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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,John Power Report
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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

Kisei Match Final to Be Held in Madrid

Thursday November 28, 2013

38th kisei tournamentNam-Ban Madrid Go Club will host the first game of the 38th Japanese Kisei Tournament in Alcala de Henares (Madrid) on January 11 and 12. Current Meijin and Honinbo title-holder Yamashita Keigo 9d (left) will battle defending champion Iyama Yuta 9d. In addition to the main tournament, Nam-Ban Madrid Go Club will also host an Open Side Tournament for amateur go players that will parallel the Kisei title match. Cash prizes will be available for first through fifth place along with additional prizes for the top three Spanish players and top five women players. Players who register before January 1 will enjoy significant discounts. To encourage youth players, tournament sponsors will offer more than 30 scholarships for players under age 20. The scholarship includes free registration, lodging, and transportation between Madrid and Alcala de Henares.

First celebrated in 1976, the Keisei (in English, “Go Saint”) Tournament has become “the most prestigious professional tournament in Japan” with a prize pool of ¥42,000,000 (approx $6.9 million). To register or for more information about this year’s tournament including rules, schedule, and lodging information, please visit the official Keisei website.

—Annalia Linnan; for complete listings, check out the European Tournament Calendar; photo courtesy of Kisei 2014. NOTE: this post has been updated to reflect that the Kisei game will be the first of the tournament, not the final game, as previously reported.

Nihon Kiin & AGA Ink Deal for Iwamoto North America Foundation

Monday November 25, 2013

A new East Coast Go Center tops the list of projects of the new Iwamoto North America Foundation (INAF), the result of a collaborative agreement with the American Go Association (AGA) approved today by the Nihon Kiin (NK) Board of Directors. The Foundation is named in honor of the late Kaoru Iwamoto and will be funded by the sale of the New York Go Center. “This is a tremendously exciting development in the history of American go,” said AGA president Andy Okun. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Nihon Kiin to realize Iwamoto sensei’s vision of spreading go worldwide.” The INAF will be an equal partnership between NK and AGA, with each side contributing three Directors, the NK Chairman serving as Foundation President and AGA  contributing an Executive Director to take care of the Foundation’s regular operation. “I greatly welcome the arrival of this new Foundation,” said Thomas Hsiang, the AGA’s Vice President for International Affairs, who originated the concept for the Foundation and led the negotiations for its creation. “The Nihon Kiin has always been a great friend to American go and the INAF will add a new, grand chapter to this illustrious history.” A Request for Proposal (RFP) for establishing an East Coast Go Center is expected to be sent to regional go communities in the next few months.

Photos: top right: AGA president Andy Okun and NK Chairman Norio Wada signing the INAF Letter of Confirmation in Tokyo on November 5; bottom left: the people involved in negotiating the INAF agreement (l-r): Tadaaki Jagawa (NK VP), Thomas Hsiang (AGA VP-International Affairs), Norio Wada (NK Chairman), Andrew Okun (AGA President), Hiroshi Yamashiro (NK VP), and Shiho Yamada (NK Director in charge of overseas affairs). Photos courtesy Tomotaka Urasoe, NK Overseas Department).

Spain to Host 38th Kisei Final Opener and Side Tournament

Monday November 18, 2013

The first game of the 38th Kisei title match will be hosted in Alcalá de Henares by the Nam Ban Madrid Go Club on January 11-12, in accordance with the tradition that this title’s first game is played outside Japan.

Iyama Yuta 9P (left), current holder of six of the seven major Japanese titles including this most prestigious of them all (see the Power Report (Part 1): Iyama’s New Records, EJ 10/3), will be challenged by  Yamashita Keigo 9P. Yamashita, who won this year’s Kisei A-league, beat B-league winner Murakawa Daisuke 7P on November 14 in a decider for the Kisei challenger.. The game in Spain will be played over two days, with eight hours main time each, and is the first of a best-of-seven series to decide the title.

In addition, there will be a 4-round amateur open side tournament, scheduled so that participants can easily keep up with developments in the Kisei. The top prize, amongst many others, is €1200 and scholarships (not including travel to Madrid) are available for under-20s.

The events will take place in the conference rooms of the Parador de Alcalá de Henares (right), a renovated C17th building which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Click here for full details and application form. US citizens can visit Spain for up to three months without a visa; click here for further info.

Report by Tony Collman. Photos: Iyama Yuta from his Nihon Ki-in player card; Parador courtesy of their website.

The Power Report (Part 2): Precise Counting At The Spicy Noodles Cup; Yuki Satoshi Breaks Losing Streak To Win Seat In New Meijin League; Kyo Wins Nakano Cup; Globis To Sponsor New International Tournament:

Saturday November 16, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Precise Counting At The Spicy Noodles Cup: According to an article on the fourth game of the Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup (full details of the opening round given in my previous report), there was some precise counting going on. At the end of the game, Fan Tingyu (right), who had won three games in a row, and Kang Tongyun were engaged in a half-point ko fight. Fan calculated that he had one fewer ko threat and that losing the ko would lose the game by half a point, so he resigned. If the game had continued, four ko threats (and replies) and four ko captures were the only moves remaining, apart from filling a few dame points, so the game was very close to being finished anyway, but Fan decided not to waste further time. Apparently it’s not unusual for Chinese players to resign half-point losses, but that shows a lot of confidence in your counting. photo courtesy EGC2014

Yuki Satoshi Breaks Losing Streak To Win Seat In New Meijin League: Yuki Satoshi (left) had a horrible time in the last two Meijin Leagues, losing sixteen games in a row (the losing streak actually started three leagues ago), but he ended his bad run with wins in the last two rounds of the 38th league. Nothing daunted, Yuki will be back to try his luck again in the upcoming 39th league. In the play-off for a seat, held on October 31, he defeated Cho Sonjin 9P (W) by resignation. This will be his fifth Meijin league in a row. The other two play-offs were held on November 7. Ko Iso 8P (B) defeated Ichiriki Ryo 3P by 3.5 points and Ryu Shikun 9P (B) beat Nakano Hironari 9P by 6.5 points.

Kyo Wins Nakano Cup: The Nakano Cup is a privately sponsored tournament founded by the late Nakano Koji. Although he died in 2004, he had made financial provision to keep the tournament going. The 10th Cup was won by 15-year-old Kyo Kagen 1-dan, a Taiwanese player who became a professional earlier this year.

Globis To Sponsor New International Tournament: Globis, a Japanese corporation that specializes in education and training for business, has founded a new international tournament for young players. It will be for players under 20 and will get under way next spring and have a first prize of three million yen. Sixteen players will take part: six from Japan, three each from Korea and China, and one each from Chinese Taipei, Europe, North America, and Oceania.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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The Power Report (Part 1): Honinbo League’s Second Round Nearly Completed; Xie Catches Up In Women’s Honinbo Title Match; Big Week Coming Up; Three Promotions And A Retirement

Monday November 11, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Honinbo League’s Second Round Nearly Completed: The first round of the 69th Honinbo League was completed on the last day of its specified month of October. In the fourth game, Cho U 9P (B) defeated Sakai Hideyuki 8P by resignation. Three of the four games in the second round were played on November 6. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Cho U by resig.; Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Sakai Hideyuki by resig. and Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig. Yamashita and Kono lead the league with two wins each. Takao and Cho are 1-1; Ida Atsushi 7P is 1-0; Yuki Satoshi 9P is 0-1; and Yo and Sakai are both 0-2. When he set a new record by winning a place in the league at the age of 18, Yo Seiki (right) was hailed as a coming star, but he has had a tough initiation into top-level play.

Xie Catches Up In Women’s Honinbo Title Match: In the fourth game of the 32nd Women’s Honinbo title match, Xie Yimin faced a kadoban (a game that might lose a series) for the first time ever in this title. Xie had black and played steadily, forcing the challenger Mukai Chiaki to resign after 189 moves. That means that the title will be decided in the fifth game on November 27.

Big Week Coming Up: There are some big games coming up this week. In the third round of the LG Cup, scheduled for November 11, Iyama Yuta will play Chen Yaoye of China and Takao Shinji will meet Tuo Jiaxi, also of China. The semifinals follow on the 14th. Back in Japan, the play-off to decide the Kisei challenger, between Yamashita Keigo and Murakawa Daisuke, will be held on the 14th.

Three Promotions And A Retirement: A win by forfeit on October 31 secured Kato Tomoko a promotion to 6-dan with 90 wins as a 5-dan. The promotion took effect the following day. Born in 1969, Kato won the Women’s Honinbo in 1992, the Women’s Meijin in 1995, the Women’s Strongest Player in 2000, and the Women’s Kakusei in 2001. Wins on November 7 earned Fujita Akihiko a promotion to 4 dans (after 50 wins) and Takeda Yoshinori a promotion to 2-dan (after 30 wins). Both promotions took effect on November 8. Kawamoto Noboru 9P, born in 1941, retired as of October 31. He was a disciple of Masubuchi Tatsuko 8P, became 1-dan in 1961 and 9-dan in 1989. He won the 8-dan section of the 9th Kisei tournament in 1984.
Tomorrow: Precise Counting At The Spicy Noodles Cup; Yuki Satoshi Breaks Losing Streak To Win Seat In New Meijin League; Kyo Wins Nakano Cup; Globis To Sponsor New International Tournament 

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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The Power Report (Part 2): Iyama Starts Well In Tengen And Oza Title Defences; China Makes Good Start In Nong Shim Cup; Mukai Takes Lead In Women’s Honinbo

Monday November 4, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama Starts Well In Tengen And Oza Title Defences: There’s no rest for Iyama: he had almost no time to bask in the glory of winning the Meijin as he was immediately engaged in two more title matches. There are no signs yet that the accumulated fatigue from continuous top-level play is affecting his play; to the contrary, he now has seven wins in a row in title-match games. The first game of the 39th Tengen title match was held in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture, on October 21, with the challenger, Akiyama Jiro 9P (right), making his title-match debut. The two haven’t played each other much, and so far Akiyama had a good record against Iyama of 3-1; he won the first three games they played, starting in 2008, then Iyama picked up his first win in the Kisei League in 2010. Iyama, playing white, won the opening Tengen game, but things didn’t go smoothly. Akiyama made a bad start in the opening, but in the middle game he landed what Go Weekly described as “an astonishing counterpunch” and upset Iyama’s lead. However, Iyama hung on and managed to pull off his own upset, forcing Akiyama to resign after 146 moves.

Iyama again had little time to rest before meeting Cho U’s challenge in the 61st Oza title match. The first game was played in the Westin Hotel Osaka on 24 October. Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 268 moves. The second game will be played on November 19.

The second game of the Tengen title match was played at the Oe Honke inn in Kitami City in Hokkaido on October 28. Iyama (B) won by 3.5 points after 321 moves. The third game is scheduled for November 28.

China Makes Good Start In Nong Shim Cup: The first round of the 15th Nong Shim Spice Noodles Cup was held in Beijing in late October. Fan Tingyu 9P (aged 17, at left) made a good start for China by winning three games in a row before losing to Korea. Results were as follows:
Game 1 (October 22). Fan (B) defeated Yo Chito 1P (Japan) by resignation.
Game 2 (October 23). Fan (B) d. Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P (Korea) by 6.5 points.
Game 3 (October 24). Fan (W) d. Anzai Nobuaki 6P (Japan) by resig.
Game 4 (October 25). Kang Tongyun 9P (Korea) (W) d. Fan by resig.
The experiment of giving two seats to junior players did not work out for Japan this time, but they have surely gained valuable experience. The second round will be played in Pusan, Korea, from December 2 to 7.

Mukai Takes Lead In Women’s Honinbo: The third game of the 32nd Women’s Honinbo title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on October 29. Playing black, Mukai Chiaki 5P won by 3.5 points after 280 moves. This gives Mukai a 2-1 lead in the title match, so she needs just one more win to win her first title. This is the first time that the title holder, Xie Yimin 6P, has fallen behind 1-2 in a Women’s Honinbo defence. The fourth game will be played on November 8.