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The Power Report: Obituary: Sugiuchi Masao; Nongshim Cup 2nd Stage dominated by China; Xie regains Women’s Honinbo title

Sunday December 3, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.22_sugiuchiforever

Obituary: Sugiuchi Masao
I very much regret having to report the death of Sugiuchi Masao, a player who was a part of 20th-century go history who remained active well into the 21st century, when he acquired new fans as the oldest active professional go player ever.

2017.12.03-SugiuchiSugiuchi died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital on November 21. He was born in what is now Miyako-no-jo City in Miyazaki Prefecture on October 20, 1920. As a child, he showed talent at go and in 1933 came to Tokyo to become a disciple of Inoue Ichiro 5P. He became professional 1-dan in 1937, but lost about three years of his career to military service during the war. When he returned to the go world in 1946, he became one of the leaders of the younger generation, along with players like Sakata Eio and Fujisawa Hideyuki (Shuko). The peak of his career came when he challenged Takagawa Kaku (Honinbo Shukaku) for the 9th and 13th Honinbo titles in 1954 and 1958; he lost both matches 2-4. He won the Rapid Go Meijin tournament in 1959 and the 7th Igo Championship in 1963. He played in the Honinbo League seven times and in the (Yomiuri) Meijin league five times. He received a decoration from the Japanese government in 1992, and the Nihon Ki-in awarded him the Okura Prize in 2004. His lifetime record was 883 wins, 677 losses, 12 jigo, and two no result. He also served as a director of the Nihon Ki-in, including a term as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Many decades ago, Sugiuchi acquired the nickname of “the god of Go, ” perhaps for his quiet, self-effacing demeanor and his dedication to the game. In his 90s, he became one of the understated wonders of the go world. Although the Nihon Ki-in had introduced a retirement system, which enabled some players to retire as young as in their 50s, he kept playing. His last official game was played on November 2, so his active go career extends to 80 years. This is a record, as is remaining active until the age of 97. He is survived by his wife Kazuko 8P, who is still active at the age of 90, a record for women players. She is now the oldest active professional at the Nihon Ki-in. Her career has lasted 75 years, so she might break her husband’s record. (By the way, a game Sugiuchi played at the age of 95 with the 15-year-old Onishi Ryuhei, then 1P, set a record for the biggest age gap between the players.)

Nongshim Cup 2nd Stage dominated by China: The first round of the 19th Nongshim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in2017.12.03-Dang (L) beats Shin Shenyang City in China from September 19 to 22. It was dominated by Shin Minjun 6P of Korea, who won all four games. In the second round, held in Busan in Korea, he extended his winning streak to six games, but then Dang Yifei of China took over and won the remaining games in the round. Results follow.
Game 5 (Nov. 24). Shin (W) beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by 4.5 points.
Game 6 (Nov. 25). Shin (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) by resig.
Game 7 (Nov. 26). Dang Yifei 9D (China) (W) beat Shin by resig.
Game 8 (Nov. 27). Dang (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P (Japan) by resig.
Game 9 (Nov. 28). Dang (B) beat Kim Myounghoon 5P (Korea) by resig.
The final round will be held in Shanghai and will start on February 26. Players remaining are Iyama Yuta for Japan, who will appear in Game 10), Dang and Ke Jie for China, and Kim Jiseok, Shin Jinseo, and Park Junghwan for Korea. Based on players remaining, Korea has an advantage, but someone has to stop Dang.

Xie regains Women’s Honinbo title: The fifth game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match was held in the Special2017.12.03_Xie left wins #5 hon05_06 Playing Room on the 7th floor of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 29. Playing black, Xie Yimin (left) defeated the defending champion Fujisawa Rina by 8.5 titles and regained the title she lost to her last year. She was very relieved to be able to end the year on a good note. In the last year or so, Fujisawa had dominated the women’s titles, winning four to Xie’s one, but this win restored her to her familiar position of multiple title-holder (she already held the Women’s Kisei). Fujisawa is left with the Women’s Hollyhock Cup (sponsored by the Aizu Central Hospital), the Women’s Meijin, and the Senko Cup. This is the ninth time Xie has won the Women’s Honinbo. She and Kusunoki Mitsuko are the only players who have made two comebacks. This is Xie’s 27th title.

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Tokugawa Memorial Go Congress features dozens of high-profile pros

Monday November 27, 2017

Forty-seven high-profile professional go players — including Michael Redmond 9P — will be participating in the Tokugawa Memorial Go 2017.11.27_ShizuokaCongress in Shizuoka, Japan next February. The event will run from February 11-18, 2018, with a main daily tournament game, followed by other events including instruction and commentaries by professional go players, as well as a 13×13 tournament, go relay, and kids tournament. Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Shizuoka is a city on the south coast of Japan. It’s known for views of Mount Fuji from Miho no Matsubara beach and the Nihondaira Plateau. A cable car links the plateau to Kunōzan Tōshō-gū, an ornate 17th-century shrine and original burial place of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Sunpu Castle features ruins of the original castle and a recreated turret. The Toro Museum archaeological site displays Iron Age dwellings.

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Oza and Tengen titles

Sunday November 26, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.26_tengen3.IyamaJPG

Iyama defends Oza and Tengen titles: Everything is going well for Iyama Yuta these days, both internationally and domestically. In quick succession, he defended two of his top-seven titles, making sure he ends the year with his Grand Slam intact.

2017.11.26_Oza 3 IrikiOn November 20, the third game of the 65th Oza title match was held at the same venue as the second game (on the 18th, covered in my previous report, published on the 21st), that is, at the Hotel Okura Kobe in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture. My description of the second game needs to be revised in light of the Go Weekly report. Apparently Ichiriki (white, at left) took the lead in the opening and in the middle game he built a winning position. However, Iyama made a do-or-die attack that ended in his capturing a large group and pulling off an upset. In the third game, in contrast, it was Iyama (white) who got a good position in the opening (mainly because Ichiriki was burdened with a heavy group). In the middle game, he kept up the pressure on Ichiriki and forced him to resign after 174 moves. This gave him a 3-0 lead, so he defended his title. It is his third Oza title in a row. One rest day may not have been enough for Ichiriki to recover from the shock of letting slip the second game. The fourth game was scheduled to be played in his hometown of Sendai, but he couldn’t take the match that far. The Oza prize is 14 million yen (about $127,000).

The third game of the 43rd Tengen title match was played at the Munakata Yurikkusu, an entertainment/sports/cultural complex in 2017.11.26_oza3 Iyama rightMunakata City, Fukuoka Prefecture, on November 24. Playing black, Iyama (right) built central influence in the opening, but Ichiriki attacked his centre group and tried to blockade it. In response, Iyama cut the blockading group into two and tried to surround the centre part of it. Ichiriki came up with a clever answer, so his group was able to break out, but in the subsequent fighting he missed the best sequence. After that, the game went downhill for him. Iyama set up and won two successive ko fights, also killing a white group in the second fight. Ichiriki resigned after Black 171. Iyama’s fighting ability gave him the edge over the challenger. This win made the score 3-0, so he 2017.11.26_tengen3 IchirikiJPGcompleted his Tengen defence just four days after his Oza success. Finishing off both these titles so quickly earns Iyama a lot of extra time for rest and recuperation in December.

Iyama: “In this series, each game could easily have gone either way. I think that in the end I was just lucky.”

Ichiriki (left): “In both the Tengen and Oza matches, I felt a gap between Iyama and me when byo-yomi started.”

The Tengen prize money is 13 million yen (about $118,000). Iyama has now won 48 titles, so he has moved ahead of Kato Masao into equal fourth place with Otake Hideo. It will take him a while to overhaul the players still ahead of him: Kobayashi with 60, Sakata Eio with 64, and Cho Chikun with 74.

Starting with the third game in last year’s Tengen title match, Ichiriki has now lost nine games in a row to Iyama. He has just over seven weeks to regroup before the Kisei title match starts. First of all, he will have to adjust to two-day games.

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The Power Report (2 of 2): Rin Kaiho receives decoration in autumn honors; Ichiriki to challenge for Kisei

Saturday November 11, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.10_Rin Kaiho

Rin Kaiho receives decoration in autumn honors:
Rin Kaiho (Lin Haifeng) 9P has been awarded a decoration by the Japanese government in the autumn honors. Rin (right) was one of the top players in the second half of the 20th century. He has scored 1400 wins as a professional, behind only Cho Chikun, and has won 35 titles, including the Meijin eight times, the Honinbo and Tengen five times each (he is Honorary Tengen), and the Oza, Judan, and Gosei once each. He is a disciple of Go Seigen, who received the same decoration, and has many Taiwanese disciples (though born in Shanghai in 1942, he is a citizen of Taiwan), including Cho U. The success for which Rin is best remembered is defeating Sakata Eio, 2017.11.10_Ichiriki L Yamashita Rconsidered almost invincible at the time, and becoming Meijin at the age of 23, then a youth record. Twenty-six Nihon Ki-in players have received a total of 37 decorations.

Ichiriki to challenge for Kisei: The first game of the play-off to decide the challenger for the 42nd Kisei title was held at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on November 9. Taking white, Ichiriki Ryo (left), the winner of the S League, defeated Yamashita Keigo 9P (right), second in the same league, by resignation after 216 moves. As the S League winner, Ichiriki starts the play-off with a one-win advantage, so this win made him 2-0 and made him the challenger to Iyama Yuta Kisei. That means that the two will meet in three successive title matches, making a super-series best-of-17 (a minimum of ten games will be played). Ichiriki is the youngest player to challenge for the Kisei title. Becoming the challenger earned him promotion to 8-dan (as of (November 10). The first game of the title match will be played on January 18 and 19.

Promotion: To 2-dan: Hirose Yuichi (30 wins, as of Nov. 3)

Correction: this post has been updated to reflect the fact that Rin Kaiho has born in 1942, not 1952. 

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Meijin, achieves second Grand Slam; Iyama makes good start in Oza; Iyama extends lead in Tengen; Yamashita makes Kisei playoff; Fujisawa evens score; First round completed in 73rd Honinbo League

Sunday October 29, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.10.29_42 Meijin5 Iyama

Iyama defends Meijin, achieves second Grand Slam: The fifth game in the 42nd Meijin title match was held at the Atami Sekitei inn (below left), one of the traditional venues for the Meijin, in Atami City in Shizuoka 2017.10.29_43meijin5_8Prefecture on October 16 and 17. After winning the first game in the match, the defending champion, Takao Shinji Meijin, had lost three in a row, so he faced his first kadoban. The game got off to a stormy start, with Takao, who had white, capturing a large group of Iyama Yuta’s. Actually Iyama (right) could have made a second eye, but he didn’t like the result, so instead he discarded the group and tried to squeeze on the outside as compensation. As usual, it was a fierce game, and the lead switched back and forth. In the end, Iyama set up a ko to kill the white group surrounding his “captured” group, and Takao had to resign when he ran out of ko threats.

2017.10.29_42meijin5 TakaoLosing this title to Takao (left) last year cost Iyama his simultaneous grand slam, the first in Japanese go history. In the meantime, he defended his other six titles, so regaining the Meijin gave him his second grand slam, a first for. This is a first for go or shogi. Iyama maintained the first one for 197 days. Fans will be looking forward to his extending this. This is his 46th title, which leaves him in sixth place, one behind Kato Masao.

This success earned Iyama a report in the nightly news, which also revealed in passing that his tournament prize money now amounted to 1,000 million ten (about $9 million).

Iyama makes good start in Oza: Just three days after regaining his grand slam, Iyama was busy with maintenance, meeting the challenge of Ichiriki Ryo 7P for the 65th Oza title. The first game was played at the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, on October 20. Iyama drew white. The game started with a fierce struggle for the initiative, and fighting continued to the end. Iyama was able to take an edge, leading Ichiriki to resign after 168 moves. The second game is scheduled for November 18.1 Oza1 Ichiriki right

Iyama extends lead in Tengen: The second game of the 43rd Tengen title match was played at the Hotel Emisia Sapporo in Sapporo City, Hokkaido, on October 27. Taking white, Iyama Yuta secured a resignation after 162 moves, making the game almost the same length as the Oza one reported above. Ichiriki Ryo (right) faces his first kadoban in the third game, scheduled for November 24. As least he has the better part of a month to consider how to righten his ship in his double challenge.

Yamashita makes Kisei playoff: The third game in the knock-out to decide the challenger in the 42nd Kisei tournament was played on October 27. Motoki Katsuya 8P had done well, moving up from bottom of the knock-out, as C League winner, past the B and C League winners, but his run came to a stop when he met Yamashita Keigo 9P, second-place-getter in the S League. Taking black, 2017.10.29_female-honinbo2 FujisawaYamashita won by resig. He will meet Ichiriki in the final, though the latter starts with a one-win advantage.

Fujisawa evens score: The second game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Izanro Iwasaki inn in2017.10.29_female-honinbo2 Izanro Iwasaki_8 the town of Miasa in Tottori Prefecture (at right, with the Mitoku River flowing in front of it). Taking black, Fujisawa Rina (left), the defending champion, forced Xie Yimin, the challenger, to resign after 205 moves. This evened the score at 1-1. The third game will be played on November 4.

First round completed in 73rd Honinbo League: With the two results given below, the first round of the new league has now been completed. Of the four newcomers to the league, only Ida Atsushi has won a game. Besides the players below, Motoki Katsuya and Yamashita Keigo have won a game. The others to have lost a game are Kobayashi Satoru and Shibano Toramaru.
(Oct. 19) Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.
(Oct. 26) Ida Atsushi 8P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 3.5 points.

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The Power Report (Part 3 of 3): Record age gap in women’s game; Mutsuura wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Tengen title match starts

Wednesday October 18, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Record age gap in women’s game: On October 5, Sugiuchi Kazuko 8P played Ueno Asami 1P in the preliminary round of the Women’s Hollyhock Cup. Playing white, Ueno beat Sugiuchi by resig. This game set a record for the biggest gap in a women’s game: Ueno is 15 and Sugiuchi is 90. Go Weekly gave the age gap as 75 years. Sugiuchi was born on March 6, 1927 and Ueno on October 26, 2001, so, to be precise, the difference is 74 years seven months. Sugiuchi is probably2017.10.18_Kiriyama L Mutsuura R Takao the oldest active female professional ever. Her husband, Sugiuchi Masao 9P, is still playing at the age of 96 (he turns 97 on October 20). It’s hard to imagine this is not a record for male professionals.

Mutsuura wins Agon Kiriyama Cup: The final of the 24th Agon Kiriyama Cup was held at the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon sect of Buddhism on October 7. Playing in his first big final, Mutsuura Yuta 3P (white, left in photo at right) defeated Takao Shinji Meijin (at right). Takao resigned after 210 moves. Mutsuura is a member of the Nagoya or Central Japan branch 2017.10.18_Tengen1 L Ichiriki R Iyamaof the Nihon Ki-in. He was born on May 1, 1999, so yet another strong teenager has emerged in Japan. At 18 years five months, he is the third-youngest player to win an open title. His success earned him promotion to 7-dan (as of October 8).

Tengen title match starts: The final quarter of the tournament year in Japan features two title matches, the Tengen and the Oza, between Iyama Yuta and Ichiriki Ryo, so in effect they are playing a best-of-ten. Ichiriki is also the favourite to challenge for the Kisei title, so it could become a best-of-17. The first game in the 43rd Tengen title was played at the Hotel Foresta in Toyoda City, Aichi Prefecture, on October 11. Taking black, Iyama (at right, photo at left) played aggressively, but Ichiriki held his own in the fighting. In the end, however, Iyama’s good judgment enabled him to draw ahead. Aiming at an upset, Ichiriki started a ko fight at the end, but Black had more ko threats, so he resigned after 273 moves. The second game will be played on October 27. The first Oza game is scheduled for October 20.

Promotion: To 2-dan: Hoshiai Shiho (30 wins, as of Sept. 26)

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that Mutsuura was born in 1999, not 2009.

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The Power Report (Part 2 of 3): Motoki does well in Kisei knock-out; Chinese pair wins world championship; New Honinbo league starts

Tuesday October 17, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Motoki does well in Kisei knock-out: The first game in the irregular knock-out among the various league winners in the 42nd Kisei tournament was played on October 2. Motoki Katsuya 8P, winner of the C League, beat Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 7P, winner of the play-off between the winners of the two B Leagues. Motoki followed up this success by beating the winner of the A League, Takao Shinji Meijin, on October 12. Taking black, Motoki won by resignation. Next, he will meet the second-place-getter in the S League, Yamashita Keigo.

Chinese pair wins world championship: The second part of the Pair Go World Championship 2017 was held at the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya, Tokyo, on October 5. The winning pair in the Stars Tournament, held at the same venue on August 12 and 13, that is, Xie Yimin 6P and Iyama Yuta 9P, representing Japan, met the reigning Pair Go world champions, Yu Zhiying 5P and Ke Jie 9P of China, in the Masters Match. The Chinese pair earned their title in the Pair Go World Cup 2016 Tokyo. Playing white, Yu and Ke defended their title, forcing Xie and Iyama to resign after 198 moves. Like the final in the August event, the game was played in the Noh Theater in the basement of the hotel.
A unique event, the Go AI Research and Goodwill Game by the Pair Go Format, was held on the previous day. Xie, Iyama and the program DeepZenGo were matched against Yu, Ke and DeepZenGo. To fit the Pair Go format, the human players on each team played as one member of the pair with the AI program; they were free to consult each other and together played every second move for their side. This was a lighthearted event, with the players occasionally bursting into laughter. Xie, of course, could also follow what the Chinese players were saying, which she said made the game even more fun. Just for the record, this game was also won by the Chinese pair.

New Honinbo league starts: The first two games in the 73rd Honinbo League were played on October 5. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. and Motoki Katsuya 8P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P, also by resig. So far, October has been a good month for Motoki, the previous Honinbo challenger.

Tomorrow: Record age gap in women’s game; Mutsuura wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Tengen title match starts

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The Power Report (Part 1 of 3): Korea stars in Nongshim Cup; 22nd Samsung Cup; Meijin Four: Iyama’s brilliancy

Monday October 16, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.10.16_Nongshim Shin wins 4th game

Korea stars in Nongshim Cup: The opening round of the 19th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Shenyang City in Liaoning Province in China from September 19 to 22. It was a triumph for Shin Minjun 6P (right) of Korea, who won all four games in this round. He showed that there’s more than one strong player named Shin in Korea. He was born on Jan. 11, 1999 in Busan, became a professional in 2012 and reached 4-dan in 2016. In the same year, he won the 4th King of the New Stars title, which earned him promotion to 5-dan. He was promoted to 6-dan earlier this year. In the Korean qualifying tournament to choose the team for this tournament, he defeated his teacher, Lee Sedol. In the first Nongshim game, he defeated the player, Fan Tingyu, who won seven games in a row in the previous Nongshim Cup.
Results:
Game One (Sept. 19). Shin (W) beat Fan Tingyu 9P (China) by 3.5 points.
Game Two (Sept. 20). Shin (B) beat Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 7P (Japan) by resig.
Game Three (Sept. 21). Shin (B) beat Zhou Ruiyang 9P (China) by resig.
Game Four (Sept. 22). Shin (W) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 7P (Japan) by resig.
Time allowance is one hour per player followed by byo-yomi of one minute per move. The remaining members of the Japanese team are Iyama Yuta, Yamashita Keigo, and Ichiriki Ryo. Round Two will be played in Busan, Korea, in November, and Round Three in Shanghai in February.

22nd Samsung Cup: The second and third rounds of the 22nd Samsung Cup were held at the Samsung Confucian Castle Campus in Daejeon City in Korea on September 25 and 26. Two Japanese representatives, Iyama Yuta and 2017.10.16_Samsung Iyama eliminatedYamashita Keigo, had survived the large-scale opening round, but they were both eliminated in the second round. Iyama (B, at left) was matched against Shin Jinseo 8P of Korea. The game featured fierce fighting from early on. Iyama made an oversight and resigned after 118 moves. Yamashita (black) lost to Tong Mengcheng 6P of China; he resigned after 122 moves. Pairings in the semifinals are Dong vs. Gu Zihao (both of China) and Tang Weixing (China) vs. An Kukhyun (Korea)

Meijin Four: Iyama’s brilliancy
As promised, here is some more detail about the 4th game of the current Meijin title match, played on October 2 and 3. Takao Shinji, the challenger, had black. He slipped up in the opening, neglecting to defend a large group because he overlooked a sequence White had to put it into ko. In effect, he had to give White a free move elsewhere when he played an extra move to secure life. That left him a tempo behind in the game, but he played on tenaciously and succeeded in creating complications by leading the game into a large-scale fight. He then played a clever move with Black 101 that seemed to turn the tables in the fight; if White made the “usual” answer, Black had a clever tesuji with move 16 in an unplayed continuation. “Unplayed,” because Iyama came up with a brilliant counter-intuitive combination that enabled him to capture the key stones in the fight at the cost of a couple of sacrifice stones. That gave him the lead. Takao fought on for another 50 moves or so, but was unable to catch up. Iyama even rubbed salt in the wound by making use of the “sacrifice” stones in a later fight. Takao resigned after White 164. The fifth game is already being played on October 16 and 17. It is Takao’s first kadoban, so the second grand slam in Japanese go could be imminent.

Tomorrow: Motoki does well in Kisei knock-out; Chinese pair wins world championship; New Honinbo league starts

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Tokugawa Memorial Go Congress set for February 2018

Thursday October 12, 2017

Taking in a view of Mount Fuji on your way to a go tournament might seem like a dream but for a week next February it’ll be reality at the2017.10.09_TOKUGAWA MEMORIAL GO GONGRESSTokugawa Memorial Go Congress in Shizuoka, Japan. The first-ever event will run from February 11-18, 2018, with just one game in the main tournament daily, the rest of the day occupied with other events including instruction and commentaries by professional go players, as well as a 13×13 tournament, go relay, and kids tournament. Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

This post has been updated: the event takes place in 2018, not 2017. 

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The Power Report: Iyama takes lead in Meijin title match; Fujisawa Rina does well in Gosei; Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo; Shibano wins King of the New Stars

Wednesday October 4, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.10.03_Meijin 3 Iyama Cho U Takao

Iyama takes lead in Meijin title match: The third game of the 42nd Meijin title match between Takao Shinji Meijin and Iyama Yuta was held at the Kiyomi Mountain Villa: Hana-jukai, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture on September 21 and 222017.10.03_Meijin4 Iyama02. The match was level at 1-all, so this was a key game: the winner would gain momentum, and the loser would come under pressure. Fighting started early in the top right corner, but Iyama, who had black, surprised the players following the game with a tenuki with 17. After playing just two moves in the bottom left corner, he came back to the first fight. The spectators (via a TV monitor) couldn’t work out the point of the two moves in the bottom left, but, after some hard thought, Cho U 9P, the Asahi Newspaper commentator on the game, worked out that Iyama’s aim was to prevent Takao from playing a sequence that ended up in a ladder if Black kept playing the most aggressive moves. His moves at 17 and 19 acted as a ladder breaker. Takao modified his play and ended up taking profit in the top right while giving Iyama influence.

Both sides continued to play aggressively, making the game one complicated fight after another. After a ko fight won by Takao in the bottom left, he invaded Black’s bottom right territory and succeeded in living after fighting a number of kos. Again, Iyama took compensation with outside influence. More fighting followed, and up to move 145 the game was played at a very high level, with neither side making a mistake and the players agreeing in their analysis, but with 146 Takao made a slack move. It was slack presumably because it was purely territorial, saving some cut-off stones. Instead, he should have reinforced his sole remaining weak group. By harassing it, Iyama was able to expand his centre moyo, and there was no way for Takao to reduce it sufficiently. He resigned after Black 241. After the game, Takao commented that he was not too worried about falling behind because he felt he was playing well – putting aside just one move.2017.10.03_Fujisawa Rina

The fourth game was played at the Inn Kaiseki Notoya in Komatsu City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on October 2 and 3. Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 164 moves. I will give some more details about the game when available. Takao faces his first kadoban on October 16 and 17.

Fujisawa Rina does well in Gosei tournament: The first ambition of young players is to reach the Main Tournament of the top seven tournaments. This is the final section of a tournament that either produces a challenger or provides entry into leagues. Usually, it more or less means reaching the best 16 or the best 32, but the number may vary. In the previous Judan tournament it was the best 16, but in the previous Gosei tournament the best 29. These are all knock-outs, so in the Gosei some players were seeded into the second round. Historically, women players have not done very well gaining entry to main tournaments, with eight women achieving this goal nine times. (For those interested, the list goes: Honda Sachiko, Kobayashi Reiko, Kusunoki Teruko, Ogawa Tomoko, Yos2017.10.03_Xie wins WomHon1hida Mika, Kobayashi Izumi twice, Kato Keiko, and Kuwabara Yoko.) In a game played on September 21, Fujisawa Rina 3P (right) became the ninth woman, reaching the Main Tournament of the Gosei tournament. The last time this happened was nine years ago (Kato and Kuwabara both qualified in the Tengen). None of her predecessors won a game, so Fujisawa has a chance to set a record for women.2017.10.03_Shibano beats Son

Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo: The first game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match, in which Xie Yimin (left) is challenging Fujisawa Rina, was held at the Kashoen inn in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture on September 27. Taking black, Xie secured a resignation after 257 moves.

Shibano wins King of the New Stars: The second game of the 42nd King of the New Stars title was held at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo on October 2. Shibano Toramaru 7P (black) beat Son Makoto 5P by resig. Often success in this junior tournament is a good omen for future success, but in Shibano’s case that success is already coming. As described in recent reports, he won the Ryusei title and a seat in the new Honinbo League. Since the Ryusei win earned him promotion to 7-dan (if he hadn’t won it, he would have got the promotion from his Honinbo success), he is not eligible to play in the King of the New Stars tournament again. First prize is worth two million yen (a little over $18,000).

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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