American Go E-Journal

Behind the Scenes at the US Go Congress: An Army of Volunteers

Wednesday August 3, 2016

While the two dozen professional players and the many tournaments, lectures and simuls at the US Go Congress rightfully
2016.08.02_volunteer-IMG_0547claim most of the attention at this popular event, none of it would be possible without the small army of volunteers that keep everything going and on schedule. More than forty volunteers — ubiquitous in their bright orange Congress shirts — are helping out, according to Congress Director Walther Chen. “They’ve put in so many hours,” he says, “and I know they put in even more hours than I know about, so it’s amazing how much work goes into Congress.” In addition to all the pre-Congress work, registering, housing and feeding hundreds of go players, volunteers also re-set the huge main playing area and Strong Players Room each night, so that attendees see a neatly-organized playing area each morning. Chen says he was able to take on directing the Congress thanks to a community of active go players organizing tournaments and club meetings in the Boston area. Andrew Hall, Event Coordinator and Director of the Evening Tournament, helps organize local go club meetings on Thursdays. “One day I heard Andy Okun was getting dinner with Walther Chen to discuss possibly running Congress in Boston,” Hall said. While we’re talking, an attendee comes by to ask about accessing the wifi and Hall answers before continuing his story. “They went to dinner, and I got an email saying I was running the Congress with them.” Youth Director Devin Fraze, a math teacher from Ohio, explains that “when Fritz Balwite and Paul Barchilon were transitioning out of running the Congress Youth events, they asked me if I’d do it, so I stepped up. I love to see some new energy come to the organizing side of Congress and just to (be able to) give back to this wonderful event.”
- report by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress; photo by Chris Garlock 

Share