Prodigies prevail at the 7th Ing Cup

On September 23, 25 and 26, 2012, the semifinals of the 7th Ing Cup were played in Dujiangyan, China.

A marathon match

Lee Changho Park Junghwan 7th Ing Cup semi final 300x225 picture

Left: Lee Changho 9 dan. Right: Park Junghwan 9 dan.

September 23 saw the all Korea semifinal between Lee Changho 9p and Park Junghwan 9p get started in epic style.

Lee and Park struggled against one another for over nine hours.

Eventually though, Park’s dragon prevailed over Lee’s in the marathon match.

Meanwhile, in the all China match, Xie He 9p defeated Fan Tingyu 3p.

Zero points

Both games on the first day were decided by a difference of ‘zero’.

Under the Ing rules, komi is 8 points and black wins ties. This makes it basically equivalent to 7.5 points under Chinese rules.

The rule buffs will object to this characterization, of course.

Park goes through to the final

On September 25, Park once again defeated Lee, earning himself the first spot in the final and extending his win-loss ratio over the Stone Buddha to 9-4.

Park Junghwan 7th Ing Cup semi final 1 550x548 picture

Park Junghwan 9 dan goes through to the final. Caught here in a rare moment without his book of Go problems.

Fan answered Xie’s previous win, extending the semfinal to a third and deciding match.

The making of The Surrounding Game

The team who are filming the upcoming documentary The Surrounding Game were on site for the event too.

If you look closely at the photos, you might spot some of them.

The Surrounding Game 7th Ing Cup semi final 550x469 picture

The Surrounding Game team. From left: Will Lockhart, Cole Pruitt, Colin Sonner, Cherry Shen and Nik Gonzales.

A record breaking 7th Ing Cup

September 26 saw Fan repeat his fine form from the previous day to join Park in the final.

Park and Fan are 19 and 16 years old respectivley.

This means whoever wins the 7th Ing Cup later this year (or early next year) will become the youngest winner in the tournament’s history.

Comparing two precocious teenagers

Fan Tingyu 7th Ing Cup semi final 1 300x450 picture

16 year old Fan Tingyu 3 dan.

Even though there’s only a three year difference between the two, their records are quite different.

Fan has only recently started to make his name known on the international stage.

In China, his name is already familiar to Go fans, after he won the Xinren Wang, a tournament for Chinese pros under 7p and 20 years of age, for the past 3 years.

Park’s trophy cabinet, in comparison is positively overflowing with accollades – the most impresssive being last year’s 24th Fujitsu Cup.

Will the Ing Cup final mirror the recently played BC Card Cup final, where experience trumped new talent?

Or will Fan make it one better than Dang Yifei 4p?

Have your say below.

The Ing Cup

The Ing Cup is the oldest continuous international Go tournament for professionals.

It started in 1988, just after the inaugural (and now defunct) Fujitsu Cup, and is held every 4 years, coinciding with the Summer Olympics.

The format is a 24 player knockout with 8 players being seeded into the second round. The semifinals are played as the best of 3 matches, and the final is best of 5.

The tournament uses the Ing Rules, which were designed by Ing Changki. Ing Rules have some unique aspects.

7th Ing Cup semifinal photos

Game records

Park Junghwan vs Lee Changho – Game 1

Download SGF File (Go Game Record)

Lee Changho vs Park Junghwan – Game 2

Download SGF File (Go Game Record)

Xie He vs Fan Tingyu – Game 1

Download SGF File (Go Game Record)

Fan Tingyu vs Xie He – Game 2

Download SGF File (Go Game Record)

Fan Tingyu vs Xie He – Game 3

Download SGF File (Go Game Record)

About Jing

Jing likes writing, and can occasionally be convinced to play a game of Go. Although she doesn't play Go as often as she once did, she still enjoys following the professional Go scene and writing about it on Go Game Guru. You can find Jing on Google+ and follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.


  1. “Park Junghwan 9 dan goes through to the final. Caught here in a rare moment without his book of Go problems.”

    Which/what book is that?

    Great article as usual. Keep it up!

    • Thanks. I don’t think there’s a specific book, but he’s often seen carrying a Go book around with him so he can use any idle moments to practice.

      You can see some examples in these photos of Park and Kim Jiseok (at the airport, on the bus etc.) from the earlier rounds of the Ing Cup:

      I think this has been a habit of his for many years and it’s probably part of the reason why he’s so strong.

      I like to joke about it, because it’s something that David does as well (taking a book of life and death problems everywhere), although probably not to the same extent as Park. :P

  2. I’m little bit sad for lee changho but very happy for fan tingyu. I hope a commentary on GGG or baduk tv english about the second game of lee-park.
    The 3 games fan-xie are very exciting. what is your favorite game jing?

    • I haven’t had time to look at all of them closely Frédéric, but I liked the first game between Xie and Fan. I’m a fan of Xie He. :)

  3. Does anyone have any theories as to why the young players are starting to more regularly prevail? I feel that it has to represent some paradigm shift where imagination or sheer analytical ability outweigh experience and maturity of outlook. Or maybe it’s because the young players are being taught to be more mature in their approach?

  4. Good question…. It would be interesting to know if that young prevail is actually happens in Korea and Japan too… Or it is just a thing of the young Chineses.

  5. In Korea and China, young pros have more opportunity to compete in high level competition as long as they are competitive. But in Japan, it is hard for young pros to get into main tournament because their tournament system is quite different. For young pros, they have to start from first level tournament, then if they win in the first level, they join next level. This process repeats until they get to main tournament.
    On the other hand, in Korea and China, they start from beginning as equal as anyone.
    Park Junghwan is 19 and only 3 years older than Fan.

  6. Good points trout. I hadn’t considered how long it takes (potentially years) to play through the preliminary tournaments in the Japanese system.

    I think there are many reasons, and another thing to consider is that these days China and Korea are spotting and training talented young players from a very young age.

    The youth programs and training methods are getting better all the time and if one country finds an effective training method/system, the other country copies it to compete.

    If you go back a generation, even a player like Lee Sedol was trained mostly by his own father for many years.

    It’s not necessarily a good thing. People sacrifice their whole education to become professionals these days and we end up with stronger Go players, but what about all the quasi-pros who didn’t quite qualify for the formal title? Many of them are as strong as pros.

    • It’s similar as in a few other professions. If you decide to skip school to practice anything special (Go, soccer, singing, arts) and become pro, but fail to make it (get sufficient pay), you’ll end up with no education, no useful formal qualifications and no job.

      But in this example you may still try and switch your job to teach your chosen profession to young students, maybe. For instance, even if you don’t get a job as a professional singer, you will still be very skilled and can teach others. It’s not what you planned to do originally, but it’s related and it makes some money.

      Just like several players that failed to become pro teach Go to others. I’m not sure how this works in the East, but at least it is very noticeable in the West, as there are several very successful and famous ex-insei teachers.

      (Sidenote: Though some of them did make it big and still decided to instead play in the West. For instance, Young Sun Yoon 8p repeatedly won the women’s Kuksu and still moved to Europe to teach Go. She’s very famous in Germany.)

  7. Is game 1 of Park Junghwan vs Lee Changho a ko? If white plays H19, black replies at E19. Then C19, G17, Although black needs to play an approach move, white doesn’t have anything big enough.

  8. so, if Japan doesn’t change its strategy about young pro, in a few years, they will have no international competitive pros at all. We will speak only about Shusaku, Dosaku, Cho chikun and other classic japanise pros…is this correct?

    • David Ormerod says:

      Well, I think it also reflects the popularity of the game, and the money available for it, in the three countries.

      Go has been losing popularity in Japan for some time (though Hikaru no Go did improve things for awhile). But if a young ‘genius’ like Go Seigen, Lee Changho or Bobby Fischer appeared in Japan, that could help to rally the masses behind the game and turn things around.

      To some extent, the current popularity of Go in Korea is due to Cho Hunhyun and Lee Changho, and likewise China was helped a lot by the success of Nie Weiping and other players since then.

      Some people hoped that Iyama Yuta would be that person for Japan, and he’s still relatively young.

      I’d like to see him competing more in international tournaments, but from his perspective it might be easier and more profitable to stay home and win the Honinbo.

      Flying overseas all the time would wear you down physically and stop you from playing at your best. If you then lose your domestic titles because of that, you’re losing a lot of potential income.

      And I think that’s another reason why players don’t stay on top for as long these days. The competition is fiercer and there are more tournaments. The schedule is incredibly gruelling.

      To stay on top in that sort of environment you’d have to be incredibly talented, and also be training physically, as well as mentally, all the time. I think a lot of people overlook how important physical fitness is for playing at your best. Look at how strong Lee Sedol was after taking a 6 month break. Whereas now he seems to be fatigued again.

      Anyway, that’s my 2c.

      • I play go from time to time and read related websites when I can. The sustained/expanding popularity of go in China and South Korea, as opposed to the waning popularity of go in Japan is something you hear about repeateadly. It’s something that’s very often put forward to explain South Korea’s and China’s success on the international go scene.

        I do not understand this analysis. I’ve lived for a while in a few different places in both China and Japan and my experience is opposite to what is generally accepted.

        The very great majority of Japanese know of Go and can tell you about the basics. You can find clubs fairly easily.

        In China, I have NEVER met a random person who actually knew how to play. I can remember one person who knew of the game. You can go to cities with 5 million inhabitants with not a single club in sight.

        I’m interested in hearing people’s opinion on this. Cheers

  9. Byung Soo Lee says:

    Fan Tingyu is so impressive… He seems more composed than Dang Yifei.

    Sigh… Lee Changho… Bro, your time ain’t over yet! Let’s win some titles next year!

    • David Ormerod says:

      He still comes so tantalizingly close to winning tournaments.

      I also think he still has it in him to win. When you look at some of his older games you can see his genius. I haven’t seen anyone else playing the kind of totally unexpected and amazing moves he used to come up with in the middle game. Other players play brilliant moves, but Lee Changho’s ideas were different.

  10. I have lived in China as well as Korea. I would have to agree with Iannis to a point. I wasn’t able to find random people that knew how to play while I was in China. I found a club or two but I was also in Beijing. Korea on the other hand. I can find tons of clubs as long as I’m in a big city. The smaller towns you won’t find any clubs but you might find a professional teaching. As for it being popular, Korea is starting to look more and more like Japan. Less people are interested in play and parents are less willing to gamble their kid’s future on a game that is extremely hard to get into.
    Clubs are becoming harder to find, even in larger cities. After talking to a lot of the older men here it is easy to see the decline of go. I’ve been told that it was not a problem to find a club every few blocks 10 years ago. Now you have be looking to find one. I’m sad to say it but the system that is creating amazingly strong professionals is also the same system that is slowly chocking the interest of children and parents.

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