Newest NAGF Pro, Bill Lin 1P’s secret to Go success: “Play one game at a time.”

*Original article:

Bill Lin thought he had “a good chance” to make the semifinals at the 2024 NAGF ProQual tournament. Friday he finished a 9-1 run – including a 2-0 sweep of Sen Zhan in the finals — to win the event and collect his professional Go certificate. “I think I had a better mindset than I did ten years ago at the second pro qualifier,” Lin told the EJ. Back then, he was just 17 years old. “I wanted it more,” Lin said, “But I was a bit stressed as well, like overstressed. This time, I had a better, calmer mindset. I was just like, you know, play one game at a time.”

A decade of lived experience helps, says Lin, who took a few years off from the game entirely during the pandemic, devoting himself to his work as a financial trader. Even then, though, he says Go played a role in his life. “Because trading is a probability game, and you have to know your win rate, your success rate and risk-reward ratio.” Another factor is personal. “I just got engaged this year, so I think I’m at a pretty stable  stage of my life, so that helps me a lot as well.”

To prepare for the ProQual, Lin trained for a couple months with AI tools, and what he focused on will come as no surprise to anyone who watched his games this week. “I realized that the (key) for me to improve my game was actually the middle to endgame, how to come back and how to maintain my lead. Because when you get to that stage of the game, there are a lot of places that are not fully settled down yet, and that’s when there are a lot of choices. AI helped me improve on calculating how many points this move is worth and judging how the game is going; am I leading or am I losing? And then I’ll play based off of that information (looking for) the highest win rate.”

Even though he’d just completed a grueling week of top-level competition, North America’s newest professional Go player looked invigorated on Friday afternoon. “I’ll try to attend as many tournaments as I can, and, you know, hopefully not do the first round exit,” he laughed. “I will try to contribute as well to promoting the game and improving the overall player level and expanding the player base. I think I think that’s probably the most important thing that I need to do as a pro is to expand the influence of the game.”

Interview/photos/photo collage by Chris Garlock
Photo: Bill Lin