Nordic championship, finnished

It’s actually been well over a week since the Nordic championship was held, but that doesn’t stop me from writing about it now! As some of the readers likely know, I ended up winning the championship. Results of the tournament can be found for instance here. The Nordic champion, like the Finnish champion, gets to hold the challenge trophy for the following year. The trophy is pictured here!

The three-day tournament was held in Turku, some 200 kilometers west from where I live. I actually had a hard time choosing whether I’d go to the Pandanet Go European Cup finals in Paris or to the Nordic championship. In the end, the uncertain status of the Paris tournament made me choose to go for the Turku one.

On Friday morning, then, I woke up quite early to catch the train to arrive in Turku on time for the first round. I can generally have a hard time waking up, but the newly arrived spring and a really good weather made it quite easy this time around. In Turku, the six-round tournament was split evenly for the three days. On Friday, I played two exciting games against Samuel Ritakallio 3 dan and Pål Sannes 4 dan, ending up winning both games.

On Saturday morning, it was already time for my main game of the tournament, the one against Jeff. Like in the Finnish Team Championship some weeks earlier, I lost this time around too – however, the game this time was significantly better and more exciting than the Team Championship one. Kifu is included below.

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Our fuseki this time was a bit silly, being effectively very close to mirror go. Move 20 was quite a simple mistake: white should first clamp with r5, forcing black s5, followed by white q6 and black s6. There’s a huge one move difference compared to the game! After that, white would continue in the upper left corner.

Move 44 is definitely my style, but at the wrong timing. At that point, it seems more important to build the right side instead, with a move like m13, for example. G6 should be played somewhat later.

With white 54 and onward, the game becomes a series of complicated fights – however, it feels like white has already fallen decisively behind. With white 84 and the resulting ko, I fought to get back in the game, and perhaps succeeded somewhat – at white 104, the situation doesn’t look all too hopeless anymore. White 112, on the other hand, wasn’t good planning. Trying to kill two ponnuki groups at the same time is an interesting concept, but really difficult to practically implement! After black 145, there’s no way white can catch up anymore. I continued to play for a bit longer, trying my best to look for black mistakes, but none big enough occurred. It was an exciting game, nevertheless!

Saturday afternoon’s game was against Vesa Laatikainen 5 dan, another strong opponent. The game started in an interesting fashion with an unusual black corner enclosure, but didn’t really get out of fuseki, due to a miscalculation. Kifu is included below, again!

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Move 5, of course, is the unusual corner enclosure – I can count with one hand’s fingers the amount of times it has been played against me, and I have never played it myself. White has no easy way to challenge the enclosure directly, so in the game I simply disregarded it, and did something else.

At move 29, the game plunges into a close combat. However, with the profit I got on the lower side, I decided to dodge the attack and play simple.

L7 is very much like my style, again! After black 61, the game seems still very open: a lot rests on what white can do on the upper side, and on how many points the white centre thickness is worth. I remember almost playing j17 on move 62, and moving to live there – however, then I decided go get a few extra points by threatening the black centre group, first. Black’s answer of 63 seems like a deciding mistake: white 64 kills the group, and the game is over. Instead of 63, something like s8 would have defended the group succesfully.

By Sunday the tournament’s situation had already gotten very interesting: no player in the top group had all wins – Jeff had lost to Matti Siivola 5 dan already on the second round. After Sunday’s morning game, it turned out that we would get a real deciding last-round match with Jesse Savo 4 dan, us both having four wins out of five. Jeff, not being a Nordic citizen, wasn’t eligible for the championship. The final game turned out to be very exciting, with a big ko and a resulting huge exchange.

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I remember seeing the unconventional lower-side position up to black 11 in a professional game, and thought it’d be interesting to try it out. Up to black 19, there’s nothing really off about the opening. White 20 I don’t agree with though – if it was me, I’d simply pick q14 instead and protect the right side. After that, something like q18 r17 l17 c15 follows. After the game, Jesse discarded this idea of mine, commenting that that wasn’t like his style. Again, at white 22, I’d rather block from the other side, with r16. At white 30, it feels like white has invested too much on the right side. It is likely at around here that black got a decisive lead, one which didn’t change for the rest of the game.

White then moved to live in the upper left, getting two groups to look after for. Both end up living quite easily, but not with many points. Only at white 100 does the real battle start! The ko resulting from the white invasion, beginning at move 123, has effectively two groups’ life riding on it. Black could likely have chosen a safer way to play, but I thought I’d have enough threats in the lower left corner – or enough points, if I do end up killing the lower left due to the ko. By black 141, the white group indeed is dead – and thanks to the lower right black group surviving, the game is practically over, too.

In the end, the Nordic championship was a very pleasing experience, both thanks to the quality of the games, and to the whole tournament organization! Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like I will have time to attend any tournaments in the near future, and in late June I am going to the Experience Go in China trip for three weeks. It would seem that my next tournament, then, is the European Go Congress in Bordeaux!

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