American Go E-Journal » Japan

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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The Power Report (2): Kisei Leagues; Xie wins 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup

Friday July 8, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei Leagues: The S League, the top of the five leagues in the 41st Kisei tournament, got off to a start on May 12 with Ichiriki Ryo 7P, the bottom-ranked player, scoring a win. The number two player, Murakawa Daisuke, got off to a good start by defeating the number one player and previous challenger, Yamashita Keigo.  This is a short league, with just five rounds, so each win is more significant than in a bigger league. Already we can say that a fourth successive Kisei title
match between Yamashita Keigo and Iyama Yuta looks unlikely, as Yamashita has lost his opening two games. Murakawa Daisuke 8P and Kono Rin 9P, both on 2-0, share the lead.
(May 12) Ichiriki Ryo 7P beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 4.5 points.
(May 19) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.2016.07.08_Aizu Xie
(June 9) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 8
P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.
(June 23) Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by half a point.
(May 26) Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 2.5 points.
        The eight-player A League has already concluded three rounds.  The bottom-ranked player in the league, So Yokoku 9P, is the only undefeated player, on 3-0. His nearest rivals are Ryu Shikun 9P and Awaji Shuzo 9P, who are both on 3-1.

Xie wins 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup: The final of the 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup, the only two-day game in women’s go, was held at the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in Aizu Wakamatsu City on June 17 and 18. Xie Yimin (W, right) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8P by4.5 points and won this title for the first time. Xie became the first quadruple title-holder in women’s go in Japan. This is her 23rd title.

Promotion
To 2-dan: Otani Naoki (30 wins) (as of May 20)

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The Power Report (1): Iyama makes good start in Gosei defense; Iyama Yuta defends Honinbo title; Takao and Murakawa share lead in 41st Meijin League

Thursday July 7, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama makes good start in Gosei defense: The first game of the 41st Gosei title match, in which Iyama Yuta faces2016.07.07_41gosei1_iyama the challenge of Murakawa Daisuke 8P, was held at the Hotel Kokonoe in Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture on June 25. Taking black, Iyama prevailed in a violent clash between two large groups. Once this was decided, the game was over, so Murakawa resigned after 159 moves. Go reporters are increasingly using the term “Iyama magic” for the way he takes the lead in the fighting even when his opponent doesn’t make identifiable mistakes. If anything, Murakawa had appeared to have the edge in the middle-game fighting, but Iyama put into effect a large-scale strategy exploiting the aji of a more-or-less discarded group, whereupon it turned out that he was not the one with problems. The next game will be played on July 18. (NOTE: Iyama will be playing with Hsieh Yi Min in the Mind Sports Pair Go World Cup 2016, which begins in Tokyo this Saturday, July 9; click here for our June 19 preview and watch for EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock’s reports later this week) 

Iyama Yuta defends Honinbo title:  The fifth game of the 71st Honinbo title match was held at the Yoshikawaya inn in Iisaka Hot Spring, Fukushima City on June 29 and 30.  Taking black, Iyama forced a resignation after 177 moves. After losing the opening game, Iyama won four in a row to defend his title. This is a landmark victory for him, as it secures him his first honorary title, which requires you to hold the title for five years in a row. Actually, in the case of the Honinbo title the wording is actually “eternal Honinbo;” Iyama will become “26th Honinbo,” followed by the special name he chooses for himself (he will unveil it at the award ceremony 2016.07.07_71honinbo5_4later this year).  He will use the title when he turns 60. Just for the record, his predecessors are 22nd Honinbo Shukaku (Takagawa Kaku), 23rd Honinbo Eiju (Sakata Eio), 24th Honinbo Shuho (Ishida Yoshio), and 25th Honinbo Chikun (Cho Chikun; Cho won 11 titles in a row, so he assumed the title immediately after his 10th term).
        The fifth game was the usual fierce fight between Iyama (black) and Takao. Both sides made moves they were dissatisfied with in the earlier part of the game, but it remained evenly balanced. A little after 100 moves, Iyama played a well-timed peep that helped him secure a group in sente, enabling him to switch to a big endgame point. This gave him the lead and, although there was a lot more fighting, he hung on to it. Takao resigned after 177 moves. Besides becoming the first player for 23 years to earn an honorary title (the last was Rin Kaiho in the Tengen title), Iyama also maintained his septuple crown.
        Fukushima City was the birthplace of the 6th Honinbo Shuhaku (1716-41); the game was played there to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his death. He became the head of the Honinbo house at the age of 18 but died young. His main grave is at the Honmyoji Temple in Tokyo, but a portion of his bones are buried at the Josenji temple in Fukushima. The day before the game, the players visited the temple to pay their respects to him. Incidentally, this game was the 400th title-match game in the modern Honinbo tournament.

Takao and Murakawa share lead in 41st Meijin League: After the seventh round (out of nine), Takao Shinji 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P share the lead in the 41st Meijin League, with both on 5-1 (each has had a bye). Next in the running is Cho U 9P, who is on 4-2. The results in the May round were significant. Murakawa Daisuke (who will also be playing in the Pair Go tournament this weekend), who suffered his first loss in the April round, regained a share of the lead by beating Takao Shinji; both were then on 4-1.  This was a chance for Cho U to take the sole lead, but he lost his game to Kono Rin, so he briefly joined Murakawa and Takao in a three-way tie; he then spoiled it by losing to Takao in the June round. Recent results: 
(May 12) Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points.
(May 19) Hirata Tomoya 7P (B) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig. This was a game
between two winless newcomers to the league. His loss will cost Uchida his lea
gue place; Hirata has an outside chance of keeping his.
(June 2) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by half a point.
(June 9). Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
(June 20) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by half a point.
(June 30). Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

Tomorrow: Kisei Leagues; Xie wins 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup
       

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The Power Report: Ichiriki wins 7th O-kage Cup; Iyama close to defending Honinbo title; Murakawa becomes Gosei challenger

Monday June 20, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki wins 7th O-kage Cup: The final section (last four rounds) of the 7th O-kage (Gratitude) Cup, a tournament for players aged 30 and under, was held on the bank of the Isuzu River and at the Alley Ki-in in Ise City in Mie Prefecture on May 14 and 15. The sponsors are a group of tourist-trade shops (many of them recreations of Edo Period buildings) in Gratitude Alley, the street leading up to the Ise Shrine (later in the month, this area was the site of the G7 summit).
        The players who made the final, Ichiriki Ryo 7P and Anzai Nobuaki 7P, are fellow disciples of So Kofuku 9P. Anzai is the older, 30 to Ichiriki’s 18, and won the 2nd and 3rd terms of this tournament, but Ichiriki has recently developed into one of the top players of the post-Iyama generation. Taking black, Iyama beat Anzai by resignation after 183 moves and won this title for the thirdtime in a row. First prize is three million yen.
        The level of competition was quite high, as the 16 players in the final section included two former holders of top-seven titles, Murakawa Daisuke, who wonthe Oza title, and Ida Atsushi, the previous Judan, the second-place-getter in
 the Honinbo League, Motoki Katsuya 7P, and women’s triple crown-holder Xie Yimin. As it happened, all these players were eliminated in the first round.

Iyama close to defending Honinbo title: The challenger Takao Shinji 9P made a good start in his challenge for the 2016.06.20_71honinbo4 Iyama71st Honinbo title, winning the opening game, but nothing has gone well for him since.
        The second game was played at the Honkoji Temple in Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture on May 23 and 24. Iyama turned the tables from the first game. Playing white, he attacked severely and seized the initiative, then fended off Takao
’s attempts to get back into the game. Early in the game there was a spectacular trade that gave Takao a large area but also gave Iyama a lot of ko threats. Iyama made good use of them to secure a large territory of his own. Still fighting continued, with Iyama making an unexpected but severe invasion. Takao was ahead in territory, but Iyama’s constant attacking paid off. An unusual feature of this game was that Iyama twice made a tortoise-shell capture; it’s rare for one to appear in a pro game, let alone two. It’s proverbially worth 60 points, twice as much as a ponnuki.  Late in the middle game, Takao made a last-chance attack on a white group, but Iyama found a clever 2016.06.20_71honinbo4_4move to settle it and nursed his lead to the end. Takao resigned after 230 moves. Incidentally, the 24th was Iyama’s birthday (he’s now 27); he gave himself a good birthday present.
        The third game was played the Old Ryotei Kaneyu in Noshiro City in Akita Prefecture on June 2 and 3. (“Ryotei” is a term for a traditional Japanese inn; here “Old Ryotei” has been incorporated as part of the name. This inn is a palatial building made completely of wood; it has been registered with the government as a “tangible cultural property.”) In contrast to the second game, the players made a solid and steady start. Inevitably a fierce fight started in the middle game, with a ko attached. Iyama played strongly and forced Takao to resign after 207 moves.
        The fourth game was played in the Olive Bay Hotel in Saikai City in Nagasaki Prefecture on June 13 and 14. This was the most fierce game of the series so far, with fighting starting early in the opening. Playing white, Iyama cut a l2016.06.20_murakawa-daisukearge group into two and killed both parts of it. Takao resigned after move 128. The game finished at 2:44 pm on the second day, Takao had two hours 33 minutes of his time left and Iyama had one hour 48 minutes left.
        The fifth game will be played on June 29 and 30.

Murakawa becomes Gosei challenger: 
The play-off to decide the challenger for the 41st Gosei title was held on May 18. Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W, right) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points, becoming the Gosei challenger for the first time. This gave Murakawa revenge for losing the play-off to decide the Kisei challenger to Yamashita three years in a row. He will be the second player to try to put a dent in Iyama’s septuple crown. The title match will start on June 25.

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Pair Go World Cup Coming up Next Month

Sunday June 19, 2016

The 2016 Pair Go World Cup will be held on July 9 & 10 in Tokyo.  Sixteen of the world’s best male-female pairs have been2016.06.19_PAIR GO WORLD CUP 2016 invited to compete for the top prize of 10M JPY.  The star-studded field includes 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.  Click here for details.

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June 30 Deadline for Go Teachers’ Workshop

Wednesday June 15, 2016

Application for admission into the joint Iwamoto North American Foundation – Nihon Kiin Go Teachers’ Workshop are still being accepted until June 30. The workshop is intended for people with interest in implementing go into school or university curriculum. The sponsors will cover most of the expenses for the attendees. Content of the weeklong workshop includes training sessions on go instruction and organization; visits to Japanese educational institutions that have go installed into their curriculum; lectures on Japanese go history and culture; group discussions on implementing go education; and pro teaching games. Click here for more details and application procedure.
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The Power Report: Globis Cup report & commentary

Sunday May 22, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2016.05.22_globis-diagrams

A report on this year’s Globis Cup appeared earlier this month in the E-Journal (China’s Li wins 3rd Globis Cup  5/9). Here is a commentary on the final, based on Go Weekly and the live commentary by O Meien 9P (click on link below)This year the finalists were Li Qincheng 1P of China (aged 17) and Kyo Kagen (also known as Hsu Chiayuan or Xu Jiayuan) 3P of Japan (aged 18). In the nigiri, Li drew black. Playing conditions are the NHK format (30 seconds per move plus ten minutes). As last time, O was assisted by Mannami Nao 2P.

This tournament was founded to give young Japanese players more experience against top-level competition. In China and Korea, it’s not unusual for a teenager to be winning top titles. The best example of that is Ke Jie 9P of China. He is still only 18 (he turns 19 on August 2), but he has already won three international titles. So far, no teenager in Japan has won a top domestic title; the biggest prodigy, of course, has been Iyama Yuta, who started winning titles when he was 16, but he did not win a top-seven title, the Meijin, until he had turned 20. Why the difference? In my view, the explanation is simple: the Korean and Chinese players come out of a much bigger pool, because of the much greater popularity of go among young people in these countries.

2016.05.22_Globis3_final-commentary

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The Power Report: Honinbo title match starts; Septuple crown in danger?

Wednesday May 11, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2016.05.11_honinbo-venue

The first game of the 71st Honinbo title match was played in the Honinbo Shusaku Igo Memorial Hall (right) on the island of Inno-shima (Shusaku’s birthplace) in the city of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture on May 9 and 10. This is Iyama Yuta’s first title defence since completing the first-ever Grand Slam of the top seven titles. The challenger is Takao Shinji 9P, who has a bad record against Iyama (13-30 before this match) but who took the Tengen title from him in 2014, thus slowing down his quest for the grand slam. Takao has also been in great form this year and, as of May 3, had 13 wins to one loss.

2016.05.11_Takao makes a good startTakao (left) drew white in the first game. During the middle game, Iyama (right) made a strong attack on a white group; Takao sacrificed it, getting an attack on two black groups as compensation. Later, Takao 2016.05.11_Iyama wonders where he went wrongwas able to force Iyama into a large ko fight that could potentially decide the game. Lacking ko threats, Iyama finished off the ko and let Takao revive his dead group. This trade was favorable for Takao. Iyama did his best to catch up, but couldn’t quite manage it. Takao likes to build thickness and in this case his thickness did him in good stead in the endgame. Iyama resigned after White 244. This was Takao’s first win against Iyama after a string of seven losses.

This is just one loss, so, my headline notwithstanding, Iyama will not yet be 
too worried. The second game will be played on May 23 and 24.

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The Power Report: China’s Li wins 3rd Globis Cup

Monday May 9, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal. As in 2015, I was invited to cover the Globis Cup for the E-2016.05.09_globis_Hori Yoshito, tournament founderJournal;  I hope readers will forgive the delay in submitting my report.

China’s Li wins 3rd Globis Cup:  The third Globis Cup, an international tournament for young players sponsored by the Globis Corporation, was held from April 22 to 24. Li Qincheng 1P (left) of China won.  2016.05.09_globis_LiThe full name of the tournament is the Globis Cup World Go U-20, and it is open to players under 20 as of January 1 of this year. Participating were six players from Japan, three from China, three from Korea, and one each from Chinese Taipei, Europe, North America, and the Asia/Oceania zone. The venue was the Graduate School of Management, Globis University, a business school run by the corporation; it is located in the Kojimachi area, a short walk from the Nihon Ki-in. The tournament is the brainchild of Hori Yoshito (right), who is the president of Globis University and also a director of the Nihon Ki-in.

At present, this is the only international tournament held every year in Japa
n and the only one for players under 20. The aim of the tournament is to raise the level of teenaged players in Japan who may not have many opportunities to take part in international tournaments. Of course, all the participants benefit, but the founder Mr. Hori is particularly concerned to raise the level of Japanese go and has set the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Nihon Ki-in (2024) as the target date for achieving this ambition. 

2016.05.09_globisThe new tournament started well for Japan, with two Japanese representatives making the final (the first time this had happened for 16 years) in the 1st Cup (Ichiriki Ryo beat Kyo Kagen). In the 2nd edition, on which I reported last year for
 the EJ, Huang Yunsong 4P of China beat Na Hyeon 6P of Korea in the final.

Below is a full list of this year’s competitors with their ages.
Japan: Ichiriki Ryo 7P (18), Son Makoto 4P (20, as of February 21), Kyo Kagen 3P (18), Matsuura Yuta 2P (16), Shibano Toramaru 2P (16), Onishi Ryuhei 1P (16)
China: Fan Yunruo 4P (20, as of Jan. 7), Yang Dingxin 3P (17), Li Qincheng 1P (17)
Korea: Lee Donghun 5P (18), Shin Jinseo 5P (16), Byeon Sangil 4P (19)
Chinese Taipei: Lin Shih-Hsun 5p (18)
Europe: Grigorii Fionin 7D (17)
North America: Justin Ching 7D (14)
Thailand: Krit Jamkachornkiat 7D (20, as of March 1)

Like some other international tournaments, the Samsung Cup, for example, the Globis Cup is made up of two stages. In the first, the players are split up in to four groups, in which the players play each other in a double knock-out. You qualify for the main tournament when you win two games (one player will do so with a score of 2-0, the other with 2-1). The second stage is then a regular knock-out tournament. Unfortunately, none of the amateur players scored a win. Below are the results in the second stage. Tournament conditions are the same as for the NHK Cup, that is, 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes’ thinking time to be used in one-minute units.

Quarterfinals: Li (China) (W) beat Shibano (Japan) by resig., Byeon (Korea) (W) beat Lin (Ch. Taipei) by resig., Yang 2016.05.09_globis_Byeon, Li, Kyo(China) (B) beat Shin (Korea) by 7.5 points, Kyo (Japan) (W) beat Lee by resig.
Semifinals: Li (B) beat Byeon by resig., Kyo (B) beat Yang by resig.
Final: Li (B, center) beat Kyo (right) by resig.
Play-off for 3rd place: Byeon (B, left) beat Yang by resig.

In the final, Kyo started fairly well playing white, but he missed the decisi
ve points in large-scale middle-game fighting, so Li took a safe lead. As far as I know, this is Li’s first tournament victory. Kyo had to be satisfied with second place for the second time; he will get one more chance to play in this tournament. Incidentally, both Li and Kyo scored 2-1 in the first stage.

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