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Monday July 6, 2015
Monday July 6, 2015
by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Four-way tie in Meijin League: With only one round to go, four players share the lead in the 40th Meijin League, so there is a strong possibility of the league ending in a tie. The four players are Kono Rin 9P, Yamashita Keigo 9P, Takao Shinji Tengen, and Ko Iso 8P, who are all on 5-2 (I overlooked Yamashita in my previous report when I wrote there were three players with two losses). Recent games: (June 25) Kono Rin (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke Oza by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. (July 2) Takao Shinji (B) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by half a point. (July 3) Yamashita Keigo (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by resig.
In the final round, to be played on July 30, Kono plays Cho U, Yamashita plays Ko Iso, Takao plays Murakawa, Hane plays Kanazawa, and So has a bye. Only Yamashita or Ko Iso has a chance of winning the league outright; there could also be a two-way or three-way tie. If Ko is part of a three-way tie, however, he will miss out, as only the two higher-ranked players qualify for a play-off. Hane and Kanazawa have already lost their league places.
Iyama makes good start in Gosei title defense: The first game of the 40th Gosei best-of-five title match was played at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on June 26. Yamashita is making his third challenge to Iyama Yuta this year; he’s probably sick of the sight of Iyama, but with the latter holding four titles, beating him is the quickest way for Yamashita to make a comeback as a titleholder. As usual with these two, fighting started early and didn’t let up. Yamashita, playing white, acquitted himself well in the middle game, building thickness to counter Iyama’s territory. However, just when the game looked like it was entering a tight endgame contest, Yamashita suffered a hallucination (on move 156) that cost him a large group. He resigned after Black 171. There is a break of nearly a month before the next game, which will be played in Kanazawa City on July 20.
Iyama defends Honinbo title: The fifth game of the 70th Honinbo title match was played on July 29 and 30, so Yamashita had a break of just two days to recover from his loss in the Gosei title match. The venue was the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture, so it was home ground for Iyama. Playing white, Iyama went for territory, letting Yamashita build a moyo. He then set out to live inside the moyo. By white 76, he had parried Black’s attack; when he occupied a key point with 82 he felt that he was ahead. However, he left Black with scope to invade his territory, his plan being to reduce Black’s large center while harassing the invader. However, Iyama slipped up in the ensuing fight, missing a chance to kill Black’s group. That let Black get a ko, but his best ko threat was setting up an attack on the white group that had settled itself inside Black’s moyo earlier. When White finished off the ko and also rescued this group, Black had to resign. The game lasted exactly 200 moves. A generation or two ago, Takagawa lamented that he would have won many more titles but for the existence of Sakata Eio. Perhaps Yamashita may feel the same way about Iyama, he has won just one out of six big-three title matches with him. Nonetheless, he will surely be doing his best to become the Meijin challenger. Once again, Iyama has extended his quadruple crown. This is his 29th title and his 11th big-three title. He has just turned 26 (May 24), so he is roughly four years ahead of the title-winning pace of Cho Chikun and Cho U. He is in 9th place in the all-time list in Japan, six titles behind Rin Kaiho and Yoda Norimoto.
O Keii wins Aizu Central Hospital Cup: The final of the 2nd Aizu Central Hospital Cup was held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 2 and 3. O Keii 2P (W) beat Xie Yimin 6P by one and a half points. O is the daughter of O Rissei 9P, three-time Kisei winner, and older sister of O Keiko 1P (Kansai Ki-in). She is a member of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in. This is O’s first title and it comes in her third year as a pro. She is already 28, so she made a late debut, though she is making up for that now. The game didn’t make this week’s issue of Go Weekly, so I don’t have any details yet.
Friday July 3, 2015
Thursday July 2, 2015
A special E-J Column by Janice Kim 3P
Going out jogging, it’s right on the surface of my memory how the air tasted, like an apple, and the way the sidewalk curbs looked in that light, gray on gray, appearing out of the mist like phantom tracks. If it had been raining, there’d be sounds, the splish-gerr-splish of some unseen tires driving through a puddle. Back at home we still have an old pinon tree that you could climb up, and then on to the roof.
On weekend afternoons my activity was to ride my bike to the store, and rent a movie to watch at home. My favorites were “Journey to the Center of the Earth” with James Mason, and “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” with the old Ray Harryhausen monsters. Later the grocery store put a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game in the back storeroom. The nearby 7-Eleven had Tempest (awesome) and Centipede (slightly less awesome), thus in the shopping district of my own small town forming the classic arcade triumvirate that makes me feel truly special because, I was there. I had a long blister on the side of my hand from using it like a blade with the dial controller, gaining precision and more speed than possible just by turning it with my fingers.
Later someone figured out how to pry open the front panel near the Insert Coin slots, so you could click a small red button inside to increase number of games left on the digital counter. Once you could insert your quarter without that delicious frisson of fear — will it be worth it? Will I ride out this quarter, or will it be wasted on some stupid slip on the first alien attack wave? — the fun was spoiled, and once the summer moment was gone and you could play endlessly for free, it was impossible to recall why it was ever fun in the first place.
I loved board games, but had trouble getting anyone to play. My personality seemed dull to myself, and to lack sparkling qualities. I framed my analysis of the structure and meaning of a game in terms of how to win, and didn’t understand the point of playing otherwise. Sometimes I would say something, or examine flowers or things people left in the street, and people would snort or snicker, or look worried or irritated. My sister was popular and had close friends, but I was too much of an accountant, with friendship owed and due, to be very much fun for anyone. Or maybe it was because I was really different than everyone I knew, invisibly at first, then for certain when I lived in as the only girl insei in Korea, without the ability to speak Korean. Even though the purpose of being there was to play a board game, I still couldn’t get anyone to play very often, because I was one of the least skilled there.
But there were moments. Like when I couldn’t go to the summer camp at the Buddhist temple because they didn’t have girls’ accommodations, and when they came back, Yu Chang-hyuk walked into the research room before everyone else and saw me sitting alone and came over and gave me a hug. Later I beat him for the first and only time in my life, and he sat there muttering to himself, “I don’t know how it is that I won every battle, but lost the war.” That’s how a decade later in another moment, I gave a computer program a 25 stone handicap and defeated it at the AAAI conference. I watched Yu Chang-hyuk play a game online sometime after that, and some kibitzers were saying his moves didn’t make sense, and I wrote that he was the very best player in the world. Someone asked “Why do you say that?” and someone else answered, “Because she LOVES him, ha ha.”
We really can do almost anything. I can see how and why, but also where it is all going. We will all lose in the end, and go to the great review in the sky. The other day my son said that they’ve made big steps in plastification and we may be able to live forever, and I’m thinking about that digital counter in the arcade and the air that tastes like apples and the pinon tree and I find myself hoping we both die too soon to be made into plastic. I’m just looking for another summer moment. Seems like go is our best chance.
The Power Report: Lead changes again in Meijin League; Yamashita picks up first win in Honinbo; Kisei S League & Tokyo perspective on the LG Cup
Monday June 22, 2015
by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Lead changes again in Meijin League: Things were shaken up again in the sixth round of the 40th Meijin League and Ko resurfaced
with the provisional lead. Three games were played on June 4. Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by 2.5 points; and So Yokoku 8P (W) beat Takao Shinji by resignation. That left three players on two losses: Ko (5-2), Kono (4-2), and Takao (4-2). Kono has the advantage of being the top-ranked player in the league, but Ko has the advantage of having won an extra game. He gets a bye in the next round, then plays Takao in the final round. Incidentally, the above-mentioned loss cost Kanazawa his place in the league.
Mimura Kaori Promoted: With 40 wins in the cumulative-win system, Mimura Kaori earned promotion to 3-dan on June 11 (though the promotion officially took effect on the following day). Mimura was born on July 31, 1981; she is married to Mimura Tomoyasu 9P. Her younger sisters are Mukai Chiaki 5P (born on December 24, 1987, and Nagashima Kozue 2P, born on October 3, 1984.
Yamashita picks up first win in Honinbo title match: After making an awful start, Yamashita Keigo (right) has finally picked up a win in the 70th Honinbo best-of-seven title match. The fourth game was played at the Olive Bay Hotel in Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture on June 16 and 17. Iyama had scored convincing wins in the previous two games, putting a lot of pressure on the challenger. However, Yamashita dominated this game right from the start, and Iyama never had a chance. Taking white, Yamashita forced a resignation after just 128 moves. In retrospect, Iyama queried his 23rd move. Yamashita had played a probe with White 22, and Iyama answered it aggressively rather than safely. However, he was taken aback by Yamashita’s next move, an invasion-cum-attack that was a line deeper — and much severer — that he had expected. Although extremely difficult fighting followed, Yamashita held the initiative for the rest of the game. Yamashita is one of the best fighters in Japanese go; Iyama will probably avoid going toe-to-toe with him after this. This is the third time in a row that Yamashita’s first win in a best-of-seven with Iyama has come in the fourth game. In last year’s Kisei title match, he managed to win two games before losing the match. In this year’s Kisei title match, he improved that to three games before dropping the seventh game. If the upward trend holds, however, he should win this match. The fifth game will be played on June 29 and 30. First, however, the two will meet in the first game of the 40th Gosei title match, scheduled for June 26.
Kisei S League: One game in the 40th Kisei S League was played on June 18. Taking black, Takao Shinji Tengen beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resignation. This game completed the second round. Yoda Norimoto 9P has the sole lead with 2-0. In the A League, Kono Rin 9P has the sole lead with 4-0.
Tokyo perspective on the LG Cup: The E-Journal has already featured a report on the 20th LG Cup, held on June 8 and 10. Here is how the opening rounds looked from Tokyo. The big surprise was that the most junior Japanese representative, Yo Seiki 7P (actually, a Taiwanese member of the Kansai Ki-in), had the best results. While the other players were eliminated in the first round, Yo, who was making his debut in a full-scale international tournament, won his way through to the quarterfinals. He joins four players from Korea and three from China. In the first round, Yo (W) beat Peng Liyao 5P of China by resignation. In the second round (left), he bested Lee Donghun 5P of Korea; again Yo had white. The latter win gave him revenge for his loss to Lee in the Globis Cup. Two years ago, Iyama Yuta and Takao Shinji also made the best eight but were then eliminated. The challenge for Yo will be to go further. He could become a new hero for Japan. The quarterfinals are scheduled for November 16.