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The Power Report (1): Honinbo Monyu; Takao sweeps to 3-0 lead in Meijin challenge; Yuki wins Kisei B League play-off

Sunday September 25, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2016.09.25_Monyu Iyama's title name

Honinbo Monyu: When he won the Honinbo title for the fifth year in a row this year, Iyama Yuta qualified for the title of eternal Honinbo, though he can use it only afterhe turns 60 or retires, whichever comes first. At the title award ceremony, held at the Ritz Carleton Osaka hotel on September 9, Iyama unveiled the name he will assume: Monyu. The “mon” is a less common reading of the character “bun,” which means “writing” or “literature” and is part of the word “bunka,” meaning “culture;” the ”yu” is from his given name of Yuta. He will be known as “26th Honinbo Monyu.” Iyama mentioned that he consulted Okawa Teishin, the abbot of the Jakkoji Temple in Kyoto, which is the source of the name Honinbo. The character for “bun” has family significance for Iyama, as it was part of the name of his grandfather, who taught him to play go. Okawa also gave a speech at the award ceremony and mentioned another good association: “mon” is part of the name of the bodhisattva Monju, who is known as the “receiver of wisdom.”

Takao sweeps to 3-0 lead in Meijin challenge, sextuple crown in danger: The second game of the 41st Meijin title match was held at the Kakujoro, a 2016.09.25_Meijin 3 Takaotraditional Japanese inn, in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture on August 14 and 15.
Playing black, Iyama Yuta set up a large moyo. Takao made an invasion, so the game became a contest between Iyama’s attack and Takao’s shinogi (ability to save a group under attack). In the end, Takao secured his group and took the lead. Iyama resigned after 236 moves. Iyama had made a bad start to the title match with two losses. In the past, he had played 17 best-of-sevens and 18 best-of-fives, but this was the first time he had lost the first two games. However, worse was to come. The third game was played at the hotel Thousand Pine Trees: The Numazu Club in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture on September 20 and 21. Taking white, Iyama played aggressively, but Takao keep his cool and fended off the attack, building a lead in the middle game. In a desperate attempt to catch up, Iyama embarked on a shinogi strategy, taking profit and leaving a weak group for the opponent to attack. However, he was unable to narrow the gap; when Iyama resigned after Black 169, he was about ten points behind on the board. Takao seems to be in his best form for a while. He has a bad record against Iyama in the past and must be very pleased to make such a good start. He needs just one more win to make a comeback as Meijin after a gap of a decade (he beat Cho U in the 31st title match and became Meijin Honinbo). The fourth game will be played on October 4 and 5.

Yuki wins Kisei B League play-off: In the play-off between the winners of the 41st Kisei B Leagues, Yuki Satoshi
9P (W), winner of the B2 League, defeated Cho Chikun 9P, winner of B1, by resig. The game was played on September 19. Yuki earns a place in the irregular knock-out (“paramasu”) tournament to decide the challenger; he will need to win five games in a row to make the title match. At present, this is how the knock-out looks. Shida Tatsuya 7P, C League winner, plays Yuki, B winner; the winner will played Cho U, A League winner; the winner will play either Yamashita Keigo 9P or Kono Rin 9P, second in S League; the winner will play either Kono or Murakawa Daisuke 8P, first in S League. The latter will start the nominal “best-of-three” with a one-game advantage, so he will need only win to become the challenger (although it’s called a “best-of-three,” three games can never be played: the first-place getter just needs to win the first or second game; the second-place winner can become the challenger only by winning the first two games).

Tomorrow: Fujisawa has sole lead in Women’s Meijin; King of the News Stars begins; Agon Kiriyama Cup; Chen makes good start in Bailing final

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The Power Report (2): Cho U wins Kisei A League; Yo to challenge for Oza title; Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo defence

Thursday September 15, 2016

Cho U wins Kisei A League: So Yokoku 9P was a little unlucky in the Kisei A League. He had won six games in a row and held the lead all the way (enjoying the sole lead in the 5th and 6th rounds), but he lost his final game to Cho U 9P on September 8 (taking black, Cho won by resignation). That left them tied on 6-1, but there is no play-off in the Kisei Leagues. Cho was ranked 4th to So’s 7th, so Cho won the league. He gets a seat in the irregular knock-out tournament to decide the challenger.

Yo to challenge for Oza title: A week after the Tengen challenger was decided, another play-off between a veteran2016.09.15_64oza_fin_end01 player and a new star was held and resulted in a win for the latter. On September 8, the 21-year-old Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in beat Takao Shinji in the play-off to decide the 64th Oza challenger. Taking white, Yo had white and secured a resignation after 190 moves. He commented that he was inspired by Ichiriki’s success. Yo had a frustrating history in play-offs, having lost to Iyama Yuta both in the Oza play-off last year and in the Judan play-off the year. As that shows, Yo played a crucial role in giving Iyama the opportunity to secure his Grand Slam. The first game of the Oza match will be played on October 17.
The Oza and Tengen challenges are perhaps signs that the post-Iyama generation is getting ready to move up. Before Iyama, the go scene was dominated by the “four stars of the Heisei era.” Of the four, Cho U and Hane Naoki haven’t
challenged for a while, but2016.09.15_35FHon Xie (R) Yamashita and Takao had been doing a good job of holding back the younger players (except for Murakawa Daisuke). There could be big changes in the make-up of the tournament scene in the next few years.

Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo defence: The first game of the 35th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Kashoen, a Japanese-style inn, in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture on September 13. The challenger is Fujisawa Rina 3P. Playing black, Xie (right) forced a resignation after 151 moves. The second game will be played on September 26.

Promotion
To 3-dan: Fujimura Yosuke (40 wins)

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The Power Report (1): Takao makes good start to Meijin challenge; Ichiriki to challenge for Tengen; Women’s Meijin League; New Star Li wins TV Asia; Honinbo League places

Wednesday September 14, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2016.09.14_41meijin1 Takao wins

Takao makes good start to Meijin challenge: Takao Shinji 9P has already improved on his performance in his Meijin challenge last year. The first game of the 41st title match was held at its usual venue, the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, on August 30 and 31. Playing black, Takao showed exemplary shinogi (living with a weak group) skills in weathering a fierce 2016.09.14_41meijin1_01attack by Iyama Yuta Meijin. When the dust settled, he had a lead of about ten points on the board. Iyama missed his best opportunities to complicate the game and resigned after 207 moves. In view of Takao’s past record against Iyama, it’s too soon to say he has an edge, but he has certainly made the series more interesting for fans. The second game will be played on September 14 and 15.
At the party on the eve of the game, the players gave bouquets to Cho Chikun, who was the referee for the game. Having turned 60 on June 20, Cho is now entitled to use his Honorary Meijin title, though there’s a conflict with his title of 25th Honinbo Chikun. Cho said to the audience: “Wouldn’t you like to see a game to decide who’s stronger, the ordinary Meijin or the Honorary Meijin?” The audience cheered, but, needless to say, this game is not happening soon.

Ichiriki to challenge for Tengen: Ichiriki Ryo 7P has become the second teenager to challenge for one of the top seven open titles. The first was the player whom he will be challenging. The play-off to decide the challenger for the 42nd Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on September 2. Playing white, Ichiriki beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points.
The title match with Iyama Yuta Tengen will start on October 21. Ichiriki will be 19 years four months old when the match starts. The holder of the Tengen and all the other top-seven titles is Iyama Yuta, who challenged for the 33rd Meijin title when he was 19 years three months old. Ichiriki commented: “One of my major goals was to challenge for a title while I was still a teenager, so I’m relieved to have pulled it off.”
There is a group of up-and-coming teenagers at the moment, but Ichiriki was probably the first of them to attract attention when he won a seat in the Kisei League at the age of 16 years nine months (still a record for any league). At 17, he became the youngest player to win the King of the New Stars title and came second in the NHK Cup, and in the same year he also won an international tournament for young players, the Globis Cup. This year he entered the College of Social Studies at Waseda University. A number of university students have turned professional after doing well in university tournaments, but this is the only case I can think of of someone entering university after already establishing himself as a top player. The go writer Akiyama Kenji claimed a while back in his column in “Go Weekly” that Ichiriki was a mathematical prodigy. According to Akiyama, someone had said to Ichiriki that he was barely a quarter of the age of the player he had played that day. Ichiriki asked when the player was born, thought for a couple of seconds and then said he was exactly 24.65% (or whatever) of the player’s age. Akiyama tested him for his article, but didn’t explore the ramifications of this talent.

Women’s Meijin League: One game in the second round of the 29th Women’s Meijin League was played on September 1. Okuda Aya 3P (B) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8P, the previous challenger, by half a point. This is her second win, so Okuda shares the lead with Fujisawa Rina 3P (Aoki is 1-1 and all the other players are 0-1).

Li wins TV Asia: new star for China: The TV Asia Cup is a tournament for the TV go champions of China, Korea, and Japan. This year the 28th Cup was hosted by Japan and held at the New Otani Hotel in Tokyo from September 2 to 4. Unfortunately, for the host country, its representatives were eliminated on the first day, so the tournament became Korea vs. China. Korea probably was the favorite, as it fielded the world’s number, Park Junghwan, and this century’s number one, Lee Sedol (seeded as last year’s winner). However, it was two teenagers who made it to the final: Shin Jinseo 6P of Korea and Li Qincheng 2P of China. The seventeen-year-old Li beat the 16-year-old Shin and became the youngest player to win this title. He also won the junior tournament, the 3rd Globis Cup, this year, so this is his second international title. His win earned him promotion to 9-dan. That may be a new record for the youngest 9-dan (Ke Jie became 9-dan at the age of 18 last year). Results follow:
(Sept. 2) (Round 1) Li (B) beat Cho U 9P (Japan by resig.; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (b) beat Terayama Rei 4P (Japan) by resig.; Shin (B) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by resig.
(Sept. 3) (Round 2) Li (B) beat Yi Sedol 9P (Korea) by resig.; Shin (W) beat Park by resig.
(Sept. 4) (final) Li (B) beat Shin by resig.

Honinbo League places: We have already reported that Ko Iso and Yuki Satoshi have won places in the upcoming 72nd Honinbo League. They will be joined by Hane Naoki 9P and Mitani Tetsuya 7P. Hane (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. on September 5; Mitani (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 2P by resig. on September 8. Mitani will be making
his debut in the league. If the 16-year-old Shibano had won their game, he would have set a new record for winning a league place just two years after becoming a professional.

Tomorrow: Cho U wins Kisei A League; Yo to challenge for Oza title; Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo defence

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The Power Report: Ichiriki grabs share of Kisei S League lead; Oza challenger: Takao or Yo; New Honinbo League; Start of new Women’s Meijin League; One thousand wins to Hikosaka; Tengen challenger: Yamashita or Ichiriki; Veterans dominate Agon Kiriyama Cup

Sunday August 28, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2016.08.28_Ichiriki-Ryo-99x150

Ichiriki grabs share of Kisei S League lead: A key game was played in the Kisei S League on August 18. Playing white, Ichiriki Ryo 7P (right) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. In the third round, Kono had taken the sole lead, but this win gave Ichiriki a share of the lead. It also helped out Murakawa Daisuke 8P, who had shared the lead with Kono in the second round. All three are on 3-1.

Oza challenger: Takao or Yo: Takao Shinji is doing badly in the Kisei S League, but he is doing well in other tournaments. Besides becoming the Meijin challenger, he has also reached the play-off to decide the challenger for the 64th Oza title. In the semifinal, held on August 15, Takao (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. His opponent in the play-off is Yo Seiki 7P, who beat Yamashita Keigo in the other semifinal, held on August 18. Taking white, Yo won by resig. If anything, Yo will be more determined to win the play-off than Takao, as he has missed a number of opportunities recently. Last year he lost the Oza play-off to Iyama Yuta, who went on to take the title. Yo also lost this year’s Judan play-off to Iyama, giving the latter his chance to try for a grand slam. Yo will be hoping for third time lucky.

New Honinbo League: Two of the four vacant seats in the 72nd Honinbo League have been decided. On August 18, Ko Iso (W) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 7P by resig.; on August 25, Yuki Satoshi 9P (B) beat Cho Sonjin 9P by resig.

Start of new Women’s Meijin League: The first round in the 29th Women’s Meijin League has been completed and 2016.08.28_Womens Meijinone game in the second round has been played. Results are given below.
(August 11) Fujisawa Rina 3P (B) beat Sakakibara Fumiko 6P by 19.5 points.
(August 18) Aoki Kikuyo 8P (B) beat Ishii Akane 2P by resig.; Okuda Aya 3P (B) beat Kato Keiko 6P by resig.
(August 25) Fujisawa Rina (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7P by resig. For the time being, Fujisawa has the sole lead on 2-0.2016.08.28_Hikosaka Naoto

One thousand wins to Hikosaka: On August 18, Hikosaka Naoto 9P (right) became the 19th Nihon Ki-in player to reach the landmark of 1,000 wins. He had 544 losses, 3 jigos, and 1 no-result for a winning percentage of 64.8. At 54 years 5 months, Hikosaka is the 10th oldest to reach this mark. It took him 40 years 4 months, which is the 10th quickest. His winning percentage is the 10th highest.  Hikosaka won the Judan title in 1998 and came fourth in the 11th Fujitsu Cup in the same year. He has played in the three leagues once each.

Tengen challenger: Yamashita or Ichiriki: The semifinals in the 42nd Tengen tournament were held on August 22. Yamashita Keigo (B) beat Kyo Kagen 4P by resig. and Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke, also by resig.

Veterans dominate Agon Kiriyama Cup: The go press in Japan has been making much of a number of strong teenagers who have emerged in the last couple of years. However, the older generation is not moving aside graciously for them. The line-up in the 23rd Agon Kiriyama Cup semifinals illustrates this. The pairings are: Cho Chikun (aged 60) v. Takao Shinji (aged 39) and Yamashita Keigo (aged 37) v. Kono Rin (aged 35). That’s an average age of nearly 43. It’s hard to imagine this happening in Korea or China. The semifinals were played on August 25. Cho (W) beat Murakawa by resig. and Kono (W) beat Yamashita by 1.5 points.

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The Power Report (3): Takao to have another crack at Meijin title; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Kono has sole lead in Kisei S League; 900 wins for Hane; Promotions & Obituaries

Saturday August 20, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2016.08.20_Meijin challenger Takao

Takao to have another crack at Meijin title: All the games in the final round of the 41st Meijin League were held on August 4. At this stage, three players were still in the running to become the challenger. With only one loss so far, Takao Shinji 9P (right) was one point ahead of Cho U 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P, who were both on 5-2. Besides winning his own game, Cho needed Takao to lose for him to make a play-off. Conditions were tougher for Murakawa, however. Only the two higher-ranked players qualify for a play-off in the Meijin League. That meant that Murakawa needed both Takao and Cho to lose, in which case he would meet Takao in a play-off. Go Weekly claimed that the odds of this happening were only one in 16. Takao made these calculations irrelevant by winning his game; this avoided a playoff in the league for the first time in six years. We have just seen Yamashita make three challenges in a row in the Kisei title; Takao is following in his footsteps with his second successive challenge in the Meijin title, not to mention his recently concluded Honinbo challenge. He will be hoping to do better than last year, when he failed to win a game. Apart from Murakawa, Iyama’s main opposition is still coming from older players.
2016.08.20_meijin-leagueRecent results:
(July 7) Cho U 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by 2.5 points; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Hirata Tomoya 7P by resig.
(July 21) Takao Shinji (W) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
(Final round, August 4)Takao (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. ; Yamashita (B) beat Cho U by resig.; Murakawa (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Hirata Tomoya 7P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
The order after Takao is: 2. Murakawa (6-2); 3. Yamashita (5-3); 4. Cho (5-3); 5. Kono (4-4); 6. Ko (4-4). Hane (3-3), Hirata (2-6), and Uchida Shuhei 7P (0-8, bye in last round) lost their places (that had already been decided before the last round). The first game will be played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on August 30 and 31.

Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo: After a good start to her career the year before last, in which she 2016.08.20_Fujisawa Rinawon two titles, Fujisawa Rina (right) had a “waiting” year last year. Things have now changed, however. In the play-off to decide the challenger to Xie Yimin for the 35th Women’s Honinbo title, held at the Ichigaya headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in o
n August 8, Fujisawa (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7P by resig. after 150 moves. The title match will start on September 13. Rina turns 18 on September 18.

Kono has sole lead in Kisei S League: After three rounds, Kono Rin 9P is the only undefeated player in the 41st Kisei S League. In his third-round game, Kono defeated the joint leader after two rounds, Murakawa Daisuke 8P. Level with Murakawa in second place is Ichiriki Ryo 7P. This is a small league, with only five rounds, so Kono is well positioned.
In the eight-player A League, So Yokoku 9P has the sole lead with five straight wins. Closest to him is Cho U 9P on 4-1, the other players have suffered two or more losses, So and Cho will meet in the final round. In the seven-round B1 League, Kyo Kagen 4P has the sole lead with 6-0, followed by Cho Chikun 9P on 5-0. In the B2 League, Ko Iso 8P has the sole lead on 5-1, followed by Yuki Satoshi 9P and Yo Seiki 7P on 4-2.
2016.08.20_kisei-leaguesRecent results:
(July 7) Yamashita Keigo (W) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 1.5 points.
(July 14) Ichiriki (B) beat Takao Shinji by resig.
(July 21) Kono (W) beat Murakawa by resig.
(August 11) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 8P (B) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by resig. (Apologies for the game out of order in my previous report.)

900 wins for Hane: Hane Naoki (right) has reached the landmark of 900 wins. At 39 years 11 months, he is the fourth 2016.08.20_Hane Naokiyoungest to do so. It took him 25 years three months, which is the third quickest. His winning percentage at this point of 66.6 is the 12th best.

Promotions
To 6-dan: Kobayashi Chizu (90 wins; as of August 5)
To 4-dan: Kyo Kagen (50 wins; as of July 8); Adachi Toshimasa (50 wins; as of July 22)
To 3-dan: Seki Tatsuya (40 wins; as of July 15)

Obituaries: Ito Makoto, Ueki Yoshio
Ito Makoto was born on August 4, 1945 in Shiga Prefecture. He became a disciple of Kitani Minoru and made 1-dan in 1964. He reached 8-dan in 1989 and was promoted to 9-dan when he retired in 2005.
Ueki Yoshio, a member of the Osaka branch of the Nihon Ki-in, died of cirrhosis of the liver on August 10. Born in Osaka on February 25, 1969, he became a disciple of Yamashita Yorimoto 7P. He qualified as 1-dan in 1985 and reached 8
-dan in 2001.

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The Power Report (2): Ishida wins 13×13 tournament; Ida wins Samsung seat; Iyama defends Gosei, maintains grand slam

Thursday August 18, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ishida wins 13×13 tournament: The final of the 1st 13×13 Pro-Amateur Tournament was held at the Nihon Ki-in in 2016.08.18_Ishida (L) beats KonoTokyo on July 23. Ishida Yoshio (also known as 24th Honinbo Shuho, left) (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. This is the second 13×13 tournament based on crowd funding on the Net. Ishida also won its predecessor, held two years ago. He commented: “It would be nice if all professional tournaments were 13×13.” Amateurs and a software program also competed in the preliminary tournament (competing for two seats out of the 16 in the main tournament). The first prize is 600,000 yen. The minimum donation for people wishing to help fund the tournament is 3,000 yen. If you make a donation, you also get to vote in choosing the professional participants.

Ida wins Samsung seat: The international qualifying tournament for the 21st Samsung Cup, which is a major international tournament in its own right, was held in Seoul from July 15 to 20. Twenty-one Japanese players participated in the three divisions, that is, general, senior, and women’s. Usually you need to win four or five games in a row to earn a seat in the main tournament. Four Japanese players reached the final, but only Ida Atsushi 8P won one of the coveted seats in the main tournament. The other player besides Ida to reach the final in the general division was Shibano Toramaru. It’s worth remembering his name. Though only 16, he is attracting attention in Japan as a potential future champion; he is an aggressive player but with a highly individualistic style. O Meien commented in a TV commentary that he can’t predict what Shibano will play next, but “if he plays it, that’s good enough for me.” (Remember you read his name here first.)

2016.08.18_Iyama wins GoseiIyama defends Gosei, maintains grand slam: The second game in the 41st Gosei title match was held at the Hokkoku (North Country) Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture on June 18. Taking white, Iyama (left) completely outplayed the challenger, Murakawa Daisuke 8P, in the middle game and forced a resignation after 150 moves. A little unusually for him, Iyama set up a large moyo. One of his groups came under attack, but he settled it in sente and was able to add a key capping move to his moyo. Murakawa had to invade, but his group was kept down to one eye by Iyama. The third game was held at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on July 28. The course of this game was quite different from the previous one. Just about all title-match games are played aggressively, but even so this game stood out for its fierceness, being one ceaseless fight from beginning to end. Playing white, Murakawa matched Iyama blow for blow and took the lead. At one point, Iyama was even wondering if he should resign. However, Murakawa missed a number of good ways to simplify the game in his favor. After creating complications, Iyama took the lead in the midst of some hectic fighting. After 269 moves, Murakawa resigned, so Iyama (Black) defended his title with straight wins. This was his fifth successive Gosei title, so he has qualified for his second honorary title. Iyama’s comment: “You rarely get a chance like this [for an honorary title], so I thought I would go all out. I’m happy, but, considering my ability, this is too much. I want to get stronger so I can play games I’m not ashamed of.” Murakawa is considered one of the foremost players in the “post-Iyama group,” but his record against Iyama is now 3-13. Among the established players, there is no one who appears to be a likely threat to his septuple crown. That’s not to say that he is invincible in Japan: he was eliminated from the Agon Kiriyama Cup, a tournament in which he usually does well, by Hane Naoki in the round of 16 on July 21.
Tomorrow: Takao to have another crack at Meijin title; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Kono has sole lead in Kisei S League; 900 wins for Hane; Promotions & Obituaries

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The Power Report (1): Iyama honored by Prime Minister; Kobayashi Koichi wins Master’s Cup; Xie secures quintuple crown

Wednesday August 17, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama honored by Prime Minister: On June 16, Iyama Yuta was given a certificate of commendation by the Prime2016.08.17_Iyama & PM Abe-crop Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, in recognition of his feat in achieving the first grand slam in go. He received the certificate in a ceremony at the Prime Minister’s residence. He is the first go player to be so honored.

Kobayashi Koichi wins Master’s Cup: The final of the 6th Igo Fumakira (= fume killer, the name of the main sponsor, an insecticide manufacturer) Master’s Cup was held in the Ryusei TV Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on July 9. Playing white, Kobayashi Koichi, Honorary Kisei, defeated Awaji Shuzo 9P by resig. after 174 moves, winning this title for the first time. This took his tally of titles to 60 (third after Cho Chikun and Sakata Eio).

Xie secures quintuple crown: Xie Yimin (also written Hsieh I-min) has become the first woman player in Japan to hold five titles simultaneously. You don’t have to check the records to confirm this; until quite recently there were only three women titles. Two years ago, a fourth was added with the founding of the Aizu Central Hospital Cup, which Xie finally won in its third term this year, giving her four titles. This year another new title was founded: the Senko Cup Women’s Igo Strongest Player tournament. The final was held at the Geihinan Akekure (which perhaps translates as “Guest House Dawn and Dusk”) in the city of Oe in Shiga Prefecture on July 17. Taking white, Xie beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by 2.5 points to win the inaugural tournament. This is Xie’s 25th title. First prize is eight million yen, the top for a women’s tournament. (Just for reference, the prize money for the others is: Aizu Central Hospital Cup, 7,000,000; Women’s Honinbo, 5,800,000; Women’s Meijin and Women’s Kisei, both 5,000,000. Winning all five titles is worth 30,800,000.)

Kanren and Gen’an Inseki inducted into Hall of Fame: At a meeting of the Go Hall of Fame Induction Committee on July 19, it was decided to add two famous figures from go history to the Hall of Fame. Kanren is a priest from the Heian period who is known to history as the author of a work on go called The Go Rites (Goshiki), which he presented to the emperor of the time (her served Emperor Uda, reigned 887 to 897, and Emperor Daigo, reigned 897 to 930). The book has not survived, but is surmised to have dealt with the rules of go and go etiquette. Kanren was apparently very fond of go and was known as a go saint. The second inductee was Gen’an (or Gennan) Inseki (1798-1859), the 11th head of the Inoue house, who was a leading rival of the Honinbo house, especially Honinbo Jowa, in the 1830s and 1840s. He was one of the central figures of the go world in its most prosperous age in the Edo period. His ambition to become Meijin was frustrated by the Honinbos, but he remains one of the most colorful figures of go history.
Tomorrow: Kanren and Gen’an Inseki inducted into Hall of Fame; Ida wins Samsung seat; Ishida wins 13×13 tournament

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The Power Report (2): Kisei Leagues; Xie wins 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup

Friday July 8, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei Leagues: The S League, the top of the five leagues in the 41st Kisei tournament, got off to a start on May 12 with Ichiriki Ryo 7P, the bottom-ranked player, scoring a win. The number two player, Murakawa Daisuke, got off to a good start by defeating the number one player and previous challenger, Yamashita Keigo.  This is a short league, with just five rounds, so each win is more significant than in a bigger league. Already we can say that a fourth successive Kisei title
match between Yamashita Keigo and Iyama Yuta looks unlikely, as Yamashita has lost his opening two games. Murakawa Daisuke 8P and Kono Rin 9P, both on 2-0, share the lead.
(May 12) Ichiriki Ryo 7P beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 4.5 points.
(May 19) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.2016.07.08_Aizu Xie
(June 9) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 8
P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.
(June 23) Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by half a point.
(May 26) Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 2.5 points.
        The eight-player A League has already concluded three rounds.  The bottom-ranked player in the league, So Yokoku 9P, is the only undefeated player, on 3-0. His nearest rivals are Ryu Shikun 9P and Awaji Shuzo 9P, who are both on 3-1.

Xie wins 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup: The final of the 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup, the only two-day game in women’s go, was held at the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in Aizu Wakamatsu City on June 17 and 18. Xie Yimin (W, right) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8P by4.5 points and won this title for the first time. Xie became the first quadruple title-holder in women’s go in Japan. This is her 23rd title.

Promotion
To 2-dan: Otani Naoki (30 wins) (as of May 20)

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The Power Report (1): Iyama makes good start in Gosei defense; Iyama Yuta defends Honinbo title; Takao and Murakawa share lead in 41st Meijin League

Thursday July 7, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama makes good start in Gosei defense: The first game of the 41st Gosei title match, in which Iyama Yuta faces2016.07.07_41gosei1_iyama the challenge of Murakawa Daisuke 8P, was held at the Hotel Kokonoe in Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture on June 25. Taking black, Iyama prevailed in a violent clash between two large groups. Once this was decided, the game was over, so Murakawa resigned after 159 moves. Go reporters are increasingly using the term “Iyama magic” for the way he takes the lead in the fighting even when his opponent doesn’t make identifiable mistakes. If anything, Murakawa had appeared to have the edge in the middle-game fighting, but Iyama put into effect a large-scale strategy exploiting the aji of a more-or-less discarded group, whereupon it turned out that he was not the one with problems. The next game will be played on July 18. (NOTE: Iyama will be playing with Hsieh Yi Min in the Mind Sports Pair Go World Cup 2016, which begins in Tokyo this Saturday, July 9; click here for our June 19 preview and watch for EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock’s reports later this week) 

Iyama Yuta defends Honinbo title:  The fifth game of the 71st Honinbo title match was held at the Yoshikawaya inn in Iisaka Hot Spring, Fukushima City on June 29 and 30.  Taking black, Iyama forced a resignation after 177 moves. After losing the opening game, Iyama won four in a row to defend his title. This is a landmark victory for him, as it secures him his first honorary title, which requires you to hold the title for five years in a row. Actually, in the case of the Honinbo title the wording is actually “eternal Honinbo;” Iyama will become “26th Honinbo,” followed by the special name he chooses for himself (he will unveil it at the award ceremony 2016.07.07_71honinbo5_4later this year).  He will use the title when he turns 60. Just for the record, his predecessors are 22nd Honinbo Shukaku (Takagawa Kaku), 23rd Honinbo Eiju (Sakata Eio), 24th Honinbo Shuho (Ishida Yoshio), and 25th Honinbo Chikun (Cho Chikun; Cho won 11 titles in a row, so he assumed the title immediately after his 10th term).
        The fifth game was the usual fierce fight between Iyama (black) and Takao. Both sides made moves they were dissatisfied with in the earlier part of the game, but it remained evenly balanced. A little after 100 moves, Iyama played a well-timed peep that helped him secure a group in sente, enabling him to switch to a big endgame point. This gave him the lead and, although there was a lot more fighting, he hung on to it. Takao resigned after 177 moves. Besides becoming the first player for 23 years to earn an honorary title (the last was Rin Kaiho in the Tengen title), Iyama also maintained his septuple crown.
        Fukushima City was the birthplace of the 6th Honinbo Shuhaku (1716-41); the game was played there to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his death. He became the head of the Honinbo house at the age of 18 but died young. His main grave is at the Honmyoji Temple in Tokyo, but a portion of his bones are buried at the Josenji temple in Fukushima. The day before the game, the players visited the temple to pay their respects to him. Incidentally, this game was the 400th title-match game in the modern Honinbo tournament.

Takao and Murakawa share lead in 41st Meijin League: After the seventh round (out of nine), Takao Shinji 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P share the lead in the 41st Meijin League, with both on 5-1 (each has had a bye). Next in the running is Cho U 9P, who is on 4-2. The results in the May round were significant. Murakawa Daisuke (who will also be playing in the Pair Go tournament this weekend), who suffered his first loss in the April round, regained a share of the lead by beating Takao Shinji; both were then on 4-1.  This was a chance for Cho U to take the sole lead, but he lost his game to Kono Rin, so he briefly joined Murakawa and Takao in a three-way tie; he then spoiled it by losing to Takao in the June round. Recent results: 
(May 12) Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points.
(May 19) Hirata Tomoya 7P (B) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig. This was a game
between two winless newcomers to the league. His loss will cost Uchida his lea
gue place; Hirata has an outside chance of keeping his.
(June 2) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by half a point.
(June 9). Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
(June 20) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by half a point.
(June 30). Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

Tomorrow: Kisei Leagues; Xie wins 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup
       

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The Power Report: Ichiriki wins 7th O-kage Cup; Iyama close to defending Honinbo title; Murakawa becomes Gosei challenger

Monday June 20, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki wins 7th O-kage Cup: The final section (last four rounds) of the 7th O-kage (Gratitude) Cup, a tournament for players aged 30 and under, was held on the bank of the Isuzu River and at the Alley Ki-in in Ise City in Mie Prefecture on May 14 and 15. The sponsors are a group of tourist-trade shops (many of them recreations of Edo Period buildings) in Gratitude Alley, the street leading up to the Ise Shrine (later in the month, this area was the site of the G7 summit).
        The players who made the final, Ichiriki Ryo 7P and Anzai Nobuaki 7P, are fellow disciples of So Kofuku 9P. Anzai is the older, 30 to Ichiriki’s 18, and won the 2nd and 3rd terms of this tournament, but Ichiriki has recently developed into one of the top players of the post-Iyama generation. Taking black, Iyama beat Anzai by resignation after 183 moves and won this title for the thirdtime in a row. First prize is three million yen.
        The level of competition was quite high, as the 16 players in the final section included two former holders of top-seven titles, Murakawa Daisuke, who wonthe Oza title, and Ida Atsushi, the previous Judan, the second-place-getter in
 the Honinbo League, Motoki Katsuya 7P, and women’s triple crown-holder Xie Yimin. As it happened, all these players were eliminated in the first round.

Iyama close to defending Honinbo title: The challenger Takao Shinji 9P made a good start in his challenge for the 2016.06.20_71honinbo4 Iyama71st Honinbo title, winning the opening game, but nothing has gone well for him since.
        The second game was played at the Honkoji Temple in Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture on May 23 and 24. Iyama turned the tables from the first game. Playing white, he attacked severely and seized the initiative, then fended off Takao
’s attempts to get back into the game. Early in the game there was a spectacular trade that gave Takao a large area but also gave Iyama a lot of ko threats. Iyama made good use of them to secure a large territory of his own. Still fighting continued, with Iyama making an unexpected but severe invasion. Takao was ahead in territory, but Iyama’s constant attacking paid off. An unusual feature of this game was that Iyama twice made a tortoise-shell capture; it’s rare for one to appear in a pro game, let alone two. It’s proverbially worth 60 points, twice as much as a ponnuki.  Late in the middle game, Takao made a last-chance attack on a white group, but Iyama found a clever 2016.06.20_71honinbo4_4move to settle it and nursed his lead to the end. Takao resigned after 230 moves. Incidentally, the 24th was Iyama’s birthday (he’s now 27); he gave himself a good birthday present.
        The third game was played the Old Ryotei Kaneyu in Noshiro City in Akita Prefecture on June 2 and 3. (“Ryotei” is a term for a traditional Japanese inn; here “Old Ryotei” has been incorporated as part of the name. This inn is a palatial building made completely of wood; it has been registered with the government as a “tangible cultural property.”) In contrast to the second game, the players made a solid and steady start. Inevitably a fierce fight started in the middle game, with a ko attached. Iyama played strongly and forced Takao to resign after 207 moves.
        The fourth game was played in the Olive Bay Hotel in Saikai City in Nagasaki Prefecture on June 13 and 14. This was the most fierce game of the series so far, with fighting starting early in the opening. Playing white, Iyama cut a l2016.06.20_murakawa-daisukearge group into two and killed both parts of it. Takao resigned after move 128. The game finished at 2:44 pm on the second day, Takao had two hours 33 minutes of his time left and Iyama had one hour 48 minutes left.
        The fifth game will be played on June 29 and 30.

Murakawa becomes Gosei challenger: 
The play-off to decide the challenger for the 41st Gosei title was held on May 18. Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W, right) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points, becoming the Gosei challenger for the first time. This gave Murakawa revenge for losing the play-off to decide the Kisei challenger to Yamashita three years in a row. He will be the second player to try to put a dent in Iyama’s septuple crown. The title match will start on June 25.

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