Round 3 started at 3:00 p.m. on December 12th, with twelve men and all twelve women competing. In the undefeated men’s section, China’s Chen Yaoye was matched against Korea’s Park Jeonghwan, and Koreans Choi Chulhan and Kang Dongyoon were matched against each other. In the undefeated women’s section, China’s Rui Naiwei was matched against Korea’s Park Jieun, a player who had occasionally managed to defeat her in title matches when Rui was playing professionally in Korea, and China’s Li He was matched against Korea’s teenaged Myung-in Choi Jeong. Most players took their seats early. Rui Naiwei and Choi Jeong spent the pre-game minutes meditating with closed eyes.
The starting instructions were given in English by Michael Redmond, standing in for the chief referee: mobile phones off, photographers allowed in to take pictures for only the first 15 minutes. This last instruction did not apply to the television crew that was broadcasting the Chen-Park game.
On most boards play started slowly. The exceptions were the Li-Choi game in the main women’s section, the Missingham-Okuda game in the women’s repechage section, the Csaba-Lin game in the men’s repechage, and the televised game between Park Jeonghwan and Chen Yaoye. In this last game, Korea suffered its first loss when Park tried to take control of the game by attacking a large white group. Chen refuted the attack and developed an overwhelming lead in the middle game, and Park resigned.
The other game between undefeated men was won by Choi Chulhan, who will face Chen Yaoye in the fourth round. In the women’s main section, China was doubly triumphant. Li He defeated Choi Jeong relatively quickly and Rui Naiwei, in the longest game of the day, beat Park Jieun by 1-3/4 stones.
In the repechage sections, the eight players who survived to advance into the fourth round were: Lin Chi-han of Chinese Taipei, who eliminated Csaba Mero of Hungary (‘His reading was too fast for me to keep up with,’ was Csaba’s comment); Lin Chun-yen of Chinese Taipei, who surprisingly eliminated Tuo Jiaxi of China, setting up a match between the two remaining Lin’s in the fourth round, ensuring that at least one player from Chinese Taipei will reach the fifth round; Jiang Weijie of China, who eliminated Murakawa Daisuke of Japan by winning a fight in the middle of the board; Fujita Akihiko of Japan, who eliminated countrymate Uchida Shuhei; Mukai Chiaki of Japan, who eliminated Su Sheng-fang of Chinese Taipei; Joanne Missingham of Chinese Taipei, who stormed back from her morning loss to eliminate Okuda Aya of Japan; Natalia Kovaleva of Russia, who eliminated Irene Sha of Canada in a long fighting game that ended with no groups dead but many groups reduced to just two eyes and Natalia slightly ahead; and Vanessa Wong of Great Britain, who eliminated Rita Pocsai of Hungary, whom she had also beaten in the European Women’s Championship this year.
The sum total of the first three rounds is that sixteen players remain in contention: five from Korea, four from China, three from Chinese Taipei, two from Japan, and two European women. Which six of these sixteen will win the medals is anybody’s guess.
– James Davies