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Thursday, September 29, 2005

This is a very old thing, and I'm somewhat embarresed by it

This is a very old thing, and I'm somewhat embarresed by it, even though I still agree with the ideas in it. I'm putting it up so that a little debate at SA Go Clubs has some clarity.

Dissension From The Ranks (Issue No. 1)

"Are we sending the wrong people to the WAGC?"

Every year, one person from the South African GO community is selected to go to the World Amateur GO Championships (WAGC) in Japan. Sounds great for that one person; a free trip to Japan, kicking back with other GO nuts and bolting down sake. He also gets to play against and learn from some of the best (non-professional) GO players in the world. But, it must be asked, what does the South African GO community get out of it?

The ideal situation is that our GO champions come back to South Africa and pass on the skills that they have learned in Japan. This should be the ever-lasting point behind the whole affair. Players based here want to play South Africa's best. Players here want to play the guys who have been to Japan because they want to learn from them. Become 1-dans and have their shot at winning the WAGC.

But, sadly and to the determent of South African GO, a worrying trend is beginning to develop in the selection of candidates to go to the WAGC. South Africa is sending players to the WAGC who do not live in this country. They don't play club games in SA. How are players, residing in South Africa, going to learn when they don't have the opportunity to play against the guys who have been to the WAGC? In other words, any knowledge that may have been picked up in Japan by our representatives does not come back to South Africa; it goes somewhere else. Rather send someone who will come back, even if it means sending a weaker player or the person who went the previous year.

There is, however, a solution. The present system for selection is a points based endeavour. A player gets points for winning tournaments, points for participating in official club games, etc.. Dissension From The Ranks believes that the value of participation points should be drastically increased. If players do not play here--outside of the main tournaments--they won't earn participation points. Without participation points, they won't have a chance of being selected to go to the WAGC. The idea is not to prevent foriegn-based South Africans from being able to represent the country at the WAGC, it is to get them playing in South Africa. Another suggestion is for the players who have gone to Japan to be required to conduct a coaching session in SA.

This is not a hate filled diatribe against foriegn-based players in general. Foriegn-based players can and do positively influence South African GO; for example, Chris Visser has recently come up with some helpful suggestions for the South African Closed Championship and has even offered to donate clocks to SAGA. Dissension From The Ranks applauds this kind of initiative and generosity.

On a slightly different note, foriegn-born South African citizens do play an enormous role in the development of GO in South Africa; we'd still be in the Dark Ages of GO if it wasn't for Victor Chow. Some might say that only native-born South Africans should be selected to go to the WAGC. Dissension From The Ranks disagrees: It is far better to send a non-native South African to Japan who regularly plays and teaches in SA than it is to send a native-born South African who doesn't.

Dissension From The Ranks
hopes that SAGA will take urgent steps to reverse this trend.


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