American Go E-Journal » 2022 » February

Ichiriki one win away from becoming Kisei

Monday February 28, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

Ichiriki (l), almost there; Iyama (r), back to the wall

Ichiriki Ryo, the challenger, made a good start in the 46th Kisei best-of-seven title match, winning the first game. Iyama Yuta evened the score in the second game, but then Ichiriki again took the lead, winning two games in a row and securing a commanding 3-1 lead. This could be the end of Iyama’s record nine-year run as Kisei. 

For the fifth year in a row, the match got off to a start at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo. The first game was played on January 13 and 14. Iyama drew black in the nigiri. Ichiriki was in excellent form; he attacked positively and seized the initiative at an early stage. Iyama resigned after move 214. Already Ichiriki had improved on his previous Kisei challenge (he lost 0-4 in the 42nd title match).

The second game was played at the Mikazuki Sea Park Katsuura Hotel, Chiba Prefecture, on January 21 and 22. Ichiriki took the initiative in a reading contest in the opening on the first day, but Iyama fought back on the second day and secured a slight lead. A white group came under pressure in the closing stages of the game, but Iyama showed great skill in rescuing it. Ichiriki resigned after 158 moves. 

Iyama makes a sealed move

The third game was played at the Olive Bay Hotel in Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture, on February 4 and 5. In the opening, both sides went for territory. In the middle game, Iyama settled a group under attack while taking territory. Ichiriki countered by splitting Black into two in the center. With both sides in byo-yomi, Iyama missed a chance to decide the game, letting Ichiriki secure a large territory and stage an upset.

The fourth game was played at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on February 18 and 19. In a game marked by continuous fighting, the lead shifted back and forth, with observers noting two upsets. Ichiriki (B) played with greater tenacity in the late middle game and endgame and pulled off a win by half a point. He now has three chances to take the title. Ichiriki won’t be counting his chickens. In two of his big-three title defenses last year, Iyama staged fightbacks after falling behind—in the 76th Honinbo title match he recovered from 1-3 down against Shibano Toramaru and in the 46th Meijin from 2-3 against Ichiriki. If you include his other title matches last, Iyama faced eight “kadoban,” that is, a game that can lose a series, and won all of them. No one is stronger with his back to the wall. The fifth game will be played on March 3 and 4.

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The Power Report: Yo leads 77th Honinbo League; Shibano and Shida share lead in 47th Meijin League; 33rd Women’s Meijin League; Sumire’s progress

Monday February 28, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

Yo leads 77th Honinbo League
Yo Seiki 8-dan of the Kansai Ki-in was the in-form player in the first month and a half of the new year. Besides becoming the Judan challenger, he also holds the sole lead in the Honinbo League on 5-0. His closest rival is Ichiriki Ryo on 4-1. 2022 results follow.
(Jan. 6) Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (B) beat Hane Naoki 9-dan by resig.
(Jan. 17) Kyo Kagen Judan (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan by resig.
(Jan. 27) Ichiriki (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by resig.
(Feb. 3) Kyo (W) beat Sada Atsushi 7-dan by resig.
(Feb. 10) Ichiriki (B) beat Shibano by resig.; Yo Seiki (B) beat Motoki by 1.5 points

Shibano and Shida share lead in 47th Meijin League
Only two and a half rounds have been completed in the Meijin, but already there are only two undefeated players: Shibano Toramaru and Shida Tatsuya, who are both on 2-0. Results this year follow.
(Jan. 6) Shida Tatsuya 8-dan (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by resig.
(Jan. 10) Yamashita Keigo (B) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resig.
(Jan. 17) Shibano (W) beat Ichiriki by resig.
(Jan. 20) Hane Naoki (W) beat Yo Seiki by 3.5 points.
(Feb. 3) Shibano (B) beat Yamashita by 4.5 points.
(Feb. 10) Kyo (B) beat Hane by resig.

33rd Women’s Meijin League
So far, only one round + two games have been played in this seven-player league. Four players—Ueno Asami, Xie Yimin, Mukai Chiaki, and Nakamura Sumire— are undefeated, but their score is just 1-0. Nyu Eiko is 1-1, and Suzuki Ayumi and Omori Ran are both on 0-2. Results to date follow.
(Jan. 27) Mukai Chiaki 6-dan (B) beat Nyu Eiko 4-dan by resig.
(Jan. 31) Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, (B) beat Omori Ran 1-dan by resig.; Xie Yimin 7-dan (B) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan by 2.5 points.
(Feb. 10) Nyu Eiko 4-dan (W) beat Suzuki by 1.5 points; Nakamura Sumire (W) beat Omori by 3.5 points.

Sumire’s progress
The first game given below should have been included in my previous report. Sumire has made a reasonable start to the new year with five wins to three losses.
(Dec. 27) Sumire 2-dan (B) beat Jo Bun-en 1-dan by resig. (prelim., 41st Women’s Honinbo).
2022
(Jan. 6) Sumire (B) beat Nishioka Masao 2-dan by resig. (prelim., 47th King of the New Stars).
(Jan. 13) Sumire (W) beat Moro Arisa 2-dan by resig.; Sumire (W) beat Kato Chie 2-dan by resig. (both games in Prelim. A, 33rd Women’s Meijin). These wins secured for Sumire the final open seat in the seven-player league.
(Jan. 20) Sumire (W) lost to Nakazawa Ayako 5-dan by 2.5 points (Prelim., 9th Women’s Hollyhock). 
(Jan. 24) Sumire (B) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan by 3.5 points (Prelim. C, 79th Honinbo tournament). With this win, Sumire advanced to Prelim. B.)
(Jan. 31) Sumire (B) lost to Kobayashi Izumi 7-dan by 6.5 points (First Tournament, 47th Kisei tournament) 
(Feb. 7) Sumire (W) lost to Imabun Taro 2-dan (B) by 1.5 points (47th King of the New Stars.
(Feb. 10) Sumire won her first game in the Women’s Meijin League—see article above.

Promotions
To 7-dan: Nobuta Shigehito (120 wins, as of Jan. 28)
To 2-dan: Nakano Shoya (30 wins, as of Jan. 21)

Retirement
Takagi Shoichi retired as of  January 20. Born in Yokohama City on November 7, 1943, he became a disciple of the late Nakagawa Shinshi 7-dan in 1956. He made 1-dan in 1962 and reached 9-dan in 1981. He won three titles: the 13th Prime Minister’s Cup (1969), the 2nd New Stars (1970), and the 19th Prime Minister’s Cup (1975). He challenged unsuccessfully for the 11th Judan (1973). He played in the Meijin League three times and the Honinbo League four times. His lifetime record is 989 wins, 626 losses, 4 jigo. He has written four books about go.

Obituary
Tsujii Ryotaro 8-dan died of a myocardial infarction on January 31, aged 91. He was born on March 16, 1930 in Kyoto. He was a disciple of Fujita Goro 8-dan (1902-94). He became 1-dan in 1949 and was promoted to 8-dan when he retired in 2011. He was a member of the Kansai branch of the Nihon Ki-in. 

Correction
In the item about best winning percentage in my previous report (published Feb. 2), the first line should have read: “Restricted to players who have played 24+ games” (not “wins”). Thanks to Howard Warshaw for catching this.

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The Power Report: Yo to challenge for Judan; Ueno defends Women’s Kisei; Sumire no longer youngest professional

Sunday February 27, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

Yo Seiki 8P

Yo to challenge for Judan

The play-off to decide the challenger to Kyo Kagen for the 60th Judan title was held at the Kansai Ki-in on January 27. It featured two Kansai Ki-in members. Yo Seiki 8-dan (B) beat Sada Atsushi 7-dan by 3.5 points. This will be Yo’s third challenge for a top-seven title; in the 64th Oza title match in 2016, he lost 0-3 to Iyama Yuta and in the 55th Judan title match (2017) he lost 1-3 to Iyama. He will doubtless be glad the titleholder this time is someone different. The title match will start on March 1. 

Ueno defends Women’s Kisei

The Women’s Kisei has featured the same pairing for three years in a row. In the 23rd title match, Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan challenged Ueno Asami (left), who had held the title for two years; Suzuki won the match 2-1 and made her debut as Women’s Kisei. In 2021, Ueno became the challenger and regained her title by winning the match 2-1.  This year Suzuki was back as challenger again. The first game was held at the Hotel Sunlife Garden in Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, on January 20. Ueno Asami drew black in the nigiri. Unusually for her, she did not play very aggressively, so the challenger, Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan, led the game into an endgame contest, which is her forte. However, Ueno managed to eke out a win by 1.5 points.

The second game was played in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on January 27. There was more fighting than in the first game, but this game also became an endgame contest. Ueno played with precision and won the game by 5.5 points.

Cho Koharu makes 1-dan; Sumire no longer youngest professional

For the first time ever, two elementary-school pupils met in the deciding game in the 2022 Women’s Special Professional Qualification League. The two were Yanagihara Saki (aged 11) and Cho Koharu (aged 12). After six rounds of the league, both were on 5-1, so the winner of their final-round game would win the league and qualify as professional shodan as of April 1. Taking black, Koharu won by 6.5 points. I have no information about Saki, but she still has a chance of making pro while in elementary school. There’s lots of information about Koharu. She is the daughter of Cho U 9-dan and Kobayashi Izumi 7-fan. Her grandmother is Kobayashi Reiko, daughter of Kitani Minoru, and her grandfather is Kobayashi Koichi. Her older sister, Kosumi, who is now 15 (born on March 24, 2006), became a professional in April 2020. Koharu is eight months younger than Nakamura Sumire, so she will be the youngest active player at the Nihon Ki-in (she will be 12 years four months; Sumire turns 13 on March 2). Sumire’s record of debuting at ten years of age no months is still safe.

The January 30 Yomiuri Newspaper published an interview with Koharu and her parents. Her father offered some interesting background information about her given name. “Koharu” sounds like a typical girl’s name, but usually it would be written “small spring”小春 . In Cho’s case, her name is written心治. The first character is “kokoro,” which means “heart,” though only the first syllable is used. Go players who know kanji will immediately recognize the second character as the “chi” in Cho Chikun’s name. Cho U greatly respects Cho Chikun and actually asked him for permission to use the character from his name. The core meaning of this character is something like “cure” or “make better” or “regulate.”

Nakamura Sumire: “Congratulations on making 1-dan. Last year I studied together with Koharu. I hope that we can both do our best to get stronger.” 

Tomorrow: Yo leads 77th Honinbo League; Shibano and Shida share lead in 47th Meijin League; 33rd Women’s Meijin League; Sumire’s progress

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Redmond livestreams classic Shusaku game on Sunday

Saturday February 26, 2022

Tune in on the AGA’s Twitch channel this Sunday, February 27 at 7p ET for another live game commentary by Michael Redmond 9P, hosted by E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock. Redmond will be reviewing Shusaku’s 17th Castle game, played in 1861.


Shusaku is known for his undefeated streak of 19 games during the annual castle gamesthirty-game match with Ota Yuzo, lead innovator of the eponymous Shusaku opening for Black, and post-death ascension to one of the Go Sages. Hayashi Yubi was the heir of the Hayashi school, slightly younger than Shusaku, and they both died early deaths in 1862.


“With Shusaku playing White (no komi), this was one of the more challenging Castle games in his perfect 19 win record,” says Redmond. “Yubi attacked strongly from the start to expand the first move advantage and establish a promising position. In the decisive fight of the game, Shusaku had two endangered groups and a moyo vulnerable to invasion. It just took a little magic, and then Shusaku was closing up the shop.”

For more Michael Redmond content, check out his YouTube channel.

Includes biographical material from Sensei’s Library.

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Registration Open for the 2022 Redmond Cup and AGA Girls Cup

Thursday February 24, 2022

Redmond Cup and AGA Girls Cup finalists compete at the 2019 US Go Congress in Madison, Wisconsin

Registration is now open for the 29th Redmond Cup and 5th AGA Girls Cup, the AGA’s annual premier youth tournaments for North American youth under 18 and females under 16 respectively. Players must have an accredited rank of 1-dan or higher to participate in the Redmond Cup, and an accredited rank of 10-kyu or higher to participate in the AGA Girls Cup. The Redmond Cup features both a Junior (under 13) and a Senior (13-17) division, while the AGA Girls Cup will feature one division (under 16). Both tournaments are online preliminaries to determine two finalists in each division who will be invited to play in a best-of-three match at the 2022 US Go Congress. The American Go Foundation will cover all reasonable expenses for the finalists of both tournaments to travel to and compete at the 2022 USGC. If there is no in-person 2022 USGC, the Finals will be played at the following in-person USGC. Players who complete all rounds of either tournament will also be eligible for a $200 scholarship to the next in-person USGC.

This year’s tournaments have undergone several major changes, including a format overhaul and mandatory video calls with strict camera setup guidelines during games. In light of issues regarding prohibited use of AI assistance during tournament games, these changes were made to maintain a high standard of tournament integrity in a practical manner.

Registration for the Redmond Cup will close on March 16th, with competition starting on March 21st. Registration for the AGA Girls Cup will close on March 23rd, with competition starting on March 28th. Interested competitors can read about the rules for the Redmond Cup and rules for the AGA Girls Cup for more information, and email youth@usgo.org with any inquiries.

– Story and photo by Justin Teng, AGA Youth Coordinator

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Registration Open for the 11th Virginia Open 

Wednesday February 23, 2022

Registration is open for the 11th Virginia Open, which features a larger prize pool than ever before with awards and certificates for six divisions (Open Elite, Open, Expert, Proficient, Intermediate and Novice) as well as for top youth and female players. The past three VA Opens have drawn over 200 participants. The tournament will take place on OGS and feature six rounds spread out over four days. All levels may choose to sign up for the Open Elite division, which had an average rating of 7 dan last year. Webcams will be required for top board players in the final two rounds, who will be invited to a Zoom meeting hosted by the TDs. Players from around the world are welcome to participate, and the organizers will provide assistance to reschedule the matches to reasonable times for international players.

The tournament is tentatively scheduled for early April 2022. Interested players can find more details and the registration form here, and any inquiries can be directed to agatd1@gmail.com.

– Edward Zhang of the Capital Go Club

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50 years aGO – February 1972

Sunday February 20, 2022

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

We start with another quick tidbit about inflation. The Nihon Ki’in released the prize leaders for 1971. Rin Kaihō led the pros with a princely income of $25,000.

On February 11, the Nihon Ki’in Team Tournament began. At the urging of Fujisawa Hōsai 9d, a “gaijin” team entered the event for 15 player teams. 11 Americans, 2 Austrians and 2 British made up the “Ishi Press Team.” Their first three boards were Manfred Wimmer, Richard Bozulich and James Davies – you can make them out in the attached picture from the event. Other notables were one time AGA President Robert McCallister and Congress Director Stuart Horowitz. Unfortunately full names are not given and we are left to speculate whether “Hall” was T. Mark Hall, co-creator of GoGOD. The top boards had a solid 70% win rate, but the tail end of the team was not as successful, and they were eliminated in the initial stage.

The Jūdan title match went the full 5 game distance. Beginning the month knotted at one game apiece, Sakata Eio took the lead in the third game played on February 9 and 10. Hashimoto Utarō managed to even the score by half a point on February 16 and 17. However, Sakata returned from the wilderness, taking the title on February 23-24. (Game records: Game 3, Game 4, Game 5.)

The Ishi Press Team at the Nihon Ki'in Team Tournament

Image 1 of 2

Photos from Go Review, game records from SmartGo

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Transatlantic Online Pro League Qualifier set for this weekend

Friday February 18, 2022

This weekend, two seats in the new season of the Transatlantic Online Pro League (https://eurogofed.org/pros/league.html), which begins on Feb 26, are up for grabs in an amateur qualification tournament.

Four North American players are invited: Aaron Ye, Brady Zhang, Kevin Yang, and Alexander Qi. The tournament format is a double elimination. 

All games will be played online on OGS with a time setting of 30 minutes main time and 3×30 byo-yomi. To ensure fair play, all competitors are required to record a video during their games and submit the video afterwards.

The match start times are as follows:

Round 1

Feb 19 (Saturday): 10 AM Pacific Time / 1 PM Eastern Time

Aaron vs. Alexander

Brady vs. Kevin

Round 2

Feb 19 (Saturday): 1:30 PM Pacific Time / 4:30 PM Eastern Time

Winners bracket

Losers bracket

Round 3

Feb 20 (Sunday): 10 AM Pacific Time / 1 PM Eastern Time

Loser from winners bracket vs. Winner from losers bracket

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NYIG Online Winter Camp Registration Closing Soon

Wednesday February 16, 2022

A classroom at NYIG

The New York Institute of Go is hosting a beginner-friendly 5-day Winter Camp between Feb 21-25 both online on the KGS Go Server and on-site in New York. Students will experience fun Go activities in a setting outside of the classroom and learn from hands-on practicing. Activities will include tournament preparation, practice games, teaching games, reviews, and team Go. The schedule and registration form are available here; registration closes on February 20th. Interested participants with any questions can contact NYIG through the NYIG website or by sending an email to info@ny-go.org.

Story and photo by Ryan Li, NYIG Vice President

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Finding the “Weird and Wonderful” in go

Wednesday February 16, 2022

“As go players we all study the game in our own way, be it leisurely or with near-scientific precision. We attempt to distill the moves and find their essence in recurring, understandable patterns. But every once in a while we are struck by a move we have never seen before. A move that is so out of the ordinary that we cannot help but marvel at it. A move to remember.”

Weird and Wonderful, Volume 1: Extraordinary Moves by Professional Go Players is a collection of such moves from professional games. Chapters include such things as miraculous tesujis that resurrect dead groups, ladders that don’t work but are played out anyway for strategic purposes, and dragons that bite their own tail. And there’s more: impossible-looking invasions, endless loops to escape defeat, and rare sequences that look so bizarre they make you laugh. “If you want to study professional play and marvel at the creativity of human go,” the authors – Kim Ouweleen and Peter Brouwer – promise, “you will enjoy this book.”

More than a year in the making, “Weird and Wonderful” is the first in what’s planned to be a 3-volume set; the second will cover unusual joseki and trick plays, and the third will highlight spectacular go problems. While the book can delight all go fans, Ouweleen and Brouwer  say it’s perhaps best appreciated by those ranking roughly 10kyu and stronger.

“Weird and Wonderful”can be purchased in print directly from Kiseido and the European distributor Schaak en Gowinkel het Paard, and can be purchased as an e-book from SmartGo
– Edited by Hailey Renner

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