One week passes really quickly, especially so when one is enjoying the days. We are back from Beijing for the 1st World Mind Sports Games where I participated in the Men Team event. It was an exciting and great tournament! And we got our dream come true which made the trip so worth it, besides the opportunity to participate in an international event and meeting many people from many different countries.
What dream was that? That dream was to play against the Japanese professionals in the tournament. There are basically two ways to get a chance to challenge the professional players. First is that if you are lucky enough to be drawn against them in the first round, the drawing which is random. The second way is to earn the right to play with them by beating your opponents so that you get enough points to have a chance to be matched with them.
And our team got to play with the pros via the second way, by defeating our opponents and we got matched with the pros in the 4th round. My pro opponent was Yamashita Keigo sensei! Imagine having Yamashita Keigo as an opponent in an international tournament! I was totally thrilled and excited. My other team mates got to play with Yoda Norimoto sensei, Hane Noaki sensei, Takao Shinji sensei and Kono Rin sensei. What an experience and of course we got many photos taken ;-)
We met so many professionals there and got to get their autographs on our books and fans and get to take photos with them. I think all of us amateur players had a field day and apparently there are no other events that see so many amateur players playing and mixing with so many professional players so freely and can get such an up close look at how the professional thinks when we observe them discuss and review games. I had a great lesson from Yamashita Keigo sensei despite me not being able to speak a word of Japanese. He showed me how I should have played by just arranging the stones and uses hand gestures.
I cannot but have to express great admiration for the Japanese professionals. Not that I say this because we got to play against them but throughout the whole event, they are just so nice people, attending to fans, always being so nice and kind and obliging, having such a great team spirit amongst them, and such a great respect for the game. They are simply great. The Koreans may be the world champion now but in terms of the game as a totality of human culture, the Japanese are still the top, way way top.
Lee Sedol is really such a painful person and really looked like a jerk. No point being a world champion but has such a horrible personality. He refuses not only to sign autographs but did not appear to have much respects for his fans. Already a couple of my friends who are great fans of him have now turned sour due to his personality.
All in all, it was a great trip and a great tournament and in terms of results, our team had 3 wins out of seven which saw our team being placed at number 12 out of 20 in our group. We should have won 4 games but then again, there is no point to sulk since we have had the great opportunity to play with the Japanese. Personally, I won 3 games too, two games a against a 1 dan and one game against a 2 dan. My personal ranking is number 55 out of 112 players in my group which is quite okay given my 1 dan ranking ;-) (full results page: http://sites.google.com/a/go.art.pl/kamyszyn/wmsg2008/teamsmen).
More stories and photos to come.