Huiren Yang (left) playing Park Jeonghwan

In the fourth round of the men’s team event at the 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games China rolled over Europe 3-0 to remain completely undefeated. Korea rolled over North America 3-0, but on the top board in this match, the USA’s Huiren Yang, the oldest player competing, played an outstanding game against Korea’s top-rated pro Park Jeonghwan. The Koreans following the action on the monitor screens outside the playing room praised Mr Yang’s opening and thought he had ample opportunity to win, even though Mr Park prevailed in the end. In contrast, Daniel Daehyuk Ko was completely hamstrung by Kim Jiseok on board two, and Yongfei Ge, who tried an unusual opening with a three-stone corner enclosure on board three, was quickly beaten by Cho Hanseung.

Attention now focused on the match between Japan and Chinese Taipei. The game on the top board, between Chou Chun-hsun (Chinese Taipei, black) and Fujita Akihiko (Japan, white) was played to a YouTube audience with live commentary from Michael Redmond. Black framed the lower side. When White made a capping invasion, Black jumped into the lower left corner. In the next twenty moves White let Black capture the corner but built a solid wall above it, reducing Black’s framework to thirty points of territory buried under the wall. ‘At this point I thought White had a slightly better position,’ Fujita said. After a black mistake in the choice of joseki in the top right corner and a favorable (to White) exchange on the top left, White had a taken over large area stretching from the left side into the center and had a clear lead. Black tried unsuccessfully to reduce White’s area, and then resigned. First game to Japan.

On board two, Hirata Tomoya (black) started well for Japan, but then made a life-and-death mistake and lost a big group. ‘This game was very tough for me,’ said his opponent Wang Yuan-jyun. ‘In the opening I made a mistake that let Black capture five stones and get a strong position. Then Black made a minor mistake and I caught up a little, but I made another mistake that let him thrust out into the center and I was then even further behind. My only chance was to attack one of his groups and try to kill it. This should not have been possible–there were many variations and none of them worked–but fortunately for me he overlooked a move and the group died.’ Second game to Chinese Taipei.

The result of the match now rested on the outcome on board three, where Japan’s eighteen-year-old Tsuruta Kazushi was playing Chinese Taipei’s fifteen-year-old Lin Chun-yen. Mr Lin described what happened this way: ‘I felt that I had the advantage in the opening–I may have been about ten points ahead–but I lost that lead in the middle game. Now I was behind and the game was quite unfavorable for me, but I managed to regain the lead in the endgame. At the point when my opponent resigned I was about ten or fifteen points ahead.’ Match to Chinese Taipei by a 2-1 score, putting them in a strong position to capture the bronze medals. They also won the bronze medal last year in men’s individual competition, after Japan beat them to take the bronze in mixed team competition two years ago.

In the fifth round of women’s repechage competition, played in the morning before the men’s team round, Wang Chenxing (China) was matched against Svetlana Shikshina (Russia) and Park Jieun (Korea) against Chang Cheng-ping (Chinese Taipei). Ms Park and Ms Chang played a classical opening, and their game looked close until Ms Chang (black) let Ms Park (white) isolate four black eyeless stones on the lower side. Black fought desparately to counterattack, and succeeded in slicing White apart, but could not kill the cut-apart pieces. Instead, another black group died and Black resigned.


Svetlana Shikshina (left) playing Chen-Ping Chang

In the Wang-Shikshina game, White (Ms Wang) forced a weak black group to live with just two small eyes. Both sides then made big territories elsewhere. White declined a chance to start a major fight and the game ended without incident, Ms Wang winning by 5-1/4 stones (10.5 points).

The final game of the women’s repechage was therefore played between Ms Wang and Ms Park. Their game proceeded until all the territories had been completed and only neutral points remained to be filled. At this point Ms Park counted that she was a bit behind and resigned to take possession of the bronze medal. Ms Wang will play China’s Yu Zhiying again tomorrow to see who gets the silver medal and who gets the gold.

While Ms Wang was defeating Ms Park, a playoff for fourth place was also taking place. Ms Chang and Ms Shikshina played a lively game that proceeded with lots of skirmishes but no decisive battles. White found herself increasingly on the defensive, however, forced to concede territory in order to keep her groups alive. Late in the endgame, when Black succeeded in capturing five white stones in the center, White resigned. Fourth place therefore goes to Chinese Taipei’s Chang Cheng-ping while fifth place goes to Russia’s Svetlana Shikshina.

– James Davies

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