The start of the third SportAccord World Mind Games was officially declared by Mr Yang Xiacho, president of the Organizing Comittee and deputy mayor of Beijing, at an opening ceremony held in the main second floor hall of the Beijing International Conference Center, which will be the competition venue for the coming week. The announcement was accompanied by a musical fanfare and projected images of fireworks. It was preceded by greetings from Mr Wang Wei, executive president of the Organizing Committee and vice chairman of the Beijing Olympic City Development Association (BODA), and Mr Marius Vizer, president of SportAccord. Mr Wang noted that mind games were helping to improve the quality of life in Beijing and wished the contestants a pleasant stay in the city. Mr Vizer thanked the Chinese government, BODA, and the city of Beijing for their support and wished the contestants good luck.
Before these greetings, representative groups of contestants, six to eight in each of the five disciplines, had marched onto the stage to witness the raising of the Chinese flag and the SportAccord flag by a crack drill team in white uniforms. Following the greetings, the contestants marched off and the stage was taken by a succession of dance teams. First a team of Chinese college students gave a prizewinning shadowboxing demonstration. Next a kickball dance team demonstrated their skills, which have won prizes in dance competitions in Beijing and Singapore and have been witnessed as far away as Europe and Africa. National champions in military exercises with broadswords and other weapons then demonstrated their skills in a kungfu dance, and finally another student group displayed classical dance skills in a ‘Chess Rhyme’, in which the dancers were dressed as black and white chess queens. There was much in these performances to inspire the spectators, who were already in a good mood following a buffet banquet, and the ceremony ended at a quarter past eight, in plenty of time for everyone to rest up for the week ahead.
For a group of go players and officials, the opening ceremony was followed by a technical meeting. The meeting was presided over by chief referee Wang Runan, with assistance from technical delegate Shigeno Yuki and interpretation by Zhang Wei. The meeting began with greetings from Mr Wang and Ms Shigeno, proceeded through a summary of the rules, and then moved on to the main order of business: the drawing of the team, pair, and player numbers, which were incorporated into a prearranged schedule in each event.
For the round robin men’s team event, the result of the draw was that on the first day of play (December 12) the Chinese team faces the North American team while Europe challenges Japan and Chinese Taipei challenges Korea. The pairings for the next four days were also determined. In three noteworthy matches, North America will square off against Europe on the 13th, Chinese Taipei will tackle Japan on the 15th, and China and Korea will confront each other in the last round on the 16th.
For the women’s double knockout individual event, the draw began with the drawing of numbers 1, 6, 7, and 12, which were scheduled for byes in the first round. Park Jieun (Korea), Yoshida Mika (Japan) Joanne Missingham (Chinese Taipei), and Wang Chengxing (China) had been preselected to receive these byes, Ms Park and Ms Wang being slotted into numbers 1 and 12, Ms Missingham and Ms Yoshida into numbers 6 and 7. Number 1 was drawn to Ms Park and number 12 to Ms Wang; then number 6 was drawn to Ms Yoshida and number 7 to Ms Missingham. This automatically determined the numbers assigned to their fellow countrywomen Oh Jeonga (9), Chang Cheng-Ping (3), Fujisawa Rina (10), and Yu Zhizhing (4). The four women from Canada and Russia then drew for the remaining numbers: Sarah Jin Yu drew a first-round pairing against Oh Jeonga (Korea); Svetlana Shikshina drew Fujisawa Rina (Japan); Dina Burdakova drew Yu Zhizhing (China); Natalia Kovaleva drew Chang Cheng-Ping (Chinese Taipei).
The pair draw was similar to the women’s draw but without byes. The four pairs from the Far East drew for numbers 1, 4, 5, and 8; then the pairs from Europe and North America drew for the remaining numbers, so that the pairs from Europe and North America all drew opponents from the Far East in the first round. Although the pair competition is a single knockout, it will include play-offs for third to sixth places, so even the pairs who lose in the first round will get to play at least one more game.
Although the draw was in no way a competition, the European contingent put on a winning performance. Their non-playing team captain Martin Stiassny and all six of their players attended the meeting, far outshining the other contingents in this respect. This year apparently Europe means business.
– James Davies