American Go E-Journal

The Power Report: Iyama defends Gosei title, becomes Meijin challenger, extends winning streak

Tuesday August 1, 2017

Iyama defends Gosei title, becomes Meijin challenger, extends winning streak: Last week Iyama Yuta extended a winning streak2017.08.02_Iyama (L) defends Gosei he started on April 13 to 16 games. That indicates that this report won’t include any Iyama failures.
The second game of the 42nd Gosei title match was held in the Miyajima Hotel Makoto in Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, on July 19. Taking black, Iyama played “steadily” and secured a resignation after 145 moves. “Steadily” was the word used by the Go Weekly reporter, but to me the game seemed very complicated. In a kind of trade, Iyama gave up a large group for the chance to attack and eventually kill a big group and a small one. Having lost the first two games, Yamashita Keigo, the challenger, was now faced with a kadoban.
The third game was played at the Hotel Nikko Kumamoto in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture, on July 25. Playing white, Iyama forced Yamashita to resign after 206 moves and defended his title with straight wins. This was another game in which fierce fighting started early and spilled all over the board. Yamashita pushed Iyama hard but was unable to prevail. This is Iyama’s sixth successive Gosei title, equally the Gosei record set by Otake Hideo and Kobayashi Koichi,  and his 45th overall. First prize is 8,000,000 yen (at 110.63 yen to the dollar, about $72,313).
2017.08.02_meijin42_league12On July 28, Iyama met Murakawa Daisuke in the eighth round of the 42nd Meijin League (left). The game was played at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka. Iyama had won all his games so far and was leading the league on 6-0. On 4-2, Murakawa was the only other player still in the running with Iyama, but he needed to win his final two games and not only beat Iyama himself, but also have him lose to Yo Seiki in the final round. If that happened, the two would meet in a play-off to decide the challenger. That turned out to be just a dream. Taking black, Murakawa played positively, launching a surprise attack on Iyama early in the game. He seemed to have good momentum in the middle game, but Iyama found a chink in his armor and forced him to resign after 146 moves.2017.08.02_Kobayashi Satoru wins Fume killer
Since losing the Meijin title to Takao Shinji about eight months ago, Iyama has done everything right, defending his other six tiles without being put under severe pressure. He can now aim at securing his second grand slam, which would be a first in board games in Japan.
Unlike the other rounds, all the games in the final round of the Meijin League are played on the same day, which is August 3 this year. This is to heighten the drama and to encourage fan interest―“If A beats B, and C loses to D, etc.”―but this year the only suspense will be whether or not Iyama finishes the league with a clean slate. The first game of the title match will be played on August 30 and 31.

Kobayashi Satoru wins Masters’ Cup: The final of the 7th Fume-killer Igo Masters Cup was held in the TV studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on July 22. After a long (266 moves) and fierce fight, Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Cho Chikun, Hon. Meijin, by half a point. Kobayashi (right) won this title for the second time after a gap of four years. It is sponsored by an insecticide company and first prize is five million yen. This title is open to players 50 and older who have won a top-seven title. Other senior players who have done well in the prize-money-winning list take part in a qualifying tournament for seats in the main tournament. The time allowance is one hour, with the last five minutes allotted to byo-yomi. There was a standing-room-only crowd at a public commentary given in the large hall on the second floor of the Nihon Ki-in.

2017.08.02_Shibano ToramaruShibano wins first title: One of the brightest prospects at the Nihon Ki-in is Shibano Toramaru 3P (left). Commentators have been impressed by his individualistic style and flair for fighting. Shibano won a seat in the final of the 26th Ryusei Cup, where he was matched against another young star, Yo Seiki 7P (Yu Cheng-ch’i) of the Kansai Ki-in. Playing black, Shibano won the game by resignation. He set a couple of speed records. At 17 years eight months, he became the youngest player to win the Ryusei title, breaking the record Ichiriki Ryo set last year of 19 years one month. Second, he was the fastest to win a title in which all professionals could participate, winning the Ryusei two years 11 months after become a professional. Iyama Yuta set the previous record when he won the 12th Agon Kiriyama Cup three years six months after becoming a pro. This victory also earned Shibano promotion to 7-dan (as of August 1). This set another record, as he was the fastest to 7-dan; the previous record was set by Sakai Hideyuki, who made it in three years four months.

To 5-dan: Terayama Rei (70 wins, as of July 28)

Interesting stats: Some interesting players are featuring in the statistical contests this year. Below is the picture as of the end of July.
Most wins
1. Shibano Toramaru: 30 wins 6 losses
2. Ichiriki Ryo 29-8
3. Fujisawa Rina: 27-13
4. Iyama Yuta 26-7
5. Kyo Kagen 4P: 24-5
6. Otake Yu 1P: 21-6; Mutsuura Yuta 3P: 21-9; Mukai Chiaki 5P: 21-10
9. Terayama Rei 5P: 20-7; Motoki Katsuya 8P: 20-8; Xie (Hsieh) Yimin: 20-12; Yamashita Keigo: 20-13
One point of interest is the presence of three female players in the top 12. They are probably getting a bit of a boost from the recent proliferation of women’s titles.

Successive wins
Iyama Yuta: 16 (hasn’t lost a game since April 13).
Shibano Toramaru also had a wining streak of 16 games that came to an end during July.

Correction: In my account of the Senko Cup in my last report, I forgot to mention the location of the venue for the semifinals and finals. They were held at the Akekure inn in the town of Higashi Omi in Shiga Prefecture.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report