by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal
Motoki retains lead in Honinbo League: The third round of the 71st Honinbo League was played on December 10 and 17. Motoki Katsuya 7P, the dark horse of the league, continued his good form and retained the sole lead. In contrast, former Honinbo Cho U has made a dismal start, with three losses. Cho’s decision to move to Taiwan to improve his form is not working out yet.
(December 10) Motoki (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by 1.5 points; Yo Seiki 7P (B) beat Ida Atsushi Judan by half a point. (December 17) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig.
Korea wins team tournament: The Golden Dragon City Cup World Team Championship is an unusual team tournament that includes consultation games. It started out two years ago as the Zhugang Cup, but in its second term changed its name to the above. Three-player teams compete and in the first term, only the final was a consultation game; this time the semifinals were also consultation games. This year’s tournament was held in Guangzhou City from December 16 to 22. The semifinalists were the top teams in a five-round Swiss with 16 teams. These included nine teams that had won their way through the preliminaries and seven seeded teams from Japan, China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei. Another unusual feature of this tournament is that, besides their regular teams, Japan, China, and Korea also fielded ‘wild card teams’, made up of players over 29 who had won world titles or who had made outstanding contributions to go. The Japanese wild card team consisted of Cho Chikun, Kobayashi Koichi, and O Rissei, and the regular team of Yoda Norimoto 9P, So Yokoku 9P, and Yo Seiki 7P.
In the Swiss System tournament, China took first place with five wins; its team was made up of its number one to three players, that is, Ke Jie, Shi Yue, and Zhou Ruiyang. Its record was 14-1, with only Zhou dropping a game. Second was Korea, third was Japan, and fourth the Korean wild card team. Just for the record, the 5th to 16th places were as follows: China wild card, Australia, Chinese Taipei, China Hong Kong, Japan wild card, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, France, Israel, and Singapore. In the semifinals, Korea beat Japan and China beat Korea wild card. In the final, Korea (white) beat China by half a point. In a play-off for third place, Korea wild card beat Japan.
Iyama’s winning streak ends on 24: Iyama Yuta’s winning streak, which started in May and included wins in the Gosei, Meijin, Oza, and Tengen title matches, has finally come to an end. At 24 successive wins, Iyama is in equal second place in the tournament records with Rin Kaiho, Hon. Tengen. Top is Sakata Eio, 23rd Honinbo, with 29 wins in a row. The only information published was that Iyama’s winning streak came to an end with a loss in a TV tournament. Probably this was in the 63rd NHK Cup, in which he was slated to play the winner of a game between Kono Rin 9P and Matsumoto Takehisa 7P in a quarterfinal. We won’t know for sure until the game is televised.
Aoki wins Women’s Meijin League: A win in the fifth round of the 28th Women’s Meijin League has given Aoki Kikuyo 8P the league victory regardless of the result of her sixth game. On December 17, Aoki beat Mannami Nao, improving her score to 5-0. Even if Fujisawa Rina 3P beats Aoki in the final round, tying her on 5-1, Aoki takes precedence thanks to her number two rank in the league (there are no play-offs). Aoki has won the Women’s Meijin title five times, but the last time was in 2006. The title match with Xie Yimin, who will be aiming at her ninth win in a row, will start in March.
Games in December: (Dec. 7) Fujisawa Rina 3P (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 6P by resig. (Dec. 17) Aoki Kikuyo (W) beat Mannami Nao 3P by resig.; Chinen Kaori 5P (W) beat Okuda Aya 3P by 1.5 points.
Tomorrow: Iyama wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama play-off; Finland’s Tormanen becomes pro shodan; Promotions