Day 1The championship started with a small surprise: a performance from a Finnish women’s choir during the opening ceremony. The traditional Finnish songs (about sauna and the origin of beer, among other things) offered the participants a warm and entertaining welcome. Afterwards, the organizers explained the tournament rules (5 rounds, MacMahon, thinking time 60 minutes and Canadian byo-yomi of 20 stones in 5 minutes) and the seriousness nature of the tournament suddenly kicked in. The first round did not start smoothly. Before it commenced, there had been some confusion about the pairing. The EWGC-veterans Natalia Kovaleva (5 dan, Russia) and Manja Marz (4 dan, Germany) noted that the pairing was strange and inquired about the rules used to make it. In the end, the pairing was slightly adjusted and the games could start (or, restart, as was the case of Mihaela Taranu 3 kyu, Romania).
Another ‘hiccup’ was that the person who was supposed to record the games was sick, which means that unfortunately there are no game records to analyse and discuss here in detail.
After the first day, both Natalia and Dina Burdakova (5 dan, Russia) remained undefeated, but since there were two more games to be played on Sunday, anything could still happen.
Day 2The two undefeated ladies - Natalia and Dina - got to play each other on Sunday morning. They both share a long history, as they were born in one city (Chelybinsk), grew up together and have the same Go teacher. Natalia shared with us: “When we were young girls, many people were sure that we are sisters, some of them even asked if we are twins (same ages, same hobby and quite similar looks).”
According to Natalia, they have been fighting with each other for more than 20 years and these games are always complicated (who knows, maybe we should be grateful for not seeing the record of the game). Natalia eventually won against Dina, and moved on to face another strong opponent - Manja. Natalia said that this game was very bad for her from the beginning, but in the middle game, she made it more complicated and Manja made some mistakes, leading Natalia to another victory. In fact, this game was recorded by the scribe, but even the kifu itself is so complicated, that we have not managed to fully decipher it (yet): In the meantime, in the last round Dina faced Ariane Ougier (3 dan, France). Ariane started the tournament with a loss on time against Maike Wilms (2 dan, Germany). Apparently, the black Excalibur chess timer was sometimes not registering the moves played in byo-yomi properly, expecting the player to place the 21st stone before starting a new byo-yomi period. As the referee said that the clock is right, Ariane lost her first game on time. However, karma made it up to her in the last round, as Ariane won her last round against Dina in exactly the same way as she had lost the first round against Maike. In the end, Natalia Kovaleva (5 dan, Russia) finished undefeated, securing the title for the 4th time. Ariane Ougier (3 dan, France) took the second place with 4 out of 5 wins, followed by Rita Pocsai (5 dan, Hungary) with 3 wins. A great score of 4 out of 5 points was achieved by two Ukrainian participants - Yuliia Krotovych (5 kyu) and Anna Melnyk (7 kyu). The closing ceremony was really quick and most of the EWGC participants left the playing site while the side tournament was still being played. Some of the ladies immediately began their journey home, while others lingered on to explore Helsinki and share some impressions about the tournament. For example, on the way to the Suomenlinna island fortress - a classic tourist destination, Rita shared her opinion that she had not deserved the third place. To this, Maike answered: “Congratulations for winning the “SOS-lottery!” Although this could have been taken the wrong way, we all started laughing and discussing how sorry we felt for Dina. (For those less familiar with the Go playing systems, SOS is the sum of the scores of all opponents that a player played against in a tournament. The next tie-breaker is SOSOS, the accumulated SOS of all opponents of a tournament participant). In fact, Dina has also ended up with the same score and even the same SOS as Rita, but Rita’s SOSOS was just 3 points higher (815 versus 812). Unfortunately, we have not managed to come up with a better tournament system.
Then we discussed what a shame it was, that the professional Go player Antti Tormanen was there, but he seemed to be mainly occupied by the Finnish participants of the side tournament, and therefore, we could not learn anything from him. And I was quite disappointed that there were no proper cameras and all the photos were taken from mobile phones, but at least there was an initiative of group photo to be taken, and luckily I could count on the other girls to share some pictures with me (big thanks go to Rita Pocsai, Milena Bocle and Julia Seres, as well as Sari Kohonen).
We spent the evening enjoying the female friendships that we have built, the view on Helsinki from Suomenlinna, and the fantastic feeling of not having to think any more after the mentally demanding two days!
Thank you to everyone who has made the tournament happen. For the full results, see https://eurogofed.org/results/women/womens2018.htm As EWGC is open to all female players representing a Go Federation/Association that is a member of the EGF, regardless of their title or rating, let’s hope that the next year’s championship in Germany will be even bigger and stronger than this one!
(If you are a female Go player, feel invited. If you are a male Go player, share the article with anyone who you think could participate next year!)