China Laughs Last and Best

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Wang Chenxing and Zhou Ruiyang

The final round of pair go at the 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games was played in the morning of December 18th. The pairs from China and Chinese Taipei took their seats at board one to play for the gold medal, under the TV cameras in a screened-off corner of the playing room. The pairs from Japan and Korea sat down at board two to play for the bronze medal. Two European pairs took their positions at board three to play for fifth place. At 9:30 chief referee Wang Runan directed them to begin. The games were followed on monitor screens in the spectators’ room next door by the remaining members of the teams from Chinese Taipei and Japan and several of the European and North American players.

In contrast to the drama of the games yesterday afternoon, which had held the spectators enthralled, the games that decided the medals were both relatively quiet. On board one, Chinese Taipei’s Joanne Missingham and Wang Yuan-jyun launched a series of ko fights, but China’s Wang Chenxing and Zhou Ruiyang simply conceded the kos and took territory. Halfway through the endgame it was clear that the Chinese pair was safely ahead, and the pair from Chinese Taipei resigned. The players then immediately began discussing the game, the Chinese pair all laughter and smiles, their opponents somewhat more solemn. Ms Wang and Mr Zhou had added gold medals to the silver medals they had won in women’s individual and men’s team competition. The silver medals won by Ms Missingham and Mr Wang were a new high for Chinese Taipei in SportAccord World Mind Games competition.

In a brief postgame interview, the Chinese pair said that cooperation had been the most important element in their victory. They added they had never felt behind, in distinct contrast to their game against the Japanese pair the previous day.

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Korea (left) playing Japan

On board two, the Korean pair (Park Jieun and Kim Jiseok) answered a Japanese ko challenge by splitting some of their opponents’ stones into two weak groups. That gave them lots of ko ammunition, which they used to win the ko fight, and from then on the Japanese pair (Fujisawa Rina and Fujita Akihiko) was playing catch-up. The final margin was 1-1/4 stones (2.5 points) in favor of the Koreans; they had captured the bronze medals.

On board three, for the second straight day the Russian brother-sister pair (Svetlana Shikshina and Ilya Shikshin) faced European opponents. Yesterday they had been triumphant. Today, playing Russia’s Dina Burdakova and Slovakia’s Pavol Lisy, they were not.

Pavol: ‘I think we won because Dina played very well. Another reason was that we avoided complications. She played moves I could understand and I tried to play moves that she would understand, even if they weren’t the best moves. But it was scary at the end. At one point Ilya wanted to resign. That made me think we were were at least five points ahead, so after Svetlana decided to keep playing, I made some careless mistakes. The final margin was only half a point.’

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Pair Go Awarding Ceremony

The medals for pair go, and for individual bridge, Basque system chess, super blitz draughts, and xiangqi, were awarded at a ceremony in the evening. There were also cash prizes for all eight competing pairs of go players, ranging from $24,000 for first place down to $2000 for seventh and eighth places. A huge banquet followed the ceremony, bringing another Sport Accord World Mind Games to a very successful conclusion.

- James Davies

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