by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
17-Year-Old Ke Wins Bailing Cup: The best-of-five final of the 2nd Bailing Cup was fought between two Chinese players, the 17-year-old Ke Jie 4P (left) and the 32-year-old Qiu Jun 9P. After splitting the first two games last year, the players resumed the match on January 11. Playing white, Qiu won the third game by resignation, but Ke won the fourth (Jan. 13) and fifth games (Jan 15), both by resignation and holding white, to take the match 3-2. The games were played in Zhuhai City in Guangdong Province. First prize is 1,800,000 yuan (about $293,000). This win earned Ke promotion to 9-dan. photo courtesy GoGameGuru
Kisei Title Match Starts with Half-point Win for Iyama: The first game of the 39th Kisei title match was played at the Westin Hotel Osaka in Osaka City on January 15 and 16. The game was a tense contest, with Yamashita Keigo 9P, the challenger for the second year running, launching a severe attack on a weak black group. Iyama countered with his usual aggressive play, but this group remained unsettled for quite a while, as the fight spread all over the board. Yamashita took the lead when he captured four black stones in the centre, so Iyama countered with a do-or-die attack on a white group that led to a ko and a large trade. At the time, Iyama thought that the game gave him the lead, but later conceded that this was not so. He did manage to take a narrow lead in the endgame contest that followed. After 282 moves, Black wonby half a point. After the game, Iyama commented that ‘ending up a half point ahead was justluck.’ If this game is any indication, it looks like being a very close-fought series. The second game is scheduled for January 29 and 30.
Ida Keeps Sole Lead in Honinbo League: Ida Atsushi 8P’s chances of a return match with Iyama Honinbo are looking better and better. In the second game in the fourth round, played on January 15, Ida (W) beat Ryu Shikun 9P by resignation. That improved his record to 4-0; his closest rival is Yamashita Keigo on 2-1. Every other player has at least two losses. Yamashita has already lost to Ida in the league, so he will have to rely on other players to help him catch up.
Takao and Ko Share Lead in Meijin League: Two games in the 40th Meijin League were played on January 15. Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resignation. On 2-0, Ko shares the lead with Takao Shinji 9P, the only other undefeated player. In the other game, league newcomer Kanazawa Makoto 7P (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by half a point to pick up his first win.
Kobayashi Satoru Reaches Judan Play-Off: In the first semifinal of the 53rd Judan tournament, Kobayashi Satoru 9P, who had eliminated Iyama Yuta in the previous round, beat Yo Seiki 7P (B) by resignation. Ida Atsushi meets Shida Tatsuya 7P in the other semifinal, which will be played on January 22.