Youngest ever commentary

Here is a special treat to mark our 50th instalment.

Liao Xingwen is rather special to the GoGoD team. We met him when he was five in Guilin, and were instrumental in bringing him to London for the 2000 MSO Olympiad where he was a gold medallist.

We have followed his career since. One major highlight was winning the under-12 section of the 22nd World Youth Goe Championship in Barcelona in August 2005.
Liao Xingwen
Liao Xingwen:
5 years old and
already 2-dan!
But he capped that in July 2006 by winning qualification as a Chinese pro at the age of just 12½ (he was born in February 1994).

We asked his former "go mother" Liu Yajie 2-dan to put some more questions to him for us. Xingwen gave some surprising answers, but also delighted us by sending us a large batch of his own recent games. One includes his own commentary. Not only is it remarkably mature, it seems to us to show an approach rather different from the commentaries amateurs would give.

But most important, this makes Xingwen - we think - the youngest ever pro to have a published commentary.

The full commentary is given on the next page, but first a few of the answers and comments from Yajie that caught our eye. Recall that Yajie's husband, Wang Hongjun 7-dan, was Xingwen's first teacher, but they had to send him to Beijing once it became apparent there were not enough strong players in Guilin to ensure his further progress. That was a major upheaval for Xingwen, as when he lived in Guilin he was only a 100 miles or so from his family. Beijing was light years away, although he had visited it before. We recall him standing on the hill at Alexandra Palace surveying the vastness of London. His comment was that Beijing is bigger. Ever competitive!

The occasion of the interview with Yajie was a return visit home with his businessman father to see his mother. Father decided also on a visit to his former teacher's home. They had cause for celebration because Xingwen had just won his age group in the Promotion Tournament. Apart from becoming a pro this gave him the chance to get elite training in the national youth team through doing well in the qualifying tournament that follows just after.

Liu Yajie
Liu Yajie
Yajie said, "We told his father that we appreciated their good intent, but it was not necessary to come this far to visit us. We would be happy if Xingwen could stay with his mother and his family for as long as possible. We knew that usually he could only go back home once a year. But his father insisted.

"When they came to our home, I was very surprised to see that Xingwen had brought a laptop with him. His father told us that Xingwen had won 7000 RMB in a tournament, They spent it on this laptop because downloading the latest games to review is one of the most important means of study for Xingwen. Before they bought this laptop, they had to ask other people to print their downloaded games for Xingwen. It's hard to ask for help every day.

"Now with this laptop, Xingwen can put all his games in it and download all the new games to study. I wondered why, since he had all his games in the computer, he didn't send them to me by email. He said he didn't know how. He is only allowed to edit his own games and download games from the internet. Apart from go, no other internet games, or chatting or surfing, are allowed.

"When I asked him what is the most important thing that he learned that enabled him to become a pro, He hesitated and answered that it was hard to say, but then said if his father hadn't gone to Beijing with him, and stayed with him for all those years, he definitely couldn't achieve what he did. Without his father's supervision, he would be much less diligent - the foundation of a player matters a lot.

"He said he usually studies about 9 hours a day -studying top players' games and playing with other students, trying to find some strong players to review his games, doing life and death problems - the as same as others do.

"Xingwen is getting taller and stronger. During lunch, he helped me to look after my twin daughters, so that I could be free for a while to eat my own lunch. I can see he is growing up into a nice guy!"

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