American Go E-Journal » Columns

50 Years aGO – January 1972

Sunday January 16, 2022

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Ōhira Shūzō wins the Nihon Ki’in Championship

On January 7th, Kitani Reiko 6d (daughter of the great Kitani Minoru, wife of Kobayashi Kōichi) defeated Honda Sachiko 4d to capture the Ladies Hon’inbo for the sixth time. It should be noted that the Hon’inbo title eluded her father and her husband, but not her daughter, Kobayashi Izumi. (Game record: Ladies Hon’inbo Game 3)

Two events dominated this month, our coverage of them started last. First, two games completed the Nihon Ki’in Championship, which started the new year knotted at 1-1. On January 11-12, Ishida Yoshio lost to Ōhira Shūzō in a game titled by Go Review, “Even Computers Make Mistakes.” Ōhira regained the title with a win in the fourth game on January 18-19. (Game records: Nihon Ki’in Championship Game 3, Game 4)

Sakata Eio wins Jūdan Game 1

Japanese go fans were enthralled by the Jūdan match between two members of the old guard. It should be noted, back in those days, the Jūdan was 4th in prestige amongst the big seven titles. On January 26-27, Sakata Eio defeated the title holder Hashimoto Utarō in the first game. (Game record: Jūdan Game 1)

There were interesting developments in the Meijin and Hon’inbo leagues. As of January 27, both dethroned champions were leading the leagues. Fujisawa Shūkō led the Meijin League, seeking revenge against Rin Meijin, while Rin led the Hon’inbo League looking for a rematch with Ishida Hon’inbo. Ishida was off to a bad start (0-2) in the Meijin League.

Game records thanks to SmartGo, photos from Go Review.


Redmond AlphaGo livestream Sunday night

Saturday January 15, 2022

Tune in on the AGA’s Twitch channel this Sunday, January 17 at 7p ET for another AlphaGo vs AlphaGo live commentary by Michael Redmond 9P, hosted by E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock. “AlphaGo played the mini-Chinese,” in AG-AG #54, says Redmond, adding “I will talk a bit about the pressing move at the 4-5 point that AIs like so much.” For more Michael Redmond content, check out his YouTube channel.


50 Years aGO – December 1971

Friday December 31, 2021

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Nihon Ki'in Championship match between Ishida Yoshio and Ōhira Shūzō
Nihon Ki’in Championship match between Ishida Yoshio and Ōhira Shūzō

European amateur Manfred Wimmer played taisha expert Yamabe Toshirō 9d in a three stone game. Wimmer, studying go in Japan, played quite creditably, in a game featured in Go Review, losing by three points.

On December 16, Sakata Eio defeated Rin Kaihō for the right to challenge Hashimoto Utarō for the Jūdan title. (Game record attached here.)

Ōhira Shūzō began his bid to regain the Nihon Ki’in Championship from title holder Ishida Yoshio. Ishida won the first game on December 21st, but Ōhira evened the series on December 27. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2.)

Sakata Eio wins again Rin Kaihō in the Jūdan Tournament
Sakata Eio wins again Rin Kaihō in the Jūdan Tournament

Finally in this holiday season while many are out purchasing presents and facing a bit of inflation, we thought we would feature the prices of yesteryear, as stated in a Go Review ad. For those of you with a nice real kaya table board, slate and shell stones and cherry bowls on your wish list, the price was a “hefty” $110, shipping included. Happy Holidays!

Photos courtesy of Go Review, game records from SmartGo


Redmond on AlphaGo vs AlphaGo this Friday

Friday December 10, 2021

AlphaGo vs AlphaGo Game 52 Redmond commentary screenshot

Tune in on the AGA’s Twitch channel this Friday, December 10 at 7p ET for another AlphaGo vs AlphaGo live commentary by Michael Redmond 9P, hosted by E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock. “I’ve gone through all of Redmond’s AG vs AG game reviews in the last few months and this one is one of the most wild,” said Chris Davis about the last AG-AG game (#52), “Very exciting.” Added Steve Carson, “Thanks Michael and Chris for bringing us this commentary. Otherwise it would just be a bewildering sequence of moves that made no sense.”
NOTE: Here’s an updated link for Redmond’s 2022 go calendar (autographed).


The Power Report: Latest international go news

Wednesday December 8, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

NOTE: There has been quite a lot of action in international go over the past month or two. This report is an attempt to catch up.

Nong Shim Cup: honors shared in first round
Each of the participating countries have picked up a win in the opening round of the 23rd Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup even though only four games were played, so the honors were shared more or less evenly. This round was held on the net in mid-October. The only surprise so far is that in Game 4 Korea fielded its second highest-ranked player. Just for the record, game conditions are: one hour per player, followed by one-minute byo-yomi. The second round, which consists of five games, started on November 26 (report follows soon). Details of the first round follow.

Game 1 (Oct. 11). Weon Seoung-jin 9P (Korea) (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 9P (Jap
an) by resig.
Game 2 (Oct. 12). Li Weiqing 9P (China) (W) beat Weon by resig.
Game 3 (Oct. 13). Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 9P (Japan) (B) beat Li by resig.
Game 4 (Oct. 14). Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (W) beat Kyo by resig.

Park wins his first Samsung Cup
The 26th Samsung Cup World Baduk Masters was held on the net with 32 players competing. The tournament started on October 20 and was completed by November 2. It climaxed in an all-Korean final, with Shin Jinseo playing Park Junghwan. Shin is rated no. 1 in the world, and Park no. 3 (Ke Jie is no. 2). Recently, Park has done badly against Shin; in all games played to date, Shin leads 25-20. More ominously, in multi-game matches, like this final, Shin has overwhelmed Park 14-0. When Shin won the first game convincingly, most fans would have written off Park’s chances. However, he fought back tenaciously, taking the next two games and winning this title for the first time. This is his fifth international title, the others being the Fujitsu Cup (2011), the LG Cup (2018), the MLily Cup (2018), and the Chunlan Cup (2019). For Shin, this was his second successive loss in the Samsung final (the winner last year was Ke Jie). First
 prize is 300,000,000 won (about $251,000). Japan had four players taking part. Two of them, Kyo Kagen and Yamashita Keigo, were the Japanese seeds; Onishi Ryuhei won the Japanese qualifying tournament and Yamashiro Hiroshi won the Japanese qualifying tournament for senior players. Tournament conditions: two hours per player, followed by byo-yomi of 60 seconds x 5. First prize is 300,000,000 won (about $250,000). Below are selected results from Round One and full results thereafter.

Round 1 (Oct. 20, 21). Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) (W) beat Cho Seunga 4P by resig.; Lee Changseok 8P (Korea) (W) beat Onishi Ryuhei 7P (Japan); Han Seongjoo 8P (Korea) (B) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (Japan) by resig.; Fan Yuting 9P (China) beat Kyo Kagen 9P (Japan) by resig.; Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) (W) beat Ke Jie 9P (China) by half a point; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (W) beat Li Weiqing 9P (China) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (W) beat Xie Erhao 9P (China) by resig.; Zhao Chenyu 8P (China) beat Lee Changho 9P (Korea) by resig.

Round 2 (Oct. 22, 23). Han (B) beat Dang Yifei 9P (China) by resig.; Lee Donghoon 9P (Korea) (W) beats Xie Ke 9P (China) by resig.; Park (W) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by 1.5; Lee (W) beat Peng Liyao 8P (China) by 0.5; Zhao (W) beat Ya
mashita by resig.; Shin (W) beat Fan by resig.; Lian Xiao 9P (China) (W) beat An Seungjun 9P (Korea) by 0.5; Yang Dingxin 9P (China) (B) beat Kim by resig.

Round 3 (Oct. 25, 26). Yang (W) beat Lee Changseok by resig.; Shin (W) beat Han by resig.; Zhao (B) beat Lee Donghoon by resig.; Park (W) beat Lian by 2.5.

Semifinals (Oct. 27, 28). Park (W) beat Zhao by resig.; Shin (B) beat Yang by resig.

Game 1 (Nov. 1). Shin (B) by resig.
Game 2 (Nov. 2). Park (B) by resig.
Game 3 (Nov. 3). Park (W) by resig.

Japan wins three-way team tournament
Japan scored its first international victory for a while in the “2021 3rd China-Japan-Korea Nie Weiping Cup Weiqi Masters.” This is an unusual tournament in more than one respect. It is fought between five-player teams from the a
bove countries; these teams are made up (judging by the Japanese team) of celebrated players from the past, present, and future, and include one female player. The Japanese players were Takemiya Masaki 9P, who turned 70 on Jan. 1 this
 year, Yamashita Keigo 9P, Kono Rin 9P, Ms. Aoki Kikuyo 8P, and Fukuoka Kotaro 2P (aged 15, he represents the future in my formulation). The Chinese team was made up of Nie Weiping 9P (as far as I know, the first time a player has com
peted in a named in his honor), Chang Hao 9P, Gu Li 9P, Zhang Xuan 8P (the wife of Chang Hao), and Tu Xiaoyu 6P 6P (Tu won the Chinese King of the News Stars title and took second place in this year’s Globis Cup). Members of the Chinese team were: Cho Hunhyun 9P, Lee Changho 9P, Cho Hanseung 9P, Ms. Lee Changen (“en” is just a guess) 3P, and Mun Minjong 4P. Japan beat at China 3-2 and came second. In his own tournament, Nie was unable to pick up a win. Full results follow.

Round 1 (Oct. 30). Japan v. China
Takemiya (B) beat Nie by resig. Yamashita (W) beat Chang by half a point. Kono (B) lost to Gu by half a point. Aoki (B) beat Zhang by resig. Fukuoka (W) beat Tu by half a point.

Round 2 (Oct. 31). Japan v. Korea
Takemiya (W) beat Cho HH by 4.5. Yamashita (W) beat Lee CH by resig. Kono (B) lost to Cho HS by 4.5. Aoki (W) beat Ms. Lee by 8.5. Fukuoka (W) beat Mun by resig.

Round 3 (Nov. 1). Korea vs. China
Cho (B) beat Nie by resig. Lee CH (B) beat Chang by resig. Cho HS (B) beat Gu by resig. Ms. Lee (W) lost to Zhang by resig. Mun (W) lost to Tu by resig.

Ichiriki eliminated from LG Cup
After a gap of a little over five months, the quarterfinals and semifinals of the 26th LG Cup were played on the net on November 7‾10. Unfortunately for Japanese fans, Ichiriki Ryo 8P was eliminated. Results follow.

Quarterfinals (Nov. 7 & 8)
Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 9P (Japan) by resig.; Yang Dingxin 9P (China) (W) beat Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) by resig.; Mi Yuting 9P (China) (W) beat Byun Sa
ngil 9P (Korea) by resig.

Semifinals (Nov. 9 & 10). Yang (W) beat Mi by resig.; Shin (W) beat Ke by resig.

Yang Dingxin vs. Shin Jinseo: The best-of-three final will be played on February 7, 9, and, if necessary, 10.

Nong Shim Cup: Iyama dominates second round
The second round of the 23rd Cup was held in the last five days of November. At the end of the first round, Korea had surprised fans by fielding its number two player, Park Junghwan. In an interview, the Korea team captain, Mok Jinseok 9P, revealed that the reason for this was that in recent years Korea had done badly in the middle round, falling behind China and putting too much pressure on their final player or players in the final round. The strategy seemed to work at first, when Park won the final game of the first round (see above), but then he was eliminated in the next game when he lost to Fan Tingyu of China. Fan was another player fielded a little earlier than expected. He has been a hero for China in recent years, twice winning seven games in a row (18th and 20th Cups).
Japan seemed to follow a similar strategy, fielding its top player Iyama Yuta next. This turned out to be a good decision, as Iyama was in excellent form. He won the remaining four games in this round, Japan’s best-ever winning streak in this tournament. Results follow.

Game 5 (Nov. 26). Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (B) beat Park by resig.
Game 6 (Nov. 27). Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) (W) beat Fan by resig.
Game 7 (Nov. 28). Iyama (W) beat Byun Sangil 9P (Korea) by resig.
Game 8 (Nov. 29). Iyama (W) beat Lin Qincheng 9P (China) by resig.
Game 9 (Nov. 30). Iyama (B) beat Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) by resig.

The final round starts on February 21. Iyama will play Mi Yuting 9P of China. (A team has to inform the organizers who will be its next player before the preceding game is concluded.) After Mi, China’s last player is Ke Jie. Korea is down to its last player, Shin Jinseo; any one of these three is quite capable of winning the tournament single-handed. Japan still has Yo Seiki and Ichiriki Ryo.


Redmond’s Reviews, Episode 31: Go Seigen vs. Hashimoto Utaro

Monday November 29, 2021

“Looking at the josekis in the upper left and lower left, you’d wonder if this is a modern AI – or at least a modern professional player – because these are very much like the professional joseki we play now,” says Michael Redmond 9P in his latest commentary, hosted by EJ editor Chris Garlock. “But they were actually innovations by Go Seigen, and they weren’t popular at the time. People said they were empty triangle shapes and they couldn’t be good for White (but) they were wrong.”
“This was the fourth game of their second jubango (10-game match),” says Redmond. “Hashimoto was Honinbo, and the Kansai Kiin was on the verge of splitting from the Nihon Kiin with Hashimoto as one of its founding members. From their previous Jubango, the handicap was Sen-Ai-Sen, no komi, which happened to match the 8P-9P rank difference. This game was a turning point that made it a very dangerous series for Hashimoto.”
Redmond also announced the release of a special calendar to celebrate passing the 10,000 subscriber mark on his YouTube channel. The 2022 calendar is hand-signed by Redmond and features go-themed paintings by Redmond’s daughter Emi.


50 Years aGO – November 1971

Wednesday November 24, 2021

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

On November 4, Sakata Eio won the first game in his defense of the Ōza title against Hashimoto Shōji 9d. He completed the defense on November 17. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2)

Back in the USA, Takao Matsuda won the New York Championship on November 20 and 21. Future AGA President John Stephenson was promoted to shodan after winning the kyu championship.

Go Seigen made a trip to the US, visiting Hawaii as well as New York from the 15th to the 20th and San Francisco on the 22nd. New York Champion Matsuda was one of the few players to manage a win against him – on three stones. The game was featured in Go Review.

As mentioned previously in this column, the “new” (and current) Nihon Ki’in building was opened on November 22.

Finally, in Europe, the International Go Master Tournament was held in Yugoslavia from the 26th to the 29th. The clear champion with a perfect 6-0 record was Jürgen Mattern of Germany.

Sakata Eio wins Ōza title match Game 1

Image 1 of 3

Photos courtesy of Go Review


The Power Report: Iyama starts with win in Oza challenge; Sumire’s progress; First snap AI inspection; The ideal and the real ; Most wins/ Most successive wins; Promotions

Wednesday November 10, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Yokohama Royal Park Hotel

Iyama starts with win in Oza challenge
The 69th Oza title match, a best-of-five, got off to a start on October 29. The defender is Shibano Toramaru, whose target is to win the title for the third year in a row. So far he has won six titles. The challenger is Iyama Yuta, who is hoping to pick up his fifth concurrent title. He holds the Kisei, Meiin, Honinbo, and Gosei titles.
   The venue was a special playing room on the 65th floor of the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture. This is probably the highest venue for a title-match game.
   Iyama drew black in the nigiri. In the opening, he set up four low, territorial positions, so White found himself setting up a large moyo. During fighting that started when Iyama tried to reduce the moyo, Shibano made a misjudgment and fell a little behind. He went all out and caught up enough to make the game a half-pointer, but then he made a mistake in the endgame and had to resign soon after. The game lasted 205 moves. The second game will be played on November 12.

Sumire’s progress
   Having been eliminated from a number of tournaments, this seems to be a season of lean pickings for Nakamura Sumire 2P. Since September 2 (see my report of September 28), she has played only five games, the first two of which she lost. Because of that she dropped into third place in the most-wins list for two weeks, but she regained second place after winning two games in one day.
(Sept. 27) Sumire (W) lost to (Ms.) Moro Arisa 2P by 5.5 points (16th Young Carp preliminary).
(Oct. 4) Sumire (B) lost to Kobayashi Koichi by 5.5 (Prelim. B, 70th Oza).
(Oct. 21) Sumire (W) beat Kobayashi Chizu 6P by 15.5; Sumire (W) beat Shimosaka Miori 3P by 3.5. (Both games in Prelim. B, 33rd Women’s Meijin)
(Oct. 25) Sumire (B) beat O Keii 3P by resig. (25th Women’s Kisei, main tournament).

First snap AI inspection
   The first snap inspection to prevent AI-assisted cheating (see my report of September 28) was carried out on September 23. Led by the director responsible for organizing tournaments, Aoki Kikuyo 8P, a number of Nihon Ki-in employees entered a playing room where eight games were being played just as play was about to resume after the lunch break. They ordered the players to suspend their games and inspected their persons and their belongings with a metal detector. The rule is that devices such as smart phones and tablets have to be handed over to the staff before playing. Fortunately, there were no untoward discoveries.

The ideal and the real
    Hino Shota, aged 16, has just qualified as a professional. His responses at a news conference held on October 5, contrasted ambition and realism. Asked about his future goals, he replied: “In the future, I want to become a player who can star in world championships. My goal for the time being is to make the best eight in the Kings of the New Stars tournament.”

Most wins
  The competition from second place down is quite fierce, but, with under ten full weeks to go, it’s hard to see anyone overtaking Ueno in first place. (Results below are as of Oct. 29.)
1. Ueno Asami: 43-21
2. Nakamura Sumire: 37-16
3. Fukuoka Kotaro 2P: 36-11
4. Fujisawa Rina: 35-11
5. Kyo Kagen: 34-16
6. Motoki Katsuya 8P: 32-14
7. Seki Kotaro 7P: 31-10; Nyu Eiko 3P: 31-14
9. Ichiriki Ryo: 30-14

Most successive wins
6: Enda Hideki 9P; Oomote Takuto 3P. In recent weeks, a number of good winning streaks have come to an end. The main ones are listed below.
Kyo Kagen, Fujisawa Rina: 11; Horimoto Mitsunari: 10; Seki Kotaro: 9.

To 8-dan: Suzuki Isao (150 wins; as of Oct. 5)
To 7-dan: Kanno Masashi (120 wins, as of Sept. 24)
To 5-dan: Koyama Kuya (70 wins, as of Sept. 24)
To 3-dan: Ito Kenryo (40 wins; as of Oct. 15)


The Power Report: Kyo wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Big win for Fujisawa Rina; New Honinbo League starts; Seki makes good start in Tengen title match

Sunday November 7, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Agon Kiriyama Cup: Kyo (l) beats Iyama
Seki Kotaro 7P

Kyo wins Agon Kiriyama Cup
   The final of the 28th Agon Kiriyama Cup was held in the Kagyu-An (Snail Pavilion) at the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon Sect on October 2. Taking white, Kyo Kagen Judan won by resignation after 214 moves. He won this title for the first time. Iyama missed out on winning it for the sixth time.

Big win for Fujisawa Rina
Fujisawa Rina scored one of the most impressive wins of her career when she played Ichiriki Ryo Tengen in the final preliminary round of the 60th Judan tournament on September 23. Taking black, she won by resignation and also won a seat in the main tournament of the Judan. This was her first win in four games with Ichiriki. One of those losses was the final play-off for a place in the Meijin League last year?Ichiriki prevented Fujisawa from making history by becoming the first woman to play in a Meijin or Honinbo league. Ueno Asami had already won a place in the main tournament, so Fujisawa became the second woman in the best 16. Just for the record, it’s 17 years since a woman last accomplished this feat.
   On October 25, Fujisawa (B) beat Son Makoto 7P by 4.5 points, making her the first woman ever to win a game in the main tournament of the Judan. She has made the best eight, so she needs just three more wins to become the challenger.
   Backtracking a little, Fujisawa played her final game in the C League of the 46th Kisei tournament on October 4. Playing white, she beat Cho Zuiketsu 4P by resig. This took her score to 3-2, so she retained her seat in the league.

New Honinbo League starts
The new Honinbo League got off to a start on October 4 and the first round has now been completed. Results to date follow
(Oct. 4) Sada Atsushi 7P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 9P by resig.
(Oct. 8) Ichiriki Ryo (W) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8P by resig.
(Oct. 11) Yo Seiki 8P (B) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by half a point.
(Oct. 14) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig.

Seki makes good start in Tengen title match
   The first game of the 47th Tengen title match, in which Seki Kotaro 7P is challenging Ichiriki Ryo, was played at the Genji-Ko, a modern Japanese-style inn in Minami-Chita Hot Spring Village, Chita Peninsula, Aichi Prefecture, on October 5. This inn is, in its own words, “built around the themes of ‘The Tale of Genji’ and the first Japanese inn to be themed on scents.” Playing white, Seki forced Ichiriki to resign after 130 moves. There is a big gap before the second game, which will be played on November 16.


Redmond on Hashimoto vs. Go Seigen: Sunday at 7p EDT

Saturday November 6, 2021

(l-r) Hashimoto Utaro, Segoe Kensaku and Go Seigen

Tune in at 7p EDT on Sunday, November 7 for Michael Redmond 9p’s commentary on another classic game, this one between Hashimoto Utaro and Go Seigen. “This was the fourth game of their second Jubango,” says Redmond. “Hashimoto was Honinbo, and the Kansai Kiin was on the verge of splitting from the Nihon Kiin with Hashimoto as one of its founding members. From their previous Jubango, the handicap was Sen-Ai-Sen, no komi, which happened to match the 8P-9P rank difference. This game was a turning point that made it a very dangerous series for Hashimoto. Go Seigen shows one of his joseki innovations that was not popular at the time, but now looks normal. They also played an AI-like 3-3 invasion joseki.” Tune in at 7p EDT (reminder that U.S. clocks turn back one hour at 2a on 11/7) on the AGA’s Twitch channel.