This tournament was probably just one of the major go events which were being played online so far, and it was pretty difficult to define the conditions of play. Initially we were all asked to play from the same place, but in the French squad, Junfu is living in Paris, Tanguy in Nantes, Thomas in Lausanne and Benjamin in Budapest. Rémi can’t really help from Canada. Finally, Junfu, Thomas and Tanguy managed to gather in Paris and Benjamin was allowed to play from Budapest. As a captain my job was to make sure that the players could play in good conditions, respecting the rules set by the EGF.
Leaving aside the anti-cheating business, we had a great time together. Once again, we showed an extraordinary team spirit and all the participants managed to fulfil their task. Mine was to cook, Benjamin’s was to win all his games, Junfu’s was to take care of the other teams’ leaders, Thomas’ was to bring the decisive point and Tanguy’s was to win against Dinerchtein. We also had a visit from some friends and supporters during the weekend and we made video calls for motivation with other members of the teams.
Before the first round, our players, besides Benjamin of course, were not that confident. Junfu hadn’t played a tournament since last year’s finals. Thomas and Tanguy hadn’t shown great results lately. But for the team, they were all ready to surpass themselves. Our first opponent was Ukraine. With Junfu, Tanguy and Thomas, we had gathered in Paris, in Thomas’ parents’ apartment where we could play with perfect conditions. The players were playing from the spacious living room while I was busy in the kitchen, keeping an eye on the games. Junfu was mistreating Artem. Benjamin had quite an easy game. The situation was unclear on boards 2 and 3. Junfu, Benjamin and Thomas finally won successively and despite the early death of one group, Tanguy managed to catch up and win by half a point against Andrii. We now had the time to remove all the computers in order to set the table for lunch, and the players could start their second match full of confidence.
The scenario was pretty similar against Czechia. Junfu and Benjamin were doing a great job while Tanguy and Thomas’ opponents were giving them a hard time. Especially when they repeatedly decided to play their last moves of byo yomi with just a few seconds left. I was struggling not to die from heart attack while I was stuffing tomatoes for diner. Fortunately, Thomas managed to find a ko that would enable him to make a great profit while his opponent had to defend his group. In the last game, Jan finally killed Tanguy but it had no consequences for the team. Russia had conceded a draw to Ukraine so we were leading the tournament after the first day. A draw against Russia in the final match would be enough for us to defend our title.
We could finally have the first beers of the day. Some friends had joined us: Benjamin and Julie, Osmin, Samuel. We had a nice dinner and we kept drinking beers and wine, showing no signs of stress ahead of the last game the next day. Benjamin was going out in Budapest but he promised me that he’d be home by midnight. At some point in Paris, the beers were missing and Tanguy and Thomas had to ride a vélib to go get some more. Anyway, we were full of confidence when we went to sleep before the great final that we had all expected.
After some more minutes we could finally celebrate all together. The title was well deserved. It was time to organize the prize giving ceremony. We made a video call with Benjamin on the TV screen, found the most improbable trophy in Thomas’ room and took many pictures with the French flag. Thomas had to ride a vélib’ again to get some champagne and we could finally chill and celebrate.