The battles were fierce behind the doors of the scarlet-red rooms at the Ohio Union in Columbus, Ohio, but passersby could be forgiven if they failed to notice the 30 competitors in the 2023 Midwest Open quietly playing go the weekend of March 25-26. The third annual Open, run by the Columbus Go Club lead organizer Devin Fraze, attracted players from across the Midwest, marking an increase in in-person go events following the Covid-19 pandemic. With player ranks ranging from 15 Kyu to 8 Dan, the Midwest Open consisted of a Master and Open division, and Albert Yen 8D won the Master division, followed by Xiaodi Huang 7D and Paige Lemaster 5D.
The Open division also featured strong players, many of whom played in person for the first time at the 2023 Midwest Open. In the Advanced Section, Al Tang 2D won first, followed by Mingrui Qian 2D and Jiaqi Zhang 2D. In the Skilled Section, David Rohlfing 3K won first, followed by Manny Jauregui 1K and Alper Balci 2K. Then, in the Immediate Section, Sam Fragello 9K won first, followed by Austin Thomas 7K and Winston Yan 8K. Finally, in the Foundational Section, Robin Mayorga and Bryce Snyder, both from Southeast Michigan, won first and second place, with Gregory Gerken winning third.
“Devin always has a lot of surprises,” said champion Yen, who became a two-time Midwest Open champion. “It was a phenomenal experience, especially how Devin worked with the school club." Fraze initially struggled to find a tournament venue before the Ohio State University Go Club, led by OSU sophomore Manny Jauregui, offered their support, and the Columbus Go Club was grateful to partner with the school’s club to run the event. “There is a lot of wisdom to putting your needs out into the world and opening yourself to the generosity of others,” Fraze told the E-Journal.
For many players, the 2023 Midwest Open was an opportunity to spend time with other go players. Albert Yen says he enjoyed catching up with members of the Baduk House, an Ohio-based live-and-study program, in their home field. Yen appreciates the supportive dynamic of the go community and how “everyone is trying to improve themselves through the game of go.”
“A lot of it is patience,” Yen said. “If you become too aggressive, you become too greedy. In life, you have to work hard but not overextend yourself. As you mature and grow older, your go naturally improves a little. If you don’t play in a while, you don’t get worse, and instead, you bounce right off where you were.”
Additionally, Yen encourages go players to think beyond the local position. “Tsumego is your engine, but judgment is your driver. If you miss out on the big picture, you’ll start the wrong fight,” Yen said.
Yen told the EJ that he hopes to contribute to the go community beyond his role as a player. He plans to continue creating community content, such as game commentaries and streams, and organizing tournaments. For example, he is helping to organize the upcoming 2023 Chicago Open with Evanston Go Club President Mark Rubenstein and other Midwestern players.
“The Midwest is becoming fertile ground for the go community, not just east and west coast,” Yen said. “There are more and more tournaments across the country — Iowa had a tournament two weeks ago — and we’re always surprised to see who turns up.”
Fraze thanked Jeremiah Donley, Manny Jauregui, Paige Lemaster, Luis Palacios, Ginger Persolus, Kara Ray, and all the players who helped clean up after the event.
- Report by Jamie Tang; photos by Devin Fraze unless otherwise noted.
(left) Albert Yen 8D (right) plays against Xiaodi Huang 7D (left) on the last day of the Midwest Open, Sunday, March 26, 2023.
(top right) The Open division players begin the first day of the Midwest Open in the Ohio Skaters, Inc. Traditions Room at the Ohio Union in Columbus, Ohio
(Middle right) The Ohio State University Go Club (l-r): Manny Jauregui, Dylan Jian, and Mingrui Qian and the Baduk House, Jeremiah Donley, Paige Lemaster, Luis Palacios, Devin Fraze, and Eric Yoder (photographer unknown)
(Bottom right) 2023 Midwest Open players pose in front of the Ohio Union (photographer unknown)