Part of my inspiration to create and write in this journal comes from the work of Camille Lévêque, a 28-year-old Frenchwoman who has played Go since 2018, and has already achieved the rank of European 2-dan. For three years, she has drawn for the Go community behind the alias Stoned on the Goban and teaches at the Grenoble School of Go. I first discovered Camille’s work at the 2019 European Go Congress, where there was a table displaying her art. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Camille at that time, but I continued to see her art appear on Facebook. When I noticed she was also participating in the Yunguseng program, I decided to subscribe to her Patreon and reach out. Camille kindly offered to play a game with me and agreed to participate in a short interview, both of which are included below.
I played Black with a two-stone handicap. The game was challenging and fun for me. I found Camille’s moves solid and calm, and I felt like I was being pushed to produce my best Go. Camille won by a comfortable margin, but according to Camille I played well.
To summarize, I handled my lower left corner group far too casually, and Camille found a great way to attack and kill it. Thanks to the handicap, I didn’t have to resign but I knew that winning was unlikely. Nevertheless, I made the game competitive by focusing on building a big moyo, which Camille reduced well with moves like White 73. Our review of the game was informative, and I learned some new techniques and shapes from Camille’s play (such as the capture with White 49, or the clever move of White 77).
And now, the interview.
River: How would you describe yourself and your role in the Go community?
Camille: I am very “young” in the Go community, as I started playing three years ago, but I entered the community fully very quickly, and I have not stopped playing and meeting new people. I felt so welcome that I absolutely wanted to participate in the game, too. It’s in my character: I don’t like to just be a consumer. Everyone can contribute to a community, I’m sure. This partly explains why today I devote myself almost exclusively to the Go community! I was previously a professor of agricultural technology; today, I am an illustrator and creator of content at 80% for the game of Go. I am currently in charge of the development of the Grenoble School of Go, where I have been teaching since September. I couldn’t have imagined this three years ago, especially teaching Go! I am creative and committed, and I have the great opportunity to be supported by a community, so I hope to participate in the promotion of Go, but especially for female players, who are often invisible.
R: How would you describe your style of play?
C: I have a very instinctive playstyle that is strongly inspired by the AI style, simply because I started playing long after such technology was born. I think instinct is my greatest strength; conversely, the more calculating and deep reading phases are difficult for me.
R: Who are your Go heroes and why?
C: There are a lot of inspiring people in Go, apart from the immense strength of the professional players, of whom I know little about. In France, women players have inspired and motivated me: Astrid Gautier, Dominique Cornuejols… strong women who cement the links between people. My heroes are those who work behind the scenes to make this game accessible to everyone, and there are many of them.
R: What do you enjoy most about playing Go?
C: My favorite thing is the atmosphere of a game surrounded by friends, when every move evokes a laugh or a nod. I like the sharing that games bring in general. When I play, on the other hand, I especially like the beauty of a goban that gradually fills up, with a story in each sequence.
R: How do you mentally prepare for a game?
C: I don’t really prepare myself. In tournament games I am extremely stressed out and always find it difficult to play calmly. Usually, games in public make me uncomfortable, because of the judgment of my game, I guess. When I master my game environment, I especially try to refocus on my feeling, which guides my game a lot. I know ignoring your opponent is important, but one can’t play on the goban without the other player.
R: How do you deal with unexpected setbacks, on or off the board?
C: I have a lot of difficulty recovering a game that has advanced badly for me. I naturally tend to “see” the winning percentage that an AI would give me, and therefore know that the game is badly started. Then, it’s mentally difficult to make a comeback, especially since I don’t like playing harsh moves and prefer to admit that my opponent played better. But overall, the defeats don’t bother me if I feel like I have given my best.
R: How would you describe the relationship between Go and art?
C: I think a lot of great players have done it better than me. I found Go to be beautiful immediately, because it balances simplicity and complexity. Its rules and materials are simple, but its depth is almost infinite. There aren’t many planks of wood and pebbles that can inspire humans so much.
R: Can you tell us about your Inktober series?
C: Inktober is an annual drawing challenge in which there is one new theme per each day of October. I have never managed to complete an Inktober yet, but I do better every year. This year I wanted a graphical consistency between all the illustrations, and to get out of my comfort zone: the sweet and cute characters who play Go. Some themes were extremely difficult, such as “chef.” I am happy with the result, which allowed me to test new techniques, and still inspires me for future illustrations.
R: How does Go relate to other parts of your life?
C: Go infuses almost all of my life today: my meetings, my work, and even my home, because I live with roommates … who are also Go players! Go has made me feel stronger and listened to, and it’s already a good result.
R: Are there any recent or upcoming Go-related events or activities that you’re particularly excited about?
C: Even though I appreciate the connection that digital technology allows us, the events that I look forward to more than anything are the return to real life, for example the next European Go Congress. But we’ll have to wait some more.