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From the left: Kibaek Kim, Baoxiang Bai and Chia-Cheng Hsu

Once again the central garden of the Ramada Plaza Hotel, a miniature wetland with trees and a large pond, was filled with early morning birdsong, but rather than indulge in birdwatching, almost all the contestants at the World Amateur Go Championship chose to get some extra rest in preparation for the final day of play. On their way to the playing venue, in place of bird calls, they were serenaded by the throbbing beat of a karaoke program being televised from the third floor.

A few of the seventh-round games finished quickly. The women contestants continued to find the going tough. Switzerland’s Armel-David Wolff won a 4-dan match-up with Australia’s Amy Song, and Azerbaijan’s Elchin Hasanxan Aliyev (1 dan) proved superior to Belarusian 5-kyu Anastasiya Ilkevich. Anastasiya was then drawn up to play Amy in the final round.

In the middle of the playing room, Vietnam’s Nhat Minh Vo bowed early to an opponent twice his height, Russia’s Dmitry Surin. The players from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore also lost to European opponents (Germany, Belgium, Hungary), and Brunei’s Ignatius Chin lost to Colombia’s Santiago Espinose Uribe. Of the Southeast Asian contingent, only Vorawat Tanapatsopol (Thailand) emerged victorious from the seventh round; he beat Slovenia’s Gregor Butala.

At the high end of the room, the pace of play was slow and deliberate. On the top board, Japan’s Satoshi Hiraoka played doggedly to the end of his game against Baoxiang Bai, but lost by two and a half points, moving China a big step closer to the championship. On the next two boards, Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu and Korea’s Kibaek Kim and rebuffed the challenges of, respectively, Luxembourg’s Laurent Heiser and Serbia’s Dusan Mitic. Chia-Cheng was then drawn up to play Baoxiang Bai in the final round, while Kibaek was drawn to play Germany’s Lukas Kraemer.

Of the four WAGC rookies who took 4-2 records into the seventh round, only New Zealand’s Chahine Koleejan managed to win, and his opponent was also one of the four: Tal Michaeli of Israel. As his final-round opponent, Chahine drew Andrii Kravets, who defeated Poland’s Stanislaw Frejlak.

The fate of the awards was decided by eight tense games in the final round. On the top board, China’s Baoxiang Bai defeated Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu to win his second world amateur championship with a perfect 8-0 record. On the next board, Korea’s Kibaek Kim disposed of Germany’s Lukas Kraemer to finish a clear second at 7-1. Of the six players who ended with 6-2 records, Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng took a clearly deserved third place. He had lost only to Bai and Kim, and beaten the players from the Ukraine, Japan, and Serbia, who finished fourth, fifth, and eighth.

The Ukraine’s Andrii Kravets got fourth place by beating New Zealand’s Chahine Koleejan in his final game. Chahine looked disappointed, but he had done rather well to score five wins in his first WAGC attempt. Japan’s Satoshi Hiraoka captured fifth place by winning his final game against Hong Kong’s Chi Hin Chan (avenging last year’s loss) and winning a tie break with Hungary’s Csaba Mero, who beat Luxembourg’s Laurent Heiser to finish sixth. The tie break was carried out by deducting the first-round results from Japan’s and Hungary’s SOS scores. Serbia’s Dusan Mitic beat Russia’s Dmitry Surin in his last game to finish seventh, despite having beaten Csaba Mero in round four. Romania’s Cristian Pop was drawn down and beat Macau’s Kei Chon Wan to take eighth place. France’s Junfu Dai beat Belgium’s Niels Vets to capture a well earned ninth place; he had lost only to the players from China, Japan, and Romania. Chi Hin Chan took tenth place, having lost only to the players from the Ukraine, France and Japan.

Elsewhere in the playing room, Battulga Byarnbaakhuu rescued Mongolia’s honor by downing India’s Supravat Pal, and the distaff contest between Australia and Belarus was won by Amy Song, a 4 dan beating a 5 kyu.

The round ended at five o’clock. The awards were presented at a refreshingly brisk closing ceremony at 6:30, followed by a buffet dinner in the hotel. Many of the players then repaired to the second-floor lounge, where go boards were set up throughout the week, and continued to play or to carry out post-mortems.

Full results here.

– James Davies

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