by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Takao makes good start to Meijin challenge: Takao Shinji 9P has already improved on his performance in his Meijin challenge last year. The first game of the 41st title match was held at its usual venue, the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, on August 30 and 31. Playing black, Takao showed exemplary shinogi (living with a weak group) skills in weathering a fierce attack by Iyama Yuta Meijin. When the dust settled, he had a lead of about ten points on the board. Iyama missed his best opportunities to complicate the game and resigned after 207 moves. In view of Takao’s past record against Iyama, it’s too soon to say he has an edge, but he has certainly made the series more interesting for fans. The second game will be played on September 14 and 15.
At the party on the eve of the game, the players gave bouquets to Cho Chikun, who was the referee for the game. Having turned 60 on June 20, Cho is now entitled to use his Honorary Meijin title, though there’s a conflict with his title of 25th Honinbo Chikun. Cho said to the audience: “Wouldn’t you like to see a game to decide who’s stronger, the ordinary Meijin or the Honorary Meijin?” The audience cheered, but, needless to say, this game is not happening soon.
Ichiriki to challenge for Tengen: Ichiriki Ryo 7P has become the second teenager to challenge for one of the top seven open titles. The first was the player whom he will be challenging. The play-off to decide the challenger for the 42nd Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on September 2. Playing white, Ichiriki beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points.
The title match with Iyama Yuta Tengen will start on October 21. Ichiriki will be 19 years four months old when the match starts. The holder of the Tengen and all the other top-seven titles is Iyama Yuta, who challenged for the 33rd Meijin title when he was 19 years three months old. Ichiriki commented: “One of my major goals was to challenge for a title while I was still a teenager, so I’m relieved to have pulled it off.”
There is a group of up-and-coming teenagers at the moment, but Ichiriki was probably the first of them to attract attention when he won a seat in the Kisei League at the age of 16 years nine months (still a record for any league). At 17, he became the youngest player to win the King of the New Stars title and came second in the NHK Cup, and in the same year he also won an international tournament for young players, the Globis Cup. This year he entered the College of Social Studies at Waseda University. A number of university students have turned professional after doing well in university tournaments, but this is the only case I can think of of someone entering university after already establishing himself as a top player. The go writer Akiyama Kenji claimed a while back in his column in “Go Weekly” that Ichiriki was a mathematical prodigy. According to Akiyama, someone had said to Ichiriki that he was barely a quarter of the age of the player he had played that day. Ichiriki asked when the player was born, thought for a couple of seconds and then said he was exactly 24.65% (or whatever) of the player’s age. Akiyama tested him for his article, but didn’t explore the ramifications of this talent.
Women’s Meijin League: One game in the second round of the 29th Women’s Meijin League was played on September 1. Okuda Aya 3P (B) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8P, the previous challenger, by half a point. This is her second win, so Okuda shares the lead with Fujisawa Rina 3P (Aoki is 1-1 and all the other players are 0-1).
Li wins TV Asia: new star for China: The TV Asia Cup is a tournament for the TV go champions of China, Korea, and Japan. This year the 28th Cup was hosted by Japan and held at the New Otani Hotel in Tokyo from September 2 to 4. Unfortunately, for the host country, its representatives were eliminated on the first day, so the tournament became Korea vs. China. Korea probably was the favorite, as it fielded the world’s number, Park Junghwan, and this century’s number one, Lee Sedol (seeded as last year’s winner). However, it was two teenagers who made it to the final: Shin Jinseo 6P of Korea and Li Qincheng 2P of China. The seventeen-year-old Li beat the 16-year-old Shin and became the youngest player to win this title. He also won the junior tournament, the 3rd Globis Cup, this year, so this is his second international title. His win earned him promotion to 9-dan. That may be a new record for the youngest 9-dan (Ke Jie became 9-dan at the age of 18 last year). Results follow:
(Sept. 2) (Round 1) Li (B) beat Cho U 9P (Japan by resig.; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (b) beat Terayama Rei 4P (Japan) by resig.; Shin (B) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by resig.
(Sept. 3) (Round 2) Li (B) beat Yi Sedol 9P (Korea) by resig.; Shin (W) beat Park by resig.
(Sept. 4) (final) Li (B) beat Shin by resig.
Honinbo League places: We have already reported that Ko Iso and Yuki Satoshi have won places in the upcoming 72nd Honinbo League. They will be joined by Hane Naoki 9P and Mitani Tetsuya 7P. Hane (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. on September 5; Mitani (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 2P by resig. on September 8. Mitani will be making
his debut in the league. If the 16-year-old Shibano had won their game, he would have set a new record for winning a league place just two years after becoming a professional.
Tomorrow: Cho U wins Kisei A League; Yo to challenge for Oza title; Xie makes good start in Women’s Honinbo defence