American Go E-Journal » Japan

The Power Report: Aoki To Challenge For Women’s Kisei; Iyama Keeps Grand Slam Dreams Alive; First Round Of Meijin League Completed; Honinbo League Update; Women’s Meijin League; Korea Wins New International Tournament

Friday January 3, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Aoki To Challenge For Women’s Kisei: For the third year in a row, the Women’s Kisei title will feature a clash between Aoki Kikuyo 8P (right) and Xie Yimin. The play-off to decide the challenger was held at the Ryusei Studio, a TV studio for the cable TV go and shogi channel located in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in at Ichigaya in Tokyo, on December 16. Taking white, Aoki defeated Ishii Akane 2P by resignation after 256 moves. Aoki won this title from Xie in 2012, but lost it back in 2013. The best-of-three title match for the 17th title will begin on January 23.

Iyama Keeps Grand Slam Dreams Alive: Iyama Yuta played an important game on December 17. If he is to have a chance of scoring a full-fledged grand slam next year, he first of all has to become the challenger for the Judan title, the only one of the top seven not in his keeping. To do this, he needed to win two more games. The first was the semifinal, held on the 17th. Taking black, he defeated Mizokami Tomochika 8P by resignation, so he has reached the play-off to decide the challenger. His opponent will be the winner of the other semifinal, Takao Shinji 9P.

First Round Of Meijin League Completed: Two games in the 39th Meijin League were played in mid-December, completing the first round. On the 16th, Takao Shinji 9P (B) defeated Yuki Satoshi Judan by resignation. On the 19th, Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P, also by resignation.

Honinbo League Update: On December 19, two games were played in the 69th Honinbo League. Cho U 9P defeated league newcomer Ida Atsushi 7P (left) by just half a point to secure a plus record. He and Ida are both on 2-1. The other league newcomer, Yo Seiki 7P, picked up his first win after starting with two losses. Taking black, he beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by 3.5 points.

Women’s Meijin League: One game was played in the 26th Women’s Meijin League on December 19. Ishii Akane 2P (B) beat Okuda Aya 3P by resignation, but both players have lost their places in the league. The top four keep their places, but four players already have three wins, so Okuda, now on 1-4, can’t catch up. Ishii is on 2-4 and has played all her games; she has a bye in the final round. Kato Keiko 6P leads the league on 4-1.

Korea Wins New International Tournament: Yet another new international tournament has been founded in China (there are so many now that it’s hard to keep track). The latest arrival is the Zhugang Cup World Weiqi Team Championship, organized by the Chinese Weiqi Association and the Guangzhou City Physical Education Congress. Presumably Zhugang is the name of the sponsor, but I have no information about this. The new tournament is for three-player teams, who play one-on-one games up to the final.

The first Cup was held from December 20 to 25, starting with a preliminary round on the 20th, followed by a ranking tournament from the 22nd to the 24th to decide the 16th to 5th places. The top four teams met in semifinals and the top two played a final, all on the 25th; uniquely for an official tournament, the final took the form of a consultation game, with the players on each team conferring about their moves. There were some famous consultation games in  prewar Japan, but they were not in official tournaments. Another novel feature of the tournament is that Japan, China, and Korea each fielded a second team, made up of players who had won international tournaments. These are the teams with “W” after the country’s name (“W” seems to be short for “wild cards”).

First of all, here are the placings in the ranking tournament (ties were broken by win totals).
1. Korea 5-0
2. China: 4-1
3. China W: 4-1
4. Korea W: 3-2
5. Japan W: 3-2
6. Japan: 3-2
7. Chinese Taipei: 3-2
8. Hong Kong: 3-2
9. Thailand: 2-3
10. USA: 2-3
11. Germany: 2-3
12. Australia: 2-3
13. Ukraine: 2-3
14. Czech Republic: 1-4
15. Canada: 1-4
16. Macao: 0-5

In the semifinals, Korea beat Korea W 3-0 and China beat China W by the same margin. In the final, the Korean team of Kang Tong-yun 9P, Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P, and Pak Cheong-hwan 9P (B) beat the Chinese team of Shi Yu 9P, Zhou Ruiyang 9P, and Chen Yaoye 9P by resignation. Presumably in order to allow for the extra time required for the players to consult, the time allowance for this game was four and a half hours per team, followed by byo-yomi of 60 seconds x 5 times. This is probably the longest time allowance for an international tournament so far. (For the other games, the time allowance was two hours 45 minutes, with the same byo-yomi.)

In the play-off for third place, held on the same day, China W beat Korea W 3-0. The individual results here were as follows (all players are 9P): Gu Li (B) beat Cho Hun-hyeon by resig.; Chang Hao (W) beat Yu Ch’ang-hyeok by 7.5 points; Kong Jie (B) beat Yi Ch’ang-ho by resig. Just for the record, the Japan W team, which ended above the regular team, was made up of Kobayashi Koichi, Cho Chikun, and Takemiya Masaki. The members of the regular team were O Meien, Ryu Shikun, and Mizokami Tomochika.
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Categories: Japan,World
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Maeda Organizing 2014 Go Camp in Osaka

Friday December 20, 2013

Maeda Ryo 6P, the popular Japanese professional who’s a regular attendee at the annual U.S.Go Congress, is organizing a 3-week intensive go camp in Osaka again next year, running from June 29 through July 19. “We had 32 attendees from 11 countries all over the world this year, including Iraq and Bahrain, and it was a blast,” Maeda (right) says. “After the long day of training and lectures, they were still playing till midnight! There was lots of laughter and great spirit; we had such a great time.” 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. Register by the end of February for a 5,000-yen discount. The camp is sponsored by Kansai Kiin and the Osaka University of Commerce. Email osaka.go.2014@gmail.com for more info or to reserve your space. Maeda photo by Peter Mooyman

The Power Report: Japan Eliminated from Nong Shim; China Wins 15th Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-Off; Unusually Strong Meijin League Starts; Women’s Meijin League

Monday December 9, 2013

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Japan Eliminated from Nong Shim: As reported last week, Japan made a bad start to the second round, held in Pusan, of the 15th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup when its third player, Kono Rin 9P, was eliminated. Yuki Satoshi 9P also lost his first game, so it looked as if Japan might suffer the ignominy of going winless. Cho U averted that with a good win, but he lost the final game in the round, so the Japanese team has been eliminated. The experiment of blooding two young and inexperienced players (Yo Chito and Anzai Nobuaki; see our report on the opening round, played October 22-25) has not been a success, though in their defense one has to say they didn’t do much worse than their seniors. The final round will be played in Shanghai from February 25 to 28. China has three players left and Korea two.
Results for the remaining games in this round follow: Game 6 (Dec. 3). Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (B) defeated Kang Tong-yun 9P (Korea) by resig. Game 7 (Dec. 4). Chen (B) d. Yuki Satoshi 9P (Japan) by resig. Game 8 (Dec. 5). Chen (B) d. Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P (Korea) by 18.5 points. Game 9 (Dec. 6). Cho U 9P (Japan) (B) d. Chen by resig. Game 10 (Dec. 7). Kim Chi-seok 9P (Korea) (W) d. Cho by resig. photos courtesy Go Game Guru; click here for more Nonshim reports, photos and game records.

China Wins 15th Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-Off: For the 11th year in a row, China has won the annual play-off between the holders of the Japanese and Chinese versions of the Agon Kiriyama Cup, which is sponsored by the Agon Buddhist sect. The game was held in Hangzhou City on December 3; taking white, Lian Xiao 4P of China defeated Murakawa Daisuke 7P of Japan by resignation after 164 moves.

Unusually Strong Meijin League Starts: The 39th Meijin League started with a game between two heavyweights, Yamashita Keigo 9P and Hane Naoki 9P, on December 5. Playing white, Yamashita made a good start with a win by resignation. Go Weekly made an interesting observation. All the members of the quartet that dominated the first decade of this century, Yamashita, Hane, Cho U, and Takao Shinji, are present in this league. That is probably quite unusual for a league, as usually one of these players is Kisei, Meijin or Honinbo. There are joined by two other top players from recent years, Kono Rin and Yuki Satoshi, so that makes this year’s Meijin League a very strong one. The other three players are Ryu Shikun, Murakawa Daisuke, and Ko Iso. One of the nine players will have the unenviable task next September of challenging Iyama Yuta.

Women’s Meijin League: Two games in the 26th Women’s Meijin League were played on December 5. Newly-minted Women’s Honinbo Mukai Chiaki (B) beat Suzuki Ayumi 6P by resig. and Yoshida Mika 8P (W, at right) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by 10.5 points. For Suzuki, this was her second loss, so she dropped out of a theoretical tie with Kato Keiko 6P (on 4-1) for first. Mukai and Suzuki are both on 3-2, so they still have a chance if Kato stumbles in the final round.

Promotion: A win on December 5 was Yoshioka Kaoru’s 150th as 7-dan, so it earned him promotion to 8-dan.

Categories: Japan
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SportAccord World Mind Games Japanese Player Profiles

Thursday December 5, 2013

Thirty players (18 men and 12 women) from around the world — China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, Japan, Korea and North America — will compete for major cash prizes in this year’s SportAccord World Mind Games, coming up December 12-18 in Beijing. Here are Michael Redmond’s 9P’s introduction and brief biographical sketches of the Japanese players. Redmond and EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock will be providing play-by-play game commentary on the SAWMG YouTube channel as well as coverage in the EJ. click here to see the player roster and schedule

by Michael Redmond 9P
Overall, it is clear that Japan has decided to give younger players a chance this year. Unfortunately, star players from the same age group such as Murakawa Daisuke and Ichiriki Ryo are missing, I would have liked to see them in this tournament. Murakawa was the B league winner of the Kisei league and recently he lost to Yamashita Keigo in the playoff to decide the challenger. In the league he bested top players such as Takao Shinji, Hane Naoki, and Kono Rin. I suppose that the Kisei tournament, among other things, posed a potential schedule issue for him this time. Ichiriki is a formidable 16 year old player, he seems to be winning all the time. Two weeks ago he lost to Ko Iso in the final to enter the Meijin league, his only loss in the recent past that I can remember. I would guess he has some other schedule issues. As to the women, judging from domestic tournaments I would have expected to see Xie Imin, Mukai Chiaki, or Okuda Aya, but actually I have a feeling that Yoshida might have a better track record in international tournaments.

Rina Fujisawa 2P: Born in 1998, at the age of 11 years and 6 months, she became the youngest player to become pro in Japan, breaking Cho Chikun’s record of 11 and 9 months. She began playing as a pro in April 2010, and caused some comment by beating a 9-dan in June of the same year. Rina is the granddaughter of Fujisawa Shuko, and her father is Fujisawa Kazunari 8P. She has an intuitive and aggressive style.

Akihiro Fujita 4P: Born in 1991, Akihiro became a pro in 2006. Won the 38th Shinjin-O (New Kings) tournament in 2013, and in 2010 came one win away from entering the Honinbo league, losing to Yamashiro 9p in the final round. He is considered to be one of the most promising young players in Japan.

Tomoya Hirata 3P: Born in 1994, became pro in 2009. Plays an aggressive style. In June this year I played him and published a commentary in the EJ on the game, which I lost by a mistake in late middlegame.

Kazushi Tsuruta 2P: Born in 1995, became pro in 2010. In 2011 he won into the Gosei Honsen.

Mika Yoshida 8P: Born in 1971, became pro in 1986. Won several Women’s titles from 1992 to 2005. Plays a well-balanced style.

The Power Report (Part 3): Second Round Of Nong Shim Cup Starts; Severe Penalty For Lateness; Obituary: Oka Mitsuo; Promotion: Yo Chito

Wednesday December 4, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Second Round Of Nong Shim Cup Starts: Japan has made a bad start in the second round of the 15th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup, which is being played in Pusan, Korea. In Game 5, played on December 2, Kang Tong-yun 9P of Korea (W) defeated Kono Rin 9P by resignation. Japan has yet to score a win, and only Yuki Satoshi 9P and Cho U 9P are left.

Severe Penalty For Lateness: Unfamiliarity with Tokyo trains cost Arakaki Shun 9P of the Kansai Ki-in nearly one half of his time allowance in a game at the Nihon Ki-in on November 21. Arakaki got on a train going the wrong way on the Yamanote loop line and so was 27 minutes late. According to the rules, the time a player is late is tripled and deducted from the time allowance. With the one minute Arakaki actually spent on his first move thrown in, that meant that he lost one hour 22 minutes out of three hours on his first move. Not surprisingly, he lost the game.

Obituary: Oka Mitsuo
Oka Mitsuo 7P died on November 19. Born on August 10, 1932, Oka became a disciple of Segawa Yoshio 9P. He turned professional in 1962 and reached 6-dan in 1978. He retired in 1998 and was promoted to 7-dan.

Promotion: Yo Chito
Yo Chito was promoted to 2-dan on November 29. The fifteen-year-old Yo made his international debut recently as a member of Japan’s Nong Shim Cup team.

Categories: Japan
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The Power Report (Part 2): Newcomer Makes Good Start In Honinbo League; Ichiriki Wins Young Carp Tournament; 26th Women’s Meijin League; Aoki vs. Ishii In Women’s Kisei Play-Off; Mukai Finally Beats Xie; Hane Defends Okan Title

Tuesday December 3, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Newcomer Makes Good Start In Honinbo League: Three players are undefeated after two rounds in the 69th Honinbo League. Two of them are heavyweights, Yamashita Keigo 9P and Kono Rin 9P; the surprise is that the third is league newcomer Ida Atsushi 7P (right). Born on March 15, 1994, Ida started out the year as a 4-dan, but jumped to 7-dan when he won a Honinbo seat. He is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. Ida’s second win came on November 14, when, playing white, he beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by resig.

Ichiriki Wins Young Carp Tournament: The 8th Hiroshima Aluminium Cup Young Carp Tournament, open to Nihon Ki-in players 30 and under and 6-dan and under, was held on November 16 and 17. It was won by the sixteen-year-old Ichiriki Ryo 3P (left). Playing white in the final, he defeated Fujita Akihiko 4P, holder of the King of the New Stars title, by resignation.

26th Women’s Meijin League: In a game played on November 14, Chinen Kaori 4P (W) beat Okuda Aya 3P by 2.5 points. This extended Chinen’s score to 3-1, bringing her level with Suzuki Ayumi 6P.  The league leader is Kato Keiko on 4-1. In another game, played on November 20, Yoshida Mika 8P picked up his first win by beating Ishii Akane 2P; Yoshida had black and won by resignation.

Aoki vs. Ishii In Women’s Kisei Play-Off: In the semifinals of the 17th Women’s Kisei tournament, held on November 18, Ishii Akane 2P (B) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by resignation and Aoki Kikuyo 8P (W) beat Konishi Kazuko 8P, also by resignation, so Ishii and Aoki will meet in the play-off to decide the challenger to Xie Yimin.

Mukai Finally Beats Xie: Mukai Chiaki (right) has finally succeeded in a title challenge to Xie Yimin. In the fifth game of the 32nd Women’s Honinbo title match, held at the Nihon K-in in Tokyo on November 27, Mukai (B) beat Xie by resignation after 251 moves. This was an impressive win for Mukai, as she spent a large part of the game under severe pressure. She made a reducing move that was a little too deep, and for the next 100 moves or so a large group of hers was harried and harassed by Xie. Spectators thought that Xie would win, but Mukai found a brilliant move that secured a link with another group. Xie is the one known for staging upsets in tough positions, but here she was on the receiving end. This win earned Mukai her first title after six unsuccessful challenges, five of them to Xie. The latter is now reduced to two titles.

Hane Defends Okan Title: The Okan or Crown title decides the top player at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in. The 54th title match (just one game) was held on November 29. Hane Naoki (B) defeated the challenger, Nakano Hironari 9P, by resignation after 237 moves. This is Hane’s tenth Okan title. His father, Hane Yasumasa, also won it four times; as far as I know, this is the only case of two players in the same family winning the same title.

Tomorrow: Second Round Of Nong Shim Cup Starts; Severe Penalty For Lateness; Obituary: Oka Mitsuo; Promotion: Yo Chito

Categories: Japan
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The Power Report (Part 1): All-Chinese Final In LG Cup; Yamashita To Challenge For Kisei Title; Iyama Defends Tengen Title; Cho U Picks Up First Win In Oza Title Match, But Iyama Defends; Iyama Reaches Judan Semifinals

Monday December 2, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

All-Chinese Final In LG Cup: The quarterfinals and semifinals of the 18th LG Cup were held in Inch’eon City in Korea on November 11 and 13. Chinese players had dominated the tournament so far, taking six of the eight quarterfinal places, but for once Japan had done better than Korea, with Takao Shinji and Iyama Yuta taking the other two places. However, this was as far as their luck held out, as they were both eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Quarterfinal results, Nov. 11: Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (B) defeated Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resignation; Tuo Jiaxi 3P (China) (B) d. Takao Shinji 9P (Japan) by 4.5 points; Li Zhe 6P (China) (W) d. Xia Chenkun 2P (China) by resig.; Zhou Ruiyang 9P (China) (B) d. Li Qincheng 1P (China) by resig.
Semifinal results, Nov. 13: Tuo (B) d. Li by resig.; Zhou (B) d. Chen by 4.5 points. The final is scheduled for February 10, 12, and 13. photo: 18th LG Cup semifinalists, from left: Li Zhe 6 dan, Tuo Jiaxi 3 dan, Zhou Ruiyang 9 dan and Chen Yaoye 9 dan; photo courtesy GoGameGuru

Yamashita To Challenge For Kisei Title: The play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta for the 38th Kisei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 14. Playing white, Yamashita Keigo 9P forced Murakawa Daisuke 7P to resign after 144 moves. Yamashita has won the Kisei title five times, first in 2003 and then from 2006 to 2009. This will be his chance to seek revenge for his loss of the Meijin title to Iyama this year. The first game will be played in Alcala de Henares, near Madrid, in Spain on January 11 & 12. With a first prize of 45 million yen (nearly $440,000 USD), the Kisei is Japan’s richest title.

Iyama Defends Tengen Title: The third game of the 39th Tengen title match was held at the Yutoku Inari Shrine in Kashima City, Saga Prefecture on November 28. Iyama Yuta (W) defeated Akiyama Jiro 9P by resignation after 176 moves, so he defended his title with straight wins. This is his third successive Tengen title; he now has a winning streak of nine wins in the Tengen.

Cho U Picks Up First Win In Oza Title Match, But Iyama Defends: Games Two and Three in the 61st Oza title match were held in quick succession at the Saryo Soen inn in Akiu Hot Spring, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. It’s quite unusual to hold two games from a title match in a row at the same venue outside Tokyo; it was made necessary, of course, by Iyama Yuta’s crowded schedule. The second game was played on November 19; taking black, Iyama won by resignation after 243 moves. This gave him a 2-0 lead over the challenger, Cho U 9P. It looked as if the match might end very quickly, as the third game was played on the 21st, with only one day’s break. However, Cho (right) played a masterly game with black and forced a resignation after just 161 moves, making the series a lot more interesting. This was the fourth time two games have been played in a row like this and the first time the wins have been shared. The fourth game was played at the Sanyoso inn in Izu-no-kuni City, Shizuoka Prefecture on December 2. Taking black, Iyama won by resignation after 221 moves, so he defended his title with a 3-1 score. This is his second successive Oza title and it maintained his current tally at six of the top seven. He has also taken his overall tally to 22, which is even with O Rissei and Hane Naoki in 13th place.
The Oza title match was the last of the tournament year. This is the first year since 2001 that Cho U has failed to win a title. Iyama has proved to be his nemesis, but he is too good a player not to make a comeback. Incidentally, Iyama’s six first prizes and his TV Asia win have earned him 152.5 million yen $1.5 million USD). Various match fees and game fees have to be added to this, so his final total should be a new record by a big margin.

Iyama Reaches Judan Semifinals: The significance of this news item is that Iyama is keeping alive his chances of becoming the first player ever to win a genuine grand slam, that is, all seven titles in one year. To do so, he needs to become the Judan challenger and then to win it after defending his Kisei title at the beginning of next year. Iyama’s opponent in the semifinal is Mizokami Tomochika 8P. The other semifinal matches Hane Naoki against Takao Shinji.

Tomorrow: Newcomer Makes Good Start In Honinbo League; Ichiriki Wins Young Carp Tournament; 26th Women’s Meijin League; Aoki vs. Ishii In Women’s Kisei Play-Off; Mukai Finally Beats Xie; Hane Defends Okan Title

CORRECTION:  The Kisei first prize of 45 million yen has been updated to reflect that it’s worth nearly $440,000 USD, not the $300,000 originally reported.

Categories: Japan
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E-Journal & Ranka to Cover 3rd SportAccord World Mind Games

Sunday December 1, 2013

The third edition of the SportAccord World Mind Games is set for December 12-18 in Beijing. The American Go E-Journal will once again team up with Ranka to provide coverage this year, with Michael Redmond 9P and EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock providing play-by-play game commentary on the SAWMG YouTube channel as well as coverage in the EJ. Thirty players (18 men and 12 women) from around the world — China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, Japan, Korea and North America — will compete for major cash prizes; click here to see the player roster and schedule.

Nihon Ki-in Announces New Under-20 World Tourney

Saturday November 30, 2013

The ‘GLOBIS Cup World Go U-20’, a new Japanese world championship for under-20 players, will be held May 8-11 2014 in Tokyo, the Nihon Ki-in has announced. The winner will win 3 million Japanese yen (about $30,000 USD) and all players will receive 35,000 JPY (about $350) for participating. Sixteen players under 20 years of age (as of January 1st 2014) will compete: six from Japan, three each from Korea and China, and one each from Chinese Taipei, Europe, North America and Oceania. “After the termination of the Fujitsu Cup, I am very glad to know that the Nihon Kiin is back to sponsor a world championship,” says AGA Vice President for International
Affairs Thomas Hsiang. The AGA will soon announce a selection procedure for this tournament.

Categories: Japan,World,Youth
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Big Jubango Between Lee Sedol & Gu Li Set To Start In January

Friday November 29, 2013

MLily 2014 jubangoThe dates for the much-anticipated match between Lee Sedol 9p (top left) and Gu Li 9p (bottom left) have finally been announced. The jubango, or ten-game match, will begin on January 26, 2014 in Beijing. Sponsor MLily will award the first player to win six games with 5 million RMB (approximately 820,000 USD). The other player will receive a consolation prize of 200,000 RMB (approximately 33,000 USD). If the score is tied 5-5, the prize will be split without a tie-breaker.

“I think these two players are the best choice for a jubango, and the games will be very exciting,” said Liu Siming, president of the Chinese Weiqi Association. “There hasn’t been a jubango like this in the last 70 years, but we’ve pushed ahead to make this one happen.” With twenty-one international titles between the two of them, Liu considers Lee and Gu “still the best” among today’s top players. Liu also delivered the exciting news that each of the ten games will be played in a different city.

Gu and Lee themselves, though, are trying to stay humble. When asked how he will prepare for the jubango, Gu said, “This match will be a very important part of my career and life.” He has already logged many hours studying to prepare. As for Lee, he does not believe that being the top ranked Korean player has anything to do with how the jubango will unfold. “There were many lightning games in the first half of 2013, and I lost many of them,” Lee said. “However there have been more games with longer time limits in the second half of the year, and I’ve been able to achieve better results in those games. That’s all there is to it.”

For more information about the 2014 MLily Gu vs Lee jubango, please visit Go Game Guru. For the full jubango schedule, please visit Go Game Guru’s Pro Go Calendar.
–- Annalia Linnan, based on a longer article by Go Game Guru, photo courtesy of Go Game Guru