Japanese 'Go' association to start women's team league in July

Japan's main organization for the traditional board game of "Go" will start a new league in July for female players who will compete in teams.

The Japanese Go association, Nihon Ki-in, said on Monday that the creation of the Japan women's league is part of efforts to increase the population of Go players, and raise the level of female professional players.

The association has been sponsoring a series of projects to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its founding on July 17 this year.

Five teams, made up of four members each, will compete in the new league that will begin playing in July.

League matches will take place throughout the year, with the final to be held between the top two teams in June of next year.

Each team is able to select up to one professional player who doesn't belong to the Nihon Ki-in. Such a member may come from the Osaka-based Kansai Ki-in, and from Go associations overseas.

The Nihon Ki-in hopes the new league will help enhance the familiarity of the Go board game, and increase the number of fans.

The chairperson of the association, Kobayashi Satoru, says Japanese female players can now compare with their Chinese and South Korean rivals, and could reach the world's top-level if they are well trained.

Kobayashi says team competition requires heavier responsibility for each player compared to individual matches. He believes the league's creation will help with the mental training of players.