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The Power Report: Kataoka wins 1100 games; Sumire’s progress

Thursday August 27, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kataoka wins 1100 games
A win former titleholder Kataoka Satoshi 9P picked up on July 23 was his 1100th in the 48 years three months of his career (12th fastest). He is the 16th player to reach this mark and the 14th at the Nihon Ki-in. The landmark win came against Fujisawa Kazunari 8P in Preliminary B of the 46th Gosei tournament. His 1000th win came against the same opponent. He has suffered 598 losses and had 4 jigo, giving him a winning percentage of 64.8, which is ninth best.

Sumire’s progress
In my previous report (Aug. 4), I reported on the start of “Sumire’s Oro Challenge,” four three-game matches with Korean players arranged by the Cyber Oro, server, which runs the Nihon Ki-in’s home page. Things started badly when Sumire was unable to pick up a win against Korea’s number two woman player Kim Chaeyoung. However, taking black, she won the second game in her series with Suh (also spelled Seo) Neung-uk 9P. Taking black, she won by 3.5 points. This is no mean achievement, as Suh (aged 62) is no journeyman 9-dan; unfortunately for him, when he was at his peak, Korean go was dominated by Cho Hunhyun and Suh Bongso; he took second place in 13 tournaments. The games with Sumire were played on July 17 and 18. Suh had the lead in the second game, but Sumire pulled off an upset. Sumire had the lead in the third game, but this time she was the one to suffer an upset.

Today (writing on August 16), brief details of the remaining two matches were finally published (the go press shuts down for O-bon in midsummer; this is a kind of All Souls’ Day; dead relatives are said to return to visit their relatives; in an ordinary year, millions of people would return to their ancestral homes and visit the family graveyard). The report is very brief: Sumire lost 0-3 to Suh Bongsu, but picked up a win against Jeong Yujin 1P.

The final result was one-sided, but, as usual with these special projects, Sumire was ridiculously outmatched. In that context, she deserves to be commended for her win against the 9-dan. Playing the legendary Suh Bongsu is also an honour shared by none of her contemporaries in Japan. Incidentally, Sumire has now played nine games against five 9-dans and won two of them. Just to recap: besides the games described above, she beat Baba Shigeru 9P on November 28 last year, lost to Hane Yasumasa 9P on January 16 this year, and lost to Sakaguchi Ryuzo 9P on February 24 this year.

A Sumire brand has appeared. A major sauce manufacturer created “Sumire-chan’s Barbecued Meat Sauce” (“chan” in an affectionate title used for young children) and distributed it free to participants in a go festival held at the Umeda Go Club in Osaka on July 19, 26, August 2 and 9. It was also sold for 300 yen a bottle. As far as I know, it is not being generally distributed.

Promotion
To 6-dan: Kawai Shoji (90 wins)

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The Power Report: Moon wins Globis Cup; Takei wins Discovery Cup; Kisei S League; Ichiriki wins 45th Gosei

Wednesday August 26, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Moon wins Globis Cup
The 7th Globis Cup, an international tournament for players under 20, was originally scheduled for May 8 to 10, but was delayed by the virus. It was finally held on the net on August 1 and 2. The winner was the 17-year-old Moon Minjeong 2P of Korea. In the semifinals, he beat Liao Yuanhe 8P of China. The final was played on the afternoon of the second day; taking white, Moon beat Li Weijing 8P by resig. First prize is 3 million yen (about $28,150).

Takei wins Discovery Cup
The Discovery Cup is a new tournament for players and inseis at the Nihon Ki-in and the Kansai Ki-in 18 or under and 2-dan or under. After a Net preliminary round, the top eight faced off in a three-round Swiss tournament held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 11. No inseis or women players made the cut. Takei Taishin 1P scored three wins in a row and took the prize of 200,000 yen ($1,876).

Kisei S League
The contest has heated up in the 45th Kisei S League, with four players on 2-1. Kyo Kagen, who had made the best start, stumbled in the third round. Results since my previous report follow. For the record, Yamashita Keigo 9P and Yo Seiki 8P, both on 4-1, share the lead in the A League. Recent results:
(July 20). Murakawa Daisuke 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(July 30) Ichiriki (W beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(August 3) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Kyo Kagen 8P by resig.

Ichiriki wins 45th Gosei
Ichiriki Ryo 8P had nine titles but so far no top-seven ones. That changed with his 3-0 victory over Hane Naoki in the 45th Gosei title match. The result of the first game was given in my previous report. The second game was played at the Central Japan headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on August 3 but being on home ground didn’t help Hane. Playing black, Ichiriki won by resignation. The third game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 14. This was Hane’s 44th birthday, but fate was not kind to him. Playing white, Ichiriki forced a resignation after 160 moves. On his sixth top-seven title challenge (the others were all to Iyama Yuta), he was finally successful, and, as luck would have it, his first title was one of which his family’s newspaper is a co-sponsor. With his 10th title, Ichiriki is already 24th in the all-time title standings in Japan.

Tomorrow: Kataoka wins 1100 games; Sumire’s progress

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The Power Report: 13th Chunlan Cup; Fujisawa defends Hollyhock Cup; Iyama to challenge for Meijin

Tuesday August 25, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

13th Chunlan Cup
The Chunlan (literally, Spring Orchid) Cup is a Chinese-sponsored international tournament that is held every two years. First prize is $150,000, and the current titleholder is Park Junghwan of Korea. Like many other tournaments, it was postponed because of Covid-19, but the two opening rounds were finally held on the net at the end of July. As usual, the best eight were mainly Korean (four) and Chinese (three) players, but this year a new star from Chinese Taipei, Hsu Hao Hung (Xu Haohong in Pinyin) 6P, wedged into their ranks. He has already beaten two Chinese former world champions, and in the quarterfinals, presumably to be played at the end of the year, he will be matched against the Chinese number one. Hsu was born on April 30, 2001, and became 1-dan in 2013. Results follow. 

Round 1 (July 29) Murakawa Daisuke 9P (Japan) (B) beat Ryan Li 1P (US) by resig.; Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 8P (Japan) (B) beat Ilya Shikshin 3P (Russia) (by resig.); Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan by resig.); Lian Xiao 9P (China) (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 9P (Japan) by resig.; Kang Dongyun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P (Japan) by resig.; Byun Sangil 9P (Korea) (W) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by resig.; Xu Jiayang 8P (China) (W) beat Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) by resig.; Hsu Hao Hung (Ch. Taipei) (W) beat Shi Yue 9P (China) by resig.

Round 2 (July 31) Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Kang by resig.; Tang Weixing (W) beat Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) by resig.; Lian (W) beat Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) by resig.; Byun (W) beat Yang Dingxin 9P (China) by resig.; Shin (W) beat Xu by resig.; Hsu (B) beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by resig.; Fan Yuting 9P (China) (B) beat Murakawa by resig.; Park Yeonghun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Yo by resig.

Quarterfinal pairings) Ke vs. Hsu, Tang vs. Park, Lian vs. Byun, Fan vs. Shin.

Fujisawa defends Hollyhock Cup
The main point of interest in the 7th Hollyhock Cup was whether the veteran player Suzuki Ayumi 7P (aged 36), who has won three women’s titles, could make a comeback. She met with doughty resistance from the titleholder Fujisawa Rina (aged 21), so the answer is, not this year. What with the truncated schedule of these matches that have been delayed by Covid-19, everything was over in a flash, giving the challenger little time to enjoy the exhilaration of fighting in a title match. The first and second games were played at the Nihon Ki-in on July 27 and 29. In the first game, Fujisawa took white and won by half a point after 259 moves. This was a painful loss for Suzuki, as she miscounted and had thought she was winning. There was just one day’s rest before the second game, which is not much time to recover from a half-point loss. It was played at the same venue. Taking black, Fujisawa won by 8.5 points. She won this title for the fourth year in a row and the fifth time overall; it is her 13th women’s title (second to Xie Yimin on 27).

Iyama to challenge for Meijin
It’s the practice to play all the games in the final round of the Meijin title on the same day, unlike the other rounds, to add to the drama. Go journalists originally dubbed this “the go world’s longest day,” playing off a famous movie called “Japan’s Longest Day,” which dealt with the infighting within the government about how and when to surrender, following the dropping of the atom bombs in early August in 1945. This year, perhaps influenced by global warming, “Go Weekly” referred to the day of the final round as “Japan’s hottest day.” It was a day of tension not only for the players competing for the challengership but also the players struggling to keep their seats in the league. A league seat is more valuable in games fees that some of the minor titles.

Ominous note for Shibano Meijin: Iyama has challenged for and won the Meijin title twice previously, and each time he won the league 8-0. Results since my last report follow. The title match will start on August 25
(July 23) Rin Kanketsu 8p (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke by 1.5 points.
(July 27) Iyama Kisei (W) beat Cho U 9P by half a point.
(Final round, (Aug. 6) Hane Naoki Gosei (B) beat Cho U 9P by resig.; Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Kyo Kagen 8P by resig.; Iyama Yuta Kisei (B) beat Rin Kanketsu 8P by resig.; Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 9P by resig.

One comment: Yamashita was having a horrible time before the virus shutdown, having lost all his games so far in the Honinbo and Meijin Leagues, so Covid-19 has not spoilt things for everybody. In the former league, you can lose your place with 4-3 but retain it in the latter with 3-5 (on top of which it pays more).

Tomorrow: Moon wins Globis Cup; Takei wins Discovery Cup; Kisei S League; Ichiriki wins 45th Gosei

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Honinbo; Ichiriki makes good start in Gosei; League updates; Sumire’s winning streak ends; More tournaments rescheduled

Tuesday August 4, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Honinbo, matches Takagawa: The fifth game of the 75th Honinbo title match was held at the Todaya hotel in Toba City, Mie Prefecture, on July 8 and 9. Taking white, Honinbo Monyu, aka Iyama Yuta, won by 4.5 points after 243 moves. Shibano did not seem to make any big mistakes, but Iyama took the lead in territory. With move 116, Iyama went for more territory instead of strengthening his only weak group. He staked the game on being able to look after it and was successful. Iyama defended his title with four wins to one loss. This is his ninth successive Honinbo title, so he has matched the record of 22nd Honinbo Shukaku (Takagawa Kaku), who held the title from 1952 to 1960. Next year he will have a chance to draw even with 25th Honinbo Chikun (Cho Chikun), who won the title for ten years in a row. 

45th Meijin League: Ichiriki Ryo, now on 6-1, has maintained the pressure on Iyama Yuta by winning his July game. Iyama is on 6-0 and faces Cho U in this round. Results since my last report follow.
(July 6) Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Hane Naoki Gosei by resig.
(July 9) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points.

S League: With two out of three second-round games played in the 45th Kisei S League, Kyo Kagen 8P has the provisional lead on 2-0. Cho U, on 0-2, is in trouble. Just one game has been played since my last report. On July 13, Kyo Kagen (W) beat Cho U by resig.

Sumire’s winning streak ends: “Streak” is perhaps an exaggeration. Nakamura Sumire 1P won her first three games after the resumption of professional go last month, with one of the wins earning her one of the 16 seats in the main tournament of the 5th Senko Cup. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw pitted her against Ueno Asami, holder of the Women’s Honinbo title, who is one of the top two women players in Japan at present. Taking white, Ueno won by resignation after 164 moves. This was Sumire’s first game with a current titleholder. Her record for the year is now 10-11. As there was no title-match game last week, this game adorned the front page of Go Weekly.     The Korean server Cyber Oro, which runs the Nihon Ki-in’s server, has organized a series of Net games, called “Sumire’s Oro Challenge,” among Sumire and four Korean players. She plays each player three times, so it’s quite a large-scale project. The games are fast games, with a time allowance of 10 minutes per player plus byo-yomi of 40 seconds x 3. The first opponent was Korea’s number two woman player Kim Chaeyoung 6P; the first game was played on July 10 and the next two the following day. Not surprisingly, Kim won 3-0. The second opponent was Seo Neung-uk 9P; the games were played on July 17 and 18, but I don’t have the results yet. The third opponent is the legendary Suh Bongsu 9P, with the games to be played on July 24 and 25. The fourth player is Jeong Yujin 1P, and the games are scheduled for July 31 and August 1. I would have chosen four Korean female 1-dans for a series like this, but you could say that Sumire has been lucky to get to play so many top players. We know from the invitational games organized last year that losses to top-level opposition don’t discourage her.

Ichiriki makes good start in 45th Gosei challenge: Ichiriki Ryo 8P is making his fourth challenge for a top-seven title, after three failures against Iyama Yuta. In the case of the Gosei title, he has the added incentive that his family’s newspaper, the Hokkoku (North Country) Newspaper, which is based in Sendai, is a member of the Newspaper Igo League that sponsors the tournament. Since graduating from university, he has been working in the Tokyo office of the newspaper, so conceivably he could also report on his own performance. The defending titleholder is Hane Naoki 9P, who beat Ichiriki in the play-off to decide the challenger last year. He beat Kyo Kagen in the title match, winning his first title since winning the Gosei title in 2011. He is aged 43 to Ichiriki’s 23. The first game was played at the Hokkoku Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on July 18. Taking white, Ichiriki won by 1.5 points after 261 moves. The second game will be played on August 3.

More tournaments rescheduled: The 7th Hollyhock Cup title match, in which Suzuki Ayumi, Women’s Kisei, is challenging Fujisawa Rina, will be played at the Nihon Ki-in on July 27, 29, and, if necessary, 31.
The 7th Globis Cup was originally scheduled for May 8 to 10 this year, but it was another of the victims of Covid-19. It is now scheduled to be played on the Net on August 1 and 2.
The opening rounds of the 13th Chunlan Cup were supposed to be played in February, but this Chinese-sponsored international tournament was one of the first casualties of Covid-19. It has finally been decided to play the games on the Net, with Round 1 slated for July 29 and Round 2 July 31. Both Iyama and Shibano will play in this tournament.

Promotion: To 9-dan: Arimura Hiroshi (200 wins, as of July 7)

Retirement: Ms. Furusho Katsuko 2P has retired as of July 8, which is her birthday. Born in Tokyo in 1943, she became a disciple of Nakaoka Jiro 9P. She became 1-dan in 1969 and was promoted to 2-dan in 2005. She was promoted to 3-dan after her retirement.

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The Power Report: Shibano starts fightback in Honinbo; S & Meijin League reports; Fourth-generation player loses first game

Tuesday July 7, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano starts fightback in Honinbo

The fourth game of the 75th Honinbo title match was played at the Imai Villa, Kawatsu Town, Shizuoka Prefecture on June 30 and July 1. For the challenger, Shibano Toramaru Meijin (photo), it was his first kadoban, that is, a game that can lose a series. With Shibano having won the Judan title two days after the third Honinbo game, this game became a clash between two triple crowns: Iyama Kisei, Honinbo & Tengen vs. Shibano Meijin, Oza & Judan. Go Weekly didn’t mention if this was the first such pairing.

In this game, Shibano, who played white, followed a consistent policy of making strong groups so that he would not come under attack. Iyama was able to build a moyo and seemed to take a small lead (according to AI), but Shibano used his thickness to stage an upset late in the middle game. Black resigned after 166 moves. The fifth game will be played on July 8 and 9.

S League

An important game in the second round of the 45th Kisei S League was played on July 2. Taking white, Takao Shinji 9P beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig. Having reached the play-off to decide the challenger in the previous tournament, Ichiriki was considered one of the favorites, but it’s hard to recover from an early setback in a small league (just five rounds).

Meijin League

One game in the 45th Meijin League was played last week. On June 30, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig.

Fourth-generation player loses first game

Nakamura Sumire is not the only young female player who is attracting attention from the go media. Cho Kosumi 1P (photo), the daughter of Cho U 9P and Kobayashi Izumi 6P, who in turn is the daughter of Kobayashi Koichi 9P and Kobayashi (Kitani) Reiko 7P, who was the daughter of Kitani Minoru 9P, made her debut as a professional in April, but didn’t get to play her first official game until July 6. Playing black, she lost to Seki Kotaro 3P in Preliminary B of the 30th Ryusei tournament. She resigned after 148 moves. Incidentally, a reporter asked Kosumi if she was thinking of her father in choosing her navy-blue shirt and she answered, yes. Cho U is fond of black and navy-blue clothing; maybe Kosumi will make it a family tradition.

Promotions

To 8-dan: Mizuma Toshifumi (150 wins, as of July 3)
To 5-dan: Ms. Osawa Narumi (70 wins, as of July 3)

Obituary: Sakai Isao

Sakai Isao 7P died on June 3. He was born on July 9, 1939, and became a disciple of his father, Sakai Michiharu 9P (three of whose brothers were also professionals in Nagoya). He qualified for 1-dan at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in in 1961, reached 6-dan in 1983 and was promoted to 7-dan after his retirement in 2005.

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The Power Report: Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei; Tournaments canceled; Retirement: Honda Kunihisa

Wednesday July 1, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei

   The play-off to decide the challenger for the 45th Gosei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on June 29. Taking white, Ichiriki Ryo 8P beat Cho U 9P by 4.5 points, so he will make his first Gosei challenge. The first game with Hane Naoki Gosei will be played on July 18.

Tournaments canceled

   The Nihon Ki-in has announced that two Japanese-sponsored international tournament have been cancelled for this year. They are the World Go Championship 2020 and the Senko Cup World Go Women’s Strongest Player 2020. These tournaments had already been postponed and it had been hoped to hold them in the autumn, but that came to look less and less feasible. 

Retirement: Honda Kunihisa

   Honda Kunihisa 9P of the Kansai Ki-in retired as of June 15, which was his 75th birthday. Born in Ishikawa Prefecture, he became a disciple of Hashimoto Utaro 9P and qualified for 1-dan in 1961. He reached 9-dan in 1973. Back in the late Showa period (1926-89), he was one of the mainstays of the Kansai Ki-in. He was also known as probably the least talkative player in the go world. He won the rating tournament four times, the Kansai Ki-in No. One Position tournament four times, and the 31st NHK Cup in 1984. He played in the Kisei leagues three times, the Meijin League seven times, and the Honinbo League once. He also won a number of Kansai Ki-in prizes.

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The Power Report: Iyama extends lead in Meijin League; Kisei S League; Suzuki to challenge for Women’s Hollyhock Cup

Tuesday June 30, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama extends lead in Meijin League

   With Iyama maintainaing his unbeaten record in the 45th Meijin League, it’s looking more and more as if he will be the one to challenge the new Meijin, Shibano Toramaru. Shibano has won their only previous title match, but he is finding Iyama a different proposition in two-day games. We shouldn’t make any predictions, however, as Ichiriki Ryo is following hard on Iyama’s heels with just one loss. Recent results follow. Incidentally, Iyama’s win below is his ninth in a winning streak that started on March 5.

(June 15) Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by 3.5 points.

(June 18) Kyo Kagen 8P (W) beat Rin Kanketsu 8P by resig.

(June 25) Iyama Yuta Kisei (B) beat Kyo Kagen by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki Gosei by resig.; Ichiriki (B) beat Rin Kanketsu 8P by resig.

Kisei S League

   The S League in the 45th Kisei tournament completed its first round with the games below.

(June 18) Kono Rin (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.

(June 22) Kyo Kagen 8P (W) beat Murakami Daisuke Judan by resig.

Suzuki to challenge for Women’s Hollyhock Cup

   Suzuki Ayumi, holder of the Women’s Kisei title, won the play-off to decide the challenger to Fujisawa Rina for the 7th Hollyhock Cup. At the age of 36, she seems to be enjoying a renaissance in her career. Her opponent in the play-off was the 23-year-old Iwata Saeka 1P, who is a new name to me. Though born in Tokyo and a disciple of Ishida Yoshio, she is a member of the Kansai Ki-in. She let slip her first chance at glory.

Semifinals (June 20) Suzuki Ayumi, Women’s Kisei, (B) beat Xie Yimin 6P by half a point; Iwata Saeka 1P (W) beat Nyu Eiko 2P by half a point.

Final (June 21) Suzuki (W) beat Iwata by resig. 

Tomorrow: Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei; Tournaments canceled; Retirement: Honda Kunihisa

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The Power Report: Shibano takes Judan title, sets new records; Iyama extends lead in Honinbo title match; Sumire’s “second start” improves on her first

Monday June 29, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano takes Judan title, sets new records

   Even though professional go resumed on June 1, it took over two weeks for the 58th Judan title match, which had been interrupted with the score tied at 1-1, to get underway again, so in the end there was a break of close to three months. On June 17, the third game was finally played at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo. Taking white, the challenger, Shibano Toramaru Meijin, forced Murakawa Daisuke Judan to resign after 176 moves. 

   The fourth game was held at the same venue on June 26. Playing black, Shibano won by resignation after 141 moves. This gave him his third concurrent title, to go with the Meijin and Oza titles, and broke some records set by Iyama Yuta. At 20 years seven months, he is the youngest player to secure a triple crown, the previous record being Iyama’s 23 years one month. Shibano achieved this feat five years nine months, after becoming a professional; that put a big dent in the previous speed record, Iyama’s ten years three months. 

Iyama extends lead in Honinbo title match

   I gave the result of the second game of the 75th Honinbo title match in my previous report (June 22), but I have some supplementary information, so please bear with me. The game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on June 13 & 14, having been transferred from the originally scheduled venue, the Kokura Castle Garden in Kita-Kyushu City, because of a recent resurgence of the coronavirus in that city. It is the first Honinbo title game to be held at the Ki-in for 45 years. The last such game was the 7th game of the 30th title match. As it happened, the referee for this game was Ishida Yoshio, also known as 24th Honinbo Shuho, and he played in the 1975 game, beating Sakata Eio and winning the Honinbo title for the 5th year in a row. 

   As with Game One, there were no party or other related events, though what was called a “mini” press conference was held. Iyama took a small lead in the middle-game fighting and used great skill to convert this into a solid lead. Shibano resigned after 143 moves.

   The third game was played at the originally scheduled venue of the Takarazuka Hotel, Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture. Taking white, Iyama played positively in the opening and scored another convincing win. Shibano resigned after move 172. This was Iyama’s third one-sided win in a row, so Shibano’s Honinbo challenge seems to be in bad trouble. 

Sumire’s “second start” improves on her first 

   Japan’s youngest professional player, eleven-year-old Nakamura Sumire 1P, had a very successful first year, scoring 24 wins to 17 losses in 2019 and posting the best winning percentage for a 1-dan. Things had been a little tougher for her this year, though her record of 7-10 before Covid-19 put a stop to professional go, was nothing to be ashamed of for a new 1-dan. The enforced break does not seem to have affected her form and she has already evened her score for the year. On June 18, taking black, she beat Sano Takatsugu 8P by resignation after 141 moves in Preliminary C in the 69th Oza tournament. This was her first official game since April 6 and was played at the Kansai HQ of the Nihon Ki-in. On June 25, taking white, she beat Ms. Deguchi Mariko 1P in the final round of the preliminary tournament for the 5th Senko Cup by half a point. This secured her a seat in the main tournament (the best 16). Deguchi being her senior, this game was played on her home ground, the Kansai Ki-in. On June 29, Sumire (W) beat Araki Issei 4P by 6.5 points in Preliminary B of the 30th Ryusei tournament. Araki is a fellow member of the Nihon Ki-in’s Kansai HQ, so that is where the game was played. Just for the record, Sumire’s score to date is 27-17. Three straight wins is a great way to get back into the swing of across-the-board. Sano 8P commented that he had checked out some of the games Sumire played on the net during the enforced break and he got the impression her game was maturing. To his cost, he was able to confirm this.

Tomorrow: Iyama extends lead in Meijin League; Kisei S League; Suzuki to challenge for Women’s Hollyhock Cup

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The Power Report: Korea dominates opening rounds of 25th LG Cup; Iyama makes good start Honinbo defence; Iyama leads Meijin League; Kisei S League starts

Monday June 22, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Korea dominates opening rounds of 25th LG Cup

After a gap of two months caused by the shutdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19, professional go activity resumed in Japan in June with the holding of two major events. On June 1, the 25th LG Cup King of Go, a Korean-sponsored international tournament, started its opening round. With international travel restrictions still in effect throughout north Asia, the games were played on the Net. Moreover, the 16 games were spread over three days, presumably to ensure there was no overcrowding in the local venues. This year Korean players did well in the international qualifying tournament, also held on the Net, so half of the 32 players in the first round were Korean. They were joined by nine players from China, five from Japan, and two from Chinese Taipei. Each game featured a Korean player. With 18 players last year, China scored ten wins in the first round; with two fewer players, Korea did almost as well this year, winning nine games. Japan had two more players than last year, thanks to Son Makoto and Onishi Ryuhei winning seats in the qualifying tournament, but, like Chinese Taipei, were unable to pick up a win. Onishi came closest, losing by just half a point. As an elementary-school pupil, Onishi spent some time studying in a Korean dojo, and he remembered that his opponent, Lee Taehyun, often reviewed his games for him.

   In the second round, Korea won six games to China’s two, but one of the Chinese wins went to Ke Jie, so Korea won’t be counting its chickens just yet. The next round will be played in November.

   Games were played at the headquarters of the respective go associations. Players were spread out to maintain social distancing and there were extra cameras, so that the opposing countries could monitor the playing room. With no opponent on the other side of the go board, players were able to dispense with their masks. The time allowance is three hours each, followed by byo-yomi of 45 seconds x five times. Komi is 6.5. There is no break for lunch.

Round 1

(June 1)  Byun Sangil 9P (Korea) (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 9P (Japan) by resig.; Kang Dongyun 9P (Korea) (W) beat Kyo Kagen 8P (Japan) by resig.; Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.; Lee Donghoon 9P (Korea) (B) beat Son Makoto 7P (Japan) by resig.; Lee Taehyun 7P (Korea) (B) beat Onishi Ryuhei 5P (Japan) by half a point; Shin Minjoon 9P (Korea) (B) beat Wang Yuanjun 9P (Chinese Taipei) by resig.

(June 2) Tang Weixing 9P (China) (B) beat Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) by resig.; Lian Xiao 9P (China) (B) beat Lee Younggu 9P (Korea) by resig.; Yang Dingxin 9P  (China) (B) beat Seol Hyunjoon 5P (Korea) by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (B) beat Park Kunho 4P (Korea) by resig.; Hong Kipyo 8P (Korea) (B) beat Li Xuanhao 5P by resig.

(June 3) Zhao Chenyu 8P (B) beat Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) by resig.; Ding Hao 5P (China) (W) beat Park Seunghwa 8P (Korea) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (W) beat Fan Yunro 8P (China) by resig.; Gu Jihao 9P (China) (W) beat Kim Sanghyun 2P (Korea) by 4.5 points.

Round 2 (June 5, 8)

(June 5) Kang (W) beat Tang by resig.; Lee (B) beat Lian by resig.; Shin Minjoon (B) beat Ding by resig.; Yang (W) beat Lee by resig.

(June 8) Ke (W) beat Shin Jinseo by resig.; Park (W) beat Hong by resig.; Byun (W) beat Zhao by resig.; Weon (W) beat Gu by 1.5 points. 

Taking Shibano’s temperature

   If official go activity as such in Japan resumed on June 1 with the LG Cup Net games, the first pre-virus old-style face-to-face game was played on June 2 and 3. This was the first game of the 75th Honinbo title match and, despite fears about too many unplayed title games piling up, it was only a couple of weeks behind schedule. It was held, as originally planned, at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, but minus all the “trimmings.” Usually securing a title-match game is a coup for a provincial city or town, and the local dignitaries and notable go players do their best to make a big occasion of it. They stage an elaborate welcome party for the players and their large “entourage” of go officials and reporters and also hold side events, such as tournaments for children, public commentaries on the title game, and sightseeing for the players. None of that took place this time, but at least the face-to-face game got played, though everyone wore masks and had their temperatures checked. 

Iyama makes good start Honinbo defence

   Shibano drew black in the nigiri, but the game was dominated by Iyama. He showed excellent judgment in deciding that he could afford to sacrifice a large group. Shibano resigned after 182 moves.

   The second game was originally scheduled to be held in the Kokura Castle Garden in Kita-Kyushu City, but it was switched to the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo (I haven’t seen an explanation of the reason). It was played on June 13 and 14; taking black, Iyama won by resignation after 143 moves.

   The third game will be played at the Takarazuka Hotel in Takarazuka City on June 22 and 23.

Iyama leads Meijin League

   Iyama Yuta and Shibano Toramaru have just started their first best-of-seven title match, but the chances look good there will a second one in the autumn, as Iyama, on 5-0, has kept his sole lead in the 45th Meijin League. At present, the main threat to him would seem to be Ichiriki Ryo 8P, the only player with only one loss. However, he still has four games to go and his loss was to Iyama, so he will need outside help to catch up. Incidentally, after losing every game in the Honinbo League, Yamashita finally picked up his first win in the Meijin League. Results since my last report follow. 

(June 4) Hane Naoki Gosei (W) beat Rin Kanketsu 8P by 5.5 points. 

(June 8) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by 11.5 points; Iyama Yuta Kisei (W) beat Hane by resig.

(June 11) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Kyo Kagen 8P by half a point. 

Kisei S League starts   

   The first game in the 45th Kisei S League was played on June 11. It was between the players promoted from the 44th A League. Ichiriki Ryo (W) beat Cho U by resig.

Retirement

Sanno Hirotaka 9P retired as of May 29. He was born on May 29, 1940 in Hiroshima Prefecture. In 1952, he became a disciple of Segoe Kensaku, Hon. 9P. He made 1-dan in 1957 and reached 9-dan in 1979. He reached the landmark of 500 wins in 2006. He made instruction tours of Europe and the US in 1964. He is a fan of Shusaku and contributed a number of game commentaries to “Invincible.”

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The Power Report: Professional go to resume & more reports

Thursday May 28, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Professional go to resume

When the Japanese government declared an emergency on April 7, the Nihon Ki-in and the Kansai Ki-in fell in line and cancelled face-to-face go activity. The emergency was lifted on May 25, and on the same day the Nihon Ki-in announced that it would resume tournament activity on June 1, as will the Kansai Ki-in. However, some precautions will be observed.

  1. The temperatures of players will be measured.
  2. Players will wear masks.
  3. Attention will be paid to air circulation.
  4. There will be a limit to the number of games being played so that venues don’t become overcrowded. First of all, the first round of an international tournament, the 25th LG Cup, will be played on the net on June 1. The Japanese participants will play their games at the Nihon Ki-in Two domestic title matches were affected by the shut-down. The first game of the 75th Honinbo title match will be played in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on June 2 and 3. Shibano Toramaru Meijin will be challenging Iyama Yuta Honinbo. Games 3 to 5 from the 58th Judan tournament which is being fought between Murakawa Daisuke Judan and Shibano Toramaru, have been rescheduled for June 17 and June 26 at the Nihon Ki-in and, if the match goes the full distance, July 3 at the Kansai Ki-in. The match is tied 1-1.

Tong wins Net tournament

On February 19, I published a report on a new net tournament, the 1st Wild Fox Contest for Supremacy, in which Iyama Yuta had won his way to the final and made a good start, winning the first game by half a point with white. However, in the second, his opponent, Tong Mengcheng 8P, returned the courtesy, winning by the same margin. The game was played on April 14. In the third game, played on April 22, Tong drew black and won by 3.5 points. First prize was 500,000 yuan (about $70,000). About 59,000 spectators followed the final game. Iyama had to be content with second place, but this is the best result a Japanese representative has scored recently. His cumulative score against eight Chinese opponents was 9-2. (Note: in English, the server seems to be called just “Fox.”)

Ohashi wins first tournament

The Young Bamboo Cup is a small-scale tournament for players 40 and under at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in. The tournament is open to 16 players, which comes close to matching the number of players at this branch who meet the age condition. If there are more than 16 applicants, preliminaries are held; if fewer, the organizers can nominate extra players. The tournament was founded in 2018, but has already concluded its fourth term. The semifinals and final were held on April 7. In one semifinal, Ohashi Naruya 7P beat Utani Shunta 2P; in the other, Muramoto Wataru 2P beat Otani Naoki 3P. In the final, Ohashi (B) beat Muramoto by 9.5 points. First prize is 200,000 yen (about $18,570), and second is 100,000 yen. This is admittedly a minor title, but the 29-year-old Ohashi was very happy to win it. He commented: “This is my first victory. I hadn’t received any trophies since becoming a professional, so I’m extremely happy. Other tournaments have been postponed for the time being because of the corona virus, but I’ll be able to hole up at home cheerfully. Don’t tell anyone, but I was so excited after the win that I couldn’t sleep until the morning.”

Onishi and Son qualify for LG Cup

As mentioned in a previous report, the organizers of the 25th LG Cup cancelled the international qualifying tournament scheduled to be held in Seoul in April and instead allocated seats to the different professional organizations to use as they wished. Japan has three seeded places, taken by Murakawa Daisuke Judan, Ichiriki Ryo 8P and Kyo Kagen 8P, and was allotted two more places. These were decided by a net tournament among eight young players held on April 6 and 7. Onishi Ryuhei 5P won one side of the mini-tournament and Son Makoto 7P the other. They will play their first-round games at the Nihon Ki-in on June 1.

Ichiriki eliminated from MLily Cup

The quarterfinals of the 4th MLily Cup were held on the net, the first time ever for a major international tournament, on April 27. Ichiriki Ryo 8P was the only player standing in the way of complete Chinese domination of this Chinese-sponsored tournament, but his winning run came to an end in this round. Taking white, Xie Ke 8P beat him by resignation. Even so, this was Ichiriki’s best result so far in a major. Other results follow (full details are not available): Mi Yuting 9P beat Xie Erhao 9P; Ke Jie 9P beat Fan Tingyu 9P; Xu Jiayang 8P beat Meng Tailing 7P.

Go players marry

There is yet another professional couple. On February 10, O Keii 3P, the daughter of O Rissei, former Kisei, and Yamamori Tadanao 7P tied the knot. They are both members of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in.

Retirements

Ezura Yuichi retired as of April 30. Born on January 15, 1943 in Tokyo, he became 1-dan in 1962 and reached 8-dan in 1995. On his retirement, he was promoted to 9-dan.

Aragaki Takeshi retired on the same date. Born in Okinawa on June 4, 1956, he became a disciple of Sakata Eio and qualified as professional 1-dan at the Tokyo Nihon Ki-in in 1971. He reached 9-dan in 1994.

Obituary: Honda Sachiko

Honda Sachiko 7P died of old age on May 1. Born on December 30, 1930, she was 89. She was the middle one of the famous three Honda sisters, her older sister being Sugiuchi Kazuko (born on March 6, 1927, and still active) and her younger sister Kusunoki Teruko 8P (born on September 3, 1939; retired in 2019). Honda was born in Shizuoka Prefecture. She became a disciple of Kitani Minoru 9P and made 1-dan in 1947. She was promoted to 6-dan in 1981 and retired in 2000, and was then promoted to 7-dan. She won the Women’s Championship five times and the Women’s Honinbo title twice. In 1961, she made a two-month instruction tour of the U.S. along with her sister Teruko and Kitani Reiko, and in 1974 toured Europe with Kobayashi Chizu. As one of three go-playing sisters, it seems apposite that she took the three Mukai sisters–Mimura Kaori 3P (born in 1981, wife of Mimura Tomoyasu 9P), Nagashima Kozue 2P (born in 1984; not married to a professional), and Chiaki 5P (born in 1987, wife of Sugimoto Akira 8P, but she plays under her maiden name)—as disciples.

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