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Hu (left) and Han (photo Ito Toshiko)On the second day of the Korea Prime Minister Cup the leaves of the ginko trees surrounding the Yeomju Gymnasium were sparkling yellow in the sunlight. Inside the gymnasium, the arena was again divided into two halves: one for the KPMC, the other for a local tournament. The fourth KPMC round began at 9:00 a.m.

At the top boards, the eight undefeated players were playing each other. Canada’s Yongfei Ge found himself facing China’s Hu Yuqing. On paper it was a close match, 7-dan against 8-dan, but the game ended quickly. ‘He’s too strong’ was Yongfei’s comment.

At the adjacent boards Poland’s Mateusz Surma and Russia’s Alexey Lazarev put up more prolonged resistance against Japan’s Kinoshita Nagatoki and Korea’s Han Seung-joo, but they too succumbed to their far eastern opponents. The close game was the one between Austria’s Schayan Hamrah (4 dan) and Finland’s Juri Kuronen (5 dan). Juri, a university student, has been scoring impressive results recently, including seventh place in this year’s World Amateur Go Championship, while Schayan, still in high school, arrived in Gwangju as something of an unknown. Their game came down to an endgame ko fight, and with both players in their last 30-second overtime periods, Juri lost on time.

Schayan’s victory in the fourth round earned him a pairing against Hu Yuqing in the fifth round. Once again, the Chinese 8-dan won without difficulty. Nearby, Kinoshita Nagatoki and Han Seung-joo were slowly and carefully playing the crucial game to decide which of them would challenge Hu in the final round. To the delight of the Korean spectators, the winner was Korea’s Han Seung-joo. On other boards, Mateusz Surma and Juri Kuronen put their fourth-round losses behind them by beating Alexey Lazarev and Hungary’s Rita Pocsai, and the Netherlands’ Geert Groenen scored a signal victory over Chen Chi-jui of Chinese Taipei. This was the only game lost by one of the Asian big five to anyone from outside the big-five zone.

Han Seung-Joo photo (Ito Toshiko)The final round began at 2:00, following lunch. As the players finished their games, they congregated around the front board where Hu Yuqing and Han Seung-joo were playing for the championship. Han may be no match Hu in age and experience, but as the afternoon progressed it gradually became clear that the Korean high-school student was ahead. Hu did not give up easily, but Han held onto his lead to and won, bringing the cup back into Korean hands after a Chinese victory in 2011.

In two other crucial games, the Ukraine’s Artem Kachanovskyi beat Mateusz Surma
and Schayan Hamrah beat Geert Groenen. Artem and Schayan thereby joined Hu Yuqing in the five-win group, along with Yongfei Ge, Kinoshita Nagatoki, and Chan Nai-san (Hong Kong), who won their last games against Lukas Podpera (Czechia), Cheng Khai-yong (Malaysia), and Juri Kuronen. Lukas and Juri ended up with four wins, as did Mateusz, Geert, and nearly a dozen other players who won in the final round: Jorge Sasaki (Brazil, by beating Mexico’s Emil Gutierrez), Chen Chi-jui (by beating Indonesia’s Sebastian Mualim), Rita Pocsai (by beating Germany’s Jonas Welticke), Ali Jabarin (Israel, by beating Uruguay’s Martin Benenati), Andrius Pertrauskas (Lithuania, by beating Argentina’s Andres Tabares), Alexey Lazarev (by beating Belgium’s Kwinten Missiaen), Lucian Corlan (Romania, by beating New Zealand’s Doyoung Kim), Zhang Xiang (Singapore, by beating Thailand’s Apidet Jirasophin), Mai-duy Le (Vietnam, by beating France’s Tanguy le Calve), Matthew Burrall (USA, by beating Australia’s Xiao-chun Chen), and Oscar Anguila Caner (Spain, by beating Slovienian champion Gregor Butala, who also finished with four wins).

At the awards ceremony at the Prado Hotel, a smiling Han Seung-joo received the 7th Korea Prime Minister trophy cup, plus a gift and a handsomely bound testimonial to his championship. Hu Yuqing, who had the best SOS score in the 5-1 group, received a well-deserved runner-up trophy, gift, and testimonial. Yongfei Ge and Kinoshita Nagatoki were tied with the next best SOS scores, but Yongfei was one up on SOSOS points and took third place while the Japanese player finished fourth, both receiving testimonials to their highly creditable performance.

Testimonials were next presented to the four players from Hong Kong, the Ukraine, Austria, and Finland, who finished fifth to eighth in that order (six and seventh places being tied). Then testimonials were presented to the eight players who finished ninth to sixteenth, representing Russia, the Netherlands, Chinese Taipei, Poland, Singapore, Czechia, Hungary, and Romania. Next, the top four Asian players from outside the big-five zone received testimonials; the recipients were from Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. The top four from Europe (from the Ukraine, Austria, Finland, and Russia) also received testimonials, as did the top four from the rest of the world (Canada, New Zealand, the USA, Brazil).

And with this the 7th Korea Prime Minister Cup International Amateur Baduk Championship had come to a close and the contestants, sponsors, and organizers settled down to an excellent dinner prepared by the hotel staff.

Full results here.

James Davies

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