The four players took their seats in the playing room at the Beijing International Conference Center ten minutes before the starting time of round 7. Choi Chulhan and Kang Dongyoon, playing for the men’s individual gold medal and $100,000 sat facing each other in stony Korean silence. Li He and Rui Naiwei, playing for the women’s individual gold medal and $40,000, chatted cheerily in Chinese. The silver medals come with awards of $40,000 (men) and $20,000 (women).
Chief referee Hua Yigang gave the starting instructions, and play began promptly at 3:00. At both boards the younger players, Kang Dongyoon and Li He, guessed even/odd correctly and got black. The Choi-Kang game was broadcast live on YouTube with Michael Redmond and Chris Garlock doing the move-by-move commentary.
The initial pace of play was nearly twice as fast on the women’s board as on the men’s board. Li He played aggressively and Rui Naiwei did not shrink from fighting. The pace of play slowed considerably in the middle game, which left the outcome to be decided in the endgame, but this is where the younger player outshone her opponent. Rui was close to four stones (eight points) behind when she finally resigned, just before six o’clock, just five moves short of the end of the game had she chosen to count the score.
This was Li’s second big victory of the year over Rui, the first having come in the Mt. Qionglong Bingsheng Cup.
It was also her third SportAccord World Mind Games gold medal; she won two in team and pair competition last year. Since both the gold medalist Li and the silver medalist Rui had defeated the bronze medalist Choi Jeong in earlier rounds, Li now has every right to be considered the world’s best go-playing woman.
On the men’s board, the outcome of the fighting through the first 128 moves was a dead black group in the top left corner and a dead white group on the lower side. Had normal endgame play continued, white seemed to be slightly ahead, so black pressed for some extra profit, provoking a wild fight. After another fifty moves or so the fighting ended in a ko exchange that revived the black group in the top left but transformed the lower side from black territory to white territory. This exchange was considerably in white’s favor. After 192 moves, Kang Dongyoon, gold medalist at the 2008 World Mind Sport Games in Beijing, resigned and accepted the silver medal at the 2012 World Mind Games. Choi Chulhan’s gold medal gives him possession of two world titles, the other being the Ing Cup he won in 2009.
The medals were awarded in evening ceremonies at a convention hall in the Conference Center. Choi Chulhan, Kang Dongyoon, and Lin Chi-han mounted the dais at 8:00 to accept the men’s gold, silver, and bronze medals from Mr Matsumura Koichi, president of the International Go Federation, and certificates from Mr Vincent Liu, Senior Manager of Event Marketing of BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. Two Korean flags and one representing Chinese Taipei were raised to the accompaniement of the Korean National anthem. The bronze medal won by Chinese Taipei is another sign of their rise in the international go scene, following a bronze medal in the women’s team competition at the Asian Games in 2010.
Next, at 8:15, China’s Li He and Rui Naiwei and Korea’s Choi Jeong took the dais to accept the womens medals from Mr Liu Siming, IGF vice-president, and certificates from Mr Yang Yichun, President of Project English Education & Research Branch of Beijing Academic Society for Education. Two Chinese and one Korean flag were raised to the accompaniement of the Chinese National anthem.
And with that the ceremony was over, but this is not the end of the go competition at the World Mind Games. Starting on December 18th, Li, Lin, and the two Choi’s will contend for further medals in the pair go competition, where Choi Chulhan is partnered with Choi Jeong, Li He with Jiang Weijie, and Lin Chi-han with Joanne Missingham.
- James Davies