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

Wednesday July 18, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Wednesday June 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday June 12, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Monday June 11, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Power Report (1): Kobayashi Koichi receives decoration; Go Seigen Cup; Cho U retains sole lead in Meijin League

Sunday June 10, 2018

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

Kobayashi Koichi receives decoration: In the spring honors list, announced on April 28, Kobayashi Koichi became the 27th go player to receive a decoration from the Japanese government, being awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon. Aged 65, Kobayashi holds three honorary titles, the Kisei, Meijin, and Gosei. He was a late starter, not winning his first big-three title, the Meijin, until he was 33, but he went on to win 60 titles, including the Kisei eight years in a row, the Meijin seven years in a row, eight times in all, and the Gosei six years in a row, nine times in all. His only major failure was not winning the Honinbo title, despite challenging three years in a row.

Go Seigen Cup: The first Wu Qingyuan (Go Seigen) Cup World Women’s Championship is a new tournament for woman players founded by Fuzhou City in Fujian Province in honor of its most famous son, at least in the go world. The rounds up to the final were held from April 26 to May 1. Twenty-eight players took part; of these eight were from Europe and American and they played a preliminary round, with the top four entering the main tournament. This was an irregular knock-out with five rounds, but with eight players seeded into the second round. The finalists are two Korean players, Kim Chaeyoung 3P and Choi Jeong 9P. The final will be held in July. Four Japanese players took part. Two reached the quarterfinals, but were eliminated there. However, Ueno Asami 2P will probably remember fondly her win against Rui Naiwei 9P.

Cho U retains sole lead in Meijin League: Some important games have been played in the 43rdMeijin League since my last report. The results are given below.
(April 16) Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 7P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. Yo raised his score to 2-3 and Murakawa dropped to 1-4.
(April 26) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by resig. This was Shibano’s first loss; he lost his chance of drawing level with the league leader, Cho U, who was in lone first place with 4-0. Two players followed him with just one loss: Shibano and Hane Naoki 9P, both on 3-1.
(May 3) Cho (B) beat Shibano by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yo by resig.
(May 10) Murakawa (B) beat Takao by 2.5 points.
(May 24) Hane (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. This game concluded the 6th(May) round. Cho U keeps the lead, on 5-0, with Hane in second place on 4-1. They are followed by two players on 3-2, Kono and Shibano. At present, it seems likely one of these four will be the challenger; the only other player theoretically still in the running is Yamashita on 2-3.

Part 1 of 4; tomorrow: Kisei S League starts; Xu of China wins Globis Cup; Yo keeps Honinbo seat; Shibano wins Japan-China Ryusei

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The Power Report: Yamashita Keigo becomes Honinbo challenger; Cho U takes sole lead in Meijin League; 8th Huanglongshi Cup starts; Iyama defends Judan

Tuesday April 17, 2018

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

Yamashita Keigo becomes Honinbo challenger: 
Yamashita Keigo 9P turns 40 on September 6 this year, but he is still a2018.04.16_HoninboLeague member of a small top group that functions in Iyama Yuta’s shadow. At present, the other candidates for membership would be Murakawa Daisuke and Ichiriki Ryo, and players like Shibano Toramaru and Yo Seiki are vying to join it; Cho U (see next news item) is hoping to rejoin it. Members of this group were active in the final round of the 73rdHoninbo League. As the round started, on April 5, three players were still in the running to become the challenger: Yamashita, Ko Iso 8P, and Ida Atsushi 8P. The possibility of a tie, requiring a play-off, seemed quite high, but Yamashita beat Ko and Ida lost his game, so Yamashita won the league outright on 5-2.
Results follow: Yamashita (W) beat Ko Iso by resig.; Shibano (W) beat Ida by resig.; Yo (W) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig.; Motoki Katsuya (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

The most disappointed of these players could be Ida, who won his first four games, taking the sole lead, then fizzled out with three losses. In contrast, Yamashita had reason to be happy, because he started out with two losses in the first three rounds and must have thought he was out of the running. Ko Iso (4-3) came second and retained his place because of his original ranking at no. 4. Motoki (3-4), Hane (2-5, and Kobayashi (2-5) all lost their places, but on the day there was no third- or fourth-place getter in the league. It’s a long time since this last happened. In 1999, there was a play-off among three players for one seat; the last time three players competed for two seats was in 1972. It became less likely in 1978, as in that year the system of ranking players according to their results in the previous league was adopted; only the four “newcomers,” all ranked #5, could now figure in such a tie. That’s what happened this year, presumably for the first and only time. Three of the league newcomers, equally ranked at no. 5, tied on 4-3, so there was a complicated play-off. This was decided by drawing lots to offset the unfairness of the fact that one player will get two chances. First, on April 12, Ida played Shibano; taking white, the latter won by 4.5 points, so Shibano keeps his place. Ida will play Yo on April 2, with the winner getting the fourth place. Yo drew the booby prize, that is, he gets just one chance. The title match starts on May 15.

Cho U takes sole lead in Meijin League: The first game in the fifth or April round of the 43rd Meijin League was played on April 5. Taking black, Cho U 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resignation. A second game was played on April 12, with 2018.04.16_MeijinLeagueYamashita Keigo 9P (W) beating Ko Iso 8P by resig. Cho now has the sole lead in league, though his nearest rival, Shibano Toramaru 7P, can join him if he wins his fifth-round game. Perhaps Cho is finally coming out of his slump of recent years.  Usually the league is dominated by the top-ranked players, but this year they are doing badly. Numbers 1 to 3 are Takao, Yamashita Keigo, and Murakawa Daisuke 8P; Takao and Murakawa are on 1-3, which comes close to putting them out of contention for the challengership, and Yamashita is on 2-3. No. 5 Kono is on 2-2, and no. 6, Ko Iso 8P, is on 1-2. The two newcomers to the lead besides Shibano are Hane Naoki 9P, on 3-1, which puts him in third place, and Yo Seiki 7P on 1-3.

8th Huanglongshi Cup starts: The 8th Huanglongshi Cup, a team tournament for five-woman teams from China, Korea, and Japan, got off to a start in Taizhou City on April 9. Unlike the Nong Shim Cup, two games a day are played on the first two days, then one on the third day, then two on the fourth, making a total of seven games in the opening round. The time allowance is one hour per player, followed by byo-yomi of one minute per move. The first round was dominated by Li He of China, who scored five wins. The second round starts on June 5.2018.04.16_56Judan3 Iyama
(April 9) Nyu Eiko 2P (Japan) (W) beat O Cheonga 3P (Korea) by resig.; Li He 5P (China) beat Nyu.
(April 10) Li beat Kim Miri 3P (Korea); Li beat Xie Yimin 6P (Japan)
(April 11) Li beat Kim Tae 3P (Korea)
(April 12) Li beat O Keii 3P (Japan); O Yujin 5P (Korea) beat Li.

Iyama defends Judan: The third game of the 56th Judan title match was held at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in Omachi City, Nagano Prefecture, on April 12. Taking white, Iyama 2018.04.16_56judan3 MurakawaYuta (right) won by 4.5 points after 234 moves. Iyama has now won this title three years in a row and for the fifth time overall. The defeated challenger Murakawa Daisuke (left) commented: “Compared to the previous two games, this one was the most regrettable.” In other words, he has some winning chances. According to the Go Weekly commentary, the game was even after the first major fight, involving a ko, ended in a large-scale trade, but in a subsequent border fight, Iyama found a clever move that secured more territory than the spectators had been counting for him. The Grand Champion tournament doesn’t seem to be counted as an official title, so the Judan is Iyama’s 51st title. Incidentally, he has now won 17 games in a row in title matches.

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The Power Report: Chunlan Cup starts; Ueno receives prize; Iyama wins 2017 Grand Champion tournament

Monday April 16, 2018

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

Chunlan Cup starts:
The Chunlan Cup is a Chinese international tournament held every two years and sponsored by the 2018.04.15_12chunlan MotokiL LeeSedolRChunlan Group, which started out manufacturing electrical goods and which is said to be one of the 50 biggest industrial groups in China. The first two rounds of the 12th Cup were held in Taizhou City, Jiangsu Province, on March 21 and 23. Five young players from Japan took part; four of them were eliminated in the first round, but Motoki Katsuya picked up a win he will remember all his career when he beat the legendary Lee Sedol of Korea by 3.5 points. However, he was eliminated in the second round. Five Chinese and three Koreans made it to the quarterfinals, including the world’s top two, Park Junghwan and Ke Jie. Full results are given below. We do not have a date for the quarterfinals.
2018.04.15_12Chunlan Motoki RRound 1 (March 21): Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo (Japan) by resig.; Motoki Katsuya 8P (Japan) (B) beat Lee Sedol 9P (Korea) by 3.5 points; Xie Ke 5P (China) (B) beat Kyo Kagen (Xiu Jiayuan) 7P (Japan) by resig.; Peng Liyao 5P (China) (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P (Japan) by resig.; Kang Dongyun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 7P (Japan) by resig.; Lian Xiao 9P (China) (W) beat Chen Qirui 5P (Chinese Taipei) by resig.; Dang Yifei 9P (China) (W) beat Shin Jinseo 8P (Korea) by resig.; Pavol Lisy 1P (Europe) (W) beat Eric Lui 1P (North America) by resig.
Round 2 (March 23): Gu Zihao 9P (China) (W) beat Motoki by resig.; Dang (B) beat Tan Xiao 7P (China) by resig.; Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (W) beat Lisy by resig.; Xie (W) beat Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig.; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (W) beat Peng by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (B) beat Kang by resig.; Kim (W) beat Xie Erhao 9P (China) by resig.; Park Younghoon 9P (Korea) (B) beat Lian by half a point.

Ueno receives prize: The photo shows Ueno Asami at the Prize Ceremony for the 21st Women’s Kisei title. Ueno won it 2018.04.15_womens-kisei21_shuisiki02on January 29 this year by defeating perennial women’s champion Xie Yimin 2-0. At 16 years three months, she became the youngest-ever holder of this title. The award ceremony was held at the Tokyo Dome Hotel on March 28. In the photo, Ueno is flanked by Iyama Yuta (on the left), who gave a congratulatory speech in Ueno’s honor, and Takao Shinji, who proposed the toast. Ueno’s bright red kimono, a furisode, which is worn by unmarried women, matches the youthful optimism of the new titleholder.

Iyama wins 2017 Grand Champion tournament: The Grand Champion tournament is a tournament for all the current titleholders 2018.04.15_2017GC7 KonoLeftIyamaRightplus some of the top players in the prize-money list. The semifinals and semifinal of the 2017 version were held on March 31. The semifinals were played in the morning. Kono Rin 9P, playing white, just barely managed to edge Ichiriki Ryo, winner of the previous tournament, by half a point. In the other game, Iyama Yuta (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig. Iyama later commented that he was lucky to eke out a win in this game.
The final was played in the afternoon and telecast on the Igo Shogi Channel and also relayed on the Nihon Ki-in’s net channel Yugen-no-ma. Taking black, Iyama secured a resignation after 195 moves. In the key fight of the game, Iyama flattened out White’s moyo; some white stones cut off his group, but he set up a one-eye vs. no-eye capturing race with them, so this was a big gain.
Here are more details for those interested. The tournament follows the NHK format: 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes of thinking time, to be used at will in one-minute units. Up to the third round, games are played on the net; the final is a public game, played on a stage in front of an audience, with a public commentary being given on another part of the same stage. (Just for the record, the tournament name until two years ago was Go Tournament Winners Championship.)
Tomorrow: Yamashita Keigo becomes Honinbo challenger; Cho U takes sole lead in Meijin League; 8th Huanglongshi Cup starts; Iyama defends Judan

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The Power Report (2): Iyama wins NHK Cup; Meijin League; Honinbo League; Iyama extends lead in Judan

Monday April 2, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.04.02_65nhk_1

Iyama wins NHK Cup:
The final of the 65thNHK Cup was telecast on March 18. Playing black, Iyama Yuta, the current titleholder, defeated Shida Tatsuya 7P by half a point. Shida narrowly missed out on his first title. He took the lead in the middle game, but Iyama fought back tenaciously and eventually overhauled him. After that, the tables were turned, with Shida threatening to undo the upset, but Iyama just managed to fend him off. He is the fourth player to win the title in successive years. This is his 50th title (actually, the game was recorded just before he defended the Kisei title, so that is really his 50th).

Meijin League: Here are the details for the result given in my previous report: Shibano Toramaru 7P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.

Honinbo League: An important game was played on March 22. Yamashita Keigo (W) beat Ida Atsushi by resig. Previously, Ida had enjoyed the sole lead, but now he and Yamashita and Ko Iso 8P were tied on 4-2. The final round will be played on April 5. Yamashita and Ko will play each other, and Ida will play Shibano Toramaru.

Iyama extends lead in Judan: The second game of the 56th Judan title match was held at the Toda City Culture Hall in 2018.04.02_56jyudan2_9-2Toda City, Saitama Prefecture, on March 22. Iyama Judan (B) fought aggressively and took an early lead. Murakawa Daisuke 8P, the challenger, recovered and made the game closer. He then made an aggressive invasion, but his group was killed, so he had to resign after 215 moves. This was Iyama’s second straight win, so Murakawa is faced with a kadoban. The third game is scheduled for March 12.

Promotion
To 3-dan: Komatsu Daiki (40 wins, as of March 23) (Komatsu is the son of Komatsu Hideki 9P and Komatsu Hideko 4P.)

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Power Report (1): Yu wins Senko Cup; Park repeats in World Go Championship

Sunday April 1, 2018

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

Yu wins Senko Cup: The Senko Cup World Women’s Go Tournament 2018, to give it its full name, is a new international 2018.04.01_Senko 3rd playoff Rina R Choi Ltournament founded by the sponsors of the Japanese Senko Cup. The main sponsor is Senko Group Holdings, whose main business seems to be transportation; they are supported by Asahi Kasei, Sekisui House, and JAL, among others. At present, the Senko Cup has the top prize money for domestic women’s tournaments of eight million yen. One of the aims of founding the international tournament is to give local players more international experience. There are eight participants, four from the host country (two of whom are actually from Taiwan), and one each from China, Korea, Taiwan, and Europe. First prize is ten million yen (about $95,000), with three million yen for second, two million for third, and one million for fourth. The inaugural tournament was won by Yu Zhiying of China, a 20–year-old who has established herself as the world’s top woman player these days. In the final, Hei Jia-jia lost on time, but she was behind anyway. Full results follow:
Round 1 (March 14). Fujisawa Rina 3P (Japan) (B) beat Natalia Kovaleva 5D (Russia) by resig.; Yu Zhiying 6P (China) (B) beat Xie Yimin 6P (Japan) by resig.; Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) (W) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P (Japan) by resig.; Hei Jia-jia (Joanne Missingham) 7P (Taiwan) beat Nyu Eiko 2P (Japan) by resig.
Semifinals (March 15). Hei (W) beat Fujisawa by 1.5 points; Yu (B) beat Choi by resig.
Final (March 16). Yu (W) beat Hei on time.
Play-off for 3rd place (March 16). Choi (W, at right) beat Fujisawa (left) by resig.

Park repeats in World Go Championship: This is another new international tournament, started last year by the Nihon2018.04.01_Park right Iyama L Ki-in with the support of sponsors such as NTT DoCoMo, Mitsui Sumitomo Card, and others. First prize is 20 million yen (about $190,000). In the inaugural tournament, there were four competitors: three players and one computer program. The format was an all-play-all league, and they finished in the order of Park Junghwan (Korea) (3-0), Mi Yuting (China) (2-1), DeepZenGo (1-2), and Iyama Yuta (0-3). Incidentally, the prize then was 30 million yen. In the second championship, which is called World Go Championship 2018, there were six players, with two from Japan, two from Korea (with Park being seeded), and one each from China and Chinese Taipei. Top honors again went to Park Junghwan, who beat Ke Jie in the semifinal and Iyama Yuta in the final. The time allowance is three hours each, with the last five minutes being allotted to byo-yomi. Results are given below:
Round 1 (March 17). Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) (W) beat Wang Yuanjun 8P (Chinese Taipei) by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Shin Jinseo 8P (Korea) by resig.
(Semifinals) (March 18). Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) beat Ke Jie by resig.; Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) (B) beat Yamashita by resig.
(Final) (March 19). Park (W, at right) beat Iyama (left) by resig.
In this tournament, Park was seeded into the semfinals as the previous winner. Iyama was seeded on the wishes of the sponsors. Yamashita earned his place by winning a qualifying tournament. Shin (aged 18) earned his place as the second-ranked player in Korea and Wang (22) as the top-rated player in Chinese Taipei. Seeding the previous winner is common (for example, the TV Asia tournament does it), but not everyone approved of the seeding of Iyama. Ke Jie commented at the press conference: “I was surprised by the seeding.” However, it was just the luck of the draw that matched Ke and Park, the world’s top-rated players (apparently, Park has recently regained the number-one position) in the semifinal. After his loss in the final, Iyama’s career record against Park was 2-4.

Tomorrow: Iyama wins NHK Cup; Meijin League; Honinbo League; Iyama extends lead in Judan

 

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The Power Report (2/2): Iyama wins first Judan game; 73rd Honinbo League; 43rd Meijin League

Monday March 19, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.03.19_56jyudan1_4

Iyama wins first Judan game: The Judan best-of-five got off to a start on March 6. It was played at the same venue as the Women’s Meijin game, as detailed above. These two titles share a sponsor, the Sankei Nerwspaper, and it has been the practice in recent years to link them in this way. The challenger is Murakawa Daisuke 8P, who has been the top young player at the Kansai Ki-in for some time now. This is his fourth title match with Iyama. His first challenge was the only successful one: he scored 3-2 and took the 62nd Oza title from Iyama in 2014, but the following year he lost it to him 0-3. He also lost the 41st Gosei title match to Iyama by the same margin in 2016. This is the reverse of the usual pattern, in which a young player fails in his first challenge but does better later. 2018.03.19_56jyudan1_5Murakawa’s record so far against Iyama is three wins to 14 losses: his only wins have come in their first title-match clash.
In the first Judan game, Murakawa drew black in the nigiri. The tenor of the game was set quite early when Iyama played a cleverly timed sequence that turned an earlier move of his into an efficient forcing move. After that, the game developed peacefully for a while, but that was misleading; in the end, it turned into a capturing race between two large groups. This was won by Iyama, so Murakawa had to resign after 156 moves. The second game will be played on March 22.

73rd Honinbo League: The Honinbo League is one round and one game away from finishing. As before, Ida Atsushi 8P has the provisional lead, but he hasn’t yet played his sixth-round game against Yamashita Keigo 9P. Motoki is on 4-1. Yamashita on 3-2, and Ko Iso 8P on 4-2. One of these three will be the challenger. Results of recent games are listed below.
(March 1) Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by resig.
(March 8) Motoki Katsuya 8P (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.; Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

43rd Meijin League: After four rounds of the league, two players share the lead: Cho U 9P and Shibano Toramaru 7P. both 2-0 (both have already had their byes). Recent results:
(March 1) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig.
(March 8) Kono Rin 8P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.
(March 15) Shibano beat Yo Seiki (don’t have details yet).

Promotion
To 3-dan: Tanimiya Ayako (40 wins; as of Feb. 27). Tanimiya earned her promotion after 37 years as 2-dan.

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