Round 3 of the men’s team event and round 4 of the women’s individual event were held on the third day of competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games, under the direction of referee Michael Redmond. The men’s event began at half past noon, with the Chinese playing the Japanese, the North Americans playing the Europeans, and the Koreans playing the team from Chinese Taipei. All of these matches were to end with 2-1 scores.
The North Americans quickly found themselves in a desperate situation. Two of their players, Huiren Yang and Daniel Daehyuk Ko, were part of the team that had had been shut out by the Europeans last year. Their third player, Mingjiu Jiang, outranked his French opponent Fan Hui by five professional dan levels, but he lost. When this game ended at about half past three on board one, North America’s prospects seemed bleak indeed.
An hour or so later on board two, however, North America’s Huiren Yang, who earned a 1-dan professional rank in China before emigrating to Boston, defeated Aleksandr Dinershteyn, who earned a 3-dan professional rank in Korea before returning to his native Russia. Today apparently the lower ranked player had the advantage. The seven-time European champion gave his opponent a territorial lead early in the opening, and Mr Yang held onto it for the rest of the game. This was the dour Yankee’s first SportAccord victory in eight attempts. Suddenly he looked twenty years younger.
On board three both North America’s Daniel Daehyuk Ko and Russia’s Ilya Shikshin had amateur 7-dan ranks, so perhaps neither was at any disadvantage, but here too the North American took a territorial lead, after which he successfully parried all his opponent’s attacks on his weak groups and even won the final one-point ko fight. When the score was counted by the Chinese method of first counting surrounded space and then counting stones, Mr Ko (black) was ahead by double the 3-3/4 stone compensation, so he won by a comfortable margin. This was his first victory in ten SportAccord games. North America had avenged its 2013 loss.
Meanwhile, the Chinese had clinched their match by beating Japan on the first two boards, while Chinese Taipei and Korea had divided two games and were nervously watching the close contest on board one, where Korea’s Park Younghoon was playing Chinese Taipei’s Chen Shih-Iuan. North America’s triumphant Mr Ko, who was born in Korea, joined them and had the additional pleasure of seeing Mr Park win by resignation to keep Korea’s slim gold medal hopes alive.
Like the Chen-Park game, the game between China’s Tuo Jiaxi and Japan’s Seto Taiki on board three was close, but unlike the games on boards one and two, the Japanese player was slightly ahead. When Mr Tuo tried to reverse the lead in a last-ditch ko fight, some Japanese ninja magic devastated his largest territory, so Mr Seto won by resignation.
In the women’s double knockout, Yu Zhiying won the all-Chinese match in the undefeated bracket to earn a day of rest in the next round, and at least a silver medal. The outcome was decided during the first fight of the middle game. Rui Naiwei made a mistake that cost her two stones and considerable territory, and after that Yu gave her no chance. Ms Rui now joins Joanne Missingham and Cathy Chang (Chinese Taipei) and Kim Chaeyoung (Korea) in the losers’ bracket. While Ms Yu was winning her fourth straight game, these three defeated and thereby knocked out Choi Jeong (Korea), Svetlana Shikshina (Russia), and Fujisawa Rina (Japan).
- James Davies
China’s defending champion Tang Weixing 9p faced off against Korea’s secret weapon Kim Jiseok 9p (left) at the 2014 Samsung Cup finals on December 9 and 10 in Xi’an. Though Tang had a previous win and the home field advantage, Kim’s individual performance this year in international tournaments has been almost flawless with 15 wins and only 1 defeat. The result? Kim delighted Korean fans by defeating Tang 2-0 and giving Korea its first major international title since Lee Sedol 9p won the Samsung Cup in 2012. For more information about this year’s tournament including photos, game records, and preliminary commentary by An Younggil 8d, please visit Go Game Guru.
–Younggil An, from a longer article on Go Game Guru; photo courtesy Go Game Guru. Edited by Annalia Linnan.
Russia: The Championship of Karelia finished on December 7 in Petrozavodsk with Vladimir Shvecov 3d in first, Dimitrij Kornev 4d in second, and Dmitrij Konovalov 2d in third. Romania: Mircea Nitu 11k (left) took the 2nd VolGo Cup on December 6 in Voluntary. Behind him were Sebastian State 11k in second and George Gigoi 14k in third. Lithuania: Also on December 7, Giedrius Tumelis 2d bested Andrius Petrauskas 3d at the Lithuanian Go Championship in Vilnius while Ernestas Romeika 1d came in third.
– Annalia Linnan, based on reports from EuroGoTV, which include complete result tables and all the latest European go news; photo courtesy of EuroGoTV
The Chinese non-playing team captain is Hua Xueming, who won the Chinese women’s individual championship in 1993 and 1995 and the Tombow Cup in 2002, and more recently partnered with Nie Weiping to win the Shenzhen International Pair Go Tournament in 2010. She has also competed in the Fujitsu Cup with some success (beating Otake Hideo in 1994), and in 1985 she became one of the few women to win a tournament open to both women and men when she defeated a large number of male opponents, including Yu Bin, in the Xinxiu (New Star) Cup. She consented to an interview with Ranka during round 1.
Ranka: Please tell us about your coaching career.
Hua: I worked as a coach for the National Youth Team, starting in 1997, then as a coach for the National Women’s Team starting in 2002. In 2005 China became dissatisfied with the results being produced by its national team, and assembled a group of five coaches for its national team. In June 2005 I became their group leader, as well as a coach of the National Men’s Team.
Ranka: What was the reason for the dissatisfaction?
Hua: China still hadn’t reached the top. For the first decade of full-scale international competition, the top country was Japan. Then for next decade, it was Korea. Up until 2005 Chinese players managed to win only three world titles.
Ranka: And after 2005?
Hua: China’s National Team has been doing better. Since 2005 they’ve won 23 world titles and they’ve been competing on equal or superior terms with the Koreans.
Ranka: What was the reason for China’s great leap forward?
Hua: There were four reasons. One was the long years of effort that the Chinese go community has put into the game since the distant past. That laid the foundation. A second reason was the existence of an elite national team in China. That created a sense of purpose. A third reason was the performance of China’s national team in the China-Japan Super-Go Series. The win-and-continue format of that tournament created an environment in which Chinese players could excel, and their success showed that Chinese players could be as good as any in the world. As for the fourth reason, it’s simply China’s large population.
Ranka: Which means that compared with the rest of the world, China has a larger pool of potential world champions to draw on. But what keeps Chinese young people interested in playing go, instead of the electronic games that seem to be displacing traditional games in other countries?
Hua: The situation in China is a little different from the rest of the world, because it is now changing for the better. In the past, go was treated as a sport in China, which created heroes and kept people interested, but now it is also regarded as a cultural pursuit, which makes it worth teaching to children as part of their upbringing. And another big factor, again, is China’s population. Even if go enthusiasts do not make up the majority in China, there are still quite a lot of us.
Ranka: Are you satisfied with China’s results in the SportAccord World Mind Games so far?
Hua: Oh, I guess we’ve done reasonably well, but I think the important thing about the SportAccord World Mind Games is not the individual results or team results. It’s the publicity that’s being generated, not only in China but also in the rest of the world. The televised broadcast of that’s taking place right now is one example.
Ranka: Finally, can you tell us something about the Chinese players and how they were selected for this year’s SportAccord World Mind Games?
Hua: The men are all young and all are winners of world championship titles. The selection process was very simple. We just took the three most recent world title winners from the National Men’s Team. On the women’s side, Yu Zhiying is also young and she was selected because currently she ranks as the strongest woman in China. Rui Naiwei was selected both for her strength as a player and because of her international reputation. And it was as the senior player, incidentally, that she was chosen to get the bye in the first round.
Ranka: Thank you very much.
The second day of go competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games started at 9:30 a.m. on December 12. Outside, Beijing’s skies were clear and relatively smog-free. Inside the go playing room on the second floor of the Beijing International Convention Center, it was to be full steam ahead for China.
The morning event was round 2 of the women’s double knockout. On two of the boards Chinese players were matched against Japanese opponents. On the third board Chinese Taipei’s Joanne Missingham was playing Korea’s Kim Chaeyoung, who recently won the women’s Guksu title in Korea. On the fourth board Natalia Kovaleva, Europe’s heroine of round one, was matched against Korea’s teenaged women’s master (myungin) Choi Jeong, who had won the Bingsheng Cup in September. The four women who lost in round 1 had byes.
The outcome was victory for both Chinese and both Koreans. Choi Jeong needed less than two hours to defeat Natalia Kovaleva by a wide margin. In a somewhat closer game China’s Rookie King Yu Zhiying defeated Japan’s women’s Honinbo Fujisawa Rina. Japan’s Okuda Aya then bowed in resignation to China’s Rui Naiwei after a long ko fight, and at 12:38 p.m. Joanne Missingham, trailing by a fraction of a stone with only two one-point moves left to play, resigned to Kim Chaeyoung.
In the meantime, the men’s team matches had begun. The big one was the confrontation between China, which had rolled over the European team in round 1, and Korea, which had had a close call against Japan. On board three Korea’s Kang Dongyoon faced China’s Tuo Jiaxi, whom he had beaten in the Nongshim Cup in October. Kang tried a relatively new joseki variation in the bottom right corner. It did not turn out well; Tuo established positions on both the lower and right sides. Tuo, who had won the LG Cup in February, continued to dominate the game, and after a while Kang found himself faced with the need to make a humiliating life for a group in the top right. It may be true that while there is life there is hope, and there was still plenty of open space in other parts of the board, but Kang decided that his hopes were too slim to be worth pursuing and resigned. China was off to a good start.
On board two, the Korean youngster Na Hyun was playing an even younger opponent: Mi Yuting. Last December Mi had leaped into stardom by winning the first Mlily Cup. This year, playing for Dalian in China’s A League, he had posted a 16-4 won-lost record that carried his team to a smashing league championship. In this game, however, Mi created a weak group on the lower side and Na took the lead. But Na, who had rescued victory from the jaws of defeat in round 1, now saw his lead evaporate in a ko fight that led to a capturing race he could not win, and he too resigned. Suddenly Korea had lost the match.
But it was not yet over. On board one Park Younghoon demonstrated that the endgame skills that had won him the Fujitsu Cup and various other titles some years ago were still intact, and also saved face for Korea, by playing to a narrow but secure victory over China’s top rated Shi Yue. In fact, Park seemed to be slightly ahead almost throughout the game, after Shi made a doubtful joseki choice early in the opening. It was ironical that the only Korean player to lose in round 1 was the only one to win in round 2.
While the Chinese men’s team was taking a big step toward a gold medal, the Chinese women were doing equally well in round 3 of the women’s competition. Yu Zhiying had surprisingly little trouble in winning a contest of giant territories against Choi Jeong. Rui Naiwei subdued Kim Chaeyoung by the same fractional margin by which Kim had won in the morning. Four games were also played in the losers’ bracket, with good results for Chinese Taipei and mixed results for the rest of the world: Fujisawa Rina defeated Natalia Kovaleva; Joanne Missingham defeated Okuda Aya; Chinese Taipei’s Cathy Chang defeated North America’s Irene Sha; and in an all-Russian game, Svetlana Shikshina defeated Dina Burdakova. The losers of these four games have now been eliminated. Only the two Chinese players remain undefeated, and they will meet each other in round 4.
And what of China’s performance in the other disciplines? Hou Yifan has won a silver model in women’s and Wang Hao has won a bronze medal in men’s rapid chess, but the Chinese teams finished last in the round robin stage of the team-of-four contract bridge competition, which means they will compete for bronze medals in the final stage. In rapid draughts competition, Chinese players took 14th place among the 16 competitors in the men’s division and 8th and 11th places among the 12 competitors in the women’s division. After two rounds of xiangqi competition, Chinese players are tied with American players for first place in the men’s division and second place in the women’s division. So far, China is being led by its go players.
– James Davies
by James Davies, Ranka Online
The first round of go competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games on December 11 featured an epic encounter between the Korean and Japanese men’s teams, and a historic victory for a Russian woman. The Japan-Korea men’s match was close on all three boards. Yuki Satoshi (right) of Japan defeated Korea’s Park Younghun in a prolonged struggle on board one. In the battle between two young players on board two, Japan’s Ida Atsushi, 20, overplayed his advantage against Na Hyun, 19, by starting an unnecessary ko fight, in the course of which Na was able to revive his dead group and evened the score in the match at 1-1. All now depended on the outcome of the game between Seto Taiki of Japan and Korea’s Kang Dongyoon on board three, and the people following the action on the monitor screens in the adjoining room were held in suspense down to practically the last move, but after a grueling five and a half hours, Kang came up the winner by 4.5 points.
Meanwhile, the Chinese team of Shi Yue, Mi Yuting, and Tuo Jiaxi was dealing unmercifully with the European team of Fan Hui, Aleksandr Dinershteyn, and Ilya Shikshin. European stones died en masse on all three boards. The team from Chinese Taipei also blanked the North American team 3-0, although the game between Chen Shih-Iuan and Jiang Mingjiu on board one was quite close. Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva defeated Chinese Taipei’s Cathy Chang in the women’s individual competition.
- adapted from a longer report on Ranka Online; photo by Ivan Vigano
This clash of young stars was a highlight of the second round of the Individual Women’s event of the SportAccord World Mind Games 2014. Japan’s 16 year-old Fujisawa Rina took black against China’s Yu Zhiying, also 16 years-old and the winner of this event last year.
Fujisawa Rina is the youngest ever Japanese female player to become a professional and also to take a title. She is the granddaughter of Fujisawa Shuko, one of the best players of his era. Yu Zhiying has been scoring many wins in high-level events, including winning the 21th Xinren Wang this year and taking second in the 2013 Bingsheng Cup.
The game began with an interesting squeeze tesuji by Fujisawa starting from move 11 where White was constricted to the corner while Black took outside influence (click here to download the sgf file). The exchange of Black’s move 15 for White’s move 16 was however good for White, giving Black an uncomfortable empty triangle and making the overall result equal for both players.
After settling their claims to the top-left and lower-right corners in standard fashion, Yu began a surprising manoeuvre. She played atari then pushed (moves 54 and 56) starting a wild attack with bad shape. This is likely to be a mistake, with an extension (move 1 in Diagram 1) being the more natural move. See Diagram 1 for the most likely continuation, where Black plays atari at move 2 of the variation. If Black were to extend instead at 9, White would push at 2, Black hane, then White takes a (good) empty triangle, giving her a better result than in the game.
The fight continued with Black looking good after the exchange up to move 67. Fujisawa’s move 75 however was too slack, at a point where it was imperative to take profit. Diagram 2 shows a variation starting with Black’s cut at move 1 that is far superior. Black is happy to capture the three stones if White covers the lower-right black group on move 78.
Thanks to Black’s loose play, Yu was able to make life in the lower-right while attacking Fujisawa’s corner. Black cannot keep this corner alive and still save the two stones (moves 47 and 71). White now turned to the top-right, where a dangerous-looking invasion at move 100 is actually a serious threat as White’s lower group is already alive.
After move 118, White had the miai of striking at Black’s right group and pushing through (with move 120). Even though Yu’s group had no eyes on the right side, Black cannot save all of her outside stones. The game is now over.
- John Richardson based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p