Lonely chessboard in atari in a bar, a precursor sign on the eve of an incredible event: European Women Go championship 2023
By Milena Boclé | Articles | 01.06.2023 19:09| Views: 7075
On May 12, as the light was fading slightly but not enough to give a strong signal of “hey hey night’s here, time to go to beee-eeed!”, girls and honourable less younger women were crossing the paved streets of the French City of Strasbourg to go to a student bar. A student bar?!! I can already hear you shouting behind your computer, anticipating the story – what! Indignation! Such a prestigious tournament as the European Women's Go Championship, held in a student bar! Is that how much we care about that tournament, to make it as a simple go club gathering?!!
So, this, children, is why you should always listen to the end what your interlocutor wants to say. Not only to avoid quiproquo, but also because it’s polite.
Now, if you let me continue, let’s go back to where we were. Blablabla girls and older women were crossing the streets of the Strasbourg to go to a student bar. There, a warm welcome was planned by the Strasbourg Go club and organizers for all the participants of the tournament, the prestigious European Women's Go Championship.
It’s always a nice feeling to arrive in a “go”-populated place after a trip and see friendly faces, some old (not in terms of age, but by acquaintance-time), some new, or some whom you saw a few times but didn’t yet get a chance to get acquainted with.

Motoki Noguchi Sama 7d and Manja Marz 4d, familiar faces we love so much!

It’s also very rare and unexpected to enter a bar and read a (real!) page of newspaper on the wall talking about the tournament you came to play in. As a matter of fact, Strasbourg has a very long go history, it brought many go champions to the go scene and is also one of the few cities in France where go is taught in schools.
Hence it was only a small surprise that a Japanese reporter with a little go history joined us as well for the weekend! Mr. Hakuba Kuwano, correspondent in Berlin, was sent by the Japanese newspaper “Akahata” to cover this upper-class tournament and write the stories of the players.
Of course, very quickly after a small dinner, everybody started playing go. In particular, a very serious rengo between Ariane 4d from France + Barbara 3d from Germany and Manja 4d from Germany and Frantisek 1d from Czechia took place in the middle of the room. The atmosphere became suddenly very tense as more and more stones were trying to escape death in a brave way on the board...everything died everywhere all at once.

Minutes before half the board tried to die everywhere. Liina 11k from Finland in the background probably wondering why dan players always try to kill something whilst the proverb states it very clearly: ‘killing is wrong’. Also, what the hell was that ko on the left (- but ahaha dear reader you can’t see, because there is a bowl of stones in front! :))

Eventually, we ended up a bit later in another regular go place, which is also a chess club. Surrounded by the darkness of potential chessboards (okay fine, there was only one when we arrived, but that’s already too many!), we decided to train on a variant of “magnetic go”, in which the stone you play attracts the opponent’s stone but pushes away yours up to another stones or the border of the goban (teach your kids and play on 9x9, you’ll get crushed but will laugh a lot). Fortunately, this time the night-sky colour was matching the weight of our eyelids, and we left to go to bed.

Morning came as always super fast. The big day was about to start. Soon enough, our names were waiting for us to sit next to them in a beautiful spacious room.

Nice, no?!

Obviously, the super-favourite was Li Ting 1p from Austria, followed by Ariane Ougier (France) and Manja Marz (Germany), both strong 4d who had already been champion and vice champion in the past years. But round 1 brought a small surprise, as Manja lost to the local player from Strasbourg, Nyoshi Cao 2d!
Surprise surprise! Black: Manja Marz 4d from Germany, White: Ngoc-Tran Cao 2d from France

The second round also came rather quickly, and Nyoshi who had just won was given another opportunity to crush a solid pretendant to the champion's crown and shine: she was paired with Li Ting 1p. Unfortunately, fame didn’t happen, Nyoshi lost.

No surprise no surprise… Li Ting 1p white, Ngoc Tran Cao 2d black.

As we played, the ones who finished earlier could go downstairs to the student bar and get a game review from the French Champions Motoki Noguchi 7d and Thomas Debarre 7d. It was also possible to simply sit and watch the top board and Twitch commentary with the European top pro players, on the giant screen of the bar. A good way to exorcise the mistakes you just play and try to do better at the following game, or simply chill in a go atmosphere with a little coffee.

Thomas Debarre (dude on the right in the back) commenting games while someone tries to set-up the full screen on the giant screen for the excited crowd (which is still playing upstairs but coming soon).

Once the third and final game of the day was over, we just had one more step to accomplish before sleeping: eating! And the Strasbourg Go Club had it all planned at the privatized student bar… with an infinite service of local “flammekueche”, a thin dough with salty or sweet topings, some sort of very very far distant cousin of a pizza but delicate and without tomato sauce.
Ok, maybe I better put a picture…
Oh no, there are no pictures…I can only invite you to google it then. Sorry, it seems we were too busy eating.

Once our stomach is a bit filled and the pain of thinking over and over our bad moves fades away, the evening is enjoyable.

Strasbourg players exorcising bad moves their own way.

We could discuss and play all sorts of go games, review josekis or make plans on future tournaments where we could meet. Or cry the missing Hungarians who didn’t make it to the tournament this year.
We also discussed how we should be critically sharp on the timing on the Sunday, as the Germans had a strike planned and… that would make it very difficult for many players to reach home on a Sunday night.

Actually, at the end of the day, Li Ting was the only undefeated player of the top group. Out of the top group, one of her daughters, Cherry Hu 12k, also managed very well to remain undefeated. But…there were still two games left, and so much could still happen!

Ariane Ougier, 4d (FR). This picture embodies amazingly the “so much could still happen” feeling, doesn’t it? And yes, the dude in the background is a multiple time French Champion 7d.

We went to sleep, finally, to wake up for the last day and see if yes or no many things could still happen.

In fact, the Strasbourg Go club had warned us: there was a running event in the city, thus tramways were delayed or cut, and circulation was complicated. That was one thing. The second thing was that German strike we just mentioned, which was like an extra life byo-yomi for the organizers.
For some of you, readers, the most incredible thing will be that the strike got cancelled because Germans found a deal. For another part of some of you readers, it will be that the tournament was very much on time anyway (and for no peculiar reason I believe my target readers here was exclusively French…?).
Let’s get back to the games.

Guys experimenting not being women in a women’s go tournament.

The fact that the running event was passing by the playing place created a strange atmosphere and the organizers started to worry: we could hear music and loud cheers from the street, which might become a little bit disturbing when we’d try to focus on reading a 20 move sequence after cutting without thinking that white weak shape that begged for it.
Those who wanted to play in a calm place were moved away or given bonus earplugs, others could play and appreciate the “go go go!! You’re the best! You can do it!” for a bit (it’s a comforting background noise, after all).

Without technical surprise, Li Ting won the two remaining games and thus the title of European Champion. Yet, the games were not that easy, so we can maybe expect some high level fights next year again!

France completed the podium with Ariane Ougier 4d second and Nyoshi Cao 2d third, saving the honour of Strasbourg.

The decisive game for the second place. Barbara Knauf 3d from Germany anticipating a “……….. I’m losing…. :'( ” look.
And the happy podium!

 Out of the top-group, Liina Laatikainen 11k from Finland, Iris Ramacher 14k from Germany and Albane Malhame 20k from Strasbourg managed to win 4 out of 5 games. Nice results!

The tournament was very well organized and in a friendly atmosphere. I should also emphaise that the Strasbourg Go club really helped all the participants to find their way around and was always making sure that everybody felt comfortable. It seems that in the past years the European Women Go Championship found sincerely motivated organizers to make this tournament happen in an awesome way. Let’s hope this dynamic will continue!




By the way, there were 45 players and 10 different countries, not bad, right? It’s actually one of the biggest editions ever!
Huge thanks to all the team of Strasbourg for their incredible organisation and warm welcome, in particular Antoine and Albert Fenech, Jitka Bartova, Nyoshi Cao and Gabriel Aussibal (and others, I sadly don’t know their names...) for this wonderful weekend!

Thanks to Motoki, Frantisek, Carlos, Chloé and Manja for the pictures used in this article!
And thanks to the useful guys or visitors for scribing/recording games on OGS!

  • You can find the complete results here:
  • On the official website, you’ll find more pictures, the games and also a press coverage (in French) of the event:
  • Japanese press articles: Mr. KUWANO Hakuba, Berlin correspondent of the Akahata Shinbun / Japan Press weekly: two articles. You can find them in Japanese, French and English on the website 
The Akahata newspaper is a daily newspaper owned by the Communist Party of Japan. It has about 1M suscribers and treats a wide range of topics.

Lonely chessboard in atari in a bar, a precursor sign on the eve of an incredible event: European Women Go championship 2023
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