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The Power Report: Iyama to challenge for Judan; Meijin League

Wednesday February 24, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama to challenge for Judan: The new tournament year at the Nihon Ki-in got off to a start on January 7. Most of the interest focussed 2016.02.24_54jyudan_2on the semifinals of the 54th Judan tournament. The Judan is the only top-seven title Iyama Yuta doesn’t hold; if he becomes the challenger, he has a chance of achieving a simultaneous grand slam. In his semifinal, Iyama (B) beat Imamura Toshiya 9P by resignation. His opponent in the play-off to decide the challenger to Ida Atsushi will be Yo Seiki (Yu Zhenqi) 7P of the Kansai Ki-in, who won the other semifinal. Yo’s opponent, Shida Tatsuya 7P (B), forfeited the game because of an illegal move; he recaptured a ko immediately, without making a ko threat. (To be precise, Yo’s ko threat was a ko capture in a position that was a double ko; Shida, who was in his last minute of byo-yomi, should have captured the other ko.) Last year Yo lost the play-off to decide the Oza challenger to Iyama, so he was seeking revenge when the play-off (right) was held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on January 21. Yo (W) took the lead when he cleverly settled a weak group, but winning the first fight is not enough to beat Iyama. The latter subjected Yo to so much pressure that eventually he slipped up in the endgame, letting Iyama stage an upset. Yo resigned after 277 moves. The title match with Ida Atsushi Judan starts on March 8.

Meijin League: The first game of the second round of the 41st Meijin League was played on January 7. Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation. At this point, Ko, on 2-0, took the provisional lead. On January 11, Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. and joined Ko in the provisional lead. On January 21, Cho U 9P (B) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by half a point and Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Hirata Tomoya 7P by resig. On February 4, Takao (B) beat Hane Naoki by resig. On February 11, Cho U (W) beat Ko Iso by resig. Cho and Takao, both on 3-0, share the lead, but Murakawa, who had a bye in the third round, is also undefeated. Cho’s good results in this league are a stark contrast to his bad performance in the Honinbo League.
Tomorrow: Lead shared in Honinbo League; Women’s Meijin League concludes

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The Power Report: Iyama Sweeps Yamashita 4-0 in Kisei, Stretches Title Match Streak to 16-0

Tuesday February 23, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

The first game of the 40th Kisei title match was held at the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in the city of Aizu-wakamatsu in 2016.02.23_kisei40_3_shukyoku_iyama_2Fukushima Prefecture on January 14 and 15. Defending champion Iyama Yuta (aged 26) drew white in the nigiri to decide the colors. The challenger Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (37) made a positive start, playing aggressively in the opening. The game was decided by a ko fight in which Yamashita sacrificed a group in order to win a ko started after White invaded a black position. Iyama (right) took the lead in this exchange and hung on for a win, rebuffing some do-or-die attacks by Black. Yamashita resigned after 202 moves. In retrospect, the game was a convincing win for Iyama.

The second game was played at the Bokoro inn in the town of Yurihama in Tottori Prefecture on January 28 and 29. Yamashita (W) played cleverly in the early middle game and took the lead. However, he missed a chance to decide the game and then began playing erratically, letting Iyama upset his lead. Iyama later played a thin move that let Yamashita narrow the gap, but the latter slipped up in the endgame. After 273 moves, Iyama won by 2.5 points. Considering his good play in the first part of the game, this was a painful loss for Yamashita.

The third game was also played in Tottori Prefecture after a break of only two days. It’s quite unusual to schedule two two-day games so close together in the same prefecture. The venue was the Kasuitei inn in Kaike Hot Spring in Yonago City. The game started with difficult fighting in the top right corner in which Iyama took the lead. Yamashita attacked fiercely in the middle game, but Iyama fought back strongly and kept his lead. Yamashita resigned after move 200. Like the first game, this was a good win for Iyama.

2016.02.23_kisei4_syukyokuThe fourth game was played at the Hokkaido Hotel in Obihiro City, Hokkaido on February 17 and 18. Playing black, Iyama controlled the flow of the game and took the lead in the middle-game fighting. Yamashita didn’t seem to make any really bad moves, but his attacks were skilfully parried by Iyama. The latter maintained a comfortable lead, so Yamashita resigned after 189 moves. Last year, after losing the first three games, Yamashita was able to fight back and win the next three before losing the seventh game. However, Iyama seems to be in even better form this year and, apart from the second game, dominated the series. After having his winning streak broken at 24 late last year, he has started another, winning seven games in a row. He has also won 16 games in a row in title matches, starting with the third game of the Gosei title match and continuing with the Meijin, Tengen, and Oza matches. This is his fourth Kisei title in a row and his 36th title overall. He is now in seventh place in the all-time list of title winners.

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Longtime AGA Friends Hisao and Hiroko Taki and Tadaaki Jagawa win Okura Prize

Sunday February 7, 2016

Three long-term friends of the American Go Association are among the winners of the 45th Okura Prize. Hisao Taki and Hiroko Taki were 2016.02.07_pair-go-foundershonored for their founding and 27 years of support for pair go, while and Tadaaki Jagawa won for his contributions to supporting go in the United States, Europe, and Brazil. The Okura Prize was established by the Nihon Kiin in 1972 in memory of its founder and first president, Baron Kishichiro Okura. The Prize honors those who have made significant contributions to the development of go. Read more here.
photo: Hisao and Hiroko Taki at the 20th annual International Amateur Pair Go Championships in 2009, with IGF Vice President and North American representative Thomas Hsiang (left). 

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The Power Report: Judan challenger: Iyama or Yo; Meijin League Update; Lead shared in Honinbo League; Women’s Meijin League concludes; Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense

Thursday January 21, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2016.01.21_40kisei1_4

Judan challenger: Iyama or Yo: The new tournament year at the Nihon Ki-in got off to a good start on January 7. Most of the interest focused on the semifinals of the 54th Judan tournament. The Judan is the only top-seven title Iyama Yuta doesn’t hold; if he becomes the challenger, he has a chance of achieving a simultaneous grand slam. In his semifinal, Iyama (B) beat Imamura Toshiya 9P by resignation. His opponent in the play-off to decide the challenger to Ida Atsushi will be Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in. In his semifinal, Yo’s opponent, Shida Tatsuya 7P (B), forfeited the game because of an illegal move when he recaptured a ko immediately, without making a ko threat. (To be precise, Yo’s ko threat was a ko capture in a position that was a double ko; Shida, who was in his last minute of byo-yomi, should have captured the other ko.) Last year Yo lost the play-off to decide the Oza challenger to Iyama, so he will be seeking revenge. This chance comes on January 21.

Meijin League Update: The first game of the second round of the 41st Meijin League was played on January 7. Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Hane2016.01.21_meijin-league Naoki 9P by resignation. At this point, Ko, on 2-0, took the provisional lead. On January 11, Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. and joined Ko in the provisional lead.

Lead shared in Honinbo League: The first game in the fourth round of the 71st Honinbo League was played on January 7, with Ichiriki Ryo 7P (B) beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points. On January 14, Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Motoki 2016.01.21_honinbo-leagueKatsuya 7P by resig. This was Motoki’s first loss, so he now shares the lead with Yo; both are on 3-1. Takao also has only one loss, so he has a chance of joining them in the lead.

Women’s Meijin League concludes: The final round of the 28th Women’s Meijin League was held on January 7. Aoki Kikuyo 8P had already won the league in the fifth round, but she won her final game as well to finish with a perfect score. Results: Aoki (W) beat Fujisawa Rina 3P by resig.; Okuda Aya 3P (B) beat Kato Keiko 6P by resig.; Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) beat Mannami Nao 3P by 2.5 points. The title match with Xie Yimin will start in March.2016.01.21_womens-meijin

Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense: The first game of the 40th Kisei title match was held at the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in the city of Aizu-wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture on January 14 and 15. The defending champion Iyama Yuta (aged 26) drew white in the nigiri to decide the colors. The challenger Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (aged 37) made a positive start, playing aggressively in the opening. The game was decided by a ko fight in which Yamashita sacrificed a group in order to win a ko started after White invaded a black position. Iyama took the lead in this exchange and hung on for a win, rebuffing some do-or-die attacks by Black. Yamashita resigned after 202 moves. The second game will be played on January 28 and 29.

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Kansai to Host First Japan Go Congress

Monday January 18, 2016

The first Japan Go Congress will be held July 15 through 18 in Takarazuka, Japan, and organised by the Kansai Ki-in. In addition to a main2016.01.17_Japan Go Congress tournament, the Congress — at which 200-300 participants are expected — will offer a variety of side events such as lectures, teaching games with professionals, and other traditional Japanese games. Famous for its Grand Theater, Takarazuka is also known as the “city of opera.” Situated northwest of Osaka, it is outside of typical urban tension, but still easily accessible. Available accommodations include Daikin Dormitory, the Takarazuka Inn Hotel and the Takarazuka Hotel; click here for details. “The Kansai Ki-in warmly welcomes players from abroad,” reports their Go Congress Team.

Just before the Japan Go Congress, the 4th Osaka Go Camp — also organized by the Kansai Ki-in — will be held from June 26 to July 14. Last year there were more than 70 participants at the camp, where “You can train with professionals in a cozy environment and do sight-seeing,” report organizers.

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Young North American Player Sought for 3rd Globis Cup

Monday January 4, 2016

The AGA has received a request to send a young US or Canadian player to Tokyo, Japan for the third GLOBIS Cup U-20 World Go 2016.01.04_globis-cup-logo_imgChampionship, to be held April 21-24, 2016.  The event, sponsored by the GLOBIS Corporation and organized by the Nihon Ki-in, will provide meals and accommodations, while the air fare expense will be borne by the player.  The player must be under 20 years old as of January 1, 2016, and meet the other AGA or CGA eligibility requirements. Any necessary online play-offs will take place the weekend of January 23-24 on KGS.  “This is a great opportunity to compete in an international tournament, explore Tokyo, and represent the AGA,” says AGA president Andy Okun. Interested players should respond with their names, best form of contact, and KGS IDs before January 12 to cherry.shen@usgo.org.

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The Power Report (3): Iyama wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama play-off; Finland’s Tormanen becomes pro shodan; Promotions

Wednesday December 30, 2015

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2015.12.28_Agon Kiriyama

Iyama wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama play-off: The 17th Japan-China Ago 2015.12.28_AgonKiriyama play-off (right) was held at the Shangri-la Hotel Chengdu in the city of Chengdu in China on December 25. Iyama Yuta 9P (left) put an end to a long series of defeats for Japan by beating Huang Yunsong 4P of China. Taking white, Iyama won by resignation. Earlier in the year, Huang won the 2nd Globis Cup; in the final of the Chinese Agon Kiriyama Cup, he beat Chen Yaoye. The game was broadcast live on Chinese TV. After winning the first four play-offs, Japan lost the next twelve, so Iyama’s win was a much-appreciated Xmas present for Japanese fans. First prize is five million yen and second is two million.

Finland’s Tormanen becomes pro shodan: Thanks to good results in the professional qualifying tournament for 2016, Antti Mikael 2015.12.28_antti-tormanenTormanen has qualified as professional shodan as of April 1, 2016. Aged 26, Tormanen (right) has qualified as a Foreign Nationality Special Professional. His record in the qualifying tournament was eight wins to seven losses. He is the first Westerner to become a professional at the Nihon Ki-in since the late Hans Pietsch 6P in 1997. (See our original 12/8 report here.)

Promotions
To 7-dan: Akedo Kazumi (120 wins) (as of December 18). Akedo was born on June 27, 1947. He became 1-dan in 1968 and is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in.
To 4-dan: Son Makoto (50 wins) (as of December 4).

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The Power Report (2): Motoki retains lead in Honinbo League; Korea wins team tournament; Iyama’s winning streak ends on 24; Aoki wins Women’s Meijin League

Tuesday December 29, 2015

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Motoki retains lead in Honinbo League: The third round of the 71st Honinbo League was played on December 10 and 17. Motoki Katsuya 7P, the dark horse of the league, continued his good form and retained the sole lead. In contrast, former Honinbo Cho U has made a dismal start, with three losses. Cho’s decision to move to Taiwan to improve his form is not working out yet.
(December 10) Motoki (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by 1.5 points; Yo Seiki 7P (B) beat Ida Atsushi Judan by half a point. (December 17) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig.

Korea wins team tournament: The Golden Dragon City Cup World Team Championship is an unusual team tournament that includes consultation games. It started out two years ago as the Zhugang Cup, but in its second term changed its name to the above. Three-player 2015.12.28_Yo So Yoda consultingteams compete and in the first term, only the final was a consultation game; this time the semifinals were also consultation games. This year’s tournament was held in Guangzhou City from December 16 to 22. The semifinalists were the top teams in a five-round Swiss with 16 teams. These included nine teams that had won their way through the preliminaries and seven seeded teams from Japan, China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei. Another unusual feature of this tournament is that, besides their regular teams, Japan, China, and Korea also fielded ‘wild card teams’, made up of players over 29 who had won world titles or who had made outstanding contributions to go. The Japanese wild card team consisted of Cho Chikun, Kobayashi Koichi, and O Rissei, and the regular team of Yoda Norimoto 9P, So Yokoku 9P, and Yo Seiki 7P.
In the Swiss System tournament, China took first place with five wins; its team was made up of its number one to three players, that is, Ke Jie, Shi Yue, and Zhou Ruiyang. Its record was 14-1, with only Zhou dropping a game. Second was Korea, third was Japan, and fourth the Korean wild card team. Just for the record, the 5th to 16th places were as follows: China wild card, Australia, Chinese Taipei, China Hong Kong, Japan wild card, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, France, Israel, and Singapore. In the semifinals, Korea beat Japan and China beat Korea wild card. In the final, Korea (white) beat China by half a point. In a play-off for third place, Korea wild card beat Japan.

Iyama’s winning streak ends on 24: Iyama Yuta’s winning streak, which started in May and included wins in the Gosei, Meijin, Oza, and Tengen title matches, has finally come to an end. At 24 successive wins, Iyama is in equal second place in the tournament records with Rin Kaiho, Hon. Tengen. Top is Sakata Eio, 23rd Honinbo, with 29 wins in a row. The only information published was that Iyama’s winning streak came to an end with a loss in a TV tournament. Probably this was in the 63rd NHK Cup, in which he was slated to play the winner of a game between Kono Rin 9P and Matsumoto Takehisa 7P in a quarterfinal. We won’t know for sure until the game is televised.

Aoki wins Women’s Meijin League: A win in the fifth round of the 28th Women’s Meijin League has given Aoki Kikuyo 8P the league victory regardless of the result of her sixth game. On December 17, Aoki beat Mannami Nao, improving her score to 5-0. Even if Fujisawa Rina 3P beats Aoki in the final round, tying her on 5-1, Aoki takes precedence thanks to her number two rank in the league (there are no play-offs). Aoki has won the Women’s Meijin title five times, but the last time was in 2006. The title match with Xie Yimin, who will be aiming at her ninth win in a row, will start in March.
Games in December: (Dec. 7) Fujisawa Rina 3P (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 6P by resig. (Dec. 17) Aoki Kikuyo (W) beat Mannami Nao 3P by resig.; Chinen Kaori 5P (W) beat Okuda Aya 3P by 1.5 points.

Tomorrow: Iyama wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama play-off; Finland’s Tormanen becomes pro shodan; Promotions

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AGA to broadcast live commentary on MLily Cup finals this week

Monday December 28, 2015

The AGA will provide live game commentary this week on the upcoming MLily Cup finals between Lee Sedol 9P and Ke Jie 9P. The first game is tomorrow (2015.11.26_Ke-Jie-Lee-Sedol-MLily-Cup-t-150x150Tuesday), December 29; Myungwan Kim 9Ps commentary will begin at 9pm PST (midnight EST) on the AGA’s YouTube channel. Games 2 and 3 are scheduled for 12/30 and 1/1; if the best-of-five contest goes longer, games are scheduled for January 3 and 4, if necessary.

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The Power Report (1): New Meijin League gets under way; Kansai Ki-in moves; Hane defends Crown title; Yoshihara to challenge for Women’s Kisei

Monday December 28, 2015

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2015.12.28_Hane wins Crown

New Meijin League gets under way; Kansai Ki-in moves: The first games in the 41st Meijin League were played on December 3. In a match-up between heavyweights, Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig. Ko Iso 8P (B) beat league newcomer Hirata Tomoya 7P by resig. On December 10, Cho U (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. On December 17, Murakawa Daisuke (B) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resignation, completing the first round. Incidentally, this was one of the last games played at the headquarters of the Kansai Ki-in in the Nihon Bunka Kaikan (Japan Culture Hall). After 47 years at this venue, the Kansai Ki-in is moving to a new address: 4th & 5th Floors, Heiwa Building, Kitahama Itchome, Chuo-ku, Osaka 541-0041.

Hane defends Crown title: The final of the 56th Crown title, which is open to Nagoya professionals, was held on December 4. Taking white, Hane (right) rebuffed the challenge of Ogata Masaki 9P, forcing a 2015.12.28_Yoshihararesignation after 150 moves. This is Hane’s fifth Crown title in a row; overall, he has won it 12 times. That takes his tally of titles to 25, which is ninth in the all-time records.

Yoshihara to challenge for Women’s Kisei: The play-off to decide the challenger to Xie Yimin for the 19th DoKoMo Cup Women’s Kisei title was held in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in at Ichigaya on December 7. Yoshihara Yukari 6P (W) defeated Kato Keiko 6P by resig. Yoshihara (left) won this title three times from 2007 to 2009, then lost the next two matches to Xie. At present, Xie has held the title for three years in a row.

Tomorrow: Motoki retains lead in Honinbo League; Korea wins team tournament; Iyama’s winning streak ends on 24; Aoki wins Women’s Meijin League

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