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Interview with Gabriel Wagner, 3d
By Damir Medak | Interview | 16.07.2019 21:17| Views: 1619
Interview with Gabriel Wagner, 3d
Q: When did you learn Go and who was your first teacher?

I learned Go a bit more than 6 years ago from a friend of mine. At that time, he was about 5k and wanted to share the game with me. I started to play a lot with him and after a while, we started going to tournaments together.

Q: What was your first impression of Go when you started playing?

It was actually quite funny because for the first few days I didn’t even understand the rules of the game. I didn’t know that territory exists and I was only focusing on capturing stones. My first impression of the game was not very special to be honest. But the more I played the more I understood that Go will become an important part of my life.

Q: Were there many players in Germany around you?

There was a weekly meeting of children in my city. Most of them were beginners so I had a good opportunity to play with them. However, the stronger I got the more difficult it became to find players of similar strength in my city so I started to travel to tournaments which made Go even more interesting and motivated me to keep playing.

Q: How many teachers did you have until now?

In my first one or two years I mainly just played with my friend who taught me the game. My first “real” teachers I got in the EGF-Academy where I studied with Catalin Taranu and Alexandre Dinerchtein. On a less regular basis, I also learned from “Jeff” Su Yang from Finland. During the last year I studied at Ge Yuhong Academy in China and at JIGS with Kim Youngsam in Jena.

Q: What makes Go interesting for you now?

There are many aspects but for sure one of the most important ones has become the great social community of young Go players spread all over Europe.

Q: What are your future plans with Go?

That’s an extremely difficult question. For sure I want to establish myself as one of the strongest German Go players and compete for the German Championship. I also want to compete with other European players of similar age.

Except for that, I also enjoy teaching Go and I hope I will get the chance to do more of that in the future.

Q: You have been participating in EGF Academy a lot during the last years, how did it affect your strength?

When I entered the EGF Academy I was around 1k. Since then I have improved a lot and reached 3-4d level. I think it is fair to say that I owe this improvement mainly to the EGF Academy.

Gabriel playing Elian in Zaostrog Arboretum
Gabriel (right) playing Elian (left) in a beautiful garden in Zaostrog 

Q: What did EGF Academy activity mean for you?

First of all there are just our “normal” regular study activities online. I was motivated to study but what I lacked was opponents to play and compete with and good teachers to point out my weaknesses. This is exactly what the EGF Academy provided me here: if you want the EGF Academy was the base of my study and improvement.

But there is also the other aspect of a very strong networks of friends all over Europe that developed from the EGF Academy “offline” camps. I think this was a crucial aspect to keeping my motivation high.

Q: What do you think about the new initiatives of EGF: SEYGO tour and the EYE team?

In my opinnion it is extremely important that finally such an initiative on a large, international scale is started. Until now I have not been involved very much with the project, however, I hope that will change in the future.

The SEYGO tour events which always include a beginner tournament for people who just learned the rules can attract many new young players to the game. Of course, many of them will quit Go again, however, even if just a small fraction of them keeps playing it’s already a huge success for European Go.

On the other hand, the EYE team aims to support the strongest and most promising European players. This is crucial to give the beginners something to look up to, something to aim for.

If executed well, the two initiatives can work hand in hand in a way that they mutually increase each others’ effect.

Q: How to promote Go among youth in your opinion?

I don’t think there is a clear answer to that. It is always important to have friends who do the same thing, so building a community of children who want to play together is a promising way. This, of course, has to start at the local level. So I think the role of local organizers is extremely important. Without those, no events can exist and it is difficult to imagine a large number of kids playing go without high-quality and fun events to actually bring them together.

Another important aspect is that probably for many many small kids Go alone won’t be interesting enough. So at any children Go event you also need other activities to keep them active. This week in Zaostrog was an amazing example of how a successful event might look: There were many fun side activities (under-water go, phantom go, Chinese cultural workshops, football tournament…) but the actual go activities like games, tsumego and lessons did not come short by any means either.

Q: What would you want us to change for the better on the European Go Youth scene?

Many projects have to be better promoted and the communication to the base has to be improved. There is a lot of great stuff being organized, however, very few people know about it. For example, Germany has one of the highest numbers of youth players in Europe, yet still, the SEYGO event in Jena was extremely small just because all those kids were not really aware of the event. Another example is the EGF Academy, which clearly needs more participation. I do not think that the number of eligible players is actually too low, we just have to approach all the potential candidates and invite them actively to join this great study group.
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