Takao Makes Good Start To Judan Challenge: The first game of the Mori Building Cup 52nd Judan Best-of-Five Title match, to give the tournament its full name, was held on March 4, and the challenger, Takao Shinji 9P (left), got off to an efficient start by picking up a win by a half-point margin. The first game was played, for the fourth year in a row, at the Osaka University of Commerce; the president of the university, Tanioka Ichiro, is a scholar of games in general and has recently published a book on early go history.
The defending champion, Yuki Satoshi, seemed to take a lead in the opening, but Takao narrowed the gap through tenacious play and overhauled him in the end game. Takao had white and won by half a point after 303 moves. The second game will be played on March 27.
Kato Evens Score In Women’s Meijin: It has become the custom to hold the first game of the Women’s Meijin title match in conjunction with the first game of the Judan title match; it was held at the same venue, also for the fourth year in a row, on March 5. This year Kato Keiko 6P (right) was the challenger and was playing in her first title match for five years. She had just taken the winter off to have her second child (her husband is Mizokami Tomochika 8P) and she brought her daughter with her to Osaka, so she was quite busy. Kato, who drew white, played a little erratically at the start of the game — perhaps the lack of recent match practice told on her — but she found a chink in Xie’s armor and made the game close. However, she missed a good opportunity to strike as severe blow, and Xie seized the lead once again. This time Xie played tightly and forced a resignation after 195 moves. The second game was played on another campus, that of Heian Jogakuin Daigaku in Kyoto on March 12. The name translates as Heian Women’s Academy University but in English it is known as St. Agnes’ University. This was the third year in a row that the second game of this title match had been held there, in the Arisu-kan, a traditional Japanese building. Kato followed a strategy of avoiding fighting, which is Xie’s forte, so the game was not a spectacular one. Kato’s policy worked well until she let herself down with a couple of slack moves, but she was able to stage an upset in the endgame. Xie’s losing move was, in a sense, typical of her: she chose an endgame move not for its size but because it threatened the eye shape of an enemy group. However, Kato cleverly expanded the territory of another group with a move that provided a sente threat to secure eye shape for the group under attack. Playing black, she won by 1.5 points after 253 moves. The deciding game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in on March 24.
New Tournament Launches: A new tournament, the Tournament Winners Championship, has started. It is open to all title winners from 2013 plus a player chosen by a vote by go fans (13 players in all). The winner receives the Prime Minister’s Cup and the Minister for Education and Science’s Diploma. The first two rounds were held on February 14 and 15, with Yuki Satoshi Judan (left), Yamashita Keigo Ryusei, and Kyo Kagen, Nakano Cup winner, winning places in the semifinals. There they join Iyama Yuta, holder of six titles, who was seeded. The games were played on the Net, with time of 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes of thinking time to be used in one-minute units (the NHK format).The semifinals and finals will be held at the Nihon Ki-in on March 22. The 16-year-old Kyo, who was born in Taiwan, will play Iyama in one semifinal, and Yamashita meets Yuki in the other.
TOMORROW: Humans Beat Computers in First “Igo Electrical King Tournament”; Kataoka Scores 1,000 Wins; Retirements