I just came back from the 39th World Amateur Go Championship in Tokyo. A huge thank you to Colin Grierson and Kevin Liu at the NZGS for all their help, encouragement, inspiration and assistance. Also a huge thank you to the organizers and sponsors in Japan. The whole tournament was run like a well oiled machine and the players were extremely well looked after. It was an incredible pleasure to meet go enthusiasts from all around the world, in particular Olafur, the representative from Iceland, where I am originally from. It would be an understatement to say that he was flabbergasted to meet another Icelandic speaker who was playing in the tournament.
The facilities where first class, especially the professional reviews after the games. I had the pleasure of having one of my games reviewed by Michael Redmond 9p and another by Yuki Satoshi, 9p. I also had a couple of game reviewed by and older Japanese pro who gave a full bore commentary and an honest appraisal of the moves. If he thought they were terrible he did not hesitate to say so!
The first day was devoted to a IGF meetings and a "Goodwill Game". The goodwill game was against Nihon- Kiin club members who were matched up against tournament contestants. I enjoyed it very much, I like informal games with some chat. My opponent was close to my strength and he was able to kill some of my stones, but payed a higher price in exchange so I was able to win fairly comfortably
This day ended with the tournament opening ceremony at Hotel Chinzanso, which included speeches by sponsors and organizers, a nice dinner and a calligraphy show.
The tournament started for real the next day. I played Chile and Ecuador. The game with Chile was interesting, but I felt like Chile was in control of the game most of the time. Against Ecuador things where different. I felt he played unreasonably and I wanted to punish it, but I believe I also ended up playing unreasonably. The kifu is available here: (Click on 2R for round 2)
Looking at the position at move 73 it seems like there is a semeai between a black group and a white group and the black group has more liberties. I was fortunately able to save my group by connecting underneath and to do that I had to win a ko so it was quite dramatic.
The next day I won my game against Mongolia. I was always comfortably ahead until in the middle game where I invaded a bit too deeply and almost had a group cut off and killed. I manged to save it for the time being and later in the game ignored a threat against it. My opponent took it with great delight while not realizing a group of his, about 5 times the size was about to die. Well, it died and he had to resign.
This spell of good fortune was sadly followed by many losses in games that were reasonable contests apart from my game against Mexico. I was totally outclassed by the Mexican player who ended up in 8th place in the tournament. I played a joseki in the wrong direction and then failed to answer a move I should have answered, leading to a partial collapse. I made a feeble attempt to confuse the game but the Mexican player won easily with calm solid play and good reading.
My final win was against the player from Armenia. This time I had an easy game and managed to win by killing a group of stones that had invaded my moyo.
A photo from that game, which was my last in this tournament.
Finally, here is a photo from the closing ceremony:
"Chinese Taipei" won the tournament, well deservedly. The records of the games played by their player, Yi-Tien Chan are will worth studying. He has a grace and style that set a worthy example.
All in all, a wonderful experience and a huge thank you to all the kind and helpful people who made this possible.