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The Power Report: Cho U beats the odds; Korea starts well in Huang Longzi Shuangdeng; Meijin League: Murakawa drops back; 280 million watched Alphago match

Thursday April 21, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Cho U beats the odds: Some more details about the final round of the 71st Honinbo League, held on March 31. The league was in a state of flux: the only player certain of retaining his place was Takao Shinji 9P, who became the challenger. The only player certain of losing his place was Ida Atsushi 8P, whose score was 1-5. Even Motoki Katsuya 7P, who won his game and came second, would have had to drop out if he had lost. The luckiest player was Cho U, who started out by losing four games in a row, then keeping his place by winning the last three. When the final round began, though, he not only needed to win his game, he also needed to have Kono Rin 9P, Yo Seiki 7P, and Ichiriki Ryo 7P lose. According to Go Weekly, the odds of all this happening were only 1 in 16. The other three players all tied with Cho, but he was ranked higher.

Korea starts well in Huang Longzi Shuangdeng: The first stage of the 6th Huang Longzi Shuangdeng Cup, a 2016.04.21_Xie (right) vs LuChinese-sponsored women’s team tournament for five-player teams from Japan, China, and Korea, was held last week in the city of Taizhou in China. Korea made a good start, winning five games to Japan’s two and none for China. Full results are:
Game 1 (April 7). Kim Cheyong 2P (Korea) (B) beat Kibe Natsuki 2P (Japan) by r
esig.
Game 2 (April 8). Kim (W) beat Wang Xiangyun 2P (China) by resig.
Game 3 (April 9). Kim (W) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game 4 (April 10). Kim (B) beat Song Ronghui 5P by resig.
Game 5 (April 11). Xie Yimin 6P (Japan) (W) beat Kim by resig.
Game 6 (April 12). Xie (W) beat Lu Jia 2P (China) by resig. (see photo above)
Game 7 (April 13). Pak Jiyeon 4P (Korea) (B) beat Xie by resig.
The second stage will be held in the same city from June 4 to 10.

Meijin League: Murakawa drops back: Takao Shinji 9P has made the best start in the 41st Meijin League with four straight wins. Close on his heels were two players on 3-0, Cho U 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P, but the latter lost his fourth game and has slipped back. Cho has yet to play his fourth game.2016.03.13-lee-sedol-round4
(March 7) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
(April 14) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig.

280 million watched Alphago match: According to Google, the cumulative live audience for the five games in the match between Alphago and Lee Sedol (right) was 280 million, which must be the largest audience for any go event by a long way. The estimate includes YouTube and Net and TV broadcasts in the Far East.

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The Power Report (Special Edition): Iyama wins Judan, scores grand slam

Thursday April 21, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama wins Judan, scores grand slam: The third game of the 54th Judan title match was played at the Kuroyon 2016.04.20_Iyama showing sevenRoyal Hotel in the town of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture on April 14. The title holder, Ida Atsushi, was facing a kadoban, as he had lost the first two games. There were about 60 reporters and photographers from 22 media organizations in attendance hoping to witness the first simultaneous grand slam in go; this was too many to fit in the playing room at the start of the game, so they had to draw lots. The game was fairly even for the first 100 moves, but Ida thought he was a little behind. The decisive fight came when Ida, playing black, invaded a corner position and, instead of trying to live small, set up a ko that gave him a chance of capturing some of the enclosing stones. The ko was an approach-move ko for Black, but Ida fought tenaciously and won it, securing the lead. Iyama was two and a half points behind when he resigned after move 269. Ida picked up his first win and stopped Iyama’s winning streak in title matches at 18.

2016.04.20_54judan3_3The fourth game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on April 20. The game started at 9:30 and finished at 5:21 pm. Playing black, Iyama forced Ida to resign after 163 moves. That gave Iyama the title 3-1 and secured him the first-ever grand slam in Japanese go. Iyama has held six of the top seven titles twice, but this is the first time he has held all seven at the same time. It is his first Judan title for four years and his 37th title overall. That puts him in seventh place, just two titles behind Cho U. It is not an exaggeration to say that the possibility of this achievement has been the centre of attention in the go media for the last couple of years. Iyama has been the first player for whom this feat has appeared possible; more than “possible” perhaps, it has sometimes seemed just a matter of time. Apparently the Nihon Ki-in’s magazine Go Weekly put out an extra in the evening of the 20th. The regular newspapers sometimes put out extras concerning the tournament they sponsor, but this is the first time I can recall Go Weekly doing it.

There will be a lot of celebrating going on, but soon another title match will start, so the pressure will be on Iyama to maintain this unique distinction as long as he can.

Tomorrow: Cho U beats the odds; Korea starts well in Huang Longzi Shuangdeng; Meijin League: Murakawa drops back; 280 million watched AlphaGo match

 

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Liu Wins One More in Japan, to Face Murakawa Immediately

Saturday April 16, 2016

Andy Liu 1p won his next Sankei Cup game against amateur Shingo Ono in Osaka Saturday.  Liu, taking white with no komi, won by six by taking a large central territory.  The win puts him in a game today with Murakawa Daisuke 8p, among whose accomplishments are winning the 62nd Oza and two previous Sankei Cups.  The game will be 12:30 p.m. Sunday Japan time, evening or night in the US.  The broadcast can be found at http://kansaikiin.jp/subpage/live.html. 12994401_1036941069722438_4892171184931627426_n

Liu v. Ono Game Record

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The Power Report (3): Takao leads Meijin League; Fujisawa Rina wins junior tournament; Tuo wins 2nd Japan-China Ryusei; Promotions; Obituary: Kosugi Masaru

Wednesday April 6, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Takao leads Meijin League: Takao Shinji 9P, the previous challenger, has the provisional lead in the 41st Meijin 2016.04.06_Meijin-leagueLeague with four straight wins, but two other players, Cho U 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P, are also undefeated on 3-0 (they have each had a bye). Round 4 of the league has been completed. The league is proving inhospitable for the two league debutants, who have yet to win a game. Hirata Tomoya and Uchida Shuhei are both 0-4.
Recent results: (March 3) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; (March 10) Murakawa Daisuke 8P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; (March 17) Takao (B) beat Hirata by resig.; (March 24) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.

Fujisawa Rina wins junior tournament: The final of the 2nd Ibero-Japan Cup, a tournament limited to players under 18, was held at the Nihon Ki-in on March 18. Fujisawa Rina 3P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 2P by resig. This is the second win by a woman player in a tournament open to both sexes (the first was Xie Yimin’s win in the 1st Young Carp tournament ten years ago). This is a good win, as Shibano is building a reputation  as one of the top players of his age group, along with Kyo Kagen 3P, whom Fujisawa beat in the first round.

Tuo wins 2nd Japan-China Ryusei: This is a play-off between the winners of the Japanese and Chinese Ryusei titles and was held at the Chinese Qiyuan (Ki-in) in Beijing on March 16. Taking black, Tuo Jiaxi 9P of China beat Yuki Satoshi 9P of Japan by resig.

Three-way tie in junior international tournament: The 4th Japan-China-Korea Young Stars tournament, sponsored by the Korean Baduk Association, was held in Hapchon, Korea on March 19 & 20. This is an all-play-all tournament for three young players from these countries. It started with Onishi Ryuhei 1P of Japan beating Pak Zonghun 1P of Korea but losing to Liao Yuanhe of China. Liao then lost to Pak, so the result was a three-way tie.

Promotions: To 2-dan: Ms. Kibe Natsuki (30 wins) (as of March 4); To 4-dan:  Horimoto Mitsunari (50 wins) (as of March 25)

Obituary: Kosugi Masaru
Kosugi Masaru 8P died of stomach cancer on March 2 aged 72. Kosugi was a disciple of his father, Kosugi tei (Chokufu) 7P. He was born on January 22, 1944. He became 1-dan in 1969 and reached 7-dan in 1986.  He was promoted to 8-dan a
fter retiring in 2010.His older brother, Kiyoshi 9P, is also a professional.

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The Power Report (2): Cho Chikun wins 2015 Title Winners Tournament; Takao becomes Honinbo challenger

Wednesday April 6, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Cho Chikun wins 2015 Title Winners Tournament: This is a new tournament now in its third term. Participants are all the title winners from the previous year plus one player selected by a vote by go fans. Even though Iyama holds six titles, there were still eleven participants in this year’s tournament. Tournament conditions are the same as the NHK Cup (30 second per move plus ten minutes). The semifinals and final were held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on March 19. In the semifinals, 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun beat Yo Seiki 7P and Kyo Kagen 3P beat Iyama Yuta, winner of the first two tournaments. The final was played on the stage in the second-floor hall of the Nihon Ki-in with a public commentary being given on the same stage. Cho (B) beat Kyo by resignation after 217 moves.

Takao becomes Honinbo challenger:  Going into the final round, there were only two players still in the running2016.04.06_Honinbo-league
in the 71st Honinbo League:  Takao Shinji, on 5-1, and Motoki Katsuya, on 4-2. Motoki, a league debutant, had held the sole lead at the end of the third round, then shared the lead for the next two rounds, but he stumbled in the sixth
 round. He therefore needed to win his own final game and have Takao lose to end in a tie for first. However, Takao made no mistake, winning his final game by resignation. That secured him the right to make his first Honinbo challenge
 since the 68th term, when he lost 3-4 to Iyama Yuta. Takao won the 60th to 62nd Honinbo titles and was Meijin Honinbo in 2004. The title match with Iyama Yuta will start on May 9.
Recent results: (March 17) Cho U 9P (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.; Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by half a point.
(March 31) Takao (W) beat Kono by resig.; Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Yo Seiki by half a point; Motoki Katsuya 7P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Ida Atsushi Judan by resig.

Tomorrow: Takao leads Meijin League; Fujisawa Rina wins junior tournament; Tuo wins 2nd Japan-China Ryusei; Promotions; Obituary: Kosugi Masaru

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The Power Report (1): Iyama closing in on Grand Slam in Judan challenge; Xie defends Women’s Meijin; Cho U wins NHK Cup

Monday April 4, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2016.04.04_judan02_Iyama

Iyama closing in on Grand Slam in Judan challenge: The first game of the 54th Judan title was played at the Osaka University of Commerce on March 8. The Judan is the lowest-ranked of the seven open titles, but this year an extraordinary amount of interest is being taken in the title match because it is the last title Iyama Yuta needs to complete an unprecedented simultaneous grand slam, that is, a genuine grand slam. Usually there would be a lot of fan support for the youthful titleholder, Ida Atsushi, who turns 22 on March 16, but probably few people want to see Iyama miss this opportunity to set a new record. Ida got black in the nigiri. In the opening, Iyama played just one stone on the right side before building a position on the left, so the game became a moyo contest. Instead of trying to save his solitary stone,
 Iyama switched to invading the top right corner. When he settled his group in sente, he got a good game. Ida later invaded White’s bottom left position; he lived, but White severely harassed his group, taking a definite lead. Ida resigned after 206 moves. The second game was played at the Yu-no-yama Hot Spring Yumoto Green Hotel in the 2016.04.04_Judan2 Iyamaa lefttown of Komono in Mie Prefecture on March 23. The first 41 moves were the same as in Game Three of the Korean Myeongin (Meijin) title match, played on January 20 between Park Junghwan (black) and Lee Sedol. Iyama had reviewed the game in a study group and concluded that the opening, in which Black built thickness, was not bad for Black and wanted to try it out in a game. Ida obviously felt that it was playable for White, though he diverged from the Korean game with move 42. In the middle game, the game seemed even, but Ida made two mistakes: playing in the wrong direction with 124, then choosing the wrong hane out of two possibilities with 134. The latter move was labeled the losing move. Ida faces a kadoban, that is, a game that could lose a series, on April 14. Iyama has now won 18 title-match games in a row.

Xie defends Women’s Meijin: The second game of the 28th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Osaka University of Commerce on March 9. As has been the recent practice, it was held in conjunction with the Judan title match. Playing black, Aoki Kikuyo 8P forced a resignation after 209 moves, so she evened the score. The third game was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on March 16. In a tense endgame contest, Xie emerged the victor by half a point, so she defended her title. She has now held it for nine years in a row and it is her 23rd title overall. Xie was also recently named as a Guest Professor at the Heian Jogakuin University (Jogakuin means Women’s Academy), which was the venue of the first game. The university is also known as St. Agnes’ University and is Anglican. A game in the title match has been held at this university for five years in a row. Xie has played in all of them, and on each occasion has given students instruction in go the day after the game. Correction: The first game was played on March 3, not February 28, as given in my previous report.

Cho U wins NHK Cup: The final of the 63rd NHK Cup was telecast on March 20. The finalists were Cho U 9P, who has won this title three times, and Teranishi Rei 4P, who reached the final on his debut in this tournament. Playing with white, Teranishi perhaps took a small lead after a large-scale trade arising from a ko fight, but Cho overhauled him in the middle game. Teranishi resigned after move 211. Cho’s last NHK cup was eight years ago; this is his first title since 2012. Last year Cho moved back to Taiwan with his family, partly to give his children a chance to learn Chinese and partly to try and recover form. He “commutes” to Japan for his tournament games. His NHK win may be a sign that this decision is paying off. Apparently he plans to return to live in Japan this summer.

Tomorrow: Cho Chikun wins 2015 Title Winners Tournament; Takao becomes Honinbo challenger; Recent results

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2016 Nihon Ki-in Go Camp Set for August 23-September 1

Tuesday March 22, 2016

The Nihon Ki-in Go Camp 2016 will be held for 10 days from August 23 through September 1 at the Nihon Ki-in.2016.03.21_nhk-summer camp

“The Summer Go Camp will be held for overseas go players who want to improve their go level and to experience Japan’s rich go culture and to make friends with the participants from around the world!” say organizers. The Go Camp 2016 will provide participants with unique and content, including playing in Japan’s most popular amateur tournament, teaching games and special commentaries by legendary players, plus visit and watch the first game of the Meijin Title Match at the Four Seasons in Tokyo.

Other features: Go Seigen’s secret story and his “best game* will be introduced by a professional who is very familiar with Go Seigen. Participants will enjoy goodwill matches with Japanese University students. Special sightseeing programs in/around Tokyo will be also available.

Register before June 30 and the program fee will be 29,800 JPY (45,000 JPY) after that. For inquiry or registration:
email overseasdept@nihonkiin.or.jp

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First Japan Go Congress Planned for July 15-18

Monday March 21, 2016

Reminder that the first Japan Go Congress will be held July 15 through 18 in Takarazuka, Japan, and organised by the Kansai Ki-in. In addition to a main2016.01.17_Japan Go Congresstournament, the Congress — at which 200-300 participants are expected — will offer a variety of side events such as lectures, teaching games with professionals, and other traditional Japanese games. Famous for its Grand Theater, Takarazuka is also known as the “city of opera.” Situated northwest of Osaka, it is outside of typical urban tension, but still easily accessible. Available accommodations include Daikin Dormitory, the Takarazuka Inn Hotel and the Takarazuka Hotel; click here for details. “The Kansai Ki-in warmly welcomes players from abroad,” reports their Go Congress Team.

Just before the Japan Go Congress, the 4th Osaka Go Camp — also organized by the Kansai Ki-in — will be held from June 26 to July 14. Last year there were more than 70 participants at the camp, where “You can train with professionals in a cozy environment and do sight-seeing,” report organizers.

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The Power Report: Iyama’s new record for prize money & other go stats

Friday March 11, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama’s new record for prize money: Iyama Yuta has set a new record for most prize money won, which is not surprising, considering he won six of the top seven titles last year, as well as the Agon Kiriyama Cup. This is the fifth year in a row he has topped the list and the fourth year in a row his total was over 100 million yen. The top ten at the Nihon Ki-in are given below.
1. Iyama Yuta: 172,124,104 yen (about $1,565,000)
2. Yamashita Keigo 9P: 42,127,900
3. Takao Shinji 9P: 31,807,992
4. Ida Atsushi Judan: 22,491,700
5. Xie Yimin, Women’s Honinbo: 21,098,245
6. Kono Rin 9P: 16,998,300
7. Kyo Kagen 3P: 15,647,697
8. Cho U 9P: 15,596,200
9. Ichiriki Ryo 7P: 15,117,497
10. Hane Naoki 9P: 13,398,000

Most wins (Nihon Ki-in)
1. Iyama Yuta, Kyo Kagen: 41-10
3. Shibano Toramaru 2P: 39-9; Ichiriki Ryo 7P: 39-19
5. Yamashita Keigo 9P: 38-22
6. Motoki Katsuya 7P: 34-12
7. Ogata Masaki 9P: 33-13; Kono Rin 9P: 33-15-1 no result; Son Makoto 4P: 33-16
10. Mutsuura Yuta 2P: 32-13; Ida Atsushi Judan: 32-22

Top woman players were:
14. Fujisawa Rina 3P: 28-23
20. Suzuki Ayumi 6P: 26-22
24. O Keii, Aizu Cup-holder: 24-14

Best winning percentage
1. Shibano Toramaru 2P: 81.25% (39-9)
2. Iyama Yuta, Kyo Kagen: 80.39%
4. Motoki Katsuya: 73.91%
5. Ogata Masaki 9P: 71.74% (33-13)
6. Cho Riyu 9P (30-12), Uchida Shuhei 7P (25-10): 71.43%
8. Mutsuura Yuta 2P: 71.11% (32-13)
9. Akiyama Jiro 9P, Terayama Rei 4P: 71.05% (27-11)

Most successive wins
1. Iyama Yuta: 24
2. Shibano Toramaru: 16
3. Ida Atsushi: 13
4. Uchida Shuhei 7P: 12
5. Shida Tatsuya 7P: 11
6. Awaji Shuzo 9P, Shida Tatsuya, Hirata Tomoya 7P: 10

Kansai Ki-in
Most wins
1. Yo Seiki 7P: 47
2. Yuki Satoshi 9P: 40

Best winning percentage
1. Furuya Yutaka 8P: 80%
2. Imamura Toshiya 9P: 78.95%
3. Hon Seisen 2P: 77.78%
4. U Bai 1P: 76.67%%

Most successive wins
1. Yun Chun-ho 3P: 16
2. Sakai Hideyuki 8P, U Bai 1P: 12
4. Yo Seiki: 11

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The Power Report: Okura Prizes for Pair Go founders; 49th Kido Prizes; Xie makes good start in Women’s Meijin defence; Kono wins first game in Meijin League; International tournaments

Thursday March 10, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2016.02.07_pair-go-founders

Okura Prizes for Pair Go founders: The Okura Prizes are awarded to persons, amateur or professional, from Japan or overseas, who have contributed to spreading go. The winners of the 45th Okura Prizes were announced on January 19. The six prize winners included Ando Takeo 7P and the founders of Pair Go, Taki Hisao and Hiroko (right, with Thomas Hsiang)

49th Kido Prizes: Though the magazine Kido is defunct, the Kido Prizes for the outstanding Nihon Ki-in players of the previous year are still awarded. The 49th Prizes were announced in the February 22 issue of Go Weekly. They went as follows: Most Outstanding Player: Iyama Yuta, Sextuple Crown; Outstanding Player: Ida Atsushi Judan; New Face: Kyo Kagen, King of the New Stars; Women’s Prize: Xie Yimin; International Prize: Ichiriki Ryo 7P; Most Wins: Iyama Yuta & Kyo Kagen (41 wins); Best Winning Percentage: Shibano Toramaru 2P (81.25%, 39 wins, 9 losses); Most Successive Wins: Iyama Yuta (24); Most Games Played: Yamashita Keigo (60).

Xie makes good start in Women’s Meijin defence: The first game of the 28th Women’s Meijin title match was held in the Arisu-kan, a building in the grounds of Heian Women’s University in Kyoto on February 28. Taking black, Xie beat Aoki Kikuyo 8P by resignation.

Meijin League: Kono wins first game
The third round of the 41st Meijin League was completed on February 25 when Kono Rin 9P (W) defeated league newcomer Uchida Shuhei 7P by resignation. Kono had a bye in the first round and lost in the second, so this is his first win.

International tournaments
4th CCTV New Year’s Cup: This tournament is organized by the CCTV station in Beijing to celebrate the Chinese New Year. This year it was held from February 9 to 11, with one player each from China, Korea, and Japan taking part. China was represented by Ko Jie, who tops the Chinese ranking system by a comfortable margin, Korea by Lee Se-dol, who is the top player so far of the 21st century, and Japan by Ichiriki Ryo 7P, who was invited in recognition of his win in the 1st Globis Cup and his three successive wins in the second round of the current Nong Shim Cup. The format is the same as the NHK Cup (30 seconds per move plus ten minutes’ thinking time to be used in one-minute units). After drawing lots, Lee was seeded into the second round. In the opening game Ko Jie (B) beat Ichiriki by resig. In the second round, Lee (B) beat Ichiriki by resig. In the final, Ko beat Lee (I don’t have details).
2016 Four Cities New Stars Tournament: This team tournament for young players (age limit 25) was held at the Korean Kiwon in Seoul from February 19 to 21. Presumably the cities were Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo, and Taipei, but the report in Go Weekly lists countries rather than cities. The teams are made up of eight players, including two female players, so it’s quite a large-scale tournament. The result was that Korea and China tied for first with two wins and one draw each, but China took precedence thanks to its higher number of individual wins (19 to Korea’s 16). With one win (ten individual wins), Japan came third, and Chinese Taipei came fourth with no wins (three individual wins). The best performance for Japan was posted by Kyo Kagen 3P, who won his three games.
Tomorrow: Iyama’s new record for prize money & other go stats

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