Awards and Closing Ceremonies

Late in the afternoon of December 17, go players at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games attended their second awards ceremony in the Beijing International Convention Center. This time the awards for pair go were given out. China’s Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting collected their second gold medals, Korea’s Choi Jeong and Na Hyun collected their first and second silver medals, respectively, and China’s Cathy Chang (more formally, Chang Kai-Hsin) and Lin Li-Hsiang received their first bronze medals.


Final Award Ceremony at 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games

Medals were also awarded for individual contract bridge, Basque system chess, super-blitz draughts, checkers, and xiangqi. Four countries picked up their first gold medals here: Monaco, for whom Geir Helgemo came through in open bridge; Cameroon, whose draughts star Jean Marc Ndjofang won the men’s superblitz; Vietnam, whose Ngyuen Hoang-Yen shone in women’s xiangqi; and Italy, which proved to have the world’s top two checkers players.

All told there were 24 separate events in this year’s world mind games, and mind athletes from 20 different countries and territories won medals. Between them, China and Russia took the gold medals in half the events, winning six each. Russia outpointed China in silver medals, but China outpointed Russia in bronze, won medals in a greater number of disciplines (all but draughts), and won the greater total number of medals – by a wide margin if China’s medals in the team and pair events in go and bridge are counted as multiple medals. All of Russia’s medals came in individual competition in chess and draughts. Full results and further details can be found on the SportAccord schedule and results page and news page.

At the closing ceremony at the V-Continent Beijing Parkview Wuzhou hotel, Mr Hai Zhenwen, deputy secretary general of the organizing committee, praised the successful conclusion of the four-year series of SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing. China’s former ace weightlifter Ma Wenguang, representing SportAccord Asia/Pacific, thanked the city of Beijing and expressed a hope that world mind games would continue elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific area in the future. Mr Vlad Marinescu, Director General of SportAccord, said that he had been humbled at finding himself in the midst of so many geniuses but inspired by the enthusiasm of Beijing’s children, and noted that on the publicity front, this year the games had achieved a 50% growth over last year on all media platforms. Mr Chen Jie, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports, thanked the organizers for their hard work, after which he and Mr Marinescu exchanged gifts, and then everyone settled down to a good dinner.

- James Davies

China vs. Korea for the Gold Medals in Pair Go

2014SAWG_YuMi-KimNa1_1This is the game in which China’s Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting won the gold meal in pair go by defeating Korea’s Kim Choi Jeong and Na Hyun. Click here for the sgf game file.

Black 37 (A in diagram 1, played by Choi) defends against a double peep at B, but lets white jump to C. Black is playing too safe. She should have capped at 1 in diagram 2. If white peeps, pushes, and cuts as shown in the diagram, black can give up two stones, after which white will be unable to reach the center. Then black can develop on a truly large scale by pressing white down on the lower side as shown (moves from 11 to 15 in diagram 2).


Diagram 1


Diagram 2

Black 43 (played by Na) was also too conservative. Black should have occupied white 52, the junction point of his framework on the right side and the white framework on the lower side. When white got to play 52, the Chinese pair had a territorial lead.

White 64 may have been an overextension. Black 65 immediately started to threaten white’s thin position. With 66, white began dancing around to protect the weak white stones in this area and the weak white group at the top. But white danced successfully. By the time white played 92, white’s weak stones and group were out of danger.

Black 111 (Na) may have been the decisive mistake. Before playing here, black could have made sente moves at 112 and 150. Instead, white was able to play 112 and 148-150 in sente, gaining approximately seven points.

Black’s last chance was to start the ko at 157, but black lacked the necessary ko threats. Black 159 was inadequate. White simply ended the ko with 160, gaining as much at the top as was lost in the bottom left corner. When black renewed the ko challenge at 183, white accepted by cutting at 184. When Yu took the ko with white 194, Na decided that black’s prospects were too poor to continue and offered to resign, and his partner agreed.

- Ranka, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p.

Chinese Taipei vs. Japan for the Bronze Medals in Pair Go

2014SAWG_ChangLin-FujisawaIda1_1This is the game in which Chinese Taipei’s Chang Kai-Hsin (Cathy Chang) and Lin Li-Hsiang (White) won the bronze gold meal in pair go by defeating Japan’s Fujisawa Rina and Ida Atsushi (Black). Click here for the sgf game file.

The opening pattern up to white 8 has become very popular quite recently and appeared in several SportAccord games.

Up through black 71 (the marked stone in diagram 1) the position is about even. White appears to have more territory, but the white position on the lower side is thin and can easily be invaded, so black is not behind. In fact, if black had played 71 at 1 in diagram 2, black might well have been ahead. White cannot cut black apart. Given the continuation through black 9, black is solidly linked up and the white group cannot make two eyes on the right side, so black will be able to attack it in the center.


Diagram 1


Diagram 2

The move that Ida Atsushi chose for black 71 was readily answered by white 72, and black 73 let white break up black’s right side territory in sente with 74 and 76. Aside from losing territory, black was placed on the defensive, and would be hampered in going deeper into the white territory at the bottom.

From this point on, the fighting in the center became quite confused. White’s top group seemed to be in trouble, but it could never be killed unconditionally, except at the sacrifice of an even larger black group. When white 168 connected the ko in the top left, white had a clear territorial lead.

By white 186 black’s position had become untenable and the Japanese pair resigned.

- Ranka, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p.

Europe vs. Europe for Fifth Place in Pair Go

2014SAWG_NBurdakovaFan-Shikshin1_1This is the game in which the Russian brother-sister pair of Ilya Shikshin and Svetlana Shikshina, both former European champions, defeated Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva and France’s Fan Hui to take fifth place in the mixed pairs competition. Click here for the sgf game file.

White 8 to 16 are one variation of a popular joseki. This variation and others appeared several times during the week of World Mind Games.

White 38 (the marked stone in diagram 1) was a mistake. The critical issue here is the relative strength of the groups in the center. If the white pair had played as shown in diagram 2, their own center group would have had the upper hand, and they would then have been free to deal with the loose black framework on the right side.


Diagram 1


Diagram 2








If black had captured white 98, the white group in the center would have been in serious trouble. Apparently Ilya decided that invading the bottom right corner first would be a safer way to win, but this is not necessarily true. If white had played 123 in sente before black did so, then given the same continuation on the rest of the board, the final margin would have been only half a point. As it was, black won by 1-3/4 stones, or 2-1/2 points.

- Ranka, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p

More Gold for China


China (left) playing Korea

The final round of pair go competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games was played in the morning of December 17. Deputy referee Michael Redmond gave the starting instructions. The gold medal game was televised, so Michael next moved into the broadcast booth to do the live commentary.

That game started well for the Chinese pair, due in particular to a couple of overly conservative Korean moves (Choi Jeong’s black 37 and Na Hyun’s black 43, click here to download the sgf file.) in the opening. The Koreans’ conservative style gave their opponents Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting a territorial lead. Although the Korean pair gained ground through good play in the center, forcing the Chinese to go on the defensive, the Chinese pair handled their weak stones very well and maintained their advantage. Then as the endgame began the Koreans missed making a couple of valuable sente moves and found themselves definitely behind in territory. Although they tried to catch up in a ko fight, they lacked adequate ammunition, lost the ko, and resigned. China had swept all the gold medals in go. Korea’s silver is at least an improvement on the bronze the Korean pair got last year.

Kai-Hsin Chang (left) and Li Hsiang Lin

Cathy Chang (left) and Lin Li-Hsiang

The battle for this year’s bronze was won by Chinese Taipei. The Japanese pair (Fujisawa Rina and Ida Atsushi) began well enough, but gave away territory in order to embark on a long and confused fight that did not turn out well for them, and eventually had to resign. The new pair from Chinese Taipei (Cathy Chang and Lin Li-Hsiang) played very well this year, as a different pair from Chinese Taipei had also done in winning the silver medal last year.

The all-European battle for fifth place was waged for the larger monetary prize (5000 USD) instead of medals. After some initial fighting, it turned into a close but peaceful contest of very large territories. The winners, with one stone or two points to spare, were former European champions Svetlana Shikshina and Ilya Shikshin. Their opponents Natalia Kovaleva and Fan Hui took sixth place (4000 USD).

- James Davies

Pair Go Begins

The first day of pair go at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games began at 9:30 on December 16 under the direction of chief referee Hua Yigang. In the previous three years Chinese and Korean pairs had taken turns winning the gold medal, China prevailing in 2011 and 2013, Korea in 2012, but this year, all eight pairs came out fighting.

Yu Zhiying_(left) and Mi Yuting

Yu Zhiying_(left) and Mi Yuting

In the first game to end in the morning round, China’s Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting killed a black group and beat North America’s Irene Sha and Daniel Daehyuk Ko by resignation. ‘Of course they are much stronger than us,’ said Daniel, ‘but at least we made them fight for their win.’

The three European pairs also lost by resignation. Playing Korea’s Choi Jeong and Na Hyun, Europe’s Dina Burdakova and Alexandr Dinershteyn gave up quickly when they found themselves with ten dead stones on the right side and a very weak group on the lower side.

The game between Chinese Taipei’s Cathy Chang and Lin Li-Hsiang and Europe’s Natalia Kovaleva and Fan Hui looked hopeful for the Europeans at one point, when they killed a black group on the right side, but they had weak stones elsewhere. A large fight developed in the center, and they surrendered when it became clear that to save a beleaguered white dragon they would have to give up some white stones and bring the dead black group back to life.

Svetlana Shikshina and Ilya Shikshin played out their game against Japan’s Fujisawa Rina and Ida Atsushi nearly to the end, but early in the middle game they had lost a big fight that they should have been able to win. They were over thirty points behind when they finally admitted defeat.

Natalia Kovaleva (left) and Fan Hui

Natalia Kovaleva (left) and Fan Hui

In the afternoon round, winners played winners and losers played losers. The loser’s bracket included an all-European game between the Kovaleva-Fan pair and the Burdakova-Dinershteyn pair. Alexandr Dinershteyn played his first move (black 3) on the 7-7 point, and the table was engulfed in mirth as Dina followed suit with black 5 and Natalia did likewise with white 6. After that, however, the fighting became serious, and it turned out better for white. After less than two hours of play, Dina and Aleksandr agreed to resign.

Svetlana Shikshina (left) and Ilya Shikshin

Svetlana Shikshina (left) and Ilya Shikshin

In the other losers’ game, the brother-sister pair, Svetlana and Ilya, gained a measure of revenge for the European men’s team’s loss to North America by defeating Irene Sha and Daniel Daehyuk Ko in another fighting game, featuring a nifty throw-in that set up a ko at the bottom. This in turn set up an all-European contest for fifth place in the final round on December 17.

In the winner’s bracket, the Chinese pair (Yu and Mi) tried the avalanche against the Japanese pair (Fujisawa and Ida), choosing a somewhat unusual variation of this complex joseki. They handled it perfectly and their opponents did not. This gave the Chinese side an initial advantage, and they added to it as the game progressed. Although the Japanese pair managed to keep the game fairly close throughout the middle game and endgame, they could not catch up, and eventually resigned.

The game between the Korean pair and the pair from Chinese Taipei was also close. The climax came when the Korean pair invaded the upper side and started a ko. They had more ko threats and the invading stones lived in grand style, giving the Koreans a clear lead. Their opponents played on, trying to kill another group instead, but this could not be done, so they resigned. In the final round, China and Korea will play for the gold medal, while Japan and Chinese Taipei play for the bronze.

- James Davies

Women’s Final: Yu Zhiying vs Kim Chaeyoung


Diagram 1: Full game record

Gold for China in the Women’s Individual Go as Yu Zhiying 5p defeats Korea’s Kim Chaeyoung 2p. Ranka takes a look at their exciting game. Check the game record for detailed comments by Michael Redmond 9p.

The action began with Kim Chaeyoung making a very active extension on the lower side of the board (move 30). Compared to the usual three-space extension, this turned out to be an overplay that would decide the course of the game. In the trade that followed up to move 77, Yu allowed Kim to move out but took ample profit both on the right side and also at the top, giving her a territorial lead.


Kim continued her active play by ignoring her weakness in the centre and shifting to the left side to build a moyo with move 78. This gave Black the opportunity to fight back and begin to surround White’s group on the right side. Up to move 99, White was in a bit of trouble, however Black missed a severe clamp and this gave White some chances to make the position more complicated.

A difficult fight ensued, with both sides having to deal with their many weak groups under the pressure of byoyomi. Move 137 was an inaccuracy for Yu as this move does not give enough eyespace to her central group.

Diagram 3: White has a good position

Diagram 3: White has a good position

White suddenly went for the kill with move 158 (Diagram 2). But the ensuing semeai was impossible to win and we can call this the losing move. Instead of this all-out strike, the sequence shown in Diagram 3 is how Kim should have played and would have given White a promising position.

Congratulations to Yu Zhiying, who remains undefeated in this year’s World Mind Games. She will be teaming up with Mi Yuting 9p for the Pair Go tournament, hoping for another gold for China.


- John Richardson, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p

Final Rounds: Gold Medals for China


Men’s Team at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games

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.

From the left: Tuo Jiaxi, Shi Yue and Mi Yuting

From the left: Tuo Jiaxi, Shi Yue and Mi Yuting

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.

Yu Zhiying_(right) playing Kim Chaeyoung

Yu Zhiying (right) playing Kim Chaeyoung

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.


Yuki Satoshi (left) overcomes Chen Shih-Iuan

And what of the men’s team match between Japan and Chinese Taipei? As he had yesterday, 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.


Women’s Individual at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games

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

Mind Sports at Beijing Schools

2014SAWMG_school-visiting_2At half past four on December 13, a group of players, ambassadors, and other representatives of the mind sports included in the SportAccord World Mind Games paid a one-hour visit to another mind sports tournament, this one for students at Beijing’s primary and middle schools. The venue was the gymnasium of Huilongguan Primary School No. 2, near Beijing University. All five mind sports were being played, but go players were the most numerous. For them, this was the final stage of a grand tournament that had begun with preliminary team qualifiers in Beijing’s various school districts. The teams that had won the qualifiers had been playing since morning, and the last round of games was still in progress. The unheated gymnasium was filled with warmly clad schoolchildren, whose high level of enthusiasm generated additional warmth.

2014SAWMG_school-visiting_3The visitors’ first activity was to play simultaneous games of go, chess, and draughts against young opponents who were not engaged in tournament games. Representing the go contingent, Irene Sha, Natalia Kovaleva, Dina Burdakova, her husband Igor Burnaevsky, and ambassador Lee Hajin took on two or three opponents each. The kids were strong, but there was only thirty minutes in which to play, which was not enough time to complete most of the games.


IGF Vice-President Thomas Hsiang (right) at the award ceremony

By the end of the simuls, the tournament itself was over, and the visitors now became the bestowers of the awards. International Go Federation vice president Thomas Hsiang draped medals around the necks of the winners at go, and Lee Hajin gave them trophies. The award winners also received SportAccord canteens.

And then the visit was over and the visitors returned to the Beijing International Conference Center to rejoin their comrades at the World Mind Games.

- photo: Yoshitaka Morimoto 

Rounds 4 (Men), 6 & 7 (Women): China and Korea Prove Stronger

Kim Chaeyoung

Chaeyoung Kim

The fourth day of go competition in the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games started at 9:30 on December 14 with two games that would draw the line between the medal winners and non-winners in the women’s section. On one board Joanne Missingham (Chinese Taipei) was playing Kim Chaeyoung (Korea), to whom she had narrowly lost two days before. On the other board Cathy Chang (Chinese Taipei) was challenging the famed veteran Rui Naiwei (China). Chinese Taipei had two chances to upset the Chinese-Korean monopoly on women’s medals in years past.

But monopolies are not easy to break. The Missingham-Kim game was over in only 111 moves. Playing black, Ms Kim took a territorial lead in the opening, some white groups got into trouble, and Ms Missingham resigned.

Cathy Chang held out longer. In fact, her game was played out to the end, and if there had been no compensation, she would have won. Unfortunately for Chinese Taipei, Cathy was playing black, and after the 3-3/4 stone compensation had been subtracted from her score, she lost by 2-3/4 stones, or 5-1/2 points.

The medals, accordingly, would go to Yu Zhiying, Rui Naiwei, and Kim Chaeyoung. Ms Rui and Ms Kim would play in the afternoon round for a chance at the gold. Ms Missingham and Ms Chang would play for fourth and fifth places.

Shortly after the end of the Rui-Chang game, the fourth round of the mens team event began, with Europe playing Japan, Korea playing North America, and China playing Chinese Taipei. Once again China Taipei had a chance to upset the medal-cart; a victory over China would give any one of four teams a fair chance at winning the gold.

Yuting Mi (left) playing Li-Hsiang Lin

Mi Yuting (left) playing Lin Li-Hsiang

Chinese Taipei got off to a good start on board two when Lin Li-Hsiang, playing black, defeated Mi Yuting. Lin lost five stones early on, but turned the loss to his advantage, and then enlarged his lead in a late ko fight and won by resignation. Lin had lost three title matches in Chinese Taipei this year, but the stocky twenty-one-year-old looked impressive in defeating his eighteen-year old superstar opponent.

Chinese Taipei’s upset hopes were dampened, however, when their leading player Chen Shih-Iuan lost a tightly fought game to China’s leading player Shi Yue on board one, and were then dashed when Tuo Jiaxi convincingly defeated Chang Che-Hao on board three. China now has four straight wins, and their remaining match is against North America. While China was struggling past Chinese Taipei, the North American team lost to the Korean team 0-3, so China’s chances of completing a clean sweep of all their matches when they play North America tomorrow appear quite good.

From the left: Fan Hui, Yuki Satoshi, Ida Atsushi and tournament referee En Son

From the left: Fan Hui, Yuki Satoshi, Ida Atsushi and tournament referee Son En

Europe had no better luck against Japan than North America had against Korea. The Europeans fought hard, but Yuki Satoshi beat Fan Hui by a comfortable 7-1/2 points, Ida Atsushi beat Aleksandr Dinershteyn by 14.5 points, and Seto Taiki beat Ilya Shikshin by resignation.

While the men’s games were ending, the two women’s games, which had started at three o’clock, were still in progress, and both looked very close. Rui Naiwei had been behind in the medal game, but she had caught up and now seemed to be half a point ahead of Kim Chaeyoung. Unfortunately, in the final stage of the endgame she failed to play a one-point sente move in time, allowing her opponent to play it instead. This tilted the outcome to half a point in favor of Kim Chaeyoung, who will play Yu Zhiying for the gold medal tomorrow, while Ms Rui, who won the silver medal two years ago, now takes the bronze. This will be the first time that both the gold and silver medals have not gone to Chinese players.

In the contest for fourth and fifth places, Cathy Chang prevailed over Joanne Missingham by 1-3/4 stones (3-1/2 points). In this game she had never seemed to be behind. Although no medals were at stake, there is a substantial prize differential (5000 USD for fifth place, 8000 USD for fourth place), and perhaps it is fitting that the larger prize will go to the senior player.

- James Davies