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Servers | KGS | An interview with Shawn Lee ('Shawn5475' 9d on KGS)


2011-08-07 Expert: DanielTom Rate: (5)  11 ratings

An interview with Shawn Lee ('Shawn5475' 9d on KGS)

Shawn is currently one of the best players on KGS. We are very happy to have had the opportunity to get to know him better; besides being an exceptionally strong Go player, he has a very nice and warm personality.

Enjoy the interview!



Q: When did you first start playing Go?

A: My dad took me to a basic Go class when I was 6 years old (I was a little bit mischievous back then, I think that my father wanted to make me quiet, haha).


Q: How popular is Go among kids in Korea?

A: It's actually quite popular among children, especially beginners.


Q: When did you decide that you wanted to become a professional Go player?

A: I was in 4th grade. I may say that I was "crazy" at that time. In fact, I was really into Go.


Q: Which class did you attend in your yeongusaeng [Korean insei] time?

A: The 10thclass (which is the first, when people enter). I was not really good in Korea :(.


Q: Please tell us how your daily routine as a yeongusaeng was: how many hours a day did you spend studying Go? And was it stressful for you having to deal with the competition?

A: Oh, yes! In general, the daily routine of all Go students, who study to become professional, consists of at least 7 hours of study; and that includes all kinds of methods: playing games with other players, doing problems, analyzing pro games, etc. As for myself, based on my experience, I dealt with my life in the Go academy as my normal life. The competition didn't cause me any stress.


Q: What was more important in your yeongusaeng training, working on Go problems (tsumego) or playing with the other inseis?

A: Both are great methods to improve Go skills. But I would suggest playing with other players.


Q: What were your biggest achievements in Korea? Did you beat any famous player while you were an insei?

A: No, but I beat several pro players.


Q: Which country do you think is currently at the top of the Go world?

A: Korea (still).


Q: In your opinion, why has Japan lost its supremacy to other Asian countries in the last few decades?

A: Several years ago I read an interview with some pro players in a magazine, and they said that the reason why Japan lost its supremacy is that the Japanese are stuck to old traditions. In other words, they are not following the trends of the new era... I completely agree with that statement.


Q: What made you quit trying to become professional?

A: I was 17, and my level at that time was not high enough to be a professional; the yeongusang competition is rather hard for older teenagers, so many of them quit when they feel that they are stuck or lost interest in Go... And I was one of them.


Q: It is very hard to become professional in Korea because the competition there is so tough. What do you think of the possibility of Korean amateurs trying to pass the pro exam in Japan?

A: I would say that the pro-exam in Japan is easier than the exam in Korea. So it's possible.


Q: You moved to the USA recently and are now starting your university studies there. How are you adjusting to the American culture?

A: Actually, I moved to the Philippines for basic study (10 months), and I've been living in the USA for 3 years now. I'm kind of a well-adjusted person :D.


Q: You play on KGS as 'Shawn5475' and 'Shawn' (both accounts are 9d). Can you tell us what your accounts on other Go servers are?

A: Sorry, no.


Q: Please compare KGS to other online Go servers. What are its strong and weak points?

A: KGS has several strong points which other Go servers don't have.

First, it has a nice atmosphere which allows players to share their opinions. And it also has a strong teacher-student relationship.

Its weak point is the big difference of level [strength] when compared with other Go servers, such as Cyberoro or Tygem.


Q: Who was your toughest opponent there so far?

A: 'InsaneGo' [9d on KGS].


Q: Who do you think is the strongest player on KGS?

A: I cannot choose who is the strongest player :D.


Q: 'Shawn5475' is a teaching account. Will you be accepting students?

A: I would love to accept students. I am looking for the perfect time.


Q: Please give us some details on your online teaching.

A: I will focus on Opening [Fuseki] because the Opening is really important for all Go players. I think that I might be little bit scary, haha :D.

I will make my students improve faster, and make them think that they chose the right teacher.


Q: Are you planning to participate in Go tournaments in the United States?

A: Yes, I am! I will join tournaments as soon as I adapt to my school life.


Q: What advice would you give to those who wish to improve at Go? Please share your secrets on how to become stronger!

A: As I mentioned earlier, Opening is important. And for dan-players, problems [tsumego] are good from them, because problems make their reading improve.


Q: Do you have any other hobbies or interests besides Go?

A: I play soccer and I also like to play Sudden Attack (which is a popular shooting game in Korea). Besides computer games, I like to watch movies, read books and hang out with Friends. I like to meet people  ^^.


A few trivia questions:

Q: If you could play a game with any professional Go player (that has ever lived) at your choice, who would that player be?

A: Lee Changho.


Q: Did you watch 'Hikaru no Go'?

A: I didn't watch the entire anime, but I read all the books [manga] :D.


Q: What do you prefer in the opening, territory or thickness?

A: Territory.


Q: Do you have a rival?

A: Yes, he is 'InsaneGo'. He is my friend, and he is stronger than me.


Q: This is a standard question: if you could play God, how many handicap stones do you think you would need?

A: I wouldn't take any handicap because I want to know how big the difference of strength between me and God is, haha.


5d ( DE ) 2011-08-11 03:08
The 10th group is normally already stronger than European 6ds and maybe AGA 8d. The stone difference between between 10th and 1st is about 1-1.5 stones. btw 9p isnt neccesarily the strongest rank. in some cases such es Lee Sedol its for sure but in some cases its "just" showing experience since you get also honorary promotions when you get older. In Korea there are many fresh 1p who can beat 9ps. I wouldnt say there is any difference in handicap, just more experience in handling games in professional tournaments.
2011-08-10 11:08
Sorry about that. I had two windows open. Meant to post that in the one about betting gods.
2011-08-10 11:08
I saw a guy with 80,000,000,000 a while back. His did say God Zeus.

I can't remember what the screen name was, sorry.
2k ( US ) 2011-08-07 10:08
James, the Korean insei classes aren't separated much by strength. Since the competition is so fierce, it's not hard to believe that someone in the lowest class could be 9d KGS, considering top class (1, 2, 3) insei are already strong enough to be 9 dan professionals in even games.

He also mentions that he beat a few professionals.

Nice interview. I'd like to read more interviews (perhaps with the newly crowned European Champion Ilya?)
( SE ) 2011-08-07 05:08
Very nice interview :)
2011-08-07 04:08
wait..so correct me if I'm wrong

isn't 10th class the worst one?
so the worst class of insei in korea has KGS 9d strength? that is scary..
2011-08-07 12:08
Thx for the interview.
What was the best insei group he reached while staying in Korea?

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