All 3 countries still in play for the final round of the 16th Nongshim Cup

The 2nd round of the 16th Nongshim Cup was played from November 28 to December 3, 2014, in Busan, Korea.

Some brief commentary of the games follows. You can find the game records below.

Game 5 – Wang Xi vs Kang Dongyun

After the last round, Korea’s Kang Dongyun 9p was looking confident.

He’d defeated both Tuo Jiaxi 9p and Ida Atsushi 8p in round 1. Kang’s next opponent was China’s Wang Xi 9p.

Wang Xi Kang Dongyun 16th Nongshim Cup 550x366 picture

From left: Wang Xi 9 dan and Kang Dongyun 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

Wang is something of an underrated player. His single international success was winning the Asian TV Cup back in 2006.

However, Wang excels in team events, having twice achieved three consecutive wins in previous Nongshim Cups.

Wang played as Black in his game against Kang.
Moves 45, 55 and 57 were typical of Wang’s simple but effective style of play.

Move 71 was brilliant, and the game became favorable for Wang up to move 83.

Move 103 was the vital point, and Kang had to struggle to save the center group.

Kang’s sequence from 126 to 136 was a nice combination to connect the center group, but Black 145 was a well timed tesuji to maintain the lead.

Move 151 was what Wang had been aiming for, and he solidified his lead up to 155.

After that, there weren’t any chances left for Kang.

It was an excellent game for Wang.

Games 6 and 7

Next up was Murakawa Daisuke 7p, playing for Team Japan.

Wang took an early lead because of Murakawa’s slack moves in the opening, and he maintained his lead smoothly throughout the game.

Murakawa tried an aggressive attack in the top right, but Wang responded correctly to save his group.

After defeating Murakawa, Wang proceeded to defeat Korea’s Ahn Seongjun 5p, scoring his third consecutive win.

Wang Xi An Sungjoon 16th Nongshim Cup 550x366 picture

From left: Wang Xi 9 dan and An Sungjoon 5 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

Wang established another early lead and An tried hard to catch up. Even though An reduced Wang’s lead slightly, it wasn’t enough to reverse the game.

Wang won the game quite easily.

Game 8 – Wang Xi vs Kono Rin

Wang’s fine form continued against Japan’s Kono Rin 9p.

Kono Rin Wang Xi 16th Nongshim Cup 550x366 picture

From left: Kono Rin 9 dan and Wang Xi 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

Kono played a couple of slack moves in the opening, such as White 12 and 24. This allowed Wang to take an early lead yet again.

Black 47 and 55 were nice moves by Wang, and it became hard for Kono to attack.

Kono made a big ko at the bottom with moves 56 to 60, and it took 70 moves to eliminate the ko.

Wang eventually captured White’s big dragon in the bottom left, and Kono resigned soon afterwards.

Even if Kono had won the ko with move 130, Wang would have been happy to capture Kono’s bottom left group with Black 129 and 131.

Game 9 – Wang Xi vs Park Junghwan

After four consecutive wins, Wang’s reward was a game against Korean’s top rated player; Park Junghwan 9p.

The game was very interesting right from the start, with an early ko.

Wang Xi Park Junghwan 16th Nongshim Cup 550x366 picture

From left: Wang Xi 9 dan and Park Junghwan 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

The unusual opening up to White 38 was slightly better for Wang.

Black 71 and 75 were good ko threats, but Park also reduced Wang’s territory with moves 80 to 84.

Wang managed to save his right side group with Black 87, and the position up to move 102 was still fairly even.

Park’s moves at 118 and at 128 developed the center nicely, and he took the lead up to White 142.

Wang went all out from 149 to 155, and the game became very complicated.

White 176 was a mistake, and Black 181 and 183 were strong responses. The game was reversed up to 199.

However, Wang’s moves at 205 and 209 were also mistakes and Park reversed the game once again with 226 and 228.

Wang Xi was finally knocked out by Park Junghwan, but not before inflicting a heavy toll on the benches of both Team Japan and Team Korea.

Game 10 – Iyama Yuta vs Park Junghwan

The last game of the second round saw Korea’s #1, Park, take on Japan’s #1, Iyama Yuta 9p.

Iyama Yuta 16th Nongshim Cup 300x450 picture

Japan’s top ranked Iyama Yuta 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

Iyama was the last man standing for Team Japan, and also the team captain. So the pressure from Japanese Go fans must have been enormous.

The game was very intense from the early stages. Park played very aggressively, while Iyama’s play was confident and accurate.

Park’s move 42 (as White) was active, but perhaps too early.

Iyama’s moves at 47 and 49 were practical, and the game turned in his favor.

White 62 was a mistake and Iyama took a clear lead with 65.

Black 83 showed Iyama’s courage.

Park started complicate the game from White 84 onwards, and he was fairly successful up to move 114. However, White 116 was a mistake, and Iyama responded perfectly with 117 and 121.

Park started to attack Iyama’s top left again with 130, but it was too late to reverse the game.

Iyama’s responses against Park’s tricky moves were perfect and he showed his power throughout this game.

With this win, Iyama has secured Japan’s appearance in the final round of the Nongshim Cup, for the first time since the 12th Nongshim Cup (2010-11).

His challenge now is to carry the torch for Japan, against the remaining Chinese players and Korea’s Kim Jiseok 9p. Lee Changho 9p often prevailed in this kind of situation, as anchorman for Korea, in the past.

Iyama Yuta Park Junghwan 16th Nongshim Cup 550x358 picture

From left: Iyama Yuta 9 dan and Park Junghwan 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

Final round

The final round will be played in Shanghai, China, when play resumes in March 2015.

Thanks to Wang’s wonderful performance during this round, China still has three players in reserve – Shi Yue 9p, Mi Yuting 9p and Lian Xiao 7p.

Iyama is the last man standing for Japan, and Kim Jiseok 9p is Korea’s last hope.

The next game will be between Iyama Yuta and one of the Chinese players (China hasn’t fielded their player yet). I’m looking forward to watching the final round!

The Nongshim Cup

nongshim cup 300x400 picture

Jing eating a ‘Nongshim cup’. See, sponsoring Go tournaments really works!

The Nongshim Cup is a team event between China, Japan and Korea.

The sponsor, Nongshim, is a Korean instant noodles company.

The tournament uses a win and continue format, which is common in these team events.

Korea has dominated this event, winning it 11 times. In contrast, Japan has won it only once, while China is slowly catching up with three wins.

A picture of a Nongshim noodle cup features, with Jing, in the photo on the right icon smile picture

Game records

Wang Xi vs Kang Dongyun

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Murakawa Daisuke vs Wang Xi

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An Sungjoon vs Wangxi

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Wang Xi vs Kono Rin

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Wang Xi vs Park Junghwan

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Iyama Yuta vs Park Junghwan

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