Whilst the world was holding its breath waiting for the start of the Google DeepMind Challenge in Seoul there were some more prosaic games of Go being played - the latest round of the Pandanet European Go Team Championship.
The UK has got off to a poor start in the second division, but with our latest 3-1 win over second-placed Slovakia we're gradually hauling ourselves up the table.
Andrew Simons was our sole loss, not totally unexpectedly to to 1 dan pro Pavol Lisy, but our other three (Bruno Poltronieri, Alex Kent and Charlie Hibbert) all scored good wins to round off the match.
Andrew Simons said: "My game was rather like my first game of the British Championship, a disappointing loss after throwing away a large opening lead in late fighting, though I suppose I should be glad to have outplayed Pavol in the first 100+ moves.
In the Google DeepMind Challenge Match being held in Seoul from 9th-15th March Lee Sedol resigned after the 186th move, when he realised that he was about 7 points behind and without hope of winning.
Congratulations to the DeepMind team, although some of the non-UK members may not be so happy about the GB flag being shown for AlphaGo (Lee obviously has a Korean flag).
Aja Huang, 5 dan, was their representative playing the moves on the board against Lee, who had Black.
“#AlphaGo WINS!!!! We landed it on the moon,” tweeted DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis after the game. “So proud of the team!! Respect to the amazing Lee Sedol too.” At a jam-packed post-game press conference, Lee admitted “I was so surprised. Actually, I never imagined that I would lose.
Joanne Leung (2d) represented the UK at the European Students Go Championship, held at the Confucius Institute in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She won three games out of five, including a half-point win over a 5d, to take 6th place out of 14. As second-highest female, she earns a place at the World Student Pair Go Championships in Tokyo this December. Joining her there will be Julia Seres of Hungary, Alexandr Vashurov of Russia and the event winner Peter Marko from Hungary.
Peter Marko won the event on tie-break from Austria's Viktor Lin. Lin earned support to the World Collegiate next July in Canada. Third place was taken by Mateusz Surma, who as a European professional cannot play in these events.
We played our first match of the new season in the Pandanet Go European Teams after being promoted back to the B-League. The match was against the strong team of Hungary. Chong Han's opponent, Pal Balogh, did not show up on board one, giving the UK a won board. Unfortunately the other three were losses: Alex Kent lost to Rita Pocsai and Sandy Taylor lost to Peter Marko, both by resignation, and Jamie Taylor lost a close game to Zoltan Fodi by 2.5 points. This left us 8/12 in the league table.
The European Go Congress in Liberec, Czechia, ended on Saturday 8th August. It was one of the biggest ever with 762 players in the European Open. Wang Zheming, 8d China, was unbeaten after 10 rounds to be European Open Champion.
The best 24 European players competed for the European Championship. In the semi-finals Ali Jabarin beat Ilja Shikshin and Fan Hui beat Thomas Debarre. Fan Hui beat Ali Jabarin by resignation in the final to retain the title.
Kim Young-Sam, 7d Korea, won the Weekend Tournament and Chan Yi-Tien, 7d Taiwan, won the Rapid by tie-break from Wang Zheming, 8d China.
There were the usual selection of side events, including Pair Go and a veterans tournament.
The top game-winner of the large contingent of British players was Matt Marsh, 7k, who won 7/10 in the Open and 7/9 in the Rapid.
The European Go Congress is under way in Liberec in the Czech Republic.
The event got underway with the finals of the Pandanet Go European Teams. This was won by France on league-position tie-break from Ukraine. The home team and Romania took the other two places.
The European Championship and Open Championship are under way - news reports can be seen via the Congress Website.
On the evening of the 28th July, the EGF AGM was held. Toby Manning was the UK representative. It was possible to watch the meeting, whilst the various issues were discussed, via streaming from the Congress website.
The UK team remained unbeaten at the end of the 2014-2015 season to end top of the European C-League. They ended on 20 match points after 9 wins and 2 draws, and had won 33 out of 44 games.
The UK's last match was against Kazakhstan and all games were won by resignation. It looked for a while like the match was to be played early on the Sunday, but in the end only Tim Hunt's game was, the others (Andrew Simons, Sandy Taylor and Toby Manning) playing their games on the normal Tuesday evening.
In the battle for second place, both South Africa and Bulgaria killed the hopes of Croatia and Lithuania by winning their matches against Portugal and Cyprus respectively, both by four games to nil. This meant South Africa would be in the play-off against Switzerland.
Ireland beat Greece to achieve a respectable seventh place.
The UK held on for a draw in their 10th game in the C-League to win promotion to the B-League with one match remaining. Des Cann was the last to finish after a long game against Iceland's Hallbjorn Gudmundsson, but won by 16.5 to tie the match. Earlier Jonathan Gallimore quickly forced Benedikt Birgisson to resign, but Chris Bryant lost by resignation to Thorbergur Olafsson and then Sandy Taylor lost to Olafur Siguroarson by 3.5.
Second placed South Africa only managed a draw too against Lithuania, but Bulgaria beat Portugal to be placed just behind South Africa on boards won tie-break. Also vying for the play-off place are Croatia and Lithuania who are only one match point behind the other two.
The BGA team beat Cyprus by three boards to one to stay top of the C-League. Rivals Bulgaria lost four-nil to third place South Africa, who move up to second three points behind us. With just two matches left, against Iceland and Kazhakstan, it is hoped we can remain top.
Chris wrote: My game was pretty one-sided from the start - opponent misplayed the first joseki and ended up with a bad result, and then I killed a few groups before he resigned.
Des wrote: Comfortable win. Nice gain in first corner fight when my opponent didn't know joseki leaving him with a weak centre group. Nice gain in second corner fight gaining lovely thickness whilst he lived on the second line in gote. I then attacked his centre group whilst building a moyo. He tenukied to invade my moyo. So I killed his centre group. He then formed two solid groups on the edge and then connected them together whilst I tidied up all my weaknesses.
Britain dropped their first point of the season with a draw against Portugal. They stayed two points clear at the top of C League as Bulgaria drew with Croatia. South Africa beat Greece to close the gap to one point in third.
The match result:
Des Cann (B) lost to Cristovão Neto (Quetzalt, 1d) by 13.5
Sandy Taylor (W) beat Pedro Pereira (Pite, 1k) by 16.5
Toby Manning (B) beat Francisco Pereira (xikuh, 1k) by resignation
Chris Bryant (W) lost to Pedro Carmona (PCT, 2k) by resignation
Toby wrote: A win for the UK... A strange game, I kept on attacking him, nearly lost when he counterattacked but I found a game-saving tesuji... Then one of his groups died...Game Over.
Chris wrote: My play was a complete mess, really furious with myself, can't believe I lost that game, I could have beaten myself playing against an empty chair it was such a disaster.