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Iyama Yuta Achieves Rare ‘Triple Crown’ with 38th Meijin Victory

Saturday October 19, 2013

As if the Htriple crown iyama yutaoninbo and Kisei were not enough, Iyama Yuta 9p (left) secured his third Meijin title when he defeated Yamashita Keigo 9p in this year’s Meijin on October 17. By holding Japan’s three biggest titles simultaneously, Iyama is the just the second player in the entire history of go to achieve a ‘triple crown.’ The only other player to attain this honor was Cho Chikun 9p – once in 1983 and again in 1997. In a post-game interview, Iyama said, “I have a deep respect [for] Cho Chikun 9p, and I’m very honored to achieve the triple crown, as he did.” Had he not lost the Judan to Yuki Satoshi 9p in April, Iyama would have completed a grand slam, or held all seven Japanese titles at once. For more information about this year’s Meijin including game records from all five games, photos, and more, please visit Go Game Guru.
– Annalia Linnan, based on a longer article by Go Game Guru

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The Power Report: Iyama Increases Lead in Meijin; Women’s Honinbo Title Match Tied; Yamashita Wins Ryusei After Final Replayed; Kisei Leagues Concluded; Murakawa Wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Women’s Meijin League

Monday October 14, 2013

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.

Categories: Japan
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The Power Report: Iyama Takes Lead In Meijin; Fujita Wins King Of The New Stars; Mukai Scores First Win In Women’s Meijin League; Most Wins; New Professional Couple

Wednesday October 2, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the American Go E-Journal

Iyama Takes Lead In Meijin, Thanks To Blunder By Yamashita: The third game of the 38th Meijin title match was held at the Takarazuka Hotel in Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture on September 25 and 26. Takarazuka City is known as the home of the famous all-female theatrical troupe, the Takarazuka Troupe, but to Iyama Yuta it is probably more familiar as the home of his teacher Ishii Kunio. Not that Iyama would have visited Ishii very frequently, as his home is a two-hour journey from Ishii’s home. Iyama was not a live-in disciple; instead he played teaching games with Ishii on the Net.  Even so, Yamashita Keigo was making his first visit to Takarazuka, so Iyama held the home-ground advantage.

This doesn’t seem to count for much in go, as fans don’t get to cheer players on (at best, they sometimes quietly watch the first few moves of title games). In a game marked by small-scale fighting, Yamashita, playing white, took the advantage and, further helped by a rare misreading by Iyama, he set up a winning position. As usual, Iyama did his best to complicate the game, and in the middle of a ko fight Yamashita made a terrible blunder, playing a ko threat that filled in one of his own liberties. He needed to play another move immediately to save six of his stones that his mistake had put into jeopardy, but he chose to retake the ko. Iyama immediately ceded the ko and took the six stones. This gave him a narrow win by 1.5 points.

Fortunately for Yamashita, he has two weeks to recover from the shock of this setback. The fourth game will be played on October 9 and 10. He will have to win two games in a row to secure the lead he should have had at this point.

Fujita Wins King Of The New Stars: Fujita Akihiko 3-dan has won his first title with straight wins. In the second game of the 38th King of the New Stars title match, played on September 26 at the Kansai Ki-in in Osaka, he defeated Yo Seiki 7-dan (White) by resignation after 181 moves. Yo did not show the strength expected from his recent successes of winning a place in the Honinbo league and his winning streak of 18 games. Because of his promotion to 7-dan for winning the Honinbo seat, he won’t get another chance to win this title. With this win, Fujita extended a winning streak of his own to 15 games.

Mukai Scores First Win In Women’s Meijin League: On September 26, Mukai Chiaki 5P (W) defeated Okuda Aya 3P by resignation in a third-round game in the 26th Women’s Meijin League. Mukai is now 1-2 and Okuda 0-2. Suzuki Ayumi 6P and Kato Keiko 6P, both on 3-0, lead the league.

Most Wins: With the tournament year three-quarters gone, this may be a good time to see who is racking up the wins in Japan. Kono Rin has a slight lead in the following list, which is dated as of September 27 and is for Nihon Ki-in players (though I have added Yo Seiki).
1. Kono Rin 9P (right): 33-17
2. Iyama Yuta Kisei: 31-16
3. Takao Shinji 9P: 30-17
4. Ichiriki Ryo 3P: 25-4
5. Yo Chito 1P: 23-3
6. Yo Seiki 7P: 22-4
7. Cho U 9P: 22-18
9. Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P: 21-12

New Professional Couple: There’s been another marriage among go professionals (I reported earlier on the June  4 marriage of Suzuki Ayumi 6P and Rin Kanketsu 7P). On September 20, Mukai Chiaki 5P married Sugimoto Akira 8P. As far as I know, they are the 17th go couple.

Correction: I made a mistake with the name of the Taiwanese player on Japan’s Nong Shim team. It is Yo Chito, not Cho Chito. (His name in Chinese is Yao Zhiteng.)

Categories: Japan
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The Power Report (Part 2): King of the New Stars; Japan’s 15th Nong Shim Cup Team; September Promotions

Wednesday September 25, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the American Go E-Journal

King of the New Stars: Yo Seiki (right), the first player in Japan to jump from 3-dan to 7-dan, was considered the favorite in the 38th King of the New Stars title match, but the first game of the best-of-three was taken by his opponent, Fujita Akihiko 3P (aged 21 to Yo’s 18). The game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya on September 17; taking white, Fujita won by resignation. The second game will be played on the 26th.

Japan’s 15th Nong Shim Cup Team: Japan’s Nong Shim Cup team was decided by a different system this year. As usual, the top players were seeded, but two places were filled through a qualifying tournament for younger players. The seeded players are Yuki Satoshi 9P, Cho U 9P, and Kono Rin 9P. Cho will be playing on the Japanese team for the first time since 2004, as a restriction that was imposed on players representing countries of which they are not citizens has been lifted. Cho is the only member of the Japanese team who has won an international title, whereas the Korean and Chinese teams each have four current or former world champions. In the qualifying tournament, eight players who have been chosen as members of the national team competed in two mini double-knockout tournaments. The winners were Anzai Nobuaki 6P (aged 28, at left) and Cho Chito 1P (aged 15). Anzai has some accomplishments already, notably reaching the final of this year’s Tengen tournament, but Cho was a dark horse who has been a professional for less than a year. Though not uncommon in Korea and China, this will be the first time a 15-year-old has played for Japan. Like Cho U, Cho Chito was born in Taiwan.

September Promotions: To 3-dan: Obuchi Kotaro (at right, son of Obuchi Norito 9P); Ms. Mannami Nao (both with 40 wins); To 4-dan: Suzuki Shinji (50 wins).

Categories: Japan
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The Power Report (Part 1): Cho is Oza Challenger; 38th Kisei: Yamashita Wins A League; Iyama Draws Even in Meijin

Monday September 23, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the American Go E-Journal

Cho is Oza Challenger: In the final to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta for the 61st Oza title, held on September 12, Cho U 9P (B) defeated Yuki Satoshi 9P by 2.5 points. Last year Cho (right) missed out on qualifying for the Honorary Oza title when the challenger, Iyama Yuta, beat him 3-0. He now has a chance to take revenge. If he won back the title, it would be his eighth Oza title, so he could aim at securing the honorary title by winning it ten times in total. The title match will start on October 24.

38th Kisei: Yamashita Wins A League: Yamashita Keigo Meijin (left) won the A League of the 38th Kisei tournament before having to play his final game when Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P defeated Kiyonari Tetsuya 9P in the last fourth-round game on September 12. Taking black, Yamashiro Hiroshi won by 1.5 points. That put both players on 2-2 and so both are out of the running. In my previous report, I wrote that a number of players were still in the running in the A League, but I had forgotten that there is no play-off in a Kisei league. If Kiyonari had beaten Yamashiro and then won his fifth-round game while Yamashita lost his, then Kiyonari would have won the league; in any tie, Yamashita would take priority over other players because of his higher ranking. Yamashita will meet Murakawa Daisuke 7P in the play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta Kisei.

Iyama Draws Even in Meijin: The second game in the 38th Meijin title match was just as one-sided as the first, but this time it went in favor of challenger Iyama Yuta (right). On move 59, Yamashita Keigo Meijin made a misreading in a capturing race: he thought that he could get a one-approach-move ko, but it was actually a two-approach-move ko, that is, he would have had to play two extra moves before it became a real ko for him. There’s a big difference, and he was unable to recover from this setback. Black resigned after 162 moves. The third game will be played on September 25 and 26.
Tomorrow: King of the New Stars; Japan’s 15th Nong Shim Cup Team; September Promotions

Categories: Japan
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Women Creating Stir In Japanese Ryusei

Monday December 15, 2008

Two female players have created a bit of a stir in the popular Ryusei tournament, now underway. With two wins each, Suzuki Ayumi (left) 4P and Xie Yimin 4P have a good chance to advance to the second round in an event where women players rarely win more than one game. The Ryusei is a fast-play — 30 seconds per move plus 10 one-minute thinking periods — event that’s broadcast on TV and draws a large audience. The play begins with eight groups of twelve players each who play a win-and-continue round; the winner and the player who wins the most games in each group then join a sixteen player single elimination tournament. Women players are always included though it is rare for them to win more than one game and this year Suzuki Ayumi 4P has defeated two men in Block G, Kuwamoto Shinpei 6P and Furuya Masao 3P, while Xie Yimin 4P has defeated a fellow female player Kim Hyunjung 3P as well as Miyasaki Ryutaro 6P who is male. Xie next faces Ko Iso 7P and Suzuki’s next opponent is Sakai Hideyuki 7P. These two male opponents are better-known because they have good records in tournament play and will be a real challenge for Suzuki and Xie. Since it’s possible to make it into the final event by winning three games, both women have a chance to reach the next level. Last year Rin Kaiho 9P made it into the final event with only two wins; he outranked the two other two-game winners in his group. Kono Rin 9P won this event last year, and Cho U 9P the two years before that.

Categories: Go News,Japan
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CORRECTION

Monday December 15, 2008

“Kono Rin won the Tengen title from 2005 to 2007 — each year the other player was Yamashita Keigo, who played in the Tengen title match five years in a row — so Cho U was the challenger,” writes longtime go journalist John Power (Cho Holds Onto Tengen, Recaptures Oza 12/8 EJ). “Surprisingly, this year was the first time he had reached the title match. The EJ may have been looking forward a year, as the odds are that Cho will defend in 2009 if he maintains the great form he’s in now. Kono Rin also won the Ryusei tournament this year, so he still has two titles. This year was the first time that Kono won more than one title.”

Categories: Go News,Japan
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Cho U Makes It 2-0 In Tengen Title Match

Monday November 24, 2008

Cho U 9P took the second game of his challenge for the Tengen title held by Kono Rin 9P to make the score 2-0 in the best-of-five-game match. Kono, who has held this title for the last three years, defeating Yamashita Keigo 9P in the title match each year, will have a hard fight to make it four. Cho’s winning percentage so far this year is 79%, while Kono’s is 60%, so the odds favor Cho’s taking another of the top seven Japanese titles — he already holds the Meijin and Gosei.

Kobayashi Koichi Near The Top Again

Monday November 24, 2008

Kobayashi Koichi (left) 9P is one of the most popular pros of what is now the older generation in Japan. Though in his fifties, Kobayashi is still active, and won two titles as recently as 2004, though he rarely reaches the later sections of tournaments now. However, by defeating Shuto Shun 6P on Saturday November 22nd, he has reached the finals of the Daiwa Cup where he will face Kono Rin 9P and current Tengen. The Daiwa Cup is a fast-play event on the Internet and one of three events sponsored by the Daiwa Securities Company of Japan; the others are the Daiwa Ladies Cup, won back in September by Xie Yimin 3P, and the Daiwa Grand Champion Cup, won by Iyama Yuta 8P last July.

Cho One Game From Regaining Oza Title

Monday November 17, 2008

Cho U (left) 9P has taken the first two games of the best-of-five-game title match with Yamashita Keigo 9P for the Oza title. Yamashita has held this title for the last two years, having taken it from Cho in 2006. Cho had held it for three years before that. He currently holds four titles: MeijinGoseiAgon Cup, and NHK Cup. Cho is also challenging for the Tengen title against Kono Rin 9P, and leads 1-0 in that contest. You can watch the third game of the Oza title match live on IGS on November 30th starting at 6P EST. - Photo from the Hungarian Go Association website