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Go congress in Prague

In summer in Europe, many Go events are held at the same time as summer holiday every year and entertain Go fans. Above all, the oldest and most be loved by a lot of people is the European Go Congress. This tournament, the 49th, was held for 2 weeks in Prague, a beautiful old city in east Europe, and I, too, went there to teach.

scenery of the Prague old town

Prague, where rich Vltava River runs in the centre, is surrounded by some towers and buildings which make us feel the weight of history and the appearance of the whole city is like an art work and has dignity. It is a wonderful city whenever I visit.

On Charles Bridge, over Vltava River, it's always crowded with souvenir shops,
street performers and tourists. There is Prague castle in the far distance.

Because it has such sightseeing places and also it is located in the centre of east and west Europe, more than 700 players, the biggest in number, were gathered at the congress. If you add families and children who don't play Go, there were over 900 people. I'm sure you can imagine how crowded it was.

It took place at a campus of a university which is located in a suburb, about 20 minutes away from central Prague city by subway. The accommodation was at a dormitory (twin room, 13 euro=about 1,800 yen for 1 person). It was cheap and with kitchen. The secret of the popularity of the congress must be the economical reason, too.

panorama of the tournament hall

The characteristic of the congress is that if you play 1 game a day in a main tournament, you are free for the rest of the day. Some went sightseeing in Prague and some participated in professionals' Go classes or lectures and some played against other Go lovers from all over the world and so on. So, it is the charm of the congress that everyone enjoys at own pace.

Playing games

Practicing acrobatics.

The professionals from Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan, 15 of them came to teach and to brighten up the event. During the congress, every day, you can take professionals' Tamenuchi (play many games at a time), commentary after games, and lectures and so on for free. For European people who don't have the chance to meet with professionals, the congress is a special opportunity. So we were very busy which I appreciate.

The lecture by Guo 5dan, Chinese professional, living in Holland, is always popular.

Players from the top group and Enda 9dan who is doing commentary after the tournament.

Playing 25 games at a time by Seo 9dan from Korea.

At the weekends and on Wednesdays, there was no main tournament. A lot of people went sightseeing but for Go kichi (someone who is crazy about Go), there were Pair Go, Team Go (3 in 1 team) tournament and side events were held. In that, many professionals participated, so it was fun. Of course, I participated. Putting the result aside, it was really fun.

Team Go tournament, enjoyed by 3 in 1 team.

From the evening, Fast Go, 9X9 Go, 13X13 Go, women's tournament and more were held and they were also popular. At the women's tournament, thanks to the tournament organizers, anyone who was feminine could participate so there were many beautiful women (?) and it was lively. Also, I was impressed that a beauty contest was held. It was typically European that such a sense of humor is fun, isn't it?

Beautiful women (!?) at the women's tournament.

Talking about the Czech Republic, beer is cheap and good! For 1 beer mug, 15 Koruna (about 70yen), is cheaper than water so I felt like having another one. The pub in the university changed into an instant Go club and there were many people having fun playing Go with beer in their hand till late.

At the pub. Catalin Taranu 5dan on the left.

A girl from the pub, I went to every night.

From Japan, nearly 100 people participated and also from Korea, 60 people participated. Each year, the fascination of the European Go Congress spreads to Asia and it's started to be international. People from Korea were mostly university students, strong and young. There were also some children. They stayed at Go players' houses in Germany for 3 weeks before the congress to visit Go tournaments and local Go clubs for cultural exchange. For them, it must have been wonderful summer holiday through Go.

Go and picnic on the lawn.

What I regretted the most was that the top group, the top 100 players, and others were divided in different tournament buildings. I understood that it was difficult to have places for a big number of people like that but those places were about 10 minutes walk away and it was inconvenient. By necessity, we, the professionals, too, were divided into 2 places to teach and every day, I walked a lot in between those places.

Now, next year's European Go Congress is planned to be held outside Rome, Italy, my local area. Frascati where the congress will be held is a famous resort with nice white wine. Please look forward to it. See you soon.

This "GO Friends Report " started !


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