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The Power Report (2): Kono starts well in Kisei S League; Yamashita becomes Gosei challenger; Murakawa wins Gratitude Cup; 4th Aizu Central Hospital tournament; Xie and Fujisawa reach final

Saturday May 27, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kono starts well in Kisei S League:
 Kono Rin 9P, the previous Kisei challenger, made a good start in the 42nd Kisei S League. In a game played on May 11, Kono (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resignation. That completes the first round. Besides Kono, Yamashita Keigo and
Ichiriki Ryo started with wins and Murakawa Daisuke 8P, Cho U 9P, and So Yokoku 9P with losses.

Yamashita becomes Gosei challenger: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 42nd Gosei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on May 18. Taking black, Yamashita Keigo 9P beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resignation after 139 moves. Yamashita will challenge Iyama Yuta for the title. Thanks to this win, he will have played in at least one top-seven title match every year for 15 years in a row. Recently younger players have become more prominent in Japan, but Yamashita is still close to his peak at the age of 38. Motoki failed to convert his best-of-seven versus Iyama into a best-of-12. The first Gosei game will be played on June 22.2017.05.27_8okage2_06

Murakawa wins Gratitude Cup: The Gratitude Cup (O-kage-hai) is a tournament for players 30 or under and is sponsored by the souvenir shops in the sightseeing town of Ise in Mie Prefecture. The 8th Cup was held on May 14 and 15, with 16 players who had won seats in the qualifying tournament taking part. The winner was Murakawa Daisuke 8P. Taking white, he beat Ri Ishu 7P by resignation in the final, winning this title for the first time; his prize was three million yen. This year six of the players were teenagers and ten were making their debut in the main tournament. The cup is undeniably a minor title, but such prominent young players as Ida Atsushi 8P and Motoki Katsuya 8P were eliminated in the qualifying tournament.

4th Aizu Central Hospital tournament; Xie and Fujisawa reach final: This is the tournament with the second-richest prize in women’s go in Japan: seven million yen. The final was also the only two-day game in women’s go. However, some changes have been made this year. The name has been changed to the Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup. The flower concerned is the city flower of the host city, Aizu Wakamatsu. Strictly speaking, the plant, tachi-aoi, which has purple flowers, is not the same as 2017.05.27_aizuthe Western hollyhock; its botanical name is Althaea rosea. The second change is that the final has been changed to a best-of-three, and these are one-day games. Also, it has switched to the challenger system, that is, the winner this year will defend her title next year.
The quarterfinals and semifinals of the main tournament were held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Higashiyama Hot Spring on the weekend of May 21 and 22. The eight qualifiers wear kimonos for the games (our photo is from the welcome party held on May 20). Results in the first round, already the quarterfinals, which started at 10 A.M. on the 21st, were as follows: Xie 6P(W) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by resig.; Fujisawa Rina 3P (W) beat Mannami Nao 3P by half a point; Makihata Taeko 4P (B) beat O Keii 2P (I don’t know the margin); Nishiyama Shizuk
a 1P (W) beat Okuda Aya 3P by 2.5 points.
The semifinals were held on the Sunday, starting at noon. Xie (B) beat Makihata by resig.; Fujisawa (W) beat Nishiyama by resig. (The time allowance in these games was one hour per player; in the final it will be three hours).
The final is scheduled for June 16, 18, and, if needed, 23.

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The Power Report (1): Iyama makes good start in Honinbo defense; Korea wins 6th Tiantai Mt. team tournament; Iyama maintains Meijin League lead

Friday May 26, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama makes good start in Honinbo defense:
 Iyama Yuta, or Honinbo Monyu, to give him the title he assumed when he qualified as Honorary Honinbo last year, made a good start in the 72nd Honinjbo title match. The challenger is Motoki Katsuya 8P, who, at 21, is six years Iyama’s junior and is the third-youngest challenger ever. If he were to win, he would be the youngest tournament Honinbo.2017.05.26-Honinbo2dayfin03
The first game was played at the Gifu Grand Hotel in Gifu City. Iyama drew black in the nigiri and scored a convincing win, securing a resignation after 147 moves. There was an interesting fight early in the game in which Iyama sacrificed some stones in exchange for a ponnuki facing the centre (on the 6th line). A ponnuki is said to be worth 30 points. By my count, White’s profit was worth 20 points or so; the professionals following the game on the spot diverged in their evaluation, some of them considering the result equal, while others
thought that White’s profit was slightly superior. This was apparently Motoki’s own opinion. Soon after, Iyama started a large-scale fight with the support of his ponnuki in the background. Motoki went wrong with White 84. Ironically, this move looked like good style but actually gave Black the chance to strike at a vital point. A white group under attack managed to live, but Black took the lead. Iyama’s endgame was then flawless, so an early resignation was unavoidable. This was a tough title-match baptism for Motoki, but at least he had a chance to get used to the atmosphere of two-day games. The second game was scheduled to be played on May 23 & 24.

Korea wins 6th Tiantai Mt. team tournament: This is a team tournament for three-woman teams from China, Korea, Japan, and Chinese Taipei. The full name is the Tiantai Mt. Agricultural & Commercial Bank Cup World Women’s Team Tournament. The 6th Cup was held in Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province, in China on May 10 to 12. Results were as follows:
Round 1 (May 10) China 2 beat Japan 1; Korea 3 beat Chinese Taipei 0
Round 2 (May 11) Korea 3 beat Japan 0; China 3 beat Chinese Taipei 0
Round 3 (May 12) Japan 2 beat Chinese Taipei 1; Korea 2 beat China 1
Placings: 1st, Korea (individual score: 8 wins, 1 loss); 2nd, China (6-3); 3rd, Japan (3-6); 4th: Chinese Taipei (1-8)

Once again, Japan was beaten by Korea and China, but there were some encouraging signs. On the top board, Fujisawa Rina had a good game against Che Cheong 7P of Korea, but missed her opportunities to wrap up the game. In the end, she lost by 1.5 points. Xie Yimin hasn’t delivered for Japan in international go, but she won her games against Lu Jia 2P of China and Zhang Kaixing 5P of Chinese Taipei. The third member of the Japanese team was Nyu Eiko 1P, who beat Zhang Zhengping 3P of Chinese Taipei.

Iyama maintains Meijin League lead: The 42nd Meijin League is looking more and more like a one-horse race. On May 18, Iyama Yuta scored his fifth straight win and leads the field by two points. Players with just two losses are Yamashita Keigo 9P (4-2), Murakawa Daisuke
(3-2), and Kono Rin 9P (3-2). Iyama will play Yamashita in June and Murakawa in July.

Recent results:
(May 11) Sakai Hideyuki 8P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by 4.5 points.
(May 18) Iyama Yuta (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig.

Tomorrow: Kono starts well in Kisei S League; Yamashita becomes Gosei challenger; Murakawa wins Gratitude Cup; 4th Aizu Central Hospital tournament; Xie and Fujisawa reach final

 

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The Power Report (3): Mi wins Japan-China Ryusei, DeepZenGo beats Fujisawa; Kisei S League starts; Iyama leads Meijin League

Thursday May 11, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.05.11 DeepZenGo v Rina

Mi wins Japan-China Ryusei, DeepZenGo beats Fujisawa: The 3rd Japan-China Ryusei play-off was held in the Belle Salle hall in front of Iidabashi Station in Tokyo on April 29. Mi Yuting 9P, the winner of the 3rd Chinese Ryusei title, took white against Ichiriki Ryo 7P, winner of the 25th Japanese Ryusei title, and forced a 2017.05.11 JC Ryuseiresignation after 175 moves. The game started at 4 p.m. and was telecast live on the Igo Shogi Channel (left)The play-off was preceded by an exhibition game between Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo, and the program DeepZenGo (right). Fujisawa had 30 minutes followed by 30 seconds per move plus 15 minutes to be used in one-minute units. The program had just 45 minutes. The game started at 1 p.m. Taking black, DeepZenGo won by resig. after 159 moves.

Kisei S League starts: The top league in the 42nd Kisei tournament, the S League, has finally got off to a start, some weeks behind the lower A, B, and C Leagues. The members, in order of ranking are: Kono Rin 9P, Yamashita Keigo 9P, Murakawa Daisuke 8P, Ichiriki Ryo 7P, Cho U 9P, and So Yokoku 9P. The first two games were played on April 27. Yamashita (W) beat So by resig., and Ichiriki (B) beat Cho by resig.

Iyama leads Meijin League: The first two games in the sixth round of the 42nd Meijin League were played recently, and the result is that the gap at the top has widened. On 4-0, Iyama Yuta was the only undefeated player in the league, and his nearest rival was Yamashita Keigo on 4-1. However, Yamashita suffered a loss to Hane Naoki on May 4, and is now two points behind Iyama, though the latter has played two fewer games. This was Hane’s first win in the league.
(April 24) Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Hane Naoki 7P by resig.
(April 27) Murakawa Daisuke 8P (B) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by resig.
(May 4) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.

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The Power Report (2): Cao wins World Go Legends; Cho Chikun first to 1500 wins

Wednesday May 10, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.05.10_Cho 1500

Cao wins World Go Legends: The Japan-China-Korea World Go Legends Tournament is a special tournament (a one-off?) held in Zhejiang Province to commemorate the start of the City A League, which seems to be the most popular tournament in China. The sponsors invited a number of players who starred in international go in the late 20th century to participate. The results are given below. Long-term go fans will recognize the names, though there are some notable absentees (presumably not available). In the final, held on April 27, Cao Dayuan 9P of China (W) beat Kobayashi Koichi 9P of Japan by half a point (both these players were at their peak in the 90s). Results listed on the Nihon Ki-in homepage are given below, but are incomplete.

Round 1 (April 25). Cao Dayuan 9P (China) beat Kim Soojang 9P (Korea); Takemiya Masaki 9P (Japan) beat Liu Xiaoguang 9P (China); Ma Xiaochun 9P (China) beat Pak Seongho 9P (Korea); Yoda Norimoto 9P beat Yang Jaeho 9P (Korea); Nie Weiping (China) beat Suh Bongsoo 9P (Korea); Kobayashi Koichi 9P (Japan) (W) beat Hua Yigang 9P (China); Yu Bin 9P (China) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (Japan); Ko
bayashi Satoru 9P (Japan) beat Suh Neunguk 9P (Korea).

Quarterfinals (April 25). Yoda (B) beat Ma; Yu Bin beat (B) Kobayashi Satoru; Kobayashi Koichi (B) beat Nie; Cao (B) beat Takemiya.
Semifinals (April 26) Cao (W) beat Yoda; Kobayashi Koichi (W) beat Yu Bin.

Cho Chikun first to 1500 wins: On April 27, a win by Cho Chikun (right) against Kataoka Satoshi 9P in the second round of the 7th Masters Cup was his 1500th official win. He is the first player in Japan to reach this mark. His record is 1500 wins, 821 losses, 3 jigos, and  4 no-results, for a winning percentage of 64.6. Rin Kaiho is in second place with 1409 wins. Cho was surprised when a large of reporters came into the room, as he had had no idea he was approaching a landmark. As usual, this record generated a lot of trivia, so here goes. Cho’s age is 60 years ten months, and it took him 49 years to rack up 1500 wins. He has played games against 307 different opponents. His most frequent opponent is Kobayashi Koichi: they have played 129 games, of which Cho has won 66. He has scored most wins against the late Kato Masao, his record being 71-42-1 no result. Against Iyama Yuta, his record is a quite respectable 5-7. His top year just for wins was 2001, when he won 47 games. He has never had a minus record, the closest he came being 21-21 in 2009.

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The Power Report (1): Iyama defends Judan title; Gosei Play-off; Shin wins 4th Globis Cup

Monday May 8, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.05.08_Judan4 Yo

Iyama defends Judan title: The fourth game of the 55th Judan title match was played at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Kita Ward, Osaka on April. 21. This is the home ground of the defending champion, Iyama Yuta. After some fierce 2017.05.08_Judan Iyama Yomiddle-game fighting, the game was expected by observers to be decided in the endgame, but the challenger, Yo Seiki (right), made an oversight, so he had to resign after 196 moves. With move 99, Yo plunged into a capturing race that he couldn’t win. He pulled out of it when he realized his mistake, but the damage was already done. He played on, but his efforts to stage an upset were unavailing. That gave Iyama a lead of 3-1, so he won the match. He defended the Judan title that had earned him his grand slam last year and also maintained his sextuple crown. This is his fourth Judan title overall and his 43rd title. The Judan prize is 7,000,000 yen. Incidentally, there was no party on the eve of the fourth game, which is a little unusual. The idea was to help the players concentrate on the contest.

Gosei Play-off: Motoki Katsuya 8P (left) will begin his challenge to Iyama Yuta for the Honinbo title on May 9. In the meantime, he has reached the play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama for the Gosei title, which shows that his Honinbo success is no fluke. This is the first time Motoki has reached2017.05.08_Motoki wins league the final, but his opponent is Yamashita Keigo 9P, who has played in seven Gosei play-offs and won four of them (he has won the title once, back in 2000). Results of the semifinals:
(April 17) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo by resig.
(April 20) Motoki Katsuya 8P (B) beat O Rissei 9P by resig.
Incidentally, Motoki and Yamashita will also run into each other in the quarterfinals of the Tengen tournament.

Shin wins 4th Globis Cup: The 4th Globis Cup was held on the Tokyo campus of the main sponsor, the Globis Graduate School of Management, from April 21 to 23. It featured an all-Korean final, so it was certain that Korea would pick up its first win in this international tournament for teenaged players. The full name is the 4th Globis Cup World Go U-20 (players need to be under 20 as of 1 January). In the final, held on April 23, Shin Jinseo 7P (W) beat Byeon Sangil 5P by resignation after 250 moves. First prize is 3,000,000 yen. This result was another disappointment for the home team, which had got two players to the final in the inaugural tournament (Ichiriki Ryo beat Kyo Kagen), but it was some consolation to see Ichiriki take third place and the new young star Shibano Toramaru come fourth. The first stage of this tournament is four mini-leagues, in which two wins take you to the quarterfinals and two losses eliminate you. Full results are given below.
Group League Round 1 (April 21). Xie Erhao 4P (China) (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.; Byeon Sangil 5P (Korea) (W) beat Kyo Kagen 4P (Japan) by resig.; Gu Jihao 5P (China) (B) beat Yo Chito 4P (Japan); Shin Jinseo (W) beat Mutsuura Yuta 3P (Japan) by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 3P (Japan) (W) beat Jian Jingting 2P (Chinese Taipei) by resig.; Zhang Ruijie 2P (Cho Zuiketsu, Japan) (B) beat Willis Huang 7D (USA) by resig.; Huang Yunsong 6P (China) beat Jie Hui Kwa 7D (Singapore); Shin Minjun 5P (Korea) (W) beat Viacheslav Kaymin 7D (Russia) by resig.
Group League Round 2 (April 21). Ichiriki (W) beat Huang by resig.; Jian (B) beat Kyo by resig.; Yo (B) beat Kaymin by resig.; Mutsuura (W) beat Kwa by resig.; Byeon (B) beat Shibano by resig.; Xie (B) beat Zhang by resig.; Huang (W)
beat Shin Jinseo by resig.; Gu (B) beat Shin Minjun by resig.
Group League (Round 3) (April 22) Ichiriki (W) beat Zhang by resig.; Yo (B) beat Shin Minjun by resig.; Shibano (B) beat Jian by resig.; Shin Jinseo (W) beat Mutsuura by resig.
Quarterfinals (April 22). Ichiriki (B) beat Huang by resig.; Shibano (B) beat Gu Jihao by 3.5 points; Byeon (B) beat Yo by resig.; Shin (W) beat Xie on time.
Semifinals (April 23). Byeon (B) beat Ichiriki by resig.; Shin (B) beat Shibano by resig.
Play-off for 3rd (April 23) Ichiriki (W) beat Shibano by resig.
The second and third tournaments were won by Chinese players. Ironically, the three Chinese representatives this year all qualified immediately for the quarterfinals with two straight wins, but were all eliminated in this round. This
was the first time that Japan got three players into the quarterfinals.

Tomorrow: Cao wins World Go Legends; Cho Chikun first to 1500 wins

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The Power Report: The 5th Electric Sage tournament; Motoki to challenge for Honinbo; Iyama leads Meijin league

Wednesday April 19, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

The 5th Electric Sage tournament: 
This is a tournament in which go-playing computer programs challenge human players. The tournament is organized by the Entertainment & Cognitive Sciences Research Station at the University of Electro-Communications and was held on March 26. The Chinese program FineArt and the Japanese program DeepZenGo both played games with Ichiriki Ryo 7P and both won.
This was the first time that the games were played on even. In the previous four terms, the results had been 50-50 with programs taking four or three stones. FineArt took black against Ichiriki and secured a resignation after 157 moves. DeepZenGo took white and won by resignation after 162 moves. An interesting point came up in the endgame of FineArt’s game. It could have won big by playing a move that would have won a capturing race, but it played a small endgame move that still gave it a win. The program doesn’t “care” what the winning margin is so long as it wins.

Motoki to challenge for Honinbo: All the games in the final round of the 72nd Honinbo League were played on 2017.04.19_Motok L beats Ko IsoApril 6. Three players were still in the running to win the league: Motoki Katsuya 7P on 5-1 and Ko Iso 8P and Hane Naoki 9P, both on 4-2. Motoki was in the best position, as he would qualify for a play-off even if he lost. As it happened, he was matched against Ko. Taking white, he beat him by resignation, so he avoided a play-off.  On his debut in the previous league, Motoki (at left) surprised fans by taking second place; this time he improved on that and will make his title-match debut. Becoming the Honinbo challenger also 2017.04.19_Motoki wins Hon.Leagueearned him promotion to 8-dan (effective as of April 7).
Hane (B) beat Cho U 9P by resignation; his 5-2 score earned him second place, a big improvement on the previous league, in which he lost his place. Cho ended on 3-4 and lost his place. Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji Meijin by resig. The former took third place with 4-3, and the latter, the number-one ranked player in the league, lost his place with 3-3. The final game was between two players who had already lost their places: Yuki Satoshi 9P (B) beat Mitani Tetsuya 7P by 2.5 points. Yuki ended on 2-5 and Mitani on 1-6.
Motoki, aged 21 (birthday on August 2), is considered one of the contenders in the post-Iyama group, mainly because of his performance in the Honinbo League. He has won one junior title, the 9th Hiroshima Aluminium Cup in 2014. The title match with Iyama will start on May 9. At 21 years eight months, Motoki will be the third-youngest challenger, following Ida Atsushi (20 exactly) and Cho U (21 years three months). Motoki has not yet played any official games with Iyama, but he mentioned that he had lost all of the ten or so unofficial games they had played.

Iyama leads Meijin league: Not surprisingly, in view of his sextuple crown, Iyama Yuta started out as the favorite in2017.04.19 Meijin League the 42nd Meijin League and he has lived up to that billing. After five rounds, he is the only undefeated player; he has already had his bye, so his score is 4-0. His closest rival is Yamashita Keigo, who is on 4-1. The two will play each other in the 7th round, which is in June.
Recent results:
(March 27) Iyama (B) beat Hane Naoki by resig.; Yamashita (B) beat Kono Rin by resig.
(April 13) Iyama (B) beat Kono Rin by resig.; Yamashita (W) beat Cho U by resig.

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The Power Report: Ichiriki wins 2016 Grand Champion tournament; Yo fights back in Judan title match; FineArt wins computer go tournament

Tuesday April 18, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki wins 2016 Grand Champion tournament: The Grand Champion tournament is a special Tournament for2017.04.18_Ichiriki wins Championship the winners of the previous year’s titles, including the minor ones. Previously, it was known as the Go Tournaments Title Winners Tournament, but the name was changed this year (the fourth term). Actually, the full name is the Minister for Foreign Affairs Cup Minister for Education and Science’s Prize 2016 Grand Champion Tournament. Fifteen players took part, with the format being an irregular knock-out (some players were seeded into later rounds).
The semifinals and finals were held at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Ichigaya on March 18. In the semifinals, which started at 10 a.m.,Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Iyama Yuta by resignation after 236 moves and Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by 7.5 points. The final was played in the afternoon on the stage in the large hall on the second floor of the Ki-in. It was a “public” game, which means that on the same stage Takemiya Masaki 9P and Yoshihara Yukari 6P gave a commentary, using a large demonstration board.  Playing black, Ichiriki won by resignation after 251 moves. First prize is two million yen.
Just to mention one noteworthy result from the first round, Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo, beat Takao Shinji Meijin (she lost to Kono in the next round).

Yo fights back in Judan title match: Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 7P made a bad start in the 55th Judan title match, losing the first game to Iyama Judan on March 7. There was a gap of over three weeks before the second game, played in a pavilion at the Usa Shrine in Usa City, Oita Prefecture, on March 30. The game was plunged almost immediately into fierce fighting that spilled all over the board. 2017.04.18_Judan3 Yo (right)Taking white, Iyama (left) completely outplayed Yo (right) and forced a resignation after 160 moves. At this point, it looked as if the match might be a repeat of the previous one between these two, the 64th Oza last year, which Iyama took with straight wins.
The third game was played at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in Omachi City, Nagano Prefecture, on April 6. Yo (W) beat Iyama by resignation after 204 moves. In their tenth game, Yo finally picked up his first win against Iyama and also his first title-match win. Yo probably gained a lot of confidence from this game;  it featured furious fighting all the way, and he managed to outfight Iyama. The next game will be played on April 21.

FineArt wins computer go tournament: The UEC Cup Computer Go Tournament was held on the campus of the University of Electro- Communications on March 18 and 19, with 29 programs from six countries competing. The final was fought between two programs of top professional level, FineArt of China and DeepZenGo of Japan, and was a convincing win for FineArt. The two finalists were chosen to play in the 5th Electric Sage tournament (see tomorrow’s EJ). In-between, DeepZenGo played in the World Go Championship, which has already been reported on in the E-Journal.
FineArt was developed by a team at the top Chinese IT company Tencent and is less than a year old. It plays on a Chinese go server and has a winning record of 75% against professionals. That indicates that it’s not quite as strong as AlphaGo/Master, but even so there has been a dramatic rise in the level of go-playing programs in general. Apparently programmers were stimulated by the success of AlphaGo last year and have strengthened their programs by incorporating the techniques of “deep learning.”

Tomorrow: The 5th Electric Sage tournament; Motoki to challenge for Honinbo; Iyama leads Meijin league

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The Power Report: Iyama one win away from defending Kisei; Fujisawa Rina makes good start in Women’s Meijin challenge; Honinbo League

Monday March 6, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.03.06_41kisei5_08

Iyama one win away from defending Kisei: The fifth game of the 41st Kisei title match was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on March 1 and 2.  Playing black, Iyama forced a resignation after 165 moves. That took his score to 3-2, so he is just one win away from defending his title. The game was marked by fierce fighting throughout, so it became a competition in reading. In the end, Iyama brought down a big white group. Incidentally, the game showed the increasing influence of the AI program Master in two places in the opening. Both of the moves in question were played by Iyama, but, although it didn’t come out in this game, Kono is also said to have been strongly influenced by AI go. The sixth game will be played on March 9 & 10.

Fujisawa Rina makes good start in Women’s Meijin challenge: The first game of the 29th Women’s Meijin title match was played at the Arisu Pavilion at Heian Women’s University in Kyoto on March 1. Fujisawa Rina, the 18-2017.03.06_29fmeijin_05year-old holder of the Women’s Honinbo title, is challenging Xie Yimin, holder of the other four women’s titles. Xie has dominated women’s go in Japan for a decade and has picked up 26 titles in the process (more than twice as many as any other woman player). Fujisawa has won just three titles so far, but she has established herself as the number two woman player. The two have met twice in titles match (the 2016and 2015 Women’s Honinbo) and won one each. The Heian Women’s University includes go as a regular subject in its curriculum. It has now hosted the first game of this match for six years in a row and has also appointed Xie as a Guest Professor. Fujisawa drew black in the nigiri. In the middle game, the game seemed to tilt a little in Xie’s favor, but Fujisawa fought back and took the lead, so Xie resigned after move 217. Since this match is a best-of-three, starting with a win is a big advantage. Xie already faces a kadoban. The second game will be played on March 8.

Honinbo League
(March 1) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by 5.5 points; Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. This loss cost Hane his share of the lead. Motoki Katsuya 7P has the provisional lead on 4-1; Hane and Ko follow him on 4-2.

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The Power Report: China scores overwhelming win in Nong Shim Cup; Promotions; 50th Kido Prizes; Lee Sedol wins exhibition match

Thursday March 2, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.03.02_Nong Shim Iyama loses to Pak

China scores overwhelming win in Nong Shim Cup: Thanks to seven wins in a row, the best winning streak in this tournament’s history, by their first player, Fan Tingyu, China dominated the first two rounds of the 18th Nong Shim Cup. In the last game of the second round, Korea’s Pak Junghwan finally put a stop to the streak, but both Korea and Japan were down to their last player, while China still had four. The final round started in Shanghai on February 21. In Game 10, Pak (W) beat Iyama Yuta of Japan by resignation. In Game 11, the second Fan on the Chinese team, Fan Yunruo 5P (W), beat Pak by 1.5 points, so China secured a one-sided victory. Win-loss totals were: China 8-1, Korea 2-5, and Japan 1-5. China has now won the cup four years in a row.

Promotions
To 3-dan: Takahashi Masumi (40 wins; as of Feb. 3); Osawa Kenro (40 wins; as of Feb. 21)
To 9-dan: Onda Yasuhiko (200 wins; as of Feb. 14)

Iyama wins Shusai Prize: On January 31, Iyama Yuta was awarded the 54th Shusai Prize, which honors the outstanding player of the previous year. This is the fifth year in a row he has won it.

50th Kido Prizes: The magazine Kido lives on in the form of the annual Kido Prizes, awarded to the outstanding Nihon Ki-in players of the previous year. The winners for 2016 were chosen on February 13 by a panel of representatives of the go-sponsoring media.
Winners are: 
Most outstanding player: Iyama Yuta, for winning all top seven titles; Outstanding player: Takao Shinji, for winning the Meijin title; New face: Onishi Ryuhei, for winning the King of the New Stars; Women’s prize: Xie Yimin, for winning four women’s titles; International prize: not awarded; Most wins: Ichiriki Ryo (47); Best winning percentage: 2017.03.02_Sedol-Iyama_04Onishi Ryuhei (39-10, 79.59%); Most successive wins: Adachi Toshimasa 4P (15); Most games played: Ichiriki Ryo (66).

Lee Sedol wins exhibition match: Lee Sedol was invited to Japan by the Japanese Shogi Federation to play a ceremonial role at the start of Electric King title match. His job was to “shake the pieces.” As far as I can work out, not being a shogi player, this is the equivalent of the nigiri for deciding black and white in a game. The Nihon Ki-in took advantage of his visit to arrange the Korea-Japan Exhibition Match between Lee and Iyama Yuta. It was played at a Tokyo hotel on February 26. Lee (B) won by resig. after 227 moves. The game started at 5:30 pm and finished at 8:34 pm.

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The Power Report: Xie defends Women’s Kisei; 42nd Meijin League; 72nd Honinbo League; Professional Pair Go Championship 2017

Tuesday February 28, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.02.28_Xie wins Womens Kisei

Xie defends Women’s Kisei: The third and deciding game of the 20th Women’s Kisei title match was held in the Ryusei Studio at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on February 6. Taking black, Xie Yimin beat Nyu Eiko 1P by resig. after 161 moves. Both sides fought hard, and the game ended up as a large capturing race, won by Xie. This gave her the match 2-1. This is her fifth victory in a row, so she qualified for the title of Honorary Women’s Kisei (for use when she turns 60). She also has earned Honorary Women’s Honinbo and Meijin titles. This is her 26th title. The 17-year-old Nyu may have failed in her first title challenge, but she pushed Xie hard (the latter won the previous four Women’s Kisei title matches 2-0), so she put up a creditable performance. She will surely be back.

42nd Meijin League: (Feb. 2) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; Sakai Hideyuki 8P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by half a point; Cho U 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. This loss put Murakawa on 2-1, costing him his share of the lead. (Feb. 16) Yamashita (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.  Joint leaders of the league are 2017.02.28_leaguesIyama Yuta and Kono Rin, who are both on 2-0 (the lead is provisional, as they have both had their byes and have played one game fewer than the other
players).

72nd Honinbo League: (Feb. 2)  Motoki Katsuya 7P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points. This win gave Motoki the provisional lead on 4-1, ahead of Hane Naoki and Ko Iso, both on 3-1. (Feb. 9) Hane (W) beat Mitani Tetsuya 7P by resig. This put Hane level with Motoki. (Feb. 16) Takao Shinji Meijin (B) beat Ko Iso by half a point; Cho U (B) beat
Yuki Satoshi 9P by 1.5 points. After starting out with three losses, Takao has  now won two games, so his chances of retaining his league place have improved.

Professional Pair Go Championship 2017: Thirty-two top players took part in this tournament, the opening three rounds of which were held at the Nihon Ki-in on February 12. In the semifinals, the team of Fujisawa Rina and Hane Naoki beat Mannami Nao 3P and Yamashita Keigo and Suzuki Ayumi 7P/Cho Chikun beat Okuda Aya 3P/Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P. The final will be played on March 5.

Tomorrow: China scores overwhelming win in Nong Shim Cup; Promotions; 50th Kido Prizes; Lee Sedol wins exhibition match

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