of the IGF. Kyrgyz Go Federation has also shared an amazing presentation about their development in the past years. As EGF members, we could use their example, and even presentation template, to share our development with other members in future meetings.
3) From 2023, the IGF membership fees will be the same as before COVID pandemic. (In the past 3 years they were reduced by 30%)
4) New regulation for WAGC host country:
• Two years consecutive support (subsidy) from the IGF
• Up to USD 50,000 per year (*max. USD 100,000 in total in two years)
• Non-Three countries (i.e. Japan, China and Korea) may apply to become host
5) WAGC 2024
Time: 16-23 May 2024
Venue: Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, Japan
Nihon Kiin will celebrate its 100th Year Anniversary in July 2024 since it was established in July 1924. Special memorial side-event(s) may be planned during the WAGC 2024 in Tokyo.
6) The unified rules based on the competition rules of the 2008 World Mind Games Go sports is suggested to be used in the international competitions and comprehensive international Mind Games Go sports hosted by IGF.
7) The IGF will invest ideas and money to generate an anti-cheating ruleset
and a minimum of requirements but also proposals how to set up a kind of "video control" against cheating in Online events.
8) Annual IGF Meeting (onsite or online) - IGF president country can decide how the IGF meeting shall be held, online or onsite.（includes the Three Countries Meeting and the IGF board and General meetings）
All the points were read out by Ms Zhang Wei, there were no objections, and after a short applause, we moved to the next point.
The Nihon-kiin was present at the meeting as well, via video call. They had a presentation about Pair go development over the last 2 years.
The meeting was announced to last for 30-45 minutes, it lasted for 36.
It seems that EGF can learn a lot from the Chinese Weiqi Association!"
If the country hosting the next WAGC is already decided, as you just read - Tokyo, to celebrate the 100th years of the Nihon Kiin, it is still to be defined for 2025...!
Back to the WAGC, you can see the results in the picture below.
We hope you enjoy these small reports and, if you are a player yourself, don't hesitate to share your impressions - no matter your level, it's always great to see through your eyes such an incredible experience!
Thanks to the WAGC staff for the pictures (more here, like, really many many many more), Amir, Mirta and Benjamin. And thanks to Ian Davis for the proofreading and title suggestion :)