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 Post subject: Report: European Go Congress 2014
Post #1 Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:50 am 
Tengen

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Venue

The EGC 2014 was held in a floor of a hotel in Sibiu, Romania from July 25 to August 9. There were three rooms, a big hall and a lecture room. Altogether, these facilities were just enough to host the participants without creating place problems. Many players were optimistic and brought electronic tools with them; apparently, unlike Mamaia 1998, there were no problems with thieves. The air conditioning worked, but also contributed to spreading a cold to quite a few players.

Organisation

All rounds of the main tournament and most side tournaments, except for the lightning tournament (for which the local organisers did not accept every help from EGF supervisors), started on time. Overall, the organisation was pretty reliable, but a few participants had to upgrade from double to single room accommodation for some unexpected higher but otherwise fair compromise prices. Organisation sometimes failed in arbitration details, such as pairing a non-playing player, letting him lose rating points and then asking that unfortunate player to sort out the trouble. Usually, physical prizes at congresses are very dull, but this year there were attractive medals (besides the money prizes). During the final prize giving ceremony, announcements were not particularly clear about the meaning of the EC versus Open EC titles and numbers of a player's wins, but the - compared to most earlier years - almost silent applause for the top players was the audience's rather than the organisers' fault. In particular, the Open EC winner did not get an appropriate amount of applause considering his achievement.

Main Tournament and European Championship

There were 458 players in the main tournament. This is far from a record, but not bad for Romania. There was a dense field of strong European players and a few strong Asians. Unlike previous years, this year, besides Korean 7d players, there were also strong Chinese: a 4p and three 7d. Furthermore, a few Chinese 5d and 6d participated. Everybody was curious to see how the Chinese would do in comparison to the Europeans and Koreans. For unfortunately the last time, the EC and the Open EC were combined in one tournament split for the top 8 Europeans (and the relegation players) after round 7. The supergroup bar was so high that part of the strong players were not even in it. E.g., Lukas Krämer outside the supergroup with 5 wins in the first 7 rounds did not qualify for a relegation game with his naturally lower SOS; he would have needed 6 wins.

After 7 rounds, Fan Hui, Ilja Shikshin, Alexandr Dinerstein and Artem Kachanowski were qualified with 5 wins, while 8 other Europeans played a relegation game to decide the remaining 4 places of the KO for the EC title. In the final's game Dinerstein got an unexpected gote (otherwise one would have to say that he took a premature endgame) and later lost a central group, so that again the winner is Fan Hui 2p.

The Open EC was dominated by Tong Yulin 4p with his 10 wins. The Chinese 7d players Wang Chen (9 wins) and Sui Xexiang (8 wins) took places 2 and 3. In other words, the Chinese celebrated the Chinese impact on the new European professional system by sending really strong players. Tong was a class of his own. Fan Hui is reported to have said that, after the 7th round game against him, playing the KO against Europeans was relaxing. Tong could read quickly and accurately, establish early winning positions, tolerate big exchanges or kill a huge group in a half-open region creating a very complicated semeai won by exactly one liberty. Needless to say, he also won the blitz and weekend tournaments.

Upsets

The open nature of most tournaments enabled the following even game upsets of strong players: a) in the main tournament, Johannes Obenaus 5d beat Mateusz Surma 7d and Wu Liriu 7d; b) in the Rapid, Pierre Paga 5d beat Ali Jabarin 1p; c) in the weekend tournament, the author 5d also beat him; d) in the weekend tournament, Zeng Bingquan 6p was another participating Chinese professional and, as the nominally strongest player, had his already second (!) loss in that tournament, then against Timur Sankin 6d (the loss was on time when Zeng had a winning position). I appreciate the courage of the Chinese (and in earlier years, Taiwanese) professionals to attend open, mostly amateur tournaments, but ending at place 17 must have been quite painful for Zeng. (In round 1 of the weekend tournament, he was slightly behind against Ali, who then made several endgame mistakes.)

Other Tournaments and Events

As usual, there were lots of side tournaments, see
http://egc2014.com/results/
I mention only those I am particularly interested in. The 13x13 tournament was announced as "handicap reduced by 4", and everybody expected something similarly easy for the strong dan players as in the lightning tournament. It was the opposite: reduce the rank difference by 4, then put the remainder as the number of handicap stones on the small 13x13 board! Naturally, this tournament was won by Andrej Arsentjev 12k, second place Fabrice Chamot 9k, shared 3rd place Sylvain Ravera 7k and (surprise!) Dominik Boviz 4d. The organisers repeated a mistake of a few earlier years, held the tournament on (an otherwise free for excursions) Wednesday and so there were only a few dozen participants. Nevertheless, participation was reasonably strong. The 1k and 1d players were the worst affected by the handicap system, because they had to play even games against the high dans and give tough handicaps against the kyus. However, the handicap system was not a simple high dan killer in the preliminary group stage. Instead, like in every small board tournament, there were two kinds of kyu players: those knowing and applying basic go theory (such as avoiding empty triangles, connecting important stones, not living small in the corner during the first few moves) and those not knowing it. In the groups with kyu players applying basic theory, the high dans were thrown out the most easily (the author was one of the victims). In the other groups with kyu players without the most basic knowledge, the high dans could trick them as they would under any handicap system.

Initially, the 9x9 tournament was supposed to have the same handicap system on the even much smaller 9x9 board...! However, in the meantime, the organisers had learnt their lesson that small board handicaps are not like 19x19 handicaps. The well known handicap system 1 komi per rank, another handicap stone every 10 ranks (starting with 2 stones after the first 10 ranks difference) was used. This gave everybody a chance, but there were lots of particularly eager high dans in the tournaments, and they prevailed in the end: 1st place Sui XeXiang 7d, 2nd place Fu Yaqi 6d, shared 3rd place Zeno van Ditzhuijzen 5d and the author 5d, who had kyus firm of the basics in his group, made only 2 out of 5 wins there but was nevertheless seeded because 32 players had been promised to be seeded. Even one player with only 1 win was seeded to the KO stage.

Professionals were giving lectures and simultaneous games. In the lecture about the final EC game, Catalin Taranu and Guo Juan were advertising for keeping the possibility to teach at congresses as "old / established" European professionals. Quite rightly so. The CEGO preference for teaching by only the new European professionals is absurd. In informal talks, Martin Stiassny (EGF president) could be heard to express understanding that a mistake was done when splitting the old and new European professionals. The author would like to add that the same applies to amateur teachers.

Of course, friendly games could be and were played everywhere.

Conclusion?

The congress was as much fun as every year! Peter Zandveld is the record holder of subsequent tournament participations since 1977; this was his 38th congress. The author always wonders how on earth anybody could not attend the congresses each year...


This post by RobertJasiek was liked by 8 people: Bantari, betterlife, daal, ez4u, Firebrand, jeromie, richardamullens, SoDesuNe
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 Post subject: Re: Report: European Go Congress 2014
Post #2 Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:49 am 
Gosei
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Very interesting report Robert, thanks for sharing. I'd love to participate some year in the 9x9 side event, specially :)

Regarding your last concluding remark:

RobertJasiek wrote:
The author always wonders how on earth anybody could not attend the congresses each year...


Money, work. The congress is 2 weeks, I can't take 2 weeks straight of vacation without a lot of planning, last year was quite hard to do for the Nordic Go Academy summer camp. And this is not factoring the money part: Romania may be cheap for West-Europe standards, but...

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 Post subject: Re: Report: European Go Congress 2014
Post #3 Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:52 am 
Tengen

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I travelled by train to cut costs, but food (the one you would want to eat) was imported and priced at 100% to 150% of Western European level... Accommodation was affordable. - I understand that train is not an option from Spain, and flights directly to Sibiu were not cheap.

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 Post subject: Re: Report: European Go Congress 2014
Post #4 Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:08 am 
Gosei
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RobertJasiek wrote:
I travelled by train to cut costs, but food (the one you would want to eat) was imported and priced at 100% to 150% of Western European level... Accommodation was affordable. - I understand that train is not an option from Spain, and flights directly to Sibiu were not cheap.


Yes, train out of Spain is out of the question if you are going further than Paris or Zurich, since it would take ages and not be significantly cheaper than flying (not like train to Paris or Zurich is cheap or fast, but is doable). Taking 2 weeks of holidays is also problematic, these are mainly the reason I'm skipping EGCs for now, at least until one is "relatively" closer", but seems it will take a while for this :(

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 Post subject: Re: Report: European Go Congress 2014
Post #5 Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:05 am 
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Nice write-up, Robert. I'm currently at the US Go Congress. Wish it was two weeks!

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 Post subject: Re: Report: European Go Congress 2014
Post #6 Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:21 am 
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RobertJasiek wrote:
Zeng Bingquan 6p was another participating Chinese professional and, as the nominally strongest player, had his already second (!) loss in that tournament, then against Timur Sankin 6d (the loss was on time when Zeng had a winning position). I appreciate the courage of the Chinese (and in earlier years, Taiwanese) professionals to attend open, mostly amateur tournaments, but ending at place 17 must have been quite painful for Zeng. (In round 1 of the weekend tournament, he was slightly behind against Ali, who then made several endgame mistakes.)


This is not true. Timur won by points - he killed big group in fuseki. The accident with clocks happenned on r1, but Ali agreed to continue the game.

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 Post subject: Re: Report: European Go Congress 2014
Post #7 Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:15 pm 
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breakfast wrote:
This is not true. Timur won by points - he killed big group in fuseki.


I hope I have not confused the game. It definitely was Zeng Bingquan 6p in the weekend tournament. If not his second loss, then his first loss against Sui Zexiang. But I do not think so; I recall a European opponent when Zeng lost on time, so it must have been Timur.

I was present at the board and watched ca. 15 to 45 seconds before the incident, then looked at another nearby board, then (15 to 45 seconds later) looked at the game again when the time loss incident was noticed because the opponent wanted to press the clock or press the button for seeing the opponent's time to no avail because the clock was already in the mode for showing the time loss.

Quote:
The accident with clocks happenned on r1, but Ali agreed to continue the game.


This was a DIFFERENT time incident. I watched also this one. There was something with the clock. At first, it was unclear whether Zeng had lost on time or the clock was malfunctioning. So a referee came, tested a clock to see how new Ing clocks would reach a loss on time, found that apparently the clock must have been malfunctioning, reset or replaced the clock, and the game continued with the players having no problems to accept the referee's assessment.

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