American Go E-Journal

The Power Report (2): Ida keeps lead in Honinbo League despite loss

Tuesday February 20, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Xie wins LG Cup: The best-of-three final of the 22nd LG Cup was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo in early February. This is a Korean-sponsored tournament, but the finalists were Iyama Yuta of Japan and Xier Erhao of China, so the sponsors were probably happy to see the game staged overseas. The Nihon Ki-in stepped forward because a Japanese representative had made an international final for the first time since Cho U in 2005 (the 9th LG Cup, which Cho won). Japanese fans are keen to see international success, so staging the tournament made sense for the Nihon Ki-in. Letting Iyama play on home ground might also help him. Xie Erhao, who is just 19, was virtually unknown here, so expectations were high that Iyama would score his first success in a major international tournament. However, Xie is a member of the top group of young players in China, where he is best known for reaching the semifinals of an international tournament, the Bailing Cup, when he was 14. In fighting ability, he turned out to be more than a match for Iyama. In the first game, played on February 5, Xie (W) scored a convincing win, securing a resignation after 180 moves. In the second game, played on February 7, Iyama was doing badly, but he managed to pull off an upset win by half a point. However, in the third game, played on February 8, Xie displayed precise reading and excellent positional judgment and won by resignation after 226 moves. This is Xie’s first international title. First prize is 300,000,000 won (about $280,000).

Park wins New Year’s Cup: The sixth CCTV New Year’s Cup, a tournament held by a Chinese TV station to celebrate the Chinese New Year, was held in Beijing on February 5 to 7 (actually a little before the Chinese New Year, which came on February 16 this year, but CCTV wanted to telecast the games before the winter Olympics started). This is an irregular knockout tournament for the top players from China, Korea, and Japan. Ke Jie represented China, Park Junghwan Korea, and Ichiriki Ryo Japan. The Japanese representative should have been Iyama Yuta, but he was busy with the LG final. The selection of the player challenging Iyama in the Kisei title match to take his place could be taken as de facto recognition of Ichiriki’s standing as Japan’s current number two. In these three-player knockout tournaments, the players draw lots for the initial pairing, in which two of them play each other; the winner then plays the third player; the winner of that game then meets the winner of the first game in the final.
In the first game, Park (white) beat Ichiriki by resignation after 196 moves. The latter then played Ke; taking black, Ichiriki had a good game, but Ke managed to pull off an upset, winning by 2.5 points. In the final, Park (white) beat Ke by resignation after 184 moves. Park’s victory came after four successive wins by China. I also read on the Net that this win enable Park to displace Ke as the world’s number one in a popular ranking system.
Btw, the report in Go Weekly mentioned that, thanks to his match with AlphaGo at the Future of Go summit last year, Ke Jie became well known to the Chinese public. As a result, he received an award as the top sportsman of the year, beating our world champions in sports like table tennis. Ke commented that his followers on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, increased nearly one hundredfold, to just under four million.

Ida keeps lead in Honinbo League despite loss: After five rounds in the 73rd Honinbo League, Ida Atsushi 8P, the unsuccessful challenger from four years ago, seems to have a good chance of getting another crack at Iyama Yuta, also known as Honinbo Monyu. Ironically, he has held on to the sole lead despite losing his latest game. In the final game of the fourth round, Ida beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by 2.5 points; this took his score to 4-0, and he was the only undefeated player. In the fifth round, Ida lost to Yo Seiki, but his nearest rival, Ko Iso 8P, also lost his fifth-round game, so Ida remained one point clear of the field. In another interesting game in the same round, league newcomer Shibano Toramaru 7P beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P; this improved his score to 3-2, so he now has a good chance of keeping his place in the league despite his bad start (two losses in the opening three rounds). Results since my last report are given below.
(Jan. 25) Ida (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru by 2.5 points.
(Feb. 1) Shibano Toramaru (B) bear Kobayashi Satoru by resig.
(Feb. 8) Yo Seiki 7P (B) beat Ida by resig.
(Feb. 15) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Ko Iso by resig.

Categories: Japan,Main Page