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The Power Report (Part 2): Yamashita Keeps Lead In Honinbo League; Yamashita Takes Lead In Meijin League

Tuesday March 18, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Yamashita Keeps Lead In Honinbo League: Yamashita Keigo (left) started out and ended badly in his Kisei challenge, but his form in other tournaments has remained good, especially in leagues, where he is bidding to win three in a row (starting with last year’s Kisei League).  After six rounds in the 69th Honinbo League, he is the only undefeated player. He will meet his only remaining rival, Ida Atsushi 7P, in the final round in April, but Ida will have to beat Yamashita twice in a row, that is, in this game and then in a play-off, to become the challenger. Regardless of what happens, Ida has made a very good debut by winning five games to one loss against top-level competition.
Among the other league members, two top players are enjoying different fortunes. A sixth-round win ensured Cho U’s survival, but his defeated opponent in that game, Takao Shinji, has lost his place.
Recent results:
(February 13) Yamashita (B) beat Kono Rin 9P (W) by 1.5 points; Ida Atsushi 7P  (W) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by 5.5 points.
(February 14) Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by 1.5 points.
(February 20) Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig.
(March 6) Ida (B) beat Kono by resig.
(March 7) Yamashita (W) beat Sakai by resig.
(March 13) Cho U (B) beat Takao by 3.5 points.

Yamashita Takes Lead In Meijin League: As mentioned above, Yamashita seems to be unable to put a foot wrong in the leagues. After four rounds in the 39th Meijin League, he is the only undefeated
player, though his score is only 3-0, as he has already had his bye. His closest rival is Kono Rin 9P on 3-1, but the other two players to have had byes so far, Cho U 9P and Ryu Shikun 9P, also have only one loss. Yamashita’s games with Kono next month and Ryu in May will be significant.
Recent results:
(February 17) Yamashita (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.
(February 20) Ryu Shikun (B) beat Takao Shinji by 1.5 points.
(March 6) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Cho U by resig.; Ko Iso (B) beat Murakawa Dai
suke 7P by resig.
(March 10) Kono Rin (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by 2.5 points.
photo courtesy EGC 2014 website
TOMORROW: Takao Makes Good Start To Judan Challenge; Kato Evens Score In Women’s Meijin; New Tournament Launches 

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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The Power Report (Part 1): Iyama Defends Kisei Title, Defeats Yamashita 4-2

Monday March 17, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Defends Kisei Title, Defeats Yamashita 4-2: Iyama Yuta swept to a 3-0 lead in the 38th Kisei title match, but then Yamashita made a comeback, saving two kadobans (games that can lose a series) to keep the match alive. However, the tide turned again in the sixth game, with Iyama outfighting Yamashita to defend his title 4-2. This is Iyama’s second Kisei title, his 7th big-three title and his 23rd title overall. He also maintained his sextuple crown.

To take up the story from my previous report, the fourth game was played at the Hokkaido Hotel in Obihiro City in Hokkaido on February 20 and 21. Yamashita (white) had his back to the wall, but he played in his usual aggressive fashion and took the lead in the middle game. He suffered a number of losses in the endgame, but just managed to hang on to a half-point lead. The game ended after 243 moves, with Yamashita looking relieved that he had kept the series alive. He comes from Hokkaido, so he also made local fans happy, and the sponsors were probably also relieved that the series hadn’t fizzled out. Incidentally, this win redressed the balance for Yamashita’s half-point loss in the first game.

The fifth game was played at the Atami Korakuen Hotel in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture on February 26 and 27. Yamashita took the lead in a fight centered on a ko and then coolly wrapped up the game. Playing black, he won by 3.5 points. He was still one game behind, but his successive wins put a lot of pressure on Iyama. On the evening of the first day, Go Seigen, who lives nearby in Odawara, visited the tournament venue to look at the game and to chat with the players. Go will turn 100 on May 19 and is already the longest-lived top player in history, but he still takes a keen interest in the go scene.
The sixth game was held at Ryugon, a traditional Japanese inn with a large pond and extensive garden, in South (Minami) Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture on March 12 and 13.  Iyama (B) played well and was never behind; he decided the game when he skilfully resurrected a group of three stones that he had ‘sacrificed’ in the opening. This secured a resignation after 229 moves.

This series was yet another good demonstration of Iyama’s fighting power. Yamashita is known for his fondness for fighting, but Iyama matched him blow for blow. Yamashita’s current results in other tournaments show that he’s in good form, but he was able to take only two games off Iyama.

The referee for the final game, Hane Naoki 9P, gave his view of Iyama. ‘He has stable strength in every field. He can handle any kind of game and has the confidence to trust his own judgement.’
photos: top right: Game 3; bottom left: Game 4. photos courtesy EGC 2014 website
This is the first in a 4-part series this week. TOMORROW: Yamashita Keeps Lead In Honinbo League; Yamashita Takes Lead In Meijin League 

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Japanese Professionals Minematsu & Kobayashi Tour UK

Sunday March 16, 2014

The recent European Youth Go Championship (EYGC) and British Go Congress held in Bognor Regis, England saw Japanese professionals Minematsu Masaki 6p and Kobayashi Chizu 5p visiting the UK under the auspices of the Nihon Ki-in. As previously reported (Podpera Takes Top Prize at European Youth Go Championships, 3/9 EJ), they gave teaching sessions  and reviewed games throughout the long weekend, finishing off on Monday March 4 with a full teaching day for adults as the European youth battled out the final rounds.

Additionally they both paid a visit on Thursday February 27, the evening before the start of the EYGC, to the Oxford City Go Club where Harry Fearnley had assembled 13 players from 20 kyu to 5 dan. They initially divided into two teams to play one against the other, each member of a team taking two consecutive turns before handing the baton to the next, and the pros used the moves in this game to make teaching points. After that, each pro took on 6 participants in a simul (right). Click here for Harry Fearnley’s full report of the Oxford visit, including more photos and the record of Fearnley’s game against Minematsu.

After the EYGC, Kobayashi alone went on to visit two more UK clubs: North London Go Club in Hampstead on Tuesday March 4 and Edinburgh University Thursday March 6.

I caught up with her at the North London venue, where 11 attended, from beginner to 6d. Club Secretary Michael Webster was our host. Proceedings started with a similar exercise to that at Oxford, but with only about eight present initially, we formed one team to play by turn –two moves each — against the pro while she made observations about our moves (left). This gave time for a couple of latecomers to find the Parish Church tucked away in the back streets of Hampstead, and we all then went on to look at some joseki, before most of us took on Kobayashi individually in a simul. During the simul she helpfully suggested better moves and at close of play made general suggestions about how I could play more effectively.

Between times I got the chance to ask Kobayashi her impressions of UK go and the EYGC in particular. She has long had a mission to spread the game and Japanese go culture in the western world, especially Europe, and particularly focusing on the young. In 2007 she lived in Vienna  and has also spent time in Berlin and Paris, where she was heading after the UK tour. In 2008 she was appointed Special Advisor for Cultural Exchange for the Japanese Government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs and later also became a director of the Nihon Ki-in. Talking about her work, she likened the promotion of go culture to the cultivation of a garden. She mentioned points of go etiquette during the evening too, such as opening an even game as black with a play to the top right corner and not rattling the stones in the bowl whilst thinking. She told me she saw much promise amongst the young players at the EYGC – some of whom, such as new Under-20  European Champion Lukas Podpera, she had already met – but emphasised that those aspiring especially to pro status should take professional go tuition at the earliest age possible. She related how her father, a strong amateur, had applied for insei at age 19 but was told, “too late.” For that reason he sent his children to learn young, with Kobayashi Chizu herself starting at age 6. She studied under Kitani Minoru and she and two of her brothers, Satoru and Kenji all became professionals. Of Oscar Vazquez 2d, Under-12 European Champion, she said he was “very calm” and had a reputation for “never making mistakes”.

The next day, Kobayashi took the long train ride north to Edinburgh in Scotland, where she appeared on the evening of Thursday March 7 at the Appleton Tower of the University. Boris Mitrovic, a postgraduate research student at the University’s School of Informatics and a challenger for the British Go Championship last year, hosted. There 15 sat around a single board (right), starting off with the same two-moves-each against Kobayashi exercise as at N. London, as she commented with instructive criticism. They then solved a few tsumego together, after which three or four pairs of the attendees each played the first few moves of games which became the subject of the pro’s comments. At the end of the evening – and the tour – Kobayashi was taken for a meal at the Favorit restaurant.

Click here for Kobayashi’s own photo album of her UK visit.

Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal. Photos: Minematsu considers his next move against Harry Fearnley, by Oxford club member; Francisco Divers contemplates the position as Michael Webster looks on, while Kobayashi smiles at a comment by another onlooker, by Tony Collman; Katherine Power makes one of two consecutive moves for Kobayashi’s consideration at Edinburgh University, by Boris Mitrovic.

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Upcoming European Tournament: 6th Strasbourg International

Sunday March 16, 2014

The 6th Strasbourg International Tournament will take place May 24 and 25 at the Collège Saint-Etienne. In addition to the main tournament, players may enjoy asian game demonstrations and an all-you-can-eat dinner on Saturday. There will be cash prizes for the top players and the top player with three wins. Registration is free for players below 10kyu and younger than age 18. The registration fee for all other players is 15 EU. For more information about the tournament including rules and full schedule, visit the official 6th Strasbourg International website.
—Annalia Linnan; for complete listings, check out the European Tournament Calendar

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San Diego Club Promotes Go at Cherry Blossom Festival

Saturday March 15, 2014

The San Diego Go Club manned a go booth on May 8 at the 9th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. “On a perfect San Diego sunny spring day in the 70’s,thousands crowded into the expanded garden,” reports club president Ted Terpstra. The club introduced go to the passersby and played demonstration games. Comments ranged from “What is that interesting game?” to “You play go in America! I am a Chinese level four player.” Several new members were signed up for the club.

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Categories: U.S./North America
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Teen Wolf Update: Michael Redmond 9P is the Nogitsune

Saturday March 15, 2014

Turns out the board position in episode 22 of Teen Wolf (EJ 3-12-14) is from a real game. “I had the pleasure of setting up the go board for this scene, and I got paid for it too,” reports 2012 AGF Teacher of the Year Joe Walters. “The empty triangle is a real move. The game was between Michael Redmond 9P and Chino Tadahiko 9P on March 15, 2012, in the B section of the Meijin. I set the game up for the scene sometime before Xmas last year, they provided the board and stones. I did it on the floor in the room where they shot the scene, but not on the tree stump where they used it in the final scene. Someone took pictures of the board, and they duplicated the setup when they shot the scene later on. They just wanted a game that looked real, so I selected that one because it was by an American 9 dan pro and had only a few moves,” said Walters.

The game itself had been offered as a commented record by Michael Redmond, and appeared in the members edition of the E-Journal.   “The empty triangle, white 140, was just a normal endgame move,” Redmond tells the E-Journal. “Although good shape is advantageous even in the endgame, correct reading and calculation becomes much more important and as the board becomes crowded with stones, so-called ‘bad shapes’ become more likely and can often be the correct move, as in this case. Looking for good shape in this game, I would have chosen black 97 because, although I say it myself, it was an inspired and well-calculated move with which I forced the sequence that secured my win.” The timing in the episode of Teen Wolf is pretty good, as white actually resigns the move after the empty triangle, which coincides with Stiles sweeping the stones off the board, and also means the Nogitsune was playing Redmond’s moves. “I am glad to know that my games are getting this extra chance to be viewed by a non-playing audience,” adds Redmond. “It is great that go is now being used more in movies and other such media, and it is always exciting to see that reported in the AGA E-Journal.”  This week, as a special bonus for non-members, the E-J is providing Redmond’s commentary on his game record.  If you would like to receive exciting games like this in your e-mail every week, join the AGA as a full member here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor 

[link]

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UK Preview: 3rd Isle of Skye Tournament This Weekend

Thursday March 13, 2014

One of the most beautiful and romantic UK tournament locations must surely be the Isle of Skye in Scotland’s Western Highlands, which this weekend, March 15-16, hosts the 3rd edition of its two-yearly tournament (alternating with the two-yearly Isle of Man Go Week). Despite its remoteness from most of the UK, 30 have already registered including Britain’s strongest native player, Matthew Macfadyen 6d, who rarely competes these days but who also entered – and won – the first two Skye tournaments.

Although the island’s economy was formerly dominated by crofting, these days tourism is its key money-spinner. Tournament organizer Carel Goodheir tells us that, for reasons which are not entirely clear, about 6,000 Chinese visit every year now, which is approximately twice the population of the largest settlement, Portree, where the tourney is held. So far none of them have entered but he hopes to find a way to bring the tourney to their attention in the future.

Forty years ago, when Goodheir first moved to the island, he estimates about 80% of the inhabitants  spoke the Scottish Gaelic as their main language, but nowadays less than 40% can speak it. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, a public higher education college in Sleat, Skye, is the world’s only educational establishment using Scottish Gaelic as the medium of instruction. If you’ve never heard the language – which in 2000AD also had about 1600 speakers in the US, and  currently has over 2300 in Canada – check out this short (2′ 15″) BBC Alba (Gaelic service) TV report on the 1st Skye tourney in 2010, featuring Neil Mitchison explaining the game in Gaelic, and believed to be the only BBC coverage to date of a go tournament. The clip opens with co-organizer John Macdonald at the board playing Aideen O’Malley, a director of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Click here for full tournament details

Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal. Photo: Carel Goodheir mooring his boat at Portree with Honey the dog,  Old Man of Storr in background, by Ruth Goodheir

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Choi Cheolhan Conquers Nemesis Chen Yaoye in Jingdezhen Exhibition

Thursday March 13, 2014

The third annual Jingdezhen exhibition match finished on March 9 with Choi Cheolhan 9p finally victorious over long-time rival Chen Yaoye 9p. Establishing territory was tedious but the game remained relatively even up to move 134. However, both Chen (black) and Choi (white) began to stumble shortly after, making a series of mistakes until Choi secured the winning move at 182. They played a perfect endgame and Chen never had a chance to recover.

Before this game, Chen had won over twice as many games as Choi in their individual matches (10-4). From 2007 through 2012 alone, Chen defeated Choi in 8 consecutive games. Choi’s record since 2013, though, has been comeback material. Since 2013, Chen and Choi’s head to head record (including this game) is 3-1 in Choi’s favor.

Also known as the Tianxin Pharmaceutical Cup, the first Jingdezhen match was played in 2012 in its title city Jindgezhen (located in China’s Jiangxi province). The winner’s prize is 150,000 RMB (approx. 24.5k USD) and the runner up claims 100,000 RMB (approx. 16k USD). For more information about this year’s Jingdezhen exhibition match including photos, please visit Go Game Guru.
— Annalia Linnan, based on a longer article by Go Game Guru; photo and game record courtesy of Go Game Guru

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EuroGoTV Update: United Kingdom, Turkey, Serbia

Thursday March 13, 2014

UK: The Trigantius tournament finished in Cambridge on March 9 with Jon Diamond 4d in first, William Brooks 3d in second, and Toby Manning 3d in third. Turkey: Hulya Colak 4k lead the 2014 Turkish Women’s Championship in Ankara on March 8. Behind her were Sebnem Gurbuzel 4k in second and Evren Bicakci 5k in third. (Photo: Gozde Taskin 5k, place 7 of 19.) Serbia: Also on March 8, Zoran Jankovic 4d dominated the Radnicki Club Tournament in Kragujevac while Mihailo Jacimovic 1k came in second and Dragan Stojadinovic 8k placed third.
– Annalia Linnan,  based on reports from EuroGoTV, which include complete result tables and all the latest European go news; photo courtesy of EuroGoTV

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Go Spotting: Teen Wolf Features Go Again

Wednesday March 12, 2014

MTV drama Teen Wolf again wove go into the latest episode, making two weeks in a row where the game has been featured prominently. Co-star Dylan O’Brien, as Stiles Stilinski, has been possessed by a dark fox spirit, the Nogitsune, who is controlling his mind and body.  Go is alluded to about twelve minutes in, when two werewolves are discussing strategy.  One is trying to use a chess board to figure out what Stiles would do, but the older werewolf observes “Chess is Stiles’ game, it’s not the game of a Japanese fox”.  Later, using psychic werewolf powers, Stiles’ friends are able to enter his mind, where they find him engaged in a game of go with the Nogitsune.  Like all good go players, he is immersed in the game, and deaf to the cries of his friends. It appears that while his mind is trapped in the go game, the Nogitsune has complete control of his body.  We see the board from multiple angles, with Stiles playing white.  Unfortunately, the only move he makes on the board is an empty triangle, although the board position is at least reasonable.  The spell is broken when Tyler Posey, as Scott McCall, transforms into a werewolf and his howl gets through to Stiles.  Suddenly realizing what is going on, Stiles looks up at the Nogitsune, and then sweeps all the stones off the board.  Just as well, nothing good would have come from that empty triangle anyway.  The go match appears at the 35 minute mark, and the entire episode can be viewed on the MTV website here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo from the MTV website.

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Categories: Go Spotting,Youth
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