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Eric Lui 2P tops 109-player field at 2023 Chicago Open

Jamie Tang | Published on 6/1/2023

Eric Lui 2P emerged as the champion of the 2023 Chicago Open, triumphing over 109 players at the tournament held in Evanston, Ill., over Memorial Day weekend, May 27-28. Lui finished with a 7-1 record in a highly competitive event where no player in the Masters and Open section remained undefeated.
photo: Masters’ winners Lambert Lee, Jeremy Chiu, Jiehui Kwa, Zirui Song, and Yifan Wu (left to right) and the Chicago Open organizers Albert Yen, Cheuk To Tsui, and Mark Rubenstein (left to right) share smiles as champion Eric Lui (center) raises his trophy, May 28, 2023. (Photo by Bowen Yan)


Lui said the tournament’s eight games over two days was “intense”, adding that “I enjoyed Fischer time settings because it enables you to control your time more strategically compared to byo-yomi, like playing out planned sequences quickly to build up time to use for more important decisions.” He highlighted two notable rounds, including Round 4, when Lui faced off against Haoran Wang 7D, who set the stage for a large-scale fight with a bold move at the tengen playing as white. The game was closely contested until the endgame, with Lui securing a 5.5-point victory. In Round 5, Lui went up against Zirui Song 1P, his former five-year AGA City League teammate and the 2018 US Open Masters champion. Despite facing a challenging early game, Lui managed to gain the upper hand. Lui regarded Song as the most formidable player at the 2023 Chicago Open, and the game played an instrumental role in determining the champion.
photo: Eric Lui 2P (left) plays Yifan Wu 7D (right) on Board 1 in Round 3 of the 2023 Chicago Open in Evanston, Ill., May 27, 2023. (Photo by Paige Lemaster)


Lui credits his father, I-Han Lui 6D, the long-time US Go Congress pro coordinator, for introducing him to the game at a young age. He went on to represent the United States in prestigious tournaments, achieving the best-ever American finish in the World Amateur Go Championship and the Korea Prime Minister Cup International Baduk Championship. During an interview with the E-Journal, he advised aspiring go players to apply standard recommendations, such as playing games and solving practice problems. He also emphasized treating artificial intelligence as a tool for reviewing games. Lui expressed optimism for the future of go in America with the rise of strong youth players like Kevin Yang 1P and Alex Qi 1P.
photo: Sungsoo Kim performs a “Hikaru no Go” medley to kick-start the 2023 Chicago Open in Evanston, Ill., May 27, 2023. (Photo by Albert Yen)

Yifan Wu 7D secured second place in the Masters' section with a 7-1 record, losing only to champion Eric Lui. Wu, now a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis, trained to become a professional go player in China but had gradually moved away from the game until recently. Wu described the 2023 Chicago Open as the “most formal tournament” he has played in the United States. “I’ve always wanted to win a trophy,” Wu said. “It is beautiful, and I love it. This is a kind of honor — proof of my more than ten years of experience with go.”
photo: 2023 Chicago Open low-Kyu and novice section players concentrate on their games at Holiday Inn North Evanston-Chicago in Evanston, Ill., May 27, 2023. Notably, Gavin Bowling 16K (far left in yellow), Vice-President of the Memphis Go Club, finished with a 6-2 record, despite it being his first tournament. (Photo by MayJune Chen)


Jeremy Chiu 7D clinched the sixth-place position in the Masters’ section by defeating Zirui Song 1P. Shiyang Qi 4D, first place winner in the 1 to 4 Dan division, expressed excitement with the stronger playing field. Jacob Upland 1K, President of the Iowa Go Society, secured first place in the 1 to 3 Kyu division after facing off against three 3-Dans.

The success of the 2023 Chicago Open, featured in the Chicago Chinese Times and Evanston Round Table, can be attributed to the efforts of Mark Rubenstein, whose passion for go now spans twenty five years. His interest in the game was sparked in the early 1970s when he saw people playing go at the now-defunct No Exit Café in Chicago, Ill. In 1996, Rubenstein joined forces with his friend David Whiteside to establish the Evanston Go Club. Rubenstein competed in numerous tournaments organized by Bob Barber, where he crossed paths with Albert Yen, then a “polite and smart 12-year-old… who just happened to be 6 Dan!” Rubenstein later organized small self-paired tournaments with his self-developed software, which inspired Devin Fraze’s Baduk Club, the software utilized by the Chicago Open. “I’ve been running the tournaments for over ten years by myself,” Rubenstein said. “Attendance was typically around 30 players. Since Albert and Cheuk have taken an active role in organizing, the tournaments have gotten bigger and better every year!”

The vibrant local go community has fostered a sense of camaraderie, according to Organizing Director Albert Yen and Tournament Director Cheuk To Tsui.  Yen expressed delight in forming new friendships through the shared love of the game. Tsui said the massive event made it challenging to ensure timely rounds, but he considered it a great privilege to contribute to the go community. Zach Lu, the winner of the mid-kyu division, praised Yen and Tsui for making every player feel welcome.

The number of out-of-state players increased from 16 last year to 62 this year, with participants traveling from fifteen U.S. states, including California, Minnesota, New York, Texas, and Mississippi. “It was unbelievably fun!” said Chase Wages, President of the Memphis Go Club. “I've never seen so many go players in one place and faced off against so many unique styles before. I was amazed at how strong the kids were.”
photo: Chicago Open participants pose for a group photo in Holiday Inn Chicago North-Evanston, May 28, 2023. (Photo by MayJune Chen)


Manny Jauregui, who co-organized the Midwest Open earlier this year, shared with the E-Journal his appreciation for the tournament, emphasizing the significance of the game process over the result. The youth tournament played on 9-by-9 boards using simplified rules to balance education and competition, according to Youth Director Xinming Guo. 

The Chicago Open organization team expressed gratitude to streamers Nate Morse and Triton Perrin for their insightful commentary and game recorders Eden Chen, Aldric Giacomoni, Satoru Inoue, Daniel Lam, Forest Song, Julia Zhang, and Meal Coordinator Evan Lerner for their diligent work. The Chicago Open organization team thanked the sponsors Baduk Club, New York Institute of Go, Online Go Server, and Yellow Mountain Imports. Special recognition was given to Devin Fraze for providing streaming and tournament support. 
photo: Organizing Director Albert Yen with the St. Louis players Sathya Singh, Karl Diedrich, Jarek Millburg, and Caleb Hansen (left to right) break loose at the end of 8 rounds at the 2023 Chicago Open in Evanston, Ill., May 28, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Open)


To access the final standings of the 2023 Chicago Open, please refer to this file

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