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The Power Report: Hirose wins King of New Stars; Iyama eliminated from Samsung; New tournament for non-winners; Ichiriki wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Onishi wins again in Kisei knock-out

Saturday October 13, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Hirose wins King of New Stars: 
Fittingly enough, the younger player prevailed in the 43rd King of the New Stars (Shinjin-2018.10.13_King Hirose right beats Onishi leftO) title match, with the 17-year-old Hirose Yuichi 2P (right) beating the 23-year-old Onishi Kenya 3P (left). The first game was played on September 21; taking white, Hirose won by resignation after 144 moves. The second game was played on October 1. Hirose (B) won by 4.5 points. The venue for both games was the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo. Prize money is 2,000,000 yen (about $18,000). This tournament has traditionally been regarded as a stepping stone for future champions. Recent winners include Shibano Toramaru (2017), Kyo Kagen (2015), and Ichiriki Ryo (2014). You won’t find Iyama Yuta’s name in the list, because at the age of 16 he was promoted to 7-dan for winning the Agon Kiriyama Cup. The conditions for participation are that you be 6-dan or under and 25 or under, both as of August 1.

Iyama eliminated from Samsung: The best eight in the 2018 Samsung Cup was as far as Iyama Yuta could go. He was2018.10.13_Iyama left Xie right matched against the player who beat him in this year’s LG Cup final and he failed to take revenge. Full results in the quarterfinals follow (games played on October 2).
Xie Erhao 9P (China, right) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan, left) by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (B) beat Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) by resig.; Tang Weixing 9P (China) (W) beat Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) by resig.; Ahn Kukhyun 8P (Korea) (B) beat Lian Xiao 9P (China) by resig.
Pairings in the semifinals are Ke v. Xie and Tang v. An. The semis are best-of-three and are scheduled for Nov. 5, 6, and 7.
Correction. I got the name of Iyama’s opponent in the second round wrong. It should be Li Xuanhao, not Li Jianhao.

New tournament for non-winners: The Masters Cup is a tournament for senior players who have won a top-seven title. Now a new tournament has appeared that is the reverse: it is for players at the Nihon Ki-in aged from 31 to 60 who have not won a top-seven title or the Ryusei or the Agon Kiriyama Cup. The tournament is the 1st SGW Cup: Golden Mean Tournament. The golden mean is a Confucian term referring to acting without bias; I don’t know what the significance of the term is here, and an enquiry with the Nihon Ki-in did not enlighten me. The main sponsor is a real-estate company called St. Grande W. First prize will be 2,000,000 yen (about $18,000) and second prize is 500,000 yen. Preliminaries will be held on the Nihon Ki-in’s Net site in October and November; time allowance will be 20 seconds per move plus 1 minute x 5. The top 162018.10.13_Agon Ichiriki will play in the main tournament, which will be a four-round Swiss System held at the Nihon Ki-in on December 8 and 9. Here the time limit will be 30 seconds per move plus 1 minute x 5. The winner will “graduate” from the tournament.

Ichiriki wins Agon Kiriyama Cup: The final of the 25th Agon Kiriyama Cup featured a clash between two of the top players in the post-Iyama generation: Ichiriki Ryo 8P (left), the top player among those in their early 20s, and Shibano Toramaru 7P, the top teenager. The game was played at the Mt. Shaka Bodai Temple, the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon Buddhist sect. Taking black, Ichiriki won by resig. after 213 moves. First prize is a handsome 10,000,000 yen (about $90,000), which is more than for two top-seven titles (the Gosei, with 8,000,000, and the Judan, with 7,000,000). Financially, Ichiriki is undoubtedly doing better than his classmates at Waseda University, where he is a “full-time” student, as recently he also won the Ryusei title (worth 6,000,000 – see my October 1 report).

Onishi wins again in Kisei knock-out: The second game in the irregular knock-out to decide the Kisei challenger was held on October 8. Taking white, Onishi Ryuhei 3P, winner of the C League, beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P, winner of the A League, by resig. Next, he will face Kono Rin 9P, who came second in the S League. The winner of that game will meet Yamashita Keigo 9P, winner of the S League.

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The Power Report: Ichiriki wins Ryusei; Tianfu Cup starts; Cho picks up first win in Meijin challenge; Kisei play-off tournament starts; Iyama wins in Samsung

Monday October 1, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.10.01_27ryusei Ichiriki

Ichiriki wins Ryusei: The Ryusei is a TV tournament using the NHK format, that is, the time allowance is 30 seconds a move plus ten minutes extra time to be used in one-minute units. The preliminary tournament actually allots more time: one hour per player plus one-minute byo-yomi. The final of the 27th Ryusei was telecast on September 24 (the game was played on July 23). It paired two top young players: Ichiriki Ryo 8P (aged 21, right), who won the 25th Ryusei, and Motoki Katsuya 8P (aged 22 when the game was played, but now 23), who challenged for last year’s Honinbo title. Taking black, Ichiriki won by resig. after 231 moves. The prize money is six million yen (about $55,000). Until now, the winner of the Japanese Ryusei played the winner of the Chinese Ryusei, but a Korean Ryusei tournament has also been founded, so it will be expanded to a three-way play-off.

Tianfu Cup starts: The opening round of the firstTianfu Cup World Go Professional Championship, yet another new international tournament founded in China, was held at the Chinese Qiyuan (Ki-in) in Beijing from September 21 to 26. It is organized a little differently from the other international tournaments: the 32 players taking part are divided into two blocks, that is, two knock-out tournaments, each starting with 16 players. These four-round tournaments are collectively referred to as Round 1. The winner and the other finalist in each block go on to the second stage, called Round 2. Group A was won by Jiang Weijie 9P (China), who beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) and Group B by Park Junghwan 9P (Korea), who beat his compatriot Shin Jinseo 9P. The semifinal pairings will be A Block #1 v. Block #2 and B Block #1 v. A Block #2. I don’t have the schedule for Round 2. Six players from Japan took part, of whom the only one to survive the first round (of “Round 1”) was Yamashita Keigo. He was eliminated in the next round. Detailed results these games are given below:
Round 1 (Sept. 21). Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (B) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 8P (Japan) by resig.; Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) (W) beat Wang Yuanjun 8P (Chinese Taipei) by resig.; Gu Zihao 9P (China) (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P (Japan) by resig.; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.; Peng Liyao 7P (China) (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P (Japan) by resig.; Tang Weixing 9P (China) (B) beat Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 7P (Japan) by resig.
Round 2 (September 22). Gu Jihao (B) beat Yamashita by resig.
NOTES:
First prize is 2,000,000 yuan (about $290,000). The time allowance is two hours each plus one-minute byo-yomi x 5. This is China’s fifth international tournament, according to Go Weekly, which also noted that out of its 13 players in Round 1, 11 have won world championships. The depth of Chinese go is staggering. Of Korea’s six representatives, four have won world titles. Lee Changho of Korea, who in the 90s and early 2000s dominated world go, winning an unrivalled 21 international titles, made a rare appearance in this tournament. He is now 43. He lost to Xie Erhao 9P of China in the first 2018.10.01_Meijin 3 Cho looks happyround. Both Iyama Yuta and Shibano Toramaru, who are usually sure selections to represent Japan, were too busy to take part. You have to assume you might win all your games, so you have to set aside six days plus travel time, which for Iyama is certainly not easy.

Cho picks up first win in Meijin challenge: The third game of the 43rd Meijin title match was held at the Shiroyama Hotel Kagoshima in Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, on September 25 and 26. It’s become a commonplace to observe that fighting starts earlier in professional games than in the old days, but even so the no-holds-barred aggression on display in this game was impressive. And it didn’t let up. In the midst of all the fighting, Cho U (left) steadily racked up some small gains and by the end, on move 278, had a lead of 4.5 points, which is considered a convincing win among professionals. After his bad start, Cho would have been relieved to get a point on the board.  The fourth game will be played on October 10 and 11.

Kisei play-off tournament starts: The first game in the knockout tournament to decide the challenger for the 43rd Kisei title was held on September 27. Taking black, Onishi Ryuhei 3P beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by 4.5 points. In the next game, Onishi will play Murakawa Daisuke, the winner of the A League. Shibano and Onishi are both 18; the former has attracted more attention recently, but, as this result shows, he has rivals in his own age group. The two are sometimes bracketed as “the dragon and the tiger,” as “tora” in the former’s name means “tiger,” and “ryu” in the latter’s means “dragon.2018.10.01_samsung Li (left) v. Iyama” Shibano is on top of the “most games won” list this year, with 40-15, but Onishi is in second place on 34-6; the win against Shibano was his 14th in a winning streak that’s still going.

Iyama wins in Samsung : On the point of submitting this report, I learned that Iyama Yuta won his game in the round of 16 in the Samsung Cup, held on October 1. Taking black, he beat Li Jianhao 7P of China by resig. In the quarterfinals, hold on October 2, he will meet Xie Erhao 9P (China), who beat him 2-1 in the 22nd LG Cup final played in February this year.

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The Power Report (2/2): Kisei Leagues; Tournament to decide the Kisei challenger; 74th Honinbo League seats; Yamashita-Iyama pairing in Tengen sets new record

Monday September 24, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei Leagues2018.09.24-kisei-league

S League: Below are the results of the games played in the final round of the 43rdKisei S League. On September 13, Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by half a point. On September 17, Ichiriki Ryo 8P beat Kyo Kagen Gosei by resig. and Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Cho U 9P by 1.5 points. Yamashita had already clinched victory in the league in the fourth round, so this loss did not hurt him. However, Kyo Kagen’s loss was painful, as it meant ceding second place to Kono. There are no play-offs in the Kisei leagues: ranking takes precedence, so Kono qualifies for the final stage (see below). The bottom two players will drop to the A League.

A League: Murakawa Daisuke 8P took first place in the A League, which has eight members. Actually, he “tied” with three other players on 5-2—they were So Yokoku 9P, Yo Seiki 7P, and Shida Tatsuya 7P—but his number one ranking gave him precedence. Murakawa and Yo will be promoted to the S League in the next term (assuming the former does not become Kisei).

B Leagues: There are two B Leagues, each with eight members. A play-off was held on September 17, and Shibano Toramaru 7P (B2 winner on 7-0) (W) beat Akiyama Jiro 9P (B1 winner on 5-2) by resig.

C League: The C League is like a tournament in its own right: it has 32 players and is run by the Swiss System. Onishi Ryohei 3P won it 5-0.

Tournament to decide the Kisei challenger: The league winners above will participate in an irregular knock-out tournament to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta. It works as follows: Onishi plays Shibano, the winner plays Murakawa, the winner plays Kono, and the winner plays Yamashita. The final with Yamashita is a “best-of-three” in which three games will never be played. The reason is that Yamashita will start off with a one-win advantage, so his opponent has to win two in a row. Otherwise, what would be the point of winning the top League? In theory, though, any of the 62 players in any of the five leagues could become Kisei, so it’s thought that professionals feel more incentive than with the former system.

74th Honinbo League seats: Three of the four vacant seats in the 74th Honinbo League were decided on September 6. Anzai Nobuaki 7P (W) beat O Rissei 9P by half a point; Anzai will make his debut in a league. Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by 3.5 points; he makes an immediate comeback after dropping out of the previous league. Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by resig.; he also played in the 71stLeague. The final play-off was held on September 10. Kono Rin (B) beat Mutsuura Yuta 7P by resig.; like Ichiriki, Kono last played in the 71stLeague. These players will join Yamashita Keigo 9P

Yamashita-Iyama pairing in Tengen sets new record: In my previous report, I noted that Yamashita Keigo had become the challenger to Iyama Yuta for the Tengen title. Subsequently, Go Weekly pointed out that this will be the 11th title match between these two, which sets a new record. So far, Iyama has lost only once. The previous record was ten, shared among three players in two pairings: Cho Chikun (eight wins) v. Kobayashi Koichi and Kobayashi Koichi (six) v. Kato Masao. Next is the current Meijin title match, which is the ninth match between Iyama (six) and Cho U. Equal fourth is Cho Chikun (seven) v. Otake Hideo.

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The Power Report (1 of 2): Iyama makes best 16 in Samsung Cup; Iyama takes two-game lead in Meijin; Ichiriki to challenge for Oza title

Saturday September 22, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.09.22_Samsung Iyama

Iyama makes best 16 in Samsung Cup:
The opening round in the 2018 Samsung Cup was held at the Samsung Insurance Campus in Korea on September 4 to 6. (It’s the 23rd cup, but apparently the sponsor is not numbering them that way any more; the full title of the tournament goes Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance World Masters 2018.09.22_Samsung left Shibano right ChenBaduk 2018.) The first round is like a tournament in its own right: the 32 players are split up into eight groups of four, who then play each other. Two wins take you to the next round (whether your score is 2-0 or 2-1) and two losses (0-2 or 1-2) eliminate you.
Japan was represented by Iyama Yuta 9P (right), Shibano Toramaru 7P (left), and Ryu Shikun 9P (right, below). The first two were Japan’s seeded players; Ryu won a seat in the Seniors division of the international qualifying tournament and was playing in the main tournament for the first time since 2001.2018.09.22_Samsung  Ryu right
In the first game (September 4), Shibano was the only one to pick up a win. He defeated Chen Yaoye 9P of China, who eliminated him from the Bailing Cup (see my previous report). Shibano had white and won by 4.5 points. Iyama Yuta (W) lost to Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig. and Ryu (W) lost to Li Xiangu 5P (China) by 1.5 points. In the 2018.09.22_Samsung Yun Iyamasecond game, played the next day, Iyama (W) beat Yun Seongshik (left, below), an amateur player from Korea, by resig.; Ryu (B) beat Wu Guangya 6P (China) by resig.; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Shibano by resig. In the third game (the 6th), Iyama (B) beat Tan Shui 9P (China) by resig.; Gu Zihao 9P (China) (W) beat Shibano by resig.; Li Xiangu (B) beat Ryu by 1.5 points.
Iyama was the only one to make it to the second round, but Shibano and Ryu were by no means disgraced, as scoring even one win at this level is impressive. Actually, Shibano was in what was dubbed the “group of death,” as the other three players (Park, Gu, and Chen) are all past or present world titleholders. Ryu, who at the “advanced” age of 46 qualifies as a senior, was ahead in his third game, but slipped up in the endgame. He was chagrinned to lose twice to the same opponent by the same small margin.
The second round will be played on October 1.2018.09.22_43meijin2_Iyama

Iyama takes two-game lead in Meijin: The second game of the 43rd Meijin title match was held at the Kakujoro a traditional inn, in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture, on September 12 and 13. Cho U, the challenger, is know for his skill at fighting kos and he seemed to take the initiative when he connected a ko in the first fight on move 55. However, there was a lot of action still to come: the game extended to 336 moves, making it the second-longest game in a Meijin title match. Both sides made mistakes or errors in judgment, so the lead shifted back and forth. The game was decided when Cho suffered a hallucination on move 253. This was decisive. Iyama (right) won the game by 2.5 points. Iyama: “The result of the ko fight at the beginning was not favorable for me. I thought it would be a drawn-out game, but I was not confident. I didn’t have a clue about some of the things going on and thought I had messed up the game, but I took profit with border moves in the middle game.” Cho: “There were many positions in which I thought the game was easier for me. I got my last chance in the endgame, but I hallucinated and lost about three points. The content was not bad for me, so I will make a fresh start and do my best.” The third game will be played on September 25 and 26.

Ichiriki to challenge for Oza title: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 66thOza title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on September 13. It was fought between two players younger than the title-holder Iyama Yuta: Ichiriki Ryo 7P (aged 20) and Motoki Katsuya 8P (aged 23). Taking black, Ichiriki won by resignation after 239 moves. He will make his second successive challenge for this title and his fifth challenge overall to Iyama. The first game will be played on October 26.

Tomorrow: Kisei Leagues; Tournament to decide the Kisei challenger; 74th Honinbo League seats; Yamashita-Iyama pairing in Tengen sets new record

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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 to provide live English commentary on 1st Meijin match

Monday August 27, 2018

For the first ti2018.08.27_redmond-headshotme, Michael Redmond 9P will be providing an English live commentary on the first game of the Meijin title 2018.08.27_Cho U and Iyama Yutamatch between Cho U and Iyama Yuta. The match will be held on August 28-29 in Tokyo, starting at 9am local time each day, making it about 8pm EDT in the US. “I will be providing an English live commentary for the first time,” Redmond tells the E-Journal, “and it will be mostly text comments, with a few videos at chosen times during the game.” Check it out on the Asahi newspaper digital site, “which will be mostly Japanese, but there will be an English link to my commentary.”
Michael Redmond will visit the National Go Center the second week in September, with a full schedule of commentaries, simuls and other appearances; stay tuned for further details soon.

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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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