by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Takao to have another crack at Meijin title: All the games in the final round of the 41st Meijin League were held on August 4. At this stage, three players were still in the running to become the challenger. With only one loss so far, Takao Shinji 9P (right) was one point ahead of Cho U 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P, who were both on 5-2. Besides winning his own game, Cho needed Takao to lose for him to make a play-off. Conditions were tougher for Murakawa, however. Only the two higher-ranked players qualify for a play-off in the Meijin League. That meant that Murakawa needed both Takao and Cho to lose, in which case he would meet Takao in a play-off. Go Weekly claimed that the odds of this happening were only one in 16. Takao made these calculations irrelevant by winning his game; this avoided a playoff in the league for the first time in six years. We have just seen Yamashita make three challenges in a row in the Kisei title; Takao is following in his footsteps with his second successive challenge in the Meijin title, not to mention his recently concluded Honinbo challenge. He will be hoping to do better than last year, when he failed to win a game. Apart from Murakawa, Iyama’s main opposition is still coming from older players.
(July 7) Cho U 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by 2.5 points; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Hirata Tomoya 7P by resig.
(July 21) Takao Shinji (W) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
(Final round, August 4)Takao (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. ; Yamashita (B) beat Cho U by resig.; Murakawa (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Hirata Tomoya 7P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
The order after Takao is: 2. Murakawa (6-2); 3. Yamashita (5-3); 4. Cho (5-3); 5. Kono (4-4); 6. Ko (4-4). Hane (3-3), Hirata (2-6), and Uchida Shuhei 7P (0-8, bye in last round) lost their places (that had already been decided before the last round). The first game will be played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on August 30 and 31.
Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo: After a good start to her career the year before last, in which she won two titles, Fujisawa Rina (right) had a “waiting” year last year. Things have now changed, however. In the play-off to decide the challenger to Xie Yimin for the 35th Women’s Honinbo title, held at the Ichigaya headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in o
n August 8, Fujisawa (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7P by resig. after 150 moves. The title match will start on September 13. Rina turns 18 on September 18.
Kono has sole lead in Kisei S League: After three rounds, Kono Rin 9P is the only undefeated player in the 41st Kisei S League. In his third-round game, Kono defeated the joint leader after two rounds, Murakawa Daisuke 8P. Level with Murakawa in second place is Ichiriki Ryo 7P. This is a small league, with only five rounds, so Kono is well positioned.
In the eight-player A League, So Yokoku 9P has the sole lead with five straight wins. Closest to him is Cho U 9P on 4-1, the other players have suffered two or more losses, So and Cho will meet in the final round. In the seven-round B1 League, Kyo Kagen 4P has the sole lead with 6-0, followed by Cho Chikun 9P on 5-0. In the B2 League, Ko Iso 8P has the sole lead on 5-1, followed by Yuki Satoshi 9P and Yo Seiki 7P on 4-2.
(July 7) Yamashita Keigo (W) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 1.5 points.
(July 14) Ichiriki (B) beat Takao Shinji by resig.
(July 21) Kono (W) beat Murakawa by resig.
(August 11) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 8P (B) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by resig. (Apologies for the game out of order in my previous report.)
900 wins for Hane: Hane Naoki (right) has reached the landmark of 900 wins. At 39 years 11 months, he is the fourth youngest to do so. It took him 25 years three months, which is the third quickest. His winning percentage at this point of 66.6 is the 12th best.
To 6-dan: Kobayashi Chizu (90 wins; as of August 5)
To 4-dan: Kyo Kagen (50 wins; as of July 8); Adachi Toshimasa (50 wins; as of July 22)
To 3-dan: Seki Tatsuya (40 wins; as of July 15)
Obituaries: Ito Makoto, Ueki Yoshio
Ito Makoto was born on August 4, 1945 in Shiga Prefecture. He became a disciple of Kitani Minoru and made 1-dan in 1964. He reached 8-dan in 1989 and was promoted to 9-dan when he retired in 2005.
Ueki Yoshio, a member of the Osaka branch of the Nihon Ki-in, died of cirrhosis of the liver on August 10. Born in Osaka on February 25, 1969, he became a disciple of Yamashita Yorimoto 7P. He qualified as 1-dan in 1985 and reached 8
-dan in 2001.