Round 3: North America’s Revenge
Round 3 of the men’s team event and round 4 of the women’s individual event were held on the third day of competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games, under the direction of referee Michael Redmond. The men’s event began at half past noon, with the Chinese playing the Japanese, the North Americans playing the Europeans, and the Koreans playing the team from Chinese Taipei. All of these matches were to end with 2-1 scores.
The North Americans quickly found themselves in a desperate situation. Two of their players, Huiren Yang and Daniel Daehyuk Ko, were part of the team that had had been shut out by the Europeans last year. Their third player, Mingjiu Jiang, outranked his French opponent Fan Hui by five professional dan levels, but he lost. When this game ended at about half past three on board one, North America’s prospects seemed bleak indeed.
An hour or so later on board two, however, North America’s Huiren Yang, who earned a 1-dan professional rank in China before emigrating to Boston, defeated Aleksandr Dinershteyn, who earned a 3-dan professional rank in Korea before returning to his native Russia. Today apparently the lower ranked player had the advantage. The seven-time European champion gave his opponent a territorial lead early in the opening, and Mr Yang held onto it for the rest of the game. This was the dour Yankee’s first SportAccord victory in eight attempts. Suddenly he looked twenty years younger.
On board three both North America’s Daniel Daehyuk Ko and Russia’s Ilya Shikshin had amateur 7-dan ranks, so perhaps neither was at any disadvantage, but here too the North American took a territorial lead, after which he successfully parried all his opponent’s attacks on his weak groups and even won the final one-point ko fight. When the score was counted by the Chinese method of first counting surrounded space and then counting stones, Mr Ko (black) was ahead by double the 3-3/4 stone compensation, so he won by a comfortable margin. This was his first victory in ten SportAccord games. North America had avenged its 2013 loss.
Meanwhile, the Chinese had clinched their match by beating Japan on the first two boards, while Chinese Taipei and Korea had divided two games and were nervously watching the close contest on board one, where Korea’s Park Younghoon was playing Chinese Taipei’s Chen Shih-Iuan. North America’s triumphant Mr Ko, who was born in Korea, joined them and had the additional pleasure of seeing Mr Park win by resignation to keep Korea’s slim gold medal hopes alive.
Like the Chen-Park game, the game between China’s Tuo Jiaxi and Japan’s Seto Taiki on board three was close, but unlike the games on boards one and two, the Japanese player was slightly ahead. When Mr Tuo tried to reverse the lead in a last-ditch ko fight, some Japanese ninja magic devastated his largest territory, so Mr Seto won by resignation.
In the women’s double knockout, Yu Zhiying won the all-Chinese match in the undefeated bracket to earn a day of rest in the next round, and at least a silver medal. The outcome was decided during the first fight of the middle game. Rui Naiwei made a mistake that cost her two stones and considerable territory, and after that Yu gave her no chance. Ms Rui now joins Joanne Missingham and Cathy Chang (Chinese Taipei) and Kim Chaeyoung (Korea) in the losers’ bracket. While Ms Yu was winning her fourth straight game, these three defeated and thereby knocked out Choi Jeong (Korea), Svetlana Shikshina (Russia), and Fujisawa Rina (Japan).
– James Davies