World Pair Go
International Amateur Pair Go Championship
With the aim of promoting Go among women world-wide the International Amateur Pair Go Championship (IAPGC) was started in Japan in 1990. Now representatives of 22 countries and all regions of Japan come together annually for this world championship, held each November in Tokyo. In addition there are separate handicap groups (the Araki Cup) held along side that get in excess of 300 Japanese players.
In 1990 only Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan took part. In 1991 there were 12 countries as France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, UK, USA, Canada and Hong Kong joined. In 1992 two more European countries were added on rotation (Czechia and Poland in 1992). For subsequent years 8 or 9 European countries took part, with the four of the big five taking part on rotation and others selected to take part with priority given to new countries and ones that had not played recently. From 2004 a points system was introduced based on the country Go playing population size and the results in the European Pair Go Championships (again with priority given to new countries). By 2006 some 35 European countries had taken part and by 2007 65 countries world wide.
The event came of age in 2009 with its 20th edition. As well as a demonstration pro Pair Go game, there were awards for the biggest contributions to the promoting of Pair Go and an essay competition won by Manja and Micha Marz from Germany with Pair Go May Change Your Life.
Japan had won most often (six times), having the home advantage of having several teams taking part, but Korea has now won seven times. China have won four times, North Korea twice and Taiwan once. The most famous winner is Umezawa Yukari, who is now 5 dan pro, who won in 1994.
A feature of the IAPGC is always the best dressed couple prize, which helps encourage a smart turn out from the competitors. In addition on the first day of the event the international competitors are encouraged to wear national dress. This leads to some very bright and colourful costumes being seen, though of course some of the countries struggle to work out what their national dress might be!
Pair Go Tee Shirt
International Friendship Match
Also on the first day an international friendship match is played, with partners drawn at random. As well as the IAPGC competitors, various professionals and important Japanese players (such as Go journalists, trainers and sponsors) take part. So you can find yourself playing against a 9p such as Mike Redmond or partnering a lady in a beautiful Japanese kimono. This always is a pleasant and interesting time.
Results and Winners
Hungary have competed twice for Europe and have has two places in the top 7: seventh in 1997 and an excellant fourth in 2003, when father and daughter Tibor and Rita Pocsai won 4 games out of 5. Natalia Kovaleva and Dmitry Surin from Russia won 4 games to come 6th in 2007.
In 2008 the 19th IAPGC was part of the World Mind Sports Games in Beijing. The top amateur team received the title. It was open to pairs from any country and the top 6 European countries from the previous 9 IAPGCs received official support (Russia, Hungary, Germany, Czechia, France and UK).
Pair Go Promotion Partners
In order to encourage promotion of Pair Go around the world, the IAPGC players are afterwards encouraged to sign up as Pair Go Promotion Partners. They are given the red PGPP passport book to remind them of what the aims of Pair Go are. They are then expected to enthuse about Pair Go back in their own country, hence promoting the game.
Pair Go Around the World
As well as Pair Go in Europe, one of the biggest Pair Go championships outside Japan is played in America. In the Pair Go at the annual US Go Congress, up to 100 players take part. The US has been starting other local Pair Go events, such is the popularity of Pair Go, and has a Facebook page. Many other countries also run Pair Go events and championships.
In March 2010 the first Pair Go World Cup was held in China with 8 pro pairs from the Orient and 8 pairs from the rest of the world; it was won by Rong Hui Song and He Xie of China. Pair Go became part of the Asian Games from 2010 (the first event being won by Korea's Park Jeong Hwan and Lee Seu La). It was also featured in the first Chinese Mindsports Games.
Pair Go also features in the World Mind Sports Games, won in Beijing in 2008 by Fan Weijing / Hang Yizhong of China and in 2012 in Lille by Osawa / Nakasone of Japan. The top game records from 2012 are on the Pandanet website.
A booklet, The Path of Pair Go, was published in 2009 tracing the history of Pair Go.
Of course the IAPGC is the senior Pair Go event of the year. You can read reports about some of the editions by following the results links above.
Pair Go is also now starting to take off with the professionals of China and Korea. In 2012, the second SG Cup in Korea was won by Choi Cheong and Yoo Chang Hyeok.
In April/May 2013 a Tri-Nation Pair Go Championship for professionals was held in Heifei in China. The winners were Chenxing Wang 5p and Chang Hao 9p of China, ahead of Korea and Japan.