The preliminary rounds of the Mlily Cup, a new world go open tournament sponsored by a noted manufacturer of mattresses, pillows, and other bedding supplies, were played at the Chinese Weiqi Association’s quarters in Beijing May 21-24 under the auspices of the International Go Federation. The purpose of the preliminary rounds was to select 50 players to join 14 seeds in the main tournament that starts in July. Four of the 50 slots were reserved for female pros, and four were reserved for amateurs.
The amateur slots were contested by sixteen players from China, eight from Korea, three from Japan, two from Chinese Taipei, and one each from Europe and North America. China and Korea chose their participants through national qualifying tournaments. Japan sent in three young players (Yamado Mao, Shimizu Kosuke, Wu Poyi) who are currently studying at the Hong Dojo in Tokyo with hopes of making pro shodan this fall. Chinese Taipei sent junior high-schooler Huang Shih-yuan (a top insei) and the veteran Dr. Chen Shi. The North American player was Toronto University student Ryan Li, winner of the Waterloo Go Tournament in March. Europe was represented by Dr. Manuela (‘Manja’) Marz, a junior-professor of bioinformatics at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany who made the trip to Beijing accompanied by her three-month-old daughter Larissa.
The victor of Waterloo and the professor of bioinformatics fell in the first round on May 21. In an unusual development, Manja’s game was temporarily suspended at move 119 so that she could breastfeed Larissa. Three Korean and five Chinese players also lost, as did both of the players from Chinese Taipei and all three of the Japanese. Hong-sensei spoke with his three pupils by phone afterward. ‘They felt as if they had run into a wall,’ he said.
The Chinese accordingly outnumbered the Koreans 11-5 in the second round, but the Koreans now stood their ground, even dispatching Wang Chen, one of China’s top four amateurs. The other three of the top four (Hu Yuqing, Bai Baoxiang, and Ma Tainfang), together with China’s Zhao Yiwu, advanced into the third and final amateur round on May 23, but there disaster awaited them. Jeong Seunghyeon, Lee Changseok, and Oh Jangwook, currently ranked 9th, 12th, and 15th in the Korean insei league, defeated Bai, Zhao, and Ma, respectively, and in a game that may foretell the outcome of this year’s World Amateur Championship, Choi Hyeonjae (Korea’s amateur Kuksu) defeated China’s top-rated Hu Yuqing. Choi, Jeong, Lee, and Oh will return to Beijing for the first round of the main tournament on July 9.
The day after the Korean amateurs’ smashing success, Chinese pros closed out the professional preliminary rounds in smashing style themselves, taking 32 of the 42 men’s slots (Koreans got the other 10) plus three of the four women’s slots. The fourth winning female pro was Australian-born Joanne Missingham, aka Hei Jiajia, who has played for Oceania in the Denso Cup and for Chinese Taipei in the World Mind Games and now gets another chance at a world title.