American Go E-Journal » Japan

Go Spotting: Popular Science

Monday March 2, 2015

A photo of the robot dog Aibo playing go illustrates In Japan, A Funeral For Robot Dogs, a February 28 Popular Science report. “Robot 2015.03.01_aibo-gocompanions are big in Japan, where they can return hugs, gently smack snorers in the face, perform in plays, and greet Presidents.” And, apparently, play go as well.
- thanks to Jon Stewart-Taylor for passing this along.
The EJ has several volunteer editor positions open for go players who want to be part of the team producing the largest English-language publication in the world; email if interested. 

Categories: Japan

The Power Report: Ida loses sole lead in Honinbo League; Yamashita keeps his Kisei challenge alive

Wednesday February 25, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Ida loses sole lead in Honinbo League: Ida Atsushi 8P (right) seemed to be heading inexorably for a rematch with Iyama Yuta Honinbo,2015.02.24_Ida-Atsushi but he finally stumbled in the fifth round of the 70th Honinbo League. In a game played on February 19, Kono Rin 9P (W) beat him by resignation. Ida’s loss means that Yamashita Keigo 9P pulls even with him on 4-1; we might see another play-off between these two. Cho U 9P and Kono, both on 3-2, are also in contention. In another game played on the same day, Yo Seiki 7P picked up his second win when he beat Ryu Shikun 9P; playing white, he forced a resignation. Yo improves to 2-3 and has an outside chance of keeping his league place. Ryu and Takao Shinji 9P, both on 1-4, have lost their places.

2015.02.24_Yamashita-KeigoYamashita keeps his Kisei challenge alive: Yamashita Keigo (left) finally picked up his first win in the 39th Kisei title match and survived his first kadoban (a game that can lose a series). The fourth game was held at the Zagyoso. The Zagyoso (which literally means ‘fishing-while-seated-villa’) was the retirement villa of a famous statesman, Saionji Kinmochi, who led the Japanese delegation at the Versailles peace conference; it was moved from its original location in Shizuoka to Meiji Village, a theme park in Inuyama City in Aichi Prefecture that recreates traditional Japanese buildings. The game was played on February 19 and 20. Iyama (White) took the lead in the middle game when Yamashita made a misreading about a life-and-death position. His group didn’t die, but he had to add an extra stone and so fell behind. However, Iyama slipped up with an oversight of his own when he tried to wrap up the game. Yamashita played a brilliant atekomi tesuji and pulled off an upset. He won by 2.5 points after 224 moves. Yamashita will be greatly encouraged by this win, but, on 1-3, he is still in a tough position. The fifth game, to be played on February 25 and 26, will show whether he has really changed the flow of the match.

To 2-dan: Komatsu Daiki (30 wins). Komatsu is the son of Komatsu Hideki 9P and Komatsu Hideko 4P. The promotion took effect on the 17th.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

¥5000 Off for Osaka Go Camp Pre-Registrants

Sunday February 22, 2015

Register by February 28 and you’ll save 5000 yen (about $40) on Maeda Ryo 6P’s 3-week  intensive go camp in Osaka, which runs June 2015.02.22_osaka-go-camp28 through July 18.  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 for more info or to reserve your space.

Categories: Japan

The Power Report: Iyama Extends Lead in Kisei Title Match; Xie Defends Women’s Kisei Title; Iyama Tops Prize-Money List for 2014; Annual Promotions

Wednesday February 4, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Extends Lead in Kisei Title Match: The second game of the 39th Kisei title match was held at the Hachinohe Park Hotel in 2015.02.04_Iyama-YutaHachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, on January 29 and 30. Playing white, Iyama Yuta (right) won by resignation after 228 moves. This gives him a 2-0 lead over the challenger, Yamashita Keigo 9P. The third game, scheduled for February 5 and 6, is close to being a must-win affair for Yamashita if he is going to stop Iyama from winning the title for the third year in a row. The game got off to an interesting start, with Yamashita coming up with a new variation in an old joseki. Iyama showed his flexibility, however, by playing a bad-shape move that actually worked well for him. Early in the middle game, Iyama went on the offensive, and Yamashita found himself forced into playing a territorial strategy that didn’t suit his style. Having fallen behind a little, he did his best to catch up by attacking aggressively, but Iyama countered with the strongest moves and finally took a decisive lead. When Yamashita resigned, Iyama had a lead on the board.

2015.02.04_womens-kiseiXie Defends Women’s Kisei Title: The second game of the 18th DoCoMo Cup Women Kisei title match was held in the Ryusei Studio (in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo) on January 29. This was a do-or-die game for the challenger, as this title is a best-of-three, but she was outfought by the defending champion, Xie Yimin (left). After 273 moves, Xie, taking black, won by 5.5 points. She won this title for the third year in a row and extended her overall tally to 19, eight ahead of the next woman player (Aoki Kikuyo 8P, with 11).

Iyama Tops Prize-Money List for 2014: Even though he lost two titles last year, Iyama Yuta still earned enough in winnings to top the prize-money list for the fourth year in a row. It was the third year in a row that he topped 100 million yen. Only three other players have reached this mark: Cho Chikun (five times), Cho U (four times) and Kobayashi Koichi (three times). The top ten for 2014 are given below. Fujisawa Rina, aged 16, is probably the youngest player ever to make the list. Xie Yimin made the best ten for the seventh year in a row.
1. Iyama Yuta: ¥140,788,528 (about $1,203,320)
2. Kono Rin: ¥44,983,332
3. Takao Shinji: ¥37,903,600
4. Yamashita Keigo: ¥30,779,458
5. Ida Atsushi: ¥19,210,200
6. Ichiriki Ryo: ¥17,002,800
7. Fujisawa Rin: ¥16,736,161
8. Hane Naoki: ¥13,477,000
9. Xie Yimin: ¥12,931,771
10. Cho U: ¥12,470,600

Annual Promotions: Besides the promotions through the cumulative-win system, a number of promotions are made every year based on prize-money winnings in the top seven titles: the top 6-dan and the top two in the ranks underneath are promoted one rank. The following promotions based on 2014 winnings are dated to January 1.
        To 7-dan: Ohashi Naruya
        To 6-dan: Tajima Shingo, Shiraishi Yuichi
        To 5-dan: Muramatsu Hiroki, Suzuki Shinji
        To 4-dan: Hirata Tomoya , Obuchi Kotaro
        To 3-dan: Takeuchi Kosuke, Numadate Sakiya
        To 2-dan: Tanaka Nobuyuki, Koyama Kuya

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Pandanet to Publish EJ Reports in Japanese

Saturday January 31, 2015

Pandanet has begun posting E-Journal articles on their site, translated into Japanese. The first one is the EJ’s recent report on the AGA pro 2015.01.31_ej-pandanettournament. “We’re tremendously pleased that EJ reporting is now available in Japanese,” said E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock.  Pandanet plans to post a translated EJ article each week.

The Power Report: Xie Makes Good Start in Women’s Kisei Defense; Honinbo League Update; Judan challenger: Kobayashi Satoru or Ida

Tuesday January 27, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Xie Makes Good Start in Women’s Kisei Defense: The first game of the 18th DoCoMo Cup Women’s Kisei title match, a best-of-three,2015.01.27_Kazuko was played at the Hotel Sunlife Garden in Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, on January 22. Konishi Kazuko 8P (right) of the Kansai Ki-in is making her first appearance in a title match (she has reached the finals of three knock-out titles but lost each time). Xie has held this title for four of the the last five years. In the nigiri to decide colors, Xie drew white. Konishi played positively in the opening and seized the initiative, but Xie managed to set up the kind of confused fight in which she excels. Konishi failed to find the best move in the crucial middle-game fight, and this gave Xie a chance to upset her lead. Konishi resigned after 136 moves. The second game will be played on January 29. It’s a must-win game for Konishi if she is to take the match to a deciding game on February 2.

Honinbo League Update: Two games were played in the 70th Honinbo League on January 22. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resignation and Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P, also by resignation. Yamashita goes to 3-1, keeping him in second place behind Ida Atsushi 8P (4-0). Kono evened his score to 2-2, and both Takao and Yo, on 1-3, will now have to focus on keeping their league places.

Judan challenger: Kobayashi Satoru or Ida: The second semifinal of the 53rd Judan tournament was held in Nagoya on January 22. It2015.01.27_shida tatsuya was contested by two of the leading young players at the Central Japan branch of the Nihon Ki-in, Ida Atsushi 8P and Shida Tatsuya 7P (right). Ida was the top new star of last year, winning the Honinbo League on debut. Although he lost the title match to Iyama Yuta, he seems to be on course to challenge again. Shida is older (24 to Ida’s 20) and was the top young player in Nagoya until Ida emerged. Shida won the Hiroshima Aluminium Cup in his second year as a pro (2007) and came second in the Agon Kiriyama Cup in 2013. Shida had won their two previous encounters, but in the last year Ida has gotten a lot stronger. Taking black in this game, he forced a resignation, so he will meet Kobayashi Satoru in the play-off to decide the challenger to Takao Shinji.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Registration Opens for 2015 Osaka Go Camp

Monday January 19, 2015

The 2015 Osaka Go Camp is set for June 28 – July 18, supported by the Kansai Kiin and the Osaka University of Commerce. The camp offers 2015.01.18_okasa-group_photointensive training by Kansai-Kiin pros, the opportunity to play go inside the Kiin with pros, play against top amateur players, former inseis, sightseeing to major historical cities like Kyoto and Nara. A discount of 5.000 JPY is available for students who pay the deposit before February 28. Email for more info or reservations.
photo: 2014 Osaka Go Camp participants

The Power Report: 17-Year-Old Ke Wins Bailing Cup; Kisei Title Match Starts with Half-point Win for Iyama; Ida Keeps Sole Lead in Honinbo League; Takao and Ko Share Lead in Meijin League; Kobayashi Satoru Reaches Judan Play-Off

Sunday January 18, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

17-Year-Old Ke Wins Bailing Cup: The best-of-five final of the 2nd Bailing Cup was fought between two Chinese players, the 17-2015.01.18_Ke-Jie-Qiu-Jun-2nd-Bailing-Cupyear-old Ke Jie 4P (left) and the 32-year-old Qiu Jun 9P. After splitting the first two games last year, the players resumed the match on January 11. Playing white, Qiu won the third game by resignation, but Ke won the fourth (Jan. 13) and fifth games (Jan 15), both by resignation and holding white, to take the match 3-2. The games were played in Zhuhai City in Guangdong Province. First prize is 1,800,000 yuan (about $293,000). This win earned Ke promotion to 9-dan. photo courtesy GoGameGuru

Kisei Title Match Starts with Half-point Win for Iyama: The first game of the 39th Kisei title match was played at the Westin Hotel Osaka in Osaka City on January 15 and 16. The game was a tense contest, with Yamashita Keigo 9P, the challenger for the second year running, launching a severe attack on a weak black group. Iyama countered with his usual aggressive play, but this group remained unsettled for quite a while, as the fight spread all over the board. Yamashita took the lead when he captured four black stones in the centre, so Iyama countered with a do-or-die attack on a white group that led to a ko and a large trade. At the time, Iyama thought that the game gave him the lead, but later conceded that this was not so. He did manage to take a narrow lead in the endgame contest that followed. After 282 moves, Black wonby half a point. After the game, Iyama commented that ‘ending up a half point ahead was justluck.’ If this game is any indication, it looks like being a very close-fought series. The second game is scheduled for January 29 and 30.

Ida Keeps Sole Lead in Honinbo League: Ida Atsushi 8P’s chances of a return match with Iyama Honinbo are looking better and better. In the second game in the fourth round, played on January 15, Ida (W) beat Ryu Shikun 9P by resignation. That improved his record to 4-0; his closest rival is Yamashita Keigo on 2-1. Every other player has at least two losses. Yamashita has already lost to Ida in the league, so he will have to rely on other players to help him catch up.

Takao and Ko Share Lead in Meijin League: Two games in the 40th Meijin League were played on January 15. Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resignation. On 2-0, Ko shares the lead with Takao Shinji 9P, the only other undefeated player. In the other game, league newcomer Kanazawa Makoto 7P (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by half a point to pick up his first win.

Kobayashi Satoru Reaches Judan Play-Off: In the first semifinal of the 53rd Judan tournament, Kobayashi Satoru 9P, who had eliminated Iyama Yuta in the previous round, beat Yo Seiki 7P (B) by resignation. Ida Atsushi meets Shida Tatsuya 7P in the other semifinal, which will be played on January 22.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Chunlan Cup Semifinals; Chen Yaoye Wins Siyuan Cup World Mingren Championship; Suzuki to Challenge for Women’s Meijin; Meijin League; Honinbo League; 2014 Statistics

Tuesday January 13, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent2014.01.12_GuLi

Chunlan Cup Semifinals: In our last report, we gave the results in the quarterfinals of the 10th Chunlan Cup. The semifinals were held two days later, on Tuesday 27th. Zhou Ruiyang 9P (China) (W) beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by resig. and Gu Li 9P (W) beat Kim Ji-seok 9P [“Je-seok” in my previous report was a mistake] by resig. That gives an all-Chinese final. It’s good to see that Gu Li (right) seems to have recovered from his loss in the 10-game match with Lee Se-dol.

2015.01.13_chen-yaoye1-210x300Chen Yaoye Wins Siyuan Cup World Mingren Championship: The first major go event of the new year was the 4th Siyuan Cup World Mingren (Meijin) Championship, held in the city of Xi’an in Shaansi Province in China from January 5 to 8. Xi-an is the city that was known as Changan when it was the capital of China in the early Han and Tang dynasties. This tournament pits the holders of the Meijin titles in Japan, Korea, and China against each other in an irregular knock-out. The players draw lots to see who plays in the first round; the winner of that game goes to the final, while the loser then plays the third player; the winner of that game goes to the final. Iyama Yuta of Japan was eliminated in the first round in the 1st and 2nd Cups, but did better this time. In the first round, playing white, he beat Pak Yeong-hun 9P of Korea by resig. after 137 moves. Pak (B) then lost to Chen Yaoye 9P of China in a marathon game lasting 306 moves. Pak calculated that he was losing by half a point, so he played a do-or-die move on move 196; that prolonged the game but widened his losing margin, so he resigned.  In the final, Iyama, who had white, missed a number of chances to wrap up a narrow win. In the end, his lack of familiarity with the Chinese rules let Chen stage an upset by half a point. Iyama played an endgame move that was correct under the Japanese rules but not the best under the Chinese rules, in which the dame points are important.
Past results: Previously this tournament was known as the China Changde Cup World Mingren Weiqi Championship and was held in the city of Changde in Hunan Province. First prize is 300,000 yuan (about $48,400). Previous winners: 1st (July 24‾27, 2010). Gu Li 9P (China); 2nd (August 17‾20, 2011). Pak Yeong-hun 9P (Korea); 3rd (September 10‾13, 2012). Jiang Weijie 9P (China)

Suzuki to Challenge for Women’s Meijin: All the games in the final round of the 27th Women’s Meijin League were held on January 82015.01.13_Suzuki-ayumi at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo. The result was that three players ended up on 4-2, but there is no play-off in this league: the top-ranked player takes precedence. This was Suzuki Ayumi 6P (right), ranked number three; actually she lost her last game, but still topped Aoki Kikuo 8P (league newcomer) and Mannami Nao 3P (also a league newcomer), the other players on 4-2. Suzuki will make her first challenge for the Women’s Meijin title, which Xie Yimin has held for seven years in a row. It will be Suzuki’s first title match for seven years. The results: Chinen Kaori 4P (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi by 7.5 points; Mannami Nao (B) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by 6.5 points; Aoki Kikuyo (W) beat Ishii Akane 2P by resig.
If Mukai had won her game, she would have been the challenger. Final placings in the league are: Suzuki, Aoki, Mannami, and Kato Keiko 6P (who had a bye in the last round). Mukai, Chinen, and Ishii lost their places.

Meijin League: Two games were played in the 40th Meijin League on January 8. Takao Shinji Tengen (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. and Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke Oza, also by resig. On 2-0, Takao provisionally leads the league; the other players mentioned above are all 1-1.

Honinbo League: In the first game of the fourth round of the 70th Honinbo League, Mimura Tomoyasu 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig. Mimura and Cho are both on 2-2. Ida Atsushi 8P has the lead with 3-0. He will play Ryu Shikun in this round.

2014 Statistics
Here are some of the statistics for the 2014 tournament year in Japan.
Most wins
1. Kono Rin 9P: 50 wins 26 losses
2. Kyo Kagen 2P: 45-12
3. Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo: 40-14
4. Ichiriki Ryo 7P: 36-14
5. Takao Shinji Tengen: 34-23
6. Ida Atsushi 8P: 33-15
7. Yamashita Keigo 9P: 32-20
8. Shida Tatsuya 7P: 31-10; Iyama Yuta Kisei: 31-19
10. Kobayashi Satoru 9P: 28-11

Best winning percentages
1. Kyo: 78.95%
2. Imamura Yoshiaki 9P: 75.86 % (22-7)
3. Kataoka Satoshi 9P: 75.76% (25-8)
4. Shida: 75.61%
5. Fujisawa: 74.07%

Most successive wins
1. Kono: 19
2. Kyo: 17
3. Ichiriki: 16
4. Kyo: 13

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report (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

Tuesday December 30, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Takao Takes Tengen Title From Iyama: The second game of the 40th Tengen title match was held at the Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo in 2014.12.27_Takao-ShinjiSapporo City, Hokkaido, on November 11. Playing white, Takao Shinji 9P (right) beat Iyama Yuta Tengen (left) by resignation after 164 moves. The game was the reverse of the first game: this time Takao held the initiative throughout. 2014.12.27_Iyama-YutaIyama played unreasonably in an attempt to catch up and had to resign when he lost two groups. The third game was played at the Kameyama-Tei Hotel in Hita City, Oita Prefecture, on November 25. The opening was peaceful, but the game soon turned into a fierce fight between opposing groups. In the end, Iyama, playing white, brought down a large black group, forcing Takao to resign after 146 moves. With a 2-1 lead, Iyama’s chances of winning the Tengen title for the fourth year in a row looked very good. The fourth game was played at the Arima Grand Hotel in Kobe City on December 11. It featured three spectacular trades; Takao (white) seized the lead through his clever use of thickness. At the end, Iyama, realizing that he couldn’t give the komi, launched a do-or-die attack. Takao survived it safely, so Iyama resigned after move 288. The final game was held at the Hotel Clement Tokushima in Tokushima City on December 19. This was just three days after Iyama had lost the Oza title to Murakawa Daisuke. Takao drew white in the nigiri. Iyama’s fatigue perhaps showed in the fact that he played very fast. Early in the middle game,Takao made a trade of territory for central thickness and then skillfully erased the centre. From around move 64, Takao seized the initiative and held on to it throughout. In most games, the lead fluctuates, but Iyama was never ahead. Takao did give him a chance to create complications, but Iyama failed to take it. He resigned after move 212. Some observers commented that the game was a masterly win for Takao. He now has two titles (he also holds the Judan) and Iyama is reduced to four. First prize is 14 million yen, ranking the Tengen fifth among the top seven titles.

To 8-dan: Murakawa Daisuke (for winning the Oza title; promotion as of Dec. 17)
To 7-dan: Kanazawa Makoto (for entering the Meijin League; as of Nov. 14), Anzai Nobuaki  (120 wins; as of Nov. 28)
To 4-dan:  Tamai Shin (50 wins; as of Nov. 28)
To 3-dan: Kumamoto Shusei (40 wins; as of Nov. 21)
To 2-dan: Kikkawa Hajime (30 wins; as of Dec. 5)

Konishi To Challenge For Women’s Kisei: In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 18th Women’s Kisei title, Konishi Kazuko 8P (B) defeated Aoba Kaori 4P by resignation. The game was played on December 8. Konishi was born on October 28, 1972. She took second place in the 19th Women’s Kakusei title (1997), the 7th and 8th Women’s Strongest Player titles (2005 and 2006).

Good Year For Fujisawa Rina: The sixteen-year-old Fujisawa Rin had a breakthrough year this year, winning two titles. On the last day of professional play this year, December 25, she scored her 40th win of the year, beating Koyama Hideo 5P in the First Tournament of the Kisei tournament (the first section of the revamped Kisei is called “fasuto tonamento”). Forty wins is a significant number for a professional,
as you need to win about two-thirds of your games to achieve it, and only two male players made it this year. Fujisawa is only the third female player ever to reach this landmark. Her record was 40 wins to 14 losses; Xie Yimin scored 40-16 in 2007, and the record is held by Kobayashi Izumi with 41-18 in 2001.

Cho U Eliminated From Chunlan Cup: The quarterfinals of the 10th Chunlan Cup were held on Christmas Day. Gu Li 9P (China) defeated Japan’s sole remaining representative, Cho U 9P; Gu had white and won by 1.5 points. Results in the other games were: Zhou Weiyang 9P (W) (China) beat Shi Yue 9P (China) by resig.; Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (W) beat Pak Jung-hwan 9P (Korea) by resig.; Kim Je-seok 9P (Korea) (B) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by resig. Pairings in the semifinals, to be held on December 27, are: Gu vs. Kim and Zhou vs. Chen.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report