American Go E-Journal

The Power Report: Woman power hits Japanese go

Sunday May 2, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Sumire vs Goto Shungo
Nakamura Sumire
Sumire vs Nobuta
Women’s Meijin: Rina defends

The highlight of this month’s report is the extraordinary recent success of Nakamura Sumire, who leads three statistic-related lists for all Nihon Ki-in pros: most wins, best winning percentage, and best winning streak. However, it is not only the youngest pro who is making waves; her seniors are also doing very well. While contemporary women players benefit from the recent increase in women-only tournaments, this is certainly beginning to look like a golden age for women’s go in Japan. This report focuses on Nakamura Sumire and Fujisawa Rina.

Sumire leads lists of top performers
With the tournament year almost a third completed, Sumire and her female colleagues are dominating the statistical categories. Lists are given below (dated to April 30).

Most wins
1. Nakamura Sumire 2P: 21 wins 2 losses; Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei: 21-7
3. Nyu Eiko 3P: 18-8
4. Kyo Kagen Judan: 16-7
5. Fukuoka Kotaro 2P: 15-3; Motoki Katsuya 8P: 15-5
7. Seki Kotaro 3P: 14-2; Shibano Toramaru Oza: 14-6; Suzuki Ayumi 7P, Kato Chi
e 2P: 14-8
11. Ida Atsushi 8P, Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo: 13-3; Kondo Toshiki 1P: 13
-4; Xie Yimin 6P: 13-7; Mukai Chiaki 6P: 13-12

The top three are all women, as are eight of the top 15, so they have a majority. Offhand, I can’t recall this happening before.

Best winning streaks
10: Nakamura Sumire (since March 18)
7: Fujisawa Rina (since March 29), Otani Naoki 3P (since March 8), Seki Kotaro
 (since March 22)
6: Ito Masashi 5P (since March 8)
5: Ichiriki Ryo Tengen (since March 18)

Best winning percentage: On 91.3%, Sumire has no rivals in sight.

Sumire’s progress
Below are the results of games Sumire has played since my last report (posted on April 6).
(April 1) Sumire (W) beat Yoshihara Yukari 6P by 7.5 points (main tournament, round 1, 40th Women’s Honinbo). This was her first game on entering junior high.
(April 5) Sumire (W) beat Okada Yumie 6P by resig. (Prelimin. C, 47th Meijin tournament).
(April 12) Sumire (W) beat Mizuno Hiromi 5P by resig. (prelim. final, 6th Senko Cup).
(April 14) Sumire (W) beat Hara Masakazu 3P by 6.5 (semifinal, First Tournament, 46th Kisei).
(April 15) Sumire beat Sakaguchi Ryuzo 9P (Prelim. C2, 60th Judan).
(April 17). Sumire beat Yang Zixuan 4P by resig. and Yu Lijun (W) by resig. Yang and Yu are two of the top women players in Taiwan. These games were played as part of an unofficial match (more details in my next report).
(April 22) Sumire (B) beat Nobuta Shigehito 6P by resig. (Prelim. C, 47th Meijin).
(April 28) Sumire (B) beat Konishi Kazuko 8P by resig. (main tournament, round  one, 8th Women’s Hollyhock Cup; played at the Kansai Ki-in). At 12 years, one month of age, Sumire set a new record for the youngest player to reach the best four in a women’s tournament. (The previous record was 15 years eight months, set by Fujisawa Rina in the Women’s Meijin.)
(April 29) Sumire (B) beat Goto Shungo 9P by 12.5 points (Prelim. C, Judan). This gave Sumire a winning streak of ten games in official games, but if you include unofficial games it was 15 in a row. Her record for the year is 21-2.

Fujisawa Rina’s good run
Fujisawa Rina has also been doing very well and has maintained her place as the top woman player. Three recent successes are described below.
1. Promoted to 5-dan: On April 8. Fujisawa Rina scored her 70th win as a 4-dan and so qualified for promotion to 5-dan (effective as of the following day). This takes her halfway up the promotion ladder.
2. Defends Women’s Meijin title: The 32nd Hakata Kamachi Cup Women’s Meijin title match ended in another triumph for Fujisawa. The best-of-three was scheduled to be played at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on April 16, 18, and 20, but, as it turned out, the third day wasn’t necessary. In the first game, Fujisawa, the defending title holder, drew black and beat Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, by 1.5 points. In the second game, Fujisawa (W) won by resignation after 216 moves. According to Go Weekly, the games were tougher for Fujisawa for longer periods than for her opponent, but she played with greater precision in the crucial fights and overturned Ueno’s lead in each game. Fujisawa has now held this title for four terms in a row, but there was a gap of a year before it secured a new sponsor. She also holds the Women’s Honinbo and Hollyhock titles. In all, she has won 17 titles.
3. Enters Kisei C League: On April 29, Fujisawa (W) beat Matsumoto Takehisa 8P by 1.5 points in the final round of the 46th Kisei First Tournament and so won a seat in the C League for the first time. Xie Yimin has already qualified for the league, and Ueno Asami and Nakamura Sumire have also reached the final round. This is a notable achievement, though this league is not on a par with the Honinbo or Meijin leagues. The Kisei tournament actually has five leagues, with the S League (six players) on top, followed by the A League (eight) and two B Leagues (eight players each). Next is the five-round C League, which has 32 players; the top finishers are promoted up and players drop out immediately on suffering their third loss.