After the first four days of go competition in the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games, the main issues waiting to be settled were who would win the gold medal in the women's individual event, and who would win the bronze medals in the men's team event. Last year the answers had been China's Yu Zhiying and the men's team from Chinese Taipei. Could Korea's Kim Chaeyoung or the Japanese men's team provide a different answer this year?
The men's teams matches began at 12:30. The team from Chinese Taipei was in their seats early, all in their chipper blue and white uniforms. The black-suited Japanese team arrived just a minute or two before deputy chief referee Michael Redmond began reciting the daily litany: two hours of time per player with five renewable 60-second overtime periods; Chinese rules with 3-3/4 stone compensation; mobile phones off or silenced; the round starts!
An hour and a half later, the women's gold medal game began. Kim Chaeyoung, sole survivor of the losers' bracket, drew white against undefeated Yu Zhiying.
In the team event, the Chinese men clinched their gold medals at about three o'clock, when North America's Huiren Yang and Daniel Daehyuk Ko resigned against Mi Yuting and Tuo Jiaxi. Later Shi Yue defeated Mingjiu Jiang by 5-3/4 stones (11-1/2 points) to complete a shutout victory.
The Korean men clinched their silver medals in similar shutout fashion. First Fan Hui resigned to Park Younghun, then Aleksandr Dinershtein resigned to Na Hyun, and then, after fighting desperately, Ilya Shikshin resigned to Kang Dongyoon. Dead European groups were much in evidence on all three boards.
The next match to end was the women's. Yu Zhiying remained undefeated. She had attacked a weak white group on the right side of the board, starting a huge, confusing struggle that spread through most of the center. There was a point at which white had a chance to win, but she went after the wrong black group and it was the attacking white group that lost the capturing race. The position was still confused, but it was hopeless for white and Kim Chaeyoung resigned. Losing is always bitter. Nevertheless, her silver medal is the best result yet achieved by any non-Chinese go player in three years of SportAccord women's individual competition. Yu Zhiying's two consecutive gold medals would seem to establish her as top in the women's go world, and she is still only seventeen.
And what of the men's team match between Japan and Chinese Taipei? As he had the previous day, Lin Li-Hsiang got Chinese Taipei off to a good start, winning by resignation on board two, but then Seto Taiki evened the score for Japan by defeating Chang Che-Hao by resignation on board three. All now depended on the result on board one, where Japan's Yuki Satoshi was playing Chinese Taipei's Chen Shih-Iuan. Chen (black) had taken the lead by attacking in the center in the opening, but during a difficult middle game Yuki had gradually caught up, and in the endgame it appeared that he might be ahead. When the final score was counted, it turned out that he was indeed ahead. He had won by exactly a quarter of a stone, or half a point. The two players spent considerable time afterward reviewing the endgame, with assistance from Seto Taiki, who interpreted between Chinese and Japanese. Both Yuki and Seto are from the Kansai Kiin, in Osaka. After the failure of Japan's Tokyo-Nagoya based men's team in the 2013, Osaka had come to the rescue.
At the evening awards ceremony, following the presentation of medals for blitz chess and pairs bridge, Mr Park Chimoon, acting president of the International Go Federation, presented the bronze medals to the Japanese men's team, the silver medals to the Korean team, and the gold medals to the Chinese team. Bridge ambassador Fulvio Fantoni gave them their medal certificates; then their national flags were raised and the Chinese national anthem was played. Next the medals for women's individual go were awarded by chief referee Hua Yigang: bronze to Rui Naiwei, silver to Kim Chaeyoung, and gold to Yu Zhiying, who triumphantly mounted the dais as a woman transformed, attired in a long and strikingly attractive flowered skirt. This time it was Ms Wang Wenfei, the other bridge ambassador, who gave out the certificates.
Counting chess and bridge, Chinese mental athletes had had a good day. Their total haul was ten medals: five gold, including one in women's chess; two silver, both won in women's bridge; and three bronze, including two more in women's bridge. The games are not over, but China has already shown that it leads the world in go, and leads the Far East in bridge and chess as well.
- James Davies
The 4th SportAccord World Mind Games (chess, contract bridge, draughts, go, xiangqi) will be held in Beijing December 11-17. The go competition will follow the same format as last year: 18 men representing China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, Japan, Korea, and North America will vie in a three-man team round-robin; 12 women from the same areas will compete as individuals in a double knockout; and 16 of these players will also compete in a single knockout mixed pair tournament. Click here for player lists and photos.
Last year the Chinese and Korean men's teams staged a riveting fight for the gold medal, which went to the Korean team when their third player beat his Chinese opponent by a fraction of a point. China will try to even the score this year with a team of three young world title-holders. Korea will counter with a team consisting of two of its medalists from 2012 and 2013 and a young player named Na who recently won the Korean Prices Information Cup. Japan, after going home empty-handed last year, will field an all new team drawn from Nagoya and Osaka. Their first assignment will be to avenge last year's defeat at the hands of Chinese Taipei.
The fight for the women's medals will be very tough. Judging from recent international competition, the field includes the world's current top three women, or at least three of the top four, all Chinese or Korean. Players from the other areas will be trying to break the Chinese-Korean medal monopoly of previous years.
In pair competition, China, Japan, and Korea will enter five teenaged players and one (Na) who is just twenty. Chinese Taipei, whose teenaged pair took the silver medal last year, will let a new and older pair to try to match or better that feat. Europe is entering three pairs and North America one; it should be a lively three rounds.
Tuo Jiaxi from the Chinese men's team and Lee Hajin, secretary general of the International Go Federation, will also act as go ambassadors. They and the ambassadors from the other four disciplines will take part in various social and publicity events.
Ranka will once again provide daily reports and commentaries.
Chimin Oh Wins Go to Innovation Was it the lure of the thousand-euro first prize or the chance to play some serious handicap go? Whatever it was, on November 14-16, 2014 the annual Go to Innovation tournament drew fifty-five players from far and wide to Berlin. An eight-round Hahn system was used, which meant that starting scores were assigned according to the players' EGF ratings. Additional points were earned in amounts that depended not only on who won or lost each game but also on how much he or she won or lost by and whether he or she had won in the previous round. All games were played with appropriate handicaps or komi according to the players' current scores.
The highest-rated contestant was former Korean go instructor Chimin Oh, 7-dan, who currently resides in England. His starting score immediately put him in the lead. In his first game he beat German champion Lukas Krämer (6-dan), but then he lost a two-stone handicap game to Austrian champion Viktor Lin (5-dan). Next day he lost to Hungarian champion Pal Balogh (6-dan) and then to Lluis Oh (6-dan, Spain). Following these defeats, however, he rebounded with a string of victories over Nordic champion Yaqi Fu (6-dan, Sweden), Zebin Du (6-dan, China), Jan Hora (6-dan, Czechia, with a two-stone handicap), and Jan Prokop (5-dan, Czechia, with a three-stone handicap). His final Hahn score put him far ahead of Viktor Lin, whose four wins were good enough for the 500-euro second place prize. Zebin Du won six games and finished third (250 euros). The best performance by a female player was turned in by by Rita Pocsai (4-dan, Hungary), who earned a 500-euro prize from Omikron Data Quality in addition to her 100-euro tenth-place prize. Complete results are here.
There was also a jackpot prize for winning eight games, but nobody claimed it. In fact, no one managed to win even seven games. The Hahn system does not give anyone an easy time in any round, and in some sense it rewards the players according to how well they played, regardless of how many games they won. Jan Hora, for example, won only three games, but all his opponents ended among the top ten and he finished seventh. Perhaps next year more 7-dans will try this system out.
- James Davies
Go to Innovation is the name of a go tournament that will be held at the Wuhldeheide Innovation Park in southeast Berlin, November 14-16. True to its name, the tournament will feature an innovative eight-round Hahn system, which adds some new twists to the usual McMahon system. There will also be prizes ranging up to a thousand euros for first place, a jackpot for winning eight games, and free draught beer on the 15th.
The list of registered players so far includes over twenty dan-level players (up to 7-dan) and over twenty kyu-level players (down to 18-kyu) with strong representation from Germany and Czechia. Some very strong players are also coming from Great Britain, Sweden, Austria, and Spain.
Further information is available in English here and here.