Li He (left) and Chen Yaoye

The second round of the pair-go competition started at 3:00 p.m. Deputy tournament director Michael Redmond presided over the start of the round, and then moved to join Chris Garlock in the live commentary booth to report on the China-Japan game to a worldwide YouTube audience. In this game China’s Li He and Jiang Weijie were playing white against Japan’s Mukai Chiaki and Murakawa Daisuke. On the adjacent board Korea’s Choi Jeong and Choi Chulhan were playing black against Chinese Taipei’s Joanne Missingham and Lin Chi-han. In the fifth-place play-off, the Russians (Natalia Kovaleva and Ilya Shikshin) were paired against the Hungarians (Rita Pocsai and Csaba Mero), while the Canadians (Irene Sha and Bill Lin) were playing the British-Czech pair representing the European Union (Vanessa Wong and Jan Hora).

The two playoff games were the first to end. Both featured the comparatively peaceful construction of large territories. In the game between the Hungarian and Russian pairs the white Russian territory turned out to be larger, making the 3-3/4 stone compensation unnecessary. With only a few moves left to be played, the Hungarians resigned.

In the game between the Canadian and European pairs, it was black (Canada) that had more territory, and the margin was larger than the compensation. Not only that, but at the very end of the game, when the liberties were filled, it transpired that some black stones that had seemed dead inside one of one of the white territories had a ko left in them. Facing the loss of roughly eighty points in the ko fight, the European champions resigned.

The China-Japan game was the next to end, in a tragedy for Japan. After two hours of play in which they had given up ten stones in the center of the board, the Japanese pair seemed on the verge of proving the soundness of the sacrifice when an avoidable ko broke out in the top left corner. Had the ko been avoided, the Japanese pair would have been nearly ten points ahead. Instead, they won the ko fight, but at a disastrous unforeseen cost in the lower left, and resigned at 5:20.

The fourth game was played out to the end and counted, but it was not close. No large groups died, but the Korean pair captured seven more stones during the game than their opponents from Chinese Taipei, and this proved to be essentially their margin of victory: they won by 6-3/4 stones (13.5 points).

Tomorrow morning the Chinese and Korean pairs play for the gold and silver medals while the pairs from Chinese Taipei and Japan contend for the bronze medal. Both games promise to be spectacular. Simultaneously, the Canadians play the Russians for fifth place, and since the Canadians have just defeated the European champion pair, this game should be spectacular too.

– James Davies

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