Photos by Harry van der Krogt
Now that the fifth round of the European Championship has concluded, the quarter-final line-up is complete. On board one, Benjamin Dréan-Guéanaïzia 6d beat Dmytro Bohatskyi 6d to claim his spot in the final eight. Andrii Kravets 1p did the same on board 2 against his fellow Ukrainian, Bohdan Zhurakovskyi 6d. The most dramatic result was provided by Oscar Vázquez 6d, who knocked out Tanguy le Calvé 1p on the third board. Rounding out the docket is Nikola Mitic 7d, after he beat Lukáš Podpěra 7d to progress into the next round.
With such a strong field of players left in the Tournament, it is difficult to predict which games will prove the most spectacular. As Europe’s newest professional player, Stanisław Frejlak 1p may feel a greater ambition this year to crown his achievement with a title; he will need first to pass Nikola Mitic 7d to do so. The friendly rivalry between Ali Jabarin 2p and Benjamin Dréan-Guéanaïzia 6d is well known; their game is likely to be one to keep an eye on. Fredrik Blomback 6d will face Andrii Kravets 1p; rank and rating would both indicate a win for Andrii, but Fredrick has been performing very well this week – an upset here is possible. The most intriguing match-up is likely Artem Kachanovskyi 2p against Oscar Vázquez 6d. Artem, a three-time EC runner-up, has been undefeated so far in this event but, after taking down one professional, it could be that Oscar can surprise another and take a step closer to the final.
It should not be forgotten that, alongside the Championship, the EGC Open Tournament has been progressing steadily. The fourth round also took place this Thursday, and the pole position is currently held by Choi Won Jin, a 1-dan professional from South Korea.
In total, 290 players have competed in at least one round of the Open, with a greatly encouraging number competing in a go tournament for the very first time. When walking through the main hall while play is in progress, spectators are struck especially by the number of children. It would be easy to assume that their games are played on childish impulse and quickly concluded, but there is more often a look of impressive concentration to be seen in the faces of the young players as they patiently deliberate on their next move.
I draw great encouragement from the fact that for each seasoned player with more than ten years of tournament experience sitting at one of the top boards, there is a young person concentrating just as hard on their very first competition games.