I attended my second Go tournament ever on May 7th. The Stony Brook Go Club has been running a tournament during the university’s Sakuri Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) since 2011. I first heard about it through the AGA a few years ago but my involvement in the game wasn’t yet strong enough to get me out there.

My Go friends Ien Cheng and Logan Buckley were also interested in attending which provided extra motivation. So we found ourselves early Sunday morning piling into my car in Brooklyn to make the first round by 10am. The drive was a little over an hour and the scenery of Long Island along the way was the pleasant green of springtime.

The festival and Go tournament took place in the Charles B. Wang Center. The tournament itself was on the lower level, but the modern design of the building was such that the tournament area received quite a bit of natural light. Bagels and coffee were served while we waited for players to arrive and pairings to be calculated. I had entered as a 6 kyu, Ien Cheng as 10 kyu, and Logan as 10 kyu.

The tournament was a 4 round tournament so the time controls were surprisingly tight and I wasn’t quite prepared for that. Instead of byo-yomi, the timing controls were Fischer 25 minutes plus 5 seconds per move. In at least my first game, I overestimated how much Fischer time will add to your clock.

The first round started around 10:30am. This match was going OK for me and I believe I could have won, but I ran into time trouble and lost on time. I made the mistake of trying to record the game with SmartGo and that ate considerably into my clock. As far as I could tell the proper pace should have been about 20 seconds per move.

As it turned out Ien and Logan got paired in the first round! Though Ien won, it seemed like a pretty good game for both.

After the first round, a free lunch of sandwhiches and sushi was served and we went over our games. After lunch we went upstairs to fuel up on coffee and we noticed the center was filling up with festival attendees. There were a number of people in traditional Japanese attire as well as a few cosplayers. The location of the tournament was actually quite clever, many festival goers would walk up and inquire about the nature of the game.

My second opponent was a young 6 kyu, a student of Feng Yun. I made a lot bad mistakes in this game and my opponent won with very little effort. Somewhere in the middle game I started focusing on points and was able to chase, but not nearly enough to close the gap in a meaningful way.

My third opponent was a regular member of the Stony Brook Go Club. This game wasn’t really going my way but I initiated a ko and my opponent made some mistakes in choosing his threats. After I won the ko, the game was effectively over but my opponent lost on time so we didn’t get to counting.

The final round was also going my way but I made a critical mistake by missing a connection and my opponent started a splitting attack that was just working. I didn’t have enough time on my clock to come up with anything clever so I lost on time.

So in the end my result was 1-3. I don’t expect my AGA rank to get much of a boost, but that’s fine by me. As I noted in my last post my attitude about the game is quite different these days. As entertaining as online go can be, nothing beats playing over a real board and putting a real face to your opponent. Nearly all my games started and ended with a meaningful bit of conversation about our mutual interest in Go and that alone makes these games both more memorable and enjoyable than my typical IGS or Foxy games.

Funny enough, Ien and Logan also came out with 1-3 results. For Ien that’s actually a big deal since his last AGA rank from US Go Congress was 14 kyu. In Logan’s case it was his first tournament. As far as I could tell, we all had a great time. Along with the games it was also a great chance to hang out with a lot of familiar faces from the New York Mostly Go community.

I have little doubt that I’ll be attending next year if nothing else gets in the way.