Cornel Burzo 6d from Romania, qualified to participate in the European Grand Prix Finale 2023, which took place at the very end of the year in London. This tournament usually gathers together top players who earnt their spot by collecting "bonus points" throughout the year in the various tournaments which make up the European Grand Prix circuit.
After fierce fights on the go boards, Cornel even managed to win this prestigious tournament. This is a well-deserved recompense for his year-long efforts battling in each tournament to reach the Grand Prix final stage and demonstrate a high-level of go!
In this interview, we try to corner Cornel to know more about him, his go journey and teaching style. Many of you probably know Cornel, as he is not a newcomer to the European Go Scene.
But...how much do you really know, beside the fact that Cornel likes bright fluo orange sweaters?
Hi Cornel! As you are a kind person interested in popularizing go, I have no doubt you will answer questions for the EGF readers.
Let's start with a few questions about yourself.
We will do it like this to make it short: you have a right to use up to 8 words (not counting prepositions and articles) to answer.
Why do you play go?
Cause it’s the ultimate form of art.
Who are you?
I am a guy of many talents I guess 😊 ski and tennis being the top skills besides go.
Guy of many talents performing a fuseki better than in go
Not the talent to stick to the 8 words request I see... What do you like the most in your go adventure?
The challenge, traveling and competing is always fun.
Who is your favourite European still-alive player? You can’t answer “myself”.
Who is your favourite player of all time, deads included? Still can’t answer “myself”.
Against which player were you the most happy and proud to win in your life go journey?
You can get a bonus of more words to tell us why.
Back in 2019 I won a game vs Dusan Mitic 7d in Kedros Cup Bratislava and that was my 1000th official win and also made it to 7d myself.
Now, let’s get to more serious questions.
You just won the Grand Prix, a high class tournament one can qualify for by earning “bonus points” in tournaments in Europe. Congratulations!
In 2023, if we look back, you had impressive results, beating many very strong and professional players. Is it the result of hard training? Do you feel like you’ve become stronger?
Yes, I think overall it’s been a pretty good tournament season for me with top finishes in tourneys like Paris, Dublin, Prague, Brussels but also 1st in the National Championship and 2nd in the Romanian Cup... so winning the London Grand Prix Finale was the cherry on top of the cake, I would say that perseverance and consistency paid off as I’ve been watching lots of pro games before each tourney to get inspired. But I don’t think I got any stronger, maybe just managed to keep a level of focus better in tough matches.
There were comments from the public, about the participants this year, due to the unfortunate timing of holding a tournament during Christmas and New Year’s eve in London. Yet, nobody can deny that Lukas Podpera 7d, Mateusz Surma 3p, Stanislaw Frejlak 1p are regular players - among the top Europeans - usually beating you.
What were your impressions about this tournament, overall?
The timing for this event was quite tricky indeed. Usually between Christmas and New Year’s Eve I am very busy with ski lessons being winter holiday, but I decided to go to London with my daughter to visit some relatives alongside the tournament.
The level was quite high even if we were 10 players instead of 16 originally planned and we had some intense and exhausting games both in the groups and K.O stages.
What do you think about, during games and tournaments?
I try to stay focused on the games in general and usually I think of playing a balanced game most of the time. I don’t think about winning/losing in fact..I prefer to think of moves that can give me an edge, then count a lot and if I am leading I just try to keep/conserve that lead as well as I can.
You also took part many times in the pro qualification tournament. Do you wish to become a professional player?
It's true that I tried many times to become a European pro and failed in late stages. Maybe it’s a bit late for me to become pro at 43, but in a way I live like a pro, playing tournaments (I took part in over 350 so far!) and teaching go online since 2000.
You are a go teacher but also a skiing teacher! You seem to like sharing your knowledge and seeing your students improve! Can you tell us more about your teaching method?
I am teaching go for more than 2 decades and I am a ski instructor for 9 seasons already and even though these sports are totally different, when I teach I like to make it in a fun way so people can improve their technical skills but also have a memorable experience so one can always enjoy the activity no matter of their level.
Any advice for motivated go players, for them to improve?
In order to become a better version of yourself you should always study the stronger players. I think it’s key to replay lots of top pro games to get new ideas and of course nowadays is also great to get your games reviewed by AI.
By the way, it seems the development of go in Romania is very strong lately. We see very powerful players and a lot of young promising players improving at a very fast pace. Can you tell us more about the go situation in Romania?
There are a few cities in Romania where go is pretty active because of the local go clubs being involved in promoting the game such as Bucharest, Timisoara, Bistrita and Vatra Dornei and that’s mostly due to the effort of some very enthusiastic go players in these areas.
What do you think we lack in Europe to become stronger in Go, and would you see ways to work on it?
If we would have more tournaments with higher money prizes like the Grand Slam or higher would clearly motivate more players and the level will surely rise but for this to happen we need more exposure and attract some big sponsors. Also in order to make the pro system sustainable on a long run we should have a larger base of players interested in the game..it’s complicated.
Do you have a big go dream?
Maybe not a dream but I have a few goals for 2024.
Do you have a realistic go dream?
Will try to finish top 5 in the WAGC in Tokyo, Japan.
Do you have short term achievable go objectives?
I think I got a few go objectives like getting back to 7d level ( egd 2650+), trying to win the National Championship for the 10th time, top finish at the European Championship in Toulouse and will try to win a few Open events in order to play the Grand Prix Finals again.
See you soon in Grenoble at Tiggre Ellie Cup and of course in Vaujany for skiing.
The mountains are calling then the stones are falling 😊
Thank you Cornel!
Side note for those who don't know, the TIGGRE tournament and Vaujany Ski and go Camp are in France in and near Grenoble, in the mountains, open to all EGF players, from January 20th.
By the way, you can discover more about Cornel's teaching on OGS.