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"GOAMA", International Go Newsletter

IGN "Goama", 11th issue

Dear friends!
We are glad to present you the 11th issue of the “Goama” newsletter, including:
1. Interview with Mace Li, the owner of Go4Go portal.
2. Most exciting games of the week (links)
3. Commented game from KGS. “cziffra”, 9-dan vs “yesniu”, 9-dan. We decided to include this game because of an interesting trick move played in the opening.


An interview with Mace Li, the owner of Go4Go portal ( http://www.go4go.net/v2/ )

Mace is an amateur 6-dan, currently living and working in London. He is one of the experts of our newsletter.

1. When did you start your website?
It was back in year 2000. It was a ‘web and database design’ course project towards a computer science degree.
2. How many users do you have now?
I have about 1600 registered users and I consider a few hundred of them being very active. Of course there are many others who choose to visit anonymously. In technical term, my site has about 14 million hits / 800,000 page views during the past 12 months.
3. Which game is the most popular one in your collection and why?
It is a game played by Lee Sedol back in 2003, in which he famously made use of an impossible ladder to capture his opponent’s key stones.
4. What is the main difference between the Go4Go and the Gobase.org, the oldest web portal in English?
If you want to follow the latest professional Go scene closely, Go4Go is definitely the choice because it is updated more frequently. If, however, you want to dig into the history of Go, you will find that Gobase contains a lot of more information.
5. How many game records per day you put on Go4Go and how can you find these records yourself?
On average I spent at least 30 minutes every day just to compile or input games. I can read Chinese, Japanese and Korea so it is not difficult to collect games from various sources from those Asian countries. I also have a couple of dedicated contributors who regularly send me hard-to-find games. I manually replay all games to make sure they are free of errors.
6. So many games! I believe it’s hard to replay everything. We have lot of beginners here, they don’t know much about the players and their playing style. Can you give us any recommendations? Who is the best player to start from?
I would like to recommend beginners to study games played by some Japanese masters, such as Kobayashi Koichi and Otake Hideo. Their games are normally more peaceful than the modern fight-oriented Korean-style games so that they are easier to follow. You can learn how to control the ‘flow’ of games. They are also very good studying materials for opening, good-shape and endgame skills.
7. How can we find their games inside your database?
Please use the ‘Search by Player’ function from the ‘Game Collection’ section.
8. What is the best way to review the game? How fast? Is it better to print it or not?
Different people may have different learning styles. I personally prefer to browse each game online very quickly, locate a few interesting spots and then think deeply from those spots. I also find that reading printed game records very helpful. I often print a game on separate sheet of paper with 30-50 moves on each sheet. Then I try to follow the games whenever I have 10 minutes to kill.
9. Some games have “Download not available” remark. Can you explain us the reason?
One major headache of running Go4Go.net is that it gets harassed from time to time by people using robot programs, attempting to download every single game records. This slows down the server and wastes the bandwidth. By limiting the download, I am able to easily track down the abusers and therefore provide smoother services to the majority of Go fans.

10. When did you start to play Go?
I started at age of 7 by taking training classes from the children’s palace of my home city. Those training sessions were ran by professional players.
11. What is the main difference between Chinese and western players?
We all know that although the ultimate goal of playing Go is to compete for territory, fight is not necessarily the best way to achieve that goal. One key element of Chinese culture that guides people’s daily life is to promote harmony, or to seek intermediate solutions to settle disputes. Western players are probably less likely to take an alternative way when playing Go. One recent issue of AGA newsletter says: “American media are full of direct, violent action… most Americans merely give you a puzzled look when you talk about lightness or influence”. This is a tough question and I hope I’ve made my point clear.
12. You are one of the strongest players in England. Are you playing in local championships? Do you have any chances to represent England in WAGC?
My official rating in the UK is in top 5. But I only managed to participate very few tournaments in the past. I will probably not give up my Chinese nationality so I won’t be able to play in WAGC. Even if I wish to, I need to ask permissions from the top UK players, such as Matthew Macfadyen J

13. How do you think, which country is stronger right now? Korea or China?
Korea has been stronger during the past decade but this may change shortly. Korea has quite a few top-class players, such as Cho Hunhyun, Lee Changho and Lee Sedol who almost conquered everyone on their way in the past, which secured Korea’s dominance in international tournament. However, China has a better system to mass-produce young stars. Chen Yaoye 5-dan, for example, was only 16-year-old when getting into the final of an international tournament. There are quite a few other teenagers, which are at the same level as Chen. So the future looks really bright for China.
15. How do you think, will we see European or American master, who win the World Professional Championship. How soon can it happen?
Some world champions might pop up in 20 years, if the western countries manage to establish their own professional systems to help their young talents to grow,
16. Which game is more popular in China? Chess or Go?
I think Go is more popular than Chess in China. But the No. 1 board game in China could well be the Chinese Chess.
17. Do you know any pro players, who play well both games?
Because all the mind games clearly share some common thinking processes, I won’t be surprise if some Go players are good and Chess. Many Go players have talents in other areas. For example, Nie Weiping 9-dan is also a world-class bridge player; Takemiya Masaki 9-dan has won Japan's top backgammon tournament before.

Questions from Russian Go forum (http://forum.weiqi.ru/ )
1. Can you earn money with Go4Go?
Go4Go is mainly my hobby project. I do make a couple of bucks every month from it, which is enough to cover the hosting cost and could even buy me a dinner. However it is not successful in a business sense because I assume I can better spend my time on other things.
2. What do you think about the idea of making a pool (gambling) on Go results, like in football, hockey etc. Do you have it in China?
Gambling on Go results is already a function on some Chinese Go servers, such as the Tom server. However it is based on virtual currencies and is for fun only. I think it a dangerous idea to have real money involved, as it is too easy to manipulate the result.
3. What is the price for putting Google ads to Go4Go?
It is Google who set the price and that remains unknown to their users.

Thank you for an interview!


Most exciting games of the week.

1.8th Chinese City League A, round 6
2006-06-15: Kong Jie 7p (Black) vs. Ding Wei 8p (White) B+R
Kong, one of the strongest Chinese masters played a powerful game, attacking a lot. He used a nice combination Black 115-Black 121, destroying White’s corner

2.8th Chinese City League A, round 6
2006-06-15: Qiu Jun 7p (Black) vs. Zhang Wei 4p (White) B+3.5
Brilliant tesuju, played by Qiu - Black 159!


Enjoy the newsletter!
The IGN “Goama” editor’s team

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