Young Go Players

I am continuously impressed by the abilities of young Go players worldwide. Where do these prodigies come from? What makes them so strong? Let’s look at some examples and see what can be learned.

Placing among the top 10 finalists in the World Amateur Go Championship is no easy task, but Cheng-hsun Chen of Chinese Taipei managed to place 6th this year. Not bad for someone who is 11 years old! Chen studies Go “almost entirely on his own” and is definitely someone to look for in the future. A full interview with Chen can be found here.

You may have heard of Fujisawa Rina of Japan, who on April 1st 2010 became the world’s youngest female Go professional. Also at age 11, her win against 9-dan pro Kanda Ei in the Kisei preliminaries is rather impressive.

Both Yang Dingxin and the world-renowned Cho Hunhyeon became professionals when they were 9 years old [thanks to reader Stephen M. for spotting this!]

Many on KGS have heard of Chan Chi Hin of Hong Kong, perhaps better known by his online alias kghin. At age 12 (born Dec. 1997) he plays as 8-dan on KGS and aspires to be among the top 5 players on KGS before participating in the Asian Games in November. He currently holds position #21.

A special mention goes to a favourite of L19 Go forum members – Adrian Thomas, known as minipogo on KGS where he currently plays as 11-kyu. Only 2 years old and possibly the youngest Go player in North America, Adrian learns Go from his father and is improving rather quickly. You can follow his adventures here.

It is also impressive that the US National Youth team (from Tiger’s Mouth) recently won a series of friendship games against Alexandre Dinerchtein’s Korean-style Insei League on KGS. Seventeen games were played, and the US team won 9-8. You can read more details about the event on GoSensations.

Update: Only 12 years old, Zi Yang Hu (CGA 6-dan) won the 33rd Canadian Open in Vancouver (2010)!

Finally, it should be remembered that there are many young Go students (Japanese insei, Chinese yuansheng, Korean yeongusaeng) in Japan, China, and Korea studying to become Go professionals. What makes them so strong? Apart from dedication and passion for the game, perhaps it can be argued that a great capacity for imagination and creativity are contributing factors. Go is a lifelong journey, and starting at a young age can only be beneficial (even to those not aspiring to be professionals). In any case, it is a great thing that thousands of youth worldwide continue to learn Go through national programs (such as the American Go Foundation) or media like the popular Japanese manga, Hikaru no Go. It is very exciting to think about how these youth will contribute to the future of Go.

5 Responses to “Young Go Players”

  1. Martijn says:

    According to his information on KGH, kghin is born in december 1997. That would make him 12, not 13. He’d turn 13 this december.

  2. Minipogo is the son of one of my students… He may be one of the youngest Go players in North America; but, he’s not the youngest person ever to play GO. My youngest daughter learned to play when she was about 15-20months, although, she hasn’t taken a profound interest in it—although she does still play. Minipogo may, however, be one of the *strongest* players of his age, and almost certainly within North America. I was one of the first to be informed of his performance, naturally, and I quickly had to accept that he was genuine, since he was already stronger than his father (at the time)! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Children take naturally to the game; but, the credit must go principally to the Teacher IMHO, since kids have an entirely different view of the world than adolescents and adults, and can easily be irrecoverably disheartened—I speak from experience—and I feel that teaching children is very important, but also a delicate art and science, since even with the ideal approach tailored to the individual child, not all children will take to the game… It’s just the way of things. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tyler Reynolds
    Current VP-CGA 2009-2011
    Founder, GO for All

  3. Stephen Miller says:

    Fujisawa Rina was not the worldโ€™s youngest Go professional, she was the youngest Japanese Go professional. Yang Dingxin and Cho Hunhyeon were 9 years old when they became professionals.

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