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The Power Report: Takao to Challenge Iyama for Honinbo Title; Iyama and Hane Keep Chances Alive in Meijin League; Xie and Kobayashi Win Pair Go; Korea wins 3rd Huang Longshi Cup

Tuesday April 16, 2013

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

Takao to Challenge Iyama for Honinbo Title: Four years after being deposed as Honinbo, Takao Shinji 9P has earned a chance to regain the title, but to succeed he will have to overcome his nemesis, Iyama Yuta. The 68th Honinbo League ended on April 8 with the grand finale that has become customary for leagues in recent years, with all the games in the final round being held on the same day. By this stage only two results at the top were possible, a win for Takao (right) or a play-off between him and Cho U. Takao avoided complications by defeating his final-round opponent, Imamura Toshiya 9P. As it turned out, Cho U lost his game with Yamashita Keigo Meijin, so Takao could have afforded to drop his game.

Full results in this round and final placings follow. Takao Shinji 9P (W) defeated Imamura Toshiya 9P by resignation; Yamashita Keigo Meijin (W) d. Cho U 9P by resignation; Ko Iso 8P (B) d. Cho Sonjin 9P by resignation; Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) d. Seto Taiki 7P by resignation. 1. Takao Shinji: 7-0; 2. Yamashita Keigo: 5-2; 3. Cho U: 5-2; 4. Yuki Satoshi: 3-4. Ko Iso: 3-4; Imamura Toshiya, Seto Taiki: 2-5; Cho Sonjin: 1-6. The last four players lost their places in the league.

The title match will get off to a start on May 16 and, if it goes the full distance, continue until July 18. Iyama Yuta will be the favorite, as he has a 17-5 lead over Takao, but Takao won their most recent encounter, in the Meijin League in January. They have played one previous title match, when Takao challenged Iyama for the 35th Meijin title in 2010; Iyama won this match 4-0.

Iyama and Hane Keep Chances Alive in Meijin League: Cho U 9P, on 4-0, is the only undefeated player in the 38th Meijin League, but his main rivals, Hane Naoki 9P (left) and Iyama Yuta Kisei (right), who each have only one loss, both won their fifth-round games, played on April 11, so they are keeping up the pressure on Cho. Iyama (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 7P by resignation and Hane (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P, also by resignation. The latter game put an end to Yuki’s recent winning streak, but actually it’s more serious than that: Yuki seems unable to win in the Meijin League. In the previous league, he lost all eight games and the last two in the league before that; he has now lost four in a row in the current league, so he has lost 14 games in a row. This is surely one of the worst losing streaks ever in a league (one reason being that probably not many players who have scored 0-8 have won a place in the next league).

Xie and Kobayashi Win Pair Go: The team of Xie Yimin, holder of the Women’s Triple Crown, and Kobayashi Satoru 9P defeated Osawa Narumi 4-dan and Mizokami Tomochika 8-dan in the final of the Professional Pair Go Championship 2013. The game was played on March 10 and telecast on March 31. This is the fourth year in a row Xie has been on the winning team and fittingly she made a big contribution to her team’s victory this year with a very aggressive clamping move in the middle game that gave her team control of the game. Details of the tournament are given on the homepage of the Japan Pair Go Association.

Korea wins 3rd Huang Longshi Cup: This is a knock-out team tournament for five-player female teams from China, Korea, and Japan, run along the lines of the Nong Shim Cup and sponsored by the City of Jiangyan in Jiangsu Province in China. It is named after Huang Longshi, active in the second half of the 17th century, who was one of the greatest Chinese players of the historical period. After Korea’s first player, Kim Cae-yeong 1-dan, started with four successive wins, the tournament was dominated by the fifteen-year-old Yu Zhiying 2-dan (right), who won six games in a row. She was finally beaten by the sixteen-year-old Ch’oe Cheong 2-dan of Korea, who won three games in a row, securing victory for Korea (the final game was played on April 11). The services of Korea’s top board, Pak Chi-eun 9-dan, were not required. The Japanese team, headed by Xie Yimin 6-dan, was unable to win a game. Actually only three of the fifteen players put a win on the board. Last year, a 20-year-old from China, Wang Chenxing 2-dan, was the star, winning eight games in a row. Every year the players are getting younger.
- photo: Yu Zhiying at the Huang Longshi Cup in 2012; photo courtesy Go Game Guru 

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Yang Shuang 2P’s Invitation to Study Go in Shenyang

Sunday April 14, 2013

Yang Shaung 2P, known to many American go players from her occasional visits to the US and her teaching at the US Go Congress, invites go players from around the world to visit her go school if they are in Shenyang. Yang and fellow instructor Zhou Tian 3P teach young students of all strengths at the Nie Weiping Go Dojo Liaoning Training Center. Though not as well-known as Beijing or Shanghai, Shenyang is a destination in its own right, Yang says. The largest city in the Northeast, Shenyang was home to China’s last feudal dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911). Word is to visit between April and October as it gets a bit nippy in winter. “I hope if some go friends travel here, they’ll find my place and come to play,” Yang tells the E-Journal. The Center is located at No 55 North Heping Street, Heping District, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China. Telephone: 86-24-22854921 or 86-13082479875.  E-mail: go_ys@hotmail.com
- Andy Okun

 

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EuroGoTV Updates: French Championship Stage 2, Radu Baciu Championship & Weiqi im Weinkeller

Sunday April 14, 2013

French Championship 2013French player Cesar Lextrait 2d (left), Romanian player George Ghetu 3d, and German player Daniil Janov 3d have all won Class A tournaments in their respective home countries. The French Championship Stage 2, Mediterranean League concluded March 24 with Olivier Clergue 3d in second place and Manuel Frangi 1d in third. In the 4th annual Radu Baciu Championship on March 31 in Cluj, Romania, Laura Avram 2d took second followed by George Ginguta 1d. The Weiqi im Weinkeller took place April 6-7 in Karisruhe, Germany, with Guido Zakrzewski 2d coming in second and Cuong Nguyen 1d in third. For complete result tables and all the latest European go news, visit EuroGoTV.com.
- Annalia Linnan, based on reports on EuroGoTV.com

Baduk TV to Broadcast Lee-Kim Caltex Blitz Tourney Games

Thursday April 11, 2013

Lee Sedol 9P finally meets Kim Jisuk 8P in the GS Caltex tournament finals next week, and Baduk TV will broadcast English commentary on the games. It’s literally a dream come true for Kim (below), who visualized playing Lee (right) in the finals before the tournament even started. Meanwhile, Lee, the top-ranked player in the world, returned to defend his Caltex title by rallying past 4th-ranked Korean Park Younghoon 9P on Tuesday. Kim earned his spot in the finals by beating Cho Hanseung 9P.

After his marriage last year, it seems that Kim is unstoppable, winning 11 consecutive games in the Chinese 1st league and 17 straight wins in Korea this year. The 23-year-old is now ranked third in Korea following Lee Sedol 9P and Park Junghwan 9P. In an interview, Lee said Kim is the prominent player nowadays who will take over his position when he fades away in the future. Kim has been waiting for this challenge for a long time.

GS Caltex tournament is a prestigious blitz game where each player gets 10 minutes with three 40-second byo-yomi periods. The first place prize is $70,000 while the runner-up gets $15,000. Click here to watch games live on Baduk TV’s YouTube channel.

Broadcast schedule:
Game 1: Tuesday, April 16 3:00 AM PST (6:00 AM EST); commentary: Dongeun Choi 1P and Ben Lockhart
Game 2: Wednesday, April 17 3:00 AM PST (6:00 AM EST); commentary: Myungwan Kim 9P and James Kim
Game 3: Monday, April 22 3:00 AM PST (6:00 AM EST); commentary: Cho Hyeyun 9P and Ben Lockhart
- reported by Myungwan Kim, special to the E-Journal

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Second Life Launches Go League Tournament

Wednesday April 10, 2013

Two dozen go players from around the world gathered in a beautiful old Japanese style dojo for a brand-new tournament on April 1. Lush bamboo rustled in the breeze while the sea whispered nearby. But the only real thing was the go. The tournament is taking place in “Second Life,” the popular 3D simulator world with millions of users all over the world. The online virtual world enables many different kinds of activities, including playing go. Second Life’s Kido Go Club is a beautiful old Japanese style location where your 3D avatar can play and review your games online using voice chat. The games are saved on the server in SGF format and can be downloaded. The Meijin League — which runs through the end of the month –  tournament is the largest in Second Life history. It has two subdivisions with 12 registered participants each, the first 7d-9k, the second 10k-30k. Players are from the United States, Russia, Japan and many European countries. Each subdivision is a round-robin where players arrange the time of their games and both leagues will reward the first right places with Linden Dollar prizes, the in-game currency. Five matches took place on April 1, when the League launched; The very first day was marked by five Go matches. The games will last at least till the end of April and new participants can still join the tournament. Click here for more on playing go in Second Life.
- Daria Koshkina

New Go Manga Fansubbed

Tuesday April 9, 2013

Crow in the Starry Sky, or Hoshizora no Karasu, as it is known in Japanese, is a new manga about go appearing in Hana to Yume magazine.  The story centers around Karasuma Waka, a young girl who learned to play go from her grandfather, a professional who was despised by his family for placing go above his family life.  Karasuma catches the bug though, and resolves to go pro no matter how her mother feels about it.  No official translation has been announced, but fansubbers have picked it up and are posting chapters online.  As with Hikaru no Go, this can help build a market for a series that might not otherwise get translated.  The new manga is a shojo series, which means it is targeted at girls, and will feature both romance and in-depth characterizations.  The first chapter has plenty of action on the go board though, and go players of any gender will enjoy the series.  To download the original fansub, visit Pandascans.  To read the series online, visit Kissmanga.  Pandascans reminds readers that they do not own the rights to this manga, and ask that people support the author and the publisher by purchasing the manga when/if it becomes available in the US. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor

The Power Report: Yuki Satoshi 9P’s Good Form Continues; Iyama’s Sextuple Crown in Danger?; Cho U Keeps Sole Lead in Meijin League

Sunday April 7, 2013

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

Yuki Satoshi 9P’s Good Form Continues: The ‘good week’ described in our previous report (Power Report, 4/1 EJ) looks like turning into a good month for Yuki Satoshi 9P (right). The third game of the 51st Judan title match was played at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in the city of Omachi in Nagano Prefectures on April 4. Taking black, Yuki forced the titleholder, Iyama Yuta, to resign after 189 moves, so he took a 2-1 lead in the series. He is now just one win away from taking his second top-seven title.
This was Yuki’s third win in a row against Iyama, so he is exacting some revenge for the ten successive losses he suffered previously. The fourth game will be played on April 18.

Iyama’s Sextuple Crown in Danger? Past records of multiple crowns show that they don’t usually last very long, usually less than a year (a detailed listing is given on page 6 of Go World 129). Iyama Yuta 9P (right) picked up his quintuple crown in November 22 last year and is in no danger of losing it for a few months yet, but his sextuple crown, acquired as recently as March 14, already seems to be in some danger. Many fans in Japan are rooting for him to score a genuine grand slam by winning all seven top titles, but first he has to defend the ones he already has.

Cho U Keeps Sole Lead in Meijin League: A week ago, Cho U (left) lost his share of the lead in the current Honinbo League, but he remains the sole leader in the 38th Meijin League. In a game played on April 4, he defeated Sakai Hideyuki 9P by 2.5 points to extend his score to 4-0. Cho is the only undefeated player, but he is closely followed by Hane Naoki 9P and Iyama Yuta, who are both on 3-1. To have a shot at a grand slam, Iyama’s first task is to overhaul Cho. In another game played on the same day, Takao Shinji 9P (black) beat Mizokami Tomochika 8P by resignation.

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The Power Report: A Good Week for Yuki; Takao Takes Sole Lead In Honinbo League; Gu Li Wins Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-Off; 38th Kisei Leagues

Monday April 1, 2013

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

A Good Week for Yuki: The last week of March was undoubtedly one of the best of Yuki Satoshi 9P’s career.  On the 23rd, Yuki (right), the top player of the Kansai Ki-in, defeated Takao Shinji 9P in the final of the 8th Daiwa Securities Cup. Taking black, Yuki won by 3.5 points. As of this term, the Daiwa Cup, a tournament played on the internet, was upgraded to an official title, which means two things. First, it was opened to participation by Kansai Ki-in professionals, which gave Yuki his chance. Second, it is now included in the tallies of official titles won by a player. Just for the record, Yuki’s predecessors (in order) are Takao, O Meien, Takao again, Kono Rin for the 4th and 5th cups, and Iyama Yuta for the 6th and 7th (none of these players can include the cup in their official tallies; that makes a difference, especially for someone like Iyama, who, on present form, can be expected to challenge Cho Chikun’s all-time record of 72 titles). First prize is 3 million yen (about $32,000).

The next day, Sunday the 24th, the final of the 60th NHK Cup was telecast on NHK educational TV. Taking white, Yuki defeated Iyama Yuta by 9.5 points to win the NHK Cup for the fourth time and twice in a row for the second time.
This game would actually have been played a week or two before telecasting. Yuki’s win put an end to a losing streak against Iyama of ten games in a row.His last previous win was in the final of the same tournament in 2010, when he won this title for the first time.

Ironically, Iyama had enjoyed much better form in the NHK Cup up to the final, scoring decisive wins over Komatsu Hideki 9P, Mizokami Tomochika 8P, Hane Naoki 9P, and Kono Rin 9P. In contrast, Yuki struggled, almost losing to Kurahashi Masayuki 9P before he pulled off an upset, beating Akiyama Jiro 8P by half a point, and then needing all his patience to prevail in tough games with Murakawa Daisuke 7P and Yamada Kimio 9P. Yuki dominated the final however, as Iyama chose a slightly unreasonable variation early in the game and got a bad result; he admitted later that he wasn’t really in the game after his opening setback.

Both players will represent Japan in the TV Asia tournament, usually played towards the end of spring.

Yuki’s third success was his win in the second game of the 51st Judan title match on the 28th. This evened the series and kept alive his chances of taking his second top-seven title. The game was played in Tamana City in Kumamoto Prefecture. Taking white, Yuki won by 2.5 points. The third game will be played on 4 April.

Takao takes sole lead in Honinbo League: 
After the first five rounds, only two players were left undefeated in the 68th Honinbo League: Takao Shinji 9P (at left) and Cho U 9P, who are both former Honinbos. The winner of their 6th-round clash, held on March 27, would take a big step towards becoming the challenger to Iyama Yuta Honinbo. Both sides played very fast for such an important game. Cho, in particular, took almost no time on his moves. He seemed to make the better start, but in the middle game Takao made a skilful sacrifice, then took advantage of his superiority in ko threats to start a ko fight that clinched the game. In the end, Cho, who played black, had to resign.

In the final round, Takao plays Imamura Toshiya 9P, who is on 2-4, and Cho plays Yamashita Keigo 9P, who is on 4-2. Whatever happens, Takao will at least make a play-off.

Gu Li Wins Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-off: Cho U played his Honinbo League game on a Wednesday instead of the usual Thursday because he had to play the 14th Agon Kiriyama Cup Japan-China play-off on Saturday, March 30. The extra rest day didn’t help: for the 10th year in a row China won this play-off.

This year it was Japan’s turn to host the play-off. The last international event held in Japan, the International Amateur Pair Go Championship in November 2012, was boycotted by China to show their displeasure with the Japanese government’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands, but fortunately Gu Li (right) turned up for this game. Taking white, he won by 4.5 points to score his fourth victory in the play-off. After winning the first four play-offs, Japan has been outclassed in this play-off.

38th Kisei Leagues: The four vacant seats in the upcoming Kisei Leagues have been decided. They have gone to Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (making an immediate comeback after being eliminated in the previous league), 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun, Kiyonari Tetsuya 9P, and Murakawa Daisuke 7P. Murakawa, the top player of his age group at the Kansai Ki-in (he is 23), is making his debut in a league. Kiyonari, also from the Kansai Ki-in is playing in his second Kisei league.
Longtime go writer John Power is a veteran author, translator and compiler of go books and magazines.  

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Registration Still Open for KGS Meijin March Qualifier

Thursday March 28, 2013

Registration is still open for this weekend’s KGS 2013 Meijin tournament qualifier, which is once again sponsored by SmartGo. The February qualifier featured “many exciting games and drew more than 350 observers,” reports KGS admin Akane Negishi.  The single-elimination qualifier will be held March 30-31 on an Asian/European daytime schedule (Round 1 starts at 6a EDT/3a PDT). Click here for details and to register; deadline is March 30 10:03a (GMT). 

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Gansheng Shi-Lee Sedol Match Postponed

Wednesday March 27, 2013

The go9dan.com game this Saturday between Lee Sedol 9P and Gansheng Shi 1P has been postponed “while we move go9dan’s main server to Hong Kong this weekend,” reports Michael Simon. The match will likely be rescheduled for Saturday, April 13 at 10p. Lee is 7-0 in the AGA-Europe Pro vs. Sedol 10-Game Series.