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The Power Report (Part 2): Iyama taking aim at two former titles; Iyama retakes lead in Gosei; Takao to challenge for Meijin

Wednesday August 5, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.08.04_gosei-iyama

Iyama taking aim at two former titles: The first quarterfinal of the 63rd Oza tournament was held on July 13. Playing white, Iyama Yuta (r) defeated Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resignation. With both players in byo-yomi in the late middle game, Ichiriki made a snap judgement that he could live with a large group, so instead of starting a ko to make sure of two eyes he moved into his opponent’s territory. Iyama made a snap judgement that the group couldn’t be saved by a player in byo-yomi; he connected the ko and killed the group. Iyama thus became the first player to reach the semifinals of this tournament. The titleholder is Murakawa Daisuke, who took the title off Iyama last year. Iyama had previously reached the semifinals of the 41st Tengen title by beating beat Ko Iso 8P. In the semifinal, played on July 30, he beat Ri Ishu 7P (W) by resignation. In the play-off to decide the challenger, he will meet the winner of the other semifinal between Yamashita Keigo and Yuki Satoshi 9P.

Iyama retakes lead in Gosei title match: After a break of a month from the opening game, two games were played recently in the 40th Gosei title match. On July 20, the second game was played at the Hokkoku (North Country) Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. Iyama Yuta Gosei (white) got a favorable position in the opening, but Yamashita Keigo 9P launched a bold series of do-or-die moves that eventually drew a misjudgment from Iyama. He later started a ko to try to get back into the game, but played an invalid ko 2015.08.04_gosei-both-playersthreat and had to resign after 183 moves. The third game was played at the Nagaoka Grand Hotel in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture on July 27. Iyama, playing black, built up a small lead, though the game was marked by complicated fighting. Late in the middle game, Iyama had a chance (with move 175) to set up a large-scale capturing race. Research by the players following the game showed that he would have won it by one move, but, in byo-yomi, he hesitated to take the risk. Yamashita almost caught up, but Iyama just managed to hold on to his lead. The game finished after 292 moves and ended in a win for Iyama by one and a half points. The fourth game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 7. photo: Iyama Yuta Gosei (l); Yamashita Keigo 9P

Takao to challenge for Meijin title: The final round of the Meijin League is one of the biggest events of the summer, which this year has been its usual hot, humid and unbearable self in Tokyo. Four players were in the2015.08.04_meijin_playoff_takao running to win the league, which added to the interest. They were, in order of ranking, Kono Rin, Yamashita Keigo, Takao Shinji (right), and Ko Iso.
The results were:
Cho U 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resignation. Both players finished on 5-3.
Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. Yamashita finished on 6-2 and Ko on 5-3.
Takao Shinji Tengen (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke Oza by resig. Takao finished on 6-2 and Murakawa on 3-5.
Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by resig. Hane ended on 2-6 and Kanazawa on 1-7. They both lost their places, as did So Yokoku 9P, who was on 3-5 and had a bye in the last round.
Takao and Yamashita were tied for first, so they met in a play-off on August 3. Takao (W) beat Yamashita by 5.5 points, so he will make his first challenge for the Meijin title for five years. Takao lost his last challenge to Iyama Yuta 0-4 in the 35th Meijin tournament. In general, he has done badly against Iyama, but his results have improved in the last couple of years. The title match will start on September 3.

Promotion: To 2-dan: Mutsuura Yuta (aged 16) (30 wins) (as of July 17)

photo research by Maeda Ryo & Todd Heidenreich

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The Janice Kim Files – Game On

Monday July 13, 2015

(or what I learned during my two-year vacation from playing games) by Janice Kim 3P

PastedGraphic-1For me go and poker are the same. As they are like two sides of my same coin, I find the optimal strategy in go is to know everything, and in poker, to be random.

Humans are not randomizers, they require computers, or cards, and even those require perfect input for true randomization. A good watch with a sweeping second hand can take care of a lot in poker. If you develop the strategy of eyes going to your watch, as if you’re the smartest Princess Bride in the world poisoning a cup, basing your actions entirely on the position of a watch hand on the dial, you will be about as random as humans get. I look pretty much like Lee Chang-ho would playing poker, a Stone Buddha in a skirt and heels, a non-sentient target no more than a table’s-length away, which is why it is oh-so-perfect.

Of course this is only truly useful if you are not looking at your cards at all, so as not to introduce the possibility of fear in yourself, and playing against the best cash players in the world, and aren’t an actual threat to the way of life to wealthy and powerful, testosterone-enhanced, actively aggressive people. And then you have to have enough chips neatly stacked in front of you, or maybe with one almost toppling over, to enrage enough or entice enough to engage enough to get any play. The buy-in on such where-are-you-on-the-guest-list events is steep if you aren’t backed.  Continue reading…)

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The Power Report: Tie in Meijin League; Iyama Defends Gosei, Honinbo; O Keii Wins Aizu Cup

Monday July 6, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

70honinbo5 moment of victoryFour-way tie in Meijin League: With only one round to go, four players share the lead in the 40th Meijin League, so there is a strong possibility of the league ending in a tie. The four  players are Kono Rin 9P, Yamashita Keigo 9P, Takao Shinji Tengen, and Ko Iso 8P, who are all on 5-2 (I overlooked Yamashita in my previous report when I wrote there were three players with two losses). Recent games: (June 25) Kono Rin (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke Oza by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. (July 2) Takao Shinji (B) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by half a point. (July 3) Yamashita Keigo (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by resig.

In the final round, to be played on July 30, Kono plays Cho U, Yamashita plays Ko Iso, Takao plays Murakawa, Hane plays Kanazawa, and So has a bye. Only Yamashita or Ko Iso has a chance of winning the league outright; there could also be a two-way or three-way tie. If Ko is part of a three-way tie, however, he will miss out, as only the two higher-ranked players qualify for a play-off. Hane and Kanazawa have already lost their league places.

2015Gosei1 game reviewIyama makes good start in Gosei title defense: The first game of the 40th Gosei best-of-five title match was played at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on June 26. Yamashita is making his third challenge to Iyama Yuta this year; he’s probably sick of the sight of Iyama, but with the latter holding four titles, beating him is the quickest way for Yamashita to make a comeback as a titleholder. As usual with these two, fighting started early and didn’t let up. Yamashita, playing white, acquitted himself well in the middle game, building thickness to counter Iyama’s territory. However, just when the game looked like it was entering a tight endgame contest, Yamashita suffered a hallucination (on move 156) that cost him a large group. He resigned after Black 171.  There is a break of nearly a month before the next game, which will be played in Kanazawa City on July 20.

Iyama defends Honinbo title: The fifth game of the 70th Honinbo title match was played on July 29 and 30,  so Yamashita had a break of just two days to recover from his loss in the Gosei title match. The venue was the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture, so it was home ground for Iyama. Playing white, Iyama went for territory, letting Yamashita build a moyo. He then set out to live inside the moyo. By white 76, he had parried Black’s attack; when he occupied a key point with 82 he felt that he was ahead. However, he left Black with scope to invade his territory, his plan being to reduce Black’s large center while harassing the invader. However, Iyama slipped up in the ensuing fight, missing a chance to kill Black’s group. That let Black get a ko, but his best ko threat was setting up an attack on the white group that had settled itself inside Black’s moyo earlier. When White finished off the ko and also rescued this group, Black had to resign. The game lasted exactly 200 moves.  A generation or two ago, Takagawa lamented that he would have won many more titles but for the existence of Sakata Eio. Perhaps Yamashita may feel the same way about Iyama, he has won just one out of six big-three title matches with him. Nonetheless, he will surely be doing his best to become the Meijin challenger. Once again, Iyama has extended his quadruple crown. This is his 29th title and his 11th big-three title. He has just turned 26 (May 24), so he is roughly four years ahead of the title-winning pace of Cho Chikun and Cho U. He is in 9th place in the all-time list in Japan, six titles behind Rin Kaiho and Yoda Norimoto.2015 Aizu checking sealed move

O Keii wins Aizu Central Hospital Cup: 
The final of the 2nd Aizu Central Hospital Cup was held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 2 and 3. O Keii 2P (W) beat Xie Yimin 6P by one and a half points. O is the daughter of O Rissei 9P, three-time Kisei winner, and older sister of O Keiko 1P (Kansai Ki-in). She is a member of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in. This is O’s first title and it comes in her third year as a pro. She is already 28, so she made a late debut, though she is making up for that now. The game didn’t make this week’s issue of Go Weekly, so I don’t have any details yet.

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The Janice Kim Files – What Go Means to Me

Thursday July 2, 2015

A special E-J Column by Janice Kim 3P

2012.02.21-janiceKimWhen I was young I liked to read, and to watch TV, and didn’t go out much, except alone to explore arroyos, watch movies, or go jogging very early in the morning, when the light was still gray.

Going out jogging, it’s right on the surface of my memory how the air tasted, like an apple, and the way the sidewalk curbs looked in that light, gray on gray, appearing out of the mist like phantom tracks. If it had been raining, there’d be sounds, the splish-gerr-splish of some unseen tires driving through a puddle. Back at home we still have an old pinon tree that you could climb up, and then on to the roof.

On weekend afternoons my activity was to ride my bike to the store, and rent a movie to watch at home. My favorites were “Journey to the Center of the Earth” with James Mason, and “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” with the old Ray Harryhausen monsters. Later the grocery store put a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game in the back storeroom. The nearby 7-Eleven had Tempest (awesome) and Centipede (slightly less awesome), thus in the shopping district of my own small town forming the classic arcade triumvirate that makes me feel truly special because, I was there. I had a long blister on the side of my hand from using it like a blade with the dial controller, gaining precision and more speed than possible just by turning it with my fingers.

Later someone figured out how to pry open the front panel near the Insert Coin slots, so you could click a small red button inside to increase number of games left on the digital counter. Once you could insert your quarter without that delicious frisson of fear — will it be worth it? Will I ride out this quarter, or will it be wasted on some stupid slip on the first alien attack wave? — the fun was spoiled, and once the summer moment was gone and you could play endlessly for free, it was impossible to recall why it was ever fun in the first place.

I loved board games, but had trouble getting anyone to play. My personality seemed dull to myself, and to lack sparkling qualities. I framed my analysis of the structure and meaning of a game in terms of how to win, and didn’t understand the point of playing otherwise. Sometimes I would say something, or examine flowers or things people left in the street, and people would snort or snicker, or look worried or irritated. My sister was popular and had close friends, but I was too much of an accountant, with friendship owed and due, to be very much fun for anyone. Or maybe it was because I was really different than everyone I knew, invisibly at first, then for certain when I lived in as the only girl insei in Korea, without the ability to speak Korean. Even though the purpose of being there was to play a board game, I still couldn’t get anyone to play very often, because I was one of the least skilled there.

But there were moments. Like when I couldn’t go to the summer camp at the Buddhist temple because they didn’t have girls’ accommodations, and when they came back, Yu Chang-hyuk walked into the research room before everyone else and saw me sitting alone and came over and gave me a hug. Later I beat him for the first and only time in my life, and he sat there muttering to himself, “I don’t know how it is that I won every battle, but lost the war.” That’s how a decade later in another moment, I gave a computer program a 25 stone handicap and defeated it at the AAAI conference. I watched Yu Chang-hyuk play a game online sometime after that, and some kibitzers were saying his moves didn’t make sense, and I wrote that he was the very best player in the world. Someone asked “Why do you say that?” and someone else answered, “Because she LOVES him, ha ha.”

We really can do almost anything. I can see how and why, but also where it is all going. We will all lose in the end, and go to the great review in the sky. The other day my son said that they’ve made big steps in plastification and we may be able to live forever, and I’m thinking about that digital counter in the arcade and the air that tastes like apples and the pinon tree and I find myself hoping we both die too soon to be made into plastic. I’m just looking for another summer moment. Seems like go is our best chance.

 

 

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The Power Report: Lead changes again in Meijin League; Yamashita picks up first win in Honinbo; Kisei S League & Tokyo perspective on the LG Cup

Monday June 22, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Lead changes again in Meijin League: Things were shaken up again in the sixth round of the 40th Meijin League and Ko resurfaced
with the provisional lead. Three games were played on June 4. Ko
 Iso 8P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by 2.5 points; and So Yokoku 8P (W) beat Takao Shinji by resignation. That left three players on two losses: Ko (5-2), Kono (4-2), and Takao (4-2). Kono has the advantage of being the top-ranked player in the league, but Ko has the advantage of having won an extra game. He gets a bye in the next round, then plays Takao in the final round. Incidentally, the above-mentioned loss cost Kanazawa his place in the league.

Mimura Kaori Promoted: With 40 wins in the cumulative-win system, Mimura Kaori earned promotion to 3-dan on June 11 (though the promotion officially took effect on the following day). Mimura was born on July 31, 1981; she is married to Mimura Tomoyasu 9P. Her 2015.06.22_70honinbo4_2younger sisters are Mukai Chiaki 5P (born on December 24, 1987, and Nagashima Kozue 2P, born on October 3, 1984.

Yamashita picks up first win in Honinbo title match: After making an awful start, Yamashita Keigo (right) has finally picked up a win in the 70th Honinbo best-of-seven title match. The fourth game was played at the Olive Bay Hotel in Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture on June 16 and 17. Iyama had scored convincing wins in the previous two games, putting a lot of pressure on the challenger. However, Yamashita dominated this game right from the start, and Iyama never had a chance. Taking white, Yamashita forced a resignation after just 128 moves. In retrospect, Iyama queried his 23rd move. Yamashita had played a probe with White 22, and Iyama answered it aggressively rather than safely. However, he was taken aback by Yamashita’s next move, an invasion-cum-attack that was a line deeper — and much severer — that he had expected. Although extremely difficult fighting followed, Yamashita held the initiative for the rest of the game. Yamashita is one of the best fighters in Japanese go; Iyama will probably avoid going toe-to-toe with him after this. This is the third time in a row that Yamashita’s first win in a best-of-seven with Iyama has come in the fourth game. In last year’s Kisei title match, he managed to win two games before losing the match. In this year’s Kisei title match, he improved that to three games before dropping the seventh game. If the upward trend holds, however, he should win this match. The fifth game will be played on June 29 and 30. First, however, the two will meet in the first game of the 40th Gosei title match, scheduled for June 26.

Kisei S League: One game in the 40th Kisei S League was played on June 18. Taking black, Takao Shinji Tengen beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 2015.06.22_Yo (R) playing Lee9P by resignation. This game completed the second round. Yoda Norimoto 9P has the sole lead with 2-0. In the A League, Kono Rin 9P has the sole lead with 4-0.

Tokyo perspective on the LG Cup: The E-Journal has already featured a report on the 20th LG Cup, held on June 8 and 10. Here is how the opening rounds looked from Tokyo. The big surprise was that the most junior Japanese representative, Yo Seiki 7P (actually, a Taiwanese member of the Kansai Ki-in), had the best results. While the other players were eliminated in the first round, Yo, who was making his debut in a full-scale international tournament, won his way through to the quarterfinals. He joins four players from Korea and three from China. In the first round, Yo (W) beat Peng Liyao 5P of China by resignation. In the second round (left), he bested Lee Donghun 5P of Korea; again Yo had white. The latter win gave him revenge for his loss to Lee in the Globis Cup. Two years ago, Iyama Yuta and Takao Shinji also made the best eight but were then eliminated. The challenge for Yo will be to go further. He could become a new hero for Japan. The quarterfinals are scheduled for November 16.

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The Power Report (III): Aizu Central Hospital Cup; 2nd Mlily Cup; O Meien wins 1,000 games

Wednesday June 10, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.06.08_Aizu O & Xie

Aizu Central Hospital Cup: Xie Yimin (right), Women’s Meijin, will meet O Keii 2P (left), the daughter of O Rissei 9P, in the final of the 2nd Aizu Central Hospital Cup. In the semifinals, played on June 7, Xie (W) beat the previous winner Fujisawa Rina 2P by resignation and O (B) beat Kato Keiko 6P by 4.5 points. The final, the only two-day game in women’s go, will be held on July 2 and 3.

2nd Mlily Cup: Nineteen Japanese players took part in the open preliminary tournament for the 2nd Mlily Cup, held at the Chinese Qiyuan (Ki-in) in Beijing from May 22 to 26. They were made up of ten male professionals, five female professionals, and four amateurs. No Japanese players won a seat in the main tournament, but Yo Seiki 7P, Fujisawa Rina 2P and Xie Yimin 6P did reach the semifinals. In the second round, Fujisawa scored a memorable win over the world’s top-rated woman player, Choe Cheong 5P of Korea. Fujisawa, playing white, had fallen behind but found a brilliancy, a move that looked like a suicide move but which turned the game around. Fujisawa commented that Choe, who is two years her senior, is definitely stronger than her, but she was happy to pick up a win.

O Meien wins 1,000 games: A win on June 4 was O Meien’s 1,000th as a pro. He is the 16th player at the Nihon Ki-in to reach this landmark, and it took him 38 years two months. With 571 losses, two jigos and two no-results, his winning percentage is 63.7.

Promotion: To 8-dan: Kitano Ryo (150 wins) (as of May 29)

Correction: In my report about Otake Hideo’s decoration (5/3 EJ), I wrote that he was the 23rd go player to be so honoured. Go Weekly subsequently amended the list it published; actually 25 players have won decorations.

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The Power Report (II): China wins 4th Mt. Tiantai Nongshang Bank Cup; Yo Seiki wins Okage Cup; Hane senior wins 1,200 games

Tuesday June 9, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

China wins 4th Mt. Tiantai Nongshang Bank Cup: The 4th Mt. Tiantai Nongshang Bank Cup World Women’s Team Championship was held in Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province in China from May 8 to 10. Three-player teams from China, Korea, Japan, and Chinese Taipei competed. The teams finished in the order just given. Representing Japan were Fujisawa Rina 2P, Xie Yimin 6P, and Kaneko Maki 1P. Results are given below.
(Round 1) China beat Japan 3-1; Korea beat Chinese Taipei 3-0. (Round 2) Japan beat Chinese Taipei 3-0; China beat Korea 2-1. (Round 3) Korea beat Japan 3-0; China beat Chinese Taipei 3-0. So Yokoku 9P accompanied the Japanese team as coach. A conversation he had with the top board for China, Yu Zhiying 5P, gives an idea of what goes into becoming a top player. As a member of the national team, Yu studies at the Chinese Qiyuan from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. At night, she plays Net games, with her norm being 3.5 games a night. Even on days when she has official games, she still completes her norm. She said she plays about 1,700 games a year. So commented that Fujisawa and Xie are also studying hard. In an interview with the Chinese press, Fujisawa said that she studies eight to ten hours a day, at least six days a week. The other members of the Chinese team were Song Rongrui 5P and Rui Naiwei 9P. The Korean players were Choe Cheong 5P, Kim Hye-min 7P, and Pak Ji-yon 3P. Choe inflicted the sole loss suffered by China, defeating Yu on the top board. As of May, Choe was the top-ranked woman player in the world (#193 on the geocities site).

Yo Seiki wins Okage Cup: The O-kage (gratitude) Cup is sponsored by a group of tourism-related shops in the street leading to Ise Shrine. It is open to players 30 and under and so far has been won by Cho Riyu (2010), Anzai Nobuaki (2011 and 2012), and Ichiriki Ryo (2013 and 2014). This year, the main tournament (for the best 16) was held in Ise City on May 14 And 15. In the final, Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in (W) beat Ichiriki by resignation.

Hane senior wins 1,200 games: On May 21, Hane Yasumasa 9P became the sixth player at the Nihon Ki-in to reach the landmark of 1,200 wins. It took him 57 years one month (he will turn 71 on June 25). With 641 losses and 5 jigos, his winning percentage is 65.2. He won the Oza title in 1990. He is the father of Hane Naoki.

Tomorrow: 2nd Mlily Cup; O Meien wins 1,000 games; Aizu Central Hospital Cup

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The Power Report (I): Iyama takes 3-0 lead in Honinbo title match

Monday June 8, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.06.08_70honinbo3_2

Iyama takes 3-0 lead in Honinbo title match: In the 70th Honinbo title match, Yamashita Keigo is seeking to regain the title that he lost to Iyama Yuta in 2012. He is also seeking revenge for his loss to Iyama in this year’s Kisei title match. As defending champion, Iyama is hoping to maintain his quadruple crown; after losing two titles at the end of last year, he will be anxious to avoid any further reductions to his swag. Also, if he defends his title, it will be his fourth in a row, so he will draw near to qualifying for the title of Honorary Honinbo.

Just as in the Kisei title match, Iyama has made a great start, sweeping the first three games. In the Kisei, Yamashita staged a recovery, winning three games in a row himself. Will he be able to do it again?
The first game was played in the Fugetsuro pavilion in Shizuoka City on May 13 and 14. This was the hometown of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the warlord who founded the Tokugawa Shogunate, and the game was one of the events in the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Ieyasu’s death. The Fugetsuro is located on the estate of the 15th and last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Yamashita drew black in the nigiri. He was doing fairly well in the fighting, but a couple of slightly dubious moves let Iyama into the game. Yamashita then made a misreading about a possible capturing race and so failed to play the best move. Although he was still ahead on the board, he couldn’t give the komi, so he resigned after 164 moves.

2015.06.08_70honinbo3_3The second game was played at the Shikimeien garden in Naha City, Okinawa on May 25 and 26. Fierce fighting started in the opening. In the middle game, Yamashita (white) made a fatal blunder and fell behind. Iyama wrapped up the game safely, and Yamashita resigned after 177 moves.

The third game was played at the Jozankei Resort Spa Mori no Uta (Song of the Forest) in Sapporo City, Hokkaido on June 3 and 4. In this game, there was no major fighting — when the first proper fight looked like breaking out, the players settled for a peaceful trade, and when another fight looked like starting, it again ended peacefully. In each case, it was Iyama (white) who made the decision to avoid a fight; it retrospect, it can be said that he was confident he had a lead and he denied Yamashita any chance to exert his strength. The latter resigned after 142 moves.

Tomorrow: China wins 4th Mt. Tiantai Nongshang Bank Cup; Yo Seiki wins Okage Cup; Hane senior wins 1,200 games

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The Power Report: Lead changes in 40th Meijin League; Kisei S League starts; Cho U moves to Taiwan; Yamashita to challenge Iyama Gosei

Monday May 25, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Lead changes in 40th Meijin League: A game in the 40th Meijin League was played on a Monday, May 4, instead of the usual Thursday.2015.05.25-Kono-Rin Cho U 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke Oza by 2.5 points, thus scoring what was only his second win in five games. Murakawa dropped to 3-3 and will probably have to focus on keeping his league place rather than on becoming the challenger. An important game was played on May 7 between the two players who were close on the heels of the provisional leader of the league, Ko Iso 8P. Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig. Kono (right) improved his score to 4-1 and shares the lead with Ko. Yamashita dropped to 3-2. On May 21, Takao (W) beat Ko Iso by resig. This completed the sixth round. The lead is now shared by Kono and Takao, who are both on 4-1. For the first time since the league began, Ko Iso has dropped out the lead or a share of it, but on 4-2 he is well placed if the above two falter; he hasn’t played either of them yet, so he doesn’t have to rely on other players to drag them down. Yamashita is next on 3-2.

Kisei S League starts: The S League is at the top of the pyramid of five leagues in the revamped Kisei tournament, and its winner has the 2015.05.25-murakawabest chance of becoming the Kisei challenger, as he gets a seat in the play-off and an automatic one-game lead as well. The first two games were played on May 7. Murakawa Daisuke Oza (left) started the week badly (see Meijin League report above), but did better here. Playing white, he beat Takao Shinji by 4.5 points. In the other game, Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. The other players in the six-man league are Yamashita Keigo and Yamashiro Hiroshi. I was planning to report in detail only on the S League, but there was an interesting game in the A League on the 4th. Veteran player Kono Rin 9P (W) beat the up-and-coming new star Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resignation. On 2-0, Kono shares the lead in the eight-player A League with Cho Riyu 8P.

Cho U moves to Taiwan: Cho U 9P has revealed that he is moving to his homeland of Taiwan this 2015.05.25-Cho-Umonth, though he will remain a member of the Nihon Ki-in and keep playing in Japanese tournaments. The reason is his dissatisfaction with his results in recent years; he is hoping that a change in environment will bring about an improvement in his play. Many top players have come to Japan from Taiwan (Rin Kaiho, O Rissei, and O Meien, just to mention three), but this is the first time a top player has taken the reverse course. Cho is 35, an age at which even a top player usually sees a falling off in his results, but Cho is obviously not prepared to accept this. His inspiration may be Cho Chikun, who won his second triple crown (Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo) at the age of 40. Cho U came to Japan at the age of ten and in 2009 became the first player to hold five top-seven titles simultaneously. He has seats in the top three leagues (though in the A League in the 40th Kisei, not the top S League), but he hasn’t won a title since losing the Kisei title in 2013. In an interview in the Yomiuri Newspaper, he said: ‘I can’t show [go fans] games of which I am ashamed. I think that changing my environment will have a positive effect on my go.’ A brief news item in Go Weekly stated that Kobayashi Izumi was taking a break from tournament play after her game on May 14 so that her children could study  in Taiwan. Cho’s desire to see his children master Chinese is obviously an additional motive for moving back to Taiwan. It’s a bit unfortunate that Kobayashi Izumi (aged 37), who just made a comeback to active play last year, once again has to sacrifice her own career for her family.

2015.05.25-yamashitaYamashita to challenge Iyama Gosei: Yamashita Keigo is doing his level best to make a breach in Iyama’s quadruple-crown citadel. In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 40th Gosei title, held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on May 18, Yamashita (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resignation. The game lasted 194 moves. Yamashita has won the Gosei title once, way back in 2000 (the 20th Gosei); in 2008 he unsuccessfully challenged Cho U, losing 1-3. This will be the third title match this year between Yamashita and Iyama; it is only the third time two players have played three top-seven matches against each other in the same year. Moreover, the Gosei is only the fourth title match of the year, so the two could well set a new record (Yamashita is still in the running to become the challenger in the Meijin and Tengen tournaments). The first game of the title match will be played on June 26.

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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The Power Report: Globis Cup Final Commentary, Huang vs. Na

Sunday May 24, 2015

2nd Globis Cup final: Huang vs. Na
White: Huang Yunsong 3P (China)
Black: Na Hyun 6P (Korea)
Played on May 10, 2015
See: The Power Report: Huang of China Wins Globis Cup 5/10 EJ
Click here for the SGF.

Venue: Graduate School of Management, Globis University
Commentary by O Meien 9P, translated by John Power, Japan E-Journal correspondent

It was no surprise that Na Hyun made the final of this tournament for players under 20, as he is one of the top young players in Korea. Among the Chinese players, one might have expected Yang Dingshin, rated 18th in the world, or Li Qincheng, who won the CCTV Cup, a TV tournament like Japan’s NHK Cup, last year, but Huang proved to be a dark horse. Actually, at 18 he is two years older than the other two Chinese representatives, so you could say he pulled rank.

The following commentary is an amplified version of the report in Go Weekly of the public commentary conducted by O Meien, with Mannami Nao 3P acting as his assistant.

The opening, with Black ignoring 8 to switch to the approach move of 9, is very popular these days. There are many examples of it from actual2015.05.24_globis-1-49 play. The same opening appeared in the play-off for third place.
        O: “In the old days, Black would have captured 16 instead of playing 21, but now this is the mainstream move. I don’t know which is better . . .” Formerly the moves to 21 were like a set opening, but now you often see the pattern to 25. The amount of research that has been carried out on this opening in China and Korea is incalculable. “But I don’t play it as White. I can’t understand why White burrows into the [top right] corner. Actually, this result gives a good contest, so probably my feel for go is out of whack.’ [Laughter from the audience]
        The two-space jump to 29 is also common. The hane of White 32 is also a vital point. O, on seeing Black 33: “This is a strong, calm move.” Instead of 33, you are tempted to play at A, but White has the attachment of B, so perhaps Black thinks this territory won’t amount to much. After gazing at 33 for a while, O expressed admiration. “I get it. He’s strong.”
        White 36. White thinks that the exchange for 37 will make 36 a forcing move when he attaches across the knight’s move with C.
Black 39 and 40 seem to be the par moves. O: “According to my feel for go, 3
9 should be at D. Na’s assessment is that the exchange for 40 makes 39 a forcing move rather than a bad move.”
        When Black expands the bottom with 41, White attacks inside by attaching at 42. The move at 21 leaves White with scope to play this move. O: “That’s why capturing the ladder stone is best.”
 2015.05.24_globis-dia-1       Black responds by solidifying his side territory with 43 on. If instead Black hanes on top with 1 in Dia. 1 (left), White plays 2 and 4, then slides to 6; this will be more than Black can handle. After the game, Huang rapidly laid out the continuation to 19 and said that this was not bad for White. Huang: “I’ve finished researching the attachment of 43. I have confidence in the local variations.”2015.05.24_globis-50-99
       White 54 is a good, calm move. O: “Moves like this reflect the player’s experience. “ At first, O had thought that the result to 52 was not interesting for White, but he started to revise his opinion on seeing 54 on the grounds that Huang was obviously satisfied and we could rely on his perception.
        White 60 is another calm move. Having played a forcing sequence on the right side, White believes that this is good enough. O commented at first that he couldn’t play 60, but White 62 convinced him that Huang knew what he was doing. It turned out later that both the players agreed that the game was good for White at this point. That’s why Black plays 61: he has to harass White’s sole weak group to get back into the game.
        When White ignores 61, 63 looks like the natural follow-up, but the players agreed later that attaching at 65 instead would have made the game more difficult. White’s solid extension of 64 works well. O: “This may have been the decisive point of the game.” That’s not to say that’s it’s a won game for White by any means, but he has an edge.
        Black 77, forestalling White E, is big, but so is White 78.
  2015.05.24_globis-100-112      Black 79 is an all-out move that clearly shows that Black feels he is behind. O commented that it may have been an overplay. It immediately struck O as being too deep.
        White 84. If White answers the peep at 90, Black intends to push down with 84, so countering with 84 is natural.
        The cut of White 92 is a good move. If Black answers at 97, White has the threat of F, so Black goes all out with 93.
        Black 99 extricates the center stones. If White cuts at 103, Black cuts at 102 and at this point Black is ahead in the capturing race. When White plays 100, however, Black has no choice but to reinforce at 103.
        White 112 is the knock-out punch: it makes miai of G and H, so Black has to resign.
        Huang: “There was a lot of pressure, but [winning] feels good. Next, I want to win a bigger international tournament.”
        Na: “I lost without being able to do a thing. I have regrets.”
        During his commentary, O commented that the strength of the top young Chinese and Korean players came from a mixture of reading ability and perception.
Incidentally, the day of the final was the first day that Huang wore a jacket instead of just a jersey. O commented that in China go is regarded as a sport, so the young players all wear jerseys. Often their training camps are held at the same venues as soccer training camps, so the players would feel funny if they dressed differently. O joked that they switch to suits when they turn 30. During this tournament, Ichiriki and the other Japanese representatives were turned out in natty suits and ties. One advantage of the Japanese system that struck me, however, is that the Japanese players are “socialized” earlier than the Chinese players. It was hard to get a word out of the Chinese teenagers in interviews, but the Japanese teenagers were already adept at public speaking. During the reception on the Thursday, Mannami called them up on to the stage at different times for mini “talk shows” TV-style and they all acquitted themselves well.
Mannami had an interesting comment about Korean players. She visited Korea to study go not long ago, and she said she was surprised by the way the young players chatted with each other until the start of the game. In Japan the players psych themselves up before the game, so there’s no chatting; the contest begins as soon as the players take their seats. (She used the sumo term “shikiri,” which refers to the long face-off before a bout begins.)

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