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The Power Report: Takao evens score in Judan; Meijin League; More details on quadruple ko

Sunday April 19, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.04.19_judan

Takao evens score in Judan: The fourth game of the 53rd Judan title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on April 15. Playing black, Takao Shinji Judan forced a resignation after 167 moves and drew level with the challenger, Ida Atsushi 8P. Ida made a dubious move in the opening (move 46), creating a weak group and letting Takao take the lead. He kept up the pressure and shut Ida out of the game. The deciding game will be played at the same venue on April 22.

Meijin League: One game was played in the 40th Meijin League on April 16. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by 10.5 points. Yamashita improved his score to 3-1, just behind Ko Iso 8P on 4-1. On 1-4, Kanazawa is in bottom place and his chances of keeping his seat don’t look good.

More details on quadruple ko: This week’s Go Weekly printed an interview with Kono Rin about his quadruple ko the previous week (see my last report). Some interesting points came up. First of all, Go Weekly states that a quadruple ko comes up once every eight thousand games. Despite this, Kono has featured in two of the 11 recorded cases in Japan and also in a case of triple ko, a record matched only by Cho Chikun (three triple kos). According to Kono, he deliberately set up these kos as the only way to avoid losing the games concerned. In his game against Mitani Tetsuya, Kono set up the second of the double kos in an attempt to make Mitani add a reinforcement; compared to the regular endgame sequence, that would have cost Mitani two thirds of a point. Both Kono and Mitani thought that they were fighting over whether Mitani (black) ended up seven or six points ahead on the board (komi is six and a half). That’s why neither gave way and they agreed to make the game a “no result.” It became clear later, however, that both players had been miscounting the score by one point. Mitani could have given way, as he would still have won the game by half a point. That shows how important counting is. (By the way, Mitani lost the replay on the 13th.) Kono also realized that he (and probably many other professionals) didn’t have an accurate knowledge of the rules. When the quadruple ko started, the players had someone call the referee (probably only one referee was on duty for all the games being played that day). They thought that the referee had to make the decision to declare the game a no-result, but Article 12 of the Japanese rules states: “When the same whole-board decision is repeated during a game, if the players agree, the game ends without result.” In other words, the referee’s job is to oversee the process and confirm the agreement. Kono also commented that he mistakenly thought that the game automatically became a no-result if the same whole-board position was repeated, but the only reference to whole-board repetition is the rule quoted above. He said that he and Mitani could have kept capturing and recapturing the kos all night without infringing the rules. The rule just gives the players the option of agreeing to a no-result to avoid this futility. The reporter interviewing Kono, Sekine Shingo, surmises that go players have perhaps got the go rule mixed up with the shogi rule. In shogi, the rule apparently is that a game is replayed if the same whole-board position occurs four times. The Japanese rules are only one and a half pages long (though there’s a longer commentary), so it’s surprising that players are not completely familiar with them. One reason may be that the average professional would have to play for a dozen lifetimes to experience a no-result.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Ida takes lead in Judan; Ko Iso leads Meijin League; Quadruple ko; LG Challengers Cup

Monday April 13, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.04.13_Judan-Shinji Takao

Ida takes lead in Judan: The second game of the 53rd Judan title match was held at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in the city of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture on April 9. Omachi has become closely linked with the Judan tournament: this is the 22nd year in a row that a game from the title match game has been staged here. Omachi is a gateway to the Northern Alps and it has sought to establish itself as “the Alps go village.” Four years ago, Ida Atsushi was the game recorder for the Judan game held here and now he was playing in the title match, challenging Takao Shinji (right). 
        The game started with fierce fighting, and the first notable move was a move by Ida, playing black, that defied a go proverb by letting the opponent drive a wedge through some neighbouring stones (the proverb is, “don’t let yourself be split into two”). Despite this, Ida got off to a reasonable start. In the middle-game fighting, Ida took a small lead and managed to hold on to it to the end. He won by 2.5 points after 277 moves. After making a bad start in the title match, he has won two games in a row and now needs just one more win to  take the title.

Ko Iso leads Meijin League: Two games were played in the 40th Meijin League last week. On April 6, Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke by 3.5 points. On April 9, So Yokoku 9P (B) Cho U 9P by half a point. There are four players with only one loss in the league, but Ko holds the provisional lead by virtue of having completed five rounds. His score is 4-1; the other players are Rin Kono 9P on 3-1 and Yamashita 2015.04.13_Kono-RinKeigo 9P and Takao Shinji 9P, both on 2-1.

Quadruple ko: A game between Kono Rin 9P (left) and Mitani Tetsuya 7P (black) played in the main section of the Gosei tournament on April 6 was declared no-contest (by agreement between the players) because of a quadruple ko. There were two double kos in Black’s position, one in the top right, the other in the bottom left. So long as these kos continued, the game could not end, but it was so close that Black could not afford to add a stone inside his territory to finish off either ko.
        This was the 24th no-contest in an official tournament at the Nihon Ki-in. Eleven of them were from quadruple kos, ten from triple kos, and one from a quintuple ko. The other two were from “chosei” or “eternal (or long) life” (an example is given on page 185 of The Go Players Almanac). Chosei is a hypothetical position that first occurred in a professional game in 1993 and then again in 2009. According to Wikipedia, it also appeared in a Korean game in 2013. Incidentally,  a chosei is embedded in the floor of the concourse of Ichigaya Station (the closest station to the Nihon Ki-in), just before the ticket gates.

LG Challengers Cup: To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the LG Cup, an international tournament for players 18 and under was held at the Korean Kiwon (Ki-in) in Seoul on April 10 and 11. At stake was a seat in the main LG tournament, which starts on June 8. There were eight players from Korea, including inseis, and four each from Japan and China. Representing Japan were Ichiriki Ryo 7P, Kyo Kagen 3P, Fujisawa Rina 2P, and Mutsuura Yuta 1P. Three of these players were eliminated in the first round, but Kyo Kagen made it to the second day; he lost to the eventual winner of the tournament, Byan Sang-il 3P of Korea, in the semifinals.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Ida fights back in Judan; Yamashita keeps sole lead in Honinbo League; Promotions; Crazy Stone wins computer go tournament

Sunday March 29, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent

Ida fights back in Judan: 
Ida Atsushi 8P suffered some setbacks recently but he also won his first open title, as detailed in our last report,
2015.03.29_Takao-Shinji-9pand he seems to be taking his cue from
 the latter. In the second game of the 53rd Judan title, Ida (W) defeated Takao Shinji Judan (left) by resignation after 220 moves, so he has evened the score in the match at 1-1. Takao fell behind when he missed the best move in a fight: he read a variation out correctly for 17 moves but hallucinated about the resultThe game was played on March 26 at the Old Tanaka Family Residence in Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture. This is a three-story Western-style brick house built during the Taisho period (1912-26), with a Japanese-style building, tea house and garden being added later. The whole complex was designated a Nationally Registered Tangible Cultural Asset in 2006. The game was played in the teahouse. The third game will be played on April 9.

Yamashita keeps sole lead in Honinbo League: The last game of the sixth round in the 70th Honinbo League 2015.03.29_yamashitawas played on March 26. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B, right) beat Ryu Shikun 9P by resignation. He improved his score to 5-1 and hung on to the sole lead. All the games in the final round will be played on April 2. Two other players, Ida Atsushi 8P and Cho U 9P, are on 4-2 and so still have a chance of winning the league. Cho U plays Yamashita in the final round; if Yamashita wins, he becomes the challenger; if Cho wins, he will be tied with Yamashita and could meet him in a play-off. The word is “could,” because if Ida wins his final game against Yo Seiki 7P, creating a three-way tie, only the top two-ranked players qualify for a play-off, which would mean Ida and Yamashita. If a play-off is necessary, it will be held on April 6.

To 8-dan (as of March 27): Kurotaki Masanori (150 wins)
To 3-dan (as of March 24): Kyo Kagen (40 wins)

2015.03.29_crazy-stoneCrazy Stone wins computer go tournament: The 8th UEC Cup Computer Go Tournament was held at the Electrical Communications University in Chofu City in Tokyo on March 14 and 15 with 22 programs competing. In the preliminary tournament, the programs that  won the 6th and 7th cups, Crazy Stone (developed by Remy Coulom of France) and Zen (developed by Team DepZen of Japan) took first and second place in the seven-round Swiss System preliminary tournament, but Zen suffered an upset loss in the quarterfinals of the knock-out stage. Zen is rated 5- or 6-dan on KGS, but it lost to Nomitan, a Japanese program rated as 2- or 3-dan on KGS. In the final, Crazy Stone beat DolBaram, a Korean program developed by Lim Jae-bum. Two commemorative games were played with Cho Chikun (25th Honinbo Chikun) on March 17. Taking four stones, DolBaram won, but on three stones Zen lost.

Categories: John Power Report

The Power Report: Ida surrenders lead in Honinbo league to Yamashita; Ida wins NHK Cup; Meijin League; Go lessons in train station; Iyama defends Kisei title; 57-year gap in women’s game; Retirements

Wednesday March 25, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent2015.03.25_Ida-Atsushi

Ida surrenders lead in Honinbo league to Yamashita: Ida Atsushi 8P (right) held the sole lead after the first four rounds in the 70th Honinbo League and seemed to be headed for a rematch with Iyama Yuta Honinbo. However, he has stumbled badly in the latter part of the league, with successive losses. As reported previously, he lost his fifth-round game with Kono Rin 9P in February. In his sixth-round game with Takao Shinji Tengen, played on March 12, Ida (W) lost by resignation. This follows on his loss to Takao in the first game of the Judan title match. Takao already had no chance of retaining his league place, so, as the Japanese idiom has it, Ida was “kicked by a dead horse.” Go Weekly conjectured that Takao perhaps wanted to make sure Ida didn’t get into the habit of winning against him. On 4-1, Yamashita Keigo finds himself in similar position to last year, that is, in the sole lead after five rounds, with the difference that he has already got his game with Ida out of the way. Ida is on 4-2 and his remaining game is against Yo Seiki 7P. Yamashita has two games left and will play Ryu Shikun 9P and Cho U 9P. Cho and Kono are both on 3-2 and also have a chance of winning the league outright or ending in a tie for first.

Ida wins NHK Cup: Although he lost two important games in the Honinbo League and the first Judan game, not everything went wrong for Ida Atsushi recently. In the final of the 62nd NHK Cup, telecast on March 15, Ida beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P and set a new record for the youngest player to win this title. Ida is 20 and he beat the 17-year-old Ichiriki. The game was a fiercely fought one, but Ida, playing black,
 forced Ichiriki to resign after 257 moves. This is Ida’s first win in an official tournament.

2015.03.25_kono-rinMeijin League: Two games were played in the 40th Meijin League on March 12. Kono Rin 9P (W, left) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation and Murakawa Daisuke Oza (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by resignation.  Kono and Murakawa both go to 3-1 and share the provisional lead. Another game was played on March 19. Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by 8.5 points. Ko joins Kono and Murakawa on 3-1. They are followed by two players on 2-1: Yamashita Keigo and Takao Shinji.

Go lessons in train station: The headline is a little misleading, but that’s how Go Weekly reported it. To celebrate the 120th anniversary of the opening of the Japan Railway station at Ichigaya (the closest station to the Nihon Ki-in), go lectures and teaching games by professionals were staged in an Italian restaurant on the second floor of the building over the station on March 6 and 7. Around 30 people attended the introductory lectures given by Mizuma Toshifumi 7P. About the same number of people played teaching games with five professionals. Not only were these events free of charge, there were also complimentary drinks and snacks.

Iyama defends Kisei title: Iyama Yuta (right) emerged from one of the worst slumps of his career just in time for the 7th game of the 39th Kisei 2015.03.25_iyama-yutatitle match. After Iyama started the match with three wins, Yamashita fought back. Last year, the Kisei title match between these two followed the same pattern, but Yamashita ran out of steam in the sixth game, letting Iyama clinch his title defence. This year, Yamashita won three games in a row and his momentum seemed to be unstoppable. There were bad omens for Iyama. At the end of last year, he took a 2-1 lead in both the Oza and Tengen title matches, but went on to lost both by 2-3. Now he had missed three chances to defend his Kisei title. In short, he had missed seven chances to clinch a title win. Also, in the past there have been nine best-of-sevens in which one player won the first three games and the other the next three and in six cases the player making the comeback has won the seventh. It’s unlikely that players pay as much attention to statistics like these as go journalists or fans, but Iyama was certainly looking vulnerable. The game was played at the Ryugon inn in Minami Uonuma City in Niigata Prefecture on March 19 and 20. Being the seventh game, the nigiri to decide the colors was held again, and Iyama drew black. It may sound like a contradiction, but he played calmly but aggressively. Yamashita also fought hard, so the game became a very complicated one, with strategic sacrifices being made by both sides. The turning point seems to have come when Iyama played a move that looked like bad style but that cut off some white stones and made them heavy. They became a burden on Yamashita, and thereafter Iyama held the initiative. Despite attempts to complicate the game by white, he held on to the lead and won by 5.5 points after 216 moves. This is Iyama’s third Kisei title in a row and his 28th title overall. He also retains his quadruple crown. Having turned the corner with this win, he will probably face his Honinbo and Meijin defences with renewed confidence. The Age of Iyama continues!
2015.03.25_ Sugiuchi Kazuko
57-year gap in women’s game: Sugiuchi Kazuko 8P (left) is 88 years old but still an active player (as is her husband Masao, who is six years older). In the final of Preliminary A in the Women’s Honinbo tournament, Sugiuchi (B) beat Nagashima Kozue 2P, who is aged 31, by 2.5 points, so she won a place in the main tournament for the first time in 15 years. Sugiuchi won the predecessor of this tournament, the Women’s Championship, four times in a row (from 1953 to 1956). I don’t know what the record age gap is (it’s probably held by her husband), but it would be nice to see a game between Sugiuchi Kazuko and the 16-year-old Fujisawa Rina.

Retirements: Two players are retiring as of March 31. They are Su Kaiseki 7P and Sato Machiko 2P. Both will be promoted by one rank. Su was born in Shanghai on September 22, 1948 and qualified as a pro at the Nihon Ki-in in 1968. He reached 7-dan in 2000. Sato was born on January 20, 1949. She became a disciple of Kitani Minoru, qualified as a pro in 1972 and was promoted to 2-dan in 1981. She is the wife of Sato Masaharu 9P.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report (Part 2): Korea Makes Good Start In Women’s Tournament; Multiple Tie In Meijin League; Two Young Players Make NHK Cup Final; Promotions; Obituary: Okubo Ichigen

Monday March 9, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Korea Makes Good Start In Women’s Tournament: The first round of the 5th Huanglong Shuangdeng Cup World Women’s Team Championship was held in the city2015.03.08_Women’s Tournament of Meiyan in Jiangsu Province. It is run along similar lines to the Nong Shim Cup, but is split up into just two stages. Korea made a great start when O Jonga 2P won the first five games, but China won the final two games. The second round starts on April 5. Results are:
Game 1 (March 1). O Jonga (Korea) (W) beat Okuda Aya 3P (Japan) by resig.
Game 2 (March 2). O (B) beat Li He 5P (China) by resig.
Game 3 (March 3). O (W) beat Kibe Natsuki 1P (Japan) by resig.
Game 4 (March 4). O (W) beat Wang Chenxing 5P (China) by resig.
Game 5 (March 5). O (W) beat Fujisawa Rina 2P (Japan) by resig. (photo)
Game 6 (March 6). Song Ronghui 5P (China) beat O by 2.5 points.
Game 7 (March 7). Song (B) beat Hoshiai Shiho 1P (Japan) by resig.

Multiple Tie In Meijin League: One game was played in the 40th Meijin League on March 5. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Cho U 9P by 5.5 points. Yamashita improved his score to 2-1 and Cho dropped to 1-2. Yamashita shares the lead with four other players: Kono Rin, Takao Shinji, Murakawa Daisuke, and Ko Iso.

Two Young Players Make NHK Cup Final: Probably not many fans predicted the finalists in the 62nd NHK cup. In the first semifinal, telecast on March 1, the 17-year-old Ichiriki Ryo (W) defeated quadruple title-holder Iyama Yuta by resignation. Ichiriki played brilliantly in the middle-game fighting. Ichiriki made his debut in the NHK Cup this year and so far has won five games in a row, all with whit2015.03.08_Okubo Ichigene. In his last two games before the semifinal, he beat Kono Rin 9P and Takao Shinji 9P. The second semifinal was telecast on March 8. Playing black, the 20-year-old Ida Atsushi 8P (he turns 21 on March 15) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 6.5 points. In the third round, Ida eliminated the winner of the last three NHK cups, Yuki Satoshi 9P.

To 9-dan: Hoshino Masaki (200 wins)
To 3-dan: Tsuruta Kazushi (40 wins)

Obituary: Okubo Ichigen
Okubo Ichigen 9P (right) died of pneumonia on March 2. Born on March 15, 1929, Okubo became a disciple of (Ms) Masubuchi Tatsuko 8P. He made 1-dan in 1944 and reached 9-dan in 1968. He retired in 1999. He won the rating tournament in 1948 and 1950. In 1965, he played in the final of the Oza tournament, but lost 0-2 to Handa Dogen. He won a number of Kido Prizes during his career. In the late 60s or early 70s, he made a long instruction tour of North America that was a bit of a landmark at the time.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report (Part 1): Tuo Wins New Year’s Cup; Yamashita Catching Up In Kisei Title Match; Xie Wins First Game Of Women’s Meijin; Takao Makes Good Start In Judan Defense; China Wins Nong Shim Cup

Sunday March 8, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent2015.03.08_Tuo Jiaxi

Tuo Wins New Year’s Cup: The CCTV New Year’s Cup is a TV tournament held to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Last year it was upgraded to an international tournament, with a player each being invited from Japan and Korea. Last year it was won by Shi Yue 9P of China. Murakawa Daisuke 7P, who participated because the original invitee from Japan, Iyama Yuta, was too busy with the Kisei title match, took second place after scoring a win over Yi Sedol. Murakawa took part again this year. In the first round, he lost to Tuo Jiaxi 9P (right) of China by half a point. In this irregular knock-out tournament, Tuo advanced to the final, and Murakawa played Kim Jiseok 9P of Korea, who drew a bye in the first round. Kim won this game but lost to Tuo in the final. The prizes are 800,000, 400,000, and 200,000 yuan. Although he lost both games, Murakawa played well (his loss to Tuo was an upset late in the game), and a team in the Chinese B League made him an offer to play on their top board. Click here for Go Game Guru’s report, which includes game records.

Yamashita Catching Up In Kisei Title Match: The fifth game of the 39th Kisei title match was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on February 25 and 26. Playing white, Yamashita won by resignation after 194 moves. This is his second wins after three losses, so he needs just one more win to even the score. The sixth game will be played on March 11 and 12. After both sides set up moyos, Yamashita made a shallow reduction of Black’s bottom moyo with White 16. Iyama made a sharp attack, so Yamashita plunged further into Black’s moyo. After White settled his group, the focus of the game became Black’s attempt to reduce White’s moyo. In the extensive fighting that followed, White broke into Black’s top right moyo and took the lead. Yamashita: ‘Last year I lost the match in the sixth game, so I hope to go further this year.’ Iyama: ‘I made lots of simple mistakes. I hope to play a little more solidly.’

Xie Wins First Game Of Women’s Meijin: The first game of the 27th Women’s Meijin best-of-five title match was held at the Osaka University of Commerce in Higashi (East) Osaka City on March 4. Xie Yimin made a good start in her quest for eight titles in a row; playing 2015.03.08_Ida Atsushiwhite, she beat Suzuki Ayumi 6P by resignation after 248 moves. The second game will be played on March 11.

Takao Makes Good Start In Judan Defense: The first game of the Mori Building 53rd Judan tournament title match, to give it its full name, was played at the same venue as the first Women’s Meijin game though on the following day. The defending champion Takao Shinji, playing white, beat Ida Atsushi 8P (left) by resignation after 198 moves. Takao seized the initiative and avoided letting Ida drag the game into the kind of confused fighting that is Ida’s forte. The second game will be played on March 26. This is the fifth year that the first games of the Women’s Meijin and Judan titles have been played in tandem

China Wins Nong Shim Cup: The third round of the Nong Shim Cup was held in Shanghai at the beginning of
this month. Lian Xiao, the fourth batter for China, finished off the opposition in the third game of this round, so Shi Yue of China didn’t have to play. At the start of the round, Iyama Yuta briefly raised Japan’s hopes with his second win, following his win at the end of the second round, but he fell to Kim Jiseok in his next game.
Results in this round:
Game 11 (March 3). Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) (B) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by resig.
Game 12 (March 4). Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) (B) beat Iyama by 4.5 points.
Game 13 (March 5). Lian Xiao 7P (China) (W) beat Kim by resig.

Tomorrow: Korea Makes Good Start In Women’s Tournament; Multiple Tie In Meijin League; Two Young Players Make NHK Cup Final; Promotions; Obituary: Okubo Ichigen

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Ida loses sole lead in Honinbo League; Yamashita keeps his Kisei challenge alive

Wednesday February 25, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Ida loses sole lead in Honinbo League: Ida Atsushi 8P (right) seemed to be heading inexorably for a rematch with Iyama Yuta Honinbo,2015.02.24_Ida-Atsushi but he finally stumbled in the fifth round of the 70th Honinbo League. In a game played on February 19, Kono Rin 9P (W) beat him by resignation. Ida’s loss means that Yamashita Keigo 9P pulls even with him on 4-1; we might see another play-off between these two. Cho U 9P and Kono, both on 3-2, are also in contention. In another game played on the same day, Yo Seiki 7P picked up his second win when he beat Ryu Shikun 9P; playing white, he forced a resignation. Yo improves to 2-3 and has an outside chance of keeping his league place. Ryu and Takao Shinji 9P, both on 1-4, have lost their places.

2015.02.24_Yamashita-KeigoYamashita keeps his Kisei challenge alive: Yamashita Keigo (left) finally picked up his first win in the 39th Kisei title match and survived his first kadoban (a game that can lose a series). The fourth game was held at the Zagyoso. The Zagyoso (which literally means ‘fishing-while-seated-villa’) was the retirement villa of a famous statesman, Saionji Kinmochi, who led the Japanese delegation at the Versailles peace conference; it was moved from its original location in Shizuoka to Meiji Village, a theme park in Inuyama City in Aichi Prefecture that recreates traditional Japanese buildings. The game was played on February 19 and 20. Iyama (White) took the lead in the middle game when Yamashita made a misreading about a life-and-death position. His group didn’t die, but he had to add an extra stone and so fell behind. However, Iyama slipped up with an oversight of his own when he tried to wrap up the game. Yamashita played a brilliant atekomi tesuji and pulled off an upset. He won by 2.5 points after 224 moves. Yamashita will be greatly encouraged by this win, but, on 1-3, he is still in a tough position. The fifth game, to be played on February 25 and 26, will show whether he has really changed the flow of the match.

To 2-dan: Komatsu Daiki (30 wins). Komatsu is the son of Komatsu Hideki 9P and Komatsu Hideko 4P. The promotion took effect on the 17th.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Iyama close to defending Kisei title; Ida to challenge for Judan title; Meijin League; Honinbo League; Promotions

Tuesday February 17, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama close to defending Kisei title:  The third game of the 39th Kisei title match was held at the Bella Vista Sakaigahama Hotel in 2015.02.17_Yamashita-KeigoOnomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, on February 5 and 6. Yamashita Keigo 9P (right) held his own in the fighting and in fact finished the middle game with a slight edge over the titleholder, but he slipped up in the endgame. Playing black, Iyama Yuta Kisei secured a win by 1.5 points. This was his third successive win, so Yamashita will face his first kadoban in the fourth game. Fortunately for him, there is a two-week break, so he has time to recover mentally from his bad start. The game will be played on February 19 and 20.

2015.02.17_Ida AtsushiIda to challenge for Judan titleThe play-off to decide the challenger for the 53rd Judan title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on February 5. Playing black, Ida Atsushi 8P (left) defeated Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resignation after 137 moves. The title match with Takao Shinji will start on March 5. This will be Ida’s second challenge for a top-seven title.

Meijin League: The February round, which is the third round, of the 40th Meijin League has already been completed. The two undefeated players, Takao Shinji Tengen and Ko Iso 8P, both lost their games, so there is now a four-way tie for first. Takao and Ko are joined by Cho U 9P and Murakawa Daisuke Oza. Third-round results are given below.
(February 5) Cho U (B) beat Takao Shinji by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by resig.
(February 9) Murakawa Daisuke (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
(February 12) So Yokoku 9P (B) beat Ko Iso by resig.

Honinbo League: Yamashita Keigo 9P is keeping up the pressure on the leader of the 70th Honinbo League, Ida Atsushi 8P. Yamashita 2015.02.17_KonoRinwon his fifth-round game, so he goes to 4-1. Ida is undefeated and will meet Kono Rin 9P (right) in the fifth round on February 19. Cho U 9P also won his fifth-round game and, on 3-2, is next in line. Both Yamashita and Cho have already lost to Ida, so they have to rely on other players to pull him back.
(February 12) Cho U 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji Tengen by resig.; Yamashita Keigo (W) beat Mimura Tomoyasu 9P by 3.5 points.

To 8-dan: Rin Shien (150 wins)
To 4-dan: (Ms.) Kim Hyon-jon (50 wins)

Categories: John Power Report

The Power Report: Iyama Extends Lead in Kisei Title Match; Xie Defends Women’s Kisei Title; Iyama Tops Prize-Money List for 2014; Annual Promotions

Wednesday February 4, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Extends Lead in Kisei Title Match: The second game of the 39th Kisei title match was held at the Hachinohe Park Hotel in 2015.02.04_Iyama-YutaHachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, on January 29 and 30. Playing white, Iyama Yuta (right) won by resignation after 228 moves. This gives him a 2-0 lead over the challenger, Yamashita Keigo 9P. The third game, scheduled for February 5 and 6, is close to being a must-win affair for Yamashita if he is going to stop Iyama from winning the title for the third year in a row. The game got off to an interesting start, with Yamashita coming up with a new variation in an old joseki. Iyama showed his flexibility, however, by playing a bad-shape move that actually worked well for him. Early in the middle game, Iyama went on the offensive, and Yamashita found himself forced into playing a territorial strategy that didn’t suit his style. Having fallen behind a little, he did his best to catch up by attacking aggressively, but Iyama countered with the strongest moves and finally took a decisive lead. When Yamashita resigned, Iyama had a lead on the board.

2015.02.04_womens-kiseiXie Defends Women’s Kisei Title: The second game of the 18th DoCoMo Cup Women Kisei title match was held in the Ryusei Studio (in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo) on January 29. This was a do-or-die game for the challenger, as this title is a best-of-three, but she was outfought by the defending champion, Xie Yimin (left). After 273 moves, Xie, taking black, won by 5.5 points. She won this title for the third year in a row and extended her overall tally to 19, eight ahead of the next woman player (Aoki Kikuyo 8P, with 11).

Iyama Tops Prize-Money List for 2014: Even though he lost two titles last year, Iyama Yuta still earned enough in winnings to top the prize-money list for the fourth year in a row. It was the third year in a row that he topped 100 million yen. Only three other players have reached this mark: Cho Chikun (five times), Cho U (four times) and Kobayashi Koichi (three times). The top ten for 2014 are given below. Fujisawa Rina, aged 16, is probably the youngest player ever to make the list. Xie Yimin made the best ten for the seventh year in a row.
1. Iyama Yuta: ¥140,788,528 (about $1,203,320)
2. Kono Rin: ¥44,983,332
3. Takao Shinji: ¥37,903,600
4. Yamashita Keigo: ¥30,779,458
5. Ida Atsushi: ¥19,210,200
6. Ichiriki Ryo: ¥17,002,800
7. Fujisawa Rin: ¥16,736,161
8. Hane Naoki: ¥13,477,000
9. Xie Yimin: ¥12,931,771
10. Cho U: ¥12,470,600

Annual Promotions: Besides the promotions through the cumulative-win system, a number of promotions are made every year based on prize-money winnings in the top seven titles: the top 6-dan and the top two in the ranks underneath are promoted one rank. The following promotions based on 2014 winnings are dated to January 1.
        To 7-dan: Ohashi Naruya
        To 6-dan: Tajima Shingo, Shiraishi Yuichi
        To 5-dan: Muramatsu Hiroki, Suzuki Shinji
        To 4-dan: Hirata Tomoya , Obuchi Kotaro
        To 3-dan: Takeuchi Kosuke, Numadate Sakiya
        To 2-dan: Tanaka Nobuyuki, Koyama Kuya

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Xie Makes Good Start in Women’s Kisei Defense; Honinbo League Update; Judan challenger: Kobayashi Satoru or Ida

Tuesday January 27, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Xie Makes Good Start in Women’s Kisei Defense: The first game of the 18th DoCoMo Cup Women’s Kisei title match, a best-of-three,2015.01.27_Kazuko was played at the Hotel Sunlife Garden in Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, on January 22. Konishi Kazuko 8P (right) of the Kansai Ki-in is making her first appearance in a title match (she has reached the finals of three knock-out titles but lost each time). Xie has held this title for four of the the last five years. In the nigiri to decide colors, Xie drew white. Konishi played positively in the opening and seized the initiative, but Xie managed to set up the kind of confused fight in which she excels. Konishi failed to find the best move in the crucial middle-game fight, and this gave Xie a chance to upset her lead. Konishi resigned after 136 moves. The second game will be played on January 29. It’s a must-win game for Konishi if she is to take the match to a deciding game on February 2.

Honinbo League Update: Two games were played in the 70th Honinbo League on January 22. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resignation and Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P, also by resignation. Yamashita goes to 3-1, keeping him in second place behind Ida Atsushi 8P (4-0). Kono evened his score to 2-2, and both Takao and Yo, on 1-3, will now have to focus on keeping their league places.

Judan challenger: Kobayashi Satoru or Ida: The second semifinal of the 53rd Judan tournament was held in Nagoya on January 22. It2015.01.27_shida tatsuya was contested by two of the leading young players at the Central Japan branch of the Nihon Ki-in, Ida Atsushi 8P and Shida Tatsuya 7P (right). Ida was the top new star of last year, winning the Honinbo League on debut. Although he lost the title match to Iyama Yuta, he seems to be on course to challenge again. Shida is older (24 to Ida’s 20) and was the top young player in Nagoya until Ida emerged. Shida won the Hiroshima Aluminium Cup in his second year as a pro (2007) and came second in the Agon Kiriyama Cup in 2013. Shida had won their two previous encounters, but in the last year Ida has gotten a lot stronger. Taking black in this game, he forced a resignation, so he will meet Kobayashi Satoru in the play-off to decide the challenger to Takao Shinji.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report