American Go E-Journal

The Power Report, Special Edition: Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp/Meijin match

Thursday September 10, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.09.06_Meijin-Iyama-Takao-review-1st-game

Last week, as Tokyo correspondent for the American Go E-Journal, I was invited to attend some special events held in connection with the Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp and the Meijin title match (at right). Here is my report.

Teaching Game: This year’s summer camp, which has become an annual event at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, was held for two weeks, from Friday, August 21, to Thursday, September 3. The camp had a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with 16 players of both sexes from 13 countries taking part and go ranks ranging from around 3-dan to double-digit kyu. One point that struck me was that, besides the Western countries you might expect, there were also participants from places like Hong Kong, China, and Singapore where there’s no shortage of local instructors. Word-of-mouth on this event must be good.

There was a full program, with morning and afternoon sessions every day. The 
program included sessions studying life-and-death and tesuji problems, lectures and simuls by professionals, goodwill matches with Japanese amateurs, and also a league tournament. A repeat participant, Michael Webster of England, was taken on as an intern at the Nihon Ki-in beforehand to help plan the camp; he also selected the life-and-death problems, including problems of various levels to cater for everyone. All the participants I got to speak to were happy with what they called a very enjoyable camp. The double-digit kyu-player referred to above told me that he was actually a virtual beginner but that he had a great time at the camp and that his motivation was now very high.

2015.09.09_NHK-Redmond-game-commentary.jpgThe event I was invited to attend was a teaching game played from 
noon to about two o’clock on Wednesday, September 2. This game was a reward for the winner of the camp league, who was Tyler Oyakawa 3D of the US. The professional was Fujisawa Rina 3P, holder of the Women’s Honinbo title and, at just 16, the great hope of women’s go in Japan.  Coincidentally, another American did a simultaneous public commentary in the same room: this was Michael Redmond 9P, who was assisted by his charming elder daughter Emi, who is about 1-dan amateur. Emi speaks three languages, Japanese, Chinese, and English; she is in her final year at Sophia University (Jochi) in Tokyo, and she is also interested in helping to spread go. The game, on three stones, was a relatively peaceful one because, for the most part, Rina did not, in Michael’s words (in conversation later), “play wildly, as I would have done.” If the handicap is correct, the pro can expect to catch up in the endgame, and this seemed to be Rina’s strategy; she ended up getting a good lead, however, leading Tyler to resign.

I found the commentary very instructive and so asked Michael to write it up f
or the E-Journal. He cheerfully complied, so you can click on his commentary here. After having the bright idea of making this request, I just sat back and enjoyed the game instead of taking notes. Just for the record, the Nihon Ki-in is also holding a winter camp this year, but it is of a different nature. It is open to go educators and instructors from the ASEAN countries, seven of which have go associations: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The camp will be mainly concerned with teaching and propagation methods.

Clash of the Honorary Meijins: In the afternoon on Wednesday, we were all invited to attend a special event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Asahi Meijin title and starting at 3:30. This was a public game between the only two players to have qualified as Honorary Meijin, Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi. Kobayashi has already assumed the title, as he turned 60 three years ago, but Cho Chikun is 59, so it’s not yet official for him. The criterion is winning the title five times in a row or ten times overall. Cho won the 5th to 9th titles, thus qualifying one way, then almost qualifying the other when he won the 21st to 24th titles. Kobayashi won the 10th title, then had a long run lasting from the 13th to the 19th.

2015.09.09_NHK-pro-game-commentary-600x450.jpgThis game was played in the Wisteria Room of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, informally known as just the Chinzanso, where the Meijin title match between Iyama Yuta and Takao Shinji was due to start the following day. The main commentator was 24th Honinbo Shuho, otherwise known as Ishida Yoshio 9P, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, among others. Prominent Meijins of the past in the audience, such as Otake Hideo, Rin Kaiho, Takemiya Masaki, and the incumbent, Iyama Yuta, were also called up on stage for their comments. Several people commented on how serious both Cho and Kobayashi seemed about the game. (As is usual with these public games, there were playing on the same stage as the commentary, but in theory the players are too absorbed in the game to pay attention to what is being said. That’s the theory, anyway.) In the past, these two were great rivals, especially in the 80s. Cho achieved success earlier and has outstripped Kobayashi (74 titles to 59); however, Kobayashi wrested his big titles, the Kisei and the Meijin, from the hands of Cho. The biggest regret of Kobayashi’s career is undoubtedly three successive Honinbo challenges rebuffed by Cho. Cho and Kobayashi hold the record for the most games between two players, at 129. We didn’t get an up-to-date breakdown at the public commentary, but someone did say that it was 63 wins each a couple of years ago (by the way, this game does not count, as it was unofficial).

As usual with these two, the game was a good contest and entertained the stan
ding-room-only audience. Takemiya commented: “The game is so fierce you’d think there was a big prize at stake. Each one thinks, this is the one player I don’t want to lose to.” Iyama also expressed admiration for their fighting spirit. The highlight of the game was an attack on a weak group launched by Kobayashi (White) on move 108. Everyone thought Cho was in trouble, but he came up with a clever counter that linked up his weak group at the cost of a two-stone sacrifice. At this point, Cho was ahead, but Kobayashi pulled off an upset in the endgame while Cho was in byo-yomi. Kobayashi ended up winning by 1.5 points.After the game–Kobayashi: “Black 109 was the kind of move you expect from Cho.” Cho: “Next year I can call myself Honorary Meijin, but forget about this honorary stuff. I’m going to become the real Meijin.”

Actually the game review was the most entertaining part of the event. Cho is 
a compulsive joker; you rarely hear a straight line from him. On the stage, he was like a runaway train. Poor Ishida in particular was the butt of his humor, with comments like, “I may play badly sometimes, but not badly enough to lose to Ishida.” Cho’s fellow pros take his humor in their stride, and Ishida kept trying to review the game with Kobayashi although drowned out by Cho. A number of times, Cho said to the audience: “Do you have any idea what those guys are going on about? I don’t.“   He also reproached Ishida with not giving his clever move at 109 adequate appreciation at the time, so he was certainly listening to the public commentary.

The eve party: In Japan, there’s a strong tradition of holding parties on the eve of major events. There’s a special word for it, “zenyasai” or “night-before festival.” The tradition is honored in go, and these parties are big events (about 240 people attended on Wednesday), especially for games played away from the major cities. They are like showcases for the local go community. The summer camp group was also invited to the eve party held from 6 pm. on the 2nd. Persons in attendance ranged from the heavies of the go world to ordinary go fans who apply by postcard for invitations.

At the party there were the usual speeches and, of more interest, short speeches by the players expressing their resolve for the match. Takao: “This year my results have been bad and I have a minus record. I hear it’s the first time ever the Meijin challenger has had a minus record, so I have set an unprecedented record. Just between you and me, it’s because I have staked everything on the Meijin title, so at present things are proceeding according to my scenario. I also have a scenario for after this, but it’s a secret. It’s not so often in a lifetime that you get to play a best-of-seven, so this is a valuable period for me. It’s important for me.” Iyama’s reply: “I don’t know what kind of scenario Takao Sensei is writing, but the Meijin is a special title. This title alone I can’t hand over.”        

Among the guests appearing on stage was Michael Redmond, who, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, did a public commentary on the game on Friday afternoon. On Thursday morning, the summer-camp participants were invited to watch the start of the game in the playing room.

photos courtesy Tom Urasoe, Nihon Ki-in Overseas Dept. 

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Cotsen Registration Opens

Wednesday September 9, 2015

“At long last, Cotsen Open 2015 registration is now open!” reports Tournament Organizer Samantha Davis. The tournament is set for October 24-25 at the LA Center Studios (1201 W. 5th Street, Ste. T-100) in Los Angeles, California. “There are many great perks for preregistering!” Davis says, including free food truck lunch on both days, and a full refund of the $20 entry fee if you play in all five rounds. “And everyone gets free massages during their games (if they want),” Davis adds. As usual, there will also be a Sunday morning game between Yilun Yang 7p and another top pro, as well as thousands of dollars in prizes.
Categories: Cotsen Open

The Power Report (3): Women’s Meijin League; Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense; Vacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled

Wednesday September 9, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Women’s Meijin League: The final game in the first round of the new league was played on August 28. Aoki Kikuyo 8P (W, at right) beat Okuda 2015.09.07_Aoki KikuyoAya 3P by 7.5 points. On September 3, Okuda recovered from her bad start, beating Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) by 5.5 points. On the same day, Mannami Nao 3P (W) improved her score to 2-0 by beating Kato Keiko 6P by 6.5 points.

Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense: The first game of the 40th Meijin best-of-seven was played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on September 3 and 4. Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 180 moves. Iyama owed his victory to his skillful play in rescuing a group under attack. Iyama had given Takao this attack as compensation for winning a large ko. After the game, the challenger Takao Shinji 9P commented that perhaps his positional judgment had been a little slack. He said that he played a little mildly in a couple of areas because he thought he was ahead when he may not have been. The second game will be played on September 17 and 18.

2015.09.07_Motoki-KatsuyaVacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled: The following four players have won seats in the 71st Honinbo League, due to start in October. They are Takao Shinji Judan, Yo Seiki 8P, Ichiriki Ryo 7P, and Motoki Katsuya 3P (left). The first two, Takao and Yo, won their way back in immediately after dropping out of the previous league. The other two, Ichiriki (aged 18) and Motoki (aged 20), will be making their debuts. Motoki earned promotion to 7-dan for his feat. Ichiriki set a record for youngest player in the Kisei league when he was sixteen years nine months; he is now 18 years two months, the second-youngest player to win a seat in the Honinbo league. He fell just nine days short of breaking the record set by Yo Seiki last year.

To 8-dan: Miyagawa Fumihiko (150 wins) (as of August 28). Miyagawa, born on February 18, 1972, is a disciple of Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P; he is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He also serves as a director of the Nihon Ki-in.
To 7-dan: Motoki Katsuya 3P (for winning a place in the 71st Honinbo league; as of September 4)

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Go Classified: Searching for a literary go reference

Wednesday September 9, 2015

Searching for a literary go reference: Some time ago I read a go haiku or short poem in which the aging speaker wished he could start a ko and thus postpone the impending end of his life. If anyone has the poem or similar ones, I would really appreciate getting the reference! This has been bugging me for a long time….. Paul Celmer

Categories: Go Classified

The Power Report (2): Yamashita Keigo wins S League; Kyo wins Kisei C League

Tuesday September 8, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei Leagues Updates2015.09.07_Yamashita-Keigo-67th-Honinbo

Yamashita Keigo wins S League: Three important games in the 40th Kisei S League were played recently. The results were: (August 27) Murakawa Daisuke Oza (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. (September 3) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 2.5 points; Murakawa (W) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resig. Yamashita (right) finished the league with 4-1, securing first place and a seat in the final play-off to decide the challenger. Since he will start this play-off with a one-win advantage, there’s a good chance we will see the third successive Kisei title match between him and Iyama. Thanks to his win, Murakawa, who ended on 3-2, earned a seat in the knock-out tournament — he goes directly into the semifinal. Yoda finished with the same score, but was ranked fourth to Murakawa’s second, so he drops to third place. Yoda’s loss to Yamashita was probably his most expensive of the year. One game is still to be played in the final round, so we do not know yet who will drop out. The final games in the B Leagues were also played on the 3rd. Awaji Shuzo 9P won the B1 league with a 5-2 score and Yamada Kimio 9P the B2 League, also with 5-2. There will be a play-off between these two to decide the overall B League winner. The winner will join the knock-out tournament at the bottom rung (see the end of the next item).

Kyo wins Kisei C League: After four rounds in the 40th Kisei C League, there were only two players with undefeated records; they were Kyo Kagen 3P and Akiyama Jiro 9P. The game between them in the final round, played on August 20, was in effect a play-off to decide the league winner though this league is nominally a Swiss System. The 17-year-old Kyo (not 15, as I wrote in my previous report; just for the record, he will be 18 on September 19) won this game, taking black, by resignation. This earned him a place in the knock-out tournament to decide the challenger and (assuming he doesn’t become the Kisei challenger) promotion to one of the B Leagues next year. Kyo: “The new league system for the Kisei tournament encourages young players. I aim to be the challenger.” Incidentally, Kyo is leading the most-wins list with 32 wins to six losses (next is Yamashita Keigo on 29-19, followed by Ichiriki Ryo on 27-13). Recently, there have been more and more signs that Kyo may be the strongest teenager in Japan. To summarize the knock-out stage of the Kisei tournament: The C League winner, Kyo Kagen, will play the overall B League winner (Awaji or Yamada); the winner then plays the winner of the A League, Kono Rin; the winner of this game then plays the S League number two, Murakawa; the winner then joins the final match with Yamashita to decide the challenger.
Tomorrow: Women’s Meijin League; Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense; Vacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report (1): Yi Sedol repeats in TV Asia Cup; Yuki reaches Tengen final; Oza semifinal; Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Agon Kiriyama semifinal

Monday September 7, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Yi Sedol repeats in TV Asia Cup: 
Our previous report took this tournament as far as the first semifinal, in which Park Junghwan 9P (B)2015.09.07_Lee-Sedol-27th-Asian-TV-Cup-300x418 of Korea beat his compatriot Lee Donghun 5P by resig. In the second semifinal, played on August 27, Lee Sedol 9P of Korea, made his first appearance; as the previous winner, he was seeded. Lee (B) beat Yang Dingxin 3P of China by resig. In the final, Lee (B) beat Park by resig., winning this title for the second year in a row and the fourth time overall. This matches the record of Takemiya Masaki, who won the first four titles. By my count, this is Lee’s 17th international title, not counting his jubango win. Though he is rated the world’s number one, Park has been unable to win this tournament in five appearances. For more on this tournament, click here for Go Game Guru’s report, with more photos and game records.

Yuki reaches Tengen final: The second semifinal of the 41st Tengen tournament was held on August 24. Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) came out ahead in an endgame contest, beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points. He will play Iyama Yuta in the final to decide the challenger to Takao Shinji.

Oza semifinal: The second semifinal of the 63rd Oza tournament was played on August 24. Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by 2.5 points. He will meet Iyama Yuta in the final, scheduled for September 7.  2015.09.06_Xie reviewing the play-offThis will be the first game between the two. Whoever wins, the title match will be an all-Kansai affair, as the titleholder is Murakawa Daisuke of the Kansai Ki-in.

Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo: In the play-off to decide the challenger to Fujisawa Rina for the 34th Women’s Honinbo title, held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 27, Xie Yimin (left), Women’s Meijin and Kisei, (W) defeated Chinen Kaori 4P by resig. Xie will challenge for the title she lost to Mukai Chiaki two years ago (Fujisawa took it from Mukai last year). Xie has an even record, 2-2, against Fujisawa in official games, but this will be their first series. The best-of-five starts on October 8.

Agon Kiriyama semifinal: In the first semifinal of the 22nd Agon Kiriyama Cup, Iyama Yuta (B) beat Son Makoto 3P by 7.5 points, as already reported. The second semifinal was held on August 31 between Yo Seiki 7P and Kyo Kagen 3P. It was held on Yo’s home ground of the Kansai Ki-in, with Kyo traveling from Tokyo. Apparently these two are good friends, often putting each other up when they travel for games, but on the morning of this game there was no chitchat. Kyo (W) won the game by resignation. The final will be played on October 10.  This is the third tournament final that Iyama has qualified for recently.
Tomorrow: Yamashita Keigo wins S League; Kyo wins Kisei C League

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

French Go News Updates: French Win Pandanet Euro Championship; Fan Hui Wins EGC Main Tourney; Noguchi Wins French Open

Sunday September 6, 2015

On July 25th, the French team won the final of the Pandanet Go European Championship, just behind the Ukrainian team. The French team 2015.09.06_Fan-Huiwas composed by Fan Hui 2p, Thomas DeBarre 6d, Benjamin Drean-Guenaizia 6d and Tanguy le Calve 6d. Click here for more info.
Fan Hui (right) also prevailed at the recent European Go Congress main tournament, making this his third European championship. Click here for all the results, and here for Congress photos.
In the French Open Championship on August 23rd, at Claira, near Narbonne, France, Motoki Noguchi (Japan, 7d) won all his games; Benjamin Drean-Guenaizia(6d) was second, and Jérôme Salignon was third. Click here for complete results.- Laurent Coquelet, French Go Federation Secretary  and  the French Correspondent for the E-Journal

Categories: Europe

November 15 Deadline for Australian Go Congress Early Bird Rate

Sunday September 6, 2015

There’s limited space for international competitors at the 2016 Australian Go Congress, set for January 15-19 at Novotel Sydney Parramatta in2015.09.06_aussie-congress Sydney, Australia. There’s an early bird rate for those who book and pay prior to November 26. Apart from the go, Sydney and Australia are two of the world’s best tourism destinations, notes organizer Sang-Dae Hahn. The Congress will provide free tours and guides to participants.

I hope that those of you who have always wanted to visit Australia but have never had a good enough excuse will take the opportunity to join us for what will be an outstanding event,” says Sang-Dae Hahn. “I look forward to seeing you in Sydney! For registration info, email Click here to see photos and more from the 2015 Australian Go Congress.

Sang-Dae Hahn(韓相大)

Categories: Australia

Why We Play: Kevin Hwang 3D

Friday September 4, 2015

Age: 322015.09.03_Kevin-Hwang
Years playing go: 12
Lives in: Dallas, Texas

“Go is possibly one of the last things in this world that involves long-form communication. In a society of five-second videos and messages, go is one of the few opportunities you have to sit down with someone and do something for at least 30 minutes. That chance to interact, to discuss, and to mutually change one another, is what I like most about go.” photo by Phil Straus

First in a series; if you’d like to participate, tell us your favorite thing about the game of go, include your name, age, how long you’ve played go and where you live, and email to Be sure to include a current photo!

Categories: Why We Play

Haylee to host AGA Pros in Live-stream Broadcasts

Wednesday September 2, 2015

Hajin Lee 3p, popular for her YouTube broadcasts under the name Haylee, has announced she will host a series of exhibition games with the 2015.09.02_HayleeAGA-certified professionals on her YouTube channel.  Each episode will include a short interview with the guest, the exhibition game and a game review.  The schedule of games: Sep. 5 : Calvin Sun 1P; Sep. 12: William Gansheng Shi 1P; Sep. 19: Ryan Li 1P; Oct. 3 : Andy Liu 1P.  Broadcast time will be US Eastern Time 7PM. Lee, a frequent attendee at both US and European go congresses, is also secretary general of the International Go Federation. “My thanks to Hajin and our pros for putting on these broadcasts, which I very much look forward to watching,” said AGA President Andy Okun.

Categories: U.S./North America