First Victory for Umezawa-Sakai Pair
The Fifth International Amateur-Pair Go Championship was held on 26-27 November, 1994 at the Hotel Edmont in the Iidabashi district of Tokyo. A Japanese pair consisting of Sakai Yukihide and Umezawa Yukari prevailed over the powers of the world to win their first championship. The tournament has been won by Japanese pairs four times, including the last three straight years. Second place went to a Korean pair consisting of Park Sungsoo and Lee Jungwon, and third place to a Japanese pair consisting of Kanno Masaaki and Tsukuda Yuko.
32 pairs competing from 16 countries
The pair-go population has been increasing annually. Parallel with the championship, which is open to pairs who qualify in local preliminary rounds, there is a four-round Swiss System handicap tournament that is open to everyone, and applications for it have been doubling every year.
This year 174 pairs, 384 players, were able participate in the handicap tournament, and many more had to be turned down for lack of space. The championship was fought among 32 teams from 16 countries and territories as listed elsewhere, with new participation from Singapore, Italy, Spain, and the Ukraine.
The pre-tournament favorites included two pairs with strong female members, Yamashita Isao and Sato Akiko, and Sakai Yukihide and Umezawa Yukari. The defending champion pair of Yoshida Akira and Baba Tomoyumi was also favored. So were the Chinese and Korean pairs, of course, but their strength was unknown and would not be revealed until the tournament began.
In pair go, the strength of a pair is not necessarily the sum of the strength of its members. One plus one can equal two, three, or four, or it can equal one or zero. This is what makes pair go interesting.
For proof, the favored Yoshida-Baba pair was already knocked out in the second round. The four semi-finalists included three Japanese pairs and the oncoming Koreans. Around this point comments like "That Korean pair is strong!" began to be heard in the audience, and the Koreans had no trouble beating Kanbayashi Hidemi and Nishida Harumi to reach the final round. The other finalists were the Sakai-Umezawa pair.
A public commentary on the final game was given by the tournament referees, Ishida Yoshio, 9 dan, and Ogawa Tomoko, 5 dan. A digest of their commentary appears elsewhere.
The Umezawa-Sakai pair after overcoming the Lee-Park pair in the final round
Participants included players of all ages