At half past four on December 13, a group of players, ambassadors, and other representatives of the mind sports included in the SportAccord World Mind Games paid a one-hour visit to another mind sports tournament, this one for students at Beijing’s primary and middle schools. The venue was the gymnasium of Huilongguan Primary School No. 2, near Beijing University. All five mind sports were being played, but go players were the most numerous. For them, this was the final stage of a grand tournament that had begun with preliminary team qualifiers in Beijing’s various school districts. The teams that had won the qualifiers had been playing since morning, and the last round of games was still in progress. The unheated gymnasium was filled with warmly clad schoolchildren, whose high level of enthusiasm generated additional warmth.
The visitors’ first activity was to play simultaneous games of go, chess, and draughts against young opponents who were not engaged in tournament games. Representing the go contingent, Irene Sha, Natalia Kovaleva, Dina Burdakova, her husband Igor Burnaevsky, and ambassador Lee Hajin took on two or three opponents each. The kids were strong, but there was only thirty minutes in which to play, which was not enough time to complete most of the games.
By the end of the simuls, the tournament itself was over, and the visitors now became the bestowers of the awards. International Go Federation vice president Thomas Hsiang draped medals around the necks of the winners at go, and Lee Hajin gave them trophies. The award winners also received SportAccord canteens.
And then the visit was over and the visitors returned to the Beijing International Conference Center to rejoin their comrades at the World Mind Games.
– photo: Yoshitaka Morimoto