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The Power Report: End of May updates

Friday June 4, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano draws even in 76th Honinbo title match
   Shibano Toramaru is making his second successive challenge for the Honinbo title. Last year he lost 1-4 and then also lost the Meijin title he had picked  up in 2019 by the same margin to Iyama, so he had a lot to seek revenge for. His career record against Iyama before this match was seven wins to ten losses . In the top three titles, the ones with two-day games, he had won only twice in ten games. Shibano’s main task is to make good use of these painful experiences.
   Much is written in the go press about the post-Iyama generation, but as long as Iyama holds the triple crown of Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo, he remains head and shoulders above his rivals. This year he has the additional incentive of matching Cho Chikun’s record of ten Honinbo titles in a row.
   The first game was held at the Former Inoue Fusaichiro Residence (photo) in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture, on May 11 and 12. Inoue (1898-1993) was an influential patron of the arts in Takasaki; he was friends with modernist architects in the West. His house, built in traditional Japanese style but with input from Western architects, was restored after his death and set up as a tourist site.

   Shibano drew black in the nigiri. He attacked in the middle game, but Iyama skillfully rescued his weak groups and took the lead. Black resigned after 184 moves.
   The second game was played at the Former Inn Kaneyu in Noshiro City, Akita Prefecture on May 24 and 25. The venue is a “ryotei” (Japanese-style restaurant/inn) built in 1937; it was donated to the city in 2009 and reopened as a tourist facility four years later. It is known for the Akita cedar of which it is built and which was the basis for the lumber industry in the area. Iyama, who had black, played a little unreasonably on the first day, giving Shibano the edge. According to Go Weekly, it was the first time in the 12 two-day games these two have played that Shibano took the lead on the first day. Things quickly got worse for the defending champion on the second day. After the sealed move, Black 83, Shibano attacked strongly. Iyama made another unreasonable move, so the game became one-sided. Iyama resigned after White 96. It was still only 11:18; it’s quite unusual for a game to finish before lunch on the second day.
   The third game was scheduled for June 1 and 2.

Sumire’s winning streak ends
    Sumire has won two more games since my previous report (May 14), but her winning streak has finally come to an end at 13. She also lost her first game in the C League. Her score for the year is now 24-4 (85.7%); she shares top pla
ce in the most-wins list with Ueno Asami, who is on 24-9. Recent results follow.
(May 9) Sumire (W) beat Nyu Eiko 3P by 1.5 points (Main tournament, 40th Women’s Honinbo).
(May 13) Sumire (B) beat Horimoto Mitsunari 5P by 5.5 (Prelim. B, 60th Judan tournament; played at the Kansai Ki-in).
(May 20) Sumire (B) lost to Komatsu Hideki 9P by resig. (Prelim. C, 47th Meijin tournament).
(May 27) Sumire (W) lost to Mizokami Tomochika 9P by resig. (46th Kisei C League).
   Both Komatsu and Mizokami are strong 9-dans, so losing to them is no disgrace. Komatsu has played in six leagues and won seven titles; Mizokami has played in seven leagues, including five Meijin leagues, and won three titles. Sumir
e’s next game will also be against a 9-dan: her success means that she is being matched against stronger opposition.

Ichiriki leads Meijin League
   On 5-0, Ichiriki Ryo Tengen leads the 46th Meijin League. His closest rival is Kyo Kagen Judan on 4-1. New results:
(May 10) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
(May 13) Kyo Kagen 10P (B) beat Yo Seiki 8P by resig.

Kisei Leagues
So far, only five games have been played in the 46th Kisei S League, so it is too soon to be making predictions. Murakami Daisuke 9P and Ichiriki Ryo Tengen share the lead on 2-0. Yo Seiki 8P is on 1-0. Just one game has been played since my previous report. On May 24, Ichiriki (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 3.5.
   In the A League, four rounds have been completed. Shibano Toramaru Oza and Suzuki Shinji 7P share the lead on 3-1. In the B1 League, three players are on 3-1: Motoki Katsuya 8P, Shida Tatsuya 8P, and Mimura Tomoyasu 9P. In the B2 League, So Yokoku 9P has the sole lead on 4-0.

Promotions
To 9-dan: Nakao Jungo (200 wins; as of May 21). Nakao was born in Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture, on April 9, 1970 and is a member of the Central Japan branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He qualified as 1-dan in 1990. He is the 84th 9-dan at the
 Nihon Ki-in.
To 9-dan: Okada Shinichiro (200 wins; as of May 28). Okada was born on Sept. 22, 1966 in Saitama Prefecture. He is a disciple of the late Kato Masao. He became 1-dan in 1985. He is married to Yumiko, the daughter of the late Abe Yoshi
teru 9P.

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The Power Report: Ichiriki Meijin League; 46th Kisei S League; Promotions & Obituaries

Saturday May 15, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki Meijin League
   Having won his fifth successive game, Ichiriki Ryo has the sole lead in the 46th Meijin League. His closest rivals are Kyo Kagen and Hane Naoki, who are both on 3-1. Ichiriki won’t be counting his chickens yet: he had a similar lead in the Honinbo but failed to become the challenger. Results since my last report are given below.

Click here for our May 12 Honinbo League report.

(April 1) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Yo Seiki 8P by half a point.
(April 5) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Anzai Nobuaki 7P by 2.5.
(April 12) Ichiriki Ryo Tengen (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig.
(April 15) Shibano Toramaru (W) beat Hane Naoki by resig.
(May 6) Ichiriki (W) beat Shibano by resig.; Motoki (B) beat Anzai by 0.5.

46th Kisei S League
   The new S League got off to a start on April 22. With two wins, Murakawa Daisuke 9P has the provisional lead. Kono Rin 9P, the previous challenger, has made a bad start with two losses. Results so far:

(April 22) Ichiriki Ryo Tengen (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by 1.5; Yo Seiki 8P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 9P (W) Takao Shinji 9P by resig.
(May 6) Murakawa (B) beat Kono Rin by resig.

Promotions:
To 9-dan: Kyo Kagen (for winning his second top-seven title; as of April 29)
To 8-dan: Oki Keiji (150 wins, as of May 7)

Obituaries
Kim In
   Kim In 9P, one of the major figures in modern Korean go, died on April 4 at the age of 77. Kim was born on Nov. 23, 1943. He became a professional in 1958. In 1962, he became a disciple of Kitani Minoru 9P and was promoted to 3-dan, jumping a rank. He returned to Korea the following year. He reached 9-dan in 1983. He dominated the tournament scene after his return home, winning 30 titles, and remained the number one player until the return of Cho Hun-hyun from Japan in 1972. His career record is 860 wins, 703 losses, and five draws. In 1968, he won 40 games in a row, the second-longest winning streak in Korea (Lee Chang-ho topped it by one win in 1991).

Okahashi Hirotada
   Died of prostate cancer on April 14. Born in Hyogo Prefecture on Feb. 26, 1934. Became a disciple of Hashimoto Shoji 9P. Qualified at 1-dan at the Kansai Ki-in in 1954 and reached 6-dan in 1974. Retired in 2016 and promoted to 7-dan.

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The Power Report: Fujisawa enters Agon Kiriyama main tournament; Mi Yuting wins MLily Cup; Sumire enters C League

Friday May 14, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Fujisawa Rina (r) vs. O Meien

Fujisawa enters Agon Kiriyama main tournament
   Fujisawa Rina’s excellent form is also continuing. On May 6, she beat O Meien 9P in the final game of the preliminary round of the 28th Agon Kiriyama Cup. Taking black, Fujisawa won by resig. She is the first woman to reach the main tournament, that is, the best 16. 

Mi Yuting wins MLily Cup
   The final, a best-of-five, of the 4th MLily Cup, was held in late April and early May. This is a Chinese-sponsored international tournament held at irregular intervals, the first being in 2013, then 2016, then 2017. So far, it has been won by Mi Yuting (China), Ke Jie (China), and Park Junghwan (Korea). First prize is 1,800,000 yuan (about $279,800). This year both finalists were Chinese. Results follow.

Game 1 (April 29). Mi (W) by resig.
Game 2 (April 30). Xie Ke 8P (W) by resig.
Game 3 (May 2). Mi (W) by 2.5.
Game 4 (May 4). Xie (W) by resig.
Game 5 (May 5). Mi (W) by resig.

Sumire enters C League
    In a play-off for a place in the C League of the 46th Kisei tournament, held on May 6, Nakamura Sumire 2P (B) beat Torii Yuta 3P by 5.5 points. This earned her a place in the C League; every time Sumire achieves something, she sets a new youth record. At 12 years two months four days, she is the youngest player to enter a league. The record was lowered by five days just three days earlier when Fukuoka Kotaro 2P got into the league aged 15 years four months 11 days; Sumire lowered that by more than three years. Breaking her new record will be a major challenge. She also extended her winning streak to 11 games and improved her record for the year to 22-2. Ueno Asami lost the game she played last week, so Sumire has the sole lead in the most-wins list. More details about the C League are given in my report of May 2. According to the Yomiuri newspaper, all 480 professional players in Japan compete in the Kisei tournament. Sumire is in the top 62 of that number, so this may be her biggest success so far. Sumire: “I didn’t think I could get into the league, so I am very happy. I look forward to being able to play with strong players.” To become the Kisei challenger, she will need nine wins in a row: five in the league and four in the irregular knock-out that follows it.

Next: Ichiriki Meijin League; 46th Kisei S League; Promotions & Obituaries

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The Power Report: Shibano to challenge for Honinbo; Kyo wins Judan; Iyama to challenge for Gosei

Wednesday May 12, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano
Kyo Kagen

Shibano to challenge for Honinbo title
All the games in the final round of the 76th Honinbo League were played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on April 2. Going into this round, four players were still in the running to win the league: Shibano Toramaru on 5-1 and three players, Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan), Ichiriki Ryo, and Hane Naoki, who were close behind on 4-2. Hane was slated to play Shibano; the latter had a bad record against Hane, having won only two of their eight games and none of the three they had played in the Honinbo League. Kyo and Ichiriki did what they had to do, winning their games, but it was to no avail, as Shibano overcame his nemesis.

This result would have been a big disappointment for Ichiriki: he had held the sole lead at the halfway mark with 4-0, but successive losses to Shibano and Kyo were costly. An interesting point is that the final positions in the league were unchanged from the previous league; also, it had already been decided before the final round that the bottom four players would lose their league places.

Shibano will be seeking revenge for his losses to Iyama in the Honinbo and Meijin title matches last year. The best-of-seven starts on May 11. Final-round results follow.

Shibano Toramaru (B) beat Hane Naoki by resig.; Ichiriki Ryo Tengen (B) beat Oishi Ryuhei 7P by resig.; Ko Iso 9P (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8P by resig.; Kyo Kagen 8P

Kyo wins Judan title
   The rivalry in the post-Iyama generation is quite fierce. Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) took the lead when he won his first top-seven title by beating Iyama Yuta 3-0 in the 43rd Gosei title three years ago, but he failed to defend the title the following year. Since then he has fallen behind Shibano Toramaru and Ichiriki Ryo, both of whom won two titles last year. Even so, Kyo’s results have always placed him in the top group. This year, he won the right to challenge Shibano for the Judan title. The match was very closely fought, but Kyo outplayed the title-holder in the final game. Winning his second top-seven title earned him an automatic promotion to 9-dan, so in rank he drew level with Shibano and Ichiriki. The Judan is the lowest-ranked of the top-seven titles, so the pecking order now is: Iyama Yuta Kisei, Meijin & Honinbo; Ichiriki Tengen & Gosei; Shibano Oza, and Kyo Judan. Results follow.

Game 1 (March 2). Kyo (B) by resig.
Game 2 (March 24). Shibano (B) by resig. (These two games are covered in my report of April 6.)
Game 3 (April 8). Kyo (B) by 4.5 points.
Game 4 (April 20). Shibano (B) by resig.
Game 5 (April 28). Kyo (B) by resig.

Iyama to challenge for Gosei
   The play-off to decide the challenger to Ichiriki Ryo for the 46th Gosei title was held at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on May 6. Taking black, Iyama beat Ida Atsushi 8P by resig. He held this title for six years in a row from the 42nd to the 47th terms.

Tomorrow: Mi Yuting wins MLily Cup ; Sumire enters C League; Fujisawa enters Agon Kiriyama main tournament

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The Power Report: Woman power hits Japanese go

Sunday May 2, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Sumire vs Goto Shungo
Nakamura Sumire
Sumire vs Nobuta
Women’s Meijin: Rina defends

The highlight of this month’s report is the extraordinary recent success of Nakamura Sumire, who leads three statistic-related lists for all Nihon Ki-in pros: most wins, best winning percentage, and best winning streak. However, it is not only the youngest pro who is making waves; her seniors are also doing very well. While contemporary women players benefit from the recent increase in women-only tournaments, this is certainly beginning to look like a golden age for women’s go in Japan. This report focuses on Nakamura Sumire and Fujisawa Rina.

Sumire leads lists of top performers
With the tournament year almost a third completed, Sumire and her female colleagues are dominating the statistical categories. Lists are given below (dated to April 30).

Most wins
1. Nakamura Sumire 2P: 21 wins 2 losses; Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei: 21-7
3. Nyu Eiko 3P: 18-8
4. Kyo Kagen Judan: 16-7
5. Fukuoka Kotaro 2P: 15-3; Motoki Katsuya 8P: 15-5
7. Seki Kotaro 3P: 14-2; Shibano Toramaru Oza: 14-6; Suzuki Ayumi 7P, Kato Chi
e 2P: 14-8
11. Ida Atsushi 8P, Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo: 13-3; Kondo Toshiki 1P: 13
-4; Xie Yimin 6P: 13-7; Mukai Chiaki 6P: 13-12

The top three are all women, as are eight of the top 15, so they have a majority. Offhand, I can’t recall this happening before.

Best winning streaks
10: Nakamura Sumire (since March 18)
7: Fujisawa Rina (since March 29), Otani Naoki 3P (since March 8), Seki Kotaro
 (since March 22)
6: Ito Masashi 5P (since March 8)
5: Ichiriki Ryo Tengen (since March 18)

Best winning percentage: On 91.3%, Sumire has no rivals in sight.

Sumire’s progress
Below are the results of games Sumire has played since my last report (posted on April 6).
(April 1) Sumire (W) beat Yoshihara Yukari 6P by 7.5 points (main tournament, round 1, 40th Women’s Honinbo). This was her first game on entering junior high.
(April 5) Sumire (W) beat Okada Yumie 6P by resig. (Prelimin. C, 47th Meijin tournament).
(April 12) Sumire (W) beat Mizuno Hiromi 5P by resig. (prelim. final, 6th Senko Cup).
(April 14) Sumire (W) beat Hara Masakazu 3P by 6.5 (semifinal, First Tournament, 46th Kisei).
(April 15) Sumire beat Sakaguchi Ryuzo 9P (Prelim. C2, 60th Judan).
(April 17). Sumire beat Yang Zixuan 4P by resig. and Yu Lijun (W) by resig. Yang and Yu are two of the top women players in Taiwan. These games were played as part of an unofficial match (more details in my next report).
(April 22) Sumire (B) beat Nobuta Shigehito 6P by resig. (Prelim. C, 47th Meijin).
(April 28) Sumire (B) beat Konishi Kazuko 8P by resig. (main tournament, round  one, 8th Women’s Hollyhock Cup; played at the Kansai Ki-in). At 12 years, one month of age, Sumire set a new record for the youngest player to reach the best four in a women’s tournament. (The previous record was 15 years eight months, set by Fujisawa Rina in the Women’s Meijin.)
(April 29) Sumire (B) beat Goto Shungo 9P by 12.5 points (Prelim. C, Judan). This gave Sumire a winning streak of ten games in official games, but if you include unofficial games it was 15 in a row. Her record for the year is 21-2.

Fujisawa Rina’s good run
Fujisawa Rina has also been doing very well and has maintained her place as the top woman player. Three recent successes are described below.
1. Promoted to 5-dan: On April 8. Fujisawa Rina scored her 70th win as a 4-dan and so qualified for promotion to 5-dan (effective as of the following day). This takes her halfway up the promotion ladder.
2. Defends Women’s Meijin title: The 32nd Hakata Kamachi Cup Women’s Meijin title match ended in another triumph for Fujisawa. The best-of-three was scheduled to be played at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on April 16, 18, and 20, but, as it turned out, the third day wasn’t necessary. In the first game, Fujisawa, the defending title holder, drew black and beat Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, by 1.5 points. In the second game, Fujisawa (W) won by resignation after 216 moves. According to Go Weekly, the games were tougher for Fujisawa for longer periods than for her opponent, but she played with greater precision in the crucial fights and overturned Ueno’s lead in each game. Fujisawa has now held this title for four terms in a row, but there was a gap of a year before it secured a new sponsor. She also holds the Women’s Honinbo and Hollyhock titles. In all, she has won 17 titles.
3. Enters Kisei C League: On April 29, Fujisawa (W) beat Matsumoto Takehisa 8P by 1.5 points in the final round of the 46th Kisei First Tournament and so won a seat in the C League for the first time. Xie Yimin has already qualified for the league, and Ueno Asami and Nakamura Sumire have also reached the final round. This is a notable achievement, though this league is not on a par with the Honinbo or Meijin leagues. The Kisei tournament actually has five leagues, with the S League (six players) on top, followed by the A League (eight) and two B Leagues (eight players each). Next is the five-round C League, which has 32 players; the top finishers are promoted up and players drop out immediately on suffering their third loss. 

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

Wednesday April 7, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday April 6, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

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

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

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

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

Monday April 5, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ueno Asami

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday April 4, 2021

Shin Jinseo 9P

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

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

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

Iyama Yuta

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

Shibano

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

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

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

Friday March 5, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

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

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

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

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

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