This year the European Championship was organized online from September 24th till November 2nd. 32 of the strongest European players were fighting for the title of the European champion. A special tournament system was applied this year, with two qualification rounds, and a "best of three" format in the semi-finals and the final. You can find all the details on the European Championship 2020 webpage.
Since this year the European Go Congress had to be cancelled, that meant a loss of funding for the European Championship prize-money - which normally comes from the Congress registration fees. Yet, the European Go Federation found a way to collect some funds for the prizes - a crowdfunding campaign was started. In the end, more than € 3,000 was collected - an impressive amount of money. On behalf of all the participants, I would like to say thank you to the EGF, and of course to those people who contributed the money. Thanks to all of you it was possible to make this an attractive competition for all the top European players.
Here are the results of the Championship, the top four were:
1. Ilya Shikshin 3p (Russia)
2. Ali Jabarin 2p (Israel)
3. Artem Kachanovskyi 2p (Ukraine)
4. Mateusz Surma 2p (Poland)
In the final Ilya won against Ali with a score of 2:1. Below you can see the record of the third and final game. More game records you can find on the tournament's webpage, the link is given above.
Before coming to the main item, an interview with Ilya, I feel that it is my duty to explain one more thing. Some of you might have noticed that during the competition the dates of the semi-final and the final were changed. The explanation on the tournament's webpage says "due to a happy event on Artem's side". So, I guess, some of you might wonder - what kind of happy event can make a change in the tournament schedule?... The thing is, right before the semi-final match a big event happened in my family: my wife gave birth to our son. As this is our second child (the first one is a girl), I had to stay with our first child at home while my wife was in the maternity hospital. And that, of course, is impossible to combine with playing in the tournament. It was very kind of the EGF and all the finalists (Ilya, Ali, Mateusz) to agree to postpone the semi-final and the final. In the end, everything went well: my wife and child came back safe and healthy from the hospital after a few days, and we even had several days to settle down into a new rhythm of life before I had to play the final games. Many thanks to everyone who understood the situation and agreed on the change of the schedule.
Enjoy the interview with Ilya Shikshin 3p (Russia), the European Champion 2020.
1. Congratulations for your victory! How does it feel to become European Champion once again? How many times have you won this title?
Thank you. It feels great! I won the European Championship for the seventh time.
2. How did the competition go for you? Did you have hard games?
It went smoothly. I didn't have hard games this time. All the games I won were favorable for me, or at least I felt they went the way I wanted. I only didn't like the big breaks between the games.
3. How was your final match against Ali? Did you study his games before the match?
No, I didn't study Ali's games before the match. But we had two seasons of the European Professional Online Go League this year, where I played him in many games and commented his games against other professionals.
I can say that Ali improved a lot. So no wonder he managed to make it into the final. However I was ready for the final match. I felt myself to be in good shape, and I also improved a lot recently.
4. How do you feel about the format of online competitions like European Championship? Do you prefer playing online over face-to-face? You seem to show a stable and good results in online tournaments.
I think online format is a good substitution to normal competitions in these circumstances. Of course I would prefer playing face-to-face, but online format doesn't lose too much.
It has even some pluses, like you can listen to music during games and you are more flexible with your schedule.
About my recent good results - it's not because of the online format but because I am in a good shape now. Though such big tournaments like European Championship take a lot of strength from me.
For example, right after European Professional Championship there was Silk Road tournament, where I lost in the first round to a not strong opponent. It was a knock-out tournament, so I couldn't play any more.
This tournament had quite good prizes, but I just felt I couldn't fight for them. So I saved my strength for the European Championship.
5. How do you study Go recently?
I study with AI. I review a lot of my games and the games of other players with AI almost every day, so it helped me to improve my Go skills a lot.
6. Do you teach the other Go players?
Yes, I do. I have many students now. Most of them are promising youth players with 3 to 6 dan level who will be at the top in Russian and maybe European scene in the near future.
Let's wish Ilya luck to keep on showing such great performances!
For more information you can read an interview on the Online European Go Championship organisation with Jean-Yves Papazoglou.