By the way, I found the following interview of Cho Hunhyun, which I found interesting:
Cho Hun-hyun: "Victory or defeat, I will go my way until I die."
Cho Hun-hyun, 54, once the invincible world champion of Go (baduk), marked the 50th year of his career. In the game dominated by teenage champions, Cho remains a formidable contender in any international match. His presence itself is considered a threat, when most players in their 20s already start to be pushed aside. Among those in their 30s, only Lee Chang-ho, another 9-dan player known by the nickname "Stone Buddha," maintains the upper hand and very few players in their 40s or older remain active. However, Cho, who lifted Korean Go to world level, is still gallantly confronting champions in their teens and 20s. Thus he gives much hope to middle-aged Koreans. I met him at the Korean Go Association in Hongik-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul on November 26 to hear about his views on Go and on his life.
Cho is a reserved man. Unless he is asked he seldom starts to talk. And he usually answers in his famous hard-boiled style. As swift as a swallow on the Go board, Cho as an interviewee is a huge challenge. Sometimes appeasing and sometimes instigating, I conducted the interview with worries that it might turn out to be dull and boring. His answers were simple and brief, apparently nonchalant but nevertheless inspiring.
Q. How are you doing these days?
A. After I get up, I walk around my neighborhood with my dog, if I have nothing particular to do. Sometimes I play golf, climb a nearby mountain, search the internet, or listen to music.
Q. You seem to have gained some weight, belying your nickname, "Swallow Cho." Do you exercise?
A. I have had a little free time since last year. After looking for a pastime with my wife, we began playing golf.
Q. What is your score?
A. About 100. Women like this score. (He said with a grin. Probably the ice has been broken.)
Q. You are good at all kinds of games, and even betting. You are known to have won the first poker game you played in Las Vegas. And you are famous for your "swallow style" mountain climbing, too.
A. Learning to play golf (when you are) over 50 you can score 80 at best. You are lucky if you get 90. Like in Go game, you can never become a professional golfer unless you begin when you are very young. Is there any pro golfer who started playing past 50? No. You don't have strong motivation to play well.
Q. It seems you are no longer a fierce fighter.
A. In the past I was strong at all kinds of games. I used to play all night, quite a lot. But I don't have such physical strength now. These days it's difficult to play 50 games a year. Young players are strong, you know. Many professional games are played in tournaments. Sometimes I must withdraw after a single game. It's why I have more free time these days.
Q. But your name still frightens many Go players. Playing 50 games a year doesn't sound too bad, considering you played 100 games during your peak years.
A. Yes, there was such a time. But you can't beat your age. I'm a kind of underdog, now, playing in preliminaries not finals.
Q. (Tongue-tied by his honesty) Are young players so strong? Is the gap so big?
A. Young players have grown strong. It's crucial because it's not two or three points but a half point that determines the winner. You play half of the game with your skill and the other half with your mental and physical strength. I lag in this. So I make more mistakes these days. At times your skill level hardly shows.
Q. But experience is important in Go games.
A. Let's say you finished 100 meters in 10 seconds when you were in your teens and 20s. You can't keep that record at 80. You can't help it. They say Go games need a good brain but your physical and mental strength cannot but count when a half point makes the winner. Especially, young players these days turn pro after learning everything. And they only think of Go, nothing else, around the clock. But those in their 30s are not like them. They drink and meet girlfriends. It's hard to win even if you are 100 percent concentrated. Putting in only 80 or 90 percent of your energy, you can't win, of course.
Q. The playing style has changed these days. Everybody is playing to win. In the past, there was something like a grand power, aesthetics, or the cosmos style. But practical interest seems to be all that matters today.
A. In most games how to win is the primary concern. It may not be fun in certain aspects. But it's a fight, and you must win. A loser has nothing to say.
Q. But they teach the process of trying to achieve a goal is more important than the result.
A. Some players pursue such an approach. But nobody will recognize you once you lose. What's the use of playing nicely when you lose all games you play? You can't blame those who play solely to win. But time turns. You never know when the trend would change.
Q. One of your greatest achievements has been training Lee Chang-ho, the "Stone Buddha." They say the best way to repay your teacher is to beat him. It sounds great. But how did you actually feel when you gave away your titles to Lee one after another?
A. It hurts when you are beaten. It hurts even more when you are beaten by someone you hate. When you are to descend anyway, however, it's better to pass on your titles to your student. Accepting someone as your student you mean you want him to surpass you. If there is a winner there is a loser. There's no other way.
Q. Korean society has different rules. You are taught never to tread on your teacher's shadow. You must not attempt to outperform your teacher but support him. As such, betrayal runs rampant across all fields of politics, economy, society and culture.
A. I often had the same feeling when I first arrived in Japan. It's a shame I have to speak ill of my country, but I have seen many people trying to trip up others and trample on them instead of working hard to outdo them. It's so wrong. You must compete fairly and look for some other way when it seems you can't make it. You must not drag down others. It's particularly so if you are a teacher. You must even give up your own life for your student.
Q. You went to Japan very early in your childhood to study Go. Then you came back to serve in the army. But many talented young people give up their Korean citizenship to dodge their military duties and once they succeed in their fields, they receive accolades as "proud" Koreans. You might have gained a lot more for yourself if you had not returned.
A. Maybe so. I earned 10 million won a game here but prize money in Japan was 100 million won. I'm sure I must be walking a different path no matter what the eventual result. But I simply couldn't do so. You are born with your nationality, aren't you?
Q. It seems you have a little bit of regret.
A. No, not at all. It was my fate. So I have changed Korean Go games, haven't I?
Q. But you understand those who changed their nationality.
A. They may all have wanted to remain Korean. They surely couldn't feel comfortable. Who would like to become Japanese or American, no matter how nice those countries are to live in? When it seems you are nearing a crucial juncture in your career, the three-year military service can be as fatal as a death sentence. Why should it matter if a few men do not join the army when some 500,000 or 600,000 solders are serving? There may be only one genius standing out among some 500 million or even 6 billion people in the world. Instead of praising them as national heroes after they have succeeded, the government must institutionally support them so they can devote themselves to their careers without violating law and suffering criticism.
Q. Go matches are often compared to life. What are the most important factors in a Go match ― making a good strategic alignment, overpowering the enemy, seizing practical gains, fighting the battle, reading your opponent's mind in advance, or the overall grasping of the situation?
A. Everything is important ― strategic positioning, looking through your opponent's plans, instant judgment, and even your luck. By regarding all of these factors as important, I believe, the late Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung, an "illiterate man" as he called himself, could become the nation's richest man. It's your ability that makes you win and it's also your ability that makes you lose.
Q. It's difficult to find Go halls these days. What would be the future of Go?
A. It's generally declining. We must let it go down slowly. When Go is declining in Japan, where the professional games have a history of several hundred years, there is no need to say anything about Korea as we have a much shorter tradition spanning only dozens of years. While the commercial Go halls are on the decline, the places for one-on-one training are on the rise. Fortunately, the internet Go sites are growing popular.
Q. What is your ultimate goal as a Go player?
A. My ultimate goal? I will just play until I die. I may have to say I don't know what I am pursuing ultimately. There must be a certain realm but I am not sure if I can ever reach it. When you have reached the end of this universe you will only find the beginning of another. I am going my way to find out what it is. I will just keep going. If I win I will win by a half point. If I lose I will lose by a half point, too. I will just try to make good judgments toward a good result. That I will do with my ability, nothing else.
◆ Who is Cho Hun-hyun?
Cho Hun-hyun was born in 1953 in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province; became the world's youngest professional Go player in 1962; won the 1-dan title from the Japanese Go Association in 1966; graduated from Sinmei Middle School in Japan in 1967; won the 5-dan from the Japanese Go Association; won all the Go championships from 1980 to 1982; became Korea's first 9-dan player in 1982; won the Ing Cup, the Olympics in Go games, and received the Order of Cultural Merit (Silver Crown) in 1989; won the Fujitsu Cup in 1994, 2000 and 2001; won the Chunlan Cup World Go Championship in China in 1999; won the Samsung Fire Insurance Cup in 2002 and 2003; hit the 1,000 win mark in 1995; and received the Go Culture Award and the Most Outstanding Go Player Award in 2002. He attained an honorary doctorate in physical education from Mokpo National University, and holds the record of the most wins and championships set by the Korea Guinness Association. He authored "Cho Hun-hyun's Introduction to Go Games," "Today's Go Games" and "Dialogue with Cho Hun-hyun."
(Source: http://www.koreafocus.or.kr/design2/lay ... 01873)&