IMSA World Masters Championship 2019: interview with the European team
By Artem Kachanovskyi | Interviews | 24.05.2019 21:56| Views: 6670 | Comments: 1
The IMSA World Masters Championship 2019 was held in Hengshui, China on 12–19 May.

Here is a promotional video for the event in Hengshui:

There were 6 teams participating:
  • China
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Chinese Taipei
  • Europe
  • North America
Each team was composed of 3 male players and 2 female players. In total there were 3 distinct tournaments: 
  1. Men's teams 
  2. Women's teams
  3. Pair-Go

Among the Asian players there were such stars as Ke Jie and Park Junghwan. As for Europe, we also had some quite strong players too:
The male players were selected for the team according to the points table for international nominations. This system has been in place in Europe since 2018: all the players are earning some points for success in certain tournaments. Later these points can be used for nominating them to participate in competitions in Asia. On the EGF website there is a webpage dedicated to rules, guidelines and points. It is there that you can find all the existing points systems and the details of how they are made.

As for the female players, the selection system was simpler. From the European Women Championship 2018 were chosen Natalia, who was the winner, and Ariane, who was the runner-up.

On the International Go Federation's website there is an article with the results of the competition.

Below is a quick summary of the European team's results:
  • Men's team: place 5/6, defeated North America
  • Women's team: 6/6
  • Pair-Go: pair Ilya - Natalia - 4th place, pair Pavol - Ariane - 6th place. Both pairs defeated only North America. In total eight pairs participated.
I decided to ask the members of the European team to answer a few simple questions, so as to have a general impression of how the competition was.

Besides the players themselves, Mr. Martin Stiassny, the EGF President, was also present at the event. He kindly agreed to answer my questions.

Let's see what they had to say.

Mr. Martin Stiassny, the EGF President

Q: What is your general impression about the event?

A: The event followed the system used in former SportAccord events. The venue was perfect, even though the five mind sports happened in two separated hotels, connected by shuttle-bus. I can't say anything about the city of Hengshui because we lived in resorts, totally separated from real life in the city. From the sports-view it was a top-event, but without any spectators. The whole event was for my feeling a tribute to Nie Wei Ping - Hengshui is his home-city.

Q: Please tell us about the results of the European team. Are you happy with the results?
A: Yes, I'm happy with the results achieved by the players from Europe. In the men's team competition Europe beat America 2-1, this was important as both sides started with their young new national Pro's. Second point were our two pairs in the Pair-Go competition. Although both pairs were on the paper the weakest pairs, they ended up on 4th and 6th place out of 8 pairs. Both pairs won one of the three matches, especially for Ariane it was a great experience to win against a Pro-pair. So 4 out of the 5 Europeans won at least once in Hengshui, while Mateusz had the honour to play against Ke Jie, and to be broadcast on Chinese TV.

Q: As you were present at the event and didnt play, I guess you had a chance to observe the competition and players. How was the atmosphere there?
A: Yes, I had some time to look "from outside". The athmosphere was ok, but not very enthusiastic. Like usual the 4 top Go-nations fought hard for their image, I haven't seen any player of them laughing. Only the European and the American team seemed to be relaxed, enjoying the event. We were all driven by schedule and interrupting meals - no further social event, sightseeing or relaxed being together in the evening. On the other hand, it was as expected for me, and similar to other top events in China. The problem is always the same: If you fight for such high prize-money (60.000 Euro for winning men's team, 25.000 Euro for winning women's team) there's no room (in Far East) for being relaxed, joking, talking, and staying together late evening.

Ilya Shikshin 3p (Russia)

Q: What is your general impression about the competition?

A: This event has already happened seven times since 2011, and it was the sixth time for me to take part in it. I really like it because here you have an opportunity to play many games with the world's top professionals, unlike other world championships. It always helped me a lot to increase my level of Go and to get the motivation to study more. Also the organization is as always at quite high level.

Q: How did your games go?
A: At team event I played Shin Jinseo (9p, Korea), Ida Atsushi (8p, Japan), Gangsheng Shi (1p, Canada), Lin Lixiang (7p, Taiwan), Mi Yuting (9p, China). At pairgo event Natalia and I played an American pair and two Taiwanese pairs.
First rounds I played not so well. Even though I managed to beat Gangsheng Shi, I don't like a lot of my moves. But at pairgo I felt myself already in much better shape. We had a good game with the American pair and were very close to beating the Taiwanese pair at the semifinal.

Q: What are your current Go plans?
A: My current go plans are to get prepared for the Chinese C-league tournament in June, where I would like to again show good results like last year.

Game of Ilya against Ida Atsushi 8p (Japan):

Pavol Lisy 2p (Slovakia)

Q: What is your general impression about the competition?

A: It was a good opportunity to play against very strong players and also to test our strength against the strongest go countries/territories.

Q: How did your games go?
A: During most of the games, I had the feeling I was not doing badly, but actually when I checked later with AI, I realised my opponents were much stronger than me and were actually leading from the very beginning. This was against Gu Zihao (China), Lee Jihyun (Korea) and Hsu Haoyung (Taiwan). Against Motoki Katsuya (Japan) I managed to play an even game for about 100 moves, but I played bad in one corner and I could not come back to the game anymore. Against Eric Lui (North America) I gained advantage in the beginning and managed to keep it or even increase it until his resignation.

Q: What are your currentt Go plans?
A: Chinese C League is coming up soon for me, which I see as a great opportunity for learning how to play better. Also, I would like to get a good result there.

Game of Pavol against Xu Haohong 6p (Chinese Taipei):

Mateusz Surma 2p (Poland)

Q: What is your general impression about the competition?

A: In my opinion the tournament was very nice. I feel like it's interesting to have mind sports events. Maybe this kind of events will make some influence on International Olympic Committee, so that they would add mind sports to the "common summer olympics".

Q: How did your games go?
A: It was possible for me to play with world's top players (Ke Jie, Park Jung-Hwan, Daisuke Murakawa, Wang Yuan-Jun). Even though I lost every game, at least I had an opportunity to try to win with them.
Against Wang Yuan-Jun I had even some slight advantage at the end of middle game, but when I entered byo-yomi I wasn't able to keep the nice position for long.

Q: What are your current Go plans?
A: Chinese League C, Samsung Cup preliminaries, European Championship.

Game of Mateusz against Ke Jie 9p (China):

Natalia Kovaleva 5d (Russia)

Q: What is your general impression about the competition?

A: I like a lot the idea of World intellectual games, when all the participants have an opportunity to spend time together, share their experience and cheer for the colleagues from the other intellectual games. This is why I am always happy to participate in such events.

Q: How did your games go?
A: Each game was different. During the preparation for the Pair-Go tournament, Ilya showed me one of the modern josekis, which I didn't know before. The next day I decided to try it in the individual tournament, thinking that in my game against Yu Zhiying 6p I can find some of the hidden complexity of this variant. But suddenly I killed a group of my famous opponent. Later difference in our levels played its role and Yu Zhiying 6p won that game. Also, I had a very good game against Choi Jeong 9p.
It was a pity to lose in the semi-final of the Pair-Go tournament. It seemed absolutely real to take 2nd place in a professional tournament... although 4th place, if I am not wrong, western players never took before as well :) .

Q: What are your current Go plans?
A: Participation in the European Pair Go Championship in Groningen.

Game of Natalia against Choi Jeong 9p (South Korea):

Ariane Ougier 4d (France)

Q: What is your general impression about the competition?

A: Since it was my first time playing in a big tournament like that it was very impressive for me. I liked the fact that it was a team tournament and that there was also pair go.

Q: How did your games go?
A: I played 8 games in total, 5 in the team tournament and 3 in the Pair-Go tournament.
Unfortunately I lost all my games in the main tournament but it was really great to play against top pros such as Oh Yujin, Nyu Eiko, Wang Chenxing, Bai Xinhui...
As for the pair go, i played with Lisy Pavol. I think we played quite well together and we won against the US team, it was great!

Q: What are your current Go plans?
A: And about the current Go plans, I'm currently studying in Korea for a month now in BIBA.

Game of Ariane against Wang Chenxing 5p (China):
IMSA World Masters Championship 2019: interview with the European team

This article was written by Artem Kachanovskyi

EGF professional Go player.
Born 12th December 1992.
Started to play Go in 1999.
Promoted to 1p in 2016, 2p in 2018, 3p in 2024.
Living in Ukraine, Kyiv.
All his articles on the EGF website.

02.06.2019 10:35
Artem, thx for sharing with us some of the in-sights of theese special events that you are close to. It's really nice to read about our GO friends - which now are pros, or close to - to see how they are doing in top competitions, to hear about there thoughts... It makes GO from this level a little bit more "tangible", at least in my mind... ;). Really nice job, Artem! Congrats, and all the best to our GO players, who represented Europe. We know its really hard to surpass the asians, but we started. :) Keep going, guys and girls! :) Best wishes to all !
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