The final week at Shanghai Go Camp

[Editor’s note: This is a guest article by Antonio Egea. If you’d like to write a guest post on Go Game Guru, please contact us.]

After two exciting weeks of training, fun and friends in Shanghai, we headed to Hangzhou. Hangzhou is a beautiful city close to Shanghai, known as ‘Shanghai’s Garden’. It’s one of the cities Chinese people always choose in ‘favorite Chinese city’ polls.

It’s very close to Shanghai. The weather is similar, the people look alike, even the mosquitoes are the same. But what makes Hangzhou special is its beautiful lake. The West Lake.

It’s not just near the city, but is the heart of the city itself, and the city is built around it. In Hangzhou there are many places to visit and things to do.

Tianyuan Tower

This stage of the Camp was very different from the first one, and that made the Camp very interesting and varied. Once more I found myself at the Tianyuan Tower, the Go place par excellence in China.

Tianyuan is a huge structure, a 34 floor building with a revolving restaurant (shaped like a Go bowl) at the top. As a hotel it’s very luxurious, and as a Go school it exceeds in its quality.

The first floors are full of classrooms. There are lots of professional players, teachers and Go-related personalities there. The atmosphere is all a Go player could ask for, professional or amateur.

The following floors, from 6th to 8th are the ‘Chess players rooms’. They are not so luxurious, but are still very good and were renovated a short time ago. This is where Go players and students stay when they’re at this hotel.

As a curiosity, just after we left an International Female Chess competition was going to be held there. The activity in this place is continuous.

The hotel lobby bar served as our meeting point. We went there to talk, check the email and play on KGS during breaks. There was free WiFi and excellent tea. It was also where we made plans for the afternoon each day.

Back to Go

By this time a group of around 50 little kids from all over China (most were less than 10 years old) were starting their own Go Camp. Our plan was to join them. Our classes, games, and so on were all part of the Chinese Weiqi program designed for them.

For the first two days there was a tournament with nine rounds, in which everyone took part. We were divided into three groups of different strength based on the results.

Day one of the Go tournament

On the first day we played five games, usually less than an hour each. The first one was played without a clock and the following ones were 30 minutes absolute per player (because some of us took too long).

The tournament venue was full of children and, of course they behaved like that. Running, throwing stones, screaming and playing non-stop. They were similar to any other kids their age, until the main referee (a professional player) appeared and all of them sat and started playing.

Anyway, the environment was very relaxed. It was really funny how curious these children were about us – staring, smiling and asking questions. I have to improve my Chinese!

After this first stage, we had lunch at one of the numerous restaurants in the hotel. We usually chose the one on the 2nd floor. It was very cheap (less than 4€ for a meal) and delicious. I would need two months to taste all the different dishes there.

Day two of the Go tournament

The second day was very similar, but with tougher games. Our opponents on this day had the same number of victories as us, and we all wanted to be at the top.

I was amazed at how the children love playing and of course winning. But they don’t mind losing after all, so after a few minutes they were playing, screaming and running again.

There are some awesome sports facilities near the hotel. After the games, badminton and swimming followed a hard day. Our teachers and friends were always ready for a good match – and not only on the Go board!

If we felt like it, we could always choose to go out and discover more of what Hangzhou has to offer. We sometimes took a taxi to the city center to have dinner and some drinks in a nice pub, with live music, the teachers and our friends.

Go lessons

Once the tournament finished and the groups were decided, the lesson time arrived. At 8:30am the first class started. Every group had around 20 students and its own study plan.

An internal league was played and games were reviewed. There were also lessons about common shapes (bent four, carpenter’s square etc.), old and new joseki, yose, life and death… all depending on the teachers. Again, I was impressed by how the children concentrated and how fast they could solve the tsumego!

Heading home again

This is how we spent most of the following week. After that, with both joy and sadness, we came back home. These have been three unforgettable weeks with Go, an amazing culture – with much still to discover for me – and a lot of new friends. And you know, Go friends are forever.

I hope the organizers will have the strength necessary to repeat the Shanghai Go Camp next year, and for many more to come!

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