American Go E-Journal

A day at the Go Congress

Tuesday August 2, 2022

One of the big attractions of the U.S. Go Congress – now underway in Estes Park, CO – is the opportunity for total immersion in the game. For most attendees, the day begins with a round of the U.S. Open, the “main event” of the Congress, with 240 players this year competing in a 5-round Swiss-McMahon tournament, with 90 minutes of basic time for each player. For regular tournament players, this is a chance to test their skills against the largest field of the year, while for others this may be their only chance to compete at an in-person event.

After lunch, where you’ll usually hear players talking about how their morning games went, there’s a wide menu of options available. Pro simuls provide an opportunity to test your skills against top players, who take on multiple opponents and then offer pointers after the games. Lectures this year cover a wide range of go-related subjects like “How to play against a strange move” by Yilun Yang, Ryan Li on Lessons from the Past, Learning from Go Seigen, or Four Trendy Ideas by In-Seong Hwang.

In addition to being the site of the pro simuls, the main playing area is where you’ll find Congress attendees playing go, sometimes just casual pick-up games but often Self-Paired Tournament games, offering a chance not only for more “serious” competition, but also to score some rating points. Here is also where you’ll find knots of players reviewing games, sometimes with a pro or stronger player who happened to drop by, sometimes just among themselves.

This is also where the go vendors set up shop in the evenings, setting out wares that include go books (and software too, these days), equipment and more, including, this year, go-related art.

In addition to the hub of activity at the main playing area, there are lectures and study sessions scattered about the playing site. Tuesday afternoon a go player wandering among the YMCA cabins could dip into both kyu and dan game analysis sessions, lectures by Stephanie Yin, In-Seong Hwang and the Teacher of the Year. Simultaneously, young players faced off in the Redmond Cup.

There are also non-go options in the afternoons, from hikes in the mountains to this year’s newly-popular sport, pickleball.

After dinner, attendees can of course find self-paired and casual games, there are more lectures available, and there’s always a special activity in the main playing area, Sunday night it was the Lightning Tournament, Monday it was 13×13 and Tuesday it’s Crazy Go. Gradually, players drift away, perhaps to lectures, perhaps to bed, and the main playing area slowly empties out until just a few solitary pairs remain bent over the board. “Just one more game,” they say.

Report/photos by Chris Garlock