by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Iyama makes good start in Gosei defense: The first game of the 41st Gosei title match, in which Iyama Yuta faces the challenge of Murakawa Daisuke 8P, was held at the Hotel Kokonoe in Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture on June 25. Taking black, Iyama prevailed in a violent clash between two large groups. Once this was decided, the game was over, so Murakawa resigned after 159 moves. Go reporters are increasingly using the term “Iyama magic” for the way he takes the lead in the fighting even when his opponent doesn’t make identifiable mistakes. If anything, Murakawa had appeared to have the edge in the middle-game fighting, but Iyama put into effect a large-scale strategy exploiting the aji of a more-or-less discarded group, whereupon it turned out that he was not the one with problems. The next game will be played on July 18. (NOTE: Iyama will be playing with Hsieh Yi Min in the Mind Sports Pair Go World Cup 2016, which begins in Tokyo this Saturday, July 9; click here for our June 19 preview and watch for EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock’s reports later this week)
Iyama Yuta defends Honinbo title: The fifth game of the 71st Honinbo title match was held at the Yoshikawaya inn in Iisaka Hot Spring, Fukushima City on June 29 and 30. Taking black, Iyama forced a resignation after 177 moves. After losing the opening game, Iyama won four in a row to defend his title. This is a landmark victory for him, as it secures him his first honorary title, which requires you to hold the title for five years in a row. Actually, in the case of the Honinbo title the wording is actually “eternal Honinbo;” Iyama will become “26th Honinbo,” followed by the special name he chooses for himself (he will unveil it at the award ceremony later this year). He will use the title when he turns 60. Just for the record, his predecessors are 22nd Honinbo Shukaku (Takagawa Kaku), 23rd Honinbo Eiju (Sakata Eio), 24th Honinbo Shuho (Ishida Yoshio), and 25th Honinbo Chikun (Cho Chikun; Cho won 11 titles in a row, so he assumed the title immediately after his 10th term).
The fifth game was the usual fierce fight between Iyama (black) and Takao. Both sides made moves they were dissatisfied with in the earlier part of the game, but it remained evenly balanced. A little after 100 moves, Iyama played a well-timed peep that helped him secure a group in sente, enabling him to switch to a big endgame point. This gave him the lead and, although there was a lot more fighting, he hung on to it. Takao resigned after 177 moves. Besides becoming the first player for 23 years to earn an honorary title (the last was Rin Kaiho in the Tengen title), Iyama also maintained his septuple crown.
Fukushima City was the birthplace of the 6th Honinbo Shuhaku (1716-41); the game was played there to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his death. He became the head of the Honinbo house at the age of 18 but died young. His main grave is at the Honmyoji Temple in Tokyo, but a portion of his bones are buried at the Josenji temple in Fukushima. The day before the game, the players visited the temple to pay their respects to him. Incidentally, this game was the 400th title-match game in the modern Honinbo tournament.
Takao and Murakawa share lead in 41st Meijin League: After the seventh round (out of nine), Takao Shinji 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P share the lead in the 41st Meijin League, with both on 5-1 (each has had a bye). Next in the running is Cho U 9P, who is on 4-2. The results in the May round were significant. Murakawa Daisuke (who will also be playing in the Pair Go tournament this weekend), who suffered his first loss in the April round, regained a share of the lead by beating Takao Shinji; both were then on 4-1. This was a chance for Cho U to take the sole lead, but he lost his game to Kono Rin, so he briefly joined Murakawa and Takao in a three-way tie; he then spoiled it by losing to Takao in the June round. Recent results:
(May 12) Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points.
(May 19) Hirata Tomoya 7P (B) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig. This was a game
between two winless newcomers to the league. His loss will cost Uchida his lea
gue place; Hirata has an outside chance of keeping his.
(June 2) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by half a point.
(June 9). Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
(June 20) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by half a point.
(June 30). Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
Tomorrow: Kisei Leagues; Xie wins 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup