The 9th round of the B-League on 21st March saw the UK playing Switzerland. The match was won as Andrew Simons. Des Cann and Jon Diamond won, and only Bruno Poltronieri lost. As top team Poland beat second-placed Italy and all the other teams drew, the UK moved up to third place (just ahead of Austria on boards won).
Andrew Simons wrote: My game was against 4 dan Armel-David Wolff, who I'd met at the World Amateur last year. I thought the opening was slightly good for me once he didn't go for complications by pincering my bottom left approach and I invaded his dubious shape on the left side. Inspired by AlphaGo, I went for the kick and jump when he approached the top left, aiming to overconcentrate him on the side but he extended further on the 3rd line so I didn't get a chance to play the 5th line shoulder hit and he snuck in the corner and lived (for now) in sente which was a bit annoying.
The 2017 Irish Confucius Cup took place in Dublin in the Ballroom Suite of the Gresham Hotel. It was the strongest yet, with two European professionals and three 7 dans taking part, and attracted 47 entrants from 15 countries. In addition Chen Rui (5p) and Yu Ping (2p) were visiting from China, and Guo Juan (5p) from Amsterdam, reviewing the players' games and playing simultaneous games.
The weekend started on the Friday night with the Irish Rapid; Zhiqing Zhang (5d) won, with Mariusz Klimczak (9k) in second place. The Saturday started with an opening ceremony and then the main tournament commenced. Alongside, as previous, there was a Chinese Chess tournament, a junior Chess match between Sussex and Ireland and downstairs a 150-player Chess tournament.
Round 3 was the round that effectively decided the Go event, as Kim Seong-Jin (7d) managed a half-point win over Pavol Lisy (1p). Both players won their other games to take first and second respectively.
The 8th round of the B-League on 28th February saw the UK playing Solvakia. Andrew Simons played another European pro, this time Pavol Lisy. Charles Hibbert had connection problems and so Sandy Taylor, as captain, had to take over on board two. The match was drawn as both these two lost, but Des Cann and Jamie Taylor won.
Andrew Simons wrote: I lost against Pavol Lisy 1p. In the opening he picked an unusual move to grab territory and I got a big wall for a side moyo, which he then wedged (not in the place that has a miai two-space extension out of respect for the wall, an advanced technique I'd studied recently). But, rather than settling on the side, he attached on top of my pincer and then pressured my corner, and I moved out with a shoulder hit. I then spent a long time deciding whether to k16 jump on top or f11 surround his group, and chose the later, but maybe it was a mistake as only sente for a seki, not a kill, due to a sente move of his.
Chi-Min Oh, the Korean 7d formerly based in Durham, won the 1st Ellie Cup in Genoble by beating Ilya Shikshin, 1p, in the final. The game was watched by more than a hundred spectators on KGS and was full of action so they were not disappointed.
The event was held alongside the European Youth Go Championship (18th-20th February).
The 7th round of the B-League on 7th February saw the UK playing top-of-table team Poland. Andrew Simons played his game a week early to fit in with the schedule of his opponent, the European pro Mateusz Surma. On the night the rest of the team did well, with wins for Daniel Hu and Toby Manning, meaning the UK was the first team to take a point off the leaders with a draw. Both Italy and Austria won, total 12 points each (one behind Poland), and the UK were in fourth place with 10 points.
Andrew Simons wrote: Last week I unsurprisingly lost against Mateusz Surma, the new European pro. The opening was reasonable enough, with a big wall and counter-counter-pincer joseki, and to avoid him sacrificing on a small scale I made some attachment, which he resisted, resulting in a trade that I'd seen in pro games before. I got what I thought was a vital point turn in the centre and then pushed out, rather than connecting on dame.
The UK team drew with a much stronger Netherlands team which had three 6d on it. With an all 3d UK team this was a very good result, despite ending 2-2.
Charlie Hibbert wrote: Hmm, I lost to Gilles van Eeden. I've been on a bit of a losing streak as of late. As is common when older players play black against me, I get forced into a calm game. I actually felt I was doing pretty evenly (both had lots of territory, he had more but I had potential) until I over-egged a moyo trying to catch up on cash, and my opponent exploited the weakness very well. After that I was scrubbing around trying to find something for a bit, before resigning.
Des Cann wrote: I lost by 22.5 to Peter Brouwer. I was happy with the start of the game, but it was probably balanced. The game got interesting when I felt he played too many moves capturing a corner, whilst I built a strong moyo with one of his groups in the middle of it.
The UK team beat Sweden 3-1 despite them playing a reserve on board 3 who was out of team order, which delayed the announcement of the official result.
Daniel Hu wrote: Happy to win, especially against Sweden. I made a moyo despite not liking them, but white just took too much territory. My opponent, Weiying Sorin, did a weird invasion early on and I think I punished it reasonably as it had to live quite small. Next, I protected for a huge corner, but my opponent making two one-space jumps into the centre was bigger than expected in this sort of moyo game. Still, I made good side territory, and simplified the game towards my preferred territory style. I played a somewhat doubtful double hane in the centre to solidify more side territory, but my opponent ridiculously tenukied aiming to reduce 8 points in sente in my big corner. That seemed much smaller than the centre control, and she didn’t even dare to take those 8 points. From then I was quite confident.
It looked like the UK had beaten Croatia 4-0 in their fourth round fixture, but it ended up 3-1 moving the UK back near the top of the B-League.
Andrew Simons wrote: I stood in for Bruno against Zoran Mutabžija (who was European Champion many decades ago but playing at 2d now) and won by a comfy 27.5 in the end, although there were a few nervous moments. He started with a diagonal opening and in a pincer counter-pincer running fight I spent a long time reading out a press expecting him to push and cut but he just crawled on the third line! Then he made some bizarre attach and crosscut sacrificing his pincer group and I got thick but then played two perhaps slow moves and he developed quickly on the rest of the board.
The UK team lost their round three match in the Pandanet B League by losing to Denmark 1-3.
Andrew Simons was on board one against Uffe Rasmussen. He wrote:
I lost in a spectacularly stupid way. The game started with a reasonable fuseki, but when he extended high on the top side, I didn't feel like making a shimari, so invaded. He played an inappropriate pretty shape move in the resulting fight, but, as I had the ladder to the left, I captured a stone for a good result. His ladder breaker wasn't so amazing and I played a pleasant honte to net the ladder stone. After a standard joseki and trading some solid moves, I played a checking extension which he ignored to grab a load of points. I then invaded to take his base and he tenukied again to grab another corner. The problem was it wasn't so easy to kill the resulting heavy wall, nor to make profit from attacking.
The UK team kept their unbeaten record in the Pandanet B League by beating Turkey 3-1.
Chris Bryant was first to finish; he said: Got off to a good opening, tried to build up a big moyo and was allowed to do so. My opponent got a group cut off, which I then harassed to turn that moyo mostly into territory, and it was a very comfortable game from there.
Jon Diamond played a very entertaining game and said: Got off not too badly, but then he pressed a bit too much and I counter-cut creating a weak group of his in the centre, but with one of mine not quite having 2 eyes and another floating a bit, I needed to be careful. (His corner has group looks OK and he has to leave his weak group to try and capture my other one. No go there, but he squeezes out along the side and lives in my corner - damn.
OK, now need to surround his one eyed group in the centre - I’m not sure I can kill it, but will make a big territory anyway.