Ginza, one of most modern and animated districts in Japan. Go, one of the oldest games that require the highest level of calm and calculation. What would it feel like to play Go in front of a French window and watch the crowd runs in and out in all these luxury stores?
It was not fiction, but a real tournament that was held in Ginza Internet Forum from Febrary the 24th to Febrary the 27th 2014. 16 young players from all over the world witnessed the perfect combination of modernity and history. When the champion, WANG Chen from China, raised the victory cup over his head, it seemed to be already an indispensable part of the background.
The World Students Go Oza Championship is a tournament in which 16 students chosen from various countries around the world compete. It was founded in 2003 by several Japanese university students, and the 12th edition was held this year in Ginza, Japan. Not only the players, but also the organizers are all students: it’s an international championship run by students for students.
“I’m grateful for being able to participate in this tournament and to meet so many friends from all over the world”, said THIAGO SHINJI Shimada Ramos, a university student from Brazil who represents South America for the first time. “I started playing Go after watching Hikaru no Go in high school”, he continued with his South American accent, “that’s why I’ve always wanted to come to Japan one day”. Ramos finished his tournament by one victory and three losses, but the result did not discourage him from taking pictures with everyone at the prize giving ceremony. “Of course I will come back again next year”, he answered without the least hesitation, “I will become stronger!”
The newspaper Nikkei, who’s been sponsoring this tournament since its foundation, paid more attention to Japanese represents’ result. “Japan kept its upward tendency by occupying the second and the fourth place”, Nikkei reported in an article published in the newspaper on March the 1st. It was also the second time that the Japanese female representative, GO Risa, won the first female prize in the same tournament. The three European representatives were placed the 9th, 12th and the 13th in this year’s competition.
Go, invented by China 4000 years ago, is a strategy game widely spread in East Asia. It was brought to western countries by Japanese players in the 19th century and now has 32047 registered members in Europe. Although there still exists a great gap between the top level in Europe and in Asia, the use of the Internet has contributed a lot in shortening this gap. A 17 year old Slovakian player, PAVOL Lisy, who learned and practiced this game completely on the Internet has already reached the 10th place in the European ranking system. He is thought to be the future star of Europe and plans to study Go in China after graduating from high school. While SHIKSHIN Ilya, a 21 year old Russian player who represents the highest level in Europe, has already beaten the number one of Taiwan in 2013’s World Mind Sports Game.
As mentioned by the vice president of Japanese student Go Association, Mr. NAKAZONO Kiyozo, the average level of World Student Oza Championship has been improving incredibly. Thanks to the rapid technological development, especially the invention of the Internet which allows people in different parts of the world to play together at any time, the day that a champion with blue eyes and blonde hairs may not be too far. Will the modernity prevail over the history or will the history continue to show its power in front of the modernity? Only time will tell.
By ZHANG Yanqi, for Sports Illustrated