The World Mind Games ended with a closing ceremony and a huge banquet on December 16th at the Beijing Intercontinental Grand Hotel. Ms Hou Yulan, Deputy Secretary General of the Beijing People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, and Mr Hein Verbruggen, President of SportAccord, opened the ceremony with speeches in which they profusely thanked the General Administration of Sport of China, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports, and the many other organizations and enterprises in China and elsewhere that had supported the World Mind Games. They also thanked the staffs of these organizations and of SportAccord and the many volunteers and friends of mind games who had helped out. They then exchanged gifts, Mr Verbruggen receiving a large scroll with SportAccord written in Chinese calligraphy. And then a roomful of bridge, chess, draughts, go, and xianqi players and officials launched into an evening of eating, drinking, and animated conversation. Ranka took this opportunity to ask some of the officials of the six go teams for their overall comments on the World Mind Games.
Yu Bin (coach of the Chinese national team): “We were delighted at winning two gold medals and felt very happy about the whole tournament. It was well organized, the playing conditions were good, and the players felt comfortable. They also said they were glad to be doing something to help promote go in Europe, America, and around the world. We’re looking forward to more World Mind Games in the future and we hope to do well again.”
Mok Jinseuk (Korean deputy referee): “It was great for the Korean team to be able to compete against teams from so many different places. I can see that the American and European players are getting stronger. I hope that even more countries can participate in the future. The players were proud to be able to represent Korea in this event, but they also felt an extra sense of responsibility, since when they lost it hurt the whole team. As it turned out they won two silver medals, but they all did their best. If China won two gold medals, that was because they played a little better. We’d like to congratulate the Chinese.”
Ko Reibun (Japanese team captain): “The match I’ll remember is the one against Korea in the mixed team final round. We seemed to be winning most of the games, so when we lost the match it was a real disappointment. But we still won two medals, so we did tolerably well.”
Chin Shihmin (Secretary General, Chinese Taipei Weiqi Association): “This tournament has been just perfect. Even though the team only finished fourth, the players all enjoyed themselves thoroughly and are looking forward to coming again next year. And next year, we will be ready!”
Andrew Okun (USA team captain): “Because the mixed team event was a round robin, it was a great opportunity for our players to get lots of serious competition from the world’s top players. This was much better for them than the type of knockout tournament we usually send them to, where they get knocked out in one game. As for our results, there was a limited range of results we could have reasonably expected, and we finished in the upper part of that range. Some of the games that could have gone either way went against us, but there was no one on the team who didn’t do his or her best.”
Martin Stiassny (Europe team captain): “At first look, winning only two out of twenty-seven games was not a good result, but on second look, if you look at the opposition we faced, it was not a bad result. Some of the games we lost were close and the players were pleased at having played well, regardless of the outcome. They all look happy now. Another point is that the four men on our team were the only go players here who did not have oriental faces. They got a lot of attention because of that, and the attention is something they also enjoyed.”
How did it feel to win the bronze medal in the mixed team competition? Following the last round, Ranka also asked the Japanese team members for their comments on the team event.
Yamashita Keigo: “It was a good experience, even though I lost to the players from China and Korea. I should have been able to win my game against Kong Jie. That’s a loss I still regret.”
Yamashiro Hiroshi: “The opponents I lost to were strong, but the unfortunate truth is that I made too many mistakes. I should have been able to win my game against Gu Li. I could certainly have won my game against the player from Chinese Taipei (Hsiao Cheng-hao) if I hadn’t made so many mistakes.”
Sakai Hideyuki: “Beating the Korean player Park Jeonghwan was very encouraging. I also enjoyed playing against so many different players. The team tournament was a very good experience.”
Ogata Masaki: “It was a good experience for me too.”
Mukai Chiaki: “Beating Li He, who is now the top Chinese woman player, gave me a big boost. It was a very good tournament, but I wish I had also been able to beat Kim Hyemin.”
– James Davies