While the venue, the school „Georges Guérin“, is located in a wealthy district in the west part of Paris, occasional rain added a somewhat dreary tone to the mood of the tournament place.
However, the organisation team more than made up for the lacklustre atmosphere, with flawless handling of the tournament.
Fresh sandwiches, pastries, and beverages were conveniently offered on-site. Zoé Constans (who supplied the photos for this article) added an artistic element to the tournament by making drawings of the participants. Facebook page with her art
It is also notable that the six rounds of the tournament, two on each day, all started - rather atypically - almost without delay!
The only thing one could lament was that Guo Juan 5p, one of the sponsors and a regular guest in Paris, could not join this year.
The games were played under French rules, which some organisers (even outside of France) believe to be the best rules: In the usual Japanese territory scoring method, White gets 7,5 komi instead of 6,5. Additionally, each pass costs a prisoner and White must pass last. It thus produces mostly the same results as the Chinese rules while using a counting method Europeans are used to and eliminates the sometimes obscur rulings under territory scoring.
In the tournament itself, although some curious parings occurred due partly to the bizarre phenomenon that there were no 5d participants, nobody could complain about a lack of strong players. Among the participants we find the crème de la crème of Europe, attracted to Paris by a large prize pool with 1000€ for the winner. As this was a Bonus Point Level B tournament, European players also contended for Bonus Points and, as a new addition, for two seats for the Grand Prix Final.
You can see the game recordings of the top two boards on OGS, with the links put together on the tournament website.
Outside of the goban, the rounds proceeded peacefully and people were more or less content, in relation to their results in the tournament. But just before the sixth and final round, the mood started to heat up and some players got anxious, as it became apparent that the last game would be dramatically decisive. Below is an attempt to convey the tension at that time to the readers, in a first-hand recount:
Four Asian players, Kim Seong-Jin 8d, Dai Junfu 8d, Oh Chimin 7d and Gao Jiaxin 6d were in the top four places, the former undefeated and the others with only one loss each. They would clash in the last round and decide the order for the prizes for 1st to 4th places among themselves.
Just below them, six players were left with two losses each who were still in the game to compete for the 5th to 8th places: Oh Lluis 6d, Dominik Böviz 6d, Tanguy Le Calvé 6d, Viktor Lin 6d, the 14-year-old dark horse Oscar Vazquez 4d, and Fabien Lips 4d whom the others wished to get paired against. For the latter five, however, this round would not only be about prize money, but two of them would get a seat for the Grand Prix Final in Olomouc next January. The incentive of Bonus Points paled in comparison, even though they should motivate European players to get a higher ranking.
Finally, the pairing came out that was awaited so anxiously: Rather expectedly, the first two tables featured Kim Seong-Jin vs. Oh Chimin and Dai Junfu vs. Gao Jiaxin. Oh would incur the first and only loss to Kim. And Gao, the mysterious new face whose skill was unknown prior to this tournament, would turn out to be a sandbagger as he defeated Dai.
A few tables down, Oscar Vazquez faced Oh Lluis. Oscar had already, in his own words, „stolen“ an important seat from players who outranked him, i.e. for the 2017 EGF Pro Qualification. This time, however, he could not win the decisive game and failed to create another upset.
Dominik Böviz was paired against Fabien Lips, as the odds-on favourite in this game. Dominik won without any trouble and got the first seat for Olomouc.
The other seat would go to the winner of the game between Tanguy Le Calvé and Viktor Lin, an encounter that was matched evenly, almost eerily. Most likely this game put even more pressure on the players than those on the first two boards, and friends became temporary enemies who were at each other's throats until the game ended. In a complicated fight that exhausted the players' main time, Viktor finally managed to pull out a second eye for his unsettled group in a 50-move sequence and thus went on to win the game.
Afterwards, however, tension was up again when doubts arose whether Oh Lluis would actually qualify as a European player. It was debated whether he has been holding an EGF member country's passport for at least ten years. The discussion was never settled (and nobody thought of asking him directly), as it turned out that Oh ranked below Dominik and Viktor by SOS and the results were accepted without opposition. It shall be left for the EGF to find out.
The final standings:
1st place Kim Seong-Jin 8d (5:1), 1000€
2nd Gao Jiaxin 6d (?) (5:1), 500€
3rd Oh Chimin 7d (5:1), 250€
4th Dai Junfu 8d (4:2), 150€
5th Dominik Böviz 6d (4:2), 150€, 12 Bonus Points and first seat for the Grand Prix Final
6th Viktor Lin 6d (4:2), 100€, 9 BP and second seat for the Grand Prix Final
7th Oh Lluis 6d (4:2), 100€ and maybe 6 BP (?)
8th Tanguy Le Calvé 6d (3:3), 50€ and 6 or 4 BP
9th Oscar Vazques 4d (3:3), 4 or 2 BP
10th Lukas Krämer 6d (3:3), 2 or 1 BP
11th Alessandro Pace 4d (3:3), 1 or 0 BP