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The Power Report: Cho U wins Meijin title; Young players share lead in Honinbo League; Choi Jeong wins Bingsheng Cup

Wednesday November 7, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Cho U wins Meijin title: 
This year’s Meijin title match not only when the full distance, but was also decided late in the second day of a two-day game. The challenger Cho U won back a title that he had lost to Iyama Yuta ten years ago. The seventh game of the 43rd title match was held at the Imai Inn in the town of Kawazu in Shizuoka Prefecture on November 1 and 2. Since it was the seventh game, the nigiri was held again and Iyama Yuta Meijin drew black. From the outset, Iyama went for territory, so naturally Cho built thickness. With three very bold moves from 60 to 64, Cho sketched out a large center moyo. The major part of the game consisted of the fight started when Black tried to cut back the potential of the moyo. After2018.11.07_Meijin Cho wins Black lived with his invading group, the position seemed a little favorable for Black, and the players following the game in the pressroom thought that Iyama might have defended his title, though the game was very close. However, Iyama made a mistake in the endgame with move 167, letting White set up a ko that Black didn’t have enough ko threats to win. This decided the game, with White winning by 4.5 points.

At his peak in the late 2000s, Cho dominated the go scene in Japan, becoming the first player to win five of the top-seven titles in 2009 (they were the Meijin, Tengen, Oza, Gosei, and Judan). In 2010, he also became the second player after Cho Chikun to complete a cumulative grand slam. However, his last top-seven titles were the Kisei and Judan in 2012; thereafter, he was eclipsed by the reign of Iyama. He has now made a comeback at the age of 38. The Meijin prize is 31 million yen (about $282,000) (reduced from 33 million last year and, if my memory is correct, from 35 million earlier). This is his fifth Meijin title and his 40thtitle overall. Iyama has been reduced to a quintuple crown for the first time since November 2015.

In an interview after the game, Iyama was asked what Cho U’s strong points were and replied: “His speedy judgment and precision; his decisiveness.” As mentioned in a previous report, Cho has a policy of playing quickly in the opening and middle game to make sure he doesn’t get into time trouble. At the end of this game, Iyama was down to his third-last minute of byo-yomi, while Cho still had 59 minutes. Asked about scene in which this game was decided, Iyama said: “Since several moves earlier [before 167], I didn’t know what to play or what the territorial balance was. I knew that the ko was not good, but my hand played that way. Recently there have been few games that I have played properly from beginning to end. Looking back over the whole series, I couldn’t win games I should have won and I couldn’t play tenaciously. I would like to have some time off to refresh myself.” Cho: “In one way, thinking about having taken a title makes me a burden. I haven’t been able to win international games; I can’t go on like that. I would like to say to the younger playe2018.11.07_honinbo-chartrs that if I can do this, they should be able to try harder.”

Young players share lead in Honinbo League:  The first two games in the second round of the 74th Honinbo League were played on November 1. Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig. and Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Anzai Nobuaki 7P, also by resig. On 2-0, they are the front-runners, though it may be a little early to be talking about the lead. They play each other in the fourth round in January.

Choi Jeong wins Bingsheng Cup: In full, this tournament is called the Qionglong Mountain Bingsheng Cup World2018.11.07_Bingsheng all participants Women’s Go Tournament. This year it was held for the ninth time. As the sponsoring country, China had six players to three each for Korea and Japan, but the Koreans dominated the tournament. Judging by recent results, the Koreans, led by Choi Jeong, seem to be the strongest women players in the world. First prize is 300,000 yuan (about $43,000) and the time allowance is two hours per player, with the last five minutes going to one-minute byo-yomi. Komi is 7.5. Below are full results. Incidentally, in this tournament the key to winning seemed to be drawing black: white won only three out of 15 games.
Round 1 (Oct. 31). Zhou Hongyu 4P (China) (W) beat Fujisawa Rina 4P (Japan) by resig.; Oh Jeongah 3P (Korea) (B) beat 2018.11.07_Bingsheng right Xie winsUeno Asami 2P (Japan) by resig.; Lu Minquan 5P (China) (B) beat Stephanie Yin 1P (US) by resig.; Hei Jiajia 7P (Oceania, also known as Joanne Missingham) (B) beat Natalia Kovaleva 6D (Russia) by 21.5 points; Oh Yujin 6P (Korea) (B) beat Wang Chenxing 5P (China) by resig.; Yang Zixuan 2P (Chinese Taipei) (W) beat Gao Xing 4P (China) by resig.; Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) (B) beat Yu Zhiying 6P (China) by resig.; Xie Yimin 6P (Japan, right) (B) beat Li He 5P (China) by resig.
Quarterfinals (Nov. 1). Oh Yujin (W) beat Lu by resig.; Choi (B) beat Zhou by resig.; Hei (B) beat Xie by 1.5 points; Oh Jeongah (B) beat Yang by resig.
(Semifinals, Nov. 2). Choi (B) beat Hei by resig.; Oh Yujin (B) beat Oh by resig.
(Final, Nov. 2). Choi (B) beat Oh by resig.

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The Power Report (2): Honinbo League; Korea wins International Gratitude Cup; Kono reaches Kisei play-off; Ichiriki makes good start in Oza

Saturday November 3, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Honinbo League: The third game in the new Honinbo League was played on October 18. Taking black, Ichiriki Ryo 8P beat Ko Iso 8P by resignation. The opening round was completed on October 25 when Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat 2018.11.02_74th Honinbo Round 1Kono Rin 9P by 2.5 points. The league chart was given in my previous report (October 21).

Korea wins International Gratitude Cup: The Gratitude Cup is an unofficial tournament for junior players in Japan that was founded nine years ago. Five years ago, it added an international component, pitting five-player teams (including two women players) from China, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Japan against each other. First, a three-round tournament is held; the top two teams go to the final and the bottom two to a play-off for third place. The 5thGratitude Cup International Young Stars Tournament, to give it its full name, was held in Ise City on October 14 and 15. In the first section, China scored three wins, beating Chinese Taipei 4-1, Korea 3-2, and Japan 4-1. Korea won two matches, beating Japan 4-1 and Chinese Taipei 5-0. Japan beat Chinese Taipei 3-2. In the final, Korea turned the tables, beating China 4-1; Japan beat Chinese Taipei 3-2 to take third place. For Japan, Ichiriki had the best results, scoring 3-1. First prize is 4,500,000 yen (about $41,000).

Kono reaches Kisei play-off: The third game in the irregular knock-out to decide the challenger for the 43rd Kisei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on October 22. There was probably a lot of fan support for the 18-year-old winner of the C League, Onishi Ryuhei 3P, who had beaten the winners of the B and A Leagues. Three more wins and Onishi would be the challenger, but Kono Rin 9P, who came second in the S League, stood in his way. The game was very close, but Kono (W) was too wily for his opponent, eking out a win by half a point.

Ichiriki makes good start in Oza: The first game of the 66th Oza title match was held at the Hotel Gajoen Tokyo in Meguro, Tokyo, on October 26. Taking white, Ichiriki Ryo 8P beat Iyama Yuta Oza by 2.5 points after 285 moves. That’s a very encouraging start to his challenge for Ichiriki after the ordeal he underwent last winter. In effect, Ichiriki played a best-of-17 with Iyama when he made successive challenges for the 2017 Oza and Tengen and the 2018 Kisei titles; he was unable to pick up even one win, which means he lost ten title-match games in a row. However, there is a caveat concerning this win. Iyama actually played brilliantly from the opening on, first making a successful moyo invasion, then, in what was more or less a continuation of the same fight, winning a big ko fight in the center. At this point, he was convinced he had a win. His first misstep came when he missed the best defensive move for securing the capture of some stones related to the center ko fight. Ichiriki was able to take some profit by harassing his position. He then turned his left-side position into a moyo and, according to spectators, seemed to have visibly perked up. When Iyama missed an endgame move that would have kept him narrowly ahead, Ichiriki was able to pull off an upset. The second and third games will be played on November 17 and 19.

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The Power Report (1): Iyama’s sextuple crown under assault; Yoda wins international invitational; Fan of China dominates opening Nong Shim round; Tengen title match tied; Cho catches up in Meijin title match

Friday November 2, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama’s sextuple crown under assault: 
This is an unusual report. Though he lost the Gosei title to Kyo Kagen, Iyama Yuta still holds six titles, but he is now engaged in defending three of them and is meeting with setbacks in each one. I don’t believe any previous report has included so many Iyama losses over such a short period. These are the last of the top-seven title matches for this year, so at this point all Iyama can be completely confident of is that he will greet the New Year with at least three titles.

Yoda wins international invitational: Yet another special international tournament has been held in China. The previous one was the International Weiqi Great Players Tournament (described in my July 22 report). This one is called Camphor Tree: The Chinese Medical Capital Cup and was held in Camphor Tree (or Zhangshu) City in Jiangxi Province. I was unable to elucidate the meaning of the name, but it sounds as if there’s an interesting story behind it. A player was invited from each of Korea, Japan, and China, and an irregular knock-out was held on October 10 and 11. In the first game, Chang Hao 9P of China (B) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P of Japan by 3.5 points. Chang went directly to the final. In the second round, Yoda (B) beat Lee Changho 9P (Korea) by 1.5 points. The final was held on the second day. Taking white, Yoda beat Chang by resignation, winning the first prize of 150,000 yuan (a little over $21,500).2018.11.02_nongshim Fan left Shibano R

Fan of China dominates opening Nong Shim round: The first round of the 20th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Beijing in mid-October. Japan got off to a good start when Shibano Toramaru won the first game, but then Fan Tingyu of China took over and won the remaining three games in this round. Results are given below:
Game 1 (Oct. 16). Shibano Toramaru 7P (Japan) (B) beat Ahn Kukhyun 8P (Korea) by resig.
Game 2 (Oct. 17). Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (W) beat Shibano by resig.
Game 3 (Oct. 18). Fan (B) beat Shin Minjoon 9P (Korea) by resig.
Game 4 (Oct. 19). Fan (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P (Japan) by resig.
The second round will be played in Busan from November 23 to 27 and the final round in Shanghai from February 18 to 22.

Tengen title match tied: The first game of the 44th Tengen title match was held at the Matsuya Sensen inn in Awara2018.11.02_44tengen game 1 Iyama right Hot Spring, Awara City, Fukui Prefecture on October 19. From the opening on, the game featured fierce fighting that spread over the whole board. Playing white, Iyama Yuta punished Black for a mistake toward the end of the game and secured a resignation after 234 moves. However, in the second game, played at the Toyo Grand Hotel in the town of Nakashibetsu (which in Ainu means “a place with many salmon”) in Hokkaido on October 29, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) won by half a point after 312 moves. There is now a break of three and a half weeks till the third game, scheduled for November 23. Note: photo is from Game 3

Cho catches up in Meijin title match: In my previous report, I promised some more details on the fifth game of the 43rd Meijin title match. Playing white, the challenger, Cho U, won by 9.5 points. This made the score 2-3 and kept his chances alive. The game was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on October 15 and 16. Unlike the previous game, there was a peaceful start, so it looked like becoming an endgame contest. However, around the evening of the second day, Iyama Yuta Meijin made a do-or-die move, so complicated fighting started. This was tough on Iyama because he was in byo-yomi. Cho has a policy of trying to leave as much time for the late middle game and endgame; when Iyama reached his last ten minutes, which is when byo-yomi starts, Cho still had three hours and a half hours on his clock.
The fighting in the latter part of the game is too complicated to describe; suffice it to say that a major trade took place. During a subsequent ko fight, Iyama went wrong 2018.11.02_43meijin6 Cho rightwith his ko threat, so Cho took a safe lead.
The sixth game was played at the Atami Sekitei, a traditional Japanese inn that has hosted many important games and is located in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on October 22 and 23. There were no major fights in the first part of the game, so it looked like becoming a contest in endurance. However, Cho, playing black, built a strong wall that affected the whole board and helped him to gain points in various places. As in the previous game, Iyama launched a do-or-die attack in an attempt to upset Cho’s lead. In the difficult fight that followed, Cho’s reading surpassed that of the defending champion, so Iyama resigned after move 195. Akiyama Jiro 9P, the Asahi Newspaper commentator, summed up the game as follows: “This was a convincing win for the challenger. Rather than saying that the Meijin played some bad moves, my feeling was that the challenger’s performance surpassed that of the Meijin.” The deciding game will be played on November 1 and 2.

Tomorrow: Honinbo League; Korea wins International Gratitude Cup; Kono reaches Kisei play-off; Ichiriki makes good start in Oza

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #11

Wednesday October 31, 2018

By Bill Cobbart poster-purple

I’ve been working with Yuan Zhou on a new book about the astonishing degree to which pros are adopting an AlphaGo tactic that is a direct rejection of traditional theory about how to play. The move in question is invading on a 3-3 point behind the opponent’s 4-4 point stone very early in the game—even as Black’s third move! Any strong player would have laughed (or screamed if it was your teacher) if a relatively weak player had done that a year ago. But now, even the very top pros do it. I have seen several games in which Ke Jie 9p of China, considered by many to be the best player in the world, has done this, including invading with move 3 as Black. If you browse through the games in any pro tournament, you will find a lot of these early 3-3 invasions. I don’t know whether amateurs are picking up on this—the people I play on DragonGo often seem somewhat startled when I do it. But it is an amazing instance of how much freedom there is in playing go. The fact that AlphaGo has pretty much proved that go is not going to be “solved” so that a knowing player with first move can always win (even AlphaGo can’t do that), you can enjoy participating in something that truly offers a real opportunity for creativity and freedom. Of course, this doesn’t mean that anything goes and can be freely tried. Starting on the 1-1 points is not going to lead to a happy result. In that regard, go continues to be a lot like life. There are a lot of quite appropriate restrictions on our behavior, but no one really knows the limits of what can be done. Don’t just stay with the same old routines all the time—look for new possibilities. They could be revolutionary.

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 23: LIVE from Washington DC!

Monday October 22, 2018

Game 23 in the AlphaGo self-play game series gets a very special extended treatment in this episode of Michael Redmond 2018.10.22_AlphaGo23-demo-board9P’s commentaries with E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock. The episode was recorded live on 2018.10.22_AlphaGo23Friday, September 7 at the National Go Center in Washington DC, before a live audience, which had braved torrential rains to be on hand. Redmond first provides a brief overview of the game and then the two move to a demonstration board (at 18:40) for a more in-depth analysis, along with Q&A with the live audience. Check out the video here and the commented game record below.

Thanks to Jeff Fitzgerald for camera, lighting and sound, Nathan Epstein for production, NGC Executive Director Gurujeet Khalsa for technical support, and Andrew Jackson for editing.

[link]

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The Power Report: Fujisawa makes good start in Women’s Honinbo; Iyama close to goal in Meijin title match, but Cho picks up second win; Honinbo League

Sunday October 21, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.10.21_Rina L Xie R referee Kataoka Satoshi 9P

Fujisawa makes good start in Women’s Honinbo: For the fourth year in a row, we have the same pairing in the Women’s Honinbo title match, that is, Xie Yimin v. Fujisawa Rina, but alternating the roles of defender and challenger. Fujisawa first won the title in the 33rd term (2014), when she beat the defending champion Mukai Chiaki 3-0. The following term, Xie, who had already won this title six times (in a row before losing to Mukai), challenged and regained the title with a 3-2 score. In the 35th term, Fujisawa took the title back, winning 3-1, but lost it to Xie 2-3 the next year. So it was no surprise when Fujisawa became the challenger again this year for the 37th term. At present, this is the only title Xie has, so she will be reluctant to hand it over. If Fujisawa wins, she will become a triple title-holder again, as she also has the Hollyhock Cup and the Women’s Meijin. Incidentally, this is the third time that a women’s title match has featured the same card four years in a row; it has not yet happened in open tournaments.
The first game was held at the Kashoen inn in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture, on October 10. Taking black, Fujisawa won by resignation after 145 moves. Xie is known for her aggressive style, but in the early middle game she played a move focused more on defending one of her weak groups instead of attacking, and this seems to have made the game tough for her. Later, she played another overly defensive move, letting her opponent occupy the last remaining big point from the opening. Xie staked her chances of pulling off an upset on setting up a center moyo, but Fujisawa was able to whittle it down enough to keep her lead. There is a long gap before the second game, scheduled for November 9. Incidentally, Fujisawa has been on a winning streak since August 30, and this was her ninth successive win.2018.10.21_43meijin4 Iyama R

Iyama close to goal in Meijin title match, but Cho picks up second win: After Cho U scored a good win in the third game of the 43rd Meijin title match, it looked as if the contest was going to heat up. Ishida Yoshio, 24th Honinbo, often comments that the fourth game in a best-of-seven is crucial, as there’s a big difference between 2-2 and 3-1. The all-important fourth game was played at the Takarazuka Hotel in Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture, on October 10 and 11. The first day’s play, which showed strong AI influence in the josekis, was quite promising for Cho, who had black. However, he went wrong on the second day when he made a strategic decision that took territory but gave Iyama too much central moyo potential. The defending champion took the initiative. Cho had to invade Iyama’s moyo, but was unable to live with all of his stones. Iyama cut off what in the end was nearly half of the invading force, and this was enough to win. Cho resigned after 188 moves. That took Iyama’s lead to 3-1, so he is very close to defending his title.
The fifth game at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on October 15 and 16. Playing white, Cho won by 9.5 points after 284 moves. This keeps his challenge alive, though Iyama still has an edge. The sixth game will be played on October 22 and 23. (I will give more details about the game in my next report.)2018.10.21_Honinbo

Honinbo League: Two games have been played in the new Honinbo League, the 74th. On October 4, league veteran Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat league debutant Anzai Nobuaki 7P by resignation. The second game was played on the 11th, with Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 7P (W) beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by half a point.

Promotion: To 9-dan: Kim Sujun (200 wins, as of October 12)

 

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The Power Report: Hirose wins King of New Stars; Iyama eliminated from Samsung; New tournament for non-winners; Ichiriki wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Onishi wins again in Kisei knock-out

Saturday October 13, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Hirose wins King of New Stars: 
Fittingly enough, the younger player prevailed in the 43rd King of the New Stars (Shinjin-2018.10.13_King Hirose right beats Onishi leftO) title match, with the 17-year-old Hirose Yuichi 2P (right) beating the 23-year-old Onishi Kenya 3P (left). The first game was played on September 21; taking white, Hirose won by resignation after 144 moves. The second game was played on October 1. Hirose (B) won by 4.5 points. The venue for both games was the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo. Prize money is 2,000,000 yen (about $18,000). This tournament has traditionally been regarded as a stepping stone for future champions. Recent winners include Shibano Toramaru (2017), Kyo Kagen (2015), and Ichiriki Ryo (2014). You won’t find Iyama Yuta’s name in the list, because at the age of 16 he was promoted to 7-dan for winning the Agon Kiriyama Cup. The conditions for participation are that you be 6-dan or under and 25 or under, both as of August 1.

Iyama eliminated from Samsung: The best eight in the 2018 Samsung Cup was as far as Iyama Yuta could go. He was2018.10.13_Iyama left Xie right matched against the player who beat him in this year’s LG Cup final and he failed to take revenge. Full results in the quarterfinals follow (games played on October 2).
Xie Erhao 9P (China, right) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan, left) by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (B) beat Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) by resig.; Tang Weixing 9P (China) (W) beat Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) by resig.; Ahn Kukhyun 8P (Korea) (B) beat Lian Xiao 9P (China) by resig.
Pairings in the semifinals are Ke v. Xie and Tang v. An. The semis are best-of-three and are scheduled for Nov. 5, 6, and 7.
Correction. I got the name of Iyama’s opponent in the second round wrong. It should be Li Xuanhao, not Li Jianhao.

New tournament for non-winners: The Masters Cup is a tournament for senior players who have won a top-seven title. Now a new tournament has appeared that is the reverse: it is for players at the Nihon Ki-in aged from 31 to 60 who have not won a top-seven title or the Ryusei or the Agon Kiriyama Cup. The tournament is the 1st SGW Cup: Golden Mean Tournament. The golden mean is a Confucian term referring to acting without bias; I don’t know what the significance of the term is here, and an enquiry with the Nihon Ki-in did not enlighten me. The main sponsor is a real-estate company called St. Grande W. First prize will be 2,000,000 yen (about $18,000) and second prize is 500,000 yen. Preliminaries will be held on the Nihon Ki-in’s Net site in October and November; time allowance will be 20 seconds per move plus 1 minute x 5. The top 162018.10.13_Agon Ichiriki will play in the main tournament, which will be a four-round Swiss System held at the Nihon Ki-in on December 8 and 9. Here the time limit will be 30 seconds per move plus 1 minute x 5. The winner will “graduate” from the tournament.

Ichiriki wins Agon Kiriyama Cup: The final of the 25th Agon Kiriyama Cup featured a clash between two of the top players in the post-Iyama generation: Ichiriki Ryo 8P (left), the top player among those in their early 20s, and Shibano Toramaru 7P, the top teenager. The game was played at the Mt. Shaka Bodai Temple, the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon Buddhist sect. Taking black, Ichiriki won by resig. after 213 moves. First prize is a handsome 10,000,000 yen (about $90,000), which is more than for two top-seven titles (the Gosei, with 8,000,000, and the Judan, with 7,000,000). Financially, Ichiriki is undoubtedly doing better than his classmates at Waseda University, where he is a “full-time” student, as recently he also won the Ryusei title (worth 6,000,000 – see my October 1 report).

Onishi wins again in Kisei knock-out: The second game in the irregular knock-out to decide the Kisei challenger was held on October 8. Taking white, Onishi Ryuhei 3P, winner of the C League, beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P, winner of the A League, by resig. Next, he will face Kono Rin 9P, who came second in the S League. The winner of that game will meet Yamashita Keigo 9P, winner of the S League.

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The Power Report: Ichiriki wins Ryusei; Tianfu Cup starts; Cho picks up first win in Meijin challenge; Kisei play-off tournament starts; Iyama wins in Samsung

Monday October 1, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.10.01_27ryusei Ichiriki

Ichiriki wins Ryusei: The Ryusei is a TV tournament using the NHK format, that is, the time allowance is 30 seconds a move plus ten minutes extra time to be used in one-minute units. The preliminary tournament actually allots more time: one hour per player plus one-minute byo-yomi. The final of the 27th Ryusei was telecast on September 24 (the game was played on July 23). It paired two top young players: Ichiriki Ryo 8P (aged 21, right), who won the 25th Ryusei, and Motoki Katsuya 8P (aged 22 when the game was played, but now 23), who challenged for last year’s Honinbo title. Taking black, Ichiriki won by resig. after 231 moves. The prize money is six million yen (about $55,000). Until now, the winner of the Japanese Ryusei played the winner of the Chinese Ryusei, but a Korean Ryusei tournament has also been founded, so it will be expanded to a three-way play-off.

Tianfu Cup starts: The opening round of the firstTianfu Cup World Go Professional Championship, yet another new international tournament founded in China, was held at the Chinese Qiyuan (Ki-in) in Beijing from September 21 to 26. It is organized a little differently from the other international tournaments: the 32 players taking part are divided into two blocks, that is, two knock-out tournaments, each starting with 16 players. These four-round tournaments are collectively referred to as Round 1. The winner and the other finalist in each block go on to the second stage, called Round 2. Group A was won by Jiang Weijie 9P (China), who beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) and Group B by Park Junghwan 9P (Korea), who beat his compatriot Shin Jinseo 9P. The semifinal pairings will be A Block #1 v. Block #2 and B Block #1 v. A Block #2. I don’t have the schedule for Round 2. Six players from Japan took part, of whom the only one to survive the first round (of “Round 1”) was Yamashita Keigo. He was eliminated in the next round. Detailed results these games are given below:
Round 1 (Sept. 21). Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (B) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 8P (Japan) by resig.; Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) (W) beat Wang Yuanjun 8P (Chinese Taipei) by resig.; Gu Zihao 9P (China) (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P (Japan) by resig.; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.; Peng Liyao 7P (China) (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P (Japan) by resig.; Tang Weixing 9P (China) (B) beat Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 7P (Japan) by resig.
Round 2 (September 22). Gu Jihao (B) beat Yamashita by resig.
NOTES:
First prize is 2,000,000 yuan (about $290,000). The time allowance is two hours each plus one-minute byo-yomi x 5. This is China’s fifth international tournament, according to Go Weekly, which also noted that out of its 13 players in Round 1, 11 have won world championships. The depth of Chinese go is staggering. Of Korea’s six representatives, four have won world titles. Lee Changho of Korea, who in the 90s and early 2000s dominated world go, winning an unrivalled 21 international titles, made a rare appearance in this tournament. He is now 43. He lost to Xie Erhao 9P of China in the first 2018.10.01_Meijin 3 Cho looks happyround. Both Iyama Yuta and Shibano Toramaru, who are usually sure selections to represent Japan, were too busy to take part. You have to assume you might win all your games, so you have to set aside six days plus travel time, which for Iyama is certainly not easy.

Cho picks up first win in Meijin challenge: The third game of the 43rd Meijin title match was held at the Shiroyama Hotel Kagoshima in Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, on September 25 and 26. It’s become a commonplace to observe that fighting starts earlier in professional games than in the old days, but even so the no-holds-barred aggression on display in this game was impressive. And it didn’t let up. In the midst of all the fighting, Cho U (left) steadily racked up some small gains and by the end, on move 278, had a lead of 4.5 points, which is considered a convincing win among professionals. After his bad start, Cho would have been relieved to get a point on the board.  The fourth game will be played on October 10 and 11.

Kisei play-off tournament starts: The first game in the knockout tournament to decide the challenger for the 43rd Kisei title was held on September 27. Taking black, Onishi Ryuhei 3P beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by 4.5 points. In the next game, Onishi will play Murakawa Daisuke, the winner of the A League. Shibano and Onishi are both 18; the former has attracted more attention recently, but, as this result shows, he has rivals in his own age group. The two are sometimes bracketed as “the dragon and the tiger,” as “tora” in the former’s name means “tiger,” and “ryu” in the latter’s means “dragon.2018.10.01_samsung Li (left) v. Iyama” Shibano is on top of the “most games won” list this year, with 40-15, but Onishi is in second place on 34-6; the win against Shibano was his 14th in a winning streak that’s still going.

Iyama wins in Samsung : On the point of submitting this report, I learned that Iyama Yuta won his game in the round of 16 in the Samsung Cup, held on October 1. Taking black, he beat Li Jianhao 7P of China by resig. In the quarterfinals, hold on October 2, he will meet Xie Erhao 9P (China), who beat him 2-1 in the 22nd LG Cup final played in February this year.

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The Power Report (2/2): Kisei Leagues; Tournament to decide the Kisei challenger; 74th Honinbo League seats; Yamashita-Iyama pairing in Tengen sets new record

Monday September 24, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei Leagues2018.09.24-kisei-league

S League: Below are the results of the games played in the final round of the 43rdKisei S League. On September 13, Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by half a point. On September 17, Ichiriki Ryo 8P beat Kyo Kagen Gosei by resig. and Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Cho U 9P by 1.5 points. Yamashita had already clinched victory in the league in the fourth round, so this loss did not hurt him. However, Kyo Kagen’s loss was painful, as it meant ceding second place to Kono. There are no play-offs in the Kisei leagues: ranking takes precedence, so Kono qualifies for the final stage (see below). The bottom two players will drop to the A League.

A League: Murakawa Daisuke 8P took first place in the A League, which has eight members. Actually, he “tied” with three other players on 5-2—they were So Yokoku 9P, Yo Seiki 7P, and Shida Tatsuya 7P—but his number one ranking gave him precedence. Murakawa and Yo will be promoted to the S League in the next term (assuming the former does not become Kisei).

B Leagues: There are two B Leagues, each with eight members. A play-off was held on September 17, and Shibano Toramaru 7P (B2 winner on 7-0) (W) beat Akiyama Jiro 9P (B1 winner on 5-2) by resig.

C League: The C League is like a tournament in its own right: it has 32 players and is run by the Swiss System. Onishi Ryohei 3P won it 5-0.

Tournament to decide the Kisei challenger: The league winners above will participate in an irregular knock-out tournament to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta. It works as follows: Onishi plays Shibano, the winner plays Murakawa, the winner plays Kono, and the winner plays Yamashita. The final with Yamashita is a “best-of-three” in which three games will never be played. The reason is that Yamashita will start off with a one-win advantage, so his opponent has to win two in a row. Otherwise, what would be the point of winning the top League? In theory, though, any of the 62 players in any of the five leagues could become Kisei, so it’s thought that professionals feel more incentive than with the former system.

74th Honinbo League seats: Three of the four vacant seats in the 74th Honinbo League were decided on September 6. Anzai Nobuaki 7P (W) beat O Rissei 9P by half a point; Anzai will make his debut in a league. Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by 3.5 points; he makes an immediate comeback after dropping out of the previous league. Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by resig.; he also played in the 71stLeague. The final play-off was held on September 10. Kono Rin (B) beat Mutsuura Yuta 7P by resig.; like Ichiriki, Kono last played in the 71stLeague. These players will join Yamashita Keigo 9P

Yamashita-Iyama pairing in Tengen sets new record: In my previous report, I noted that Yamashita Keigo had become the challenger to Iyama Yuta for the Tengen title. Subsequently, Go Weekly pointed out that this will be the 11th title match between these two, which sets a new record. So far, Iyama has lost only once. The previous record was ten, shared among three players in two pairings: Cho Chikun (eight wins) v. Kobayashi Koichi and Kobayashi Koichi (six) v. Kato Masao. Next is the current Meijin title match, which is the ninth match between Iyama (six) and Cho U. Equal fourth is Cho Chikun (seven) v. Otake Hideo.

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The Power Report (1 of 2): Iyama makes best 16 in Samsung Cup; Iyama takes two-game lead in Meijin; Ichiriki to challenge for Oza title

Saturday September 22, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.09.22_Samsung Iyama

Iyama makes best 16 in Samsung Cup:
The opening round in the 2018 Samsung Cup was held at the Samsung Insurance Campus in Korea on September 4 to 6. (It’s the 23rd cup, but apparently the sponsor is not numbering them that way any more; the full title of the tournament goes Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance World Masters 2018.09.22_Samsung left Shibano right ChenBaduk 2018.) The first round is like a tournament in its own right: the 32 players are split up into eight groups of four, who then play each other. Two wins take you to the next round (whether your score is 2-0 or 2-1) and two losses (0-2 or 1-2) eliminate you.
Japan was represented by Iyama Yuta 9P (right), Shibano Toramaru 7P (left), and Ryu Shikun 9P (right, below). The first two were Japan’s seeded players; Ryu won a seat in the Seniors division of the international qualifying tournament and was playing in the main tournament for the first time since 2001.2018.09.22_Samsung  Ryu right
In the first game (September 4), Shibano was the only one to pick up a win. He defeated Chen Yaoye 9P of China, who eliminated him from the Bailing Cup (see my previous report). Shibano had white and won by 4.5 points. Iyama Yuta (W) lost to Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig. and Ryu (W) lost to Li Xiangu 5P (China) by 1.5 points. In the 2018.09.22_Samsung Yun Iyamasecond game, played the next day, Iyama (W) beat Yun Seongshik (left, below), an amateur player from Korea, by resig.; Ryu (B) beat Wu Guangya 6P (China) by resig.; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Shibano by resig. In the third game (the 6th), Iyama (B) beat Tan Shui 9P (China) by resig.; Gu Zihao 9P (China) (W) beat Shibano by resig.; Li Xiangu (B) beat Ryu by 1.5 points.
Iyama was the only one to make it to the second round, but Shibano and Ryu were by no means disgraced, as scoring even one win at this level is impressive. Actually, Shibano was in what was dubbed the “group of death,” as the other three players (Park, Gu, and Chen) are all past or present world titleholders. Ryu, who at the “advanced” age of 46 qualifies as a senior, was ahead in his third game, but slipped up in the endgame. He was chagrinned to lose twice to the same opponent by the same small margin.
The second round will be played on October 1.2018.09.22_43meijin2_Iyama

Iyama takes two-game lead in Meijin: The second game of the 43rd Meijin title match was held at the Kakujoro a traditional inn, in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture, on September 12 and 13. Cho U, the challenger, is know for his skill at fighting kos and he seemed to take the initiative when he connected a ko in the first fight on move 55. However, there was a lot of action still to come: the game extended to 336 moves, making it the second-longest game in a Meijin title match. Both sides made mistakes or errors in judgment, so the lead shifted back and forth. The game was decided when Cho suffered a hallucination on move 253. This was decisive. Iyama (right) won the game by 2.5 points. Iyama: “The result of the ko fight at the beginning was not favorable for me. I thought it would be a drawn-out game, but I was not confident. I didn’t have a clue about some of the things going on and thought I had messed up the game, but I took profit with border moves in the middle game.” Cho: “There were many positions in which I thought the game was easier for me. I got my last chance in the endgame, but I hallucinated and lost about three points. The content was not bad for me, so I will make a fresh start and do my best.” The third game will be played on September 25 and 26.

Ichiriki to challenge for Oza title: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 66thOza title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on September 13. It was fought between two players younger than the title-holder Iyama Yuta: Ichiriki Ryo 7P (aged 20) and Motoki Katsuya 8P (aged 23). Taking black, Ichiriki won by resignation after 239 moves. He will make his second successive challenge for this title and his fifth challenge overall to Iyama. The first game will be played on October 26.

Tomorrow: Kisei Leagues; Tournament to decide the Kisei challenger; 74th Honinbo League seats; Yamashita-Iyama pairing in Tengen sets new record

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