My travel plans lined up to allow me to go to the European Go Congress in Oberhof, Germany, this year. Here’s a brief summary of my experiences.
My US rating has been pretty stable at 3 dan for years, and I registered as 3 dan for this tournament. That was probably a mistake; turns out there are many European 1- and 2-dans who could compete as 3 dan in the US.
I ended up with 2 wins and 8 losses in the main tournament, 1 win and 4 losses in the weekend tournament. All my games were interesting, and I’ve learned a lot, but it’s hard not to let your tournament performance affect your mood as well as your play. The first week was also colored by jet lag and almost constant rain, which didn’t help.
Some comparisons to the US Go Congress:
- Main tournament has ten rounds instead of six. That is great, except when you keep losing.
- Two hours per player instead of 90 minutes. I like the longer time limits, but 4-hour games are exhausting; maybe I should have used the sealed move and taken a break for lunch. Also, starting at 10 am instead of 9 am followed by a longer game caused the timing of meals to be weird.
- Weekend tournament (five rounds, one hour time limit) is an added bonus. Also some other side tournaments not seen in the US: Chess & Go, Yose Go, Phantom Rengo.
- Tournament times were not coordinated well with hotel meal schedules: some tournaments started at 5:45 pm, while dinner was not available until 6 pm. The nearby town had a lot of good food options, but scheduling was tricky.
- Fewer pros, fewer lectures, fewer game reviews: The US Go Congress does a better job at organizing pro events.
- Cheaper: I paid about as much for two weeks here as for one week at the US Go Congress.
- More people: This was the biggest European Go Congress ever, with over 900 players.
- You hear many more languages. I could use my German, Swiss German, Norwegian, and a bit of French, but English will carry you through without problem.
The other difference is more personal: at the US Go Congress, I know all the organizers and lots of players, and they know me. Here I’m mostly incognito. I got to know a bunch of players, but it still feels quite different.
Overall a great experience, even though I’m not happy with my results. Next year is in Pisa, Italy; 2019 is in Brussels, Belgium. My advice if you can make it:
- Try to get there a few days early to recover from jet lag.
- Possibly adjust your rank; seems to be at least one rank difference in the low dans.
- Figure out your plan for 4-hour games: bananas, chocolate, energy bars, coffee, whatever it takes to keep your concentration.
Best of luck to everybody now at the US Go Congress!