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The Power Report (Part 2 of 3): Iyama defends Honinbo title; Fujisawa defends 5thHollyhock Cup

Thursday July 19, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Honinbo title: The fourth game of the 73rdHoninbo best-of-seven title match was held at the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture, on June 12 and 13. Yamashita Keigo 9P, the challenger, who had white, 2018.07.19_Honinbo5 Yamashita Kataoka 9P moustache Iyamatook the initiative in the fighting on the first day and went into the second day with a slight advantage. But on the evening of the second day he flinched in the face of an all-out do-or-die challenge by Iyama Yuta (or Honinbo Monyu) and in a flash his lead was upset. He resigned after 189 moves. Iyama had now won three games in a row, so Yamashita faced a kadoban. Incidentally, this is the third year in a row that this hotel was scheduled to host a Honinbo game, but on the previous occasions the match ended before it reached the hotel.
The fifth game was played at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 30 and July 1. Playing white, Iyama secured a resignation after 228 moves and won the match 4-1. As in the previous game, Yamashita played well and seemed to have the initiative in the middle-game fighting on the second day, but when he launched an attack there was a chink in his armor; Iyama seized the opportunity to unleash a fierce counterpunch that Yamashita was unable to handle. He fought on until he ran out of options.
The prize money is 30,000,000 yen (about $278,000). Iyama has now held the Honinbo title for seven years in a row, so he has matched the record of Sakata Eio (16th to 26th terms); his next goals will be the nine-in-a-row posted by Takagawa Shukaku (7th to 15th terms), then Cho Chikun’s record of ten in a row (44th to 53rd). This is Iyama’s 52nd title. He is in fourth place after Cho Chikun (74), Sakata Eio (64), and Kobayashi Koichi (60), but in his tally of big-three titles (19) he is second only to Cho (29). Also, he has won 41 top-seven titles, just behind Cho’s record of 42.
Like the venues for the first and second games, the venue for the fifth game has a connection with the Meiji Restoration 150 years ago. The restoration of imperial rules was made possible by the victory of the clans supporting the restoration over those supporting the Tokugawa shogunate. After an attack by Imperial forces on Edo, the last shogun, Yoshinobu, surrendered in May 1868, but the Aizu clan, which supported the Tokugawas, continued fighting. The imperial army attacked Aizu Wakamatsu in October and the city surrendered in early November. The most famous incident in this part of the war was a mass suicide of 19 teenaged Aizu samurai in the White Tiger Corps when they concluded (prematurely) that their side had lost. This episode has been very popular in literature and film. For details of the war, check out “the Boshin war” in Wikipedia2018.07.19_Hollyhock Fujisawa and for the suicide “the Byakkotai.” The players visited the White Tiger graves to make offerings the day before the game.

Fujisawa defends 5th Hollyhock Cup: The games in the 5th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup best-of-three were held in the space of eight days. The first two games were held in the Konjakutei, a traditional Japanese inn, in Aizu Wakamatsu City in 2018.07.19_Hollyhock3 Xie Redmond referee FujisawaFukushima Prefecture with just one rest day between them; the score was a tie, so the deciding game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo after a break of four days. Xie made a good start in her bid to seek revenge for her loss to Fujisawa last year when she pulled off an upset win in the first game, but Fujisawa fought hard to take the next two games, thus defending her title.
Results
Game 1 (June 15). Xie (W) by resig.
Game 2 (June 17). Fujisawa (W) by resig.
Game 3 (June 22). Fujisawa (B) by resig.
Fujisawa won the inaugural term, so she has now won this title three times. By my count, this is her eighth title. First prize is 7,000,000 yen (close to $65,000).
(Note: Until the third term, this tournament was a knock-out, with the previous winner starting out in the final stage and the final being just one game. Last year the final became a best-of-three, with the winner to defend the title this year. It has taken two years to transform the title to the usual challenger format.)

Tomorrow: Kyo makes good start in Gosei; Kobayashi Koichi wins tournament for senior players; Ryu wins seat in 2018 Samsung Cup; Yamashita leads S League; Cho U keeps lead in Meijin League; Promotions; Obituary: Nishigami Yoshihiko 9P

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The Power Report (Part 1 of 3): Japan eliminated in LG Cup; China wins 8th Huanglongshi Cup; Japanese team comes 6th in Chinese B League; Nannami Nao wins Senko Cup

Wednesday July 18, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.08.18_23lg Shibano eliminated

Japan eliminated in LG Cup: The first two rounds of the 23rd LG Cup were held at the Konjiam resort in Gwangju City in Korea on May 28 and 30. This is a large-scale tournament, with 32 players in the first round, so I’m going to give mainly just the results of Japanese players here (I plan to give full details from the quarterfinals on when they are played). Despite making the final in the previous term, Iyama Yuta was eliminated by a player who’s a new name to me. However, Shibano Toramaru (left) made up for it by beating a previous winner of the Samsung Cup. Apparently this success attracted a lot of attention among Korean fans discussing the tournament on a chat site. However, he ran into the world’s number one player in the second round. Shibano lamented that his score against Park Jeonghwan is now 0-4, but he was happy about his first-round win.
The makeup of the participants in this tournament reflects the status quo in international go: 16 Chinese players, 11 Korean, and just four Japanese, with the last player being from Chinese Taipei. The fierceness of the competition is frightening. Besides Iyama, two other semifinalists from the 22ndCup, Xie Erhao and Ke Jie, were also eliminated in the first round, as was all-time great Lee Sedol and the winner of the recent TV Asia tournament, Kim Jiseok.
In this tournament, the winner of the nigiri chooses the color, and the influence of AI was seen in the fact that most players chose white, as the AI programs “think” the komi gives white the advantage. Actually, white won just over half the games: 13 out of 24.
Round 1. Zhao Chen’u 6P (China) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig.; Yang Tianxin 6P (China) beat Ida Atsushi 8P (Japan) on time; Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) (B) beat Zhong Wenjing 6P (China) by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig.; Jiang Weijie 9P (China) (W) beat Yi Sedol 9P (Korea) by resig.; Weon Seongjin 9P (Korea) (W) beat Ke Jie 9P (China) by resig.
Round 2. Kang Tongyun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki by resig.; Park Jeonghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Shibano by resig.

China wins 8th Huanglongshi Cup: The second round of this women’s team tournament for five-player teams from China, Korea, and Japan was held in Taizhou City, Jiangsu Province in China from June 5 to 8. The star of the first round was Li He 5P of China, who won five in a row before losing to O Yujin 5P of Korea (Nyu Eiko of Japan won the first game – see my report published on April 17 for more details). The result of the first round was that China had four players left, and Korea and Japan two each. In the second and concluding round, the stars were the world’s number two woman player, Choi Jeong, who won three in a row, and Yu Zhiying of China, the world’s number one, who beat Choi in the final game.
Full results
Game 8 (June 5). O Yujin (Korea) (W) beat Ueno Asami 2P (Japan) by resig.
Game 9 (June 5). Zhou Hungyu 4P (China) (W) beat O Yujin by resig.
Game 10 (June 6). Fujisawa Rina 4P (Japan) (B) beat Zhou by resig.
Game 11 (June 6). Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) (B) beat Fujisawa by resig.
Game 12 (June 7). Choi (W) beat Rui Naiwei 9P (China) by resig.
Game 13 (June 8). Choi beat Wang Chenxing 5P (China) by resig.
Game 14 (June 8). Yu Zhiying 6P (China) (W) beat Choi by 4.5 points.

Japanese team comes 6th in Chinese B League: In China, much of the action in go is to be found in the A, B, and C Leagues, in which teams are sponsored by cities or regions or by corporations. This year, too, a four-player Japanese team, officially called the China-Japan Friendship Team, took part in the 16-team B League and performed creditably by taking 6th place, an improvement on its 11th place last year (the top three teams are promoted into the A League). The league was held from June 11 to 20 in Wuxi City in Jiangsu Province, with each team playing eight matches (presumably it was a Swiss System tournament). The Japanese team won two matches 3-1, lost one 1-3, and drew the other five. Individual results were: Shibano Toramaru 5-3, Ida Atsushi 3-5, Yo Seiki 4-4, and Kyo Kagen 5-3.2018.08.18_Mannami left

Nannami Nao wins Senko Cup: 
Occasionally there’s a title match for women players that doesn’t feature Fujisawa Rina and Xie Yimin. That was the case for the 3rd Senko Cup, in which the finalists were Mannami Nao 3P (left) and Nyu Eiko 2p. The game was played at the Guesthouse Akekure in Higashi Omi City, Shiga Prefecture, on July 15. Taking white, Mannami forced a resignation after 180 moves. This is the 32-year-old Manami’s first title — the Senko Cup is a good one to start with, as it has the top prize money for a women’s title of 8,000,000 yen (about $74,000). I hope it’s not sexist to say that her results have been good since her marriage to Ida Atsushi 8P earlier this year. Nyu missed out again in her second title match, but one consolation is that the second prize of 4,000,000 yen is almost as much as first prize in some other women’s titles. (Just for the record, Mananmi beat Fujisawa in the second round of the main tournament, which starts out with 16 players, and Xie was beaten by Yashiro Kumiko in the first round.

Tomorrow: Iyama defends Honinbo title; Fujisawa defends 5th Hollyhock Cup

 

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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #8

Wednesday July 11, 2018

by William Cobb2018.07.11-empty-go-board-with-bowls-and-stones-night-vision

Go is like life, but it’s not like every part of life. Take war, for example, or a political election. You may have certain sorts of respect for your opponent in such cases, but you don’t really wish them well. Not only do you want to defeat them, you want to put them in a place where they won’t be a threat in the future. Go is not like this. Instead of wanting to permanently defeat them, you want your opponent to become stronger since that will make for more interesting games. Of course, you hope to become stronger at the same time. Both players are primarily interested in becoming better players. Winning games is part of the path to that end, but so is losing games. Just winning is not the goal we have in playing this game. It is very frustrating to find yourself having to play an opponent who cannot possibly win (being say, ten ranks weaker than yourself in an even game—like in one of my Dragon Go games at the moment). I don’t want to just win; I want to become a better player. Playing even games against much weaker players does not help me learn to play better. And it doesn’t help the much weaker player either, who just gets demolished and has little idea why. I’m happy to help much weaker players by playing handicap games. Those are a teaching process and something we all can benefit from. We should all try to do our share of playing on both sides of handicap games. My main point here is that while I don’t want my opponent to win this game, I do want to have a good challenge and to learn something, and that is more important than winning. Of course, I enjoy winning, but go is an odd game in this regard. I have no interest in leaving my opponent completely devastated. I want my opponent to become stronger so I can do so as well. Please, show me my weaknesses so I can correct them. That’s why the loser so often says, “Thank you for the game.”

photo by Phil Straus; night vision photo art by Chris Garlock

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 20: A new move and an old joseki

Sunday July 8, 2018

AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo Game 20 starts off with an “AlphaGo move,” one of the moves the AI originated that has since become 2018.07.07_AG-selfplay-20popular among human players. That’s followed by a joseki that’s been around for hundreds of years, giving Michael Redmond 9P “a chance to compare it with play by the great masters from the Golden Age of go” in his latest AlphaGo video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock. Things are fairly peaceful until the middle game, “when things get a bit confusing,” Redmond says, “and it gets exciting at the end.” Plus, this game is a very rare example of the result being different depending on which rule-set you use.

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The Power Report (4): Korea wins Tiantai Mountain Cup; Kyo wins Gratitude Cup; Kyo to challenge for Gosei; Xie to challenge for Hollyhock Cup

Wednesday June 13, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Korea wins Tiantai Mountain Cup: The 7th Tiantai Mountain Shenran Yangfan Cup World Women’s Team Tournament was held in Taizhou City in Zhejiang Province in China from May 10 to 12. The venue and the dates are the same as last year, as is “Tiantai Mountain” in the name, but the sponsor seems to have changed. To be honest, I have no idea what “Shenran Yangfan” means, and the Net didn’t help. Three-women teams from China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei compete in a three-round Swiss. For the second year in a row and the fourth time overall, Korea won the tournament, but the difference from last year is that it lost a match, so the margin of victory was just one win. Japan started badly, losing to Chinese Taipei and Korea, but then it managed to beat China. Two players, Yu Zhiying of China and Kim Chaeyeong of Korea, won all their games. Results and points table are given below.
Round 1 (May 10). Chinese Taipei beat Japan 2-1; China beat Korea 2-1.
Round 2 (May 11) Korea beat Japan 3-0; China beat Chinese Taipei 3-0.
Round 3 (May 12) Japan beat China 2-1; Korea beat Chinese Taipei 3-0.2018.06.14_Kyo Gratitude Cup
1st) Korea: 2-1 (individual tally 7-2)
2nd) China: 2-1 (6-3)
3rd) Japan: 1-2 (3-6)
4th) Chinese Taipei: 1-2 (2-7)

Kyo wins Gratitude Cup: The 9th Gratitude Cup was held in Ise City on May 14 and 15. This is an unofficial tournament open to players 30 or under. It consists of fast games played by the NHK format. In the final, Kyo Kagen 7P (B, at right) beat Yo Seiki 7P by 2.5 points to win this tournament for the first time. First prize is 3,000,000 yen. In the play-off for 3rd place, Ichiriki Ryo 8P (B) beat Xie Yimin, Women’s Honinbo, by 13.5 points.

2018.06.14_gosei KyoKyo to challenge for Gosei: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 43rd Gosei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on May 17. Kyo Kagen 7-dan (W, left) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (left, in photo at right) by resignation and so will make his first challenge for a top-seven title. At 20 years five month, he is the youngest-ever Gosei challenger. Motoki lost the 2018.06.14_Gosei Motoki Kataoka KyoGosei play-off for the second year in a row. Kyo won’t find challenging Iyama Yuta easy, but he could well be in the best form of his career: his record so far this year is an impressive 17 wins 1 loss. The single loss was to Xie Ke 5P in the Chunlan Cup in China, so in Japan he is undefeated (he also scored 7-0 in the Gratitude Cup, reported on above, but it is an unofficial tournament, so these wins are not included in his tally). Kyo commented that he would like to relieve Iyama of some of the burden of his septuple crown. The best-of-five begins on June 23.

Xie to challenge for Hollyhock Cup: The semifinals and final of the 5thAizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup were held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture on May 19 and 20. In the semifinals on May 19, Xie Yimin, Women’s Honinbo, (B) beat Hoshiai Shiho 2P by resig. and Yoshida Mika 8P (W) beat Tamura Chiaki 3P, also by resig. In the final, played the next day, Xie (B) beat Yoshida by resig. Xie will meet the titleholder, Fujisawa Rina, in the best-of-three title match and will try to regain the title she lost to Fujisawa last year. So far, the two have met in six title matches, and Fujisawa has won four of them. The first two games of the title match will be played at the Konjakutei on June 15 and 17. The third game, if needed, will be played at the Nihon Ki-in on June 22.

Promotions: To 4-dan: Fujisawa Rina (50 wins; as of April 22); To 8-dan: Matsumoto Takehisa (150 wins; as of May 11).

Retirements: Takamizawa Tadao retired as of May 31. Born in Nagano Prefecture on July 20, 1938, Takamizawa became a professional in 1955 and reached 6-dan in 1976. After retiring, he was promoted to 7-dan.
Kitani Yoshimi 2-dan retired as of May 31. Born on July 23, 1952, she became a disciple of Ozaki Harumi 8-dan. She qualified as a professional in 1975 and was promoted to 2-dan in 2013. After retiring, she was promoted to 3-dan.

Obituary: Yasuda Yasutoshi 9-dan died on May 2. Cause of death was not given. Born on March 1, 1964, in Fukuoka Prefecture, he became a disciple of Oeda Yusuke 9P. became 1-dan in 1980 and reached 9-dan in 1998. He was well known as a teacher and developed new teaching methods, including using go as a therapeutic tool with the senile and the handicapped.

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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AlphaGo Zero vs. AlphaGo Lee: Game 2

Wednesday June 13, 2018

Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, reviews the second game of the new AlphaGo Zero vs.2018.06.13_AG-LEE-game2 AlphaGo Lee series. “In this game, AG Zero has black,” Redmond notes. “This is the 20-block version of Zero, and it’s pretty unique, especially in the way it plays with black: it really likes to play the 3-3 points. Zero likes to take territory up front and then reduce its opponent’s moyo, but it does so in a different way. In fact, the opening techniques used by Zero have become quite popular among some young professionals, showing AG’s effect on the game, which I’ll be talking about.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, and see below for the sgf commentary. To support this content, please consider joining or renewing your membership in the American Go Association; click here for details.

Video produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf files were created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 19: Big difference between mostly dead and all dead

Tuesday June 12, 2018

“As usual in these AlphaGo-AlphaGo games, you’ll be wondering which group is going to die,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his2018.06.01_AG-AG-Game19 June 1 AlphaGo video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock. “But, also as usual, they all come back to life, and the game is pretty close.” “There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead,” said Meijke Balay, picking up on “The Princess Bride” reference in the video. “Mostly dead is slightly alive.” “Feels like my favorite so far,” adds Zak Smith, “even though I might feel this way after every video.”

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The Power Report (3): Kim wins TV Asia; Iyama takes lead in Honinbo title match

Tuesday June 12, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kim wins TV Asia: The 30th TV Asia Cup was held at the Mayfield Hotel & Resort in Seoul from May 1 to 4. The tournament was won by Kim Ji-seok 9P of Korea; he beat last year’s winner, Na Hyeon 9P, also of Korea, in the final. Kim has long been one of the top players in Korea, but this is only his second international victory, following on his win in the 19thSamsung Cup in 2014. First prize is 2,500,00 yen (about $23,000).
Results follow (I don’t have full details for some of the games).
Round 1. (May 1) Kim Ji-seok 9P (Korea) beat Fan Yunruo 6P (China); Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Shida Tatsuya 7P (Japan) by resig.; (May 2) Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig.
Round 2. (May 2) Kim beat Park; (May 3) Na Hyeon 8P (Korea) beat Fan.
Final (May 4) Kim (W) beat Na by 2.5 points.

Iyama takes lead in Honinbo title match: The 73rd Honinbo 2018.06.12_73honninnbo2 Nijocastletitle match got off to a start in mid-May. Iyama Yuta, also known as Honinbo Monyu, has held the title for six years in a row. A successful defence will bring him level with Sakata Eio for the third best winning streak in this title (Cho Chikun won ten in a row and Takagawa Shukaku nine). Hoping to stand in Iyama’s way is the challenger, Yamashita Keigo, who held the title for two terms before losing it to Iyama. Yamashita has not won a top-seven title since 2012, which will give him added motivation. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, which led to the opening up of Japan to the world and the beginning of its rise to major-power status. This year some of the playing venues are being selected with that in mind. The first game was played at the Meirin Gakusha in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on May 15 and 16. 2018.06.12_73honinbo2 L Yamashita R IyamaHagi was the main city of the Choshu clan, one of the four “outside” clans (that is, not allied with Tokugawa Ieyasu when he founded the Tokugawa regime) that played a major role in bringing about the restoration. The Meirin Gakusha is an elementary school that was built on the site of a school for the children of clan leaders called Meirinkan. It is associated with some of the intellectual leaders of the restoration movement. The elementary school was closed four years ago, and the building became a tourist site, with historical displays and a museum.2018.06.12_73honinbo3 L Yamashita R Iyama
Yamashita drew black in the nigiri. The game featured complicated fighting from early on. Although Iyama played skillfully in rescuing some groups that had come under severe pressure, Yamashita used his attack to take a very small lead. He wavered a little in the endgame, but managed to hang on and score a half-point win. This loss put an end to Iyama’s winning streak in title matches of 17 games (he just failed to match his personal record of 18).
2018.06.12_73honinbo3b IyamaThe second game (above) was played in the Nijo Castle in Kyoto (Kyoto is one of the few Japanese cities laid out as a grid; Nijo, which runs from east to west, means Second Avenue). The castle was built in 1603 for the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu, and was used by shoguns visiting Kyoto. Moreover, the famous castle games were played at the Nijo Castle until 1626. The Honinbo title-match game was set up as a recreation of the castle games. It was played on May 23 and 24 in the main audience room. The mayor of Kyoto took the place of the shogun, sitting in an elevated part of the room where the shogun would sit. The players, dressed Japanese style, played in the lower part of the room. (Later in the game, they changed to suits and moved to an ordinary playing room.)
The game started out with Iyama (left), playing black, taking territory and Yamashita building a moyo. Initially, play was more peaceful than in the first game, but fierce fighting started as Iyama moved into White’s moyo. Iyama took the lead, putting so much pressure on Yamashita that he had to play riskily. Eventually, White lost a group and resigned after 171 moves.
The third game (middle right) was played in the former Japanese restaurant Kaneyu (left) in Noshiro City, Akita Prefecture on June 2, 3. The name of the venue may seem a little strange. It’s an historical building which formerly housed a Japanese restauran2018.06.12_73honinbo3 venue Kaneyut; when that went out of business, it was donated to Noshiro City, which uses it as a tourist attraction. (It has no connection with the Meiji Restoration, having been built in 1890 and rebuilt in its present form in 1937.) This game was played on a Saturday and a Sunday, which in one way might seem natural but is actually very unusual. Taking white, Iyama forced a resignation after 244 moves, so he now leads the match 2-1. The fourth game, which is scheduled for June 12 and 13, will be crucial for Yamashita. If Iyama wins, the match could be over very quickly, so Yamashita’s good start would go to waste.

Part 3 of 4; tomorrow:  Korea wins Tiantai Mountain Cup; Kyo wins Gratitude Cup; Kyo to challenge for Gosei; Xie to challenge for Hollyhock Cup

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The Power Report (2): Kisei S League starts; Xu of China wins Globis Cup; Yo keeps Honinbo seat; Shibano wins Japan-China Ryusei

Monday June 11, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei S League starts: The S League of the 43rd Kisei tournament got off to a start on April 19, with all six members in action. This is a small league, so it’s important not to stumble at the beginning.
Results to date:
(April 19) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig.; Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 7P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig.
(May 10) Kyo (B) beat Cho U by resig.; Yamashita (B) beat Kono by resig.2018.06.11_5globis Xu trophy
(May 24) Takao (W) beat Ichiriki by resig.
The last game above completed the second round. Yamashita and Kyo have made good starts with two wins each, but the previous challenger, Ichiriki, has got off to a disastrous start with two losses.

Xu of China wins Globis Cup: The 5th Globis Cup was held on the Tokyo campus of the Globis Management Graduate School from April 20 to 22. In the final (left), the 18-year-old Xu Jiayang 6P (right) of China beat the 19-year-old Shin Minjun 7P of Korea. Playing white, Xu won 2018.06.11_5globis final Xu R, Shin Lby 1.5 points. He earned a prize of 3,000,000 yen (about $27,700). The best results for the host country were the quarterfinal places earned by Fujisawa Rina 3P and Yo Chito 4P. Fujisawa picked up a win over Xie Ke 5P of China; taking black, she won by resignation. The 18-year-old Xie is a formidable player, having recently challenged (though unsuccessfully) for the Chinese Tianyuan title and having reached the best eight in the Chunlan Cup, so Fujisawa had reason to be pleased with her win. Actually this was her 50thwin as a 3-dan, so it earned her promotion to 4-dan. In the quarterfinals, she was eliminated by Shin Jinseo 8-dan, winner of the previous Globis Cup.

Yo keeps Honinbo seat: The second play-off to decide who would be the fourth player to retain his seat in the Honinbo League for the upcoming 74thterm was held on April 23. Taking white, Yo Seiki 7P beat Ida Atsushi by 1.5 points. This was Yo’s fourth Honinbo league but the first time he kept his place. Ida had started off with four straight wins and looked a good bet to become the challenger, but, including his two play-off games, he then lost five in a row. This is not often mentioned, but membership of a league will earn you enough in game fees, win or lose, to secure your livelihood for the year, so league seats are very valuable.

Shibano wins Japan-China Ryusei: The 4th Japan-China Ryusei play-off was held in Beijing on April 29. Shibano Toramaru 7P (Japan) (W) beat Ke Jie 9P (China), at present the world’s number two, by resig. This is Japan’s first win in this play-off. Although the 18-year old Shibano is a rising star in Japan, probably not many fans expected him to win this game. It’s undoubtedly the biggest win of his career so far. Shibano’s results in April had not been very good. He commented: “I was not expecting much from this game. That may, on the contrary, have been good, as I was relaxed.” First prize was 3,000,000 yen (about $27,500).

Part 2 of 4; tomorrow: Kim wins TV Asia; Iyama takes lead in Honinbo title match

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The Power Report (1): Kobayashi Koichi receives decoration; Go Seigen Cup; Cho U retains sole lead in Meijin League

Sunday June 10, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kobayashi Koichi receives decoration: In the spring honors list, announced on April 28, Kobayashi Koichi became the 27th go player to receive a decoration from the Japanese government, being awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon. Aged 65, Kobayashi holds three honorary titles, the Kisei, Meijin, and Gosei. He was a late starter, not winning his first big-three title, the Meijin, until he was 33, but he went on to win 60 titles, including the Kisei eight years in a row, the Meijin seven years in a row, eight times in all, and the Gosei six years in a row, nine times in all. His only major failure was not winning the Honinbo title, despite challenging three years in a row.

Go Seigen Cup: The first Wu Qingyuan (Go Seigen) Cup World Women’s Championship is a new tournament for woman players founded by Fuzhou City in Fujian Province in honor of its most famous son, at least in the go world. The rounds up to the final were held from April 26 to May 1. Twenty-eight players took part; of these eight were from Europe and American and they played a preliminary round, with the top four entering the main tournament. This was an irregular knock-out with five rounds, but with eight players seeded into the second round. The finalists are two Korean players, Kim Chaeyoung 3P and Choi Jeong 9P. The final will be held in July. Four Japanese players took part. Two reached the quarterfinals, but were eliminated there. However, Ueno Asami 2P will probably remember fondly her win against Rui Naiwei 9P.

Cho U retains sole lead in Meijin League: Some important games have been played in the 43rdMeijin League since my last report. The results are given below.
(April 16) Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 7P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. Yo raised his score to 2-3 and Murakawa dropped to 1-4.
(April 26) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by resig. This was Shibano’s first loss; he lost his chance of drawing level with the league leader, Cho U, who was in lone first place with 4-0. Two players followed him with just one loss: Shibano and Hane Naoki 9P, both on 3-1.
(May 3) Cho (B) beat Shibano by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yo by resig.
(May 10) Murakawa (B) beat Takao by 2.5 points.
(May 24) Hane (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. This game concluded the 6th(May) round. Cho U keeps the lead, on 5-0, with Hane in second place on 4-1. They are followed by two players on 3-2, Kono and Shibano. At present, it seems likely one of these four will be the challenger; the only other player theoretically still in the running is Yamashita on 2-3.

Part 1 of 4; tomorrow: Kisei S League starts; Xu of China wins Globis Cup; Yo keeps Honinbo seat; Shibano wins Japan-China Ryusei

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