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Playing Baduk even in a bunker - An interview with the representative player of Ukraine

Lee, Semi / 2022-10-19

*Bogatskyy Dmytro (6D), the representative player of Ukraine was a very kind and cheerful person. Despite the long-lasting war, he was surprisingly positive and even showed some composure.

Ukraine is a country that truly loves Baduk (GO) although although it has not a big Baduk population. In the midst of the fear and chaos occured by the war, we hope Baduk could be a small comfort for the people.
On the September 26th, we met Bogatskyy Dmytro (6D) when he finished the second round with a calm face.

- Before anything else, I appreciate you for accepting the interview. Could I have your Baduk story and level?
=> It has been over 30 years as I played it first in 1989. I learned it at the age of 9, and studied at the Japan Baduk Association (Nihon Ki-In) for one year in 1994. Presently, I am 6D recognized by the European GO Federation (EGF), and might be top 30~40 in Europe. I have also served as a board member of the Ukrainian GO Association.

- It is amazing that you studied it abroad at a young age. Could you tell me who accompanied you and how was your teacher like? It is also curious how you handled the accommodation issue.
=> My teacher was Chizu Kobayashi (5P), and lived in the Nihon Ki-In dormitory. I went to Japan with one of my peers and three young people.

- How was the studying in Japan?

=> It was very nice that there was a lot of improvement for my Baduk level. My level was 3 or 4D before, but it could be 5 or 6D when I came back.

- Now I could understand why Mr. Jung-sun Kim, who played against you today, said 'Mr. Dmytro is really stronger than I expected. I was impressed.'
=> During the match with Mr. Kim, the early phase was fine, but I could have never taken any chance to win after a mistake. (laughs)

- Do you study Baduk through AI?
=> Sure, I reviewed the match through the AI, KataGo. But I don't follow its way straightly when I play the match. I always try to take the best moves which fit my level as much as possible I can.

- Ukraine has been going through a war. Do you mind if I ask the situation?
=> Never. Kyiv, the Ukrainian Cpital, has had a very difficult time for two months since attacked in February, but has managed to withstand it.

- Did playing Baduk help you find the hope in the worst situation?
=> Well, actually I could not play it at that time. (laughs) However, it could be a help in general because it enables me to predict extent how the war situation would flow somewhat. I was sure it is possible to reverse the course of the war because no Ukrainian was willing to surrender but keep fighting for the country. It could be said that the usual game of Baduk helped me predict the future somehow, like predicting the move of the opponent when I play it.
Also, I could be some open-minded by playing Baduk. In the meantime, I have visited many countries to participate in Baduk competitions, and thanks to the experience, there is no fear to move to other places for me.

- How is the Ukrainian Baduk commnunity now?
=> Many Baduk players left the country for escape, but last month, a Baduk competition was held in Odessa (the largest city in southern Ukraine) for the first time since the war began. It was somewhat safe at the time of the beginning of the competition, but there was a potential risk of being attacked at any time. The number of participants were only 7-8, and they gathered in a bunker-like place and played the match. (laughs)

- Playing in a bunker! Were there any air strikes during the timeframe?
=> I am not sure if there were, but might keep playing it although there were the strikes. The place was chosen for its safety.
*He began the review as soon as the match was over.

- What is the best thing about Baduk?
=> The best thing is to connect people. Another one is that Baduk is always new and there is no end to learning. (laughs) And as long as you play Baduk, you could erase everything except Baduk from your head.

- Even could a war be erased?
=> That's right. If anything is in your head, you could never play Baduk well. You could drive away all distractions for at least an hour or two, I hope. (laughs)

- Lastly, what is your wish?
=> Ofcoursly, it is the end of the war and have the peace as fast as possible. However, there is one precondition. Hopefully the war should end after Ukraine takes back all of its taken territory. I am sure most of Ukrainians including me would hope so. No one could stand still when your room is taken by someone.

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