Korea and Japan, two of the favourites to top the tournament, both lost by half a point to their respective opponents from Chinese Taipei and China in this morning’s play. To heighten the drama, a broken clock disrupts the Japan-China face-off.
The clocks began to tick at 9.31am this morning, marking the start the crucial second day of the World Amateur Go Championship in Gyeongju, Korea. The pairings included two decisive match-ups whose results will play a large part in deciding the top places in this year’s tournament. Korea versus Chinese Taipei and China versus Japan. Neither game was a disappointment; we were treated to two half-point wins, both gathering large crowds of players, press and officials.
The first result in was a shock to the locals. The young Yitien Chan from Chinese Taipei pushed ahead of Korean star Taewoong Wei to place in great stead for the remainder of the tournament. Wei had been the clear favourite and this could be seen from his dominating posture, but his shoulders began to sink as he realised that victory had slipped between his fingers.
Japan’s Emura, hoping for victory after a disappointing 8th place in last year’s tournament, had his hopes crushed by China’s Ruoran Wang, who snatched a half-point win in this morning’s battle. Both players flailed their fans from side to side as they tussled over an intense endgame where Emura was constantly under time trouble.
But the drama did not stop there. The Japan-China game turned into Whack-A-Mole as Emura slammed his clock button into submission, eventually rendering it unusable. When finally the clock ceased to respond and Emura’s time ran to zero, a crowd gathered around the board awaiting the referees’ decision as to how to continue the game. It was decided to keep playing with a new clock, giving the Japanese player one final byoyomi period. After the game, chief referee Cho Hunhyun had some stern words with Emura but it is unclear whether it was the clock or the Japanese’s enthusiasm that was to blame.
I was happy with how things were going, but before I knew it I wound up half a point behind. I’m used to fast time limits but this clock business added to the stress of this important game.
This turn of events leaves China and Chinese Taipei as clear favourites for the overall winner. Other countries with three wins are the Ukraine, Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
- John Richardson