The competition started in September last year. Before the main event (a win-and-continue match between the two student teams) there was also a youth match played between promising players under 12 from Europe and kids studying at the Blue Elephant School in Shanghai. In that match, the level of the European kids appeared to be significantly higher and we won 16:2; you can read more about the youth match here.
The win-and-continue match was played in the same format as in the previous edition: both parties selected teams consisting of players of various levels and the first game was played between the lowest-rated players. The winner stayed on, while the loser was knocked out of the competition. Where there was a large difference in strength between players, I negotiated with the Chinese organizers which handicap would be appropriate. The games were played with long time settings: 1 hour of main thinking time + 5 periods of 1-minute byo-yomi. The first half of the competition was held on the Yike Server, while the second half was hosted on OGS.
One difference from the 1st edition was that both teams this time included three youth players. Rounding out the Chinese team were eight students of the Fudan University in Shanghai, and the European team included a mix of university students and other young players. We had a few players who had previously taken part in the 1st edition, but there were a lot of new faces, as well. Check out the profiles of all our players here.
The Chinese team had learned from their experiences during the 1st edition and from the youth match; we all realized that European kyu ranks are very strong compared with the Chinese ones. This year, the Chinese team was crowded with 5-dan players; the lowest-rated player was a 3-dan. This match would prove to be a difficult task for our players.
In the second round, Mariia Chernova 4k played a very solid game and managed to upset Huang Ruiqiao 3d. However, the next Chinese youth players were even stronger than Huang Ruiqiao, and after eight rounds the result was 6:2 in favor of the Fudan Team.
In the ninth round, Ariane Ougier 4d, managed to eliminate the last youth player from the Fudan team. In the beginning, Ariane launched into a big ko and her opponent, Tang Xinhao 5d, couldn't find a big enough threat to win it. The later game featured many other fights until it ended with a resignation by Tang Xinhao.
The win-and-continue format can be a bit cruel, since many players end up playing only one game and losing it. If a player can manage to win one game, it's already a success. If someone wins more than one game, it's a great contribution to the team's victory.
The European team had to wait patiently until their comeback in the match could begin. Only starting from the 12th round were our strongest players able to start eliminating many players from Shanghai. The first breakthrough came from Viacheslav Kajmin 6d, who as usual tried to make his games interesting right from the opening. He won two games until Wang Zhiyuan 5d eliminated him.
The next European player in the line-up was Lukáš Podpěra 7d, who beat two Chinese players in the first half of December with his usual calm style. Soon after, Lukáš built on his success by defending the Czech Go Baron title and taking fifth place in the Grand Slam.
The Fudan – Europe match continued in the second part of January after a few weeks' break. This time, Lukáš' opponent was Zhang Liheng 5d. The game remained incredibly close until finally the Chinese player won by 1.5 points.
Just as in the 1st edition, our last player standing was Artem Kachanovskyi 2p. In December, Artem had won the Grand Slam, so we were all counting on him in the match. His task was not easy: he would need to beat four Chinese 5-dan players one after another. In fact, Artem managed to win all his games very confidently and thus brought victory to the European team!
The 1st edition of the competition was all finished within a month. This time, we had bigger breaks between rounds and the tournament took almost five months. As I was already busy with the organization work in August, for me the competition took half a year. While the tournament was running, I enrolled at university and managed to finish the first semester. I also found the time for a few tournaments, including the Pro Qualification, as well as teaching at a go camp. All that time, I was taking care of arranging dates for the following rounds in the background.
I worried a lot when our team fell behind with a clear disadvantage in the first half of the competition. However, our stronger players fought back very well and in the end, we won!
You can view all the match results and game records here.