News from the American Go Association

November 14, 2005
Volume 5, #99


CHO U PREVAILS IN MEIJIN: Cho U 9P has fended off a mighty effort by Kobayashi Satoru 9P to retain his Meijin title, winning Game 7 by resignation. Kobayashi, challenging for the 30th Meijin title in Japan, came back from an 0-3 position in the best-of-seven match to tie it up at 3-3 and force a final game on November 9 & 10. However, Cho U 9P, who won the title for the first time last year from Yoda Norimoto 9P, managed to win the decisive seventh game and hold on to his title. This means Cho continues to hold four current titles: the Meijin and the Oza, which are two of the top seven titles in Japan, along with the NHK and NEC Cup titles. Cho has also held the Oza for two years and recently won the first game in his current defense of that title against challenger Yamashita Keigo 9P, who holds the Tengen title. You can download these and other recent game records from the site.

YAMASHITA KEIGO CONTENDING & DEFENDING: While he contends for the Oza against current title holder Cho U 9P, Yamashita Keigo 9P is also defending the Tengen title he won last year from Hane Naoki 9P. Yamashita won t he first game against challenger Kono Rin 7P, winning with White by 6.5 points. The prize for the winner of the Tengen is over $125,000 US. Yamashita is also the challenger for the 30th Kisei, considered the number one title in Japan with a winner's prize of around $400,000 US. The current Kisei is Hane Naoki 9P, who hopes to hold the title for the third year in a row. Hane took the Kisei from Yamashita in 2004. The first game of this title match will be held in Berlin, Germany in January 2006. You can find pictures and professional records of these and many other players in the Player List on the Go Game World site at .

NEW KOREAN TOURNAMENT REACHES FINALS: Lee Changho 9P will face Park Yeonghun 9P in the Sibdang, a new tournament in Korea sponsored by Wonik. The single-elimination tournament starts with 32 players and t he final is a best-of-three match. Lee Changho 9P defeated Choi Cheolhan 9P last Saturday, and Park Yeonghun 9P defeated Song Taekon 7P to reach the finals. In the previous round, Park defeated Lee Sedol 9P by a half point with Black. Rui Naiwei 9P was also in this tournament, winning her first game against Kim Seungjun 9P, but losing the second to Mok Jinseok 9P by 1.5 points. Cho Hunhyun 9P was another well-known participant, winning his first game against Lee Yeongku 4P by a half point and losing his second to Hong Sungji 4P by 1.5 points. Lee's closest game was in the first round, in which he defeated Kim Youngsam 7P by 2.5 points with Black.

SELBY KING OF BRITISH SMALL BOARD: Alex Selby 3d won the British Small Board tournament, held on November 6th in Cambridge. This match is played on 13x13 boards and Selby, of Cambridge, won six of eight games. David Ward 4d of Cambridge and William Brooks 1d of Cambridge won five games. A complete list of results is at

DISCOUNTED HANDICAP: In response to the recent discussion of handicap go in the E-Journal, Slate & Shell is offering a special price on a set of three books that contain expert advice about playing handicap go as both Black and White and at every level from two to nine stones. The set includes three books: "How to Play Handicap Go" by Yuan Zhou and the two volumes of "Masterpieces of Handicap Go". This special price of $30 for E-Journal readers is a $54.00 retail value. Check out sample pages of the "Slate & Shell Handicap Combo" at

YEARBOOK, CHALLENGER REMINDERS: Anyone joining or rene wing their AGA membership during the month of November will receive a free copy of the 2004 American Go Yearbook in addition to the forthcoming 2005 Yearbook. Join now at  Plus, the deadline for joining the 2006 Shodan Challenge is December 1; for details on how to qualify for the Challenge, email us today at

by Peter N. Nassar 5k
      While there's no shortage of go clubs around Tokyo (there are at least a dozen igo salons, or go-kaisho, in each of Tokyo's 23 wards), perhaps none are quite as unique, or as English-friendly, as Ben's Cafe in Takadanobaba.
      Ben's Cafe sits on a quiet backstreet near Waseda University, a college district just north of downto wn Tokyo. With poetry readings at night, amateur art on the walls, and a diverse array of young student faces in the crowd, Ben's Cafe looks like a typical American coffeehouse, except that the art on the walls are drafts of an upcoming manga series, the poetry is all being read in Japanese, and tucked underneath the stereo equipment is a large stack of go boards.
      During a visit last summer, I arrived late at the Sunday morning lesson, having gotten lost on my way from the train station (most of the streets in Tokyo do not have names, so either get very specific directions or go with someone who knows their way around). When I finally arrived, Kazunari Furuyama - better known as "Kaz" - was in the middle of a go lesson in one corner of the cafe. Kaz is a former insei (or "go apprentice," as he prefers to describe it) who has been giving free lessons every Sunday morning at Ben's Cafe along with Rob van Zeijst, another former insei. Rob began teaching go at Ben's Cafe in 2000, the same week he began writing his weekly go column for the English newspaper, "The Daily Yomiuri". Kaz joined on about a year ago, and the two divide the teaching duties along with Rob's brother-in-law, Remko Popma. Kaz writes original works on go theory for his website, targeted specifically for amateur players; these highly popular pieces run on a regular basis in the AGA E-Journal under the title "Important Fundamental Matters", and they form the basis for his weekly lessons at Ben's Cafe, as well.
      Dressed in white slacks and an Oxford shirt, Kaz is relaxed but focused as he speaks. The students - four Japanese, the rest Westerners -- are looking intently at handouts Kaz has distributed. The Japanese are well-dressed, particularly the women, while the Westerners are casually dressed. Kaz alternates his explanations in Japanese and English.
      The handouts are go problems that Kaz has composed, consisting of tesuji for making life and good shape. In each one, Black is to respond to a move by White to avoid a snapback and subsequent atari. At first I am confused, because it appears as if the same set of problems are on both pages. Then I realize that on one page, the initial moves by White are different. "The first page consists of kyu-level problems," Kaz explains to me later over lunch. "The second page shows dan-level problems. First, in the kyu-level problems, I show my students a basic shape that Black can make, and I run them through this sequence about half a dozen times, in different applications, all over the board. This way they learn how to create the shape and also how to maintain it if White comes in and tries to cut it up. In the kyu-level problems, White's approach moves are vulgar, in fact they're often the wrong move, but beginners can understand it, and they can understand how to respond to it as Black. Once b eginners are familiar with that shape, I take them through the dan-level problems, and now they see it why this move by Black becomes a tesuji. It's like with mathematics; you can't solve the more difficult problems without first understanding how the easier ones work." The late Kageyama Toshiro 7P took a similar approach in his book "Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go," and Kaz is expanding these fundamentals to specific shapes for cutting, connecting, and fighting in go.
      Back at the cafe, Kaz shows shows off his wonderful sense of humor. Kaz builds a shape on the board and plays it out; White ends up with a strong position between two weak, disconnected Black groups, all because of a simple error black made early on in the tesuji. "I call this the 'Romeo & Juliet' shape for Black, because both sides for Black end in tragedy."
      Kaz's fingers blur as he creates another shape. "This tesuji for White is what I call a 'chopping-onions tesuji'; because after White ataris, you cry and cry and cry." He translates this for the Japanese students, and they laugh with him.
      After the hour-long session is over, we break up into groups to play. Kaz hands out record sheets so we can record our games and he can comment upon them afterwards. I am secretly excited because I get to test out a kitschy multi-colored recording pen I bought as a souvenir from the Nihon Kiin earlier in the week. My opponent is Arakaki Yoshitsugu, a 2-kyu particle accelerator engineer who is visiting from Ibaraki, nearly 2 hours outside Tokyo. We play two even games, switching colors in between. Over the course of the next hour, another dozen students arrive, a mix of Japanese and non-Japanese, beginners and experts. Kaz and the cafe staff handle the chaos of shuffling chairs and go boards as if they deal with it every day, while Yoshi and I continue with our game. I los e both games by resignation, but I don't mind. I have learned a lot, and it feels good just being here.
      Afterwards, Kaz comes over to our table and reviews our first game. He is encouraging as he shows us where we might have been able to make stronger moves. Then, he shows us more tesuji applications, one of Kaz's strengths, which is to show a simple example and then show various applications to help you recognize how simple shape or tesuji can be useful to various situations. Yoshi and I try to work through them under Kaz's tutelage. "Excellent," he tells us as he quickly sets up another application on a different part of the board, and we try again, emboldened by his lessons and his positive encouragement of our progress.
      "Schools in Japan force you to learn or force you to memorize, but they don't teach you to love learning," Kaz tells me later. "What I wanted to do was teach in a way that would allow people to enjoy what they were doing." When I leave the cafe later that afternoon, there are still dozens of people playing go. It appears that Kaz's labors have more than paid off.
Ben's Cafe: 1-29-21 Takadanobaba
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Ph: 03-3202-2445
Link to Ben's Cafe website:
Link to Kaz's website:
Link to Rob van Zeijst's "Daily Yomiuri" column:
Teachers: Rob van Zeijst, "Kaz" Kazunari, and Remko Popma. Free lessons each Sunday, 11A-1P


November 19-20: College Park, MD
17th Mid-Atlantic Regional Go Championship
Steve Mount smount@umd.ed u 301-405-6934

December 3: Hartford, CT
CCC Winter Tournament
Bill Fung 860-648-1527

December 3: Piscataway NJ
Feng Yun Go School monthly AGA rated game
Feng Yun 973-992-5675

December 3: Chicago, IL
Heart Transplant of Darkness
Bob Barber 773-467-0423

December 4: Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Fall Open
Peter Nassar 215-898-6271
Matt Bengtson 215-704-4600

December 4: Amherst, MA
Western Mass Fall Go Tournament
Charles Sutton 413-253-9873

December 11 : Princeton, NJ
Princeton Fall Self-Paired
Rick Mott 609-466-1602

December 17 : Arlington, VA
Holiday Helper
Allan Abramson 703-684-7676

< P>December 17 : Davis, CA
Davis/Sacramento Quarterly Tournament
Fred Hopkins 916-548-8068

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Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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