IGS PANDANET is suporting The Nihon-Ki-in professional player Yuki Shigeno who is trying to increase Go population in abroad.
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Summer in Europe, Go events are held for 1~2 weeks, during summer holidays here and there. It is a great season for Go fans. This summer, I went to the Lithuania Go camp in the middle of July and from there to St.Petersburg in Russia for the 47th European Go Congress for 2 weeks to teach Go. I was sent there by Japan Motorcycle Racing Organization.
The One Scene in Lithuania Mindunai
To Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, one of the Baltic States, I flew from Milan. The Go camp was held in Minduai town, Moletai state, one hour north from the airport by car. It is a famous resort surrounded by a forest and a lake with nature. The Go camp was held at a tidy cottage in front of a clear stream.
We played Go outside under the tent with fresh air. When the players got hot during fierce games, they could jump into the stream to refresh themselves. It didn't get dark till 11pm and at 3am the sun came up. So during this season, the day is long and it was wonderful that everybody, children and families, enjoyed playing Go, fishing, and swimming together.
The Games of Lithuania
It was my first time to visit Lithuania. What made me surprised was there were so many children! There were more than 60 participants, half of them were children and the other half were in their 30's and 40's.With many young people, it was lively with a bright atmosphere and it was very comfortable.
Teaching Games Scenery
Children were divided into 3 classes depending on their strength. To each class, I taught Go through games, gave explanations and lectures. And it was worth teaching because they learn so fast. Also, I was surprised that those children had very good manners.
Convention Champion
There is a reason why there were so many children at the camp. In Moletai city, the capital of Moletai State, 15 minutes from the camping area by car, there is a famous maths teacher who has been teaching Go for more than 20 years.
His name is Mr.Jonas. He started a Go club at Gymnasium where he works and teaches Go twice a week.
At the moment, most of the Go players in Lithuania are his students and some have over taken him, 1 kyu, and become dan players.
So we can call him the father(?!) of Go in Lithuania. I understand that Go spread like this in Lithuania because of the efforts of the local people.
All the participants, including I, were satisfied with the clean and pleasant cottage, satisfactory volume of Lithuanian meals, and also kindness and warm hospitality of the organizers for the week.
Under Movement by Night Train
After the Go camp, 6 of us, 5 people from the camp and I, went to St.Petersburg from Vilnius by night train. It was about a 15-hour trip.
I was nervous traveling to Russia for the first time but with Go friends I felt safe.
The sleeping carriage for 4 was bigger than I thought and was comfortable.
We drank beer and ate sausages and then I suppose you can guess that someone took out the Go board and enjoyed playing Go and we forgot about the time.
St. Petersburg, the old town of Russia with many canals and the Baltic Sea, is currently celebrating its 300 year anniversary and various events were held and it was very crowded with tourists.
The European Go Congress was held at the event hall of a university, about 1 and a half hours away from the city of St. Petersburg by subway and bus. It is in a suburb, which is a quiet place, surrounded by a forest which leads to the sea.
At The Convention Hall
There were about 340 participants for the main tournament for 2 weeks and if you include the weekend tournament, there were 400 participants in total from 24 countries.
A fourth of the participants were local people from Russia and a half of them were children and teenagers. The youngest was 6 years old. And it was impressive that the mothers of the children were watching the games anxiously.
This kind of scenery is the same in every country. The top group of the main tournament used Japanese rules and the rest used ING rules. Every morning they played 1 main game. There were no games on Wednesdays and weekends.
From the late afternoon, they can choose to participate in the lightning Go tournament, team Go tournament, women's tournament, children's tournament, etc.
Over here too, it didn't get dark till 12 midnight and the climate was pleasant.
A lot of people spent the long days playing Go outside with beer in their hands or discussing about Go.
The attraction of the European Go Congress is that everyone can enjoy themselves in their own way. There was a pleasant atmosphere because children who live nearby came for a walk and they leaned Go and English. They blended into the atmosphere naturally.
Outdoor scenery
During the Congress, I had a chance to visit the summer school of a primary school with Mr. Chun 7dan from the Korean Baduk Association. He has been enthusiastic to teach Go in Russia.
There were about 50 people. For about 2 hours, we played simultaneous games by 9x9. At this school, they started teaching Go in a class from this year.
A local TV station came for an interview and that was a good opportunity to promote Go.
Children were nervous in front of the camera but looked happy when interviewed.
19x19 magnetic Go board was given by the Korean Baduk Association. The teacher who is in charge of Go class has a good understanding of Go and I look forward to their future.
The most impressive thing at the Congress was that there were many strong players from Korea who participated.
So the tournament was held for the top players of Europe VS Korean players. Also for the weekends, 40 students from Curtin University of Technology from Korea who were there for the International Baduk Congress, and about 15 professionals participated.
Especially, many women professional players from Korea participated and not only enjoyed playing Go together but also had some drinks and played billiards.
From Japan, only 2 of us, I and Mr. Muraoka 9dan (who came on his own expense) from Kansai Kiin, participated.
The winner of the main tournament was a student from Curtin University majoring Go.
The top 4 places were all Koreans. Both in name and reality, Koreans showed how strong they are.
The best European player came in 5th, the Russian player, Alexande Dinerchtein. He became a professional from the Korean Baduk Association last year but at the Congress, he was amateur 7dan.
My first visit to Russia made me very pazzled because it was completely different from European society in terms of customs, culture, language, environment and so on. From photographs you can't tell but the Congress hall was shabby and dirty with a strange smell so I could not get used to the place. There were no toilet rolls or keys at the door of toilets. Big windows like a glass house at the Congress hall had no curtains so that it gets hot like a sauna in the afternoon. The environment of this Congress was entirely different from the beautiful scenery in town.
On the other hand, it was wonderful to communicate to Go fans through teaching. And this time as well, I could get to meet old acquaintance of Go friends and get to know new friends and had an opportunity to exchange information. For many reasons, for 2 weeks, I had a good time and was satisfied.
This time next year, the Congress will be held in Poland.

Q&A of Yuki Shigeno 2 dan go
2003.9 september
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