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The Power Report (2 of 2): Rin Kaiho receives decoration in autumn honors; Ichiriki to challenge for Kisei

Saturday November 11, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.10_Rin Kaiho

Rin Kaiho receives decoration in autumn honors:
Rin Kaiho (Lin Haifeng) 9P has been awarded a decoration by the Japanese government in the autumn honors. Rin (right) was one of the top players in the second half of the 20th century. He has scored 1400 wins as a professional, behind only Cho Chikun, and has won 35 titles, including the Meijin eight times, the Honinbo and Tengen five times each (he is Honorary Tengen), and the Oza, Judan, and Gosei once each. He is a disciple of Go Seigen, who received the same decoration, and has many Taiwanese disciples (though born in Shanghai in 1942, he is a citizen of Taiwan), including Cho U. The success for which Rin is best remembered is defeating Sakata Eio, 2017.11.10_Ichiriki L Yamashita Rconsidered almost invincible at the time, and becoming Meijin at the age of 23, then a youth record. Twenty-six Nihon Ki-in players have received a total of 37 decorations.

Ichiriki to challenge for Kisei: The first game of the play-off to decide the challenger for the 42nd Kisei title was held at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on November 9. Taking white, Ichiriki Ryo (left), the winner of the S League, defeated Yamashita Keigo 9P (right), second in the same league, by resignation after 216 moves. As the S League winner, Ichiriki starts the play-off with a one-win advantage, so this win made him 2-0 and made him the challenger to Iyama Yuta Kisei. That means that the two will meet in three successive title matches, making a super-series best-of-17 (a minimum of ten games will be played). Ichiriki is the youngest player to challenge for the Kisei title. Becoming the challenger earned him promotion to 8-dan (as of (November 10). The first game of the title match will be played on January 18 and 19.

Promotion: To 2-dan: Hirose Yuichi (30 wins, as of Nov. 3)

Correction: this post has been updated to reflect the fact that Rin Kaiho has born in 1942, not 1952. 

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The Power Report (1 of 2): Shibano sets Meijin League record; 73rd Honinbo League; Xie takes lead in Women’s Honinbo

Friday November 10, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.10_Ichiriki right

Shibano sets Meijin League record:
The play-offs to decide the vacant seats in the 43rd Meijin League were held at three different venues on November 2. Usually games are played on the home ground of the senior player; by coincidence, all three play-offs featured members of the same institution, so no one had to travel. In Nagoya, at the Central Japan headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, Hane Naoki, who was bounced out of the previous league, was matched against a fellow Nagoya player, Hirata Tomoya 7P. The latter was seeking to make a comeback after a gap of one term. Taking white, Hane won by resignation; he will play in his ninth league. This is the third year in a row Hane has regained his seat immediately after dropping out. In Osaka, the Kansai Ki-in players Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 7P and Yuki Satoshi 9P were competing for a place. Taking black, Yo won by resignation. There was a big contrast in form between these two. Yo was leading the lists for most wins, best winning percentage and most games played at the Kansai Ki-in by a long way. Yuki has been the main title contender at the Kansai Ki-in for more than a decade, but this year, regardless results in games still to be played, he has lost a majority of his games for the first time in his career. This difference was reflected in the result: taking black, Yo won by resignation.

2017.11.10_Xie takes leadThe most spectacular pairing was in Tokyo, with the two hottest stars of the post-Iyama generation playing each other. Ichiriki Ryo (above, right) turned 20 on June 10; Shibano Toramaru turned 18 on November 9. Ichiriki won last year’s Ryusei tournament and is at present challenging Iyama Yuta for the Oza and Tengen titles. Shibano won this year’s Ryusei tournament in August, then in September set a record for the youngest player to win a seat in the Honinbo League. In August, however, he lost the play-off to decide the Oza challenger to Ichiriki. In the play-off for the Meijin League seat, Shibano (W) beat Ichiriki by resignation, so he took revenge. In the process he set another record, becoming, at 17 years 11 months, the youngest player to win a seat in the Meijin League.2017.11.10_Old Inn Kaneyu

73rd Honinbo League: The first game of the second round was played on October 2. Ida Atsushi 8P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by 7.5 points. With two wins, Ida has made a good start.

Xie takes lead in Women’s Honinbo: The third game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match was played at the Old Inn Kaneyu (at right; “Old” is part of the name) in Noshiro City, Akita Prefecture on October 4. Taking black, Xie Yimin (left), the challenger, beat Fujisawa Rina by resignation after 167 moves. She now leads the match 2-1. The fourth game will be played on November 17.

Tomorrow: Rin Kaiho receives decoration in autumn honors; Ichiriki to challenge for Kisei

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Meijin, achieves second Grand Slam; Iyama makes good start in Oza; Iyama extends lead in Tengen; Yamashita makes Kisei playoff; Fujisawa evens score; First round completed in 73rd Honinbo League

Sunday October 29, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.10.29_42 Meijin5 Iyama

Iyama defends Meijin, achieves second Grand Slam: The fifth game in the 42nd Meijin title match was held at the Atami Sekitei inn (below left), one of the traditional venues for the Meijin, in Atami City in Shizuoka 2017.10.29_43meijin5_8Prefecture on October 16 and 17. After winning the first game in the match, the defending champion, Takao Shinji Meijin, had lost three in a row, so he faced his first kadoban. The game got off to a stormy start, with Takao, who had white, capturing a large group of Iyama Yuta’s. Actually Iyama (right) could have made a second eye, but he didn’t like the result, so instead he discarded the group and tried to squeeze on the outside as compensation. As usual, it was a fierce game, and the lead switched back and forth. In the end, Iyama set up a ko to kill the white group surrounding his “captured” group, and Takao had to resign when he ran out of ko threats.

2017.10.29_42meijin5 TakaoLosing this title to Takao (left) last year cost Iyama his simultaneous grand slam, the first in Japanese go history. In the meantime, he defended his other six titles, so regaining the Meijin gave him his second grand slam, a first for. This is a first for go or shogi. Iyama maintained the first one for 197 days. Fans will be looking forward to his extending this. This is his 46th title, which leaves him in sixth place, one behind Kato Masao.

This success earned Iyama a report in the nightly news, which also revealed in passing that his tournament prize money now amounted to 1,000 million ten (about $9 million).

Iyama makes good start in Oza: Just three days after regaining his grand slam, Iyama was busy with maintenance, meeting the challenge of Ichiriki Ryo 7P for the 65th Oza title. The first game was played at the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, on October 20. Iyama drew white. The game started with a fierce struggle for the initiative, and fighting continued to the end. Iyama was able to take an edge, leading Ichiriki to resign after 168 moves. The second game is scheduled for November 18.1 Oza1 Ichiriki right

Iyama extends lead in Tengen: The second game of the 43rd Tengen title match was played at the Hotel Emisia Sapporo in Sapporo City, Hokkaido, on October 27. Taking white, Iyama Yuta secured a resignation after 162 moves, making the game almost the same length as the Oza one reported above. Ichiriki Ryo (right) faces his first kadoban in the third game, scheduled for November 24. As least he has the better part of a month to consider how to righten his ship in his double challenge.

Yamashita makes Kisei playoff: The third game in the knock-out to decide the challenger in the 42nd Kisei tournament was played on October 27. Motoki Katsuya 8P had done well, moving up from bottom of the knock-out, as C League winner, past the B and C League winners, but his run came to a stop when he met Yamashita Keigo 9P, second-place-getter in the S League. Taking black, 2017.10.29_female-honinbo2 FujisawaYamashita won by resig. He will meet Ichiriki in the final, though the latter starts with a one-win advantage.

Fujisawa evens score: The second game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Izanro Iwasaki inn in2017.10.29_female-honinbo2 Izanro Iwasaki_8 the town of Miasa in Tottori Prefecture (at right, with the Mitoku River flowing in front of it). Taking black, Fujisawa Rina (left), the defending champion, forced Xie Yimin, the challenger, to resign after 205 moves. This evened the score at 1-1. The third game will be played on November 4.

First round completed in 73rd Honinbo League: With the two results given below, the first round of the new league has now been completed. Of the four newcomers to the league, only Ida Atsushi has won a game. Besides the players below, Motoki Katsuya and Yamashita Keigo have won a game. The others to have lost a game are Kobayashi Satoru and Shibano Toramaru.
(Oct. 19) Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.
(Oct. 26) Ida Atsushi 8P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 3.5 points.

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The Power Report (Part 3 of 3): Record age gap in women’s game; Mutsuura wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Tengen title match starts

Wednesday October 18, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Record age gap in women’s game: On October 5, Sugiuchi Kazuko 8P played Ueno Asami 1P in the preliminary round of the Women’s Hollyhock Cup. Playing white, Ueno beat Sugiuchi by resig. This game set a record for the biggest gap in a women’s game: Ueno is 15 and Sugiuchi is 90. Go Weekly gave the age gap as 75 years. Sugiuchi was born on March 6, 1927 and Ueno on October 26, 2001, so, to be precise, the difference is 74 years seven months. Sugiuchi is probably2017.10.18_Kiriyama L Mutsuura R Takao the oldest active female professional ever. Her husband, Sugiuchi Masao 9P, is still playing at the age of 96 (he turns 97 on October 20). It’s hard to imagine this is not a record for male professionals.

Mutsuura wins Agon Kiriyama Cup: The final of the 24th Agon Kiriyama Cup was held at the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon sect of Buddhism on October 7. Playing in his first big final, Mutsuura Yuta 3P (white, left in photo at right) defeated Takao Shinji Meijin (at right). Takao resigned after 210 moves. Mutsuura is a member of the Nagoya or Central Japan branch 2017.10.18_Tengen1 L Ichiriki R Iyamaof the Nihon Ki-in. He was born on May 1, 1999, so yet another strong teenager has emerged in Japan. At 18 years five months, he is the third-youngest player to win an open title. His success earned him promotion to 7-dan (as of October 8).

Tengen title match starts: The final quarter of the tournament year in Japan features two title matches, the Tengen and the Oza, between Iyama Yuta and Ichiriki Ryo, so in effect they are playing a best-of-ten. Ichiriki is also the favourite to challenge for the Kisei title, so it could become a best-of-17. The first game in the 43rd Tengen title was played at the Hotel Foresta in Toyoda City, Aichi Prefecture, on October 11. Taking black, Iyama (at right, photo at left) played aggressively, but Ichiriki held his own in the fighting. In the end, however, Iyama’s good judgment enabled him to draw ahead. Aiming at an upset, Ichiriki started a ko fight at the end, but Black had more ko threats, so he resigned after 273 moves. The second game will be played on October 27. The first Oza game is scheduled for October 20.

Promotion: To 2-dan: Hoshiai Shiho (30 wins, as of Sept. 26)

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that Mutsuura was born in 1999, not 2009.

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The Power Report (Part 2 of 3): Motoki does well in Kisei knock-out; Chinese pair wins world championship; New Honinbo league starts

Tuesday October 17, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Motoki does well in Kisei knock-out: The first game in the irregular knock-out among the various league winners in the 42nd Kisei tournament was played on October 2. Motoki Katsuya 8P, winner of the C League, beat Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 7P, winner of the play-off between the winners of the two B Leagues. Motoki followed up this success by beating the winner of the A League, Takao Shinji Meijin, on October 12. Taking black, Motoki won by resignation. Next, he will meet the second-place-getter in the S League, Yamashita Keigo.

Chinese pair wins world championship: The second part of the Pair Go World Championship 2017 was held at the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya, Tokyo, on October 5. The winning pair in the Stars Tournament, held at the same venue on August 12 and 13, that is, Xie Yimin 6P and Iyama Yuta 9P, representing Japan, met the reigning Pair Go world champions, Yu Zhiying 5P and Ke Jie 9P of China, in the Masters Match. The Chinese pair earned their title in the Pair Go World Cup 2016 Tokyo. Playing white, Yu and Ke defended their title, forcing Xie and Iyama to resign after 198 moves. Like the final in the August event, the game was played in the Noh Theater in the basement of the hotel.
A unique event, the Go AI Research and Goodwill Game by the Pair Go Format, was held on the previous day. Xie, Iyama and the program DeepZenGo were matched against Yu, Ke and DeepZenGo. To fit the Pair Go format, the human players on each team played as one member of the pair with the AI program; they were free to consult each other and together played every second move for their side. This was a lighthearted event, with the players occasionally bursting into laughter. Xie, of course, could also follow what the Chinese players were saying, which she said made the game even more fun. Just for the record, this game was also won by the Chinese pair.

New Honinbo league starts: The first two games in the 73rd Honinbo League were played on October 5. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. and Motoki Katsuya 8P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P, also by resig. So far, October has been a good month for Motoki, the previous Honinbo challenger.

Tomorrow: Record age gap in women’s game; Mutsuura wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Tengen title match starts

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The Power Report (Part 1 of 3): Korea stars in Nongshim Cup; 22nd Samsung Cup; Meijin Four: Iyama’s brilliancy

Monday October 16, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.10.16_Nongshim Shin wins 4th game

Korea stars in Nongshim Cup: The opening round of the 19th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Shenyang City in Liaoning Province in China from September 19 to 22. It was a triumph for Shin Minjun 6P (right) of Korea, who won all four games in this round. He showed that there’s more than one strong player named Shin in Korea. He was born on Jan. 11, 1999 in Busan, became a professional in 2012 and reached 4-dan in 2016. In the same year, he won the 4th King of the New Stars title, which earned him promotion to 5-dan. He was promoted to 6-dan earlier this year. In the Korean qualifying tournament to choose the team for this tournament, he defeated his teacher, Lee Sedol. In the first Nongshim game, he defeated the player, Fan Tingyu, who won seven games in a row in the previous Nongshim Cup.
Results:
Game One (Sept. 19). Shin (W) beat Fan Tingyu 9P (China) by 3.5 points.
Game Two (Sept. 20). Shin (B) beat Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 7P (Japan) by resig.
Game Three (Sept. 21). Shin (B) beat Zhou Ruiyang 9P (China) by resig.
Game Four (Sept. 22). Shin (W) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 7P (Japan) by resig.
Time allowance is one hour per player followed by byo-yomi of one minute per move. The remaining members of the Japanese team are Iyama Yuta, Yamashita Keigo, and Ichiriki Ryo. Round Two will be played in Busan, Korea, in November, and Round Three in Shanghai in February.

22nd Samsung Cup: The second and third rounds of the 22nd Samsung Cup were held at the Samsung Confucian Castle Campus in Daejeon City in Korea on September 25 and 26. Two Japanese representatives, Iyama Yuta and 2017.10.16_Samsung Iyama eliminatedYamashita Keigo, had survived the large-scale opening round, but they were both eliminated in the second round. Iyama (B, at left) was matched against Shin Jinseo 8P of Korea. The game featured fierce fighting from early on. Iyama made an oversight and resigned after 118 moves. Yamashita (black) lost to Tong Mengcheng 6P of China; he resigned after 122 moves. Pairings in the semifinals are Dong vs. Gu Zihao (both of China) and Tang Weixing (China) vs. An Kukhyun (Korea)

Meijin Four: Iyama’s brilliancy
As promised, here is some more detail about the 4th game of the current Meijin title match, played on October 2 and 3. Takao Shinji, the challenger, had black. He slipped up in the opening, neglecting to defend a large group because he overlooked a sequence White had to put it into ko. In effect, he had to give White a free move elsewhere when he played an extra move to secure life. That left him a tempo behind in the game, but he played on tenaciously and succeeded in creating complications by leading the game into a large-scale fight. He then played a clever move with Black 101 that seemed to turn the tables in the fight; if White made the “usual” answer, Black had a clever tesuji with move 16 in an unplayed continuation. “Unplayed,” because Iyama came up with a brilliant counter-intuitive combination that enabled him to capture the key stones in the fight at the cost of a couple of sacrifice stones. That gave him the lead. Takao fought on for another 50 moves or so, but was unable to catch up. Iyama even rubbed salt in the wound by making use of the “sacrifice” stones in a later fight. Takao resigned after White 164. The fifth game is already being played on October 16 and 17. It is Takao’s first kadoban, so the second grand slam in Japanese go could be imminent.

Tomorrow: Motoki does well in Kisei knock-out; Chinese pair wins world championship; New Honinbo league starts

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The Power Report: Iyama takes lead in Meijin title match; Fujisawa Rina does well in Gosei; Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo; Shibano wins King of the New Stars

Wednesday October 4, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.10.03_Meijin 3 Iyama Cho U Takao

Iyama takes lead in Meijin title match: The third game of the 42nd Meijin title match between Takao Shinji Meijin and Iyama Yuta was held at the Kiyomi Mountain Villa: Hana-jukai, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture on September 21 and 222017.10.03_Meijin4 Iyama02. The match was level at 1-all, so this was a key game: the winner would gain momentum, and the loser would come under pressure. Fighting started early in the top right corner, but Iyama, who had black, surprised the players following the game with a tenuki with 17. After playing just two moves in the bottom left corner, he came back to the first fight. The spectators (via a TV monitor) couldn’t work out the point of the two moves in the bottom left, but, after some hard thought, Cho U 9P, the Asahi Newspaper commentator on the game, worked out that Iyama’s aim was to prevent Takao from playing a sequence that ended up in a ladder if Black kept playing the most aggressive moves. His moves at 17 and 19 acted as a ladder breaker. Takao modified his play and ended up taking profit in the top right while giving Iyama influence.

Both sides continued to play aggressively, making the game one complicated fight after another. After a ko fight won by Takao in the bottom left, he invaded Black’s bottom right territory and succeeded in living after fighting a number of kos. Again, Iyama took compensation with outside influence. More fighting followed, and up to move 145 the game was played at a very high level, with neither side making a mistake and the players agreeing in their analysis, but with 146 Takao made a slack move. It was slack presumably because it was purely territorial, saving some cut-off stones. Instead, he should have reinforced his sole remaining weak group. By harassing it, Iyama was able to expand his centre moyo, and there was no way for Takao to reduce it sufficiently. He resigned after Black 241. After the game, Takao commented that he was not too worried about falling behind because he felt he was playing well – putting aside just one move.2017.10.03_Fujisawa Rina

The fourth game was played at the Inn Kaiseki Notoya in Komatsu City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on October 2 and 3. Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 164 moves. I will give some more details about the game when available. Takao faces his first kadoban on October 16 and 17.

Fujisawa Rina does well in Gosei tournament: The first ambition of young players is to reach the Main Tournament of the top seven tournaments. This is the final section of a tournament that either produces a challenger or provides entry into leagues. Usually, it more or less means reaching the best 16 or the best 32, but the number may vary. In the previous Judan tournament it was the best 16, but in the previous Gosei tournament the best 29. These are all knock-outs, so in the Gosei some players were seeded into the second round. Historically, women players have not done very well gaining entry to main tournaments, with eight women achieving this goal nine times. (For those interested, the list goes: Honda Sachiko, Kobayashi Reiko, Kusunoki Teruko, Ogawa Tomoko, Yos2017.10.03_Xie wins WomHon1hida Mika, Kobayashi Izumi twice, Kato Keiko, and Kuwabara Yoko.) In a game played on September 21, Fujisawa Rina 3P (right) became the ninth woman, reaching the Main Tournament of the Gosei tournament. The last time this happened was nine years ago (Kato and Kuwabara both qualified in the Tengen). None of her predecessors won a game, so Fujisawa has a chance to set a record for women.2017.10.03_Shibano beats Son

Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo: The first game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match, in which Xie Yimin (left) is challenging Fujisawa Rina, was held at the Kashoen inn in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture on September 27. Taking black, Xie secured a resignation after 257 moves.

Shibano wins King of the New Stars: The second game of the 42nd King of the New Stars title was held at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo on October 2. Shibano Toramaru 7P (black) beat Son Makoto 5P by resig. Often success in this junior tournament is a good omen for future success, but in Shibano’s case that success is already coming. As described in recent reports, he won the Ryusei title and a seat in the new Honinbo League. Since the Ryusei win earned him promotion to 7-dan (if he hadn’t won it, he would have got the promotion from his Honinbo success), he is not eligible to play in the King of the New Stars tournament again. First prize is worth two million yen (a little over $18,000).

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The Power Report (2): Na of Korea wins 29th TV Asia; King of the New Stars; Promotions

Wednesday September 20, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.09.20-TV Asia winner Na

Na of Korea wins 29th TV Asia: The TV Asia tournament is a fast-go tournament for the winners and runners-up in the NHK Cup, China’s CCTV Cup, and Korea’s KBS Cup. They are joined by the previous winner if he (not yet she) is not one of the above. The tournament rotates among these three countries and this year was held in the Sun Lake Hotel in Pinghu City, Zhejiang Province on September 15~17. Results were as follows:
(Sept. 15): Round 1, Game 1) Lee Sedol 9P (Korea) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig. Game 2) Ichiriki Ryo 7P (Japan) (W) beat Zhang Tao 6P (China) by resig.
2017.09.20-Shibano Toramaru(Sept. 16): Round 1, Game 3) Na Hyeon 8P (Korea) (W) beat Li Jianhao 7P (China) by 4.5 points. Semifinal 1) Lee Sedol (B) beat Li Qincheng 9P (China, 2016 winner) by resig.
(Sept. 17): Semifinal 2) Na (B) beat Ichiriki by resig. Final: Na (B, at right) beat Lee Sedol by resig. after 184 moves.
This is Na’s first win in this tournament. Lee missed out on a fifth win. Just for the record, China has won this tournament eight times to ten times each for Japan and Korea. First prize is 2,500,000 yen (about $22,700).

King of the New Stars: The first game of the 42nd King of the New Stars best-of-three title match was held at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on September 18. Shibano Toramaru 7P (W, left) beat Son Makoto 5P by resig. The second game will be played at the same venue on October 2.

Promotions
To 7-dan: Kyo Kagen (for winning a place in the Kisei S League)
To 2-dan: Ito Kenryo (20 wins, as of Sept. 8)
Photos courtesy of the Nihon Ki-in

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The Power Report (1): Iyama evens Meijin Score; Iyama and Yamashita advance in Samsung Cup; Kisei leagues completed

Tuesday September 19, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.09.19-Meijin 2 Iyama looks happy

Iyama evens Meijin Score:
The second game of the 42nd Meijin title match was held at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, which is located in Bunkyo Ward, on September 12 and 13. The highlight of the game was a fierce fight that started on the first day. A large trade followed in which Iyama (W, right) took most of the top and Takao threatened to take most of the bottom. However, his moyo was too big. Iyama succeeded in breaking into it, so Takao resigned after White 146. This evens the score at 1-1. The third game will be played on September 21 and 22.

Iyama and Yamashita advance in Samsung Cup: The opening round of the 22nd Samsung Cup (officially, the Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance Cup World Go Masters) 2017.09.19-Samsung Iyama wins 3rd gamewas held at the Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance Global Campus in Goyang City, Gyeonggi Province on September 5 to 7. The “campus” is actually one of a number of training camps the Samsung group owns, and facilities rival those of a five-star hotel. The 1st round takes three days to play as it consists of eight double-elimination mini-leagues. There are four players in each league, and the top two players advance to the round of 16. The condition is two wins, which means a score of 2-0 or 2-1. Two Japanese players, Iyama Yuta and Yamashita Keigo 9P, scored 2-1 and made it to the next round. They were joined by seven Korean and seven Chinese players, including Ke Jie 9P and Lee Sedol 9P. The third Japanese representative, Komatsu Hideki 9P, who won a seat in the qualifying section for senior players, was eliminated with 1-2. The next round will be held on September 25.

Kisei leagues completed: The last games in the S League of the 42nd Kisei tournament were held recently. On September 7, Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. and Cho U 9P (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by resig. Ichiriki had already won the league in the previous round, 2017.09.19-Yamashita (R) wins third gamebut making a clean sweep of the league was undoubtedly satisfying. Cho’s win made sure that he kept his place. An important game was held on September 9 between Yamashita Keigo 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P. The winner would take second place in the league and, more important, gain a place in the irregular knockout to decide the challenger; the loser would lose his league place and drop to the A League. Taking black, Yamashita (right) won by 2.5 points. The final order in the S League is: 1st, Ichiriki, 5-0; 2nd, Yamashita, 3-2; 3rd, Cho U, 3-2; 4th, Kono Rin, 2-3; dropping out: Murakawa on 2-2 and So on 0-5.

Two key games in the A League were played on September 7. Takao Shinji 9P and Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan in Pinyin) 4P were tied on 5-1. However, Takao was ranked number one and Kyo, as a newcomer to the league, was equal last, so to win the league Kyo needed not only to win his game but also to have Takao lose. The latter just made it: taking black, he eked out a half-point win over Yoda Norimoto 9P, so he won the league. Kyo (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. Although he missed qualifying for the knockout, Kyo earned a consolation prize: promotion to the S League. The top two players go up, so he will be joined by Takao – except if Takao becomes the challenger and wins the Kisei title, in which case Iyama would join Kyo in the S League. The S League promotion carried with it a promotion to 7-dan.

The play-off between the winners of the two B Leagues was held on September 14. Yo Seiki 7P (W), winner of B2, beat Shida Tatsuya 7P, winner of B1, by resig. This is how the final knockout looks: C League winner Motoki Katsuya 8P vs. Yo Seiki; the winner to play Takao; the winner to play Yamashita; the winner to meet Ichiriki in the final “best-of-three”. The quotes are there because three games will never be played. Ichiriki starts with a one-win advantage, so he needs only one win; his opponent can’t drop a game, so he has to win two straight. That won’t be easy: on current form, Ichiriki could claim to be the number three player after Iyama and Takao.
TOMORROW: Na of Korea wins 29th TV Asia; King of the New Stars; Promotions
Photos courtesy of the Nihon Ki-in

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Power Report (3): Takao makes good start in Meijin title match; Women’s Meijin tournament gives up league; Promotions

Friday September 8, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.09.06_Takao wins Meijin 1

Takao makes good start in Meijin title match: 
The first game of the 42nd Meijin title match was held at the Conrad Osaka, a Western-style hotel in Kita Ward, on August 30 and 31. Unusually for a Japanese title game, the players were seated at a table. The big interest in this series is whether Iyama will achieve his second grand slam. He has kept all his other six titles, usually winning the title matches 2017.09.06_end of Meijin 1 Iyama Leftcomfortably, but there is no guarantee he will get another chance like this. His opponent, Takao Shinji Meijin (right), will be just as determined to defend his title, one big factor in his motivation being his age: having turned 40, he can’t count on many more chances to win a big-three title.
Iyama (left) drew black in the nigiri. Not surprisingly, the game featured continuous fighting that got more and more complicated as the game went on, making it impossible to summarize it. Takao made a very skillful sacrifice that seemed to give him the initiative in the center. He successfully parried desperate attempts by Iyama to catch up and ended up with a half-point win. The second game will be played on September 12 and 13.

Women’s Meijin tournament gives up league: The pairings for the 30th Women’s Meijin tournament were published in the latest Weekly Go issue, and it was announced that the seven-player league system adopted for the 21st to the 29th terms had been abolished. The final section of the tournament will revert to the standard knock-out format with 16 participants. The reason is that will give more players a chance to become the challenger.

Promotions
To 3-dan: Onishi Ryuhei (40 wins, as of August 22), Kikkawa Hajime (as of September 1)
To 2-dan: Oomote Takuto, Otake Yu (30 wins, both as of August 25)

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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