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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).

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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

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The Power Report: Yamashita Off to Good Start in Meijin Defense; Mukai to Challenge for Women’s Honinbo Title; Japanese Players Eliminated from Samsung Cup; Young Players Gain Honinbo Seats and Promotions; 38th Kisei Leagues: Murakawa Wins B League; Akiyama to Challenge for Tengen; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama’s Successive Title Matches

Thursday September 12, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent

Yamashita Off to Good Start in Meijin Defense: The first game of the 39th Meijin title match was held at its regular venue, the luxury traditional hotel and restaurant of the Chinzanso in Tokyo. Challenging the Meijin, Yamashita Keigo, was Iyama Yuta, the monarch of Japanese go, who was not only after revenge for losing the Meijin title to Yamashita two years ago but also seeking to become the second player to hold the Triple Crown of Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo. The Meijin title match always starts in September, which is when the weather starts to cool down a little after the usually unbearable summer but which is also typhoon season. In fact, the weather in Japan this September has been very turbulent, with record rainfalls and unfamiliar tornadoes ripping through residential areas. The opening day of the game was not an exception, with a violent thunderstorm at dawn. The players were insulated from the weather, of course, but the game was not. With move 32, Yamashita made an aggressive cap that he later recognized was a bit of an overplay. It was redeemed only by a badly timed cut made by Iyama on move 53 that turned out to be more of an overplay. The ensuing fight eventually dragged in half a dozen groups, with the focus on a large capturing race. This looked bad for Iyama, but instead of being obstinate, that is, going all out to capture Iyama’s group, Yamashita cleverly engineered a large-scale trade that gave him a win. Iyama was forced to resign after 172 moves. This was an uncharacteristic loss for Iyama, with a miscalculation of the balance of the trade thrown in later in the game on top of his earlier overplay. However, a best-of-seven gives him plenty of time to make a comeback. The second game will be played on September 19 & 20.

Mukai to Challenge for Women’s Honinbo Title: Mukai Chiaki 5-dan will make her third challenge for the Women’s Honinbo title and her sixth challenge overall to women’s triple crown holder Xie Yimin. So far she has been frustrated by Xie’s fighting strength, which is unmatched among women players in Japan, but Mukai is clearly the number two player here, so competing with Xie is her destiny. She will surely be encouraged by her success early this year: although Japan took only third place in the 2nd Huading Cup in late April, Mukai won all three of her games and helped Japan to a rare team win over China. In the play-off to decide the challenger, held on August 29, Mukai (W) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by resignation. She previously challenged for this title in 2010 and 2011, losing 0-3 and 1-3 respectively.

Japanese Players Eliminated from Samsung Cup: A report on the opening round mini-tournament that starts off the Samsung Cup has already appeared in this journal. Here are the details of the Japanese players’ results. There were two seeded players in the main tournament, Takao Shinji and Yuki Satoshi, who were joined by Komatsu Hideki, winner of a seat in the veterans’ section of the qualifying tournament. In the first round, the Samsung Cup is divided into eight groups of four players; they play each other until a player qualifies for the second round with two wins or is eliminated with two losses.
Game 1 (Sept. 3). Komatsu (W) d. Eric Lui (USA) by resig.; Gu Lingyi 5P (China) (B) d. Takao by resig.; Gu Li 9P (China) (W) d. Yuki by resig.
Game 2 (Sept. 4). Fan Yunruo 4P (China) (W) d. Takao by resig.; Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (B) d. Komatsu by resig.; Liao Xingwen 5P (W) d. Yuki by resig.
Game 3 (Sept. 5). Yi Se-tol 9P (Korea) (B) d. Komatsu by resig.

Young Players Gain Honinbo Seats and Promotions: Every year there is a radical turnover in the Honinbo League: four players out of eight lose their seats, compared to only three out of nine in the Meijin League and four out of twelve in the Kisei Leagues. That means, in theory, that there’s a little more scope for new young stars to make their debut in this league. That’s certainly how things have turned out this year, with two teenagers and two veterans joining the 69th league. The first three of the play-offs for the places up for grabs were held on August 29. Kono Rin 9P, who recently came very close to taking the Gosei title from Iyama Yuta, defeated Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (B) by 1.5 points. At 32, Kono qualifies as one of the veterans. The other veteran is Sakai Hideyuki 8P, aged 40. Taking white, Sakai beat his fellow Kansai Ki-in player Imamura Toshiya 9P by 7.5 points. Sakai has played in eight Meijin leagues, but this will be his first Honinbo league. The third player to win a seat on the 29th was Yo Seiki 3P (right). The 18-year-old Yo (B) beat Han Zenki 8P by 8.5 points. Yo is a player who has been attracting attention as a possible future star for the better part of a year now. Born in Taiwan on July 6, 1995, he became a professional at the Taiwanese Qiyuan (Ki-in), reaching 2P, but then switched to the Kansai Ki-in, where he started out as a 1-dan in 2009. He quickly established himself as a worthy successor — and now a rival — to the Kansai Ki-in’s top young player, Murakawa Daisuke 7P (born on December 14, 1990). Yo has been sweeping all before him this year, winning 18 games in a row before losing in the semifinals of the Tengen tournament (see our previous report). He has also reached the final of the 38th King of the New Stars tournament. In the second round of the current NHK Cup, he scored a very impressive win over Cho U, impressive especially because of how strongly he fought back after incurring a slight disadvantage in the opening. Already some go reporters are talking of him as a future rival to Iyama, and not in the very distant future, either. Yo set a new record by becoming the youngest player to win a seat in the Honinbo League; the previous record was 20 years two months, set by Iyama. The latter’s record for any league — 17 years ten months in the Kisei Leagues — remains intact. The final play-off for a league seat was held on September 5; Ida Atsushi 4P beat Cho Sonjin 9P, so he also makes his league debut. He is almost as young as Yo, having been born on March 15, 1994 and if his game had been held before Yo’s, he would have temporarily held the record. A member of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in, that is, the Central Japan Headquarters, Ida has also attracted attention as an up-and-coming player. One of the advantages of winning a seat in a league (or a title) for a young player is gaining an automatic promotion (it usually takes effect the next day). When Iyama won the Agon Kiriyama Cup at the age of 16 in 2005, he went from 4P to 7P, then to 8P for becoming the Meijin challenger in 2008, then to 9P for winning the Meijin title the following year. Ko Iso also went from 4P to 7P when he won a place in the Meijin League in 2005. Ri Ishu and Uchida Shuhei have also won such promotions in recent years. In a sense, they are a bonus attached to a more substantial achievement than a mere promotion. In any case, Yo is the first player in Japan to jump four ranks, so he has another record.

38th Kisei Leagues: Murakawa Wins B League: Two games were played in the B League last week. Murakawa Daisuke 7P of the Kansai Ki-in, who already had the sole lead, put himself in an unassailable position by beating Kono Rin 9P. Every other player already has at least two losses, so Murakawa wins the league regardless of the results in the final round. He will meet the winner of the A League in a play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta Kisei; in that league Yamashita Keigo has a slight edge, but Kiyonari Tetsuya 9P, Yoda Norimoto 9P, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P, and Kobayashi Satoru 9P are all still in the running (Cho U is the only one completely out of the running).
(September 5) Hane Naoki (W) defeated Cho Chikun by resignation; Murakawa Daisuke (B) d. Kono Rin by resig.

Akiyama to Challenge for Tengen: Akiyama Jiro 9P (right) will have a crack at chipping a segment out of Iyama Yuta’s quintuple crown. In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 39th Tengen title, held on September 9, Akiyama (B) defeated Yamashita Keigo Meijin by resignation and so gets to make his first title challenge. Akiyama has long been considered a promising player, but his most notable achievement so far has been appearing in three successive Kisei leagues (34th to 36th). He has an image of being one of the younger players, so it’s a bit of a surprise to find that he is already 35. This is finally his chance to break out of the pack. The title match starts on October 21

Women’s Meijin League: One game has been played in the 26th Women’s Meijin League since our last report. On September 5, Chinen Kaori 4P (B) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by 2.5 points. With two losses, Mukai falls behind the pace. Joint leaders, both on 3-0, are Kato Keiko 6P and Suzuki Ayumi 6P.

Iyama’s Successive Title Matches: In our previous report, we mentioned that Iyama Yuta (right) would set a new record by playing in all the top-seven title matches this year. That is true, but actually he has played in all top-seven title matches since last year’s Oza and his run will continue to next year’s Kisei title match, so he is already guaranteed to set a record of appearing in ten title matches in a row. If Iyama wins the ongoing Meijin title match, he will become the second player after Cho Chikun to hold the big triple crown of Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo. Cho did this four times, in 1983 and 1996 to 1998.

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The Power Report: Summer Round-up from Japan (Part 3): Kisei Leagues Update; 8th Samsung Cup Qualifying Tournament; 26th Women’s Meijin League Starts; Murakawa to Battle Shida in Agon Kiriyama Cup Final; Yamashita Keigo or Akiyama Jiro to be Tengen Challenger: Yashiro Kumiko Promoted

Wednesday August 28, 2013

E-Journal Japan Correspondent John Power catches us up on go events in Japan and international events in which Japanese players took part. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Kisei Leagues Update
July 25: (A League) Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (W) d. Yamashita Keigo Meijin by 3.5 points. (B League) Murakawa Daisuke 7P (B) d. Takao Shinji 9P by 1.5 points; Mizokami Tomochika 8P (W) d. 25th Honinbo Chikun by resig.
August 8: (B League) Takao Shinji 9P (W) d. Mizokami Tomochika 8P by resig.
August 15: (A League) Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) d. Cho U 9P by 1.5 points; Yamashita Keigo Meijin (W) d. Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig.

To review the state of the leagues, Yamashita Keigo, on 3-1, will win the A League if he wins his final game. The previous Kisei, Cho U, has dropped to 1-3,
so he has to worry about keeping his place. The B League is lagging a little
behind. Murakawa Daisuke, on 3-0, has the sole lead; next is 25th Honinbo Chikun on 2-1.

8th Samsung Cup Qualifying Tournament: The Samsung Cup has become the most diversified of the international tournaments, offering seats to players in various categories through the large-scale qualifying tournament: general (which could be interpreted as meaning purely on strength), senior, female, and world. The number of seats at stake in these sections respectively was 14, 2, 2, and 1. Only one of the 30 Japanese players who made the trip to Seoul to compete was successful: Komatsu Hideki 9P (aged 46), who won a place in the senior section for the second year in a row. The qualifying tournament was held in Seoul from August 2 to 7. Komatsu had to win five games in a row to get into the main tournament. The seeded players from Japan are Takao Shinji and Yuki Satoshi. The opening round, a complicated double elimination, will be held from September 3 to 5.

26th Women’s Meijin League Starts: The new Women’s Meijin League has got under way and first round and the first two games in the second round have been played. (25 July) Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) d. Okuda Aya 3P by 1.5 points; Ishii Akane 2P (W) d. Mukai Chiaki 5P by resig. (August 1) Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) d. Yoshida Mika 8P by half a point; Kato Keiko 6P d. Chinen Kaori 4P by forfeit.
(August 8). Kato Keiko 6P (W) d. Ishii Akane 2P by resig.

Murakawa to Battle Shida in Agon Kiriyama Cup Final: Two new stars will battle it out in the final of the Agon Kiriyama Cup: Murakawa Daisuke 7P of the Kansai Ki-in (aged 22) and Shida Tatsuya 6-dan of the Central Japan branch (Nagoya) of the Nihon Ki-in (also 22). In the semifinals, held on August 19, Murakawa (W) d. Cho U by resignation and Shida (B) defeated Ichiriki Ryo 3-dan by half a point. The final will be held in Kyoto on October 5.

Yamashita Keigo or Akiyama Jiro to be Tengen Challenger: The semifinals of the 39th Tengen title were held on August 22. Yamashita Keigo Meijin (B) beat Cho U 9P by resignation and Akiyama Jiro 9P beat Yo Seiki 3P, also by resignation. The winners will meet in the final to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta. Cho U has had a terrible summer: he missed a chance to challenge for the Meijin title, he dropped out of the running in the Kisei league, and he lost in the Tengen and Agon Kiriyama Cup semifinals. Not so long ago, when he was winning three or four titles every year, he looked a certainty to challenge the record for most titles won, but now his prospects don’t look nearly as good. The record, 72 titles, is held by Cho Chikun (25th Honinbo Chikun); Cho U is in sixth place with 38.

Yashiro Kumiko Promoted: Ms. Yashiro Kumiko was promoted to 6P (90 wins) on July 12.

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The Power Report: Summer Round-up from Japan (Part 2): Kita Fumiko Inducted Into Hall Of Fame; Iyama To Challenge For Meijin Title

Tuesday August 27, 2013

E-Journal Japan Correspondent John Power catches us up on go events in Japan and international events in which Japanese players took part. Click here (link) for Part 1. 

Kita Fumiko Inducted Into Hall Of Fame: At a July 16 meeting at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, Kita Fumiko, honorary 8-dan, became the first woman to be inducted into the Go Hall of Fame. Kita (1875-1950) was the adopted daughter of the pioneering woman player Hayashi Sano (1825-1901). She became professional 1-dan in 1891 and reached 3-dan in 1895. In the same year, she married the head of the Kita No school, Kita Roppeita, and retired from active play. She made a comeback in 1907 and achieved good results, leading to her being promoted to 4-dan by the Hoensha group in 1911. In 1921 she became the first woman player to reach 5-dan. She played an important role in the founding of the Nihon Ki-in in 1924. She retired from active play and devoted herself to teaching. After her death, she was promoted to 7-dan and then to 8-dan. She is famed as “the mother of women’s go” and had many disciples, one of whom, Sugiuchi Kazuko 8-dan, is still active.

Iyama To Challenge For Meijin Title: After the 38th Meijin League ended in a tie between Iyama Yuta Kisei and Kono Rin 9P, a play-off to decide the challenger to Yamashita Keigo was held on August 5. Iyama drew black and beat Kono by resignation. This win gives Iyama a chance to regain the title that he lost to Yamashita Keigo in 2011. It also means that he will set yet another record by becoming the first player ever to appear in all top-seven title matches in one year. That will also give him a chance to revive the dream of holding all the top seven titles simultaneously (he would need to win all his title matches up to the Kisei next year, then regain the Judan title).

Below is an update of Meijin League results since my last report.
Round 7 (July 18). Yuki Satoshi 9P (B) d. Mizokami Tomochika 8P by half a point. This was the last game in the seventh round and it put an end to Yuki’s losing streak of 16 games over three leagues. His loss made demotion from the league certain for Mizokami; even though he had only one win, as a seeded player he could have retained his league seat if he had won his final two games. Three players, Yuki, Mizokami and Sakai, now had only one win with one round to go, so Murakawa Daisuke, with three wins, became certain of retaining his place.
Round 8 (August 1): As has become the practice in recent years, all the games in the final round were played on the same day, to ensure a dramatic finish. If Cho U won, he would win the league outright and become the challenger. If he lost his game with Kono Rin, Kono would end in a tie for first with the winner of the game between Iyama Yuta and Hane Naoki. Kono Rin 9P (B) d. Cho U 9P by resig; Yuki Satoshi Judan (B) d. Takao Shinji 9P by resig; Murakawa Daisuke 7P (B) d. Mizokami Tomochika 8P by resig; Iyama Yuta Kisei (B) d. Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
The final order in the league was: 1st, Iyama 6-2; 2nd: Kono 6-2; 3rd Cho U 6-
2; 4th Hane 5-3; 5th Takao Shinji 5-3; 6th Murakawa 4-4. Yuki (2-6), Mizokami
(1-7), and Sakai Hideyuki 8P (1-7) lost their places.
In an interview after the play-off, Iyama said that he was lucky. He was not
just being modest. When he was beaten by Cho U in the seventh round (actually the sixth round for Cho, his score was 5-2 compared to Cho’s 6-0, so his prospects didn’t look very good. Fortunately for him, other players managed to defeat Cho in his last two games. This is an example of relying on “tariki” (the strength of others) instead of “jiriki” (one’s own strength). It worked for Iyama.

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The Power Report: Summer Round-up From Japan (Part 1): Iyama Defends Gosei Title, Maintains Quintuple Crown; Yuki Reaches Third Round Of Mlily International Tournament

Monday August 26, 2013

I spent the summer traveling overseas (that is, away from Japan, where I live), so in a 3-part series this week I will catch up on go events in Japan and international events in which Japanese players took part. Some of these may have been reported on previously in the E-Journal so these reports will provide additional information of interest.
- John Power

Iyama Defends Gosei Title, Maintains Quintuple Crown: In the 38th Gosei title match, Kono Rin 9P made an excellent start, winning the first two games, but defending champion Iyama Yuta Kisei (right) fought back to defend his title with three straight wins. The third game was played at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on July 26. Taking white, Iyama picked up his first win of the series, edging Kono by 1.5 points. This win could have been predicted, as Iyama has never lost a title match (this was his 14th) with straight losses. This was a fairly quiet game in which Iyama exploited a small slip by Kono in the middle game, then played steadily to keep his lead. The fourth game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 9. Taking black, Iyama secured a resignation after 189 moves. Iyama took the lead in territory, then wrapped up the game by living inside Kono’s moyo. For the deciding game, played on August 23, the title went back to Iyama’s home ground, the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in. Kono won the nigiri and so took black. In some very difficult fighting that started in the middle game, Iyama took a small lead and once again carefully nursed it to the end of the game. The final margin was 2.5 points. This is Iyama’s first defence of the Gosei title and his 19th title overall.

Yuki Reaches Third Round Of Mlily International Tournament: Three Japanese started out in the first round of China’s new international tournament, the 1st Mlily Cup, but only one made it to the third round. That was Yuki Satoshi of the Kansai Ki-in, who frequently represents Japan in international tournaments, despite his “advanced” age, by international standards, of 41. I have reported on this tournament previously, but there are some added details below. Note that I give only a selection of the results in the first two rounds.
Round 1 (Chinese Qiyuan, Beijing, July 9; China 41 players, Korea 18, Japan 3, Chinese Taipei 2): Yuki Satoshi 9P (Japan) (W) defeated Cheong Seung-hyun amateur (Korea) by resig; An Dongxu 4P (China) (B) d. Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) by 2.5 points; Li Qinsheng 2P (China) (W) d. Piao Wenyao 9D (China) by resig; Lei Zhenkun 1P (China) (W) d. Yi Ch’ang-ho 9P (Korea) by resig; Peng Quan 7P (China) (B) d. Pak Cheong-hwan 9P (Korea) by resig; Hu Yaoyu 8P (China) (B) d. Murakawa Daisuke 7P (Japan) by resig; Yi Se-tol 9P (Korea) (W) d. Chang Hao 9P (China) by resig; Na Hyeon 3P (Korea) (W) d. Shi Yue 9P (China) by 2.5 points; Mi Yuting 4P (China) (B) d. Kang Tongyun 9P (Korea) by resig; Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P (Korea) (W) d. (Ms.) Song Ronghui 5P (China) by resig. (China 25 wins, Korea 6, Japan 1)
Round 2 (Chinese Qiyuan, Beijing, July 11): Yuki (W) d. Li Qincheng 2-dan (China) by resig; Mi Yuting (W) d. Yi Se-tol by resig; Kong Jie 9P (China) (B) d. Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by resig; Cho Han-seung 9P (Korea) (B) d. Qiu Jun 9P (China) by resig; Gu Li 9P (China) (W) d. Na Hyeon by resig. (China 13 wins, Korea 2, Japan 1)
Round 3 (August 9, Shanghai): Wang Xi (B; at left in photo above) d. Yuki (at right in photo)by resig; Dang Yifei 4P (China) (B) d. Tang Weixing 3P (China) by resig; Zhou Ruiyang 9P (China) (W) d. Guo Jianchao 5P (China) by resig; Wu Guangya 6P (China) (B) d. Hu Yaofeng 5P (China) by half a point; Lian Xiao 4P (China) (B) d. Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P (Korea) by 1.5 points; Gu Li (W) d. Hu Yaoyu by resig; Wang Lei 8P (China) (B) d. Cho Han-seung by 1.5 points; Mi (B) d. Kong Jie by half a point. (China won all eight games.)
Quarterfinals (August 11, Shanghai; I don’t have winning margins): Gu (W) d. Wang Lei; Zhou (B) d. Lian; Wang Xi (B) d. Wu; Mi (W) d. Dang.
In the semifinals, to be played in September, Gu plays Zhou and Wang plays Mi.
- photos courtesy Go Game Guru

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The Power Report (Bonus Edition): Kono Extends Lead In Gosei; Kisei League Update

Monday July 22, 2013

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

Kono Extends Lead In Gosei: Iyama Yuta 9P didn’t have much time to enjoy his Honinbo triumph: just four days later, he was fighting yet another title-match game. The second game of the 38th Gosei title match was played in the Nagaoka Grand Hotel in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture on July 22. The challenger, Kono Rin 9P (left), had got off to a good start in the series, reversing the disastrous trend of his previous record against Iyama. His good form continued in the second game. Taking white, Kono forced a resignation after 194 moves and now has a chance to take the title in the third game, scheduled for July 26.

Kisei League Update: Three games have been played in the 38th Kisei leagues so far in July. They have not altered the lead in either league, but one favorite has suffered a setback. On July 11, Kiyonari Tetsuya 9P of the Kansai Ki-in, playing white, defeated Yoda Norimoto 9P (right) by resignation in the A League. Kiyonari went to 2-1 and is doing well in his comeback to the league. Yoda is now 1-2 and will have to focus on keeping his place rather than on winning the league. On July 18, Kobayashi Satoru 9P (W) defeated Cho U 9P by resignation in the A League.  Kobayashi is now 2-1 and Cho 1-2. The latter was regarded as one of the early favorites, but his prospects don’t look good now. In the B League on the same day, Hane Naoki 9P (W) defeated Kono Rin 9P by 1.5 points. Both players are now on 1-2. In the A League, Yamashita Keigo Meijin has the sole lead on 2-0. In the B League, both 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun and Murakawa Daisuke 7P of the Kansai Ki-in are on 2-0.

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The Power Report: Kobayashi Satoru Wins His First Igo Masters Cup; Yuki Reaches Third Round of Mlily Championship

Sunday July 21, 2013

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

Kobayashi Satoru Wins His First Igo Masters Cup:
The final of the 3rd Igo Masters Cup, which is open to players 50 years and older who have won a top-seven title or who are doing well in the prize-money rankings, featured a clash between former Kisei Kobayashi Satoru 9P and Ishii Kunio 9P, who was hoping to win his first official title. These days Ishii is best known as the nurturer of the extraordinary talent of Iyama Yuta. Kobayashi, taking black, won by 1.5 points.

Yuki Reaches Third Round of Mlily Championship: The Mlily World Weiqi Open Championship is yet another Chinese-sponsored international tournament. We reported earlier on the results in the first round (Mlily Cup Preliminaries 5/25/2013 EJ). Yuki Satoshi 9P was the only Japanese representative to survive that round. He also did well in the second round, defeating Li 1-dan of China. In the round of 16, Yuki will be matched against Wang Xi 9-dan of China. We don’t have full details, but the second round was yet another triumph for China, which won 13 games to two wins for Korea and one for Japan. Among the 13 Chinese players going on to the next round are such prominent players as Gu Li, Kong Jie, Hu Yaoyu, and Zhou Ruiyang. The two Korean players are Ch’oe Ch’eol-han and Cho Han-sung. Yi Se-tol was eliminated in this round. There are rumors of a best-of-ten match between Yi and Gu Li, but, if true, the timing is not good for Yi, as he seems to have passed his peak.

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The Power Report: Korea and China Take the Prizes at Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games; Cho U Stumbles in Meijin League; Kono Rin Makes Good Start in Gosei

Wednesday July 10, 2013

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

Korea and China Take the Prizes at Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games: On July 2, the finals of the individual male competition and the Pair Go tournament were held at the 4th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games. In the former, Tang Weixing 3P of China took first place, and in the latter victory went to the Chinese team of (Ms.) Gao Xing 1P and Peng Liyao 5P. The following day, the second stage of go competition started, that is, the male and female team championships. In the male team championship, three-player teams from ten countries started out in a four-round Swiss System tournament, which was followed by a knock-out tournament for the top four. The results of the Japanese team are given below (the team consisted of Hirata Tomoya 3P, Tsuruta Kazushi 2P, and Motoki Katsuya 2P), followed by details of the knock-out stage.

Round 1 (July 3). China beat Japan 3-0; Round 2 (July 3). Japan beat Hong Kong 2-1; Round 3 (July 4). Japan beat Mongolia 3-0; Round 4 (July 4). Japan beat Singapore 3-0. Japan qualified for the knock-out.
Knock-out stage: Semifinals (July 5). Korea beat Japan 2-1; China beat Chinese Taipei 3-0.
Final (July 5). Korea beat China 2-1.
Japan did not enter a team in the women’s team tournament. The results in the knock-out round were as follows: Semifinals (July 5). China beat Chinese Taipei 2-1; Korea beat Thailand 3-0; Final (July 5). China beat Korea 2-1.

Cho U Stumbles in Meijin League: Until very recently, Cho U (left) seemed to have victory in the 38th Meijin League more or less sewn up, but he has stumbled at the second-last hurdle and, if he loses in the final round, won’t even make a play-off for first place. Three games were held in the league last week. On July 1, Kono Rin 9P, taking black, beat Murakawa Daisuke 7P by 1.5 points. This game was played on a Monday because Kono had a title-match game scheduled for the following Saturday. On July 4, Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by 6.5 points and Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by 2.5 points. Cho U keeps the sole lead with a 6-1 score, but the problem for him is that the four players ranked above him in the league, that is, Hane, Iyama Yuta, Kono, and Takao, are all on 5-2. Hane and Iyama are playing each other in the final round, so one of them has to end up with 6-2. If Kono beats Cho in their game, they will both be 6-2. Takao, who is playing Yuki Satoshi, could also end
up on 6-2, making a four-way tie for first. However, the rule in the Meijin League is that only the two highest-ranked players in a multiple tie qualify for the play-off. That would be either Hane or Iyama and Kono. That makes it very simple for Cho: whatever happens, he has to win his final game.

Kono Rin Makes Good Start in Gosei: Kono Rin 9P (right) has got off to an excellent start in his challenge for the 38th Gosei title. Before this match began, his record against the defending champion, Iyama Yuta, was a dismal six wins to 14 losses; moreover, he had lost eight games in a row, including a wipe-out in last year’s Tengen title match. However, when the Gosei match started on July 6, he showed that past results are irrelevant to a title match. Taking black, he forced Iyama to resign after 161 moves. The game was played in Kanazawa City in Ishikawa Prefecture. The venue was in the Hokkoku Newspaper Meeting Hall , an ultra-modern 20-storey building that is the headquarters of one of the sponsors of the title, the Hokkoku (= North Country) Newspaper. The second game is scheduled for July 22.

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The Power Report: Iyama One Win Away From Defending Honinbo Title; Iyama Wins 25th TV Asia Cup, Secures Japan Its First International Title In Eight Years; 38th Kisei Leagues Update; Japan Eliminated From Asian Indoor And Martial Arts Games

Monday July 1, 2013

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

Iyama One Win Away From Defending Honinbo Title: The fifth game of the 68th Honinbo title match was held at the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City on June 24 and 25. This was another irregular Monday/Tuesday game because of the hectic schedules of both players (Wednesday/Thursday is usual for two-day games). Suita City is in Osaka Prefecture, the home ground of Iyama, so the overwhelming majority of the fans who attended the party on the eve of the game were rooting for him. Takao was unfazed, however. In his speech, he commented that he now understood the feelings of his favourite baseball team, the Chiba Lotte Marines (from the prefecture to the east of Tokyo), when they were playing the Osaka-based Hanshin Tigers on their home ground. His humor may not have converted the fans but it won him generous applause. In reply, Iyama apologized for his inability to think of anything witty to say despite being an Osakan (natives of Osaka are known for their wit and dominate the ranks of comedians in Japan) and said he would make his statement on the go board. As it turned out, Iyama was as good as his word. After a fierce struggle featuring a series of kos, he took advantage of a hallucination by Takao in a capturing race involving yet another ko and took the lead in the ensuing trade (not the first in the game). Takao fought on valiantly, but had to resign after 242 moves. Having taken a 3-2 lead, Iyama has two chances to pick up the win that will complete his first successful Honinbo defense. He had made a good start to the week, but there was even better to come.

Iyama Wins 25th TV Asia Cup, Secures Japan Its First International Title In Eight Years: Japan’s last victory in an individual world title came in the 17th TV Asia tournament when Cho U won the final on June 17, 2005. That was a good year for Japan, as Cho had also won the 9th LG Cup on April 20, and the Japanese team won the Nong Shim Cup team tournament, which started in the autumn of 2005 and concluded on February 24, 2006. Since then, however, Japanese fans have suffered so many disappointments that they have scaled back their expectations on the international scene. However, that may be changing with the founding of the national team, known as Go Go Japan. Everyone admits that Japan lacks the depth of China and Korea, especially among the younger generation of players, but things have started to look up with the success of Takao and Iyama in the opening rounds of the current LG Cup. Iyama has followed up his success there with an outstanding performance in the 25th TV Asia tournament, which this year was hosted by Japan and staged at the Hotel New Otani in Tokyo on the last three days of June. Japan’s representatives this year were Yuki Satoshi and Iyama, who took first and second places respectively in this year’s NHK Cup. Both of them won their first-round games, but Yuki was eliminated in the semifinal by Pak Cheong-hwan (or Jong-hwan), a 20-year-old Korean who has established himself as the world’s number one over the last two or three years. He was outplayed by Iyama in the final, however, and had to resign after 198 moves. This gives Iyama his first international title (not counting an invitational tournament he won in China May 2001; the games are given in Go World 126). However, Japanese fans will be expecting a lot more from him.
photo courtesy Go Game Guru, which also has a report on the tournament.
Full results:
Round 1 (June 28). Yuki Satoshi 9P (Japan) (W) defeated Jiang Weijie 9P (China) by 2.5 points; Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) (W) d. Yi Ch’ang-ho 9P (Korea) by resig.; Wang Xi 9P (China) (W) d. Yi Se-tol 9P (Korea) by resig.
Semifinals (June 29). Pak Cheong-hwan 9P (Korea) (W) d. Yuki by 5.5 points; Iyama (W) d. Wang by resig.
Final (June 30). Iyama (W) d. Pak by resig.
Incidentally, White won all games in this tournament, which is a little unusual. Note that Yi Se-tol took part as a substitute for Pak Hong-seok 9-dan of Korea. As the previous winner, he had a seeded place, but was unable to take part, as he is doing his military service.

38th Kisei Leagues Update: On June 27, three games were played in the Kisei leagues. In the A League, Yoda Norimoto 9P (W) defeated Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resignation. Yoda is now 1-1 and Yamashiro 0-2. In the B League, Murakawa Daisuke 7P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation and Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Mizokami Tomochika 8P also by resignation. That made Murakawa, now on 2-0, the sole leader of the league, but it was for only one day. On June 28, there was a somewhat surprising result when Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, (W) defeated Takao Shinji 9P by half a point. This may sound a little disrespectful towards Cho, who is one of the all-time greats, but he is already 57, so one would have expected Takao to beat him. Takao doesn’t seem to have maintained the outstanding from he displayed in the LG Cup. (This game was played on a Friday, which is unusual, to give Takao more time to recover from the Honinbo game at the beginning of the week.) As a result, Cho joined Murakawa at the top of the B League.

Japan Eliminated From Asian Indoor And Martial Arts Games: The first five rounds of the individual men’s championship and the Pair Go in the 4th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games were held on June 30 and July 1 in Incheon City in Korea. In the former event, 22 players from 11 countries took part. Tsuruta Kazushi 2P scored 2 wins to 3 losses and Sada Atsushi 1P 3-2 in the Swiss System preliminary round (Sada beat Tsuruta in Round 5), but both were eliminated, as only the top four players qualify for the final round. In the Pair Go preliminary round, also a Swiss, the team of Okuda Aya 3P and Hirata Tomoya 3P scored 3-2, as did Rina Fujisawa 1P and Motoki Katsuya 2P. Both teams were eliminated. The final rounds of the above tournaments will be played on July 2.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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