Go champion Chou returns to Taiwan

The China Post staff and CNA

Chou Chun-hsun, the new world go champion, returned to Taiwan last night and thanked his mother for her support. “It’s been pretty rough on her,” Chou said. “Thank you mom.” Chou, 27, emerged victorious from the final match of the 11th LG Cup Go Championship in Seoul Thursday, becoming the first-ever go player representing Taiwan to win the world championship.

When asked what he wanted to do most now that he has returned to Taiwan, the young man with a scarlet birthmark on his face said: “I just want to have a good sleep.” Chou appeared a little taken aback in front of the many television cameras. “I didn’t expect to see so many press people,” he said. Chou received a trophy for winning the go world championship and 250 million Korean won (NT$8.83 million) in prize money in an award presentation ceremony held in the South Korean capital Friday.

Chou said during the presentation ceremony that he plans to use part of his prize money to organize an amateur go tournament in Taipei to help upgrade the country’s level in this intellectually challenging board game.

Chou defeated his Chinese opponent Hu Yaoyu 2-1 in a best of-three final to claim the LG Cup title and a place in Taiwan’s go history.

Unlike other talented Taiwanese go players who have moved abroad to play tougher competition in Japan, Chou has stayed in Taiwan and represented his country in major international competitions. Education minister Tu Cheng-sheng, meanwhile, said yesterday he will commend Chou in recognition of his career achievements and persevering spirit.

Tu said Chou deserves public commendation not just for his professional brilliance but also for his patience and mental fortitude shown in his quest for career success.

In his elementary school years, Chou had to endure his classmates’ mockery because of the birthmark that covers half of his face. Chou has learned to find comfort in playing go and to ignore comments about his “facial defect” while cultivating a habitual concentration and precocious calm, which have become his valuable personal assets in the highly competitive game of go.

Chou’s life story has been written into an elementary school textbook. Tu said he looks forward to seeing more similar stories based on contemporary Taiwan citizens striving to reach the pinnacle in their chosen fields compiled into primary and junior high school textbooks.

Noting that Chou had suffered many setbacks and encountered many difficulties during his school years due to his pursuit of a go career, Tu said the education ministry needs to overhaul and expand the existing special education system to benefit more young people with special gifts or talents.

According to Tu, the country’s current special education can be divided into two categories — courses for gifted elementary school or junior high school students, and programs for the mentally or physically challenged.

On the education programs for gifted children, Tu said the government has done more in helping those with musical and athletic talent go abroad for advanced training. In contrast, he conceded that the ministry has not done enough to help those with special gifts in painting and playing go, better known as “wei-chi” in Taiwan.

Tu said he has instructed the MOE’s special education planning task force to design special elementary and junior high school curriculums catering to the needs of those with special talents in various fields.