American Go E-Journal » Japan

Registration opens for World Students Go Oza Championship prelim

Tuesday September 20, 2016

An online preliminary round will be held on Pandanet to select the 16 students who will participate in the 15th World 2016.09.20_14th-student-ozaStudents Go Oza Championship February 20-24, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan to decide the world’s number one student player.
Click here for details and here for the entry form.

University or college students under the age of 30 can participate in the preliminary round, although students living in China, Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei cannot participate in the online preliminary round. The application deadline is Oct 17. For further information, email sota@pandanet.co.jp or the All-Japan Students GO Association at world.sgo.oza@gmail.com.

photos: at the 14th World Students Go Oza

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The Traveling Board: Pete Schumer on the Nihon Kiin Summer Go Camp

Sunday September 18, 2016

The Nihon Kiin Summer Go Camp, an intensive training program targeted at non-Japanese go players, was held from 2016.09.18_schumer-nhk-redmond-IMG_5148August 21st through September 3rd at the Nihon Kiin in Tokyo. Vermont go player Peter Schumer was among those attending; here’s his report.

The 2016 Nihon Ki-in Summer Go Camp was attended by around 20 go enthusiasts from all over the world, all of whom were warmly welcomed and got to participate fully in all activities. World renowned professionals including Kobayashi Koichi 9d, Ishida Yoshio 9d, O Meien 9d, and Michael Redmond 9d gave regular lectures, went over famous games, and played several simultaneous games with the attendees. Sometimes you really had to pinch yourself that you were actually there hanging out with these stars of the go world. In addition to pro instruction, the daily routine was packed with go activities, including games, problems, tournaments, social events, and sightseeing to Kamakura, Asakusa, and Yokohama.

2016.09.18_schumer-nhk-tourney-IMG_5239Camp attendees had ample opportunity to play many games throughout the two weeks, participating in goodwill matches with college students, insei, and go clubs from around the city. Notably, attendees were given the unique chance to play in the Takara Shuzo Cup, the most popular amateur go tournament in Japan, which featured over 1,400 people this year.

The night before the first game of the Meijin title match, camp participants joined go legends including Cho Chikun 9d, Cho U 9d, Takemiya Masaki 9d (at right, with Schumer), Otake Hideo 9d, Iyama Yuta 9d, and Takao Shinji 9d to enjoy a lavish reception at the 5-star rated Hotel Chinzanso. The following day they were allowed to sit in the same room as the players for a few minutes during the match itself, which was 2016.09.18_schumer-nhk-takemiya-IMG_5350truly a special honor and very exciting.

The camp featured its own league system with participants playing against one another in a double-elimination tournament. The winner, a 4-dan from Europe, was given the honor to play a 3-stone handicap game against none other than O Meien 9d, with Michael Redmond providing live commentary.

All in all the go camp was enjoyable, highly educational, and well worth it; the price of the camp was very reasonable. The camp was a first-rate experience where you can improve your go, meet wonderful people from around the world, and get to enjoy some Japanese sites and culture.
- Edited by Brian Kirby

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The Power Report (2): Cho U wins Kisei A League; Yo to challenge for Oza title; Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo defence

Thursday September 15, 2016

Cho U wins Kisei A League: So Yokoku 9P was a little unlucky in the Kisei A League. He had won six games in a row and held the lead all the way (enjoying the sole lead in the 5th and 6th rounds), but he lost his final game to Cho U 9P on September 8 (taking black, Cho won by resignation). That left them tied on 6-1, but there is no play-off in the Kisei Leagues. Cho was ranked 4th to So’s 7th, so Cho won the league. He gets a seat in the irregular knock-out tournament to decide the challenger.

Yo to challenge for Oza title: A week after the Tengen challenger was decided, another play-off between a veteran2016.09.15_64oza_fin_end01 player and a new star was held and resulted in a win for the latter. On September 8, the 21-year-old Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in beat Takao Shinji in the play-off to decide the 64th Oza challenger. Taking white, Yo had white and secured a resignation after 190 moves. He commented that he was inspired by Ichiriki’s success. Yo had a frustrating history in play-offs, having lost to Iyama Yuta both in the Oza play-off last year and in the Judan play-off the year. As that shows, Yo played a crucial role in giving Iyama the opportunity to secure his Grand Slam. The first game of the Oza match will be played on October 17.
The Oza and Tengen challenges are perhaps signs that the post-Iyama generation is getting ready to move up. Before Iyama, the go scene was dominated by the “four stars of the Heisei era.” Of the four, Cho U and Hane Naoki haven’t
challenged for a while, but2016.09.15_35FHon Xie (R) Yamashita and Takao had been doing a good job of holding back the younger players (except for Murakawa Daisuke). There could be big changes in the make-up of the tournament scene in the next few years.

Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo defence: The first game of the 35th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Kashoen, a Japanese-style inn, in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture on September 13. The challenger is Fujisawa Rina 3P. Playing black, Xie (right) forced a resignation after 151 moves. The second game will be played on September 26.

Promotion
To 3-dan: Fujimura Yosuke (40 wins)

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N.A. Student Pair Wanted to Play in World Students Pair Go Championship

Wednesday September 7, 2016

The AGA is seeking a student pair to represent the USA and Canada in the 3rd World Students Pair Go Championship. This event, which features exclusively college/university/graduate students, will be hosted in Japan at the same time as the International Amateur Pair Go Championship from December 2nd to December 7th of this year. To be eligible to compete, a pair of players must meet the following requirements: One male, one female player per pair; Must be current college/university/graduate students (no high school students); Under the age of 30; Must not be a student in a professional go organization (i.e. no insei); Must be an American / Canadian citizen. Note – the players will be responsible for paying 50% of the cost of round-trip airfare to and from Tokyo, Japan. The rest of the costs (lodging and meals) will be provided by the Japan Pair Go Association. There will be an online qualifier to determine the North American representatives on September 17th. Interested players should contact peter.nelson@usgo.org and cherry.shen@usgo.org, or president@usgo.org immediately.

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The Power Report: Ichiriki grabs share of Kisei S League lead; Oza challenger: Takao or Yo; New Honinbo League; Start of new Women’s Meijin League; One thousand wins to Hikosaka; Tengen challenger: Yamashita or Ichiriki; Veterans dominate Agon Kiriyama Cup

Sunday August 28, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2016.08.28_Ichiriki-Ryo-99x150

Ichiriki grabs share of Kisei S League lead: A key game was played in the Kisei S League on August 18. Playing white, Ichiriki Ryo 7P (right) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. In the third round, Kono had taken the sole lead, but this win gave Ichiriki a share of the lead. It also helped out Murakawa Daisuke 8P, who had shared the lead with Kono in the second round. All three are on 3-1.

Oza challenger: Takao or Yo: Takao Shinji is doing badly in the Kisei S League, but he is doing well in other tournaments. Besides becoming the Meijin challenger, he has also reached the play-off to decide the challenger for the 64th Oza title. In the semifinal, held on August 15, Takao (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. His opponent in the play-off is Yo Seiki 7P, who beat Yamashita Keigo in the other semifinal, held on August 18. Taking white, Yo won by resig. If anything, Yo will be more determined to win the play-off than Takao, as he has missed a number of opportunities recently. Last year he lost the Oza play-off to Iyama Yuta, who went on to take the title. Yo also lost this year’s Judan play-off to Iyama, giving the latter his chance to try for a grand slam. Yo will be hoping for third time lucky.

New Honinbo League: Two of the four vacant seats in the 72nd Honinbo League have been decided. On August 18, Ko Iso (W) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 7P by resig.; on August 25, Yuki Satoshi 9P (B) beat Cho Sonjin 9P by resig.

Start of new Women’s Meijin League: The first round in the 29th Women’s Meijin League has been completed and 2016.08.28_Womens Meijinone game in the second round has been played. Results are given below.
(August 11) Fujisawa Rina 3P (B) beat Sakakibara Fumiko 6P by 19.5 points.
(August 18) Aoki Kikuyo 8P (B) beat Ishii Akane 2P by resig.; Okuda Aya 3P (B) beat Kato Keiko 6P by resig.
(August 25) Fujisawa Rina (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7P by resig. For the time being, Fujisawa has the sole lead on 2-0.2016.08.28_Hikosaka Naoto

One thousand wins to Hikosaka: On August 18, Hikosaka Naoto 9P (right) became the 19th Nihon Ki-in player to reach the landmark of 1,000 wins. He had 544 losses, 3 jigos, and 1 no-result for a winning percentage of 64.8. At 54 years 5 months, Hikosaka is the 10th oldest to reach this mark. It took him 40 years 4 months, which is the 10th quickest. His winning percentage is the 10th highest.  Hikosaka won the Judan title in 1998 and came fourth in the 11th Fujitsu Cup in the same year. He has played in the three leagues once each.

Tengen challenger: Yamashita or Ichiriki: The semifinals in the 42nd Tengen tournament were held on August 22. Yamashita Keigo (B) beat Kyo Kagen 4P by resig. and Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke, also by resig.

Veterans dominate Agon Kiriyama Cup: The go press in Japan has been making much of a number of strong teenagers who have emerged in the last couple of years. However, the older generation is not moving aside graciously for them. The line-up in the 23rd Agon Kiriyama Cup semifinals illustrates this. The pairings are: Cho Chikun (aged 60) v. Takao Shinji (aged 39) and Yamashita Keigo (aged 37) v. Kono Rin (aged 35). That’s an average age of nearly 43. It’s hard to imagine this happening in Korea or China. The semifinals were played on August 25. Cho (W) beat Murakawa by resig. and Kono (W) beat Yamashita by 1.5 points.

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The Power Report (3): Takao to have another crack at Meijin title; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Kono has sole lead in Kisei S League; 900 wins for Hane; Promotions & Obituaries

Saturday August 20, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2016.08.20_Meijin challenger Takao

Takao to have another crack at Meijin title: All the games in the final round of the 41st Meijin League were held on August 4. At this stage, three players were still in the running to become the challenger. With only one loss so far, Takao Shinji 9P (right) was one point ahead of Cho U 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P, who were both on 5-2. Besides winning his own game, Cho needed Takao to lose for him to make a play-off. Conditions were tougher for Murakawa, however. Only the two higher-ranked players qualify for a play-off in the Meijin League. That meant that Murakawa needed both Takao and Cho to lose, in which case he would meet Takao in a play-off. Go Weekly claimed that the odds of this happening were only one in 16. Takao made these calculations irrelevant by winning his game; this avoided a playoff in the league for the first time in six years. We have just seen Yamashita make three challenges in a row in the Kisei title; Takao is following in his footsteps with his second successive challenge in the Meijin title, not to mention his recently concluded Honinbo challenge. He will be hoping to do better than last year, when he failed to win a game. Apart from Murakawa, Iyama’s main opposition is still coming from older players.
2016.08.20_meijin-leagueRecent results:
(July 7) Cho U 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by 2.5 points; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Hirata Tomoya 7P by resig.
(July 21) Takao Shinji (W) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
(Final round, August 4)Takao (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. ; Yamashita (B) beat Cho U by resig.; Murakawa (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Hirata Tomoya 7P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
The order after Takao is: 2. Murakawa (6-2); 3. Yamashita (5-3); 4. Cho (5-3); 5. Kono (4-4); 6. Ko (4-4). Hane (3-3), Hirata (2-6), and Uchida Shuhei 7P (0-8, bye in last round) lost their places (that had already been decided before the last round). The first game will be played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on August 30 and 31.

Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo: After a good start to her career the year before last, in which she 2016.08.20_Fujisawa Rinawon two titles, Fujisawa Rina (right) had a “waiting” year last year. Things have now changed, however. In the play-off to decide the challenger to Xie Yimin for the 35th Women’s Honinbo title, held at the Ichigaya headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in o
n August 8, Fujisawa (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7P by resig. after 150 moves. The title match will start on September 13. Rina turns 18 on September 18.

Kono has sole lead in Kisei S League: After three rounds, Kono Rin 9P is the only undefeated player in the 41st Kisei S League. In his third-round game, Kono defeated the joint leader after two rounds, Murakawa Daisuke 8P. Level with Murakawa in second place is Ichiriki Ryo 7P. This is a small league, with only five rounds, so Kono is well positioned.
In the eight-player A League, So Yokoku 9P has the sole lead with five straight wins. Closest to him is Cho U 9P on 4-1, the other players have suffered two or more losses, So and Cho will meet in the final round. In the seven-round B1 League, Kyo Kagen 4P has the sole lead with 6-0, followed by Cho Chikun 9P on 5-0. In the B2 League, Ko Iso 8P has the sole lead on 5-1, followed by Yuki Satoshi 9P and Yo Seiki 7P on 4-2.
2016.08.20_kisei-leaguesRecent results:
(July 7) Yamashita Keigo (W) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 1.5 points.
(July 14) Ichiriki (B) beat Takao Shinji by resig.
(July 21) Kono (W) beat Murakawa by resig.
(August 11) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 8P (B) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by resig. (Apologies for the game out of order in my previous report.)

900 wins for Hane: Hane Naoki (right) has reached the landmark of 900 wins. At 39 years 11 months, he is the fourth 2016.08.20_Hane Naokiyoungest to do so. It took him 25 years three months, which is the third quickest. His winning percentage at this point of 66.6 is the 12th best.

Promotions
To 6-dan: Kobayashi Chizu (90 wins; as of August 5)
To 4-dan: Kyo Kagen (50 wins; as of July 8); Adachi Toshimasa (50 wins; as of July 22)
To 3-dan: Seki Tatsuya (40 wins; as of July 15)

Obituaries: Ito Makoto, Ueki Yoshio
Ito Makoto was born on August 4, 1945 in Shiga Prefecture. He became a disciple of Kitani Minoru and made 1-dan in 1964. He reached 8-dan in 1989 and was promoted to 9-dan when he retired in 2005.
Ueki Yoshio, a member of the Osaka branch of the Nihon Ki-in, died of cirrhosis of the liver on August 10. Born in Osaka on February 25, 1969, he became a disciple of Yamashita Yorimoto 7P. He qualified as 1-dan in 1985 and reached 8
-dan in 2001.

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The Power Report (2): Ishida wins 13×13 tournament; Ida wins Samsung seat; Iyama defends Gosei, maintains grand slam

Thursday August 18, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ishida wins 13×13 tournament: The final of the 1st 13×13 Pro-Amateur Tournament was held at the Nihon Ki-in in 2016.08.18_Ishida (L) beats KonoTokyo on July 23. Ishida Yoshio (also known as 24th Honinbo Shuho, left) (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. This is the second 13×13 tournament based on crowd funding on the Net. Ishida also won its predecessor, held two years ago. He commented: “It would be nice if all professional tournaments were 13×13.” Amateurs and a software program also competed in the preliminary tournament (competing for two seats out of the 16 in the main tournament). The first prize is 600,000 yen. The minimum donation for people wishing to help fund the tournament is 3,000 yen. If you make a donation, you also get to vote in choosing the professional participants.

Ida wins Samsung seat: The international qualifying tournament for the 21st Samsung Cup, which is a major international tournament in its own right, was held in Seoul from July 15 to 20. Twenty-one Japanese players participated in the three divisions, that is, general, senior, and women’s. Usually you need to win four or five games in a row to earn a seat in the main tournament. Four Japanese players reached the final, but only Ida Atsushi 8P won one of the coveted seats in the main tournament. The other player besides Ida to reach the final in the general division was Shibano Toramaru. It’s worth remembering his name. Though only 16, he is attracting attention in Japan as a potential future champion; he is an aggressive player but with a highly individualistic style. O Meien commented in a TV commentary that he can’t predict what Shibano will play next, but “if he plays it, that’s good enough for me.” (Remember you read his name here first.)

2016.08.18_Iyama wins GoseiIyama defends Gosei, maintains grand slam: The second game in the 41st Gosei title match was held at the Hokkoku (North Country) Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture on June 18. Taking white, Iyama (left) completely outplayed the challenger, Murakawa Daisuke 8P, in the middle game and forced a resignation after 150 moves. A little unusually for him, Iyama set up a large moyo. One of his groups came under attack, but he settled it in sente and was able to add a key capping move to his moyo. Murakawa had to invade, but his group was kept down to one eye by Iyama. The third game was held at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on July 28. The course of this game was quite different from the previous one. Just about all title-match games are played aggressively, but even so this game stood out for its fierceness, being one ceaseless fight from beginning to end. Playing white, Murakawa matched Iyama blow for blow and took the lead. At one point, Iyama was even wondering if he should resign. However, Murakawa missed a number of good ways to simplify the game in his favor. After creating complications, Iyama took the lead in the midst of some hectic fighting. After 269 moves, Murakawa resigned, so Iyama (Black) defended his title with straight wins. This was his fifth successive Gosei title, so he has qualified for his second honorary title. Iyama’s comment: “You rarely get a chance like this [for an honorary title], so I thought I would go all out. I’m happy, but, considering my ability, this is too much. I want to get stronger so I can play games I’m not ashamed of.” Murakawa is considered one of the foremost players in the “post-Iyama group,” but his record against Iyama is now 3-13. Among the established players, there is no one who appears to be a likely threat to his septuple crown. That’s not to say that he is invincible in Japan: he was eliminated from the Agon Kiriyama Cup, a tournament in which he usually does well, by Hane Naoki in the round of 16 on July 21.
Tomorrow: Takao to have another crack at Meijin title; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Kono has sole lead in Kisei S League; 900 wins for Hane; Promotions & Obituaries

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The Power Report (1): Iyama honored by Prime Minister; Kobayashi Koichi wins Master’s Cup; Xie secures quintuple crown

Wednesday August 17, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama honored by Prime Minister: On June 16, Iyama Yuta was given a certificate of commendation by the Prime2016.08.17_Iyama & PM Abe-crop Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, in recognition of his feat in achieving the first grand slam in go. He received the certificate in a ceremony at the Prime Minister’s residence. He is the first go player to be so honored.

Kobayashi Koichi wins Master’s Cup: The final of the 6th Igo Fumakira (= fume killer, the name of the main sponsor, an insecticide manufacturer) Master’s Cup was held in the Ryusei TV Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on July 9. Playing white, Kobayashi Koichi, Honorary Kisei, defeated Awaji Shuzo 9P by resig. after 174 moves, winning this title for the first time. This took his tally of titles to 60 (third after Cho Chikun and Sakata Eio).

Xie secures quintuple crown: Xie Yimin (also written Hsieh I-min) has become the first woman player in Japan to hold five titles simultaneously. You don’t have to check the records to confirm this; until quite recently there were only three women titles. Two years ago, a fourth was added with the founding of the Aizu Central Hospital Cup, which Xie finally won in its third term this year, giving her four titles. This year another new title was founded: the Senko Cup Women’s Igo Strongest Player tournament. The final was held at the Geihinan Akekure (which perhaps translates as “Guest House Dawn and Dusk”) in the city of Oe in Shiga Prefecture on July 17. Taking white, Xie beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by 2.5 points to win the inaugural tournament. This is Xie’s 25th title. First prize is eight million yen, the top for a women’s tournament. (Just for reference, the prize money for the others is: Aizu Central Hospital Cup, 7,000,000; Women’s Honinbo, 5,800,000; Women’s Meijin and Women’s Kisei, both 5,000,000. Winning all five titles is worth 30,800,000.)

Kanren and Gen’an Inseki inducted into Hall of Fame: At a meeting of the Go Hall of Fame Induction Committee on July 19, it was decided to add two famous figures from go history to the Hall of Fame. Kanren is a priest from the Heian period who is known to history as the author of a work on go called The Go Rites (Goshiki), which he presented to the emperor of the time (her served Emperor Uda, reigned 887 to 897, and Emperor Daigo, reigned 897 to 930). The book has not survived, but is surmised to have dealt with the rules of go and go etiquette. Kanren was apparently very fond of go and was known as a go saint. The second inductee was Gen’an (or Gennan) Inseki (1798-1859), the 11th head of the Inoue house, who was a leading rival of the Honinbo house, especially Honinbo Jowa, in the 1830s and 1840s. He was one of the central figures of the go world in its most prosperous age in the Edo period. His ambition to become Meijin was frustrated by the Honinbos, but he remains one of the most colorful figures of go history.
Tomorrow: Kanren and Gen’an Inseki inducted into Hall of Fame; Ida wins Samsung seat; Ishida wins 13×13 tournament

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China, Korea & Taipei Into Pair Go World Cup Semi-Finals

Saturday July 9, 2016

Rain and wind from the edges of Typhoon Nepartak swirled outside Hikarie Hall in in Tokyo’s upscale Shibuya neighborhood Saturday morning as the 2016 Pair Go 2016.07.09_Iyama-HsiehWorld Cup contestants gathered for the tournament’s first round. As is traditional at Pair Go events, the players were dressed up, many in outfits native to their countries, and the 32 players made a fine sight as they paraded, two by two, into the playing area. Promptly at 11a, the round began, and shortly thereafter, spectators crowded in to watch, deepest around top player Iyama Yuta and his partner Hsieh Yi Min.

Pair Go at this level is a deeply thrilling game, combining the beauty of go with the excitement of a team sport. Although players cannot betray any hint of their feelings or react to moves, there’s an unmistakable electricity in the air that comes from the intense focus of four players over the go board.

2016.07.09_NA-teamThere were no surprises in the first round, as the Central/South American team of Rosario Papeschi and Fernando Aguilar lost to hometown favorites Hsieh Yi Min and Iyama Yuta (above right), Oceania/Africa’s Amy Song and David He fell to Korea’s Choi Jeong and Park Jeonghwan, while Europe’s Natalia Kovaleva and Ilya Shikshin lost to China’s Yu Zhiying and Ke Jie and Chinese Taipei’s Chang Kai Hsin and Wang Yuan Jyun fell to Korea’s Jeon Yujin and Song Hongsuk.
On the other side of the draw, North Americans Sarah Yu and Eric Lui had no trouble dispatching Asia’s Pattraporn Aroonphaichitta and Nuttakrit Tarchaamnuayvit (left), Chinese Taipei’s Joanne Missingham and Chen Shih Iuan beat Japan’s Wang Jong Yi, Japan’s Mukai Chiaki and Ichiriki Rui defeated Europe’s Rita Pocsai and Ali Jabarin and Korea’s Oh Yujin and Choi Chulhan prevailed over China’s Wang Chenxing and Shi Yue.

After traditional Japanese box lunches, Round 2 began at 2:30. The playing room had been completely reset, the eight 2016.07.09_Ke-study-grporiginal boards (32 players, two pairs to a board) now shrunk to four. As play began, spectators again flooded in to watch, while hundreds more watched on monitors in an auditorium next door, where professionals provided commentary and children tried their hand at solving life and death problems in the Panda Sensei tent in the back of the hall.

Back on the boards, epic battles were playing out as the pairs fought to get to the semi-finals on Sunday. The North American team got into a major ko fight with Taipei’s Missingham/Chen early on that they had to win and never really recovered, though Sarah Yu later said “I really enjoyed the fight.” Korea’s Oh/Choi beat Japan’s Chiaki/Ryo, China’s Yu/Ke won over Korea’s Jeon/Song and Korea’s Choi/Park defeated Japan’s Hsieh/Iyama. So Yu/Ke will face Choi/Park and Missingham/Chen will face Oh/Choi in the semi-finals on Sunday. Latest results here.

Photo (l-r): Ke Jie, Nie Wei Ping, his son Ko Rei Bun and Yu Zhiying review the Ke/Yu Round 1 game while Michael Redmond looks on. 

- report/photos by Chris Garlock

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Panda Sensei Tsume-Go Challenge Kicks Off Pair Go World Cup in Tokyo

Friday July 8, 2016

Thirty two players comprising sixteen teams gathered Thursday in Tokyo to launch the second Pair Go World Cup. First 2016.07.08_panda-sensei-chinainvented in 1990 by Hisao and Hiroko Taki to attract more female players to the game, Pair Go has grown steadily in popularity around the world and the Pair Go Association now boasts 74 member countries and territories.

After an elegant Japanese box lunch at the Cerulean Towers Tokyu Hotel in the Shibuya district, the players assembled for the draw ceremony to determine their first-round opponents. With a top prize of $10M JPY, organizers have attracted an impressive array of top players, including Ke Jie – Yu Zhiying (China); Iyama Yuta – Hsieh Yimin (Japan); Park Junghwan – Choi Jeong (Korea) and Chen Shih-Iuan – Hei Jiajia (Taiwan). Notable pairs from the West include Eric Lui – Sarah Yu (North America); Fernando Aguilar – Rosario Papeschi (Latin America) and Ilya Shikshin – Natalia Kovaleva (Europe). All games will be broadcast on Pendant. “I’m very excited to see top professionals and top amateurs gathered here,” said an obviously pleased Mrs. Taki, who then conducted a warm series of interviews with the players.

2016.07.08_panda-sensei-japanThe highlight of the afternoon was the Panda Sensei Tsume-Go Challenge, showing off the Pandanet Sensei life and death computer program, which has been developed over the last 30 years and on which many tsumego creators rely to check their work. In a dramatic timed competition, the professional pairs were given a series of high-level tsumego problems. They had 10 minutes to solve each problem; the first five pairs to hit the call button won the right to show their solution to the judges, led by the famous Ishida Yoshio, also known as “The Computer.” Correct answers were worth up to five points each, while wrong answers penalized the incorrect team two points. Onlookers crowded around the players as they raced to solve the problems, and it was quite entertaining to see top-level professional players wrestling with reading out problems in real time and often, just like amateurs, missing key moves that refuted their solutions. Perhaps not surprisingly, Pandanet Sensei crushed the contest, scoring 24 points; the Chinese team of Ke Jie – Yu Zhiying (top right) scored just 6 points to take second place and the Korean team’s 4 points was enough to take home third place. Acknowledging that the problems were tough and the solving time short, Ishida (at left, refuting a solution from Japan’s Iyama Yuta and Hsieh Yimin) admitted that “I had fun watching all the trouble the top players got into” trying to solve them.

The Pair Go tournament begins Saturday, with two rounds scheduled, followed by semi-finals Sunday morning and the final Sunday afternoon. All games will be broadcast on Pendant.
- report/photos by Chris Garlock

 

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