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The Power Report (Part 2): Murakawa Wins Kisei B League; Mukai Leads Women’s Meijin League; Iyama Rebounds In Meijin Defense; Iyama Off to Good Start In Judan

Thursday October 23, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent2014.10.23_Murakawa Daisuke

Murakawa Wins Kisei B League: All the fifth-round games of the 39th Kisei Leagues were played on October 2. In the B League, Murakawa Daisuke 7-dan (right) of the Kansai Ki-in had stumbled in the fourth round, but he made no mistake in the fifth: taking black, he beat Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by 3.5 points and secured first place. His only remaining rival, Yoda Norimoto 9P, also won his final game, so he ended up with the same score, 4-1, as Murakawa, but the latter’s number one rank in the league gave him priority. In the A League, Yamashita Keigo made a clean sweep. He will meet Murakawa in a play-off on November 13.
Full results:
(A League) Yamashita (W) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resig.; Takao Shinji Judan (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.; Yuki Satoshi 9P (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig.
(B League) Murakawa (B) beat Cho Chikun by resig; Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) beat Cho Riyu 8P by 5.5 points; Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation. Hane and Ichiriki drop out of the A League and the two Chos drop out of the B League.

2014.10.23_mukai chiakiMukai Leads Women’s Meijin League: Mukai Chiaki, Women’s Honinbo, retains the lead on 3-0. Kato Keiko 6P and Aoki Kikuyo 8P are in second place on 3-1.
(Oct. 2) Kato Keiko 6P (W) beat Ishii Akane 2P by resig.
(Oct. 10) Aoki Kikuyo 8P (B) beat Mannami Nao 3P by 4.5 points.

Iyama Rebounds In Meijin Defense: Fans were starting to speculate about the possibility of a new Meijin when the challenger Kono Rin took a lead after the third game, but Iyama Yuta Meijin (right) has bounced back with two wins, so he is now in the better position. The fourth game was played at the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto in Kyoto City on October 6 and 7. This was a very important game for Iyama, as a loss would put him in a very disadvantageous position. Although there was no 2014.10.23_IyamaYutamove by Kono (white) that could be labeled a mistake, Iyama gradually took the lead in the second day’s play. In retrospect, Kono’s strategy in pulling out some stones inside Iyama’s territory may have been dubious. Although the way he pulled them out was clever, he provided Iyama with a weak group to target. This let Iyama build up strength in the centre that turned the game in his favor. Iyama secured a safe lead — a few points more than the komi on the board — but as usual he didn’t let up. He set up a ko and used his superiority in ko threats to force a resignation after 217 moves.

With the match tied 2-all, it had become a best-of-three. The fifth game was played at the Atami Sekitei inn in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture on October 15 and 16. It was a very interesting game, with Kono (black) playing an unusual variation of a joseki and Iyama coming up with a new move in the same joseki. The game developed into a contest between Kono’s territory and Iyama’s thickness. It was decided by a lapse in reading on Kono’s part: he overlooked a move with the double threat of a two-approach-move ko for one of his groups and a direct ko for another. The move wasn’t actually played, as Kono woke up to it belatedly and amended his play, but he had to let Iyama set up the two-approach-move ko. Such a ko would not usually be a big problem, but in this game Iyama had an overwhelming advantage in ko threats. Kono had to ignore a ko threat, but that let Iyama eventually kill a group. Kono resigned after White 176. The sixth game will be played on October 29 and 30.

Iyama Off to Good Start In Judan: If Iyama manages to defend his Meijin title, he will once again have a chance to aim at a simultaneous (that is to say, a genuine) grand slam next year. He needs to keep defending his six current titles, of course, and also to win the Judan title. He has made a good start in the 53rd Judan tournament. On October 10, playing white, he defeated Yoda Norimoto 9P by resig. in the first round (which has 20 players, four of whom are seeded into the second round). He needs to win three more games to become the challenger.

Second of three reports. Tomorrow: Murakawa Eliminated From Samsung Cup; Fujisawa Rin Increases Lead In Women’s Honinbo; Iyama Wins Third Agon Kiriyama Cup; Two Landmarks For So Yokoku; Other Promotions; Obituary: Miura Hiroshi

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The Power Report (Part 1): Nihon Ki-In Celebrates 90th Anniversary; Yo Seiki Wins 1st Yucho Cup; Ryusei Cup Winner Kono Gets Another Chance; 70th Honinbo League Starts

Wednesday October 22, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent2014.10.17_nihon-kiin-celebration

Nihon Ki-In Celebrates 90th Anniversary: The Nihon Ki-in held a party on October 3 at the Grand Hill Ichigaya hotel to celebrate its 90th anniversary with about 350 people in attendance. The Nihon Ki-in was founded in 1924 under the leadership of Baron Okura Kishichiro. It started out with 40 members and now has 320. There are a large number of domestic tournaments, some with very impressive prize money. The Nihon Ki-in has also played a major role in realizing Baron Okura’s dream of spreading go around the world. All the top professionals were in attendance and introduced on the stage, but the first to appear was Yo Seiki 7-dan of the Kansai Ki-in, who had won a tournament final played earlier this day (see item below). photo: Wada Norio, Pres. of the Board of Directors of the Ki-in, Iyama
Yuta (on his right) and other worthies cracking over a wood barrel of sake with mallets. This is a custom on auspicious occasions, on achieving landmarks etc. and especially at the New Year. They will drink some of the sake with square wooden cups.

Yo Seiki Wins 1st Yucho Cup: This was an unofficial tournament held to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Nihon Ki-in, though2014.10.22_yo-seiki the numbering suggests it will continue. It is organized by the Nihon Ki-in and the main sponsor is the post office bank, the Yucho Bank, with assistance from the Asahi newspaper. It is open to professionals and inseis (apprentice professionals) 20 and under and 7-dan and under. Rules are NHK style (30 seconds per move plus ten minutes’ thinking time to be used in one-minute units). Thirty-one professionals and 11 inseis played in the qualifying tournament, which started on June 11. One insei, Shibano Toramaru, who made his debut as a 1-dan pro in July, won a place in the 16-seat main tournament. In the final, Yo Seiki 7-dan (right) of the Kansai Ki-in beat Motoki Katsuya 3-dan to claim the one million yen first prize.

2014.10.22_kono-rinRyusei Cup Winner Kono Gets Another Chance: The final of the 23rd Ryusei tournament was held a couple of weeks ago (the game is recorded, then telecast, and Go Weekly is coy about the date it was played). Kono Rin 9P (B, at left) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resignation. This is Kono’s second win in this tournament. There was a surprise waiting for Kono after the game. The sponsors also sponsor a Chinese version of the title, and they have arranged for a Japan-China Ryusei tournament.  Kono will play Gu Li, winner of the 5th Chinese Ryusei tournament, in December.

2014.10.22_Mimura-Tomoyasu70th Honinbo League Starts: The 70th Honinbo League got off to a start on October 2. The first game matched two players in their 40s who were making a comeback after a period out in the cold. Victory went to Mimura Tomoyasu 9P (back after an absence of four years, at right), who beat Ryu Shikun 9P (out for 11 years). Mimura had black and won by resig. Other results are given below. The most notable is perhaps Ida’s win over former Honinbo Cho U; Ida may have lost the title match to Iyama Yuta, but he is one of the favorites in the league.
(Oct. 9) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.
(Oct. 10). Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(October 16) Ida Atsushi 8P (W) beat Cho U 9P by 3.5 points

First of three reports. Tomorrow: Murakawa Wins Kisei B League; Mukai Leads Women’s Meijin League; Iyama Rebounds In Meijin Defense; Iyama Off to Good Start In Judan

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The Power Report: Kisei Leagues; Kono Takes Lead in Meijin Title Match; Women’s Meijin League; Ichiriki Wins 39th King of the New Stars Title

Monday September 29, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Kisei Leagues: One game was played in the 39th Kisei A League on September 11. Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resignation. 2014.09.29_Murakawa DaisukeBoth players are now on 2-2 and will be fighting to keep their places in the league in the final round. Incidentally, this was Takao’s second win against Kono in four days. Kono has gone into a bit of a trough after his winning streak of 19 games came to an end. A game was played in the B League on September 18. Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 7P (right) by resig. This game has an effect on the standings. Murakawa missed his first chance to win the league and is now tied on 3-1 with Kobayashi and Yoda Norimoto 9P. However, if he wins his final game, Murakawa will still win the league, thanks to his number-one ranking. If he loses, however, Yoda is next in line: if he wins his final game, he will win the league regardless of Kobayashi’s result, as he is ranked number two. If both Murakawa and Yoda lose and Kobayashi wins, he will win the league. Pairings in the final round are: Murakawa vs. Cho Chikun 9P (1-3), Yoda vs. Cho Riyu 8P (1-3), and K
obayashi vs. Yuki Satoshi 9P (1-3).

Kono Takes Lead in Meijin Title Match: Kono Rin has shown that he is going to give Iyama Yuta a real run for his money. After losing the opening game, Kono (left) won the next two to take the lead in the 39th 2014.09.29_Kono RinMeijin best-of-seven title match. The second game was played at the Chokoro inn in Hawai Hot Spring in the town of Yurihama in Tottori Prefecture on September 18 & 19. The game featured fierce fighting from the start, with almost no fuseki. In the midst of a center fight, Iyama (B) played a move he regretted, and the game started to tilt in Kono’s favor. He cut off a large black group that couldn’t get two eyes, so Iyama resigned on move 200. Picking up your first win in a two-day game is important for your self-confidence. Perhaps that was reflected in Kono’s play in the third game, which was held in Jozankei Hot Spring, Sapporo City, Hokkaido on September 25 & 26 (the name of the venue has 14 characters in it and I have no idea how to read it).
Playing black, Kono secured a resignation after 169 moves. In the middle game, Iyama seemed to make a miscalculation about the importance of a ko he let Kono set up: he thought he could handle it more easily than turned out to be the case. This turned the game in Kono’s favor. He now has the initiative in the match. The fourth game, scheduled for October 6 and 7, will be very important
for Iyama’s chances of keeping his sextuple crown.

Women’s Meijin League: The 27th Women’s Meijin League is close to the halfway mark, with all but one game in the third round having been played. Two players are undefeated: Mukai Chiaki, Women’s Honinbo, who has played three games, and Mannami Nao 3-dan,
 who has played two. Recent results: (Sept. 18) Aoki Kikuyo 8P (W) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by 3.5 points. (Sept. 24) Mukai Chiaki (B) beat Ishii2014.09.29_Ichiriki Ryo Akane 2P by resig. (Sept. 25) Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) beat Kato Keiko 6P by resig.

Ichiriki Wins 39th King of the New Stars Title: Ichiriki Ryo 7P (right) has set another record, becoming, at 17 years three months, the youngest player to win the King of the New Stars title. The previous record, 17 years five months, was set by Yoda Norimoto 31 years ago. (If you are wondering about Iyama, he never won this title; he disqualified himself at the age of 16 by winning the Agon Kiriyama Cup and earning promotion to 7-dan). Ichiriki defeated Shida Tatsuya 7P 2-1. Only players under 7-dan qualify for this tournament, so this was the last chance for both players (they were promoted during the current term). Game 1 (Sept. 11). Ichiriki (B) by half a point. Game 2 (Sept. 17 ). Shida (B) by resig. Game 3 (Sept. 25). Ichiriki (B) by resig. 

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The Power Report (Part 2): Members of the New Honinbo League; Korean Teen Wins Bingsheng Cup; Takao Becomes Tengen Challenger; Obituary: Hoshikawa Nobuaki 9P; Sasaski Promoted to 9P

Tuesday September 9, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Members of the New Honinbo League: At first, I wrote “new members of the Honinbo league,” but that’s not quite 2014.09.09_Takao Shinjiaccurate. Two of the four vacant places in the 70th League were taken by players who had dropped out of the 69th League. One was Takao Shinji 9P (right), who made a comeback after a disappointing 1-6 in the previous league. The other was Yo Seiki 7P, who just missed out in the previous league with a score of 3-4. They were joined by Mimura Tomoyasu 9P, making a comeback after a gap of four years, and Ryu Shikun 9P, who has been out of the league for 11 years.
Results of the playoffs:
(August 28) Ryu Shikun (W) beat Anzai Nobuaki 6P by resig.
(September 4) Takao Shinji (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 7P by resig.; Mimura Tomoyasu (W) beat Matsumoto Takehisa 7P by resig.; Yo Seiki (W) beat Nakano Hironari 9P by 13.5 points.

2014.09.09_Choi-JungKorean Teen Wins Bingsheng Cup: The 5th Qionglong Mt. Bingsheng Cup (also referred to as ‘Qionglong Cup’ on the Net), a Chinese-sponsored tournament for women players, was held from August 30 to September 3 in Suzhou City in China. The winner was the 17-year-old Choi Jeong 5P (left) of Korea; she beat Rui Naiwei 9P in the final. Two Japanese representatives won in the first round, but were eliminated in the second (there are 16 players in the tournament, so there are four rounds). Xie Yimin 6P beat Oh Yoojin 1P of Korea and Fujisawa Rina 2P scored an excellent win over Song Ronghui 5P, one of the top Chinese players. In the second round, Xie lost to Rui and Fujisawa lost to Lu Jia 2P of China. photo courtesy GoGameGuru; click here for their 2012 interview with Choi.

Takao Becomes Tengen Challenger: The play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta for the 40th Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on September 8. Playing black, Takao Shinji Judan defeated Kono Rin 9P by resignation after 195 moves. Takao will make his first challenge for the Tengen title. The first game will be played on October 24.

Obituary: Hoshikawa Nobuaki 9P
Hoshikawa Nobuaki died on September 2. Born in Ehime Prefecture on July 7, 1951, Hoshikawa was a disciple of Mukai Kazuo 8P. He became 1P at the Kansai Ki-in in 1970 and reached 8P in 1984. He retired in 2010 and was promoted to 9P. He won the Oteai (rating tournament) twice. Three of his children20are also professionals.

Sasaski Promoted to 9P: And in a follow-up to my July 30 report on the passing of Sasaki Tadashi 8P, the Nihon Kiin recently posthumously awarded Mr. Sasaki with the rank of professional nine-dan.

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The Power Report (Part 1): Yamashita Wins Kisei A League; Iyama Defends Gosei Title; Iyama Makes Good Start in Meijin Defense

Monday September 8, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Yamashita Wins Kisei A League: There are no play-offs in the Kisei Leagues, so there is an built-in bias towards upholding the status 2014.09.08_Yamashita Keigo quo. When Yamashita Keigo 9P (right) scored his fourth win in the fourth round of the A League, he won the league. In theory, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P and Kono Rin 9P could both draw level with him on 4-1 after the fifth round if Yamashita loses, but Yamashita is ranked higher, so they can’t catch him.
In the B League, the top-ranked player, Murakawa Daisuke 7P, on 3-0, is the only undefeated player; he also needs only one more win to win the league, so a repeat of the play-off between him and Yamashita to decide the Kisei challenger looks quite possible.(August 28) (A League) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. (B 2014.09.08_Iyama-YutaLeague) Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) beat Cho Riyu 8P by resig.
(September 4) (A League) Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by 2.5 points.

Iyama Defends Gosei Title: For the second year in a row, the Gosei went the full distance, though the course of the match was a little different. Last year, Kono Rin won the first two games and Iyama Yuta the next three. This year, in the 39th Gosei, Kono won the opening game again, but Iyama (left) won the next two before Kono evened the score in the fourth game. The fifth game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 29. When the players drew for colors (nigiri), Kono drew black. Kono took the early lead, but he played too tightly at crucial points in the middle game and allowed Iyama to get back into the game. Immediately after this, however, Iyama made one of his rare blunders, a mistake in timing that allowed Kono to win outright a capturing race that should have become a sente seki for Iyama. After the game, Iyama commented that he could well have resigned at this point, but ironically Kono slipped up soon afterwards, making a number of mistakes in what was some very complicated fighting with both players out of time. Iyama took the lead again and this time held on to it. Kono resigned after 220 moves. After the game, it was hard to tell from the players’ expressions who was the winner. Kono recovered his composure very quickly whereas Iyama looked unhappy for quite a while about his bad play. He commented that he had been outplayed by Kono in both this and the previous year’s matches and that he would have to do better in the upcoming Meijin title match. However, a win is a win, and Iyama has not only maintained his sextuple crown but also kept alive the dream of a grand slam next 2014.09.08_Kono-Rinyear.

Iyama Makes Good Start in Meijin Defense: The first game of the 39th Meijin title match was held at the Hotel Chinzanso in Tokyo on September 4 and 5. Taking white, Iyama Yuta Meijin won by resignation after 212 moves. Both he and the challenger Kono Rin 9P (right) were down to their final minute of byo-yomi. Kono, fresh from his narrow loss to Iyama in the Gosei title match, played positively in the opening, and Iyama admitted later that he had been a little dissatisfied with his position after the opening fight. To make up his lost ground, he launched an aggressive invasion of Kono’s moyo that brought the game back to even. Iyama then took the lead in the middle game when Kono made some moves that were not quite the best. In desperation, Kono set up a ko but did not have enough ko threats to win it, so he had to resign. This game shows how sharp Iyama’s perception is in the middle game: if the opponent slips up even a little, he will take advantage of it. The second game will be played on September 18 and 19.

Tomorrow: Members of the New Honinbo League; Korean Teen Wins Bingsheng Cup; Takao Becomes Tengen Challenger; Obituary: Hoshikawa Nobuaki 9P; Sasaski Promoted to 9P

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The Power Report: Iyama Takes Lead, Then Kono Catches Up In Gosei Title Match; Kono Doing Well In Other Tournaments; Lee Se-Dol Wins TV Asia Cup; Fujisawa Rin To Make First Challenge; 27th Women’s Meijin League; Promotions

Tuesday August 26, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Takes Lead, Then Kono Catches Up In Gosei Title Match: The third game of the 39th Gosei title match was held at 2014.08.26_gosei_rd-03-iyama-konothe Nagaoka Grand Hotel in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, on August 11. This was three weeks after the second game, which is a long gap for a best-of-five. Playing black, the challenger Kono Rin 9-dan (right, in photo) seemed to have a slight advantage when he won a ko and killed a white group fairly early in the game (before move 100), but he made a couple of slack moves later that cost him his chance to wrap up the game. Worse, he made an overly aggressive answer to a white invasion and ended up on the wrong side of a losing capturing race. He resigned on move 204. The fourth game was held on Iyama’s home ground, the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, on August 25, but that didn’t help him. Playing white, Kono forced a resignation after 224 moves. I don’t have any information about the course of the game. The deciding game will be played on Kono’s home ground, the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, on August 29.

2014.08.26_tv-asia-cup-konoKono Doing Well In Other Tournaments: Regardless of whether or not he takes the Gosei title, Kono Rin (left) is the in-form player at the moment in Japan (see the TV Asia Cup report below). As of August 23, his win-loss record was 42-12, a winning record of nearly 78%. He has the most wins by a comfortable margin. On August 4, he won the play-off to become the Meijin challenger, as reported earlier. On August 13, he beat Yoda Norimoto 9-dan in the semifinal of the 40th Tengen tournament, so there is a good chance he will be making yet another challenge to Iyama;  taking white, he won by 6.5 points. (His opponent in the final will be Takao Shinji, who beat Ichiriki Ryo in the other semifinal on August 21.) He has also reached the semifinal of the 21st Agon Kiriyama Cup.

Lee Se-Dol Wins TV Asia Cup: Lee Se-dol (right) had not won an international title for a while, but he is ahead in his ten-game match 2014.08.26_tv-asia-cup-kono-leewith Gu Li and he offered more evidence, if it should be needed, that he is still a force to be reckoned with by winning the 26th TV Asia Cup. In the final, he beat Kono Rin (left, in photo at right). Kono had encouraged Japanese fans by beating the player currently ranked number one in the world, Pak Jung-hwan of Korea, in the semifinal, but he was outmatched by Lee in the final. This is the third time Lee has won this title and the first time for six years. This year the tournament was staged in Beijing.
Full results: Round 1, Game 1 (August 16). Lee Se-dol 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Tao Xinran 5-dan (China) by resig. Round 1, Game 2 (August 16). Kono (B) beat Li Qinchang 1-dan by 1.5 points. (Though just a 1-dan, the 15-year-old Li won the Chinese qualifying tournament telecast on CCTV.) Round 1, Game 3 (August 17). Pak Jung-hwan 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9-dan (Japan) by resig. Semifinal 1 (August 17). Lee (B) beat Iyama Yuta by 2.5 points. Semifinal 2 (August 18) Kono (B) beat Pak by resig. Final (August 19). Lee (W) beat Kono by resig.

Fujisawa Rin To Make First Challenge: The pairing in the play-off to decide the challenger to Mukai Chiaki for the 33rd 2014.08.27_womens-honinbo-okuda-fukisawaWomen’s Honinbo Title was the same as in the final of the new women’s tournament the Aizu Central Hospital Cup: Fujisawa Rina (right) vs. Okuda Aya (left). The result was the same: a win for Fujisawa. The game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 21; taking white, Fujisawa forced a resignation. Fujisawa is bidding to become the female Iyama Yuta, as she is rewriting the record book for youth landmarks. She will be exactly 16 when the first game of the title match is played on October 8 (birthday September 18); the previous youngest challenger was Xie Yimin at 17 years 10 months.

27th Women’s Meijin League: Two games were played in the first round of the 27th Women’s Meijin League on August 21. Kato Keiko 6-dan (B) beat Chinen Kaori 4-dan by 1.5 points and Mukai Chiaki, Women’s Honinbo, (B) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan by 4.5 points.

Promotions: To 9-dan: Mizokami Tomochika (200 wins); To 4-dan: Kanazawa Makoto (50 wins); To 2-dan: Fujimura Yosuke (30 wins).

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The Power Report: Hashimoto Enters Hall of Fame; Celebratiing Go Seigen’s 100th Birthday; Fujisawa Rina Reaches Women’s Honinbo Play-Off; 27th Women’s Meijin League Starts; Kono Rin to Challenge for Meijin Title; 39th Kisei Leagues

Saturday August 9, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Hashimoto Utaro Enters Hall of Fame:At a meeting of the Go Hall of Fame committee on August 18, Hashimoto Utaro (1907-94) was chosen from among eight candidates to be this year’s inductee. Hashimoto (right) is best known for winning the 2nd, 5th, and 6th Honinbo titles and for leading the Kansai Ki-in to independence in 1950. He also won a number of other titles and played in the first Kisei title match in 1977.

Celebrating Go Seigen’s 100th Birthday: A party to celebrate Go Seigen’s 100th birthday was held at the Yomiuri Otemachi Hall in central Tokyo on July 23. It was attended by 400 guests, including many top go players, but unfortunately Go’s health did not allow him to be present. Instead, he sent a video message, which was read out by Ogawa Tomoko 6P. It went: “Thank you for celebrating my 100th birthday. The fact that I am still alive means that there’s a role for me to play, so I will do my best. I believe from my heart that go is useful for world peace. Everyone, please enjoy go.”

Go (left) is currently living in a retirement home with nursing provided in Odawara, where he has made his home in recent decades. This year, as in past years, he visited the venue of the Kisei title match game played in nearby Atami in a wheelchair and met the players.

The party featured an audiovisual presentation of Go’s career, amounting to a history of the middle half of 20th century Japanese go, as he was the central figure on the go scene. Cho U 9P and his wife Kobayashi Izumi 6P then gave a commentary on the first game of the Go Seigen/Kitani Minoru jubango. Next, Yoshihara Yukari 6P played a game on black (no komi) with 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun (Cho won), with commentary by Otake Hideo, Honorary Gosei, and Rin Kaiho, Honorary Tengen.

Fujisawa Rina Reaches Women’s Honinbo Play-Off: In the second semifinal of the 33rd Women’s Honinbo tournament, held on July 28, Fujisawa Rina (right), holder of the Women’s Aizu Cup, defeated Suzuki Ayumi 6-dan (W) by resignation. She will meet Okuda Aya 3P in the play-off to decide the challenger to Mukai Chiaki. Okuda was her opponent in the Aizu Cup. Fujisawa is still only 15, but she has made rapid progress since becoming a pro in 2010.

27th Women’s Meijin League Starts: The first game in the 27th Women’s Meijin League was played on July 28. Mannami Nao 3P (B) beat Ishii Akane 2P by resig.

Kono Rin to Challenge for Meijin Title: All the games in the final round of the 39th Meijin League was held on July 31. After six rounds, Yamashita Keigo had been two points clear of the field, but he missed his first chance to win the league when he lost to Cho U in the seventh round. However, in the eighth round he was still the only player in a position to win the league outright. The only other contenders were Kono Rin (left) and Cho U, who both had two losses and who were playing each other. Taking black, Yamashita lost to Murakawa Daisuke 7P by 6.5 points. Kono (W) beat Cho U by resignation, so he ended up in a tie with Yamashita. In the other games, Takao Shinji Judan (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 4.5 points and Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) beat Ryu Shikun by resignation. After the top two, the places in the league were: Cho (5-3), 3rd; Takao (5-3), 4th; Hane (4-4), 5th; and Murakawa (3-5), 6th. Ryu (3-5), Yuki (2-6) and Ko Iso 8P (2-6) lost their places (Ko had a bye in the last round). The play-off was held at the Nihon Ki-in on Monday, August 4. Kono took revenge for his loss to Yamashita in the fifth round; playing black, he won by half a point after 250 moves. At the age of 33, Kono will now make his first challenge for a big-three title. The first game will be played on September 4 and 5, by which time the Gosei title match, in which Kono is tied one-game each with Iyama Yuta, will be over. As mentioned in our previous report, Kono had a nineteen-game winning streak this year. He is one of the few players to appear in all three leagues this year, and he also tied for first in the previous Meijin League (he lost the play-off to Iyama). Kono’s main success to date is winning the Tengen title three times; he has also won the Ryusei title once, the JAL New Stars title once, and the NEC Cup twice. He seems to be enjoying some of the best form of his career, so he should prove a redoubtable opponent for Iyama.

39th Kisei Leagues: One game was played in the B League on August 7. Yoda Norimoto 9P (W) beat Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by 4.5 points. Yoda is now 3-1, in second place after Murakawa Daisuke 7P (3-0). Cho drops to 1-3, so he is in danger of losing his place.

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The Power Report: Cho Chikun Wins 73rd Title; Meijin League; Kono’s Winning Streak Ends At 19; Iyama Catches Up In Gosei Title Match; Kisei Leagues; Obituary: Sasaki Tadashi

Wednesday July 30, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Cho Chikun Wins 73rd Title:
The final of the fourth Igo Masters Cup was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on July 12. Taking black, 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun (right) defeated Kobayashi Satoru 9P by 6.5 points to win this title for the second time. This is Cho’s 73rd title, so he extends his Japanese record. Incidentally, this was the 59th game between these two; Cho now has a lead of one over Kobayashi.

Meijin League: Kono Rin (left) won his seventh-round game, so he stays in a tie for second with Cho U 9P. Kono and Cho play each other in the final round, so, if Yamashita loses, the winner will meet him in a play-off to decide the challenger.
(July 11) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ryu Shikun 9P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 7P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by resignation.

Kono’s Winning Streak Ends At 19: A loss, to Murakawa Daisuke 7P, in the quarterfinals of the 62nd Oza tournament on July 17 was Kono Rin’s first since mid-April. His record of 19 successive wins is the best winning streak so far this year.

Iyama Catches Up In Gosei Title Match: In the second game of the 39th Gosei title match, played in the Hokkoku Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on 20 July, Iyama Yuta (B) defeated Kono Rin 9P by resignation after 151 moves. This gave him revenge for his loss of the first game in 129 moves. Kono perhaps lost the game because of pessimistic positional judgement:  he believed that the result of the first big fight was unfavorable for him — the players following the game disagreed — so he made a deeper invasion than he would have otherwise. Iyama attacked aggressively and killed a large group. The third game will be played on August 11.
By the way, I need to correct a mistake I made in my report on the first game. I wrote that Kono suffered straight losses last year, but I was confusing this title match with the 2012 Tengen title match, which Kono did lose 0-3. In the 2013 Gosei, he won the first two games, then lost the next three.

Kisei Leagues: The first third-round game in the A League was played on July 11. Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig. This was Hane’s first win after two losses. Ichiriki drops to 0-3; he is having a tough initiation in league play. On July 17, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji Judan by resignation. More games played on July 24 clarified the lead. In the A League, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resignation. Kono (2-1) suffered his first loss, so Yamashita (3-0) is the sole undefeated player. In the B League, Murakawa Daisuke 7P (B) beat Yuki Satoshi by resignation. Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) (2-1) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P (2-1) by 1.5 points, so Murakawa (3-0) is the sole undefeated player. It looks as if we might see a replay of last year’s play-off between Yamashita and Murakawa. The latter’s continued success shows that he is close to joining the top group of tournament players in Japan.

Obituary: Sasaki Tadashi
Sasaki Tadashi 8P died of acute leukemia on July 20. Born on May 28, 1963, Sasaki (right) was a disciple of Sakata Eio, 23rd Honinbo. He became 1-dan in 1980 and reached 8-dan in 2001. Sasaki was very active as a teacher and was well known in Japan. He was also working on a biography of his teacher. According to an obituary article in Go Weekly by his friend the go journalist Akiyama Kenji, Sasaki had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage two years ago; ironically, he was visiting a hospital at the time, so he got prompt treatment. Recently he held a party to celebrate his complete recovery. At such parties, guests are usually given a little present, and Sasaki’s showed his sense of humor, being a hand towel with a picture of a spider’s web on it. He was planning to take a group of disciples to the US Go Congress this year. Akiyama wrote that he first met Sasaki 40 years ago when he was in elementary school. Sasaki introduced himself by handing over a name card detailing his position as an insei. Akiyama thought that this was a bit over the top for an elementary-school pupil, but there was a good reason for it. When returning home late from insei games or watching professional games, Sasaki would often be stopped by policemen and scolded for being out so late, so the name card was his defense. photo by Brian Allen

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The Power Report: Iyama Takes Game 5 To Win Honinbo; Fujisawa Rina Wins First Title; Kono Makes Good Start In Gosei Challenge; Kisei Leagues; Yamashita Misses First Chance To Win 39th Meijin League

Saturday July 12, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Takes Game 5 To Win Honinbo: Iyama Yuta (at right) completed his Honinbo title defense by winning the fifth round to take the title 4-1 over Ida Atsushi in the best-of-seven match. The fifth game was played at the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture on June 30 and July 1. It was a very difficult game featuring attack and counterattack, and the players following the game in the anteroom at the tournament venue had a lot of trouble predicting the moves. The fighting spilled over from the left side into the center and then into the bottom, but eventually came to a peaceful end with Ida (W) capturing some black stones. A tense endgame fight followed, with Ida using up all his time allowance for the first time. Ida had a good position, but on move 198 he missed a move that would have secured him a win by 2.5 or 3.5 points (according to the newspaper commentator, Yo Seiki 7P). Then, on move 212, Ida made a fatal mistake; the move was played in the final minute of byo-yomi after the game recorder had read out ‘nine’. In conducting the 30-second byo-yomi, the recorder reads out ‘ten seconds,’ ‘twenty seconds,’ then ‘one’ to ‘ten’ for the final ten seconds. If he reads out ‘ten,’ the player loses on time. The move Ida played under this pressure let Iyama upset his lead. Iyama increased his lead after that and was ahead by ten points on the board when Ida resigned on move 247. Click here for Younggil An’s game commentary on Go Game Guru.
In winning the Honinbo League, Ida Atsushi added to his budding reputation for deep and accurate reading and fighting ability, but in this title series Iyama showed that he was more than a match for him. This is Iyama’s 24th title and he has also maintained his sextuple crown, currently holding six out of seven of the major Japanese go titles (the only one he doesn’t currently hold is the Judan). Just to review his record here, he first achieved the sextuple crown when he won the Kisei title in March 2013; he lost the Judan title in the following month, but resumed his sextuple crown when he won the Meijin title in October. He has now kept it for eight months.

Fujisawa Rina Wins First Title: The final of the 1st Aizu Central Hospital Cup Women’s Tournament was held at the Konjakutei, a traditional inn, in Higashiyama Hot Spring, Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture on June 26 and 27. Fujisawa Rina 2P (left), playing black, beat Okuda Aya 3P by resignation after 193 moves. This victory will extend the illustrious history of the Fujisawa name in Japanese go; Fujisawa Rina is Fujisawa Shuko’s granddaughter. A number of records were set in this tournament. The prize of seven million yen is the biggest for a women’s tournament in Japan; the final was the first two-day game in a woman’s tournament; at fifteen years nine months, Fujisawa Rin became the youngest woman to win a title in Japan and also the youngest player of either sex to make a sealed move.

Kono Makes Good Start In Gosei Challenge: Kono Rin 9P has made a good start in his challenge for the 39th Gosei title. In the first game, played at the Matsushima Ichi-no-bo hotel in the town of Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture on June 26, Kono (B) secured a resignation after just 129 moves. After the game, Iyama expressed considerable regret about move 18, a move which seemed to put him on the back foot early in the game. Kono built thickness on the right side and went all out in attack when Iyama invaded. Rather than play negatively and attempt to live small, Iyama also went all out and tried to live on a large scale. However, Kono was able to bring down his group. Kono suffered straight losses in his Gosei challenge last year, so he has already improved on that performance. Iyama suffered his second title-match loss in a row; both games were short, which was perhaps due to Iyama’s aggressive play when he fell behind. The second game is scheduled for July 20.

Kisei Leagues: Recent results in the 39th Kisei Leagues are listed below. It may be a little early to talk about leaders, but just for the record there are four players on 2-0: Yamashita Keigo (right) and Kono Rin in the A League and Murakawa Daisuke and Kobayashi Satoru in the B League.
(June 26) (A League) Yamashita 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji Judan by resig.; Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 2.5 points; (B League) Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by resig.
(July 3) Cho Riyu (B) beat Cho Chikun by resig.

Yamashita Misses First Chance To Win 39th Meijin League: On 6-2, Yamashita Keigo was two wins clear of the field in the 39th Meijin League, but he missed his first chance to become the challenger when he dropped his seventh-round game to Cho U. The latter is now on 5-2 and will be hoping for Murakawa Daisuke to help him out by beating Yamashita in the final round. If Cho U won his last game, he would qualify for a play-off with Yamashita. At the other end of the league, Ko Iso, who has played all his games and won only two of them, is the first player to lose his place.
Below are results of games played since my last report.
(June 19) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke by resig.
(July 3) Cho U 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points; Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.

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The Power Report: Ida Picks Up First Win In Honinbo Title Match; Kisei Leagues; 39th Meijin League

Sunday June 22, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Ida Picks Up First Win In Honinbo Title Match:Faced with his first kadoban (a game that can lose a series) in the 69th Honinbo best-of-seven, Ida Atsushi 8P (right) fought strongly and killed a large group of his opponent, Iyama Yuta Honinbo. This keeps his chances of becoming the youngest tournament Honinbo alive, but Iyama will be doing his best to see that it’s just a consolation prize. The fourth game was played at the Olive Bay Hotel in the town of Saikai in Nagasaki Prefecture on June 18 and 19. Saikai is a ship-building center, and the Olive Bay Hotel is a luxury hotel built to accommodate customers. In the game, an invasion by Iyama, playing white, in the top right corner let Ida build strong thickness on the right side. Later, when Iyama invaded the bottom right as well, Ida countered very aggressively. With his 63rd move, he proclaimed his intention of killing White’s group. Iyama is usually an expert at rescuing weak groups, but not this time. He tried to turn the lost group into a sacrifice by aiming at a squeeze on the outside. When Ida foiled this, Iyama had to resign. The game lasted just 139 moves. This is Ida’s first win against Iyama. Avoiding the shut-out will be a big relief, while outfighting Iyama will give him confidence. Even so, the next game, scheduled for June 30 and July 1, will be another kadoban.

Kisei Leagues: Three games have been played in the 39th Kisei Leagues recently. The results are given below.
(June 12) (B League) Murakawa Daisuke (W) beat Cho Riyu8P by resig.
(June 19). (A League) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.; (B Leagu
e) Yoda Norimoto 9P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by resig.
In the A League, Kono Rin 9P, on 2-0, has the provisional lead. In the B League, Murakawa Daisuke 7P, on the same score, has the provisional lead.

39th Meijin League: In a game played on June 19, Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke by resig. Takao (left) is now 3-3, so his chances of keeping his place have improved. Murakawa drops to 1-5, so he is close to losing his place. Yamashita Keigo 9P, on 6-0, is two points clear of the field.

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