American Go E-Journal » Japan
Sunday October 30, 2016
Thursday October 27, 2016
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nihon Ki-in, Mr. Hiroaki Dan, gives a greeting in Japanese at the beginning of Nick Sibicky’s latest YouTube lecture. Mr. Dan was in the United States on personal business, and he had a one day layover in Seattle. He spent the afternoon and evening with Seattle Go Center board members, and attended the beginning of Nick Sibicky’s class, which was on Go Seigen (Lecture #223). Later, while enjoying Dungeness crab, he said he was impressed with the quality and amount of teaching done by volunteers at the Seattle Go Center. report/photo by Brian Allen.
The Power Report: New Honinbo league starts; Kono wins first Agon Kiriyama Cup; Iyama makes good start in Oza; International tournaments
Thursday October 20, 2016
by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
New Honinbo league starts: The 72nd Honinbo League got off to a start on October 6. Hane Naoki is back after a gap of four terms, so for the first time in a while the “the four Deva kings” (the others are Yamashita Keigo, Cho U, and Takao Shinji) who dominated Japanese go in the first decade of this century are together. In the opening games, Cho U 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig. and Motoki Katsuya 7P (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by the same margin. Another game was played on October 13. League newcomer Mitani Tetsuya 7P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.
Kono wins first Agon Kiriyama Cup: The final of the 23rd Agon Kiriyama Cup was held at Shakasan Daiboji temple, the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon Buddhist sect, on October 8. Taking white, Kono Rin 9P beat 25th Honinbo Chikun (Cho Chikun) by half a point after 220 moves. Cho had taken the lead in the middle game, but Kono played relentless endgame and pulled off an upset. This is Kono’s ninth title and his first Kiriyama Agon Cup. The play-off with the holder of the Chinese Agon Kiriyama Cup, Ke Jie 9P, will be held in Kyoto in December. Incidentally, this was the first clash between Kono and Cho for a title. First prize is five million yen.
To 3-dan: Mutsuura Yuta (40 wins, as of October 14)
Iyama makes good start in Oza
The first game of the 64th Oza title match was held at the Westin Hotel Osaka on October 17. Taking white, Iyama beat Yo Seiki 7P by 1.5 points. The second game will be played on November 7.
China wins Jastec Cup: This tournament was founded in 2012, but this is probably my first report on it. The full name is the Jastec Cup International New Stars Igo Tournament. It is open to eight-player teams, including two women players, from China, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Japan. It’s an all-play-all team tournament, so a lot of games are played. It was held at the Belle Salle Iidabashi hall in Iidabashi in Tokyo from September 23 to 25. The sponsor, Jastek, seems to be one of the leading software companies in Japan.
Results were as follows:
Round 1 (Sept. 23) Japan 4 Korea 4, China 8 Chinese Taipei 0
Round 2 (Sept. 24) Japan 4 Chinese Taipei 4, China 5 Korea 3
Round 3 (Sept. 25) Japan 4 China 4, Korea 5 Chinese Taipei 3
1st: China; 2nd: Korea; 3rd: Japan; 4th: Chinese Taipei
Prizes: 1st: 1,000,000 yen; 2nd: 500,000; 3rd: 300,000; 4th: 200,000
Nong Shim Cup: Ichiriki’s biggest win
Ichiriki Ryo 7P is very busy this year, as he is studying at Waseda University. He attends classes by day (five 90-minute classes on his busiest day) and goes to the Nihon Ki-in at night. His hectic schedule is not affecting his play, however: he has just won his first open title (see previous report) and is about to challenge Iyama for the Tengen title.
Ichiriki is also often chosen to represent Japan in international tournaments. Last year, he got his country off to an excellent start in the Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup with three wins in the opening round. This year also he made a good start in the 18th Nong Shim Cup, beating Lee Sedol in the opening game. Taking white, he edged Lee by half a point. Actually Ichiriki played solidly at the end because he miscounted and thought he was 1.5 points ahead. This is probably the biggest win of his career. This time, however, he didn’t get a winning streak, as he lost to China’s Fan Tingyu, who went on to win three in a row. The opening round was held in Jilin Province in China. Results:
Game 1 (Sept. 27) Ichiriki 7P (Japan) (W) beat Yi Sedol 9P (Korea) by half a point.
Game 2 (Sept. 28) Fan Tingyu 9P (China) beat Ichiriki by resig.
Game 3 (Sept. 29) Fan (W) beat Lee Tonghoon 9P (Korea) by resig.
Game 4 (Sept. 30) Fan (B) beat Cho U 9P (Japan) by resig.
Fan is 20, just one year older than Ichiriki. When he was 16, he won the Ing Cup. The venue for the opening round was a little out of the way: a Nong Shim factory (Nong Shim is a Korean company) located in China near the borders with North Korea and Russia. The visiting players first stayed a night at Incheon in Korea on the 25th, then flew to Yuanji Airport in China on the 26th. From there it was a three-hour bus ride. The factory makes mineral water, using the local White Mountain Water.
Samsung Cup semifinalists
As is more and more often the case these days in international go, Chinese players dominated the 21st Samsung Cup, with three of them making the semifinals. However, they are joined by an ominous figure: Lee Sedol, the top player of
the 21st century. The second round and the quarterfinals were held on October 4 and 6. Pairings in the semifinals will be Tuo Jiaxi 9P (China) vs. Fan Yunruo 5P (China) and Yi Sedol 9P (Korea) vs. Ke Jie 9P (China). The semifinals, which are best-of-three matches, will be held in Taejon City, Korea from October 31.
China wins Gratitude Cup
This tournament is the international version of a domestic tournament for younger players (30 and under) (see my report around June 21). It is open to five-player teams from China, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Japan and the international version was held for the third time this year. Teams are made up of three male and two female players. The venue was the Temple & Shrines Hall, Ise City, Mie Prefecture. Results follow.
Round 1 (Oct. 14). China 4 Korea 1, Japan 3 Chinese Taipei 2
Round 2 (Oct. 14). China 4 Japan 1, Korea 4 Chinese Taipei 1
Round 3 (Oct. 15). China 5 Chinese Taipei 0, Korea 5 Japan 0
Play-off for 1st (Oct. 15). China 3 Korea 2
Play-off for 3rd (Oct. 15). Chinese Taipei 3 Japan 2
Prizes are quite substantial for a junior tournament like this. First: 4,500,000 yen; 2nd: 1,500,000 yen; 3rd: 1,000,000; 4th: 750,000. There are also individual prizes for players with three (300,000) or four (500,000) wins.
The Power Report: Iyama fights back in Meijin; Ichiriki wins Ryusei; Kisei updates; Fujisawa takes lead in Women’s Honinbo; Women’s Meijin League; Onishi wins King of the New Stars
Tuesday October 18, 2016
Iyama fights back in Meijin title match
Iyama Yuta faced a very important game in Game 4 of the 41st Meijin title match: his first kadoban (literally, a “corner game,” that is, a game that could lose a series). For the first time ever in his career, Iyama (right) had suffered successive losses at the beginning of a title match. Another loss would cost him not only the Meijin title but also put an end to his septuple crown after a little over half a year.
The fourth game was played on October 4 and 5 at the Takarazuka Hotel, Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture. Taking black, Iyama executed a large-scale sacrifice maneuver that enabled him to take the lead in the middle game. When White
resigned after 181 moves, Black was over ten points ahead on the board.
The fifth game was played at the Atami Sekitei inn in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture on October 12 and 13. Taking white, Iyama won a closely-fought game by 3.5 points. With this win, Iyama seems to be coming out of his recent slump.
However, he faces another kadoban in the sixth game, scheduled for October 26 and 27. Before then, Iyama’s Oza and Tengen defences will start, so he is going to be very busy.
Ichiriki wins Ryusei: The Ryusei is a fast-go TV title run by an irregular system but culminating in a standard 16-player knock-out. The final of the 25th tournament was played between Iyama Yuta and Ichiriki Ryo 7P and telecast on September 26. During the opening and early middle game, Iyama (B) built a lead, but Ichiriki played a do-or-die move that triggered an upset. Iyama resigned after White 200. This was Ichiriki’s first win in a non-age-restricted tournament. He was 19 years one month old when the game was played (his birthday is June 10), so he became the youngest player ever to win this title. The previous record of 20 years two months was set by Iyama. This will give Ichiriki some momentum for his Tengen challenge to Iyama. First prize is 6 million yen.
First, here are two results in the S League of the 41st Kisei tournament I neglected to include in my previous report. On September 15, Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P and Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by resig. As a result, Ichiriki lost his share of the lead. On 4-1, Kono regained the sole lead.
The final game in the S League was played on September 29. Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. This was Takao’s first win to four losses, so it didn’t do anything for him except save some face, but it knocked Murakawa out of the running for first. Kono won the league outright, so he goes straight into the final “best-of-three” to decide the challenger. If Murakawa had won the above game, he would have won the league, as his higher ranking (#2) would have beaten Kono (#5). There was a three-way “tie” among Yamashita Keigo, Murakawa, and Ichiriki Ryo on 3-2, but league rankings meant that they came, respectively, second, third, and fourth. Yamashita’s second place secures him a seat in the knock-out tournament, so a fourth successive Kisei challenge by him is possible; he will need to win three games in a row.
Takao and Yoda Norimoto lose their places in the S League. On October 3, the first game in the knock-out section was played. The B League winner Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) beat the C League winner Shida Tatsuya 7P by 1.5 points. The game was played on Yuki’s home ground, the Kansai Ki-in. The next game will be between Yuki and the winner of the A League, Cho U.
Fujisawa takes lead in Women’s Honinbo
The second game of the 35th Women’s Honinbo title match was played at the Izanro Iwasaki, a traditional Japanese inn in Miasa Hot Spring, Tottori Prefecture on September 26. Fujisawa Rina (B, left) won by resig. after 191 moves. Unlike the first game, in which Xie killed a large group, this game featured small-scale fighting. Fujisawa made a good strategic decision in the middle game when she sacrificed five stones. Rina: “I thought that if I saved the stones the neighbouring white positions would get too strong.”
The remaining games of the match are held at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo. The third game was played on October 3. In the middle-game fighting, Xie took a bit of a lead, but Fujisawa played tenaciously and was able to overta
ke her. Black resigned after White 222.
Last year Fujisawa Rina lost this title to Xie Yimin when she lost three games in a row after winning the first two. This time she started off with a loss, but recovered to take the next two. Can she now improve on last year’s performance?
Women’s Meijin League
Fujisawa Rina has maintained her unbeaten record in the 29th Women’s Meijin League by winning her fourth-round game. Her closest rivals are Okuda Aya 3P on 2-1 and Suzuki Ayumi 7P on 1-1.
(September 29) Ishii Akane 2P (B) beat Kato Keiko 6P by resig.
(October 13) Fujisawa Rina 3P (B) beat Ishii Akane 2P by resig.; Kato Keiko 6P (B) beat Sakakibara Fumiko 6P by 7.5 points.
Onishi wins King of the New Stars
The second game in the 41st King of the New Stars title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on September 30. Taking black, Onishi Ryuhei 2P (right) beat Taniguchi Toru 2P by resig. after 227 moves. As in the first game, Onishi staged an upset late in the endgame. At 16 years six months of age, he becomes the youngest player to win this title. He is just in the second year of his career and was making his first appearance in the King of the New Stars.
Monday October 10, 2016
“Tachi-mori” is the art of drawing lines on high-end go boards using a traditional Japanese sword upon which lacquer has been thinly and evenly applied. Gurujeet Khalsa sent along this video showing the technique. The video is from Kurokigoishiten, which has a fascinating series of videos on making go equipment, including go stones and bowls.
The Power Report (2): Fujisawa Leads in Women’s Meijin; King of the News Stars begins; Agon Kiriyama Cup; Good Start for Chen in Bailing final
Monday September 26, 2016
by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Fujisawa has sole lead in Women’s Meijin: A key game in the first half of the 29th Women’s Meijin League took place at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on September 22. In a clash between the joint leaders, Fujisawa Rina 3P (B) beat Okuda Aya 3P by 1.5 points. Fujisawa improved her score to 3-0 and has the sole lead. However, she is only halfway to the goal. Of the seven league members, three have already played three games, but three have played only one. Fujisawa has an edge, but all seven players are still in the running.
King of the News Stars begins: The first game in the best-of-three final of the 41st King of the New Stars tournament was played at the Kansai Ki-in headquarters in Osaka on September 22. Onishi Ryuhei 2P (aged 16, at left) (W) of the Nihon Ki-in beat Taniguchi Toru 2P (aged 20) of the Kansai Ki-in by half a point. This was a regrettable loss for Taniguchi: he held the lead for most of the game, but missed all his chances to wrap up a win. In the end, he suffered an upset loss by the narrowest margin. The second game will be played on September 30.
Agon Kiriyama Cup: The final of the 23rd Agon Kiriyama Cup will feature a clash between two veteran players: Cho Chikun (60) and Kono Rin (35). Cho previously won the 9th Cup; Kono reached the final of the 21st Cup, but lost to Iyama Yuta. In the semifinals, Cho beat Murakawa Daisuke and Kono beat Yamashita Keigo. Unfortunately, the founder of the tournament, Kiriyama Seiyu, died on August 29 at the age of 95. He founded the Agon sect of Buddhism in 1978 and has been a strong supporter of go in Japan and China.
Chen makes good start in Bailing final: The best-of-five final in the 3rd Bailing Cup started in Yunnan Province in China on September 22. The 19-year-old Ke Jie 9P was the favorite, as he is China’s number one and he won the previous Bailing Cup, but his compatriot Chen Yaoye 9P, who is all of 26, has made an excellent start, winning the first two games. Chen had black in the first game and won by resignation; in the second game, played on the 22nd, Chen secured a resignation after 178 moves. The match will resume in December.
The Power Report (1): Honinbo Monyu; Takao sweeps to 3-0 lead in Meijin challenge; Yuki wins Kisei B League play-off
Sunday September 25, 2016
Honinbo Monyu: When he won the Honinbo title for the fifth year in a row this year, Iyama Yuta qualified for the title of eternal Honinbo, though he can use it only afterhe turns 60 or retires, whichever comes first. At the title award ceremony, held at the Ritz Carleton Osaka hotel on September 9, Iyama unveiled the name he will assume: Monyu. The “mon” is a less common reading of the character “bun,” which means “writing” or “literature” and is part of the word “bunka,” meaning “culture;” the ”yu” is from his given name of Yuta. He will be known as “26th Honinbo Monyu.” Iyama mentioned that he consulted Okawa Teishin, the abbot of the Jakkoji Temple in Kyoto, which is the source of the name Honinbo. The character for “bun” has family significance for Iyama, as it was part of the name of his grandfather, who taught him to play go. Okawa also gave a speech at the award ceremony and mentioned another good association: “mon” is part of the name of the bodhisattva Monju, who is known as the “receiver of wisdom.”
Takao sweeps to 3-0 lead in Meijin challenge, sextuple crown in danger: The second game of the 41st Meijin title match was held at the Kakujoro, a traditional Japanese inn, in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture on August 14 and 15.
Playing black, Iyama Yuta set up a large moyo. Takao made an invasion, so the game became a contest between Iyama’s attack and Takao’s shinogi (ability to save a group under attack). In the end, Takao secured his group and took the lead. Iyama resigned after 236 moves. Iyama had made a bad start to the title match with two losses. In the past, he had played 17 best-of-sevens and 18 best-of-fives, but this was the first time he had lost the first two games. However, worse was to come. The third game was played at the hotel Thousand Pine Trees: The Numazu Club in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture on September 20 and 21. Taking white, Iyama played aggressively, but Takao keep his cool and fended off the attack, building a lead in the middle game. In a desperate attempt to catch up, Iyama embarked on a shinogi strategy, taking profit and leaving a weak group for the opponent to attack. However, he was unable to narrow the gap; when Iyama resigned after Black 169, he was about ten points behind on the board. Takao seems to be in his best form for a while. He has a bad record against Iyama in the past and must be very pleased to make such a good start. He needs just one more win to make a comeback as Meijin after a gap of a decade (he beat Cho U in the 31st title match and became Meijin Honinbo). The fourth game will be played on October 4 and 5.
Yuki wins Kisei B League play-off: In the play-off between the winners of the 41st Kisei B Leagues, Yuki Satoshi
9P (W), winner of the B2 League, defeated Cho Chikun 9P, winner of B1, by resig. The game was played on September 19. Yuki earns a place in the irregular knock-out (“paramasu”) tournament to decide the challenger; he will need to win five games in a row to make the title match. At present, this is how the knock-out looks. Shida Tatsuya 7P, C League winner, plays Yuki, B winner; the winner will played Cho U, A League winner; the winner will play either Yamashita Keigo 9P or Kono Rin 9P, second in S League; the winner will play either Kono or Murakawa Daisuke 8P, first in S League. The latter will start the nominal “best-of-three” with a one-game advantage, so he will need only win to become the challenger (although it’s called a “best-of-three,” three games can never be played: the first-place getter just needs to win the first or second game; the second-place winner can become the challenger only by winning the first two games).
Tomorrow: Fujisawa has sole lead in Women’s Meijin; King of the News Stars begins; Agon Kiriyama Cup; Chen makes good start in Bailing final
Tuesday September 20, 2016
An online preliminary round will be held on Pandanet to select the 16 students who will participate in the 15th World Students Go Oza Championship February 20-24, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan to decide the world’s number one student player.
Click here for details and here for the entry form.
University or college students under the age of 30 can participate in the preliminary round, although students living in China, Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei cannot participate in the online preliminary round. The application deadline is Oct 17. For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or the All-Japan Students GO Association at email@example.com.
photos: at the 14th World Students Go Oza
Sunday September 18, 2016
The Nihon Kiin Summer Go Camp, an intensive training program targeted at non-Japanese go players, was held from August 21st through September 3rd at the Nihon Kiin in Tokyo. Vermont go player Peter Schumer was among those attending; here’s his report.
The 2016 Nihon Ki-in Summer Go Camp was attended by around 20 go enthusiasts from all over the world, all of whom were warmly welcomed and got to participate fully in all activities. World renowned professionals including Kobayashi Koichi 9d, Ishida Yoshio 9d, O Meien 9d, and Michael Redmond 9d gave regular lectures, went over famous games, and played several simultaneous games with the attendees. Sometimes you really had to pinch yourself that you were actually there hanging out with these stars of the go world. In addition to pro instruction, the daily routine was packed with go activities, including games, problems, tournaments, social events, and sightseeing to Kamakura, Asakusa, and Yokohama.
Camp attendees had ample opportunity to play many games throughout the two weeks, participating in goodwill matches with college students, insei, and go clubs from around the city. Notably, attendees were given the unique chance to play in the Takara Shuzo Cup, the most popular amateur go tournament in Japan, which featured over 1,400 people this year.
The night before the first game of the Meijin title match, camp participants joined go legends including Cho Chikun 9d, Cho U 9d, Takemiya Masaki 9d (at right, with Schumer), Otake Hideo 9d, Iyama Yuta 9d, and Takao Shinji 9d to enjoy a lavish reception at the 5-star rated Hotel Chinzanso. The following day they were allowed to sit in the same room as the players for a few minutes during the match itself, which was truly a special honor and very exciting.
The camp featured its own league system with participants playing against one another in a double-elimination tournament. The winner, a 4-dan from Europe, was given the honor to play a 3-stone handicap game against none other than O Meien 9d, with Michael Redmond providing live commentary.
All in all the go camp was enjoyable, highly educational, and well worth it; the price of the camp was very reasonable. The camp was a first-rate experience where you can improve your go, meet wonderful people from around the world, and get to enjoy some Japanese sites and culture.
- Edited by Brian Kirby
The Power Report (2): Cho U wins Kisei A League; Yo to challenge for Oza title; Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo defence
Thursday September 15, 2016
Cho U wins Kisei A League: So Yokoku 9P was a little unlucky in the Kisei A League. He had won six games in a row and held the lead all the way (enjoying the sole lead in the 5th and 6th rounds), but he lost his final game to Cho U 9P on September 8 (taking black, Cho won by resignation). That left them tied on 6-1, but there is no play-off in the Kisei Leagues. Cho was ranked 4th to So’s 7th, so Cho won the league. He gets a seat in the irregular knock-out tournament to decide the challenger.
Yo to challenge for Oza title: A week after the Tengen challenger was decided, another play-off between a veteran player and a new star was held and resulted in a win for the latter. On September 8, the 21-year-old Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in beat Takao Shinji in the play-off to decide the 64th Oza challenger. Taking white, Yo had white and secured a resignation after 190 moves. He commented that he was inspired by Ichiriki’s success. Yo had a frustrating history in play-offs, having lost to Iyama Yuta both in the Oza play-off last year and in the Judan play-off the year. As that shows, Yo played a crucial role in giving Iyama the opportunity to secure his Grand Slam. The first game of the Oza match will be played on October 17.
The Oza and Tengen challenges are perhaps signs that the post-Iyama generation is getting ready to move up. Before Iyama, the go scene was dominated by the “four stars of the Heisei era.” Of the four, Cho U and Hane Naoki haven’t
challenged for a while, but Yamashita and Takao had been doing a good job of holding back the younger players (except for Murakawa Daisuke). There could be big changes in the make-up of the tournament scene in the next few years.
Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo defence: The first game of the 35th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Kashoen, a Japanese-style inn, in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture on September 13. The challenger is Fujisawa Rina 3P. Playing black, Xie (right) forced a resignation after 151 moves. The second game will be played on September 26.
To 3-dan: Fujimura Yosuke (40 wins)