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The Power Report (1): Iyama to challenge for two more titles; Kisei Leagues

Monday September 21, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama to challenge for two more titles: At present, Iyama (right) has four titles — Kisei, Meijin, Honinbo, and Gosei – but he is making a 2015.09.21_Two in a row for Iyamadetermined effort to retrieve the glory days of his sextuple crown. All he has to do is to win back the two titles he lost towards the end of last year. His campaign is running smoothly and last week he won the play-offs to decide the Oza and Tengen challengers.

2015.09.21_Iyama (L) beat Yo Seiki in Oza play-offFirst of all, the final of the 63rd Oza tournament was held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on Monday, September 7. Iyama (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in by resignation after 157 moves (left). This earned him a rematch with Murakawa Daisuke Oza, also of the Kansai Ki-in, who took the title from him last year. Murakawa showed tenacity in recovering from a 1-2 deficit to win two games in a row. Yo Seiki has been securing excellent results recently, regaining his Honinbo League seat immediately after dropping out and reaching the best eight in an international tournament, the LG Cup, but if you want to take a title in Japan, virtually the only way to do so is by defeating Iyama Yuta. Interviewed after the game, Iyama commented: “Since losing in the Oza match last year, the desire to return to the same stage has been one of the major factors motivating me. I hope to make a better showing than last year.” 

Later in the same week, on Thursday, September 10, the play-off to decide the Tengen challenger was held at the same venue (games are 2015.09.21_Iyama (L) beat Yuki Satoshi in Tengen play-offusually played on the home ground of the higher-ranked player).  Taking white, Iyama forced Yuki Satoshi 9P (Kansai Ki-in) to resign after 228 moves (left). Yuki was also strongly motivated for this game, as he had won the title in 2010, but lost it to Iyama the following year. He actually got off to a slightly superior start, but slipped up in the early middle game (right)Iyama now has a big opportunity to regain his sextuple crown, but he is looking further ahead than that. After the Tengen game, he commented: “I’m 2015.09.21_last move in Tengen play-offhappy that the link to my goal of winning seven crowns has not been cut.” To keep this possibility open, Iyama has to make sure he keeps winning in the Judan tournament while fighting three title matches. The Oza title match starts on October 20 and the Tengen three days later.

Kisei Leagues: The final game in the S League of the 40th Kisei tournament was played at the Nihon Ki-in on September 10.  Playing white, Takao Shinji Tengen beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. The place in the league are: 1. Yamashita Keigo (4-1); 2. Murakawa Daisuke Oza (3-2); 3. Yoda Norimoto 9P (3-2); 4. Takao (2-3); 5. Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (2-3); 6. Kobayashi (1-4). The top four players keep their seats, but actually Takao is not yet assured of staying in 4th place. If the winner of the B or C League were to 2015.09.21_40th-kisei-leagues-chartbecome the challenger, Takao would be bounced out. At that point, Yamashita would remain in the league, but the loser of the title match would take the number one seat in the S League, so Takao would also drop to the A League. This is yet another permutation in the complicated tournament system the Yomiuri Newspaper came up with.

Previously we reported that Kono Rin 9P had won the A League in the sixth round. In his last game, Kono (B) beat 25th Honinbo Chikun by 8.5 points, so he finished the league undefeated on 7-0. The game was played on September 10. On September 17, the play-off between the winners of the B1 and B2 Leagues was held. Yamada Kimio 9P (B2 winner) (W) beat Awaji Shuzo 9P by 8.5 points. Yamada thus earned a place in the tournament to decide the challenger. He is guaranteed a place in the A League next year. From the B1 League, Awaji (first on 5-2) and Ryu Shikun 9P (second on 4-3 — thanks to being ranked number one, he pipped the other three players [out of eight] who also finished on 4-3) will be promoted to the A League. They will be joined by So Yokoku 9P, who was second in the B League. Second place in the A League was also decided on September 17 when Ichiriki Ryo 7P (B) beat Cho Riyu 8P by resig. Ichiriki earns a place in the S League.
Tomorrow: Kyo Kagen wins two junior titles; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama ekes out narrow win in Meijin

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The Power Report, Special Edition: Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp/Meijin match

Thursday September 10, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.09.06_Meijin-Iyama-Takao-review-1st-game

Last week, as Tokyo correspondent for the American Go E-Journal, I was invited to attend some special events held in connection with the Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp and the Meijin title match (at right). Here is my report.

Teaching Game: This year’s summer camp, which has become an annual event at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, was held for two weeks, from Friday, August 21, to Thursday, September 3. The camp had a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with 16 players of both sexes from 13 countries taking part and go ranks ranging from around 3-dan to double-digit kyu. One point that struck me was that, besides the Western countries you might expect, there were also participants from places like Hong Kong, China, and Singapore where there’s no shortage of local instructors. Word-of-mouth on this event must be good.

There was a full program, with morning and afternoon sessions every day. The 
program included sessions studying life-and-death and tesuji problems, lectures and simuls by professionals, goodwill matches with Japanese amateurs, and also a league tournament. A repeat participant, Michael Webster of England, was taken on as an intern at the Nihon Ki-in beforehand to help plan the camp; he also selected the life-and-death problems, including problems of various levels to cater for everyone. All the participants I got to speak to were happy with what they called a very enjoyable camp. The double-digit kyu-player referred to above told me that he was actually a virtual beginner but that he had a great time at the camp and that his motivation was now very high.


2015.09.09_NHK-Redmond-game-commentary.jpgThe event I was invited to attend was a teaching game played from 
noon to about two o’clock on Wednesday, September 2. This game was a reward for the winner of the camp league, who was Tyler Oyakawa 3D of the US. The professional was Fujisawa Rina 3P, holder of the Women’s Honinbo title and, at just 16, the great hope of women’s go in Japan.  Coincidentally, another American did a simultaneous public commentary in the same room: this was Michael Redmond 9P, who was assisted by his charming elder daughter Emi, who is about 1-dan amateur. Emi speaks three languages, Japanese, Chinese, and English; she is in her final year at Sophia University (Jochi) in Tokyo, and she is also interested in helping to spread go. The game, on three stones, was a relatively peaceful one because, for the most part, Rina did not, in Michael’s words (in conversation later), “play wildly, as I would have done.” If the handicap is correct, the pro can expect to catch up in the endgame, and this seemed to be Rina’s strategy; she ended up getting a good lead, however, leading Tyler to resign.

I found the commentary very instructive and so asked Michael to write it up f
or the E-Journal. He cheerfully complied, so you can click on his commentary here. After having the bright idea of making this request, I just sat back and enjoyed the game instead of taking notes. Just for the record, the Nihon Ki-in is also holding a winter camp this year, but it is of a different nature. It is open to go educators and instructors from the ASEAN countries, seven of which have go associations: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The camp will be mainly concerned with teaching and propagation methods.

Clash of the Honorary Meijins: In the afternoon on Wednesday, we were all invited to attend a special event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Asahi Meijin title and starting at 3:30. This was a public game between the only two players to have qualified as Honorary Meijin, Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi. Kobayashi has already assumed the title, as he turned 60 three years ago, but Cho Chikun is 59, so it’s not yet official for him. The criterion is winning the title five times in a row or ten times overall. Cho won the 5th to 9th titles, thus qualifying one way, then almost qualifying the other when he won the 21st to 24th titles. Kobayashi won the 10th title, then had a long run lasting from the 13th to the 19th.

2015.09.09_NHK-pro-game-commentary-600x450.jpgThis game was played in the Wisteria Room of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, informally known as just the Chinzanso, where the Meijin title match between Iyama Yuta and Takao Shinji was due to start the following day. The main commentator was 24th Honinbo Shuho, otherwise known as Ishida Yoshio 9P, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, among others. Prominent Meijins of the past in the audience, such as Otake Hideo, Rin Kaiho, Takemiya Masaki, and the incumbent, Iyama Yuta, were also called up on stage for their comments. Several people commented on how serious both Cho and Kobayashi seemed about the game. (As is usual with these public games, there were playing on the same stage as the commentary, but in theory the players are too absorbed in the game to pay attention to what is being said. That’s the theory, anyway.) In the past, these two were great rivals, especially in the 80s. Cho achieved success earlier and has outstripped Kobayashi (74 titles to 59); however, Kobayashi wrested his big titles, the Kisei and the Meijin, from the hands of Cho. The biggest regret of Kobayashi’s career is undoubtedly three successive Honinbo challenges rebuffed by Cho. Cho and Kobayashi hold the record for the most games between two players, at 129. We didn’t get an up-to-date breakdown at the public commentary, but someone did say that it was 63 wins each a couple of years ago (by the way, this game does not count, as it was unofficial).

As usual with these two, the game was a good contest and entertained the stan
ding-room-only audience. Takemiya commented: “The game is so fierce you’d think there was a big prize at stake. Each one thinks, this is the one player I don’t want to lose to.” Iyama also expressed admiration for their fighting spirit. The highlight of the game was an attack on a weak group launched by Kobayashi (White) on move 108. Everyone thought Cho was in trouble, but he came up with a clever counter that linked up his weak group at the cost of a two-stone sacrifice. At this point, Cho was ahead, but Kobayashi pulled off an upset in the endgame while Cho was in byo-yomi. Kobayashi ended up winning by 1.5 points.After the game–Kobayashi: “Black 109 was the kind of move you expect from Cho.” Cho: “Next year I can call myself Honorary Meijin, but forget about this honorary stuff. I’m going to become the real Meijin.”

Actually the game review was the most entertaining part of the event. Cho is 
a compulsive joker; you rarely hear a straight line from him. On the stage, he was like a runaway train. Poor Ishida in particular was the butt of his humor, with comments like, “I may play badly sometimes, but not badly enough to lose to Ishida.” Cho’s fellow pros take his humor in their stride, and Ishida kept trying to review the game with Kobayashi although drowned out by Cho. A number of times, Cho said to the audience: “Do you have any idea what those guys are going on about? I don’t.“   He also reproached Ishida with not giving his clever move at 109 adequate appreciation at the time, so he was certainly listening to the public commentary.

The eve party: In Japan, there’s a strong tradition of holding parties on the eve of major events. There’s a special word for it, “zenyasai” or “night-before festival.” The tradition is honored in go, and these parties are big events (about 240 people attended on Wednesday), especially for games played away from the major cities. They are like showcases for the local go community. The summer camp group was also invited to the eve party held from 6 pm. on the 2nd. Persons in attendance ranged from the heavies of the go world to ordinary go fans who apply by postcard for invitations.

At the party there were the usual speeches and, of more interest, short speeches by the players expressing their resolve for the match. Takao: “This year my results have been bad and I have a minus record. I hear it’s the first time ever the Meijin challenger has had a minus record, so I have set an unprecedented record. Just between you and me, it’s because I have staked everything on the Meijin title, so at present things are proceeding according to my scenario. I also have a scenario for after this, but it’s a secret. It’s not so often in a lifetime that you get to play a best-of-seven, so this is a valuable period for me. It’s important for me.” Iyama’s reply: “I don’t know what kind of scenario Takao Sensei is writing, but the Meijin is a special title. This title alone I can’t hand over.”        

Among the guests appearing on stage was Michael Redmond, who, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, did a public commentary on the game on Friday afternoon. On Thursday morning, the summer-camp participants were invited to watch the start of the game in the playing room.

photos courtesy Tom Urasoe, Nihon Ki-in Overseas Dept. 

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The Power Report (3): Women’s Meijin League; Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense; Vacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled

Wednesday September 9, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Women’s Meijin League: The final game in the first round of the new league was played on August 28. Aoki Kikuyo 8P (W, at right) beat Okuda 2015.09.07_Aoki KikuyoAya 3P by 7.5 points. On September 3, Okuda recovered from her bad start, beating Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) by 5.5 points. On the same day, Mannami Nao 3P (W) improved her score to 2-0 by beating Kato Keiko 6P by 6.5 points.

Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense: The first game of the 40th Meijin best-of-seven was played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on September 3 and 4. Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 180 moves. Iyama owed his victory to his skillful play in rescuing a group under attack. Iyama had given Takao this attack as compensation for winning a large ko. After the game, the challenger Takao Shinji 9P commented that perhaps his positional judgment had been a little slack. He said that he played a little mildly in a couple of areas because he thought he was ahead when he may not have been. The second game will be played on September 17 and 18.

2015.09.07_Motoki-KatsuyaVacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled: The following four players have won seats in the 71st Honinbo League, due to start in October. They are Takao Shinji Judan, Yo Seiki 8P, Ichiriki Ryo 7P, and Motoki Katsuya 3P (left). The first two, Takao and Yo, won their way back in immediately after dropping out of the previous league. The other two, Ichiriki (aged 18) and Motoki (aged 20), will be making their debuts. Motoki earned promotion to 7-dan for his feat. Ichiriki set a record for youngest player in the Kisei league when he was sixteen years nine months; he is now 18 years two months, the second-youngest player to win a seat in the Honinbo league. He fell just nine days short of breaking the record set by Yo Seiki last year.

Promotions
To 8-dan: Miyagawa Fumihiko (150 wins) (as of August 28). Miyagawa, born on February 18, 1972, is a disciple of Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P; he is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He also serves as a director of the Nihon Ki-in.
To 7-dan: Motoki Katsuya 3P (for winning a place in the 71st Honinbo league; as of September 4)

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The Power Report (2): Yamashita Keigo wins S League; Kyo wins Kisei C League

Tuesday September 8, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei Leagues Updates2015.09.07_Yamashita-Keigo-67th-Honinbo

Yamashita Keigo wins S League: Three important games in the 40th Kisei S League were played recently. The results were: (August 27) Murakawa Daisuke Oza (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. (September 3) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 2.5 points; Murakawa (W) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resig. Yamashita (right) finished the league with 4-1, securing first place and a seat in the final play-off to decide the challenger. Since he will start this play-off with a one-win advantage, there’s a good chance we will see the third successive Kisei title match between him and Iyama. Thanks to his win, Murakawa, who ended on 3-2, earned a seat in the knock-out tournament — he goes directly into the semifinal. Yoda finished with the same score, but was ranked fourth to Murakawa’s second, so he drops to third place. Yoda’s loss to Yamashita was probably his most expensive of the year. One game is still to be played in the final round, so we do not know yet who will drop out. The final games in the B Leagues were also played on the 3rd. Awaji Shuzo 9P won the B1 league with a 5-2 score and Yamada Kimio 9P the B2 League, also with 5-2. There will be a play-off between these two to decide the overall B League winner. The winner will join the knock-out tournament at the bottom rung (see the end of the next item).

Kyo wins Kisei C League: After four rounds in the 40th Kisei C League, there were only two players with undefeated records; they were Kyo Kagen 3P and Akiyama Jiro 9P. The game between them in the final round, played on August 20, was in effect a play-off to decide the league winner though this league is nominally a Swiss System. The 17-year-old Kyo (not 15, as I wrote in my previous report; just for the record, he will be 18 on September 19) won this game, taking black, by resignation. This earned him a place in the knock-out tournament to decide the challenger and (assuming he doesn’t become the Kisei challenger) promotion to one of the B Leagues next year. Kyo: “The new league system for the Kisei tournament encourages young players. I aim to be the challenger.” Incidentally, Kyo is leading the most-wins list with 32 wins to six losses (next is Yamashita Keigo on 29-19, followed by Ichiriki Ryo on 27-13). Recently, there have been more and more signs that Kyo may be the strongest teenager in Japan. To summarize the knock-out stage of the Kisei tournament: The C League winner, Kyo Kagen, will play the overall B League winner (Awaji or Yamada); the winner then plays the winner of the A League, Kono Rin; the winner of this game then plays the S League number two, Murakawa; the winner then joins the final match with Yamashita to decide the challenger.
Tomorrow: Women’s Meijin League; Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense; Vacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled

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The Power Report (1): Yi Sedol repeats in TV Asia Cup; Yuki reaches Tengen final; Oza semifinal; Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Agon Kiriyama semifinal

Monday September 7, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Yi Sedol repeats in TV Asia Cup: 
Our previous report took this tournament as far as the first semifinal, in which Park Junghwan 9P (B)2015.09.07_Lee-Sedol-27th-Asian-TV-Cup-300x418 of Korea beat his compatriot Lee Donghun 5P by resig. In the second semifinal, played on August 27, Lee Sedol 9P of Korea, made his first appearance; as the previous winner, he was seeded. Lee (B) beat Yang Dingxin 3P of China by resig. In the final, Lee (B) beat Park by resig., winning this title for the second year in a row and the fourth time overall. This matches the record of Takemiya Masaki, who won the first four titles. By my count, this is Lee’s 17th international title, not counting his jubango win. Though he is rated the world’s number one, Park has been unable to win this tournament in five appearances. For more on this tournament, click here for Go Game Guru’s report, with more photos and game records.

Yuki reaches Tengen final: The second semifinal of the 41st Tengen tournament was held on August 24. Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) came out ahead in an endgame contest, beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points. He will play Iyama Yuta in the final to decide the challenger to Takao Shinji.

Oza semifinal: The second semifinal of the 63rd Oza tournament was played on August 24. Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by 2.5 points. He will meet Iyama Yuta in the final, scheduled for September 7.  2015.09.06_Xie reviewing the play-offThis will be the first game between the two. Whoever wins, the title match will be an all-Kansai affair, as the titleholder is Murakawa Daisuke of the Kansai Ki-in.

Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo: In the play-off to decide the challenger to Fujisawa Rina for the 34th Women’s Honinbo title, held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 27, Xie Yimin (left), Women’s Meijin and Kisei, (W) defeated Chinen Kaori 4P by resig. Xie will challenge for the title she lost to Mukai Chiaki two years ago (Fujisawa took it from Mukai last year). Xie has an even record, 2-2, against Fujisawa in official games, but this will be their first series. The best-of-five starts on October 8.

Agon Kiriyama semifinal: In the first semifinal of the 22nd Agon Kiriyama Cup, Iyama Yuta (B) beat Son Makoto 3P by 7.5 points, as already reported. The second semifinal was held on August 31 between Yo Seiki 7P and Kyo Kagen 3P. It was held on Yo’s home ground of the Kansai Ki-in, with Kyo traveling from Tokyo. Apparently these two are good friends, often putting each other up when they travel for games, but on the morning of this game there was no chitchat. Kyo (W) won the game by resignation. The final will be played on October 10.  This is the third tournament final that Iyama has qualified for recently.
Tomorrow: Yamashita Keigo wins S League; Kyo wins Kisei C League

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The Power Report (1): Young players make Agon Kiriyama Cup semis; Iyama reaches Oza final; Yoda stumbles in top Kisei league, Kono wins A League

Monday August 31, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.08.30_Yo Seiki

Young players make Agon Kiriyama Cup semifinals: The remaining two quarterfinals of the 22nd Agon Kiriyama Cup were played recently. On August 10, Kyo Kagen 3P (B) (aged 15) beat Shuto Shun 7P by resignation.  On August 13, Yo Seiki 7P (B) (aged 20) beat Matsumoto Takehisa 7P by resignation. Kyo and Yo will play each other in one semifinal; the other matches Iyama Yuta (aged 26) and Son Makoto 3P (aged 19). As you can see from the ages, all four are young players, though Iyama is already a veteran in experience. The recent results of the Taiwanese players Yo and Kyo show that they both have exceptional promise; they will probably be titleholders before too much longer.

Iyama reaches Oza final: The first semifinal in the 63rd Oza tournament was played on August 17. Iyama Yuta (B) beat Yuki Satoshi by resignation. The other semifinal pits Ko Iso 8P against Yo Seiki 7P. The winner will meet Iyama in the play-off to decide the challenger on September 7.

2015.08.30_Yoda Norimoto 9PYoda stumbles in top Kisei league, Kono wins A League: In a game played in the S League, the top league, in the 40th Kisei tournament, on August 13, Yamashita Keigo 9P improved his score to 3-1 when he beat Takao Shinji Tengen (W) by 2.5 points. At this point he was in second place. League leader Yoda Norimoto 9P (left) suffered a painful loss in the S League on August 20. Taking white, he lost to Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by half a point. On 3-1, Yoda now shares the lead with Yamashita Keigo 9P, who has the advantage of being ranked higher (number one) ? there is no play-off within the Kisei leagues. Yamashiro goes to 2-2, so his chances of keeping his place improve. Kono Rin scored his sixth successive win in the A League in a game played on August 13. Taking black, he beat Cho Riyu 8P by 2.5 points. Everyone else in the league has at least two losses, so Kono wins the league regardless of his result in his final game. He also secured promotion to the S League next year. In the knock-out tournament, he will have to win four games in a row to become the challenger whereas the winner of the S League has to win only one game in what is called an “irregular best-of-three.” How this works is that Kono would have to beat the winner of the game between the B and C League winners (both of whom have to win five games to become the challenger), next win a game against the second-place-getter in the S League, then beat the winner of the S League twice in a row. The latter is given an advantage of one win in the final play-off, so his opponent can’t afford to lose a game. That means that in practice, there can’t be a third game in this “best-of-three,” as the winning score will always be 2-0. 
Tomorrow: 28th Women’s Meijin League starts; Japan eliminated from TV Asia Cup; New women’s tournament with biggest prize; Death of Cho Chikun’s wife.

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The Power Report: Shida qualifies for Samsung; Iyama defends Gosei; Rin Kaiho wins 1,400 games

Sunday August 9, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.08.09_Shida qualifies for Samsung

Shida qualifies for Samsung: The General Preliminary Tournament for the 20th Samsung Cup was held in Seoul from August 1 to 5. This is a massive tournament and the preliminary is held on a proportionate scale, with additional qualifying sections for women and senior players besides the open section. Five Japanese representatives took part in the open section, of whom one was successful. Shida Tatsuya 7P (at left) won a place in the main tournament by defeating Pak Seung-hwa 6P of Korea in the final. Oya Koichi 9P and Goto Shungo 9P competed in the senior section but without success. The opening rounds of the main tournament will be held in Beijing on September 8 and 10. Nineteen qualifiers through the preliminary will join 13 seeded players. The seeded players for Japan are Ida Atsushi 8P and Yoda Norimoto 9P.

2015.08.09_Iyama wins 40th GoseiIyama defends Gosei, maintains quadruple crown: The fourth game of the 40th Gosei title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on August 7. Playing white, Iyama (left) forced a resignation2015.08.09_Gosei White 128 after just 122 moves and so defended his title by a 3-1 margin. He has now won this title for four years in a row, so one more win and he will qualify for the title of Honorary Gosei. Iyama has beaten Yamashita Keigo in the three title matches they have contested so far this year; the others were the Kisei and Honinbo. Incidentally, three matches in the same year equals for record for the same two players. They have played 16 games with each other this year, which also equals the record. Iyama seemed to gain a slight advantage in the first major fight of the game, which occurred when he set out to reduce Black’s top moyo. Yamashita went all out and got back into the game, but then went wrong in the decisive fight. Iyama cut off and killed a large group, deciding the game. As mentioned in my report in May, when Yamashita became the Gosei challenger, two pairs of players had previously played three matches in the same year. They were Otake Hideo and Cho Chikun in 1982 and Kato Masao and Kobayashi Koichi in 1988. It was the latter two who previously played 16 games in one year.
2015.08.09_Rin Kaiho wins 1,400th game
Promotions: To 3-dan: Fujisawa Rina (40 wins) (as of August 7); To 2-dan: Bian Wenkai (30 wins) (as of August 7)2015.08.09_takemiya and Rin review the game

Rin Kaiho wins 1,400 games: On August 6, Rin Kaiho, Honorary Tengen (left), became the second Nihon Ki-in player to win 1,400 games when he beat Takemiya Masaki 9P in a game (right) in the 41st Gosei Preliminary B.  Taking white, Rin won by half a point. The first player to reach this landmark was 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun. Rin was born in 1942 and became a professional in 1955.

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The Power Report (Part 2): Iyama taking aim at two former titles; Iyama retakes lead in Gosei; Takao to challenge for Meijin

Wednesday August 5, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.08.04_gosei-iyama

Iyama taking aim at two former titles: The first quarterfinal of the 63rd Oza tournament was held on July 13. Playing white, Iyama Yuta (r) defeated Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resignation. With both players in byo-yomi in the late middle game, Ichiriki made a snap judgement that he could live with a large group, so instead of starting a ko to make sure of two eyes he moved into his opponent’s territory. Iyama made a snap judgement that the group couldn’t be saved by a player in byo-yomi; he connected the ko and killed the group. Iyama thus became the first player to reach the semifinals of this tournament. The titleholder is Murakawa Daisuke, who took the title off Iyama last year. Iyama had previously reached the semifinals of the 41st Tengen title by beating beat Ko Iso 8P. In the semifinal, played on July 30, he beat Ri Ishu 7P (W) by resignation. In the play-off to decide the challenger, he will meet the winner of the other semifinal between Yamashita Keigo and Yuki Satoshi 9P.

Iyama retakes lead in Gosei title match: After a break of a month from the opening game, two games were played recently in the 40th Gosei title match. On July 20, the second game was played at the Hokkoku (North Country) Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. Iyama Yuta Gosei (white) got a favorable position in the opening, but Yamashita Keigo 9P launched a bold series of do-or-die moves that eventually drew a misjudgment from Iyama. He later started a ko to try to get back into the game, but played an invalid ko 2015.08.04_gosei-both-playersthreat and had to resign after 183 moves. The third game was played at the Nagaoka Grand Hotel in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture on July 27. Iyama, playing black, built up a small lead, though the game was marked by complicated fighting. Late in the middle game, Iyama had a chance (with move 175) to set up a large-scale capturing race. Research by the players following the game showed that he would have won it by one move, but, in byo-yomi, he hesitated to take the risk. Yamashita almost caught up, but Iyama just managed to hold on to his lead. The game finished after 292 moves and ended in a win for Iyama by one and a half points. The fourth game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 7. photo: Iyama Yuta Gosei (l); Yamashita Keigo 9P

Takao to challenge for Meijin title: The final round of the Meijin League is one of the biggest events of the summer, which this year has been its usual hot, humid and unbearable self in Tokyo. Four players were in the2015.08.04_meijin_playoff_takao running to win the league, which added to the interest. They were, in order of ranking, Kono Rin, Yamashita Keigo, Takao Shinji (right), and Ko Iso.
The results were:
Cho U 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resignation. Both players finished on 5-3.
Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. Yamashita finished on 6-2 and Ko on 5-3.
Takao Shinji Tengen (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke Oza by resig. Takao finished on 6-2 and Murakawa on 3-5.
Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by resig. Hane ended on 2-6 and Kanazawa on 1-7. They both lost their places, as did So Yokoku 9P, who was on 3-5 and had a bye in the last round.
Takao and Yamashita were tied for first, so they met in a play-off on August 3. Takao (W) beat Yamashita by 5.5 points, so he will make his first challenge for the Meijin title for five years. Takao lost his last challenge to Iyama Yuta 0-4 in the 35th Meijin tournament. In general, he has done badly against Iyama, but his results have improved in the last couple of years. The title match will start on September 3.

Promotion: To 2-dan: Mutsuura Yuta (aged 16) (30 wins) (as of July 17)

photo research by Maeda Ryo & Todd Heidenreich

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The Power Report (Part 1): Japanese out of Mlily Cup; Yoda keeps lead in Kisei S League; Cho Chikun repeats in Fumakira Masters; Go Seigen elected to Hall of Fame

Tuesday August 4, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.08.04_MLily1

Japanese representatives eliminated from Mlily Cup: The first two rounds of the 2nd Mlily Cup, a Chinese-sponsored international tournament, were held in Beijing on July 7 and 9. The three Japanese players, Ida Atsushi 8P, Yuki Satoshi 9P, and Ichiriki Ryo 7P, were all eliminated in the opening round. photo: Li Qincheng 1P (l), Yuki Satoshi 9P (r)

Yoda keeps lead in Kisei S League: Yoda Norimoto 9P has maintained his undefeated record in the top league, the S League, of the 40th Kisei tournament. In a game played on July 9, Yoda (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by half a point. Yoda is now 3-0. On July 16, Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resignation to pick up his first win (to two losses). Yamashiro has the same score. In another game, played on July 23, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke Oza by resig. Yamashita goes to 2-1 and Murakawa to 1-2.
Progress report on other leagues: In the A League, Kono Rin 9P has the sole lead on 5-0 with two rounds to go. The only other players in the running are Ichiriki Ryo 7P and Cho Riyu 8P, who are both on 4-1. In the B Leagues, Awaji Shuzo leads the B1 League with 4-2 and Yamada Kimio 9P leads the B2 League on 5-1. In the C League, which is a Swiss System, four players have unblemished records after three rounds. 2015.08.05_masters_final_cho-1They are: Akiyama Jiro 9P, Han Zenki 8P, Yo Seiki 7P, and Kyo Kagen 3P. In the fourth round, Akiyama will play Han and Yo will meet Kyo. Only one player from this league can join the irregular knock-out tournament for league-winners; to win the league, you have to win all five games, so they are the only ones still in the running.2015.08.04_go-seigen

Cho Chikun repeats in Fumakira Masters: The final of the 5th Fumakira Igo Masters tournament was held in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on July 11. Taking white, Cho Chikun 9P (l) beat Takemiya Masaki 9P by 5.5 points to win this title for the second year in a row and for the third time overall. This is an official title, so it takes Cho’s record tally to 74 titles. Takemiya was disappointed to miss this opportunity to win his first title for 20 years.

Go Seigen elected to Hall of Fame: The 12th selection meeting of the Hall of Fame Awards was held at the Nihon Ki-in on July 21. Go Seigen (r) was the unanimous choice of the 12 committee members in attendance. There were eight nominees, chosen on May 25 by the nomination committee. Each member can vote for three persons, and the support of two thirds of the members is the qualifying condition. This is the first time since the election of Dosaku that a nominee has been supported by every member.

Tomorrow: Iyama taking aim at two former titles; Iyama retakes lead in Gosei; Takao to challenge for Meijin

photo research by Maeda Ryo & Todd Heidenreich

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Jonathan Hop Returns with Translated Pro Game Commentaries and Twitch TV Games

Wednesday July 22, 2015

Go author and blogger Jonathan Hop has launched a project to translate videos of professional games with commentary into English. “It’s all free and available on YouTube for all to see,” he tells the E-Journal. Hop says he’ll “try to do one or 2015.07.21_Hop-translationstwo a week depending on my schedule.” Available so far: Mukai Chiaki vs. Yamada Kimio, Cho Sonjin vs. Yukawa Mitsuhisa in the 63rd NHK Tournament, Takemiya Masaki vs. Goto Shungo and Kanazawa Makoto vs Akiyama Jiro in the 63rd NHK Cup.

2015.07.21_hop-twitchHop is back teaching and playing go after a long hiatus. After going to Korea, studying at a professional dojo and writing four books on go, he realized he didn’t want to be a professional go player, “So when the game felt like a chore, when studying was no longer exciting, I just plain stopped,” he writes on his blog. But now he’s heading to China next month and says “There’s no way I’m going to be in China and not play. So I decided I needed to get back in shape before I go.”

In addition to the pro game translations, Hop is playing on Twitch TV and archiving the games on YouTube. He’s also offering to review kyu level games or low level dan games for free and make videos of the review available on Youtube; send games to sundaygolessons@gmail.com. He’s also planning a go-playing marathon when he reaches 1,000 subscribers, and says that “I think I’m at 997 which is close enough for me to schedule it.  Sunday August 2nd, 12 straight hours of go beginning around 11 a.m.”

Photos: (right) Cho Chikun commenting the Mukai Chiaki vs. Yamada Kimio game; (left) Hop playing on Twitch.TV

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