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The Power Report (2): Fujisawa Rina makes good start in title defense; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama wins Agon Kiriyama title

Tuesday October 13, 2015

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2014.10.13_WomHon1 Rina right

Fujisawa Rina makes good start in title defense: The first game of the 34th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Kashoen inn in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture on October 8. It matches the 17-year-old titleholder Fujisawa Rina (right) against Xie Yimin, who held this title for six years in a row. This is the first title match between the two, and it gives us some insight into what the next five years will look like. If Xie can win, the age of Xie, who now holds two titles, may continue. If Fujisawa wins, she may displace Xie from the top position. At the party on the eve of the game, Fujisawa commented that playing a match with Xie had been one of her goals. Perhaps she didn’t expect to play her first match with her as the defending champion. Xie, who will be 26 on November 16, commented that this was her first match with a younger player. Taking white, Fujisawa beat Xie by 2.5 points after 290 moves. The game was decided by a ko fight in the endgame. The second game will be played on October 18.

Women’s Meijin League: In a game played on October 8, Suzuki Ayumi 6P (W) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by resig. As the previous challenger, Suzuki is the number one-ranked player in the league, but this is her first win after two losses. Chinen has already suffered four losses, so she 2015.10.13_22agon_finalis teetering on the edge of demotion. Joint leaders are Fujisawa Rina and Aoki Kikuyo 8P on 2-0.

To 2-dan: Shibano Toramaru (aged 16) (30 wins; promoted as of Oct. 9)

Iyama wins Agon Kiriyama title: The final of the 22nd Agon Kiriyama Cup was held at the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon sect in Kyoto on October 10. Iyama Yuta (left), playing black, beat Kyo Kagen 3P by resig. after 187 moves. This is the fourth time Iyama has won this title, which matches Cho U’s record. The play-off between the Japanese and Chinese titleholders will be held in China on December 25.


Seattle Go Center 2oth Anniversary Tournament Draws Big Crowd

Monday October 12, 2015

Combined images from 20th AnniversaryThe Seattle Go Center  held a large tournament to celebrate their 20th anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 3. It was the largest fall tournament they have had in many years, with 48 players participating. The well organized TD’s, Bill Chiles and Dan Top, kept the event on schedule despite the large crowd. The players were smoothly distributed in terms of strength, so that most of the handicapped games used small handicaps. (88% of the handicapped games used two stones or less.)  The next day, Kuma Sensei 6P from the Nihon Ki-in gave a lecture reviewing tournament games.

The Open Section had 8 players and was won by longtime Northwest champion Edward Kim 7d. Edward bested Chanseok Oh, Jeremiah Donley, and Peter Nelson in his three games. Peter Nelson placed 2nd in the Open Section.

Chris Kirschner won all his games in the Dan Handicapped Section, winning that section. Chris is one of the founders of the Go Center, and one of its most active volunteers. Ben Hakala placed 2nd. Jung Doo Nam won the Single Digit Kyu Player Handicapped Section, with David Snow placing second. Mark Richardson won the Double Digit Kyu Player Handicapped Section, with Lucy Wang placing second.

Photo Captions: (Top)  Andy Okun, President of the AGA, playing Harry van der Krogt of the European Go Cultural Center in a friendly game in the tatami room of the Seattle Go Center. (Bottom) First round of the tournament.  Photos and report by Brian Allen.

The Power Report (1): Iyama defends Meijin title; Kisei knockout tournament begins; Honinbo League starts; Korea wins 2nd O-kage Cup

Monday October 12, 2015

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Meijin title: The fourth game of the 40th Meijin title match was held at the2015.10.12_40meijin4 Iyama defends Kashikojima Hojoen, a traditional inn in Shima City in Mie Prefecture, on October 5 and 6. Playing black, Iyama Yuta (right) forced a resignation after 227 moves and so defended his Meijin title with four straight wins. This is his third Meijin title in a row and his fifth overall. The game started with Iyama playing a little too aggressively. Takao (left) swallowed up an important black stone, but Iyama kept 2015.10.12_40meijin4 a disappointed Takaofighting relentlessly, so he didn’t get a chance to take the lead. The game developed into an enormous fight, but Takao missed his best chance to attack. Iyama increased the pressure in a fight among a number of eyeless groups and eventually came out on top. Takao was unable to improve on his score in his challenge to Iyama for the 35th Meijin title. At the moment, Iyama seems unstoppable. He has defended all the titles in his quadruple crown and next will be aiming at restoring his sextuple crown, with Oza and Tengen challenges starting soon. He has improved his chances in these matches by finishing off the Meijin match early. The above win was his 15th in a row, which is a new personal record.

Kisei knockout tournament begins: The first game in the irregular knockout tournament to decide the Kisei challenger was played on October 1. B League-winner Yamada Kimio 9P (B) beat Kyo Kagen 3P, winner of the C League, by resig.

Honinbo League starts: The 71st Honinbo League got off to a start on October 1 with a game between two heavyweights, Yamashita Keigo 9P and Kono Rin 9P. Playing black, Yamashita won by resig. He has made a good start in his bid to repeat as challenger.

Korea wins 2nd O-kage Cup: The O-kage (gratitude) Cup is an international tournament for players 30 or under sponsored by Hamada Sogyo and the tourist shops in Okage-Yokocho (Gratitude Alley) in the city of Ise. This year the scale was expanded from three-player to five-2015.10.12_O-kage with the sponsorsplayer teams from Japan, Korea, China, and Chinese Taipei. The extra two places went to women players. Korea showed overwhelming strength. In the first section, an all-play-all league, it lost only two games out of 15, beating Japan 4-1, Chinese Taipei 5-0, and China 4-1. The other three teams tied for second place, each with one win and two losses, but Japan took second place, thanks to having scored seven individual wins to China’s six. On the top board, Ida Atsushi 8P won all his games.  Chinese Taipei took fourth place, but it will be satisfied with a rare victory over the Chinese team (3-2). In the final, Korea was awesome, beating Japan 5-0. In the play-off for 3rd place, China took revenge on Chinese Taipei, not dropping a game. There were five prizes for top individual performances; these were all won by Koreans. In an interview, the Korean coach Yang Keon 9P commented: ‘I think we did too well. But I did feel that our activity since setting up a national team has borne fruit little by little.’ He said that the members of the national team study from 10 to 5 every day, playing games and studying the opening. As a result, he said, he felt that they were beginning to catch up with China. Concerning the Japanese team, he commented: ‘Their level is extremely high. I think that one factor in our getting this kind of result is there’s a gap in research into the opening.’ In Korea, a lot of time is devoted to studying the opening; rivals will study together and try to work out definitive openings. The accumulation [of knowledge] makes a big difference. ‘We believe that, with the deluge of information (game records), selecting the best patterns and doing research at a more advanced level is important.’ photo: Okage with the sponsors

Tomorrow: Fujisawa Rina makes good start in title defense; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama wins Agon Kiriyama title

Categories: Japan,Main Page

World Students Go Oza Seeks Entrants

Sunday October 4, 2015

University/college students under the age of 30 are invited to participate in an online preliminary competition for the 14th World Students Go 2015.10.04_student-oza-13thOza Championship. Click here for details and here for the entry form. Application deadline is October 19. Note that students living in China, Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei cannot participate in the online preliminary round.

The World Students Go Oza Championship will be held February 22-26, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan, where 16 students from around the world will compete to determine the world’s number one student player.

Categories: Japan,World,Youth

The Power Report: Aoki makes good start in Women’s Meijin; Awaji scores 1000th win; Yuki wins 24th Ryusei; Grand slams update

Monday September 28, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Aoki makes good start in Women’s Meijin League: The last game of the third round of the 28th Women’s Meijin League was played on September 24. Taking black, Aoki Kikuyo 8P beat Chinen Kaori 4P by resig. Aoki is now 2-0 (she had a bye in the second round), so she shares the provisional lead with Fujisawa Rina, also on 2-0 (she has a bye in this round).

Awaji scores 1000th win: A win in Preliminary B of the 64th Oza tournament on September 24 was Awaji Shuzo 9P’s 1000th official win.2015.09.28_Awaji Shuzo Awaji (right) is the 17th player at the Nihon Ki-in to reach this landmark. His record is 592 losses, 3 jigo, and 1 no-result, a winning percentage of 62.6. Awaji was born on August 13, 1948 in Tokyo. He became a disciple of Ito Tomoe 7P, made 1-dan in 1968 and reached 9-dan in 1984. He also graduated from the College of Law (note that this is not the same as a law school in the US) of Aoyama Gakuin University. He has won four minor titles, but challenged unsuccessfully for the Gosei, Tengen, Honinbo and Meijin titles.

Yuki wins 24th Ryusei tournament: Yuki Satoshi 9P won the 24th Ryusei tournament by default. On the day of the final, Cho Chikun’s wife fell critically ill (she died the following day), so he was unable to play. The result was just revealed in this week’s Go Weekly because the organizers took a while to make their decision. Nonetheless, this counts as a title for Yuki and is his 13th (he is now 21st on the all-time list).

Grand slams update: With the theoretical revival of Iyama’s chance of achieving a simultaneous grand slam of the top seven titles, Go Weekly published some statistics. Three players have scored a cumulative grand slam: Cho Chikun, Cho U, and Iyama Yuta. Three players have won six of the top seven: the late Kato Masao (missing the Kisei), Rin Kaiho (missing the Kisei), and Yamashita Keigo (missing the Judan despite three challenges). Next is Kobayashi Koichi with five (missing the Honinbo and the Oza). They are followed by three players who have won four: Otake Hideo, Takao Shinji, and Hane Naoki. Note that this list refers only to current titles. Sakata Eio won seven titles in 1961 and 1964 (in the latter year the only open title he missed out on was the Judan). The final stage of the 54th Judan tournament starts on October 1. Both Iyama and Yamashita have made the final 20.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Iyama wins third straight Meijin game, threatening to sweep Takao

Sunday September 27, 2015

The third game of the 40th Meijin title match was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture on September 24 and 25. Playing2015.09.27_Iyama wins game 3 white, Iyama Yuta Meijin beat Takao Shinji Tengen by resignation after 148 moves. Iyama now needs just 2015.09.27_Meijin-Game 3one more win to defend his title. Eighty moves were played on the first day, and Takao commented: “I spoiled it on the first day.” Actually, however, according to Go Weekly, he did not play any moves that could clearly be labeled as dubious. Rather, as Takao indicated after the game, he had regrets about some of his moves, as in retrospect he didn’t feel that they were the best attacking moves. Thanks to his skill at settling weak groups, Iyama seems to have gained a slight edge. On the second day, Iyama drew further ahead. In the end, Takao had to play unreasonably, and Iyama wrapped up the game by attacking and bringing down a large group. The fourth game will be played on October 5 and 6. The pressure on Takao has increased; he will want to avoid a repeat of his 0-4 loss to Iyama in the 35th Meijin title match. This, by the way, is Iyama’s 13th successive win. He is now fourth on the list of most games won. He probably has more games left this year than most of his rivals, so he should move up a place or two.
- John Power

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report (2): Kyo Kagen wins two junior titles; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama ekes out narrow win in Meijin

Tuesday September 22, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kyo Kagen wins two junior titles: Kyo Kagen 3-dan (right) is continuing his impressive form and has won two titles in the last week. On 2015.09.21_Kyo wins King of New StarsSeptember 13, the semifinals and final of the 2nd Yucho Cup Youth Championship/Nakano Koji Memorial 2015.09.21_King of New Stars Game 2were held at the Nihon Ki-in. In the semifinals, which started at noon, Kyo (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig. and Motoki Katsuya 7P (W) beat Son Makoto 3P, also by resig. The final started at 3 o’clock, and Kyo (B) beat Motoki by resig. after 143 moves. This is an unofficial title sponsored by the post office bank (Yucho) for players under 21 and under 8-dan. Kyo also won the 10th term of the Nakano Cup, the predecessor of this tournament. These games were sandwiched in-between the first and second games of the 40th King of the New Stars title match. In the first game, played on September 11, Kyo (B) beat Hirata Tomoya 4P by resig. after 175 moves. In the second game (September 16, above left), Kyo (W) won by resig. after 194 moves, so he took the title with straight wins. This is his first official title. He turns 18 on the 24th.
Women’s Meijin League: One game in the 28th Women’s Meijin League was played on September 10. Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo (W) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by 7.5 points. On 2-0, Fujisawa shared the lead with Mannami Nao 3P. This game completed the second round. On September 17, Okuda Aya 3P (W) defeated Mannami Nao by resig. and Kato Keiko 6P (B) defeated Suzuki Ayumi 6P by 3.5 points. Mannami is now 2-1, along with Okuda. If Fujisawa Rina wins her third-round game, she will have the sole lead.

2015.09.21_A painful half-point lossIyama ekes out narrow win in Meijin: The second game of the 40th Meijin title match was played at the Hotel Oncri (written “onkuri” in Japanese) in the hot spring resort of Furuyu in Saga City, Kyushu on September 17 and 18. After very complicated fighting in the first 150 moves, the challenger, Takao Shinji 9P, took the lead around move 170, but he slipped up at least twice in the endgame, letting Iyama Yuta Meijin catch up and then stage an upset. Iyama, who had black, won by half a point (right). Losing a game like this is very painful and puts the challenger under a lot of pressure. Incidentally, this win was Iyama’s twelfth in a row. Another statistic: this win by the player with black stopped a winning streak of seven by White in games between these two players. Overall, Iyama now leads Takao 25-13, and White has won 23 of these games. The third game will be played on September 24 and 25.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report (1): Iyama to challenge for two more titles; Kisei Leagues

Monday September 21, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama to challenge for two more titles: At present, Iyama (right) has four titles — Kisei, Meijin, Honinbo, and Gosei – but he is making a 2015.09.21_Two in a row for Iyamadetermined effort to retrieve the glory days of his sextuple crown. All he has to do is to win back the two titles he lost towards the end of last year. His campaign is running smoothly and last week he won the play-offs to decide the Oza and Tengen challengers.

2015.09.21_Iyama (L) beat Yo Seiki in Oza play-offFirst of all, the final of the 63rd Oza tournament was held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on Monday, September 7. Iyama (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in by resignation after 157 moves (left). This earned him a rematch with Murakawa Daisuke Oza, also of the Kansai Ki-in, who took the title from him last year. Murakawa showed tenacity in recovering from a 1-2 deficit to win two games in a row. Yo Seiki has been securing excellent results recently, regaining his Honinbo League seat immediately after dropping out and reaching the best eight in an international tournament, the LG Cup, but if you want to take a title in Japan, virtually the only way to do so is by defeating Iyama Yuta. Interviewed after the game, Iyama commented: “Since losing in the Oza match last year, the desire to return to the same stage has been one of the major factors motivating me. I hope to make a better showing than last year.” 

Later in the same week, on Thursday, September 10, the play-off to decide the Tengen challenger was held at the same venue (games are 2015.09.21_Iyama (L) beat Yuki Satoshi in Tengen play-offusually played on the home ground of the higher-ranked player).  Taking white, Iyama forced Yuki Satoshi 9P (Kansai Ki-in) to resign after 228 moves (left). Yuki was also strongly motivated for this game, as he had won the title in 2010, but lost it to Iyama the following year. He actually got off to a slightly superior start, but slipped up in the early middle game (right)Iyama now has a big opportunity to regain his sextuple crown, but he is looking further ahead than that. After the Tengen game, he commented: “I’m 2015.09.21_last move in Tengen play-offhappy that the link to my goal of winning seven crowns has not been cut.” To keep this possibility open, Iyama has to make sure he keeps winning in the Judan tournament while fighting three title matches. The Oza title match starts on October 20 and the Tengen three days later.

Kisei Leagues: The final game in the S League of the 40th Kisei tournament was played at the Nihon Ki-in on September 10.  Playing white, Takao Shinji Tengen beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. The place in the league are: 1. Yamashita Keigo (4-1); 2. Murakawa Daisuke Oza (3-2); 3. Yoda Norimoto 9P (3-2); 4. Takao (2-3); 5. Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (2-3); 6. Kobayashi (1-4). The top four players keep their seats, but actually Takao is not yet assured of staying in 4th place. If the winner of the B or C League were to 2015.09.21_40th-kisei-leagues-chartbecome the challenger, Takao would be bounced out. At that point, Yamashita would remain in the league, but the loser of the title match would take the number one seat in the S League, so Takao would also drop to the A League. This is yet another permutation in the complicated tournament system the Yomiuri Newspaper came up with.

Previously we reported that Kono Rin 9P had won the A League in the sixth round. In his last game, Kono (B) beat 25th Honinbo Chikun by 8.5 points, so he finished the league undefeated on 7-0. The game was played on September 10. On September 17, the play-off between the winners of the B1 and B2 Leagues was held. Yamada Kimio 9P (B2 winner) (W) beat Awaji Shuzo 9P by 8.5 points. Yamada thus earned a place in the tournament to decide the challenger. He is guaranteed a place in the A League next year. From the B1 League, Awaji (first on 5-2) and Ryu Shikun 9P (second on 4-3 — thanks to being ranked number one, he pipped the other three players [out of eight] who also finished on 4-3) will be promoted to the A League. They will be joined by So Yokoku 9P, who was second in the B League. Second place in the A League was also decided on September 17 when Ichiriki Ryo 7P (B) beat Cho Riyu 8P by resig. Ichiriki earns a place in the S League.
Tomorrow: Kyo Kagen wins two junior titles; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama ekes out narrow win in Meijin

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report, Special Edition: Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp/Meijin match

Thursday September 10, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.09.06_Meijin-Iyama-Takao-review-1st-game

Last week, as Tokyo correspondent for the American Go E-Journal, I was invited to attend some special events held in connection with the Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp and the Meijin title match (at right). Here is my report.

Teaching Game: This year’s summer camp, which has become an annual event at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, was held for two weeks, from Friday, August 21, to Thursday, September 3. The camp had a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with 16 players of both sexes from 13 countries taking part and go ranks ranging from around 3-dan to double-digit kyu. One point that struck me was that, besides the Western countries you might expect, there were also participants from places like Hong Kong, China, and Singapore where there’s no shortage of local instructors. Word-of-mouth on this event must be good.

There was a full program, with morning and afternoon sessions every day. The 
program included sessions studying life-and-death and tesuji problems, lectures and simuls by professionals, goodwill matches with Japanese amateurs, and also a league tournament. A repeat participant, Michael Webster of England, was taken on as an intern at the Nihon Ki-in beforehand to help plan the camp; he also selected the life-and-death problems, including problems of various levels to cater for everyone. All the participants I got to speak to were happy with what they called a very enjoyable camp. The double-digit kyu-player referred to above told me that he was actually a virtual beginner but that he had a great time at the camp and that his motivation was now very high.

2015.09.09_NHK-Redmond-game-commentary.jpgThe event I was invited to attend was a teaching game played from 
noon to about two o’clock on Wednesday, September 2. This game was a reward for the winner of the camp league, who was Tyler Oyakawa 3D of the US. The professional was Fujisawa Rina 3P, holder of the Women’s Honinbo title and, at just 16, the great hope of women’s go in Japan.  Coincidentally, another American did a simultaneous public commentary in the same room: this was Michael Redmond 9P, who was assisted by his charming elder daughter Emi, who is about 1-dan amateur. Emi speaks three languages, Japanese, Chinese, and English; she is in her final year at Sophia University (Jochi) in Tokyo, and she is also interested in helping to spread go. The game, on three stones, was a relatively peaceful one because, for the most part, Rina did not, in Michael’s words (in conversation later), “play wildly, as I would have done.” If the handicap is correct, the pro can expect to catch up in the endgame, and this seemed to be Rina’s strategy; she ended up getting a good lead, however, leading Tyler to resign.

I found the commentary very instructive and so asked Michael to write it up f
or the E-Journal. He cheerfully complied, so you can click on his commentary here. After having the bright idea of making this request, I just sat back and enjoyed the game instead of taking notes. Just for the record, the Nihon Ki-in is also holding a winter camp this year, but it is of a different nature. It is open to go educators and instructors from the ASEAN countries, seven of which have go associations: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The camp will be mainly concerned with teaching and propagation methods.

Clash of the Honorary Meijins: In the afternoon on Wednesday, we were all invited to attend a special event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Asahi Meijin title and starting at 3:30. This was a public game between the only two players to have qualified as Honorary Meijin, Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi. Kobayashi has already assumed the title, as he turned 60 three years ago, but Cho Chikun is 59, so it’s not yet official for him. The criterion is winning the title five times in a row or ten times overall. Cho won the 5th to 9th titles, thus qualifying one way, then almost qualifying the other when he won the 21st to 24th titles. Kobayashi won the 10th title, then had a long run lasting from the 13th to the 19th.

2015.09.09_NHK-pro-game-commentary-600x450.jpgThis game was played in the Wisteria Room of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, informally known as just the Chinzanso, where the Meijin title match between Iyama Yuta and Takao Shinji was due to start the following day. The main commentator was 24th Honinbo Shuho, otherwise known as Ishida Yoshio 9P, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, among others. Prominent Meijins of the past in the audience, such as Otake Hideo, Rin Kaiho, Takemiya Masaki, and the incumbent, Iyama Yuta, were also called up on stage for their comments. Several people commented on how serious both Cho and Kobayashi seemed about the game. (As is usual with these public games, there were playing on the same stage as the commentary, but in theory the players are too absorbed in the game to pay attention to what is being said. That’s the theory, anyway.) In the past, these two were great rivals, especially in the 80s. Cho achieved success earlier and has outstripped Kobayashi (74 titles to 59); however, Kobayashi wrested his big titles, the Kisei and the Meijin, from the hands of Cho. The biggest regret of Kobayashi’s career is undoubtedly three successive Honinbo challenges rebuffed by Cho. Cho and Kobayashi hold the record for the most games between two players, at 129. We didn’t get an up-to-date breakdown at the public commentary, but someone did say that it was 63 wins each a couple of years ago (by the way, this game does not count, as it was unofficial).

As usual with these two, the game was a good contest and entertained the stan
ding-room-only audience. Takemiya commented: “The game is so fierce you’d think there was a big prize at stake. Each one thinks, this is the one player I don’t want to lose to.” Iyama also expressed admiration for their fighting spirit. The highlight of the game was an attack on a weak group launched by Kobayashi (White) on move 108. Everyone thought Cho was in trouble, but he came up with a clever counter that linked up his weak group at the cost of a two-stone sacrifice. At this point, Cho was ahead, but Kobayashi pulled off an upset in the endgame while Cho was in byo-yomi. Kobayashi ended up winning by 1.5 points.After the game–Kobayashi: “Black 109 was the kind of move you expect from Cho.” Cho: “Next year I can call myself Honorary Meijin, but forget about this honorary stuff. I’m going to become the real Meijin.”

Actually the game review was the most entertaining part of the event. Cho is 
a compulsive joker; you rarely hear a straight line from him. On the stage, he was like a runaway train. Poor Ishida in particular was the butt of his humor, with comments like, “I may play badly sometimes, but not badly enough to lose to Ishida.” Cho’s fellow pros take his humor in their stride, and Ishida kept trying to review the game with Kobayashi although drowned out by Cho. A number of times, Cho said to the audience: “Do you have any idea what those guys are going on about? I don’t.“   He also reproached Ishida with not giving his clever move at 109 adequate appreciation at the time, so he was certainly listening to the public commentary.

The eve party: In Japan, there’s a strong tradition of holding parties on the eve of major events. There’s a special word for it, “zenyasai” or “night-before festival.” The tradition is honored in go, and these parties are big events (about 240 people attended on Wednesday), especially for games played away from the major cities. They are like showcases for the local go community. The summer camp group was also invited to the eve party held from 6 pm. on the 2nd. Persons in attendance ranged from the heavies of the go world to ordinary go fans who apply by postcard for invitations.

At the party there were the usual speeches and, of more interest, short speeches by the players expressing their resolve for the match. Takao: “This year my results have been bad and I have a minus record. I hear it’s the first time ever the Meijin challenger has had a minus record, so I have set an unprecedented record. Just between you and me, it’s because I have staked everything on the Meijin title, so at present things are proceeding according to my scenario. I also have a scenario for after this, but it’s a secret. It’s not so often in a lifetime that you get to play a best-of-seven, so this is a valuable period for me. It’s important for me.” Iyama’s reply: “I don’t know what kind of scenario Takao Sensei is writing, but the Meijin is a special title. This title alone I can’t hand over.”        

Among the guests appearing on stage was Michael Redmond, who, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, did a public commentary on the game on Friday afternoon. On Thursday morning, the summer-camp participants were invited to watch the start of the game in the playing room.

photos courtesy Tom Urasoe, Nihon Ki-in Overseas Dept. 

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report (3): Women’s Meijin League; Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense; Vacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled

Wednesday September 9, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Women’s Meijin League: The final game in the first round of the new league was played on August 28. Aoki Kikuyo 8P (W, at right) beat Okuda 2015.09.07_Aoki KikuyoAya 3P by 7.5 points. On September 3, Okuda recovered from her bad start, beating Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) by 5.5 points. On the same day, Mannami Nao 3P (W) improved her score to 2-0 by beating Kato Keiko 6P by 6.5 points.

Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense: The first game of the 40th Meijin best-of-seven was played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on September 3 and 4. Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 180 moves. Iyama owed his victory to his skillful play in rescuing a group under attack. Iyama had given Takao this attack as compensation for winning a large ko. After the game, the challenger Takao Shinji 9P commented that perhaps his positional judgment had been a little slack. He said that he played a little mildly in a couple of areas because he thought he was ahead when he may not have been. The second game will be played on September 17 and 18.

2015.09.07_Motoki-KatsuyaVacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled: The following four players have won seats in the 71st Honinbo League, due to start in October. They are Takao Shinji Judan, Yo Seiki 8P, Ichiriki Ryo 7P, and Motoki Katsuya 3P (left). The first two, Takao and Yo, won their way back in immediately after dropping out of the previous league. The other two, Ichiriki (aged 18) and Motoki (aged 20), will be making their debuts. Motoki earned promotion to 7-dan for his feat. Ichiriki set a record for youngest player in the Kisei league when he was sixteen years nine months; he is now 18 years two months, the second-youngest player to win a seat in the Honinbo league. He fell just nine days short of breaking the record set by Yo Seiki last year.

To 8-dan: Miyagawa Fumihiko (150 wins) (as of August 28). Miyagawa, born on February 18, 1972, is a disciple of Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P; he is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He also serves as a director of the Nihon Ki-in.
To 7-dan: Motoki Katsuya 3P (for winning a place in the 71st Honinbo league; as of September 4)

Categories: Japan,John Power Report