Round 5, which started at 9:30 a.m. on December 15, was the round that would separate the award-winners from the medal-winners. The two Korean men, Kang Dongyoon and Park Jeonghwan, took their seats at the top board in the playing room, next to China’s Chen Yaoye and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chi-han. On the next board China’s Rui Naiwei was seated with eyes closed awaiting the start of her second game against Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva, whom she had beaten in round 1. On the last board the two youngest players were facing each other: Chinese Taipei’s Joanne Missingham (18) and Korea’s Choi Jeong (15).
The Rui-Kovaleva game was the first to end. Natalia played consistently for territory in the opening, even to the point of leaving a weak group undefended in the center. Rui attacked it immediately, sliced it into two pieces, and killed the larger piece unconditionally, its death struggles only increasing the size of the loss. The Russian player resigned a little after 10:30.
In the Chen-Lin game Chen also played for territory. He promptly invaded the large framework that Lin constructed, linked his invading group to safety, and seemed headed for victory, but then overplayed his position in the center and found himself forced to resort to ko complications to try to catch up in the endgame. When the ko fighting resolved itself, Chinese Taipei’s Lin had taken over possession of the bottom right corner, and shortly thereafter won by resignation.
The Kang-Park game and Missingham-Choi game were fighting games from the outset. Kang’s opening strategy was built around a single huge framework, supposedly a dangerous strategy, but in this game it turned out to be dangerous for his opponent. When Park invaded, a running fight developed, the outcome of which was that the framework grew larger and all the invading stones died. Kang won by resignation. At the other end of the room, Joanne Missingham challenged her opponent with some unconventional joseki variations, but Choi handled them adroitly. This was the only game that was played out to the end. In round 2 Choi had won by resignation, but this time her margin of victory was a modest 2-1/4 stones (4.5 points).
All games were over in plenty of time for a noon lunch at the Beijing Continental grand Hotel. As for the medal tally, in the men’s section Korea will win two and Chinese Taipei one, and in the women’s section China will win two and Korea one, but who will win which medal remains to be decided in the next two rounds.
– James Davies