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Amy Song

For a third straight day, players with rooms on the north side of the Ramada Plaza Hotel were awakened by a cock crowing at 4:00 a.m., but today, for the first time, this call to action was followed by a sunrise and patches of blue sky. After breakfast, the excitement and upsets that had marked the first two rounds gave way to a relatively clear and calm third round, punctuated by only a few minor upsets. In the undefeated group, Turkey’s Emre Polat (4 dan) downed Singapore’s Yi Fei Yue (5 dan). In the middle group, Hong Kong’s Chi Hin Chan (6 dan) made up for his second-round loss to Andrii Kravets by beating Romania’s Christian Pop (7 dan). And in the winless group, 3-dan David Pollitzer (Argentina) bested 4-dan Amy Song (Australia) while 5-kyu John Gibson (Ireland) upended 1-dan Supravat Pal (India). At the end pf the round, the winless group had been whittled down to just seven players, representing China, Chinese Taipei, Korea, France, Indonesia, Turkey, and the Ukraine.

In the fourth round the host country’s Baoxiang Bai faced his first serious challenge. He was paired against France’s Junfu Dai, a former star of amateur go in Shanghai. The two had not played each other before. ‘If you count five years as one generation,’ Junfu said, ‘he’s two generations after me.’ Victory in their inter-generational encounter went to the Chinese player, by resignation. ‘I didn’t feel that I even came close,’ added his somewhat crestfallen opponent.

Baoxiang Bai

Baoxiang Bai

While Bai was dealing with Dai, Korea’s Kibaek Kim also faced a serious challenge: his opponent was Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu. Victory in this game went to the Korean. In the fifth round tomorrow Kim will take on Indonesian wonder boy Rafif Shidqi Fitrah, who defeated Turkey’s Emre Polat in round 4, while Bai plays the Ukraine’s Andrii Kravets, who was drawn down and defeated Singapore’s Yi Fei Yue. If Bai and Kim win these two games, which does not seem unlikely, the crunch will come when they lock horns in round six.

In the meantime, midway through the tournament, players from seventeen countries and territories have posted winning records: seven each from Asia and Europe, one from North America (the USA’s Bob Lockhart), and two from the Middle East (Turkey’s Emre Polat and Israel’s surprising 3-dan Tal Michaeli, who dispatched a 5-dan Canadian in round 4). The traditional Asian go powers may come out on top in the end, as they did last year, but that remains to be seen. The rest of the world is clearly closing the gap.

Full results here.

– James Davies

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