In addition to organizing the upcoming European Go Congress, Carlo Metta played for Italy at this year’s World Amateur Go Championship. Ranka interviewed him after the fifth round.
Ranka: How did you learn to play go?
Carlo: In 2007, eleven years ago, I was a university student and one of my fellow students was fond of Japanese culture. One day he showed me a strange board which he called a go-ban and started putting stones on. That’s how I started this journey. I was immediately fond of this game. Within maybe five months I was already three or four kyu, and in one year I reached one dan. I competed in the World Amateur Go Championship in 2012 and came back this year because I was at the top of the Italian rotation system. That gave me the privilege to chose whether to go or not go to the WAGC this year and of course I chose to go.
Ranka: And you are also the main organizer of the European Go Congress?
Carlo: I’m one of three or four main organizers. I’m handling e-mail, entry applications, and finances. During the tournament I’ll be one of the referees and I’ll be managing the pairings. Right now I’m very busy, working late at night as new applications and payments keep coming in. People also ask a lot of questions: whether their entry payments have arrived or not, if they’re on the list or not, if their vegetarian restrictions can be accommodated — everyone has a question to pose.
Ranka: Is everything going smoothly?
Carlo: Up to now, yes, it is. Our plan was to get at least seven hundred players, and we already have more than a thousand. I’m not sure what the current figure is exactly, but we reached the one thousand mark more than three months ago.
Ranka: Can you tell us more about the plans for the congress?
Carlo: The congress will be held in Pisa, which is a beautiful city in Tuscany, near Florence. The site will be the Pisa Congress Palace, which is a facility in downtown Pisa, a ten-minute walk from the train station, that can be used by various associations and federations for congresses and other events. We’ve booked the entire Congress Palace building, but we have so many people coming it probably won’t be enough; we’ll have to book another place as well.
Ranka: Where will the participants stay?
Carlo: In hotels, hostels, houses, and apartments, mainly in Airbnb accommodations.
Ranka: What events have you planned for the congress?
Carlo: A lot of events. The championship, of course, an open tournament, the weekend tournament, and more than twenty side events: nine-by-nine and thirteen-by-thirteen tournaments, a women’s championship, youth championships, an endgame tournament, pair go — I can’t remember all of them. There will also be excursions, and there will be a scientific congress on the second Wednesday and the following Thursday, with about ten invited speakers: European scientists who will talk about AI and other game-related and computer-related topics. The Leela developers will be there to discuss their software, which started from zero and has already gotten strong enough to beat several professionals. I doubt that I could beat it with a five-stone handicap.
Ranka: Please tell us a little more about the excursions.
Carlo: We’ll take people sightseeing in Pisa and Florence, maybe in Lucca, which is a very beautiful town near Pisa, and other towns like Siena, which is very, very beautiful. We’ll also take people to the beach. There will be something like one or two excursions every day, with big excursions on the weekend and a free day on Wednesday. You can see the schedule on the web page.
Ranka: What weather can the participants expect?
Carlo: Well, summer in Pisa is usually very sunny. It rarely rains but it can get really, really hot. Last year, during another congress, the temperature went up to 45 degrees. But the venue will be air conditioned, and we plan to give the players plenty of ice cream and things to drink.
Ranka: Organizing all this sounds like a lot of work for just three or four main organizers.
Carlo: Yes, but this year, for the first time, we’ve asked other players to join the organization. A lot of people responded, maybe more than fifty. Twenty of them are Italians, but we also have players from Germany, Russia, the Ukraine, and other countries helping out. We really thank them for the assistance they’re giving now and will continue to give during the congress, where they’ll help us look after the equipment and organize the tournaments and participants.
Ranka: Have you enjoyed the WAGC here in Tokyo so far?
Carlo: Yes, of course. My opponent’s have been a little tough, but maybe I’ll be luckier in my next three games.
Ranka: Good luck in everything!
Postscript: After this interview Carlo, who is ranked 4 dan, drew three 5-dan opponents, but he beat one of them and finished 41st out of 61, highest in the three-win group.