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The Power Report: Iyama defends Gosei title, becomes Meijin challenger, extends winning streak

Tuesday August 1, 2017

Iyama defends Gosei title, becomes Meijin challenger, extends winning streak: Last week Iyama Yuta extended a winning streak2017.08.02_Iyama (L) defends Gosei he started on April 13 to 16 games. That indicates that this report won’t include any Iyama failures.
The second game of the 42nd Gosei title match was held in the Miyajima Hotel Makoto in Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, on July 19. Taking black, Iyama played “steadily” and secured a resignation after 145 moves. “Steadily” was the word used by the Go Weekly reporter, but to me the game seemed very complicated. In a kind of trade, Iyama gave up a large group for the chance to attack and eventually kill a big group and a small one. Having lost the first two games, Yamashita Keigo, the challenger, was now faced with a kadoban.
The third game was played at the Hotel Nikko Kumamoto in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture, on July 25. Playing white, Iyama forced Yamashita to resign after 206 moves and defended his title with straight wins. This was another game in which fierce fighting started early and spilled all over the board. Yamashita pushed Iyama hard but was unable to prevail. This is Iyama’s sixth successive Gosei title, equally the Gosei record set by Otake Hideo and Kobayashi Koichi,  and his 45th overall. First prize is 8,000,000 yen (at 110.63 yen to the dollar, about $72,313).
2017.08.02_meijin42_league12On July 28, Iyama met Murakawa Daisuke in the eighth round of the 42nd Meijin League (left). The game was played at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka. Iyama had won all his games so far and was leading the league on 6-0. On 4-2, Murakawa was the only other player still in the running with Iyama, but he needed to win his final two games and not only beat Iyama himself, but also have him lose to Yo Seiki in the final round. If that happened, the two would meet in a play-off to decide the challenger. That turned out to be just a dream. Taking black, Murakawa played positively, launching a surprise attack on Iyama early in the game. He seemed to have good momentum in the middle game, but Iyama found a chink in his armor and forced him to resign after 146 moves.2017.08.02_Kobayashi Satoru wins Fume killer
Since losing the Meijin title to Takao Shinji about eight months ago, Iyama has done everything right, defending his other six tiles without being put under severe pressure. He can now aim at securing his second grand slam, which would be a first in board games in Japan.
Unlike the other rounds, all the games in the final round of the Meijin League are played on the same day, which is August 3 this year. This is to heighten the drama and to encourage fan interest―“If A beats B, and C loses to D, etc.”―but this year the only suspense will be whether or not Iyama finishes the league with a clean slate. The first game of the title match will be played on August 30 and 31.

Kobayashi Satoru wins Masters’ Cup: The final of the 7th Fume-killer Igo Masters Cup was held in the TV studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on July 22. After a long (266 moves) and fierce fight, Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Cho Chikun, Hon. Meijin, by half a point. Kobayashi (right) won this title for the second time after a gap of four years. It is sponsored by an insecticide company and first prize is five million yen. This title is open to players 50 and older who have won a top-seven title. Other senior players who have done well in the prize-money-winning list take part in a qualifying tournament for seats in the main tournament. The time allowance is one hour, with the last five minutes allotted to byo-yomi. There was a standing-room-only crowd at a public commentary given in the large hall on the second floor of the Nihon Ki-in.

2017.08.02_Shibano ToramaruShibano wins first title: One of the brightest prospects at the Nihon Ki-in is Shibano Toramaru 3P (left). Commentators have been impressed by his individualistic style and flair for fighting. Shibano won a seat in the final of the 26th Ryusei Cup, where he was matched against another young star, Yo Seiki 7P (Yu Cheng-ch’i) of the Kansai Ki-in. Playing black, Shibano won the game by resignation. He set a couple of speed records. At 17 years eight months, he became the youngest player to win the Ryusei title, breaking the record Ichiriki Ryo set last year of 19 years one month. Second, he was the fastest to win a title in which all professionals could participate, winning the Ryusei two years 11 months after become a professional. Iyama Yuta set the previous record when he won the 12th Agon Kiriyama Cup three years six months after becoming a pro. This victory also earned Shibano promotion to 7-dan (as of August 1). This set another record, as he was the fastest to 7-dan; the previous record was set by Sakai Hideyuki, who made it in three years four months.

To 5-dan: Terayama Rei (70 wins, as of July 28)

Interesting stats: Some interesting players are featuring in the statistical contests this year. Below is the picture as of the end of July.
Most wins
1. Shibano Toramaru: 30 wins 6 losses
2. Ichiriki Ryo 29-8
3. Fujisawa Rina: 27-13
4. Iyama Yuta 26-7
5. Kyo Kagen 4P: 24-5
6. Otake Yu 1P: 21-6; Mutsuura Yuta 3P: 21-9; Mukai Chiaki 5P: 21-10
9. Terayama Rei 5P: 20-7; Motoki Katsuya 8P: 20-8; Xie (Hsieh) Yimin: 20-12; Yamashita Keigo: 20-13
One point of interest is the presence of three female players in the top 12. They are probably getting a bit of a boost from the recent proliferation of women’s titles.

Successive wins
Iyama Yuta: 16 (hasn’t lost a game since April 13).
Shibano Toramaru also had a wining streak of 16 games that came to an end during July.

Correction: In my account of the Senko Cup in my last report, I forgot to mention the location of the venue for the semifinals and finals. They were held at the Akekure inn in the town of Higashi Omi in Shiga Prefecture.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Updates: East Bay Go Club formed; Australian Go Congress set; Kiseido sale on go books

Monday July 24, 2017

East Bay Go Club formed: The East Bay Go Club has just formed and meets Thursdays from 6:30PM to 9PM “at the beautiful new Games of 2017.07.23_east-bay-clubBerkeley” at 2510 Durant Ave. (near Telegraph Ave), reports Chris Russell. More details on the club’s website.

Australian Go Congress set: The Australian Go Congress is coming up September 28 – October 1 in Sydney. 2017.07.23_australiaThe third such event includes the 2017 Australian National Championships and has an iPhone/iPad-friendly site.

Kiseido sale on go books: Kiseido is having a sale of all English-language go books ordered through their book page. Recent and recommended books include The Basics of Life and Death, Handicap-Go and the Sanrensei Opening and An Encyclopedia of Go Principles. The sale runs through August 31.


Yang Shuang 2P a hit at Northern VA summer camp

Sunday July 23, 2017

Yang Shuang 2P’s go class has been a big hit among kids attending the Hope Chinese School’s summer camp in Northern Virginia. In the first 2017.07.23_yang-nova-kidsweek of the 10-day program, two dozen students learned the basic s of the game, including liberties, how to capture, snap-backs, ladders, the double-atari, and life and death. Yang’s 2017.07.23_yang-nova-kids-closeinteractive teaching style has been effective at getting all the students involved, said camp director Dinny Li. “I am a bit surprised at how well kids respond to abstract go concepts taught by Ms. Yang,’ Li said. A leader at the Hope Chinese School and an advocate of go, Ms. Li thinks summer camp is a great place for kids to learn go.

Yang cofounded a go school in Shenyang, China over a decade ago. She has taught all levels, and will host a simul this Wednesday, July 26, 8p at the National Go Center in DC. She will also visit the NOVA Go Club next Monday, July 31, 7p in Arlington, VA and will be at the upcoming US Go Congress — August 5-12 — in San Diego.

The Hope Chinese School will continue offer afternoon go classes at the school’s summer camp August 14-25, where other Chinese arts will be offered, including fine art, music, kungfu. Contact

- reported by Edward Zhang


The Power Report (1): Iyama makes good start in Gosei defence; Fujisawa Rins wins Aizu Central Hospital Cup; 42nd Meijin League

Monday July 17, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.07.17_42gosei1_4

Iyama makes good start in Gosei defence: The first game of the 42nd Gosei best-of-five title match was held at the Matsushima Ichi-no-bo, a mixed Japanese- and Western-style hotel in Matsushima Town in Miyagi Prefecture on June 22. It was one of the events celebrating the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Kahoku Shinpo, a Sendai newspaper belonging to the Newspaper Go Federation, a group of regional newspapers that sponsor the tournament. Taking white, Iyama Yuta (right) held the initiative for much of the game and forced the challenger Yamashita Keigo 9P to resign after 190 moves. This is a good start to Iyama’s attempt to win his sixth successive Gosei title.
The second game will be held on July 19. The gap of four weeks was obviously left to fit in some Honinbo games; by finishing off that title match with straight wins, Iyama earned himself some valuable rest time (each two-day game takes four days when travel time is included).

Fujisawa Rins wins Aizu Central Hospital Cup: Fujisawa Rina 3-dan won the third game of the 4th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup title match to take the title for the second time. Winning it this year shows good timing, as the title has just switched to the challenger system. Fujisawa will meet a challenger in title match next year instead of starting out in the final knockout section of the tournament. The third game was held at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo on June 23. Xie Yimin drew black in the nigiri. Xie set up a large moyo, and when Fujisawa set out to reduce it, her invading group came under severe attack. This fight was so big that it decided the game. When Fujisawa cleverly made life for her group, Xie had to resign just 120 moves into the game. This match was a clash between the two players holding all the women’s titles. Xie held the Senko Cup, the Women’s Kisei, and this title, while Fujisawa held the Women’s Meijin and Honinbo titles. With this win, giving her three titles to Xie’s two, Fujisawa established herself as the top woman player.
Prize money for the women’ titles is: Senko Cup: 8,000,000 yen; Hollyhock Cup: 7,000,000; Women’s Honinbo: 5,500,000; Women’s Kisei: 5,000,000; Women’s Meijin: 3,500,000.

42nd Meijin League: In a game held on June 22, Cho U 9P (B) defeated Sakai Hideyuki 8P by 4.5 points. This took Cho’s score to 3-4; as he is ranked #4, his chances of retaining his league seat have improved. On July 10, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. and Yo Seiki 7P (B) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by resig. As he has a bye in the final rounds, Yamashita has finished his games; on 5-3 he is sure of retaining his place but has no chance of challenging. Yo has improved his score to 3-4, after starting with three losses; his last game is against Iyama Yuta – if he wins that, he has a chance of keeping his place. League leader is Iyama on 6-0, two wins clear of the field.
On July 6, Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resignation. Hane is on 2-5, so this win may have come too late for him to retain his seat. Kono Rin is 3-4, so he has a better chance.

Tomorrow: Komatsu wins Samsung seat; Fujisawa wins Senko Cup; 42nd Kisei tournament; Yoda scores 1,100 wins

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Feast of “food for thought” at recent Conference on Mind Sports

Sunday May 21, 2017

by Dr. Roy Laird2017.05.21_CIDEMgroupphoto-laird

A fabulous feast of “food for thought,” the International Conference on Mind Sports in Camaguey, Cuba came to a successful close on May 5 after affording some 70 participants a chance to get to know enthusiasts of other sports. Mornings were devoted to lectures and presentations, with various events , friendship matches and exhibitions in the afternoon. In an indicator of the level of interest Cubans have in mind sports, the first day of the conference was televised.

Here’s a rundown of some of the interesting presentations.
ARE MIND SPORTS REALLY SPORTS? If you’ve ever told a sports fan about mind sports, you’ve probably heard a version of this question. International Mind Sports Association Secretary General Thomas Hsiang took on this question head-on in his opening remarks, reviewing the rigorous requirements for admission to IMSA. Noting that “there is no doubt that mind sports have a beneficial impact on players, especially children,” Hsiang concluded by saying “with educational benefits for the young and health benefits for the old, promotion of mind sports is a social responsibility.”
PROMOTING WEIQI IN CUBA: Dr. Zhang Wei, Director of the Confucius Institute in Havana, musing on why weiqi is not more widely known throughout the world, theorized that the lack of economic development and constant warfare in western Asia had interfered with cultural exchanges throughout history. He also expressed the hope that weiqi would grow in Cuba throughout the world because it is good for the moral fabric of society since “no bad person plays weiqi.”
THE FUTURE OF MIND SPORTS IN CUBA: Dr. Lazaro Bueno said that notables from Simon Bolivar to Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez have all spoken of the importance of mental competition and chess in particular. Dr. Bueno 2017.05.21_Pitarra-lairdalso unveiled plans for a large Mind Sports Complex to be built soon in Camaguey.
TEACHING CHESS IN PRESCHOOL: Columbus introduced chess to Cuba in 1492, and the subsequent history of chess in Cuba is filled with distinction. The Cuban school system has included chess in its curriculum since 1989, and at present chess is taught in more than 9000 primary schools and over 1000 high schools. Luis Enrique Perez Pena said chess is now being introduced to preschool children. With Cuban children starting at such a young age, the world may see another Capablanca before long.
PITARRA – INDIGENOUS OR UBIQUITOUS? Maria Cristina Quintanar Miranda from the Universidad Queretaro in Mexico gave an intriguing presentation, describing the evolution of Pitarra (right). Played only by indigenous Mexican tribes, she theorized that it had developed as an ancient folk tradition. However, it turns out that “Pitarra” is identical to Nine Men’s Morris, a game dating back to the Roman Empire and still played in Europe. Not only that, another attendee recognized the game from his childhood in Taiwan as “The Watermelon Game,” and it is played in Cuba as “Tres,” named after the central principle of lining up three pips in a row. Ms. Quintanar came to the conference with an interesting finding and left with an even more interesting question.
SPANISH SCRABBLE: A2017.05.21_play at cide conf Spanish version of Scrabble is a big seller in Latin America, and Mexico in particular, where it is so widely played that some Mexicans call it “Lexico.” Javier Guerrero, the head of the International Spanish Scrabble Federation (FISE), said that FISE aspires to IMSA membership, but since IMSA does not admit sports that involve any amount of luck Scrabble advocates have proposed a form of “duplicate Scrabble” in which each player would play against a computer programmed to assure randomization of moves. However, Scrabble faces an even bigger hurdle — IMSA does not admit mind sports that are copyrighted or trademarked.
UNDERSTANDING ASIAN THINKING THROUGH GO: Fernando Aguilar of Argentina is one of the strongest Latino go players and certainly among the best known, having scored upset victories against two Japanese 9Ps in the 2002 Toyota Denso Cup and having played in many international tournaments. Aguilar was not able to attend the conference, but submitted a paper entitled “Go As A Way to Understand Oriental Thinking” in which he identified five sets of contrasting concepts that are spelled out in detail in Sun Tzu’s classic “The Art of War,” noting that their meaning can be more deeply understood through the study of go. The strong player maintains a balance between Attack and Defense; Efficiency and Concentration of Forces; Transparency vs. Deception; Emptiness and Solidity; and “Chi” (potential) vs. “Li” (material gain).

Other speakers held forth on the importance of physical exercise and fitness if one is to play one’s best, the superiority of in-person game play over video and computer game, the social and cultural significance of dominos, and draughts (10×10 checkers) as a metaphor for life. The overarching theme that emerged, and with which participants surely agreed, was well stated by the Scrabble representative: “The family that plays together is a happy family.”

Dr. Laird, former president of the American Go Association, attended the conference, presenting on “Play Go and Grow.”

Categories: Latin America

Redmond’s Reviews, Episode 2: Honinbo Dosaku 9P v. Kikukawa Yuseki 5P

Wednesday March 8, 2017


Episode 2: Honinbo Dosaku 9P v. Kikukawa is the latest in the new series of video commentaries with Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock, Managing Editor of the American Go E-Journal.

In today’s commentary, Redmond and Garlock take a look at a 347-year-old game that not only features the move that 2017.03.08_Redmond's Reviews Episode 2Kobayashi Koichi 9P said changed his life, but includes moves that Master — the latest version of AlphaGo — played in its recent 60-win sweep of top professionals. Go history in the making!

Honinbo Dosaku (1645~1702) was by far the strongest player of his time, and is still considered to be one of the strongest players in go history. He made important contributions to go strategy for the opening, laying the foundations for the following golden period of progress for go.

Produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson

Categories: Redmond Reviews

Blackie’s Baduk Academy launches online teaching service

Sunday February 26, 2017

If you can’t get to Blackie’s International Baduk Academy, Blackie’s will come to you. “We recently started an online teaching2017.02.25_kim-diana
in order to help people who cannot come to Korea to still be able to study with us,” Diana Koszegi 1P (below right) tells the E-Journal. She and Kim Seungjun 9P (aka “Blackie,” top right) “would like it to be as similar as possible” to the experience of those who have attended Blackie’s, also known as BIBA.

The project will be held on the Korean Go server, Tygem and begins in March. The program includes league games, group reviews, offline lectures, life and death problems and teaching games. The cost is 200€ per month; register for 6 months and get a month free.

Categories: Korea

“How to Play Go” intro book available free for limited time

Tuesday January 24, 2017

A new book by Richard Bozulich has just been added the SmartGo’s Go Books app. “This one is aimed at beginners and is free2017.01.24_how-to-play-go for a limited time,” says SmartGo’s Anders Kierulf. “I think it covers the basics really well.”

“How to Play Go: A Concise Introduction” by Richard Bozulich and James Davies is a straightforward introduction to the rules of the game, with example games and problems, as well as chapters on opening strategy, elementary tactics, life and death, and handicap go strategy.

For a limited time, this book is available for free inside the Go Books app (on iPhone and iPad). “Please consider recommending this free book and the Go Books app to friends who are curious about go,” Kierulf urges. The book will be free until January 28; after that, the price will be $3.99.

This Kiseido book is also available as a printed book for $7.95 from Amazon.


Yuan Zhou Marks Decade of Teaching in North Carolina

Friday December 30, 2016

Longtime go teacher and author Yuan Zhou (right) recently celebrated a milestone anniversary, leading his tenth North Carolina2016.12.30_yuan-zhouWorkshop December 9-11 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Members of the Triangle Go Group have benefited from Yuan Zhou’s workshops for 10 years,” reports Bob Bacon, “and we continue to appreciate his expertise and wisdom.” More than just proper play guidelines, Zhou shares insights into the philosophical depths of the ancient game. “As he reviews attendee’s games he tailors his instruction to each individual and clearly shows how correct play leads to good results. Teacher Zhou explains common patterns with easily remembered expressions, such as ‘heroes live a short life’ — describing a foolhardy invasion — and ‘even the demon is afraid,’ after hane at the head of two stones.

Yuan Zhou serves up a rich banquet of information about Chinese language phrases and meanings relating to go, Bacon says. This year, in addition to sharing many new expressions, he examined and explained the Chinese characters 围棋 (wéi qí), including the subtle alterati2016.12.30_yuan-zhou-studentson made to the characters when later adopted by the Japanese.

One of the highlights of the workshop was Lao Shi Zhou’s review of recent professional games played between Ke Jie and Gu Li, and between Ke Jie and Tang Weixing. Attendees received copies of the games prior to the workshop, and Yuan Zhou analysed and explained some interesting new moves.

“As always, the workshop inspired and empowered the lucky listeners, and left us looking forward to his next appearance in the Triangle,” says Bacon. The workshop was sponsored by the Triangle Go Group of North Carolina; read a more detailed report here.
photos courtesy Bob Bacon

Categories: U.S./North America

New SmartGo Books Releases Include Tsume-Go Collections & Shuko Tesuji Dictionary

Sunday October 16, 2016

SmartGo Books has added several new titles to its collection. Volume 2 of Thomas Redecker’s “Tsume-Go Strategy — Learn to Recognize Vital Points in Go” joins the previously-released Volume 1 to offer over 700 problems based on 47 corner patterns (vol. 1) and 44 side patterns (vol. 2). The problems are analyzed in great detail, providing hints to guide you to the 2016.10.16_smartgo-books-collagevital shape points. SmartGo Books has also released Redecker’s new book “Workbook: One-Move Life and Death Problems — Basic Tsume-Go Strategy Made Easy,” with over 700 problems ordered by shape. While it’s designed especially for beginners, requiring you to only think a single move ahead, the repetition helps you recognize shapes instantly. For many years, Redecker was the editor of the problem section of the German Go-Journal. He is also the author of several books on Igo Hatsuyōron 120, the most difficult go problem ever. Click here to find more about his books.

Shuko’s Dictionary of Basic Tesuji is one of the most famous Japanese go books, and Slate & Shell has now brought that series to the Go Books app (in English). “Dictionary of Basic Tesuji — Volume 1: Tesuji for Attacking” is the first in the four-volume series; later volumes will cover tesuji for defense, as well as tesuji for the opening, capturing races, and the endgame. The 188 tesuji problems in the first book are analyzed in detail, with over 900 inline diagrams making it easy to visualize all the variations.

The Go Books app (for iPad, iPhone, and Mac) now provides access to 115 high-quality Go books: popular books by major publishers, out-of-print classics, and books available only in Go Books.