Special Events

If you are talking about special events in the history of Irish Go, then the most exemplary candidate is the European Go Congress run by the IGA in 2001. What on earth possessed such a small federation as Ireland to want to run such a massive event? Well as of yet, the relevant figures have not been fully grilled on this point, but the records tell some tales nonetheless. In 1998 the heat was incredible in Romania. In Mamaia, which is a lovely resort on the Black Sea, the waters offered only a small respite from the hot and humid atmosphere. The European Go Federation’s Annual General Meeting was held in Mamaia during the Go Congress there. The meeting probably lasted for about 10 hours, even if it seemed longer to those present. We read here some notes from the minutes

  • European Go Congress 2001

A number of countries (Austria, Spain and Finland) had announced that they would present plans for the year 2001 but decided for various reasons not to apply.

Proposals for a European Go Congress 2001 were presented by (in alphabetical order) : Croatia, Ireland, Yugoslavia.

Croatia: no specific plan but has for three years indicated the wish to organize an EGC. There are several possibilities for places for an EGC, if chosen for 2001, all details will
be presented next year.

Ireland: A handout was distributed with a plan for 2002 but this plan can also be executed in 2001. The congress will be organized together with the British Go Association. The
congress will take place at the university complex of Dublin 2 km from Dublin Centre. A budget was presented.

Yugoslavia: A plan was presented for a congress either in the mountains or on the coast.
Several ministries will support the congress.

After discussing these plans there was a vote and Ireland was chosen to organize the European Go Congress of 2001 in Dublin.

So from the above minutes of the AGM, we can see that the BGA was kindly offering assistance in the plan. Croatia had no detailed plan, which is not a vote winner, and Yugoslavia was quite possibly losing votes due to just emerging from the Kosovo wars. Well anyway, we do not have a detailed record of what was said, but we know that Ireland won the vote! Thus they committed themselves to preparing a massive event in 3 years time. The EGF’s AGM minutes from the following years offer little in the way of excitement regarding the build up. 1999:

8b) Dublin 2001
Tony Atkins distributes a small leaflet sent by Noel Mitchell. He informs the AGM that the British Go Association works with the Irish federation to organise this event. (Author’s note: Noel Mitchell is a professional congress organiser.)
Q (Peter Zandveld): what are the different categories of accommodation?
A: there is mainly one, on a campus. It costs around 20 Irish pounds (50 DM) per night and per person.


b. Dublin 2001
A web page for the congress can be reached from http://ireland.european-go.org Accommodation at various prices from 15 EUR will be near to the venue, but for camping the site for 8 EUR person/night is located 15 km from venue.

Soletti (Italy): proposes lower entry fees (Author’s Note: Gionata Soletti is now a convicted criminal)
Gibson (Ireland): there will be discounts

Sponsors were discussed. Fujitsu-Siemens Computers will sponsor only 2001.

The tournament then took place in the summer of 2001, in July and August. The first event was a reception at the Dublin Mansion house, which was opened by the Lord Mayor of Dublin. There is not an especially large amount of documentation that we can draw upon to describe the event. The main article that covers the event is John Gibson’s diary, John being the tournament director for the Go Congress. Without any shame, we copy and paste the piece below.

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 prize 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.

The BGA website contains a summary of the prize winners.

What about the experiences of others though? Yuki Shigeno (2p) visited the congress to teach, in spite of a somewhat difficult journey. She believed that the congress atmosphere was much more relaxed than in other years, which was caused, in part, by holding the event on an island on the western frontier of Europe. She also mentions that Dublin was expensive, I have my doubts that it was that expensive, but to this day I hear accusations from certain Russians that the prices were high so as to make money for the national Go association. I wonder where they got the idea for this strategy from? Andrei Kulkov was something of a surprise winner, especially at the tender age of 18 years old. Niklas Möller from Sweden had a great time according to his article in the Nordisk Go Blad. He describes the event as being, for him, like being 10 years old and being given a 2 week holiday in Lego land. Other important details he relates are that Sweden, sporting several Slovenian players, drew 1-1 with Germany at the football, and Saijo chain smoked cigarettes – brand PEACE. In the magazine of the German Federation there is an extensive report on the games of Mafia played at congress, this is a fun little party game. There is rather less coverage of the game (replayable here) of Guido Tautorat (4-dan) against Andrei Kulkov (5-dan), below is a picture of the winning mafia team.
Mafia EGC
Some other trivia:
  • The CD known as GoGod first appeared for sale at the Dublin Congress. Its price was 30 pounds sterling.
  • A workshop to train EGF Referees was also given by Matti Siivola and Robert Jasiek, some notes are available online.
  • Robert Jasiek believes he lost 6 games due to the noise outside in the street.
  • The EGF’s annual general meeting last a torturous 5 hours and 30 minutes.
Some pictures

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