Ryan Li and Eric Lui, undefeated after four rounds, are leading the race for the 2015 AGA Pro Qualification Tournament finals later this week. Ben Lockhart is close behind at 3-1. Click here for latest results and game records. Rounds 5 and 6 will be broadcast live on KGS at 9:30a and 4:00p Tuesday.
Monday dawned bright and chilly as a stiff breeze out of the north blew away the few remaining storm clouds off the coast in Hull, Massachusetts. Ben Lockhart arrived early at the US Pro Qualification Tournament playing area in search of coffee, and the rest of the players arrived just before the 9:30a start of the third round. Ricky Zhao was the last to arrive, slipping into his Board 1 seat opposite Jeremy Chiu seconds before TD Jeff Shaevel officially began the round. His was the first game to finish when a battle between three running groups claimed a fourth and Zhao resigned a few moves later. On Board 2, Yuan Zhou had a very difficult time after Ryan Li reduced his only territory to a manageable size and Li won comfortably, extending his winning streak to 3-0. The game on Board 3 was a marathon effort by both players, with Matthew Burrall prevailing over Daniel Gourdeau by just 1.5 points. Eric Lui effectively exploited the potential aji of an earlier trade to cut off Ben Lockhart from the center and take control of the Board 4 game and Lockhart notched his first loss, while Lui went to 3-0.
With the sun shining brightly but temperatures steadily dropping into the teens, the players gathered Tuesday afternoon for the fourth round in the Minot Ballroom at the Nantasket Beach Resort. Matthew Burrall took on Benjamin Lockhart on Board 1 and as usual sketched out a massive moyo that Lockhart then reduced while attacking Burrall’s one weak group on the board. After an exciting ko fight the game was nail-bitingly close but Lockhart had a narrow lead that Burrall, down to his last byo-yomi period, could not erase and he resigned. On Board 2 Yuan Zhou prevailed over Ricky Zhao, patiently enduring a small disadvantage until choosing the last possible moment to live in Ricky’s corner. Daniel Gourdeau had the unenviable task of trying to derail the Ryan Li Express on Board 3 and though he managed to deftly fend off several severe attacks, by the middle game Li was already ahead on the board and Gourdeau still had problems to deal with and resigned. Jeremy Chiu had a similar problem on Board 4 in his game against Eric Lui, the other undefeated player, and though he lasted a bit longer, the result was the same, with Lui notching his fourth win by resignation. Lui, by the way, is the front-runner in a “Who will become the next AGA pro?” poll on lifein19x19.com. With a total of just 13 votes recorded thus far, Lui has 7 votes, Ryan Li has 4 and Yuan Zhou and Ben Lockhart each have one.
- report/photos by Chris Garlock; top right: 2014 AGA Pro Qualification Tournament players: top row (l-r): Matthew Burrall, Jeremy Chiu, Daniel Gourdeau, Ryan Li; Bottom row: Ben Lockhart, Eric Lui, Ricky Zhao, Yuan Zhou. Bottom left: Li, Burrall and Lockhart review a game. More photos on the AGA’s Facebook page