European Go Congress 2012, Bonn, part 1

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.

This is castle Godesburg, the most significant landmark in the immediate vicinity of the congress venue. On one of the break days, we climbed up to the tower shown in the photo, enjoyed the good view and played a few games of go.

Continue reading “European Go Congress 2012, Bonn, part 1”

Bergen Open, 30 June — 1 July

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:

Bergen has some spectacular sights to see. An example here is the Rozenkranztårnet in the downtown.
This is what you could call a standard view from Bergen's city centre. I'm somewhat jealous that Bergen has the same number of inhabitants as Helsinki (around 500 000), yet Bergen has a lot of architecture like this, while Helsinki's is universally much more boring.

Continue reading “Bergen Open, 30 June — 1 July”

Changes underway: new camera

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:

Phone camera photo, highest quality but reduced size
Compact camera, highest quality but reduced size

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.

Last weeks in Japan, part 5: returning to Finland

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!

Continue reading “Last weeks in Japan, part 5: returning to Finland”

Last weeks in Japan, part 4: tv game with Fujisawa Rina

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.

[sgfPrepared id=”0″]

Last weeks in Japan, part 3: short diary entries

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 4×4 go board in a very children-friendly setting. For now at least, the program doesn’t have an English version. Continue reading “Last weeks in Japan, part 3: short diary entries”

Nihon Ki-in awards ceremony and Mimura-sensei’s present

As I tweeted earlier, last Tuesday I went to see Nihon Ki-in’s annual awards ceremony. The Japanese year starts on April 1, and so the ceremony is fittingly held towards the very end of the year. The ceremony consisted of speeches by important people, giving the Ōkura Kishichiro prize to a few more aged people, giving prizes for professionals due to highest winning ratio/longest winning streak/most games played/etc., and of course announcing the new professional one dan players (who amounted to six people). Here are the new professionals in a photo:

Continue reading “Nihon Ki-in awards ceremony and Mimura-sensei’s present”

March league final results

Last weekend marked the end of the March insei league, and my second-to-last insei month. My return date is approaching at a frightening pace, especially looking at how fun Japan has lately been for me. The other day, I got to see a strict Takemiya-sensei at the English go class, and the commentary that he gave on my games turned out very valuable indeed. One of the more hilarious comments I got from him was to the extent of “What’s this, you’re playing like a go bot — first you do something really silly, and then you play this strongly!”

The next weekend will be a break from insei training — Japan’s school year starts from April 1, so I imagine around this time of the year the children (and probably most other people as well) have a small break from everything. The same applies to the Ichikawa go dojo, which is having a break from today until next Monday. It’s definitely spring here now; the temperature will be about 15° C on average during the day, and in about one week it’ll be time for the cherry to blossom. Right now it looks approximately like this outside:

The stairs that go down here lead to the metro station of Roppongi Itchōme; it's a five-minute walk to here from the apartment I'm staying at, and an eight-minute ride from here to Ichigaya, where the Nihon Ki-in is.

Last weekend’s result was four wins and two losses for me, summing up to 14 wins and 10 losses for the whole of March. That got me the fifth place in the C league. And actually, since three people get promoted and two insei from B class quit, right now there is a “possibility” that I will get to play in B class next month. Nothing is sure yet, as the insei instructors are likely currently figuring out what to do. If I do get to play in B class next month, it’ll be like getting in from the back door, but I’ll take any opportunity I can to get to play in the A-B class room.

Edit 29 March 13:39: I checked today at the Ki-in, and it turns out I’m not getting to B class — instead of promoting 5 C class insei, they only demoted one B class insei. Too bad, but cannot be helped!

The results table of the last two weeks looked like this:

Vernal Equinox Day and Tengen go salon tournament

Yesterday was the Vernal Equinox Day, meaning the day in spring when the day and night are equally long. That’d mean now we are on the better side again, with the day lasting longer than the night! The Vernal Equinox Day is a national holiday in Japan, meaning that people (generally) have a free day from work, and as such most shops are closed as well. While outside, I spotted an incredible number of families taking a walk together with their children — something that you totally don’t see on a normal working day.

Photo down the street right next to where I'm staying. It's not quite summer yet, but the temperature is already in the range of 10°-15° C during the day!

Continue reading “Vernal Equinox Day and Tengen go salon tournament”

Kisei day trip to Kofu

It’s been four months since my last larger excursion here in Japan. Last time was Innoshima, an island southwest from Osaka; this time Kofu, a smaller city not far away from mount Fuji. I conducted this trip with Tom (from the Nihon Ki-in), who worked out the details of the day trip. We left slightly after noon, went first to the Shinjuku train station, and took a train from there directly to Kofu, which took about 80 minutes. From the Kofu train station we took a taxi to the ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) that was used as the venue for the last Kisei game.

Continue reading “Kisei day trip to Kofu”