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!
I really enjoyed the Go Congress in Boston this year. Some observations:
- Next year, I will bring a 9.7″ iPad. The 12.9″ iPad Pro just doesn’t fit well between Go boards at the tournament, so I ended up using my iPhone to record games. Luckily, there’s an app for that.
- Brady Daniels makes a good case that you should come to the next Go Congress. And Kevin’s Go Talk about “What did you like most about the Go Congress?” clearly shows that people are a main feature, not just Go. Indeed, it was great to meet many old friends again, and meeting new ones in real life for the first time, in particular David Nolen, John Tromp, and Jonathan Hop.
- I always get a lot of valuable feedback from SmartGo Kifu and Go Books users at the Congress, mostly positive, some feature requests. Here’s a happy SmartGo user from Kyoto: Go instructor Yasuko Imamura.
- There were several interesting talks about AlphaGo (watch the Opening Keynote and AlphaGo Insider). It’s clear that AlphaGo is adding to and not taking away from Go. I’m really looking forward to the commented AlphaGo games the DeepMind team teased several times.
- I just realized that I never made it to the vendor area in the basement. Future Congress organizers: please put the vendors where everybody sees them.
- The 13×13 tournament is usually a fun warm-up for the main tournament, hope it will be back next year.
Looking forward to San Diego in 2017! See you all there.
At the Go Congress, I played and recorded my tournament game in the morning, got it analyzed after lunch, then entered the analysis and comments, and finally tweeted the result. Of course, all this using SmartGo apps on iPad and Mac: a great opportunity to find bugs and identify rough edges. Here are the games:
I’m happy with the final score of four wins and two losses; not always happy with my play, but I learned a lot. Getting the games analyzed by professionals (including SmartGo user Xie He 9 dan) is a valuable benefit of the Go Congress: no matter your strength, they will deconstruct your games and make your mistakes painfully obvious.
The Go Congress was also a great opportunity to meet many SmartGo users, including Ben Hong (@bengozen) and Nate Eagle (@neagle) who I had only known on Twitter before. I got lots of good feedback on how you were using the apps and what issues you run into.
I hope to see many of you at the Cotsen Open (October 25-26) in Los Angeles!
I’m glad I was able to play in the 2014 Paris Go tournament. I expected a large tournament like last time I played there in 1985, but snafus with the tournament site and late announcement meant that only 66 players showed up. Unfortunately, this caused a wide range of strengths in the top band, and all games were played without handicap, so hard to judge how my jet-lagged 3-dan AGA rating compared to the European rankings.
I ended up winning two games and losing four; see the full results of the tournament. As promised in my recent tweets, here are the games, with comments based on going through the games with my opponents plus some remarks kindly offered by Chizu Kobayashi 5p. Most of the comments were written using SmartGo Kifu on the plane back, with some cleanup using SmartGo on the Mac when I got back.
I feel like I learned a lot, and with 90 minutes per player, this was a good warmup for the Go Congress in New York. The main feedback from Chizu Kobayashi 5p (after round 4) was that I had gotten into a habit of playing atari first when I should simply be extending; that really helped me in the last two rounds. But clearly, there’s much more to work on.