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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 doesn’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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The Power Report: Discovery Cup: new tournament for young players; Amateur wins seat in Kisei C League; Amateur wins seat in Kisei C League

Monday April 13, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Discovery Cup: new tournament for young players

A new tournament for young players has been founded. It is the Discovery Cup (using the English word “discovery”), which is open to professionals and inseis at the Nihon Ki-in and Kansai Ki-in up to 2-dan and up to 18 years of age. The tournament is an unofficial one, so results will not be included in players’ official records. The preliminary tournament started on the Net on March 23; the top eight players will qualify for the main tournament, starting on April 29, which will be held at the Nihon Ki-in. The tournament follows the NHK format.

Amateur wins seat in Kisei C League

Two Japanese tournaments are also open to amateur players. One is the Agon Kiriyama Cup, in which eight amateurs took part and four reached Preliminary A. They have all now been eliminated, but their record was a very respectable 17 wins to eight losses. One was Kurita Yoshiki, who beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P before losing to Hoshiai Shiho 2P on March 30. Kurita is actually a former insei who ended up going to college instead. Even more impressive, he also qualified for the C League in the 45th Kisei tournament by winning five games in a row in the qualifying round, called the First Tournament. He has made a good start in the league by winning his first game. Taking white, he beat Mochizuki Kenichi 8P by 5.5 points.

Promotions

Obuchi Kotaro

To 7-dan: Koyama Ryugo (130 wins, as of March 13)
To 5-dan: Obuchi Kotaro (70 wins, as of April 3)
To 2-dan: Shibusawa Machiko (30 wins, as of March 13)

Retirements

Three players retired as of March 31. They are Hagiwara Mutsumi 8P, (Ms.) Shinkai Hiroko 6P, and (Ms.) Nakamura Kuniko 3P. The ladies were both disciples of Iwamoto Kaoru.

Postponement

The semifinals and finals of the new women’s tournament the Hakata Kamachi Cup, originally scheduled for April 13 and 14, have been put off until June 8 and 9. In the semifinals, Ueno Asami, Women’s Honinbo, meets Mukai Chiaki 5P and Fujisawa Rina, holder of the Hollyhock Cup, plays Nyu Eiko 2P.

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The Power Report: Iyama leads Meijin League; Sumire’s progress; Nyu tops wins list

Sunday April 12, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama leads Meijin League

On 4-0, Iyama Yuta is the only undefeated player in the 45th Meijin League. This is one of those leagues where the higher-ranked players, with one exception, Iyama, do badly. The bottom three players are the only ones with just one loss. Recent results:

(March 19) Cho U 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Iyama Yuta Kisei (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig.

(April 2) Murakawa Daisuke Judan (B) beat Cho U 9P by resig.

Sumire’s progress

On March 26, Nakamura Sumire 1P (W) lost to Muramoto Wataru 2P, a fellow member of the Kansai HQ (Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in) by 4.5 points in Preliminary C of the 46th Gosei tournament.

On April 2, Sumire played her first game as a sixth-grader, but was not successful. Taking white, she lost by resignation (191 moves) to Takei Takashi 7P (Kansai HQ). The game was in Preliminary C of the 47th Tengen tournament.

On April 6, Sumire played three games on the Net in the female preliminary for the 11th Gratitude Cup, which became an official tournament as of this term. In the first, starting at 10 a.m., she beat Kato Chie 1P; in the second, starting at 1 p.m., she beat Nyu Eiko 2-dan; in the third, starting at 6 p.m., she lost to Xie Yimin 6P. The win over Nyu is significant, as she has been one of the top woman players recently.

At this point, Sumire’s record for the year was 7-10, which makes her cumulative record 24-17. However, the numbers match up only if I repair an omission in my report published on February 21. I overlooked a game played on January 16 in Preliminary B of the 76th Hoininbo tournament. Hane Yasumasa 9P (W) beat Sumire by 5.5 points. In the same report, “Yoshida” in the February 10 game is a mistake for “Furuta.”

Nyu tops wins list

Kyo Kagen

It’s still early days yet, but it’s worth noting that a second woman player has topped the most-wins list, following the lead of Ueno Asami last year. Nyu Eiko has 15 wins to three losses. Following her, on 13-3, are the three players who were in contention in the final round of the Honinbo League: Kyo Kagen, Shibano Toramaru, and Ichiriki Ryo. Kyo’s loss in the Honinbo play-off ended a winning streak of his at nine.

Tomorrow: Discovery Cup: new tournament for young players; Amateur wins seat in Kisei C League; Amateur wins seat in Kisei C League

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The Power Report: Murakawa evens score in Judan; Iyama wins NHK Cup; Shibano to challenge for Honinbo title; Ichiriki follows two professions

Saturday April 11, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Murakawa evens score in Judan

Murakawa Daisuke Judan

The second game of the 58th Judan title match was held at the Kansai Ki-in in Osaka on March 26. Taking white, Murakawa Daisuke Judan beat Shibano Toramaru Meijin by 2.5 points after 310 moves. The titleholder seems to have taken the lead in the endgame. This was the first title-match game to be played at the Kansai Ki-in for six years; normally a public commentary would have been held but was cancelled because of the coronavirus. The third game is scheduled for April 16.

Iyama wins NHK Cup

Iyama took revenge on Ichiriki Ryo in the final of the 67th NHK Cup, which was telecast on March 22 (it was his fourth final in a row). Ichiriki had beaten Iyama in the final last year, but this time he was outfought and outmaneuvered Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 128 moves, winning the title for the third time. I think this is Iyama’s 59th title. His record against Ichiriki is now 19 wins to eight losses, though the latter still leads 4-2 in fast games.

Shibano to challenge for Honinbo title

Shibano Toramaru Meijin

The final games in the sixth round of the 75th Honinbo League was held in late March. On March 23, Shibano Toramaru Meijin (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by half a point, and, on March 26, Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yokotsuka Riki 7P by resig. This left three players in the running to win the league: Shibano and Kyo Kagen 8P, both on 5-1, and Ichiriki Ryo 8P, who was on 4-2. Since they were not playing each other, there were various possibilities: either Shibano or Kyo could win outright or there could be a two-way or three-way tie. The best Ichiriki could hope for was a tie.

Following recent practice, all the games in the final round were held on the same day, April 3. All three players in contention won, so the result was a tie between Shibano and Kyo. A play-off was held on April 6 and was won by Shibano, whose marvelous form since last year is continuing. He will now make his second challenge for a big-three title; theoretically, he could quite soon hold four top-seven titles. Ichiriki took third place in the league and Hane Naoki 9P came fourth with 4-3. Kono, Yamashita, Shida Tatsuya 8P, and Yokotsuka all lost their seats. Details of the final round are given below.

Round 7 (April 3). Ichiriki (W) beat Kono by 1.5; Shibano (W) beat Yokotsuka by 3.5; Hane (B) beat Yamashita by 6.5; Kyo (B) beat Shida by resig.

Play-off (April 6). Shibano (B) beat Kyo by resig. after 259 moves.

Ichiriki follows two professions

Ichiriki Ryo has established himself as one of the top professionals in Japan, but he has a second string to his bow. In March, he graduated from the Social Science College of Waseda University and, as of April 1, became an employee of the Kahoku Shinpo newspaper company. The newspaper is primarily focused on Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture, but is also read throughout the six northeastern prefectures. It was founded and run by Ichiriki’s great great grandfather; four generations of his family have served as presidents of the company, so, as an only child, Ichiriki seems to be expected to follow in their footsteps when his father retires. However, for the time being he has been assigned to the Tokyo office of the newspaper so that he can continue to focus on his go career, though he will also work as a reporter. There’s an anecdote reported on the Net that his father permitted him to become an insei only after confirming there was no prohibition on following two professions. (There are pros who have also worked as lawyers or accountants and at one time the great Fujisawa Shuko [Hideyuki] ran a real-estate office.)

Tomorrow: Iyama leads Meijin League; Sumire’s progress; Nyu tops wins list

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