by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the American Go E-Journal
Iyama Takes Lead In Meijin, Thanks To Blunder By Yamashita: The third game of the 38th Meijin title match was held at the Takarazuka Hotel in Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture on September 25 and 26. Takarazuka City is known as the home of the famous all-female theatrical troupe, the Takarazuka Troupe, but to Iyama Yuta it is probably more familiar as the home of his teacher Ishii Kunio. Not that Iyama would have visited Ishii very frequently, as his home is a two-hour journey from Ishii’s home. Iyama was not a live-in disciple; instead he played teaching games with Ishii on the Net. Even so, Yamashita Keigo was making his first visit to Takarazuka, so Iyama held the home-ground advantage.
This doesn’t seem to count for much in go, as fans don’t get to cheer players on (at best, they sometimes quietly watch the first few moves of title games). In a game marked by small-scale fighting, Yamashita, playing white, took the advantage and, further helped by a rare misreading by Iyama, he set up a winning position. As usual, Iyama did his best to complicate the game, and in the middle of a ko fight Yamashita made a terrible blunder, playing a ko threat that filled in one of his own liberties. He needed to play another move immediately to save six of his stones that his mistake had put into jeopardy, but he chose to retake the ko. Iyama immediately ceded the ko and took the six stones. This gave him a narrow win by 1.5 points.
Fortunately for Yamashita, he has two weeks to recover from the shock of this setback. The fourth game will be played on October 9 and 10. He will have to win two games in a row to secure the lead he should have had at this point.
Fujita Wins King Of The New Stars: Fujita Akihiko 3-dan has won his first title with straight wins. In the second game of the 38th King of the New Stars title match, played on September 26 at the Kansai Ki-in in Osaka, he defeated Yo Seiki 7-dan (White) by resignation after 181 moves. Yo did not show the strength expected from his recent successes of winning a place in the Honinbo league and his winning streak of 18 games. Because of his promotion to 7-dan for winning the Honinbo seat, he won’t get another chance to win this title. With this win, Fujita extended a winning streak of his own to 15 games.
Mukai Scores First Win In Women’s Meijin League: On September 26, Mukai Chiaki 5P (W) defeated Okuda Aya 3P by resignation in a third-round game in the 26th Women’s Meijin League. Mukai is now 1-2 and Okuda 0-2. Suzuki Ayumi 6P and Kato Keiko 6P, both on 3-0, lead the league.
Most Wins: With the tournament year three-quarters gone, this may be a good time to see who is racking up the wins in Japan. Kono Rin has a slight lead in the following list, which is dated as of September 27 and is for Nihon Ki-in players (though I have added Yo Seiki).
1. Kono Rin 9P (right): 33-17
2. Iyama Yuta Kisei: 31-16
3. Takao Shinji 9P: 30-17
4. Ichiriki Ryo 3P: 25-4
5. Yo Chito 1P: 23-3
6. Yo Seiki 7P: 22-4
7. Cho U 9P: 22-18
9. Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P: 21-12
New Professional Couple: There’s been another marriage among go professionals (I reported earlier on the June 4 marriage of Suzuki Ayumi 6P and Rin Kanketsu 7P). On September 20, Mukai Chiaki 5P married Sugimoto Akira 8P. As far as I know, they are the 17th go couple.
Correction: I made a mistake with the name of the Taiwanese player on Japan’s Nong Shim team. It is Yo Chito, not Cho Chito. (His name in Chinese is Yao Zhiteng.)