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.
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:
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.
(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).
Due to the amount of material, I'll be spanning my congress stories over three blog posts.
This year's European Go Congress was held in Bad Godesberg, Bonn, Germany, from 21 July to 4 August. A good 600 players participated, and several hundred more came by as spectators (or in order to participate in some of the side tournaments). Contrary to the earlier years, I concentrated on the main tournament, and participated in only a few side tournaments — a lot of my free time I poured into sightseeing and other more relaxed activities. You could say that this decision paid off, seeing how I placed sixth in the European championship tournament.
In a sense, my experience from this year's congress was the exact opposite from last year's, at least when looking at the congress venue and accommodation: in the EGC in Bordeaux in 2011, accommodation was incredibly cheap and of high quality, but the congress venue was lacking. This year in Bonn, the congress venue was just superb, but we'd booked relatively low-level accommodation from far away from the congress venue — the trip took about one hour, one-way.
Some time has already passed, but I'm now returning to report from the Bergen Open tournament that was held two weeks ago. This was the first tournament that a Norwegian friend of mine, who I first met in China three years ago, organized — and if I may say, certainly not the last! This was more of a smaller club tournament. Me and Juri (Finnish 5 dan, both NGA teachers) got invited to play and teach at the tournament, while the other participants were ranked 2 dan and under. The total number of players came to 19 people. I won the decisive match against Juri, in a sense getting revenge for my previous loss to him at Takapotku, and claimed the first place of the tournament. This time I'll pass on game commentaries, and instead write from the future potential perspective:
Long time no write! I'm planning on getting back to this blog business as quick as possible. Up to now, I've been taking photos for Gooften with the camera on my phone, which is why the picture quality up to now hasn't been too spectacular. I have now procured for myself a compact camera for amateur use, with 14 megapixels. Of course I still have to avoid uploading photos too big, but even then, the difference in quality is quite astounding:
With this hardware update, I hope the readers are looking forward to my photos from future tournaments (eg. congress in Bonn). I, for one, sure am!
Apart from such an update, I'm also considering if I should finally make some changes to the layout to the page, possibly also getting a self-taken banner photo or something. Nothing is certain yet on this part, but I'll keep on thinking about it.
Also, in my mind I'm currently developing an idea of a new essay, about either joseki or suji (I couldn't decide yet). Now that I read back to my own texts, I see I wasn't really able to collect my thoughts (and present them in clear form) in the previous kikashi essay, so sooner or later I may also return to have a second try at that.
This post will be the last edition of the "in Japan"-tagged blog entries. I would like to remind the readers that Go of Ten will go on even after my stay in Japan, as it also existed long before I left for Japan. In the future, you may expect me to write here tournament stories from all over Europe — and I'll likely continue publishing game reviews and essays too. Also know that I'm tentatively planning to return to Japan next year to continue my insei studies — it would seem that I'll be able to continue from C class right upon my arrival, which would save me one to two months' worth of time.
My last weeks in Japan were full of seeing people that I got acquainted with and telling them goodbye. I had really grown to like studying at the Ichikawa go dojo, as I'd found it was the most effective place for me to get some studying in, and both the students and Mimura-sensei are incredibly nice as well. I gave some moomin-themed mugs for Mimura-sensei as a parting gift, and he in turn told that I'm welcome to come back to the dojo anytime I'm in Japan. As the readers may remember, I already got a great gift from Mimura-sensei. I'm soon finished studying the first book of the twelve-book collection I received — and if I'm following what the novel First kyu teaches, I've got to study through the books nine more times. With my current pace, that's going to take almost twenty years!
At the time of writing this blog post, I have actually already returned to Finland, but I'll be writing the "returning to Finland" blog post a bit later.
In Last weeks in Japan, part 3, I'd forgotten May 3, Thursday, which was a day when Kobayashi-sensei had asked me to participate in her children's go class as a guest. It was then that the famous tv face, Anti Torumanen (indeed, almost all of the kids had seen me on television), came to play some simultaneous games with the more promising children. I played three sets of two-game simultaneous matches, handicaps included (ranging from two to five stones), and ended up winning all the games too. Apparently some of the children came for the class from somewhere pretty far away (like, a 1-2 hour trip), which was fairly surprising, considering that the class itself only lasted for about two hours.
Last Monday, on May 7, I played in a tv broadcast game against Fujisawa Rina, professional 1 dan. Before the match, which started at 6 PM, I first went to visit a zen buddhist temple in Ueno with Kobayashi-sensei. We were shown around the temple a bit, and I was taught the very basics of zazen (sitting meditation). By the end of the one-hour visit, the monk who was showing us around was asking if I wouldn't become his disciple. As monk life in Japan nowadays can be fairly modern, and not too ascetic, I might even consider such a proposal if I ended up going to Japan again (and if I could be insei at the same time). It seemed fitting that first there'd be some meditation, and then a tv match against a pro soon after that.
Since this was already the second time I was to be featured in a tv program in Japan, I wasn't really nervous at all. It was interesting to see some details about how those go commentary programs that you see on tv in Asia are made. The commentator for my game was Sakai Maki 8 dan, also one of the insei instructors. There were two short interviews included during the recording as well — when I could, I answered in Japanese, but at times I had to have Tom from the Nihon Ki-in to translate for me.
As for the game, I did my best to go with a flexible, but influence-oriented game plan. I had two handicap stones, but as winning or losing wasn't of especially big importance in the match, I didn't go out to maximize my winning chance, but instead kept on searching for the strongest move. As a result, black had the lead for a long time, but eventually pushed a bit too hard, and white turned the game around. It should be interesting for the readers to see Fujisawa's present-day game (especially after her win against Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan recently), so the kifu is of course included below. Commentary for the game is courtesy of the English class professionals.
There have been plenty of semi-productive days during the last few weeks; this blog post will describe them, but not in too much detail.
April 20, Friday: I and Ginny, from the English class, were invited to follow the Kisei tournament prize-giving ceremony that was held in a hotel at Yotsuya, not too far from the Nihon Ki-in. There were plenty of prestigious people present, and lots of good food was had as well. Chō U won the title for the third time in a row. While receiving the prize, he made a speech (most of which I didn't understand), and in addition advertised his new iPhone application, Yonro no go, which has go problems on a 4x4 go board in a very children-friendly setting. For now at least, the program doesn't have an English version.