Players making the short walk from the hotel were treated to a sudden downpour, but almost all of them were in their seats at the AER complex in time for chief referee Masaki Takemiya’s 9:30 instruction to start playing. Russia’s Ilya Shikshin was in his seat particularly early, waiting quitely for the arrival of his Korean opponent, who looked somewhat relaxed after defeating the Canadian and Chinese players the previous day. Two other early arrivers were Artem Kachanovskyi (Ukraine) and Nikola Mitic (Serbia) who were playing each other for a sixth win that would assure at least an award for finishing in the top eight, plus a chance to challenge Hyunjae in the last round.
A few of the games finished quickly. India’s Soni Shah earned her second win by defeating Kazahkstan’s Alexandr Bukh, Turkey’s Bertan Bilan scored his third win by defeating Ecuador’s Andres Aguilar, and Czechia’s Ondrej Silt got his fourth win by defeating Argentina’s Luciano Salerno. But in most of the games the pace was slow and deliberate as the players strove to make the best of their last day of play.
On board 1, China’s Yuqing Hu was playing Canada’s Bill Lin. The two had chatted amiably in Chinese before the game began, but once the starting signal was given they settled down to serious business. It took the Chinese player an hour and a half to force the Canadian to resign. After Yuqing had a quick look at the games on boards 2-4, the two switched back to casual mode and strolled off together toward the review area.
On board 2, Korea’s Hyunjae Choi played in his usual silent and expressionless style against Ilya Shikshin. Ilya’s expression betrayed determination tempered by increasing anguish, culminating in resignation at 11:11. The two players reviewed the game for awhile at their seats, then left separately.
On board 4, Hong Kong’s King-man Kwan prevailed over Australia’s Hao-song Sun, who resigned at 11:15. Both players had lost in the second round, but King-man now found himself in possession of five wins and a shot at one of the top eight places.
On board 3, Japan’s Kikou Emura struggled from the opening against Shin-wei Lin of Chinese Taipei. Although he recovered somewhat in the middle game, the result of the protracted endgame was a 2.5-point victory for Shin-wei, who joined King-man in the group of players sitting on five wins. The others who ended the round in this position were from Serbia (Nikola Mitic lost to Artem Kachanovskyi), Slovakia (Pavol Lisy beat Csaba Mero of Hungary), Romania (Cornel Burzo beat Curtis Tang of the USA), Finland (Javier Savolainen beat Ofer Zivony of Israel), and Spain (Albert Sanchez beat Krysztof Giedrojc of Poland). And Artem gets the coveted last chance to defeat Korea’s Hyunjae Choi.
– James Davies