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2023 - important year for Poland and summary of 3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup
By Tomasz Andrzejewski | Articles | 30.12.2023 19:25| Views: 2623

2023 - A significant go community development in Poland

In 2023, go in Poland experienced rapid growth and significant development. Go clubs became extremely active in promoting this fascinating game and organizing various tournaments, which significantly contributed to the development of the go community in the country.
The most important events of the year were the establishment of new go clubs or their reactivation, such as those in Tychy city, Gdansk city or Lublin city. Thanks to them, the game became available to an even wider range of enthusiasts.
A historic moment also took place in 2023, when the first Felix Dueball Memorial Tournament was held in Jastrow city. This event was dedicated to the memory of the famous player and go enthusiast Felix Dueball (1880-1970), who was born in Jastrow. This tournament attracted many players from home and abroad, and made it possible to honor this important figure in the history of the game.
Another significant event was the rise in popularity of the Internet Go League in Poland (Internet Go League webpage) , which has started in April 2020. In 2023, the league noted a 25% increase in the amount of participating players, reaching more than 100 players in last season 26, and noted seven teachers reviewing the games. This demonstrates the growing interest in the game of go in the country.
We closed the year with Poland Go Championships, where for the first time we had three eliminations tournaments, to qualify to main championship tournament. That approach clearly proved interested with players to compete to qualify and we plan to repeat it in 2024.

Polish Junior Championships
Polish Junior Championships 2023
Polish Go Champions
Polish Go Champions (🥇 Koichiro Habu 5 dan - Poland Champion 2023
🥈 Cezary Czernecki 4 dan - II place 2023
🥉 Dawid Jurkiewicz 4 dan - III place 2023)
Pair Go Championships in Japan - Marcin Majka and Marianna Szychowiak
Pair Go Championships in Japan - Marcin Majka (4d) and Marianna Szychowiak (1k) (right side)
WAGC
World Amateur Go Championship  in China - Jan Fraczak 3d

Largest Go tournament in Poland's history

One of the highlights of 2023 was the largest tournament in Polish history, which attracted 175  players from more then 19 countries, including 5 professional players, with a prize pool of €10,000.
This tournament has become one of the Grand Prix events and has gained great recognition in the go community. Already the next edition has been announced with the same amount of prize money (4th China Town Weiqi Cup webpage), which indicates the further development of the go tournament scene in Poland.

Another year with Polish Summer Go School 2024

Thanks to Vít “tasuki” Brunner and Jacek “Czifu” Chroboczek, our players in Poland (and not only) had again the pleasure to participate in the Polish Summer Go School 2024. For more than fifteen years (!), the Polish Summer Go School has been organized on the premises of the "Northern Exposure" agritourism farm located on a lake - an incredibly picturesque, beautiful and peaceful region of the Tuchola Forest.

At the Summer Go School there are daily classes and many tournaments of varying degrees of seriousness. In 2023, more than 46 players participated in the camp. Photos can be found here

Summer Go Camp 2023
Summer Go Camp 2023

Results of efforts

All these events have had a huge impact on the growth of the number of active players in Poland, which has increased by 31%, from 156 players as of 2020 to 229 in 2023.
In addition, the number of organized tournaments has significantly doubled, from 25 in 2020 to 51 in 2023. This clearly demonstrates the growing interest in the game of go in Poland and the success of the efforts of the go community in the country.

New approach of Polish Go Association

In June 2023, there was an important change in the board of the Polish Go Association (PSG). The PSG board was expanded to include representatives of the largest go clubs in Poland. This historic event led to the reformation of the PSG board, which now includes 7 board members from 6 different clubs in Poland. Remaining clubs are constantly invited to the board meetings. This cooperation at the highest level between 13 clubs from Poland has contributed to better representation and co-ordination in the country.

Polish Go Association structure from July 2023
Polish Go Association structure from July 2023

European Go Congress 2025 in Warsaw!

Another important moment of the year was the outcome of the Annual General Meeting of the EGF, during which Poland was voted as the host of the European Go Congress (EGC) in 2025. This huge event will become an opportunity to promote go in Poland on the international stage.  The congress will take place 19.07-03.08.2025 in Warsaw, in a great venue of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Conference Centre Warsaw.  In addition to professional congress rooms, it also has a spa (saunas, pool, gyms), restauration and bar, an outdoor and indoor playground for children and a wonderful indoor garden and terrace, which we will also be able to use for our EGC needs. More than 100 great quality double rooms for congress participants will be shared at a very attractive rate.

Summary

I would like to emphasize that 2023 was an extremely successful year for the go community in Poland. Thanks to the involvement of go clubs, individuals, the organizers of the online league and summer camp and the success of the PSG board, the game of go is developing and gaining more and more recognition in the country.

The upcoming European Go Congress (EGC) in 2025 is a significant step in the development of go in Poland, which will probably contribute to an even greater flourishing of this wonderful game.

I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt wishes to all go players reading this article. May the year 2024 bring you many joyful moments at the go board, interesting games and success both on and off the board. May it be a year full of inspiration and surprises, and may every move waiting for you on the board be an opportunity to learn and grow. Keep playing and enjoy the game!

Tomasz Andrzejewski
President of Polish Go Association

3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup summary

Top 10 place with players from the European Go Federation
Top 10 EGF Players
First place in the tournament ex aequo Mateusz Surma from Poland 3 PRO and Minji Lee 8 PRO from South Korea
First place in the tournament ex aequo Mateusz Surma from Poland 3 PRO and Minji Lee 8 PRO from South Korea
Prizes for kids
Prizes for kids
Games review area (dedicated room)
Games review area (dedicated room)
Chillout area with view on top board
Chillout area with view of top board
Cinema area for second top board view
Cinema area for second top board view
Kids reviewing the game on magnetic board :)
Child reviewing the game on magnetic board :)
Tournament had a wonderfull climate
Tournament had a wonderful climate...

...

...and a lot of smiles from Minji Lee, 8 pro from South Korea
...and a lot of smiles from Minjin Lee, 8 pro from South Korea (it was her first tournament in Europe ever)
and organizers were able to provide another Goblet for sharing first place ex aequo few weeks later to Minjin
A honor to give second goblet for the first place ex aequo few weeks later to Minjin (we would never expect to order two goblets for 1rst place ;)

On the weekend of October 14-15, 2023, the magic of the game of go once again came to Poland. The third edition of the "China Town" Weiqi Cup tournament was then held in Warsaw, the country's capital. More than 175 people from 19 different countries of the world decided to take part in this event and compete for a total prize pool of €10,000. Among them there were also 5 professional players: Minjin Lee 8p from South Korea, Mateusz Surma 3p from Poland, Artem Kachanovskyi 2p from Ukraine, Ali Jabarin 2p from Israel and Stanislaw Frejlak 1p, also from Poland. Such a large number of participants undoubtedly promised not only exciting and fierce duels, but also totally good fun! 
 
For two days, the Warsaw University Library became the epicenter of strategic board duels accompanied by great emotions. The games took place in a spacious hall, providing comfortable playing conditions. For the strongest participants a dedicated place was set aside. Comfortable lodges located in a more peaceful area were at their disposal, so they could play their prestigious games without any distractions . The games from the top three boards were broadcast live over the Internet. Thanks to it,any interested person could watch the top go talents in action.  
 
After exhausting rounds, players could relax in a specially prepared rest room. It was a place where they could sit on soft, colorful poufs, review and discuss the games, exchange opinions or watch the live broadcast of the top board games. Another place to relax was the so-called "mini-cinema" - where one could not only  take a look at what was happening on the main boards, but  also enjoy a hot cup of tea. There were also nice cafes, stores and numerous pubs next to the University Library, where participants could satisfy their hunger and recharge their batteries before the next exciting games. 
 
During the tournament players could not only test their skills in practice, but also gain a huge boost of positive energy and motivation for further development. An additional incentive for them were appealing financial prizes, which could be won by anyone regardless of the strength, training history or tournament experience. Awards were planned for:  

- players of any strength: from beginners (starting from 20 kyu) up to the level of 4 dan,  
- players who have never participated in a tournament,  
- children and teenagers, U12, U16, U20  
- winners of 4 out of 5 and 5 out of 5 rounds.  
   
The third edition of the "China Town" Weiqi Cup tournament was also a great opportunity to make new friends, meet colleagues from other cities (and even countries!) and have great fun together. On Saturday evening, after the games, a team-building event was held at a nearby pub. The players, who had previously competed on the boards, now competed in jokes and funny stories. There was no end to the laughs, jokes and conversations. And those who were still hungry for excitement and the thrill of adrenaline measured their strength in another duels played on the gobans. 

Unique situation - two players in first place, 8 pro from South Korea and 3 pro from Europe!

One of the most exciting aspects of the tournament were the duels between the top players. Due to their unique style of play and amazing skills, the games were often full of countless twists and turns. Sometimes the situation on the board was changing in the blink of an eye, and the winner was not clear until the very end of the game. Those clashes attracted crowds of observers not only at the tournament itself, but also people following top-board struggles on their computer and phone screens at home. Let's take a look at this fascinating story, in which the participants’ fate  swung between triumph and disappointment like a rollercoaster at an amusement park. 

After three rounds in the top-group, one player, Benjamin Drean-Guenaizia (7d from France), stood out for his special achievements. The biggest surprise was his win in the second round against Minjin Lee (8p from South Korea). In the fourth round, Ben played against Artem Kachanovskyi (2p from Ukraine). It was already clear that if Ben won his game he would secure first place. Even if he had lost in the last round he would still have had the best score according to the SOS system, since he was playing against the top player. In that case, a last round win would have been a mere formality and would have established him as undefeated champion (only two other players had only one defeat to their credit). The fourth round was not only a challenging duel between Ben and Artem - there was a parallel fratricidal battle between Stanislaw Frejlak (1p from Poland) and Mateusz Surma (3p from Poland), as well as a showdown between Ali Jabarin (2p from Israel) and Minjin Lee.   
 
As is often the case in tournaments, fate had something else to say. Artem won over Ben, which meant that in the last round we had four players with one defeat, fighting each other. It was clear that the winners of those games would take the top two places. Moreover Ben had the best SOS score of all the players - the rest were at a much lower level.   
  
The result of the decisive fifth round changed the face of the tournament. In the end, the winners were Mateusz Surma and Minjin Lee. Both had a similar SOS score, as they had three common opponents and two others who achieved close results. Sharing first place ex aequo seemed a fair solution, especially since the tournament offered financial prizes for both EGF and non-European Go Federation players, which Minjin received. Ben, who moments earlier seemed unbeatable, had to accept his defeat.   

End of the tournament

After the tournament there was an awards ceremony, at which representatives of the Chinese Embassy were also present. The ceremony was inaugurated by a short speech by Ms. Wei Jiao, Cultural Counselor, in which she personally thanked the players for their numerous attendance at the event, the effort and dedication they put into each of the games played, and congratulated everyone on their successes. The best players were honored with titles in various categories, beautiful material prizes donated by the Chinese Embassy and financial prizes from sponsor - The China Town Chinese Restaurant Group. The end was accompanied by lots of positive emotions - the participants were delighted with the whole event, congratulated on its organization and already inquired about the next edition.   
  
"It is with pride and satisfaction that we sum up this tournament, which turned out to be a remarkable historical success. For us, as organizers, it was a unique event that provided incredible emotions and challenges. We would like to sincerely thank all the participants and partners who contributed to making our event such a unique and exciting tournament on the map of European Go." - reports Tomasz Andrzejewski, President of the Polish Go Association.   

"We saw great parties, amazing twists and turns, and players taking advantage of opportunities to learn and improve their skills. We are happy that we were able to prepare and host such an event for them. Once again, in accordance with our tradition of organizing tournaments, we have already collected more than 41 responses from participants (online questionnaire) as to what we should improve and what should reappear in the next edition. The fourth edition of the "China Town" Weiqi Cup, again as one of the Grand Prix tournaments of the European Go Federation, is already announced, sponsors and patrons confirmed. Two weeks after the 3rd edition of the tournament, we already have 40 people registered for 2024, including 3 pro players." - he adds.  
In our eyes, the biggest victory was the wide smiles on the faces of all the players. After all, that's the most important thing - to meet, play, make new friends and succeed in the tournament. Whether we are novices or professionals, go brings us all together. So see you at the next Weiqi Cup! 

Game video recording Game kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R1/B2 - Ali Jabarin (2p) [B] vs. Mateusz Surma (3p) [W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R1/B3 - Artem Kachanovskyi (2p) [B] vs. Stanisław Frejlak (1p) [W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R2/B1 - Benjamin Drean-Guenaizia (7d) [B] vs. Minjin Lee (8p) [W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R2/B3 - Mateusz Surma (3p) [B] - Sangyoun Kim (5d) [W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R3/B1 - Benjamin Drean-Guenaizia (7d) [B] vs Stanisław Frejlak (1p) [W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R3/B2 - Minjin Lee (8p) [B] vs. Shukai Kirby Zhang (4d) [W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R3/B3 - Leszek Sołdan (4d) [B] vs. Ali Jabarin (2p) [W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R4/B1 - Benjamin Drean-Guenaizia (7d)[B] vs Artem Kachanovskyi (2p)[W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R4/B2 - Stanislaw Frejlak (1p) [B] vs. Mateusz Surma (3p) [W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R5/B1 - Mateusz Surma (3p) [B] vs. Benjamin Drean-Guenaizia (7d) [W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R5/B2 - Minjin Lee (8p) [B] vs. Artem Kachanovskyi (2p) [W] Kifu
3rd "China Town" Weiqi Cup - R5/B3 - Cornel Burzo (6d) [B] vs. Stanisław Frejlak (1p) [W] Kifu
2023 - important year for Poland and summary of 3rd
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