Impressions of the Renju and Gomoku Youth World Championship by Zoltán László

After a little bit of hesitating, I decided to join the Youth World Cup both in Renju and Gomoku, when I learnt that I can play from my home. After the opening ceremony, there was a Renju tournament, namely the Macau Renju Testing Competition. I decided to join the tournament for some practice before the actual World Cup, to get some knowledge and not be a punchbag, maybe even grab some medal. In total, there were 84 participants and somehow I managed to win the tournament on coefficients, losing two games out of eleven rounds. I lost to Miroslav Háša because of a misclick in time trouble and to Georg-Romet Topkin, who easily outplayed me and trapped me.

I received quite a lot of help about renju theories from Topkin and Michał Żukowski, who suggested me a couple sites where I could learn some basic theories. I knew that I am pretty vulnerable with unusual theories, such as the ones where white has many chances to foul black, so I did not have high expectations, my strategy was to count everything I just can and try to solve the debuts and play aggressively.

You can scroll the game and see all other games played in the tournament on this renju. net link

In the first round I instantly blunderred after just 9 moves in a most likely pretty advantageous position and left a line for my opponent in which he could have forced a foul and win the game, which he, apparently, missed. The game was developing, I tried to be offensive, but I always had to remind myself that usual Gomoku wins are fouls in Renju, so I was careful. In the endgame he tried to force a foul on me, ignoring my win, which I just casually played after the necessary defensive moves. 1/1

In the second round I played a bit trickier debut against my Japanese opponent, which he did not know and failed to count, after a little bit of counting I won the match easily. 2/2

In the third round, the last of the day, I was facing Estonian Kuno Kolk. I checked his previous games and decided to play the same theory, hoping he plays same moves, after which I could have got advantage and attack. He might have suspected my plan, as after a little bit of thinking, he changed the theory to an other line and even went with the opposite colour as in his previous game. I was prepared for that line, checked the first few moves to avoid a quick loss. I evaluated it a drawish line, I tried to make him blunder but he defended very well, eventually he found himself in a position, where he just needs to find a couple key moves to finish me off. In my opinion, he did not play the best attacking moves and I managed to find defence, the game pretty much became drawish again. At least in Gomoku, it would be but it was Renju and since I had white, I tried to foul him in the corner, although I think I did not choose the best line in time trouble. He defended, the game ended up in a draw after 1,5 hrs. 2,5/3

Undefeated after the first day! It was a little bit surprising only, I was not really put under pressure on the first day. I had 3-4 hours of sleep through the whole week, because I usually go to bed the time I had to wake up for the rounds, actually.

In the fourth round I was supposed to score against Denis Fedotov, who was a contestant of Renju AT in 2019 and one of the biggest favourites to win this tournament as well. Knowing he can play anything against me and have the advantage of theory knowledge, I decided to accept my fate and not prepare at all. To my surprise, many many friends joined the match, which started at 7:30 am CEST, such as the Kamarás family, Łukasz Majksner, Igor Eged, Lukáš Souček and many other players. This gave me an extra motivation, which I anyway didn’t lack, I wanted to do my best to solve his debut and then beat him by being better in-game. I spent 23 minutes of my 30 on the first five stones. Eventually, I came to a conclusion that I would rather be black, because I only saw a few possible white moves, trying to foul black, but I saw the defence for them. He was really really fast and I was already under 3 minutes after just 9 moves, but that doesn’t scare me, especially when I counted the possible lines already. I felt my position advantageous and I believe I found a key-move here:

19 – k5 looked so strong, he even started to take me seriously, probably he was a bit too confident about me blundering from the debut but I think he woke up too late, my position was pretty strong here. I played a strong offensive line, he failed to find defense and after 31 moves he just left the table, probably he was pretty frustrated that he lost to me. Well, strong will and counting skills paid off, I was quite proud of this game, matter of fact I instantly received a lot of congratulations, which felt good.

In the next round I had Danila Gromov from Russia, who was the first and already defeated Topkin. We played from a comfortable variant, pretty equal one, from which my plan was to attack and press until he fails to defend. Previously I checked a few games, including a blitz game between Fedotov and Ants Soosyrv. I liked the idea of using Fedotov’s 9th and that is what I exactly did.

9 – F7 gives many chances for continuation, but it’s still a pretty solid move. Maybe he underestimated it, as he tried to attack, then tried to foul me, which was actually not possible for him, after defending I just finished off my attack and won the game rather easily. 4.5/5!

In the 6th round, the last of the second day I had Ivan Danilin, also from Russia.

I anticipated which variant he would play against me, I was more than ready, but also careful and spent some time re-counting the moves. About what I found in the database it looked drawish with main line, so I hoped he will change it or I will be able to change it and attack. I decided to be white to have more options after theory moves. White colour allowed me a better attack, as I could even play for foul, which I have never really managed to do before, I was only white once, against Kuno Kolk in a draw.

Quite drawishly looking position, but I decided to be as offensive as I just can and moved K12 to prepare my future attack.

This worked out quite well, I instantly saw that I can win by fouling him on K10 in a few moves. It was a pretty nice day for me, scoring 3/3 and playing actually pretty well. Apparently, I checked many games of the players and I came to a conclusion that Russian Renju players rely too much on their beloved theories and also that most of them try to foul black more than try to win the game, or in other words, to find the actually best move in the actual position. I also noticed that in a rather 50-50 position most of them are rather passive, which was actually my advantage, they kind of all let me attack.

The last day of the Renju Youth World Cup I had Georg-Romet Topkin, from Estonia, who was also one of the biggest favourites for the gold. I was almost sure that players learnt from my games and knew how to defeat me with tricky thoeries, also I was kind of tired from not sleeping much. Topkin put his debut and I spent the usual time on it, though I couldn’t really solve it this time. I felt black is stronger, but I was scared a bit that there is some branch I don’t see in which black gets fouled. After all, I made a strategical decision, played a white that gave me some chances but I was sure that it is most likely losing. Topkin did not make a mistake and confidently won the game thus became the leader of the tournament.

In the 8th round round I was paired with another Russian, Roman Kriuchok. I used my remaining energy to find a way out of the position which I kind of rushed myself into, judging the debut too fast.

Here I felt rather comfortable, although I couldn’t see how I could win the game and I also had to keep an eye on the lower part of the board, where there was a lot of space and mostly white stones. Eventually my attacks did not succeed, I even got into a time trouble but I managed to survive and achieved a draw. 6/8

In the last round of the tournament with a win I would have secured my first place in Group A, with a lost game I needed Gromov to defeat Kriuchok. I had the Estonian Kristofer Lõhmus, who played some line that I did not anticipate. I was lazy and tired by that point to count so I just moved F7 instead of F9. Of course I lost in a couple moves by foul but at least I could go have some rest.  

Apparently, Gromov had a very easy position against Kriuchok, which he rushed and tried to win directly instead of 2 moves indirect win. Later on, he found a nice win and secured me the first place of Group A. The Estonians did well and played for my weakness – not knowing theory.

Next day the Gomoku Youth World Cup began, in which I was the clear favourite of the gold.

I would only like to highlight 2 games, as most of my wins were pretty short and easy.

Click to scroll in

First, my match against Topkin. He decided to open me xox and I decided to surprise him with a nice swap2.

He managed to not lose in the beginning, after which the game was drawish, but I took the initiative in the mid-game after which he could not find defense and lost the game.

It was a nice and interesting game, probably the only one I really enjoyed during the tournament.

The other one I would like to comment is my only lost game in the tournament, against Czech Lukáš Souček.

I kind of expected that if I play the same opening I will get a gift, but I was seeking some challenge and to be honest, I thought I could solve it in 30 minutes. I was obviously wrong, especially that I made an early assumption that K7>L8 and I did not even really count with L8. I had one minute when he moved it and I had no time to count how it changes what I counted so far and I just decided H8 is a must and he must block in the middle. After that I was lost in the options, such as G9, I9 or I8. I missed future VCF after like 10 moves and moved losing G9. I8 was the only one that was alive and it was also not that good on the long run. It was a bit ambivalent, because I got the challenge that I wanted but I totally failed making a rookie mistake assuming K7>L8, shame on me, props to Lukáš!

On Friday I also won the Gomoku tournament of Mind Sports Olympiad, so I finished the week with 3 gold medals eventually, which is actually not that bad.

I would like to congratulate the medalists and especially Georg-Romet Topkin, who won gold in both competitions with a pretty convincing gameplay. My appreciation! The other player I would like to compliment is Jakub Horák from Czech Republic, who showed a very nice strategical gameplay occasionally, for example against my fellow Hungarian Zoltán Sonkoly:

Well-prepared and then well-played!

I would also like to say thanks to the organizers, who made it possible for the young players to compete, it really is a huge effort to organize such event and especially online, with zoom connection. I hope next time we can meet personally even.