The 5th Renju World Championship took place in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, August 1-6, 1997.
For Russians it was the second time to host such title competition, therefore they had more experience.
Saint-Petersburg is a beautiful old city, and all the renju players enjoyed the sightseeings on both land and river. Lots of people gathered to this big renju event, to meet friends, to have good games, and watch the masters games.
Since Kawamura entered the tournament with the personal place, Japanese had only 1 national place in final, therefore two of the Japanese had to struggle to get to the final through International Qualification Tournament - Sagara and Nara. They both are such a great players, the QT did not make them tired, more likely it was just a warm-up training for them. There were many open questions before the tournament. Will Kawamura play as strongly as 2 years ago? Will new Japanese Meijin Hasegawa continue the tradition where Japanese Meijin taking part in World Championship gets the first place? Will Meritee get back the lost title after being so stable in past years? Will Nara finally get the gold medal having chased it for 8 years and never dropped lower than 4th place? Will the new Russian star Klimashin prove that he can be on the top despite the lack of experience? Will the experienced players Reims , Sinyov and Soosõrv make a breakthru?
These were the questions that everybody had before the tournament.
Some questions got answers very soon. Kawamura could not do as well as last time, being under the pressure of defending champion, Klimashin and Sinyov broke, too. It seemed that the struggle will mostly be between Estonian and Japanese players. Meritee had a disaster day losing two games in the same day and buried the chances for gold medal. Hasegawa was the only player who did not do any big mistakes, and with good preparation and with a little bit of luck, he increased the gap between other players little by little. Hasegawa proved that the theory of "Meijin wins the World Championship" is true. It did happen so again.
Meritee got the 2nd place when Sagara lost to Reims in the last round. Sagara's good performance was a small surprise for all the players. He did really a good job there, considering that he does not play renju so often.
So, the winner was Kazuto Hasegawa, being the Japan Meijin as well as World Champion. It was the peak of Hasegawa's renju career. Finally he had had the success in the World Championship having failed to enter top 3 in previous World Championships.
This World Champonship was a disaster for the hosting country Russia - none of the Russian players got into top 7, so they did not get any national places for the next World Championship. Swedish players faced the same outcome.
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