On October 16-19, 2012, the first four games of the 14th Nongshim Cup took place in Busan, Korea.
Three runs on the board for China
First up for China was Tan Xiao 7p, who won four consecutive games at the previous Nongshim Cup.
It looked like Tan was well on his way to repeating his previous run.
At an interview after his third win, he seemed relaxed and even talked about his favorite Korean dish, beef bulgogi.
Enter Lee Hobum
It turned out that Tan’s instincts were on the money, and his run was stopped short by the talented young Korean.
Lee will face the next player in line for Japan when the tournament resumes in November 2012.
China brings the heavyweights
China’s brought some of their strongest players to the Nongshim Cup.
Some readers will recall Xie’s remarkable wins against Kim Jiseok, Won Seongjin and Lee Changho as China’s last man standing at the 13th Nongshim Cup.
Training up the newbies
Korea and Japan have both included some younger and relatively inexperienced players in their teams.
Lee Hobum 3p and Lee Donghoon 1p are on the Korean team and Ida Atsushi 3p and Fujita Akihiko 3p are on the Japanese team.
This is a good chance for them to gain international experience and play some top players from other countries.
Where’s the Buddha?
For the first time in this tournament’s history, Lee Changho won’t participate.
Lee, the Stone Buddha, hasn’t played evey year because he’s generally the last to play – the ‘goalkeeper’ – but he’s been the consistent anchorman for the Korean team.
Lee’s career record in the Nongshim Cup is amazing – 19 wins and 3 losses.
This year, Lee felt he wasn’t in top form and he recommended that Park Junghwan 9p take the spot that had been reserved for him on the team.
For some Go fans, this might represent the end of an era.
The Nongshim Cup
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 10 times. In contrast, China has won the tournament twice and Japan only once.
The next round
The second round of matches will start on 26 November, 2012, and the tournament will conclude in 2013.