American Go E-Journal » Japan

Yuta Iyama, Mi Yu Ting, Park Jeong Hwan & DeepZenGo to battle in Nihon Ki-in’s new “World Go Championship” next week

Wednesday March 15, 2017

A brand-new event, the “World Go Championship”, will be held next week, March 21-23 in Osaka, Japan.  Four top players, Iyama2017.03.16_World GO Championship Yuta (Japan), Park Jeon Hwan (Korea), Mi Yuting (China), and DeepZenGo (representing AI) will fight it out for the title.  The Nihon Kiin will provide streaming and live commentaries on YouTube by Michael Redmond and Anti Tourmanen.  Click here for details and the broadcast schedule.

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The Power Report: Iyama one win away from defending Kisei; Fujisawa Rina makes good start in Women’s Meijin challenge; Honinbo League

Monday March 6, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.03.06_41kisei5_08

Iyama one win away from defending Kisei: The fifth game of the 41st Kisei title match was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on March 1 and 2.  Playing black, Iyama forced a resignation after 165 moves. That took his score to 3-2, so he is just one win away from defending his title. The game was marked by fierce fighting throughout, so it became a competition in reading. In the end, Iyama brought down a big white group. Incidentally, the game showed the increasing influence of the AI program Master in two places in the opening. Both of the moves in question were played by Iyama, but, although it didn’t come out in this game, Kono is also said to have been strongly influenced by AI go. The sixth game will be played on March 9 & 10.

Fujisawa Rina makes good start in Women’s Meijin challenge: The first game of the 29th Women’s Meijin title match was played at the Arisu Pavilion at Heian Women’s University in Kyoto on March 1. Fujisawa Rina, the 18-2017.03.06_29fmeijin_05year-old holder of the Women’s Honinbo title, is challenging Xie Yimin, holder of the other four women’s titles. Xie has dominated women’s go in Japan for a decade and has picked up 26 titles in the process (more than twice as many as any other woman player). Fujisawa has won just three titles so far, but she has established herself as the number two woman player. The two have met twice in titles match (the 2016and 2015 Women’s Honinbo) and won one each. The Heian Women’s University includes go as a regular subject in its curriculum. It has now hosted the first game of this match for six years in a row and has also appointed Xie as a Guest Professor. Fujisawa drew black in the nigiri. In the middle game, the game seemed to tilt a little in Xie’s favor, but Fujisawa fought back and took the lead, so Xie resigned after move 217. Since this match is a best-of-three, starting with a win is a big advantage. Xie already faces a kadoban. The second game will be played on March 8.

Honinbo League
(March 1) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by 5.5 points; Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. This loss cost Hane his share of the lead. Motoki Katsuya 7P has the provisional lead on 4-1; Hane and Ko follow him on 4-2.

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The Power Report: China scores overwhelming win in Nong Shim Cup; Promotions; 50th Kido Prizes; Lee Sedol wins exhibition match

Thursday March 2, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.03.02_Nong Shim Iyama loses to Pak

China scores overwhelming win in Nong Shim Cup: Thanks to seven wins in a row, the best winning streak in this tournament’s history, by their first player, Fan Tingyu, China dominated the first two rounds of the 18th Nong Shim Cup. In the last game of the second round, Korea’s Pak Junghwan finally put a stop to the streak, but both Korea and Japan were down to their last player, while China still had four. The final round started in Shanghai on February 21. In Game 10, Pak (W) beat Iyama Yuta of Japan by resignation. In Game 11, the second Fan on the Chinese team, Fan Yunruo 5P (W), beat Pak by 1.5 points, so China secured a one-sided victory. Win-loss totals were: China 8-1, Korea 2-5, and Japan 1-5. China has now won the cup four years in a row.

Promotions
To 3-dan: Takahashi Masumi (40 wins; as of Feb. 3); Osawa Kenro (40 wins; as of Feb. 21)
To 9-dan: Onda Yasuhiko (200 wins; as of Feb. 14)

Iyama wins Shusai Prize: On January 31, Iyama Yuta was awarded the 54th Shusai Prize, which honors the outstanding player of the previous year. This is the fifth year in a row he has won it.

50th Kido Prizes: The magazine Kido lives on in the form of the annual Kido Prizes, awarded to the outstanding Nihon Ki-in players of the previous year. The winners for 2016 were chosen on February 13 by a panel of representatives of the go-sponsoring media.
Winners are: 
Most outstanding player: Iyama Yuta, for winning all top seven titles; Outstanding player: Takao Shinji, for winning the Meijin title; New face: Onishi Ryuhei, for winning the King of the New Stars; Women’s prize: Xie Yimin, for winning four women’s titles; International prize: not awarded; Most wins: Ichiriki Ryo (47); Best winning percentage: 2017.03.02_Sedol-Iyama_04Onishi Ryuhei (39-10, 79.59%); Most successive wins: Adachi Toshimasa 4P (15); Most games played: Ichiriki Ryo (66).

Lee Sedol wins exhibition match: Lee Sedol was invited to Japan by the Japanese Shogi Federation to play a ceremonial role at the start of Electric King title match. His job was to “shake the pieces.” As far as I can work out, not being a shogi player, this is the equivalent of the nigiri for deciding black and white in a game. The Nihon Ki-in took advantage of his visit to arrange the Korea-Japan Exhibition Match between Lee and Iyama Yuta. It was played at a Tokyo hotel on February 26. Lee (B) won by resig. after 227 moves. The game started at 5:30 pm and finished at 8:34 pm.

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The Power Report: Xie defends Women’s Kisei; 42nd Meijin League; 72nd Honinbo League; Professional Pair Go Championship 2017

Tuesday February 28, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.02.28_Xie wins Womens Kisei

Xie defends Women’s Kisei: The third and deciding game of the 20th Women’s Kisei title match was held in the Ryusei Studio at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on February 6. Taking black, Xie Yimin beat Nyu Eiko 1P by resig. after 161 moves. Both sides fought hard, and the game ended up as a large capturing race, won by Xie. This gave her the match 2-1. This is her fifth victory in a row, so she qualified for the title of Honorary Women’s Kisei (for use when she turns 60). She also has earned Honorary Women’s Honinbo and Meijin titles. This is her 26th title. The 17-year-old Nyu may have failed in her first title challenge, but she pushed Xie hard (the latter won the previous four Women’s Kisei title matches 2-0), so she put up a creditable performance. She will surely be back.

42nd Meijin League: (Feb. 2) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; Sakai Hideyuki 8P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by half a point; Cho U 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. This loss put Murakawa on 2-1, costing him his share of the lead. (Feb. 16) Yamashita (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.  Joint leaders of the league are 2017.02.28_leaguesIyama Yuta and Kono Rin, who are both on 2-0 (the lead is provisional, as they have both had their byes and have played one game fewer than the other
players).

72nd Honinbo League: (Feb. 2)  Motoki Katsuya 7P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points. This win gave Motoki the provisional lead on 4-1, ahead of Hane Naoki and Ko Iso, both on 3-1. (Feb. 9) Hane (W) beat Mitani Tetsuya 7P by resig. This put Hane level with Motoki. (Feb. 16) Takao Shinji Meijin (B) beat Ko Iso by half a point; Cho U (B) beat
Yuki Satoshi 9P by 1.5 points. After starting out with three losses, Takao has  now won two games, so his chances of retaining his league place have improved.

Professional Pair Go Championship 2017: Thirty-two top players took part in this tournament, the opening three rounds of which were held at the Nihon Ki-in on February 12. In the semifinals, the team of Fujisawa Rina and Hane Naoki beat Mannami Nao 3P and Yamashita Keigo and Suzuki Ayumi 7P/Cho Chikun beat Okuda Aya 3P/Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P. The final will be played on March 5.

Tomorrow: China scores overwhelming win in Nong Shim Cup; Promotions; 50th Kido Prizes; Lee Sedol wins exhibition match

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The Power Report: Title-award ceremony for Fujisawa Rina; Ke Jie wins Chinese New Year’s tournament; 41st Kisei title match tied

Monday February 27, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.02.27_Fujisawa Rina

Title-award ceremony for Fujisawa Rina: On January 27, the 18-year-old Fujisawa Rina attended the ceremony for the conferral of the 35th Women’s Honinbo title, held at the Daiichi Hotel Tokyo. Our photo shows her dressed in a furisode kimono receiving a commemorative cup. Her senior Shuko disciple Takao Shinji Meijin gave a congratulatory address, and the ceremony was attended by many young players.

Ke Jie wins Chinese New Year’s tournament: The CCTV New Year’s Cup is a special tournament organized by China’s top TV channel to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The top players from China, Korea, and Japan are invited to compete for a prize of 800,000 yuan (about $116,000). Now in its fifth year, it started out as a domestic tournament but was upgraded to an international one the following year. This year it was held in Beijing from January 29 to 31. The tournament is an irregular knock-out. The players draw lots to see who plays in the first game. The third player plays the loser of that game; the winner then meets the winner of the first game in the final. To win this tournament, you have to win two games; the player drawn into the second game is the only one who, if he loses, doesn’t get another chance. The time allowance follows the NHK format (30 seconds per move, plus ten minutes of thinking time to be used in one-minute units). The tournament is 2017.02.27_41kisei3 Iyama's upsettelevised live on CCTV’s public sports channel and usually attracts an audience of 1%-plus. That may not sound like much, but it translates into ten million viewers. This year Iyama Yuta of Japan and Ke Jie of China met in the first game; taking black, Iyama won by resignation after 233 moves. In game two, Ke beat Pak Junghwan of Korea (I don’t have the details). In the final, Ke took revenge on Iyama, playing white and securing a resignation after exactly 200 moves. Iyama commented: “I was about four points ahead on the board, so I made an all-out attack, then resigned.”  This is Ke’s second successive victory.

41st Kisei title match tied: This year’s Kisei title match is proving to be a hard-fought one and it is now down to a best-of-three. The third game was played at the Yamaya Inn in Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, on February 8 and 9. Kono Rin, the challenger, built a lead on the first day taking white and played thickly on the second day in an attempt to wrap up the game. However, Iyama Yuta Kisei fought on with remarkable tenacity and eventually pulled off an upset win by 1.5 points. This gave him a 2-1 lead. In a title match, you have to win your “good” games; often a failure like this could be very costly.  The fourth game was played at the Gyokushoen Inn in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on February 15 and 16. This time Kono returned the “favor,” staging an upset after Iyama had taken the lead. Iyama (white) resigned after 179 moves. The fifth game will be played on March 1 and 2.
Tomorrow: Xie defends Women’s Kisei; 42nd Meijin League; 72nd Honinbo League

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2017 dates set for Maeda’s Osaka Go Camp and Japan Go Congress

Monday February 13, 2017

Ryo Maeda’s annual Osaka Go Camp will be held June 25th to July 13th in Osaka, Japan. This year’s camp will have new 2017.02.12_maeda-campcontent, says Maeda, a 6-dan pro from the Kansai-Kiin who’s been a regular attendee at the US Go Congress for the past 17 years. “We have league games in the mornings and full teaching programs in the afternoons by professional players every day, ” he says. The teaching programs will be in English. “On holidays, we will also organize some day trips to places like downtown Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and a two-day trip to Kyoto, Friendship Tournament with Kyoto Go players and sightseeing.”

The second Japan Go Congress will be held July 14th to July 17th in nearby Takarazuka City, so camp participants can participate in both, if they want.

Register by the end of February and receive a 5,000-yen discount (only available for those who participate in the Osaka Go Camp for the full term).

“I promise that everyone can improve quite a lot through the Camp and the Congress and will have a lot of fun!” adds Maeda.

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The Power Report (3 of 3): Yo to challenge for Judan; Meijin League; Honinbo League

Monday February 6, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.02.06_Yo Seiki becomes Judan chall

Yo to challenge for Judan: The first semifinal in the 55th Judan tournament was held on December 26. Imamura Toshiya 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. The second was held on January 9. Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi in Pinyin) (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points. This was a lucky win for Yo (right). When the micro-endgame started, Yamashita was half a point ahead, but he played an invalid ko threat that cost him a point and a move. This meant that the final to decide the challenger was an all-Kansai Ki-in affair for only the second time in the history of this tournament (the first time was Sonoda Yuichi vs. Yuki Satoshi in the 27th Judan). The play-off was held on January 26 and the result couldn’t have been closer. After 317 moves, Yo edged Imamura by half a point. This gives Yo another crack at an Iyama-held title. The first game will be played on March 7.

Meijin League: The first league games of the new year were played on January 11.
Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
(January 19) Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.
(January 26). Iyama Yuta (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. This game was decided in 104 moves. There’s little doubt that Iyama is the overwhelming2017.02.06_leagues favorite in the league, though he shares the lead after two rounds with Murakawa.

Honinbo League: 
The last game of 2016 didn’t make our previous report. On December 22, Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Cho U 9P by resig. On January 11, two games were played. Motoki Katsuya 7P (B) beat Mitani Tetsuya 7P by resig.; Ko Iso 8P (B) beat
Yuki Satoshi 9P by resig. On January 19, Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. Hane’s loss meant there was now no undefeated player in the league. On 3-1, Hane shares the lead with Motoki and Ko Iso. On January 26, Takao Shinji Meijin finally picked up his first win in the fourth round when, taking white, he beat Cho U 9P by resig. Cho is now 2-2.

Promotion
To 7-dan: Kuwamoto Shinpei (120 wins, as of Dec. 23)

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The Power Report (1 of 3): Fujisawa wins 29th Women’s Meijin League; Kono makes good start in Kisei challenge, Iyama evens the score

Saturday February 4, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.02.04_Fujisawa (R) beats Aoki

Fujisawa wins 29th Women’s Meijin League: The last league game of 2016 was played on December 22. Suzuki Ayumi 7P (W) beat Sakakibara Fumiko 6P by resig. The final round of the league was held on January 12. Only two players were still in the running for league victory: Fujisawa Rina (below), on 5-0, and Okuda Aya 3P, on 4-1. Okuda needed to win herself and to have Fujisawa lose; there are no play-offs in this league, so, as the higher-ranked player, she would then come first. As it turned out, the gap widened. Fujisawa (W) beat 2017.02.04_Fujisawa RinaAoki Kikuyo 8P by 3.5 points (right), so she finished with a perfect 6-0 and won the league. Okuda lost to Suzuki Ayumi 7P (W) by resig., so she ended up on 4-2, which was good enough for 2nd place. In the third game played, Ishii Akane (W) beat Sakakibara Fumiko by resig. This will be Fujisawa’s first challenge for this title. Xie Yimin is a formidable opponent in the Women’s Kisei and has won it nine times in a row. She is aiming to become the first woman player to hold a title for ten years in a row. The first game will be played on March 1.

Kono makes good start in Kisei challenge, Iyama evens the score: Iyama Yuta was immediately under pressure as the 41st Kisei title match got off to a start. For the third time in his last four title matches, he lost the opening game.
The first game was played at the Sagi-no-yu-so, a traditional Japanese inn in Yasugi City, Shimane Prefecture on January 14 and 15. Holding a title game on Saturday and Sunday is a little unusual, especially playing on a Sunday. The reason was probably that2017.02.04_41kisei2 Iyama wins Iyama (right) is even busier than last year, as now he has Meijin League games to fit into his schedule. Iyama drew black in the nigiri, and the game started at 9 am. At first play was peaceful but slow, as each side tried to frustrate the opponent’s plans. With his 32nd move, a shoulder hit on the 5th line, Kono set out to erase Black’s moyo, provoking an attack by Iyama with move 37. Move 39 was the sealed move, played at 4:56 pm.
On the second day, Kono counterattacked and succeeded in linking up his group under attack. Iyama apparently gained a little from this exchange. Iyama had the lead in territory, but Kono bided his time, building thickness, then staked the game on a double attack on two black groups with move 94. Black managed to survive this attack, but during the course of subsequent fighting, Iyama suffered a hallucination that let White cut off and capture seven black stones in the centre. That decided the issue.
Kono: “I was not confident in my prospects when I attacked, but when I captured the seven stones I could see my way to a win. There were also bad points in my play, but I was able to fight all out.”
Iyama: “I didn’t know the correct way to save my center stones. I fought my hardest, so this result can’t be helped.”
The second game was played at the Sasa-no-ya, another traditional Japanese inn, in Kikuchi City, Kumamoto Prefecture on January 22 (another Sunday) and 23. Once again, Kono found himself attempting to reduce a moyo early in the game
(move 19). Later, with 69, Kono switched to White’s top left corner, but Iyama ignored him in favor of splitting Black’s bottom right position into two. This enabled him to capture three stones and take the lead in territory. There was a lot more action after that, with Kono making a fierce attack and playing do-or-die moves, but Iyama took care of his weak groups with precise play and maintained his lead. The game ended after 301 moves, and White scored a win by 5.5 points.
Iyama: “When the centre clash concluded, I realized that I looked like winning by a little. I made a mistake in the first game, so right to the end I focused on not making another.”
Kono: “I was behind in territory, so I thought I had no choice but to fight [at the top]. Perhaps there was a better way to attack in the centre.”
The third game will be played on February 8 and 9.

Tomorrow: Xie starts well in Women’s Kisei, Nyu catches up; Cho U wins 900th game

 

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The Power Report (3 of 3): Iyama defends Tengen title; Judan Best Four; Takao wins 3rd Over 40 Quick Go Tournament; Promotions/New Players

Sunday December 25, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2016.12.25_42tengen4 Iyama de4ends

Iyama defends Tengen title: The third game of the 42nd Tengen title was held at the Munekata Yurix, a leisure complex, in Munekata City, Fukuoka Prefecture on December 1. After the challenger Ichiriki Ryo 7P leveled the series with a win in the second game (November 11), there was a gap of just under three weeks. Iyama (black) felt that he had fallen behind a little in the opening, so he decided to let Ichiriki build a moyo, his plan being to stake the game on living after invading it. The game was actually decided by hectic fighting in the centre. Ichiriki resigned after move 163.
The fourth game was played at the Hotel New Awaji in Sumoto City, Hyogo Prefecture on December 12. Taking white, Iyama (right) won by resignation after 188 moves. Facing a kadoban, Ichiriki played boldly, setting up a large moyo. Iyama tried to cut it down to size and the game was decided by a ko fight in the centre. Iyama gave up a group in return for winning the ko, but he secured the lead.
This is the last title match of the year, so Iyama ends the year with six out of the seven top titles. He will be just as busy next year defending his sextuple crown and he will be the favorite to become the Meijin challenger.

Judan Best Four: The semifinalists in the 55th Judan tournament have been decided. Yamashita Keigo 9P meets Yo Seiki 7P in one semifinal and Imamura Toshiya 9P plays Hane Naoki 9P in the other. Incidentally, Yo beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P in the quarterfinals.

2016.12.25_3over40 Takao leftTakao wins 3rd Over 40 Quick Go Tournament: This is a relatively new tournament for middle-aged professionals. It’s in its third year, but this could be my first report on it. As readers of this page will know, Takao Shinji (left) turned 40 during the Meijin title match; since he played in the tournament, the name should read “Over 39” or “40 and over,” but the Japanese name reads “Over 40 haya-go tonamento,” so this is not a mistranslation. The Nihon Ki-in likes the sound of “over 40,” although, presumably, aware of the inaccuracy. (“U20” is used in tournament names in the same way.) In the preliminary, the time allowance is ten seconds a move; according to Takao, this was quite an ordeal for him — not just playing but also pressing the clock within the time. He couldn’t help feelingly keenly how much he had slowed down in reading speed since his youth, though he still won his way through. In the main tournament, the NHK format is followed (30 seconds per move plus 10 minutes thinking time in one-minute units).
The semifinals and final were held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on December 6. In the final, Takao (B) beat Kato Atsushi 9P by resignation after 121 moves. This was the first time a current titleholder played in the tournament. First prize is 500,000 yen (close to $43,000).

Promotions
To 8-dan: Kanazawa Hideo (150 wins, as of Dec. 2)
To 3-dan: Onishi Kenya (40 wins; as of Nov. 25)

New professionals2016.12.25_powers-mrs-taki-IMG_9774
The winter qualifying tournament for professional 1-dan was completed on Nov. 19. The top two players in the 16-player Swiss System tournament were Shibano Ryunosuke (aged 19) and Seki Kotaro (aged 15). Shibano is the older brother of Shibano Toramaru 3-dan (aged 15), who has already attracted a lot of attention since becoming a pro in summer last year. Ryunosuke was an insei like Toramaru, but ran into the age limit two years ago. This year he entered university and intended to give up his professional ambitions if he failed this time. Last year he became the youngest player to win the Amateur Honinbo tournament; he took first place in the qualifying tournament with a score of 12-3 (he lost his first three games), so he can finally set about trying to catch up with his younger brother.

Bonus: Power Pictured: “I had someone on Facebook ask if we could get a picture of John Power to include in the report some day,” writes Steve Colburn. “They’re interested to see who does Japanese reporting for us.” photo: John Power with Pair Go’s Mrs Taki at the 2016 Pair Go World Cup in July 2016; photo by Chris Garlock

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The Power Report (2 of 3): Nyu to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Ke Jie wins Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off; 72nd Honinbo League; 42nd Meijin League; Women’s Meijin League

Saturday December 24, 2016

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2016.12.24_Nyu left, O Meien

Nyu to challenge for Women’s Kisei: The play-off to decide the challenger to Xie Yimin for the 20th Women’s Kisei title was held on December 8. Two relative newcomers to professional go were facing off in the final: Nyu Eiko 1P (aged 17, at left) and Miyamoto Chiharu 1P (aged 22). Whoever won would be making her first challenge for a title and would also be the first 1-dan to do so in this tournament. Taking black, Nyu won by 5.5 points. Nyu became a professional last year and is a disciple of Michael Redmond 9P. The title match will start on January 19.

2016.12.24_Ke wins AgonKe Jie wins Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off: The 18th Agon Kiriyama Cup Japan-China Play-off was held at the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon sect in Kyoto (below right) on December 11. Representing China, Ke Jie 9P (W) beat Kono Rin by resignation after 150 moves. Kono started off badly in the opening, but Ke (left) made what he himself called “a simple oversight” that allowed Kono to put one of his groups into ko. However, Kono failed to take enough compensation for ceding the ko to Ke. This is Ke’s second victory and his country’s 13th in this play-off.2016.12.24_JC Agon venue
At the award ceremony, representatives of both countries paid tribute to the contribution of the late Kiriyama Seiyu, head of the Agon sect until his death on August 29, to developing go and to promoting Chinese-Japanese friendship.

72nd Honinbo League: Hane Naoki, on 3-0, has the provisional lead; the other undefeated player is Cho U, on 2-0. It already looks unlikely that Takao Shinji, on 0-3, will repeat as challenger.
Recent results:
(Nov. 14) Motoki Katsuya 7P (B) beat Takao Shinji Meijin by resig.
(Nov. 21) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by resig.
(Dec. 1) Hane (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 7P by resig.
(Dec. 8) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Mitani Tetsuya 7P by half a point.
(Dec. 15) Yuki Satoshi 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji Meijin by resig.

42nd Meijin League: The new Meijin league is a strong one, with three members of the quartet known as “the four Deva Kings,” that is, the top four (of the first decade of the 21st century). They are Yamashita Keigo, Cho U, and Hane Naoki. Takao Shinji is missing because he holds the title. That means that Iyama Yuta is back in the league after a gap of four years. He commented that he welcomed the chance to test himself against top competition in the league. The first round was completed in December.
(Dec. 5) Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.; Iyama Yuta Kisei (W) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by resig.
(Dec. 15) Kono Rin (B) beat Cho U by 2.5 points; Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo by 3.5 points.
Women’s Meijin League: With one game to go, Fujisawa Rina keeps the sole lead in the 29th Women’s Meijin League with a perfect score. Okuda Aya, on 4-1, is the only other player in contention if she stumbles. If Fujisawa loses her final game and Okuda wins, the latter will be the challenger, as she is ranked higher.
Recent results:
(Nov. 16) Okuda Aya 3P (W) beat Sakakibara Fumiko 6P by resig.
(Dec. 1) Aoki Kikuyo 8P (W) beat Kato Keiko 6P by resig. This win ensured that Aoki kept her seat in the league.
(Dec. 8) Okuda Aya 3P (W) beat Ishii Akane 2P by resig.

Tomorrow: Iyama defends Tengen title; Judan Best Four; Takao wins 3rd Over 40 Quick Go Tournament; Promotions/New Players

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