As announced in November today started in Beijing (China) the 4th edition of the World Mind Games
with Bridge, Chess, Draughts, Go and Xianqi with players from 130 countries.
… with 1st Go round of Team Men and of Women individual on Day 1.
Natalia Kovaleva (age: 27, rank: 5D EGF, Russian), member of the Europe Team, manages a rare win in the women’s individual Go match No. 4 against Kai-Hsin Chang (Chinese Taipe). – South Korea comes back from the brink to beat Japan in 1st round match of Men’s Team competition (see table Go Results).
There were a few furrows on the faces of players of the South Korean team after the result of the first board in the men’s team match against Japan came out. Quite unexpectedly, the Japanese had managed to draw first blood. Park Yung Hun, a last-minute replacement for the original draftee into the team, Park Jung Hwan, who had unfortunately suffered an accident just a day before the team left for the World Mind Games in Beijing, had resigned to Yuki Satoshi of Team Japan. The margin of the loss- a mere half point.
The stage for the exciting clash had been set up and maybe the Japan team was finally sniffing its chance against the Koreans, who have dominated proceedings at all editions of the World Mind Games thus far, along with the China. And they had reasons to be confident. Up in the second match was Ida Satoshi against Na Hyun, a weaker opponent.
19 years of age, Na Hyun hails from Jeonju, a city in the south-west of South Korea. It is better known as the birthplace of Lee Chang-ho, considered one of the strongest Go players in the modern history of the sport. However, the 39-year old with the 9-dan rank was far from the mind of Na Hyun, who had a battle of his own to wage. He started brightly, setting up a strong position on the board for himself. However, mistakes were committed and he fell behind to the Japanese player, stronger than himself. An unlikely defeat for the Koreans loomed large.
Upon conversation, Na Hyun comes across as a confident and friendly person, who radiates the persona of a mature mind beyond his physical age. Perhaps this is why he got attracted to Go in the first place. In his own words ‘it fits his personality’. A personality that has been shaped by the pursuit of Go since the age of 6. Three years later, he moved to Seoul to study Go at senior academy. Such was his devotion to the sport. His years of training seem to be paying off as he has very quickly risen to number 7 in the Korean Go rankings. It is not a statistic to be dismissed lightly, given that South Korea has almost 2 million Go players, 300 of whom qualify for the professional rankings.
His training lends him great self-belief to stand firm in the face of challenges during a match, but even this self-belief requires luck to support the player possessing it. And it came Na Hyun’s way. Ida Satoshi had an easy option available to him on the board at one point but he chose a complicated maneouver. Fate presented the Korean with an opportunity and he was not naïve enough to squander it away. He made the Japanese pay for his mistakes. And quite simply, won.
Na Hyun felt ‘really happy’ when he won the Prices Information Cup a few months ago, his first title. ‘I feel really happy’ is how he describes his state of mind when quizzed about a win that ultimately led to South Korea winning the match (Korean Kang Dong Yoong won the 3rd board by a comfortable margin of 5.5 points in an otherwise closely contested game against Taiki Seto of Japan). Upon first glance, he would come across as a regular 19 year old who would be at home with a round of Playstation games with his friends. But what draw Na Hyun to Go is the cerebral nature of the sport that requires hours of thinking, immense concentration and the computing power that is even beyond the reach of computers (a computer programme is yet to be devised that can defeat a human, but more on that at some other time). It is what keeps him going. It is what kept South Korea from going down to Japan. It is what kept a country, where Go is a way of life and a tradition, alive in the contest for a gold medal.
In other team matches of the day, China defeated Team Europe and Chinese Taipei defeated North America.
In the women’s individual 1st round matches, Russian Natalia Kovaleva sprung a major surprise to beat Kai-Hsin Chang of Chinese Taipei. Given that only 4 Europeans have ever won matches at the World Mind Games in the Go category, this was a rare and important result. There was no such luck for her compatriot Svetlana Shikshina as she went down to Aya Okuda of Japan. China stayed strong with Yu Zhiying beating Irene Sha of Canada in the last women’s match of the day.
Go Results overall on Day 1… (for next days pls visit the schedule + results page directly)
4 Hours video of 11th Dec 2014…
Highlights of 11th Dec 2014…
(Official) WMG Trailer…