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Power Report (2 of 2): Ueno to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Awards for Iyama and Habu; World Go Championship 2018

Tuesday December 19, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal21fkisei_challenger Ueno

Ueno to challenge for Women’s Kisei:
A fresh face will be challenging Xie Yimin for the 21st Women’s Kisei title early next year. The play-off to decide the challenger was held in the Ryusei TV studio located in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo on December 11. Ueno Asami 1P (right), 21 fkisei Okudawho is aged 16 and who qualified as a pro last year, beat Okuda Aya 3P (left); Ueno had black and secured a resignation after 199 moves. She will be just 16 years two months when the title match starts on January 19 and will be the youngest challenger ever. She lowered the record of Nyu Eiko, set last year, by about a year.

Awards for Iyama and Habu: A government spokesman announced last week that the Prime Minister, Abe Shinzo, was considering giving People’s Honor Awards to the top go and shogi players Iyama Yuta and Habu Yoshiharu. Going by the timing, it would seem the idea was sparked by a recent achievement of Habu. Earlier this month, he won the Ryuo tournament for the seventh time and so qualified for the title of Eternal Ryuo (also translated as “Lifetime Ryuo”). The wording sounds grander, but this seems to be the equivalent of the “honorary” titles in go. The point was that Habu has qualified for the “eternal” title in all of the top seven shogi titles, an unprecedented feat. The reason for also giving a People’s Honor Award to Iyama was his success in achieving a grand slam of the top seven go titles for the second time.

Iyama (aged 28) and Habu (aged 47) will be the first board-game players (or mind-sport athletes, if you prefer) to win this award. Previously, it has been given to 23 individual athletes in various sports, actors, singers, composers, etc., and to all the members of the women’s soccer team that won the World Cup in 2011. The wording that the government is “considering” making these awards may seem a little funny, but surely the Prime Minister won’t change his mind. An official announcement is expected to follow within the year. The story was the lead-off article on the front page of the December 13 morning Yomiuri Newspaper and also featured on the front page of the afternoon edition. The criterion for the awards is: a person with conspicuous achievements who is widely loved and respected by the people and who have given bright hope to society.(Conditions for the shogi “eternal” title seem slightly easier for some of the titles than for honorary titles in go. They range from five cumulative wins to five wins in a row or ten cumulative wins, the latter being the condition in go. There are actually five variations in the conditions.)

World Go Championship 2018: The Nihon Ki-in has announced that this tournament will be held in March next year. It’s actually the second time: the 1st World Go Championship was held in March last year, but the next one is not being called the “2nd.” Last year, four “players” took part, one of them being the AI program DeepZenGo. First place was taken by Park Junghwan of Korea, 2nd by Mi Yuting of China, 3rd by DeepZenGo, and 4th by Iyama Yuta. Next year, six players will take part: two from Japan, two from Korea, one from China, and one from Chinese Taipei. Note that Korea is not being favored over China. As host country, Japan gets two slots (the host country gets more seats in many international tournaments); Korea gets two because the previous winner, Park, is seeded (as in the TV Asia tournament). The other participants will be: Iyama Yuta and the winner of a qualifying tournament open to the top four place-getters (after Iyama) in the prize-money rankings for Japan; Shin Jinseo 8P for Korea; Ke Jie for China; and Wang Yuanjun 8P for Chinese Taipei. The time allowance will be three hours per player, with the last five minutes being allotted to byo-yomi. Games will start at 10:30 a.m. and there will be no break for lunch. Prizes are: 1st, \20,0000,000 (about $182,000); 2nd, \5,000,000; 3rd & 4th, \2,50,000; 5th & 6th, \1,000,000. Park and Iyama will be seeded into the second round.

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Power Report (1 of 2): Tuo of China wins Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off; Meijin League starts; Honinbo League; Chinese program wins computer go tournament

Monday December 18, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.12.18_19 Agon leftMutsuura

Tuo of China wins Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off: 
The 19th Agon Kiriyama Cup Japan-China Play-off was held at the Westin Hotel in Beijing on December 6. Tuo Jiaxi 9P (aged 26, below left) of China beat Mutsuura 2017.12.18_19agonn TuoYuta 7P (aged 18, at left in photo at right) of Japan. Tuo had black and secured a resignation after 135 moves. This was China’s 1th win in this series (Japan won the first four and Iyama Yuta won the 17th play-off).

Meijin League starts: The first two games of the 43rd Meijin League were played on December 7 and were won by two former Meijins. Cho U 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. and Yamashita Keigo 9P beat Yo Seiki 7P, also by resig. Another former Meijin won the third game, played on Dec. 14: Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.

Honinbo League: The second game in the third round of the 73rd Honinbo League was played on December 7. Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by half a point. One more game was played on December 14. Ida Atsushi 8P (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig. On 3-0 Ida retains the sole lead; Ko is now 2-1, and Motoki and Kobayashi are 1-2.

Chinese program wins computer go tournament: A new tournament for computer go programs, the AI Ryusei Tournament, got off to a start on December 9 and 10. It was held in the UDX Building in front of Akihabara station in Tokyo. Seventeen programs, including four from overseas, took part, with the Igo & Shogi Channel acting as the main sponsor. The tournament is a successor to the UEC Cup, held for ten years by the University of Electro-Communications of Chofu City in Tokyo. FineArt of China, regarded as the favorite as the last winner of the UEC Cup, and DeepZenGo of Japan made the final. Playing white, FineArt won by resignation after 248 moves. It has been developed by the Tencent corporation.

Tomorrow: Ueno to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Awards for Iyama and Habu; World Go Championship 2018

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The Power Report: Nong Shim second stage honors go to China; Ri Ishu wins Young Carp; Xie regains Women’s Honinbo; Honinbo League

Wednesday December 13, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Nong Shim second stage honors go to China: The second stage, in which the fifth to ninth games are played, of the 19th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Busan in Korea from November 24 to 28. The first stage was dominated by Shin Minjun 6P of Korea. He also won the first two games of the second stage, taking his winning streak to six games. However, Dang Yifei of China then took over, winning the next three games, so China staged a recovery. Japan is down to its last player, Iyama Yuta, who will meet Dang in the first game of the third stage, scheduled to start in Shanghai on February 26. Korea has three players left and China two, so Iyama will need to reproduce his good form in the LG Cup if Japan is going to avoid early elimination. Full results for this round follow.
Game Five (Nov. 24). Shin Minjun (W) beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by 4.5 points.
Game Six (Nov. 25). Shin (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) by resig.
Game Seven (Nov. 26). Dang Yifei 9P (China) beat Shin by resig.
Game Eight (Nov. 27). Dang (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game Nine (Nov. 28). Dang (B) beat Kim Myeonghoon 5P (Korea) by resig.
Remaining players: (Japan) Iyama Yuta; (Korea) Kim Jiseok 9P, Shin Jinseo 8P, Park Junghwan 9P; (China) Dang, Ke Jie 9P

Ri Ishu wins Young Carp:  The main section (the best 16) of the 12th Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp Tournament was held in the Western Honshu Newspaper Building in Hiroshima on November 25 and 26. This tournament is open to2017.12.13_Wom Hon Xie players 30 and under and 7-dan and under. The finalists this year were two Nihon Ki-in players of Taiwanese birth, Ri Ishu (Li Yixiu) 7P (aged 29) and Yo Chito (Yao Zhiteng) 4P (aged 19). Playing black, Ri, who came second in the first cup, won by 3.5 points. First prize is 3 million yen (about $27,000).

Xie regains Women’s Honinbo: The 36th Women’s Honinbo title match, a best-of-five, went right down to the wire. Xie Yimin, the challenger (right), twice took the lead, but each time Fujisawa Rina (left), the titleholder, caught up. The deciding game was played in the 2017.12.13_Wom Hon Fujisawa_05Special Playing Room on the 7th floor of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 29. So far, Black had won every game. The nigiri to decide the colors was held again, and Xie drew black. After a hard-fought game extending to 307 moves, Xie won by 8.5 points. This meant that she took back the title Fujisawa won from her last year. It was the eighth time she had won the Women’s Honinbo and her 27th title overall. After the game, Xie commented: “All the games (in the series) were tough. I made lots of mistakes after going into byo-yomi, so I need to improve here. This year I lost the Women’s Meijin title, the Hollyhook (Aizu Central Hospital) Cup, and the Senko Cup to Fujisawa, so I really wanted to win in the final title match of the year. Not giving up until the end worked out well. I think I was lucky.” Fujisawa is still the top woman player, with three titles, but this win restored Xie to her customary position of multiple titleholder. Fujisawa: “Most of the games in this match were tough. I made lots of mistakes in the final game, so the content was not very good for me. I think your mistakes show your level, so I’ll have to start out from scratch again.” First prize for this tournament is 5.5 million yen (about $51,000), the third-highest of the five women’s titles.

Honinbo League: The first game in the third round of the 73rd Honinbo League was played on November 30. Taking black, Hane Naoki 9P (age 41) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P (age 18) by resig. This was Hane’s first win and Shibano’s second loss, so they are even on 1-2. The only undefeated player is former Honinbo challenger Ida Atsushi 8P on 2-0.

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The Power Report: Obituary: Sugiuchi Masao; Nongshim Cup 2nd Stage dominated by China; Xie regains Women’s Honinbo title

Sunday December 3, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.22_sugiuchiforever

Obituary: Sugiuchi Masao
I very much regret having to report the death of Sugiuchi Masao, a player who was a part of 20th-century go history who remained active well into the 21st century, when he acquired new fans as the oldest active professional go player ever.

2017.12.03-SugiuchiSugiuchi died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital on November 21. He was born in what is now Miyako-no-jo City in Miyazaki Prefecture on October 20, 1920. As a child, he showed talent at go and in 1933 came to Tokyo to become a disciple of Inoue Ichiro 5P. He became professional 1-dan in 1937, but lost about three years of his career to military service during the war. When he returned to the go world in 1946, he became one of the leaders of the younger generation, along with players like Sakata Eio and Fujisawa Hideyuki (Shuko). The peak of his career came when he challenged Takagawa Kaku (Honinbo Shukaku) for the 9th and 13th Honinbo titles in 1954 and 1958; he lost both matches 2-4. He won the Rapid Go Meijin tournament in 1959 and the 7th Igo Championship in 1963. He played in the Honinbo League seven times and in the (Yomiuri) Meijin league five times. He received a decoration from the Japanese government in 1992, and the Nihon Ki-in awarded him the Okura Prize in 2004. His lifetime record was 883 wins, 677 losses, 12 jigo, and two no result. He also served as a director of the Nihon Ki-in, including a term as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Many decades ago, Sugiuchi acquired the nickname of “the god of Go, ” perhaps for his quiet, self-effacing demeanor and his dedication to the game. In his 90s, he became one of the understated wonders of the go world. Although the Nihon Ki-in had introduced a retirement system, which enabled some players to retire as young as in their 50s, he kept playing. His last official game was played on November 2, so his active go career extends to 80 years. This is a record, as is remaining active until the age of 97. He is survived by his wife Kazuko 8P, who is still active at the age of 90, a record for women players. She is now the oldest active professional at the Nihon Ki-in. Her career has lasted 75 years, so she might break her husband’s record. (By the way, a game Sugiuchi played at the age of 95 with the 15-year-old Onishi Ryuhei, then 1P, set a record for the biggest age gap between the players.)

Nongshim Cup 2nd Stage dominated by China: The first round of the 19th Nongshim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in2017.12.03-Dang (L) beats Shin Shenyang City in China from September 19 to 22. It was dominated by Shin Minjun 6P of Korea, who won all four games. In the second round, held in Busan in Korea, he extended his winning streak to six games, but then Dang Yifei of China took over and won the remaining games in the round. Results follow.
Game 5 (Nov. 24). Shin (W) beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by 4.5 points.
Game 6 (Nov. 25). Shin (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) by resig.
Game 7 (Nov. 26). Dang Yifei 9D (China) (W) beat Shin by resig.
Game 8 (Nov. 27). Dang (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P (Japan) by resig.
Game 9 (Nov. 28). Dang (B) beat Kim Myounghoon 5P (Korea) by resig.
The final round will be held in Shanghai and will start on February 26. Players remaining are Iyama Yuta for Japan, who will appear in Game 10), Dang and Ke Jie for China, and Kim Jiseok, Shin Jinseo, and Park Junghwan for Korea. Based on players remaining, Korea has an advantage, but someone has to stop Dang.

Xie regains Women’s Honinbo title: The fifth game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match was held in the Special2017.12.03_Xie left wins #5 hon05_06 Playing Room on the 7th floor of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 29. Playing black, Xie Yimin (left) defeated the defending champion Fujisawa Rina by 8.5 titles and regained the title she lost to her last year. She was very relieved to be able to end the year on a good note. In the last year or so, Fujisawa had dominated the women’s titles, winning four to Xie’s one, but this win restored her to her familiar position of multiple title-holder (she already held the Women’s Kisei). Fujisawa is left with the Women’s Hollyhock Cup (sponsored by the Aizu Central Hospital), the Women’s Meijin, and the Senko Cup. This is the ninth time Xie has won the Women’s Honinbo. She and Kusunoki Mitsuko are the only players who have made two comebacks. This is Xie’s 27th title.

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Oza and Tengen titles

Sunday November 26, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.26_tengen3.IyamaJPG

Iyama defends Oza and Tengen titles: Everything is going well for Iyama Yuta these days, both internationally and domestically. In quick succession, he defended two of his top-seven titles, making sure he ends the year with his Grand Slam intact.

2017.11.26_Oza 3 IrikiOn November 20, the third game of the 65th Oza title match was held at the same venue as the second game (on the 18th, covered in my previous report, published on the 21st), that is, at the Hotel Okura Kobe in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture. My description of the second game needs to be revised in light of the Go Weekly report. Apparently Ichiriki (white, at left) took the lead in the opening and in the middle game he built a winning position. However, Iyama made a do-or-die attack that ended in his capturing a large group and pulling off an upset. In the third game, in contrast, it was Iyama (white) who got a good position in the opening (mainly because Ichiriki was burdened with a heavy group). In the middle game, he kept up the pressure on Ichiriki and forced him to resign after 174 moves. This gave him a 3-0 lead, so he defended his title. It is his third Oza title in a row. One rest day may not have been enough for Ichiriki to recover from the shock of letting slip the second game. The fourth game was scheduled to be played in his hometown of Sendai, but he couldn’t take the match that far. The Oza prize is 14 million yen (about $127,000).

The third game of the 43rd Tengen title match was played at the Munakata Yurikkusu, an entertainment/sports/cultural complex in 2017.11.26_oza3 Iyama rightMunakata City, Fukuoka Prefecture, on November 24. Playing black, Iyama (right) built central influence in the opening, but Ichiriki attacked his centre group and tried to blockade it. In response, Iyama cut the blockading group into two and tried to surround the centre part of it. Ichiriki came up with a clever answer, so his group was able to break out, but in the subsequent fighting he missed the best sequence. After that, the game went downhill for him. Iyama set up and won two successive ko fights, also killing a white group in the second fight. Ichiriki resigned after Black 171. Iyama’s fighting ability gave him the edge over the challenger. This win made the score 3-0, so he 2017.11.26_tengen3 IchirikiJPGcompleted his Tengen defence just four days after his Oza success. Finishing off both these titles so quickly earns Iyama a lot of extra time for rest and recuperation in December.

Iyama: “In this series, each game could easily have gone either way. I think that in the end I was just lucky.”

Ichiriki (left): “In both the Tengen and Oza matches, I felt a gap between Iyama and me when byo-yomi started.”

The Tengen prize money is 13 million yen (about $118,000). Iyama has now won 48 titles, so he has moved ahead of Kato Masao into equal fourth place with Otake Hideo. It will take him a while to overhaul the players still ahead of him: Kobayashi with 60, Sakata Eio with 64, and Cho Chikun with 74.

Starting with the third game in last year’s Tengen title match, Ichiriki has now lost nine games in a row to Iyama. He has just over seven weeks to regroup before the Kisei title match starts. First of all, he will have to adjust to two-day games.

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The Power Report (2 of 2): Shibano picks up first league win; Fujisawa levels score in Women’s Honinbo; Suzuki makes Tengen main tournament; Iyama increases lead in Oza

Monday November 20, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano picks up first league win: Two games were played in the 73rd Honinbo League on November 16. Kobayashi Satoru 9P (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig. and Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P, also by resig. The latter result will probably attract the most attention. Shibano is a breath of fresh air in the go world, and a lot of Japanese go fans would like to see him stir things up. The second round has now been concluded. Ida Atsushi 8P has made the best start with two wins, Hane Naoki 9P the worst with two losses, and all the 2017.11.20_Hon4 Xie Rinaother players (Ko Iso 8P and Yo Seiki 7P besides players already mentioned) are all on 1-1.

Fujisawa levels score in Women’s Honinbo: The fourth game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo best-of-five was held in the Special Playing Room at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 17. Xie Yimin (left), the challenger, had won the third game, so this was a kadoban for the defending champion, Fujisawa Rina (right). Taking black, Fujisawa won by 2.5 points after 270 moves. Apparently, the game was good for Xie, but Fujisawa overhauled her in the endgame. The final game will be played on November 29.

Suzuki makes Tengen main tournament: A while back (at the end of September), I reported on the success of Fujisawa Rina in reaching the main tournament of the Gosei tournament, this being an unusual achievement for 2017.11.20_oza02 Iyamawomen players. Suzuki Ayumi 7P has now become the tenth woman to do so. On November 16, she beat Ryu Shikun 9P in the final of Preliminary A of the Tengen tournament, so she won a place in the main tournament (she had white and secured a resignation).

Iyama increases lead in Oza: The second game of the 65th Oza title was held at the Hotel Okura Kobe in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, on November 18. The game started at 10 a.m., with Iyama (left) playing black. The players have a time allowance of three hours each, with the last five minutes allotted to byo-yomi. The game was full of the aggressive kind of fighting that is usual for title matches these days, but Iyama took the lead and hung on to it. The game ended at 7:33 p.m. after 325 moves; Iyama won by 4.5 points. The third game will be held at the same venue just two days later, so the match could well be over by the time this report appears.

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The Power Report (1 of 2): Iyama and Xie to meet in LG Cup final; Ida defends Crown title

Sunday November 19, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.19_LG Xie Erhao Iyama

Iyama and Xie to meet in LG Cup final:  A Japanese representative had made the best eight of the 22nd LG Cup, so the Nihon Ki-in offered to host the quarterfinals and semifinals at its headquarters in Tokyo. If one motive was to give its player the advantage of playing on home ground, this worked out just right, as Japan got its first finalist in a world championship since 2007. That year was also the only previous time that Japan hosted LG Cup games. All the games were telecast with live commentary on the Igo & Shogi Channel.

 The quarterfinals were played on November 13. The results were as follows: Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Shin Jinseo 8P (Korea) by resig.; Xie Erhao 5P (China) (W) beat Choi Cheolhan 9P (Korea) by resig.; Jiang Weijie 9P (China) (W) beat Lee Wonyong 7P (Korea) by half a point; Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) (W) beat Yang Tingxin 6P (China) by resig.

2017.11.19_LG Ke IyamaThe LG Cup is a Korean-sponsored tournament, but no Korean players made the 2017.11.19_LG Ke Jiesemifinals, so perhaps Korean fans didn’t mind the tournament’s being held overseas. Lots are drawn after each round to do the pairings for the next round, and Iyama (at right in photo at left) was paired with Ke Jie (left), who is widely recognized as the world’s number one. In this tournament, the player who wins the nigiri can choose colors; Ke (right) took white—perhaps he was influenced by the fact that White won all the games in the quarterfinals. He started out with two three-three points, showing the influence of AI. In contrast, Iyama played the high Chinese Opening. Initially, Ke took the lead, but in a later fight his play was perhaps a little too aggressive, letting Iyama get back into the game. Later on, Ke made a mistake and resigned after 267 moves. In the all-Chinese semifinal, Xie (W) Jiang beat by resig.

The best-of-three final will be held on February 5, 7, and, if needed, 8. Iyama has won the TV Asia Cup, but this will be his first final in a full-scale international tournament. If he wins, it will be Japan’s first international title since 2005, when Cho U won the LG Cup. Unfortunately, I have no information about Xie Erhao.

Ida defends Crown title: The Crown tournament is open only to players at the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. First prize is 1.7 million yen (about $15,400). Ida Atsushi 8P won this title for the first time last year and was able to defend it this year. The one-game final was played on November 13; taking white, Ida defeated Mutsuura Yuta 7P by resig. after 174 moves.

Tomorrow: Shibano picks up first league win; Fujisawa levels score in Women’s Honinbo; Suzuki makes Tengen main tournament; Iyama increases lead in Oza

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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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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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