In A Korean Baduk School
|Table of contents||Table of diagrams
Black to play
Due to lucky circumstances, we're able to study Baduk at the school of Kweon Kap-yong in Seoul, which is considered the best Baduk academy in the world. Famous players like Yi Se-tol and Ch'oi Ch'eol-han studied here. We are on university vacations and we are going to stay here for one month.
We arrived at the school at 10.30 in the morning. At first we got some introduction by Mister Kwon, the Headmaster. The school begins at 9 o' clock in the morning and finishes at 9 pm. After welcoming us, he told us that 100 pupils are studying here, divided into several leagues. There are about 7-9 mandatory league games a week.
Generally, in our leisure time we can do what we want. But he said it was recommended to play against stronger players (even pros) and get the games analyzed. As the school produced 38 professional players, there are plenty of them around here. Maybe the most famous player coming to the school regurarly is Seo Bong Su, previous winner of the Ing Cup.
After supper, we had a kind of a team tournament. A fee of 1000 Won (about 1 Dollar) was received to make the competition more exciting - fees must be paid for the other league events as well.
Benjamin was playing in the top group while Hwan Kuk was playing in the second league. As expected, Benjamin lost his 3 games - but the games were very close. Surprisingly, Hwan did quite well - he managed to win 3 out of 4 games.
When the league games were finished we had a soccer match on a school sports court. Although the heavy rain should have finished normal soccer events, we played as if nothing happened, until even the last piece of clothes was soaked.
Ben is staying in the residence of Mr. Kwon with about 20 other pupils, sharing the room with 2 Japanese guests, one of them being a professional 4d.
Again, we had a team tournament. This time Benjamin played in a lower group than yesterday, while Hwan was ranked a bit higher. Thus, the results were reversed this time - Benjamin could win all his games while Hwan was losing every game.
In the afternoon, Mr. Kwon got us two very strong opponents: Yeonguseng of the second and third league, respectively. Benjamin got 3 and Hwan got 4 stones. Benjamin won with 9 points, Hwan lost with 6. It was very enlightening to get the games analyzed.
This day we had a big super go tournament between school 9 teams. They were divided into three divisions, three teams fighting one another in each of them.
Benjamin was playing in the top group again - this top group thing sounds great, but it must be said that this week, the Yeonguseng had a tournament on their own at the Hankuk Kiwon, therefore the real tough guys weren't participating.
Unfortunately, he lost an interesting game against a chinese guest. She is a strong amateur player visiting her professional friend who is studying under Mr. Kwon for 1 year.
Hwan, in the lower group again, achieved three consecutive wins before losing the forth game.
At supper we were fortunate to meet the star player Seo Bong Su 9p. We interviewed him for approximately an hour. Although being very famous for his aggressive Go style, we quickly found out that he's really a kind man.
He thinks to have a good chance of winning if he could play God on 2 stones, but he added that no human being should be able to beat him on Black ever.
The day began with one of Mr. Kwon's occasional lessons on the demo board.
Besides explaining technical stuff on the go board, maybe the most important point of his lessons is the one that focused on the children's attitudes towards the game.
He emphasized the meaning of creativity and fighting spirit. People who just follow joseki and play defensive moves can never get better. He advised his pupils to fight and attack, even against professional players. This will mean to lose a lot of games in the short term because attacking is much more difficult than defending. But in the long term this is much more instructive as you learn a lot facing new moves and variations on the board.
During the lesson he told Hwan that it was very important to him to teach his children the mindset of professional players, not just teaching them josekis, fusekis and similar things.
After the lesson we had the last team tournament of the week. Hwan did well again, getting a 4:3 score. His colleagues did even better which ensured his team an unexpected victory. A magnificent prize money of 4 Dollars was received.
Benjamin (or Mr. Ben, as he is called there - Mr. is written in English, Ben in Hangul) was already warned by Mr. Kwon that he would face tough competition at that tournament. This was right, as he lost his 3 games, one of them against a kid who wasn't even able to sit still for more than 5 seconds...
As the tournaments for the Yeunguseng were finished, the regular school tournaments were to begin. In each league there were about 8-10 participants. As the school consists of 75 pupils, we had 9 different leagues, sorted by the strength of the players.
Ben is playing in the 6th, Hwan in the 8th league. Ben was playing well, winning 2 games out of three. Hwan did worse, losing his 3 games in a streak.
The school accomodates a Japanese 4p and a Chinese female professional as guests.
The first league must be really strong - Yamada, the japanese professional, has a score of 0-3 now. The chinese woman does not even belong to the first league.
After the league games, Ben was challenged by a 12 year old girl to 10-seconds-blitz. As proposed by the girl, the winner should get an ice-cream. After 6 games, they were even, therefore nobody got an ice cream. Hwan was playing some friendship matches, losing most games.
The older players had to create 5 tsume-go (life and death) problems on their own. They are quite difficult to solve, even for professional players. It is quite common for the players to invent Tsume-Go-Problems. Even the 10 year old ones create nice problems.
As Hwan asked them how to do it, they said: "It is quite easy, if you solve some problems, you can see similar positions in your inner eye." Yes, that sounded quite easy... A Yeonguseng said that he creates about 3 problems a week...
The school league games went on. This time, Ben played 1-1 while Hwan won his two games. After that, we both had some friendship games with stronger players.
Hwan won a game against the japanese professional player (4 handicap). But Yamada-San played very gentleman-like. Else he would not have lost, of course.
Then we had a supper with Mr. Kwon and Mr. Seo Bong Su 9p - Mr. Seo, the previous winner of the Ing-Cup, comes three times a week to play with the strongest Yeonguseng and young professional players like On So Jin 2p.. Usually he plays lighting games (10-40 seconds for each move), but even with his expertise and experience he scores only slightly above 50%. Fortunately, Mr. Seo is considering a trip to Europe. He was there 20 years ago, and he found it very exciting. After supper, we had a soccer match, with 7 professionals attending. This time the weather was fine...
The day began with Mr. Kwon's lessons. It was a game commentary of two famous professional players, Yamashita Keigo 9p and Ch'oe Ch'eol-han 9p. This game was played the day before, with Ch'oe winning by 1,5 points.
Certainly the technical aspect of the game was very interesting, but it was again the "other stuff", which we found more impressive. He emphasized the "fight" and the "endgame" in Go.
He said that modern Go no longer has any formal josekis or fusekis. Instead, the modern players decide to fight from the first move, especially the modern players like Yi Se-tol 9p or Ch'oe Ch'eol-han 9p. Therefore, he added, outstanding reading qualities are absolutely necessary to become great professional players. This reading skill give the modern (Korean) players the "power" which the Japanese players are desperately missing.
But that was not all - to become a really good player, one must become a astute endgame player. As many professional players are of similar strength, the player with greater expertise mostly wins. The most famous example is Yi Ch'ang-ho 9p. He explained all of this because amateur players tend to neglect the endgame - even the semiprofessional Yeonguseng.
After the lesson we had some league games. Ben finished the league with 3-4, Hwan has 4 losses and 4 wins, with one game missing.
On this Friday, we both finished our league games - Hwan lost his last game - and had some instructive games against some wonder boys.
As we have spent about 10 days in this school, we are now able to sort out the really talented players.
2 days ago, Hwan saw a little one winning against Yi Kang Uk 1p, former amateur world champion. Hwan was very intrigued, because the boy was so small that he had difficulty placing the stones at the bottom of the board!! He said he was 12 years of age, playing in the 5th Yeonguseng League and had some playing experience of 5 years (as long as the author of these lines...). Besides of his tremendous strength, he seemed to be a nice fellow, so Hwan challenged him for a game. But 3 stones were of course not enough...
But he isn't even the most gifted player... there is an another 12-year-old, playing in the third league of the Yeonguseng. The Yeonguseng consist of 120 male players, sorted into 10 leagues, and 48 female players, sorted into 4 leagues.
Mr. Seo 9p said that the first league players have already the strength of strong professional players. The players in the 10th league are a little bit weaker, but not by one stone! So the difference between the first and the tenth league is less then one stone!
The female players are weaker, the players in the fourth league having approximately the strength of an european 6d. The first league players are maybe 2 stones stronger.
Anyway, this another 12-year-old-guy had a friendship game with Benjamin and beat him with 3 stones!! After that amazing experience, a older guy came around and said, "Don't be so depressed. He is the greatest Go talent in Korea. I saw professionals lose against him".
There are other 13 or 14-year-old players who possess similar strength, but maybe we will write about them another time...
This Saturday we had a special team tournament. In this tournament the individual scores from all won games were added up to calculate the team score. For example, if your team wins 4 games with 10 points respectively, but the fifth player loses with 100 points, your team has lost the match.
Ben did quite well, losing only one game with 3 points, but winning the other three games with a margin of 10-20 points.
Hwan did far worse, losing all 4 games (-10, -70, -90, -110 points...) For Hwan this tournament was quite unnerving - as you are not allowed to resign a game, you are forced to go on in a hopeless position. This psychological burden was to much for him...
After this dreadful (at least for Hwan) experience, life became better. Choi Cheol Han 9p, also a former pupil of Mr. Kwon, won an international tournament in Taiwan. His last opponent was Yi Se Tol 9p, who also studied Go under Mr. Kwon.
After the victory, Mr. Kwon gave a spontaneuos lesson in which he analyzed this game of his star pupils. Again, this was very instructive, although Mr. Kwon hadn't had much time to consider the game.
The best news of the day: Choi Cheol Han 9p is going to come into the school to celebrate his victory! He will bring some pizzas for the children! (And for us...)
A new week has begun - of course, a new school league has also begun. This time, the first and second league consist of 8 players, but the other leagues had 10 players participating. That is the reason we have only 8 leagues this time. Ben is playing in the 5th league. Hwan is playing in the 7th league. Ben was feeling a little bit ill, so he only played one game and lost. Hwan had a 1-1 score.
After supper, we asked Mr. Kwon how to get really strong at Go. He considered reading the most important skill on the Go board. Only if you can calculate correctly and quickly, you will be able to reach considerable strength.
This reading skill can be trained through life-and-death problems. One should begin with easy problems - if you are good enough to solve them in few seconds, you should proceed to more difficult ones.
If you need too much time to solve the problems, these problems might not be right for you (too difficult). In this case you should lower the level of the problems.
He emphasized that one must not look into the solution. He recommends books with no solution at all.
At 5 o'clock he gave an endgame lesson for weaker players. It was very instructive, as usual. He showed us very typical endgame tesujis and how to count several endgame moves.
Remember the 12-year-old who defeated Benjamin with 3 Stones? He had a training game with On So Jin 2p, who is considered one of the 30 strongest players in Korea. The dwarf took white and won by 3,5 points! Therefore Ben shouldn't be so ashamed...
We both got a 1-1 score from today's league games. While having lunch, we discussed with Mr. Seo Bong Su 9p the current Korean professional system. The Hankuk Kiwon let only 9 people get professionalized every year. Two of them are female players.
Everyone agrees that this is not enough - but currently the older professional players get a steady income from the Hankuk Kiwon, regardless of their strength (which can be very modest in comparison to younger professionals or even Yeonguseng players).
That is the reason why there are so few chances to become a pro. Mr. Seo suggested that a ranking system be introduced to make the pro-amateur distinctions more rational.
After supper, Mr. Seo lost against the 12-year-old who beat On So Jin 2p yesterday. Holding White, the little one had a very smooth victory against Seo 9p. After choosing a inferior Joseki, Master Seo never got back into the game... Mr. Kwon expects him to become Pro next year.
In the afternoon Hwan played a game with a third-league-yeonguseng. Surprisingly he won with only 4 handicaps. This upset the Yeonguseng, therefore he suggested to play another game. Hwan also won the second game.
Ben has been feeling little bit ill this days, therefore he does not play much.
At 5'o clock there was another endgame lesson with Mr. Kwon. Very instructive, indeed. We never realize how many points we lose unconciously, especially against stronger opponents... It was quite amazing that the most amateur player can solve endgame problems quite easily - but never in an actual game!
We started with a test, in which we should solve 20 life-and-death-problems. All problems had been invented by the Yeonguseng of Mr. Kwon's school themselves. Before the test Mr. Kwon assured us that it would only contain easy problems, in which we had only to read 3 or 5 moves.
Maybe he was right, but we nevertheless found the problems quite difficult. After 2 hours of pain, Mr. Kwon showed us the solutions on the demo board. Ben had 7, Hwan 5 right solutions out of 20...
Some heroes (The yeonguseng did not participate, because on the one hand the problems are too easy for them and on the other hand they have created it themselves...) managed to get only one mistake. We found it quite amazing.
After that, Mr. Kwon went on with his lessons - this time it was a commentary on a game between "God" (Yi Chang Ho9p) and Cho Han Seung 8p. Mr. God has a score of 18-2 against Cho, therfore it was not surprising that Cho resigned after 154 moves, without Yi doing anything at all. It seemed that Yi only played the "natural" moves...
Mr. Kwon explained us how to beat Mr. Yi - you have to be tenacious! Only very tenacious players like Yi Se Tol 9p or Choi Cheol Han 9p, who fight from the first to the last move, have a chance of winning against Yi. You have to be like a dog - not letting go the leg once you've bitten!... it is also very important not to give up if your position is a little bit inferior. Well, now we are prepared to face God...
Hwan had a league game which he won, Benjamin hasn't played yet today.
At last, the hard training seem to pay off. We both had 3 league games today, respectively, and we managed to get 6 out of six!
After this streak, we both have a realistic chance to come into a higher league next week. Hwan has a 6-2, Benjamin has a 4-2 score.
We had some friendship games this day with Yeonguseng players - usually Benjamin takes 2 and Hwan 3 stones. But unfortunately the score isn't very well until now...
Choi Cheol Han 9p, who won an international tournament last week, could not come by himself due to his tournament games, but sent the school 20 pizzas as presents. We had a big feast today...
After the big party we again had an endgame test. But Mr. Kwon promised us to have a "beginners" life-and-death-test next week... Next time the problems should be even more difficult...
Today was a special day - we got to visit the Hankuk Kiwon, in which the preliminary matches for the Samsung Cup were played. There were about 300 professional players at work. Really, the authors have never seen so many professionals at a time in their whole life! When does it happen that you as an amateur player belong to a 5%-minority-group?
There were very famous players from which we could get some autographs - have a look at the tygem article
(The text below the original picture says: Fans asking Mr. Cho Hun Hyeon 9p for an autograph. The tall guy who is said to come from Germany was mostly delighted.)
But this was not all - we got also signatures from famous players like Rui Naiwei 9p, Pak Yeong-hun 9p. There were other great guys at the Hankuk Kiwon, but they were all playing, so sadly we couldn't bother them. Besides, Mr. Kwon had a nice victory against a Japanese guy.
After that we drove back to the Go school in which we had to play some league games. Hwan lost the momentum and the last game and finished 2nd in his group. Benjamin, on the other hand, could maintain his streak and won the remaining 3 games. He also finished second in his group. Therefore we should rise to a higher group next week.
Then we had friendship games against the Yeonguseng. Hwan was lucky to be allowed to play against the new "Yi Chang Ho" (The 12-year-old we have been mentioning frequently). With 3 stones, an interesting game arose, with Hwan losing only with 1 point. Hwan is just wondering if the prodigy did it on purpose... Ben was beaten in another 2-stone-fight.
John F. Can you give us the name of the prodigy, please?
Well, the kid's name is Pak Jung Hwan. Of course it won't say much because he isn't a pro yet.
After the school league was finished yesterday, we had a kind of event this saturday.
Remember what we did 7 days ago? This team tournament in which the individual scores of the games were added?
Well, we got to repeat that tournament. Hwan, remembering the painful lesson from last week, tried not to be killed. This time he was more succesful - -1, Jigo, -11 (3 stones against Yeonguseng) and -54 (This time Hwan had to give 2 stones, he couldn't cope with this highly unusual situation...).
Benjamin followed a more aggressive strategy in which he got some real fights. He won the first game against a Yeonguseng with +18 (with only 2 stones!), lost the second game with -100 (he died) against an another Yeonguseng, won the third game with +118 (he gave 2 stones this time) and lost the last game with -58 (against a Yeonguseng, he died).
Astonishingly, the highest result was +243! A first league-Yeonguseng achieved this highly unusual result against a 12-year-old (with 3 stones).
So far, about 80 problems were created by the Yeonguseng. Hwan got to see some of them (the problems must be shown and approved by Mr. Kwon) - very nice problems indeed. But they are also quite sophisticated, therefore the next test might be quite tough...
The school league format has again been changed. In the first two leagues there are 8-13 players in each league. Ben is participating in the 4th league, which is quite astounding because in the first three leagues there are only Yeonguseng players around. He lost the first and won the second game.
Hwan also advanced to the 6th league. He won the first two games and the lost the third game.
The school consists of 79 now, our rank being approximately 35th and 55th, respectively.
Today we did nothing special. There were only some friendship games.
As the Korean school started yesterday, the school is quite empty until noon now - some more time we will have to focus on tsumego instead of being crushed by the strong guys... We did quite well in our league games: Hwan scored 2 out of 2, Ben 1 out of 1. After asking Mr. Kwon about your wish, he allowed us to publish one of the problems a yeonguseng named Kim Jae Seung created. It was not included in the test we mentioned earlier, but anyways it's very funny:
Today began with the promised Life-and-death problem test. This time we did much better than last time. Hwan solved 7 problems out of 15, Ben 9 out of 14 (there were two different levels this time). Besides, yesterday's problem was to be solved in the exam.
Thanks to the fellow who showed us the solutions! This boosted our results!
This Wednesday we did quite poorly. Hwan and Ben both lost 2 league games, respectively. Hwan knew he wasn't in good shape, therefore he decided to play the tough players, against whom he wouldn't have had much chance anyway.
Fortunately, today was sport's day, so we didn't have to play too much. Instead we played some basketball.
Good news - 4 former pupils of Mr.Kwon's school made it to the final round of the Samsung Cup. It is quite a big achievement, because 300 pros from China, Korea and Japan were competing to get the desired 16 tickets.
To the professionals in general - Mr. Seo is coming about 3 to 4 times per week. About 10 other pros (former pupils of Mr. Kwon's school) are also coming quite regularly, maybe 2 or 3 times a week.
Before noon, we got some games against "cool" players. Ben lost two games against the new pro, Kim Su Yong 1p, Hwan lost a 3-stone handicap game against the "Master of Tsumego" Kim Jae Seung, whose problem could be admired yesterday, by 3 points.
After lunch, we played our league games. We presented ourselves in a far better shape than yesterday. Hwan won both games, Ben won the first game against a former 10th-league Yeonguseng. After that he was about to defeat his second 10th-league Yeonguseng in a row, but this boy saved himself with a clever tesuji and won by 0,5 points against Ben.
In the morning, usually there aren't many players around any more. Surprisingly, the majority of Mr. Kwon's school are going to school (the real school in which you learn math, English and other useless stuff). Therefore there are only about 20 people around. The good thing is, these people do not have many things to do, so it is easy to challenge them to a game.
This morning Ben won a 2-stone game against a 13-year-old prodigy and Hwan defeated a 3rd-league Yeonguseng by 1 point (3 stones).
In the afternoon we played the remaining league games. Unfortunately, Ben gave away his games although he had very nice positions. He finished the league with a score of 3-6.
Hwan could win the last game with another 0,5 victory and finished second (8-3) in his league. He is due to advance to a higher league. He is a little bit afraid because in this league the opponents are 1-2 stones better than Hwan...
After the league games we solved some problems - we both spent about 1-2 hours every day to solve problems - and had some games against the "cool" guys.
Kim Su Yong, the 15-year-old new professional player from "the school" was ready to play against Hwan while Ben was having a lightning game against a 3rd-league Yeonguseng.
Kim 1p, a very nice fellow, became professional 2 weeks ago. After celebrating his victory by buying hamburgers and cola for the 75 pupils of Mr. Kwon's school, he went back home for a while because the summer holidays were over. After attending middle school (he is in 9th grade) for a few days, he came back to Seoul.
Anyway, he was nice enough to lose by 5 points against Hwan.
Again, we had a team tournament about points and money (50 Won per point) - Hwan made a 3:3 score, Ben managed to lose all of his games, two very big (to his excuse, it was quite a tough group)
While Hwan spends his free sunday with his parents, Benjamin gets some private lessons by Kim Su-Yong 1p in the school. After he saw SL, he wants to write some greetings to you:
안녕하세요^-^ Kim Su-Yong 입니다. 만나서 정말 반가웠구요.
짧은 기간이였지만.. 많이 가르쳐 드린게 없는거 같아서. 죄송해요ㅠ.ㅠ
한달간 즐거우셨는지 모르겠네요. ^^
환국이형 하고는 대화가 잘되 서 편했는데요, ben 과는 대화가 잘 안통해서.. 애좀 먹었지요 .ㅋ 학교에서 영어시간에 공부라도 좀 열심히 해둘걸..ㅠ
독일에 가셔서 바둑 열심히 하시구요.! 아~ 제가 더 열심히 할거에요. ^ㅎ^
환국이형 하고 ben 형이 건강하게 잘지내셨으면 좋겠네요~~!
커서 독일 놀러가면 잘해준다고 약속 하셨죠?? ㅋ 잊지않을거에요!!!
그럼 전이만.!! 꾸벅!! 잘지내세요~~~
Hi I am Kim Su Yong. It was really nice to meet you. It was such a short time - Sorry I couldn't teach you very much. (Hwan and Ben disagree...) I hope you had a nice time here. With Hwan it was easy to talk, but it was sometimes quite difficult with Ben... I should have taken the English lessons more seriously...
Study Go dilligently in Germany! Oh, I should be even more dilligent! You have promised that I can come to Germany, haven't you? I won't forget it!
Not so many new things happened, so let's summarize these three days: In the leagues, Hwan is doing crazily well with a 4:3 score until now in league 6 (this is where Ben started). Ben, playing with almost-yeonguseng strength in league 4 again, only won one out of five so far - although he believes he's got a good start and chuban, he lost most games in the endgame. Actually, we're constantly reminded of our weak German endgame skills...
We're quite pleased with our newer results against the yeonguseng - Hwan gets even chances with 3 stones, Ben with 2. The cool thing for Ben is that he doesn't defend most of the time, but instead accepts most battles and still isn't completely destroyed. ^^
Finally our days at Mr. Kwon's school are over. We are very sad to leave the school. But before leaving, we finished our league games. Ben lost his last 2 games, whereas Hwan did the opposite. With a result of 6-3 Hwan got the 3rd place and 3000 Won. (The entrance fee, however, was 5000 Won.)
This friday we bought ice cream for everyone, leaving many smiles on the kids' faces. At night after school Mr. Kwon invited us to a farewell dinner in which we could ask him any last questions.
He said that we both got 1 stone stronger, although Benjamin still has some doubts. He believes that he is only 0,5 stones stronger than before. But Hwan believes that Ben might have done even better because he has a good score with 2 stones against strong Yeonguseng.
Hwan has no doubts about Mr. Kwons thesis because in the last week he got to beat players against whom he lost with 2 stones at the beginning of our expedition. 6 dans take care! ^^
Of course it was easier to get better for Hwan because his fundamentals were even weaker than Ben's.
To summarize our visit, we want to emphasize how nice the school was. At the beginning we were a little bit worried that we could not be well accepted in the school. But the children and the Yeonguseng were really nice, patiently playing games with us all the time, although it must have been quite boring.
We couldn't believe that we should be able to play 12 hours a day. But it worked - and we still haven't got enough of it!
Mr. Kwon was an astounding teacher, teaching and motivating the 75 children in his school. We can seriously recommend the school to anyone who is willing to learn the basics of Go.
Mr. Kwon said that one month was not enough to teach us the whole basics, but nevertheless praised us to have made a lot of progress.
We hope that this was not the last time for us at Mr. Kwon's...
As Mr. Kwon predicted, The wonder boy who beat Seo Bong Su 9p (Park Jung Hwan) became a professional player today. He is 13 years old. In the qualification league, he played 8-3, making the second place.
Hwan-Kuk Kang: As I moved back to South Korea, I had another chance to visit the legendary school. Mr. Kwon welcomed me back in Korea and seemed to be glad to see me again. He then asked me about "Ben", whom he heard to be a very strong player in Germany (his pupil Yun Yeong Seon 5p told him so). I told him that Ben became second in the German championsship. Mr. Kwon was delighted about this progress. However, I haven't made it clear that he was second in 2004, too... After that, I could play some games with the "little ones." I had mixed results last year against this kids. As I assumed that they made some progress in the last year, I took Black on all games. I was quite delighted to get 2 wins. Two pupils from Kwon could make pro in September, I was told. Let's see what happens... But what a pity! The kids told me that Seo Bong Su 9p doesn't come to the school any more. The wonder boy, Pak Jung Hwan 1p, also left the school, after becoming pro.
The first one was successful - Jo Kyung Ho became pro today. He told me last year that he was in the 8th grade, so I suppose him to be about 15 years old. I vividly remember him beating me with 4 stones... He was terribly strong...
The second guy was also successful. Yun Chan Hee qualified himself as the strongest Yeonguseng in the last 6 months. Last year, when Ben and I were guests at Kwon school, he already was one of the best Yeonguseng in Korea. He even played in the qualification tournament, but without success. He also had a hard time against Seo Bong Su 9p, with whom he played more than 50 games. He said Seo 9p was very strong and he could score only about 10 wins... He is A plump, bespectacled and easy-going guy who was also very keen to play other computer games. Astonishingly, he didnt excel in these games. Ben , who had seen these games for the first time in his life, had no difficulty outperforming him. Yun found it quite staggering and called Ben a "Genius of Computer games."
Hwan Kuk Kang: Wow, I just came back today to read what we have done 5 years before. Amazing stuff indeed. I still live in Korea, and I haven't played much for the last 4 years. This changed last month, I played more often, and managed to become 6Dan in Tygem. 7Dan is actually my goal, because I have the theory that normal human beings are not allowed to make the 8Dan or 9Dan on Tygem.
I visited Kwon's school once or twice this time, they have changed their place, it looked more modern. The concentration and fighting spreet of the kids have not changed, they looked much older than in 2005.
Some guys have become during the last 4 years, but no one is more succesful than the "dwarf" wonderboy (Pak Jung Hwan), a major force in Korean Baduk now. He is the No.4 in Korea (the difference to the No.1 is quite small) and has beaten Yi Chang Ho 9p, among others, to win major titles. He actually has two titles right now and advanced to the quarterfinals of the BC Card World Cup. He seems unstoppable.
By the way, he is not a dwarf anymore, having reached 177cm.
Hwan Kuk Kang: Pak Jung Hwan continues his run: he won two gold medals during the Asian games 2010 in Guangzhou (Pair go + Male Team) and advanced to No.2 in the Korean Baduk ranking.
During the exciting Pair Go Final, where his partner was Yi Seul A, they came well out of the opening, made mistakes, stood worse most of the time during the middle game, the endgame was not much better... actually they lost the game by 1.5 points, but the Chinese made a mistake with the move order, giving a 0.5 point win to the Korean team.
The Men final was less exciting - the Koreans beat the Chinese with 4:1, like in the preliminaries, and Pak crushed his opponent, Xie He. By the way, two other members of the Gold medal team, Choi Cheol Han 9p and Kang Dong Yun 9p, also studied several years in the school of Mr. Kwon. The Female Team also managed to beat China with 2:1 (notably, Yi Min Jin 5p overcame Rui Naiwei 9p, the strongest female player ever), making Koreas triumph perfect.
The double win has a great benefit for Pak - he will be freed from his 2 year military service! He is actually the last guy to benefit from this regulation because Baduk will not be part of the Asian Games 2014. Hard to comprehend as Korea is the host of these 2014 games...