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Grand Slam 2023 - a background and excerpts from the tournament
By Jana Hricova | Articles | 01.11.2023 9:54| Views: 3717
It has been our dream to organise the Grand Slam in Czechia for a long time already. The first discussion with the EGF about that started even before the “Covid era”. Our idea was to run it as a true top EGF event and use it for go promotion at the same time.

Concerning the promotion of go, we were pleased that dozens of Czech newspapers wrote about the event and we believe that this will help to spread awareness of the game, both in the Czech Republic and beyond.

Only the participants can say how convenient the event we organised for them was; we can just say that we did our best.

We were able to run the event in the way that we did thanks to the cooperation and support of our two partners.

The first was the board games festival “Deskohrani”. “Deskohrani” literally means “playing board games”. This festival has been held continuously for 22 years, since 2001, with a break only in 2020 due to Covid restrictions. Go has been part of the festival every year since its beginning. Due to their cooperation, we were able to hold the first round of the Grand Slam for 16 players in the Gallery of the National Library of the Czech Republic – Klementinum.

The opening Ceremony
Opening Speech by Martin Stiassny, EGF President, together with the organisers (Czech Go Association) Jana Hricova and Adriana Tomsu


Rooms of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University were provided on very friendly terms to host the final stage of the Grand Slam for the eight players remaining after the first round.

Both places are located in the very heart of Prague, on the banks of the Vltava river, at the opposite ends of the Charles Bridge. Therefore, the participants could connect the tournament with sightseeing very naturally and easily.

Details about the tournament and results can be found on the EGF webpage here, therefore we will concentrate in this article on what is not written there.

The names of the 16 participating players seemed certain for a long time, nevertheless, Tanguy le Calvé (1p, France) fell ill and withdrew his participation a week before the tournament. He was replaced by Ashe Vazquez (7d, Spain). Unfortunately, Ashe also had to withdraw their participation just a day before the tournament. That is how Cornel Burzo (6d, Romania) was asked on Wednesday morning to come to Prague for the Grand Slam and he really did appear on site the next day, when the tournament was about to start. Hats off to a good man! Fortunately, there were some pillows in a back room and Cornel was able to take a short nap before the tournament started.
the final participants
The players


The players were divided into four groups according to their strengths. A draw was done to pair players from the first one with players from the fourth group, and players from the second group with players from the third.

draw
Draw in progress


There was a presumption that games between players from the second and third groups might be more tense and interesting than the ones between the first and fourth, so those games were chosen for broadcasting.
How false presumptions can be!
That is why we could not follow online how Dominik Boviz (6d, Hungary) defeated Artem Kachanovskyi (2p, Ukraine) and Matias Pankoke (6d, Germany) defeated Ali Jabarin (2p, Israel).

Artem vs Dominik
You have not seen this...


Fortunately, the broadcast games were interesting as well. We could see Fredrik "Fredda" Blomback (7d, Sweden) defeat Andrii Kravets (1p, Ukraine), for example, which was really a thrilling game. Fredda had a very good tournament over all, making it to the final where he was stopped by Mateusz Surma (3p, Poland) by 4.5 points at the end. Third place was won by Pavol "Palko" Lisy (2p, Slovakia) in a clash with Nikola Mitic (7d, Serbia).

Palko
Palko on his way to 3rd place, defeating Stanislaw Frejlak 1p from Poland

the final
Mateusz and Fredda, giving it all in the final game.
winner!
and the winner is...Mateusz! Congratulations!
final podium
Final standings

By the way, regarding the broadcast, we actually wanted to broadcast all the games. Four electronic (IZIS) boards were sent to Prague for that purpose, together with the other EGF broadcast equipment. Nevertheless, while the three boxes with computers and cameras arrived just a day before the tournament started, the box with the IZIS boards is still, eight days after the tournament is finished, somewhere on its own sightseeing trip between Germany and Czechia.
That is why we were happy to be able to broadcast manually, on OGS, four games at least. There was a rumour going around that players were happy as well, as they did not have to play on the electronic boards. So, it seemed that everybody was happy at the end and that is also good. Let’s take it positively.


And here is the final broadcast ;)
The whole tournament was also broadcast on Twitch every day. Ali took charge of the commentary from Friday.
twitch team
Roman Gerloff, Ali and Andrii during a Twitch review


Most of the players eliminated on the first day from the tournament took part in the side tournament that was taking place as part of the “Deskohrani” festival during the weekend, in parallel to the GS.
That tournament was won by Cornel Burzo ahead of Jonas Welticke and Andrii Kravets. These players defeated each other in a circle and Cornel won the SOS lottery. It was a curious coincidence that Cornel also participated in that tournament 22 years ago, in 2001, when the Deskohrani Festival was organised for the first time!

Cornel winning again
Jana Hricova congratulating Cornel, Jonas and Andrii


Besides serious games, there was also time for social life and all participants, together with their friends and supporters, enjoyed a fine dinner in the restaurant “Tlusta mys”, which literally means “Fat Mouse”, on Friday evening.

To close, we would like to thank all the participants for their sportsmanship during the whole event, all the supporters who enabled us to organise an excellent event, and everybody who helped us to run everything smoothly.

On behalf of the organising team, written for the EGF by Jana Hricova.

Thanks to the Czech Go Association and photographers (Kristýna Sluková, Adriana Tomšů and Michal Turek) for their great photos.
Grand Slam 2023 - a background and excerpts from the tournament
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