American Go E-Journal » 2019 » January

The Power Report (3 of 4): Iyama defends Tengen, sets new record; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Chunlan Cup: all-Korean final

Thursday January 10, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Tengen, sets new record: The fourth game of the 44th Tengen title match was held at the Hotel New 2019.01.10_44tengen5_1Awaji in Sumoto City, Hyogo Prefecture on December 10. Taking white, Yamashita Keigo 9P won by 2.5 points after 262 moves. Iyama attacked positively in the opening and secured an advantage, but Yamashita launched a do-or-die attack and pulled off an upset. The fifth game, the last big game of the year, was held at the Tokushima Grandvrio Hotel in 2019.01.10_tengen4 YamashitaTokushima City on December 19. At his peak, Iyama was often able to wrap a match up quickly, reducing the burden on himself of constant title defenses, but this was his third successive match to go the full distance. Yamashita drew black in the nigiri. Once again, Iyama took the lead in the opening, and this time the challenger’s attempt to stage an upset was unsuccessful. Yamashita resigned after 188 moves. After a hectic autumn/winter tournament season, Iyama ended the year in top form. He has now won the Tengen four years in a row, so he can aim at qualifying for the honorary title next year. This was his 43rd top-seven title, putting him in the sole lead ahead of Cho Chikun. It is his 54th title overall and maintains his quintuple crown. No one will bet against his chances of restoring his septuple crown in 2019. Cho Chikun had a comment: “He’s not even half my age. It’s a great honor for me to be overtaken by a fantastic player like Iyama.”

Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Kisei: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 22nd Women’s Kisei title was 2019.01.10_WKisei R Fujisawaheld in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in on December 10, and it featured yet another clash between Fujisawa Rina (right) and Xie Yimin. Taking white, the former won by resignation after 174 moves. This is the only women’s title Fujisawa has never won; in fact, it’s the first time she got past the second round (out of four) in the final knock-out section. The best-of-three title match with Ueno Asami will begin on January 17. Incidentally, this will be the first time Fujisawa (20) will face a younger opponent in a title match (Ueno is 17).

Chunlan Cup: all-Korean final: Korean players are doing their best to push back against the ascendancy of Chinese players in international tournament recently. The semifinals of the 12th Chunlan Cup were held in Zhejiang Province in China on December 17 and 19. Both featured Chinese-Korean pairings and both ended in narrow victories for the Korean side. Park Junghwan 9P (W) beat Ke Jie by half a point and Park Yonghyun 9P (B) beat Dang Yifei 9P by one and a half points. The final is scheduled for June.
Tomorrow: Honinbo League; 44thMeijin League; Fujisawa sets record


The Power Report (2 of 4): Fujisawa takes Women’s Honinbo title; Kobayashi Koichi scores 1,400th win; Rin Kanketsu wins SGW Cup; Gu wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off

Wednesday January 9, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2019.01.09_2018 WHon 4 Fujisawa

Fujisawa takes Women’s Honinbo title: The fourth game in the 37th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on December 5. Taking white, Fujisawa Rina forced a resignation after 224 moves and took the title from Xie Yimin with a 3-1 score. This is Fujisawa’s third concurrent title: she also holds the Hollyhock Cup and the Women’s Meijin. It is the third time she has won this title, and it is her ninth title. First prize is 5,500,000 yen (about $50,000). Xie is now without a title to her name for the first time in 11 years. Note: Michael Redmond was the referee for the match.

Kobayashi Koichi scores 1,400th win: On December 6, Kobayashi Koichi (B) defeated Yoshihara Yukari 6P by resig. in 2019.01.09 Kobayashi 1400ththe preliminary round (called by the English name of “first tournament”) of the 44th Kisei tournament. This was his 1,400th win, making him the third Nihon Ki-in player to reach this landmark, after Cho Chikun and Rin Kaiho. His record is 1400 wins, 744 losses, 2 jigo; his winning percentage is 65.3, which is the best of the three. The 66-year-old Kobayashi took 51 years eight months to achieve this feat. Kobayashi: “Someone told me [I was close], but when the game started I forgot about it. Even though I have been playing such a long time, I am just as passionate as ever about go. I want to keep playing until I’m no longer physically able to.”

Rin Kanketsu wins SGW Cup: The SGW Cup Golden Mean Tournament is an unusual new tournament: it is open to 2019.01.09_sgw Rinplayers aged from 31 to 60 who have not won one of the top seven open tournaments or the Ryusei or Agon Kiriyama titles. The main section of the tournament, a four-round Swiss System for 16 players (who qualified in a preliminary tournament held on the Net) was held at the Nihon Ki-in on December 8 and 9. After three rounds, there were two players with three wins, Rin Kanketsu 8P and Anzai Nobuaki 7P, so their fourth-round clash became the “final.” Taking black, Rin won by resignation. First prize is 2 million yen (about $18,000). Having won this title, Rin “graduates” and can no longer play in it. However, it is not an official tournament, so results are not included in players’ lifetime tallies. Third place was taken by Cho Riyu 8P, who beat the oldest participant, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (aged 60), in the final round. According to “Go Weekly,” “golden mean” refers to solid players of a certain age who don’t have as many opportunities to play as the top players or young players, for whom there are many youth tournaments. Apparently this is the first time the Swiss System has been used for Japanese professionals. The participants may not have been the top players, but a big crowd of fans turned out for a public commentary by Cho Chikun.

Gu wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off: The Agon-Kiriyama Cup 20th Japan-China Play-off was held at the Shaka-san Dai-Bodaiji Temple, the headquarters of the Agon sect of Buddhism in Kyoto, on December 9. The game was actually played in a teahouse in the 2019.01.09 JC Agon Gugrounds of the temple called the Snail Hermitage (Kagyu-an). It matched the holders of the Japanese and Chinese versions of the Agon Kiriyama Cups, Ichiriki Ryo 8P and Gu Jihao 9P. The 20-year-old Gu is not well known in Japan, but he is a member of the group of players born between 1995 and 2000 that now dominates Chinese go. He jumped from 5-dan to 9-dan in 2017 when he won the 22nd Samsung Cup. Gu drew black in the nigiri. Like most professional games these days, there were many signs of AI influence, but Gu’s 7th move was a diagonal move made popular in the 19th century by Honinbo Shusaku and known as “Shusaku’s kosumi.” At the time, Shusaku commented that no matter how much time passed, this would never become a bad move. It has now held up for over a century and a half. Gu said after the game that recently AI programs had often recommended this move. The game was marked by fierce fighting, with Ichiriki launching an aggressive double attack at the decisive point in the middle game. Gu was able to cope with it, so Ichiriki had to resign after 185 moves. China has now won this play-off 15 times to Japan’s five.
At the press conference after the game, Gu was asked how he used AI. His answer: “All professionals are using AI. In the national team, I am training with Fine Art every day. I also use AI after I go home. I don’t play games with AI. I have resigned myself to the difference in level.”
Tomorrow: Iyama defends Tengen, sets new record; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Chunlan Cup: all-Korean final


The Power Report (1 of 4): China dominates Nong Shim Cup; Iyama defends Oza, ties record; Ke wins Samsung Cup

Tuesday January 8, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

China dominates Nong Shim Cup: 
The second round of the 20th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Pusan near the end of November. In the opening round, held in Beijing in October, Japan got off to a good start when Shibano Toramaru won the first game, but then Fan Tingyu of China took over and won the remaining three games in the round. His good form continued in the second round and he took his winning streak to seven before it was terminated by Park Junghwan. Incidentally, Fan also won seven games in a row in the 18th Nong Shim Cup. His career started at the top: he became the world’s youngest-ever 9-dan when he was promoted for winning the 7th Ing cup in 2013 at the age of 16. Nong Shim results are given below.
Game 5 (Nov. 23). Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (B) beat Choe Cheolhan 9P (Korea) by resig.
Game 6 (Nov. 24). Fan (W) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game 7 (Nov. 25). Fan (W) beat Lee Sedol 9P (Korea) by resig.
Game 8 (Nov. 26). Fan (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game 9 (Nov. 27). Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Fan by resig.2019.01.08_66oza5_1
The final round will be held in Shanghai from February 18 to 22. Japan and Korea are both down to their last player, but China still has four.

Iyama defends Oza, ties record:  The fourth game of the 66th Oza title match was held at the Ryugon inn in Minami Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture, on November 30. This game was a kadoban for the challenger, Ichiriki Ryo 8P, but he responded to the pressure with positive play from the opening on and succeeded in taking the lead. In byo-yomi, Ichiriki (black) was confronted with a position that looked like a crisis for him, but he managed to survive it and scored a win by 1.5 points.
The fifth game was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on December 13. Ichiriki drew black in the nigiri. Professional observers commented that Ichiriki seemed to have succumbed to the pressure, at least a little, as his play was not quite a freewheeling as in the previous games. Iyama forced him to resign after 186 moves. This is Iyama’s fourth Oza title in a row and his 53rd title overall, behind Cho Chikun on 74, Sakata Eio on 64, and Kobayashi Koichi on 60. He also tied a record held by Cho Chikun of winning 42 top-seven titles. That’s a very high percentage—79% of his titles, as compared to 57% for Cho. The latter reached this mark at the age of 50, which means that it took him 39 years. Iyama got there in 16 years. After the match, Iyama commented: “When I lost titles from my septuple crown, it didn’t upset me very much, but there were a lot of games in which the way I lost left me with regrets. Being able to get a good result here is important. When I started playing, Cho Sensei was someone I greatly admired, so it feels strange [to draw even with him]. It’s a record of patient accumulation, so I think I have done well.”
Ichiriki failed yet again in his fifth challenge to Iyama for a title. This was the first time he got so close, but that probably made the result all the more frustrating.

Ke wins Samsung Cup: The best-of-three final of the 23rd Samsung Cup was played in Korea in early December. It featured a clash between Ahn Kukhyun 8P of Korea, bidding to win his first international title, and Ke Jie 9P of China, who was hoping to pick up his sixth. In the first game, played on Dec. 3, Ahn Kukhyun (W) won by resig. In the second game (Dec. 4), Ke Jie (W) won by resig. In the decider, played on the following day, Ke (W) won by 5.5 points. He earns a prize of 300 million won (about $268,000). Apparently Ahn is now slated to do his military service. Depending on which arm of the military he’s in, the period is from 21 months to two years.

Tomorrow: Fujisawa takes Women’s Honinbo title; Kobayashi Koichi scores 1,400th win; Rin Kanketsu wins SGW Cup; Gu wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off


Japanese girl to become youngest professional go player

Sunday January 6, 2019

Ten-year-old Sumire Nakamura will become the youngest professional go player on April 1. She began playing at the age of three2019.01.06-Sumire Nakamura 10-year-old and was competing in national tournaments in Japan by the time she was seven. The previous record was set by Rina Fujisawa, who was 11 when she became a professional player in 2010. “I’m happy when I win,” the Osaka schoolgirl told a press conference in Tokyo on Saturday. “I want to have a title while being in junior high school.” When Cho U, one 2019.01.06-Sumire-Iyamaof the leading players, faced off against Sumire last month to gauge her skills, the child prodigy stunned association officials by holding the 38-year-old pro to a draw. “She proved to be a lot stronger than I had imagined,” said Cho after the game. “I played with Iyama when he was in elementary school, but I am under the impression that she is better than he was back then.” She is the only child of professional go player Shinya Nakamura 9P, 45, and wife, Miyuki, 38, a former go instructor. When she was 7, her family moved to Seoul for Sumire to undergo go training, traveling back and forth between Japan and South Korea. The Nihon Ki-in announced Jan. 5 that it will accept Sumire, an Osaka fourth-grader, as the first pro under a special program for elementary school go players “with the potential for becoming the world’s No. 1.” After Japanese players had lost world titles by 2005, an alarmed Japan Go Association set up the program to allow extremely gifted children to play as a professional without requiring them to pass a pro test.

Includes reporting by the BBC and Japan News 



Categories: Japan,Main Page,Youth

AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 25: The shoulder hit, with a twist

Sunday January 6, 2019

Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, resume their popular series with a review of the 25th game of the 2019.01.05_AG-AG-25-thumbnailamazing AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo selfplay games.

2019.01.05_AG-AG-25-screengrabBlack starts out with “a very human-looking opening,” reminiscent of the mini Chinese Opening, an AG shoulder hit (with a twist), followed (of course) by a 3-3 invasion, which prompts a discussion of which side to block. The game also features a sacrifice that isn’t and a dramatic — and confusing — ending involving multiple groups that may or may not be alive.

These videos are made possible by the support of the American Go Association; please consider joining  today!

Video produced by Michael Wanek & Andrew Jackson.



Registration Open for the 6th North American Kyu Championships

Saturday January 5, 2019

Crystal-trophy“You may have just made your resolutions for the new year, but young kyu players under the age of 18 from North America will not have to wait long to vie for glory in the 6th North American Kyu Championships (NAKC) on February 2nd,” says Youth Coordinator Justin Teng. “This one-day, four-round tournament will be hosted on KGS, where the top Junior (under 13) and Senior (under 18) players in each of 5 divisions can win a marvelous crystal trophy engraved with his or her name.” The champions of the top division will also be granted entry into this year’s Redmond Cup, a tournament traditionally open only to dan-level players. In addition, courtesy of the American Go Foundation, players who participate in all rounds of the tournament are eligible for a $200 scholarship to the 2019 US Go Congress in Madison, Wisconsin. Register for the NAKC by January 27th, and read more about the rules and format here. – Paul Barchilon, EJ Youth Editor


Seattle hosts 6th annual Pair Go tourney

Thursday January 3, 2019

The Seattle Go Center hosted its 6th annual Pair Go Tournament on December 8, 2018. Thirty go players teamed up in pairs, and2018.12.08_T1-R1-LeeHajin-NickSibicky each table had four teams, with Round 1 winners facing each other in Round 2 to determine the table winner.

Between rounds, the players enjoyed punch and gourmet desserts — cakes from a local bakery, with berries and hand-whipped cream. Pair Go stalwart Bill Thompson organized and officiated, and Ann Thompson once again used her doll collection and the Go Center’s miniature floor goban to create an arresting poster to publicize the event.

Lee Hajin, professional 4 dan, and her partner Dan Maas defeated 2018.12.08_Fun-PairGopopular Go Center lecturer Nick Sibicky and his partner Sonny Cho, in Round 1 (right). Sibicky reviewed the game during a subsequent DDK lecture at the Go Center.  Lee and Maas lost to Seattle Go Center Board of Directors members Lee Anne Bowie and Bill Chiles in Round 2.

Final results:
Table 1 – Lee Anne Bowie, 4k and Bill Chiles, 3k
Table 2 – Xiangnan Chen, 3k and Brian Dai, 7k
Table 3 – Monique Nickerson, 15k and Rick Campbell, 14k
Table 4 – Ann Thompson, 18k and Bill Thompson, 13k

Photos by Catherine Ozols Photography