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The Korean Prime Minister’s Cup was an inaugural event very similiar in character to Japan’s WAGC. 66 nations took part in the end, and they were split into 3 McMahon groups based on ability. The general feeling seemed to be this was a better system than a Swiss amongst those I talked to. Needless to say I started in the bottom group. We were based in Jeonju, a small city in the Korean Countryside famous for the local rice wine and Bibimbab cuisine.

The first day saw me take on Cyprus (6k) then Columbia (1k). Our playing hall was pretty noisy, which combined with my nerves didn’t help my concentration. I very nearly lost to Cyprus, and was in trouble against Columbia until he forced me to kill one of his groups. Although this was my best day resultwise, it was undoubtedly my worst from a playing perspective. The big shock of the day came with Japan’s loss to the Netherlands.

Unfortunately winning these two games proved to be bad strategy, Day 2 gave me two 4 dan opponents from the middle group. I lost both games comfortably against Alain from Belgium, and Mirko from Slovenia. At least against Mirko I had a reasonable game for some time, see below. Korea beat China in round 4, which made the home player clear favourite.

Day three saw me back against bottom group players again, both shodan. Today the Children’s tournament had ended and the playing hall was much quieter now. However I still lost my first game to Switzerland by 12 points, probably a game of missed opportunities. The opening is below. Against Madagascar I had a very narrow win. It was even narrower after he remembered to put his prisoners on the board after we’d finished scoring. In the evening I tried my luck in the handicap lightning tournament. I won my section in the first round against Mongolia, Slovenia and Guatemala. In the knock-out stage I was then drawn against China, initially he ran away from the board after I set down the 8 handicap, unfortunately he returned and ripped me off. Why didn’t I try to put down to 9?

Day four was a sorry one for me. On seeing the first round pairing I wished I’d followed the example of some of the other players and stayed up late drinking. Drawn up against the Austrian 5d, I mishandled an invasion and died gloriously. Surely with a hangover I would have played more cautiously. Round 7’s main talking point was Korea – Japan, which saw the World Amateur Japan get his revenge. Unfortunately his SOS was too low for it to do his chances any good after his early loss. The last game against South Africa was a 1.5 point loss, after I squandered a very good middle game. A disappointing finish, but an enjoyable tournament nonetheless.

In the end Korea won by 2 SOSOS points from China. The Philippines, of all people was third, fielding a very strong Korean ex-patriot. Ilya Shikshin of Russia was the highest placed European in 7th place. I hope the event is repeated next year.

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