New members of the Meijin League: Two of the three vacant places in the 41st Meijin League were decided on October 29. Uchida Shuhei 7P (B) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by 3.5 points, so the latter failed to regain his place. Uchida will make his second appearance after an absence of three years. Hirata Tomoya 4P (W) beat So Yokoku 9P, also by 3.5 points. The 21-year-old Hirata won his first league place and secured an automatic promotion to 7-dan (as of the following day). So Yokoku was also a member of the previous league. The final vacant seat was decided on November 5. In a clash between Nagoya players, Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Ida Atsushi Judan by resignation. Hane also immediately regained his league place. At 39 years three months, he will be the oldest member of the league (Takao is two months younger).
Women’s Honinbo: Xie fights back: The third game of the Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Ichigaya, Tokyo on October 30. Taking black Xie Yimin (left), Women’s Meijin, defeated the titleholder Fujisawa Rin by resignation. The middle game featured a large exchange that may be the highlight of the series so far. After that, the lead switched back and forth, but Fujisawa made a misjudgment in the endgame, letting Xie take a small lead. The fourth game was played at the same venue on November 11. Playing white, Xie evened the score, forcing a resignation after 214 moves. Actually, the position seemed to be favorable for Fujisawa after a middle-game trade, but she suffered from a hallucination later in the game that let Xie pull off an upset. As a six-time winner of this title, Xie now seems to have the momentum, so Fujisawa will have to pull out all the stops in the deciding game, scheduled for November 27, if she is to defend her title.
Yamashita becomes Kisei challenger: The first game of the play-off to decide the challenger for the 40th Kisei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya on Monday, November 9. Taking white, Yamashita (right) forced Murakawa to resign after 176 moves. This gives him his third successive crack at Iyama’s Kisei title. Understandably, considering his numerous recent defeats by Iyama, Yamashita said he was going to ignore the past and just focus on the new match. He also commented that the only way to beat Iyama was to eliminate all errors in his own play.
Yamashita’s 900th win: The above win was Yamashita’s 900th as a professional. He has lost 407 games, had one jigo and one no-result. At 37 years, two months, he is the youngest player to reach this landmark (second is Takao Shinji at 38 years one month); he is also the quickest, having taken 22 years seven months (again Takao is second, at 23 years eight months). In the category of winning percentage, however, Takao, on exactly 70% to Yamashita’s 68.9%, keeps top place. Just for reference, Cho Chikun, at 1470, has the most wins.
Tomorrow: Iyama still on track; Iyama wins second straight in Oza and Tengen; Honinbo League: Round Two starts; Japan eliminated from LG Cup