American Go E-Journal » Columns

The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #10

Wednesday September 19, 2018

by William Cobb2018.09.16_empty-go-board-with-bowls-and-stones-water swirl

A big part of life is experiencing things you have never experienced before: flying in a plane, hiking to a mountain top, being in a snow storm, visiting a country where you don’t speak the language. We think of such things as enriching our lives, making life more interesting, and fun besides. There’s an obvious parallel to this in go: the game has a virtually infinite range of possibilities, but some players seem resistant to getting outside their already familiar circumstances. There are a lot of things that many of us have seldom if ever experienced: playing tenuki in response to an approach move in the opening, knowing what to do when the opponent attaches to a 3-4 point stone, being confident about the best way to continue after the first dozen or so moves, consistently judging the status of small groups accurately, knowing where to invade common positions, etc. In this regard, we’re like people who are perfectly happy to have never seen the ocean or a snow-capped mountain. The world is full of amazing and wonderful things; we’re happy to spend time, money, and energy exploring and becoming familiar with as many of them as we can. We should have the same attitude toward playing go. Just playing won’t get you to a lot of the amazing amount of beauty and fascination the game offers. You’ve got to get outside the familiar patterns you already know. This is why it makes no sense to refuse to read books, take lessons, or study the games of stronger players. There’s a truly amazing world out there. We need to spend some time and effort exploring it and not just stay inside the familiar area we already know. Don’t just buy books—read them. Don’t just look at the results of pro games—play through them. Don’t just play the same opening moves—try some you’ve not used before. You’ll discover that go is even more fun than you thought.
photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

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The Power Report (3 of 3): Yamashita wins Kisei S League; New Pair Go World Champion Pair; Iyama starts Meijin defense with a win; Yamashita to challenge for Tengen title; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Promotions; Nakayama the most prolific go writer?

Wednesday September 12, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Yamashita wins Kisei S League: 
Two games in the 43rdKisei S League were played on July 9. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig. and Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by half a point. On 4-0, Yamashita was the only unbeaten player; there is no play-off in ties in this league, so Yamashita won the league regardless of his result in the fifth and final round. In the running for second place—and a place in the knockout tournament to decide the challenger–were Kono Rin 9P and Kyo Kagen Gosei, who were both on 2-1. They played each other on August 30. Taking white, Kyo won by resignation. This gives him provisional second place. If he loses his final game, the winner of a game between Kono and Takao Shinji will edge him out, as both are ranked higher in the league. In contrast to the Meijin League, in which he won all his games, Cho U has lost all his games; on 0-4, he can’t hope to avoid demotion.

New Pair Go World Champion Pair: In 2016, a Pair Go World Cup was held and was won by the Chinese team of Yu Zhiying 5P and Ke Jie 9P. Last year, a World Championship was held in two stages. The first part was a tournament to decide the pair to challenge the reigning world champion pair of Yu and Ke. The Chinese pair defended their title. This year another world championship was held, but with a different result. The first stage, held on August 20 and 21, was won by the Korean team of Choi Jeong 9P and Park Junghwan 9-dan. They won their challenge to the Yu/Ke pair and so now reign as the Pair Go World Champion Pair. Taking black, Choi and Park won by resignation after 183 moves.2018.09.12_meijin1 Iyama left

Iyama starts Meijin defense with a win: The first game of the 43rd Meijin title match was held at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on August 28 and 29. Taking black, Iyama Yuta made a good start to his defence, forcing the challenger Cho U 9P to resign after 239 moves. In a variation of a recently popular “joseki,” a massive ko fight (worth 45 points) started. With move 81, Iyama ignored his opponent’s ko threat and finished off the ko, but ceding the ko was also feasible, as in exchange Black would have got a large-scale attack on White. Next, an enormous fight started on the other side of the board, featuring two more large ko fights. White suffered further damage in one of these fights and, although he managed to wall off a large territory, he was unable to match Black on territory. The second game will be played on September 12 and 13.

Yamashita to challenge for Tengen title: Not everything is going smoothly for Kyo Kagen, the new holder of the2018.09.12_tengen chall Yamashita left-2 Gosei title. The play-off to decide the challenger for the 44thTengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on September 3. Playing white, Yamashita Keigo 9P beat Kyo by resignation after 226 moves. Yamashita turned 40 three days later, so he is nearly twice Kyo’s age. This will be Yamashita’s first appearance in the Tengen title match since the 36thTengen in 2009. He won the 30thand 35thtitles. The match with Iyama Yuta will start on October 19.

Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo: Fujisawa Rina has a chance to take back the title she lost to Xie Yimin last year. In 2018.09.12_WomHonin Fujisawa leftthe play-off to decide the challenger for the 37th Women’s Honinbo Title, held at the Nihon Ki-in on September 6, she beat Ueno Asami (B) by resignation. The title match will start on October 16.

Promotions
To 8-dan: Kyo Kagen for winning the Gosei title (as of August 4)
To 4-dan: Kumamoto Shusei (50 wins, as of August 3)
To 3-dan: Otani Naoki (40 wins, as of July 27)

Nakayama the most prolific go writer?
In the August 21 issue of this journal, Kent Olsen expressed interest in the number of books Nakayama Noriyuki had written. I have no way of doing a count, but I do recall a conversation decades ago in which Nakayama mentioned that he had already written over 200 go books. He added that publishers liked him because, if required, he could write a book over a weekend. Some of his books would have been published under the names of top professionals, with the actual writer getting a credit as “writer” or “editor” or sometimes not being mentioned at all.

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The Power Report (2 of 3): Park wins Kuksu Mountain; New star wins 1st Go Seigen Cup; Cho U to challenge for Meijin title; Kyo wins Gosei title

Tuesday September 11, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.09.11_kuksu mt final Park left

Park wins Kuksu Mountain: The Bailing Cup was immediately followed by the 5th Kuksu Mountains International Tournament, held in Jeollanam-do in Korea. Three Japanese players took part but were all eliminated in the first round. Kang Dongyun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Iyama Yuta by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (W) beat Yuki Satoshi by resig.; and Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig. These games were played on July 28. Park went on to win the tournament, beating Wang Yuan-jun 8P of Chinese Taipei in the final on July 30. A Pair Go tournament was also held with mixed teams made up by drawing lots. Lu Minquan 4P (China) and Lee Chang-ho 9P (Korea) beat Hei Jia-jia (Joanne Missingham) (Chinese Taipei) and Wang Lei 8P (China) in the final.

New star wins 1st Go Seigen Cup: The Wu Qingyuan (Go Seigen) Cup World Women’s Championship is a new international tournament organized by Fuzhou City, the birthplace of Go Seigen, in Fujian Province. The early rounds were held from April 26 to May 1, as described in my June report. The best-of-three final between Kim Chaeyoung 4P and Choi Jeong 9P, both of Korea, was held recently. The latter was the overwhelming favorite: she had already won two world titles and hadn’t lost even one of her 11 games with Kim. However, Kim surprised her by taking the title with straight wins. The games were played on July 23 and 25; Kim won the first with white, then with black won the second by 5.5 points. Choi had a negative record against China’s number one woman player Yu Zhiying of 9-15. During the break in the tournament before the final, Kim studied Yu’s games intensively to work out how to beat Choi. That worked. In recognition of her victory, she was promoted to 5-dan. One of the parallel events was a Pair Go tournament for family pairs. It was won by Rui Naiwei 9P and her husband Jiang Zhujiu 9P; second was Kim Songle 5P and his daughter Kim Dayoung 3P; third was Nyu Lili 5P and her daughter Nyu Eiko 2P; and fourth was Nyu Xianxian 3P and her husband Michael Redmond 9P.

Cho U to challenge for Meijin title: After holding the lead all the way in the 43rd Meijin League, Cho U 9P did not2018.09.11_meijin-chart falter in the final two rounds and so earned the right to play in his first top-seven title match since the Kisei in 2013. Cho actually secured victory when he beat Ko Iso in the July round, as his 7-0 score put him two wins clear of the field, but he put the icing on the cake with another win in the final round. Cho commented that he felt it was important to maintain his momentum by winning all eight games in the league, all the more so to match Iyama Yuta’s record in the previous league. CLICK HERE for the Asahi newspaper’s special English coverage, including reports, videos and commentary by Michael Redmond 9P. 

Putting aside the ultimate success of his challenge, Cho seems to have come out of his slump of recent years. In 2009, he became the first player to hold five of the top seven titles simultaneously and in 2010 the second player to score a cumulative grand slam. However, he was the main victim of the rise of Iyama Yuta. He lost the Meijin title to him in 2009, the Judan in 2011, the Oza in 2012 and the Kisei in 2013. This is his chance to take revenge and make a comeback.

Shibano Toramaru’s performance is also worth of note: a score of 6-2 in a top league is impressive. He won his first three games, seemed to be going downhill when he lost the middle two, but rallied to win the last three and take second place. He will surely emerge as the challenger before long.

Results of games played since my previous report follow.
(July 19) Cho U (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by 3.5 points.
(August 2) Cho U (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.; Kono 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Shibano (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

Kyo wins Gosei title: The third game of the 43rd Gosei title match was held at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon 2018.09.11_43gosei3 KyoKi-in in Osaka on August 3. Taking white, Kyo forced a resignation after 224 moves. The 20-year-old Kyo is the first player of the younger generation to beat Iyama in a title match. As in the first two games, he was able to match Iyama in the precision of his reading and his fighting skill. It’s safe to say that not many people expected him to take the series 3-0.

This brought an end to Iyama’s second septuple crown. He extended his reign to 290 days compared to 197 days for his first grand slam. After his first grand slam was ended 2018.09.11_43gosei3 Kyo leftby the loss of the Meijin title, Iyama was able to hold on to his other titles, then to resurrect the septuple crown by regaining the Meijin title the following year. Of course, he will attempt to repeat this feat, but he has now turned 30, so maintaining peak form may prove tougher.

Kyo won the Gosei title just five years and four months after becoming a professional, which is a new speed record for a top-seven title. At 20 years seven months, he is the youngest Gosei ever and the third-youngest player to win a top-seven title (the record is held by Iyama, who won the Meijin title at 20 years four months.) Iyama’s reign as Gosei lasted for six years. More stats: Iyama has played in 49 title matches and lost eight of them; this is the first time he has suffered straight losses.

Kyo: “When I became the challenger, I felt happy just to be able to play a match with Iyama Sensei. For much of the time, the first and third games were bad for me, so I guess I was lucky.”

Iyama: “I don’t think that holding seven titles is a normal state, so I wasn’t strongly focused on defending. Though I would have liked to make the match more exciting—lasting just three games was a pity. I felt from early on that the third game was bad for me. I did have chances, but I couldn’t make the most of them. I hope I can learn from this defeat and come back stronger.”

Tomorrow: Yamashita wins Kisei S League; New Pair Go World Champion Pair; Iyama starts Meijin defense with a win; Yamashita to challenge for Tengen title; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Promotions; Nakayama the most prolific go writer?

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The Power Report (1 of 3): Mizokami scores 700th win; Yoda wins Masters Cup; 4th Bailing Cup Report

Monday September 10, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

This was a harsh summer over most of the Japanese archipelago, with record heat alternating with record rainfalls. For the first time ever, the thermometer topped 40 degrees Celsius within the Tokyo metropolis, and many other areas also set new records. Both extremes are dangerous. There were many fatalities from heat strokes, especially among older people. Some died overnight in their homes because they hesitated to turn on air conditioners (most pensions are not very generous). Heavy rain can be even more dangerous, as it causes floods and landslides that wash away homes or bury them in mud. To cap it off, there was a major earthquake in Hokkaido at the beginning of September. Summer, especially August, has always seemed like a bit of an off season for go, but there has been a lot of activity, as my reports over the next few days will show.

Mizokami scores 700th win: A win scored by Mizokami Tomochika 9P on July 12 against Onishi Ryuhei 3P in Preliminary A of the 44th Meijin Tournament (taking white, he won by 2.5 points) was his 700th win as a professional. He is the 48th player at the Nihon Ki-in to reach this landmark. Mizokami is 41, and it took him 25 years three months to make it to 700.

Yoda wins Masters Cup: The final of the 8th Fumakilla Igo Masters Cup, a tournament for seniors open to former 2018.09.10_masters Yodawinners of top-seven titles aged 50 or over, was held in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on July 21. Sixteen players competed in the main tournament, but there is also a preliminary for senior players who have done well in the prize money list. The players in the final were Yoda Norimoto 9P (right) and Kataoka Satoshi 9P, neither of whom had won this title before. Two and a half decades ago, they had met in the finals of two minor titles, with victory going to Kataoka on both occasions. Playing white, Yoda forced a resignation after 218 moves and secured the first prize of 5 million yen (about $45,000). The sponsor of the tournament is an insecticide manufacturer, so I had facilely assumed that the company name meant “fume killer,” but not so. The company’s HP indicates that “fuma” comes from “fu” in the Japanicized pronunciation of “fly” and “ma” likewise from “mosquito” but changed from “mo” to “ma” to make the new word easier to pronounce.

4th Bailing Cup Report: 
The first two rounds of the 4th Bailing Cup World Weiqi Championship were held at the Zhongguo Qiyuan (Chinese Ki-in) from July 24 to 26. Four players from Japan took part; two of them won in the first round (round of 16) but were eliminated in the second. Three Chinese players and one Korean made the semifinals. A senior tournament and an amateur tournament were held at the same time. Yoda Norimoto made the final in the former.

This year major changes were made in the tournament format. Formerly, 64 players competed in the first round, making this a mammoth tournament to rival the Samsung Cup, but that number was reduced to 16. The open preliminary was abolished, with representatives being chosen by their countries.

Selected results (full details not available for some games):
(Round 1) Iyama Yuta (W) (Japan) beat Lian Xiao (China) by resig.; Chen Yaoye (China) beat Park Junghwan (Korea); Gu Jihao (China) beat Yamashita Keigo (Japan); Dang Yifei (China) beat Kyo Kagen (Japan); Shibano Toramaru (Japan) (W) beat Tan Xiao (China) by half a point.
(Round 2) Chen Yaoye (B) beat Shibano by resig.; Gu Jihao (B) beat Iyama by resig.
(Semifinals) Chen v. Ke Jie (China); Gu v. Shin Jinseo (Korea).

Previously, a disproportionate burden of expectation seemed to be placed on Iyama’s shoulders, but recently the most popular Japanese player overseas has been the 18-year-old Shibano. This year he has beaten three top Chinese players in Ke Jie in the Japan-China Ryusei Play-off, Tang Weixing in the LG Cup and now Tan. As a result, he is acquiring fans in China and Korea.

Results in the seniors tournament (there are no Koreans, because the sponsors chose players who starred in the Japan-China go exchange in the 80s):

Round of 8) Nie Weiping 9P (China) beat Takemiya Masaki 9P (Japan); Ma Xiaochun 9P (China) beat Kobayashi Koichi 9P (Japan); Yoda Norimoto 9P (Japan) beat Liu Xiaoguang 9P (China); Chang Hao 9P (China) beat Otake Hideo 9P (Japan).

(Semifinals) Ma beat Nie; Yoda (W) beat Chang by resig.

(Final) Ma v. Yoda

Tomorrow: Park wins Kuksu Mountain; New star wins 1st Go Seigen Cup; Cho U to challenge for Meijin title; Kyo wins Gosei title

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Redmond’s Reviews, Episode 12: Redmond 9p v. Akiyama 9p

Monday September 10, 2018

In this episode, Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, plays Akiyama Jiro 9P, a strong young 2018.09.10_RedmondReviews-thumbplayer in the Kisei B League. This match was in the final elimination 2018.09.10_RedmondReviews-Redmond-Garlocktournament of the Kiriyama Cup before the final, publicized section of the tournament. Japanese tournament games are usually 3 hours each plus byo-yomi, but in this game basic time is just an hour each, making this “a pretty fast game,” Redmond says. The game features an opening “I’ve been playing around with for a while now, and it has a very unusual move,” says Redmond. He wasn’t sure the move would work but when the perfect opportunity came up, “I couldn’t resist playing it.” Click here to see the video.

[link]

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 22: A big upheaval, plus Redmond in DC!

Wednesday September 5, 2018

AlphaGo’s self-play game 22 features a big attacking game for black, “and it’s interesting to see how white handles these attacks,”2018.09.05_AG22-thumb says Michael Redmond 9P in his latest game commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock. “And then when it looks like the game is settling down we’re going to see a big upheaval that takes another 120 moves to resolve. And in case that’s not exciting enough, then there’s a big ko fight.” “Absolutely beautiful game,” says viewer GerSHAK. “Beautiful to watch it almost settle and then spill all over again, haha,” adds oncedidactic.

2018.09.05_AG22-Redmond-Garlock-thumbRedmond will be at the National Go Center in Washington DC this weekend for a series of events, beginning with an AlphaGo commentary with Garlock at 7:30p on Friday night (RSVP here). Then on Saturday he and Garlock will do live commentaries on Twitch on the top-board games at the NGC’s Fall Open (register here), wrapping up with an 11a game review brunch on Sunday morning (register here).

“Don’t miss this rare chance to see Michael Redmond — who’s coming all the way from Japan — in person!” says NGC Executive Director Gurujeet Khalsa. “We’re especially excited to have Michael here to help launch our brand-new E-Journal broadcast facility this weekend,” said Garlock.

[link]

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 21: Less alien, plus exciting fighting

Saturday August 25, 2018

In AlphaGo self-play game 21, the AI’s play is “a little less alien,” says Michael Redmond 9P in his latest game commentary, 2018.08.26 AG-Game 21-chris-michaelhosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, adding that the game features some moves that human 2018.08.26 AG-Game 21players have been playing recently. “And then towards the end of the games there’s just a lot of exciting fighting.” Redmond’s commentaries return after a late-summer break; he’ll also be doing some live commentaries on Twitch in early September during a visit to the National Go Center in Washington DC; stay tuned for more details soon.

[link]

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The Power Report (Part 3 of 3): 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

Sunday July 22, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.07.22_Gosei2 Kyo

Kyo makes good start in Gosei : The 43rd Gosei best-of-five title match got off to a start on June 23. The venue was the Hokkoku (North Country) Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. The Hokkoku Newspaper is a member of the Newspaper Igo Federation, a group of 13 regional newspapers that sponsor the Gosei tournament.
This year the challenger is Kyo Kagen 7-dan, who is making his title-match debut. He was born in Taiwan, where he is known as Hsu Chiayuan (Xu Jiayuan in Pinyin). Kyo has 2018.07.22_Gosei2 Iyama Kyoalready made a name for himself as one of the most promising younger players in Japan; he was promoted to 7-dan in 2017, when he won a seat in the Kisei S League. He will turn 21 onDecember 24. In the first Gosei game, he drew white and forced Iyama to resign after 226 moves. Kyo made a very severe attack that brought Iyama to his knees. Of the time allowance of four hours each, Kyo had three minutes left; Iyama was down to his last minute.
The second game was played at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo on July 6. The game concluded after 271 moves with Kyo (black) winning by 1.5 points. Once again Kyo slugged it out toe to toe and took the lead. Iyama’s septuple crown seems to be in serious danger. The third game will be played on July 3.

Kobayashi Koichi wins tournament for senior players: According to Go Weekly, tournaments for around eight 2018.07.22_Kobayashi with Wang Runanplayers are popular in various places in China and “legendary” Japanese and Korean players are sometimes invited to take part. On July 1 and 2, the city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province held the 1st International Weiqi Great Players Tournament to commemorate the building of a weiqi hall. (Shaoxing is a city of five million and is well known for the rice wine of the same name.) The participants were all top players in the last century, so I will give all the results (all players are 9-dan; I don’t have full details of the games).

(Round 1, July 1) Ma Xiaochun (China) beat Yang Jaeho (Korea), Kobayashi (Japan) beat Rin Kaiho (representing Chinese Taipei), Cao Dayuan (China) beat Seo Bong-soo (Korea), Nie Weiping (China) beat Takemiya Masaki.
(Round 2, July 1) Kobayashi beat Ma, Nie beat Cao.
(Final, July 2) Kobayashi (W) beat Nie by 4.5 points.
First prize was 200,000 yuan ($30,000)

Ryu wins seat in 2018 Samsung Cup: The international preliminaries for the current Samsung Cup were held in Seoul from July 2 to 7 with about 380 players taking part in the various sections. They included 35 players from Japan, of whom just one was successful: Ryu Shikun 9P in the Senior division. He will be competing in the main tournament for the third time and the first time since 2001.

Yamashita leads S League: After three rounds, Yamashita Keigo has the sole lead in the 43rdKisei S League with a score of 3-0. He is followed by Kono Rin 9P and Kyo Kagen 7P, both on 2-1. In the A League, three players on 3-1 share the lead: Murakawa Daisuke 8P, So Yokoku 9P, and Yo Seiki 7P. In the B1 league, Tsuruyama Atsushi 7P has the provisional lead with 5-1, but Akiyama Jiro 9P, on 4-1, also has only one loss. In the B2 League, Shibano Toramaru, on 6-0, has the sole lead.

Recent results in the S League:
(June 14) Ichiriki Ryo 8P (B) beat Cho U 9P by resig.
(June 21) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.
(July 13) Yamashita (W) beat Kyo Kagen by resig.

Cho U keeps lead in Meijin League: Cho U 9P not only has the sole lead in the 43rd Meijin League on 6-0, he is now two points clear of the field. The only other player with a chance of becoming the challenger is Shibano Toramaru 7P, who is on 4-2. If Cho wins his seventh-round game, against Ko Iso 8P, or if Shibano loses his, with Kono Rin 9P, Cho will win the league. If Cho loses, his final game against Takao Shinji 9P will assume greater importance. Recent results:
(June 7) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 3.5 points.
(June 14) Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by 1.5 points.
(June 28) Cho (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by 4.5 points.
(July 5) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.; Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

Promotions
To 8-dan: Rin Kanketsu (Lin Hanjie) (150 wins; as of July 6)
To 3-dan: Cho Zuiketsu (Zhang Ruijie) (40 wins; as of June 19)
To 2-dan: Utani Shunta (as of June 8), Seki Kotaro (as of June 26) (both 30 wins)

Obituary: Nishigami Yoshihiko 9P
Nishigami Yoshihiko died of colon cancer on June 30. Born in Osaka on March 16, 1941, Nishigami became a disciple of Hosokawa Chihiro 9P. He became 1-dan at the Osaka branch of the Nihon Ki-in 2in 1960, reached 8-dan in 1989, retired in 2006 and was promoted to 9-dan.

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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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