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The Power Report: 76th Honinbo League: Shibano has sole lead; Meijin League: Ichiriki and Hane share lead; Ichiriki wins Shusai Prize; Promotions/Retirement/Obituaries

Wednesday April 7, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

76th Honinbo League: Shibano has sole lead: We may well see a rematch of the players who fought the Honinbo title match last year. With only one round to go, Shibano Toramaru has the sole lead on 5-1. Next are three players on 4-2: Kyo Kagen, Ichiriki Ryo, and Hane Naoki. Shibano meets Hane in the final round; even if he loses, he will qualify for a play-off. It’s already decided that the bottom four players will lose their league seats.
Recent results follow.
(March 4) Sada Atsushi 7P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
(March 11) Kyo 8P (B) beat Ichiriki 8P by resig.; Onishi Ryuhei 7P (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8P by resig.
(March 18) Shibano Toramaru Oza (W) beat Ko Iso 9P by resig.  

Meijin League: Ichiriki and Hane share lead: With four rounds completed, two players, Ichiriki Ryo and Hane Naoki, remain undefeated, but each has already had his bye, so their scores are 3-0. Third is Kyo Kagen on 3-1.
Recent results:
(March 4) Yo Seiki 8P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points.
(March 11) Shibano (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by 1.5; Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Anzai Nobuaki 7P by 2.5.
(March 18) Kyo Kagen 8P (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig.; 

Ichiriki wins Shusai Prize: The Shusai Prize for 2020 was awarded to Ichiriki Ryo 8P in recognition of his outstanding record in winning two top-seven titles, the Gosei and the Tengen, achieving the best results by a Japanese player in international go, and winning a number of Kido Prizes (see my report of Feb. 21). (I wonder if a triple-crown winner has ever missed out on the Shusai Prize before, but it’s understandable if the selection committee wanted a new face–Iyama has won eight of the last 12 Shusai Prizes.) 

Promotions
To 5-dan: Horimoto Mitsunari (70 wins; as of March 9)
To 3-dan: Ms. Nakajima Mieko (40 wins; as of Feb. 23); Ms. Hoshiai Shiho (40 wins; as of March 5). Hoshiai is one of the best-known women professionals in Japan, as she is the main M.C. of the NHK Cup. Also, Oda Teppei (40 wins; as of March 19)
To 2-dan: Nakamura Sumire (30 wins, as of March 16); I Ryo (30 wins; as of March 19) 

Retirement   
Yoshioka Kaoru retired as of February 28. He was born in Saga Prefecture on March 1, 1960. He became a disciple of Yasunaga Hajime, qualified as 1-dan in 1980, and reached 8-dan in 2013. He was promoted to 9-dan after his retirement. 

Obituaries
Yamada Wakio: Died of a cerebral infarction on Feb. 17. Born in Osaka on May 12, 1969, he became a disciple of Yamashita Yorimoto 7P and made 1-dan in 1984, reaching 7-dan in 1993. He was posthumously promoted to 8-dan. With his older brother Yamada Shiho 7P and younger brother Yamada Kimio 9P, he was a member of the Kansai branch of the Nihon Ki-in.

Miyazaki Hiroshi: Died of aspiration pneumonia on March 2 at the age of 85. Miyazaki was born in Tokyo on June 23, 1935. He became a disciple of Kobayashi Seiichi 6P. He made 1-dan in 1960 and reached 5-dan in 1972. He was promoted to 6-dan after his retirement in 2002.

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The Power Report: Sumire extends winning streak, sets new record in promotion to 2-dan

Tuesday April 6, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Sumire extends winning streak, sets new record in promotion to 2-dan: Nakamura Sumire is going from strength to strength: she extended her winning streak to ten games and with the last of these wins, in a game played in the morning on March 15, secured promotion to 2-dan (effective as of the following day). At 12 years zero months of age, she broke a Nihon Ki-in record that had stood for 52 years. It was set by Cho Chikun, who made 2-dan when he was 12 years three months old. She also pushed Iyama Yuta, who became 2-dan at 13 years three months, into third place. On top of that, she took sole first place in the successive-wins list; it’s possible that she is the first woman player to top this list, but I could be wrong. Unfortunately, her streak came to an end in the afternoon of the same day. Sumire commented that she was happy to have made 2-dan while still (barely) an elementary-school pupil (she starts middle school in April). Just for the record, of the 13 Nihon Ki-in pros who debuted in April 2019, Sumire was the fourth to be promoted and the first of the eight female players in this group. Later in March, she also won a special tournament for teenagers (see preceding article). More details are given in the list of results since my last report below.
(March 1). Sumire (W) beat Tahara Yasufumi 7P (28th Agon Kiriyama Cup, Prelim. C). This win was a one-day-early birthday present to herself.
(March 10) Sumire (B) beat Tamura Chiaki 3P by resig. (preliminary, 6th Senko Cup).
(March 11) Sumire (W) beat Tajima Shingo 6P by half a point (First Tournament, Kisei tournament; incidentally, Tajima is a disciple of her father’s).
(March 15) In the morning, Sumire (B) beat Matsubara Taisei 6P by resig. (Prelim. B, Agon Kiriyama Cup). In the afternoon, she lost to Koyama Kuya 4P (W) by resig. in the same tournament. 
(March 18) Sumire (W) beat O Keii 2P by resig. in the 8th Women’s Hollyhock Cup prelim. and qualified for the main tournament.
(March 29) Sumire (B) beat Rafif Shidqi Fitlah 1P by resig. (Prelim. C, 47th Gosei tournament). This was her final game as an elementary-school pupil; her record this year is 13-2, which is not a bad first quarter, and her cumulative record to date is 51 wins to 26 losses. Sumire commented: “It was a difficult game, but at no stage was it bad for me.” Asked about her record, she responded: “It’s nice that I’ve won more games than I expected.” (Fitlah 1P of Indonesia made his debut as a professional in April 2020. He was born on July 12, 2002.)

Note: There was a lot of speculation about when Sumire’s promotion would come, but it was not easy to calculate, as not all games are counted in the list of cumulative wins. Her actual record when she got promoted was 49 wins, 25 losses, but only 30 of the wins counted for promotion. (Eligible domestic tournaments are the top seven open titles, King of the New Stars, Ryusei, Hiroshima Aluminum Cup, Agon Kiriyama Cup, Gratitude Cup, and SGW Golden Mean. Notably missing are women’s titles and the NHK Cup. International tournaments include: Samsung, LG, Bailing, MLily (but not the preliminary tournaments for these four), Nong Shim, Chunlan, Globis, World Go Championship, Xin-Ao, Tianfu Cup (previous two held only once each so far), and National Champion Mountain Range Cup. Notably missing are the Ing Cup, because of unorthodox rules, such as buying extra time with stones, and international women’s titles. (An additional reason for confusion is that tournaments sometimes change status, being made official. The best—or worst, depending on your point of view—example is the Hiroshima Aluminum Cup. Xie Yimin won the first cup, but she missed out on a place in go history as the first woman to win an official tournament open to both males and females because it did not become an official tournament until the sixth term.

Tomorrow: 76th Honinbo League: Shibano has sole lead; Meijin League: Ichiriki and Hane share lead; Ichiriki wins Shusai Prize; Promotions/Retirement/Obituaries

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The Power Report: Ueno to challenge for Women’s Meijin; Ichiriki wins NHK Cup; Yu Zhiying wins Senko Cup; Nakamura Sumire wins Teenagers Tournament

Monday April 5, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ueno Asami

Ueno to challenge for Women’s Meijin: The 32nd Hakata Kamachi Cup Women’s Meijin League ended in a tie between Suzuki Ayumi 7P and Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, who were both on 5-1. A play-off was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya in Tokyo on March 15. Playing black, Ueno won by resignation after 155 moves, thus taking revenge for her loss to Suzuki in the 5th round of the league. The title match with Fujisawa Rina will be played at the Nihon Ki-in on April 14, 16, and, if necessary, 19.
Results since my last report follow.
(Feb. 22) Suzuki Ayumi (B) beat Ueno Asami by resig.; Mukai Chiaki 6P (W) beat Kato Chie 2P by resig.; Nyu Eiko 3P (W) beat Tsuji Hana 1P by resig.
(March 1) Suzuki (W) beat Tsuji by resig.; Xie Yimin 6P (B) beat Mukai Chiaki 6P by half a point.
(March 4) Xie (B) beat Suzuki by 1.5; Mukai (B) beat Tsuji by resig.
(March 11) Ueno (W) beat Kato by 14.5. 
(March 15, play-off) Ueno (B) beat Suzuki by resig.

Ichiriki wins NHK Cup: The final of the 68th NHK Cup was telecast on March 21. Ichiriki Ryo 8P, who these days is Japan’s number one player in fast-go tournaments, beat Yo Seiki 8P, currently the top player at the Kansai Ki-in. Taking black, Ichiriki secured a resignation after 233 moves. He also won the cup two years ago. Yo reached the final for the first time in eight appearances.

Yu Zhiying wins Senko Cup: The Senko Cup World Go Strongest Woman Player Tournament 2021 was held on the net from March 22 to 24. The Japanese players (five out of a total of eight) all played their games at the Tokyo East Side Hotel Kaie in Koto Ward, Tokyo. Fittingly, the world’s top two women players, Yu Zhiying of China and Choi Jeong of Korea, made the final, with victory going to the former. This tournament has been held three times, and Yu has yet to lose a game in it (the previous cups were held in 2018 and 2019; the tournament was cancelled last year). The play-off for third place was won by Ueno Asami. First prize is 5,000,000 yen (about $45,454, at $1 = \110).
Round 1 (March 22). Mukai Chiaki 5P (Japan) (B) beat Yu Lijun 3P (Ch. Taipei) by resig.; Ueno Asami 4P (Japan) (B) beat Kuwabara Yoko 6P (Japan) by resig.; Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) (W) beat Xie Yimin 6P (Japan) by 2.5; Yu Zhiying 6P (China) (W) beat Fujisawa Rina 4P (Japan) by resig,
(Semifinals, March 23). Yu (B) beat Mukai by resig.; Choi (B) beat Ueno by 1.5.
(Final, March 24) Yu (B) beat Choi by resig.
(Play-off for 3rd, March 24). Ueno (B) beat Mukai by resig.

Nakamura Sumire wins Teenagers Tournament 
The Senko Cup Female Teenagers Tournament was staged on March 23 and 24 as a kind of side event to the international Senko Cup. Participants were the eight youngest female players at the Nihon Ki-in and it was won by a pre-teen, the 12-year-old Nakamura Sumire. The prize was one tenth of the international tournament. This is Sumire’s first tournament win, but it is not an official one, so results are not included in official counts. Results are given below (full details were not available, except for the final), with ages in parentheses. Note: Ueno Risa is the younger sister of Ueno Asami; she became a pro at the same time as Sumire.
(Round 1) Honda Mariko 1P (16) beat Mori Chisaki 2P (18); Nakamura 2P (12) beat Osuga Seira 1P (17); Cho Kosumi 1P beat Tsukada Chiharu 1P (16); Ueno Risa 1P (14) beat Yokota Hinano 1P (17).
(Semifinals) Nakamura beat Honda; Ueno beat Cho.
(Final) Nakamura (W) beat Ueno by 6.5.

Tomorrow: Sumire extends winning streak, sets new record in promotion to 2-dan

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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #19

Sunday April 4, 2021

By William Cobb

I was thinking about Dogen, the 13th century Japanese Zen Master who founded the Soto Zen tradition, the other day. In his essay “Spring and Autumn”, written in 1244, he says that “you play go by yourself”. This seems so clearly false that it takes an effort to try to understand what he could be talking about.

He was trying to explain what it is like to be enlightened and playing go was apparently the best illustration he could think of. His point is that in playing go “properly” you lose any sense of separation from the activity of playing and the other player. It is not just a “shared” activity, it is a single, integrated activity. The focus is on the game, not its potential results and especially not on beating the other player. That last concern will definitely eliminate anything like an experience of enlightenment.

I see a lot of “unenlightened” playing, especially at tournaments. For many players, I think there is an overwhelming interest in beating the other player in order to improve your own rating. It is hard to get “lost” in the game under those circumstances. The whole point of ratings in go is to enable players to have games where they can get lost in the playing and enjoy not being in a situation where you feel like you are isolated, lonely, and being ignored or attacked by others. In playing go, you can experience an immersion in an enjoyable, exciting, invigorating activity that is very freeing. Happily, this can and does happen a lot in club play. I think that having experienced it, a lot of players are reluctant to play in tournaments, where it is hard to ignore the pressure of so much attention being given to winning and losing, that is, to the results of a game rather than to the experience of playing.

That’s why Dogen says enlightenment is like playing a game, not like winning one. (He does says it is not like playing a high handicap game—an issue to be explored another time.) It is unfortunate that modern life doesn’t seem to offer many other examples of an experience like playing go, though there are some. A good conversation can be this type of experience, or a walk in the woods, or reading a good book, or listening to Beethoven’s piano-violin sonatas. But activities involving another person that are like this are rare, unfortunately.

photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

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The Power Report: Korea wins Nong Shim Cup; Iyama defends Kisei title, sets new record; Shibano evens score in Judan title match

Sunday April 4, 2021

Shin Jinseo 9P

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Korea wins Nong Shim Cup: Other players took part in the final round of the 22nd Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup, played on the net in late February, but they were like extras in attendance just to enhance a dominating star performance by Shin Jinseo 9P of Korea. For the first time in quite a while, the three countries participating, China, Korea, and Japan, entered the final round on equal terms, with each having lost three games and each having two players left. However, Shin showed why he is the world’s top-rated player by slicing through the opposition. He also won the final game of the second round, so that gave him a winning streak of five against the top players from China and Japan. Korea’s final player, Park Junghwan, remained a spectator. This was the 13th team victory for Korea to eight for China and just one for Japan. The prize for first place is 500,000,000 won (about $441,000, at $1 = 1134 won). Results follow:
Game 10 (Feb. 22). Shin (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig.
Game 11 (Feb. 23). Shin (B) beat Yang Dingxin 9P (China) by resig. (In the previous Nong Shim Cup, Yang won seven games in a row, the last of them being against Shin.)
Game 12 (Feb. 24). Shin (B) beat Ichiriki 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game 13 (Feb. 25) Shin (B) beat Ke Jie 9P (China) by resig.

Here is some background on Shin. Born on March 17, 2000, he was the youngest player taking part. He became a pro in 2012 and reached 9-dan in 2018. His first international victory was in a junior tournament, the 4th Globis Cup. In 2019, he won the 31st TV Asia tournament. Last year, his record was 76 wins to ten losses, a winning rate of an astonishing 88.37%. This just pipped the previous Korean record of 88.24% (75 wins, ten losses), set by Lee Changho in 1988. From October to December, he played a seven-game match, called the Super Match, with Park Junghwan and beat him 7-0. So far, he has not won a major international title, but he has reached the finals of the current 9th Ing Cup and 13th Chunlan Cup.

Iyama Yuta

Iyama defends Kisei title, sets new record: Kono Rin 9P scored his first win in the 4th game of the 45th Kisei title match, but there his resistance ended. The 5th game was played at the Ryugon inn in Minami Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture, on March 4 and 5. Halfway through the middle game, Kono (B) played a very aggressive move that took the players following the game by surprise. His attack worked, in that he was able to cut off and capture a white group, but he had to take gote to avoid the threat of a ko. That let Iyama set up a large moyo in the center and at the top, and Kono was unable to reduce it. He resigned after White 152. Ironically, his dramatic attacking move became the losing move.
This win secured the series for Iyama and gave him his ninth successive Kisei title, surpassing Kobayashi Koichi’s record of eight. It was also his 50th top-seven title, extending his record. Overall, it is his 67th title. 

Shibano

Shibano evens score in Judan title match: This year’s Judan match—the Daiwa House Cup 59th Judan Title Best-of-Five Match, to give it its full title—is being fought between two of the top players of the younger generation: Shibano Toramaru, aged 21, who won this title last year, and Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 8P, who turned 24 on March 17. Kyo set a record by winning the 43rd Gosei title at the age of 20 years seven months, but since then he has been a little overshadowed by the emergence of Ichiriki Ryo and Shibano as the standard-bearers of the post-Iyama generation, so he must be keen to win his second top-even title. 
The first game in the title match was played at its customary venue, the Osaka University of Commerce, on March 2. Taking black, Kyo won by resignation after 205 moves. The second game was played at the Hotel & Resorts Nagahama, which is actually a facility belonging to the Daiwa House Group, in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture, on March 24. Kyo made an oversight, and Shibano (B) also surprised him with a couple of moves that could easily be blind spots, so Shibano dominated the game, forcing Kyo to resign after 157 moves. The third game will be played on April 8.

Tomorrow: Ueno to challenge for Women’s Meijin; Ichiriki wins NHK Cup; Yu Zhiying wins Senko Cup; Nakamura Sumire wins Teenagers Tournament

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50 Years aGo – March 1971

Saturday March 27, 2021

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

James Davies playing at the Asahi Amateur Best Ten Tournament in March 1971
James Davies

The big story this month was the Hon’inbo Tournament. As you may recall, Ishida Yoshio 7d finished last month 2-1, trailing Fujisawa Hōsai 9d, who was 4-0. Ishida played three games in the league this month, winning all of them. The first one, played on March 3 and 4, was the most important – a half point win against league leader Fujisawa Hōsai made a large lead seem as small as the game’s margin. Two weeks later he defeated Chino Tadahiko 7d, and on the last day of March he defeated Kanō Yoshinori 9d (author of Graded Go Problems for Beginners) to finish the month tied with Hōsai at 5-1 with one game remaining. (Game records: Ishida-Hōsai, Chino-Ishida, Kanō-Ishida.)

On March 14, the first round of the Asahi Amateur Best Ten Tournament took place in Tōkyō. Two Westerners took part, Richard Bozulich – founder of Ishi Press – and James Davies, taking time out from compiling information about the 1971 Hon’inbo Tournament. The study must have put him in good stead, as Davies (pictured) won his first game, although he lost in the second round.

Miyashita Shūyō and Fujisawa Hōsai talking after counting the score of their game at the 3rd Hayago Championship in March 1971
Miyashita (right) and Fujisawa Hōsai

Japan completed two television tournaments this month, with the victors vanquishing the movers and shakers of the Hon’inbo League. On March 21, Miyashita Shūyō 9d (on the right in picture) defeated Fujisawa Hōsai in the final of the 3rd Hayago Championship. Ōtake Hideo defeated Ishida Yoshio on March 24, in the final of the NHK Tournament. (Game records: Miyashita-Hōsai, Ishida-Ōtake.)

Two events occurred in the greater New York area this month. On the March 6 and 7, the 12th New Jersey Open Championship took place. Takao Matsuda 6d defended his title with a victory in the final round over his rival Takahiko Ishikawa 5d of Philadelphia. In the New Jersey Championship, Robert Ryder 5d won over Harry Gonshor 4d. The kyu champion was David Ault. The report in Go Review thanked Jeff Rohlfs for his hospitality during the event – Jeff is still an active tournament go player today.

The following weekend, Matsuda showed he could win giving handicaps as well by winning the New York Okigo Championship with a perfect record.

Photos from Go Review.

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The Empty Board: What Is Blitz Go? (#18)

Monday March 15, 2021

By William Cobb

I was thinking about taoism the other day (such things are a consequence of studying and teaching Eastern philosophy for many years) and realized that it offers a hint of what I might say to readers who are unhappy about the dismissive way I tend to talk about speed/blitz go. The hint is the notion of “non-action”, which is neither acting nor not acting. So I could say that with regard to go, there is “playing” and “not playing”. Blitz go, it seems to me, is neither of these; it is “non-playing”.

Taoism says that there is a difference between acting with a focus on what you think will be in your own best interest, that is, for clearly selfish reasons, and acting in a way that is simply a response to what you sense should be done. In the latter case, your motivation is not focused on some sort of egotism. Your motivation is based on an understanding of what is appropriate in the situation given the common values that are involved. That is, the values that are based on a recognition of the fact that you are not a self-sufficient ego that can benefit from harming or ignoring the needs of others. We exist as parts of a functioning whole, not as separate entities, so the appropriate way to act is in accordance with that understanding of the situation.

In go, this has to do with understanding both the game and the role of one’s opponent. It is obviously not consistent with the nature of go to play with an inappropriate handicap so that you can enjoy humiliating your opponent. Similarly, it is not playing go to just plop stones down on the board in a heedless way. The essence of blitz go is playing to the limit of your sense of what is going on in the game; it’s a way to discover just what those limits of awareness are. In “normal” play, you take time to analyze situations and possibilities much more deeply. Of course, there are always more layers to explore and time is not unlimited; in blitz go, you push to go as far and fast as you can. It would probably be a total disaster for beginners to try to play that way, given their limited knowledge base. But for experienced players, I suppose, it can be an amusing way to discover the limits of your understanding of various situations.

And, of course, blitz go can be wildly exciting if you enjoy activities in which you have little grasp of what is really happening. (You didn’t really think I would end up being in favor of it did you?)

photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

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The Power Report: Sumire’s progress; Takemiya wins 1200 games; Yoshida Mika first woman player to win 700 games

Friday March 5, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Takemiya wins 1200 games
On Jan. 14, Takemiya Masaki 9P (W) beat Hara Sachiko 4P by resig. in a game in the First Tournament (= preliminary) of the 46th Kisei tournament. This made him the 10th member of the Nihon Ki-in to reach the mark of 1,200 wins. He has 764 losses and two jigo, for a winning percentage of 61%, which is 10th best. It took him 55 years nine months, which is ninth quickest. He is also the ninth oldest (he turned 70 on NY’s day).

Sumire’s progress
As of January 1, Nakamura Sumire 1P switched to the Tokyo branch of the Nihon Ki-in. She has made a superb start there with seven wins to just one loss (as of Feb. 18), as detailed below. She actually started off her go year by being featured in the special go program presented by NHK to celebrate the new year (telecast on the 3rd). Taking black with no komi, she played a game with Shibano Toramaru Oza. Before the game, the program delved into the background of the players, showing photographs of them when younger. That was followed by an entertaining “talk show” between Sumire and Hirata Tomoya 7P. The latter shared commentating duties on the game with Kobayashi Satoru and Ueno Asami. In an aggressive game featuring tenukis in the opening and trades in the middle game, Sumire held her own, but Shibano ratcheted up the pressure by complicating the game and forced a resignation after move 168. In the end, she may have been outplayed by Shibano, but the commentators praised her fighting spirit.
(Jan. 7) Sumire played two games in the 32nd Woman’s Meijin Prelim. A. In the morning, taking white, she beat Tsukuda Akiko 5P by resig. to score her fourth win in a row in this tournament. One more win would give her a place in the league. In the afternoon, Ueno Asami, Senko Cup-holder, (B) beat Sumire by 9.5 points.
(Jan. 18). Sumire (B) beat Sakakibara Fumiko 6P by resig. (8th Women’s Hollyhock prelim.)
(Jan. 21) Sumire (W) beat Minematsu Masaki 6P by resig. (Prelim. C, 60th Judan).
(Jan. 25) Sumire (W) beat Iwata Saeka 1P by 1.5 points (prelim., 40th Women’s Honinbo prelim.).
(Feb. 4) Sumire (W) beat Ha Yon-il 6P by 13.5. (First Tournament, 46th Kisei).
(Feb. 11) Sumire (W) beat Tatsumi Akane 3P by 5.5 (Women’s Hollyhock prelim.).
(Feb. 18) Sumire (W) beat Takao Mari 1P by half a point (Women’s Honinbo).
Sumire now has a winning streak of six. Go Weeklytracks players with winning streaks; when hers reached five, her name was included. With six, she is equal third among the twelve players enjoying winning streaks.

Yoshida Mika first woman player to win 700 games
On February 10, in the final game of the 40th Women’s Honinbo preliminary tournament, Yoshida Mika 8P of the Kansai Ki-in (B) beat Mizuno Hiromi 5P, also of the Kansai Ki-in, by resignation. This was her 700th win in official games. She is the first female Japanese pro to reach this mark. Her record is 700 wins to 550 losses and one jigo (tied game). Yoshida turned 50 on Feb. 12.

Promotions
To 9-dan: Ichiriki Ryo (for winning his second top-seven title, the 46th Tengen title)
To 6-dan: Ms. Tsukuda Akiko (90 wins; as of Jan. 22); Ms. Mukai Chiaki (90 wins; as of Feb. 20)
To 5-dan: Hoshikawa Takumi (70 wins; as of Jan. 28; Hoshikawa is a member of the Kansai Ki-in, together with an older brother and a younger brother); Ms. Izawa Akino (70 wins; as of Feb. 2)
To 4-dan: Inaba Takahiro (50 wins; as of Feb. 19)
To 3-dan: Takagi Junpei (40 wins; as of Feb. 16)
To 2-dan: Takei Taishin (30 wins; as of Feb. 19)

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The Power Report: Meijin League; 32nd Women’s Meijin league; Shin Minjun wins LG Cup

Thursday March 4, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Meijin League
After three rounds of the 46th Meijin League, Ichiriki Ryo holds the provisional lead on 3-0, but Hane Naoki, on 2-0, is also undefeated. Shibano, the previous Meijin, has got off to a bad start on 0-3 and will have to focus on retaining his league place rather than on becoming the challenger. Results this year follow.
(Jan. 7) Ichiriki (B) beat Yo Seiki 8P by resig.; Hane Naoki (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(Jan. 21) Motoki Katsuya 8P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru by half a point; Kyo Kagen (B) beat Anzai Nobuaki 7P by resig.
(Feb. 4) Hane (W) beat Yo by resig.
(Feb. 11) Ichiriki (W) beat Kyo by resig.; Anzai (B) beat Kono by resig.
(Feb. 18) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Shibano by resig.

32nd Women’s Meijin league
With the addition of a new sponsor, this tournament had resumed after a gap of one and a half years. Suzuki Ayumi and Ueno Asami share the lead in the seven-player league, with both on 3-0. Results to date:
(Jan. 21) Nyu Eiko 3P (W) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by 3.5.
(Jan. 25) Ueno Asami (B) beat Xie Yimin 6P by resig.
(Feb. 1) Suzuki Ayumi, Women’s Kisei, (B) beat Kato Chie 2P by 9.5; Xie (W) beat Tsuji Hana 1P by 2.5.
(Feb. 4) Suzuki (B) beat Mukai by resig.
(Feb. 8) Nyu (B) beat Kato by 7.5.
(Feb. 11) Ueno (W) beat Mukai by resig.; Xie (W) beat Nyu by resig.; Kato (B) beat Tsuji by resig.
(Feb. 18) Ueno (B) beat Tsuji by 6.5; Suzuki Ayumi 7P (W) beat Nyu by resig.

Shin Minjun wins LG Cup
The best-of-three final for the 25th LG Cup was held at the beginning of February. Ke Jie 9P (aged 23) of China made a good start but Shin Minjun (aged 21) of Korea came back strongly to take the next two games and win his first major international title (he won the 6th Globis Cup in 2019). First prize is 300,000,000 won (about $270,000). Below are the results from the quarterfinals on.
Quarterfinals (Nov. 9); Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Yang Dingxin 9P (China) by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Weon Seongjin 9P (Korea) by resig.; Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) (W) beat Lee Taihoon 7P (Korea) by resig.; Byan Sangil 9P (Korea) (B) beat Kang Dongyun 9P (Korea) by resig.
Semifinals (Nov. 11). Shin (W) beat Park by resig.; Ke (W) beat Byan by resig.
Final
Game 1 (Feb. 1). Ke (W) by resig.
Game 2 (Feb. 3). Shin (W) by resig.
Game 3 (Feb. 4). Shin (W) by 3.5.

Next: Sumire’s progress; Takemiya wins 1200 games; Yoshida Mika first woman player to win 700 games

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The Power Report: Kyo to challenge for Judan title; Ichiriki shares lead in Honinbo League

Wednesday March 3, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kyo to challenge for Judan title

Kyo Kagen

The play-off to decide the challenger for the 59th Judan title, held by Shibano Toramaru, was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on Jan. 28. Taking black, Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 8P beat Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 8P by resig. after 147 moves. This will be Kyo’s chance to take revenge for his loss in last year’s Oza title match. The match starts on March 2.

Incidentally, this tournament acquired an extra sponsor as of January 1: Daiwa House Manufacturing, based in Osaka. (The main sponsor since the tournament was founded has been the Sankei Newspaper.) The official name of the tournament now is: Daiwa House Cup Judan Tournament. There has been no increase in the prize money of 7,000,000 yen so far (the reason may be that the new sponsor joined halfway through the current term).

Ichiriki shares lead in Honinbo League

As the sole undefeated player, Ichiriki Ryo Tengen held the lead after the midway round of the 76th Honinbo League, but a fifth-round setback suffered at the hands of Shibano Toramaru Oza has thrown the lead into a three-way tie, with Ichiriki, Shibano, and Hane Naoki all on 4-1. Results this year:

(Jan. 7) Kyo Kagen 8P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.
(Jan. 14) Shibano (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8P by resig.
(Feb. 4) Shibano (W) beat Ichiriki by resig.; Ko Iso (W) beat Sada Atsushi 7P by resig.
(Feb. 11) Hane (W) beat Tsuruyama by resig.
(Feb. 18) Onishi Ryuhei 7P (B) beat Kyo Kagen by resig.

Next: Meijin League; 32nd Women’s Meijin league; Shin Minjun wins LG Cup

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