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2023 Chicago Rapid Preview: Player Highlights

Justin Teng | Published on 11/2/2023
by Jamie Tang

As the one-day 2023 Chicago Rapid Championship in Evanston, Illinois approaches on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, Go players from around the country are gearing up for an intense day of Go.
Record-Breaking Attendance: The 2023 Chicago Rapid already has 120 registered players from over 15 states with ranks spanning from 18K to 7D as of Nov. 2, surpassing the previous record — 109 players in the 2023 Chicago Open, the two-day tournament held in May. All players, no matter the experience level, will have the opportunity to fight for the podium. “This year, we’ve decreased the number of ranks in each division, so everyone has a realistic chance to win trophies and prizes,” said Tournament Director Cheuk To Tsui.

“While the Central Region does not have the same density and number of players as the coasts, we made up for that through our cohesiveness,” said Albert Yen, Co-Organizing Director with Mark Rubenstein. “We do our best to learn about our competitors, and our goal is to be able to greet every player by name so there are no strangers who come in our door. The Chicago Rapid brought together a dozen clubs from around the region, and we’re happy that our tournament has developed into an event that the Midwest Go community plans around.”

Jarek Millburg 10K, whose first AGA-rated tournament was the 2023 Chicago Open earlier this year, shared his aspirations for the upcoming tournament. “I hope to redeem myself and give a better showing this time around in Chicago,” Millburg said. “I find tournaments a great way to really test yourself and see how you have grown from the last tournament. I look forward to competing with everyone in Chicago and seeing friends from other areas I have made over this past year.”
Midwest Go Association Discord founder Karl Diedrich 18K, who attended the 2023 Chicago Rapid, added, “Besides wanting to play more ranked games and see my progress, I want to use the 2023 Chicago Rapid to learn how the tournament directors operate behind the scenes. I'm hoping St. Louis hosts its first tournament early next year. Seeing how a one-day tournament runs logistically will help me and my team determine what we can accomplish.”

Fierce Competition: Top amateur players look forward to fierce competition at the 2023 Chicago Rapid. Paige Lemaster 5D, known for her attacking playing style, expressed her hope “to play and defeat Yifan Wu” at the 2023 Chicago Rapid.

Yifan Wu 7D, who secured second place in the 2023 Chicago Open, is among the favorites of the 2023 Chicago Rapid. “I've always been drawn to the Chicago tournaments mainly because of the people,” Wu said. “The organizers attach great importance to the tournaments, and the players are also very friendly and enthusiastic. The mutual respect and the shared love for Go make it an enriching experience.”

Returning Players: For some, the Evanston Go Club tournaments mark their return to the Go community. 

Ellie Spohr 1D, a long-time member of the Go community, will be competing in her second-ever Go tournament. She practiced over 4,000 life-and-death problems this summer to regain lost strength. “I don’t want to lose all of my games at this tournament, but even if that happens I have what I need to move forward again," Ellie said.

For university students like Xingke Sun 7D, who first learned Go in China, Evanston Go Club tournaments represent a rare opportunity to play Go. “I joined the Chicago tournament for the 2022 summer, and I received the invitation from Albert. I haven't played Go for a while, so I want to enjoy [the tournament]," Sun said.

Tennessee-based Go teacher Shawn Ray 5D, who is working on building Baduk News and Tsumegodragon for the Go community, is also competing in the tournament. "For me, tournaments are a great social feeling. Sure, winning is fun, but I feel at home playing competitive games," Ray said.

Tealicious Bubble Tea is open Monday to Saturday 12 pm - 9 pm and Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm on 1565 Sherman Ave. Evanston, IL. 60201.
Tealicious Bubble Tea is open Monday to Saturday 12 pm - 9 pm and Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm on 1565 Sherman Ave.  Evanston, IL. 60201.

Official Food Sponsor: The Evanston Go Club organizing team is proud to announce Tealicious Bubble Tea (see their website here) as the official food sponsor for the event. This year, Tealicious Bubble Tea offers players a lunch bundle with four bentos and four drinks to choose from. 

“We are fortunate to be so close to Tealicious Bubble Tea, a family-owned Taiwanese bubble tea cafe,” Yen said.

For last year’s Chicago Rapid, Yen approached the Tealicious Bubble Tea owner Jun Zhong about arranging lunch. “I was drawn to their homemade boba and commitment to using quality ingredients in all their foods,” Yen said. “Throughout the process, they have been very friendly and accommodating. We are especially grateful that they offered to customize a vegan bento for us.”

Max Blair was one of the vegan competitors at the 2023 Chicago Open. “I was very appreciative that there was a vegan option provided at the tournament. It was a convenient and delicious way to have a quick meal between rounds, and I would be happy to order from them again,” Blair said.

BadukClub Live Streaming: The all-in-one Go platform BadukClub, founded by Devin Fraze, will provide live streaming services of top boards for the 2023 Chicago Rapid. The Evanston Go Club organizing committee thanks Baduk House member Jeremiah Donley for managing the live streaming. Go fans from around the country can tune in to the stream here starting at 10 a.m. CDT on Nov. 4.

The 2023 Chicago Rapid is set to take place at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Evanston, Illinois, on Saturday, Nov. 4. Refreshments, including pies and pastries from Benison’s Bakery, will be provided. Players are encouraged to bring water bottles. 

“The Chicago Rapid is now the biggest tournament in the country besides the Go Congress,” Yen said. “This will be a great opportunity for our first-time competitors to learn about the Go scene in the Midwest and connect with other players. Besides the competition, players can also check out our free educational resources and equipment sale stand.”

The Evanston Go Club organizing committee hopes that all players have an enjoyable experience. 

Organizing Committee
Xinming Guo: Youth Director
Mark Rubenstein: Co-Organizing Director
Qi-Mei Jamie Tang: Outreach Director
Cheuk To Tsui: Tournament Director
Gavin Wallace: Housing Director
Albert Yen: Co-Organizing Director

About Evanston Go Club
The Evanston Go Club, co-founded by Mark Rubenstein and David Whiteside in 1996, is the largest American Go Association chapter in the Midwest. We strive to provide a place that is open to the public for people to play, learn, or just watch the game of Go. Visit our website here

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