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The Power Report (4 of 4): Honinbo League; 44th Meijin League; Fujisawa sets record

Saturday January 12, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2019.01.11_Honinbo League

Honinbo League: Two players share the lead in the 74th Honinbo League: Hane Naoki 9P, at 42 a veteran, and Ichiriki Ryo, aged 21. Both are on 3-0; they are not slated to play each other until the sixth round, in March. Recent results:
(Nov. 29) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.
(Dec. 6) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by resig.; Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 8P by resig.
(Dec. 13) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Anzai Nobuaki 7P by resig.

44th Meijin League: The new Meijin League got off to a start on December 6 with the newest member, previous Meijin 2019.01.11_Meijin LeagueIyama Yuta, taking on one of the league newcomers. The first round has now been completed. Results to date:
(Dec. 6) Iyama Yuta (W) beat Mutsuura Yuta 7P by resig.
(Dec. 13) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Son Makoto 7P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 8P (B) beat Suzuki Shinji 7P by resig.
(Dec. 20) Kono Rin 8P (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by resig. This was Kono’s 800th win.

Fujisawa sets record: Fujisawa Rina (aged 20) set a new record for most wins by a woman player when she beat Suzuki Shinji 7P in Preliminary B of the 58th Judan tournament on December 24. This was her 42nd win in 2018, one more than the record set by Kobayashi Izumi 6P in 2001. Taking black, Fujisawa won by resignation. On the 27th, she won another game, so her final record was 43 wins to 23 losses. She tied for second place in the most-wins list with Ichiriki Ryo 8P, the highest a woman player has ever placed. (I plan to cover 2018 stats in my next report, which will also feature the first game of the Kisei title match.) Fujisawa’s comment: “I’m happy I was able to top my personal best of 40 wins. This year, my form improved in the latter part of the year and I was able to play above my strength.”

Promotion
To 3-dan: Sotoyanagi Sebun (40 wins, as of Dec. 7)

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The Power Report (3 of 4): Iyama defends Tengen, sets new record; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Chunlan Cup: all-Korean final

Thursday January 10, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Tengen, sets new record: The fourth game of the 44th Tengen title match was held at the Hotel New 2019.01.10_44tengen5_1Awaji in Sumoto City, Hyogo Prefecture on December 10. Taking white, Yamashita Keigo 9P won by 2.5 points after 262 moves. Iyama attacked positively in the opening and secured an advantage, but Yamashita launched a do-or-die attack and pulled off an upset. The fifth game, the last big game of the year, was held at the Tokushima Grandvrio Hotel in 2019.01.10_tengen4 YamashitaTokushima City on December 19. At his peak, Iyama was often able to wrap a match up quickly, reducing the burden on himself of constant title defenses, but this was his third successive match to go the full distance. Yamashita drew black in the nigiri. Once again, Iyama took the lead in the opening, and this time the challenger’s attempt to stage an upset was unsuccessful. Yamashita resigned after 188 moves. After a hectic autumn/winter tournament season, Iyama ended the year in top form. He has now won the Tengen four years in a row, so he can aim at qualifying for the honorary title next year. This was his 43rd top-seven title, putting him in the sole lead ahead of Cho Chikun. It is his 54th title overall and maintains his quintuple crown. No one will bet against his chances of restoring his septuple crown in 2019. Cho Chikun had a comment: “He’s not even half my age. It’s a great honor for me to be overtaken by a fantastic player like Iyama.”

Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Kisei: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 22nd Women’s Kisei title was 2019.01.10_WKisei R Fujisawaheld in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in on December 10, and it featured yet another clash between Fujisawa Rina (right) and Xie Yimin. Taking white, the former won by resignation after 174 moves. This is the only women’s title Fujisawa has never won; in fact, it’s the first time she got past the second round (out of four) in the final knock-out section. The best-of-three title match with Ueno Asami will begin on January 17. Incidentally, this will be the first time Fujisawa (20) will face a younger opponent in a title match (Ueno is 17).

Chunlan Cup: all-Korean final: Korean players are doing their best to push back against the ascendancy of Chinese players in international tournament recently. The semifinals of the 12th Chunlan Cup were held in Zhejiang Province in China on December 17 and 19. Both featured Chinese-Korean pairings and both ended in narrow victories for the Korean side. Park Junghwan 9P (W) beat Ke Jie by half a point and Park Yonghyun 9P (B) beat Dang Yifei 9P by one and a half points. The final is scheduled for June.
Tomorrow: Honinbo League; 44thMeijin League; Fujisawa sets record

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The Power Report (2 of 4): Fujisawa takes Women’s Honinbo title; Kobayashi Koichi scores 1,400th win; Rin Kanketsu wins SGW Cup; Gu wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off

Wednesday January 9, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2019.01.09_2018 WHon 4 Fujisawa

Fujisawa takes Women’s Honinbo title: The fourth game in the 37th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on December 5. Taking white, Fujisawa Rina forced a resignation after 224 moves and took the title from Xie Yimin with a 3-1 score. This is Fujisawa’s third concurrent title: she also holds the Hollyhock Cup and the Women’s Meijin. It is the third time she has won this title, and it is her ninth title. First prize is 5,500,000 yen (about $50,000). Xie is now without a title to her name for the first time in 11 years. Note: Michael Redmond was the referee for the match.

Kobayashi Koichi scores 1,400th win: On December 6, Kobayashi Koichi (B) defeated Yoshihara Yukari 6P by resig. in 2019.01.09 Kobayashi 1400ththe preliminary round (called by the English name of “first tournament”) of the 44th Kisei tournament. This was his 1,400th win, making him the third Nihon Ki-in player to reach this landmark, after Cho Chikun and Rin Kaiho. His record is 1400 wins, 744 losses, 2 jigo; his winning percentage is 65.3, which is the best of the three. The 66-year-old Kobayashi took 51 years eight months to achieve this feat. Kobayashi: “Someone told me [I was close], but when the game started I forgot about it. Even though I have been playing such a long time, I am just as passionate as ever about go. I want to keep playing until I’m no longer physically able to.”

Rin Kanketsu wins SGW Cup: The SGW Cup Golden Mean Tournament is an unusual new tournament: it is open to 2019.01.09_sgw Rinplayers aged from 31 to 60 who have not won one of the top seven open tournaments or the Ryusei or Agon Kiriyama titles. The main section of the tournament, a four-round Swiss System for 16 players (who qualified in a preliminary tournament held on the Net) was held at the Nihon Ki-in on December 8 and 9. After three rounds, there were two players with three wins, Rin Kanketsu 8P and Anzai Nobuaki 7P, so their fourth-round clash became the “final.” Taking black, Rin won by resignation. First prize is 2 million yen (about $18,000). Having won this title, Rin “graduates” and can no longer play in it. However, it is not an official tournament, so results are not included in players’ lifetime tallies. Third place was taken by Cho Riyu 8P, who beat the oldest participant, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (aged 60), in the final round. According to “Go Weekly,” “golden mean” refers to solid players of a certain age who don’t have as many opportunities to play as the top players or young players, for whom there are many youth tournaments. Apparently this is the first time the Swiss System has been used for Japanese professionals. The participants may not have been the top players, but a big crowd of fans turned out for a public commentary by Cho Chikun.

Gu wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off: The Agon-Kiriyama Cup 20th Japan-China Play-off was held at the Shaka-san Dai-Bodaiji Temple, the headquarters of the Agon sect of Buddhism in Kyoto, on December 9. The game was actually played in a teahouse in the 2019.01.09 JC Agon Gugrounds of the temple called the Snail Hermitage (Kagyu-an). It matched the holders of the Japanese and Chinese versions of the Agon Kiriyama Cups, Ichiriki Ryo 8P and Gu Jihao 9P. The 20-year-old Gu is not well known in Japan, but he is a member of the group of players born between 1995 and 2000 that now dominates Chinese go. He jumped from 5-dan to 9-dan in 2017 when he won the 22nd Samsung Cup. Gu drew black in the nigiri. Like most professional games these days, there were many signs of AI influence, but Gu’s 7th move was a diagonal move made popular in the 19th century by Honinbo Shusaku and known as “Shusaku’s kosumi.” At the time, Shusaku commented that no matter how much time passed, this would never become a bad move. It has now held up for over a century and a half. Gu said after the game that recently AI programs had often recommended this move. The game was marked by fierce fighting, with Ichiriki launching an aggressive double attack at the decisive point in the middle game. Gu was able to cope with it, so Ichiriki had to resign after 185 moves. China has now won this play-off 15 times to Japan’s five.
At the press conference after the game, Gu was asked how he used AI. His answer: “All professionals are using AI. In the national team, I am training with Fine Art every day. I also use AI after I go home. I don’t play games with AI. I have resigned myself to the difference in level.”
Tomorrow: Iyama defends Tengen, sets new record; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Chunlan Cup: all-Korean final

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The Power Report (1 of 4): China dominates Nong Shim Cup; Iyama defends Oza, ties record; Ke wins Samsung Cup

Tuesday January 8, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

China dominates Nong Shim Cup: 
The second round of the 20th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Pusan near the end of November. In the opening round, held in Beijing in October, Japan got off to a good start when Shibano Toramaru won the first game, but then Fan Tingyu of China took over and won the remaining three games in the round. His good form continued in the second round and he took his winning streak to seven before it was terminated by Park Junghwan. Incidentally, Fan also won seven games in a row in the 18th Nong Shim Cup. His career started at the top: he became the world’s youngest-ever 9-dan when he was promoted for winning the 7th Ing cup in 2013 at the age of 16. Nong Shim results are given below.
Game 5 (Nov. 23). Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (B) beat Choe Cheolhan 9P (Korea) by resig.
Game 6 (Nov. 24). Fan (W) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game 7 (Nov. 25). Fan (W) beat Lee Sedol 9P (Korea) by resig.
Game 8 (Nov. 26). Fan (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game 9 (Nov. 27). Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Fan by resig.2019.01.08_66oza5_1
The final round will be held in Shanghai from February 18 to 22. Japan and Korea are both down to their last player, but China still has four.

Iyama defends Oza, ties record:  The fourth game of the 66th Oza title match was held at the Ryugon inn in Minami Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture, on November 30. This game was a kadoban for the challenger, Ichiriki Ryo 8P, but he responded to the pressure with positive play from the opening on and succeeded in taking the lead. In byo-yomi, Ichiriki (black) was confronted with a position that looked like a crisis for him, but he managed to survive it and scored a win by 1.5 points.
The fifth game was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on December 13. Ichiriki drew black in the nigiri. Professional observers commented that Ichiriki seemed to have succumbed to the pressure, at least a little, as his play was not quite a freewheeling as in the previous games. Iyama forced him to resign after 186 moves. This is Iyama’s fourth Oza title in a row and his 53rd title overall, behind Cho Chikun on 74, Sakata Eio on 64, and Kobayashi Koichi on 60. He also tied a record held by Cho Chikun of winning 42 top-seven titles. That’s a very high percentage—79% of his titles, as compared to 57% for Cho. The latter reached this mark at the age of 50, which means that it took him 39 years. Iyama got there in 16 years. After the match, Iyama commented: “When I lost titles from my septuple crown, it didn’t upset me very much, but there were a lot of games in which the way I lost left me with regrets. Being able to get a good result here is important. When I started playing, Cho Sensei was someone I greatly admired, so it feels strange [to draw even with him]. It’s a record of patient accumulation, so I think I have done well.”
Ichiriki failed yet again in his fifth challenge to Iyama for a title. This was the first time he got so close, but that probably made the result all the more frustrating.

Ke wins Samsung Cup: The best-of-three final of the 23rd Samsung Cup was played in Korea in early December. It featured a clash between Ahn Kukhyun 8P of Korea, bidding to win his first international title, and Ke Jie 9P of China, who was hoping to pick up his sixth. In the first game, played on Dec. 3, Ahn Kukhyun (W) won by resig. In the second game (Dec. 4), Ke Jie (W) won by resig. In the decider, played on the following day, Ke (W) won by 5.5 points. He earns a prize of 300 million won (about $268,000). Apparently Ahn is now slated to do his military service. Depending on which arm of the military he’s in, the period is from 21 months to two years.

Tomorrow: Fujisawa takes Women’s Honinbo title; Kobayashi Koichi scores 1,400th win; Rin Kanketsu wins SGW Cup; Gu wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off

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The Power Report (2 of 2: Iyama takes lead in Oza and Tengen; Fujita wins Young Carp; Youngest players & one veteran share lead in Honinbo League; Xie picks up first win in Women’s Honinbo; Ida defends Crown

Monday November 26, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama takes lead in Oza and Tengen: This report is a contrast to my reports of November 2 and 3, which told of losses by Iyama in three different titles. His Meijin title is now gone, reducing him to “just” five top-seven titles, but he has turned the tide in the Oza title match, in which the challenger, Ichiriki Ryo 8P, won the first game. The second and third games were held in quick succession at the same venue, a relatively rare practice but seen occasionally in recent years because of Iyama’s tight schedule. The games were played at the Shima Kanko Hotel (“Kanko” means “sightseeing,” but the hotel doesn’t translate the word in its English name) in Shima City, Mie Prefecture, on November 17 and 19. In the second game, Iyama, taking white, secured a resignation after 196 moves, so he evened in the score. This ended a losing streak of four games for him. In the third game, Iyama, playing black, forced a resignation after 175 moves. Ichiriki will face a kadoban in the fourth game, scheduled for November 30. The third game of the 44th Tengen title match was held at the Yutoku Imari Shrine in Kashima City, Saga 2018.11.25_Fujita CarpPrefecture, on November 23. Taking white, Iyama forced the challenger Yamashita Keigo 9P to resign after 140 wins, so he now leads 2-1. The fourth game will be played on December 10.

Fujita wins Young Carp:  The main section of the 13th Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp Tournament was held at the Central Japan Newspaper Building in Hiroshima on November 17 and 18. Sixteen players took part in a knock-out tournament. In the final, Fujita Akihiko 6P (aged 27, at right) (B) beat Koike Yoshihiro 3P (aged 20) by resignation. These two are both disciples of Takabayashi Takuji 6P. Third place was shared by Fujisawa Rina 4P and Adachi Toshimasa 5P. Shibano Toramaru 7P was probably the favorite, but he lost to Koike in the quarterfinals. This tournament is open to professionals 30 and under and 7-dan and under. The time allowance is 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes’ thinking time to be used in one-minute units. First prize is three million yen (about $26,600).

Youngest players & one veteran share lead in Honinbo League: In my previous report, I mentioned that Shibano Toramaru, who just turned 19 on November 9, and Ichiriki Ryo (aged 21) shared the lead in the 74th Honinbo League, on 2-0. They were joined by the 23-year-old Yo Seiki, so the three youngest players in the league shared the lead at this point. Yo improved his score to 2-0 on November 15, when, taking black, he beat Ko Iso 8P by resignation. The final game of the second round was played on November 22. Hane Naoki 2018.11.25_honinbo-League9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by 2.5 points, so the veteran player (aged 42) joins the above three young players in the lead. Four players are on 2-0 and four on 0-2, so fortunes have been cleanly divided so far. That will change in the third round in December, when Yo will play Ichiriki and Hane will play Shibano.

Xie picks up first win in Women’s Honinbo: The third game of the 37th Women’s Honinbo title match was played at the Honinbo Shusaku Memorial Hall on In-no-shima Island, which is part of the mainland city of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, on November 24. Taking white, Xie won by resignation after 284 moves. Fujisawa Rina won the first two games, but Xie has survived her first kadoban. The fourth game will be played on December 5.

Ida defends Crown: The Crown title is a tournament limited to the 40 members of the Central Japan branch of the Nihon Ki-in in Nagoya. In the final, Nakano Hironari 9P challenged the title-holder Ida Atsushi 8P. Playing white, Ida won by 2.5 points. He has now held this title three years in a row.

Promotions
To 3-dan: Bian Wenkai (40 wins, as of Nov. 16). Bian, who was born in China, is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He became a professional in 2013 at the age of 20.
To 5-dan: Takekiyo Isamu (70 wins, as of Nov. 23). Born in 1979, Takekiyo became a professional in 2001.
To 9-dan: Takanashi Seiken (200 wins, as of Nov. 23). Takanashi was promoted to 8-dan in 2002, so it has taken him 16 years to accumulate the wins required to make 9-dan. He is the 78th (active) 9-dan at the Nihon Ki-in (there are 31 at the Kansai Ki-in).

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The Power Report (1 of 2): Samsung Cup: Ke v. Ahn, China v. Korea; Yamashita becomes Kisei challenger, sets record; Fujisawa extends lead in Women’s Honinbo challenge; New faces in Meijin League

Monday November 26, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Samsung Cup: Ke v. Ahn, China v. Korea: The best-of-three semifinals for the 23rd Samsung Cup were held at a Samsung Research Center in Taeon City, Korea.
Results were as follows:
(Game 1, Nov. 5) Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Xie Erhao 9P (China) by resig.; Ahn Kukhyun 8P (Korea) (W) beat Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig.
(Game 2, Nov. 6) Xie (W) beat Ke by 1.5 points; Ahn (B) beat Tang by resig.
(Game 3, Nov. 7) Ke (W) beat Xie by resig.
Ke and Ahn will meet in the best-of-three final on December 3, 4 and 5. Ke will be vying for his sixth international title; Ahn will be making his debut in an international final.

Yamashita becomes Kisei challenger, sets record: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 43rd Kisei title was Kisei chall L Yamashita R Konoheld at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 9. It featured Yamashita Keigo 9P (left), winner of the S League, and Kono Rin 9P (right), who was second in the S League but who earned his seat in the play-off by defeating Onishi Ryuhei 3P in the final knockout tournament. Taking white, Yamashita beat Kono by resignation. Although the final is called a “best-of-three,” this was enough for Yamashita to win it, as the S League winner starts with a one-game advantage. Unusually for a big game, this also marked a landmark in Yamashita’s career: his 1,000th win. He is the 24th player in Japan to reach this mark and, at 25 years seven months, the fastest. He broke the record set by Yuki Satoshi 9P of the Kansai Ki-in of 27 years one month. The title match with Iyama Yuta will start on January 10. The Kisei will be a familiar arena for Yamashita, as he held the title for one term in 2003 (the 27th Kisei) and for four years in a row from 2006 to 2009 (30th to 33rd). He also made three unsuccessful challenges in a row to Iyama Yuta: he lost the 38th to 40th title matches (2014 to 2016) 2-4, 3-4, and 0-4 in sequence. This may be a good time to challenge Iyama, as he seems a little vulnerable recently. First, though, Yamashita has to try to win the Tengen title match between the two that at this point was tied 1-1. Victory in this match would give him a good springboard for the New Year.

Fujisawa extends lead in Women’s Honinbo challenge: The second game of the 37th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on November 9. Playing white, Fujisawa Rina forced the title-holder Xie 2018.11.25_MutsuuraYimin to resign after 212 moves. Fujisawa also won the first game, so she needs just one more win to take the title. The third game will be held on November 24.

New faces in Meijin League: The final play-offs for the three vacant seats in the 44th Meijin League 2018.11.25_Sonwere all held on November 8 but at three different locations. At the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, Mutsuura Yuta 7P (W, right) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. At the Nagoya branch, Suzuki Shinji 7P (W) beat Shida Tatsuya 7P by half a point. At the Kansai Ki-in, Son Makoto 6P (B, left) beat Fujii Shuya 7P (a member of the Kansai Ki-in) by resig. All three players will be making their league debuts. Son also earned a promotion to 7-dan, dated as of the following day. Matsuura’s win was his eighth and Son’s his seventh in ongoing streaks.

Tmw: Iyama takes lead in Oza and Tengen; Fujita wins Young Carp; Youngest players & one veteran share lead in Honinbo League; Xie picks up first win in Women’s Honinbo; Ida defends Crown  

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The Power Report: Samsung Cup update; Yamashita becomes Kisei challenger, sets record; Fujisawa extends lead in Women’s Honinbo challenge; New Faces in Meijin League

Wednesday November 14, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Samsung Cup: Ke v. Ahn, China v. Korea: 
The best-of-three semifinals for the 23rd Samsung Cup were held at a Samsung Research Center in Taejeon City, Korea. Results were as follows:
(Game 1, Nov. 5) Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Xie Erhao 9P (China) by resig.; Ahn Kukhyun 8P (Korea) (W) beat Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig.
(Game 2, Nov. 6) Xie (W) beat Ke by 1.5 points; Ahn (B) beat Tang by resig.
(Game 3, Nov. 7) Ke (W) beat Xie by resig.
Ke and Ahn will meet in the best-of-three final on December, 3, 4 and 5. Ke will be vying for his sixth international title; Ahn will be making his debut in an international final.

Yamashita becomes Kisei challenger, sets record: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 43rd Kisei title was 2018.11.14_kisei43 Yamashita L Kono Rheld at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 9. It featured Yamashita Keigo 9P (left), winner of the S League, and Kono Rin 9P, who was second in the S League but who earned his seat in the play-off by defeating Onishi Ryuhei 3P in the final knockout tournament. Taking white, Yamashita beat Kono by resignation. Although the final is called a “best-of-three,” this was enough for Yamashita to win it, as the S League winner starts with a one-game advantage. Unusually for a big game, this also marked a landmark in Yamashita’s career: his 1,000thwin. He was the 24thplayer in Japan to reach this mark and, at 25 years seven months, the fastest. He broke the record set by Yuki Satoshi 9P of the Kansai Ki-in of 27 years one month.

The title match with Iyama Yuta will start on January 10. The Kisei will be a familiar arena for Yamashita, as he held the title for one term in 2003 (the 27thKisei) and for four years in a row from 2006 to 2009 (30thto 33rd). He also made three unsuccessful challenges in a row to Iyama Yuta: he lost the 38thto 40thtitle matches (2014 to 2016) 2-4, 3-4, and 0-4 in sequence. This may be a good time to challenge Iyama, as he seems a little vulnerable recently. First, though, Yamashita has to try to win the Tengen title match between the two that is now tied 1-1. A win here would give him a good springboard for the new year.

Fujisawa extends lead in Women’s Honinbo challenge: The second game of the 37th Women’s Honinbo title match2018.11.14_37fhon2 Fujisawa L Xie R was held at the headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on November 9. Playing white, Fujisawa Rina (left) forced the title-holder Xie Yimin to resign after 212 moves. Fujisawa also won the first game, so she needs just one more win to take the title. The third game will be held on November 24.

New Faces in Meijin League: The final play-offs for the three vacant seats in the 44thMeijin League were all held on November 8 but at three different locations. At the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, Mutsuura Yuta 7P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. At the Nagoya branch, Suzuki Shinji 7P (W) beat Shida Tatsuya 7P by half a point. At the Kansai Ki-in, Son Makoto 6P (B) beat Fujii Shuya 7P (a member of the Kansai Ki-in) by resig. All three players will be making their league debuts. Son also earned a promotion to 7-dan, dated as of the following day. Matsuura’s win was his eighth and Son’s his seventh in ongoing streaks.

Promotion: To 4-dan: Mannami Nao (50 wins, as of Nov. 9)

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

Wednesday November 7, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday November 3, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

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

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

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

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

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

Friday November 2, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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