The London Open was again sponsored by the Nippon Club, Pandanet and Winton Capital Management, but attendance was a little down this year, no doubt due to the extremely cold weather and snow-related travel difficulties that immediately preceded Christmas. Luckily this had disappeared by the time the London Open started and 99 players turned up to play in this, by now traditional 4 day event, finishing on New Year's Eve.
Wang Wei (6 dan), who had just moved from Cork to London (but is originally from China) was thought to be the favourite for the Open being the previous year's runner up. Indeed after four rounds only Wang Wei and Antti Tormanen (6 dan) from Oulu in Finland were unbeaten at the top - they played in round 5; Antti won after an epic battle. Annti then won his last two games to be unbeaten and take first place. [Notably, he also won at least one blitz game against Guo Juan at the New Year party, during a series of games that was a serious treat to watch and listen to for those attending.] Wei Wang also won the rest of his games to end on 6 wins and take second place.
Guo Juan from Amsterdam was again resident professional, providing game commentaries and lectures throughout the time, but not playing in the Open. However, she played in the Pair Go Tournament and won, partnered by Ian Davis from Belfast. Guo has also kindly provided €100 sponsorship for this year's London Open on her audio site. Certificates are given to 5 young deserving players, each worth 20 audio lectures.
The Lightning was won by Jukka Jylanki (9 kyu from Finland), who beat Andrew Kay (4 dan from the UK) in the final.
The prizes were presented by Emma Watkins from Winton, with thanks extended to all those involved, especially Geoff Kaniuk and Jenny Radcliffe as main organisers, ably supported by chief referee Nick Wedd, Tony Atkins and many others.
In parallel with the London Open was the Man-Machine Challenge, sponsored by the British Go Association, which ended in a comprehensive 4-0 victory for the Man - John Tromp, 2 dan, who went away $1000 richer courtesy of Darren Cook, who was using Many Faces of Go on his laptop. John said that he wasn't going to repeat his bet, as he expected to probably lose in a couple of years time if the computer was going to continue improving at the current rate. He felt that the result didn't reflect the closeness of the games.
The final Go event was a casual Rengo event after the tournament proper had been closed, and before the New Year party, which was won by Frenchmen Arnaud Knippel and Michael White; they attribute their success to brand new hats worn throughout!
This was Geoff Kaniuk's last year as London Open Tournament Director, after many years of extraordinarily dedicated service and hard work. Congratulations to him on his retirement.