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Michael Chen completes sweep of 2023 ProQual to clinch U.S. pro status

Chris Garlock | Published on 8/11/2023

It took Michael Chen just 120 moves on Friday to clinch his status as the newest North American professional, sweeping Eric Lee 2-0 in the final of the North American Go Federation Professional Qualifications.

“I played much better than I expected,” he told the E-Journal, “coming into the tournament, my online practice games had not gone very well, so I was not too sure about my competitive state, but it turned out to be pretty good.” Indeed, only one of his nine games went to a count, and in that one he was nearly 20 points ahead. “My plan was to play more of an influence game this week, because I have such a territorial style, and I definitely wanted to have a more balanced game and not worry too much about who has more territory in the beginning.”

Chen won the ProQual the first year he was eligible, having just acquired U.S. citizenship earlier this year. He wanted to become a pro, because “I would like to communicate and teach go a lot more than I am right now. I feel like this game is bringing me so much joy and I want to spread this to other players as much as possible.”

His advice to amateur players who want to improve is to “maximize the time that you have to spend on the game, pay attention to the efficiency of your moves, and if a problem is too hard, just move on and do what's enjoyable to you.”

NAGF Executive Director Hajin Lee congratulated Chen on achieving pro status, and thanked all the players who competed over the last week, saying “Just by being here, you are all winners.” Click here to watch our post-match interview with Michael Chen, Eric Lee and Hajin Lee. ProQual results, standings and game records are posted here.

- report/photos by Chris Garlock; bottom right photo (l-r): Hajin Lee, Michael Chen, TD Mike Bull

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