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The Power Report: Chunlan Cup starts; Ueno receives prize; Iyama wins 2017 Grand Champion tournament

Monday April 16, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Chunlan Cup starts:
The Chunlan Cup is a Chinese international tournament held every two years and sponsored by the 2018.04.15_12chunlan MotokiL LeeSedolRChunlan Group, which started out manufacturing electrical goods and which is said to be one of the 50 biggest industrial groups in China. The first two rounds of the 12th Cup were held in Taizhou City, Jiangsu Province, on March 21 and 23. Five young players from Japan took part; four of them were eliminated in the first round, but Motoki Katsuya picked up a win he will remember all his career when he beat the legendary Lee Sedol of Korea by 3.5 points. However, he was eliminated in the second round. Five Chinese and three Koreans made it to the quarterfinals, including the world’s top two, Park Junghwan and Ke Jie. Full results are given below. We do not have a date for the quarterfinals.
2018.04.15_12Chunlan Motoki RRound 1 (March 21): Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo (Japan) by resig.; Motoki Katsuya 8P (Japan) (B) beat Lee Sedol 9P (Korea) by 3.5 points; Xie Ke 5P (China) (B) beat Kyo Kagen (Xiu Jiayuan) 7P (Japan) by resig.; Peng Liyao 5P (China) (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P (Japan) by resig.; Kang Dongyun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 7P (Japan) by resig.; Lian Xiao 9P (China) (W) beat Chen Qirui 5P (Chinese Taipei) by resig.; Dang Yifei 9P (China) (W) beat Shin Jinseo 8P (Korea) by resig.; Pavol Lisy 1P (Europe) (W) beat Eric Lui 1P (North America) by resig.
Round 2 (March 23): Gu Zihao 9P (China) (W) beat Motoki by resig.; Dang (B) beat Tan Xiao 7P (China) by resig.; Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (W) beat Lisy by resig.; Xie (W) beat Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig.; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (W) beat Peng by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (B) beat Kang by resig.; Kim (W) beat Xie Erhao 9P (China) by resig.; Park Younghoon 9P (Korea) (B) beat Lian by half a point.

Ueno receives prize: The photo shows Ueno Asami at the Prize Ceremony for the 21st Women’s Kisei title. Ueno won it 2018.04.15_womens-kisei21_shuisiki02on January 29 this year by defeating perennial women’s champion Xie Yimin 2-0. At 16 years three months, she became the youngest-ever holder of this title. The award ceremony was held at the Tokyo Dome Hotel on March 28. In the photo, Ueno is flanked by Iyama Yuta (on the left), who gave a congratulatory speech in Ueno’s honor, and Takao Shinji, who proposed the toast. Ueno’s bright red kimono, a furisode, which is worn by unmarried women, matches the youthful optimism of the new titleholder.

Iyama wins 2017 Grand Champion tournament: The Grand Champion tournament is a tournament for all the current titleholders 2018.04.15_2017GC7 KonoLeftIyamaRightplus some of the top players in the prize-money list. The semifinals and semifinal of the 2017 version were held on March 31. The semifinals were played in the morning. Kono Rin 9P, playing white, just barely managed to edge Ichiriki Ryo, winner of the previous tournament, by half a point. In the other game, Iyama Yuta (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig. Iyama later commented that he was lucky to eke out a win in this game.
The final was played in the afternoon and telecast on the Igo Shogi Channel and also relayed on the Nihon Ki-in’s net channel Yugen-no-ma. Taking black, Iyama secured a resignation after 195 moves. In the key fight of the game, Iyama flattened out White’s moyo; some white stones cut off his group, but he set up a one-eye vs. no-eye capturing race with them, so this was a big gain.
Here are more details for those interested. The tournament follows the NHK format: 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes of thinking time, to be used at will in one-minute units. Up to the third round, games are played on the net; the final is a public game, played on a stage in front of an audience, with a public commentary being given on another part of the same stage. (Just for the record, the tournament name until two years ago was Go Tournament Winners Championship.)
Tomorrow: Yamashita Keigo becomes Honinbo challenger; Cho U takes sole lead in Meijin League; 8th Huanglongshi Cup starts; Iyama defends Judan

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Kids and Teens Invited to Japanese Go Congress

Thursday April 12, 2018

0720152216-600x405Three youth from North America are being invited to Japan, for international friendship matches and the Japanese Go Congress. The sponsors of the trip, Life Sports, are paying all expenses while in Japan, with a small stipend for airfare. Fifty-four players under the age of 16, and at least ten kyu, are being invited from ten countries: Japan, China, Korea, France, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Thailand, Canada, and the US. The kids will participate in the Takarazuka Go Congress, and will have opportunities for cultural exchanges as well as for playing go. The AGA will select three players, two from the US and one from Canada, based on participation points earned from attending various AGA events. The Congress will be July 13-16th and AGA Go Camp Director Fernando Rivera will lead the team and act as chaperone for the children. Japanese expenses are paid for the kids, but parents who wish to come will need to pay their own travel and lodging expenses. If you are interested in attending, please fill out the form here. More information on the congress and the event can be found here. Any questions should be addressed to youth@usgo.org-Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo: Participants at a Life International Go Meeting. The event is sponsored by Life Sports Foundation, and NPO Life Kids Go Club, with the cooperation of the Nihon Ki-in and the Kansai Ki-in.

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The Power Report (2): Iyama wins NHK Cup; Meijin League; Honinbo League; Iyama extends lead in Judan

Monday April 2, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.04.02_65nhk_1

Iyama wins NHK Cup:
The final of the 65thNHK Cup was telecast on March 18. Playing black, Iyama Yuta, the current titleholder, defeated Shida Tatsuya 7P by half a point. Shida narrowly missed out on his first title. He took the lead in the middle game, but Iyama fought back tenaciously and eventually overhauled him. After that, the tables were turned, with Shida threatening to undo the upset, but Iyama just managed to fend him off. He is the fourth player to win the title in successive years. This is his 50th title (actually, the game was recorded just before he defended the Kisei title, so that is really his 50th).

Meijin League: Here are the details for the result given in my previous report: Shibano Toramaru 7P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.

Honinbo League: An important game was played on March 22. Yamashita Keigo (W) beat Ida Atsushi by resig. Previously, Ida had enjoyed the sole lead, but now he and Yamashita and Ko Iso 8P were tied on 4-2. The final round will be played on April 5. Yamashita and Ko will play each other, and Ida will play Shibano Toramaru.

Iyama extends lead in Judan: The second game of the 56th Judan title match was held at the Toda City Culture Hall in 2018.04.02_56jyudan2_9-2Toda City, Saitama Prefecture, on March 22. Iyama Judan (B) fought aggressively and took an early lead. Murakawa Daisuke 8P, the challenger, recovered and made the game closer. He then made an aggressive invasion, but his group was killed, so he had to resign after 215 moves. This was Iyama’s second straight win, so Murakawa is faced with a kadoban. The third game is scheduled for March 12.

Promotion
To 3-dan: Komatsu Daiki (40 wins, as of March 23) (Komatsu is the son of Komatsu Hideki 9P and Komatsu Hideko 4P.)

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Power Report (1): Yu wins Senko Cup; Park repeats in World Go Championship

Sunday April 1, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Yu wins Senko Cup: The Senko Cup World Women’s Go Tournament 2018, to give it its full name, is a new international 2018.04.01_Senko 3rd playoff Rina R Choi Ltournament founded by the sponsors of the Japanese Senko Cup. The main sponsor is Senko Group Holdings, whose main business seems to be transportation; they are supported by Asahi Kasei, Sekisui House, and JAL, among others. At present, the Senko Cup has the top prize money for domestic women’s tournaments of eight million yen. One of the aims of founding the international tournament is to give local players more international experience. There are eight participants, four from the host country (two of whom are actually from Taiwan), and one each from China, Korea, Taiwan, and Europe. First prize is ten million yen (about $95,000), with three million yen for second, two million for third, and one million for fourth. The inaugural tournament was won by Yu Zhiying of China, a 20–year-old who has established herself as the world’s top woman player these days. In the final, Hei Jia-jia lost on time, but she was behind anyway. Full results follow:
Round 1 (March 14). Fujisawa Rina 3P (Japan) (B) beat Natalia Kovaleva 5D (Russia) by resig.; Yu Zhiying 6P (China) (B) beat Xie Yimin 6P (Japan) by resig.; Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) (W) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P (Japan) by resig.; Hei Jia-jia (Joanne Missingham) 7P (Taiwan) beat Nyu Eiko 2P (Japan) by resig.
Semifinals (March 15). Hei (W) beat Fujisawa by 1.5 points; Yu (B) beat Choi by resig.
Final (March 16). Yu (W) beat Hei on time.
Play-off for 3rd place (March 16). Choi (W, at right) beat Fujisawa (left) by resig.

Park repeats in World Go Championship: This is another new international tournament, started last year by the Nihon2018.04.01_Park right Iyama L Ki-in with the support of sponsors such as NTT DoCoMo, Mitsui Sumitomo Card, and others. First prize is 20 million yen (about $190,000). In the inaugural tournament, there were four competitors: three players and one computer program. The format was an all-play-all league, and they finished in the order of Park Junghwan (Korea) (3-0), Mi Yuting (China) (2-1), DeepZenGo (1-2), and Iyama Yuta (0-3). Incidentally, the prize then was 30 million yen. In the second championship, which is called World Go Championship 2018, there were six players, with two from Japan, two from Korea (with Park being seeded), and one each from China and Chinese Taipei. Top honors again went to Park Junghwan, who beat Ke Jie in the semifinal and Iyama Yuta in the final. The time allowance is three hours each, with the last five minutes being allotted to byo-yomi. Results are given below:
Round 1 (March 17). Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) (W) beat Wang Yuanjun 8P (Chinese Taipei) by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Shin Jinseo 8P (Korea) by resig.
(Semifinals) (March 18). Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) beat Ke Jie by resig.; Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) (B) beat Yamashita by resig.
(Final) (March 19). Park (W, at right) beat Iyama (left) by resig.
In this tournament, Park was seeded into the semfinals as the previous winner. Iyama was seeded on the wishes of the sponsors. Yamashita earned his place by winning a qualifying tournament. Shin (aged 18) earned his place as the second-ranked player in Korea and Wang (22) as the top-rated player in Chinese Taipei. Seeding the previous winner is common (for example, the TV Asia tournament does it), but not everyone approved of the seeding of Iyama. Ke Jie commented at the press conference: “I was surprised by the seeding.” However, it was just the luck of the draw that matched Ke and Park, the world’s top-rated players (apparently, Park has recently regained the number-one position) in the semifinal. After his loss in the final, Iyama’s career record against Park was 2-4.

Tomorrow: Iyama wins NHK Cup; Meijin League; Honinbo League; Iyama extends lead in Judan

 

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The Power Report (2/2): Iyama wins first Judan game; 73rd Honinbo League; 43rd Meijin League

Monday March 19, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.03.19_56jyudan1_4

Iyama wins first Judan game: The Judan best-of-five got off to a start on March 6. It was played at the same venue as the Women’s Meijin game, as detailed above. These two titles share a sponsor, the Sankei Nerwspaper, and it has been the practice in recent years to link them in this way. The challenger is Murakawa Daisuke 8P, who has been the top young player at the Kansai Ki-in for some time now. This is his fourth title match with Iyama. His first challenge was the only successful one: he scored 3-2 and took the 62nd Oza title from Iyama in 2014, but the following year he lost it to him 0-3. He also lost the 41st Gosei title match to Iyama by the same margin in 2016. This is the reverse of the usual pattern, in which a young player fails in his first challenge but does better later. 2018.03.19_56jyudan1_5Murakawa’s record so far against Iyama is three wins to 14 losses: his only wins have come in their first title-match clash.
In the first Judan game, Murakawa drew black in the nigiri. The tenor of the game was set quite early when Iyama played a cleverly timed sequence that turned an earlier move of his into an efficient forcing move. After that, the game developed peacefully for a while, but that was misleading; in the end, it turned into a capturing race between two large groups. This was won by Iyama, so Murakawa had to resign after 156 moves. The second game will be played on March 22.

73rd Honinbo League: The Honinbo League is one round and one game away from finishing. As before, Ida Atsushi 8P has the provisional lead, but he hasn’t yet played his sixth-round game against Yamashita Keigo 9P. Motoki is on 4-1. Yamashita on 3-2, and Ko Iso 8P on 4-2. One of these three will be the challenger. Results of recent games are listed below.
(March 1) Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by resig.
(March 8) Motoki Katsuya 8P (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.; Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

43rd Meijin League: After four rounds of the league, two players share the lead: Cho U 9P and Shibano Toramaru 7P. both 2-0 (both have already had their byes). Recent results:
(March 1) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig.
(March 8) Kono Rin 8P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.
(March 15) Shibano beat Yo Seiki (don’t have details yet).

Promotion
To 3-dan: Tanimiya Ayako (40 wins; as of Feb. 27). Tanimiya earned her promotion after 37 years as 2-dan.

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The Power Report (1/2): Korea wins Nong Shim Cup; Fujisawa defends 30th Women’s Meijin; Kato & Iyama win Pair Go

Sunday March 18, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.03.18_19noshin10_1-2

Korea wins Nong Shim Cup:
  The final round of the 19th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Shanghai from February 26 to March 1. Recently, victory in this three-way team tournament had been monopolized by China, but this time they were thwarted by Korea.
To recap, the first Korean player, Shin Min-jun 6P, gave his team a great start by winning all four games in the opening round, held from September 19 to 22. In the second round, held from November 24 to 28, he picked up two more wins before losing to Dang Yifei of China (at right in photo). Dang closed out this round with two more wins, so only two players had any success in the first two rounds.
In the first game of the final round, Game 10, Dang played Iyama Yuta 9P of Japan, who was his country’s last hope. Dang (W) won by resignation, so this was another international failure for Iyama, following on his loss in the LG final. In Game 11, played on February 27, Dang (W) beat Shin Jinseo 8P of Korea by resignation so he extended his winning streak to five games. In game 12 (February 28), Kim Jiseok 9P of Korea (W) scored a dramatic win over Dang by just half a point, so he prevented Dang from matching Shin’s record. In game 13, played on March 1, Kim (B) beat China’s top board, Ke Jie 9P by resignation. This secured Korea its first victory in the Nong Shim Cup since the 14th term without having to call upo2018.03.18_30fmeijin2_2n their top board, Park Junghwan. Korea scored eight wins to three losses, China 5-5, and Japan 0-5. Japan came third for the 12thyear in a row, but it was only the second time it failed to pick up even one win.

Fujisawa defends 30th Women’s Meijin: Recently, most of the women’s title matches have featured Xie Yimin playing Fujisawa Rina, but this year’s Women’s Meijin title match was different, with a member of an older generation trying to make a comeback. The challenger was Yashiro Kumiko (below left), who won a couple of titles over a decade ago, and the defender was Fujisawa Rina, who holds three of the top five women’s titles. The first game 2018.03.18_30fmeijin2_3was played on February 28 in the Arisu Building at the Heian Jogakuin University, an Anglican-linked women’s university also known as St. Agnes’ University. The Arisu Building is a former nobleman’s resident that is on the campus. According to Go Weekly, Fujisawa’s play “overflowed with fighting spirit.” She held the initiative throughout and forced a resignation after 196 moves (she had white). The second game, which was played on the campus of the Osaka University of Commerce on March 7, developed differently, with Yashiro taking the lead. However, she let Fujisawa pull off an upset late in the game and win by 3.5 points. This meant that Fujisawa defended her title with straight wins. Surprisingly, this is her first successful defence, which is not what you would expect of a player who not so long ago held four of the top five women’s titles. First prize is 3,500,000 yen (about $32,000).

Kato & Iyama win Pair Go: The final of the Professional Pair Go Championship 2018 was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on March 4. This is a knockout tournament, with 16 pairs competing. Reaching the final were the Kato Keiko 6P/Iyama Yuta 9P pair and the Suzuki Ayumi 7 P/Ko Iso 9P pair. The latter drew black in the nigiri, but lost a game full of hectic fighting. They resigned after 218 moves.

Tomorrow: Iyama wins first Judan game; 73rd Honinbo League; 43rd Meijin League

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1971 Honinbo Tournament Game 2 video released

Tuesday March 6, 2018

A new video compresses the second game of the historic 1971 Honinbo Tournament into a compelling 4 1/2 minute sequence, 2018.03.03_1971-honinbo-videocomplete with music by the Blue Dot Sessions. Ishida Yoshio, just 22, entered the Honinbo League for the first time that year, won it, and went on to beat the established Honinbo, Rin Kaiho, in the title match. The second game is thought to be the most exciting of the match. “The focus of this project was to highlight the wonderful graphic beauty of a flowing go game rather than a analysis of the moves,” says video creator Mike Garland.

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The Power Report (3): Meijin League; Marriage between go players; Kido Prizes; Iyama wins Shusai Prize; Promotions

Wednesday February 21, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Meijin League: 
The first game in the third round of the 43rd Meijin League was played on February 1. Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P. Astonishingly, Yo has beaten Takao ten times to just one loss. With the third round almost completed, the only undefeated players are Cho U 9P and Shibano Toramaru; both of them have already had a bye, so their scores are 2-0. Recent results follow.
(Jan. 25) Cho U 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo by resig.
(Feb. 1) Yo Seiki (W) beat Takao Shinji by resig.
(Feb. 8) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(Feb. 15) Shibano Toramaru (W) beat Yamashita by 2.5 points.

Marriage between go players: Go Weekly reported that Mannami Nao 3P (age 32) married Ida Atsushi 8P (age 23) on February 12. Ida is a member of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in; Mannami is going to move to Nagoya. Mannami said: “I want to support Ida 8-dan and look after our household.” It seems she plans to follow the lead of Kobayashi Izumi in subordinating her own career to her husband’s. In her case, it may involve some financial loss, as in recent years she has been the most popular woman professional for commentating jobs etc. at go events.

Kido Prizes: The 51st Kido Prizes were announced in the latest issue of Go Weekly. Winners were as follows:
Most Outstanding Player: Iyama Yuta
Outstanding Player: Ichiriki Ryo
New Stars: Mutsuura Yuta (for winning the Agon Kiriyama Cup), Shibano Toramaru (for winning the Ryusei title)
Woman’s Prize: Fujisawa Rina
International Prize: Iyama Yuta
Most wins: Shibano Toramaru (53)
Best winning percentage: Kyo Kagen 7P (80.3%)
Most successive wins: Iyama Yuta, Shibano Toramaru: 16
Most games played: Shibano Toramaru
The most interesting point here is the appearance of three women in the top ten (five in the top 20, 11 in the top 52). In part, this reflects the fact that players like Xie Yimin and Fujisawa Rina do fairly well against male players, but another factor is the increase in the number of women’s titles. This has also led to a big increase in the prize money available (see list below): the two newest women’s tournaments, the Hollyhock Cup, previously known as the Aizu Central Hospital Cup, and the Senko Cup actually having the most prize money. The former, which has completed four terms, is worth 7,000,000 yen to the winner, and the latter, held twice so far, is worth 8,000,000 yen.

Here are some statistics for 2017.
Most wins

  1. Shibano Toramaru: 53 wins, 13 losses
  2. Kyo Kagen: 45-11
  3. Ichiriki Ryo: 44-20
  4. Iyama Yuta: 42-12
  5. (Ms) Fujisawa Rina: 40-23
  6. Shida Tatsuya 7P: 38-11; Mutsuura Yuta 7P: 38-12
  7. Motoki Katsuya 8P: 36-14
  8. (Ms) Xie Yimin: 34-22
  9. (Ms) Mukai Chiaki 5P: 33-18
  10. Cho U: 30-14; (Ms) Ueno Asami 1P: 30-15; Yamashita Keigo: 30-22
  11. (Ms) Nyu Eiko: 27-23

Best winning percentage

  1. Kyo Kagen: 80.36%
  2. Shibano Toramaru: 80.3%
  3. Iyama Yuta: 77.78%

Most successive wins

  1. Iyama Yuta, Shibano Toramaru: 16
  2. Takei Takashi 7P, Mutsuura Yuta: 13

Most prize money won

  1. Iyama Yuta: \159,814,000 (about $1,480,000)
  2. Ichiriki Ryo: \25,237,300
  3. Takao Shinji: \24,595,000
  4. Fujisawa Rina: \24,049,700
  5. Yamashita Keigo: \21,807,300
  6. Kono Rin: \21,713,400
  7. Motoki Katsuya: \20,977,400
  8. Xie Yimin: \20,472,400
  9. Shiba Toramaru: \18,908,700
  10. Mutsuura Yuta: \16,996,200

Iyama wins Shusai Prize: The 55th Shusai Prize, which honors the outstanding player of the previous year, was awarded to Iyama Yuta. This prize usually goes to the player who wins the top Kido prize; Iyama has received it six times in a row (matching the record of Kobayashi Koichi) and seven times overall (behind Cho Chikun’s nine).

Promotions
The automatic promotions based on prize money won in 2017 were announced recently in Go Weekly. Details follow.
To 2-dan: Ueno Asami Torii Yuta
To 3-dan: Koike Yoshihiro, Yokotsuka Riki
To 4-dan: Tanaka Nobuyuki, Koyama Kuya
To 5-dan: Tsuruta Kazushi, Adachi Toshimasa
To 6-dan: Son Makoto, Numadate Sakiya
To 7-dan: Shiraishi Yuichi
There has also been one promotion by the cumulative-wins system.
To 8-dan: Ri Ishu (150 wins, as of Jan 19)

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Feb. 28 deadline for early-bird savings on Japan Go Congress/Osaka Go Camp

Wednesday February 21, 2018

Early-bird deadline for the third Japan Go Congress and sixth Osaka Go camp is February 28. Click here for details and to save2018.02.20_osaka-camp-300x300 5000 JPY or email osaka.go.2018@gmail.com

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The Power Report (2): Ida keeps lead in Honinbo League despite loss

Tuesday February 20, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Xie wins LG Cup: The best-of-three final of the 22nd LG Cup was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo in early February. This is a Korean-sponsored tournament, but the finalists were Iyama Yuta of Japan and Xier Erhao of China, so the sponsors were probably happy to see the game staged overseas. The Nihon Ki-in stepped forward because a Japanese representative had made an international final for the first time since Cho U in 2005 (the 9th LG Cup, which Cho won). Japanese fans are keen to see international success, so staging the tournament made sense for the Nihon Ki-in. Letting Iyama play on home ground might also help him. Xie Erhao, who is just 19, was virtually unknown here, so expectations were high that Iyama would score his first success in a major international tournament. However, Xie is a member of the top group of young players in China, where he is best known for reaching the semifinals of an international tournament, the Bailing Cup, when he was 14. In fighting ability, he turned out to be more than a match for Iyama. In the first game, played on February 5, Xie (W) scored a convincing win, securing a resignation after 180 moves. In the second game, played on February 7, Iyama was doing badly, but he managed to pull off an upset win by half a point. However, in the third game, played on February 8, Xie displayed precise reading and excellent positional judgment and won by resignation after 226 moves. This is Xie’s first international title. First prize is 300,000,000 won (about $280,000).

Park wins New Year’s Cup: The sixth CCTV New Year’s Cup, a tournament held by a Chinese TV station to celebrate the Chinese New Year, was held in Beijing on February 5 to 7 (actually a little before the Chinese New Year, which came on February 16 this year, but CCTV wanted to telecast the games before the winter Olympics started). This is an irregular knockout tournament for the top players from China, Korea, and Japan. Ke Jie represented China, Park Junghwan Korea, and Ichiriki Ryo Japan. The Japanese representative should have been Iyama Yuta, but he was busy with the LG final. The selection of the player challenging Iyama in the Kisei title match to take his place could be taken as de facto recognition of Ichiriki’s standing as Japan’s current number two. In these three-player knockout tournaments, the players draw lots for the initial pairing, in which two of them play each other; the winner then plays the third player; the winner of that game then meets the winner of the first game in the final.
In the first game, Park (white) beat Ichiriki by resignation after 196 moves. The latter then played Ke; taking black, Ichiriki had a good game, but Ke managed to pull off an upset, winning by 2.5 points. In the final, Park (white) beat Ke by resignation after 184 moves. Park’s victory came after four successive wins by China. I also read on the Net that this win enable Park to displace Ke as the world’s number one in a popular ranking system.
Btw, the report in Go Weekly mentioned that, thanks to his match with AlphaGo at the Future of Go summit last year, Ke Jie became well known to the Chinese public. As a result, he received an award as the top sportsman of the year, beating our world champions in sports like table tennis. Ke commented that his followers on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, increased nearly one hundredfold, to just under four million.

Ida keeps lead in Honinbo League despite loss: After five rounds in the 73rd Honinbo League, Ida Atsushi 8P, the unsuccessful challenger from four years ago, seems to have a good chance of getting another crack at Iyama Yuta, also known as Honinbo Monyu. Ironically, he has held on to the sole lead despite losing his latest game. In the final game of the fourth round, Ida beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by 2.5 points; this took his score to 4-0, and he was the only undefeated player. In the fifth round, Ida lost to Yo Seiki, but his nearest rival, Ko Iso 8P, also lost his fifth-round game, so Ida remained one point clear of the field. In another interesting game in the same round, league newcomer Shibano Toramaru 7P beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P; this improved his score to 3-2, so he now has a good chance of keeping his place in the league despite his bad start (two losses in the opening three rounds). Results since my last report are given below.
(Jan. 25) Ida (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru by 2.5 points.
(Feb. 1) Shibano Toramaru (B) bear Kobayashi Satoru by resig.
(Feb. 8) Yo Seiki 7P (B) beat Ida by resig.
(Feb. 15) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Ko Iso by resig.

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