Go Congress 2014 - Prelude

Prelude - I - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII - Conclusion

When I woke up that Saturday morning, I was excited that the day had finally come. My first Go Congress ever! Woot!

I had the pleasure of having my little brother come up with me for the first half of the trip. And while packing was more of a hassle than I anticipated, we were on our way before we knew it.

When we arrived in NY, the first thing we did was check-in to our hotel. Though pretty much everyone was staying at the Hotel Pennsylvania, I was staying at a Marriott about two to three blocks away since I had guests coming up to visit. In addition, since I was going to be living there for over a week, I wanted to get a nicer place anyhow since the price wasn’t that much more expensive.

After checking in and unloading my backpack, we went to a nearby Japanese curry shop that was highly rated on Yelp called GoGoCurry.

My brother got the pork katsu while I tried the grand slam (which was everything they had: sausage, chicken, pork, tempura shrimp). And while everything was delicious, I think I’ll opt for one of the regular plates next time since the grand slam was a lot more food than I was bargaining for. (Don’t get me wrong though, it was a fantastic value for the price!)

With our stomachs full of good food, we headed off to check-in at the Go Congress.

Entrance to the playing room.

As you can see, there weren’t too many people there when we arrived, so we sat down for a little bit and my brother went off to explore a bit. Before I could really get caught up in anything, I happened to see a guy walking by with the name tag that said “Dalan.” Me being me, I stopped him as he was about to walk by and asked, “You wouldn’t happen to be Dalan from KGS would you?” And who would guess, but it was him!

We chatted for a while before he headed off to do something else, but shortly after Nate arrived in the room! We chatted for a bit and took in the sights of the convention, but before we knew it we had a quite a few people starting to gather in our area. One guy in particular, named David, decided to ask us if anyone wanted to play a game. Since I hadn’t played in a while, I wanted to volunteer Nate to play; but before I knew it, I was taking Black against him (since he said he was 1 kyu).

Below is the game record along with some shots that my brother took while I was playing the game.

Though I was rather rusty, I thought the game turned out quite well if I do say so myself. Granted, it was a casual game, so I’m sure he would have approached the game differently had it been during the tournament. Nonetheless, I thought it was a fun game anyhow.

While my game was going on, Nate started a game with a player I believe was named Bernie (but I could be wrong). Here are a few shots of him mid-game.

After I had wrapped up my game, Satoru made his grand entrance! Here’s a shot of him getting introduced to Nate as Nate realizes who he actually is. Priceless moment captured by Eric.

So while Nate is wrapping up his game, I was sitting down with Satoru to show him what happened during my game. Funny thing was that there was this guy who had been watching and paying attention. Somewhere in the middle of the review, he asked me if I was BenGoZen. Turns out it was Michael (aka moboy78)! What a surprise for me to have him track me down. Haha.

Satoru reviewing a joseki (I believe).

Satoru and Michael playing a game.

A couple hours pass us by as we talk and catch up. Before we know it though, the opening ceremonies were starting!

Andy Okun (President of the AGA)

Look at all those people! And that's not even including everyone that's late and arriving the next day!

Our keynote speaker, Frank Lantz, with an interesting perspective on how to make go popular in today's society.

Overall, the opening ceremony was quite entertaining. My favorite part was the keynote speaker who had an interesting perspective on how to spread go in today’s gaming environment and made some fascinating insights into the current gaming culture in relation to go. I won’t get into it much here, but it is suffice to say that I agreed with most of his principles and will expound on it further when I am further along with my own ideas.

When the opening ceremony was finally over, it was pretty late. If I recall correctly, it was somewhere between 8-9pm when we finally set off to find dinner. Satoru hadn’t really eaten anything and was pretty hungry, so we raced off to try a ramen place called Totto Ramen.

Fortunately Eric had just been in NY the previous week, so he recognized the area we were in and recommended that we put our names down at Ippudo’s (another ramen place) as well since their wait was often shorter than what they told you. Sure enough, Totto Ramen’s wait was like an hour long while Ippudo only ended up being a 10-15 minute wait. With Satoru requiring sustenance, it doesn’t take a 9 dan to figure out where we ended up eating.

Here are some shots of our meal.

Roasted pork buns.... Yum.

Akamaru Ramen... *drool*

This is the legendary bottle of sunflower sake that we were told was the very last of their summer order (of which they only ordered like 20). Nate and Satoru can attest to its flavor and certainly enjoyed it!

Hibiscus (Left) - Black sesame (middle) - Fuji apple (right). Utterly incredible.

Dinner was a blast and certainly made for a memorable way to kick off Go Congress. Tomorrow, the official first day of U.S. Go Congress 2014!

Prelude - I - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII - Conclusion