Confucius Cup in Dublin: A Weekend Full of Surprises
By Milena Boclé | Articles | 09.10.2023 5:28| Views: 5003 | Comments: 2
It was a beautiful afternoon. The sun was shin...wait, no, the rain was pour…wait, the sun was…hmmm, let's say the weather was perfectly Irish, and the weekend promised great things, principally the Confucius Cup in Dublin.

If you are reading this and didn't participate, it's a little bit sad. By the last lines of this page, I hope to make you so sad that you will make sure to be there next year*.

*and if you are a coward and plan on leaving this page to avoid such feelings of regret and despair, you will never know what Cornel Burzo said to Seongjin Kim after he beat him in the tournament. Nah, suddenly you want to know ha...

Where to start? Maybe in the middle of the week. On Thursday, early players were welcomed by a special go gathering in Toner's. This is the pub where the Dublin club meets, a huge and very popular pub in the city center. It was a good occasion to meet the Dubliners and warm up with a few games. And beers.

On Friday, those who had spare time before the rapid tournament could go for a walk, to enjoy the rare moments of Irish sun, and discover the nearby area. With another Go player I will not name because “his wife would be unhappy” knowing he spent half a day with another girl, we spent these precious hours walking on the cliffs of Howth.

We walked for hours because Howth is so nice! It definitely doesn’t mean that we picked randomly the longest way and were starving and had no choice but to continue to the bitter end. (It was worth it anyway).

Having used the last of the strength in our legs, we took a bus to the Confucius Institute on the University Campus of Dublin.

The evening was to be very entertaining, with the traditional rapid tournament and its decreasing time setting from 18 to 10 minutes sudden death. With massive gaps between the levels of the players, generous handicaps were given. For instance, Koichiro Habu 5d had to give 9 stones and 140 reverse komi to a double digit kyu! We concluded this was sort of mean, because it encouraged forced stronger players to kill everything on the board.

After massive destruction, everyone went back home to get some sleep and be fresh and ready for the real thing on the following day: the Confucius Cup, with 5 rounds of epic dramas.

A Good Start to a Good Tournament

The venue was very modern, all glass walls and natural lighting. The playing area was in the entrance hall, but that was okay because it was guarded by the Confucius Institute staff, sternly preventing the kids attending language classes from running around and disturbing the players. 

The European Xianqi (Chinese Chess) championship took place in the library next to us, making the place even more full of potential champions and, therefore, prestige.

The top group included players from 3p to 3d, and through the weekend Tanguy Le calvé 1p commented the games on Twitch.

The Confucius Institute (building on the right) and the playing area. Strong players had a quiet room upstairs.

Now, let’s try something.

How about seeing the tournament through the eyes of your favourite weekend Dubliner?

When faced with questions, choose the answer you like most, pick with your heart (and mouse on the numbers on the left, otherwise it doesn’t work).

The tournament is close to starting, how do you feel?

1) oh man, this is a tough week, why did I play so much tennis? Anyway will play pac pac good games and win.

2) Didn’t play a tournament for some time, but as I am here, I better win! :) Trees are great.

3) I didn’t study Go recently so it might be tough, but the weather is good, the place is great, there are friends everywhere and the venue is pretty cool :) 

4) The tournament started six months ago. That’s what I feel.

#1) Congratulations, you picked a typical sentence from Cornel Burzo 7d and Romanian Champion!

Let him tell us more about his experience.

“It’s been a very busy week for me right before the trip to Dublin, from Monday till Wednesday late evening my daily routine included go lessons all day, tennis in the evening and the online Grand Slam qualification games late evening so...overall, it was a bit exhausting.

All the 5 games played in Confucius Cup were intense and had ups and downs, no win is easy these days I feel.”

#2) Wow, your logic follows the one of Mateusz Surma professional 3p from Poland! Are you as strong at Go?
Mateusz kindly shared with us some impressions from the tournament.

“In my opinion the Confucius Cup was organized very well. The location was easily accessible, the venue looked nice, it was green around (grass and trees - which I like), the rounds were starting on time, there was even a buffet restaurant at the same building where the games took place.

My expectations, well... to try to win the tournament. Even though I haven't been playing Go much in the last couple of years and my main focus is to still work over the platform to connect students with Go teachers (, if I already decided to play, I would like to win. Another reason for me was also to practice a bit before the other two tournaments, in which I'm going to play in October, i.e. the "China Town" Weiqi Cup in Warsaw and the Grand Slam in Prague.”

#3) Oh, this is a 8d mindset, you think like Kim Seongjin 8D from Germany!
He also tells us more about his global feeling regarding the tournament.

“The tournament was very nice, playing go at the nice venue with friendly people. And of course truly well organized by Eoghan Barry :) big thanks to him and all the ones who made this tournament happen successfully. 

Honestly all the games were difficult for me. I was lithely dominated by my opponents. I had to think so hard on every single moves where I should play 🥲

Since I started to study in Germany, I had no time for Go, but I think that if I want to join the tournament again I must train a bit by myself.”

Enjoyable weather near the Confucius Institute

#4) Did you ever organise a tournament? Because that’s something an organiser might say!

Organising such a tournament and...starting on time, a real challenge. Let’s ask Eoghan Barry, the tournament director, about it.

Eoghan Barry, the tournament director, explaining the rules and presenting the tournament schedule in front of a happy crowd of players.

“The Confucius Cup is always six months of dread and nerves (anticipating all the things that could go wrong, thinking about the work involved) coupled with some excitement because it was obviously going to be bigger than last year (50 instead of 39), and there was the prospect of Seongjin and Mateusz battling it out for the win. In the end, the win came down to the last game to finish of the last round to be played, which is the most dramatically satisfying outcome.”

The First Big Drama: Round 3

The tournament went rather peacefully for the first two rounds. Of course, the last game of the day is always something: you spent a lot of mental energy on the two previous ones, and if you won two games, you face someone who also won two games, so it’s like a small final of the day, not easy (and both players share that pain).

Where do you play?

1) - A of course, shape.

2) - B of course, sexy empty triangle.

3) - How about I don’t play at all ;)

4) - Sorry, later, I am struggling in my own game.

#1) You choose A, argh...“I am 10 kyu” is a thing you could say. This is a terrible blunder, and this game will slip through your fingers!

Let’s ask Seongjin Kim 8d about this game, against papi Cornel.

“The game against Cornel? Hehe I made a terrible reading blunder in that game, and he even posted about it on Facebook, so probably now everyone knows that I am not strong enough anymore haha. I was really upset at myself that I made such a mistake. So for me every match in the tournament was really tough. I was really behind against papi Cornel in the opening so he deserved to win that game too.”

#2) You choose B, hmm, you are so strong...a bit like the crafty veteran Burzo, who took his chance against Seongjin Kim in this position, with white.

Cornel, something to say?

“After the first two rounds, came the 3rd round against Kim Seongjin 8d where I tried hard to keep it balanced, but in the middle game I got outplayed and fell 12-15 points behind. It was a pretty hopeless game till my opponent made a blunder in the early yose stage. We had a huge ko fight in a corner and the game got reversed, but it was still tough to keep a small lead till the end. Somehow I managed, I still believe it was a lucky win.”

Old Cornel O’Burzo on his way to falling behind then regaining the advantage on the board and leading psychologically against Seongjin.

#3) Not playing at all is also an option. That’s exactly what Eoghan Barry, our tournament director, decided to do (wisely).

“It took me many years to realise how desirable it is for the tournament director to sit out the tournament itself. If you’re not playing, you have plenty of time during the rounds to make sure everything is going smoothly. And if everything is going smoothly, then I’m a lot more relaxed, less likely to make a mistake, and more sympathetic to players who want to tell me in detail about how they could have won their game if only they’d done this one thing…”

#4) Struggling in your game? Just like Valerian Bouette 3d who shares his trauma..experience with us!

“I just played against the legendary Cornel the round before, and now I get to face Mateusz Surma 3p, what a dream ! I am eager to play to the best of my ability to hear him say at the end ‘there’s no way you are 3 dan, you are much stronger than that’ (spoiler: it didn't happen). Anyway, we play a nice game in which I feel like I understand every move that is put on the board, and I even see things he did not…I am starting to believe in my chances. I have a very big moyo, who knows what could happen? Well, of course he lives inside and now I feel behind. Time to start a desperate ko out of the blue... and resign. Well played!”
Good spirit: reviewing the game together, the path to improvement.

The first day of the Confucius Cup ended with a delicious Chinese buffet at the venue and a glass of wine. Although some players were upset by their results of the day, the mood was cheerful and happy, and the pressure could finally drop to lower levels before a good night sleep. Except for a few motivated players who headed to a pub to watch Ireland beating South Africa in the Rugby World Cup match. Go on, Ireland!

Nobody could guess that the following day would be even more suspenseful.

Cornel and his students celebrating a nice day above warm and tasty Chinese dishes
And he takes the stone, he is unstoppable, 5 more points and that makes it 13-8, victoryyyyy!

Drama Continues

Morning started as the previous one, with welcoming coffee, tea and viennoiseries. After this second breakfast, it was time for the pairings and crazy fights on the first tables, in particular Mateusz-Cornel, both still undefeated. But Mateusz was stronger.

Dramas on other tables

A Decisive Fight

And here we are, with an undefeated Mateusz, and a few players with only one loss in the top group: Seongjin 8d, papi Cornel 6d and Xinqun Lu 4d who managed his way to the top tables by defeating Koichiro Habu 5d.

The four of them will have to give it all, fighting for first place in the tournament...

What do you do now?

1) - pac pac fuseki and stuff, I take the lead in the game.

2) - I’m probably a bit behind so I’ll fight as much as possible to win the game.

3) - I’m definitely a bit behind so I’ll fight as much as possible to win the game.

4) - No better way to end the tournament (besides actually ending it), thrilling!

#1) Like papi Cornel, you played stones pac pac and stuff and took a big lead in fuseki, then felt way too comfortable and managed to lose the game to a solid opponent. Never take anything for granted, and congrats to Xinqun for this final result with impressive wins!

Xinqun (right) mastering the art of staying strong, patient and solid against one of the strongest European players

Cornel Burzo 6d - Xinqun Lu 4d

Download Sgf-File

#2) Counting precisely a close game in byo-yomi is really difficult, you simply don’t have time and you may end up trying dangerous sequences in yose. This is what happened to Mateusz in the final game, against Seongjin.

“I think my game with Seong-Jin was quite good. Of course I was upset just after the game. I made a very big mistake in reading, so that I didn't kill a group in the center, and another big mistake in counting: I was ahead, but I miscounted points and I thought I was losing, so I played in a more aggressive way, which let him make a ko for my stones. On the other hand, I think that every next game which I played on that tournament was better than the previous one and that game with Seong-Jin was my best game from those five at that tournament, so I should be rather happy anyway.”

#3) If you count you are behind, you go all in, play sharp, grab every possible half point anywhere you can, if there is a ko opportunity, count the ko threats and go for it!

That’s the other side of Seongjin and Mateusz’s game.

“In the end, against Mateusz, I was lucky to win: at the last moment he gave me a chance to do a ko in late yose. If he had avoided the ko, I would have lost the game. After the game, I asked him why he gave me this chance, turned out he thought he was losing too! We were both in byo yomi so, somehow, it is understandable... but my feeling was right and, well, I was really lucky to turn on the table.”

Mateusz Surma 3p - Seongjin Kim 8d

Download Sgf-File
Mateusz (left) and Seongjin making a secret deal to keep the game result unclear until the very end, for the best excitement of the go community.

#4) Yeah actually, when does a tournament end? Eoghan tells us more about “ending a tournament”…!

“The tournament doesn’t end for me until about a week afterwards but basically as soon as the prize giving ceremony is over, my first thought is ‘how soon can I get out of this suit and into a nice, cold pint?’ My second thought is what I need to fix for next year.

Running the tournament sometimes reminds me of my days working as a bike messenger — on good days, things just flow, you have a solution to every problem, you can keep a dozen things in your mind simultaneously and forget nothing, everything gets delivered on time. On a bad day, you’re standing there in the pissing rain with a flat tire and a dispatcher screaming at you through the radio.”

The tournament ended up with the final win of Seongjin Kim, in this long weekend of surprises. Mateusz took the second place, and Xinqun Lu the 3rd. Prizes were given up to the 7th place and to other players who played wonderfully with 4/5.


Prize giving, places 4 to 7: (left to right) the Confucius Institute staff, Eoghan, Cornel, Mengqi, Zihan and Koichiro

A huge thanks to the Confucius Institute, Eoghan Barry and other volunteers for such a successful tournament, generous breakfast, dinner and prizes. Also, thanks to all the players who came all the way from every corner of Europe to Dublin!

And thanks to Rory Wales, Cornel Burzo (and a bit myself) for the pictures.

Even bigger thanks to Eoghan for his help in making all these lines readable in proper English.

I hope this article conveys the enthusiasm and nice atmosphere of the tournament and motivates you to join next year! Accommodation prices are horrific in Dublin, but by gathering with other players and planning ahead, it could reduce that problem.

See you next year!


Full results

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Confucius Cup in Dublin: A Weekend Full of Surprises
10.10.2023 16:34
That is really tremendous narrative, great writing (again) by Milena!
25.10.2023 7:34
Great article! Thanks!
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