45th European Go Congress, Dublin 2001

Continuing our series of historical articles on Go in Ireland, we present John Gibson’s diary of the of the 2001 European Go Congress, which was held in Dublin. John was the Tournament Director for the congress.

Friday 20th We start setting up at the venue. Some curious go players drop by and some even help. Surprisingly no go is played. We expect a total tournament entry of maybe 320-330.

Saturday 21st From 12.00 we start registration. We are overwhelmed; many unexpected players arrive – now we expect 370+. Every available space, including offices, is made ready for go. The first of 18 tournaments finishes; Tony Atkins (UK) finishes ahead of Michael Marz (DE) in the Jokers Go: Organisers 2, Rest 0! At 19.00 we go to the Mansion House for a reception with the Lord Mayor. He speaks very well. Our sponsors, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, welcome everyone.

Sunday 22nd Round 1 starts late, as new people are still arriving after the official start time. Eventually everyone starts and the panic stops. Fujita is favourite at 9/1. In the evening we have the second of our 12 social events: an evening of Irish traditional music is enjoyed by a packed house. The rapid also starts. The 9×9 is won by Emil Nijhuis (NL), ahead of Jana Rueten-Budde (DE).

Monday 23rd Woken very early by the Chinese Weiqi Assocation: they need their visas within an hour to be able to come. We work miracles and they arrive next day. It is almost peaceful, with 262 playing Round 2. The Team event starts and reduces to eight teams. Pits attracts 35 players, with Matti Siivola (FI) ahead of Anna Griffiths (UK). Simon Butler (UK) gets a special mention.

Tuesday 24th The weather continues unseasonably, hot and humid. After round 3, Kulkov (RU), and Nijhuis (NL), Gerlach (DE), Groenen (NL) and Heshe (DK) lead. The team event is won by ‘Cheburashka’ (Kulkov, Gavrolov and Tchebourahkov [RU]), ahead of ‘No Skat’ (Schnoering, Hartmann and Teoderescu [DE/RO]). The Liar Dice is won by Jochen Tappe (DE), ahead of Tony Atkins (UK) (23 players). Seven professionals arrive within five minutes from Korea and China, bringing the total number to 16, which we think is an Irish record.

Wednesday 25th The first free day starts cloudy, so we worry about rain. Two coaches leave for the Japanese Gardens at midday. After a tour of the National Stud and the Gardens, we take the 150mm stones to the 2.4m Goban I designed for the Hall of the Vistors Centre about 10 years ago. The first users are Kim 9P (Korea) and Taranu 5P (Romania) against Tan 7P (China) and Saijo 8P (Japan), followed by the ladies Shigeno 2P (Japan) and Ha 2P (Korea) against Kim 2P and Yoon 2P (both Korea). We then go to the Japanese ambassador’s residence for a garden party hosted by Mrs Yokoo, the Ambassador. While others have a free day, the Pair Go is competed for and won by Annemarie Hovingh and Niek van Diepen (NL), ahead of Lisa Ente (DE) and Bela Nagy (RO), from an entry of 20. The Die Hard is won by Robert Jasiek (DE) and the shogi by Shigehiko Uno.

Thursday 26th After four rounds of the Main event, only Kulkov (RU), Gerlach (DE) and Nijhuis (NL) remain on full points. The Ladies Championship attracts 23 entrants and is won by Renee Frehe (NL), ahead of Tarumi Takeshi (JP) and Diana Koszegi (HU). A rare evening without an organised social event gives players the chance to try different things.

Friday 27th The first week of the Main ends with Kulkov (RU) and Gerlach (DE) unbeaten, with the latter favourite at 5/2. The five-round Rapid is won by Cornel Burzo (RO), ahead of Andrei Tchebourakhov (RU), Andrei Kulkov (RU) and Bela Nagy (RO). Rengo attracts 25 combinations and is won by Steady Tol Oink, composed of Emil Nijhuis, William Wandel and Yowon Choi (all NL). While waiting for the Weekend arrivals, your TD has his first game of go! Thanks, Tim! The go songs are clearly serious business, as almost no one is prepared to reveal their ditties lest key phrases are hijacked by others! Annemarie and Niek unveiled their version of Molly Malone as they are leaving, to the critical acclaim of the Irish present. Professional events are now up to five per day. Yuki gets a coveted green shirt for her help with organising these.

Saturday 28th The Weekender starts with over 200 entrants. Three games in the day make for a busy schedule. Kulkov (RU), Janssen (NL), Ishida and Yoshida (JP) lead unbeaten. Some players take the weekend off to sightsee. Your TD ghosts twice with mixed success. People start leaving after one week; it seems so short a time since they arrived. The big party starts in the Ballroom, probably the high point for the younger players.

Sunday 29th The weekender concludes with rounds 4 & 5. A Japanese winner is guaranteed after round 4. Kazumi Ishida beats Takao Yoshida to win the title. Michael Marz and Guido Tautorat retain their Rengo Kreigspiel title. Noel Mitchell scores a rare Irish success by beating Nakayama 6P (Japan) in a simultaneous game. The traditional music evening is again a success. We say goodbye to many new friends.

Monday 30th More new people arrive for the second week and are integrated into the system. Andrei Kulkov (RU) beats Christoph Gerlach to take the outright lead. The main event is up to 322 players. The handicap starts with 56 players and the 13×13 with 48. Normal weather is resumed with light rain and slightly cooler temperatures.

Tuesday 31st Kulkov and Gerlach both win to improve their chances. With eleven 5 or 6-dans, the Irish Handicap is going to be tough, not helped by the Irish system of handicap plus 1 stone. The computer go programmers arrive and try to debug for tomorrow. Our second hospital visitor prepares to resume play. The 13×13 final is won by Christoph Gerlach (DE). The Mornington Crescent tournament is won by Tim Hunt (UK). In Canterbury this event was won by a Triple Helsinki, so it is a sign that standards have progressed, since this call occurs in the first half of the event.

Wednesday 1st We send buses off for tours in different directions and the sun is shining as well. Those who remain play in the Die HArd 2 (won by Marcus Firnhaber), the Junior Championships (1st overall Paul Blockley [UK] or the computer Go event (won by Peter Woitke’s program ‘GoAhead’). The tour people return and everyone prepares for the visit to the Chester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle.

Thursday 2nd Back to the serious business of the main tournament. Andrei Kulkov (RU) & Christoph Gerlach (DE) win again to remain first and second respectively. Enrico Marchio (DE) becomes the second last person to lose his unbeaten record. The team lightning is won by Dracula (RO/IT), ahead of the Mafiosi (DE, who go on to play Mafia with many other Germans in what appears to be the most popular fringe event of the congress. It’s like Cluedo with real people, good and bad. Some of the pros give their last simuls or commentary and prepare to leave.

Friday 3rd A day of shocks for the leaders as Kulkov loses to Macfadyen and Gerlach loses to Fujita. Now Kulkov is a point ahead of Gerlach, Fujita, Macfadyen, and Nijhuis. So an exciting last round is in prospect. The Individual Lightning of 85 players is won by Andrei Tschebourakhov (RU), ahead of Torben Pedersen (DK) and Ivo Svec (SK). The official Go Song Party is conducted by Francis Roads and includes his new Referee’s Song and the expected new verse by Jan Reuten-Budde, plus some other new material.

Saturday 4th The crucial top pairings are: Kulkov-Nagy, Nijhuis-Fujita and Gerlach-Macfadyen. At midday Kulkov, Fujita and Macfadyen appear to be slightly ahead. Macfadyen fails to convert his advantage and Fujita, the pre-tournament favourite, wins. So the last big game between Nagy and Kulkov reaches a climax. At the end, Kulkov holds two white stones, which seems to indicate that Nagy has won by two, but an adjacent box is missing three stones. When they are returned, Kulkov wins by a point and takes his first European title. The last round of the Handicap is the last time the players set Ing Timers in Dublin. Yoshiyuki Uemura (JP) is the last tournament winner, beating Wojciech Wieczorek (PL). Group B winner is Jana Reuten-Budde (DE). It takes me longer than expected to stuff money into proze envelopes and the punters wait patiently for the prize giving ceremony. Soon it’s over, the sets are back in their boxes and it’s time for farewells to our friends both old and new.

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