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The Power Report: Latest News from Japan

Thursday September 12, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent

Yamashita Off to Good Start in Meijin Defense: The first game of the 39th Meijin title match was held at its regular venue, the luxury traditional hotel and restaurant of the Chinzanso in Tokyo. Challenging the Meijin, Yamashita Keigo, was Iyama Yuta, the monarch of Japanese go, who was not only after revenge for losing the Meijin title to Yamashita two years ago but also seeking to become the second player to hold the Triple Crown of Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo. The Meijin title match always starts in September, which is when the weather starts to cool down a little after the usually unbearable summer but which is also typhoon season. In fact, the weather in Japan this September has been very turbulent, with record rainfalls and unfamiliar tornadoes ripping through residential areas. The opening day of the game was not an exception, with a violent thunderstorm at dawn. The players were insulated from the weather, of course, but the game was not. With move 32, Yamashita made an aggressive cap that he later recognized was a bit of an overplay. It was redeemed only by a badly timed cut made by Iyama on move 53 that turned out to be more of an overplay. The ensuing fight eventually dragged in half a dozen groups, with the focus on a large capturing race. This looked bad for Iyama, but instead of being obstinate, that is, going all out to capture Iyama’s group, Yamashita cleverly engineered a large-scale trade that gave him a win. Iyama was forced to resign after 172 moves. This was an uncharacteristic loss for Iyama, with a miscalculation of the balance of the trade thrown in later in the game on top of his earlier overplay. However, a best-of-seven gives him plenty of time to make a comeback. The second game will be played on September 19 & 20.

Mukai to Challenge for Women’s Honinbo Title: Mukai Chiaki 5-dan will make her third challenge for the Women’s Honinbo title and her sixth challenge overall to women’s triple crown holder Xie Yimin. So far she has been frustrated by Xie’s fighting strength, which is unmatched among women players in Japan, but Mukai is clearly the number two player here, so competing with Xie is her destiny. She will surely be encouraged by her success early this year: although Japan took only third place in the 2nd Huading Cup in late April, Mukai won all three of her games and helped Japan to a rare team win over China. In the play-off to decide the challenger, held on August 29, Mukai (W) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by resignation. She previously challenged for this title in 2010 and 2011, losing 0-3 and 1-3 respectively.

Japanese Players Eliminated from Samsung Cup: A report on the opening round mini-tournament that starts off the Samsung Cup has already appeared in this journal. Here are the details of the Japanese players’ results. There were two seeded players in the main tournament, Takao Shinji and Yuki Satoshi, who were joined by Komatsu Hideki, winner of a seat in the veterans’ section of the qualifying tournament. In the first round, the Samsung Cup is divided into eight groups of four players; they play each other until a player qualifies for the second round with two wins or is eliminated with two losses.
Game 1 (Sept. 3). Komatsu (W) d. Eric Lui (USA) by resig.; Gu Lingyi 5P (China) (B) d. Takao by resig.; Gu Li 9P (China) (W) d. Yuki by resig.
Game 2 (Sept. 4). Fan Yunruo 4P (China) (W) d. Takao by resig.; Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (B) d. Komatsu by resig.; Liao Xingwen 5P (W) d. Yuki by resig.
Game 3 (Sept. 5). Yi Se-tol 9P (Korea) (B) d. Komatsu by resig.

Young Players Gain Honinbo Seats and Promotions: Every year there is a radical turnover in the Honinbo League: four players out of eight lose their seats, compared to only three out of nine in the Meijin League and four out of twelve in the Kisei Leagues. That means, in theory, that there’s a little more scope for new young stars to make their debut in this league. That’s certainly how things have turned out this year, with two teenagers and two veterans joining the 69th league. The first three of the play-offs for the places up for grabs were held on August 29. Kono Rin 9P, who recently came very close to taking the Gosei title from Iyama Yuta, defeated Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (B) by 1.5 points. At 32, Kono qualifies as one of the veterans. The other veteran is Sakai Hideyuki 8P, aged 40. Taking white, Sakai beat his fellow Kansai Ki-in player Imamura Toshiya 9P by 7.5 points. Sakai has played in eight Meijin leagues, but this will be his first Honinbo league. The third player to win a seat on the 29th was Yo Seiki 3P (right). The 18-year-old Yo (B) beat Han Zenki 8P by 8.5 points. Yo is a player who has been attracting attention as a possible future star for the better part of a year now. Born in Taiwan on July 6, 1995, he became a professional at the Taiwanese Qiyuan (Ki-in), reaching 2P, but then switched to the Kansai Ki-in, where he started out as a 1-dan in 2009. He quickly established himself as a worthy successor — and now a rival — to the Kansai Ki-in’s top young player, Murakawa Daisuke 7P (born on December 14, 1990). Yo has been sweeping all before him this year, winning 18 games in a row before losing in the semifinals of the Tengen tournament (see our previous report). He has also reached the final of the 38th King of the New Stars tournament. In the second round of the current NHK Cup, he scored a very impressive win over Cho U, impressive especially because of how strongly he fought back after incurring a slight disadvantage in the opening. Already some go reporters are talking of him as a future rival to Iyama, and not in the very distant future, either. Yo set a new record by becoming the youngest player to win a seat in the Honinbo League; the previous record was 20 years two months, set by Iyama. The latter’s record for any league — 17 years ten months in the Kisei Leagues — remains intact. The final play-off for a league seat was held on September 5; Ida Atsushi 4P beat Cho Sonjin 9P, so he also makes his league debut. He is almost as young as Yo, having been born on March 15, 1994 and if his game had been held before Yo’s, he would have temporarily held the record. A member of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in, that is, the Central Japan Headquarters, Ida has also attracted attention as an up-and-coming player. One of the advantages of winning a seat in a league (or a title) for a young player is gaining an automatic promotion (it usually takes effect the next day). When Iyama won the Agon Kiriyama Cup at the age of 16 in 2005, he went from 4P to 7P, then to 8P for becoming the Meijin challenger in 2008, then to 9P for winning the Meijin title the following year. Ko Iso also went from 4P to 7P when he won a place in the Meijin League in 2005. Ri Ishu and Uchida Shuhei have also won such promotions in recent years. In a sense, they are a bonus attached to a more substantial achievement than a mere promotion. In any case, Yo is the first player in Japan to jump four ranks, so he has another record.

38th Kisei Leagues: Murakawa Wins B League: Two games were played in the B League last week. Murakawa Daisuke 7P of the Kansai Ki-in, who already had the sole lead, put himself in an unassailable position by beating Kono Rin 9P. Every other player already has at least two losses, so Murakawa wins the league regardless of the results in the final round. He will meet the winner of the A League in a play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta Kisei; in that league Yamashita Keigo has a slight edge, but Kiyonari Tetsuya 9P, Yoda Norimoto 9P, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P, and Kobayashi Satoru 9P are all still in the running (Cho U is the only one completely out of the running).
(September 5) Hane Naoki (W) defeated Cho Chikun by resignation; Murakawa Daisuke (B) d. Kono Rin by resig.

Akiyama to Challenge for Tengen: Akiyama Jiro 9P (right) will have a crack at chipping a segment out of Iyama Yuta’s quintuple crown. In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 39th Tengen title, held on September 9, Akiyama (B) defeated Yamashita Keigo Meijin by resignation and so gets to make his first title challenge. Akiyama has long been considered a promising player, but his most notable achievement so far has been appearing in three successive Kisei leagues (34th to 36th). He has an image of being one of the younger players, so it’s a bit of a surprise to find that he is already 35. This is finally his chance to break out of the pack. The title match starts on October 21

Women’s Meijin League: One game has been played in the 26th Women’s Meijin League since our last report. On September 5, Chinen Kaori 4P (B) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by 2.5 points. With two losses, Mukai falls behind the pace. Joint leaders, both on 3-0, are Kato Keiko 6P and Suzuki Ayumi 6P.

Iyama’s Successive Title Matches: In our previous report, we mentioned that Iyama Yuta (right) would set a new record by playing in all the top-seven title matches this year. That is true, but actually he has played in all top-seven title matches since last year’s Oza and his run will continue to next year’s Kisei title match, so he is already guaranteed to set a record of appearing in ten title matches in a row. If Iyama wins the ongoing Meijin title match, he will become the second player after Cho Chikun to hold the big triple crown of Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo. Cho did this four times, in 1983 and 1996 to 1998.

Categories: World
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Go Spotting: New xkcd Comic

Wednesday September 11, 2013

Go was just featured again on xkcd, a popular web comic among mathematicians and physicists. Thanks to everyone who passed this along.

Categories: Go Art,Go Spotting
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China Calls For Return of Ancient Go Manuscript

Monday September 9, 2013

Wang Runan 8P, the President of the Chinese Weiqi Association, last week asked the British to return the Weiqi Classic, also known as the Dunhuang Go Manual, to China. The manuscript, which dates back to the ninth century, is  a copy of  the earliest known manual of go, known as weiqi (or weichi) in China, where the game originated; the original manual is thought to have originated in the sixth century. It was taken from the “Library Cave” in Dunhuang, China in 1907 by Aurel Stein and is now in the collection of the British Library in London.

Wang was speaking at a press conference at the British Museum on September 5 to publicize British-Chinese Weiqi Cultural Exchange Event held on September 7 at the museum, hosted by the UK Research and Development Centre for Chinese Traditional Culture and the East Midland Youth Chinese Organisation, in cooperation with the British Go Association (BGA).

A partial English translation of the fascinating text of the Weiqi Classic, with notes, can be found in the Library’s database entry for the item.

Report by Tony Collman, British Correspondent for the E-Journal. Photos: BOTTOM LEFT: Wang Runan, by Tony Collman, displaying fan with calligraphy spelling out 10 principles of weiqi; TOP RIGHT: The Weiqi Classic (beginning),  courtesy of the International Dunhuang Project, British Library. NOTE: this report has been updated to reflect that Wang Runan is President (not Vice Chairman) of the Chinese Weiqi Association.

Categories: Europe,Go Art,Go News
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Streaming Online Games

Monday September 9, 2013

Popular streaming site twitch.tv is pulling in 38 million viewers a month, by streaming video gamers playing and commenting on their games.  The site’s goal is to “connect gamers around the world by allowing them to broadcast, watch, and chat from everywhere they play,” according to their website.  Why not stream online go games as well, asks AGA member Royce Chen? “Streaming go games, with entertaining and informative comments made by the streamers, could potentially attract the interest of young players, especially those who are already familiar with streams of conventional games,” says Chen. “The idea is to make videos like those by TheOddOne, a popular League of Legends player, who is known for providing entertaining commentary.”

The AGA would like to recruit volunteers of any playing strength, who would stream some of their online go games. All that’s needed is a webcam and a twitch.tv account. Live streams would be promoted on the AGA Facebook page, and  archived recordings can also be submitted for uploading to the new Go AGA YouTube channel, which is being managed by Shawn Ray (AKA Clossius on Youtube).  Anyone interested in streaming can email Royce Chen for more details. Ray also plans to promote lessons from several popular online go teachers on the new Youtube channel, with archived videos from both twitch and youtube available.  Subscribe to the new channel to get updates on this content. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor

EuroGoTV Update: Germany, Croatia, England

Sunday September 8, 2013

koelner go-turnier 2013Germany: The Koelner Go-Turnier 2013 finished September 1 in Koeln with Lukas Kraemer 5d (left) in first, Benjamin Teuber 6d in second, and Jonas Welticke 4d in third. Croatia: Also on September 1, Zoran Mutabzija 5d won the Croatian Championship 2013 – Final 6 in Zagreb. Sead Bacevina 2d came in second and Lavro Furjanic 1k in third. England: Isle of Man hosted two tournaments on August 18, a main tournament and an afternoon tournament. The main tournament wrapped up on August 23 with Matthew Macfayden 6d in first followed by Matthew Cocke 5d in second and Shigehiko Uno 4d in third. However, Uno dominated the afternoon tournament while James Hutchinson 1d took second and Toby Manning 2d placed third.
— Annalia Linnan, based on reports from EuroGoTV, which include complete result tables and all the latest European go news

London Club Issues Appeal for International Teams

Saturday September 7, 2013

The Central London Go Club is appealing for American — and other foreign — nationals living in the UK to help put the “International” back into the London International Teams Tournament on October 6.

The twice-yearly event has in recent times barely lived up to its billing, with the Nippon Club — the event’s host — the only non-British team in the Spring 2013 tournament. The trophy (pictured) that time was taken by a team from the land of “Cambridge” (see 4/19 EJ) to the amusement of team captain and British Championship 2013 challenger Andrew Simons.

Click here to download flyer with full details and entry form.

Tony Collman, British Correspondent for the E-J. Photo courtesy of the British Go Association’s website

Samsung Cup Down to Final 16

Friday September 6, 2013

When the smoke cleared on September 5 from the 32-player group stage of the 2013 Samsung Cup, just 16 players were left, including 11 from China and five from Korea. Japan’s players had all been eliminated, as had Eric Lui of the U.S. Lui lost to Komatsu Hideki and Lee Sedol. “Sedol was too strong for Eric,” says Myung-wan Kim 9P. “But he played very well against Hideki and almost won. I was very surprised how well Eric played.” (see below for Kim’s commentary on Lui’s game against Hideki; his commentary on the Lui-Sedol game will be in next week’s Member’s

[link]

Edition of the E-Journal; click here for details on how to join the AGA and receive the Member’s Edition) The next round will take place on October 8 and 10 with the following draw: Lee Sedol 9p vs Chen Yaoye 9p; Gu Li 9p vs Ahn Seongjun 5p; Qiu Jun 9p vs Gu Lingyi 5p; Park Junghwan 9p vs Zhou Ruiyang 9p; Shi Yue 9p vs Ke Jie 3p; Wu Guangya 6p vs Li Xuanhao 3p; Kim Jiseok 9p vs Fan Yunruo 4p, and Park Younghun 9p vs Tang Weixing 3p.
- includes reporting by Go Game Guru; click here for the full report, photos and game records.

Categories: World
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2013 World Amateur Go Championship at a Glance: Reports & Game Commentaries

Friday September 6, 2013

From the first arrival in Japan of top amateur go players from 62 countries through eight rounds of competition — topped by Korea’s Hyunjae Choi 6D -- and ending with a visit to the tsunami-stricken South Sanriku, the American Go E-Journal — in cooperation with Ranka Online — provided comprehensive coverage of the 34th annual World Amateur Go Championship, held September 1-5 in Sendai. Click here for full final results; here for selected game records and here for the player roster. See below for a handy clickable index to our daily reports and 19 game commentaries, as well as a Ranka/EJ team photo.
Photos by John Pinkerton except as noted. 

Reports
WAGC Daily Recap (Final): Wednesday, September 4

Ranka Online WAGC Highlights: Wednesday, September 4

WAGC Daily Recap: Tuesday, September 3

Ranka Online WAGC Highlights: Tuesday, September 3

WAGC Daily Recap: Monday, September 2

Ranka Online WAGC Highlights: Monday, September 2

WAGC Daily Recap: Sunday, September 1

Ranka Online WAGC Highlights: Sunday, September 1

WAGC Round 1 Games & An Interview with Alexandr Bukh of Kazakhstan

The Traveling Go Board: The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Two Years Later

WAGC Venue Exposes Go to Public Eye


Advice from Top Amateurs on How to Get Stronger


International Go Federation Celebrates Successful Year


Players Arrive at 34th World Amateur Go Championship


EJ & Ranka Coverage of 34th WAGC To Start 9/1

Game Commentaries (by Michael Redmond 9P)

Round 1: Canada-Kazakhstan
Round 1: US-Phillipines
In these first-round games, very strong players make short work of their weaker opponents.

Round 2: Finland-Colombia
Round 2: Israel-Argentina
Round 2: US-Korea
Curtis Tang was one of the brilliant young Redmond Cup participants, winning five times to become one of only two players to earn the title of Redmond Meijin…

Round 3: Brazil-Belgium
 In this game, though Black makes no major errors, by move 72, White has established a clear lead; here’s how…
Round 3: Hungary-China
Hungary’s Csaba Mero handles a challenge well and gets a fairly severe attack going on Yuging Hu of China, but… 
Round 3: Indonesia-Austria
This game features an unorthodox opening by Black that actually works fairly well up to a point.  

Round 4: Korea-Netherlands
Round 4: Russia-China
A fast but thin move early on by White sets off a cascading series of fierce battles in which the attack changes hands several times. 

Round 5: Japan-China
Black wins every ko fight in this game, but the cost is too high…
Round 5: Korea-Canada
Black doesn’t make any major mistakes in this undramatic game, yet White slowly but surely pulls ahead, building up an insurmountable lead…   
Round 5: US-Singapore

Round 6: China-Korea
This game is all about yose. The game is very close at move 101, when the endgame begins, and goes on for the next 150 moves…
Round 6: Japan-Russia
Kikou punishes an early overplay by Shikshin, but then slowly loses his advantage with slack moves and then falters in the endgame…  

Round 7: Korea-Russia
Black trades a large side for a center moyo but when White skillfully erases most of the moyo, Black’s position turns out to be too thin and things get steadily worse…
Round 7: China-Canada
After an even opening, White misses two chances to maintain the balance of territory and allows Black to get an unassailable lead… 

Round 8: Taipei-China
An unnecessary peep that turns out not to be sente gives Yuqing Hu 8D (China) a chance attack and suddenly Shin-Wei Lin 7D (Taipei) is in deep trouble…
Round 8: Ukraine-Korea
When White tries for a bigger territory, his move is just a bit too greedy, and Black immediately punishes it… 

 The Ranka-E-Journal Team (l-r): James Davies, Toshiko Ito, Ivan Vigano, John Richardson, Chris Garlock, Michael Redmond 9P, John Pinkerton, Yuki Shigeno. photo by Thomas Hsiang

Your Move/Readers Write: Thanks & Kudos; Gripping Stuff; Bol, Not Vonk

Friday September 6, 2013

Thanks & Kudos: “Thank you, thank you, thank you to Roger Schrag, (Go Spotting: Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland 9/1 EJ)” writes Jean de Maiffe. “When I was in the Portland Chinese Garden in July, the board displayed appeared to have nothing whatever to do with the modern game of go. I almost wish I had taken a picture for the ‘then and now’ comparison. Kudos to whichever go player suggested the changes to the artist who had placed the stones attractively perhaps, but without knowledge of the game.”

Gripping Stuff: “Great coverage of the WAGC,” writes EJ British correspondent Tony Collman. “Gripping stuff. Thanks to Michael Redmond for the lucid commentaries.”

Bol, Not Vonk:
“The photograph accompanying the 9/1 news item ‘EuroGoTV Update’  is of Jan Bol, not Bert Vonk,” writes Jaap K. Blom.
We apologize for the error, which has been corrected.

The Traveling Go Board: The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Two Years Later

Thursday September 5, 2013

The agony of defeat and ecstasy of victory on the go board were put into perspective Thursday when the WAGC participants took a somber tour of South Sanriku in Miyagi prefecture, less than an hour from the tournament site in downtown Sendai, and one of the areas hardest-hit by the 2011 tsunami.

Although the region — a spectacular landscape of misty mountains, gently-waving rice fields, stands of bamboo, wide rivers and coastal views — has largely recovered since the disaster, the go players were uncharacteristically subdued as they took in the scope of destruction, with whole towns swept away. The three-story South Sanriku emergency center’s rusted skeleton bore mute witness to the towering wall of water that took the lives of so many; the few workers there who survived did so only by climbing the radio tower atop the building.

Most affecting was a visit to the Okawa primary school where almost every student and teacher perished. The once-thriving community is gone, the houses destroyed, completely erased from the earth, leaving only the gutted school as a sad memorial to the young lives lost here. As the buses rolled through under grey and drizzling skies, guides explained how this empty patch used to be a community center, that one was a hospital, another was a neighborhood. Roads once lined with houses are now vistas of weeds and the occasional flash of a wild sunflower or glimpse of a white crane standing on a solitary leg. The rubble is gone and new houses and buildings are slowly rising. The rivers flow past quietly. Life goes on.
- Chris Garlock; photo by John Pinkerton