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The Power Report: Lead changes in 40th Meijin League; Kisei S League starts; Cho U moves to Taiwan; Yamashita to challenge Iyama Gosei

Monday May 25, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Lead changes in 40th Meijin League: A game in the 40th Meijin League was played on a Monday, May 4, instead of the usual Thursday.2015.05.25-Kono-Rin Cho U 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke Oza by 2.5 points, thus scoring what was only his second win in five games. Murakawa dropped to 3-3 and will probably have to focus on keeping his league place rather than on becoming the challenger. An important game was played on May 7 between the two players who were close on the heels of the provisional leader of the league, Ko Iso 8P. Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig. Kono (right) improved his score to 4-1 and shares the lead with Ko. Yamashita dropped to 3-2. On May 21, Takao (W) beat Ko Iso by resig. This completed the sixth round. The lead is now shared by Kono and Takao, who are both on 4-1. For the first time since the league began, Ko Iso has dropped out the lead or a share of it, but on 4-2 he is well placed if the above two falter; he hasn’t played either of them yet, so he doesn’t have to rely on other players to drag them down. Yamashita is next on 3-2.

Kisei S League starts: The S League is at the top of the pyramid of five leagues in the revamped Kisei tournament, and its winner has the 2015.05.25-murakawabest chance of becoming the Kisei challenger, as he gets a seat in the play-off and an automatic one-game lead as well. The first two games were played on May 7. Murakawa Daisuke Oza (left) started the week badly (see Meijin League report above), but did better here. Playing white, he beat Takao Shinji by 4.5 points. In the other game, Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. The other players in the six-man league are Yamashita Keigo and Yamashiro Hiroshi. I was planning to report in detail only on the S League, but there was an interesting game in the A League on the 4th. Veteran player Kono Rin 9P (W) beat the up-and-coming new star Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resignation. On 2-0, Kono shares the lead in the eight-player A League with Cho Riyu 8P.

Cho U moves to Taiwan: Cho U 9P has revealed that he is moving to his homeland of Taiwan this 2015.05.25-Cho-Umonth, though he will remain a member of the Nihon Ki-in and keep playing in Japanese tournaments. The reason is his dissatisfaction with his results in recent years; he is hoping that a change in environment will bring about an improvement in his play. Many top players have come to Japan from Taiwan (Rin Kaiho, O Rissei, and O Meien, just to mention three), but this is the first time a top player has taken the reverse course. Cho is 35, an age at which even a top player usually sees a falling off in his results, but Cho is obviously not prepared to accept this. His inspiration may be Cho Chikun, who won his second triple crown (Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo) at the age of 40. Cho U came to Japan at the age of ten and in 2009 became the first player to hold five top-seven titles simultaneously. He has seats in the top three leagues (though in the A League in the 40th Kisei, not the top S League), but he hasn’t won a title since losing the Kisei title in 2013. In an interview in the Yomiuri Newspaper, he said: ‘I can’t show [go fans] games of which I am ashamed. I think that changing my environment will have a positive effect on my go.’ A brief news item in Go Weekly stated that Kobayashi Izumi was taking a break from tournament play after her game on May 14 so that her children could study  in Taiwan. Cho’s desire to see his children master Chinese is obviously an additional motive for moving back to Taiwan. It’s a bit unfortunate that Kobayashi Izumi (aged 37), who just made a comeback to active play last year, once again has to sacrifice her own career for her family.

2015.05.25-yamashitaYamashita to challenge Iyama Gosei: Yamashita Keigo is doing his level best to make a breach in Iyama’s quadruple-crown citadel. In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 40th Gosei title, held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on May 18, Yamashita (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resignation. The game lasted 194 moves. Yamashita has won the Gosei title once, way back in 2000 (the 20th Gosei); in 2008 he unsuccessfully challenged Cho U, losing 1-3. This will be the third title match this year between Yamashita and Iyama; it is only the third time two players have played three top-seven matches against each other in the same year. Moreover, the Gosei is only the fourth title match of the year, so the two could well set a new record (Yamashita is still in the running to become the challenger in the Meijin and Tengen tournaments). The first game of the title match will be played on June 26.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Globis Cup Final Commentary, Huang vs. Na

Sunday May 24, 2015

2nd Globis Cup final: Huang vs. Na
White: Huang Yunsong 3P (China)
Black: Na Hyun 6P (Korea)
Played on May 10, 2015
See: The Power Report: Huang of China Wins Globis Cup 5/10 EJ
Click here for the SGF.

Venue: Graduate School of Management, Globis University
Commentary by O Meien 9P, translated by John Power, Japan E-Journal correspondent

It was no surprise that Na Hyun made the final of this tournament for players under 20, as he is one of the top young players in Korea. Among the Chinese players, one might have expected Yang Dingshin, rated 18th in the world, or Li Qincheng, who won the CCTV Cup, a TV tournament like Japan’s NHK Cup, last year, but Huang proved to be a dark horse. Actually, at 18 he is two years older than the other two Chinese representatives, so you could say he pulled rank.

The following commentary is an amplified version of the report in Go Weekly of the public commentary conducted by O Meien, with Mannami Nao 3P acting as his assistant.

The opening, with Black ignoring 8 to switch to the approach move of 9, is very popular these days. There are many examples of it from actual2015.05.24_globis-1-49 play. The same opening appeared in the play-off for third place.
        O: “In the old days, Black would have captured 16 instead of playing 21, but now this is the mainstream move. I don’t know which is better . . .” Formerly the moves to 21 were like a set opening, but now you often see the pattern to 25. The amount of research that has been carried out on this opening in China and Korea is incalculable. “But I don’t play it as White. I can’t understand why White burrows into the [top right] corner. Actually, this result gives a good contest, so probably my feel for go is out of whack.’ [Laughter from the audience]
        The two-space jump to 29 is also common. The hane of White 32 is also a vital point. O, on seeing Black 33: “This is a strong, calm move.” Instead of 33, you are tempted to play at A, but White has the attachment of B, so perhaps Black thinks this territory won’t amount to much. After gazing at 33 for a while, O expressed admiration. “I get it. He’s strong.”
        White 36. White thinks that the exchange for 37 will make 36 a forcing move when he attaches across the knight’s move with C.
Black 39 and 40 seem to be the par moves. O: “According to my feel for go, 3
9 should be at D. Na’s assessment is that the exchange for 40 makes 39 a forcing move rather than a bad move.”
        When Black expands the bottom with 41, White attacks inside by attaching at 42. The move at 21 leaves White with scope to play this move. O: “That’s why capturing the ladder stone is best.”
 2015.05.24_globis-dia-1       Black responds by solidifying his side territory with 43 on. If instead Black hanes on top with 1 in Dia. 1 (left), White plays 2 and 4, then slides to 6; this will be more than Black can handle. After the game, Huang rapidly laid out the continuation to 19 and said that this was not bad for White. Huang: “I’ve finished researching the attachment of 43. I have confidence in the local variations.”2015.05.24_globis-50-99
       White 54 is a good, calm move. O: “Moves like this reflect the player’s experience. “ At first, O had thought that the result to 52 was not interesting for White, but he started to revise his opinion on seeing 54 on the grounds that Huang was obviously satisfied and we could rely on his perception.
        White 60 is another calm move. Having played a forcing sequence on the right side, White believes that this is good enough. O commented at first that he couldn’t play 60, but White 62 convinced him that Huang knew what he was doing. It turned out later that both the players agreed that the game was good for White at this point. That’s why Black plays 61: he has to harass White’s sole weak group to get back into the game.
        When White ignores 61, 63 looks like the natural follow-up, but the players agreed later that attaching at 65 instead would have made the game more difficult. White’s solid extension of 64 works well. O: “This may have been the decisive point of the game.” That’s not to say that’s it’s a won game for White by any means, but he has an edge.
        Black 77, forestalling White E, is big, but so is White 78.
  2015.05.24_globis-100-112      Black 79 is an all-out move that clearly shows that Black feels he is behind. O commented that it may have been an overplay. It immediately struck O as being too deep.
        White 84. If White answers the peep at 90, Black intends to push down with 84, so countering with 84 is natural.
        The cut of White 92 is a good move. If Black answers at 97, White has the threat of F, so Black goes all out with 93.
        Black 99 extricates the center stones. If White cuts at 103, Black cuts at 102 and at this point Black is ahead in the capturing race. When White plays 100, however, Black has no choice but to reinforce at 103.
        White 112 is the knock-out punch: it makes miai of G and H, so Black has to resign.
        Huang: “There was a lot of pressure, but [winning] feels good. Next, I want to win a bigger international tournament.”
        Na: “I lost without being able to do a thing. I have regrets.”
        During his commentary, O commented that the strength of the top young Chinese and Korean players came from a mixture of reading ability and perception.
Incidentally, the day of the final was the first day that Huang wore a jacket instead of just a jersey. O commented that in China go is regarded as a sport, so the young players all wear jerseys. Often their training camps are held at the same venues as soccer training camps, so the players would feel funny if they dressed differently. O joked that they switch to suits when they turn 30. During this tournament, Ichiriki and the other Japanese representatives were turned out in natty suits and ties. One advantage of the Japanese system that struck me, however, is that the Japanese players are “socialized” earlier than the Chinese players. It was hard to get a word out of the Chinese teenagers in interviews, but the Japanese teenagers were already adept at public speaking. During the reception on the Thursday, Mannami called them up on to the stage at different times for mini “talk shows” TV-style and they all acquitted themselves well.
Mannami had an interesting comment about Korean players. She visited Korea to study go not long ago, and she said she was surprised by the way the young players chatted with each other until the start of the game. In Japan the players psych themselves up before the game, so there’s no chatting; the contest begins as soon as the players take their seats. (She used the sumo term “shikiri,” which refers to the long face-off before a bout begins.)

The Power Report: Huang of China Wins Globis Cup

Sunday May 10, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.05.10_huang-r-vs-na


Huang of China Wins Globis Cup: Huang Yunsong (at right in photo) of China has defeated Na Hyun of Korea to win his first international tournament. Aged 18, he can now claim to be the strongest teenager in the world and his next ambition is to win an open international title. His play in this year’s Globis Cup was so impressive that no one will be betting against him.

On Sunday, May 10, the third day of the tournament, the semifinals were held 
in the morning and the final and play-off for third place in the afternoon. All four matches were China-Korea pairings, as the Japanese players had been eliminated in the quarterfinals. In the first semifinal, Huang 3P (W) of China beat Lee Donghun 5P of Korea by resignation. This game featured a spectacular fight in which Huang killed a large enemy group. O Meien 9P, who gave a public commentary on the final, praised Huang’s play in the semifinal very highly. According to O, the fight looked like a very perilous one to the onlookers that could have gone either way, but once the fight started Huang played quickly, not bothering to use all of his time of 30 seconds per move. In retrospect, said O, it became clear that Huang had read it all out at the beginning of the fight, which was an awesome feat.

In the other semifinal, Na Hyun 6P of Korea (B), the only player to announce publicly his intention of winning the tournament, defeated Li Qincheng 2P of China by resignation.

The final between Huang and Na started at 1:00 in the afternoon, with Huang playing white. Although no Japanese representative made the final, there were only a few empty seats in the hall. The fans who turned up were treated to an exciting game that was graced by an excellent commentary by O Meien 9P and Mannami Nao 3P. O is the commentator of choice for international games, as he is well informed about international go and is very open-minded. By this, I mean that he is not dogmatic. Although he is well-known for his own distinctive style, a dynamic, influence-oriented way of playing, when players follow a different style, making moves that he doesn’t like personally, he readily admits that they may know better. O’s humor meshed well with the bright, cheerful personality of Mannami Nao, the younger of the two Mannami sisters;  she has developed into a very competent and appealing MC and assistant commentator and is a real asset in go events.

After the first major fight in the early middle game, O expressed surprise wh
en Huang played a relatively peaceful move after reducing Black’s right-side position. O hadn’t thought the maneuver was a particular success for White, but Huang’s calm play made him reassess his positional judgement. He admitted that he couldn’t reach a definite conclusion himself, but commented that we could safely trust Huang because of his experience. Na’s subsequent play showed 2015.05.10_prizewinners Na, Huang, and Lithat he felt he was a little behind. He launched an all-out attack on an unsettled white group in the centre, but he was outplayed by Huang in the ensuing fight and resigned early.

In the play-off for third place, Li Qincheng (B) beat Lee Donghun by resignation, so China won three of the four games played today. (photo at left: l-r: Na, Huang & Li)

One of the most interesting points in the commentary on the final was that O kept referring to the ‘experience’ of the players. For example, he would say something like, ‘I don’t know about this move, but my guess is that the player knows from his experience that it works.’ These players are teenagers, and though obviously they can’t have played that many games yet, what O seemed to be talking about was the high level of competition in China and Korea. Even at their young ages, their representatives in this tournament are already top players in their own countries, where star players seem to emerge in their teens. This is not really the case in Japan (with the major exception of Iyama Yuta).

The strength of the Chinese and Korean teams is borne out by their ratings. H
ori Masao, the father of the president of Globis University, Hori Yoshito, drew my attention to a Japanese site that  rates 900 professionals (if you read characters, click hereit also has historical ratings going back to 1989). The Chinese team is in the lead. Sixteen-year-old Yang Dingshin is rated 18th in the world, tournament winner Huang (aged 18) 46th, and Li Qincheng (aged 16) 37th (probably thanks mainly to winning the CCTV Cup last year). The top Korean is Lee Donghun, aged 17 and 23rd; Na, aged 20, is 27th, and Shin Jin Seo (just 15) is 75th. To take the Japanese, Ichiriki (aged 17) is 128th and Yo Seiki (19) is 195th, and the others are much lower.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Globis Cup Update: China & Korea share semifinal places

Saturday May 9, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.05.04_globis-cup-logo_img

Globis Cup Update: China and Korea share semifinal places: Play in the second Globis Cup got off to a start on Friday, May 8, with the first two games of the first round being played in the four groups (click here for photos of all the players on the Nihon Kiin’s japanese-language site). For four players, two games were enough, as successive wins secured them places in the quarterfinals. Two of them, Huang Yunsong and Li Qincheng, are from China, and the other two, Lee Donghun and Na Hyun, are from Korea. (Previously I called Huang Kuang, but Huang is correct.) The six Japanese players all scored 1-1, which meant that their fate would be decided by the third game in the first round, played on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the non-Far Eastern players, Pavol Lisy of Slovakia, Lionel Zhang of the USA, and Krit Jamkachornkiat of Thailand, were eliminated on Friday. There’s another correction: the program lists Krit as amateur 7-dan, but 2015.05.09_globis-playershe is actually 4-dan. The fourth player eliminated on the first day was Lin Junyan of Chinese Taipei.
Here are full results for the first day.
Group A: (Game 1) Huang Yunsong 3P (China) (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P (Japan) by resig.; Yo Seiki 7P (Japan) (B) beat Lin Junyan 6P (Chinese Taipei) by half a point. (Game 2) Huang (B) beat Yo by resig.; Ichiriki (W) beat Lin by resig.
Group B: (Game 1) Lee Donghun 5P (Korea) beat Fujimura 2P (Japan) by resig. (colors not given in chart), Yang Dingxin (W) beat Pavol Lisy 1P (Slovakia) by resig. (Game 2) Lee (B) beat Yang by resig;  Fujimura (W) beat Lisy by resig.
Group C: (Game 1) Li Qincheng 2P (China) beat Motoki Katsuya 3P (Japan) by resig. (colors not given), Shin Jin Seo 3P (Korea) (W) beat Lionel Zhang 7D (USA) by 12.5 points.  (Game 2) Li (W) beat Shin by resig., Motoki (W) beat Zhang by 9.5 points.
Group D: (Game 1) Na Hyun 6P (Korea) (W) beat Sada Atsushi 2P (Japan) by resig., Koyama Kuya 2P (Japan) (B) beat Krit Jamkachornkiat 4D (Thailand) by resig. (Game 2) Na (W) beat Koyama by resig., Sada (B) beat Jamkachornkiat on time.

The third game of the first round was played on Saturday morning. With six Japanese representatives surviving in the four groups day, that meant that meant four of them had to play each other. Unfortunately for Japan, its top two players ran into each other. Yo Seiki prevailed, eliminating last year’s tournament winner, Ichiriki.
Full results: 
Yo (B) beat Ichiriki by resig.; Yang (W) beat Fujimura by resig.; Shin (W) beat Motoki by resig.; Sada (B) beat Koyama by 2.5 points. 

The result was that all the three Chinese players in the tournament and all t
he three Korean players made the quarterfinals, along with two Japanese representatives. The quarterfinals were played on Saturday afternoon, starting at one o’clock.
Huang (W) beat Shin by resig.; Lee (W) beat Yo by resig.; Li (W) beat Sada by 6.5 points; Na (W) beat Yang by resig.

The pairings in the semifinals, to start at ten o’clock on Sunday morning, are Huang vs. Lee and Li vs. Na.

The Globis Cup World Igo U-20 is organized by the Nihon Ki-in and the main sponsor is the Globis Corporation, with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Kitami Hakka Tsusho Inc. acting as supporting sponsors. 

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Globis Cup Pairings Decided; Tourney Commences Friday

Thursday May 7, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.05.04_globis-cup-logo_img

The opening party for the second Globis Cup was held at the Globis University in Kojimachi, Tokyo on Thursday, May 7. The university consists of a graduate school in business and offers an MBA, which must make it unique among sponsors of professional go tournaments. It is located just a few blocks from the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, a seven- or eight-minute walk up the hill toward Kojimachi; very convenient for the Nihon Ki-in players and staff attending.

The party started with some energetic wadaiko or Japanese drumming. The sound could have filled a stadium, so it was overwhelming in the reception hall. In his welcome speech, Hori Yoshito, the President of Globis University, welcomed the participants from around the world and reaffirmed his intention of keeping the tournament going for 30 years. After a speech by Wada Norio, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nihon Ki-in, and a toast, the pairings were carried out and the players were interviewed on the stage, each one introduced by a drum roll.

The pairings placed the 16 players in four groups. They will play two or possibly three games with each other. When you win two games, you qualify for the next round, and when you lose two you are eliminated. That means you could advance with a 2-0 or 2-1 score. The players drew lots to decide not only their group but also their places in the group. The four groups are listed below; note that in the first game on Friday, the first-mentioned player plays the second and the third one plays the fourth. Also, in this round players from the same  country are not matched against each other. (For the Korean names, I’m following the spelling in the official program, which may be a little different from my previous report.)

Group A) Ichiriki Ryo (Japan), Huang Yunsong (China); Yo Seiki (Japan), Lin Junyan (Chinese Taipei)
Group B) Fujimura Yosuke (Japan), Lee Donghun (Korea); Yang Dingxin (China), Pavol Lisy (Europe)
Group C) Motoki Katsuya (Japan), Li Qincheng (China); Shin Jin Seo (Korea), Lionel Zhang (USA)
Group D) Sada Atsushi (Japan), Na Hyun (Korea); Koyama Kuya (Japan), Krit Jamkachornkiat (Thailand).

In their speeches on the stage, the players all kept it quite brief, expressing their gratitude to the sponsor and/or saying they would try to play their best. Only one player came right out and said what the others were probably thinking. Na Hyun declared that he would make up for his bad performance last year [he lost to Ichiriki in the quarterfinal] and do his best to reach the final, which he would win.

There was a stir in the audience when Ichiriki and Yo ended up in the same group. Japanese fans would like to see this pairing in the final, so they will be hoping that they can both get through. If I understand the pairing system correctly, they won’t be paired in the second game in the opening round, but would have to be in a third game if they were both on 1-1. Incidentally, when I had a chance to speak to Mr. Hori, he expressed his appreciation of the coverage in the E-Journal. A number of other guests at the party were also subscribers.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Life International Invites AGA Kids to Japan

Thursday May 7, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 5.39.17 PMThree children from North America are being invited to Japan, for international friendship matches.  The sponsors of the trip are paying all expenses, including airfare, from the west coast of the US to Osaka, Japan. Forty Two children under the age of 13, and at least single digit kyu, are being invited from nine countries: Japan, China, Korea, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Thailand, Canada, and the US. The kids will stay at the Maisima Lodge, in Osaka Bay, and will have opportunities for cultural exchanges as well as for playing go.  The AGA will select three kids, two from the US and one from Canada, based on participation points earned from attending various AGA events.  The matches will be held July 20th-23rd, and AGA Youth Coordinator Paul Barchilon will lead the team.  All 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.  Any questions should be addressed to  -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo: Participants at last year’s 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.

The Power Report: E-Journal to cover Globis Cup

Monday May 4, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ejournal to cover Globis Cup: The Nihon Ki-in has invited the E-Journal to cover the 2nd Globis Cup, so I will be presenting detailed reports this week on this new international tournament for young players. Below is a preview.

2015.05.04_globis-cup-logo_imgThe Globis Cup was founded last year. The official name is the Globis Cup World Igo U-20. It is organized by the Nihon Ki-in and the main sponsor is the Globis Corporation, with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Kitami Hakka Tsusho Inc. act2015.05.04_globising as supporting sponsors. Globis is a venture-capital company that also provides educational services in business and management. The venue of the tournament is a university run by the company, the Graduate School of Management, Globis University. The co-sponsor Kitami Hakka Tsusho specializes in peppermint products of various kinds (food, cosmetics, etc.). It is based in the city of Kitami in northeastern Hokkaido. Details of the first tournament were given in my report in mid-May last year. To recap, it was a triumph for Japan, with Ichiriki Ryo 7P beating Kyo Kagen 2P, a Taiwanese member of the Nihon Ki-in, in the final. The top prizes are 3 million yen (nearly $30,000), 500,000 yen, and 200,000 yen. Participants this year have to be under 20 as of January 1, 2015. As the host country, Japan has six of the sixteen places.

Participants are listed below:
Japan: Ichiriki Ryo 7P (seeded), Yo Seiki 7P, Motoki Katsuya 3P, Fujimura Yosuke 2P, Sada Atsushi 2P, and Koyama Kuya 2P.
China: Yang Dingxin 3P, Guang Yunsong 3P, and Li Qincheng 2P.
Korea: Na Hyeon 6P, Yi Dong-hyun 5P, and Shin Jin-so 3P.
Chinese Taipei: Lin Junyan 6P
Europe: Pavol Lisy 1P
USA: Lionel Zhang 7D
Thailand: Krit Jamkachornkiat 7D

The tournament starts with a reception on May 7th, and is then played at the rate of two games a day from Friday to Sunday (May 8th to 10th). The format is NHK-style (30 seconds per move plus ten minutes thinking time, to be used in one-minute units; on TV this usually results in a 90-minute game). It’s a knock-out tournament, but the opening round is double elimination: the players are split into four groups; two wins take you to the next round, two losses see you
eliminated. In the early rounds, players from the same country won’t be paired against each other.

Players to watch: The favorites for Japan are Ichiriki and Yo, but the overall favorite is probably Na Hyeon, who has already been a presence in international tournaments for a couple of years.

Categories: Japan

The Power Report: Otake awarded decoration; Yamashita reaches Gosei final

Sunday May 3, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.05.03_Order-Rising-Sun

Otake awarded decoration: The go world has been honored with the award of a decoration in the spring honors list to Otake Hideo 9P. The decoration is the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. (that’s the Wikipedia translation; the Japanese name is just five characters and reads kyokujitsu-chuu-jushou.) Otake is the 23rd go player to be honored (it’s actually his second decoration). His award, which is the sixth-highest, is the same one given to Takagawa Shukaku, Go Seigen, and Fujisawa Shuko. Besides winning 48 titles, including four Meijin titles and the Fujitsu Cup, Otake served as chairman of the board of directors of the  Nihon Ki-in from December 2008 to June 2012. He is now a counselor to the Nihon Ki-in.

2015.05.03_yamashitaYamashita reaches Gosei final: Although his recent Kisei challenge faltered at the final hurdle, Yamashita (left) is making his presence felt on the tournament scene this year. In the semifinal of the 40th Gosei tournament, held on April 30, Yamashita (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke Oza by resignation. His opponent in the play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta will be the winner of the semifinal between Kono Rin 9P and Shida Tatsuya 7P. If Yamashita becomes the challenger the start of the match might overlap his Honinbo title match with Iyama.

Correction: I jumped to a wrong conclusion about Iyama Yuta in the Judan article in my previous report. He never held the record for fastest to win a top-seven title. Before Ida’s six years, the record was held by Ryu Shikun 9P, who won the Tengen title after six years eight months as a pro.  Yamashita is third, winning the Gosei after seven years four months, and Iyama (seven years six months) is fourth. Rounding out the top five is Ishida Yoshio, who won the Honinbo title after eight years two months.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Ida wins Judan title; Meijin League; Kisei leagues

Sunday April 26, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.04.26_Ida-Atsushi-53rd-Judan-Final-300x338

Ida wins Judan title: The final game of the 53rd Judan title match was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on April 22. The challenger, Ida Atsushi 8P, had taken the lead in the match by winning the second and third games, but Takao Shinji 9P, the title-holder, evened the score in the fourth game. The nigiri to decide the colors was held again, and Ida drew black. The lead in the game switched back and forth, with both players having winning chances. Late in the game, a large group of Black’s came under attack, but instead of just making two eyes Ida countered by setting up a capturing race that he won. Takao resigned after 217 moves. This gave Ida the match by a 3-2 margin.This is Ida’s first title. At 21 years one month, he is the youngest player to win the Judan title and the third-youngest player to win a top-seven title. Ida became a professional in April of 2009, so it has taken him exactly six years to win his first title. This is a new record (it used to be held by Iyama Yuta, but he took seven a half years to win his first top-seven title). photo courtesy Go Game Guru; click here for the Game Guru report, which includes game records.

Meijin League: One game from the Meijin League was played last week. Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation. Takao improved his score to 3-1, drawing even with Kono Rin 9P and Yamashita Keigo 9P. The provisional leader in the league is Ko Iso 8P on 4-1.

Kisei leagues: The Kisei A and B Leagues have started this month. As I reported in early November last year, there has been a large-scale reorganization of this tournament. The Kisei tournament has always been the most complicated tournament since its founding, but apparently the sponsor, the Yomiuri Newspaper, was not satisfied. The biggest change was instituting five separate leagues instead of just
 one. The top players from a large-scale knock-out tournament (with about 400 participants, including four amateurs) move up into the C League (32 players), above which are two B Leagues, the A League, and the S League (so the leagues are in four stages). The winners of the leagues meet in an irregular knock-out tournament, the winner of which meets the winner of the S League in a play-off. The latter is given a one-win advantage in this play-off, so he has to win only one game, whereas his opponent has to win two games to become the challenger. The six-player S League is at the peak of the tournament pyramid, so I plan to report just on its results. The members, in order, are Yamashita Keigo 9P, Murakawa Daisuke Oza, Takao Shinji Tengen, Yoda Norimoto 9P, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P, and Kobayashi Satoru 9P.

Correction: The phrase “same whole-board decision” in the Nihon Ki-in rule quoted in my previous report is a typo for “same whole-board position.”

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Takao evens score in Judan; Meijin League; More details on quadruple ko

Sunday April 19, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.04.19_judan

Takao evens score in Judan: The fourth game of the 53rd Judan title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on April 15. Playing black, Takao Shinji Judan forced a resignation after 167 moves and drew level with the challenger, Ida Atsushi 8P. Ida made a dubious move in the opening (move 46), creating a weak group and letting Takao take the lead. He kept up the pressure and shut Ida out of the game. The deciding game will be played at the same venue on April 22.

Meijin League: One game was played in the 40th Meijin League on April 16. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by 10.5 points. Yamashita improved his score to 3-1, just behind Ko Iso 8P on 4-1. On 1-4, Kanazawa is in bottom place and his chances of keeping his seat don’t look good.

More details on quadruple ko: This week’s Go Weekly printed an interview with Kono Rin about his quadruple ko the previous week (see my last report). Some interesting points came up. First of all, Go Weekly states that a quadruple ko comes up once every eight thousand games. Despite this, Kono has featured in two of the 11 recorded cases in Japan and also in a case of triple ko, a record matched only by Cho Chikun (three triple kos). According to Kono, he deliberately set up these kos as the only way to avoid losing the games concerned. In his game against Mitani Tetsuya, Kono set up the second of the double kos in an attempt to make Mitani add a reinforcement; compared to the regular endgame sequence, that would have cost Mitani two thirds of a point. Both Kono and Mitani thought that they were fighting over whether Mitani (black) ended up seven or six points ahead on the board (komi is six and a half). That’s why neither gave way and they agreed to make the game a “no result.” It became clear later, however, that both players had been miscounting the score by one point. Mitani could have given way, as he would still have won the game by half a point. That shows how important counting is. (By the way, Mitani lost the replay on the 13th.) Kono also realized that he (and probably many other professionals) didn’t have an accurate knowledge of the rules. When the quadruple ko started, the players had someone call the referee (probably only one referee was on duty for all the games being played that day). They thought that the referee had to make the decision to declare the game a no-result, but Article 12 of the Japanese rules states: “When the same whole-board decision is repeated during a game, if the players agree, the game ends without result.” In other words, the referee’s job is to oversee the process and confirm the agreement. Kono also commented that he mistakenly thought that the game automatically became a no-result if the same whole-board position was repeated, but the only reference to whole-board repetition is the rule quoted above. He said that he and Mitani could have kept capturing and recapturing the kos all night without infringing the rules. The rule just gives the players the option of agreeing to a no-result to avoid this futility. The reporter interviewing Kono, Sekine Shingo, surmises that go players have perhaps got the go rule mixed up with the shogi rule. In shogi, the rule apparently is that a game is replayed if the same whole-board position occurs four times. The Japanese rules are only one and a half pages long (though there’s a longer commentary), so it’s surprising that players are not completely familiar with them. One reason may be that the average professional would have to play for a dozen lifetimes to experience a no-result.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report