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SportAccord World Mind Games Day 3: Yu Zhiying Clinches Medal in Women’s Individual Tourney; China & Korea Continue to Steamroll Men’s Teams, North America Blanked Again; Redmond Audio Game Commentaries Now Available; Benjamin Teuber on Playing Michael Redmond 9P and Studying in China; Draughted In: Why Zhao Hanqing Changed Games; Going to the Max

Saturday December 14, 2013

The third annual SportAccord World Mind Games are taking place December 12-18 in Beijing, China. Click here for latest go competition winner resultshere for Ranka Online’s full coverage and here for reports on all 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games competitions (chess, go, bridge, Chinese Chess & draughts). CLICK HERE TO WATCH GAMES LIVE! 
NOTE: At 9 pm EST (6p PST) on Sunday, December 15, Michael Redmond 9P and E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock will provide live audio commentary on KGS on Round 4 games from the World Mind Games.  

Yu Zhiying Clinches Medal in Women’s Individual Tourney: How does men’s go differ from women’s go? Aside from superficial matters such as the players’ average height, some have pointed to a temperamental difference: women tend to play more impetuously–to start a fight at the drop of a hat; men tend to play more patiently, laying deep strategic plans that only slowly mature into victory, sometimes with little or no fighting at all. Others find men’s go more coldly logical and women’s go more ‘human’. Womanly qualities were on full display in the centerpiece game in the fourth round of women’s individual competition at the SportAccord World Mind Games on December 14th. The two players, China’s Wang Chenxing and Yu Zhiying (right), the last remaining undefeated duo, came out fighting to kill from the word ‘go’. Black (Ms Wang) laid out a loose group on the left side. White (Ms Yu) immediately surrounded it, with lethal intent. Black, with equally lethal intent, cut off and attacked some of the surrounding white stones. White defended them by attacking an adjacent black group, and so it went, both players carefully pondering their moves, with the life of their stones at stake. And then this battle royal had a heartwarming ‘human’ outcome. Every single threatened group lived. Peace descended on the board, the pace of play quickened, and in the end Yu Zhiying won by 5.5 points (click here to see the Michael Redmond’s game commentary), ensuring a berth in the final, one win away from a gold medal, and assured of at least the silver.
- James Davies, Ranka; click here for the rest of his report on the Women’s Individual competition. 

China & Korea Continue to Steamroll Men’s Teams, North America Blanked Again: The powerhouse men’s teams from China and Korea continued their dominance in the third round Saturday, with China sweeping Japan on all three boards and Korea chastening the European team — exuberant after their victory over North America in the previous round — with a perfect 3-0 score. The North American team suffered their third straight shutout defeat, this time at the hands of the Chinese Taipei team (NA’s Huiren Yang, at left, plays Taipei’s Chou Chun-hsun). These games amply displayed the “manly” qualities of strategy and deliberation. The young Japanese team in particular seemed determined to make the most of their opportunity to take on three of the best players in China, and their games were among the last to end, even though they all ended in resignation. Two other players, both amateurs, who strove patiently against strong professional opponents were North America’s Daniel Daehyuk Ko, who lost to Wang Yuan-jyun by 12.5 points, and Europe’s Pavol Lisy, who stayed in a tough contest against Korea’s Cho Hanseung until fairly late in a game that was broadcast live via YouTube, with commentary by deputy chief referee Michael Redmond 9P and American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock. The duo also took time to do live audio commentary on KGS on two Men’s Teams Round Two games. - based on a report by Ranka’s James Davies

Day 3 (Saturday, 12/14) Summary: (click on links for game records, uncommented unless otherwise noted)
Men’s team tournament (third round): China 3-0 over Japan: Fan Tingyu beat Fujita Akihiko, Zhou Ruiyang beat Hirata Tomoya, Wang Xi beat Tsuruta Kazushi; Korea 3-0 over Europe: Park Jeonghwan beat Fan Hui, Kim Jiseok beat Ilya Shikshin, Cho Hanseung beat Pavol Lisy; Chinese Taipei 3-0 over North America: Chou Chun-hsun beat Huiren Yang, Wang Yuan-jyun beat Daniel Daehyuk Ko, Lin Chun-yen beat Yongfei Ge (Redmond Commentary).
Women’s individual tournament (fourth round): Yu Zhiying (China) beat Wang Chenxing (China), Park Jieun (Korea) beat Oh Jeonga (Korea), Chang Cheng-ping (Chinese Taipei) beat Joanne Missingham (Chinese Taipei), Svetlana Shikshina (Russia) beat Natalia Kovaleva (Russia).

Redmond Audio Game Commentaries Now Available: This year, in addition to the various video feeds made available by SportAccord, Michael Redmond 9P (at left in photo) and American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock (at right) are doing live audio game commentaries on KGS, some of which are also being posted on KGS Plus under Recent Lectures. “12/14/13 9:52″ is the commentary on the Men’s Team Round 3 game between Yongfei Ge 6D and Chun-yen Lin 9P (starts at 6:53); “12/14/13 8:56″ is the commentary on the Women’s Individual Round 4 game between Yu Zhiying and Wang ChengXing (starts 3:43).

Benjamin Teuber on Playing Michael Redmond 9P and Studying in China: The promising young German Benjamin Teuber 6D took on Michael Redmond 9P in a special exhibition match held Saturday morning. South African Victor Chow (‘RoseDuke’), the winner of the SAWMG 2013 Pandanet tournament, was originally slated to play, but Teuber (at left in photo) — who’s currently studying go in China — substituted at the last minute when Chow was unable to attend. The game was calm with Teuber playing a very solid opening, but when he failed to use his thickness to attack, he slowly but surely fell behind. In the Ranka interview, Teuber talks about the new go training program being held in China for top European players and playing soccer with Gu Li.

Draughted In: Why Zhao Hanqing Changed Games: Once a fervent go player, 19-year-old Zhao Hanqing (right) began to study international draughts in 2008 and has already secured victory in the World Championship (Junior Girls). She is currently taking part in the draughts competition at the SportAccord World Mind Games being held in Beijing. Find out more about why she switched games and how China is promoting mind games.

Going to the Max: As games wrap up each day in the playing room at the Sport Accord World Mind Games venue in the Beijing International Conference Center, the review room next door fills up with players, pros and fans who review their games while keeping an eye on monitors showing the games still being played. The rapid clicking of go stones competes with the excited swirl of languages from around the world. Eventually, as darkness falls outside, the game room will empty, the day’s results will be marked on the scoreboard, and even the most hard-core players will tear themselves away from the go boards. For now. Until tomorrow, when the cycle begins again.
- Chris Garlock; all photos this page by Ivan Vigano

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Redmond on “Complete Information”

Saturday December 14, 2013

Joseki used to take months, sometimes years, to develop and be accepted. Now, like everything else in this hyper-connected world, they zip around the globe like so many electronic mushrooms, popping up overnight and sometimes fading just as fast. At least that’s the way Michael Redmond 9P sees it. “We’ve seen one particular new sequence repeatedly this week,” Redmond told me during one of our daily broadcasts at the SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing. “Everyone’s been playing it lately but I think it’s really just a fad and doubt that it’ll last.” Unlike the fabled study groups of Japanese professionals and insei who extensively researched, developed and tested new patterns to spring on their opponents in tournaments, there are no secrets in a world where even top professionals play online on a regular basis. Further proof, if any were needed, that go is indeed a game of complete information.
- Chris Garlock; photo by Makoto Moriwaki, Pandanet

SportAccord World Mind Games Day 2: North America & Japan’s Men’s Teams Winless as China-Korea Final Looms; All-China Final in Women’s Individual; PLUS: Svetlana Shikshina 3P Moves to Canada; What We Can Learn from Chess & Japan’s Yoshida Mika Considers Flamenco

Friday December 13, 2013

The third annual SportAccord World Mind Games are taking place December 12-18 in Beijing, China. Click here for latest go competition winner results, here for Ranka Online’s full coverage and here for reports on all 2013 SportAccord World Mind Games competitions (chess, go, bridge, Chinese Chess & draughts).

Day 2 (Friday, 12/13) Summary (click on links for game records, uncommented unless otherwise noted): Men’s Team: China 3-0 over Chinese Taipei: Fan Tingyu beat Chou Chun-hsun, Zhou Ruiyang beat Wang Yuan-jyun, Wang Xi (left in photo) beat Lin Chun-yen (right). Korea 3-0 over Japan: Park Jeonghwan beat Fujita Akihiko, Kim

Jiseok beat Hirata Tomoy (Redmond commentary), Cho Hanseung beat Tsuruta Kazushi, giving Japan an 0-6 record after two rounds. Europe 3-0 over North America: Fan Hui beat Huiren Yang, Ilya Shikshin beat Daniel Daehyuk Ko, Pavol Lisy (click left for Redmond commentary) beat Yongfei Ge, leaving the N.A. team winless after two rounds.
Women’s individual: Wang Chengxing (China) beat Joanne Missingham (Taipei); Yu Zhiying (China) beat Park Jieun (Korea); Chang Cheng-peng (China) beat Yoshida Mika (Japan); Oh Jeonga (Korea) beat Fujisawa Rina (Japan); Natalia Kovaleva (Russia) beat Dina Burdakova (Russia); Svetlana Shikshina (Russia; click left for Yang Shuang 2P’s KGS game variations) beat Sarah Jin Yu (Canada). Note: Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock did live audio commentary on the Round 2 Missingham-Jeonga game on KGS but because they recorded the game and did variations in the same file (instead of cloning), the record’s trees are a bit of a mess; it’s attached here for those interested.

North America & Japan Men’s Teams Winless as China-Korea Final Looms: On the basis of international tournament results during the current century, China and Korea seemed likely to have the advantage in their matches, but Chinese Taipei’s near-upset of Korea in the first round raised doubts about the size of that advantage. In the second round on Friday, however, the Chinese and Korean teams prevailed handily over Chinese Taipei and Japan. The match between Europe and North America was harder to predict. North America had won a similar match two years ago, but by a close 3-2 score, and this year the European team had the advantage of youth. 

In the game between Russia’s Ilya Shikshin (left in photo) and Daniel Daehyuk Ko (right) of the U.S., Shikshin “started out with a complex opening pattern in which my opponent made several mistakes, so I got the lead,” Shikshin told Ranka. “I think I was about twenty points ahead. After that I tried to play simple moves, and my opponent started to take risks, trying to draw me into an error, but in the end I killed a dragon and he resigned.” 

Slovakia’s Pavol Lisy, on the other hand, “had a bad opening” against Canada’s Yongfei Ge, “but then somehow I caught up and even pulled ahead. At one point I thought I was going to win by about six points, nearly the size of the komi. Then something happened to a group of mine in the corner. At first it looked as if I was going to lose all my territory there. I was terrified, but I thought for ten minutes and found a way to rescue it, and after I did, my opponent resigned.”

Women’s Individual Tournament Rounds 2 & 3: Triumph for China, Disaster for Japan & North America, Mixed for Rest: 
The results on Day 2 were a complete triumph for the two Chinese players, a disaster for the women from Japan and North America, and a mixture of wins and losses for the women from Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Russia. The six winners remain in contention, and Joanne Missingham and Park Jieun, who recorded their first losses, are also still in contention. The two Chinese, Wang Chengxing and Yu Zhiying, will contend for the final undefeated position in Round Four. Click here for the complete Ranka report. 

Svetlana Shikshina 3P Moves to Canada: The Russian-born Korean professional (left) moved to Canada in late June 2013 and talks to Ranka’s James Davies about the challenges of her new life there.

What We Can Learn from Chess: FIDE Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Borg (right) on an unexpected common link between chess and go and Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi on lessons from the cheating scandals in chess.

Japan’s Yoshida Mika Considers Flamenco: After her “tragic loss” to young Chinese star Yu Zhiying 4P, Yoshida, former winner of the Women’s Honinbo, tells Ranka’s John Richardson “maybe my future is in flamenco,” which she took up again earlier this year.

- photos by Ivan Vigano/Ranka Online 

Registration Opens for New Online Self-Paired Tournament Session

Friday December 13, 2013

Registration for the next AGA On-Line Games Self-Paired Tournament — which will run January 1 to March 31, 2014 on KGS — begins December 15. The initial  Self-Paired Tournament — in which 24 players have so far played 44 games — will end December 31, with results announced in early January. Players must be AGA members current through March 1, 2014. A player’s current AGA rating is the default tournament rating. Tournament Ratings may be adjusted by the Tournament Director for those without an AGA rating or for those who whose current AGA rating clearly does not reflect their current playing strength. Games are played and tournament documents are linked in the AGA Tournament Room on KGS.

Simultaneous games will also be offered during this upcoming quarter in the AGA Community Room on KGS by volunteers AGA 4 dan and above. The room is open to all AGA members current through March 31, 2014. Email bobgilman.aga@gmail.com with your AGA ID number and KGS username for access to the room. A schedule is linked in the room and in the AGA Tournament Room. “These games are a fine opportunity for players to test their understanding and technique against stronger players,” says Gilman.

Men’s Team & Women’s Individual Events Launch Go Competitions at SportAccord World Mind Games

Friday December 13, 2013

Day 1 Summary: Men’s teams: China beat North America 3-0, Korea beat Chinese Taipei 2-1, Japan beat Europe 3-0. Women’s individual: Yu Zhiying (China) beat Dina Burdakova (Europe/Russia), Chang Cheng-ping (Chinese Taipei) beat Natalia Kovaleva (Europe/Russia), Oh Jeonga (Korea) beat Sarah Jin Yu (North America/US), Fujisawa Rina (Japan) beat Svetlana Shikshina (Europe/Russia). CLICK HERE TO WATCH SAWMG DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS. Note: click on hotlinked names below for game records, uncommented unless otherwise indicated.

In the match between China and North America, the game between Wang Xi (China) and Yongfei Ge (Canada) was played at a rapid pace, with Ge challenging Wang to an early ko fight. Wang won the ko and captured five white stones in the center, then used his central power to attack and capture White’s largest group. Ge resigned and the game was over in less than an hour. The other two North American players held out longer, but Huiren Yang resigned to 17-year-old Ing Cup-winner Fang Tingyu in less than two hours, and Daniel Daehyuk Ko, after playing his game out nearly to the end and seeing that he was more than ten points behind, resigned to the Bailing Cup winner Zhou Ruiyang. The Ko-Zhou game (click here for Michael Redmond 9P’s game commentary) was broadcast to a live YouTube audience with a running commentary by Michael Redmond 9P.

The European team put up more stubborn resistance in their match with Japan, but Ilya Shikshin lost by 4.5 points to 19-year-old Hirata Tomoya (photo at right; click here for Michael Redmond 9P’s game commentary); Fan Hui managed to rescue a beleaguered group in a ko fight but eventually had to resign against New King (Shinjin-O) title-holder Fujita Akihiko; and in a battle of 18-year-olds, Pavol Lisy struggled to a 28.5-point loss to Tsuruta Kazuya.

The Korean team was matched against Chinese Taipei. In the first round of the men’s team event in the first SportAccord World Mind Games two years ago, Chinese Taipei had given Korea a bad scare by winning on two of the five boards. This year, with only three boards, Korea could not afford two losses. Both sides played deliberately from the outset. Around four o’clock it looked as if the younger player might win on all three boards, and two of the younger players were from Chinese Taipei. Two of these predictions held up: Park Jeonghwan (Korea, age 19) defeated Chou Chun-hsun (Chinese Taipei, age 33) by half a point on board one, and Lin Chun-yen (Chinese Taipei, age 15) defeated Cho Hanseung (Korea, age 31) by resignation on board three. On board two, however, Kim Jiseok (Korea, age 23) fought back to overcome Wang Yuan-jyun (Chinese Taipei, age 17) by 1.5 points. “I was behind from the opening,” said Kim. “I finally managed to catch up in the endgame, but because of the large number of prisoners it was hard to calculate the score accurately. It wasn’t until I won the ko on the right side that I thought I might be ahead.”
- James Davies, Ranka Online. Click here for his complete Day 1 report, the SAWMG Day 1 reportDay 1 men’s results & women’s results.
CORRECTION: this post has been updated to reflect that Fan Tingyu won the Ing Cup and Zhou Ruiyang won the Bailing Cup, rather than the other way around, as originally reported. 

2013 SportAccord World Mind Games Launch in Beijing

Thursday December 12, 2013

Approximately 150 bridge, chess, draughts, go and xianqi players flew into Beijing Monday for the third SportAccord World Mind games, which run through December 18. Daily highlights are available on YouTube, click here for schedule and results and you can also follow the action on Facebook. Go, with 30 players, has the third largest contingent, behind bridge (48 players) and chess (32 players); 18 men and 12 women from China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, North America, Japan, and Korea. The men will compete as teams, the women as individuals, and the Games will also include pair events (see below for Michael Redmond’s commentary on the Round 1 game between Danny Ko 7d and Ruiyang Zhou 9P). The Games were officially declared open Tuesday evening by Yang Xiacho, president of the Organizing Comittee and deputy mayor of Beijing, at an opening ceremony held in the main second floor hall of the Beijing International Conference Center, which will be the competition venue for the coming week. The announcement was accompanied by a musical fanfare and projected images of fireworks and preceded by official greetings from dignitaries, including Wang Wei, executive president of the Organizing Committee and vice chairman of the Beijing Olympic City Development Association (BODA), and Marius Vizer, president of SportAccord. Representative groups of contestants marched onto the stage to witness the raising of the Chinese flag and the SportAccord flag by a crack drill team in white uniforms, after which the stage was taken by a succession of Chinese dance teams, including a shadowboxing demonstration, kickball dance team, military exercises with broadswords and an exhibition of classical dance skills in a ‘Chess Rhyme’, in which the dancers were dressed as black and white chess queens. There was much in these performances to inspire the spectators, who were already in a good mood following a buffet banquet, and the ceremony ended at a quarter past eight, in plenty of time for everyone to rest up for the week ahead, though the go players met briefly for a technical meeting to set up the competition draw. Click here for James Davies’ detailed opening ceremony and technical meeting report on Ranka. photos by Ivan Vigano

Today’s Game Commentary: Daniel Ko (US) vs. Ruiyang Zhou (China)
Daniel Ko, the 7-dan from Los Angeles, California acquits himself quite well in this game against a world champion. Zhou won the first Bai Lin Ai Tou Cup, was a finalist in the 18th LG Cup and a member of the championship Chinese team in the 13th Nong Shim Cup. This game features a modern-style professional opening and competing moyos that both players invade. This could have been a close game but in the key fight in the middle-game, white pulls ahead in territory while attacking black. Click above or here to download the sgf file and open in your favorite go software.

South London Go Club Hosts Kyu-Players Teaching Day

Tuesday December 10, 2013

The South London Go Club held a very successful teaching day and tournament for some two dozen kyu-players at the Quaker Meeting House, Croydon on Saturday December 7. In the morning three dan-grade volunteers from the British Go Association (BGA) gave 50-minute teaching sessions in rotation to three groups selected by grade, and in the afternoon each group played a Swiss tournament, while the teachers — joined by Paul Smith 1d, who was escorting his young son Edmund to the event — played a round-robin. For the teaching sessions, our correspondent “added a stone to the weak group”:

British Champion Andrew Kay 4d gave an extremely lucid presentation on probe stones, which he described as stones which ask a question of the opponent. It is though, he explained, actually a trick question designed so that however it is answered, it will receive a response which makes it the wrong answer. He went on to demonstrate exactly what he meant in practical terms on the board, using first a life-and-death situation in the corner, then a joseki not well-known even to low-dan players.

BGA stalwart and AGA member Francis Roads 2d (left, pointing at board) chose a game submitted to the event by one of the attendees for review as the teaching material. It became the subject of a “penny go” exercise, whereby at critical junctures in the review each member of the student group was invited to place a penny where they thought the next play should be. Showing great tact and sensitivity to the diffidence of the learners, Roads not only withheld the identity of the game’s players but even made himself absent as the (identical) pennies were placed. One of the teaching points he was most emphatic about was controlling the knee-jerk tendency of weaker players to “obey the 5cm rule”, ie unthinkingly responding to any move with a play within 5cm of the opponent’s last stone.

Tim Hunt 2d also used a game review to illustrate various teaching points, particularly in the opening. He, however, made his points using a high-level professional game, so here it was more often an analysis of why this or that move was a good one, compared to the students’ various suggestions. The game was from round 1 of the 1998 Japanese Oza qualifiers which Michael Redmond won as white against the legendary Cho Chikun. When Redmond visited the UK earlier this year Hunt had heard someone ask him his favourite game, and this was it. The teacher needed no recourse to a game record, as he had clearly studied it in great depth and knew every move as well as numerous possible variations at each stage.

After a short break for lunch, the tournament(s) got under way: three rounds with half an hour per player then sudden death, and handicaps (for the students, but not the teachers), set equal to grade difference, komi 7.5. Natasha Regan 1k of Epsom won in the first division (1k – 5k), narrowly beating Sue Paterson 4k of Arundel by one point in the third round, with Chris Volk 2k of Reading pushing Paterson into third place with one point more on aggregate. In the second division (6k – 10k) Peter Fisher 7k of Leicester was victorious, while Francis Moore 6k of the home club placed second and Malcolm Hagan 6k of Winchester third. In the third division (11+k) Gerry Gavigan 12k, also of South London, won and Adam Field 13k of Winchester and 8-year-old Edmund Smith 13k of Milton School took second and third place respectively. In the teachers’ tournament, Tim Hunt prevailed, winning all three games. (Placings above are based on tie-break by sum of players’ scores, per the hand-produced tables at the South London Go Club website; click here for official results). 

All the prizes were books aimed at improvers: Understanding Dan-level Play, by Yuan Zhou; How Not To Play Go, also by Yuan Zhou; Attack and Defence, by Ishida Akira and James Davies; Opening Theory Made Easy, by Otake Hideo;  Go Proverbs vol 1, published by the Nihon Ki-in and finally Go By Example: correcting common mistakes in double-digit kyu play, by Neil Moffat. Prizes went to all with three wins and some with two. In addition, two copies of Anders Kierulf’s SmartGo Kifu iPhone/iPad app, donated to the event by the author, went to the first takers.

The event was the first of its kind for the South London Go Club, but it is intended that it should become an annual event, though perhaps at a different time of year according to organizer David Cantrell, a man with a large beard and quirky sense of humour who signs off unofficial correspondence with such improbable self-stylings as “London Perl Mongers Deputy Chief Heretic”, or “Enforcer, South London Linguistic Massive” often appending an epigram such as, “Human Rights left unattended may be removed, destroyed, or damaged by the security services.”

Click here for further details and full results and a photo album.

Report and photos by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal.

Mi Yuting Triumphs at 1st MLily Cup

Sunday December 8, 2013

1st MLily Cup 2013The 1st MLily Cup finished on December 6 with China’s newest 9d player Mi Yuting (left) at the helm. On his journey to his breakthrough win, the 18-year-old Mi defeated Lee Sedol 9p, Kang Dongyun 9p, Kong Jie 9p, Dang Yifei 4p, and Wang Xi 9p. Final challenger Gu Li 9d hoped to end his three-year runner-up streak but Mi dominated 3-1.

The MLily Cup is a biennial international go tournament sponsored by MLily Meng Baihe. It is intended to alternate with the Bailing Cup every other year. For more information about this year’s MLily Cup including photos and game records, please visit Go Game Guru.
— Annalia Linnan, based on a longer article by Go Game Guru; photo courtesy of Go Game Guru

EuroGoTV Update: Russia, UK, Serbia

Saturday December 7, 2013

16th Serbian Individual CupRussia: The Cup of Japan House finished December 1 in Moscow with Ilja Shikshin 7d in first, Igor Nemlij 5d in second, and Vadim Khavin 4d in third. UK: Bruno Poltronieri 3d bested Andrew Kay 4d in The Coventry at Warwick University on November 30. Yuanbo Zhang 4d placed third. Serbia: Also on November 30, Dusan Mitic 6d (left) won the 16th Serbian Individual Cup in Belgrade. Behind him were Nikola Mitic 5d and Dejan Krstic 4d.
– Annalia Linnan,  based on reports from EuroGoTV, which include complete result tables and all the latest European go news; photo courtesy of EuroGoTV

SportAccord World Mind Games Japanese Player Profiles

Thursday December 5, 2013

Thirty players (18 men and 12 women) from around the world — China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, Japan, Korea and North America — will compete for major cash prizes in this year’s SportAccord World Mind Games, coming up December 12-18 in Beijing. Here are Michael Redmond’s 9P’s introduction and brief biographical sketches of the Japanese players. Redmond and EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock will be providing play-by-play game commentary on the SAWMG YouTube channel as well as coverage in the EJ. click here to see the player roster and schedule

by Michael Redmond 9P
Overall, it is clear that Japan has decided to give younger players a chance this year. Unfortunately, star players from the same age group such as Murakawa Daisuke and Ichiriki Ryo are missing, I would have liked to see them in this tournament. Murakawa was the B league winner of the Kisei league and recently he lost to Yamashita Keigo in the playoff to decide the challenger. In the league he bested top players such as Takao Shinji, Hane Naoki, and Kono Rin. I suppose that the Kisei tournament, among other things, posed a potential schedule issue for him this time. Ichiriki is a formidable 16 year old player, he seems to be winning all the time. Two weeks ago he lost to Ko Iso in the final to enter the Meijin league, his only loss in the recent past that I can remember. I would guess he has some other schedule issues. As to the women, judging from domestic tournaments I would have expected to see Xie Imin, Mukai Chiaki, or Okuda Aya, but actually I have a feeling that Yoshida might have a better track record in international tournaments.

Rina Fujisawa 2P: Born in 1998, at the age of 11 years and 6 months, she became the youngest player to become pro in Japan, breaking Cho Chikun’s record of 11 and 9 months. She began playing as a pro in April 2010, and caused some comment by beating a 9-dan in June of the same year. Rina is the granddaughter of Fujisawa Shuko, and her father is Fujisawa Kazunari 8P. She has an intuitive and aggressive style.

Akihiro Fujita 4P: Born in 1991, Akihiro became a pro in 2006. Won the 38th Shinjin-O (New Kings) tournament in 2013, and in 2010 came one win away from entering the Honinbo league, losing to Yamashiro 9p in the final round. He is considered to be one of the most promising young players in Japan.

Tomoya Hirata 3P: Born in 1994, became pro in 2009. Plays an aggressive style. In June this year I played him and published a commentary in the EJ on the game, which I lost by a mistake in late middlegame.

Kazushi Tsuruta 2P: Born in 1995, became pro in 2010. In 2011 he won into the Gosei Honsen.

Mika Yoshida 8P: Born in 1971, became pro in 1986. Won several Women’s titles from 1992 to 2005. Plays a well-balanced style.