by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the American Go E-Journal
Iyama Evens Score in Honinbo Title Match: Both Iyama Honinbo and the Honinbo challenger Takao Shinji have been very busy this month, sandwiching a trip to Korea for the LG Cup in between the third and fourth games of the 68th Honinbo title match. When they left Japan, Takao (left, in Game 2) was in great form whereas Iyama was in a bit of a slump, having just lost two Honinbo games and a crucial game in the Meijin league. Both of them did well in the LG Cup, but perhaps Iyama gained more by having his self-confidence restored.
The fourth game of the series was played in the city of Shiroishi (which means ‘white stone’) in Miyagi Prefecture, which was heavily hit by the March 11 earthquake two years ago. The game was held on a Noh stage in a building called Hekisuien that is devoted to traditional arts (besides the Noh stage and auditorium, there is also a traditional tea house). This was the first official game ever held on a Noh stage, and the players wore traditional dress, at least on the first morning, to match the occasion.
In the game, Iyama, who held black, started out by going for territory, letting Takao build influence. When Takao sealed move 60 at the end of the first day, it was generally felt that the position was a little advantageous for him. However, Iyama adopted a very skilful shinogi strategy on the second day, sacrificing a few stones to rescue a group under attack. This turned the game in his favor, and he set the seal on victory by making another sacrifice while expanding his moyo. Takao eventually resigned after 167 moves. He commented later that he had made a miscalculation in the play after the sealed move and that he had kept playing just to see what would happen.
Every game in a title match is important, but some are more crucial than others. Ishida Yoshio (the 24th Honinbo Shuho) believes that the fourth game often plays a significant role in a contest between closely matched players. In this case, the difference was that Iyama leveled the score at 2-all rather than having Takao take a two-game lead. The fifth game is being played June 28-29. photo courtesy 2014 European Go Congress website
Cho’s Lead Improves in Meijin League: Cho U didn’t play a game in the 38th Meijin League last week, but still his position improved, as his nearest rival suffered a setback. Hane Naoki had been the only player on one loss, but in a game played on June 17 he lost to Murakawa Daisuke 7P. Taking white, Murakawa secured a resignation. He is considered the most promising player of his age group at the Kansai Ki-in; this was his third win, so he now has quite a good chance of keeping his place in the league (one more win will make that certain). Hane joins Iyama Yuta, Kono Rin, and Takao Shinji in the two-loss group. In another game played on the same day, Kono Rin 9P improved his score to 4-2 by defeating Mizokami Tomochika 8P; Kono had white, and Mizokami resigned. The latter is now 1-5, but could still force a play-off for a place in the next league if he wins both his remaining games and Murakawa loses both of his.
38th Kisei League Update: Two games, both in the A League, were played on June 20. Cho U 9P suffered an early setback to his hopes of making a Kisei comeback when he lost to Yamashita Keigo Meijin. Taking white, Yamashita won by 3.5 points. On 2-0, he is now the only undefeated player in the A League. Cho U is 1-1. In the other game, Kiyonari Tetsuya 9P of the Kansai Ki-in (B) defeated Kobayashi Satoru 9P by 7.5 points. Both players are now 1-1.
Promoted After 38 Years: Ms. Kitani Toshimi, a member of the Osaka branch of the Nihon Ki-in, has earned promotion to 2-dan, 38 years after qualifying as a professional. Born in 1952, she became 1-dan in 1975. She qualified for 2-dan under the cumulative-win
promotion system by winning 30 games.
Correction: There are four go events at the upcoming Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, not three, as previously reported (4th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games to Include Go 6/17 EJ). I based my report on this event on the local press release here, and as Japan is not entering a women’s team, I incorrectly assumed there was no such event.