How does men’s go differ from women’s go? Aside from superficial matters such as the players’ average height, some have pointed to a temperamental difference: women tend to play more impetuously–to start a fight at the drop of a hat; men tend to play more patiently, laying deep strategic plans that only slowly mature into victory, sometimes with little or no fighting at all. Others find men’s go more coldly logical and women’s go more ‘human’.
Womanly qualities were on full display in the centerpiece game in the fourth round of women’s individual competition at the SportAccord World Mind Games on December 14th, and what a game it was! The two players, China’s Wang Chenxing and Yu Zhiying, the last remaining undefeated duo, came out fighting to kill from the word ‘go’.
Black (Ms Wang) laid out a loose group on the left side. White (Ms Yu) immediately surrounded it, with lethal intent. Black, with equally lethal intent, cut off and attacked some of the surrounding white stones. White defended them by attacking an adjacent black group–and so it went, both players carefully pondering their moves, with the life of their stones at stake. And then this battle royal had a heartwarming ‘human’ outcome. Every single threatened group lived. Peace descended on the board, the pace of play quickened, and in the end Ms Yu won by 2-1/4 stones or 4.5 points (click here to see the game record). She is now just one more win away from a gold medal, and is assured of at least the silver.
In the repechage section of the women’s competition, the two women from Chinese Taipei staged another protracted fight that involved many groups and ended with them all alive. Chang Cheng-ping was the winner in this tale of war and peace. She was comfortably ahead on territory when Joanne Missingham resigned.
The two Russians put on a similar show in reverse, starting peacefully enough, but ending in a duel to the death between two opposing groups. The duel was won by Svetlana Shikshina, at which her opponent, go ambassador Natalia Kovaleva, tactfully resigned.
It was left to the two Koreans to show that an entire game can be played without any deadly combat at all. Although one small group died, it was not taken by force; it was essentially given away by its owner Oh Jeonga. The gift was given in hope of compensation that failed to materialize, and Park Jieun won by resignation. The repechage winners will join Wang Chenxing to compete for the right to contest the gold and silver medals with Yu Zhiying, and to compete for the bronze.
The third round of the men’s teams event came to an end while the women’s fourth round was still in progress. After losing to powerhouse teams from China and Korea in the first two rounds, the men’s team from Chinese Taipei for the first time found itself facing lower-ranked opponents. The rankings held true and Chinese Taipei won on all three boards, while their North American opponents suffered their third straight shutout defeat. China also defeated Japan on all three boards, and the European team, exuberant after their victory over North America yesterday, were duly chastened, on all three boards, by the Koreans.
These games amply displayed the manly qualities of strategy and deliberation. The young Japanese team in particular seemed determined to make the most of their opportunity to take on three of the best players in China, and their games were among the last to end, even though they all ended in resignation. Two other players, both amateurs, who strove patiently and manfully against strong professional opponents were Daniel Daehyuk Ko, who lost to Wang Yuan-jyun by 6-1/4 stones (12.5 points), and Pavol Lisy. The latter’s effort against Cho Hanseung was broadcast live via YouTube, with commentary by deputy chief referee Michael Redmond.
Men’s team tournament, third round
China 3-0 Japan: Fan Tingyu beat Fujita Akihiko, Zhou Ruiyang beat Hirata Tomoya, Wang Xi beat Tsuruta Kazushi
Korea 3-0 Europe: Park Jeonghwan beat Fan Hui, Kim Jiseok beat Ilya Shikshin, Cho Hanseung beat Pavol Lisy
Chinese Taipei 3-0 North America: Chou Chun-hsun beat Huiren Yang, Wang Yuan-jyun beat Daniel Daehyuk Ko, Lin Chun-yen beat Yongfei Ge
Women’s individual tournament, fourth round
Yu Zhiying (China) beat Wang Chenxing (China), Park Jieun (Korea) beat Oh Jeonga (Korea), Chang Cheng-ping (Chinese Taipei) beat Joanne Missingham (Chinese Taipei), Svetlana Shikshina (Russia) beat Natalia Kovaleva (Russia)
– James Davies