American Go E-Journal

The Power Report: Shibano to challenge for Meijin title; Kyo becomes Tengen challenger; 6th Kuksu Mountains Cup

Saturday August 24, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano to challenge for Meijin title: The final round of the 44th Meijin League was held in Tokyo and Osaka on August 1. All of the games were important to the players playing them, either for winning the league or retaining their places. Three players were in the running to be the challenger: Iyama Yuta, Shibano Toramaru, and Kono Rin. They were not playing each other, so a three-way tie was possible, but only the two higher-ranked players would qualify for a play-off. This meant that Iyama and Shibano had an advantage, but Iyama lost his final game while Shibano and Kono won, so these two made the play-off. Results of games played since my last report are given below.

   The play-off between Shibano and Kono was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 8. Taking black, Shibano won by half a point after 202 moves; he took revenge for losing the Honinbo play-off to Kono earlier this year. He will be making his first challenge for a top-seven title. Without intending any disrespect to Kono, it’s safe to say that the Japanese go public has been eagerly awaiting Shibano’s title-match debut. When the best-of-seven starts, on August 27, he will be 19 years nine months old, making him the second-youngest challenger ever for the Meijin title (Iyama holds the record of 19 years three months). Shibano took four years 11 months from the start of his career to make this challenge, the quickest for any top-seven challenger (previous record was held by the late Kato Masao, who challenged for the Honinbo title five years after becoming a pro. Becoming the challenger for a top-three title earned Shibano an automatic promotion to 8-dan, effective the following day. He is the fastest to reach this mark.

(July 4) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Suzuki Shinji 7P by 2.5 points.
(July 11) Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Mutsuura Yuta 7P (W) beat Son Makoto 7P by resig.
(July 18) Iyama (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(August 1) Hane (B) beat Iyama by resig.; Kono (W) beat Yamashita by 3.5 points; Shibano (B) beat Suzuki by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke Judan (W) beat Son by resig.

Kyo becomes Tengen challenger: The play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta for the 45th Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 15. Taking black, Kyo Kagen Gosei beat Sada Atsushi 4-dan (Kansai Ki-in) by resignation. Kyo’s form has picked up this month. The title match will start on October 11.

6th Kuksu Mountains Cup: This is a Korean-sponsored tournament that was a team tournament for its first four years but switched to an individual tournament last year. Players have a time allowance of 30 minutes plus 40 seconds by three times. First prize is 50 million won. The four rounds were held over three days, from August 3 to 5 and, which must be very unusual, as three different locations.

   This year Chinese players dominated the tournament, with “veteran” Chen Yaoye 9P, who is 29 years old, defeating Liao Yuanhe 8P in the final. Of the three Japanese participants, only Yamashita Keigo picked up a win, but that was over Park Junghwan, many times a world champion. Results follow (I don’t have full details for most of the games):

Round 1 (August 3). Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) beat Wang Yuanjun 9P (Chinese Taipei); Byun Sangil 9P (Korea) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig.; Lee Tonghun 9P (Korea) beat Fan Tingyu 9P (China); Liao Yuanhe 8P (China) beat Lee Jihun 9P (Korea); Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P (Japan); Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) beat Xu Haohong 6P (Chinese Taipei); Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) (B) beat Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) by resig.; Chen Yaoye 9P (China) beat Lee Changho 9P (Korea).

Quarterfinals (August 4) Byun beat Shin Minjun; Liao beat Lee Tonghun; Shin Jinseo beat Kim; Chen beat Yamashita.
Semifinals (Aug. 4). Liao beat Byun; Chen beat Shin
Final (Aug. 5). Chen beat Liao  

   As a side event, an invitational Pair Go tournament was also held. Results: 
Round 1 (Aug. 3). Yu Li-chun 2P & Wang Li-ch’eng 9P (O Rissei) (Chinese Taipei) (B) beat Heo Seohyun 1P & Yoo Changhyuk 9P (Korea) by resig.; Gao Xing 4P & Yu Bin 9P (China) (B) beat Tsuji Hana 1P & Yamada Kimio 9P (Japan) by resig.
Final (Aug. 5). Yu/O (W) beat Guo/Yu by resig.
(Play-off for 3rd) Heo/Yoo (W) beat Tsuji/Yamada by resig.

Tomorrow: 1200 wins for O Rissei; Iyama’s second marriage; Sakai to resume medical career

The Power Report: Fujisawa wins Senko Cup; Kyo evens score in Gosei; Cho Chikun wins Masters Cup

Friday August 23, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Fujisawa wins Senko Cup: The semifinals and final of the 4th Senko Cup Women’s Igo Strongest Player Tournament, which is sponsored by Senko Group Holdings, were held at the Guesthouse Akekure in Higashi-omi City, Shiga Prefecture, on July 12 and 14. The semfinals on the 12th featured the current top three in women’s go in Japan, joined by a player, Mukai Chiaki 5P, who for many years was one of the top three. However, Mukai was beaten by the current number one, Fujisawa Rina, holder of the Women’s Honinbo, Hollyhock and Meijin titles. Fujisawa had black and forced Mukai to resign. In the other semifinal, Xie Yimin 6P (B) beat Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, by resig. This meant that the final, played on the 14th, featured the most common pairing in women’s go in recent years, Fujisawa vs. Xie. Taking black, Fujisawa beat Xie by 1.5 points in a game marked by a number of reversals. This win secured her fourth concurrent title for Fujisawa. The previous champion, Mannami Nao, lost to Mukai in the first round of the main tournament (round of 16). This is Fujisawa’s 12th title. First prize is 7,000,000 yen (about $63,000).

Kyo evens score in Gosei title match: The 44th Gosei title match started out with the challenger, Hane Naoki 9P, winning the first two games, but the titleholder, Kyo Kagen, made a comeback in the next two, so the tournament is evenly poised. Details of the first game were given in my previous report.

   The second game was held in the special playing room Yugen on the fifth floor of the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on July 19. Taking white, Hane won by resignation after 216 moves. As is usual these days, the game was marked by continuous fighting. Hane shows few signs of being influenced by AI go, but he does make an effort to play aggressively. A ko fight in the late middle game led to a large-scale trade, but another ko fight followed soon after. Hane lost this but used his ko threats to capture a large black group. 

   The third game was held at the North Country Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on July 27. In the opening and middle game, Kyo (white) built thickness and apparently Hane went wrong in his strategy for countering it. Kyo used his thickness to secure enough territory to take the lead. Hane resigned after 162 moves.

   The fourth game was played at the Central Japan Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, on August 9. This was Hane’s home ground, but he was outplayed by Kyo and had to resign after just 133 moves. Kyo had recovered from his bad start and evened the series. The deciding game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 23.

Cho Chikun wins Masters Cup: The final of the 9th Fumakira Masters Cup was held at the Nihon Ki-in on July 20. Taking black, Cho Chikun, Hon. Meijin, defeated Komatsu Hideki 9P by resignation after 149 moves. Cho won this title for the fourth time and Komatsu failed in his first final. This is Cho’s 75th title. First prize is 5,000,000 yen (about $45,000).

   That’s the go side of it. At the awards ceremony, a representative of Fumakira announced that it was discontinuing its sponsorship. According to a comment later posted on the Nihon Ki-in’s home page, Kobayashi Satoru 9P, Chairman of the Board of Directors, commented that Fumakira had objected to some tweets made by Yoda Norimoto, who forfeited his semifinal to Komatsu, which they felt blemished the tournament. Kobayashi concluded by saying that the board would examine the question of how to deal with Yoda. 

   That’s all the information given out officially. A Net search did not turn up much supplementary information. Briefly, Yoda’s tweets apparently criticized the new board of directors created after a recent election. On being criticized in turn, Yoda apologized and deleted the tweets. There is no indication about their contents. There are a couple of blogs that discussed the problem, but they don’t give a coherent story. Perhaps this just reflects go’s lack of popularity compared to shogi.

Tomorrow: Shibano to challenge for Meijin title; Kyo becomes Tengen challenger; 6th Kuksu Mountains Cup

The Power Report: Iyama defends Honinbo title; Nakamura Sumire records first wins, sets new records; Cho Sonjin wins Samsung seat

Thursday August 22, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Honinbo title: The sixth game of the 74th Honinbo title match was held at the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture, on July 3 and 4. Taking black, Iyama Yuta, otherwise known as Honinbo Monyu, forced the challenger, Kono Rin, to resign after 171 moves. Kono had tried to take the initiative by launching an attack in the opening, but it failed to come off, leaving him in a difficult position. Iyama then steadily increased his lead and dominated the game. In the end, Kono got into a losing capturing race, so he had no choice but to resign.

   When Iyama started out by losing the first two games of the match, he seemed in danger of having his swag of titles reduced even further. However, Kono failed to make the most of a favorable position in the third game, letting the titleholder pull off an upset. In retrospect, this may have been the key game, as it changed the flow of the series. Iyama’s play picked up and he ended up winning four games in a row. He has now won the Honinbo title for eight years in a row, which takes him ahead of Sakata Eio’s seven and leaves him just behind Cho Chikun’s ten and Takagawa Shukaku’s nine. This is his 56th title, which puts him in fourth place after Cho Chikun (74 at this point, but soon after 75), Sakata (64), and Kobayashi Koichi (60). Top-seven titles account for 45 of his total, which is a record (Cho’s top-seven tally is 42). Iyama still holds four of the top-seven titles, so he remains head and shoulders above his Japanese rivals.

  First prize is 28 million yen (about $254,000), down 2 million yen from last year.

Nakamura Sumire records first wins, sets new records: A fateful day came for Nakamura Sumire, Japan’s youngest professional ever, on July 8. In a game in Preliminary B of the 23rd Women’s Kisei, held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, she was matched against the veteran player Tanaka Chieko 4P (aged 67). Taking white, Sumire got into a tough position in the middle game, but her opponent blundered. Once she took the lead, she played with precision and secured a resignation after 146 moves. She was ten years four months old, making her the youngest player ever to win a professional game in Japan. The previous record of 11 years eight months was set by Fujisawa Rina.

   As usual, the press was out in full force. According to Go Weekly, there were 60 reporters from 25 media outlets. Sumire’s mother Miyuki commented that when she lost her first game, the atmosphere at the press conference after the game was like a wake, but this time everyone was cheerful, including Tanaka. The latter commented: “I was surprised how calmly she played, like an adult.” Sumire’s father, Shinya 9P, commented: “I was on tenterhooks throughout the game. I was happier than when winning one of my own games. No one recognizes you unless you win a game.” 

   Two days later, Sumire played a practice game with a new AI program–practice for both sides. The program is called AQZ, and is being developed by a group led by Yamaguchi Hiroshi in cooperation with the president of Globis University, Hori Yoshito. Their goal is to compete in an AI world championship to be held in August. Taking black, AQZ won the game. 

   On August 5, Sumire played another game in the Women’s Kisei tournament. Taking white, she beat Kim Hyon-jon 4P (aged 40) by resignation after 120 moves. Sumire came under attack in the opening and had to work hard to rescue a group, but when her opponent made a slack move, she counterattacked and quickly wrapped up the game. This win earned her a seat in the main section (best 16) of the tournament. She is the youngest player ever to reach the main section of a tournament. The previous record, 13 years eight months, was set by Fujisawa Rina. Sumire’s official record is now 2-1. During the summer holidays, she spent two weeks studying in Korea, but I have no details about this trip.

Cho Sonjin wins Samsung seat: The international qualifying tournament for the 2019 Samsung Cup was held in Seoul from June 30 to July 5. Forty-one players from Japan competed in the different sections of the tournament, but the only one to be successful was Cho Sonjin 9P, who defeated Ryu Shikun 9P, also from Japan, in the final round of the section for senior players. He will join Japan’s two seeded players, Iyama Yuta and Kyo Kagen, in the main tournament, which starts on August 30.

Tomorrow: Fujisawa wins Senko Cup; Kyo evens score in Gosei title match; Cho Chikun wins Masters Cup

LIVE THIS WEEK: AGA to broadcast commentaries on 2019 China Securities Cup World AI Open on Twitch

Wednesday August 21, 2019

The AGA will broadcast the 2019 China Securities Cup World AI Go Open live from the Chinese Weiqi Congress in Shandong, China this week. “This is a brand-new challenge for us as we take our production to Asia for the first time, and we will do our best to entertain you and provide you with some fresh perspectives on the AI games,” says the E-Journal’s Stephen Hu.

The broadcasts will take place on the official AGA Twitch channel, hosted by Stephen Hu (@xhu98) and joined by various commentators from China TBD. The following schedule* will be promoted on the Twitch front page:

*all times converted to UTC; actual start times might be subject to delays at the venue, although we try our best to start commentary at the earliest availability. Note: We will not be commentating on the preliminary rounds – however, feel free to follow the games on Yike Weiqi. In the semifinals and finals, all the games will be played out regardless of the series outcome.

August 22, ca. 01:30-03:30(China Securities Cup) Quarterfinals
ca. 05:00-06:30Human + AI Pair Go Exhibition, QF
ca. 07:30-09:00Human + AI Pair Go Exhibition, SF
ca. 10:00-11:30Human + AI Pair Go Exhibition, Final
August 23, ca. 01:30-03:30Semifinals, Game 1
ca. 04:30-06:30Semifinals, Game 2
ca. 07:30-09:30Semifinals, Game 3
August 24, ca. 03:00-05:00Final, Game 1
ca. 06:00-07:30Final, Game 2
ca. 09:30-11:00Final, Game 3
August 25, ca. 01:30-03:00Final, Game 4
04:30-06:00Final, Game 5

AGF imports blind go sets

Wednesday August 21, 2019

The American Go Foundation has purchased 12 new go sets designed for the visually impaired. Both black and white stones are slotted on the back, and click into a 19×19 grid, with a 9×9 grid on the backside. Black stones also have a raised dot in the middle, so they feel different from the white ones. Sets have been sent to the National Go Center and the Seattle Go Center, and one will be available at the US Go Congress each year as well. Milan Mladenovic ran a pilot program last year at Perkins Institute for the blind in Boston, and it was well received . “Ever since I learned to play go my brain has reconnected with my love for thinking ahead and mind games,” reported S, a student at Perkins. 

AGA Board member Steve Colburn approached the AGF about purchasing the sets. “The AGA Webmaster receives dozens of emails a month from people around the country,” writes Colburn. “Most of these have pretty easy answers, but there are others that can take years to answer.” Colburn says he has received multiple requests for blind sets over the years. “This time we were helped from some users on Go (Baduk, Weiqi) Players on Facebook, which is a nice group of worldwide go players to chat with. Earlier this year someone asked if they knew where to buy a blind go set. Someone in the thread found the right site for the Japan Braille Library Equipment Business Division. After a short consultation with the AGF they agreed to import some of the sets to the US,” said Colburn. Importing proved fairly complicated. Joshua Guarino’s Japanese was crucial to get through the many issues with ordering, importing and payment, and the sets finally arrived at the AGF warehouse just before the Go Congress.

“Adding go sets for the visually impaired to our equipment offerings was a natural extension of what the AGF does to promote go in institutional settings and to underserved populations,” says AGF President Terry Benson. The sets will be free for institutions that are working with the visually impaired. Individual players who are blind can also contact the AGF if they are interested in acquiring a set. -Story and photo by Paul Barchilon

Upcoming Go Events: Carmichael and New York

Monday August 19, 2019

August 31: Carmichael, CA
Davis/Sacramento Fall Quarterly Tournament
Willard Haynes cwillardhaynes2@gmail.com 916-929-6112 or 916-601-0829

August 31: New York, NY
2019 U20 Eastern Youth Open
Stephanie Yin td-nyig@gmail.com 646-287-9536

Get the latest go events information.

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ArenaGo: New Go Database App

Saturday August 17, 2019

ArenaGo is a new Android app that contains over 50,000 professional matches searchable by player, country or date. Nice stone graphics, flags to represent nationality, and the ability to select favorite players might interest go enthusiasts. Users can manually advance through games or choose an adjustable auto-play speed. Game records are current as of 7/27/2019 with over 1,400 players and 23 countries represented.

The following link will take you to the app in the Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.arenago.android

An IOS version is under development.

-editing and screenshots by Ryan Woolgar

Go Spotting: Chazen Museum of Art

Wednesday August 14, 2019

“During Go Congress, I visited the Chazen Museum of Art at UW and found this Japanese print,” writes Li Ping. “It is a Samurai standing on top of a Go set.”

The woodcut is by Katsukawa Shunshô, who was known for “his widely influential nise-e (“likeness painting”) or nigao (“likenesses”), which were stylized but otherwise accurate facial likenesses of actors. These introduced a greater measure of realism and individuation into ukiyo-e actor portraits.” (Source.)

The Actor Ichikawa Danjuro V as a Samurai in a Wrestling Arena
Katsukawa Shunsho (Japanese, 1726 – 1792) "The Actor Ichikawa Danjuro V as a Samurai in a Wrestling Arena" ca. 1780 Color woodcut Bequest of John H. Van Vleck
Katsukawa Shunsho (Japanese, 1726 – 1792) “The Actor Ichikawa Danjuro V as a Samurai in a Wrestling Arena” ca. 1780 Color woodcut Bequest of John H. Van Vleck

-edited by Nate Eagle

Upcoming Go Events: Santa Fe and Quebec

Monday August 12, 2019

August 17: Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe Summer Go Tournament
Robert Cordingley rjcord1@gmail.com 281-989-6272

August 18-23: Mount Orford National Park, Quebec
Summer 2019 Go Camp – CGA
James Sedwick president@go-canada.org

Get the latest go events information.

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Go Spotting: National Gallery features two scenes by Japanese artists involving games of go

Saturday August 10, 2019

Former AGA President Allan Abramson spotted games of go in two scenes currently on display in the East wing of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Horses and Grooms in the Stable

Muromachi period, early 1500s
pair of six-panel screens; ink, color, and gold on paper

The Cleveland Museum of Art, Edward L. Whittemore Fund

“Fine horses were treasured assets for military commanders, who built elaborate stables to house them. A Portuguese priest who visited Japan during the Edo period noted that such stables were spotlessly clean, elaborate structures where members of the elite could entertain, as shown here. Guests sit on tatami mats and play the board games go or shogi (similar to chess) while falconers watch over their hawks and grooms attend to the spirited horses. Monkeys, thought to draw illness away from horses, appear in the panels to the right of the go or shogi players.”

The Cleveland Museum of Art has a high-res version of the entire scene.

Warrior Minamoto Raiko and the Earth Spider

Utagawa Kuniyoshi
1798 – 1861

Edo period, 1843
triptych, woodblock print
Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
The Joan Elizabeth Tanney Bequest

The Earth or Dirt Spider

“Families that rebelled against the emperor were disparaged as ‘dirt spiders’ (tsuchigumo) in some ancient Japanese texts. In the popular imagination, the term was taken literally to refer to a giant, ground-dwelling arachnid. In Kuniyoshi’s print, the Earth Spider tries to ensnare in its web a famous but ailing warrior, Minamoto Raiko (948 – 1021), whose four bodyguards sip sake and play board games. The artist used the story to satirize the harshness of the government in his own day. When the print was issued in 1843, viewers understood that the sick Raiko was a stand-in for the unpopular current shogun, and the horde of demons symbolized the down-trodden townspeople.

“In Yoshitsuya’s version of the story, Raiko’s bodyguards or generals lower themselves in baskets into the cave of the Earth Spider and its serpent companion. The monster glares at the intruders with its green, bulging eyes, while countless small spiders crawl over its body. Despite the odds against them, the bodyguards ultimately slay the Earth Spider. Their victory inspired a centuries-old Noh play, Tsuchigumo, that was adapted for Kabuki theater.”

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has a high-quality version of the triptych here.

-edited by Nate Eagle

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