At 2:00 p.m., sixty players heeded the call of Executive Chief Referee Lingkai Chen to take their seats and play began. On the top board, Korea’s undefeated Hongsuk Song faced Czechia’s Ondrej Silt. On the second board, China’s Chen Wang faced Hong Kong’s Naisan Chan. All four of these young players were virtually assured of finishing in the top eight, and one of them would be the new world champion. On the next few boards, Chinese Taipei’s Cheng-hsun Chen was playing Sweden’s Fredrik Blomback, Singapore’s Yuxiang Lou was playing Argentina’s Fernando Aguilar, Finland’s Vesa Laatikainen was playing Hungary’s Pal Balogh, Poland’s Leszek Soldan was playing Japan’s Yohei Sato, and DPR Korea’s Taewon Jo was playing Russia’s Alexei Lazarev. The winners of these games were assured of high finishes and probable awards, but the losers would be tenth at best.
The championship was decided at 3:40 p.m. Song had dominated his game against Silt in the same way that he had dominated his other seven games. Silt played it out to the end, but Song was ahead by a wide margin.
Second place was known a minute later, when the game between Wang and Chan was counted. China’s Wang had scored his second half-point triumph of the day. ‘In this game I was unlucky,’ Hong Kong’s Chan said afterward. ‘I think I had many chances to win but I couldn’t capitalize on them.’
Before these two crucial games ended, 11-year-old Chen had already beaten 18-year-old Blomback, Jo had beaten Lazarev, Sato had beaten Soldan, and Balogh had beaten Laatikainen, assuring high finishes for Chinese Taipei, DPR Korea, Japan, and Hungary. The game between Lou and Aguilar, however, was still nowhere near over. After a while they were the only ones left still playing. Move by careful move the game proceeded; then the neutral points were filled in. When the score was counted, Lou had his sixth victory of the tournament, putting Singapore in contention for one of the awards.
When the SOS points were tallied, however, Singapore and Japan were tied for eighth and ninth places. Their first-round results were subtracted, but they were still tied. The second-round results were subtracted: tied again. The third-round results were subtracted: tied once more. The tie finally broke when the fourth-round results were subtracted. Japan’s Yohei Sato had captured the eighth-place award, two truncated SOS points ahead of Singapore’s Yuxiang Lou.
Chinese Taipei and Hungary finished in a similar tie for sixth and seventh places. This time it was only necessary to subtract the results of the first two rounds to find out that Chinese Taipei’s Cheng-hsun Chen had taken sixth place and Hungary’s Pal Balogh was seventh. Czechia’s Ondrej Silt had undisputed possession of fifth place. Hong Kong’s Naisan Chan took fourth, one place lower than his result last year. In third place, for a second consecutive time though with a three-year interim hiatus, was DPR Korea’s Taewon Jo.
These results were announced at another lavish feast that began at 6:30 in the playing room, which the Tian Yuan Tower staff had meanwhile transformed into a banquet hall. There as another speech by Guoping Wang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Hangzhou Municipal People’s Congress; a toast led by Hua Yigang, Vice President of the Chinese Weiqi Association; and a greeting from Hiroyuki Wakasa, head of the World Amateur Go Championship Planning Committee in Matsue City, Japan, where the tournament will be held next year. Each of the eight award winners took the stage to receive his certificate, trophy, medal, and/or plaque, as appropriate. Hongsuk Song, inscrutable throughout the tournament, broke out in smiles as he received his first-place awards, and the assembled players, officials and guests broke out in applause. And then there was an unending procession of fancy Chinese cooking, washed down with plenty of wine and beer. The 31st World Amateur Go Championship had come to a resoundingly successful conclusion.
– James Davies