American Go E-Journal » Japan

China, Japan, and Korea All Contenders in 16th Nongshim Cup Finals

Thursday December 4, 2014

Iyama Yuta 9pPlayers met from November 28 to December 3 in Busan, Korea for the 2nd round of the Nongshim Cup. China’s performance was especially stunning with Wang Xi 9p winning four games in a row before he was defeated by Korea’s top player Park Junghwan 9p. Pressure was on Japan in game ten when Park faced Japan’s top player Iyama Yuta 9p (right). However, Iyama came through and secured a place for Japan in the Nongshim Cup Finals for the first time since the 12th Nongshim Cup in 2010-2011.

Shanghai will host the final round of the 16th Nongshim Cup in March 2015. Kim Jiseok 9p will represent Korea while China has Shi Yue 9p, Mi Yuting 9p, and Lian Xiao 7p on its roster. Historically, the Nongshim Cup has been dominated by Korean players (11 wins) while Japan has only won once. For more information on this year’s Nongshim Cup including photos, game records, and commentary, please visit Go Game Guru.
–Annalia Linnan, based on a longer article by Go Game Guru


“Great Master” Go Seigen Dead at 100

Sunday November 30, 2014

Go Seigen, regarded by many as the greatest go player ever, passed away at 1:11 am on November 30 in Japan. Go Seigen had celebrated his 2014.11.30_go-seigen-young100th birthday earlier this year, joined by go players around the world. “We mourn the passing of a truly great master and celebrate his life and the deep understanding of the game he left us with,” said American Go Association President Andy Okun.

2014.11.30_Go-Seigen-oldBorn in China on June 12, 1914, Go Seigen (Wu Qingyuan in Chinese) did not start learning the game of go until he was nine, a relatively late age for a professional. But he quickly excelled and soon became known as a go prodigy, immigrating to Japan in 1928 at the invitation of Baron Kihachiro Okura and Inukai Tsuyoshi (later prime minister of Japan), where he embarked on a professional career. He was tutored by Segoe Kensaku, the same teacher as Hashimoto Utaro and Cho Hunhyun.

In 1933, along with his great friend Kitani Minoru, Go Seigen developed and popularized the Shinfuseki that broke away from the traditional opening patterns. It is for this very important contribution that Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru are recognized as the fathers of modern go. Starting in 1939, Go Seigen began a spectacular series of Jubango matches against other top players of the day. It was through these matches that Go Seigen convincingly demonstrated an overwhelming dominance over his contemporaries. Go Seigen had only one formal disciple – Rin Kaiho, Honorary Tengen. Go Seigen’s star began to fade in the early 1960s due to health reasons and he had to virtually retire from playing professional go by 1964. However, he continued to remain active in the go community through teaching, writing, and promoting go around the world.

“I still study Go every day, placing stones on the board,” Go Seigen wrote in “A Way of Play for the 21st Century.” “You might think study is meaningless for me, since I retired so many years ago. But for people who play it, Go is like an eternal friend, a permanent art form. I’ll continue playing and studying Go. Probably just like you.”

Read more about Go Seigen here Go Seigen: The Go Master  and here. We welcome your thoughts about Go Seigen’s influence on the game of go or on you as a go player; please add your comment below or send them to us at

Includes reporting in Go Game Guru and Wikipedia; photo (left) by Zhang Jingna.

Categories: Japan

“Kuma Sensei” Visits Seattle

Tuesday November 25, 2014

Kuma by Thane WilliamsOn November 15th and 16th, the Seattle Go Center welcomed Yu Hou 6 P from the Nihon Ki-in for a workshop event. “Kuma Sensei” provided instruction on a variety of basic go techniques to a group of eager students. As the participants learned about go, Kuma Sensei had the opportunity to practice English, giving everyone a chance to study. For both days, the workshop followed the same routine, with the morning schedule starting at 9:00am. Kuma Sensei began by holding a lecture, followed by review of participant games, and then with everyone going to eat lunch. In the afternoon, after playing simultaneous teaching match with the participants, Kuma Sensei reviewed the games.

Saturday’s lecture on about the Double Approach was truly great, captivating the attention of all of the students. Even though the lecture covered basic techniques, not only beginners, but also dan players thought it was a very interesting lecture. Thanks to Kuma Sensei’s way of speaking and sense of humor, everyone was delighted. Personally, I especially enjoyed the time after the event on Saturday – while eating dinner with Kuma Sensei, we could discuss a variety of cross-cultural topics outside of go. It was truly enjoyable. The workshop, being only two days, really seemed to end too quickly.

Through this workshop, covering a variety of topics ranging from Go Lectures to matches with Kuma Sensei, we “enjoyably” learned a lot. Through this rare opportunity of having a pro come from Japan, participants deepened their interest in go, and could boost their go abilities. The Kuma Sensei Workshop went quite well, so Seattle Go fans hope for events of the same kind to happen in the future.  Report by Brian Kirby/photo by Thane Williams

Nihon Ki-in Gives Award to Seattle’s Frank Fukuda

Thursday November 20, 2014

Head shot of Frank smallThe Nihon Ki-in recently celebrated its 90th anniversary in Japan.  As part of the celebration, they sent Frank (Kohya) Fukuda, Director Emeritus of the Seattle Go Center,  an “Appreciation Diploma”, signed by their President Norio Wada.  The text stated in Japanese, “Residing outside of Japan, you have been working hard for introducing and popularizing the game of Go, and you have contributed greatly to make Go prosper in your area.   Through your activity, the success of international friendship was achieved.”  Frank Fukuda is one of the founders of the Seattle Go Center, and he has been helping the Go Center ever since it opened in 1995.  Report and photo by Brian Allen

The Power Report: Pair Go Celebrates 25th Anniversary; Korea Takes Lead in Nong Shim Cup; Iyama Makes Good Start in Oza Title Match; Iyama Wins First Tengen Game; Iyama Yuta Defends Meijin Title; Korea Wins O-kage Cup International New Stars Tournament; Two Meijin League Places Decided; Fujisawa Wins Women’s Honinbo; Radical Reorganization of Kisei Tournament

Sunday November 9, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Pair Go Celebrates 25th Anniversary: One of the biggest developments in go in recent decades has been the rise of Pair Go to worldwide2014_11.09_Pair-Go_winners-Kim-Sooyoung_Jeon-Junhak popularity. The holding of the 25th International Amateur Pair Go Championship at the end of October also marked the 25th anniversary of the birth of Pair Go…click here to read more on this and all the following reports.
Korea Takes Lead in Nong Shim Cup: In the three-way team tournament, Korea ended this round with two wins to one each for Japan and China…
Iyama Makes Good Start in Oza Title Match: The 62nd Oza best-of-five is another title match in which Iyama Yuta is facing a younger challenger. The first game was held at the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel in Yokohama City on October 21 and the game was a fierce one, which is usually the case with Iyama, and featured some novel variations…
Iyama Wins First Tengen Game: The first game of the 40th Tengen title match was held on October 24, so Iyama was engaged in three concurrent title matches. Here his challenger is Takao Shinji, holder of the only top-seven title missing from Iyama’s portfolio, the Judan…
Iyama Yuta Defends Meijin Title: In the sixth game of the 39th Meijin title match Iyama took a territorial lead early in the game, then 2014.11.09_meijin-game6skillfully reduced a large moyo that Kono built…
Korea Wins O-kage Cup International New Stars Tournament: The O-kage (gratitude) Cup is a regional 2014.11.09_fujisawa-honinbotournament for young players sponsored by an association of tourist shops in Ise City, the site of the famous Ise Shrine. The sponsors held an international tournament for teams from Japan, China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei on November 1 and 2…
Two Meijin League Places Decided: The Meijin is a conservative league, with only three out of nine places opening up every year. Two of the vacant seats were decided on November 6…
Fujisawa Wins Women’s Honinbo: The third game of the 33rd Women’s Honinbo title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on November 7. Taking black, Fujisawa Rin 2P won by 5.5 points after 233 moves…
Radical Reorganization of Kisei Tournament: There will be complete overhaul of the Yomiuri Newspaper-sponsored Kisei tournament as of the 40th term (the 39th term will be completed with the best-of-seven title match starting in January 2015). The only thing that won’t change is the title match itself. Even with charts, it’s hard to understand the system, but I’ll try to explain it without them…

Continue reading…)

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

2014 International Amateur Pair Go Championship Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Thursday November 6, 2014

Nearly 100 Pair Go Promotion Partners and other guests gathered in Tokyo, Japan on October 24 to kick off a weekend-long celebration of OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe 25th International Amateur Pair Go Championships. Hisao and Hiroko Taki hosted a fabulous dinner at the Hotel Okura to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Japan Pair Go Association and the Pair Go tournament. Mr. Taki is the inventor of Pair Go and the founder of the Japan Pair Go Association of which Mrs. Taki (right) is the current managing director. They held the formal dinner to thank everyone for their continuing efforts to promote Pair Go around the world. The Hotel Okura is a hotel established by and named for Kishichiro Okura, one of the founding patrons of the Nihon Ki-in.

Tournament action got started on Saturday morning at the Hotel Metropolitan Edmont with the drawing of the opening round pairings for the 32 pairs representing 21 countries and territories. The US pair, Yiwen (April) Ye and Daehyuk (Daniel) Ko, drew a difficult first round matchup and fell to one of the strong Japanese pairs.

Continue reading…)

Categories: Japan,Pair Go

Go Spotting: US Army War College Quarterly

Sunday November 2, 2014

Once again, go is providing insights into US/China diplomacy. In the recent US policy of “rebalancing toward Asia,” Michael Spangler, writing 2014.11.02_war-college-quarterlyin the Summer 2014 issue of Parameters, the US Army War College quarterly, suggests that “Another way to look at this is to imagine a Chinese game of weiqi, the popular Asian game of black-and-white pieces in which two opposing players strive to surround the other. China’s July 2012 establishment of Sansha City on Paracel Island seized by force from Vietnam in 1974 was the precursor of its new weiqi games with the Philippines and Japan.” In “Rebalancing the Rebalance,” Spangler, a visiting fellow at the Army War College in Carlisle, PA, adds that “It is key that Manila’s talks not give Beijing any preponderant advantage by isolating or leveraging the Philippines against other disputants. In other words, this weiqi-like diplomatic negotiation can be completed as China’s future negotiation partners consult with each other.”
Thanks to Don Travis, a historian at the War College, and a new go player at the Carlisle Go Club.

Two College Students From Americas To Get Free Trip To Japan

Thursday October 30, 2014

With little competition so far for the two open slots, interested university and college students in the Americas have a good shot at getting to compete in the preliminary for the next World Students Go Oza Championship. Application deadline is Nov 16 and applicants must be under the age of 30. Click here for the entry formClick here to read more (Registration Open for World Students Go Oza Championship 10/22 EJ). 

The Power Report (Part 3): Murakawa Eliminated From Samsung Cup; Fujisawa Rin Increases Lead In Women’s Honinbo; Iyama Wins Third Agon Kiriyama Cup; Two Landmarks For So Yokoku; Other Promotions; Obituary: Miura Hiroshi

Friday October 24, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent2014.10.24_Tang+Weixing

Murakawa Eliminated From Samsung Cup: The second round of the Samsung Cup was held in Taejon City in Korea on October 14. Tang Weixing 9P (right) of China, the previous winner of the tournament, beat Murakawa Daisuke 7P (W), Japan’s sole remaining player, by resig. The semifinalists are Kim chi-seok 9-dan and Pak Jung-hwan of Korea and Shi Yue and Tang of China. photo: Tang at the 2013 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games; photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images AsiaPac

Fujisawa Rin Increases Lead In Women’s Honinbo: The sixteen-year-old 2014.10.24_Fujisawa-RinaFujisawa Rina has made an excellent start in the 33rd Women’s Honinbo title match, beating Mukai Chiaki, the titleholder, in the first two games. If Fujisawa wins one more game, she will become the youngest player to hold this title. The first game was played in Hanamaki Hot Spring on October 8, with Fujisawa drawing black. Mukai Chiaki, the defending champion, took the lead, but Fujisawa played a series of do-or-die moves, one of which eventually paid off. Mukai resigned after 227 moves. The second game was played at the Ichigaya headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on October 17. Fujisawa (W) won by 2.5 points. The third game will be played on November 7.

Iyama Wins Third Agon Kiriyama Cup: The final of the 21st Agon Kiriyama Cup was held at the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon Buddhist sect (Kiriyama is the name of the head priest) on October 18. It’s surprising how often two players engaged in a big title match run into each other in other titles. The final featured a clash between the players vying for the Meijin title. Iyama Yuta drew black and beat Kono Rin by 1.5 points after 309 moves. This is Iyama’s third win in a row against Kono and it secured him his third victory in this tournament.

Two Landmarks For So Yokoku: Recently there have been two landmarks for So Yokoku, one professional, one personal. On October 13,2014.10.24_so-youkoku he scored his 200th win as an 8-dan, so he won promotion to 9-dan. (He beat Cho Sonjin 9P in the first round of the 53rd Judan tournament.) The promotion dates from the following day (when it was confirmed by the Nihon Ki-in tournament office). Very soon after this, So got married. The source of this information is Takao Shinji’s blog on the Nihon Ki-in home page. Takao gives no details, but his blog entry was dated October 17, so presumably So was married on the 14th, 15th or 16th, so the two landmarks could well have come on the same day.

Other Promotions: To 7-dan: Miyazaki Ryutaro (120 wins); To 3-dan: Murakami Akihide (40 wins).

Obituary: Miura Hiroshi
Miura Hiroshi, a top amateur player, died of a cardiac infarction on September 29. He was 68. Miura won nine amateur titles and held the title of Honorary Amateur Honinbo. He took third place in the World Amateur Go Championship in 1988. He was one of the four professional-level amateurs who dominated amateur go in Japan from the 1960s to ‘80s.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report (Part 2): Murakawa Wins Kisei B League; Mukai Leads Women’s Meijin League; Iyama Rebounds In Meijin Defense; Iyama Off to Good Start In Judan

Thursday October 23, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent2014.10.23_Murakawa Daisuke

Murakawa Wins Kisei B League: All the fifth-round games of the 39th Kisei Leagues were played on October 2. In the B League, Murakawa Daisuke 7-dan (right) of the Kansai Ki-in had stumbled in the fourth round, but he made no mistake in the fifth: taking black, he beat Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by 3.5 points and secured first place. His only remaining rival, Yoda Norimoto 9P, also won his final game, so he ended up with the same score, 4-1, as Murakawa, but the latter’s number one rank in the league gave him priority. In the A League, Yamashita Keigo made a clean sweep. He will meet Murakawa in a play-off on November 13.
Full results:
(A League) Yamashita (W) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resig.; Takao Shinji Judan (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.; Yuki Satoshi 9P (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig.
(B League) Murakawa (B) beat Cho Chikun by resig; Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) beat Cho Riyu 8P by 5.5 points; Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation. Hane and Ichiriki drop out of the A League and the two Chos drop out of the B League.

2014.10.23_mukai chiakiMukai Leads Women’s Meijin League: Mukai Chiaki, Women’s Honinbo, retains the lead on 3-0. Kato Keiko 6P and Aoki Kikuyo 8P are in second place on 3-1.
(Oct. 2) Kato Keiko 6P (W) beat Ishii Akane 2P by resig.
(Oct. 10) Aoki Kikuyo 8P (B) beat Mannami Nao 3P by 4.5 points.

Iyama Rebounds In Meijin Defense: Fans were starting to speculate about the possibility of a new Meijin when the challenger Kono Rin took a lead after the third game, but Iyama Yuta Meijin (right) has bounced back with two wins, so he is now in the better position. The fourth game was played at the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto in Kyoto City on October 6 and 7. This was a very important game for Iyama, as a loss would put him in a very disadvantageous position. Although there was no 2014.10.23_IyamaYutamove by Kono (white) that could be labeled a mistake, Iyama gradually took the lead in the second day’s play. In retrospect, Kono’s strategy in pulling out some stones inside Iyama’s territory may have been dubious. Although the way he pulled them out was clever, he provided Iyama with a weak group to target. This let Iyama build up strength in the centre that turned the game in his favor. Iyama secured a safe lead — a few points more than the komi on the board — but as usual he didn’t let up. He set up a ko and used his superiority in ko threats to force a resignation after 217 moves.

With the match tied 2-all, it had become a best-of-three. The fifth game was played at the Atami Sekitei inn in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture on October 15 and 16. It was a very interesting game, with Kono (black) playing an unusual variation of a joseki and Iyama coming up with a new move in the same joseki. The game developed into a contest between Kono’s territory and Iyama’s thickness. It was decided by a lapse in reading on Kono’s part: he overlooked a move with the double threat of a two-approach-move ko for one of his groups and a direct ko for another. The move wasn’t actually played, as Kono woke up to it belatedly and amended his play, but he had to let Iyama set up the two-approach-move ko. Such a ko would not usually be a big problem, but in this game Iyama had an overwhelming advantage in ko threats. Kono had to ignore a ko threat, but that let Iyama eventually kill a group. Kono resigned after White 176. The sixth game will be played on October 29 and 30.

Iyama Off to Good Start In Judan: If Iyama manages to defend his Meijin title, he will once again have a chance to aim at a simultaneous (that is to say, a genuine) grand slam next year. He needs to keep defending his six current titles, of course, and also to win the Judan title. He has made a good start in the 53rd Judan tournament. On October 10, playing white, he defeated Yoda Norimoto 9P by resig. in the first round (which has 20 players, four of whom are seeded into the second round). He needs to win three more games to become the challenger.

Second of three reports. Tomorrow: Murakawa Eliminated From Samsung Cup; Fujisawa Rin Increases Lead In Women’s Honinbo; Iyama Wins Third Agon Kiriyama Cup; Two Landmarks For So Yokoku; Other Promotions; Obituary: Miura Hiroshi

Categories: Japan,John Power Report