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The Power Report (Part 1): Iyama Defends Kisei Title, Defeats Yamashita 4-2

Monday March 17, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Defends Kisei Title, Defeats Yamashita 4-2: Iyama Yuta swept to a 3-0 lead in the 38th Kisei title match, but then Yamashita made a comeback, saving two kadobans (games that can lose a series) to keep the match alive. However, the tide turned again in the sixth game, with Iyama outfighting Yamashita to defend his title 4-2. This is Iyama’s second Kisei title, his 7th big-three title and his 23rd title overall. He also maintained his sextuple crown.

To take up the story from my previous report, the fourth game was played at the Hokkaido Hotel in Obihiro City in Hokkaido on February 20 and 21. Yamashita (white) had his back to the wall, but he played in his usual aggressive fashion and took the lead in the middle game. He suffered a number of losses in the endgame, but just managed to hang on to a half-point lead. The game ended after 243 moves, with Yamashita looking relieved that he had kept the series alive. He comes from Hokkaido, so he also made local fans happy, and the sponsors were probably also relieved that the series hadn’t fizzled out. Incidentally, this win redressed the balance for Yamashita’s half-point loss in the first game.

The fifth game was played at the Atami Korakuen Hotel in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture on February 26 and 27. Yamashita took the lead in a fight centered on a ko and then coolly wrapped up the game. Playing black, he won by 3.5 points. He was still one game behind, but his successive wins put a lot of pressure on Iyama. On the evening of the first day, Go Seigen, who lives nearby in Odawara, visited the tournament venue to look at the game and to chat with the players. Go will turn 100 on May 19 and is already the longest-lived top player in history, but he still takes a keen interest in the go scene.
The sixth game was held at Ryugon, a traditional Japanese inn with a large pond and extensive garden, in South (Minami) Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture on March 12 and 13.  Iyama (B) played well and was never behind; he decided the game when he skilfully resurrected a group of three stones that he had ‘sacrificed’ in the opening. This secured a resignation after 229 moves.

This series was yet another good demonstration of Iyama’s fighting power. Yamashita is known for his fondness for fighting, but Iyama matched him blow for blow. Yamashita’s current results in other tournaments show that he’s in good form, but he was able to take only two games off Iyama.

The referee for the final game, Hane Naoki 9P, gave his view of Iyama. ‘He has stable strength in every field. He can handle any kind of game and has the confidence to trust his own judgement.’
photos: top right: Game 3; bottom left: Game 4. photos courtesy EGC 2014 website
This is the first in a 4-part series this week. TOMORROW: Yamashita Keeps Lead In Honinbo League; Yamashita Takes Lead In Meijin League 

Categories: Japan
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Teen Wolf Update: Michael Redmond 9P is the Nogitsune

Saturday March 15, 2014

Turns out the board position in episode 22 of Teen Wolf (EJ 3-12-14) is from a real game. “I had the pleasure of setting up the go board for this scene, and I got paid for it too,” reports 2012 AGF Teacher of the Year Joe Walters. “The empty triangle is a real move. The game was between Michael Redmond 9P and Chino Tadahiko 9P on March 15, 2012, in the B section of the Meijin. I set the game up for the scene sometime before Xmas last year, they provided the board and stones. I did it on the floor in the room where they shot the scene, but not on the tree stump where they used it in the final scene. Someone took pictures of the board, and they duplicated the setup when they shot the scene later on. They just wanted a game that looked real, so I selected that one because it was by an American 9 dan pro and had only a few moves,” said Walters.

The game itself had been offered as a commented record by Michael Redmond, and appeared in the members edition of the E-Journal.   “The empty triangle, white 140, was just a normal endgame move,” Redmond tells the E-Journal. “Although good shape is advantageous even in the endgame, correct reading and calculation becomes much more important and as the board becomes crowded with stones, so-called ‘bad shapes’ become more likely and can often be the correct move, as in this case. Looking for good shape in this game, I would have chosen black 97 because, although I say it myself, it was an inspired and well-calculated move with which I forced the sequence that secured my win.” The timing in the episode of Teen Wolf is pretty good, as white actually resigns the move after the empty triangle, which coincides with Stiles sweeping the stones off the board, and also means the Nogitsune was playing Redmond’s moves. “I am glad to know that my games are getting this extra chance to be viewed by a non-playing audience,” adds Redmond. “It is great that go is now being used more in movies and other such media, and it is always exciting to see that reported in the AGA E-Journal.”  This week, as a special bonus for non-members, the E-J is providing Redmond’s commentary on his game record.  If you would like to receive exciting games like this in your e-mail every week, join the AGA as a full member here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor 

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$50 Off for Osaka Go Camp Pre-Registrants

Wednesday February 19, 2014

Save $50 USD by registering by February 28 for Maeda Ryo 6P’s 3-week  intensive go camp in Osaka, which runs June 29 through July 19.  Osaka Go Camp activities include intensive training by Kansai Kiin professionals, the opportunity to play go at the Kiin with professionals, play against top amateurs and former inseis, as well as sightseeing, cultural trips and making new go friends. The camp is sponsored by Kansai Kiin and the Osaka University of Commerce. Email osaka.go.2014@gmail.com for more info or to reserve your space.

The Power Report: Iyama Leads 3-0 in Kisei Title Match; Kisei Game One Trivia; Yamashita and Cho U Share Lead in Meijin League; Shi Yue Wins New Year’s Tournament; A Promotion and a Retirement

Friday February 14, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Leads 3-0 In Kisei Title Match: The 38th Kisei title match feels as if it has barely started, but it might be almost over, as defending title holder, has raced to a 3-0 lead and just needs one more win to stay on top of the rankings for another year. The second game was played at a traditional inn called Yamaya in Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, not far from Tokyo, on January 29 and 30. Yamashita Keigo, the challenger, made an uncharacteristic mistake in the opening, letting Iyama take an early lead. Iyama then gave him no chance to recover, playing solidly in the early middle game, then aggressively later on in order to wrap up the game. Yamashita, who had white, resigned after 167 moves. There was only a week for Yamashita to recover before the third game, and that doesn’t seem to have been enough. The match moved to the city of Kumamoto, about halfway down the western coast of the southern island of Kyushu. It was played at the Kumamoto Hotel Castle on February 6 & 7. Early in the middle game, Iyama (W) invaded Yamashita’s moyo and cleverly dodged when Yamashita attacked him. By the time he had settled his group (on move 60), the game had already tilted in his favour. As in the second game, Iyama played aggressively instead of coasting when he thought he had an opportunity to settle the game. Once again, Yamashita got no chances to pull off an upset and had to resign after 140 moves. Two convincing wins in a row by Iyama, following a close contest in the opening game, have now put the challenger under intense pressure. For the fourth game, the match goes north to Yamashita’s home ground of Hokkaido; it will be played on February 20 and 21.

Kisei Game One Trivia: As reported in the E-Journal, Iyama won the first game by half a point. Although that may seem like a close margin, it was what professionals call a ‘thick’ half-pointer, that is, Yamashita had no chance of winning, though he did catch up a few points in the endgame through slack play by Iyama. Game One was one of the events celebrating 400 years of relations between Japan and Spain. Last year was the 400th anniversary of the visit to Europe, including Spain, by a mission from the Japanese daimyo Date Masamune (whose headquarters was Sendai). It was led by Hasekura Tsunenaga (left) and traveled both ways via the Spanish colony that is now Mexico. The main aim was to visit the Pope, but the group spent seven years in Europe, including a visit to Spain. (It’s worth looking up Hasekura on Wikipedia for some nice illustrations.) Holding the first game of a best-of-seven title match (and occasionally games from best-of-fives) overseas has been popular, but this was actually the first Kisei game to leave Japan for four years (the overseas host in 2010 was Taipei). The Kisei/Yomiuri Newspaper group received a very warm welcome in Madrid. Just to give one example, the group was given a private after-hours tour of the Prado.

Yamashita and Cho U Share Lead in Meijin League: Three games were played in the 39th Meijin League on February 6. Cho U 9P (W) beat Ryu Shikun 9P by 7.5 points; Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Kono Rin by resig; Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by resig. The only undefeated players are Cho U and Yamashita Keigo, but they have only a provisional lead, as they have played only two games. Kono and Takao, both on 2-1, could join them at the top.

Shi Yue Wins New Year’s Tournament: The CCTV New Year’s Cup is a special tournament held to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Last year only Chinese players took part, but this year it has been upgraded into an international tournament, with a name change to the 2nd CCTV NY’s Cup Japan-China-Korea Tournament. It was won by Shi Yue 9P (right), who at present is rated number one in China. Second place was taken by Murakawa Daisuke 7P of Japan and third by Yi Se-tol 9P of Korea. Actually the sponsors wanted to invite Iyama Yuta from Japan, but it was impossible for him to find the time. Murakawa performed very creditably as substitute. In the first round, he lost to Shi Yue but put up a good fight. In the second round, he beat Yi Se-tol (who drew the bye in the first round); this probably ranks as Murakawa’s most prestigious win to date. In the final, however, he was outplayed by Shi. This may be an unofficial tournament, but first prize was an impressive 80,000 yuan (12 million yen or about $120,000), which would place it sixth among the Japanese titles. It was held from February 2 to 4, with live telecasts every day (apparently a first for a go tournament at this time of the year).

A Promotion and a Retirement: Son Makoto has earned promotion to 3-dan with 40 cumulative wins. Tokimoto Hajime 9P has retired as of January 31. Born in Okinawa, Tokimoto became 1-dan in 1968 and reached 9-dan in 2005. He won the top section of the rating tournament in 1977. Tokimoto’s forte was ultra-fast quick games; at ten seconds a move (in unofficial games), he was almost unbeatable.

Categories: Japan
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The Power Report: January Update: Kato to Challenge for Women’s Meijin; Yamashita Leads In Honinbo League; Meijin League; Iyama Misses Shot at Grand Slam; Chisato Cup; Xie Defends Women’s Kisei; Annual Promotions

Thursday February 13, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

January in Japan: I failed to submit a report last month, so I would like to make up for it with a review of the first month of professional go in Japan this year.

Kato to Challenge for Women’s Meijin: Kato Keiko 6P (right) hung on to her lead in the 26th Women’s Meijin League and will challenge Xie Yimin for the title. In the final round, held on January 9, she beat Okuda Aya 3P (W) by half a point to end up on 5-1, one point clear of the field. The match starts on March 5.   Actually, this was Kato’s first game for three months. As mentioned in an earlier report, she took the winter off to have her second child. This is Kato’s first title match for six years (she lost the 20th Women’s Meijin title to the challenger, who was Xie Yimin).  She won the title the previous term and the 10th Strongest Woman Player title in 2008. She is married to Mizokami Tomochika 8P.
Other results in the final round: Mukai Chiaki, Women’s Honinbo, (W) beat Yoshida Mika 8P by resig.; Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by 3.5 points. Mukai and Suzuki, both on 4-1, took 2nd and 3rd places respectively. The other player to keep her place in the league was Chinen, on 3-3. Okuda (1-5), Yoshida (2-4), and Ishii Akane 2P (2-4) all dropped out.

Yamashita Leads In Honinbo League: A win over Yuki Satoshi at the end of last year gave Yamashita Keigo (left) a share of the lead with Kono Rin in the 69th Honinbo League; both were on 3-0 and were the only undefeated players.  However, in the fourth round, played in January, Yamashita beat league newcomer Yo Seiki while Kono lost to Cho U, so Yamashita now has the sole lead. The other league newcomer, Ida Atsushi,  shares second place with Kono and Cho U. Games played since my last report are given below.
(26 December) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi Judan by resig.
(January 9) Ida Atsushi 7P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by half a point.
(January 16) Cho U 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by half a point; Sakai Hideyuki 8P (B) beat Yuki Satoshi by resig.
(January 23) Yamashita (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.

Meijin League: Three of the four games in the second round of the 39th Meijin League were played on January 9. At this point, Kono Rin (right) has the provisional lead with 2-0, but the winner of the fourth game, between Yamashita Keigo and Takao Shinji, will draw even with him.
(January 9): Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 7P by resig.; Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi Judan by resig.

Iyama Misses Shot at Grand Slam: Recently, with Iyama Yuta (left) holding six titles, there had been a lot of speculation about whether he would become the first player to score a genuine grand slam of the top seven titles, that is, holding them all concurrently instead of cumulatively. In the past, players have not been able to maintain a big tally of concurrent titles for very long because of the wear and tear of constant title matches, so if Iyama is going to have a try at it, the sooner the better. This year he seemed to have a good chance, as he had reached the play-off to decide the challenger for the only top-seven title he didn’t have, the Judan, and his opponent was a player, Takao Shinji, against whom he had a very good record. The play-off was held on Iyama’s home ground, at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, on January 23. The game was a difficult one, with a series of swaps, but Takao, playing white, prevailed by 5.5 points. Takao gets a chance to win back the title that he lost to Cho U in 2009. To keep the dream alive, Iyama will have to try again next year, but he must first defend all his titles this year. There is no precedent in Japan for such a long winning streak in title matches. The first game of the title match between Takao and Yuki Satoshi Judan will be played on March 4.

Chisato Cup:  This is a special tournament being held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Chisato corporation, which makes uniforms, helmets, and various other work-related items. Participants were 16 young players recommended by the sponsor. First prize is two million yen. The time allowance is the same as for the NHK Cup, that is, 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes extra time in one-minute units.  The first two rounds were held on January 17th and the following players have reached the semifinals: Suzuki Shinji 4P, Hirata Tomoya 3P, Kimoto Katsuya 2P, and Fujisawa Rina 2P. Fujisawa is the granddaughter of Fujisawa Shuko. The semifinals and final will be held on March 1 and 2.

Xie Defends Women’s Kisei: On her previous challenge, two years ago, Aoki Kikuyo 8P managed to take the Women’s Kisei title from the Xie Yimin (right) , the top woman player in Japan. Xie regained the title last year, but Aoki was back again as challenger. This time she did not do so well, however, and Xie has defended her title with straight wins. The first game was played on January 23; taking white Xie forced a resignation. In the second game, played on January 30, Xie had a different color but the result was the same, a resignation by Aoki. Actually, Aoki had the better of it for most of the first game; after a severe attack, she had a large enemy group at her mercy, but she failed to deliver the coup de grace. This is Xie’s 17th title.

Annual Promotions
In January every year there are a number of promotions for the top prize-money winners of the previous year among players from 1- to 6-dan. The following promotions became effective on February 1.
To 7-dan: Shida Tatsuya (only the top 6-dan is promoted); To 6-dan: Kawada Kohei, Ohashi Naruya; To 5-dan: Tajima Shingo, Sakamoto Yasuo; To 4-dan: Ichiriki Ryo, Muramatsu Hiroki; To 3-dan: Kimoto Katsuya, Adachi Toshimasa; To 2-dan: Kikuchi Masatoshi, Onishi Kenya.
There were also two promotions by the cumulative-wins system. Shimoji Gensho (120 wins) earned promotion to 7-dan as of December 26. With 50 wins, Ms. Makihata Taeko was promoted to 4-dan as of January 31. (Usually the date of the promotion is the day after the game that secured it, as the details have to be confirmed by the Ki-on office.)
Tomorrow: Iyama Leads 3-0 in Kisei Title Match; Kisei Game One Trivia; Yamashita and Cho U Share Lead in Meijin League; Shi Yue Wins New Year’s Tournament; A Promotion and a Retirement  

Categories: Japan
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Japanese Pros to Attend EYGC

Wednesday January 15, 2014

The British Go Association has announced that the Nihon Ki-in are to send two professionals to the UK in February/March 2014. Minematsu Masaki 6p and Kobayashi Chizu 5p will make a teaching tour of the country and will attend the European Youth Go Congress(EYGC) in Bognor Regis. They will visit the European Youth and British Go Congress over the weekend of Feb 28/March 3; during the preceding week they will visit Oxford Go Club, and during the following week Chizu Kobayashi will visit Edinburgh Go Club.

In other EYGC news, the winner in the Under-20 category will this year gain a place in the new GLOBIS Cup World Youth Go Championship, to be held in Japan on 8 – 11 May 2014 (see Nihon Ki-in Announces New Under-20 World Tourney, EJ 11/30).
- Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal.

Categories: Europe,Go News,Japan
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The Power Report: Aoki To Challenge For Women’s Kisei; Iyama Keeps Grand Slam Dreams Alive; First Round Of Meijin League Completed; Honinbo League Update; Women’s Meijin League; Korea Wins New International Tournament

Friday January 3, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Aoki To Challenge For Women’s Kisei: For the third year in a row, the Women’s Kisei title will feature a clash between Aoki Kikuyo 8P (right) and Xie Yimin. The play-off to decide the challenger was held at the Ryusei Studio, a TV studio for the cable TV go and shogi channel located in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in at Ichigaya in Tokyo, on December 16. Taking white, Aoki defeated Ishii Akane 2P by resignation after 256 moves. Aoki won this title from Xie in 2012, but lost it back in 2013. The best-of-three title match for the 17th title will begin on January 23.

Iyama Keeps Grand Slam Dreams Alive: Iyama Yuta played an important game on December 17. If he is to have a chance of scoring a full-fledged grand slam next year, he first of all has to become the challenger for the Judan title, the only one of the top seven not in his keeping. To do this, he needed to win two more games. The first was the semifinal, held on the 17th. Taking black, he defeated Mizokami Tomochika 8P by resignation, so he has reached the play-off to decide the challenger. His opponent will be the winner of the other semifinal, Takao Shinji 9P.

First Round Of Meijin League Completed: Two games in the 39th Meijin League were played in mid-December, completing the first round. On the 16th, Takao Shinji 9P (B) defeated Yuki Satoshi Judan by resignation. On the 19th, Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P, also by resignation.

Honinbo League Update: On December 19, two games were played in the 69th Honinbo League. Cho U 9P defeated league newcomer Ida Atsushi 7P (left) by just half a point to secure a plus record. He and Ida are both on 2-1. The other league newcomer, Yo Seiki 7P, picked up his first win after starting with two losses. Taking black, he beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by 3.5 points.

Women’s Meijin League: One game was played in the 26th Women’s Meijin League on December 19. Ishii Akane 2P (B) beat Okuda Aya 3P by resignation, but both players have lost their places in the league. The top four keep their places, but four players already have three wins, so Okuda, now on 1-4, can’t catch up. Ishii is on 2-4 and has played all her games; she has a bye in the final round. Kato Keiko 6P leads the league on 4-1.

Korea Wins New International Tournament: Yet another new international tournament has been founded in China (there are so many now that it’s hard to keep track). The latest arrival is the Zhugang Cup World Weiqi Team Championship, organized by the Chinese Weiqi Association and the Guangzhou City Physical Education Congress. Presumably Zhugang is the name of the sponsor, but I have no information about this. The new tournament is for three-player teams, who play one-on-one games up to the final.

The first Cup was held from December 20 to 25, starting with a preliminary round on the 20th, followed by a ranking tournament from the 22nd to the 24th to decide the 16th to 5th places. The top four teams met in semifinals and the top two played a final, all on the 25th; uniquely for an official tournament, the final took the form of a consultation game, with the players on each team conferring about their moves. There were some famous consultation games in  prewar Japan, but they were not in official tournaments. Another novel feature of the tournament is that Japan, China, and Korea each fielded a second team, made up of players who had won international tournaments. These are the teams with “W” after the country’s name (“W” seems to be short for “wild cards”).

First of all, here are the placings in the ranking tournament (ties were broken by win totals).
1. Korea 5-0
2. China: 4-1
3. China W: 4-1
4. Korea W: 3-2
5. Japan W: 3-2
6. Japan: 3-2
7. Chinese Taipei: 3-2
8. Hong Kong: 3-2
9. Thailand: 2-3
10. USA: 2-3
11. Germany: 2-3
12. Australia: 2-3
13. Ukraine: 2-3
14. Czech Republic: 1-4
15. Canada: 1-4
16. Macao: 0-5

In the semifinals, Korea beat Korea W 3-0 and China beat China W by the same margin. In the final, the Korean team of Kang Tong-yun 9P, Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P, and Pak Cheong-hwan 9P (B) beat the Chinese team of Shi Yu 9P, Zhou Ruiyang 9P, and Chen Yaoye 9P by resignation. Presumably in order to allow for the extra time required for the players to consult, the time allowance for this game was four and a half hours per team, followed by byo-yomi of 60 seconds x 5 times. This is probably the longest time allowance for an international tournament so far. (For the other games, the time allowance was two hours 45 minutes, with the same byo-yomi.)

In the play-off for third place, held on the same day, China W beat Korea W 3-0. The individual results here were as follows (all players are 9P): Gu Li (B) beat Cho Hun-hyeon by resig.; Chang Hao (W) beat Yu Ch’ang-hyeok by 7.5 points; Kong Jie (B) beat Yi Ch’ang-ho by resig. Just for the record, the Japan W team, which ended above the regular team, was made up of Kobayashi Koichi, Cho Chikun, and Takemiya Masaki. The members of the regular team were O Meien, Ryu Shikun, and Mizokami Tomochika.
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Categories: Japan,World
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Maeda Organizing 2014 Go Camp in Osaka

Friday December 20, 2013

Maeda Ryo 6P, the popular Japanese professional who’s a regular attendee at the annual U.S.Go Congress, is organizing a 3-week intensive go camp in Osaka again next year, running from June 29 through July 19. “We had 32 attendees from 11 countries all over the world this year, including Iraq and Bahrain, and it was a blast,” Maeda (right) says. “After the long day of training and lectures, they were still playing till midnight! There was lots of laughter and great spirit; we had such a great time.” Osaka Go Camp activities include intensive training by Kansai Kiin professionals, the opportunity to play go at the Kiin with professionals, play against top amateurs and former inseis, as well as sightseeing, cultural trips and making new go friends. Register by the end of February for a 5,000-yen discount. The camp is sponsored by Kansai Kiin and the Osaka University of Commerce. Email osaka.go.2014@gmail.com for more info or to reserve your space. Maeda photo by Peter Mooyman

The Power Report: Japan Eliminated from Nong Shim; China Wins 15th Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-Off; Unusually Strong Meijin League Starts; Women’s Meijin League

Monday December 9, 2013

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Japan Eliminated from Nong Shim: As reported last week, Japan made a bad start to the second round, held in Pusan, of the 15th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup when its third player, Kono Rin 9P, was eliminated. Yuki Satoshi 9P also lost his first game, so it looked as if Japan might suffer the ignominy of going winless. Cho U averted that with a good win, but he lost the final game in the round, so the Japanese team has been eliminated. The experiment of blooding two young and inexperienced players (Yo Chito and Anzai Nobuaki; see our report on the opening round, played October 22-25) has not been a success, though in their defense one has to say they didn’t do much worse than their seniors. The final round will be played in Shanghai from February 25 to 28. China has three players left and Korea two.
Results for the remaining games in this round follow: Game 6 (Dec. 3). Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (B) defeated Kang Tong-yun 9P (Korea) by resig. Game 7 (Dec. 4). Chen (B) d. Yuki Satoshi 9P (Japan) by resig. Game 8 (Dec. 5). Chen (B) d. Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P (Korea) by 18.5 points. Game 9 (Dec. 6). Cho U 9P (Japan) (B) d. Chen by resig. Game 10 (Dec. 7). Kim Chi-seok 9P (Korea) (W) d. Cho by resig. photos courtesy Go Game Guru; click here for more Nonshim reports, photos and game records.

China Wins 15th Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-Off: For the 11th year in a row, China has won the annual play-off between the holders of the Japanese and Chinese versions of the Agon Kiriyama Cup, which is sponsored by the Agon Buddhist sect. The game was held in Hangzhou City on December 3; taking white, Lian Xiao 4P of China defeated Murakawa Daisuke 7P of Japan by resignation after 164 moves.

Unusually Strong Meijin League Starts: The 39th Meijin League started with a game between two heavyweights, Yamashita Keigo 9P and Hane Naoki 9P, on December 5. Playing white, Yamashita made a good start with a win by resignation. Go Weekly made an interesting observation. All the members of the quartet that dominated the first decade of this century, Yamashita, Hane, Cho U, and Takao Shinji, are present in this league. That is probably quite unusual for a league, as usually one of these players is Kisei, Meijin or Honinbo. There are joined by two other top players from recent years, Kono Rin and Yuki Satoshi, so that makes this year’s Meijin League a very strong one. The other three players are Ryu Shikun, Murakawa Daisuke, and Ko Iso. One of the nine players will have the unenviable task next September of challenging Iyama Yuta.

Women’s Meijin League: Two games in the 26th Women’s Meijin League were played on December 5. Newly-minted Women’s Honinbo Mukai Chiaki (B) beat Suzuki Ayumi 6P by resig. and Yoshida Mika 8P (W, at right) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by 10.5 points. For Suzuki, this was her second loss, so she dropped out of a theoretical tie with Kato Keiko 6P (on 4-1) for first. Mukai and Suzuki are both on 3-2, so they still have a chance if Kato stumbles in the final round.

Promotion: A win on December 5 was Yoshioka Kaoru’s 150th as 7-dan, so it earned him promotion to 8-dan.

Categories: Japan
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SportAccord World Mind Games Japanese Player Profiles

Thursday December 5, 2013

Thirty players (18 men and 12 women) from around the world — China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, Japan, Korea and North America — will compete for major cash prizes in this year’s SportAccord World Mind Games, coming up December 12-18 in Beijing. Here are Michael Redmond’s 9P’s introduction and brief biographical sketches of the Japanese players. Redmond and EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock will be providing play-by-play game commentary on the SAWMG YouTube channel as well as coverage in the EJ. click here to see the player roster and schedule

by Michael Redmond 9P
Overall, it is clear that Japan has decided to give younger players a chance this year. Unfortunately, star players from the same age group such as Murakawa Daisuke and Ichiriki Ryo are missing, I would have liked to see them in this tournament. Murakawa was the B league winner of the Kisei league and recently he lost to Yamashita Keigo in the playoff to decide the challenger. In the league he bested top players such as Takao Shinji, Hane Naoki, and Kono Rin. I suppose that the Kisei tournament, among other things, posed a potential schedule issue for him this time. Ichiriki is a formidable 16 year old player, he seems to be winning all the time. Two weeks ago he lost to Ko Iso in the final to enter the Meijin league, his only loss in the recent past that I can remember. I would guess he has some other schedule issues. As to the women, judging from domestic tournaments I would have expected to see Xie Imin, Mukai Chiaki, or Okuda Aya, but actually I have a feeling that Yoshida might have a better track record in international tournaments.

Rina Fujisawa 2P: Born in 1998, at the age of 11 years and 6 months, she became the youngest player to become pro in Japan, breaking Cho Chikun’s record of 11 and 9 months. She began playing as a pro in April 2010, and caused some comment by beating a 9-dan in June of the same year. Rina is the granddaughter of Fujisawa Shuko, and her father is Fujisawa Kazunari 8P. She has an intuitive and aggressive style.

Akihiro Fujita 4P: Born in 1991, Akihiro became a pro in 2006. Won the 38th Shinjin-O (New Kings) tournament in 2013, and in 2010 came one win away from entering the Honinbo league, losing to Yamashiro 9p in the final round. He is considered to be one of the most promising young players in Japan.

Tomoya Hirata 3P: Born in 1994, became pro in 2009. Plays an aggressive style. In June this year I played him and published a commentary in the EJ on the game, which I lost by a mistake in late middlegame.

Kazushi Tsuruta 2P: Born in 1995, became pro in 2010. In 2011 he won into the Gosei Honsen.

Mika Yoshida 8P: Born in 1971, became pro in 1986. Won several Women’s titles from 1992 to 2005. Plays a well-balanced style.