American Go E-Journal » Japan

Remembering Sasaki Tadashi 8P

Sunday August 17, 2014

A large crowd of somber friends shared memories of a great teacher at a memorial held last Friday evening for Sasaki Tadashi 8P, who2014.08.17_Sasaki-memorial-service died last month at 51 (In Memoriam: Sasaki Tadashi 8P 7/28 EJ & The Power Report 7/30 EJ). Players loved the bubbly humor underneath Sasaki sensei’s stoic exterior. Teaching never seemed like work to him, such was his love of the game. Players will also remember him for Baseball Go and his way of comparing territory to countries. During simultaneous games he would give away stones for komi when students made mistakes, and ask for it back when they made good moves. Sasaki sensei brought a lightness to go in the US, and he will be missed.
- Solomon Smilack; photo by Phil Straus

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Iwamoto North America Foundation for Go Takes Next Step

Monday August 11, 2014

Further details of the Iwamoto North America Foundation for Go (INAF) were announced Saturday during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 US Go Congress. “Go builds strong ties between people and countries,” said Nihon Kiin Chairman Norio Wada (left). “This is an exciting and encouraging next step,” said AGA President Andy Okun. INAF is a nonprofit corporation formed by Nihon Kiin in collaboration with the American Go Association (Nihon Kiin & AGA Ink Deal for Iwamoto North America Foundation  11/25/2013 EJ). The official start date will be October 24, when the Foundation’s first Board Meeting is held in Tokyo.  The missions of INAF are to foster, promulgate, and develop the game and culture of go in North America, according to the vision and wishes of the late Japanese go master, Iwamoto Kaoru. It will provide grants to support such promotional activities for go as teaching events, cultural exchanges, educational activities in schools, and public awareness programs in North America, including the establishment of a new East Coast Go Center.
photo: Nihon Kiin President Norio Wada and CEO Masaki (far right), along with the three North American Board Members of INAF: Andrew Okun (center), David Weimer (left), and Thomas Hsiang (second from right). They’re holding a fan inscribed “Each day is a life” by Yoda Norimoto 9P. photo by Chris Garlock

The Power Report: Hashimoto Enters Hall of Fame; Celebratiing Go Seigen’s 100th Birthday; Fujisawa Rina Reaches Women’s Honinbo Play-Off; 27th Women’s Meijin League Starts; Kono Rin to Challenge for Meijin Title; 39th Kisei Leagues

Saturday August 9, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Hashimoto Utaro Enters Hall of Fame:At a meeting of the Go Hall of Fame committee on August 18, Hashimoto Utaro (1907-94) was chosen from among eight candidates to be this year’s inductee. Hashimoto (right) is best known for winning the 2nd, 5th, and 6th Honinbo titles and for leading the Kansai Ki-in to independence in 1950. He also won a number of other titles and played in the first Kisei title match in 1977.

Celebrating Go Seigen’s 100th Birthday: A party to celebrate Go Seigen’s 100th birthday was held at the Yomiuri Otemachi Hall in central Tokyo on July 23. It was attended by 400 guests, including many top go players, but unfortunately Go’s health did not allow him to be present. Instead, he sent a video message, which was read out by Ogawa Tomoko 6P. It went: “Thank you for celebrating my 100th birthday. The fact that I am still alive means that there’s a role for me to play, so I will do my best. I believe from my heart that go is useful for world peace. Everyone, please enjoy go.”

Go (left) is currently living in a retirement home with nursing provided in Odawara, where he has made his home in recent decades. This year, as in past years, he visited the venue of the Kisei title match game played in nearby Atami in a wheelchair and met the players.

The party featured an audiovisual presentation of Go’s career, amounting to a history of the middle half of 20th century Japanese go, as he was the central figure on the go scene. Cho U 9P and his wife Kobayashi Izumi 6P then gave a commentary on the first game of the Go Seigen/Kitani Minoru jubango. Next, Yoshihara Yukari 6P played a game on black (no komi) with 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun (Cho won), with commentary by Otake Hideo, Honorary Gosei, and Rin Kaiho, Honorary Tengen.

Fujisawa Rina Reaches Women’s Honinbo Play-Off: In the second semifinal of the 33rd Women’s Honinbo tournament, held on July 28, Fujisawa Rina (right), holder of the Women’s Aizu Cup, defeated Suzuki Ayumi 6-dan (W) by resignation. She will meet Okuda Aya 3P in the play-off to decide the challenger to Mukai Chiaki. Okuda was her opponent in the Aizu Cup. Fujisawa is still only 15, but she has made rapid progress since becoming a pro in 2010.

27th Women’s Meijin League Starts: The first game in the 27th Women’s Meijin League was played on July 28. Mannami Nao 3P (B) beat Ishii Akane 2P by resig.

Kono Rin to Challenge for Meijin Title: All the games in the final round of the 39th Meijin League was held on July 31. After six rounds, Yamashita Keigo had been two points clear of the field, but he missed his first chance to win the league when he lost to Cho U in the seventh round. However, in the eighth round he was still the only player in a position to win the league outright. The only other contenders were Kono Rin (left) and Cho U, who both had two losses and who were playing each other. Taking black, Yamashita lost to Murakawa Daisuke 7P by 6.5 points. Kono (W) beat Cho U by resignation, so he ended up in a tie with Yamashita. In the other games, Takao Shinji Judan (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 4.5 points and Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) beat Ryu Shikun by resignation. After the top two, the places in the league were: Cho (5-3), 3rd; Takao (5-3), 4th; Hane (4-4), 5th; and Murakawa (3-5), 6th. Ryu (3-5), Yuki (2-6) and Ko Iso 8P (2-6) lost their places (Ko had a bye in the last round). The play-off was held at the Nihon Ki-in on Monday, August 4. Kono took revenge for his loss to Yamashita in the fifth round; playing black, he won by half a point after 250 moves. At the age of 33, Kono will now make his first challenge for a big-three title. The first game will be played on September 4 and 5, by which time the Gosei title match, in which Kono is tied one-game each with Iyama Yuta, will be over. As mentioned in our previous report, Kono had a nineteen-game winning streak this year. He is one of the few players to appear in all three leagues this year, and he also tied for first in the previous Meijin League (he lost the play-off to Iyama). Kono’s main success to date is winning the Tengen title three times; he has also won the Ryusei title once, the JAL New Stars title once, and the NEC Cup twice. He seems to be enjoying some of the best form of his career, so he should prove a redoubtable opponent for Iyama.

39th Kisei Leagues: One game was played in the B League on August 7. Yoda Norimoto 9P (W) beat Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by 4.5 points. Yoda is now 3-1, in second place after Murakawa Daisuke 7P (3-0). Cho drops to 1-3, so he is in danger of losing his place.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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The Power Report: Cho Chikun Wins 73rd Title; Meijin League; Kono’s Winning Streak Ends At 19; Iyama Catches Up In Gosei Title Match; Kisei Leagues; Obituary: Sasaki Tadashi

Wednesday July 30, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Cho Chikun Wins 73rd Title:
The final of the fourth Igo Masters Cup was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on July 12. Taking black, 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun (right) defeated Kobayashi Satoru 9P by 6.5 points to win this title for the second time. This is Cho’s 73rd title, so he extends his Japanese record. Incidentally, this was the 59th game between these two; Cho now has a lead of one over Kobayashi.

Meijin League: Kono Rin (left) won his seventh-round game, so he stays in a tie for second with Cho U 9P. Kono and Cho play each other in the final round, so, if Yamashita loses, the winner will meet him in a play-off to decide the challenger.
(July 11) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ryu Shikun 9P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 7P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by resignation.

Kono’s Winning Streak Ends At 19: A loss, to Murakawa Daisuke 7P, in the quarterfinals of the 62nd Oza tournament on July 17 was Kono Rin’s first since mid-April. His record of 19 successive wins is the best winning streak so far this year.

Iyama Catches Up In Gosei Title Match: In the second game of the 39th Gosei title match, played in the Hokkoku Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on 20 July, Iyama Yuta (B) defeated Kono Rin 9P by resignation after 151 moves. This gave him revenge for his loss of the first game in 129 moves. Kono perhaps lost the game because of pessimistic positional judgement:  he believed that the result of the first big fight was unfavorable for him — the players following the game disagreed — so he made a deeper invasion than he would have otherwise. Iyama attacked aggressively and killed a large group. The third game will be played on August 11.
By the way, I need to correct a mistake I made in my report on the first game. I wrote that Kono suffered straight losses last year, but I was confusing this title match with the 2012 Tengen title match, which Kono did lose 0-3. In the 2013 Gosei, he won the first two games, then lost the next three.

Kisei Leagues: The first third-round game in the A League was played on July 11. Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig. This was Hane’s first win after two losses. Ichiriki drops to 0-3; he is having a tough initiation in league play. On July 17, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji Judan by resignation. More games played on July 24 clarified the lead. In the A League, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resignation. Kono (2-1) suffered his first loss, so Yamashita (3-0) is the sole undefeated player. In the B League, Murakawa Daisuke 7P (B) beat Yuki Satoshi by resignation. Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) (2-1) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P (2-1) by 1.5 points, so Murakawa (3-0) is the sole undefeated player. It looks as if we might see a replay of last year’s play-off between Yamashita and Murakawa. The latter’s continued success shows that he is close to joining the top group of tournament players in Japan.

Obituary: Sasaki Tadashi
Sasaki Tadashi 8P died of acute leukemia on July 20. Born on May 28, 1963, Sasaki (right) was a disciple of Sakata Eio, 23rd Honinbo. He became 1-dan in 1980 and reached 8-dan in 2001. Sasaki was very active as a teacher and was well known in Japan. He was also working on a biography of his teacher. According to an obituary article in Go Weekly by his friend the go journalist Akiyama Kenji, Sasaki had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage two years ago; ironically, he was visiting a hospital at the time, so he got prompt treatment. Recently he held a party to celebrate his complete recovery. At such parties, guests are usually given a little present, and Sasaki’s showed his sense of humor, being a hand towel with a picture of a spider’s web on it. He was planning to take a group of disciples to the US Go Congress this year. Akiyama wrote that he first met Sasaki 40 years ago when he was in elementary school. Sasaki introduced himself by handing over a name card detailing his position as an insei. Akiyama thought that this was a bit over the top for an elementary-school pupil, but there was a good reason for it. When returning home late from insei games or watching professional games, Sasaki would often be stopped by policemen and scolded for being out so late, so the name card was his defense. photo by Brian Allen

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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In Memoriam: Sasaki Tadashi 8P

Monday July 28, 2014

Sasaki Tadashi 8P of the Nihon Ki-in passed away on July 20 at just 51. Sasaski, who visited the United States many times doing teaching games and workshops, had attended most of the U.S. Go Congresses over the last few years and had planned to attend this year’s in New York City.  His death was a shock his many American friends and fans. “It’s terrible news,” said AGA President Andy Okun.  “His teaching was always sharp, but full of humor as well, and his company warm and enjoyable.” “Mr. Sasaki was a big supporter of the Seattle Go Center and an enthusiastic hiker,” added Brian Allen of the Seattle Go Center. “We always enjoyed his visits to the Northwest.” Plans for a memorial ceremony at the Congress will be announced soon.
- photo of Sasaki playing Andrew Jackson at the  2011 US Go Congress, posted on Sasaki’s Facebook page.

Categories: Japan
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You Go, Girl! Reaching Out to Japan’s Youth With Trendy Magazine

Tuesday July 22, 2014

Here’s an unusual stratagem for hooking new players in Japan: a free go-themed girls’ magazine with topics such as extreme go and finding your dream go-playing soul-mate. According to a recent report on RocketNews24, Goteki magazine explores such things as defining an “Igogirl” (black or dark-brown hair, a natural make-up style and enjoys getting presents) and the four species of Igomen (Yuru Fuwa Shikkari Igomen, Cabbage Roll Igomen, Chara Maji Igomen, and Ora Ama Igomen) as well as a handy love map to determine which Igomen you’d fall for. There are also some sexy photo spreads (right) featuring high level go players like Akihiko Fujita. Noting that manga and anime have been used in the past to introduce less popular activities like basketball and soccer to Japanese youths with relative success, the report concludes that we’ll know if this latest effort works “when we see Igogirls walking around with dark hair and sakura-pink dresses.”
- Thanks to Jonathan Thomas of the Mohawk Valley Go Club in Utica, NY for passing this along, via Richard Moseson

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The Power Report: Iyama Takes Game 5 To Win Honinbo; Fujisawa Rina Wins First Title; Kono Makes Good Start In Gosei Challenge; Kisei Leagues; Yamashita Misses First Chance To Win 39th Meijin League

Saturday July 12, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Takes Game 5 To Win Honinbo: Iyama Yuta (at right) completed his Honinbo title defense by winning the fifth round to take the title 4-1 over Ida Atsushi in the best-of-seven match. The fifth game was played at the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture on June 30 and July 1. It was a very difficult game featuring attack and counterattack, and the players following the game in the anteroom at the tournament venue had a lot of trouble predicting the moves. The fighting spilled over from the left side into the center and then into the bottom, but eventually came to a peaceful end with Ida (W) capturing some black stones. A tense endgame fight followed, with Ida using up all his time allowance for the first time. Ida had a good position, but on move 198 he missed a move that would have secured him a win by 2.5 or 3.5 points (according to the newspaper commentator, Yo Seiki 7P). Then, on move 212, Ida made a fatal mistake; the move was played in the final minute of byo-yomi after the game recorder had read out ‘nine’. In conducting the 30-second byo-yomi, the recorder reads out ‘ten seconds,’ ‘twenty seconds,’ then ‘one’ to ‘ten’ for the final ten seconds. If he reads out ‘ten,’ the player loses on time. The move Ida played under this pressure let Iyama upset his lead. Iyama increased his lead after that and was ahead by ten points on the board when Ida resigned on move 247. Click here for Younggil An’s game commentary on Go Game Guru.
In winning the Honinbo League, Ida Atsushi added to his budding reputation for deep and accurate reading and fighting ability, but in this title series Iyama showed that he was more than a match for him. This is Iyama’s 24th title and he has also maintained his sextuple crown, currently holding six out of seven of the major Japanese go titles (the only one he doesn’t currently hold is the Judan). Just to review his record here, he first achieved the sextuple crown when he won the Kisei title in March 2013; he lost the Judan title in the following month, but resumed his sextuple crown when he won the Meijin title in October. He has now kept it for eight months.

Fujisawa Rina Wins First Title: The final of the 1st Aizu Central Hospital Cup Women’s Tournament was held at the Konjakutei, a traditional inn, in Higashiyama Hot Spring, Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture on June 26 and 27. Fujisawa Rina 2P (left), playing black, beat Okuda Aya 3P by resignation after 193 moves. This victory will extend the illustrious history of the Fujisawa name in Japanese go; Fujisawa Rina is Fujisawa Shuko’s granddaughter. A number of records were set in this tournament. The prize of seven million yen is the biggest for a women’s tournament in Japan; the final was the first two-day game in a woman’s tournament; at fifteen years nine months, Fujisawa Rin became the youngest woman to win a title in Japan and also the youngest player of either sex to make a sealed move.

Kono Makes Good Start In Gosei Challenge: Kono Rin 9P has made a good start in his challenge for the 39th Gosei title. In the first game, played at the Matsushima Ichi-no-bo hotel in the town of Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture on June 26, Kono (B) secured a resignation after just 129 moves. After the game, Iyama expressed considerable regret about move 18, a move which seemed to put him on the back foot early in the game. Kono built thickness on the right side and went all out in attack when Iyama invaded. Rather than play negatively and attempt to live small, Iyama also went all out and tried to live on a large scale. However, Kono was able to bring down his group. Kono suffered straight losses in his Gosei challenge last year, so he has already improved on that performance. Iyama suffered his second title-match loss in a row; both games were short, which was perhaps due to Iyama’s aggressive play when he fell behind. The second game is scheduled for July 20.

Kisei Leagues: Recent results in the 39th Kisei Leagues are listed below. It may be a little early to talk about leaders, but just for the record there are four players on 2-0: Yamashita Keigo (right) and Kono Rin in the A League and Murakawa Daisuke and Kobayashi Satoru in the B League.
(June 26) (A League) Yamashita 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji Judan by resig.; Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 2.5 points; (B League) Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by resig.
(July 3) Cho Riyu (B) beat Cho Chikun by resig.

Yamashita Misses First Chance To Win 39th Meijin League: On 6-2, Yamashita Keigo was two wins clear of the field in the 39th Meijin League, but he missed his first chance to become the challenger when he dropped his seventh-round game to Cho U. The latter is now on 5-2 and will be hoping for Murakawa Daisuke to help him out by beating Yamashita in the final round. If Cho U won his last game, he would qualify for a play-off with Yamashita. At the other end of the league, Ko Iso, who has played all his games and won only two of them, is the first player to lose his place.
Below are results of games played since my last report.
(June 19) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke by resig.
(July 3) Cho U 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points; Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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The Power Report: Ida Picks Up First Win In Honinbo Title Match; Kisei Leagues; 39th Meijin League

Sunday June 22, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Ida Picks Up First Win In Honinbo Title Match:Faced with his first kadoban (a game that can lose a series) in the 69th Honinbo best-of-seven, Ida Atsushi 8P (right) fought strongly and killed a large group of his opponent, Iyama Yuta Honinbo. This keeps his chances of becoming the youngest tournament Honinbo alive, but Iyama will be doing his best to see that it’s just a consolation prize. The fourth game was played at the Olive Bay Hotel in the town of Saikai in Nagasaki Prefecture on June 18 and 19. Saikai is a ship-building center, and the Olive Bay Hotel is a luxury hotel built to accommodate customers. In the game, an invasion by Iyama, playing white, in the top right corner let Ida build strong thickness on the right side. Later, when Iyama invaded the bottom right as well, Ida countered very aggressively. With his 63rd move, he proclaimed his intention of killing White’s group. Iyama is usually an expert at rescuing weak groups, but not this time. He tried to turn the lost group into a sacrifice by aiming at a squeeze on the outside. When Ida foiled this, Iyama had to resign. The game lasted just 139 moves. This is Ida’s first win against Iyama. Avoiding the shut-out will be a big relief, while outfighting Iyama will give him confidence. Even so, the next game, scheduled for June 30 and July 1, will be another kadoban.

Kisei Leagues: Three games have been played in the 39th Kisei Leagues recently. The results are given below.
(June 12) (B League) Murakawa Daisuke (W) beat Cho Riyu8P by resig.
(June 19). (A League) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.; (B Leagu
e) Yoda Norimoto 9P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by resig.
In the A League, Kono Rin 9P, on 2-0, has the provisional lead. In the B League, Murakawa Daisuke 7P, on the same score, has the provisional lead.

39th Meijin League: In a game played on June 19, Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke by resig. Takao (left) is now 3-3, so his chances of keeping his place have improved. Murakawa drops to 1-5, so he is close to losing his place. Yamashita Keigo 9P, on 6-0, is two points clear of the field.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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Seattle Celebrates Go Seigen’s Birthday

Thursday June 12, 2014

“Go Go Seigen” was the slogan on the birthday cake at the Seattle Go Center on Wednesday night.  In Japan, it was already Thursday, and Go Seigen’s birthday.  Most of the ten Seattle celebrants were members of the SDK class (single digit kyu players).  Frank Brown cut the cake.  Frank turned 60 on Tuesday, and immediately bought a lifetime membership in the Seattle Go Center with his new senior discount.  The Go Center wishes both birthday boys many more years of go playing.  Report and photo by Brian Allen.

Go Seigen Turns 100, Keeps On Playing

Thursday June 12, 2014

Go Seigen — regarded by many to be the greatest go player who ever lived — celebrated his 100th birthday on June 12. “I still study Go every day, placing stones on the board,” Go Seigen said in his book ‘A Way of Play for the 21st Century.’ “You might think study is meaningless for me, since I retired so many years ago. But for people who play it, Go is like an eternal friend, a permanent art form. I’ll continue playing and studying Go. Probably just like you.” Many players, including pros, still study and learn from Go Seigen’s games today. “Go Seigen created a new paradigm in the game of go and raised the understanding of future players to a new level,” writes Youngil An 8P on Go Game Guru. Click here to see Youngil An’s commentary on a memorable 1940 Go Seigen game against Kitani Minoru, who was his best friend and rival. “Even though this game was played almost 75 years ago,”  says Youngil An, “Go’s play still feels modern and he plays many moves that normal players wouldn’t even imagine.”
- Based on a report on Go Game Guru; photo by Zhang Jingna

Categories: Japan,World
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