Photos by Harry van der Krogt
Round three of the 2022 European Championship continued on Tuesday, with dramatic results in both the top and bottom brackets. Top seed Artem Kachanovskyi 2p beat Benjamin Dréan-Guénaïzia 6d to continue his winning streak, earning himself a spot in the quarter-finals and two rest days while games are played out in the loser’s bracket. Stanisław Frejlak 1p did the same, beating Andrii Kravets 1p by a comfortable margin of 13½ points. Joining them is Fredrik Blomback 6d, who is having an excellent run in this tournament, having now beaten both Tanguy le Calvé 1p and Lukáš Podpěra 7d. After emerging from a dangerous game with a victory against Oscar Vázquez 6d, Ali Jabarin 2p also made it to the quarter-final stage unscathed.
In the loser’s bracket, Valerii Krushelnytskyi 6d refused to bow out of the tournament without a fight and played an excellent game against Cornel Burzo 6d; he employed his “martyr” style described in Monday’s interview to great effect. He will next face Tanguy le Calvé 1p on Wednesday, who knocked out Dominik Boviz 6d to prove his ability to persevere and press on despite setbacks. Florent Labouret 5d, who notably defeated the sixth seed in the very first round, also remains in the tournament. Should he manage a fourth-round win on Wednesday, he would have to knock out Andrii Kravets 1p to earn a place in the quarter-finals.
Since Fredrick Blomback has managed some very impressive results so far, I thought he would make an interesting subject for today’s interview:
Fredrick, you knocked out a professional player in the second round, how did you do it?
My game against Tanguy was super difficult. I just played in my normal style and we both ended up with some territory and some influence. He somehow found himself with two weak groups facing my influence and I managed to kill one.
What about your third-round game against Lukáš? You were able to knock out another top-seeded player.
Lukáš and I have exactly the same style and we both played the kind of game we like. We both took lots of points and the score was very close. In the endgame he played the sharpest moves possible, which meant I could cut a dragon in two and finally kill half of it. If he had played safer moves, we might have been very even on points – it’s possible I was slightly ahead, we weren’t sure.
You mention your style, how would you describe it?
I like taking points and simply playing solid, normal moves. Other players like to find spectacular moves, but I prefer playing calmly.
Do you consciously change your style depending on your opponent?
No, I don’t think it’s a good thing to try and vary your style. You have to play the moves you’re comfortable with, I think it’s more likely you’ll play worse by trying to play differently. I don’t change the way I play based on differences in rank either; if you lose by trying something special, you’ll feel disappointed because you didn’t even get to play the kind of game you enjoy. If you lose while playing your own game, it’s less disappointing.
Which is more important in go, instinct or reading?
Instinct, because my reading sucks. I’m old now, and all the young guys read really well. If there’s a complicated fight, they read better and also more creatively, finding variations that maybe don’t occur to me. That’s another reason why I play calmly, because reading perfectly is less important. With such long time settings, it’s also possible to read too much: you dismiss your first instinct and play a different move that turns out to be worse. When you check the game afterwards, your first guess is usually the correct one.
Do you know who you will face next?
Most likely Andrii Kravets 1p, but in a field of players like this it’s difficult to predict the pairings. Anyone could beat anyone, there are no easy games. But the best part about winning all my games so far is that I now get two days to relax!