Interview with new FICGS Go champion


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Thibault de Vassal    (2013-07-15)
Interview with new FICGS Go champion

Yen-Wei Huang, winner of the 8th FICGS Go championship, kindly accepted to answer a few questions for this very interesting interview!


- Hello Yen-Wei and congratulations for winning the FICGS Go championship! Xiao Tong was obviously a tough opponent, yet you won 5-0, what happened during this match?

Hi Thib. Thanks again for your kind invitation. Xiao is definitely one of the strongest Go players on FICGS, and I was really, really lucky to have won all five games. In fact, I was behind in three of them until Xiao made some mistakes late in the games: in game 69092, I forced a tough ko fight which jeopardized my lower group. Xiao made a mistake at P2 as he missed my T3 could force another ko. Game 69093 was very close towards the end but I think the move at C13 caused him the game. Game 69096 was even closer that I won by half a point thanks to the big 7.5 komi. The other two games were not easy either and I am glad I could have hung on to the lead. Overall I really enjoyed our match and I would love to have a rematch with Xiao in the future.

- You're from Taiwan, could you tell us a bit more about you? At what age did you learn Go? Do you have any other ranks (e.g. at other sites)?

I learned Go when I was 5 and I have always enjoyed playing all my life. I used to play on servers like KGS and Tygem and I was around 6-7 dan on these sites. Recently I don't have that much time to play so that's why turned to turn-based server like FICGS.

- What do you think about the world of Go these days? Who is the very best player in the world according to you?

I think the past two years were the "warring period" in the world of Go. I would say Lee Sedol was the best player two years ago, but he seems to have lost his dominant position recently. There are many rising stars that are winning the world champions. I am especially keeping an eye on Yuta Iyama, who I think is No. 1 in Japan and has started to threaten the dominance of Chinese and Korean players.

- What about computer Go and its future? How many years do you give to the human before losing to the machine?

As a software engineer I foresee the computer Go beats the world's No. 1 player in two decades. Crazy Stone already beat Yoshio Ishida with four handicap stones earlier this year, and I believe it wouldn't take long for computers to beat pros in two handicap stones. The real challenge will come when computers need to go from handicap games to even games since they need to advance from defensive mode to attack mode. I am really excited to see how Artificial Intelligence can surprise us with its "creative" moves when the time comes.

- Do you use engines or databases? What advice would you give to beginners (and to your future challengers :))?

I know there are many useful Go engines and databases that are being developed these days, unfortunately I don't really know much about them. I do use if I need to look something up, and I go to for commented games (they're in Chinese, nonetheless). Advice to beginners: just go to any search engine and you can easily find all the free resources you want. Advice to my future challengers: just try the new variations since I know none of them :)

- What new features would you like to see at FICGS?

Firstly I'd like to thank Thib for maintaining such a wonderful site. I enjoy playing Go and Poker here and maybe I'll start playing Chess sometime (I really suck so I'm not ready to embarrass myself yet). The ability to play different games is what makes FICGS unique. As Thib mentioned earlier, we need much more players, and I think FICGS simply needs to host much more tournaments, probably some with shorter time settings. With more games and more player engagement, more people will stick around. Another feature I'd really like to see is FICGS client for cellphones/tablets. The main advantage of turn-based servers is that it allows people to play wherever for whatever period of time: a 1-min ride in the elevator, a 10-min wait at the bus stop, or a couple of hours at home. If playing on FICGS is made easier, I know I will be more addicted to it :)

- Thank you very much and good luck in the next final match...

Thanks! And please go easy on our Poker match...

Don Groves    (2013-07-15 19:55:32)
Interview with new FICGS Go champion

Yen-Wei: Do you think increasing the size of the goban to 23x23 would keep the computers at bay for a few more years?

Thibault de Vassal    (2013-07-15 20:04:54)
Interview with new FICGS Go champion

Ah, good question! In my opnion, a few more years maybe... but not so much.

Yen-Wei Huang    (2013-07-16 05:01:18)
Interview with new FICGS Go champion

I doubt it. Since the 23x23 goban can be a very different game that no humans are familiar with, I believe by the time computers catch up with humans in 19x19, they can beat humans in 23x23 as well.

Thibault de Vassal    (2013-07-16 10:31:44)
Interview with new FICGS Go champion

I forgot this point, you're probably right Yen-Wei :)

Don Groves    (2013-07-17 01:42:20)
Interview with new FICGS Go champion

Thanks for your quick response!