World Correspondence Gomoku Championship: The denouement is coming

Written by Sandra Jones

The climax of the world correspondence gomoku championship is rapidly approaching. More than a half of the games have already ended, and not much time is left in the remaining games, but it is still very unclear as to who will win the first ever world correspondence gomoku championship title. It is still very unclear as to who will prove to be the best analyst. It is still very unclear as to who will prove to be the wisest, most skilled, most disciplined, and most devoted to our beautiful game. It is still very unclear as to whose analysis is longer and most skilful.

The climax of the world correspondence gomoku championship is rapidly approaching. More than a half of the games have already ended, and not much time is left in the remaining games, but it is still very unclear as to who will win the first ever world correspondence gomoku championship title. It is still very unclear as to who will prove to be the best analyst. It is still very unclear as to who will prove to be the wisest, most skilled, most disciplined, and most devoted to our beautiful game. It is still very unclear as to whose analysis is longer and most skilful.

The main contenders are perhaps the most charismatic people in the gomoku world.

Great Lord Lamaza, whose secular name is Alex Popiel, is the godfather of the strongest and most fearsome gomoku clan, The Lords of XO, which won the largest number of the Euroleague titles as compared to all other clans and includes such strong players as Gergo, Adifek, Gelo, and Peking. Only a true leader could unite such ambitious players from various countries into a single family. The Great Lord’s charisma, passion for analysis, charm, organisational skills, and result-orientedness are known to everyone. In terms of effort spent for analysis in his life he is probably second to no one. His clan possesses a unique database, to which a lot of effort was invested. The Great Lord is fighting for the honour of his clan.

Sensei Owen, whose secular name is Dmitry Epifanov, is a great renju trainer and the winner of the world correspondence renju championship 2007. He wrote perhaps the most detailed renju opening theory book ever, “The Caged Tiger,” which includes 1400+ diagrams. Sensei Owen is also a vice-president of the Renju International Federation and won the Russian renju championship in 2013 and 2014. By participating in this correspondence championship, the great renju sensei challenges the might of best gomoku analysts, including the Great Lord himself, in their own game.

Usiek, whose secular name is Ɓukasz Majksner, is the only non-ex-USSR country analyst out of 10 players who managed to qualify to the High League of this championship. Also known as Grizzlyman, this aggressive Pole was the founder and captain of the Euroleague team “Get Rekt,” whose name says it all, and is the current King of the Hill in real-time advanced gomoku. He is the Polish gomoku champion of 2016 and a team world champion of the same year. In the last world team championship, the aggressive grizzly was put by his teammates on the first board, where he defeated Martez in the decisive round and thereby brought the bronze to the Polish team. And now the brave grizzly fights alone against the Russian horde. The hearts of many Polish gomoku fans are definitely with their hero.

Popovich, whose secular name is Andrey Litvinenko, fights for the honour of the Tyumen gomoku clan, known as Polar Bears. Appearing pretty friendly and kind, this mighty Russian bear is in fact highly ambitious and a great analyst who is well known for his past analysis of a number of legendary openings. With a live rating of 1727, he is the highest rated Siberian player. His nickname, Popovich, is the name of a folk hero of Kievan Rus who is described in Russian ballads as a clever-minded warrior who wins by tricking and outsmarting his foes.

It stands to reason that all three medals of this correspondence championship will be distributed among the above four warriors, but who will win which medal? This is what is being decided now.

And one of the key games is between Sensei Owen and Usiek. The current position is shown in Diagram 1 below. Sensei Owen put a new opening invented by himself, placing two stones on an edge to exclude them from the game, so the opening basically consists of only one stone. According to the grizzly, the opening is so astonishingly tricky that he elected to add two stones, which is an extremely rare thing in correspondence gomoku because the player who chooses a colour is considered to be at an advantage. Thus, in effect, by putting such an opening the great renju sensei was able to turn the tables and get the right to choose a colour. Yet Usiek chose an elegant way of adding two stones, converting the sensei’s opening to a well-balanced edge opening and thereby rendering the sensei’s deep analysis of the opening superfluous. A positional fight ensued, and the mighty grizzly now appears to have positionally out-powered his foe and to be finishing him off. The timing of Usiek’s last moves leaves little doubt that the bloody grizzly sees his win. And the A1 stone, which was intended by the sensei to be excluded from the game, may well end up being a stepping stone for the final attack by the grizzly!

Diagram 1

In the other game between the same players Sensei Owen seems to have an advantage, and the key question is whether Usiek’s thin red line will hold the attack. If it will, the mighty Polish analyst will emerge victorious in this principal two-game duel.

Usiek also impressively scalped Popovich, as shown in Diagram 2. Popovich must have believed he had achieved a highly advantageous position. He put stone 47 on the upper flank, obviously intending to build his win there. In response, Usiek put a stone near the lower edge. It was a very tricky VCT that Popovich had missed. The VCT threat had been created by move 46, which was a blocking move. Popovich surely will remember this game for the rest of his life. Yet again Usiek made the name “Get Rekt” come true. As the other game between these two contenders ended as a draw, Usiek emerged victorious in the two-game duel against the Siberian bear.

Diagram 2

Even the Great Lord himself fell victim to the grizzly’s claws. Usiek chose a colour in the Great Lord’s sharp opening and made him surrender already after move 37. The other game between them in underway and looks drawish.

Such a great performance by Usiek is somewhat spoiled by his underestimating some other participants and losing some points to them, so even his great performance in the direct encounters against his principal opponents may be not enough to win the title.

The decisive ability in this championship may prove to be the ability to avoid losing points to second-class opponents, and this is something at which Sensei Owen appears to be the best. After all, he is the only participant who technically has not yet lost even a half-point. His utmost care and extremely serious, professional approach are likely to bring him the title.

A very interesting battle is unfolding between the Great Lord and Popovich, who have some old Euroleague scores to settle. The current position is shown in Diagram 3. The Great Lord put quite a tricky scheme, and then Mikhail Kozhin intervened by publicly posting his own analysis of that scheme. Following this, Popovich chose a colour, but it is the Great Lord who now seems to be getting the upper hand. If he crushes the polar bear directly from the scheme put by the Great Lord himself, it will be an excellent demonstration of the Lords’ power.

Diagram 3

Have a look at the battles of this correspondence championship yourself: http://renju.in/en/turnaments/?tur=121&table. These games are perhaps the highest-quality gomoku games ever played. .

Who will become the champion? Whoever wins the gold, he will most likely win it by the skin of his teeth.