by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Iyama Increases Lead in Meijin: Iyama Yuta Kisei (right) now needs only one more win to regain the Meijin title. In the fourth game, played at the Agora Fukuoka Hilltop Hotel & Spa in Fukuoka City on October 9 and 10, Iyama (W) beat Yamashita Keigo Meijin by resignation after 196 moves. Yamashita lost further ground after his disastrous blunder in a winning position in the third game. What stood out in the fourth game was Iyama’s skill at shinogi, that is, rescuing a weak group without incurring a disadvantage. Go reporters covering the game used the term “attacking shinogi,” and Iyama proved that it was not an oxymoron. For much of the middle game, Iyama had a large eyeless group that was subject to attack. Yamashita made leaning attacks on other white groups to build thickness for attacking the weak group. Instead of saving it directly, Iyama took even more profit in neighboring areas but in a way that offered indirect assistance to his large group. When the crunch came, he cleverly secured two eyes for his forty-stone group. Way behind on territory, Yamashita had no choice but to resign. This whole battle was fought by Iyama under time pressure, as he went into byo-yomi on move 80. The fifth game will be played on October 16 and 17.
Women’s Honinbo Title Match Tied: Two games have already been played in the 32nd Women’s Honinbo best-of-five title match. The challenger, Mukai Chiaki 5P, made a good start by winning the opening game, but the defending champion, Xie Yimin 6P (left), fought back to even the series in the second game. The first game was played at the Kashoen Inn in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture, on October 2. Mukai, taking black, defeated Xie by resignation after 143 moves. Xie played a little slackly in the middle game and let Mukai cut off and kill a large group. The second game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya in central Tokyo on October 7. Mukai secured a slight advantage in the middle game, but Xie was able to stage an upset. She won by 3.5 points after 274 moves. There are some interesting statistics for Xie’s seven Women’s Honinbo title matches (including this one). She has a minus record in the opening game, having won only three out of the seven. However, she has never lost the second or third game. Mukai will have to break this pattern to take the title. The third game will be played on October 29.
Yamashita Wins Ryusei After Final Replayed: Between his Meijin games, Yamashita Keigo (right) found time to play the final of the 22nd Ryusei tournament. However, once was not enough. His opponent was Kono Rin, and the game ended in a no-result because of a triple ko (Yamashita had black). Incidentally, the referee who adjudicated the game as a no-result was Michael Redmond 9P. In the replay, held on the same day, Yamashita again drew black and forced a resignation after 177 moves. First prize is six million yen
Kisei Leagues Concluded: All the fifth-round games in the 38th Kisei Leagues were played on October 3, but the only suspense involved was the question of which players would keep their places, as the league winners had been decided in the fourth round. The results were as follows. A League: Yamashita Keigo Meijin (W) defeated Kiyonari Tetsuya 9P by 1.5 points. Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) d. Kobayashi Satoru 9P by 2.5 points. Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (B) d. Cho U 9P by 1.5 points. B League: 25th Honinbo Chikun (W) d. Murakawa Daisuke 7P by resig. Takao Shinji 9P (B) d. Kono Rin 9P by resig. Mizokami Tomochika 8P (W) d. Hane Naoki 9P by resig. Yamashita and Murakawa had already won their respective leagues. In the A League, Cho U and Kiyonari lost their places. Cho U, the immediate past Kisei, was able to win only one game. In the B League, Kono and Mizokami lost their places.
Murakawa Wins Agon Kiriyama Cup: The final of the 20th Agon tournament was held at the Kyoto headquarters of the sponsoring Agon Buddhist sect on October 5. The 22-year-old Murakawa Daisuke 7P of the Kansai Ki-in was matched against Shida Tatsuya 6P, also aged 22, of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in. Both players had won minor titles, but whoever won this game would take a new step in his career. Playing black, Murakawa beat Shida by 3.5 points after 246 moves. The prize money is ten million yen, which is the sixth-highest in Japan. Murakawa will represent Japan in the play-off with the winner of the Chinese version of this title.
Women’s Meijin League: Two games in the 26th Women’s Meijin League were played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on October 10. Okuda Aya 3P, the previous challenger, scored her first win when she beat Yoshida Mika 8P (W) by resignation. The other game was between the joint leaders of this year’s league, Kato Keiko 6P and Suzuki Ayumi 6P, who were both on 3-0. Playing black, Kato won by 2.5 points, so she now has the sole lead; however, if she later loses a game she may be handicapped by her number five ranking in the league. This game was originally scheduled for November, but it was brought forward a month, as Kato is due to have a baby next month.