With rain still falling outdoors, Executive Chief Referee Lingdai Chen, in plain English, declared the start of the sixth round at 2:00. Fifteen minutes later Lloyd Rubidge of South Africa became the second player of the tournament to win by forfeit due to absence of opponent, but games were proceeding on all the other boards. The atmosphere was intense, especially on the top board, where undefeated Naisan Chan of Hong Kong was playing undefeated Hongsuk Song of Korea.
Chan did not appear to be enjoying the experience. He has a way of looking up from the board to dart unnerving glances at his opponent, but Song was answering with a withering stare. In the first fifteen moves of the game Black and White had divided the board in half, each sketching out a huge framework. At move sixteen Song entered Chan’s half of the board. Chan promptly began attacking the invading stone, chasing it out into the center, then reversing field to attack from the opposite direction. Both players took time to consider every move. Though on the defense, Song was playing implacably; it was the attacker Chan who was looking rattled. Eventually it was Chan who resigned.
‘I thought I had the better opening,’ Chan said afterward. ‘Even though I went wrong later and lost, I think Song is a good opponent for me. He plays powerfully, but he is also friendly.’
Meanwhile, Song’s and Chan’s recently defeated rivals, 17-year-old Chen Wang of China and 11-year-old Cheng-hsun Chen of Chinese Taipei, were battling it out on board four. ‘After losing to Song in the morning I was in no condition to play well,’ Wang said of the game, ‘and there were places at which he made things dangerous for me, but I was able to find good ways to handle all his challenges.’ Wang won this game by resignation.
The remaining two of the Far Eastern Big Six both won their games, Yohei Sato of Japan defeating Kasper Hornbaek of Denmark and Taewon Jo of DPR Korea defeating Yongfei Ge of Canada. The Sato-Hornbaek game was over quickly. ‘He made a big mistake in the opening and resigned even before we got to the middle game,’ Sato said. ‘It might have been hard for him to catch up, but I was expecting him to play on a little further. I was startled when he resigned.’
The Jo-Ge game was a different story. ‘I got a big lead in the opening,’ Ge said, ‘but Jo is much stronger than me, and he gradually started whittling that lead down. In the end I suffered an illusion, lost a big group, and had to resign, but even if that hadn’t happened, he had overtaken me and was already ahead, by half a point or a point and a half.’
Elsewhere in the one-win group, Ondrej Silt of Czechia beat Frederik Blomback of Sweden and Alexei Lazarev of Russia defeated Nikola Mitic of Serbia. In the seventh round Lazarev will take on Korea’s Song, Silt gets his wish to play Japan’s Sato, DPR Korea’s Jo will tackle China’s Wang, and Canada’s Ge is drawn up to play Hong Kong’s Chan.
In the lower groups, the Far East prevailed in four of five games matching Far Eastern players against European opponents: Wankao Lou of Macau beat Bernhard Scheid of Austria, Yuxiang Lou of Singapore beat Maros Kral of Slovakia, Kamon Santipojana of Thailand beat Antonio Egea of Spain, and Boonping Teng of Malaysia beat Daniel Baumann of Switzerland. Thomas Debarre of France saved some European honor with a triumph over Oyutbileg Tsendjav of Mongolia, but Sandeep Dave of India rode the Asian bandwagon to score a win, his first of the tournament, over Daniel Vargas of Costa Rica.
The upset of the round was turned in by Ofer Zivony (3-dan) of Israel, who bested Bogdan Zhurakovskyi (5-dan) of the Ukraine by 2.5 points. ‘This was only the second time I beat a 5-dan opponent,’ Zivony said. ‘It was a difficult game. We got into a life-and-death situation that could have turned into a death-and-death situation. Instead of that, he let me capture the tail of his group in order to save the rest, but it was a big tail, and I managed to come out ahead in the endgame.’ In the next round Zivony will aim at an even greater upset when he plays Cheng-hsun Chen of Chinese Taipei.
– James Davies