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The Power Report (2): Cao wins World Go Legends; Cho Chikun first to 1500 wins

Wednesday May 10, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.05.10_Cho 1500

Cao wins World Go Legends: The Japan-China-Korea World Go Legends Tournament is a special tournament (a one-off?) held in Zhejiang Province to commemorate the start of the City A League, which seems to be the most popular tournament in China. The sponsors invited a number of players who starred in international go in the late 20th century to participate. The results are given below. Long-term go fans will recognize the names, though there are some notable absentees (presumably not available). In the final, held on April 27, Cao Dayuan 9P of China (W) beat Kobayashi Koichi 9P of Japan by half a point (both these players were at their peak in the 90s). Results listed on the Nihon Ki-in homepage are given below, but are incomplete.

Round 1 (April 25). Cao Dayuan 9P (China) beat Kim Soojang 9P (Korea); Takemiya Masaki 9P (Japan) beat Liu Xiaoguang 9P (China); Ma Xiaochun 9P (China) beat Pak Seongho 9P (Korea); Yoda Norimoto 9P beat Yang Jaeho 9P (Korea); Nie Weiping (China) beat Suh Bongsoo 9P (Korea); Kobayashi Koichi 9P (Japan) (W) beat Hua Yigang 9P (China); Yu Bin 9P (China) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (Japan); Ko
bayashi Satoru 9P (Japan) beat Suh Neunguk 9P (Korea).

Quarterfinals (April 25). Yoda (B) beat Ma; Yu Bin beat (B) Kobayashi Satoru; Kobayashi Koichi (B) beat Nie; Cao (B) beat Takemiya.
Semifinals (April 26) Cao (W) beat Yoda; Kobayashi Koichi (W) beat Yu Bin.

Cho Chikun first to 1500 wins: On April 27, a win by Cho Chikun (right) against Kataoka Satoshi 9P in the second round of the 7th Masters Cup was his 1500th official win. He is the first player in Japan to reach this mark. His record is 1500 wins, 821 losses, 3 jigos, and  4 no-results, for a winning percentage of 64.6. Rin Kaiho is in second place with 1409 wins. Cho was surprised when a large of reporters came into the room, as he had had no idea he was approaching a landmark. As usual, this record generated a lot of trivia, so here goes. Cho’s age is 60 years ten months, and it took him 49 years to rack up 1500 wins. He has played games against 307 different opponents. His most frequent opponent is Kobayashi Koichi: they have played 129 games, of which Cho has won 66. He has scored most wins against the late Kato Masao, his record being 71-42-1 no result. Against Iyama Yuta, his record is a quite respectable 5-7. His top year just for wins was 2001, when he won 47 games. He has never had a minus record, the closest he came being 21-21 in 2009.

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The Power Report: The 5th Electric Sage tournament; Motoki to challenge for Honinbo; Iyama leads Meijin league

Wednesday April 19, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

The 5th Electric Sage tournament: 
This is a tournament in which go-playing computer programs challenge human players. The tournament is organized by the Entertainment & Cognitive Sciences Research Station at the University of Electro-Communications and was held on March 26. The Chinese program FineArt and the Japanese program DeepZenGo both played games with Ichiriki Ryo 7P and both won.
This was the first time that the games were played on even. In the previous four terms, the results had been 50-50 with programs taking four or three stones. FineArt took black against Ichiriki and secured a resignation after 157 moves. DeepZenGo took white and won by resignation after 162 moves. An interesting point came up in the endgame of FineArt’s game. It could have won big by playing a move that would have won a capturing race, but it played a small endgame move that still gave it a win. The program doesn’t “care” what the winning margin is so long as it wins.

Motoki to challenge for Honinbo: All the games in the final round of the 72nd Honinbo League were played on 2017.04.19_Motok L beats Ko IsoApril 6. Three players were still in the running to win the league: Motoki Katsuya 7P on 5-1 and Ko Iso 8P and Hane Naoki 9P, both on 4-2. Motoki was in the best position, as he would qualify for a play-off even if he lost. As it happened, he was matched against Ko. Taking white, he beat him by resignation, so he avoided a play-off.  On his debut in the previous league, Motoki (at left) surprised fans by taking second place; this time he improved on that and will make his title-match debut. Becoming the Honinbo challenger also 2017.04.19_Motoki wins Hon.Leagueearned him promotion to 8-dan (effective as of April 7).
Hane (B) beat Cho U 9P by resignation; his 5-2 score earned him second place, a big improvement on the previous league, in which he lost his place. Cho ended on 3-4 and lost his place. Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji Meijin by resig. The former took third place with 4-3, and the latter, the number-one ranked player in the league, lost his place with 3-3. The final game was between two players who had already lost their places: Yuki Satoshi 9P (B) beat Mitani Tetsuya 7P by 2.5 points. Yuki ended on 2-5 and Mitani on 1-6.
Motoki, aged 21 (birthday on August 2), is considered one of the contenders in the post-Iyama group, mainly because of his performance in the Honinbo League. He has won one junior title, the 9th Hiroshima Aluminium Cup in 2014. The title match with Iyama will start on May 9. At 21 years eight months, Motoki will be the third-youngest challenger, following Ida Atsushi (20 exactly) and Cho U (21 years three months). Motoki has not yet played any official games with Iyama, but he mentioned that he had lost all of the ten or so unofficial games they had played.

Iyama leads Meijin league: Not surprisingly, in view of his sextuple crown, Iyama Yuta started out as the favorite in2017.04.19 Meijin League the 42nd Meijin League and he has lived up to that billing. After five rounds, he is the only undefeated player; he has already had his bye, so his score is 4-0. His closest rival is Yamashita Keigo, who is on 4-1. The two will play each other in the 7th round, which is in June.
Recent results:
(March 27) Iyama (B) beat Hane Naoki by resig.; Yamashita (B) beat Kono Rin by resig.
(April 13) Iyama (B) beat Kono Rin by resig.; Yamashita (W) beat Cho U by resig.

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The Power Report: Ichiriki wins 2016 Grand Champion tournament; Yo fights back in Judan title match; FineArt wins computer go tournament

Tuesday April 18, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki wins 2016 Grand Champion tournament: The Grand Champion tournament is a special Tournament for2017.04.18_Ichiriki wins Championship the winners of the previous year’s titles, including the minor ones. Previously, it was known as the Go Tournaments Title Winners Tournament, but the name was changed this year (the fourth term). Actually, the full name is the Minister for Foreign Affairs Cup Minister for Education and Science’s Prize 2016 Grand Champion Tournament. Fifteen players took part, with the format being an irregular knock-out (some players were seeded into later rounds).
The semifinals and finals were held at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Ichigaya on March 18. In the semifinals, which started at 10 a.m.,Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Iyama Yuta by resignation after 236 moves and Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by 7.5 points. The final was played in the afternoon on the stage in the large hall on the second floor of the Ki-in. It was a “public” game, which means that on the same stage Takemiya Masaki 9P and Yoshihara Yukari 6P gave a commentary, using a large demonstration board.  Playing black, Ichiriki won by resignation after 251 moves. First prize is two million yen.
Just to mention one noteworthy result from the first round, Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo, beat Takao Shinji Meijin (she lost to Kono in the next round).

Yo fights back in Judan title match: Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 7P made a bad start in the 55th Judan title match, losing the first game to Iyama Judan on March 7. There was a gap of over three weeks before the second game, played in a pavilion at the Usa Shrine in Usa City, Oita Prefecture, on March 30. The game was plunged almost immediately into fierce fighting that spilled all over the board. 2017.04.18_Judan3 Yo (right)Taking white, Iyama (left) completely outplayed Yo (right) and forced a resignation after 160 moves. At this point, it looked as if the match might be a repeat of the previous one between these two, the 64th Oza last year, which Iyama took with straight wins.
The third game was played at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in Omachi City, Nagano Prefecture, on April 6. Yo (W) beat Iyama by resignation after 204 moves. In their tenth game, Yo finally picked up his first win against Iyama and also his first title-match win. Yo probably gained a lot of confidence from this game;  it featured furious fighting all the way, and he managed to outfight Iyama. The next game will be played on April 21.

FineArt wins computer go tournament: The UEC Cup Computer Go Tournament was held on the campus of the University of Electro- Communications on March 18 and 19, with 29 programs from six countries competing. The final was fought between two programs of top professional level, FineArt of China and DeepZenGo of Japan, and was a convincing win for FineArt. The two finalists were chosen to play in the 5th Electric Sage tournament (see tomorrow’s EJ). In-between, DeepZenGo played in the World Go Championship, which has already been reported on in the E-Journal.
FineArt was developed by a team at the top Chinese IT company Tencent and is less than a year old. It plays on a Chinese go server and has a winning record of 75% against professionals. That indicates that it’s not quite as strong as AlphaGo/Master, but even so there has been a dramatic rise in the level of go-playing programs in general. Apparently programmers were stimulated by the success of AlphaGo last year and have strengthened their programs by incorporating the techniques of “deep learning.”

Tomorrow: The 5th Electric Sage tournament; Motoki to challenge for Honinbo; Iyama leads Meijin league

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Kansai Kiin to host Osaka Go Camp and Japan Go Congress

Sunday April 16, 2017

For those looking for an intensive go experience in Japan, the Kansai Kiin is organizing back-to-back events June 25 through 2017.04.16_osaka-campJuly 17. The fifth annual Osaka Go Camp will be held June 25-July 13, followed by the second annual Japan Go Congress in Takarazuka. Click here for details on both.

“During the camp, we have league games in the mornings and full teaching programs in the afternoons by professional players every day,” says teacher and longtime US Go Congress attendee Ryo Maeda 6p. 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, as well as a Friendship Tournament with Kyoto go players and sightseeing including the Honinbo Jakkoji temple which is really interesting for go players.”

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

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Korea’s Park Jeong Hwan 9P wins 2017 World Go Championship, claims “best player” title

Friday March 24, 2017

Staking his claim as the best go player in the world, Park Jeong Hwan 9P of Korea has won the 2017 World Go2017.03.23_park Championship, defeating Mi Yu Ting 9P of China in the final on March 24. In third place was DeepZenGo with one win and Yuta Iyama 9P of Japan took fourth place. Details, including the tournament results table and game records, are here. The Nihon Kiin sponsored the tournament to decide “the best go player in the world.” Park called the opportunity to compete in the tournament “an honor” and said that it was “a good opportunity to improve my skills.”a good opportunity to improve my skills.a good opportunity to improve my skills.think that this is a good opportunity to improve my skills.

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Park Jeong Hwan 9P and Mi Yuting 9P in World Go Championship final

Wednesday March 22, 2017

Park Jeong Hwan 9P and Mi Yuting 9P are facing off for the title in the Nihon Kiin’s “World Go Championship.” The final 2017.03.16_World GO Championshipmatches are being broadcast live now (10p EST) on YouTube, with commentary by Michael Redmond 9P and Anti Tourmanen 1P.  has been posted. Park Junghwan beat DeepZen and Mi Yuting beat Iyama Yuta in the second round, leaving both 2-0. Click here for Round 2 commentary (Part 1); Part 2 is here

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Park Jeong Hwan 9P and Mi Yuting 9P win first round in Nihon Kiin World Go Championship

Tuesday March 21, 2017

Park Jeong Hwan 9P and Mi Yuting 9P prevailed in the first round of the Nihon Kiin’s “World Go Championship,” held on March 21; the video commentary by Michael Redmond and 2017.03.21_1st World Go Championship2017.03.16_World GO ChampionshipAnti Tourmanen has been posted. This round features Deep Zen Go vs Mi Yuting 9P and Park Jeong Hwan 9P vs Iyama Yuta 9P; click here for commentary Part 1 and commentary Part 2. The tournament continues through March 23 in Osaka, Japan.  The Nihon Kiin is providing live commentaries on YouTube (LIVE as of 11p EST 3/21) by Redmond and Tourmanen.
Note: this post has been updated to reflect that Park Jeong Hwan won in the first round, not Iyama Yuta, as initially reported. 

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The Power Report: Latest news from Japan

Tuesday March 21, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Fujisawa and Hane win Pair Go: The final of the Professional Pair Go Championship 2017 was held at the Nihon Ki-in’s Tokyo headquarters on March 5. Taking black, the pair of Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo, and Hane Naoki 9P beat Suzuki Ayumi 7P and Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by 1.5 points.  An estimated 1350 go fans somehow managed to fit
into the Nihon Ki-in to view the tournament.

Iyama makes good start in Judan defence: The first game of the 55th Judan title match was held at Osaka 2017.03.21_55Judan1 Yo left Kiyonar sitting Yuk IyamaiUniversity of Commerce on March 7. Winning this title last year was what secured Iyama his grand slam of the top seven titles. Having lost the Meijin title, he is now down to six, but he will looking for a chance to repeat his grand slam, so he needs to hang on to all his current titles. He faces the challenge of one of the new stars of Japanese go, Yo Seiki 7P. Aged 21, Yo is a member of the Kansai Ki-in and hails from Taiwan, where he is known as Yu Cheng-ch’i (Yu Zhengqi in Pinyin). Playing black, Iyama Yuta defeated Yo by resignation after 197 moves. Apparently Yo had winning chances in the middle game but was unable to make the most of them. The second game will be played on March 30.

2017.03.21_Fujisawa wins WMeijinFujisawa Rina wins Women’s Meijin: The second game of the 29th Women’s Meijin title match was held at the same venue as the first Judan game on March 8. Playing white, Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo, beat the defending champion Xie Yimin by 1.5 points. This gave Fujisawa her second concurrent title and reduced Xie to three titles. She had held this title for nine years in a row but missed out on becoming the first woman to win a title for ten years in a row.

Iyama defends Kisei title: The sixth game of the 41st Kisei title match was held at2017.03.21_41Kisei6 Iyama Ryugon, a high-class Japanese inn in Minami Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture, on March 9 and 10. In the middle game, Kono Rin 9P (B) launched a challenge but made a miscalculation, so at one stroke the game turned in Iyama Yuta Kisei’s favor. Kono made a fierce attack in an attempt to catch up, but was parried by Iyama. Kono resigned after 150 moves, so Iyama defended his title with a 4-2 score. Having held the Kisei title for five successive terms, he qualified for the title of Honorary Kisei (to be assumed when he turns 60 or retires, whichever comes first). He is the third player to earn the honorary title, after Fujisawa Shuko (Hideyuki) and Kobayashi Koichi. Iyama also maintained his sextuple crown. The Kisei prize money is 45 million yen (just under $400,000).

Iyama finally wins NHK Cup: The NHK Cup was the only official title that Iyama Yuta had not won. He finally put that to rights in the final of the 64thCup, telecast on March 19, when, playing white, he defeated Ichiriki Ryo by resignation after 184 moves. This was his third final, but his first for four years. It is his 42nd title, which puts him in 6th place in the all-time lists. Ichiriki also came second in the 62nd NHK Cup.

Honinbo League (March 8) Takao Shinji Meijin (W) beat Mitani Tetsuya 7P by resig.; Motoki Katsuya 7P (B) beat Cho U 9P by 4.5 points. Thanks to his win, Motoki improved his score to 5-1, giving him the sole lead. His main rivals are Hane Naoki 9P and Ko Iso 8P, who are both on 4-2. In the final round, scheduled for April 6Motoki plays Ko and Hane meets Cho. Even if he loses, Motoki will qualify for a play-off.

Meijin League: (March 9) Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. (March 13) Yo Seiki 7P (B) beat Cho U 9P by resig. Kono Rin 9P and Iyama Yuta share the lead on 2-0. Yo Seiki is in last place, but he finally picked up his first win, making his score 1-3.

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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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