The 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games in Retrospect The short story of the 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games is that Beijing treated the 150 competing mind athletes to a week of good food, good weather, and warm accommodations, and China took the lion’s share of the medals. There was no mistaking the look of joy on the faces of China’s Wang Chenxing and Zhou Ruiyang when they won the pair go tournament, adding gold medals to the silver medals they had already won in women’s individual and men’s team competition. China’s bridge, chess, and xiangqi players also did well, so China can be very happy with the outcome of the Games. But so can many other countries: Korea for the gold medal won by its men’s go team; Chinese Taipei for its silver and bronze medals in go; Russia for the numerous medals won by its chess and draughts players; even countries such as the Ivory Coast, Latvia, and Vietnam, whose players captured medals in draughts and xiangqi. The grand tally can be found here.
It was encouraging that although the North American go contingent finished nearly winless, it took evident satisfaction in having played well against professional opponents–and having beaten one of them. Europe’s performance was also encouraging. European players finished only fifth in men’s team, women’s individual, and pair competition, but they trounced the North Americans, they nearly beat the spirited team from Chinese Taipei, and in that match Ilya Shikshin overcame a strong Asian pro, after defeating some strong Asian amateurs earlier this year. European go may now be near the level of go in Chinese Taipei one generation ago. It has a group of strong and dedicated young players, and its future looks bright.
Coming at the end of a year dominated by Chinese professional go players, the Korean men’s team’s gold medal was particularly exciting. The Koreans carried the momentum of that triumph into the new World Team Championship held in Guangzhou the week afterward. Fielding a team consisting of top medalists at the SportAccord World Mind Games this year and last year, they triumphed once again, beating Chinese teams three times. An interesting year lies ahead, and its climax will come at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing.
– James Davies