The seventh round started on time, in fact slightly ahead of the 9:00 starting time, on Saturday, May 30. This would be the last day of the tournament. The podium at the Ecopa Arena was flanked with flower arrangements in honor of the occasion. The starting signal was given by Seiken Takanashi, 8-dan, one of the three referees.
Going into this round, the top spots were still occupied by the group of far eastern countries and territories with professional go organizations: China (unbeaten) and Korea, Hong Kong China, Japan, and Chinese Taipei (one loss apiece). The folding pairing system produced only one clash within this group, pairing Moriei Kanazawa of Japan against Kang-ting Yeh of Chinese Taipei. This, naturally, was the game that attracted the largest audience, and it was also one of the longest games, lasting until noon. Kanazawa led for most of this three-hour dual, but Yeh battled back to win by half a point in the end, earning a chance to challenge the unbeaten leader in the final round.
The leader, Yuqing Hu of China had a comparatively quick and easy seventh-round game against Juyong Koh of Canada. The Canadian found himself slightly behind in the middle game and resigned early, saving his strength for the afternoon. Antti Tormanen of Finland also resigned against Shin-hwan Yoo of Korea. Jia-cheng Tan of Singapore, paired against Naisan Chan of Hong Kong China, played his game out to the end but lost by 9.5 points.
The players with two losses no longer had much hope of taking first place, but they were very much in competition for other places among the top ten, and this produced several games that were played just as intensely as the Kanazawa-Yeh game.
Thomas Debarre of France and Carl Johan Ragnarsson of Sweden and both built huge territories, on the same board. Ragnarsson, playing white, then tried to kill a black group, but the attacked group lived, leaving the attacking white stones headed for Valhalla. “Better to go down in flames,” Ragnarsson said after he resigned.
Also winning by resignation were Gheorghe Cornel Burzo of Romania, Eric Lui of the U.S.A., Laurent Heiser of Luxembourg, and Merlijn Kuin of The Netherlands, while Csaba Mero of Hungary and David Wei He of Australia won their games by 8.5 points and Ondrej Silt of Czechia won by 11.5. These seven will join Debarre, Kanazawa, Koh, and Tan in the battle for a finish within the top ten.
In the other half of the arena, the local go players who had largely stayed away for the past two days reappeared in force for the Saturday side events, including an introductory course, an open tournament, and a ladies tournament. Quite a few youngsters were on hand. It was a refreshing sight to see a six-year old girl who had just started primary school being taught to play by an eight-year old third grader.
– James Davies