by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Fujisawa and Hane win Pair Go: The final of the Professional Pair Go Championship 2017 was held at the Nihon Ki-in’s Tokyo headquarters on March 5. Taking black, the pair of Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo, and Hane Naoki 9P beat Suzuki Ayumi 7P and Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by 1.5 points. An estimated 1350 go fans somehow managed to fit
into the Nihon Ki-in to view the tournament.
Iyama makes good start in Judan defence: The first game of the 55th Judan title match was held at Osaka University of Commerce on March 7. Winning this title last year was what secured Iyama his grand slam of the top seven titles. Having lost the Meijin title, he is now down to six, but he will looking for a chance to repeat his grand slam, so he needs to hang on to all his current titles. He faces the challenge of one of the new stars of Japanese go, Yo Seiki 7P. Aged 21, Yo is a member of the Kansai Ki-in and hails from Taiwan, where he is known as Yu Cheng-ch’i (Yu Zhengqi in Pinyin). Playing black, Iyama Yuta defeated Yo by resignation after 197 moves. Apparently Yo had winning chances in the middle game but was unable to make the most of them. The second game will be played on March 30.
Fujisawa Rina wins Women’s Meijin: The second game of the 29th Women’s Meijin title match was held at the same venue as the first Judan game on March 8. Playing white, Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo, beat the defending champion Xie Yimin by 1.5 points. This gave Fujisawa her second concurrent title and reduced Xie to three titles. She had held this title for nine years in a row but missed out on becoming the first woman to win a title for ten years in a row.
Iyama defends Kisei title: The sixth game of the 41st Kisei title match was held at Ryugon, a high-class Japanese inn in Minami Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture, on March 9 and 10. In the middle game, Kono Rin 9P (B) launched a challenge but made a miscalculation, so at one stroke the game turned in Iyama Yuta Kisei’s favor. Kono made a fierce attack in an attempt to catch up, but was parried by Iyama. Kono resigned after 150 moves, so Iyama defended his title with a 4-2 score. Having held the Kisei title for five successive terms, he qualified for the title of Honorary Kisei (to be assumed when he turns 60 or retires, whichever comes first). He is the third player to earn the honorary title, after Fujisawa Shuko (Hideyuki) and Kobayashi Koichi. Iyama also maintained his sextuple crown. The Kisei prize money is 45 million yen (just under $400,000).
Iyama finally wins NHK Cup: The NHK Cup was the only official title that Iyama Yuta had not won. He finally put that to rights in the final of the 64thCup, telecast on March 19, when, playing white, he defeated Ichiriki Ryo by resignation after 184 moves. This was his third final, but his first for four years. It is his 42nd title, which puts him in 6th place in the all-time lists. Ichiriki also came second in the 62nd NHK Cup.
Honinbo League (March 8) Takao Shinji Meijin (W) beat Mitani Tetsuya 7P by resig.; Motoki Katsuya 7P (B) beat Cho U 9P by 4.5 points. Thanks to his win, Motoki improved his score to 5-1, giving him the sole lead. His main rivals are Hane Naoki 9P and Ko Iso 8P, who are both on 4-2. In the final round, scheduled for April 6, Motoki plays Ko and Hane meets Cho. Even if he loses, Motoki will qualify for a play-off.
Meijin League: (March 9) Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. (March 13) Yo Seiki 7P (B) beat Cho U 9P by resig. Kono Rin 9P and Iyama Yuta share the lead on 2-0. Yo Seiki is in last place, but he finally picked up his first win, making his score 1-3.