What was missing this year? Ah, yes, it was the traditional Pair Go snow storm! Where'd that go?! It tried to happen, but fortunately failed. The news gave me a scare on Thursday night, claiming a huge storm would change weekend plans. Naturally this was typical news hype to make you watch the show (a terribly annoying trend, but that's another story), and the change of weekend plans seemed to be something along the lines of big storms in the mountains making it a good ski weekend, but it still shot my nerves.
After all of my picturing worst case scenarios -- ala no one from Colorado Springs, Aurora, or Highlands Ranch making it, and Bruce and I trudging up to Boulder on snowshoes -- there was no snow and everyone made it to the tournament. It was our biggest turn-out yet, topping the first year by 2 pairs!
Sadly, there were no 3rd year pairs in the tournament (though there were plenty of 3rd year players, eg the Lin sisters, Aichan Tewahade, myself, Amara, and even Paul Barchilon standing in as "the guy who always manages to get a Pair Go partner". Should there be an award for that?!). Ruth and Steve were out of town, I had a new partner...
We almost had one 3rd year pair, Aichan and Yaphet were registered as usual. Then school responsibilities struck and Aichan wound up with a different partner (Zeke). Yaphet was really only a little too late for the knock-outs. He still came to watch games, and before the end he and Aichan played a game together against Diana and Albert. I guess that means they were a 3rd year pair, just not in the knock-outs.
Our 2nd year pairs were Diana and Albert, Karen and Bob, and Chris and Emily Butler. It seems interesting to note that 2 out of 3 of those pairs received awards. Emily unfortunately needed to go home early, which I'll mention later.
I was late to my own tournament again. It's my theory that if I can become known as The Late Jasmine Sailing while alive, I won't need to worry about dying. Right?! Well, it seems worth a try. ;)
We made it there about 20 minutes before start time, maybe a little earlier but I got lost in the UMC. Bruce was in the room before me, despite letting me out of the car while trying to find a parking space. It's always reassuring to see a big crowd and a set-up room, but I'm not late intentionally. The drive to Boulder is pretty long, and I'm far from a morning person. We're hoping to move the tournament back to Denver next year.
There had been one pair cancellation the night before the tournament, there was a male partner with a potential partner who didn't make it (she didn't, that is, but it was more of a hope than a certainty that she would), and we also had one unannounced pair. There were some technicalities and section boundary shufflings to sort out, and I figured I could help pair the high kyu section because I wasn't in it (I always refuse to have any clue of who I'm playing before anyone else in my section does, though, with me, knowing might only mean more time to psyche myself out badly), but overall it was a pretty smooth start to the day.
As always, I gave an introductory talk about the rules, sections, and awards. I noticed later that I should reintroduce the turn order demo next year, because the turn order violation rules seem a bit confusing for people.
I decided to try playing with Mayeul d'Avezac, who is only living in this country temporarily (aka he's a one time partner). When I asked him I was feeling not particularly worth playing with, because I can't seem to avoid having too much of my mind on the tournament. A problem I have chosen to accept rather than flail at correcting, because it is simply the way I am.
It was an interesting day when I asked him. At my club he gave up on a game against a player named Shun, and from our perspectives it was for no real reason beyond being frustrated with himself (his side of the game looked absolutely fine). I know that feeling, I've always been overly inclined to be too harsh with myself for my own mistakes. Due to knowing that feeling, I wound up laughing for about... oh, 3 hours. ;)
3 hours of drinking, having fun, laughing chronically... At the end I said "You know, I bet if the 2 of us played Pair Go together, we could find a way to screw up and resign every game we played". Not that either of us are complete messes as players, I actually think he's exceptional and it's been a joy to watch him grow like a Sumac while he's been here, we both simply seem to be neurotic types who want to be more perfect than is realistically possible, and that can be quite a pitfall in Go. After pondering my comment for a second, I asked if he would be willing to do that.
So it probably looked like I asked him to screw up and resign with me on a drunken, hilarious, whim... but that was not the case! He'd actually been my top choice for who to ask all year, and I couldn't get around to it because of my feeling that I wasn't worth playing with. All of the drinking and laughing lightened me up enough to feel capable.
And I'm glad I did, I had a good time! I was hoping for good pairs to lose against, and boy did I ever score on that wish. Part of me was delighted about it, part of me was planning to beat the heck out of the TD for giving me the most scary opponents after we went home. I think there was all of 5 players at the tournament whom I tend toward being afraid of, and I played all 5 of them! Well! In that case, it's good that it was Pair Go and I wasn't alone with my fears.
Though having one pair member who is potentially psyched from familiarity, and one who isn't, might not be the best of all things. I wouldn't have faulted Mayeul for kicking me under the table, but fortunately he was a good sport and didn't do it. I suppose kicking under the table is against the rules, but there wouldn't have been much need for our opponents to call fouls!
During Round 1 we played Katherine Lin and David Weiss, who became the 1st place pair (please remember to thank us for our part in your award, heh). I was extremely impressed with how Katherine kept making little areas that I would've sworn were dead spring back to life. Eventually we decided we'd been tactically out-smarted enough to go ahead and give up (we resigned), but it was an exciting game.
There were a lot of mixed feelings about it during the lunch break. Dave told me that Mayeul was making most of the good moves, and I was being too responsive (hrm, I'm not really sure why I was doing that! Dave sent a commented sgf, so I'll brave having a look soon). Mayeul said he was giving up on attacking their dragon over and over, and I kept attacking it because it had potential false eyes. I suppose we both must've had some fatalism issues at different points.
Due to the multiple sections we were only going to have 3 official rounds. In the main section, Katherine and Dave, Karen and Bob, Laurie and Stu, and DeeDee and David all moved on to the semi-finals.
We needed to do some reshuffling in the high kyu section. The saddest tragedy of the day was that adorable little 6-year-old Emily Butler was suffering from terrible tooth loss pain and needed to go home. It was so sad to see her crying! I kept wanting to be a reassuring Mom, and reminding myself that I'm not everyone's mother. So the cuteness quotient for the tournament dropped a bit.
After all of the dust finished settling, we had Chelsea Kipper and Aeones DeVeyra, Amy Chen and Thomas Creel, and Jessie Ramos and Kevin Gassaway moving along to the semi-finals. Elisabeth Meyer and Anton Nguyen-Vu stood in as the pair with the strongest losing score from round 1. This worked out, since they played against the pair who became 1st in that section anyway (Chelsea and Aeones).
Aside from worrying, as usual, about my own lack of worthiness as a Pair Go partner at this tournament, I didn't have too many concerns about the tournament yet. I did need to get up and ask for a little picture-taking here and there, and I'd noticed the turn order violation confusion across the room during round 1. But things were going well enough.
Then the round 2 pairings went up, and that was when I told just about everyone, at least 50 times or so, that the tournament director would have 2 black eyes that night. Though I was actually quite pleased as well.
Back on December 3, 2006, one day after TwT '06, I received my first report of new pair line-ups for '07. The pairs were Jessica Lin and Kellin Pelrine, and Katherine Lin and David Weiss. These were the pairs that I was the most excited about all along. I also fully expected to get absolutely smushed by both pairs, and Mayeul and I joked about resigning in advance when the pairings for both rounds went up on the wall. Of course we seriously tried to play, though!
Honestly, I'd always wondered why Jessica and Kellin hadn't played together yet. They strike me as being the most terrifying possible pair! Rather shockingly, they lost in round 1. By a mere half point, against Laurie and Stu. I spent a lot of time blinking in confusion and asking how they lost, but these things happen. And it's not like Stu and Laurie are push-overs, Stu is also on my list of the 5 players at the tournament that I'm afraid of! Plus he was half of the #1 pair with Jessica in '06. He is someone that I have always found immensely difficult to play (there were close games, but I don't recall ever winning one).
So, yes, round 2 for me (a post knock-out round) was Jessica and Kellin. This is where I think Mayeul and I wound up the most notably out of sync due to my player familiarity vs his non-familiarity. Yes, yes, I know, "play the stones and not the player". This is a proverb I have trouble adhering to when I'm aware that the players are going to rip me into tiny sad bloody shreds if I don't do this, this, and that. But before the game I neglected to mention to my partner that I was going to be thinking such direly wussy thoughts as "it's not such a bad idea to live in gote against this pair".
Big glitch #1 was the dead group in the bottom middle. First it was a small string that I wanted to sacrifice. Mayeul worked on keeping it alive, so I went along with it. Then, after way too much agonizing and soul-searching, I opted for forcing them to fix some cutting points so we could have leeway to make the knight's jump that I thought would keep the group alive. Mayeul probably very deservedly wanted to smack me for that, and the knight's jump wasn't made, and Kellin made the move to prevent it before my turn. My bad, I should've fought it out instead of opting for life in gote. I just couldn't seem to picture the fight ending in anything other than horrible flames for us. Which I normally enjoy!
So glitch #2 happened when I noted my wimpy attitude and tried to fling myself in the opposite direction. I opted for cutting on the upper side of the board, and keeping the cutting stones alive (there was a ladder breaker). Maybe that was too much of a sudden 200% change in attitude, Mayeul had a different plan and Kellin captured the cutting stones.
Hey, I'm entitled to my German mood swings. ;) Which would normally be something like "Kill kill kill! Back-track and ponder for a second. Kill kill kill!". ;)
It was a terribly fun game, though. I think it's an honour to be beaten up by that pair. Eventually there were so many people taking embarrassing pictures, and trying to lie across the board wasn't saving us, that we laughed and agreed we should resign before any further traumatizing photos could be taken. I'm sorry Jessica and Kellin lost their round 1 game, I truly think they were a great pair. Though they didn't win the vote, they got my vote for Most in Sync.
And, no, Mayeul and I didn't lose every single game. We won the next one! But I'll get to that later.
As noted above, there were only 3 official rounds. However, people were welcome to play as many rounds as they wanted. Only the initial 3 would count toward the prizes, but we had the rooms for plenty of time and anything goes in post knock-out spare time at this tournament.
I took some time off and postponed my third game because I needed to sort out the awards and take a bunch of photos. Amongst other things.
Round 2 was when I'd started feeling like I was being maybe a little too torn between my game and the tournament. My temper started showing, one time I got up and asked Bruce if he could pretend to be director long enough for me to play my game. The bright side was that I learned from Kellin how to pause the Ing clocks! Something I've always needed to know that somehow eluded me. I was one big happy smile over that!
So a lot of my break in early round 3 was the general handling of everything. I'm glad it was a post knock-out round, having learned last year that trying to handle things during the semi-finals doesn't really work out (to say the least). I went over all of the paperwork, figured out which pending games to keep an eye on for the final prize verdicts, and that was also when I was approached about the handicap error that changed the award plans. Oh, crud.
Well, I feel like I didn't try hard enough to assemble a staff this year and, as a result, Bruce had more to handle than he wanted to deal with. Next year I'll post everywhere that I need non-player help, if necessary. Part of it was the location, I felt awkward about asking people to go to Boulder if they weren't playing. I kept hoping there would be Boulder people who would want to hang out, and failed to be proactive enough. If the tournament is back in Denver next year, I won't have that issue, and I can also get a non-Go player to take photographs again (and such). This was the only year when I didn't have a single non-Go player on staff!
I will definitely be better about that next time, no matter where the tournament is. My immediate comment to everyone was "Bruce needs help. As soon as I okay them letting him out of the institution, I'll also assemble a better back-up staff for him at the tournament".
Part of it was that I'd accepted my desire to be more focused on the tournament than my own games. But, you know how it goes, you sit down at that board and play some stones and then next thing you know you really just want to keep playing!
Okay. Now I seem to need to accept my desire to do everything at once and have absolutely no ability to choose between any of my priorities. Which means, as noted above, more help for Bruce (and therefore for me, as well)! Getting up to handle things because I'm a neurotic organizer and this tournament is one of my babies, and I just plain wanna handle things, is one thing... getting up to handle things when I wanna play but things are making me cringe is another.
Note that the cringing is largely a result of me being a neurotic organizer. People were definitely having a good time at the tournament. Maybe too good of a time. We lacked a separate room for festivities this year (another thing we're rectifying next year), and it was... sometimes too obvious. So it's just that I simply hate to see any little thing not going quite the way I want it to. It's a result of my background. I haven't yet grasped it that what I'm doing here is running a fun little Go tournament, not a multi-media convention that I have writers and such flying in from all over the place for. Okay, Jasmine, repeat: there is no A/V crew, there are no bands, video is not needed, no guests of honour have been stranded at the airport, so chill out. ;)
Taking a break was probably good for me since I got to walk around taking pictures and looking at games and seeing for myself that a lot of fun was being had.
After I felt reassured of all of this, Stu and Laurie became open. They'd already played a 3rd round game but, hey, Stu was the last remaining player present who scares me. What better way to end the day? I guess the better way, in the end, was to win for the first time ever in a game that involved him! ;)
I told them I would need to pause at some point to hand out the awards, and that seemed to be okay. Early in the game I had a little fun poking at my partner. First I told him Stu is one of those dans that I just can't seem to win against. Then I added that if that doesn't psyche him out enough for losing, this was also the pair who beat Jessica and Kellin in round 1 (note that they were the only pair who beat Jessica and Kellin, and I was keeping an eye on them across the room at that moment because they were going to win Out-Standing Youth if they were victorious against DeeDee and David). Yes, he should have kicked me then. I was being a sadist, I would've deserved it. Remarkably, he didn't! He merely... squirmed in nervous agony... ;)
It was late in the day. I feel you can torture your partners that late in the day if you want to. Not that he deserved to be tortured, he was simply there. ;)
This was the first time I'd met Laurie. I knew she was playing up at the Boulder Kids' Club, so I asked her about that. It's always nice to meet women who play this game!
As noted, it was late in the day, people always seem to wind up chatty toward the end. Perhaps it's a result of too much quiet neurosis building up, I have definitely noticed every year that we become more social as the rounds wear on. Not that people present don't get requests to be quiet if they over-do it, but no one ever seems to object to socialization on more quiet and respectful levels at that stage of the day.
Soon came the awards break. The finalists were obvious enough (Dave and Katherine had just finished winning against Karen and Bob, the High Kyu finals had ended long before), I'd loudly blurted out the Fighting Spirit and Out-Standing Youth recipients when the Jessica and Kellin vs DeeDee and David game wrapped up, and while I was collecting the Most In-Sync votes I exclaimed "It's looking good for Albert and Diana!". Right in front of Albert and Diana, no less. But, but, it was just looking so good for them that I couldn't help myself!
I could, perhaps, build a little suspense... Normally I don't collect the votes, but I did this year because someone needed to. That was during my break before my 3rd game. It's fine, I think. If I'd won, which I didn't, I could've coughed and over-looked it. My pair did get 2 votes. One from Karen, and one from Jessica who said we were fun to play. I thought that was very nice, especially since I'm used to being knocked out by Jessica every year (though her sister beat her to it this year).
A cute bit during the awards was Karen and Bob rushing me from both sides when I presented their plaques. If I looked confused in some of the pictures, it was because I wasn't quite sure if I was supposed to remain between them in the picture -- or get out of the way and let them have their own picture. In the end I pushed them together for their own picture so we could have it every way. You can look at the photo caption, this was not a tenuki. ;)
Karen sang one of her (Congress) award-winning Go songs for us afterward. They're always clever and cute, she gets a lot of laughs from the crowd. I suppose this means Karen coordinated all of the Awards entertainment! ;)
Afterward, while my final game slowly wrapped up, some people continued playing Pair Go, some simply played Go or did teaching games, and Kellin set up a simul against 5 different players. Obviously everyone was pretty free and loose (well, within the bounds of decency) at that point, since there were no more awards to be doled out.
So Mayeul and I won our game against Stu and Laurie. No clue how that happened, it must've been Mayeul's fault. And I'd tried so hard to psyche him out into losing! ;) Stu tried calling for enough komi, but the TD was being uncompliant.
Afterward I got to look in on the simul, though I was so dazed that I have no idea what any of the details were. Eric, Bob, Aeones, Karen, and Thomas participated, but I know nothing about the handicaps or verdicts. Hopefully someone will know! I did see Karen manage to get a few extra points...
Meaghan was watching the games and asked how long Kellin has been playing. I think someone responded "40 years". I said "200 years", Kellin just smiled and nodded. Meaghan asked "You're only 12, and you've been playing for 200 years?", so I corrected my previous statement to "He's been playing for 212 years". Dave Weiss added, from a game across the room, that he's possessed by someone who played for 200 years. I'm not sure. It's my theory that it's more of a reincarnation thing. The 212 years are his cumulative Go knowledge from all of the past Go-playing lives that he remembers. When he started playing again in thislife, it triggered the past Go memories and instincts.
I suppose someone could've thought to answer that question in terms of how long he's been playing in this life. It's been a couple of years. Lucky for us, *cough*, he didn't start until around the ripe old age of 10! I remember him being a 30k for a few seconds! Since then it's mostly been a blur of dead groups and things like wondering how something that looked like a quarter of a game to me was a joseki he knew (in a game he played at my club with Paul Barchilon, on New Year's Day 2006. I took a few stones against him that day, and I thought I had a chance -- but then his Mom wanted to go home. Ahhh, and that was the only chance I ever had!).
Unfortunately I was too exhausted to join in on any of the games. I needed to head home and locate the couch. Many thanks to Dave Weiss for shutting things down for me!
I'm glad things went well, people definitely had a lot of fun. As usual there were some Organizational lessons learned, but I feel like I'm figuring this out. At least moreso than I'm figuring Go out!
I know I had a great time. I got to face my fears, get mostly soundly whomped by them (I can't deny being a bit of a masochistic Go player!), pummel the TD for putting me in a position that I was actually pretty happy to be in, even if it will lead to my brain being in a sling for a while (any ol' excuse to pummel will suffice, right?!), get mauled by happy award winners, and even convince myself that Kellin has been playing for 212 years.
Most of all I got to see a bunch of cheerful Pair Go players, and that's always the most perfect memory to close with!
Back to the Te wo Tsunaide '07 index.