The first round began at 9:00 on Tuesday, May 26, with a short address by Chinese Weiqi Association President Runan Wang. After the expected wins by the players from China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, and the two Koreas, attention began to center on the game between Lucian Corlan (5-dan) of Romania and Kamon Santipojana (4-dan) of Thailand. The 21-year-old Thai student took command early and played on confidently as his opponent made increasingly desperate efforts to get back into contention. At 11:50, a few moves short of the end, Corlan finally gave up and resigned. In the next round Santipojana will tackle another European 5-dan, Nikola Mitic of Serbia.
The closely matched game between the players from Canada and Russia turned into a hard-fought rout, Yongfei Ge beating Alexei Lazarev by 24.5 points. ‘I was surprised to find out how far behind I was,’ said Lazarev. ‘In byo yomi I didn’t have time to count the score.’
Another evenly matched game that turned into a rout was the contest between players ranked 3-dan from Mongolia and New Zealand. The Chinese-born New Zealander, 15-year-old Kaikun Xie, easily forced his opponent Oyutbileg Tsendjav to resign. In another game of interest, Mexican university student Emil Estuardo Garcia Bustamante (5-dan) bested Slovenian engineer Janez Janza (3-dan). ‘At one point he had one weak group between two of mine,’ Bustamante said, ‘but he didn’t attack’.
More dramatic was the win by the United Kingdom’s T. Mark Hall over Boonping Teng of Malaysia, two players both ranked 4-dan. ‘I’m wasn’t expecting to do well,’ said Hall, complaining of severe jet lag, ‘and Teng outplayed me in the first part of the game, but then he made a blunder in a ko fight at the very end.’
The game between Csaba Deak of Brazil and Daniel Baumann of Switzerland, both ranked 1-kyu, took a rather similar course. ‘I started the game by losing some stones,’ said Deak, ‘but I managed to save the tail end of that group and then used the tail to surround his group, which died. After that I should have been able to win, but in the end I blundered and had to resign.’
Perhaps the last closely matched game was also fought between kyu-level players. ‘I’m going to play quickly because I’m hoping to exploit my opponent’s nervousness at being in his first world championship,’ said John Gibson (2-kyu) of Ireland before the game started. After it ended, his opponent, Carlos Leon Rios Joels (1-kyu) of Peru, looking not the least bit nervous, said, ‘I started out well, but in the endgame I began making mistakes and he began playing very well.’ The result: a 9.5-point win for Gibson.
After the first round ended, the organizers’ computer turned out the second-round pairings with impressive alacrity, and the pairing system produced some more good matches, including a star pairing of DPR Korea against Japan.
– James Davies