Grand Prix Finals 2019 : Interview With Stanisław Frejlak 7-Dan

Grand Prix Finals 2019 : Interview With Stanisław Frejlak 7-Dan 1

Grand Prix Finals were played on 24th – 27th January 2019 in Faculty of Science, Palacky University Olomouc, Czechia. Best 16 players from Bonus Point Tournaments competed strongly for the first place and the winner was Ilya Shikshin 2p followed by Pavol Lisy 2p and Artem Kachanovskyi 2p.

Tournament rules:
– Even games, Chinese rules
– Fischer time – 45 minutes basic and 20 seconds additional per move
– “EGF Nigiri” in all games – the winner of nigiri decides about color, the loser about clock-position

Grand Prix Finals 2019 : Interview With Stanisław Frejlak 7-Dan 2

The tournament had success on Twitch  and you can find more about it and watch the videos over here. Stephen Hu 5-dan was streaming, joined by different strong players, such as Jeff Su 6-dan or Jonas Welticke 6-dan.

Wu Hao 2p a teacher from Nie Weiping International Go Academy was also commenting the games on KGS. Below, you could see cleaned files with his commentary on some games, if some of you have trouble using this web go board viewer, then you could download and check the commentary offline, by clicking CTRL+S .

Stanisław Frejlak 7-Dan just came back from China (Ge Yuhong Go Academy) and he got the 5th place on this tournament by defeating Alexander Dinerstein 3p and Ali Jabarin 2p, strong performance!

Grand Prix Finals 2019 : Interview With Stanisław Frejlak 7-Dan 3
Photo by: Judith van Dam – EuroGoTV

Interview with Stanisław Frejlak 7-Dan

Q: So how do you feel about your study in China? It is your third time, right?

A: First time I went to the CEGO programme in 2016. In total I spent 14 months studying in the Ge Yuhong Go Academy. It’s a very tiring training.

Q: Do you think you improved?

A: In China we played two serious games each day so I gained a big experience. Also, I solved a lot of life and death problems so my reading improved. But the real improvement in Go is about getting to a next level of understanding the game. I hope it happened to me. I feel my playing style changed in the last few months and also I started feeling more confident while playing.

Q: What do you think is the biggest change in your Go?

A: Before I would always lead a game into a complicated fight. I would throw a grenade on a board and try to get more than I deserve while my opponent is trying to avoid the explosion. Recently I started appreciating calm games. Thanks to many hours spent with Leela Zero, I can have a confidence that after an opening, my position is not bad and I don’t need to start anything crazy. I try to play correct moves and ask my opponent questions. Still sometimes my past comes back.

Q: You defeated Alexander Dinerstein and Ali Jabarin making your way to 5th place, can you tell us more about these games?

A: Alexander played a bit slow, territory-oriented moves from the very beginning. He didn’t give me any opportunity to start a fight. I had no choice but to accept the board to be cut into many pieces with small, strong groups. Such a game might favor Alexander but on the other hand I knew that in absolute terms my position should be better. In Go it’s most often like this. If you force a game to develop in a certain direction you agree to give the upper hand to your opponent. I made a few mistakes in this game but luckily I never let the lead slip out of my hands.
The game with Ali started with a long opening. Ali took his time to play well there. Maybe it was a mistake because when the first fight emerged, he had only a few minutes left. The fight should be bad for me but Ali misread and let me connect my stones in a comfortable way. Later on, the game was still not clear but I already felt confident. Ali was under constant time pressure and I only increased my advantage. I think that in China I learned how to exploit my opponent’s shapes when he has not enough time to read everything clearly.

Q: Why do you want to become a professional player?

A: I will try my best in Strasbourg this year. Becoming a professional gives many opportunities to go to an Asian tournaments and get some money. It’s probably not very big, however, still it’s the most fun way to earn money. Of course, still it all depends on one’s results, having the professional status is only the first step. But if I manage to become a pro I feel that I can focus on Go in my life a bit more.

Q: Do you think the Grand Prix Finals were organized good? Did you like Olomouc?

A: I liked the organization and the place a lot. The conditions were good to play serious games. The only thing which surprised me were the time settings. Last year in the Grand Prix Finale they were longer. This year it was just 45 minutes and additional 20 seconds per move (Fischer time). I believe that a tournament of such a rank should let the players have more thinking time.

Q: When you first joined EGF Academy, you were a 4-dan, after several years, now you are 7-dan, what helped most your improvement?

A: Mainly my own motivation. In the high school I treated maths in a competitive way and took part in mathematical olympiads. Once it was over I felt sad. Exactly at that time the EGF Academy was founded so I thought that I might start treating Go more seriously. I went to my first international tournaments and realized that there are many people with whom I can compete. This motivated me to spend more time with Go. Of course through these years I had many great teachers: Zhao BaoLong, Guo BeiYa, Wang HaoYang, Peng Quan, Han Han and Gian-Carlo Pascutto 😉

Q: How do you see Go?

A: Go seems to be just a logical puzzle, but in fact it requires a deep understanding of human psychology. When you play a game, you need to understand what is your opponent’s thinking, what is his goal and what type of mistake he is likely to make. Also, it is crucial to understand your own psychology and how you get affected by emotions. I think that without emotions it would be impossible for human to make judgments, but sometimes the emotions might be mislead. One needs to learn how to distinguish between a reasonable fear and cowardness, confidence and laziness to seek for the best variation, and so on. There are also many wisdoms that one discovers while improving in Go, like “the one who tries to win too much is going to lose”. Learning Go is a really exciting journey.

Q: What is your advice to young Go players and in general, people who want to improve?

A: I would always say that solving more life and death problems is crucial for the improvement. It’s like a strength training in sport. Without it all the techniques are weak and ineffective. But in the end Go is about thinking and understanding the game. In this respect the improvement is never steady. It would happen suddenly in a mysterious way. It’s impossible to force it. But the general advice is to do things concentrated, engaging one’s whole attention. It is difficult and in a way against the way the modern world works. Nowadays people would often do a few things at the same time, always ready to check the notifications from their smartphones. There are many dangers for Go study in this world. If someone solves tsumego on a phone app and checks his answer without reading all the variations, plays fast games in the internet without focusing, after losing a tournament game doesn’t review it with an opponent but checks Leela’s percentages fast only to see that at one point he had 95%, then it might be very difficult to improve.

Thank you !

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