Following some evening thundershowers and early morning rain, the grounds of the Ramada Plaza Hotel were drenched with moisture but alive with birdsong as the World Amateur Go Championship contestants tramped down to breakfast, then up to the playing venue for the fifth round. Play commenced at 9:00 and finished by 11:30, and for two players in particular it was a good morning. Italy’s Filippo Gorlero scored his first WAGC triumph by overcoming India’s Supravat Pal, and Australia’s 15-year-old Amy Song, whose only win so far had been a bye, scored her first victory on the go board against Slovakia’s silent veteran Miroslav Poliak. Filippo and Amy were visibly delighted by these outcomes.

In the middle section of the field, a pair of young Southeast Asians scored their third wins by downing 5-dan North American opponents: Malaysia’s Fu Kang Chang toppled Canada’s Manuel Valesco, and Vietnam’s Nhat Minh Vo ambushed Mexico’s Emil Garcia. Also scoring his third win was Romania’s Cristian Pop, who was drawn up against German champion Lukas Kraemer and rose to the occasion by beating him. This last result was viewed with some disappointment by Lukas’ bevy of young female admirers in the referee corps.

In the 3-1 group, interest centered on the game between France’s Junfu Dai and Hong Kong’s Chi Hin Chan. Chi Hin has become accustomed to finishing fourth in the WAGC, but that may be difficult this year, for Junfu got the better of him. The players from Chinese Taipei, Japan, Luxembourg, Serbia, and the USA also improved their records from 3-1 to 4-1. In the top group, China’s Baoxiang Bai and Korea’s Kibaek Kim stayed undefeated by ending the two-day winning streaks of the Ukraine’s Andrii Kravets and Indonesia’s Rafif Shidqi Fitrah. That set the stage for a China-Korean showdown in the afternoon.

The sixth round began at 2:30. Both undefeated players arrived early, first Kim, who was scheduled to play black, and then Bai. Kim had the upper seat, and could watch the rest of players as they came in and sat down. Bai watched Kim watching them. When the Bai-Kim game began, black got prior occupation of three corners by allowing one of his corner stones to be pincered. An early ko fight developed in the pincered corner, and this time there was to be no disappointment among the Chinese staff. White won the ko and went on to win the game by resignation.

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Left to right, top row Hiraoka, Bai, Hsu. Bottom row: Heiser, Kim, Mitic

Baoxiang Bai’s next opponent will be Satoshi Hiraoka, who defeated France’s Junfu Dai to stay in the group with only one loss. Also remaining in this group were Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu, who defeated Andrii Kravets; Luxembourg’s Laurent Heiser, who defeated Rafif Shidqi Fitrah; Serbia’s Dusan Mitic, who defeated the USA’s Benjamin Lockhart; and of course Korea’s Kibaek Kim. The pairing algorithm matched Hiraoka against Bai, Hsu against Heiser, and Kim against Mitic in round seven. The one-loss group is still very much in the running for the championship, if at least one of them can defeat Baoxiang Bai tomorrow.

The championship may now be out of reach of the fourteen players who ended the day with 4-2 records, but they are still competing for the second to tenth place awards. Among them are four WAGC rookies: Lukas Kraemer, who defeated Turkey’s Emre Polat in round six; Chahine Koleejan (New Zealand), who defeated Macau’s Kei Chon Wan; Nhat Minh Vo, who defeated Norway’s Pal Sannes; and Israel’s Tal Michaeli, who defeated Slovenia’s Gregor Butala.

And what of pair who scored their first wins in the morning? In the afternoon Amy Song succumbed to Finland’s Matti Siivola, but Filippo Gorlero added a second victory to his score. This time his victim was Anastasiya Ilkevich, the electronics engineer from Belarus, who had a bye in round three and will be seeking to add a real victory tomorrow.

Full results here.

– James Davies

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