Springtime in Paris: 1985
British Go Journal No. 65. July 1985. Page 20.
by Ian Meiklejohn
Ill never understand why so few British players make the trip to play in Paris at Easter. After all, what better place is there to be at that time of the year?
This year - my fourth - I met a regular travelling companion, John Dawson, in the queue for the plane, which made the journey agreeable. Unfortunately it also meant I would need my sleep, as anyone who has shared a room with John knows, his snores would bring down the Walls of Jericho.
The new RER suburban line - very fast and clean - gets us into Paris from Charles de Gaulle, and we turn up at 10.30 p.m. at the Café Trait d'Union, where French Go players hang out - only to find it shut! Spasm of panic, relieved when a Go player hails us from the café across the street. Funny how you can always recognise a Go player at 50 paces in a darkened street.
Despite the usual problem - legions of unannounced Germans, French hospitality comes up trumps, and we set off for Francois Mlzesseyns flat (thank you Francois). But not before our first splendid French meal. Get to flat and discover to infinite relief John is in different room.
Next day, and the first round starts at 2 oclock, so first we wander around soaking up café atmosphere and coffee. Had to keep pulling John out of patisseries. Get to tournament hall, and discover an enormous sea of tables. The attendance turns out to be 280, making Paris the largest tournament in Europe.
At the top plenty of heavyweights, including 6 dans Yoo and Lee (itinerant Koreans), ex-European champion, Kraszek, and 5 dan Moussa. Nine other Brits have braved La Manche - including Jim Barty and Sue Paterson, Harold Lee, and Quentin Mills, who came on his bicycle!
Rounds 1 and 2 - drawn against two French 2-dans and lack of practice shows as my positions crumble in byo-yomi. Well you cant win them all. A small army of helpers work hard to keep all 260 players fed and watered with tea / coffee / beer / juice and sandwichs au jambon / camembert / saucisson.
In the evening I break with tradition and play in the lightning tournament. Won all my games except against the other 2-dan, a Dutchman: 20 points ahead on the board, I passed, pressed my clock, and the flag fell! Leave tournament hall at midnight and stagger back, seeing go stones before the eyes.
Easter Sunday brings two wins, unfortunately one of them a bye - it seems my French opponent had trouble getting up - toujours la politesse. In round 3 Yoo wins clash of titans, beating his compatriot Lee in a game that had me thoroughly confused.
In the evening lead a gastronomic expedition around the Beaubourg (Pompideau centre). Harold Lee causes a lot of trouble by demanding aubergine cheesecake wherever we go. (Sorry Harold)
Monday, and two miraculous wins - one against a German 3-dan - qualify me for a chocolate chicken. The big money goes to London expatriot Chun Lee. In Round 5 Yoo had lost to bete noire Moussa for a remarkable fourth time in a row. However, Lee quashed Moussa's hopes in the last round, amd ended with the best SOS of the three.
But the most sought after prize of all (except perhaps for Lee), was a free trip to Korea courtesy of Korean Airlines and the Korean Go Federation. It was won by a boisterous young Dutch 1 kyu called Lutyens who had the skill to get his name out of the hat containing the nine players, 2 kyu and higher, who had won five games or more.
Monday evening and more gourmandising. The dapper Jean leads a party to the Brasserie du Nord where the Parisien chic guzzle salmon mousse and oysters. I'm glad I decided to return the next day.
A free miniature of brandy from BCal enlivens the flight home. The chocolate chicken also survives the bustle at Charles de Gaulle, and is later discovered to be full of chocolate fish!
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