American Go E-Journal » Japan

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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The Power Report: Iyama Increases Lead in Honinbo; Yamashita Closer to Becoming Meijin Challenger

Friday June 6, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Increases Lead in Honinbo Title Match: Iyama Yuta (right) is now just one win away from defending his Honinbo title. In the third game of the 69th title match, played at the Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort in Abashiri City, Hokkaido, on June 4 and 5, Iyama (B) beat Ida Atsushi by resignation after 201 moves. Iyama had one minute left and Ida 18 minutes.
The game started with an innovation by Ida. After making a small-knight approach move to a star-point stone in the top right corner on move 6, answered by Iyama with a knight’s-move enclosure, Ida invaded on the 18-3 point (instead of the usual 17-3, that is, the 3-3 point). Iyama didn’t know what to do, so he switched elsewhere, for a while, but later there was complicated fighting linked to this move that continued for a large part of the game.  On the first day, there was a trade on the left side that seemed reasonable for Ida, and many observers thought that he had made the better start. On the second day, however, Ida seemed to miscalculate after launching an attack on Black; Iyama settled his group satisfactorily and took the lead. Ida started a ko fight, but was unable to catch up. In the end, Iyama had an unshakeable lead of ten points on the board, so Ida had to resign.
In this game, Iyama showed what a skillful all-round player he is: he attacks well, defends well, and does everything in-between well. Ida is now down to his last chance. The fourth game will be played on June 18 and 19.

Yamashita Closer to Becoming Meijin Challenger: Three games in the 39th Meijin League were played on June 5. Yamashita Keigo (B) beat Yuki Satoshi by resig.; Cho U (B) beat Ko Iso by half a point; and Hane Naoki (B) beat Ryu Shikun by 1.5 points. Yamashita (left) has maintained his two-point lead over the rest of the field, so he is edging closer and closer to a return match with Iyama Yuta Meijin. He just has to win one of his last two games, which are with Cho U and Murakawa Daisuke, to win the league outright. Both Cho U and Kono Rin have just two losses, so they still have an outside chance of making a play-off.

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The Power Report (Part 2): Iyama Extends Lead in Honinbo Title Match; Fujisawa and Okuda Reach Final of New Women’s Tournament; Promotions

Monday June 2, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Extends Lead in Honinbo Title Match: Ida Atsushi is an aggressive player and Iyama Yuta’s philosophy is to always look for the strongest move, so the 69th Honinbo best-of-seven is proving to be an exciting title match. The second game was held in the Old Inn Kaneyu, a traditional building that is nationally registered as a Tangible Cultural Asset, on May 25 and 26. Taking black, Ida set the tone of the game early when he chose an attacking move with Black 39 rather than a defensive one. If his move worked, he would swallow up a white group that was trying to reduce his main potential territory, but if it failed that territory would be ruined. Ida followed up with more attacking moves, so his play was consistent, but his 45th move was “probably an overplay,” according to Takao Shinji. Iyama (right) needed to secure a second eye for a cut-off group, but he counterattacked for over 50 moves before doing so. By the end of the fight, he had split Black into two weak groups in the centre while he had only one weak group. The pressure finally got to Ida on move 91, a mistake that overlooked a brilliant counter by White. Thereafter, Iyama took control of the game and, as usual, ratcheted up the pressure instead of coasting to a win on territory. Ida resigned after White 182. This game is full of brilliant tesujis accessible to players of all levels, so if you have access to it on the Net we recommend you play through it. Perhaps the highlight is a three-step hane by Iyama that gives Black a double atari, but ironically one that helps White more than Black. After the game, Ida consoled himself with the reflection that he was at least getting more used to two-day games. However, I can’t help wondering if he is using his time allowance effectively. In both games, Iyama was in byo-yomi, being down to his final three minutes, whereas Ida had 70 minutes left in this game and 55 minutes left in the first game.Two sidelights: This was the first time a Honinbo game was held in Aizu Wakamatsu for nearly half a century, the predecessor being the second game of the 20th title match between Sakata Eio Honinbo and Yamabe Toshiro. At the party held on eve of the game, Iyama was presented with a cake in a surprise celebration of his 25th birthday. He looked after his present himself. The third game, scheduled for June 4 and 5, is going to be a test of Ida’s mettle. To avoid being forced to a kadoban, he will have to beat Iyama with White, not an easy task.

Fujisawa and Okuda Reach Final of New Women’s Tournament: Few things would make Japanese go fans happier than to see Fujisawa Shuko’s granddaughter Rina (left) develop into a top player. She is already showing signs of potential, having reached the final of a new women’s tournament, the Aizu Central Hospital Cup. As the name shows, this tournament is sponsored by a hospital in Aizu Wakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture, the region which suffered the heaviest earthquake damage three years ago. The director of the hospital is a keen go player, and in an interview he said that at one time 20 of the doctors on the staff were go players who often held their own tournaments. His aim in sponsoring the tournament is to help raise the level of Japanese women so that they can compete better internationally. Most of the tournaments with regional sponsors that we report on are minor events, without substantial prize money, but this tournament is a serious affair. First prize is seven million yen, the top prize for a women’s tournament, and the final will be a two-day game June 26 and 27, which is a first for a women’s tournament. All 62 women players at the Nihon Ki-in and the Kansai Ki-in took part in preliminary rounds held during late January and early February to select seven finalists for the main tournament. Dual title-holder Xie Yimin was seeded in the eighth place. The quarterfinals and semifinals were held at the Konjakutei Inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in Aizu Wakamatsu City on May 24 and 25. Results follow.
Quarterfinals (May 24): Fujisawa Rina 2P (B) defeated Xie Yimin, Women’s Meijin & Kisei, by 2.5 points; Mannami Nao 3P (B) d. O Keii 2P by resig.; Okuda Aya 3P (B) d. Koyama Terumi 6P by 5.5 points; Ishii Akane 2P (B) d. Kato Keiko 6P by resig.
Semifinals (May 25): Fujisawa (W) d. Mannami by resig.; Okuda (B) d. Ishii by resig.

Promotions: To 4-dan: Terayama Rei (50 wins); To 3-dan: Ito Masashi (40 wins); To 2: dan: Takagi Junpei (30 wins)

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The Power Report (Part 1): Cho U Eliminated from Oza; Ichiriki Wins O-kage Cup; Kono to Challenge Again for Gosei; Kisei Leagues

Sunday June 1, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Cho U Eliminated from Oza: Cho U seems to have an affinity with the Oza tournament and has played in the title match six years in a row, winning it four times, then losing the last two matches to Iyama. Altogether, he has won this title seven times, but his good run has come to an end. In the first round of the final section of the main tournament (the round of 16), Cho (B) lost to Murakawa Daisuke 7P by half a point.

Ichiriki Wins O-kage Cup: The O-kage (literally “gratitude”) Cup is a tournament for players 30 and under sponsored by O-kage Alley, a street of tourist-related shops (many of them recreations of Edo-period buildings) in the street leading to Ise Shrine, which is one of the two most important Shinto shrines in Japan (the other being Izumo Shrine). The 5th Cup was held on May 15 and 16, with 16 young players taking part. Ichiriki Ryo (left), last year’s winner, followed up his victory in the Globis Cup the previous week with another victory. In the final, he beat Seto Taiki 7P (B) by resignation. This is the 5th minor title that the 16-year-old Ichiriki has won. Both these players will represent Japan in an international version of the title scheduled for the autumn.

Kono to Challenge Again for Gosei: Kono Rin 9P (right) will try to improve on his 2-3 loss to Iyama Yuta in last year’s Gosei title match. In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 39th title, Kono (B) beat Cho Riyu 8P by resig. The title match will begin on June 26. Cho missed out on his first chance to challenge for a title, but he should be back. Aged 32, Cho seems to have improved recently and he is enjoying good results. Born in Taiwan, Cho makes a big contribution to Japanese go by acting as a coach to young players in the national team; he often escorts Japanese representatives to international tournaments.

Kisei Leagues: All the games in the first round of the 38th Kisei A and B Leagues were played within the month. The A League got off to a start on May 22 and the first round of the B League was completed. The last game in the A League was played the following Thursday.
Results: (May 22) (A League) Takao Shinji Judan (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 3.5 points; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resig.; (B League) Cho Chikun (25th Honinbo Chikun) (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by resig. (May 29) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.
Tomorrow: Iyama Extends Lead in Honinbo Title Match; Fujisawa and Okuda Reach Final of New Women’s Tournament; Promotions

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Nihon Kiin to Celebrate 90th Birthday With Special Summer Camp

Thursday May 22, 2014

In celebration of the 90th birthday of Nihon Kiin, a special summer go camp will be held in Tokyo August 26 through September 4.  Included in the camp are daily pro instructions in separate dan and kyu sections, playing in the largest Japanese amateur tournament — the Takara Shuzou Cup, where the 1000+ participants will all receive special commemorative prizes — and visits to the Honinbo title ceremony, to Kamakura, site of the Go Seigen-Kitani jubango, and to Yugen no ma, the legendary tatami playing room adorned by a Kawabata calligraphy (right).  The camp fee is between JPY 50 to 55K (about $500); housing starts at ~$40 a night.  The camp is recommended for players 10 kyu and up, including high dans.  For further information and registration forms, contact igf@usgo.org.
- photo by John Pinkerton

Categories: Japan
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