The second day of go competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games started at 9:30 a.m. on December 12. Outside, Beijing’s skies were clear and relatively smog-free. Inside the go playing room on the second floor of the Beijing International Convention Center, it was to be full steam ahead for China.
The morning event was round 2 of the women’s double knockout. On two of the boards Chinese players were matched against Japanese opponents. On the third board Chinese Taipei’s Joanne Missingham was playing Korea’s Kim Chaeyoung, who recently won the women’s Guksu title in Korea. On the fourth board Natalia Kovaleva, Europe’s heroine of round one, was matched against Korea’s teenaged women’s master (myungin) Choi Jeong, who had won the Bingsheng Cup in September. The four women who lost in round 1 had byes.
The outcome was victory for both Chinese and both Koreans. Choi Jeong needed less than two hours to defeat Natalia Kovaleva by a wide margin. In a somewhat closer game China’s Rookie King Yu Zhiying defeated Japan’s women’s Honinbo Fujisawa Rina. Japan’s Okuda Aya then bowed in resignation to China’s Rui Naiwei after a long ko fight, and at 12:38 p.m. Joanne Missingham, trailing by a fraction of a stone with only two one-point moves left to play, resigned to Kim Chaeyoung.
In the meantime, the men’s team matches had begun. The big one was the confrontation between China, which had rolled over the European team in round 1, and Korea, which had had a close call against Japan. On board three Korea’s Kang Dongyoon faced China’s Tuo Jiaxi, whom he had beaten in the Nongshim Cup in October. Kang tried a relatively new joseki variation in the bottom right corner. It did not turn out well; Tuo established positions on both the lower and right sides. Tuo, who had won the LG Cup in February, continued to dominate the game, and after a while Kang found himself faced with the need to make a humiliating life for a group in the top right. It may be true that while there is life there is hope, and there was still plenty of open space in other parts of the board, but Kang decided that his hopes were too slim to be worth pursuing and resigned. China was off to a good start.
On board two, the Korean youngster Na Hyun was playing an even younger opponent: Mi Yuting. Last December Mi had leaped into stardom by winning the first Mlily Cup. This year, playing for Dalian in China’s A League, he had posted a 16-4 won-lost record that carried his team to a smashing league championship. In this game, however, Mi created a weak group on the lower side and Na took the lead. But Na, who had rescued victory from the jaws of defeat in round 1, now saw his lead evaporate in a ko fight that led to a capturing race he could not win, and he too resigned. Suddenly Korea had lost the match.
But it was not yet over. On board one Park Younghoon demonstrated that the endgame skills that had won him the Fujitsu Cup and various other titles some years ago were still intact, and also saved face for Korea, by playing to a narrow but secure victory over China’s top rated Shi Yue. In fact, Park seemed to be slightly ahead almost throughout the game, after Shi made a doubtful joseki choice early in the opening. It was ironical that the only Korean player to lose in round 1 was the only one to win in round 2.
While the Chinese men’s team was taking a big step toward a gold medal, the Chinese women were doing equally well in round 3 of the women’s competition. Yu Zhiying had surprisingly little trouble in winning a contest of giant territories against Choi Jeong. Rui Naiwei subdued Kim Chaeyoung by the same fractional margin by which Kim had won in the morning. Four games were also played in the losers’ bracket, with good results for Chinese Taipei and mixed results for the rest of the world: Fujisawa Rina defeated Natalia Kovaleva; Joanne Missingham defeated Okuda Aya; Chinese Taipei’s Cathy Chang defeated North America’s Irene Sha; and in an all-Russian game, Svetlana Shikshina defeated Dina Burdakova. The losers of these four games have now been eliminated. Only the two Chinese players remain undefeated, and they will meet each other in round 4.
And what of China’s performance in the other disciplines? Hou Yifan has won a silver model in women’s and Wang Hao has won a bronze medal in men’s rapid chess, but the Chinese teams finished last in the round robin stage of the team-of-four contract bridge competition, which means they will compete for bronze medals in the final stage. In rapid draughts competition, Chinese players took 14th place among the 16 competitors in the men’s division and 8th and 11th places among the 12 competitors in the women’s division. After two rounds of xiangqi competition, Chinese players are tied with American players for first place in the men’s division and second place in the women’s division. So far, China is being led by its go players.
– James Davies