Well it was the British Go Congress this weekend, held conviently in Lancaster, and even more convieniently just across the road from me. To spare all of you who aren’t interested the details a cut has been provided:
Well the Lancaster was the first tournament I’ve entered in quite a long time and thus entering at 15 kyu (my old rank) after such a long time without playing seriously was filling me with something akin to dread (more of the fact that Eric would clearly take great pleasure in winding me up about it) since I’ve really had about 4-5 years without much Go and only really attempting to get back into practice since last summer. Actually having just looked the last tournament I was recorded for was Oxford in 2001.
So having set the scene and made my excuses to all involved I signed up for some arse kicking of painful proportions.
The weekend started with a reasonable event, the lightning Go tournament in the Gregson kicked it off, it was a round-robin kind of thing featuring a table of 6 Go players (mostly 14-16kyu on my table, but also the two players coming up from Swindon (1dan,3kyu)) where one person stayed put and everyone moved around one spot after each game (both players had 12 minutes on the clock max for each game I think). It worked quite well, the two latecomers had to play lightning against daft handicaps (10+ stones normally) which meant they got fairly well thrashed, I mostly had my arse kicked and won either 1 or two, I can’t recall, certainly not really enough for my tastes. After this sort of thrashing we sensibly headed to the Moghuls for a fine curry (which I didn’t enjoy much because I was starting to feel rough, a feeling which got worse and left me feeling rather shakey and unhungry all saturday).
After that rather poor start we arrived (in the usual style of Swindon players, that being a little late and often via a pub, or in this case Penny’s cafe for breakfast) at the Go tournament just after the mornings draw had been announced for round 1 (this was a 2 day event, 6 rounds in total, with 3 rounds per day).
My first game was against a young lady (definitely a teenager of some veriety) who entered around 15kyu whom I’d faced in the lightning the day before and lost too then. Not to disappoint on my return to the world of Go I effected a strategy of playing quickly and poorly, it wasn’t actually going totally badly (although I’d certainly lost I think, or was looking that way) and then one of my corners felt rather unwell due to me ignoring a cut (I could have let her have a stone and connect, but I thought I could keep the stone and keep the connection) and that was pretty much that. A lose by something like 20-30 points.
This was followed by lunch, and a quick drink in the Britannia (although I had a coke as I was feeling iffy and beer never really improves my game) and back for Round 2! Round 2 was against a charming, rather harmless looking bloke, he was about 16-17kyu as far as I know and I think I may have had to give him two stones, anyway the game progressed and it was alright, I thought I had a good chance of winning, it was certainly close. In the final stages of the game I made a play to kill a corner group of his, having read the sequence out I thought he was definitely dead. However! Half way through I thought my plan was a bit iffy, although he was looking nervous (neither of us knew the “correct”/traditional method of killing that group) so I changed my mind.
Shockingly he lived, my original plan was the correct method and the corner was enough points to have won me the game… so that put me 0/2, bah humbug.
For the end of the day I got to face down a charming little old lady who I’ve played before. I carefully donned my steelies and played calmer than I had before (although game 2 was nice and relaxed, just I played a little worse than the other guy) and made sure everything counted and lo and behold I ended up with a moyo down the left hand side of the board that was fairly impenetrable and later turned into a good solid group, thus the day was won by a solid margin (about 30-40 points).
After such a vicious bit of GBH on an old lady we hit the Gregson for a spot of relaxed Go playing followed by a return to the Moghuls for a quick meal before having a swift drink in the Bobbin before I headed home to collapse before I fell (indeed, still felt rough).
Sunday saw us start with breakfast in the Sun before the customary arrival (see above) and then straight into the joy, my 4th game was against a young chap who I’d faced in the lightning (and who’d trounced me then) but that day (fieldd by fried breakfast and feeling a bit better) I sat, stretched, relaxed and started playing. It was an even game with no komi at all, just the way I like it. I started pressing the advantage quite early but then realised I’d been a little over ambitious. Luckily he allowed me to trade a small section of territory and a connection, for the life of a large group of mine. I thought he shouldn’t have taken it because the stones that got disconnected I couldn’t kill. He thought he couldn’t save them. Interesting how confidence plays a part in the game eh? After that it was a fairly fun territorial game and eventually I managed to build a good big chunk of territory and win by 20 points.
Ahh my first win, it was really quite enjoyable, I had been starting to wonder if I was in line for a wooden spoon award for 6 losses to be perfectly honest :)
After that I relaxed, got a cup of tea and had a spot of lunch with the other Go players. The fifth round occured and I found myself facing I think the membship secretary of the BGA. I played it relaxed, calm, positional, I had black and used it to my advantage, remembering what had been discussed in the Gregon the day before and the section I’d read about playing black in Fundamentals of Go I pressed the advantage as much as I could with every stone. Trying to seek for moves which weren’t always local, which were doing multiple things. The game was quite bloodless, not a prisoner I think taken, and at the end of it I’d made the better trades of moves (helped by my early game I think) and emerged victorious by 49 points (quite a big win). That put me 3/5, which at least lead me to think I was still 15 kyu, as I had at least 50% by that point.
The final round was after a spot of flapjack and a cranberry juice at the Gregson, I got drawn against a 9 kyu (lawks!) and given 4 stones of handicap. Thinking that I’d probably lose I set out to play as well as I could. I think the 6th game was probably technically my best, I played a good strong opening, attacked an invasion (losing a chain of stones which sadly let it live), attacked another (losing a few more stones) and successfully killed it (which was most satisfying, attack is my weakest point). Sadly I let a moyo develop into big territory for White and feared the end result would be a loss (something we both agreed on) however after counting up I’d only lost by 9 points :)
That really put the icing on the cake I think, against a 9 kyu, after 2 days of play and with 4 handicap stones to lose by 9 points indicates I’m still at 15 kyu, my 50% winning ratio confirmed it, which was a relief.
So a good tourament all over I feel, the hall was a little chilly on the Saturday but warm on the Sunday, the Gregson was only around the corner and the lunch (although it came from a school canteen) definitely good eating.
p.s. I also picked up “Direction of Play” and “Fundamentals of Go”, both apparently excellent books I’d heard much about (possibly reviews or rantings forthcoming) but I resisted the Fridge Magnet 9×9 board on the basis I could possibly make my own :)
It was funky however and quite tempting, but I think my housemates may strangle me.
Anyway, suffice to say I had a good time and will be looking to future tournaments (some people are trying to talk me into the Isle of Man this summer, a week long event) but time I feel to go off for a nice evening meal and to be social.