1st Washington Open Baduk Championship - Part I

Part I - Interlude - Part II

Hey everyone! Welcome to Part I of my awesome experience at the 1st Washington Open Baduk Championship this past weekend! Though many of you already know the results of the tournament, I’ll start by asking you all to refrain from commenting on the actual result till Part II since some don’t know yet.

In addition, I’m sure that many of you are eager to see what kind of games I played, so I have gone ahead and uploaded the kifu for your enjoyment. Commentary will come in future Monday Go Meditations (which I will note for each game); but hopefully you will forgive me for not being to add commentary within such a short time.

With that said, let’s get started!

To start, even though the tournament officially started on Saturday, I had the pleasure of getting to hangout and spend time with Myung Wang Kim (9p) and Park Sohyun (3p) on Friday. (In case some of you didn’t know, I got to know Myung at the North American Go Convention last year.) After letting them do some exploring, we got dinner at a nearby Korean restaurant with some distinguished guests and ate delicious food.*

*Many thanks to our gracious hosts for footing the bill that night. It was a wonderful meal and was full of great conversation and great company.

Around the time dinner was wrapping up, I noticed that some of the guests were speaking to Myung in Korean. It seemed as if they were inviting him somewhere, and I was a little sad at the prospect of having to part ways so early in the evening; but to my great surprise, Myung then turned to me and asked if I would be interested in going with them to the local Korean baduk club?

Me? Interested in visiting a local Korean baduk club? Absolutely!

Here's a shot of the inside of the club. I refrained from taking any direct pictures of people playing since I didn't want anyone feeling uncomfortable from me doing so.

When we walked into the club, it was amazing for me to see so many gorgeous boards and bowls sitting in one room. And to top it off, there were people playing! So cool! Granted, they all spoke Korean with one another so I was rather lost when it came to what they were talking about. However, it was nice to just bask in the atmosphere and while hearing the pleasant sound of the stones clicking on the board.

After some time, we said our goodbyes and I took them back to their hotel so that they could rest since we had to be up early the next day.

This was the banner you were greeted with when you walked out of the elevator.

Before I knew it, the momentous day had arrived. It was officially the first day of the 1st Washing Open Baduk Championship!

Look at all the people registering! And I got there pretty early too!

When I arrived in the lobby for registration, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people waiting in line! “Hoorah!” I thought, “Hopefully this will help convince the sponsors* to continue doing this again next year!”

*In case you didn’t know, this tournament was being hosted and sponsored by a number of Korean companies (you can see their logos above in the first banner) and featured a number of awesome perks like free entry fee, free lunch on both days, and even cash prizes).

The sight of a room full of gobans and stones with people playing / discussing variations is always a great joy.

When I arrived in the playing room, I was also glad to already see a number of people already sitting and getting acclimated to the area. And as you can see, we were adequately prepared for a large number of players!

Here's the schedule for both days. And if you're wondering what's in the upper right, they had Wi-Fi for everyone as well (which was awesome if I may say so myself).

After a bit of waiting and catching up with various friends, the pairings were finally up. It was the fateful moment that you either dread or wait with anticipation when any tournament rolls around: the first round! The game that will set the stage for the rest of the tournament!

My opponent was an older Chinese man who might have been in his fifties to sixties. He was a 3 kyu and the game was set as even with White getting 7.5 komi. The time settings were 1 hour main time per person with 20 moves per 5 minutes byoyomi.

After exchanging customary greetings and fussing with the clocks for a bit, we started our game. The kifu below is our game. (The commentary version will be Monday Go Meditation: Game 60)

Though the game ended up being dramatic, I will have to say that I tried to play a calm and patient game as much as I could. (The idea originates from Maaike’s April Challenge). As you saw, I ended up letting an advantageous position turn into a complete disaster. It was only by sheer patience and luck that I was able to turn it around. The game was one of the longest ones that round. It took more than two hours for us to finish and I used 3 periods of overtime.* Needless to say I was relieved to win, but I was exhausted afterwards as I went off to grab lunch.

*On a side note, I just wanted to rant about how chess clocks are AWFUL for Canadian byoyomi because you end up spending more time trying to figure out whether the flag is about to tip instead of focusing on your move. So you end up playing super fast moves for fear of losing on time. Stressful I tell you!

I got the salmon bento box for lunch! There was a variety of things: rice, korean noodle with some vegetables, potato salad, kimchi, bean sprouts, tempura shrimp, and a couple of other things. Very filling!

Once everyone had eaten lunch, we had our opening ceremony (which seems a little backwards since the event already started, but it was necessary because the VIP guests could not arrive earlier).

You can see them giving speeches up front and everyone being respectful and listening.

After the ceremony was done, it was time for Round 2. My opponent this time was a Chinese woman in her forties to fifties and a 2 kyu. Since I won the first round though, there would be no handicap and White would still get 7.5 points.*

*In AGA tournaments, it seems that they calculate handicaps not based on rank but on your performance in the tournament as it progresses.

Before the game started, I decided I would continue to try and play a calm game. The kifu below is the result. (The commentary version will be Monday Go Meditation: Game 61)

To be honest, I thought that I was ahead for most of the game. I thought I had done a good job securing territory and keeping White’s territory small. However, I never actually counted and only did rough estimations.

My game took long as usual (though not as long as the first round) and there were a few people watching my game when it came time to counting. To my shock and disappointment (though probably not to your surprise), I was actually behind by 20+ points. My opponent was kind enough to try and say I was very strong and that she thought she was losing, but the defeat stung still stung quite a bit.

After the game, I did my best to try and pick myself back up. After all, it’s just one loss right? My record was 1-1 now. No big deal. Just brush it off and play better the next round. However, Round 3 was upon me before I knew it (since there was no real break between the rounds).

At the end of the last round, I mentioned that there were a few people watching towards the end. One of those was the gentleman that I would end up playing this round. He was also a Chinese man in his forties to fifties and was a 4 kyu. In this game however, I would receive give him a 1 stone handicap and only got 0.5 komi. The kifu below is our game. (The commentary version will be Monday Go Meditation: Game 62)

It was an awful game. My stamina had already been spent with the first round. So with that and the fact that I was still rattled by my loss in Round 2, I could not keep calm and played one of the worst games I’ve played to date. Complete overplays and getting into fights I had no business getting into.

Resigning within 100 moves… My record was now 1-2… Needless to say, I was upset and really disappointed with myself.

After the game, I took Myung back to the hotel so he could get some rest before the lecture that night. We talked some in the car and I was given a lot to think about. I then went off to eat dinner by myself before it was time to pick him up again.

Unfortunately I only got one shot of Myung during his lecture, but I guess it's better than nothing. (Would have preferred to have gotten one when there were stones on the board, but I was too focused on the lecture to remember to take another one.)

After picking him up, we went back to the convention and Myung lectured on a joseki that had recently been created by young Korean professionals. A lot of it went over my head, but it was very cool to see how go is constantly evolving and changing.

Once the lecture was finished, the crowd dispersed into different groups. A blitz tournament was about to start. And though I had originally planned on participating, I was not feeling up to it and decided not to. After all, today had been a rather disturbing revelation of the limitations of my go. I played one decent game and then proceeded to crash and burn…

Earlier during the lecture, I had seen Park Sohyun (3p) come in and then leave the room with one of the VIP with a board and stones. While some people went up to ask Myung some questions, I decided to go check and see what she was up to. As I prepared to walk around, the following quotation from First Kyu popped in my head:

“First kyu, a player of the first rank? Really? Have you ever competed in a professional qualifying tournament? No? Then you are not, I repeat NOT first kyu!

I know I know. Nowadays all kinds of bad players call themselves first kyu.”

“Maybe I’m just a fake 3 kyu,” I thought as I walked to find her, “Perhaps I was too naive and arrogant in thinking I could compete, let alone win, as a 3 kyu…”