The seventh round began at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 29, with an announcement of the candidates for the anti-doping test. Outside, yesterday’s rain had given way to a thick mist, out of which came two massive barrages of Chinese firecrackers announcing a pair of weddings. Inside, the halls resounded with the shouts of children streaming into and out of the Tian Yuan Tower’s go classrooms. In the playing room of the World Amateur Go Championship, there was silence punctuated by the soft electronic tones of the tournament clocks.
The game between Cheng-hsun Chen of Chinese Taipei and Ofer Zivony of Israel was the first to end. ‘I want to try something different in the opening,’ Zivony had said the evening before. Taking black, he played his first two moves on the 8-12 and 8-4 points, a fighting stance. Twenty moves later the first fight started in the top left corner. Black divided White’s forces into three groups, but White joined them together by capturing five black stones. A later fight on the right side also ended badly for Black, and after using up 45 minutes of his one-hour allowance, Zivony resigned. ‘I played too fast,’ he commented.
Undefeated Hungsuk Song of Korea remained undefeated by beating Alexei Lazarev of Russia, also by resignation, on the first board. ‘I fell behind immediately by making a big mistake in a joseki,’ Lazarev said. ‘It would have been difficult to win after that. I had no real chance, but I wanted to make use of this opportunity to match wits with such a strong opponent, so I kept playing. I lost but I enjoyed the game, and this will help my SOS score.’
Awhile later Naisan Chan of Hong Kong notched his sixth victory by beating Yongfei Ge of Canada by 4.5 points. ‘I was really lucky to win,’ Chan said. ‘Midway through the game I realized that I was seriously behind, but then my opponent made a wrong move and I took advantage of it.’
While these games were ending, epic struggles were taking place on two more of the top boards. On the second board, China’s Chen Wang was playing DPR Korea’s Taewon Jo. Both players were sitting motionless, faces impassive, Chen leaning forward to study the position, Jo sitting straight and surveying the board from slightly greater distance, chin cupped in hand. On the third board, a dour-looking Yohei Sato of Japan was playing Ondrej Silt of Czechia. Sato was trying to recover from a middle-game mistake in a capturing race that had cost him an opening lead. Silt, clad in black shirt, black trousers, and white tennis shoes, was sitting cross legged on the seat of his chair, shoes off, a picture of intense concentration.
These were the last two games of the round to end. Silt’s concentration paid off and he won by a comfortable margin. The game between Jo and Wang, however, was decided by a close half point, the recorder showing the players the final result on the computer screen to verify the counting. The winner was China’s Wang.
In the meantime another epic struggle, lasting more than two hours, had taken place at the far end of the room. This one ended in victory for Francesca Mauri (5-kyu) of Italy, who defeated Rodrigo Carpio (7-kyu) of Ecuador. ‘I really didn’t want to go back to Italy having lost to a lower-ranked opponent,’ Mauri said, ‘but I underestimated him. He really wanted to win too. Halfway through the game I counted and found that we were about even. I had to play very hard after that to come out ahead.’
The seventh-round results left Chan, Silt, and Wang with six wins apiece to Song’s seven. As Song had already played Wang and Chan, he was paired against Silt in the last round. If he wins, he is world champion. If he loses, then he will be tied with the winner of the Chan-Wang game and the tie will be broken on SOS points. In the SOS column, Song currently leads Wang 64-60, but he is even with Chan, who also has 64.
– James Davies