A 10-member Taiwanese team swept the go (weiqi, 圍棋) tournaments at the second edition of the World Mind Sports Games (WMSG), picking up four gold, four silver and three bronze medals and making Taiwan the country that brought back the most trophies from the event.
The players yesterday received congratulatory letters from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) while sharing their experiences at a press event held shortly after their return from France.
Go has traditionally been viewed as a pastime for the elderly, but all the team members were relatively young.
“We were probably the youngest team there, with only one player older than 21,” team coach Chin Shih-min (秦世敏) said. “Most of the team played over 11 consecutive days. They really did their best.”
At the games, the go medals are awarded in five different categories: men’s and women’s singles, teams, pairs and youth.
The youngest member on Chin’s team, 11-year-old Hsu Hao-hung (許皓鋐), won the bronze medal in the Youth Under-21 tournament. Another young winner, 23-year-old Lai Yu-cheng (賴宥丞), won two gold and one bronze medals in the men’s single, team and pair categories respectively, while 17-year-old Kuo Nai-fu (郭乃福) took home two golds and one silver in the teams, youth and men’s single competitions.
Female players also did well at the tournaments. Among them, 15-year-old Lin Hsiao-tung (林曉彤) picked up one gold and one silver medal in the women’s singles and doubles categories.
The Taiwanese team dominated in the men’s single and youth competitions this year, winning all the medals given in the two categories.
Chin said the Taiwanese team achieved their overwhelming victory in part because China and South Korea, two powerful competitors, did not send players to participate in the go events.
A quadrennial multi-sport event organized by the International Mind Sports Association, the WMSG are envisioned to become a fourth kind of Olympic Games, after the Summer and Winter Olympics and the Paralympics. Its inauguration took place in Beijing shortly after the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
According to Ma Xi-ping (馬西屏), a political affairs commentator and seasoned journalist, the establishment of the WMSG was supported by Beijing because the Chinese government has put lots of effort into the development of mind sports.
“China wants mind sports to become official games at international sporting events,” Ma said.
The third edition of the WMSG will take place in Brazil in 2016.
Most of the Taiwanese go players started learning the board game at pre-school ages, Chin said.
For player Lai, the game has been his primary passion since he learned how to play it at the age of five.
Having played at a number of national and international competitions, Lai said the biggest difference between the games at the WMSG and the previous events he attended is that players have to learn to work with partners in pair competitions.
“Playing with a partner means the two of you have to know each other well and know what each other is thinking,” Lai said. “It is difficult, but fun.”