by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Ishida wins 13×13 tournament: The final of the 1st 13×13 Pro-Amateur Tournament was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on July 23. Ishida Yoshio (also known as 24th Honinbo Shuho, left) (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. This is the second 13×13 tournament based on crowd funding on the Net. Ishida also won its predecessor, held two years ago. He commented: “It would be nice if all professional tournaments were 13×13.” Amateurs and a software program also competed in the preliminary tournament (competing for two seats out of the 16 in the main tournament). The first prize is 600,000 yen. The minimum donation for people wishing to help fund the tournament is 3,000 yen. If you make a donation, you also get to vote in choosing the professional participants.
Ida wins Samsung seat: The international qualifying tournament for the 21st Samsung Cup, which is a major international tournament in its own right, was held in Seoul from July 15 to 20. Twenty-one Japanese players participated in the three divisions, that is, general, senior, and women’s. Usually you need to win four or five games in a row to earn a seat in the main tournament. Four Japanese players reached the final, but only Ida Atsushi 8P won one of the coveted seats in the main tournament. The other player besides Ida to reach the final in the general division was Shibano Toramaru. It’s worth remembering his name. Though only 16, he is attracting attention in Japan as a potential future champion; he is an aggressive player but with a highly individualistic style. O Meien commented in a TV commentary that he can’t predict what Shibano will play next, but “if he plays it, that’s good enough for me.” (Remember you read his name here first.)
Iyama defends Gosei, maintains grand slam: The second game in the 41st Gosei title match was held at the Hokkoku (North Country) Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture on June 18. Taking white, Iyama (left) completely outplayed the challenger, Murakawa Daisuke 8P, in the middle game and forced a resignation after 150 moves. A little unusually for him, Iyama set up a large moyo. One of his groups came under attack, but he settled it in sente and was able to add a key capping move to his moyo. Murakawa had to invade, but his group was kept down to one eye by Iyama. The third game was held at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on July 28. The course of this game was quite different from the previous one. Just about all title-match games are played aggressively, but even so this game stood out for its fierceness, being one ceaseless fight from beginning to end. Playing white, Murakawa matched Iyama blow for blow and took the lead. At one point, Iyama was even wondering if he should resign. However, Murakawa missed a number of good ways to simplify the game in his favor. After creating complications, Iyama took the lead in the midst of some hectic fighting. After 269 moves, Murakawa resigned, so Iyama (Black) defended his title with straight wins. This was his fifth successive Gosei title, so he has qualified for his second honorary title. Iyama’s comment: “You rarely get a chance like this [for an honorary title], so I thought I would go all out. I’m happy, but, considering my ability, this is too much. I want to get stronger so I can play games I’m not ashamed of.” Murakawa is considered one of the foremost players in the “post-Iyama group,” but his record against Iyama is now 3-13. Among the established players, there is no one who appears to be a likely threat to his septuple crown. That’s not to say that he is invincible in Japan: he was eliminated from the Agon Kiriyama Cup, a tournament in which he usually does well, by Hane Naoki in the round of 16 on July 21.
Tomorrow: Takao to have another crack at Meijin title; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Kono has sole lead in Kisei S League; 900 wins for Hane; Promotions & Obituaries