by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Takao Scores 900th Win: Takao Shinji’s win in the Meijin League was his 900th as a professional. He is the 21st Nihon Ki-in player to reach this landmark. His record is 900 wins, 385 losses, 2 jigo, 2 no result. photo: Shinji
China Leads In Nong Shim Cup: The second round of the Nong Shim Cup, held in Busan, Korea, was dominated by Wang Xi 9P of China, who won four games in a row, but both Korea and Japan have hung on, each getting one player into the final round.
(Nov. 28) Wang Xi 9P (China) (B) beat Kang Tong-yun 9P (Korea) by resig.
(Nov. 29) Wang (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 7P (Japan) by resig.
(Nov. 30) Wang (W) beat An Song-jun 5P (Korea) resig.
(Dec. 1) Wang (B) beat Kono Rin 9P (Japan) by resig.
(Dec. 2) Pak Jung-hwan 9P (Korea) (W) beat Wang by resig.
(Dec. 3) Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) (B) beat Pak by resig.
Hane Wins Crown Title: The 55th Crown title, which is open only to Nagoya Nihon Ki-in players, was won by Hane Naoki 9P. In the final, played on November 29, Hane (W) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resignation, thus winning his fourth Crown title in a row and 11th overall. He is within striking distance of Yamashiro’s record of 15 Cr
Gu Wins Japan-China Ryusei Play-Off: In the inaugural Japan-China Ryusei Play-off, Go Li 9P of China showed that he had recovered from his loss in his jubango (ten-game match) with Lee Se-tol by defeating Kono Rin 9P of Japan. Taking black, Gu won by resignation. The game was played on December 6.
Murakawa Takes Oza from Iyama: The second and third games of the 62nd Oza title match were played at the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto on November 18 and 20. Having just one rest day between games feels in go terms almost like a doubleheader in baseball.
In Game Two, the challenger Murakawa Daisuke 7P beat Iyama by 1.5 points playing black. The game was close, but Iyama made an attack that was a little over-aggressive. Murakawa erased potential white territory while settling his group and took the lead. The game later became close because of some slack play by Murakawa in the endgame.
In Game Three the titleholder Iyama Yuta pulled off an upset victory by 2.5 points. Murakawa had secured a slight edge with skillful play in a centre fight, but he let himself down with a couple of slack moves later. Once the game turned in his favor, Iyama gave his opponent no chance to stage another upset.
Game Four was played at the Sendai Royal Park Hotel in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, on December 8. Playing black, Murakawa seized the initiative in the opening and this time managed to hang on to it, despite a difficult middle game.
The final game was played at the Todaya inn in Toba City, Mie Prefecture, on December 16. The first part of the game featured two ko fights, both of which Murakawa won, though Iyama took reasonable compensation. The game went wrong for Iyama in a large capturing race in the center. Iyama made a miscalculation and thought he could win it; when he realized he couldn’t, he sacrificed his group, but in the meantime he had played some extra moves that became a loss without compensation. That decided the game. It ended after 249 moves, and Murakawa won by 1.5 points. (Other details about the game are given in the E-journal’s report of December 21.)
At 24, Murakawa is one year younger than Iyama. The two are good friends and often meet in the same study groups. It’s easy to imagine Murakawa’s feelings as he witnessed the extraordinary success of his friend over recent years. At the same time, Iyama was a good target to aim at, of course, but Murakawa confessed that it was a little disturbing to see an even younger player in Ida Atsushi (aged 20) emerge in this year’s Honinbo title match as the first younger challenger to Iyama. The flow of the match, as described above, shows that Murakawa’s win was not a fluke. His goal now is to do better in international tournaments.
Tomorrow, Part 4: Takao Takes Tengen Title from Iyama; Promotions; Konishi to Challenge for Women’s Kisei; Good Year for Fujisawa Rina; Cho U Eliminated from Chunlan Cup