by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the American Go E-Journal
Takao Evens Score in Honinbo Title Match: Takao Shinji 9P has a notoriously bad career record against Iyama Yuta Honinbo, but he has shown that past results may be irrelevant. After losing the first game in his challenge for the 68th Honinbo title, Takao roared back with a strong win in the second, played on May 28 & 29, so the match is level. There was plenty of drama in the game, with three important ko fights. The first was worth over 50 points and led to a major trade, but neither side took the lead. Another big trade followed the second ko fight, but once again the game remained evenly poised. Shortly after this (on move 205), Iyama made a small misjudgment , letting Takao take the lead. Iyama resorted to yet another ko but was unable to make up his deficit, so he resigned after 244 moves. The third game will be played on June 5 & 6.
Kisei Leagues: Two games were played in the 38th Kisei Leagues on May 23. In the final game in the first round of the A League, two of the big guns in the league clashed. Takao Shinji 9P, the top-ranked player in the league, beat Hane Naoki 9P, who is the second-ranked player; taking white, Takao won by half a point. This win may have given him some momentum for the Honinbo title match. The B League was one game behind the A League. The game on the 23rd was a match-up between two veteran players, Kobayashi Satoru 9P and Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P; the former is a former Kisei (beating Cho Chikun in 1995), and Yamashiro came within an ace of winning the title in 1992 (he had the lead late in the 7th game but lost it in the endgame). Taking black, Kobayashi beat Yamashiro by resignation.
The first round of the B League was completed on 30 May. Taking white, 25th Honinbo Chikun (Cho Chikun) defeated Kono Rin 9P by resignation to make a good start to this year’s league.
Kono or Matsumoto to be Gosei Challenger: The semifinals in the 38th Gosei tournament were held on May 23. In one, Matsumoto Takehisa 7P (W) beat Akiyama Jiro 9P by 1.5 points; in the other, Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Cho Riyu 8P by half a point. Either Kono or Matsumoto will challenge Iyama Yuta for the Gosei title, but we don’t have a date for the final yet.