June 13, 2017 -- At the recently-finished Lhasa competition of the 2017 China Weiqi (Go) Hometown League, Lhasa City was officially awarded a "National Go Hometown" plaque by the Chinese Go Association.
For Lhasa's Go players，this is not only a symbol of honor, but also recognition.
On one side of the second floor of Lhasa's Weiqi Institute, there is a photo wall recording the development of Go in Lhasa. Chen Ying, executive President of the institute, was very familiar with each photo on the wall. "Here are all the little details of our journey. Developing any kind of sport activity on the plateau isn't easy, and developing a mental game like Weiqi here is also hard. But we have achieved a lot."
In Chen Ying's mind, the first professional Weiqi competition held in Lhasa in 2014 is the starting point where the game flourishes. After the success of this event and with strong support from the Tibetan government, development of Go in Lhasa entered the fast lane. On April 26, 2015, Lhasa Weiqi Institute was officially established, thus giving the plateau its own institute and professional team.
During the Lhasa competition of the Weiqi Hometown League, Wang Runan, Chairman of the China Go Association, was invited to visit the Lhasa Weiqi Institute for the first time. He was impressed with what he saw, saying, "to have this institute in Lhasa is very encouraging. We have seen sound development of Weiqi events in Lhasa over the last few years and it has been rewarded with the honor of Go Hometown. For Weiqi to develop in a place, the game must be very popular with the people. Besides, Lhasa has its own Tibetan Weiqi. In recent years, China's development of Weiqi events has led to further development of the research of Tibetan Go.
Tibetan Weiqi is popular in Tibet, Yunnan, Qinghai, Sichuan and other places. Before playing the game you must first layout 12 pieces, six black and six white. In order to pass on and develop the Tibetan Weiqi, a seminar regarding Chinese Tibetan Weiqi was held in Lhasa in November 2015. Lin Jianchao, Vice Chairman of the China Weiqi Association, said, "The very existence of Tibetan Weiqi itself, including its development is a living proof of cultural exchange between Han and Tibetan people."
Currently, the development of Weiqi in Lhasa is progressing steadily, especially children's Weiqi. Lhasa Weiqi Institute currently has more than 140 students. Daily classes include enlightenment, beginner, intermediate and advanced classes. Every year, qualifying games are also held several times.
Cao Dayuan, honorary president of the Lhasa Weiqi Institute said, "Weiqi in Lhasa is currently like a young sapling, and I hope that through everyone's effort and support thissapling can grow into a small tree. Once we have a big forest, it will indicate that our Chinese Weiqi has moved to a new level."
Weiqi, a two-player strategic chess-like game, is a bit like the Western chess-like game "Go". It is popular in China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and other East Asian countries. Professionals are ranked one to nine, with nine being the highest level.