Hsu Hao-hung defends Go Grandmaster title despite recent slump
Taipei, Nov. 30 (CNA) Hangzhou Asian Games Go champion Hsu Hao-hung (許皓鋐) outsmarted Lin Li-hsiang (林立祥) in the Go Grandmaster Tournament final Thursday to win the title for the second year in a row, despite a recent dip in form.
The victory earned 22-year-old Hsu NT$1.2 million (US$38,330) in prize money and his fourth domestic title of the year, while the 30-year-old Lin missed another shot at his first Go Grandmaster title.
Starting at 11 a.m. at the HaiFong Go Association in Taipei, the match was the fifth in the best-of-7 final series featuring the two 9-dan pro Go players this year, with Hsu holding a 3-1 lead prior to the game.
Hsu took down the first three matches before yielding the fourth to the challenger Lin, who reached the final of the tourney for the first time since 2014.
On Thursday, Hsu played black stones and Lin white.
According to the HaiFong Go Association, the two were neck and neck in the opening phase and started engaging in skirmishes in the middlegame.
Whereas Lin managed to encircle a territory worth over 20 points by preventing six black stones from escaping, the defending champion responded by encroaching upon the white side's territory, forcing Lin to surrender following the 137th move of the match.
After the match, Hsu was quoted by the association as saying although he has not performed well recently, he has always tried his best.
He thanked fans for their support and said he would continue to work hard to achieve success at top international tournaments.
The Go Grandmaster title was Hsu's first in Taiwan since returning from Hangzhou. In the interval, he has been knocked out in the Speed Go Championship -- which he won the preceding two years -- in the quarterfinal and bowed out of the 2023 Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance World Masters Baduk in the round of 16, losing to world No. 1 Shin Jin-seo of South Korea.
Meanwhile, Hsu is also competing in the final round of the National Champion Tournament and CMC Grandmaster Tournament, where he has 6-dan challenger Lu Yi-chuan (盧奕銓) on the ropes with a 2-0 lead and is tied with 8-dan pro Lai Jyun-fu (賴均輔) in the best-of-3 series, respectively.
Hsu will play the third match in the two tournaments' final series on Friday and Dec. 10, respectively.
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