The final round of the mixed doubles competition featured the same pairings as in the crucial third round of the mixed team event: China against Korea, Chinese Taipei against Japan, Europe against the USA. Somewhat surprisingly, eight of the twelve mixed doubles contestants, including all but one of the men, had lost in round three of the team event. None of the men had played each other. Three of the six women had, of course, played other women and lost. Korea’s Kim Hyemin, Chinese Taipei’s Joanne Missingham, and Europe’s Vanessa Wong were hoping to avenge these losses with their partners’ assistance.
Today’s fashion statement was made by Jie Li, who arrived just before the starting time wearing black trousers, a black shirt, a black leather jacket, and a gray striped necktie. His partner Feng Yun was also wearing black, as was Chinese Taipei’s Joanne Missingham, and the Japanese pair was dressed in black suits as always.
The formal atmosphere was lightened by Li He, who was again wearing bluejeans. Yesterday’s joking was gone, but Catalin Taranu, seated next to Vanessa Wong, was beaming smiles around the room. Winless so far, he and his partner could only improve on their results of the past week.
Seated at the front of the room under the television cameras, the Chinese pair, Li He and Piao Wenyao, drew the black stones. This game started with yet another low Chinese opening, but this time the low Chinese formation was played from the white side of the board by the Korean pair, Kim Hyemin and Choi Chulhan.
While the six pairs were competing for medals played and final standings in the playing room, an impromptu match between was being played three of the players from Chinese Taipei and three Japanese players in the adjoining research room: Chen against Yamashiro, Hsiao against Ogata, Wang against Sakai. Clocks were being used. Chinese Taipei won this strictly informal mini-event 2-1. The winners were Yamashiro, Hsiao, and Wang, who reversed their individual outcomes in the formal match three days ago.
The Europe-USA mixed doubles game ended before noon, and as in the mixed teams competition, it was the Americans who prevailed. Ranka asked Vanessa Wong for her comments about the pair competition. “It was much different from the individual competition,” she said. “You have to play by instinct and trust your partner. The connection between you and your partner is more important than the individual strengths.”
The other two games ended a little past noon, and in them too, the results mirrored the mixed team results, China defeating Korea and Japan defeating Chinese Taipei. The prizes are smaller than for the team event: 12,000 U.S. dollars for first place, 6,000 for second place, 4,000 third and fourth places, 2,000 for fifth and sixth places.
The mixed doubles medals were awarded at an after-lunch ceremony that started with the awards for the draughts competition. Russian and Ukrainian draughts players mounted the dais to receive gold, silver, and bronze medals, and the audience stood for the national anthem of the Russian Federation, followed by music from the Nutcracker Suite. Then came the go pairs. Bronze medals were draped around the necks of Mukai Chiaki and Yamashita Keigo, silver medals around the necks of Kim Hyemin and Choi Chulhan, and gold medals around the necks of Li He and Piao Wenyao, followed by the Chinese national anthem and some modern-style traditional Chinese music. Ms Taki Hiroko of the Japan Pair Go Association, which had launched mixed doubles go some two decades ago, was on hand to congratulate the winners.
The go competition was not quite over. Hidaka Masahiro, three-time Japanese amateur champion and winner of the online go tournament that preceded the World Mind Games, had been avidly following the mixed team and mixed doubles competition for the past week from the research room.
Now he found himself seated at a go board in the center of the playing room. His opponent: Xia He, China’s number three team member and number one gentleman. The handicap: at the request of the organizers, none, Mr Hidaka taking black, white receiving the standard compensation. The result: Mr Hidaka resigned after 158 moves. Mr Xia praised Mr Hidaka’s vision and strategic grasp of the whole board, but Mr Xia had succeeded in forming a double life inside Mr Hidaka’s lower left corner, and white was far ahead.
In the research room, the informal competition between Japan and Chinese Taipei still continued. In the hall outside, tables had been set up in a square and Vladislav Artemyev, the thirteen-year-old Russian chess master who had won the online chess tournament, was playing simultaneous games against thirty Chinese elementary schoolchildren, 21 blue-clad boys and 9 pink-clad girls.
Mind games forever!
– James Davies