Post-Golden week, Globis cup

Insei training resumes tomorrow after a one-week break. The Golden week concluded last Tuesday, but my week continued in an event-rich manner afterwards, as well.

On Wednesday I went to play tennis with Shutō 7 dan, Tajiri 4 dan and a few other friends; it was the second time I played tennis in my life, so the quality of the game wasn’t exceedingly high (at least on my part; Shutō and Tajiri were in fact both quite adept). Then on Thursday, me and Leon went ice skating together with Mitani 7 dan and a few of his friends. It was only the day after that we realized that one of the friends, an incredibly friendly and easy-going Taiwanese person, was in fact Rin Kanketsu 7 dan; he had introduced himself as “Kankan”, and my brain didn’t work fast enough to make the connection on the spot. While I wasn’t good at tennis, I was still able to skate surprisingly well—maybe all those hours of gym in secondary school some ten years ago didn’t go to waste!

The first Globis cup, meant for players under 20 years old is taking place in Tokyo this weekend. On Thursday evening, me and Leon got to attend the tournament’s welcoming party, which in traditional Japanese way meant speeches and good food.

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The players (and sponsors) of the tournament; how many can you recognize?

At the time of writing, two rounds have been played in the double knock-out tournament. Unfortunately, the European representative, Lukas Podpera 6 dan is already out with two losses, as is the favourite of the audience, Joanne Missingham 6 dan professional.

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Joanne Missingham 6p and Ichiriki Ryo 7p face off in the first round
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Top professionals, including Yamashiro Hiroshi 9p, Yūki Satoshi 9p and Takemiya Masaki 9p in the front, analysing the games as they are played

This weekend’s insei games are played on the sixth floor (meaning the tatami rooms, instead of the usual rooms on the seventh floor). While my legs aren’t very much looking forward to the ordeal, otherwise I find the tatami rooms and legged boards to provide for a better feeling for the games than regular table boards. Then from next Monday on, I’ll start occasionally visiting the Ichikawa go dojo.

End of April, Golden week, Kamakura

April’s insei games got finished last weekend. My final score was 16 wins to 8 losses (last weekend was five wins and one loss), which just barely wasn’t enough to get promoted to the B class: one of my two competitors losing their last game would have sufficed. As such, I will now start at seat #4 in the C class next month. Meanwhile, Leon was able to keep his place in the D class with about 50% winning ratio. Below is the almost-final results sheet from the C class. Edit 4.5.2014: Apparently showing the results is not allowed, and the sheet is now removed. Right now Japan is celebrating Golden week, a series of national holidays that provides the longest continuous yearly holiday aside from the summer holiday. Consequently we don’t have insei training this week, and many Japanese people take time off to go on holiday trips and sightseeing. Yesterday on Saturday, then, me, Tom from the Nihon Ki-in, Leon and Leon’s German friend Nico went on a day trip to Kamakura, roughly an hour’s train ride away from Tokyo. The day was almost ideal for such a trip, aside for the fact that a huge number of Japanese people had come up with the same idea.

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At the Kenchōji temple in Kamakura: Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru played one of their jūbango games in the house barely visible in the photo
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Sweet potato flavoured gelato: a local speciality, apparently. While it certainly tastes weird, it’s surprisingly edible!
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The main focus of the sightseeing trip, the 13-meter-tall world’s second-largest Buddha statue

Other activities of the week included participating in several go meetings organized by my teacher, Kobayashi Chizu-sensei, and participating in a go study meeting at Mitani-sensei’s place, which among others included playing rengo with Leon, Ōba Junya and Matsumoto Takehisa. Finally, below are two of my last weekend’s insei games with professional commentaries.

 

Download SGF

 

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38th Kisei prize-giving ceremony

On last week’s Friday, me and Leon got to attend the 38th Kisei prize-giving ceremony, which was held at the Tokyo Imperial Hotel in Ginza. As seems customary for these events, the organizers weren’t stingy about money when it came to the venue or the catering.

The winner of the 38th Kisei tournament was no other than Iyama Yūta, who successfully defended his title (of which he currently holds six of the seven available). Me and Leon were lucky to have gotten the chance to take a photo with him, as below:

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…One might indeed get the idea that the people in the photo were football players getting ready for a free kick by the opposing team, as somebody remarked on Facebook.

I’d prepared for the ceremony by avoiding eating too much earlier in the day, because by my experience I knew that there’d be plenty of good food available. To my dismay, this time, I hardly had any chance to eat at all, as for some reason the ceremony hall was full of old acquaintances with whom to speak, including for example Takemiya-sensei, two insei girls who used to go to Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan’s dojo at the same time as I did, and Igo-shougi channel’s reporter, who of course had to ask me for a quick interview on what I think of Iyama.

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…Like so.

Saturday’s insei games continued in usual fashion with a 2-1 result, but on Sunday I suddenly got sick of what seems to be a common cold. I considered not going to the training because I was sure I wouldn’t be able to play normally, but decided to go anyway knowing that scoring even one win might be big, and that I might as well rest on the following week. As such, I did score one win on Sunday, and have now gotten rest for four straight days. Because the quality of my games from last weekend wasn’t very commendable, and because I passed up on getting the English class pros’ comments on them, I don’t have any games to post today.

In exchange, to make it easier for the blog readers to speculate about April’s results, here is the results sheet after last Saturday’s games:

results-april

 

Second week and revisiting Mount Takao

A lot has happened in the past week. Firstly, last weekend I got another 4-2 score, putting me in total at 8-4 in C class. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the results sheet, so I right now it is impossible to speculate on my odds of getting promoted to B class next month. Then, among other things, on Tuesday we had the English class as usual, and yesterday, on Wednesday, me, Leon, Mitani and Kuma paid a visit to Mt. Takao.

The trip to Mt. Takao was orchestrated due to its being a relatively must-see point of interest (at least if one is visiting Tokyo for a longer period of time), and due to Leon’s plan to return to Germany in late June. The mountain is easily reachable from Tokyo and offers a fairly spectacular view from its top (at about 600 meters’ height from the sea level). Unfortunately the air wasn’t at its cleanest on our chosen day, and we were unable to see all the way to Mt. Fuji. Some 2.5 million people visit the mountain yearly, which makes it one of the most popular mountains for tourists in the world.

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Our intrepid explorers at the root of the mountain. From left: Leon Stauder, Mitani Tetsuya and Yū Hō.
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Our intrepid explorers ascending the mountain
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Mt. Takao is said to be inhabited by tengu, a kind of bird-man-folk from Japanese folklore. The statue in the photo depicts a tengu, though often you’ll see a slightly different depiction with a red face and a long nose (instead of a beak).

After the trip to Mt. Takao, Mitani invited us to his place, where we spent the rest of the evening, among others by eating nabe (a Japanese hot pot dish) and playing go. I played on black without komi and lost by three points after a fairly good game.

As for my insei games, I wouldn’t say I’m quite back to my original good playing shape yet, or at least many of my game plans are shaky at best. Included below are two of my more interesting games from last weekend, along with remarks by English class professionals.

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Tomorrow will be an interesting day, as in the evening we’ll get to attend the Kisei prize-giving ceremony together with Leon and Tom (of the Nihon Ki-in staff). I got to attend a similar ceremony two years ago, when Chō U won the title.

First return insei post

One week has now passed since my return to Japan. So far, among other things, I have:

  • gotten settled down in my own small apartment,
  • met up with Leon Stauder, currently a D class insei from Germany,
  • met up with familiar English class teachers,
  • bumped (not physically) into Chō U at the Nihon Ki-in lobby and gotten a nod, and
  • finished my first insei weekend with a 4-2 score.

To my luck, I arrived in Tokyo just in time for the flower-viewing period, of which I can share the below photo.

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Gothenburg Open 2013

Similar to last year, I visited Gothenburg this autumn, too, in order to participate in (and teach at) their annual tournament. Gothenburg Open ranks very high in my list of enjoyable tournaments thanks to its friendly atmosphere and enthusiastic organizers. This year I was accompanied by Jeff, the both of us having gotten an invitation to hold a few lectures during the tournament (last year I was teaching with Benjamin Teuber 6 dan). Jeff didn’t play in the tournament, however, and as Fredrik Blomback 6 dan didn’t turn in either (rumours had said otherwise), my main contestant for the win was the Chinese Yaqi Fu, also 6 dan. We met in the tournament on the third round and played a relatively peaceful game, which I won in the end. The review of the game, with thoughts from both me and Jeff, is included below.

Slottsberggymnasiet, the tournament venue
Slottsberggymnasiet, the tournament venue

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11th World Student Go Oza

This week I participated in the 11th World Student Go Oza Championship, held annually in Tokyo, Japan. I’d won the right to represent Europe in an internet qualifier tournament last December, effectively using up a day playing go when I should have been finishing my bachelor’s degree presentation.

The whole business about the tournament became a sum of good tradeoffs: by participating in the qualifier, I (again) got a free trip to Japan, and while I caught a flu last Thursday and still wasn’t completely healthy by the time I was supposed to fly to Tokyo last Sunday, it paid off by me finally ending up on the third place! According to the organizers, that’s the best result for a European representative so far.

With this, my trophy shelf again increases in size.

The results of the tournament can be found on Nikkei’s web page, together with all of the game records. I imagine the readers will be interested in at least my games with the Korean and Taiwanese representatives. About these, I’m planning to include commented sgf files on this blog later.

World Amateur Pair Go Championship, 3—4 November, and return visit to Japan

Last Sunday I returned from my first visit to Japan, after my period as insei earlier this year. We’d qualified with my girlfriend to be the Finnish representatives for the World Amateur Pair Go Championship, held in Tokyo, and while we were at it, we stayed in Tokyo for a little bit of extra time afterwards. I’m not sure if it’s odd or not, but this time around, visiting Tokyo felt almost like returning home.

The pair go championship was held in Hotel Metropolitan Edmont Tokyo, a higher-class hotel. I’d in fact “gatecrashed” the championship tournament already one year ago (it was held at the same venue), back when I was insei, so how the tournament operated was already quite familiar to me. 32 pairs took part this year. The tournament organizers had asked for all the pairs to bring with them a national costume to be clad in during the friendship match on Saturday 3rd November, which made for quite a show:

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Gothenburg Open, 27—28 October

Long time no write! Last weekend, on Friday to be exact, I flew to Gothenburg to participate in the annual Gothenburg Open go tournament. I’d received a deal from the tournament organizers, basically getting my accommodation and flight expenses covered, in exchange for teaching players during the tournament. Benjamin Teuber 6 dan of Germany had gotten a similar offer. This year’s edition of the tournament ended up being the biggest one held up to date, with 68 participants.

I arrived in Sweden at Friday noon. One of the main tournament organizers, Robin, courteously picked me up from the Landvetter airport and drove me to the tournament venue along with Benjamin. The Swedes had rented a flat (probably) owned by a local chess club, and so the venue was very well suited for a go tournament as well.

Since it was my first time in the city, and I couldn’t be of much help with the tournament organization which was at the time under way, I ended up strolling around the city a bit. There were some nice sights around, but I ended up wondering why they have so many stairs in the city. It wasn’t only once, or even just a few times, that I had to walk up a long flight of stairs, only to find myself walking down another one the next instant.

Gothenburg, the city of stairs

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European Go Congress 2012, Bonn, part 2

(Continuing from part 1)

Definitely one of the best things at the congress this year for me was the chance to meet again many of the people who I’d grown fond of while I was an insei in Japan. This included English class professionals, and just like in Japan, I continued to get my games reviewed by them. We did use the opportunity to go touring together a bit, too, and had a few restaurant evenings together as well. I did my best to introduce the professionals to Nikola Mitic of Serbia, who is becoming an insei this October (and who’ll likely be the next person who’ll get his games commented by them).

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