by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
All-Chinese Final In LG Cup: The quarterfinals and semifinals of the 18th LG Cup were held in Inch’eon City in Korea on November 11 and 13. Chinese players had dominated the tournament so far, taking six of the eight quarterfinal places, but for once Japan had done better than Korea, with Takao Shinji and Iyama Yuta taking the other two places. However, this was as far as their luck held out, as they were both eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Quarterfinal results, Nov. 11: Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (B) defeated Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resignation; Tuo Jiaxi 3P (China) (B) d. Takao Shinji 9P (Japan) by 4.5 points; Li Zhe 6P (China) (W) d. Xia Chenkun 2P (China) by resig.; Zhou Ruiyang 9P (China) (B) d. Li Qincheng 1P (China) by resig.
Semifinal results, Nov. 13: Tuo (B) d. Li by resig.; Zhou (B) d. Chen by 4.5 points. The final is scheduled for February 10, 12, and 13. photo: 18th LG Cup semifinalists, from left: Li Zhe 6 dan, Tuo Jiaxi 3 dan, Zhou Ruiyang 9 dan and Chen Yaoye 9 dan; photo courtesy GoGameGuru
Yamashita To Challenge For Kisei Title: The play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta for the 38th Kisei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 14. Playing white, Yamashita Keigo 9P forced Murakawa Daisuke 7P to resign after 144 moves. Yamashita has won the Kisei title five times, first in 2003 and then from 2006 to 2009. This will be his chance to seek revenge for his loss of the Meijin title to Iyama this year. The first game will be played in Alcala de Henares, near Madrid, in Spain on January 11 & 12. With a first prize of 45 million yen (nearly $440,000 USD), the Kisei is Japan’s richest title.
Iyama Defends Tengen Title: The third game of the 39th Tengen title match was held at the Yutoku Inari Shrine in Kashima City, Saga Prefecture on November 28. Iyama Yuta (W) defeated Akiyama Jiro 9P by resignation after 176 moves, so he defended his title with straight wins. This is his third successive Tengen title; he now has a winning streak of nine wins in the Tengen.
Cho U Picks Up First Win In Oza Title Match, But Iyama Defends: Games Two and Three in the 61st Oza title match were held in quick succession at the Saryo Soen inn in Akiu Hot Spring, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. It’s quite unusual to hold two games from a title match in a row at the same venue outside Tokyo; it was made necessary, of course, by Iyama Yuta’s crowded schedule. The second game was played on November 19; taking black, Iyama won by resignation after 243 moves. This gave him a 2-0 lead over the challenger, Cho U 9P. It looked as if the match might end very quickly, as the third game was played on the 21st, with only one day’s break. However, Cho (right) played a masterly game with black and forced a resignation after just 161 moves, making the series a lot more interesting. This was the fourth time two games have been played in a row like this and the first time the wins have been shared. The fourth game was played at the Sanyoso inn in Izu-no-kuni City, Shizuoka Prefecture on December 2. Taking black, Iyama won by resignation after 221 moves, so he defended his title with a 3-1 score. This is his second successive Oza title and it maintained his current tally at six of the top seven. He has also taken his overall tally to 22, which is even with O Rissei and Hane Naoki in 13th place.
The Oza title match was the last of the tournament year. This is the first year since 2001 that Cho U has failed to win a title. Iyama has proved to be his nemesis, but he is too good a player not to make a comeback. Incidentally, Iyama’s six first prizes and his TV Asia win have earned him 152.5 million yen $1.5 million USD). Various match fees and game fees have to be added to this, so his final total should be a new record by a big margin.
Iyama Reaches Judan Semifinals: The significance of this news item is that Iyama is keeping alive his chances of becoming the first player ever to win a genuine grand slam, that is, all seven titles in one year. To do so, he needs to become the Judan challenger and then to win it after defending his Kisei title at the beginning of next year. Iyama’s opponent in the semifinal is Mizokami Tomochika 8P. The other semifinal matches Hane Naoki against Takao Shinji.
Tomorrow: Newcomer Makes Good Start In Honinbo League; Ichiriki Wins Young Carp Tournament; 26th Women’s Meijin League; Aoki vs. Ishii In Women’s Kisei Play-Off; Mukai Finally Beats Xie; Hane Defends Okan Title
CORRECTION: The Kisei first prize of 45 million yen has been updated to reflect that it’s worth nearly $440,000 USD, not the $300,000 originally reported.