by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Huang of China Wins Globis Cup: Huang Yunsong (at right in photo) of China has defeated Na Hyun of Korea to win his first international tournament. Aged 18, he can now claim to be the strongest teenager in the world and his next ambition is to win an open international title. His play in this year’s Globis Cup was so impressive that no one will be betting against him.
On Sunday, May 10, the third day of the tournament, the semifinals were held in the morning and the final and play-off for third place in the afternoon. All four matches were China-Korea pairings, as the Japanese players had been eliminated in the quarterfinals. In the first semifinal, Huang 3P (W) of China beat Lee Donghun 5P of Korea by resignation. This game featured a spectacular fight in which Huang killed a large enemy group. O Meien 9P, who gave a public commentary on the final, praised Huang’s play in the semifinal very highly. According to O, the fight looked like a very perilous one to the onlookers that could have gone either way, but once the fight started Huang played quickly, not bothering to use all of his time of 30 seconds per move. In retrospect, said O, it became clear that Huang had read it all out at the beginning of the fight, which was an awesome feat.
In the other semifinal, Na Hyun 6P of Korea (B), the only player to announce publicly his intention of winning the tournament, defeated Li Qincheng 2P of China by resignation.
The final between Huang and Na started at 1:00 in the afternoon, with Huang playing white. Although no Japanese representative made the final, there were only a few empty seats in the hall. The fans who turned up were treated to an exciting game that was graced by an excellent commentary by O Meien 9P and Mannami Nao 3P. O is the commentator of choice for international games, as he is well informed about international go and is very open-minded. By this, I mean that he is not dogmatic. Although he is well-known for his own distinctive style, a dynamic, influence-oriented way of playing, when players follow a different style, making moves that he doesn’t like personally, he readily admits that they may know better. O’s humor meshed well with the bright, cheerful personality of Mannami Nao, the younger of the two Mannami sisters; she has developed into a very competent and appealing MC and assistant commentator and is a real asset in go events.
After the first major fight in the early middle game, O expressed surprise when Huang played a relatively peaceful move after reducing Black’s right-side position. O hadn’t thought the maneuver was a particular success for White, but Huang’s calm play made him reassess his positional judgement. He admitted that he couldn’t reach a definite conclusion himself, but commented that we could safely trust Huang because of his experience. Na’s subsequent play showed that he felt he was a little behind. He launched an all-out attack on an unsettled white group in the centre, but he was outplayed by Huang in the ensuing fight and resigned early.
In the play-off for third place, Li Qincheng (B) beat Lee Donghun by resignation, so China won three of the four games played today. (photo at left: l-r: Na, Huang & Li)
One of the most interesting points in the commentary on the final was that O kept referring to the ‘experience’ of the players. For example, he would say something like, ‘I don’t know about this move, but my guess is that the player knows from his experience that it works.’ These players are teenagers, and though obviously they can’t have played that many games yet, what O seemed to be talking about was the high level of competition in China and Korea. Even at their young ages, their representatives in this tournament are already top players in their own countries, where star players seem to emerge in their teens. This is not really the case in Japan (with the major exception of Iyama Yuta).
The strength of the Chinese and Korean teams is borne out by their ratings. Hori Masao, the father of the president of Globis University, Hori Yoshito, drew my attention to a Japanese site that rates 900 professionals (if you read characters, click here; it also has historical ratings going back to 1989). The Chinese team is in the lead. Sixteen-year-old Yang Dingshin is rated 18th in the world, tournament winner Huang (aged 18) 46th, and Li Qincheng (aged 16) 37th (probably thanks mainly to winning the CCTV Cup last year). The top Korean is Lee Donghun, aged 17 and 23rd; Na, aged 20, is 27th, and Shin Jin Seo (just 15) is 75th. To take the Japanese, Ichiriki (aged 17) is 128th and Yo Seiki (19) is 195th, and the others are much lower.