by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Xie Defends Women’s Meijin Title: The third game of the 26th Women’s Meijin title match was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on March 24. Drawing black in the nigiri, Xie Yimin (right) played strongly and scored a solid win, forcing a resignation after 209 moves. She made a good comeback from her loss in the second game. This gave her the match 2-1, so she won this title for the seventh year in a row.
Yuki Wins Third NHK Cup In A Row: Yuki Satoshi (at right in photo below) has been going through a spell of bad form recently, especially in the leagues, but he is just as strong as ever at fast games. In the final of the 61st NHK Cup, telecast on March 23, he defeated Kono Rin 9P by resignation to win the title for the third year in a row and the fifth time overall (all in the last six years). Winning three in a row matches the record set by Sakata Eio and Yoda Norimoto; in total titles won, he is tied for second with Otake Hideo and Yoda, but here he is still a long way behind Sakata’s ten. Playing black, Kono took the early lead, but in a game marked by violent fighting the lead shifted back and forth, and Kono missed his best chance to take the lead in the middle game. Kono is known for his endgame skill, but here he was outplayed by Yuki.
Yuki Evens Score In Judan: Perhaps his NHK win will become a turning point for Yuki. He followed it up by beating Takao Shinji 9P in the second game of the 52nd Judan title match (photo at left), which was played in Sumoto City on the island of Awaji in Hyogo Prefecture on March 27. Playing black, the challenger actually took the lead in the middle game, but Yuki went all out in the endgame and wrested a half-point lead from him. That makes the score 1-1; the third game will be played on April 10.
Iyama Wins Tournament of Champions: The semifinals and final of the Tournament Winners Championship, a tournament for all 12 title-winners in 2013 plus a player chosen by fan vote, were held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on March 22 (the first two rounds were held on February 14 and 15). In the semifinals, Iyama Yuta beat Kyo Kagen, winner of last year’s Nakano Cup, and Yamashita Keigo beat Yuki Satoshi Judan. The final thus became a rematch between the player who only recently fought the Kisei title match, and the result was the same. Taking black, Iyama beat Yamashita by resignation after 189 moves. Iyama was awarded the Prime Minister’s Cup and the Minister for Education and Science’s Diploma. The final was open to the public, being played on the stage in the Nihon Ki-in’s large hall while a public commentary was given simultaneously by Ishida Yoshio 9-dan and Yoshihara Yukari 6-dan. Presumably the players were able to shut out the commentary when they concentrated on the game. However, after the game Yamashita said that he did take in one comment by Ishida, which was, “If the players can hear me, their training as professionals is incomplete.” Usually in a public commentary like this, the commentators take care to avoid referring to the colors, instead holding up a black stone if they want to refer to black. However, Ishida told a story from a public commentary he did a long time ago of a player who told him later that he had relied on Ishida for territorial evaluation and just focused on reading.
Tomorrow: Cho U Advances in Chunlan Cup; Ida Becomes Honinbo Challenger; Meijin League Update; Promotions; Obituary: Yoshida Yoichi