The Ecopa Arena, part of the Ogasayama Sports Park located in the hilly countryside at the east end of Fukuroi City, is a vast indoor facility, built in 2002, that has seen its share of basketball, volleyball, softball, table tennis, handball, badminton, indoor soccer, and the martial arts, not to mention ice exhibitions and musical concerts. On May 27, 2009 it became a mind sports venue.
Lih-Chen Wang, the chief referee, gave the signal to start the first round on schedule at 9:00 a.m. While the sixty-six players tested their mettle in half of the arena, the other half was used for side events, including simultaneous games and lectures by professional players and, unrelated to go but still of interest, exhibitions of traditional handicrafts.
In one of the most dramatic games of the first round, Antti Tormanen, 5-dan, a 19-year-old student of industrial engineering from Finland making his first trip to the Far East, won a ko fight in the center against Eric Lui, 7-dan, of the United States, already a veteran of the World Amateur Go Championship and the Korean Prime Minister’s Cup at age 20. The onlookers thought that Tormanen was headed for an upset victory, but then another ko fight started in a corner and he played an non-functional ko threat. After further struggles and another mistake, he resigned.
In a mild Latin American upset, Andres Aguilar, shodan, of Ecuador beat Fumio Sakajiri, 2-dan, of Brazil. In other noteworthy games Robert Jasiek of Germany downed Paisal Thunthaldaluk of Thailand, Jia-Cheng Tan of Singapore defeated Thomas Debarre of France, and Mijodrag Stankovic of Serbia beat Viktor Lin of Austria. Stankovich, whose initial ranking placed him in the middle of the list of winners, was then drawn down to play Debarre in the second round.
(Full results here)
– James Davies