American Go E-Journal » John Power Report

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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The Power Report (3 of 3): Yamashita wins Kisei S League; New Pair Go World Champion Pair; Iyama starts Meijin defense with a win; Yamashita to challenge for Tengen title; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Promotions; Nakayama the most prolific go writer?

Wednesday September 12, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Yamashita wins Kisei S League: 
Two games in the 43rdKisei S League were played on July 9. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig. and Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by half a point. On 4-0, Yamashita was the only unbeaten player; there is no play-off in ties in this league, so Yamashita won the league regardless of his result in the fifth and final round. In the running for second place—and a place in the knockout tournament to decide the challenger–were Kono Rin 9P and Kyo Kagen Gosei, who were both on 2-1. They played each other on August 30. Taking white, Kyo won by resignation. This gives him provisional second place. If he loses his final game, the winner of a game between Kono and Takao Shinji will edge him out, as both are ranked higher in the league. In contrast to the Meijin League, in which he won all his games, Cho U has lost all his games; on 0-4, he can’t hope to avoid demotion.

New Pair Go World Champion Pair: In 2016, a Pair Go World Cup was held and was won by the Chinese team of Yu Zhiying 5P and Ke Jie 9P. Last year, a World Championship was held in two stages. The first part was a tournament to decide the pair to challenge the reigning world champion pair of Yu and Ke. The Chinese pair defended their title. This year another world championship was held, but with a different result. The first stage, held on August 20 and 21, was won by the Korean team of Choi Jeong 9P and Park Junghwan 9-dan. They won their challenge to the Yu/Ke pair and so now reign as the Pair Go World Champion Pair. Taking black, Choi and Park won by resignation after 183 moves.2018.09.12_meijin1 Iyama left

Iyama starts Meijin defense with a win: The first game of the 43rd Meijin title match was held at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on August 28 and 29. Taking black, Iyama Yuta made a good start to his defence, forcing the challenger Cho U 9P to resign after 239 moves. In a variation of a recently popular “joseki,” a massive ko fight (worth 45 points) started. With move 81, Iyama ignored his opponent’s ko threat and finished off the ko, but ceding the ko was also feasible, as in exchange Black would have got a large-scale attack on White. Next, an enormous fight started on the other side of the board, featuring two more large ko fights. White suffered further damage in one of these fights and, although he managed to wall off a large territory, he was unable to match Black on territory. The second game will be played on September 12 and 13.

Yamashita to challenge for Tengen title: Not everything is going smoothly for Kyo Kagen, the new holder of the2018.09.12_tengen chall Yamashita left-2 Gosei title. The play-off to decide the challenger for the 44thTengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on September 3. Playing white, Yamashita Keigo 9P beat Kyo by resignation after 226 moves. Yamashita turned 40 three days later, so he is nearly twice Kyo’s age. This will be Yamashita’s first appearance in the Tengen title match since the 36thTengen in 2009. He won the 30thand 35thtitles. The match with Iyama Yuta will start on October 19.

Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo: Fujisawa Rina has a chance to take back the title she lost to Xie Yimin last year. In 2018.09.12_WomHonin Fujisawa leftthe play-off to decide the challenger for the 37th Women’s Honinbo Title, held at the Nihon Ki-in on September 6, she beat Ueno Asami (B) by resignation. The title match will start on October 16.

Promotions
To 8-dan: Kyo Kagen for winning the Gosei title (as of August 4)
To 4-dan: Kumamoto Shusei (50 wins, as of August 3)
To 3-dan: Otani Naoki (40 wins, as of July 27)

Nakayama the most prolific go writer?
In the August 21 issue of this journal, Kent Olsen expressed interest in the number of books Nakayama Noriyuki had written. I have no way of doing a count, but I do recall a conversation decades ago in which Nakayama mentioned that he had already written over 200 go books. He added that publishers liked him because, if required, he could write a book over a weekend. Some of his books would have been published under the names of top professionals, with the actual writer getting a credit as “writer” or “editor” or sometimes not being mentioned at all.

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The Power Report (2 of 3): Park wins Kuksu Mountain; New star wins 1st Go Seigen Cup; Cho U to challenge for Meijin title; Kyo wins Gosei title

Tuesday September 11, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.09.11_kuksu mt final Park left

Park wins Kuksu Mountain: The Bailing Cup was immediately followed by the 5th Kuksu Mountains International Tournament, held in Jeollanam-do in Korea. Three Japanese players took part but were all eliminated in the first round. Kang Dongyun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Iyama Yuta by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (W) beat Yuki Satoshi by resig.; and Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig. These games were played on July 28. Park went on to win the tournament, beating Wang Yuan-jun 8P of Chinese Taipei in the final on July 30. A Pair Go tournament was also held with mixed teams made up by drawing lots. Lu Minquan 4P (China) and Lee Chang-ho 9P (Korea) beat Hei Jia-jia (Joanne Missingham) (Chinese Taipei) and Wang Lei 8P (China) in the final.

New star wins 1st Go Seigen Cup: The Wu Qingyuan (Go Seigen) Cup World Women’s Championship is a new international tournament organized by Fuzhou City, the birthplace of Go Seigen, in Fujian Province. The early rounds were held from April 26 to May 1, as described in my June report. The best-of-three final between Kim Chaeyoung 4P and Choi Jeong 9P, both of Korea, was held recently. The latter was the overwhelming favorite: she had already won two world titles and hadn’t lost even one of her 11 games with Kim. However, Kim surprised her by taking the title with straight wins. The games were played on July 23 and 25; Kim won the first with white, then with black won the second by 5.5 points. Choi had a negative record against China’s number one woman player Yu Zhiying of 9-15. During the break in the tournament before the final, Kim studied Yu’s games intensively to work out how to beat Choi. That worked. In recognition of her victory, she was promoted to 5-dan. One of the parallel events was a Pair Go tournament for family pairs. It was won by Rui Naiwei 9P and her husband Jiang Zhujiu 9P; second was Kim Songle 5P and his daughter Kim Dayoung 3P; third was Nyu Lili 5P and her daughter Nyu Eiko 2P; and fourth was Nyu Xianxian 3P and her husband Michael Redmond 9P.

Cho U to challenge for Meijin title: After holding the lead all the way in the 43rd Meijin League, Cho U 9P did not2018.09.11_meijin-chart falter in the final two rounds and so earned the right to play in his first top-seven title match since the Kisei in 2013. Cho actually secured victory when he beat Ko Iso in the July round, as his 7-0 score put him two wins clear of the field, but he put the icing on the cake with another win in the final round. Cho commented that he felt it was important to maintain his momentum by winning all eight games in the league, all the more so to match Iyama Yuta’s record in the previous league. CLICK HERE for the Asahi newspaper’s special English coverage, including reports, videos and commentary by Michael Redmond 9P. 

Putting aside the ultimate success of his challenge, Cho seems to have come out of his slump of recent years. In 2009, he became the first player to hold five of the top seven titles simultaneously and in 2010 the second player to score a cumulative grand slam. However, he was the main victim of the rise of Iyama Yuta. He lost the Meijin title to him in 2009, the Judan in 2011, the Oza in 2012 and the Kisei in 2013. This is his chance to take revenge and make a comeback.

Shibano Toramaru’s performance is also worth of note: a score of 6-2 in a top league is impressive. He won his first three games, seemed to be going downhill when he lost the middle two, but rallied to win the last three and take second place. He will surely emerge as the challenger before long.

Results of games played since my previous report follow.
(July 19) Cho U (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by 3.5 points.
(August 2) Cho U (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.; Kono 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Shibano (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

Kyo wins Gosei title: The third game of the 43rd Gosei title match was held at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon 2018.09.11_43gosei3 KyoKi-in in Osaka on August 3. Taking white, Kyo forced a resignation after 224 moves. The 20-year-old Kyo is the first player of the younger generation to beat Iyama in a title match. As in the first two games, he was able to match Iyama in the precision of his reading and his fighting skill. It’s safe to say that not many people expected him to take the series 3-0.

This brought an end to Iyama’s second septuple crown. He extended his reign to 290 days compared to 197 days for his first grand slam. After his first grand slam was ended 2018.09.11_43gosei3 Kyo leftby the loss of the Meijin title, Iyama was able to hold on to his other titles, then to resurrect the septuple crown by regaining the Meijin title the following year. Of course, he will attempt to repeat this feat, but he has now turned 30, so maintaining peak form may prove tougher.

Kyo won the Gosei title just five years and four months after becoming a professional, which is a new speed record for a top-seven title. At 20 years seven months, he is the youngest Gosei ever and the third-youngest player to win a top-seven title (the record is held by Iyama, who won the Meijin title at 20 years four months.) Iyama’s reign as Gosei lasted for six years. More stats: Iyama has played in 49 title matches and lost eight of them; this is the first time he has suffered straight losses.

Kyo: “When I became the challenger, I felt happy just to be able to play a match with Iyama Sensei. For much of the time, the first and third games were bad for me, so I guess I was lucky.”

Iyama: “I don’t think that holding seven titles is a normal state, so I wasn’t strongly focused on defending. Though I would have liked to make the match more exciting—lasting just three games was a pity. I felt from early on that the third game was bad for me. I did have chances, but I couldn’t make the most of them. I hope I can learn from this defeat and come back stronger.”

Tomorrow: Yamashita wins Kisei S League; New Pair Go World Champion Pair; Iyama starts Meijin defense with a win; Yamashita to challenge for Tengen title; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Promotions; Nakayama the most prolific go writer?

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The Power Report (1 of 3): Mizokami scores 700th win; Yoda wins Masters Cup; 4th Bailing Cup Report

Monday September 10, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

This was a harsh summer over most of the Japanese archipelago, with record heat alternating with record rainfalls. For the first time ever, the thermometer topped 40 degrees Celsius within the Tokyo metropolis, and many other areas also set new records. Both extremes are dangerous. There were many fatalities from heat strokes, especially among older people. Some died overnight in their homes because they hesitated to turn on air conditioners (most pensions are not very generous). Heavy rain can be even more dangerous, as it causes floods and landslides that wash away homes or bury them in mud. To cap it off, there was a major earthquake in Hokkaido at the beginning of September. Summer, especially August, has always seemed like a bit of an off season for go, but there has been a lot of activity, as my reports over the next few days will show.

Mizokami scores 700th win: A win scored by Mizokami Tomochika 9P on July 12 against Onishi Ryuhei 3P in Preliminary A of the 44th Meijin Tournament (taking white, he won by 2.5 points) was his 700th win as a professional. He is the 48th player at the Nihon Ki-in to reach this landmark. Mizokami is 41, and it took him 25 years three months to make it to 700.

Yoda wins Masters Cup: The final of the 8th Fumakilla Igo Masters Cup, a tournament for seniors open to former 2018.09.10_masters Yodawinners of top-seven titles aged 50 or over, was held in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on July 21. Sixteen players competed in the main tournament, but there is also a preliminary for senior players who have done well in the prize money list. The players in the final were Yoda Norimoto 9P (right) and Kataoka Satoshi 9P, neither of whom had won this title before. Two and a half decades ago, they had met in the finals of two minor titles, with victory going to Kataoka on both occasions. Playing white, Yoda forced a resignation after 218 moves and secured the first prize of 5 million yen (about $45,000). The sponsor of the tournament is an insecticide manufacturer, so I had facilely assumed that the company name meant “fume killer,” but not so. The company’s HP indicates that “fuma” comes from “fu” in the Japanicized pronunciation of “fly” and “ma” likewise from “mosquito” but changed from “mo” to “ma” to make the new word easier to pronounce.

4th Bailing Cup Report: 
The first two rounds of the 4th Bailing Cup World Weiqi Championship were held at the Zhongguo Qiyuan (Chinese Ki-in) from July 24 to 26. Four players from Japan took part; two of them won in the first round (round of 16) but were eliminated in the second. Three Chinese players and one Korean made the semifinals. A senior tournament and an amateur tournament were held at the same time. Yoda Norimoto made the final in the former.

This year major changes were made in the tournament format. Formerly, 64 players competed in the first round, making this a mammoth tournament to rival the Samsung Cup, but that number was reduced to 16. The open preliminary was abolished, with representatives being chosen by their countries.

Selected results (full details not available for some games):
(Round 1) Iyama Yuta (W) (Japan) beat Lian Xiao (China) by resig.; Chen Yaoye (China) beat Park Junghwan (Korea); Gu Jihao (China) beat Yamashita Keigo (Japan); Dang Yifei (China) beat Kyo Kagen (Japan); Shibano Toramaru (Japan) (W) beat Tan Xiao (China) by half a point.
(Round 2) Chen Yaoye (B) beat Shibano by resig.; Gu Jihao (B) beat Iyama by resig.
(Semifinals) Chen v. Ke Jie (China); Gu v. Shin Jinseo (Korea).

Previously, a disproportionate burden of expectation seemed to be placed on Iyama’s shoulders, but recently the most popular Japanese player overseas has been the 18-year-old Shibano. This year he has beaten three top Chinese players in Ke Jie in the Japan-China Ryusei Play-off, Tang Weixing in the LG Cup and now Tan. As a result, he is acquiring fans in China and Korea.

Results in the seniors tournament (there are no Koreans, because the sponsors chose players who starred in the Japan-China go exchange in the 80s):

Round of 8) Nie Weiping 9P (China) beat Takemiya Masaki 9P (Japan); Ma Xiaochun 9P (China) beat Kobayashi Koichi 9P (Japan); Yoda Norimoto 9P (Japan) beat Liu Xiaoguang 9P (China); Chang Hao 9P (China) beat Otake Hideo 9P (Japan).

(Semifinals) Ma beat Nie; Yoda (W) beat Chang by resig.

(Final) Ma v. Yoda

Tomorrow: Park wins Kuksu Mountain; New star wins 1st Go Seigen Cup; Cho U to challenge for Meijin title; Kyo wins Gosei title

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The Power Report (Part 3 of 3): Kyo makes good start in Gosei; Kobayashi Koichi wins tournament for senior players; Ryu wins seat in 2018 Samsung Cup; Yamashita leads S League; Cho U keeps lead in Meijin League; Promotions; Obituary: Nishigami Yoshihiko 9P

Sunday July 22, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.07.22_Gosei2 Kyo

Kyo makes good start in Gosei : The 43rd Gosei best-of-five title match got off to a start on June 23. The venue was the Hokkoku (North Country) Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. The Hokkoku Newspaper is a member of the Newspaper Igo Federation, a group of 13 regional newspapers that sponsor the Gosei tournament.
This year the challenger is Kyo Kagen 7-dan, who is making his title-match debut. He was born in Taiwan, where he is known as Hsu Chiayuan (Xu Jiayuan in Pinyin). Kyo has 2018.07.22_Gosei2 Iyama Kyoalready made a name for himself as one of the most promising younger players in Japan; he was promoted to 7-dan in 2017, when he won a seat in the Kisei S League. He will turn 21 onDecember 24. In the first Gosei game, he drew white and forced Iyama to resign after 226 moves. Kyo made a very severe attack that brought Iyama to his knees. Of the time allowance of four hours each, Kyo had three minutes left; Iyama was down to his last minute.
The second game was played at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo on July 6. The game concluded after 271 moves with Kyo (black) winning by 1.5 points. Once again Kyo slugged it out toe to toe and took the lead. Iyama’s septuple crown seems to be in serious danger. The third game will be played on July 3.

Kobayashi Koichi wins tournament for senior players: According to Go Weekly, tournaments for around eight 2018.07.22_Kobayashi with Wang Runanplayers are popular in various places in China and “legendary” Japanese and Korean players are sometimes invited to take part. On July 1 and 2, the city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province held the 1st International Weiqi Great Players Tournament to commemorate the building of a weiqi hall. (Shaoxing is a city of five million and is well known for the rice wine of the same name.) The participants were all top players in the last century, so I will give all the results (all players are 9-dan; I don’t have full details of the games).

(Round 1, July 1) Ma Xiaochun (China) beat Yang Jaeho (Korea), Kobayashi (Japan) beat Rin Kaiho (representing Chinese Taipei), Cao Dayuan (China) beat Seo Bong-soo (Korea), Nie Weiping (China) beat Takemiya Masaki.
(Round 2, July 1) Kobayashi beat Ma, Nie beat Cao.
(Final, July 2) Kobayashi (W) beat Nie by 4.5 points.
First prize was 200,000 yuan ($30,000)

Ryu wins seat in 2018 Samsung Cup: The international preliminaries for the current Samsung Cup were held in Seoul from July 2 to 7 with about 380 players taking part in the various sections. They included 35 players from Japan, of whom just one was successful: Ryu Shikun 9P in the Senior division. He will be competing in the main tournament for the third time and the first time since 2001.

Yamashita leads S League: After three rounds, Yamashita Keigo has the sole lead in the 43rdKisei S League with a score of 3-0. He is followed by Kono Rin 9P and Kyo Kagen 7P, both on 2-1. In the A League, three players on 3-1 share the lead: Murakawa Daisuke 8P, So Yokoku 9P, and Yo Seiki 7P. In the B1 league, Tsuruyama Atsushi 7P has the provisional lead with 5-1, but Akiyama Jiro 9P, on 4-1, also has only one loss. In the B2 League, Shibano Toramaru, on 6-0, has the sole lead.

Recent results in the S League:
(June 14) Ichiriki Ryo 8P (B) beat Cho U 9P by resig.
(June 21) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.
(July 13) Yamashita (W) beat Kyo Kagen by resig.

Cho U keeps lead in Meijin League: Cho U 9P not only has the sole lead in the 43rd Meijin League on 6-0, he is now two points clear of the field. The only other player with a chance of becoming the challenger is Shibano Toramaru 7P, who is on 4-2. If Cho wins his seventh-round game, against Ko Iso 8P, or if Shibano loses his, with Kono Rin 9P, Cho will win the league. If Cho loses, his final game against Takao Shinji 9P will assume greater importance. Recent results:
(June 7) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 3.5 points.
(June 14) Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by 1.5 points.
(June 28) Cho (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by 4.5 points.
(July 5) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.; Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

Promotions
To 8-dan: Rin Kanketsu (Lin Hanjie) (150 wins; as of July 6)
To 3-dan: Cho Zuiketsu (Zhang Ruijie) (40 wins; as of June 19)
To 2-dan: Utani Shunta (as of June 8), Seki Kotaro (as of June 26) (both 30 wins)

Obituary: Nishigami Yoshihiko 9P
Nishigami Yoshihiko died of colon cancer on June 30. Born in Osaka on March 16, 1941, Nishigami became a disciple of Hosokawa Chihiro 9P. He became 1-dan at the Osaka branch of the Nihon Ki-in 2in 1960, reached 8-dan in 1989, retired in 2006 and was promoted to 9-dan.

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The Power Report (Part 2 of 3): Iyama defends Honinbo title; Fujisawa defends 5thHollyhock Cup

Thursday July 19, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Honinbo title: The fourth game of the 73rdHoninbo best-of-seven title match was held at the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture, on June 12 and 13. Yamashita Keigo 9P, the challenger, who had white, 2018.07.19_Honinbo5 Yamashita Kataoka 9P moustache Iyamatook the initiative in the fighting on the first day and went into the second day with a slight advantage. But on the evening of the second day he flinched in the face of an all-out do-or-die challenge by Iyama Yuta (or Honinbo Monyu) and in a flash his lead was upset. He resigned after 189 moves. Iyama had now won three games in a row, so Yamashita faced a kadoban. Incidentally, this is the third year in a row that this hotel was scheduled to host a Honinbo game, but on the previous occasions the match ended before it reached the hotel.
The fifth game was played at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 30 and July 1. Playing white, Iyama secured a resignation after 228 moves and won the match 4-1. As in the previous game, Yamashita played well and seemed to have the initiative in the middle-game fighting on the second day, but when he launched an attack there was a chink in his armor; Iyama seized the opportunity to unleash a fierce counterpunch that Yamashita was unable to handle. He fought on until he ran out of options.
The prize money is 30,000,000 yen (about $278,000). Iyama has now held the Honinbo title for seven years in a row, so he has matched the record of Sakata Eio (16th to 26th terms); his next goals will be the nine-in-a-row posted by Takagawa Shukaku (7th to 15th terms), then Cho Chikun’s record of ten in a row (44th to 53rd). This is Iyama’s 52nd title. He is in fourth place after Cho Chikun (74), Sakata Eio (64), and Kobayashi Koichi (60), but in his tally of big-three titles (19) he is second only to Cho (29). Also, he has won 41 top-seven titles, just behind Cho’s record of 42.
Like the venues for the first and second games, the venue for the fifth game has a connection with the Meiji Restoration 150 years ago. The restoration of imperial rules was made possible by the victory of the clans supporting the restoration over those supporting the Tokugawa shogunate. After an attack by Imperial forces on Edo, the last shogun, Yoshinobu, surrendered in May 1868, but the Aizu clan, which supported the Tokugawas, continued fighting. The imperial army attacked Aizu Wakamatsu in October and the city surrendered in early November. The most famous incident in this part of the war was a mass suicide of 19 teenaged Aizu samurai in the White Tiger Corps when they concluded (prematurely) that their side had lost. This episode has been very popular in literature and film. For details of the war, check out “the Boshin war” in Wikipedia2018.07.19_Hollyhock Fujisawa and for the suicide “the Byakkotai.” The players visited the White Tiger graves to make offerings the day before the game.

Fujisawa defends 5th Hollyhock Cup: The games in the 5th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup best-of-three were held in the space of eight days. The first two games were held in the Konjakutei, a traditional Japanese inn, in Aizu Wakamatsu City in 2018.07.19_Hollyhock3 Xie Redmond referee FujisawaFukushima Prefecture with just one rest day between them; the score was a tie, so the deciding game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo after a break of four days. Xie made a good start in her bid to seek revenge for her loss to Fujisawa last year when she pulled off an upset win in the first game, but Fujisawa fought hard to take the next two games, thus defending her title.
Results
Game 1 (June 15). Xie (W) by resig.
Game 2 (June 17). Fujisawa (W) by resig.
Game 3 (June 22). Fujisawa (B) by resig.
Fujisawa won the inaugural term, so she has now won this title three times. By my count, this is her eighth title. First prize is 7,000,000 yen (close to $65,000).
(Note: Until the third term, this tournament was a knock-out, with the previous winner starting out in the final stage and the final being just one game. Last year the final became a best-of-three, with the winner to defend the title this year. It has taken two years to transform the title to the usual challenger format.)

Tomorrow: Kyo makes good start in Gosei; Kobayashi Koichi wins tournament for senior players; Ryu wins seat in 2018 Samsung Cup; Yamashita leads S League; Cho U keeps lead in Meijin League; Promotions; Obituary: Nishigami Yoshihiko 9P

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The Power Report (Part 1 of 3): Japan eliminated in LG Cup; China wins 8th Huanglongshi Cup; Japanese team comes 6th in Chinese B League; Nannami Nao wins Senko Cup

Wednesday July 18, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.08.18_23lg Shibano eliminated

Japan eliminated in LG Cup: The first two rounds of the 23rd LG Cup were held at the Konjiam resort in Gwangju City in Korea on May 28 and 30. This is a large-scale tournament, with 32 players in the first round, so I’m going to give mainly just the results of Japanese players here (I plan to give full details from the quarterfinals on when they are played). Despite making the final in the previous term, Iyama Yuta was eliminated by a player who’s a new name to me. However, Shibano Toramaru (left) made up for it by beating a previous winner of the Samsung Cup. Apparently this success attracted a lot of attention among Korean fans discussing the tournament on a chat site. However, he ran into the world’s number one player in the second round. Shibano lamented that his score against Park Jeonghwan is now 0-4, but he was happy about his first-round win.
The makeup of the participants in this tournament reflects the status quo in international go: 16 Chinese players, 11 Korean, and just four Japanese, with the last player being from Chinese Taipei. The fierceness of the competition is frightening. Besides Iyama, two other semifinalists from the 22ndCup, Xie Erhao and Ke Jie, were also eliminated in the first round, as was all-time great Lee Sedol and the winner of the recent TV Asia tournament, Kim Jiseok.
In this tournament, the winner of the nigiri chooses the color, and the influence of AI was seen in the fact that most players chose white, as the AI programs “think” the komi gives white the advantage. Actually, white won just over half the games: 13 out of 24.
Round 1. Zhao Chen’u 6P (China) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig.; Yang Tianxin 6P (China) beat Ida Atsushi 8P (Japan) on time; Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) (B) beat Zhong Wenjing 6P (China) by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig.; Jiang Weijie 9P (China) (W) beat Yi Sedol 9P (Korea) by resig.; Weon Seongjin 9P (Korea) (W) beat Ke Jie 9P (China) by resig.
Round 2. Kang Tongyun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki by resig.; Park Jeonghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Shibano by resig.

China wins 8th Huanglongshi Cup: The second round of this women’s team tournament for five-player teams from China, Korea, and Japan was held in Taizhou City, Jiangsu Province in China from June 5 to 8. The star of the first round was Li He 5P of China, who won five in a row before losing to O Yujin 5P of Korea (Nyu Eiko of Japan won the first game – see my report published on April 17 for more details). The result of the first round was that China had four players left, and Korea and Japan two each. In the second and concluding round, the stars were the world’s number two woman player, Choi Jeong, who won three in a row, and Yu Zhiying of China, the world’s number one, who beat Choi in the final game.
Full results
Game 8 (June 5). O Yujin (Korea) (W) beat Ueno Asami 2P (Japan) by resig.
Game 9 (June 5). Zhou Hungyu 4P (China) (W) beat O Yujin by resig.
Game 10 (June 6). Fujisawa Rina 4P (Japan) (B) beat Zhou by resig.
Game 11 (June 6). Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) (B) beat Fujisawa by resig.
Game 12 (June 7). Choi (W) beat Rui Naiwei 9P (China) by resig.
Game 13 (June 8). Choi beat Wang Chenxing 5P (China) by resig.
Game 14 (June 8). Yu Zhiying 6P (China) (W) beat Choi by 4.5 points.

Japanese team comes 6th in Chinese B League: In China, much of the action in go is to be found in the A, B, and C Leagues, in which teams are sponsored by cities or regions or by corporations. This year, too, a four-player Japanese team, officially called the China-Japan Friendship Team, took part in the 16-team B League and performed creditably by taking 6th place, an improvement on its 11th place last year (the top three teams are promoted into the A League). The league was held from June 11 to 20 in Wuxi City in Jiangsu Province, with each team playing eight matches (presumably it was a Swiss System tournament). The Japanese team won two matches 3-1, lost one 1-3, and drew the other five. Individual results were: Shibano Toramaru 5-3, Ida Atsushi 3-5, Yo Seiki 4-4, and Kyo Kagen 5-3.2018.08.18_Mannami left

Nannami Nao wins Senko Cup: 
Occasionally there’s a title match for women players that doesn’t feature Fujisawa Rina and Xie Yimin. That was the case for the 3rd Senko Cup, in which the finalists were Mannami Nao 3P (left) and Nyu Eiko 2p. The game was played at the Guesthouse Akekure in Higashi Omi City, Shiga Prefecture, on July 15. Taking white, Mannami forced a resignation after 180 moves. This is the 32-year-old Manami’s first title — the Senko Cup is a good one to start with, as it has the top prize money for a women’s title of 8,000,000 yen (about $74,000). I hope it’s not sexist to say that her results have been good since her marriage to Ida Atsushi 8P earlier this year. Nyu missed out again in her second title match, but one consolation is that the second prize of 4,000,000 yen is almost as much as first prize in some other women’s titles. (Just for the record, Mananmi beat Fujisawa in the second round of the main tournament, which starts out with 16 players, and Xie was beaten by Yashiro Kumiko in the first round.

Tomorrow: Iyama defends Honinbo title; Fujisawa defends 5th Hollyhock Cup

 

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The Power Report (4): Korea wins Tiantai Mountain Cup; Kyo wins Gratitude Cup; Kyo to challenge for Gosei; Xie to challenge for Hollyhock Cup

Wednesday June 13, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Korea wins Tiantai Mountain Cup: The 7th Tiantai Mountain Shenran Yangfan Cup World Women’s Team Tournament was held in Taizhou City in Zhejiang Province in China from May 10 to 12. The venue and the dates are the same as last year, as is “Tiantai Mountain” in the name, but the sponsor seems to have changed. To be honest, I have no idea what “Shenran Yangfan” means, and the Net didn’t help. Three-women teams from China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei compete in a three-round Swiss. For the second year in a row and the fourth time overall, Korea won the tournament, but the difference from last year is that it lost a match, so the margin of victory was just one win. Japan started badly, losing to Chinese Taipei and Korea, but then it managed to beat China. Two players, Yu Zhiying of China and Kim Chaeyeong of Korea, won all their games. Results and points table are given below.
Round 1 (May 10). Chinese Taipei beat Japan 2-1; China beat Korea 2-1.
Round 2 (May 11) Korea beat Japan 3-0; China beat Chinese Taipei 3-0.
Round 3 (May 12) Japan beat China 2-1; Korea beat Chinese Taipei 3-0.2018.06.14_Kyo Gratitude Cup
1st) Korea: 2-1 (individual tally 7-2)
2nd) China: 2-1 (6-3)
3rd) Japan: 1-2 (3-6)
4th) Chinese Taipei: 1-2 (2-7)

Kyo wins Gratitude Cup: The 9th Gratitude Cup was held in Ise City on May 14 and 15. This is an unofficial tournament open to players 30 or under. It consists of fast games played by the NHK format. In the final, Kyo Kagen 7P (B, at right) beat Yo Seiki 7P by 2.5 points to win this tournament for the first time. First prize is 3,000,000 yen. In the play-off for 3rd place, Ichiriki Ryo 8P (B) beat Xie Yimin, Women’s Honinbo, by 13.5 points.

2018.06.14_gosei KyoKyo to challenge for Gosei: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 43rd Gosei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on May 17. Kyo Kagen 7-dan (W, left) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (left, in photo at right) by resignation and so will make his first challenge for a top-seven title. At 20 years five month, he is the youngest-ever Gosei challenger. Motoki lost the 2018.06.14_Gosei Motoki Kataoka KyoGosei play-off for the second year in a row. Kyo won’t find challenging Iyama Yuta easy, but he could well be in the best form of his career: his record so far this year is an impressive 17 wins 1 loss. The single loss was to Xie Ke 5P in the Chunlan Cup in China, so in Japan he is undefeated (he also scored 7-0 in the Gratitude Cup, reported on above, but it is an unofficial tournament, so these wins are not included in his tally). Kyo commented that he would like to relieve Iyama of some of the burden of his septuple crown. The best-of-five begins on June 23.

Xie to challenge for Hollyhock Cup: The semifinals and final of the 5thAizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup were held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture on May 19 and 20. In the semifinals on May 19, Xie Yimin, Women’s Honinbo, (B) beat Hoshiai Shiho 2P by resig. and Yoshida Mika 8P (W) beat Tamura Chiaki 3P, also by resig. In the final, played the next day, Xie (B) beat Yoshida by resig. Xie will meet the titleholder, Fujisawa Rina, in the best-of-three title match and will try to regain the title she lost to Fujisawa last year. So far, the two have met in six title matches, and Fujisawa has won four of them. The first two games of the title match will be played at the Konjakutei on June 15 and 17. The third game, if needed, will be played at the Nihon Ki-in on June 22.

Promotions: To 4-dan: Fujisawa Rina (50 wins; as of April 22); To 8-dan: Matsumoto Takehisa (150 wins; as of May 11).

Retirements: Takamizawa Tadao retired as of May 31. Born in Nagano Prefecture on July 20, 1938, Takamizawa became a professional in 1955 and reached 6-dan in 1976. After retiring, he was promoted to 7-dan.
Kitani Yoshimi 2-dan retired as of May 31. Born on July 23, 1952, she became a disciple of Ozaki Harumi 8-dan. She qualified as a professional in 1975 and was promoted to 2-dan in 2013. After retiring, she was promoted to 3-dan.

Obituary: Yasuda Yasutoshi 9-dan died on May 2. Cause of death was not given. Born on March 1, 1964, in Fukuoka Prefecture, he became a disciple of Oeda Yusuke 9P. became 1-dan in 1980 and reached 9-dan in 1998. He was well known as a teacher and developed new teaching methods, including using go as a therapeutic tool with the senile and the handicapped.

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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The Power Report (3): Kim wins TV Asia; Iyama takes lead in Honinbo title match

Tuesday June 12, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kim wins TV Asia: The 30th TV Asia Cup was held at the Mayfield Hotel & Resort in Seoul from May 1 to 4. The tournament was won by Kim Ji-seok 9P of Korea; he beat last year’s winner, Na Hyeon 9P, also of Korea, in the final. Kim has long been one of the top players in Korea, but this is only his second international victory, following on his win in the 19thSamsung Cup in 2014. First prize is 2,500,00 yen (about $23,000).
Results follow (I don’t have full details for some of the games).
Round 1. (May 1) Kim Ji-seok 9P (Korea) beat Fan Yunruo 6P (China); Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Shida Tatsuya 7P (Japan) by resig.; (May 2) Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig.
Round 2. (May 2) Kim beat Park; (May 3) Na Hyeon 8P (Korea) beat Fan.
Final (May 4) Kim (W) beat Na by 2.5 points.

Iyama takes lead in Honinbo title match: The 73rd Honinbo 2018.06.12_73honninnbo2 Nijocastletitle match got off to a start in mid-May. Iyama Yuta, also known as Honinbo Monyu, has held the title for six years in a row. A successful defence will bring him level with Sakata Eio for the third best winning streak in this title (Cho Chikun won ten in a row and Takagawa Shukaku nine). Hoping to stand in Iyama’s way is the challenger, Yamashita Keigo, who held the title for two terms before losing it to Iyama. Yamashita has not won a top-seven title since 2012, which will give him added motivation. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, which led to the opening up of Japan to the world and the beginning of its rise to major-power status. This year some of the playing venues are being selected with that in mind. The first game was played at the Meirin Gakusha in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on May 15 and 16. 2018.06.12_73honinbo2 L Yamashita R IyamaHagi was the main city of the Choshu clan, one of the four “outside” clans (that is, not allied with Tokugawa Ieyasu when he founded the Tokugawa regime) that played a major role in bringing about the restoration. The Meirin Gakusha is an elementary school that was built on the site of a school for the children of clan leaders called Meirinkan. It is associated with some of the intellectual leaders of the restoration movement. The elementary school was closed four years ago, and the building became a tourist site, with historical displays and a museum.2018.06.12_73honinbo3 L Yamashita R Iyama
Yamashita drew black in the nigiri. The game featured complicated fighting from early on. Although Iyama played skillfully in rescuing some groups that had come under severe pressure, Yamashita used his attack to take a very small lead. He wavered a little in the endgame, but managed to hang on and score a half-point win. This loss put an end to Iyama’s winning streak in title matches of 17 games (he just failed to match his personal record of 18).
2018.06.12_73honinbo3b IyamaThe second game (above) was played in the Nijo Castle in Kyoto (Kyoto is one of the few Japanese cities laid out as a grid; Nijo, which runs from east to west, means Second Avenue). The castle was built in 1603 for the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu, and was used by shoguns visiting Kyoto. Moreover, the famous castle games were played at the Nijo Castle until 1626. The Honinbo title-match game was set up as a recreation of the castle games. It was played on May 23 and 24 in the main audience room. The mayor of Kyoto took the place of the shogun, sitting in an elevated part of the room where the shogun would sit. The players, dressed Japanese style, played in the lower part of the room. (Later in the game, they changed to suits and moved to an ordinary playing room.)
The game started out with Iyama (left), playing black, taking territory and Yamashita building a moyo. Initially, play was more peaceful than in the first game, but fierce fighting started as Iyama moved into White’s moyo. Iyama took the lead, putting so much pressure on Yamashita that he had to play riskily. Eventually, White lost a group and resigned after 171 moves.
The third game (middle right) was played in the former Japanese restaurant Kaneyu (left) in Noshiro City, Akita Prefecture on June 2, 3. The name of the venue may seem a little strange. It’s an historical building which formerly housed a Japanese restauran2018.06.12_73honinbo3 venue Kaneyut; when that went out of business, it was donated to Noshiro City, which uses it as a tourist attraction. (It has no connection with the Meiji Restoration, having been built in 1890 and rebuilt in its present form in 1937.) This game was played on a Saturday and a Sunday, which in one way might seem natural but is actually very unusual. Taking white, Iyama forced a resignation after 244 moves, so he now leads the match 2-1. The fourth game, which is scheduled for June 12 and 13, will be crucial for Yamashita. If Iyama wins, the match could be over very quickly, so Yamashita’s good start would go to waste.

Part 3 of 4; tomorrow:  Korea wins Tiantai Mountain Cup; Kyo wins Gratitude Cup; Kyo to challenge for Gosei; Xie to challenge for Hollyhock Cup

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The Power Report (2): Kisei S League starts; Xu of China wins Globis Cup; Yo keeps Honinbo seat; Shibano wins Japan-China Ryusei

Monday June 11, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei S League starts: The S League of the 43rd Kisei tournament got off to a start on April 19, with all six members in action. This is a small league, so it’s important not to stumble at the beginning.
Results to date:
(April 19) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig.; Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 7P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig.
(May 10) Kyo (B) beat Cho U by resig.; Yamashita (B) beat Kono by resig.2018.06.11_5globis Xu trophy
(May 24) Takao (W) beat Ichiriki by resig.
The last game above completed the second round. Yamashita and Kyo have made good starts with two wins each, but the previous challenger, Ichiriki, has got off to a disastrous start with two losses.

Xu of China wins Globis Cup: The 5th Globis Cup was held on the Tokyo campus of the Globis Management Graduate School from April 20 to 22. In the final (left), the 18-year-old Xu Jiayang 6P (right) of China beat the 19-year-old Shin Minjun 7P of Korea. Playing white, Xu won 2018.06.11_5globis final Xu R, Shin Lby 1.5 points. He earned a prize of 3,000,000 yen (about $27,700). The best results for the host country were the quarterfinal places earned by Fujisawa Rina 3P and Yo Chito 4P. Fujisawa picked up a win over Xie Ke 5P of China; taking black, she won by resignation. The 18-year-old Xie is a formidable player, having recently challenged (though unsuccessfully) for the Chinese Tianyuan title and having reached the best eight in the Chunlan Cup, so Fujisawa had reason to be pleased with her win. Actually this was her 50thwin as a 3-dan, so it earned her promotion to 4-dan. In the quarterfinals, she was eliminated by Shin Jinseo 8-dan, winner of the previous Globis Cup.

Yo keeps Honinbo seat: The second play-off to decide who would be the fourth player to retain his seat in the Honinbo League for the upcoming 74thterm was held on April 23. Taking white, Yo Seiki 7P beat Ida Atsushi by 1.5 points. This was Yo’s fourth Honinbo league but the first time he kept his place. Ida had started off with four straight wins and looked a good bet to become the challenger, but, including his two play-off games, he then lost five in a row. This is not often mentioned, but membership of a league will earn you enough in game fees, win or lose, to secure your livelihood for the year, so league seats are very valuable.

Shibano wins Japan-China Ryusei: The 4th Japan-China Ryusei play-off was held in Beijing on April 29. Shibano Toramaru 7P (Japan) (W) beat Ke Jie 9P (China), at present the world’s number two, by resig. This is Japan’s first win in this play-off. Although the 18-year old Shibano is a rising star in Japan, probably not many fans expected him to win this game. It’s undoubtedly the biggest win of his career so far. Shibano’s results in April had not been very good. He commented: “I was not expecting much from this game. That may, on the contrary, have been good, as I was relaxed.” First prize was 3,000,000 yen (about $27,500).

Part 2 of 4; tomorrow: Kim wins TV Asia; Iyama takes lead in Honinbo title match

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