As tournament director Wang Runan repeatedly noted, the go section of the 2008 World Mind Sports Games is an order of magnitude larger than any previous world go championship, amateur or professional, and problems will inevitably occur, but the first day and a half, including player registration and opening meetings, have been a model of thorough preparation and smooth execution.
On October 2nd, throngs of cheerful young volunteers turned out to guide players from the airport to the tournament venue and get them registered and lodged.
October 3rd started with the drawing of groupings for the men’s and women’s individual events. The meeting began on schedule at 9;30. Wang Runan extended welcomes, and thanked all the amateur participants for taking time away from their work in order to compete. After some further short speeches, the team leaders from China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, and the Rebpulic of Korea first drew lots do determine the order in which these four countries would draw for blocks in the men’s individual event. Then in the determined order (Chinese Taipei first), the team leaders drew block numbers for their top four players. This put two pros from different countries into each of the eight blocks. In the next round of the drawing, the fifth professional players on each of these four teams were placed in four of the blocks, and professionals from other countries (Michael Redmond and Yang Huiren from the USA, Yang Shihai from Hong Kong, and Kang Zhanbin from Singapore) were placed in the remaining four blocks. The rest of the players were then promptly grouped by computer and after their presence was confirmed at a 3:00 afernoon meeting, the pairings were also done by computer, in real time.
Two blocks to watch will be F and G. In block F, Wang Mingwan (competing for Chinese Taipei but who plays professionally in Japan and has won the Honinbo title, aka O Meien), Park Jungsang (Korea, former Fujitsu Cup winner), and Yang Shihai (Hong Kong) will be jockeying for the two places in the final knockout. In group G, Le Zhe (China) and Sakai Hideyuki (Japan) will be competing with each other and Park Younghun (Korea, three-time Fujitsu Cup winner). The western world will also want to to keep an eye on block E, where Michael Redmond USA) will be battling Yamashiro Hiroshi (Japan) and Wang Xi (China) for a place in the final knockout.
Next the team leaders drew blocks for the professional contestants in the individual women’s event. The block to watch will be block B, where Yoshihara Yukari (better known as Umezawa Yukari) of Japan and Wang Jing of Chinese Taipei will be ompeting with superstars Rui Naiwei of China and Park Jieun of Korea for places in the final knockout. In block C, Svetlana Shikshina (Russia) and Joanne Missingham (Australia) will be tackling Cao Youyin (China) and Pan Kunyu (Chinese Taipei).
– James Davies