2012 WMSG Diary

Some notes by Ian Davis

Ahead of the World Mind Sports Games I had completely forsaken my usual tournament preparation regime. Normally I like to play some games online, with slightly faster time limits than those which will be used in the competition itself. After each game, I play through the moves, and look to see the points where I went wrong, or where I could have chosen an alternative strategy. I also read through a life and death book, to keep myself sharp for the fundamental life and death situations. This time, I just shamelessly abandoned all this preparation. When it came to the moment to play, I simply decided to play according to a Guo Juan maxim – no soft moves. It proved to be a good policy.

In the first round Ireland were drawn against the UK-1 squad. They were a formidable squad, being, as they were, all 5 dan players. Ireland had myself and James Hutchinson at 1 dan, and Rory Wales at 2kyu. On paper, it should have been a comfortable rollover for them. At the last minute, Vanessa Wong decided that she wanted to play on board 2, so I was faced with Matthew Cocke. It sounds peculiar to say this, but this was a happy turn of events for us. Despite several large mistakes by myself, I managed to harass a plump little dragon to secure a pretty substantial amount of points. Then, after a rather soft response to invasion, I found myself with enough cash to be able to win the game, despite dropping about 5 points in yose. Rory and James fought bravely, but both went down. To lose by 2-1 was a very good result for us though.

Next up was Romania-1, I thought we had a good chance of victory in this match. From the start of my game against Iulian Toma, I felt that I was not playing a 3dan opponent. With boards 2 and 3 nominally weaker (at 2dan) this was one of the potential upsets that we needed to make happen. I was last to finish again, but I was comfortably ahead, winning by over 20 points. Incidentally, against Romania-2, I could have never had the same result. James couldn’t squeeze enough out of yose, and went down by 2.5 points, despite a big kill. Nevertheless, his opponent was on good form in the tournament, scoring 4/5, so James did well to push him so close. Rory, who was playing the son of their board 1, also lost, so again we lost by 2-1. However, it was still a reasonable start. Individual board wins are very important in the tiebreakers, and we had picked up 2 against stronger opposition.

Next came Italy. Have you ever locked yourself out of your car? Forgotten the pass to the office? Lost the front door key? Well, if you have, you know how these guys must have felt to find themselves trapped inside the apartment after somebody locked the outer door on them. We had a walkover victory, as they failed to make it in time. When they eventually escaped, we had a friendly game with the team, and got the same result 3-0. As the only all kyu team, we would have underperformed with any other result.

Australia came next, strewth mate, they beat us something shocking. Top 2 boards were 5dan, and they both showed up late. When they did show up, they destroyed us. Rory had a good opening against their 2dan bottom board. From my reading, he missed some key chances to really punish the Aussie, and the game started to slip away. My own game was pretty 1 sided – I started a fight, chased a dragon, but didn’t get enough from the attack. So, it ended up a 3-0 loss for us. Not what we wanted, but we couldn’t complain too much, especially as Rory got a free boomerang.

The final round was with Brazil. I had played against their board 1 before, in the Korean Prime Minister’s Cup, and felt confident that I could beat him. We all felt that South American ranks were usually slightly inflated compared to European ones, so although on paper we should be beaten by higher ranked opponents, in practice we felt this was a real chance for a second win. I played very quickly in this game, my opponent likes to do the same. I was overly bloodthirsty though, and really mishandled a middle game fight. So after perhaps a slight plus in the opening, I was left with a large dead group in the centre, and no chance of victory. Well, I refused to capitulate, and in true Gibson style, I proceeded to turn death into a seki, and came out 10 points clear. Sadly James lost, his opponent looked to have played very sharply, and simply locked out the game prior to yose. That left Rory the task of extracting the vital point for us. It was a tense affair, he was ahead on the board, but only if one rather iffy looking group lived. His opponent attempted the kill this group late in the game, and while it did in fact have just 1 eye, Rory was able to exploit some external aji to live. So that was 2-1 to Ireland. That left us in 10th place, ahead of our seeded position, and thus a good result for the team.

Ireland 1-2 UK
Ian Davis 1d 1-0 Matthew Cocke 5d
James Hutchinson 1d 0-1 Vanessa Wong 5d
Rory Wales 2k 0-1 Chong Han 5d


Ireland 1-2 Romania
Ian Davis 1d 1-0 Iulian Toma 3d
James Hutchinson 1d 0-1 Lucian Nicolaie 2d
Rory Wales 2k 0-1 Theodor Toma 2d


Ireland 0-3 Australia
Ian Davis 1d 0-1 Hao-Song Sun 5d
James Hutchinson 1d 0-1 Wei Xu 5d
Rory Wales 2k 0-1 David Bofinger 2d


Ireland 2-1 Brazil
Ian Davis 1d 1-0 Thiago Ramos 3d
James Hutchinson 1d 0-1 Ronald-Yasuki Matayoshi 2d
Rory Wales 2k 1-0 Michael Trazzi 1d
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