A brief story in several chapters about 2 weeks of Go events
First thing first: if you didn’t read the 10 reasons why you should come to Grenoble, you should (it helps for the context).
Now, if you didn’t and really are too lazy to click and tobi to the other page (allow me to insist), fine, I’ll sum it up for you: at the end of January, there was:
- a Grand Prix final with the top 16 European players (January 25-27),
- then, the Grenoble International Tournament with 151 participants and 18 nationalities (January 28-29)
- and finally, a week full of Go and skiing in the mountains. (29-4 February)
As planned in this Grenoble-joseki, it was all incredible and the sequence ended up quite good.
But if I stopped here, you might have doubts or not believe me (since I live in Grenoble now, it could go through your mind for a millisecond that I’m very partial in this story, although that would be knowing me very w…badly)
Therefore, let’s start with chapter 1. Ready?
CHAPTER 1 – THE GRAND PRIX FINAL or how games were played after games after games after games with a final winner and how kids had a dream come true.
Tony Claasen, who also joined the Grand Prix as a scribe, already told you about the results of the Final in the previous article: Stanisław Frejlak 1p won after a revenge game against Lucas Neirynck 6d, to whom he had lost in the pool stage. Congratulations!!
A few observers may state bitterly that the level of the Grand Prix was weak this year with only 3 pros playing and a top 16 including a 4d and a 5d. But jumping to such conclusions would be a bit spiteful towards the participants and amateur players who keep having excellent results! Jonas Welticke 6d has already beaten pros many times, and won the Grand Slam; young Davide Bernardis 5d showed great games all week and nearly reached the final, ending up 3rd; and both Lukáš Podpěra and Lucas Neirynck have nothing to prove anymore. The old Cornel Burzo was as usual on fire, beating pros without fear.
We can also be impressed by the results of Vsevolod Ovsiienko, freshly 5d and challenger in this Grand Prix, who managed to beat Thomas Debarre 7d and Dominik Bőviz 6d.
“I have been playing 5 days non-stop: Grand Prix, then a side tournament (Dominik Boviz insisted to organize it for those players, who didn't pass to the Finals and I was happy to have a chance to play one more day), and the TIGGRE - Ellie Cup.
So I had a great opportunity to play many games with the strongest European players and to watch the best games in real-time. During these 5 days, I had two games with European Pro (and the winner of the Grand Prix) Stanisław Frejlak (unfortunately for me both of them I lost!).
During the 3rd day of the Grand Prix when I took part in the side tournament, I played two games with Dominik Boviz and had a good result playing with Thomas Debarre.”
– Vsevolod Ovsiienko 5d from Ukraine, officially the youngest player of the Grand Prix
Indeed, we were not sure how it would go for the players, once they would have finished their pool stage games, but the ones who wanted to keep playing could play with each other with the same tournament settings, and the others could rest, visit the city, check the games or try the AI electronic Go board in another room: a board from China that allows you to play with AI and review games, it shows the moves with lights or challenges you to stay at 40% winrate over a certain number of moves.
“This journey to Grenoble was full of surprises for me. The first good surprise was that we weren't sure if I would have something to do while my brother Vsevolod would be busy in the Grand Prix tournament. But I came to the playing area every day during the Grand Prix and there were always nice people from the Grenoble Go Club who played Go with me and also board games. Another big surprise was an AI Go Board! I heard about it earlier but I didn't expect I could play with it in the near future. It was very interesting - to play with AI! I should say that some of the AI moves seemed to be pretty crazy :)) I liked that activity very much.”
– Timofii Ovsiienko 6k little brother of Vsevolod, who played 134567 games with AI during the Grand Prix and is now much stronger.
Dear readers, mark this AI board, because there is a follow up story about it in the coming chapters, when we’ll be sitting in the cold mountains playing Go with In-seong Hwang 8d (oh, did I just spoil something?).
Anyway, overall, the Grand Prix was quite a success, and it was also very nice to see most of the players participating in the TIGGRE (Grenoble International tournament) afterwards, as we could pop-corn watch a few revenge matches after the Grand Prix, and see new challengers rising from the outside of the top-group.
Also, surprise surprise, the kids learning Go in the Grenoble Go School had a wonderful opportunity to meet and play with the players of the Grand Prix on the Wednesday. A good moment to ask the strongest Europeans about their learning journey or what they recommend to do to become a pro. For some of them, it was a dream coming true to meet such strong players. For others, it was also the timesuji to seek advice - “sir Welticke, what is your favorite fuseki?”, asked innocently a little pupil from the school.
After the Grand Prix, started the TIGGRE – Ellie Cup, named after the daughter of In-Seong Hwang a few years of success ago. This year was also the first year Ellie was participating in the tournament!
Of course, although the tournament went rather smoothly, it was very unclear who would win and what kind of adventures would occur…so…to be followed in Chapter 2 (very soon!)
Photocredits for this chapter go to Matthieu Aveaux and Patrice Radal.