The Chinese non-playing team captain is Hua Xueming, who won the Chinese women’s individual championship in 1993 and 1995 and the Tombow Cup in 2002, and more recently partnered with Nie Weiping to win the Shenzhen International Pair Go Tournament in 2010. She has also competed in the Fujitsu Cup with some success (beating Otake Hideo in 1994), and in 1985 she became one of the few women to win a tournament open to both women and men when she defeated a large number of male opponents, including Yu Bin, in the Xinxiu (New Star) Cup. She consented to an interview with Ranka during round 1.
Ranka: Please tell us about your coaching career.
Hua: I worked as a coach for the National Youth Team, starting in 1997, then as a coach for the National Women’s Team starting in 2002. In 2005 China became dissatisfied with the results being produced by its national team, and assembled a group of five coaches for its national team. In June 2005 I became their group leader, as well as a coach of the National Men’s Team.
Ranka: What was the reason for the dissatisfaction?
Hua: China still hadn’t reached the top. For the first decade of full-scale international competition, the top country was Japan. Then for next decade, it was Korea. Up until 2005 Chinese players managed to win only three world titles.
Ranka: And after 2005?
Hua: China’s National Team has been doing better. Since 2005 they’ve won 23 world titles and they’ve been competing on equal or superior terms with the Koreans.
Ranka: What was the reason for China’s great leap forward?
Hua: There were four reasons. One was the long years of effort that the Chinese go community has put into the game since the distant past. That laid the foundation. A second reason was the existence of an elite national team in China. That created a sense of purpose. A third reason was the performance of China’s national team in the China-Japan Super-Go Series. The win-and-continue format of that tournament created an environment in which Chinese players could excel, and their success showed that Chinese players could be as good as any in the world. As for the fourth reason, it’s simply China’s large population.
Ranka: Which means that compared with the rest of the world, China has a larger pool of potential world champions to draw on. But what keeps Chinese young people interested in playing go, instead of the electronic games that seem to be displacing traditional games in other countries?
Hua: The situation in China is a little different from the rest of the world, because it is now changing for the better. In the past, go was treated as a sport in China, which created heroes and kept people interested, but now it is also regarded as a cultural pursuit, which makes it worth teaching to children as part of their upbringing. And another big factor, again, is China’s population. Even if go enthusiasts do not make up the majority in China, there are still quite a lot of us.
Ranka: Are you satisfied with China’s results in the SportAccord World Mind Games so far?
Hua: Oh, I guess we’ve done reasonably well, but I think the important thing about the SportAccord World Mind Games is not the individual results or team results. It’s the publicity that’s being generated, not only in China but also in the rest of the world. The televised broadcast of that’s taking place right now is one example.
Ranka: Finally, can you tell us something about the Chinese players and how they were selected for this year’s SportAccord World Mind Games?
Hua: The men are all young and all are winners of world championship titles. The selection process was very simple. We just took the three most recent world title winners from the National Men’s Team. On the women’s side, Yu Zhiying is also young and she was selected because currently she ranks as the strongest woman in China. Rui Naiwei was selected both for her strength as a player and because of her international reputation. And it was as the senior player, incidentally, that she was chosen to get the bye in the first round.
Ranka: Thank you very much.
The second day of go competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games started at 9:30 a.m. on December 12. Outside, Beijing’s skies were clear and relatively smog-free. Inside the go playing room on the second floor of the Beijing International Convention Center, it was to be full steam ahead for China.
The morning event was round 2 of the women’s double knockout. On two of the boards Chinese players were matched against Japanese opponents. On the third board Chinese Taipei’s Joanne Missingham was playing Korea’s Kim Chaeyoung, who recently won the women’s Guksu title in Korea. On the fourth board Natalia Kovaleva, Europe’s heroine of round one, was matched against Korea’s teenaged women’s master (myungin) Choi Jeong, who had won the Bingsheng Cup in September. The four women who lost in round 1 had byes.
The outcome was victory for both Chinese and both Koreans. Choi Jeong needed less than two hours to defeat Natalia Kovaleva by a wide margin. In a somewhat closer game China’s Rookie King Yu Zhiying defeated Japan’s women’s Honinbo Fujisawa Rina. Japan’s Okuda Aya then bowed in resignation to China’s Rui Naiwei after a long ko fight, and at 12:38 p.m. Joanne Missingham, trailing by a fraction of a stone with only two one-point moves left to play, resigned to Kim Chaeyoung.
In the meantime, the men’s team matches had begun. The big one was the confrontation between China, which had rolled over the European team in round 1, and Korea, which had had a close call against Japan. On board three Korea’s Kang Dongyoon faced China’s Tuo Jiaxi, whom he had beaten in the Nongshim Cup in October. Kang tried a relatively new joseki variation in the bottom right corner. It did not turn out well; Tuo established positions on both the lower and right sides. Tuo, who had won the LG Cup in February, continued to dominate the game, and after a while Kang found himself faced with the need to make a humiliating life for a group in the top right. It may be true that while there is life there is hope, and there was still plenty of open space in other parts of the board, but Kang decided that his hopes were too slim to be worth pursuing and resigned. China was off to a good start.
On board two, the Korean youngster Na Hyun was playing an even younger opponent: Mi Yuting. Last December Mi had leaped into stardom by winning the first Mlily Cup. This year, playing for Dalian in China’s A League, he had posted a 16-4 won-lost record that carried his team to a smashing league championship. In this game, however, Mi created a weak group on the lower side and Na took the lead. But Na, who had rescued victory from the jaws of defeat in round 1, now saw his lead evaporate in a ko fight that led to a capturing race he could not win, and he too resigned. Suddenly Korea had lost the match.
But it was not yet over. On board one Park Younghoon demonstrated that the endgame skills that had won him the Fujitsu Cup and various other titles some years ago were still intact, and also saved face for Korea, by playing to a narrow but secure victory over China’s top rated Shi Yue. In fact, Park seemed to be slightly ahead almost throughout the game, after Shi made a doubtful joseki choice early in the opening. It was ironical that the only Korean player to lose in round 1 was the only one to win in round 2.
While the Chinese men’s team was taking a big step toward a gold medal, the Chinese women were doing equally well in round 3 of the women’s competition. Yu Zhiying had surprisingly little trouble in winning a contest of giant territories against Choi Jeong. Rui Naiwei subdued Kim Chaeyoung by the same fractional margin by which Kim had won in the morning. Four games were also played in the losers’ bracket, with good results for Chinese Taipei and mixed results for the rest of the world: Fujisawa Rina defeated Natalia Kovaleva; Joanne Missingham defeated Okuda Aya; Chinese Taipei’s Cathy Chang defeated North America’s Irene Sha; and in an all-Russian game, Svetlana Shikshina defeated Dina Burdakova. The losers of these four games have now been eliminated. Only the two Chinese players remain undefeated, and they will meet each other in round 4.
And what of China’s performance in the other disciplines? Hou Yifan has won a silver model in women’s and Wang Hao has won a bronze medal in men’s rapid chess, but the Chinese teams finished last in the round robin stage of the team-of-four contract bridge competition, which means they will compete for bronze medals in the final stage. In rapid draughts competition, Chinese players took 14th place among the 16 competitors in the men’s division and 8th and 11th places among the 12 competitors in the women’s division. After two rounds of xiangqi competition, Chinese players are tied with American players for first place in the men’s division and second place in the women’s division. So far, China is being led by its go players.
– James Davies
by James Davies, Ranka Online
The first round of go competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games on December 11 featured an epic encounter between the Korean and Japanese men’s teams, and a historic victory for a Russian woman. The Japan-Korea men’s match was close on all three boards. Yuki Satoshi (right) of Japan defeated Korea’s Park Younghun in a prolonged struggle on board one. In the battle between two young players on board two, Japan’s Ida Atsushi, 20, overplayed his advantage against Na Hyun, 19, by starting an unnecessary ko fight, in the course of which Na was able to revive his dead group and evened the score in the match at 1-1. All now depended on the outcome of the game between Seto Taiki of Japan and Korea’s Kang Dongyoon on board three, and the people following the action on the monitor screens in the adjoining room were held in suspense down to practically the last move, but after a grueling five and a half hours, Kang came up the winner by 4.5 points.
Meanwhile, the Chinese team of Shi Yue, Mi Yuting, and Tuo Jiaxi was dealing unmercifully with the European team of Fan Hui, Aleksandr Dinershteyn, and Ilya Shikshin. European stones died en masse on all three boards. The team from Chinese Taipei also blanked the North American team 3-0, although the game between Chen Shih-Iuan and Jiang Mingjiu on board one was quite close. Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva defeated Chinese Taipei’s Cathy Chang in the women’s individual competition.
- adapted from a longer report on Ranka Online; photo by Ivan Vigano
This clash of young stars was a highlight of the second round of the Individual Women’s event of the SportAccord World Mind Games 2014. Japan’s 16 year-old Fujisawa Rina took black against China’s Yu Zhiying, also 16 years-old and the winner of this event last year.
Fujisawa Rina is the youngest ever Japanese female player to become a professional and also to take a title. She is the granddaughter of Fujisawa Shuko, one of the best players of his era. Yu Zhiying has been scoring many wins in high-level events, including winning the 21th Xinren Wang this year and taking second in the 2013 Bingsheng Cup.
The game began with an interesting squeeze tesuji by Fujisawa starting from move 11 where White was constricted to the corner while Black took outside influence (click here to download the sgf file). The exchange of Black’s move 15 for White’s move 16 was however good for White, giving Black an uncomfortable empty triangle and making the overall result equal for both players.
After settling their claims to the top-left and lower-right corners in standard fashion, Yu began a surprising manoeuvre. She played atari then pushed (moves 54 and 56) starting a wild attack with bad shape. This is likely to be a mistake, with an extension (move 1 in Diagram 1) being the more natural move. See Diagram 1 for the most likely continuation, where Black plays atari at move 2 of the variation. If Black were to extend instead at 9, White would push at 2, Black hane, then White takes a (good) empty triangle, giving her a better result than in the game.
The fight continued with Black looking good after the exchange up to move 67. Fujisawa’s move 75 however was too slack, at a point where it was imperative to take profit. Diagram 2 shows a variation starting with Black’s cut at move 1 that is far superior. Black is happy to capture the three stones if White covers the lower-right black group on move 78.
Thanks to Black’s loose play, Yu was able to make life in the lower-right while attacking Fujisawa’s corner. Black cannot keep this corner alive and still save the two stones (moves 47 and 71). White now turned to the top-right, where a dangerous-looking invasion at move 100 is actually a serious threat as White’s lower group is already alive.
After move 118, White had the miai of striking at Black’s right group and pushing through (with move 120). Even though Yu’s group had no eyes on the right side, Black cannot save all of her outside stones. The game is now over.
- John Richardson based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p
The first round of go competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games started at 12:30 p.m. on December 11 under the direction of chief referee Hua Yigang. It was to feature an epic encounter between the Korean and Japanese men’s teams, and a historic victory for a Russian woman.
The Japan-Korea men’s match was close on all three boards. After shutting out the Japanese team last year, the Koreans had not expected to have any trouble with the older team that Japan fielded this year, but Japan’s Yuki Satoshi (age 42) set them straight by defeating Park Younghun in a prolonged struggle on board one. Park Younghun was a last-minute replacement for last year’s standout Park Jeonghwan. Compared with Yuki he is both younger and has the better overall record in international competition, but as referee Michael Redmond said, when Yuki is in good form he can beat anyone. Park resigned during a ko fight late in the endgame. ‘I don’t know how far ahead I was,’ Yuki remarked nonchalantly afterward, ‘but I could tell from the way he was playing that he was on the verge of giving up.’
While Yuki was winning on board one, it appeared that Japan would also win the battle between two young players that was taking place on board two. Japan’s Ida Atsushi (age 20) is a fighter who is good at killing stones, and that is what he did to a white group at the bottom of the board in this game. Facing what looked like certain defeat, Korea’s Na Hyun (age 19) temporarily abandoned his stricken group, and this turned out to be the right decision. Later in the middle game Ida overplayed his advantage by starting an unnecessary ko fight, in the course of which Na was able to revive his dead group. Pressing on through a further exchange of groups, Na evened the score in the match at 1-1.
All now depended on the outcome of the game between Seto Taiki (Japan) and Kang Dongyoon (Korea) on board three. Kang, winner of the individual gold medal at the 2008 World Mind Sports Games, the Fujitsu Cup in 2009, and a SportAccord silver medal in 2012, brought the better credentials to the game, but Seto kept it close from beginning to end. The people following the action on the monitor screens in the adjoining room were held in suspense down to practically the last move, but after a grueling five and a half hours, at about six o’clock, the referee counted Kang the winner by 2-1/4 stones (equivalent to 4-1/2 points by Japanese counting).
Meanwhile, the Chinese team of Shi Yue, Mi Yuting, and Tuo Jiaxi was dealing unmercifully with the European team of Fan Hui, Aleksandr Dinershteyn, and Ilya Shikshin. European stones died en masse on all three boards. The team from Chinese Taipei also blanked the North American team 3-0, although the game between Chen Shih-Iuan and Jiang Mingjiu on board one was quite close. None of the losing players appeared upset by their losses, however, and one Russian player looked positively joyful about his defeat. That was Ilya Shikshin, who had held the lead for awhile against Tuo Jiaxi, as the latter admitted after the game. This was a gratifying contrast the complete thrashing Ilya had suffered at the hands of the same opponent in 2012.
Even happier was Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva, who defeated Chinese Taipei’s Cathy Chang in the women’s individual competition. The game was unusual for its lack of fighting. Natalia won this exercise in harmony by the same margin by which Kang had beaten Seto. This was not the first time she had defeated a professional opponent – she had also done that in Beijing in 2008 – but it was the first time any European woman had beaten a player from the Far East at the SportAccord World Mind Games. Her reward will be a game against a stronger Far Eastern opponent in round two: Choi Jeong, the bronze medalist in 2012 and more recently the victor in the Bingsheng Cup.
- James Davies
The fourth SportAccord World Mind Games officially opened at an evening ceremony held on December 10 in the banquet hall of the V-Continent Beijing Parkview Wuzhou hotel near the Beijing International Conference Center, which is the competition venue. Thirty go players representing the best of China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, North America, Japan, and Korea will compete with each other December 11-17, rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s best bridge, chess, draughts, and xiangqi players. Counting all five disciplines, there are 150 contestants, drawn from nearly forty countries and territories on six continents. Click here for Ranka Online’s reports on the SAWMG’s Opening ceremony and draw and Players Converge on Beijing for the 4th SportAccord WorldMind Games.
Michael Redmond 9P’s gives a commentary (right) on the Round 1 game between France’s Fan Hui 2P and China’s Shi Yue 9P. “Shi Yue showed powerful fighting, starting with a center-oriented opening that developed into a big fight,” says Redmond. “Two early mistakes on Fan Hui’s part made this fight difficult for him.” Redmond also noted that “In the 1st round for women, Europe played well, got only one win out of it.”
Click on another insightful Redmond commentary, Dinershteyn-MiYuting_annotated.sgf, for an incredible game, in which Black opens with a 5-7 point play in each corner for his 1st four moves!
Click below for other first-round games:
photo: EGF President Martin Stiassny (above right) drawing for the European team
- based on reporting by James Davies on Ranka Online; edited by Chris Garlock with technical assistance by Myron Souris
The fourth SportAccord World Mind Games was officially opened at an evening ceremony held on December 10 in the banquet hall of the V-Continent Beijing Parkview Wuzhou hotel near the Beijing International Conference Center, which will be the competition venue. The ceremony itself was comparatively simple. Some of the tournament officials were introduced, representative players from each of the five disciplines were marched onto the stage, and everyone stood for the playing of the Chinese national anthem and the SportAccord anthem. Vlad Marinescu, Director General of SportAccord, then gave a short speech, ending succinctly with the words ‘May the best mind win.’ Mr Li Yingchuan, Director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports, welcomed the contestants to Beijing, thanked the sponsors and organizers, and wished everyone a good time and a successful Games. This was followed by an excellent buffet dinner, giving the contestants a good chance to socialize with the opponents they will face during the week ahead.
For a group of go players and officials, dinner was followed by a technical meeting presided over by chief referee Hua Yigang, with assistance from technical delegate Shigeno Yuki and interpretation by Zhang Wei. The meeting began with greetings from Mr Hua and Ms Shigeno, proceeded through a summary of the rules, and then moved on to the main order of business: the drawing of the team, pair, and player numbers, which were incorporated into a prearranged schedule in each event.
In the drawing for the round robin men’s team event, Korea, China, and Chinese Taipei, which finished 1-2-3 last year, drew numbers 1, 2, and 3, while Japan drew 6, Europe drew 5, and North America drew 4. This means that in the first round on December 11 Korea will play Japan, China will play Europe, and Chinese Taipei will play North America. In three other matches of note, China and Korea will lock horns in the second round on December 12, Europe will play North America in the third round on December 13, and Japan will tackle Chinese Taipei in the fifth round on December 15.
The draw for the women’s double knockout individual event began with the drawing of numbers for the four players who had been given byes in the first round: Rui Naiwei (China), Choi Jeong (Korea), Fujisawa Rina (Japan), and Joanne Missingham (Chinese Taipei). First Ms Rui and Ms Choi drew for numbers 1 and 12, Ms Rui drawing number 1. This draw also determined the numbers of their teammates Yu Zhiying (9) and Kim Chaeyoung (4). A similar procedure determined the numbers of the players from Chinese Taipei and Japan, after which the players from Europe and North America drew for the remaining numbers. As a result of this drawing protocol, no two players from the same country, territory, or region will meet in the first two rounds. In the first round on December 11, Russia’s Svetlana Shikshina (2) will play Japan’s Okuda Aya (3), Korea’s Kim Chaeyoung will play Russia’s Dina Burdakova (5), Canada’s Irene Sha (8) will play China’s Yu Zhiying, and Chinese Taipei’s Cathy Chang (10) will play Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva (10).
The pair drawing protocol was like the women’s protocol without byes. The four pairs from the Far East drew for numbers 1, 4, 5, and 8; then the pairs from Europe and North America drew for the remaining numbers, so that the pairs from Europe and North America drew Far Eastern opponents in the first round. Since the pair competition will include play-offs for third to sixth places, all pairs will play at least two games.
- James Davies