by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Takao Makes Comeback as Judan: Six years after he last won a top-seven title, Takao Shinji 9P (left) has made a comeback, taking the Judan title from Yuki Satoshi with a win in the final game of the 52nd title match. Takao started off well in the best-of-five, winning the first game by half a point, but then the title holder fought back with his own half-point win, then took the lead in the third game. Takao saved his first kadoban in the fourth game, then won the deciding game. Below are details of the games played since my last report.
The third game was played at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in Omachi City in Nagano Prefecture on April 10. Omachi, a town set at the foot of the Japan Alps, calls itself ‘the Alps igo village’ and actively promotes the game among its citizens. The Kuroyon Royal Hotel has hosted a game from the Judan title match for 21 years in a row. The game featured complicated fighting, but was evenly poised in the late middle game. Instead of taking some profit on move 158, Takao chose to attack an isolated black group. However, this backfired on him: Yuki found a clever tesuji to secure life and at the same time took the lead on territory.
The fourth game was held at the Kansai Ki-in in Osaka, Yuki’s home ground, on April 17. Playing with white, Yuki focussed a little too much on building thickness in the opening, letting Takao take the lead in territory. Yuki did his best to use his thickness to harass Black, but he missed his best opportunity to attack a weak black group. With no scope to create complications, Yuki resigned after Black 169.
The final game was played on Takao’s home ground, the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, on April 21. In the nigiri to decide colors, Takao drew black. In the middle game, he played riskily because he thought he was behind, but that actually gave Yuki the chance to make a powerful attack, which really did put Takao behind. However, Takao managed to set up a double attack on two white groups. Yuki saved one of them, but slipped up with the other, missing the only move that would have saved it. He resigned after 167 moves.
This is Takao’s 13th title. Incidentally, he broke the monopoly of the top seven titles enjoyed by Osakan players since Iyama won the Meijin title in October last year.
Iyama Sets New Prize Money Record: Not surprisingly, considering he set a new record by winning six of the top seven titles, Iyama Yuta (right) also set a new record for most prize money won in one year. Often there is quite a big gap between first and second in this list, with the top player sometimes making twice as much as the next player; not so in 2013: Iyama earned over four and a half times as much as Cho U. Below is the list of the top ten (amounts are in yen). Note that these sums do not include income from teaching etc.
1. Iyama Yuta: 164,613,000 (about $1,600,000)
2. Cho U: 35,241,200
3. Takao Shinji: 30,846,000
4. Yamashita Keigo: 30,630,200
5. Kono Rin: 23,210,192
6. Xie Yimin: 14,582,100
7. Hane Naoki: 14,052,431
8. Kobayashi Satoru: 11,134,600
9. Mizokami Tomochika: 10,973,600
10. Shida Tatsuya: 10,420,500
Computer versus Yoda: Games between computers and professionals seem to be popular these days. In February, the program Zen played a series of 9×9 games and got within half a point of its professional opponent in one of them. On March 21, Yoda Norimoto 9P played two four-stone handicap games against Zen and another program, CrazyStone. Yoda beat Zen by resignation, but lost to CrazyStone by 2.5 points (Black gave a komi of half a point). In the UEC Cup, a computer-go tournament, held just before this, Zen had taken first place and CrazyStone second. Yoda’s comments after the games implied that he benefited from familiarity with Zen’s style of play, whereas he knew nothing about CrazyStone.
Tomorrow: Kono and Yuki Secure Kisei League Places; Japanese Team Plays in Chinese League; Yamashita Keeps Sole Lead in Meijin League