Half a Year in China
|Table of contents||Table of diagrams
Benjamin Teuber vs Luo Gang
A few moves later
In the summer of 2013, the EGF managed to get a sponsoring contract with a chinese investor group called CEGO in order to establish a European professional system. As a part of that contract, every year from now on, a group of about 5 strong players under 26 years will go to China for some intensive professional Go training that lasts 5 1/2 months and will be followed by more online lessons. With 30 years, I am too old for a regular participation. However, I asked if I might still join for a month or two, just at the right time after Dusan Mitic? had cancelled his participation. And thanks to the efforts of Martin Stiassny and Li Ting, I was allowed to join the full programme and of course I gladly took that opportunity. So now I am studying Go in Beijing, together with Andrii Kravets?, Lukas Kraemer, Remi Campagnie? and Zeno van Ditzhuijzen.
I already came to China ten days ago since I was accompanying Manja Marz? who was participating in a female professional world championship in Suzhou and needed a babysitter for her little daughter Larissa. All of us had a great time there, even though Manja already lost her first round as expected =) Besides enjoying the tournament itself, we saw many pretty gardens and other sights and ate a lot of delicous chinese food in both the tournament hotel and some fancy restaurants in Suzhou. Everything was being paid for by the sponsoring company of that event, who not only does own the hotel itself, but also the mountain (!) that was the biggest tourist attraction nearby. My personal favourite player, Xie Yimin, whom I still know from my time in Japan when she was still Insei and who has been dominating the Japanese female Go ever since, unfortunately lost her first game, too, against the later winner of this tournament, Wang Chenxing 5p from China.
Afterwards, I went on a two day Hiking trip to the Huangshan mountain, probably one of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen (pictures will follow). From there I flew to Beijing today and I'm really exhausted from all the climbing. Our appartment is really nice and I'm sure we'll all have a great time together at this place - and of course I hope we will all become much stronger here.
The training is going on for two weeks now and I have to say it's both very good and very hard. Every morning at 9:30am we meet in our classroom at the Chinese Language and Cultural Center for Diplomatic Missions with our main coach, Wang Yang 5p, and his assistent and translator, Luo Gang, who has about the same strength as us (but much more Joseki knowledge). Currently, Li Ting 1p also joins us but she will go back to Austria soon. There will be more guest teachers as well, and I was told some of them might be really famous.. Also, we are joined by Yajing, a CEGO employee who helps managing this trip and assists us in whatever we need. She's an awesome person and we already had a lot of fun spending time with her on our free days. Our class usually starts with reviews of our previous games. I must say, Wang Yang is an awesome teacher with great insight into this game. One of his most impressing sentences so far was "When your position has no weakness, it means you are playing inefficiently". Of course that doesn't mean you should leave bad Aji everywhere, but you should not be afraid of every small weakness in your shape and avoid playing too slowly. At 11:30am we always have lunch together. After that, we play two games for our internal tournament (a league of 6 players - the 5 students and one guest that is Mr. Luo most of the time, but sometimes even a pro). At around 7pm, we go home and have dinner, then we continue with the Go problems we were given as homework by Mr. Luo as well as some more games on Tygem or against each other. So all in all, we do about 12 hours of Go every day! I alredy feel like I have improved a little or at least got into better shape, but of course that's hard to measure.. In the first week, we played a friendship match against five CEGO members and sadly lost four of them - but I hope we can get a revanche after the training period and then demonstrate how much we learned.. From tomorrow on, we will participate in two major national tournaments - the first here in Beijing, the second one in Dalian. Many of the best chinese amateur players will be there, so all of us are very excited about that. Both tournaments last four days each and have 11 resp. 10 games with a thinking time of 75 minutes sudden death, which seems to be quite common in China. We praticed with this time setting here, and I must say it's kind of hard to keep thinking clearly once you have less than five minutes left... Because of the tournaments, we had two free days this week (usually just one) which I used to visit Li Ang 3p. I came to deliver some glasses he ordered in Germany via Manja, but left as a good friend =) The next day, I went to see his game (and many more) for the Qisheng (chinese Kisei) tournament qualification at the Chinese Go institute. Unfortunately he lost, but I had a great time being able to observe about 100 pro games at once, including some famous names like Chang Hao, Kong Jie or Yu Bin. Tonight, we will leave to stay at a place closer to the tournament site for the duration of the tournament - let's see how well we can do there...
The first tournament was an interesting experience for all of us. We stayed at the house of Mr. Cheng, a good friend of Mr. Luo, since it was very close to the school where we played. It was an awesome place, very big and luxury and with a huge beamer for television - we used that to watch a lot of http://www.weiqitv.com, a nice new Chinese website where top players add video lectures almost every day. It is free for now, but one needs to register - and it's only Chinese so far, even though I heard they actually consider adding English subtitles in the future. At the tournament there were less participants than expected (74), so they decided to only play 9 rounds instead of 11. You had to be at least a certified Chinese 5 Dan in order to participate, but still the field was very mixed. Some players had pro strength, some were almost 4 stones weaker than us. In the end, we all won about half of our games without having defeated a single real strong player, so we're a little disappointed. Remi and Lukas got 5 wins at least, Andrii and me got a bit unlucky with 4 wins (I did a big blunder in yose in my last game that was clearly won). Zeno got most unlucky with 3 points while having 3 losses on time - I guess he has to work on his sudden death skills :) Besides that, the tournament was a nice experience. We met a few interesting people, for example Du Jingyu whom I still know back from his time in Germany. We also met a famous Go writer, who gave each of us a book he wrote with commented games of Gu Li against Lee Se Dol - just before he played (and crushed) me... After the tournament, we had a nice basketball match against some Chinese kids - but in the end we were just overrun since they outnumbered us (actually a common feeling here ^^).
Back home, the very next day we got a visit from three famous professionals who also give lessons on weiqitv: Liu Xing 7p, Wang Yao 6p and Zhao Shou Xun? 5p. They played 2-stone handicap games with us, and I was the only one who could score a (very lucky) win against Mr. Zhou: I was actually killed very early, but before resigning I tried to fight my way out very desperately. By the way, another lesson we got by Wang Yang was "never give up", and I think after these experience I will resign a bit later in the future even if the situation seems hopeless - because yhe opponent still needs to show his reading accuracy for a long time and you never know what can happen... Anyways, he made a small mistake and in the process I was able to kill him everywhere instead xD Though I guess that wouldn't have happened without him playing two games at once... Afterwards, we got some game commentaries by Wang Yao, who happens to be not only very famous in China (and of course just as strong), but also a very good English speaker! He will visit us once a week from now and I'm really looking forward to that.
Yesterday, we had a free day and paid another visit to my friend Li Ang - everyone but Lukas who got sick unfortunately... There, we played many games with his students, for example an 11-year old girl who almost killed my group in an even game with 30 points reverse komi for her - but then I tricked her... I also played a 2-stone-game with Li Ang, and of course I didn't resign after he killed a big corner of mine. In the next fight, he overplayed (playing two games at once as well) and I killed an even bigger group - so my second lucky win against a pro in two days... He gave us a book that he wrote as a present, and after a nice dinner his mom prepared we left quite early, since we had to get up early this morning in order to catch our train to Dalian. We arrived here after a 7-hour train ride and are now staying in a nice four-start-hotel which also serves as the tournament site. This competition will be much stronger than the previous one: More than ten 7th Dan players are registered, and more than half of the field is 6th Dan (which is very strong in China), so I wonder how many games we will be able to win starting from tomorrow... I just hope noone will leave with zero points - because then he would have to clean the whole school building as a punishment oO But let's wait and see...
The second tournament was a great experience, much more interesting than the first one even. First of all, it was organized very well, with all participants staying and playing at the same hotel. The opening ceremony was very funny too: Lukas was asked to say some words in Chinese, while I played a song (they had even organized a guitar for me). For this, we got some very beautiful calligraphies that were usually given as prizes for a Go quizz (thus, with a little help from Li Ting Zeno and Remi got some as well..). During the games, the atmosphere was very intense, since it was a national tournament and only players over 18 years could participate. I naturally lost my first two games to strong opponents, but then I managed to play better and ended with a score of 5-5, while the other four Europeans ended up 4-6. When comparing this to European tournaments, there are a lot of differences I think. First of all, Chinese players are much weaker in the opening than in the other stages (of course there are exceptions). So we had a lot of games where we thought our opponent was very weak after like 20 moves, but still got crushed during later fights or just in the endgame. Also, I believe the players here have much more will power, so even when they are behind, they continue calmly while aiming for weak points instead of surrendering or desperately starting a final fight like most players in Europe would do in a similar situation. I guess it's only natural that the most common sentence our teacher Wang Yang says during analysis is "it's still a very long game" and I cannot agree more after my personal experiences. So no matter how good or bad the position may seem, never start to lose your concentration, just continue with all your power!
Yesterday we were invited into the studio of WeiqiTV? to play a fun game in their series of "Ama vs Pro with special rules". First, a wheel was spun in order to decide which extra rule there is (e.g. "pro must take back one move of your choice" or "pro may not play in line 4 or higher during the first 30 moves"). Our rule was "there must be just one group", so for every additional white group on the bourd there was an extra 10 point komi for us. We then played as a team against a female 1st Dan player, so we had a board to debate and when we agreed (which was usually not the case..) Andrii played our move in the computer. But with 30 minutes, then 30sec byoyomi and 5 stubborn Go players, we got a lot of trouble and died with a big group. Luckily though, we lived with another one and since white had 3 groups at the end, we won with 10 points. You can see the game at http://www.weiqitv.com/play.php?vid=159&playgroup=1&index=0 if you can manage to register at that site first.
EDIT: You can also see a short interview with us at http://www.weiqitv.com/play.php?vid=159&playgroup=2&index=1
On the 17th, we got a visit by Mr. President, Martin Stiassny himself =) Because of that, we now did the official opening ceremony with some nice decoration, important guests and speeches. The most interesting part was a letter being read to the audience from the Chinese Weiqi institute - they like this project very much and I hope they might give us some support of their own in the future. After the ceremony, I played a game with my old friend Du Jingyu, and for some reason he let me win after a fierce battle which I pretty much lost. I guess that wouldn't happen to him in a serious tournament game, but anyways I'm proud since it's very hard to beat a Du, even if he doesn't try his best. In the evening, Martin visited our apartment and over some wine and beer (usually we are not allowed to drink before class or tournaments, but I guess that's an acceptable exception), he gave us some more detais about the upcoming EGF pro system and the newest developments in Go politics in general. He already had to leave the very next day, but I'll be glad to see him again soon at the Pairgo World Championship in Tokyo.
The very next day, when I showed one of my games (a pretty bad one), master Wang Yang interrupted the analysis and gave a very long speech that I'd like to summarize for you. He said our actual knowledge of Go and our reading skills are considerably good, but we all have a big problem concerning risk management and controlling ourselves during a game. That was quite an eye-opener for me, because while in theory I know about the following concepts, I wasn't aware how bad I actually am when it comes to practice. The first and most important lesson is: Always keep calm. People are very emotional, and especially playing this game of mind battling can cause a lot of feelings. I cannot count the number of times I lost a game in an altered emotional state. Maybe my opponent played a strange variation and I was angry about not winning easily against him now. Or I was too confident that almost any move would win this game. Or I was shocked by a good move I didn't expect, or still frustrated about an earlier mistake I made. Go is not just a game of skill. It also is a game of concentration, will power and self control. So no matter what triggers your emotions during a game, you need to try calming yourself down in order to continue playing the best Go you can. Of cause this is easier said than done and takes a lot of practice - even pro players are not immune to emotions. But they are better at controlling them, and top players like e.g. Lee Changho excel at this. As with almost everything, awareness is the first step on the path of improvement. So please think for yourself about how emotions affect your Go. Don't beat yourself up for having lost by a big blunder against a weak opponent who just wouldn't resign, but instead consider that the reason for your defeat might have been a lack of emotion control, which is a very difficult thing. Try to work on controlling your state of mind, and you will find yourself winning many more games than before.
The second topic was risk management. So how should you deal with risks during a game of Go? First of all, no matter what there will be risks, always. You cannot avoid that, because as I said before, when your positions have no weaknesses at all you are playing inefficiently and you probably will just lose on points. So instead, you have to bravely face all these risks and you must not be afraid. On the other hand, this doesn't mean you should just fights everywhere and engage into unreasonable battles. It is a matter of balance, and while your winning chances are at about 50%, you should seek a medium level of risk. Of course in order to do that, you must be able to correctly evaluate how risky a certain variation actually is, so reading ability and positional judgement are crucial, as always :)
How should you play when you are behind? First of all, stay calm - it will still be a long game. Second, increase the risk level by a little - emphasis on "little". A strong Go player almost never goes "Allin" in poker speech, so don't just start a desperate resign sequence. Instead, try to put some pressure on your opponent and wait for mistakes. Your goal is to have more points at the end, not necessarily after the next 10 moves. Anyways, take territory as much as you can in order to catch up - this will make him feel most uneasy. Even if your opponent has more influence or stronger groups, he will still have to prove that this is worth any points in the end. Try to attack his weak groups, but in a profitable way - when you need to kill in order to win, you will usually lose. You could also try to build a moyo. Maybe he will go in too deep or not deep enough and you can profit from that. Another strategy is leaving a weak group to attack. Maybe your opponent will attack to hard or even try to kill it and loses many points when he fails. However, don't leave weak groups that are easy to attack profitably, e.g. next to an enemy moyo where each attacking move helps him solidifying his framework at the same time. Reading ability and fighting skills are crucial for this strategy, of course.
How should you play when you are ahead? First of all, stay calm - it will still be a long game. Don't get too excited, you may still lose no matter how big an advantage you have. Think of it as a tennis match. You may have scored a break or even win the first set, but there are at least two more to come. Anyways, when leading try to lower the risk level by a little. Don't start throwing points out of the window or get lazy in your reading - you still want to find the best move on the board, always! Also, there will still be risks left that you have to face, unless your opponent is very weak. The bigger your lead, the more you can go for safety.
It is all a matter of balance. For me, the funny thing is, in Germany I've got quite a reputation as a reckless fighter who even continues with doing overplays when being ahead. But for Wang Yang, I'm a solid player who likes to avoid risk most of the time. Of course I still overplay a lot of positions, but I underplay at least as many of them. Here is the position he started his speech at:
I am black against our assistant teacher, Luo Gang. The marked stones were all bad exchanges I played and and after , the black position is pretty bad. There is an annoying cut at a, so I have two potentially weak groups next to white's thickness. However, the territory is stll pretty even, even if the thickness advantage white has should be worth at least 10 points.
I continued like this:
Here is the resulting position from the sequence we played. While I managed to defend my weaknesses, white converted his thickness lead into a territorial lead and thus had a very easy game from now on (he still gave me chances that I didn't take, but that's a different story..). My playing style was just too solid for this situation, I had failed to increase the risk level when I was behind...
Wang Yang instead proposed the bold move of , attacking white's corner group while trying to take territory at the top. To me, this seemed like an insane idea. Usually, leaving two weak groups on the board is like committing suicide against high-dan opponents. But this position is different, since there is no clear and easy way for white to actually gain points by these attacks. On the lower side, my 4-4 stone helps a lot in this regard - if white had a stone there, he could just build points on the bottom while chasing black's stones on neutral points. But since it's black, white has to think a lot about his next moves, and it's quite possible that there will be some mistakes. Don't try this at home, though =) Usually leaving two weak groups is a bad idea, even when you're behind. This ony works when there's no clear way of attacking...
Did you know that Gu Li is an excellent soccer player, too? A few days ago, we had a friendship match against a team of seven Weiqi pros (two substitutes) on an indoor field. Well, we got completely destroyed and at some point I stopped counting goals - but I really hope we can get a rematch after we got some more practice. The biggest problem afterwards was not being able to take a hot shower, since a water pipe in our diplomatic residence had been broken for a couple of days - so even the embassador of whom we sometimes meet in the elevator has to stick with cold showers in the morning these days. The good news is a cheap and close sauna we found - guess I'll pay another visit today... Yesterday's Chinese lesson was very nice - now I'm able to say the time :)
Since we're back from the big firmament in Dalian, I lost all of my league games and I feel quite frustrated about that - especially since I believe I actually play much better than before - in almost all games I had a very good position at some point, but somehow I lack the concentration or emotion control to really get it home. As an example, take this game against Lukas which has some very interesting opening aspects. After 84 moves, I have a position that looks like every go player's wet dream, but I miss all chances to simplify the game, and after a bad endgame with time trouble (we still use sudden death) and two half-point-kos I gave up for no reason, I finally lost by half a point... Well I guess I'll just have to endure this crisis and hope it will help me improve even more in the long un.
EDIT: Replaced game link by Eidogo so the comment is included
Last week I played the Pairgo world championship in Tokyo with my good friend Olga Silber. Before the tournament, we had very low expectations because she didn't play a lot of Go. That was due to her studying for her law exam ask the time, which she now passed with very good marks - congratulations :) So instead of the tournament itself, at first we rather focused on side stuff like the national costume party (or, as I call it, the day of the Lederhosen).
But then, Olga played an astonishing Go and to my very surprise, after three straight wins we made it to the semifinal against Korea. Of course we lost and they became world champions - I believe the girl could give me two stones. We also lost the last game against Taiwan, the runner-up, and ended becoming 9th which we are very proud of. After the tournament and a whole-day-meeting with my employers at Pandanet, I flew back to Beijing. When I arrived at the flat after 11pm, I noticed something was strange. No laughter, no clicking of stones, and Rémi was the only one still awake. The others had been practising in a Chinese Weiqi school for the last week, and playing 2 or 3 games every day against Chinese children (most games were losses for Europe) must have been very hard for their mind and body. The next morning, I went to the school with them and I was really impressed by what turned out to be the biggest Go school in the world. In a normal high-school (well if normal includes a big monument showing famous Nie Weiping games in the middle of the courtyard), a whole floor has been rented by the school with about six classrooms. I think they have over 200 students, so when they play a round of their league tournament it feels like a Go Congress to me. I was also surprised by the big number of girls, about one third and they were evenly distributed among all leagues. So I guess China's Go future is rather safe :) From now on, we will play there for one week every month so I'll be able to experience that for myself soon enough. Today we had to stand up very early as we are about to play a very interesting team tournament. It is 8 players per team, including one male and one female pro. Two of both teams start playing Pairgo, while the rest of the team can analyse freely. After 72 moves, there's a 5-minute-break for analysis, then two different players continue playing until move 144. Then two more players play until the end, so six players are involved until now. In addition, two substitutions are allowed - so when there's a great Tesuji on the board or when a player doesn't know what to do, we can swap players. Our team consists of Wang Yao, Li Ting, our assistant teacher Luo Gang, and the five of us. We are "coached"by our sponsor, Lu Bin, who has about our strength as well. Here's the strategy we have worked out so far: Luo Gang and Rémi will start with the opening - they have the most knowledge about openings. When things start getting unusual and we can profit from analysis, Lukas or me will get swapped in after getting some instructions. Ting will play middle game, either with Andrii (fighting game) or me (peaceful game). We will probably change a second time during the middle game. For the end, we want to use our secret weapon, Wang Yao, and he will probably play with Zeno who did very well in yose during practice. First we wanted to bring me in endgame, but I perform worse than Zeno under time pressure. Of course, depending on the situation, we might consider letting Wang Yao already play in the middle game to either win or turn around the game. The tournament is about to start, so I'll report later how it worked out..
The team tournament didn't work out as expected and we lost both of our games. I guess the main reason was our strategy to let our strongest player, Wang Yao, play at the endgame and not before. We thought there are the most of moves there and the pressure is highest. But unfortunately, in both our games, we were already behind by too much for him to catch up. So if a similar event will ever happen again, we would definitely let our strongest play play the middle game.
The winter has started in Beijing, and the dry, cold and very polluted air does its best to attack our throats and general health. Maybe because of that, I've been lying in bed with the flu for the last week, so I didn't participate in the normal training. Instead, I did solve some Go problems and replayed pro games at home. Now I'm better again, but I started wearing a mask with an air filter when I leave home - hope that helps.
We're here now for about two and a half months, so it's almost halftime already. I think all of us learned a lot already, and I'm really curious to how our results will be when we're back in Europe. We understand more and more about the way pro players think about the game, and I'm starting to feel that my overall Go knowledge has almost reached the level of (weaker) pro players. Having said that, I still lose most of my games here due to my unprecise reading and my inability to keep concentration throughout the whole game. So I both feel very strong and very weak at the same time, which gives me both self confidence and motivation to work harder, even after I'll be back. From the others, Andrii is the player who impresses me most until now. It is easy to believe that he does Tsumego every day at home, because imo his reading is the best and fastest among us. During the first few weeks, I still could beat him because of a lot of directional errors and overplays that seemed to be the disadvantage of his life and death oriented practice. But now, after he worked a lot on his opening, his general planning as well as his endgame skills, he really became a scary opponent for all of us, winning our league week after week. And that guy just can't stop studying Go! Almost every time I go to bed or wake up in the morning, I hear him putting stones on the board doing either opening or life and death... So I believe he will definitely be a candidate to become the first EGF pro player or the next European champion - but since all of us are trying hard in order to catch up, we'll have to wait and see...
Tomorrow we'll leave for Yunan, where we'll stay for a week playing another big tournament. I hope we can prove how much more we've learned since the last once!
We didn't go to Yunan as expected, and the reason was me, actually... I had to get my China visa extended very urgently, and we didn't think about me having to leave my passport there while it's being done - so we had no choice but staying here. But actually this wasn't such a bad thing for any of us, since instead of the tournament, we joined the Weiqi school again like the others had when I was in Japan. I recently learned that this is not the biggest Go school in the world - I just met somebody who has one with 2000 students. But it is the biggest professional-level Go school, since all of the 180 students own at least a chinese 4d diploma. Another reason why staying in Beijing was not so bad was me getting sick again - maybe I didn't take enough time off to recover in the first place. This time, it got even worse and I had to take antibiotics and some other medicine to recover. Fun fact: In the hospital, I payed only 0.50€ for the doctor, but almost 100€ for the medicine in my presciption - so about 200 times more! Anyways, I really wanted to play in the so-called big cycle and not miss it again, so I just went ahead and played anyways. On the first day, I started with a solid 0-3 - and I'm not sure if I could win more without the fever.. However, after one week my score was 6-7, same with Lukas and Rémi. Andrii had managed to win seven games, while Zeno couldn't focus well in these noisy classrooms and ended with five wins only. After that, we were divided into smaller groups according to the results and played a small cycle of five games for half a week. I played in the 15th league and ended up 1-3 since one of my opponents was absent. On tuesday night, we had our weekly review session with Wang Yao, but this time, we held it in the WeiqiTV? studio right at the Chinese Go Institute. This will be the first English video available on their website, and many more will be recorded before we go back to Europe. I will notify you one the new English section is available on their website.
After that, I finally had some time to recover and I'm much better now. This week, the SportAccord? World Mind Games started here in Beijing and I'm glad the European team with Fan Hui, Ilya Shikshin and Pavol Lisy did so well and beat the American team with 3-0 - another demonstration that Europe is getting stronger and stronger! During this weekend, I had my own events at the SportAccord? which is a funny story. As some of you may know, there was an online tournament at Pandanet, my employer, whose winner was allowed to fly to Beijing and play a professional. Unfortunately, both the winner (Victor Chow), and the runner-up (Cornel Burzo) couldn't make it so Pandanet decided to send me instead as I'm already here. Funny, I seem to get a lot nice opportunities due to other people being absent recently - I wonder what will happen next xD So, yesterday, I played a two stone handicap game with Michael Redmond 9p, one of my idols since I was 14 years old. Unfortunately, the time limit was only 30 minutes sudden death, so trouble in the endgame was certain. The opening went almost exactly as I had prepared, I just played a move that was a little heavy in the second joseki. Things went on smoothly and while he might have been able to catch up a little, my lead was still convenient while the middle game was about halfway done. But I only had ten minutes left and started to play fast. Then my biggest mistake of the game happened, leaving me with some heavy stones I had to connect while he was able to build a nice territory with a former weak group and the game had turned. I guess it was still close, but more and more errors occured when I had to basically play blitz, so I resigned when I was behind by maybe 10 points and had only one minute left. Today, I had another game against the winner of a chinese online tournament. I expected a chinese 6d or 7d amateur and went to the tournament site with more confidence than yesterday - until my opponent was introduced to me. It was noone else then Shi Yue 9p, the current LG cup holder and maybe the best Go player in the world! I got 2 stones again and I was told it's 30 minutes sudden death again. This time, the opening was much harder already and I had only six minutes left and a slightly favourable position in the late middle game. I knew I had no chance to play a solid endgame with such a little amount of time, so I decided to go all-in and invaded his framework which seemed almost territory already. But of course he found the correct moves to kill me and I lost at least ten points in the process. But by now, I had discovered something else: My time was always being reset to 5 minutes when I used less then a minute for a move - so we in fact did play with a byoyomi of 5 times one minute! So I played on, but of course lost some more points in the yose. At some point I counted and was behind by ten points, so I resigned again. I still wonder what would have happened if I had known the time setting and continued to play normally, but I'm sure he might have been less gentle in this case. Anyways, just after our game stopped, we already had to leave for the prizegiving, so probably the byoyomi was just a mistake by the person setting up the clock in the first place. Then I was honored as the official winner of the SportAccord? online tournament - nice :)
We will have three more days in Beijing until almost all of us will leave for Guangzhou, where a big team tournament will be held over christmas. Lukas and me will be joined by Johannes Obenaus? to complete the German national team. Johannes is currently staying in Taiwan for a student exchange (probably mostly playing Go), so I guess the German team has the shortest travelling distance right after China this time :) This tournament will be huge, with lots of big prize money (some specifically for Amateur teams, too) so I hope I will get the chance to play more top pros over there - even if I can expect to face an even harder time without a handicap..
After another 8-hour train ride, we arrived in Guangzhou, staying at the great Baiyun Hotel where I already was for the WAGC in summer 2012. Unfortunately, this time we can't use the roof swimming pool at the 31st floor since it's already too cold. (but still warmer then Beijing). Tomorrow, we will play all three rounds of the qualification stage of this team world championship, and Germany's first opponent will be Macao. I think we are the stronger team, but with a time setting of only 30 minutes and three times 30 seconds, we still need to be very careful not to do anything stupid. All team setups can be found on the French Go Association Website. Our bus for the tournament site will leave at 8:15 in the morning, so I'll go and get some sleep before the exhausting qualification phase.
The qualification phase turned out to be quite tough for the German team. For the first game, we played against three 5d players from Macao. My game was quite tough, but in the early yose my opponent didn't just defend and make it a close lead for him, but rather tried getting more by starting two kos in my corners. But in the process, he first suffered a loss and then even died with his group after which he had to resign. Lukas had a very easy game at the second board until he blundered and died with a group, street which he was behind by a lot. However, he kept calm and played normal yose until his opponent managed to die with a group. Their third board was strong as well, and after an intense game Johannes lost by 2.5 points. For the second match, we had to face the very strong Ukraine. I played Artem, who seems to be in a bad shape since he overlooked a geta at the beginning. After that, I was in a clear lead when he tried to enclose his center in the largest possible way. The shape looked like I could easily live inside, so I tried since I couldn't count fast enough to decide if just reducing from the outside would be enough.Now I know I should have sacrificed one byoyomi period for the count, because I died in the worst possible way - but it was still close! I made a few more mistakes in yose, and in the end I lost by 11.5 points. I don't watch the CEGO duel of Lukas and Andrii on board 2, but Andrii won. Johannes managed to great Dimitro Bogatsky, so we were very close to a direct qualification in round 2 already. Later, the Ukraine even beat the USA with two pro players! In the meantime, we played against France which gave another CEGO duel, Rémi against me. He gave me quite an easy time though and had to resign quite early. Lukas won against a 4d, too, so we were already qualified - which Johannes didn't know when he played a 3d on the third board. He was leading by over 20 points when he suddenly made a big blunder and died with a big corner which was seki. He was shocked, wondering he might have just lost our qualification for no reason! But after he lost by 7.5 points, we could calm him down so he could soon again laugh about his oversight. After this, we went back to the hotel and straight to the opening ceremony, where everybody had to wear the same traditional Tan dynasty shirts, giving quite a funny view. All the pro players were there as well, and Lukas totally freaked out when he discovered the Lord Himself (also known as Lee Chang-ho) on another table, while met two of my former teachers: O Meien taught me a lot when I was Insei in Japan, and now I might even play him! Kwon Kap-yong owner of the famous Korean Go school I once visited and IMO the only master of the true Gangnam style (the school is located in Gangnam, Seoul) came here as a representative, too. I remember one lesson where he expained how you should play against Lee Chang-ho: "You must be like a dog", he said. "Cling to his leg and never let loose again, that's the only way one can beat him." When I heard that, I never imagined that this could ever be helpful for me, but while I was writing, the next pairing was drawn - and we will actually play against Korea 2! Since they did their lineup based on age, Johannes will play with Lee Chang-ho - and of course I instructed him to play like a German Rottweiler tomorrow. Lukas will play Yu Ch'ang-hyeok - the former best attacking player in the world - while I face Cho Hun-hyeon, another legendary player. Of course, we're very excited about this match, and we'll try to give all we can, dreaming of a Chinese christmas miracle...
Well, the Christmas miracle didn't happen and we lost all three games against Korea. However, Lukas had a really nice position against Yu Chang-hyeok after he managed to kill some stones in the center, but from this very moment he started getting too nervous and made too many mistakes. Johannes and me lost without too big a chance, even though I managed to kill ten of Cho Hun-hyeon's stones which he hadn't seen - but it just wasn't enough... For the second match, we played against the strong team from Hongkong and my opponent was the famous KGS player kghin. I already messed up the first corner and died with a group, but he actually killed it in the wrong way which gave me a nice wall in return, so I think I was actually in the lead after my death. About 20 moves later, I had a very comfortable position - and then I suddenly overlooked a simple ladder, making all my nice center potential vanish! I stayed calm though and after some more exchanges, my position seemed very good again. But I left some very bad Aji by choosing the wrong move to defend one weakness, and in the end - just when I thought I was in a safe 20 points lead - he made use of that and turned around the game. In retrospect, this game makes me believe that my overall Go knowledge (like direction and positional judgement) have improved a lot recently, but my reading and general concentration are still not good enough to convert this knowledge into actual victories against strong opponents. Lukas also lost on board two - maybe because he lost all his power in the game with master Yu - so even though Johannes won, we started the tournament with a 0:2. I hope we'll do better tomorrow...
This tournament really is an amazing experience, spending so much time next to all of these legendary players. Sitting close to Choi Cheol-han in the bus, meeting Takemiya Masaki in the elevator, getting a game review by Shi Yue, standing next board when Lee Chang-ho played and beat Kong Jie - all these thing are already quite natural for us :)
In the morning, we played against Canada, which was a very close battle. I felt good after the Fuseki, so I played untypically slack in the middle game. But when we entered yose, I realized it's actually very close. However, I think I played a decent endgame after that and finally won by two and a half points. Lukas lost, but Johannes scored - so we won this match.
Then we played against Thailand, a team that seemed weaker then us just from their ranks. I had a good game until I entered byoyomi. Then, I made one critical mistake. I chose to play a huge move (about 13 points reverse sente) before an urgent one, giving him the chance to both build a moyo and aim at a cut later. After that, I invaded and we had a very complicated fight with an even result - but after that, I made use of the cuttung point left and managed to kill a big group. Lukas also lost, and I'm kind of angry at him for playing an unbelievably bad move in the early opening. We put him on board two for giving us safe wins, but instead he lost all four games in the main phase of this tournament. Johannes lost as well, so Thailand beat us 3:0.
Tomorrow, we'll have another chance to gain about 1000€ more per person by a win - and Lukas gets a last chance to keep his face on this tournament...
For the last round, we played against Macao again. My opponent played much better than in the qualification game, and after some bad choice I faced a difficult position. I chose to fight, and he attacked a little slackly, which led to a very close endgame. I managed to get ahead there, but one bad move made it close again. In the very end I counted I was winning by rather safe 2.5 points, but I my calculation wasn't taking into account we're playing chinese rules. There was a seki on the board, and I forgot his false exe inside is still worth a point. He also got the last dame, so in the end it was a mere half-point win. But Lukas and Johannes won as well, so we won our last game by 3-0 and we expect to get quite a nice amount of prize money. This afternoon we will visit the steel company that sponsored the tournament, and the next two days we'll be able to watch the finals of that tournament - what a great christmas gift!
Happy new year to all of you :) Since we came back from Guangzhou, our schedule has been rather relaxed. Zeno and Lukas got visits from their girlfriends and moved out from the appartment for this time, so it's only three of us left. So Andrii, Rémi, and me have been playing a new years tournament in the Weiqi school. It started on the 30th and finished yesterday, with 3 rounds every but the last day and 13 games in total. So there was not much time to celebrate the new year, since we had to get up at half past seven even on the 1st January. We still stayed up and drank a little, which in retrospect might have been too much for our stressed bodies. So just the day after, Andrii got sick and stayed home. On the 2nd, Rémi followed, and yesterday I got it, too. So I barely managed to finish my last game (which I lost by 3,5 points, giving a final score of 6-7), after which I decided there's no point in playing the next follow-up tournament whose first game would start yesterday, too. So basically our apartment has been turned into a hospital now, and I hope we're all better soon. We have to be fit by the mid of this month, because we'll then start a big internal tournament which will decide which one of us (or two, that's unclear yet) will participate in the first official European pro qualification tournament!
Until now, the schedule was still a bit less strict then before. We were doing some self-studying (Tsumego and online games or fast games with each other) and had only a few pro lessons. Also, we've visited the WeiqiTV? studio in the Qiyuan building a couple of times to record some nice advertising spots as well as a couple of - you will be able to see them once the English version of that page launches. But from tomorrow, it will become very serious again: Our pre-qualification for the European pro tournament will start! We will play with 90 minutes and 25 stones in 10 minutes, two rounds on every playing day. However, there will only be three playing days in every week, so we have some time in between for game reviews and regaining our mental power :) Everybody will play everyone else four times, so there will be 16 games for each player. After that, the winner and possibly the runner-up (that will be decided later) will be able to join the three pro qualification tournaments that will be held at the Strasbourg, Vienna and Amsterdam tournaments. I will try to post the results here after every week, and possibly some games if I find the time. I hope we will see exciting and high-quality games...
Happy Chinese New Year! This is the first time I experience this festival in China and it's quite impressive - the Chinese use even more fireworks than us Germans, and even after four days we still see and hear a lot of it especially in the evenings. The downside are a lot of closed shops and restaurants, so we had a lot of time to just play at home, watch movies or just relax and regenerate from the exhausting tournament days we had before. Let's start my report on that:
On our first playing day, we realized we'd have a problem with our clocks as they don't support canadian byoyomi. So instead, we now play with 30 seconds per stone. In retrospect, it might be not enough - the quality of all games is rapidly falling once players reach byoyomi.. But since we already started the tournament with this setting, we will probably keep it anyways. In my first game, I had a tough fight with Zeno, and while I felt like having a good game most of the time, it was rather close and complicated. But just after he managed to win some points and get a reasonable position, he entered byoyomi, overplayed and died with a large group. In the afternoon I played Rémi, an opponent against whom I alway have good results despite of his excellent judgement and overall skill by now. This game, I was behind all the time after losing a corner at the beginning, but in the end I turned it around by killing a corner by Ko. Two days later, I faced Andrii, who is always a hard opponent due to his excellent reading skill. I got a good position in the opening, but after then he fought well and got some nice profit, while I got something in the center. We both made a couple of mistakes in dealing with that center, but in the end I managed to keep some points there and win by 7.5 points. Lukas and I played last and he's another opponent that is very hard to play for me since his positional judgement and feeling for the game is just amazing. However, Lukas still sometimes has problems with focussing for the whole game and might play some careless moves. This game was examplary for what I stated. After the opening, I was behind by points and felt totally outplayed. But then he overplayed in my area of influence and in the end, I managed to kill a big group and thus win the first week. Here are the results and some game records / commentaries. I will try and add more later.
|Benjamin||1 C||1 R||1 C||1 C||X||4:0|
For the second week, we played in the same order but with reversed colors. So again my first opponent was Zeno, who forgot an exchange in our first joseki which gave me a nice head start. He managed to fight his way back into the game though, but I was still ahead when he played a seemingly small move. I took a bigger one instead, but that was just what he wanted and he found a Ko to kill my group. However, I managed to survive that fight and after he made a mistake in byoyomi, I killed him instead. On the next playing day, I had Rémi in the morning and Andrii in the afternoon, followed by on online game of the French-German Supergo match - so a rather busy schedule. The game with Rémi started well and I got into a favorable fight. He even gave me a chance to kill his center group, but I missed it and screwed up more things afterwards. What followed were a couple of mistakes on both sides, and in the end I missed my last chance and lost by 5.5 points. The game with Andrii was complicated from the start, and after some mistakes on both sides I had a big territorial lead while he had impressive thickness in the center. My points were worth more, so I was ahead until I overplayed and just died in his influence. So I got a rather bad day - but at least I could win in the evening against Benjamin Papazoglou to make up for it. Against Lukas, I had the advantage of having rested in the morning while he had lost to Andrii. It felt like a replay of our last game: I got a disadvantage in the opening and was split into two groups, until I started to fight back and somehow managed to kill his group. So after week two, I'm still ahead with two losses, closely followed by Lukas and Andrii with three losses. Right now we're still having a (Chinese) new year break, but I guess the next rounds will start soon and will become very exciting!
|Benjamin||1 C||1 R||0 C||0 C||X||6:2|
Our Chinese New Year break ended with a visit to the CCTV studios, where we watched Shi Yue beat Murakawa Daisuke in an exciting game. A day after, we continued to play our tournament. My game against Zeno was very tough again, and at some point I might have died with one of two weak groups. But Zeno missed the important point and a few mistakes later, I had the upper hand. In the afternoon, Rémi messed up the very first corner and after that, I had a rather easy game. Two days later, I faced Andrii and the game looked rather promising after he gave me a ponnuki early on. However, I messed up the key fight and got a bad position, and played the losing move shortly after. Against Lukas, this time I had the favourable start after he overplayed in my corner. We both fought quite well, but at some point I let him off the hook too easily and the game was close again. After that, I somehow lost focus and played a few questionable moves, so I believe I was already behind when I missed a shortage of liberties under time pressure, which eventually lead to a big group dying. Since Andrii scored a perfect week, he's now in the lead, followed by me and Lukas with one resp. two more losses. The last games will be postponed since Lukas will enter an important Chinese exam on Sunday, for which he'll be studying a lot in this week, while the rest of us enjoys some lessons with our new teacher, Zhao Baolong 2p. He's not famous yet, but he's extremely strong as well, and already comparable to the top players in the world despite being just 19 years old.
|Benjamin||0 C||1 C||1 C||0||X||8:4|
Today I'd like to talk about something rather private. Insomnia - in normal days, this is just a latin word without much meaning to me. I don't really think about it - I just get to bed when I feel tired and after some time, I sleep like a baby. At Go tournaments, it's a bit harder because of being in an unfamiliar bed (or couch, mat or whatever). Also, I go to bed rather late because it's just too much fun to hang out with you guys. Maybe I'd play a bit better with more sleep, but usually it's still enough. But then, once in a while, there are important games - games I want to win so much I worry about every little detail in advance. I want to sleep very badly before a game like this, and this is what makes falling asleep the hardest. One example are the German Championship finals. I don't want to use it as an excuse for never winning the title so far, but as a matter of fact I don't recall ever playing a final game without having slept more than 5 hours before. Probably the ability to sleep should just be considered a part of the playing strength... Yesterday was another sleepless night for me. I knew it'd be very hard to play Rémi and Andrii (who had a bye and thus could relax before playing me) today, and since this might be one of the few chances of ever becoming a pro player, I naturally wanted to be as fit as possible. On nights like this, I suddenly notice the how hard Chinese matrasses are. Also, I got very upset when two of my flatmates decided they needed to talk until after 3am, and wouldn't stop after I complained multiple times. I then tried earplugs, but the uncomfortable feeling in my ear didn't help either. That's when I turned on music, but I could still hear sounds from the next room - sounds that I probably wouldn't even notice on a normal day, but yesterday every word I heard felt like a personal attack on my Go career. At some point, the noises stopped, but now I was too upset to sleep either. In the end, I slept about 5 hours and lost both of today's games after not being able to focus at all. I feel very disappointed, as well us just angry - both at my ignorant fellows and at myself, for being so complicated and driving myself crazy just when it matters most to stay calm. I guess I really need to find a solution for this problem if I ever want to be able to become a pro - or the German champion... Any advice is appreciated. Anyways, my chances to be first are pretty much gone now. On thursday afternoon, I will play my last game against Lukas - probably for the second place, which might still be nominated for the pro tournament. The good thing is that the game will start in the afternoon, and I have a bye in the morning myself. But just to be sure, I might consider going to a hotel for that night anyways...
RBerenguel: I recommend getting used to earplugs. Once I did (took me a while) sleeping in noisy situations is a breeze. Of course, racing thoughts can't be helped, but if the environment is silent, it eventually fades (even if out of boringness.) And good luck, in case you haven't still played the games :/ Benjamin: Thanks, that sounds like good advice - I'll try to practice that a bit...
After my painful losses, I managed to calm myself down again before the next playing day. I also talked to the other guys about my sleeping problem, which helped to restore the atmosphere in our apartment. Last night, I went to bed with earplugs and fell asleep rather quickly. This time, Lukas couldn't sleep somehow - maybe he was nervous himself about the tournament. He lost in the morning against Andrii, who managed to finish this tournament with an impressive score of 13-3. So I was playing with Lukas for place two, and since he seemed in a bad place just like me before, my confidence rose. His opening seemed superior to mine, but when he gave me a rather big corner, I was feeling happy when he started a Ko. After we both played some bad exchanges for Ko threats, he let me win it without getting more than two normal moves in return. I was in the lead, and after I got a large center, he didn't see any more chance and resigned, leaving me with a second place I'm quite proud of - even though of course I'd prefer to be number one... Now CEGO and the EGF will have to decide if they'll allow me to take a seat in the pro qualification tournament besides Andrii, who will play there for sure. No matter what will be, I guess we deserve to celebrate tonight, which happens to be Andrii's girlfriend's birthday...
Everything went really fast once the big and exhausting tournament had ended. On sunday, Rémi, Andrii, his girlfriend Daria and me visited the Great Wall - an amazing experience! I've been here before in summer, but it was nice to see snow-covered trees around it for a change - even though the view wasn't very far because of fog (yes, real fog and not the gray stuff we have in Beijing all the time). For me, the nicest thing about this world wonder is that you can actually experience its sheer grandiosity with your own body. So when you end up at the last publicly accessible tower, out of breath and with hurting legs, you realize what a tiny part of that thing you just left behind, which gives an overwhelming feeling.
The only disadvantage of a trip like this is that you will be totally exhausted for the rest of the day, which might be not the best thing if you have to play against a player as strong as Thomas Debarre in the evening for a French-German Supergo? match. It was very hard for me to focus, and I already fell behind in the first corner. From that point on, I faced an uphill battle all the game and was very close to resigning when in the late middle game, he gave me a chance to catch up by some points as well as close a moyo. He just needed to make live inside to win this game, but we ended up with a ko fight. The game still felt lost at this point, but at least it was complicated and we both were in byoyomi, so my confidence rose and I was hoping for a chance. Thomas played a questionable local ko threat, and after some quick reading I decided it wasn't one - he had overlooked an empty triangle that killed him with almost no aji a few moves later. He had to resign and I felt quite sorry for him, since he really had outplayed me pretty much all the time. On the other hand, Go is all about keeping your concentration up until the very end - there are simply no such things as already won or already lost games! I guess if Thomas works a little on that, he will become an even scarier opponent than he is in the present...
This week, we had two more, rather relaxed training days where teacher Zhao Baolong reviewed our games or discussed some openings with us. It is almost certain (modulo Visa) that he will move to Vienna soon and teach there for a couple of months. He will also be our online teacher during that time, since the training isn't yet over. We'll still have daily games and lessons at home starting from April. Wednesday he had a farewell party consisting of two-stone games against our former teachers and other pros (sadly though we lost all, though every one of us demonstrated a lot of skill before messing up at some point) as well as a nice dinner together. Andrii already flew home yesterday, followed by Lukas today. The rest of us cleared the apartment today - I cannot believe how much stuff every one of us had to take home! Books, trophies, clothes, gifts - it was way too much. To my luck, a Chinese friend offered to help me with shipping my books to Germany which leaves me with much less overweight. I'll still have to take my chances at the airport, and maybe I have to throw away a couple of things there. We already did leave tons of things with Luo Gang, who arranged a car today to pick up these as well as some Go boards we still had. Rémi and Zeno will fly home tomorrow morning, while I stay at my friend Li Ang's place for two more nights before finally going home.
Right now I'm at a hotel close to the Airport - my flight will leave very early next morning. I'm in an excellent mood. I just got word I'll be playing in the EGF Pro Qualification, so I'll soon get a chance to demonstrate my new knowledge to the world. Right now, this feels like the perfect closure for this adventure. Maybe I shouldn't say "closure" because even though the journey is over, our CEGO training is far from being done, as I have mentioned before. And even after that, I'm sure that I'll always continue to try and improve my skills in this beautiful game.
This blog, however, will end right here, and the only one thing left to say is thank you. Thank you Mr. Lu and CEGO partners, for making all of this possible. I don't believe any European ever had the chance to practice like we did before, and the thought of this being repeated for ten more years should make every Euro Go fan shiver in anticipation of where this is going. This vision could also be realized thanks to the help EGF and especially Martin Stiassny. Thank you Li Ting, for first connecting the right people and then doing an amazing job of planning, organizing and staying with us in Beijing for many months. Thank you Luo Gang, for being teacher, translator, manager, and at the end even assistant for us. The sheer amount of work you have put into this project is unbelievable, and I hope our future results will make you feel it was worthwhile. Thanks to all of our teachers: Wang Yang, Wang Yao, Wang Zheming, and Zhao Baolong. Your skills as both Go players and teachers are amazing, and you definitely changed the way I think about this game for the far better.
And last but not least, thank you, dear reader and friends. Your support kept me going in down times, and I'm grateful for your interest in my Go life. If you really made it through the whole text until here, I want to reward you with a free teaching game if you like - no joke! Just ping me on IGS (bteuber), KGS, Tygem, WBaduk (all three Ahamay), or send me a mail to bsteuber AT gmail.com . I might be busy now and then, so no promises about when this is going to happen - especially if many people will be asking. But I'll try my best to play with every one sooner or later.
That was all, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Goodbye and see you soon!
RobertJasiek: Input of the "When your position has no weakness, it means you are playing inefficiently" kind is much appreciated. More generally, what is the contents of the teaching lessons? Are we Westerners weak because of life + death reading and endgame, or what else is everybody missing?
Benjamin: Well I guess the most and biggest mistakes are reading errors indeed. But his comments emphasize a lot on efficiency, like
deviating from a normal joseki sequence and starting a complicated fight just because you have thickness on the board somewhere on the board and it needs to be used. I hope I'll be able to upload some game commentaries soon, but I messed up my hard drive partition table, so I'll need a reinstall first :) Or I'll use new ones e.g. from the next tournament...
StefanKaitschick: "When your position has no weakness, it means you are playing inefficiently" doesn't make a lot ot sense to me. Because if you have no weakness now, your free to create a weakness in the next move. I think the asian way is to play 12 hours a day. The explanations are mainly embellishment. An anecdote: I served my compulsory military service a long time ago, on a walnut shaped minesweeper. During a maneuver we came into heavy weather, and I got very seasick. I was laying on the floor, ready to die. The commander(KaLeu?) would have non of it though. When he spotted me, he came close to me and yelled a single word: soldier! (Soldat!). Miraculously, I was able to stand up and perform my duties. The advice that the chinese teachers are giving seems to me to be similiar to that. The message is: pull yourself together. Added thought: perhaps I'm a little too harsh. A friendlier way to put it, is that the teachers are striving for their students enlightenment. More like zen masters than like math professors.
Benjamin: No I think it's quite an important observation: The idea that honte is often too slow nowadays. Of course, it doesn't mean playing thin moves everywhere all the time - but before defending, better think about whether it's really worth one move at this stage of the game!
Stefan: I still feel that a position without problems is a legitimate part of the good play spectrum. One might say though, that if a player has worry-free positions too often, he's probably not playing flexibly enough. Bots are a positive example of this - they have no plan, that's the ultimate in taking a fresh look at the position with every move. :)
RobertJasiek: Are the reading errors unspecific, or is there some theory or classification about them? Is what you call efficiency related to best use of all one's stones on the board for every considered scale?
Benjamin: No I've never heard of any theory about this - but it might be an interesting research topic actually...
Chris: Hi Benjamin - Great blog and I'm excited to follow the group's progress through your musings. Will look forward to seeing some game reviews, joseki tidbits, or photos as this grows.
Barbara: Hi Benni! Great blog. I would love to hear more stories about the Chinese go players und go life. Btw, are you guys starting to learn some Chinese and Chinese go terms?
Benjamin: Hey Babs, nice to hear from you. I'll try to write more about Chinese Go life in the future. About the language: We do get Chinese lessons once a week, but because of the two tournaments, we only really had two so far, so my Chinese is close to non-existing so far - but I hope it will improve at least a bit during the next months. Also, as soon as our teacher gives us a list of Chinese Go terms, we will try using them in our own discussions for practice - but so far I only know fei = keima...
Marc: Thanks for sharing your experiences! I'm always looking forward to the next update... - Actually, I'm in China now, too, but in the South (Xiamen). (If you happen to be there at some point until Christmas, please pm me at weiqi5 in the DGoB forum.) Good luck with your work!
Marlon: This all sounds very cool and fascinating! Thanks for sharing your insights with us and write some more as soon as you can :).
Chris: Ben, there is a list of Chinese go terms already on Sensei's, and it's quite exhaustive. http://senseis.xmp.net/?ChineseGoTerms
Liso: Could you gave us "some more detais about the upcoming EGF pro system and the newest developments in Go politics in general" ? :)
Sam: Hey, really enjoying reading about all of your progress! If anyone is interested (and can bear navigating through a mostly Chinese website) you can find the results of the monthly tournament in the Conclusion section of the Chinese Go school's website : http://www.gyhdc.com/ Here is a direct link to the November final rankings : http://www.gyhdc.com/news/2013115/n4339873.html And the Europeans' Chinese names ： 瑞米 - Remi, 泽诺 - Zeno, 卢卡斯 - Lukas, 安德瑞 - Andrii, 本杰明 - Benjamin.
bitti "Tomorrow we'll leave for Yunan, where we'll stay for a weak playing another big tournament". Was this a freudian slip? I hope you mean you'll play for a week, but hopefully not "weak" ;-).
Benjamin: Thx David, fixed it now :) Hope you're have a great time in the US, too..
Marc: Then I wish you all to get better soon! By the way: we are all very much looking forward to hearing more details about the selection process for the first European professionals. Your blog is currently more or less the only source of information...
Stefan: That was a very nice Supergo game you played. It's even more impressive considering you had a hard day and had lost the other two games.
Are you playing your qualifier games in your apartment? That would seem like the perfect setting for turning go-buddies into inhouse enemies. Try not to blame yourself or the others for animosities - it's kind of baked into the system.
Benjamin: No we play them in our classroom. But still this kind of long-time tournament is kind of hard for all of us I guess.
Marc: congratulations for the second place then! Hope they let you play in Strasbourg. At least one country fellow in the qualifiers to cheer for then! :-) Hartmut: Congrats for this result after a hard time and thx for the continuos information in this blog.