To be more specific Mirta and Damir Medak from Croatia and Susanne, Eva and Bastian Leissen and myself for the German team.
After weeks of preparations getting a visa and plane tickets from Frankfurt to Shanghai, finally on the 28th of November 2023 I arrived and I started my day at 5 o'clock in the morning.
And a few weeks before this journey I started preparations to beat the time difference and to maximize the time to enjoy Quzhou, the tournament and all the side events.
Traveling by train even with a delay of almost an hour was no big deal and I arrived well ahead of time at the airport in Frankfurt where I met 3 happy and excited children with their parents. Now the journey begins.
The flight was pretty relaxing, with even a little time to catch some sleep, and arrive more or less rested in Shanghai, where we met our 2 volunteers Esther and Chemmy.
Chemmy and Esther had arrived with a minivan for our journey by car to Quzhou.
Meeting Mrs. Zhang Wei, and clearing some last details for the week we had a good dinner and free time in the evening that I used to unpack, have a bath and go to bed early and have a good long rest.
Waking up early and after good breakfast we made a small tour sightseeing in the Confucius District.
Where we visited the Holy King Tower and the Chinese Cultural Weiqi Centre as well as a small museum where we could see how the G20 dinner table looked like when it was held in China.
Our afternoon was more or less free time except for a small interview with a local newspaper, the team was given some small presents and being the first team to arrive in Quzhou we were asked for a short interview and a picture.
During the evening we met most of the other teams and had a more than perfect dinner with many local specialities that needed to be tried out by me.
After this great dinner the team-leader meeting was planned and Susanne Leissen being promoted to teamleader acompanied me and was so able to learn more about what was expected of a teamleader. After the usual information was given, Susanne was part of the pairing for the first round and she participated in the draw for the german team, pairing us with the mexican team.
Quzhou International Child Friendly Amateur Weiqi Invitational Tournament und World Youth Weiqi Forum
Trip to Quzhou from November 28th until December 7th, 2023
On November 28th, 2023 we flew from Frankfurt to Shanghai at around 3 p.m. The flight took 12 hours because we had to go around Russia. The entry formalities were quite complicated because the Chinese are very strict with the requirements. We were greeted on site by two young Chinese women, Esther and Chemmy (students), with a pick-up sign and then drove another 6 hours by bus to Quzhou to the hotel. On the journey you saw many mountains, all of which were covered in green.
We arrived at the hotel on November 29th, 2023 at around 5:00 p.m. local time. We unpacked our bags there and had dinner at 6:30 p.m. It was a buffet with many Chinese specialties such as rice, noodles or seafood. In the evening we played another round of Go to warm ourselves up. At around 9:30 p.m. the evening was over and everyone went to their rooms to sleep.
On the second day we woke up at 7:30 am and went to breakfast. Afterwards we drove into town with Esther and Chemmy, who accompanied and helped us all day. We strolled through the streets in the older part of the city and visited the Weiqi Center (Quzhou International Weiqi Culture Exchange Center). There we met a 6 year old boy with his teacher. We played Go with the two of them. It was an extraordinary experience to communicate about the game of Go. After the visit we went back to the hotel.
Since we were the first team to arrive, we were interviewed and photographed by a local newspaper. At 5:30 p.m. the big “welcome dinner” took place for all teams participating in the tournament. Teams from the following countries were invited with three participants each:
There was a 12-course menu with a “sea” theme for everyone. There was, for example, sea cucumber soup, duck tongue and duck heads. Everything was placed on the table on a turntable.
The team leaders met in the evening. The opponent we were supposed to play against the next day was drawn: Mexico!
After breakfast at 9:00 a.m. the grand opening ceremony began. It lasted three hours and each special guest gave a lecture: the mayor of Quzhou City, the president of the Chinese Weiqi Association as well as the presidents of the global Go associations and other important guests. Antonius spoke for the German Go Association and Martin Stiassny for the European Go Federation. There were also other strong players (9p) present who also gave a speech. The hall where the event took place was huge and there were many white chairs marked with the flags of different countries. The entire event was translated simultaneously.
After lunch we had our first game against Mexico. All three of us won our game and scored 6-0. While we played our game, Tony and Susanne visited a local Go school where the children are taught Go throughout the day.
There was crab for dinner, but only Tony had tried one. After dinner we were the only children allowed to go on the team leaders' excursion. Our two nice Chinese companions organized this. We took a boat tour across a river in Quzhou, which was accompanied by an impressive light show. After the boat tour, we went to Weiqi Center. In the evening the buildings were lit up in bright colors. The Weiqi Center was so impressive and breathtakingly quiet.
On the way back to the bus we passed a shop that was having a demonstration of poppy seed cookies. After the show everyone got a cookie and we headed back to the hotel. Afterwards we went to sleep.
After breakfast we had our first game. We had to be there at 9:00 a.m. and we were playing against China. We lost all three of our games badly because China played with pretty strong players. After the game we had lunch and then we went to our room to talk and then rest because we weren't allowed to stay in the game room while others were still playing their game.
At 2 p.m. we had our second game against Macao China. Susanne and Tony left at 1:00 p.m. because they were exploring the area with the other team leaders. The game got tighter against Macao China. Adam won and Eva and I lost our games pretty narrowly. So we lost 2-1. As an exception, both games took place on the first floor. Everything had been rebuilt just for today. By dinner time, which was about an hour later, everything had been put away again, including the huge advertising walls and the gaming tables. Nothing much happened after dinner. Everyone went to their room and went to sleep or solved a few more tsumegos.
We got up at quarter to eight in the morning and went to have breakfast. After that we had a game against New Zealand and lost 3-0. After the game there was lunch.
The teaching games took place in the afternoon. I played with a 4p player who was playing simultaneously with 10 players at the same time. After the teaching games there was dinner and then we went to the tournament room with the players from America, Croatia and Mexico and played a bit of Go. We always played 3 on 3 on a board and the losers got a penalty. After the first round, the losers had to jump around the room like a frog.
There was no game that day, but we had an excursion program and therefore had to get up earlier. After breakfast at 8:20 am, we all got on a bus and went to Quzhou Experimental School Education Group Yuexi Campus. We learned that Go has become a separate school subject in Quzhou because they want all children to learn Go. We watched a performance by the school children there. Afterwards we visited the newly built Quzhou Library. It was bright, friendly, very modern and huge. There were high walls full of bookshelves and also a Go section with Go boards and robots that were strong at playing Go. Afterwards we visited the Confucius Nanzong Family Temple.
From 2:50 p.m. the symposium “Friendly Exchange between Chinese and foreign Children” took place, at which Susanne also gave a speech.
The next day there were two more games and it was our last game day. We played against Croatia at 9:00 a.m. and against USA at 2:30 p.m. We lost both games. After the games there was an award ceremony. We reached 9th place. In the evening we had a game evening with the participants from Croatia, Mexico and America, where we played the game Spy. At about half past nine we all went to sleep because we had to get up early the next day because most of them were leaving.
We got up at 7 a.m. and couldn't have breakfast because the bus left half an hour earlier than expected. Then we started at half past seven and drove 5 hours to Shanghai together with the Mexican team. In Shanghai we looked at the Bund, the Yuan Gardens, the Tea House and the huge skyscrapers together. We went out to eat Chinese again at a restaurant. Afterwards we visited a viewing platform on the second highest tower in the world, the Shanghai Tower. To reach the viewing area, you took a high-speed elevator that traveled 18 meters per second. It was a breathtaking view of the city. Many tall buildings lit up in bright colors.
When we got back down we took a taxi to an airport hotel to sleep there for the night. The next day was the flight back to Germany.
Another interesting visit we made was the Doolittle Museum.
Where in Europe most see the decoding of the Enigma as the major event that shorten the 2nd worldwar.
In Asia this is the Doolittle Raid, where a team of airplanes under the command of James Harald Doolittle bombed Tokyo and after the bombing planned to land in Quzhou on a small airport that was extended in silence by the chinese locals and so trying to help the group of airplanes to land safely after their raid.
This raid shifted the balance of power in the pacific greatly as the Japanese army was forced to retreat troops from their positions to defend the homeland.
A small action in the history of this war with a big influence on the result of the war.
Mirta and Damir MedakReport from Quzhou International Invitational Youth Team Tournament – Part 1
The World Youth Weiqi Forum 2023 was hosted by Chinese Weiqi Association and Quzhou Municipal People's Government on 1st December 2023. It was the first international comprehensive go event for youth founded and hosted by China.
Quzhou is also the birthplace of weiqi culture. Story about a woodman Wang Zhi playing weiqi in Lanke Mountain with immortals was told as early as the Eastern Jin dynasty (317 – 420), the earliest written record of weiqi in China. Lanke Mountain was subsequently known as “the immortal land of weiqi”.
The forum was an introduction to the Quzhou International Child Friendly Amateur Weiqi Invitational Tournament which was held from December 1-5, 2023. The tournament of “ten teams from five continents” and side-events will be described in Part 2 of this report.
Mr. Chang Hao, 9p, Chairman of Chinese Weiqi Association, and Mr. Xu Zhangyan, Mayor of Quzhou, officially opened the Tournament by putting black and white stones onto the cylinders, which started a small light show.
The ceremony was followed by a speech by Mr. Chang Hao about development of youth go in China. Looking at the amazing numbers of schools, students, teachers, as well as annual youth tournaments and events, it is quite clear that the CWA invests a lot in youth and is exploring possibilities to do it internationally.
After the official speeches and greetings, a short break was made, and many foreign players were interviewed by young reporters for social media.
Then, the EGF president Martin Stiassny held a speech about youth go development in Europe. Maybe in the next forum, more details from various European countries where youth go is on the rise would be appreciated.
Antonius Claasen, the president of the German Go Association, made a well-known point when mentioning that Europe lacks the base of new players.
Emil Garcia, the president of the Latin American Go Federation spoke about very successful promotion of Go in different countries, especially Brazil that held Youth Championship with more than 400 participants.
Stephanie Yin, vice president of AGA and founder of New York Go Institute had an inspirational speech about her own journey in go competition and promotion. It is worth noting that AGA supports top young players every year to play the American Go Congress, and 1000$ scholarship.
Xie He, 9p, questioned the benefits of teaching online. Mentioning Bende Barcza, 2d, a young talented boy from Hungary, he concluded that the new generations are very lucky to have the possibility to study go online, as opposed to himself who had to leave his hometown very young to train go.
Korean, Malaysian, Singapore, New Zealand Go officials spoke. It was very interesting to hear how some young go associations are building their bases.
On the other hand, the big associations face the same problems like Europe. Go is not as popular as computer games, was the statement of the Korean team leader Park Sung-Chul, 8p.
Mr. Ge Yuhong, the principal of the Ge Yuhong Academy in Quzhou, gave a speech. Ge Yuhong academy is the only weiqi school in China that invites international students (currently 4 European students are studying there). Mr. Ge emphasized how important it is to keep international relations. He mentioned European professional players who studied at the school some years ago. He also looked back at a few European youth tournaments, namely, SEYGO tournaments in Romania and Austria, where a group of players from the Ge Yuhong Academy participated.
Stjepan Medak and Mirta Medak spoke from the perspective of Croatia: from a country where youth go was non-existent 10 years ago to a country with quickly progressing young talents competing at international tournaments and representing Europe around the world.
Conclusion: It was great to exchange views about youth go development from different continents. Although Europe cannot compete with China in numbers of young go players, it is important to emphasize current and future European youth go projects improving both quantity and quality of international events and go schools for youth. Cooperation between China and Europe through CEGO project produced many positive changes in European go scene. Re-opening of China after pandemics opened a new chapter of this successful story.
Report from Quzhou International Invitational Youth Team Tournament – Part 2
The Youth Team Tournament
The Quzhou International Child Friendly Amateur Weiqi Invitational Tournament was held from December 1-5, 2023. Since China opened its borders on 30th August 2023, invitations were sent a bit late. The idea of the organizers (Chinese Weiqi Association and Quzhou Municipality Goverenment) was to gather 10 national teams from 5 continents. Each team consisted of exactly three players aged between 7 and 18 (no reserves) and a team leader. Europe got two slots. Germany has been directly invited for its good care about the Chinese delegation at the European Go Congress 2023. European Go Federation selected the second team based on a short list of countries with strong young players and international activity during the last two years. Although Croatia was not on the very top of that list, the team having the average strength of 2 dan has been nominated because it was the strongest team which accepted the call and duties related to the participation.
The team from Japan could not accept the invitation and organizers found a very strong replacement: “team of Quzhou”. The final list of teams according to the tournament numbers was:
7. Macao, China
8. United States
9. New Zealand
10. China Quzhou
The rules of the tournament were “6 rounds Swiss system” and the pairing for the first round according to the tournament numbers (usual for Round Robin tournaments) was quite strange. It was done in 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10 fashion, resulting in a match of the two top teams in the first round. China won that match with Korea with the result 2-1. Both China and Korea won all other individual games in next 7 rounds.
Everything else worked smoothly like “a Swiss watch”. Players were examined for any electronics with a scanner check, all teams had to sit 10 minutes before the round, team-leaders were allowed to take photos for first 20 minutes of the round. Players used Ing-timers with 60 minutes of basic time and 3 byoyomi periods of 30 seconds. One match was directly transmitted to a Chinese server (see links to all 18 games at the end of the report). One of peculiarities, becoming common in China, is that players did not count at the end of the game. When the game is over, a referee comes with the phone, takes a photo and the application is determining the winner. It would be a very good idea for European youth (and not only youth) tournaments that referees take a photo of each final position, avoiding awkward situations when counting after the game finished becomes more important than playing the game.
After the strange pairings in the first round, the next rounds were always bringing teams with equal number of match points to play each other. The teams had fixed line-ups, but it was interesting that it was possible to put the weakest player to the top board. This produced a few 2-1 results, but – in general – did not influence the final results that much.
With the help of OpenGotha, the teams final table and the results final table has been constructed:
Conclusion from the Croatian Team
The Quzhou Invitational Youth Team Tournament 2023 was an extraordinarily successful event. The organizers took care of every small detail. All participants enjoyed both the high-quality of a go tournament and the rich additional program allowing us to taste traditional and contemporary China in its “holy land of weiqi”. It would be great if this tournament became traditional, giving continental go federations the opportunity to motivate national youth teams to compete for the qualification in a high-level world event.
On the 1st of December the World youth Weiqi Forum was held and Being one of the speakers this was an exciting event for me. After some other referents I was asked and held a short speech on how and whom to teach the rules of go and thus creating a constant flow of new blood for this wonderful sport and mindgame.
After lunch the tournament started and the players now became the centre of attention.
The evening the german team was surprised as not just the teamleaders, also the 3 German players were invited to join a small cruise on the river in Quzhou with an amazing light-show along the shore as we passed by. The children were exited and had a great time.
After the small cruise, we visited the Go cultural centre once more now being able to see other parts of the museum as well.
On the 2nd of December, round 2 and 3 for the players are scheduled and the afternoon for the team-leaders was filled with a trip to the Mountain Lanke.
Here we walked a small with a tour-guide who to explained us a lot about the history of the mountain and Weiqi.
Another day over and many new impressions made.
The next morning round 4 started as planned and team-leaders and guests are kicked out of the room after 20 minutes, just as in every round sofar. Time to make a few pictures and go out to leave the players peacefully and concentrated at the boards.
This afternoon no tournament, all teams have been invited and present to play a teaching game against a strong professional.
Adam, Bastian and Eva, start to enjoy there time in Quzhou more and more.
And so they joined a small party with the American team in the evening without the team-leaders.
The 4th of December, no games today. Therefore a trip to visit some sites in Quzhou.
1. A school where children performed a dance and a fashion show for us.
2. A new futuristic library with many modern technic and a complete department for go and even places to play go.
3. The go cultural centre of Quzhou
4. The temple of Confucius
After a lunch break, a meeting with Chinese children from Quzhou took place.
A few nice shows with dancing, singing and a kung-fu performance could be enjoyed between some speeches about the friendly children projects in Quzhou and elsewhere in the world.
In the end all children exchanged gifts and from the organizers all children got a big bag full of presents.
It was clear that all children young and old enjoyed this event as could be seen during the exchanges of gifts at the tables.
Our last day in Quzhou has arrived and for all this day came way to fast. Two more rounds and than the closing ceremony will start.
In the end the German team managed to get the 9th place in this friendship tournament.
It was clear to, that all players made a lot of new friends and exchanging email addresses and more was a good indication of the newly created friendships.
The closing-ceremony was a great show of how young players can be made enthusiastic for the sport they love.
Every team was called and each player got a diploma.
Susanne Leissen who started this journey as a parent accompanying her children, was in Quzhou unexpectedly to her promoted to team leader. She did a great job as newly choosen teamleader and now we have an enthousiastic parents who is interested in doing more for Go.
As both of us could participate in extra activities created for the Special Distinguished Guests and Team Leaders, even the adults had a great time while the children played in the tournament.
All in all, I can say we as a team had not just a great time, all of us collected once in a lifetime experiences.
A week full of new impressions, feelings and new friends.
I learned that a language barrier does not exist if all are willing to communicate and play weiqi.
Even if I would make this article twice as long, I would still not be able to express on paper the amount of impressions, information and friends I made.
On our last day we travelled back to Shanghai with the Mexican team, where all of us spent a lovely afternoon with a small sightseeing tour of Shanghai.
After the Mexican team had to leave for their flight back we visited the Shanghai tower where we went up for a view of the skyline from 546m.
Picure from Mirta Medak, Damir Medak, Susanne Leissen and Tony Claasen.