by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Iyama Takes Lead, Then Kono Catches Up In Gosei Title Match: The third game of the 39th Gosei title match was held at the Nagaoka Grand Hotel in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, on August 11. This was three weeks after the second game, which is a long gap for a best-of-five. Playing black, the challenger Kono Rin 9-dan (right, in photo) seemed to have a slight advantage when he won a ko and killed a white group fairly early in the game (before move 100), but he made a couple of slack moves later that cost him his chance to wrap up the game. Worse, he made an overly aggressive answer to a white invasion and ended up on the wrong side of a losing capturing race. He resigned on move 204. The fourth game was held on Iyama’s home ground, the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, on August 25, but that didn’t help him. Playing white, Kono forced a resignation after 224 moves. I don’t have any information about the course of the game. The deciding game will be played on Kono’s home ground, the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, on August 29.
Kono Doing Well In Other Tournaments: Regardless of whether or not he takes the Gosei title, Kono Rin (left) is the in-form player at the moment in Japan (see the TV Asia Cup report below). As of August 23, his win-loss record was 42-12, a winning record of nearly 78%. He has the most wins by a comfortable margin. On August 4, he won the play-off to become the Meijin challenger, as reported earlier. On August 13, he beat Yoda Norimoto 9-dan in the semifinal of the 40th Tengen tournament, so there is a good chance he will be making yet another challenge to Iyama; taking white, he won by 6.5 points. (His opponent in the final will be Takao Shinji, who beat Ichiriki Ryo in the other semifinal on August 21.) He has also reached the semifinal of the 21st Agon Kiriyama Cup.
Lee Se-Dol Wins TV Asia Cup: Lee Se-dol (right) had not won an international title for a while, but he is ahead in his ten-game match with Gu Li and he offered more evidence, if it should be needed, that he is still a force to be reckoned with by winning the 26th TV Asia Cup. In the final, he beat Kono Rin (left, in photo at right). Kono had encouraged Japanese fans by beating the player currently ranked number one in the world, Pak Jung-hwan of Korea, in the semifinal, but he was outmatched by Lee in the final. This is the third time Lee has won this title and the first time for six years. This year the tournament was staged in Beijing.
Full results: Round 1, Game 1 (August 16). Lee Se-dol 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Tao Xinran 5-dan (China) by resig. Round 1, Game 2 (August 16). Kono (B) beat Li Qinchang 1-dan by 1.5 points. (Though just a 1-dan, the 15-year-old Li won the Chinese qualifying tournament telecast on CCTV.) Round 1, Game 3 (August 17). Pak Jung-hwan 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9-dan (Japan) by resig. Semifinal 1 (August 17). Lee (B) beat Iyama Yuta by 2.5 points. Semifinal 2 (August 18) Kono (B) beat Pak by resig. Final (August 19). Lee (W) beat Kono by resig.
Fujisawa Rin To Make First Challenge: The pairing in the play-off to decide the challenger to Mukai Chiaki for the 33rd Women’s Honinbo Title was the same as in the final of the new women’s tournament the Aizu Central Hospital Cup: Fujisawa Rina (right) vs. Okuda Aya (left). The result was the same: a win for Fujisawa. The game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 21; taking white, Fujisawa forced a resignation. Fujisawa is bidding to become the female Iyama Yuta, as she is rewriting the record book for youth landmarks. She will be exactly 16 when the first game of the title match is played on October 8 (birthday September 18); the previous youngest challenger was Xie Yimin at 17 years 10 months.
27th Women’s Meijin League: Two games were played in the first round of the 27th Women’s Meijin League on August 21. Kato Keiko 6-dan (B) beat Chinen Kaori 4-dan by 1.5 points and Mukai Chiaki, Women’s Honinbo, (B) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan by 4.5 points.
Promotions: To 9-dan: Mizokami Tomochika (200 wins); To 4-dan: Kanazawa Makoto (50 wins); To 2-dan: Fujimura Yosuke (30 wins).