The first official day of Go Congress! Woot! Needless to say, I was up bright and early and on my way to the hotel.
The tournament was supposed to start around 9:00am, so I stopped by the hotel cafe to grab a quick breakfast (which ended up being a croissant and an orange juice) since I wanted to make sure I got there on time.
When I arrived, the simuls and events were mostly filled; so I made a mental note to myself to aim to arrive earlier in the future if I wanted to get in a simul game.
As everyone shuffled in, we all waited for the tournament pairings to be put up. And while we were all trying to relax and enjoy simply being at Go Congress, there was definitely a bit of anxiety throughout the air as this was our first match of the tournament. After all, everyone was hoping to start off the tournament with a win.
Before we knew it though, we all went off on our separate ways to find our opponents. My opponent was an Asian girl named Kelly who was probably around fourth or fifth grade. After sitting down and setting up my iPad (for recording the game) and getting my headphones ready, we fiddled around with the clock for a bit to make sure we had the right time settings.
It took us a little while to get it right, but we eventually did and started our game. I was pretty nervous since I hadn’t played in a competitive setting for quite some time, but I went ahead and gave it my best shot. The game record is below:
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Though I lost, I have to say that overall I felt I played quite well. I made a drastic miscalculation toward the end that allowed her to destroy everything I had gained, but that is just a lesson learned for the future.
With a loss under my belt, I went off to see how everyone else was doing. Nate was still in the middle of his game, so I went off and eventually found Satoru sitting off on his own. We sat down and talked about our respective games. Soon after, Michael and Nate came to join us and we showed our games to one another.
As much as it was unfortunate at the time, it was rather funny that we all lost our first matches. And if I remember correctly, most (if not all) of the games were ones that we actually should have won. Haha.
At this point of the day, it was about to be lunchtime; but most of the gang already had signed up for events or had something planned. Nate, for instance, had signed up for a simul with Andy Liu (1p). So I decided to go ahead and wait around to see what the turnout was like for the simuls.
If you recall, at the Baduk Open Championship, I met a Korean professional by the name of Sohyun Park 4p. And though I was sad she wasn’t able to come to the Go Congress, her friend Dahye Lee 4p had come and was also bringing along something from Sohyun. So needless to say, I was excited to meet her friend!
In lieu of all that, Dahye 4p was scheduled to have a simul around this time; so I was hoping to be able to catch her so I could introduce myself and possibly play with her.
Upon introducing myself, her eyes lit up as she realized who I was and she greeted me warmly. I started out speaking in English, but I soon found out (to my surprise) that she actually spoke Chinese! Guess who also speaks Chinese? Hoorah!
Once the introductions had been made, I asked her if I could play in the simul against her. My rationale at the time was that there were only 3 boards scheduled for the simul, so I figured a fourth wouldn’t hurt since it was more a teaching game than anything else. And sure enough, she was very gracious and allowed me to play.
It had been a while since I last played a professional, but I remembered the feeling quite well and was intent on giving her everything I got. The game record is below:
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Once I had resigned, Dahye (4p) was kind enough to spend time highlighting the important parts of the game and inform me when I had made mistakes. I was very grateful to have her spend time teaching me since the other simuls were still technically going on.
As I was about to leave, she handed me a present and told me that we would arrange another time for me to get Sohyun gift. Needless to say I was beaming as I thanked her again for letting me play and teaching me.
With my simul game finished, my brother and I went off to find Nate deep in thought against Andy (1p). Here are some shots of him in action:
Apparently they ended up getting in a huge ko fight that allowed Nate to win the game. Congrats to Nate for winning against a professional!
Once Nate finished his game and we all talked for a bit, my brother and I headed out to get lunch since I hadn’t eaten anything since like 8:30am and it was around 3pm at this time. Everyone else was planning on grabbing something quick since they wanted to catch other events going on (i.e., lectures, game reviews, etc.), so I headed out with my brother off to Brooklyn for some awesome pizza.
By the time we got back to Congress, it was well into the evening. As I walked around, I had no idea where everyone was. Most of the events for the day had concluded, but there was a 13x13 tournament going on. Sure enough, I managed to find nate and Michael entrenched in their games.
Since I wasn’t participating, I stuck around to watch for a bit; but then I went off to see what sorts of random events were going on. Somewhere in the midst of that wandering though, I got a text from Myung (9p) asking me if I was up for getting a bite to eat. There was a burger place he wanted to try: Shake Shack. Without any hesitation, I told him I’d be happy to go with him; but I warned him that the lines would be decently long.
We met in the lobby, but before we headed out, a friend of his was going to join us since he hadn’t eaten as well. Who was this friend? Jungsang Park (9p).
As we walked to Shake Shack, I kept mostly to myself since Jungsang (9p) didn’t speak much English. So as you can imagine, it was mostly Myung (9p) and Jungsang talking to one another in Korean. To my utter surprise however, I found out that Jungsang actually spoke Chinese! And quite well in fact!
So for the second time that day, my ability to speak Chinese allowed me to bridge a communication barrier with another Korean professional. You have no idea how thankful I was to my parents for making sure I learned it as a kid!
The line was long as predicted, but it was great to be able to hangout with Myung (9p) and Jungsang (9p). And to my relief, they were very happy with the food and felt that the wait was worth it.
With our bellies full of delicious Shake Shack, we walked back to the hotel. As they were both tired, they went off to their rooms. I managed to find Nate and a few of the other guys hanging around. After some chit chat though, we were all getting tired so we headed off.