For the first time during the tournament the players did not wake up to a bright and sunny morning, but the overcast skies made no difference to those who used the convenient indoor corridor linking the Beijing Intercontinental Grand Hotel and the Beijing International Conference Center. The feature match of the day was the showdown between unbeaten China and unbeaten Japan. At breakfast, Chinese executive chief referee Wang Yi had summed up the prospects as follows.
“If China wins, then the Chinese team will win the tournament, but the games at tables 1 and 5, Kong Jie against Yamashita Keigo and Li He against Mukai Chiaki, might go either way. If China loses both of them and loses just one of the other three games, then Japan will win the match and perhaps the gold medal, although China and Korea will still have chances.”
The first player to arrive in the playing room, at 12:18, was Chinese Taipei’s Chou Chun-hsun. He was quickly followed by the three Romanians. Then came the uniformed Korean team, together with their captain Choi Gyubyung and Korean referee Mok Jinseuk, walking briskly in two three-man columns, with their female player Kim Hyemin bringing up the rear. The female players from Japan and Chinese Taipei, Mukai Chiaki and Joanne Missingham, followed close behind. Next came Japan’s Sakai Hideyuki, dressed as always in a spiffy black suit and necktie. Then came the rest of the team from Chinese Taipei, the two Japanese players from Nagoya, and the Chinese team, accompanied by Hua Yigang, the president of their go association. The happy-go-lucky American team also materialized, and by the 12:30 starting time all players were present and accounted for.
The televised game was to have been a game between Chinese Taipei and the USA, but the American team had already lost two matches and Chinese Taipei had lost three, while the Chinese and Japanese teams were unbeaten. In view of this situation a last minute change was made, and China’s Kong Jie and Japan’s Yamashita Keigo took their seats under the TV camera. Hua Yigang and his interpreter Zhang Wei ran through the by now familiar litany: mobile phones silenced or off, spectators and reporters to leave the playing room after the first fifteen minutes, players to leave as soon as their games are finished, and then “Round four will now start.”
In the televised game Kong Jie, playing black, had decided to deploy the low Chinese opening that both players had used in round three, Yamashita successfully, Kong unsuccessfully. Kong played his first three moves within three seconds each. Yamashita, playing a little more deliberately, countered with two star points and then a small knight’s move enclosure in the bottom left corner, causing Kong to take twenty seconds to consider his next move. Yamashita now devoted two minutes to planning and carrying out an invasion of the low Chinese formation, featuring a slightly unconventional two-space extension on the fourth line instead of the third. After an exchange of knight’s moves, Kong approached the top left corner and then, in three seconds flat, made an ambitious knight’s move to frame an area in the bottom right.
From this point on the pace of the game slowed somewhat. Reporters and photographers filed out to follow the games electronically from the adjoining research room, leaving the playing room to the players, game recorders, and referees.
The game at table 5 in the Europe-Korea match ended in less than an hour and a half, Kim Hyemin beating Vanessa Wong by resignation. The other four games in this match lasted longer but also ended in Korean victories. At table 1 Catalin Taranu played what he described as his best game of the tournament so far, and his opponent Lee Saedol commented that Taranu had had the better of the opening, but the rest of the game was a one-way street to defeat for the player from Romania. Of the five Europeans only Cornel Burzo played his game out to the end, losing by 7-1/4 stones (14.5 points).
While Korea was shutting out the European team, Chinese Taipei was doing the same to the Americans, winning all five of their games by resignation.
In the China-Japan match, in what Wang Yi had called the “three other games” where a loss could prove fatal, no loss occurred. Gu Li, Xie He, and Piao Wenyao forced Yamashiro Hiroshi, Sakai Hideyuki, and Ogata Masaki to resign. As for the two games that could go either way, both lasted over five hours and one of them went Japan’s way while the other went China’s way. Mukai Chiaki remained unbeaten, defeating Li He by 1-1/4 stones (2.5 points), but Yamashita Keigo suffered his first defeat of the tournament at the hands of Kong Jie, losing by 1-3/4 stones (3.5 points).
Having lost their match with China by a 1-4 score, the Japanese team gets a chance to redeem itself tomorrow when they play the Koreans. The loser of the Japan-Korea match will take the bronze medal. Barring a miracle by the Americans against China, the winner of the Japan-Korea match will take the silver while China takes the gold.
– James Davies