by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the American Go E-Journal
Takao to Challenge Iyama for Honinbo Title: Four years after being deposed as Honinbo, Takao Shinji 9P has earned a chance to regain the title, but to succeed he will have to overcome his nemesis, Iyama Yuta. The 68th Honinbo League ended on April 8 with the grand finale that has become customary for leagues in recent years, with all the games in the final round being held on the same day. By this stage only two results at the top were possible, a win for Takao (right) or a play-off between him and Cho U. Takao avoided complications by defeating his final-round opponent, Imamura Toshiya 9P. As it turned out, Cho U lost his game with Yamashita Keigo Meijin, so Takao could have afforded to drop his game.
Full results in this round and final placings follow. Takao Shinji 9P (W) defeated Imamura Toshiya 9P by resignation; Yamashita Keigo Meijin (W) d. Cho U 9P by resignation; Ko Iso 8P (B) d. Cho Sonjin 9P by resignation; Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) d. Seto Taiki 7P by resignation. 1. Takao Shinji: 7-0; 2. Yamashita Keigo: 5-2; 3. Cho U: 5-2; 4. Yuki Satoshi: 3-4. Ko Iso: 3-4; Imamura Toshiya, Seto Taiki: 2-5; Cho Sonjin: 1-6. The last four players lost their places in the league.
The title match will get off to a start on May 16 and, if it goes the full distance, continue until July 18. Iyama Yuta will be the favorite, as he has a 17-5 lead over Takao, but Takao won their most recent encounter, in the Meijin League in January. They have played one previous title match, when Takao challenged Iyama for the 35th Meijin title in 2010; Iyama won this match 4-0.
Iyama and Hane Keep Chances Alive in Meijin League: Cho U 9P, on 4-0, is the only undefeated player in the 38th Meijin League, but his main rivals, Hane Naoki 9P (left) and Iyama Yuta Kisei (right), who each have only one loss, both won their fifth-round games, played on April 11, so they are keeping up the pressure on Cho. Iyama (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 7P by resignation and Hane (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P, also by resignation. The latter game put an end to Yuki’s recent winning streak, but actually it’s more serious than that: Yuki seems unable to win in the Meijin League. In the previous league, he lost all eight games and the last two in the league before that; he has now lost four in a row in the current league, so he has lost 14 games in a row. This is surely one of the worst losing streaks ever in a league (one reason being that probably not many players who have scored 0-8 have won a place in the next league).
Xie and Kobayashi Win Pair Go: The team of Xie Yimin, holder of the Women’s Triple Crown, and Kobayashi Satoru 9P defeated Osawa Narumi 4-dan and Mizokami Tomochika 8-dan in the final of the Professional Pair Go Championship 2013. The game was played on March 10 and telecast on March 31. This is the fourth year in a row Xie has been on the winning team and fittingly she made a big contribution to her team’s victory this year with a very aggressive clamping move in the middle game that gave her team control of the game. Details of the tournament are given on the homepage of the Japan Pair Go Association.
Korea wins 3rd Huang Longshi Cup: This is a knock-out team tournament for five-player female teams from China, Korea, and Japan, run along the lines of the Nong Shim Cup and sponsored by the City of Jiangyan in Jiangsu Province in China. It is named after Huang Longshi, active in the second half of the 17th century, who was one of the greatest Chinese players of the historical period. After Korea’s first player, Kim Cae-yeong 1-dan, started with four successive wins, the tournament was dominated by the fifteen-year-old Yu Zhiying 2-dan (right), who won six games in a row. She was finally beaten by the sixteen-year-old Ch’oe Cheong 2-dan of Korea, who won three games in a row, securing victory for Korea (the final game was played on April 11). The services of Korea’s top board, Pak Chi-eun 9-dan, were not required. The Japanese team, headed by Xie Yimin 6-dan, was unable to win a game. Actually only three of the fifteen players put a win on the board. Last year, a 20-year-old from China, Wang Chenxing 2-dan, was the star, winning eight games in a row. Every year the players are getting younger.
- photo: Yu Zhiying at the Huang Longshi Cup in 2012; photo courtesy Go Game Guru