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The Power Report: Ida sets new record in Crown; China wins 23rd Agon Kiriyama Play-off; Iyama wins Ryusei title after life-and-death hallucination

Tuesday January 24, 2023

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ida sets new record in Crown

Ida Atsushi 9-dan

The Crown title is a regional title, open only to the members of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. The one-game final of the 63rd title was held on November 22. Ida Atsushi 9-dan (B) beat Mutsuura Yuta 7-dan by resignation. This was his seventh successive Crown title, a new record (though other players have won it more often). First prize is 1,700,000 yen.

China wins 23rd Agon Kiriyama Play-off

Li Qincheng 9-dan

The annual Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-off was held on the net on December 17. Li Qincheng 9-dan of China, who held white, beat Hirata Tomoya 7-dan of Japan by resignation. Actually, the Chinese go world has apparently been in a chaotic state because of covid-related restrictions, and there were repeated changes in the arrangements for this play-off. In the end, the Chinese managed to hold their Agon-Kiriyama Cup the day before this play-off (Li beat Xie Erhao 9-dan in the final). The chaos didn’t seem to affect Li’s play. 

Iyama wins Ryusei title after life-and-death hallucination

The final of the 31st Ryusei title was telecast on December 26. Iyama Yuta (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in by resignation after 111 moves. This is his fourth Ryusei title, but his first for ten years. Most title matches in 2022 featured at least one young player, but this was an exception: Iyama is 33 and Yuki 50. This is Iyama’s 71st title, so he is just four behind Cho Chikun. His pace has slowed considerably, so it no longer seems so certain that he will reach three digits.

There’s a strange story attached to this triumph, though. In his quarterfinal game with Kato Atsushi 9-dan, both Iyama and Kato hallucinated that one of Kato’s groups was dead when it could live with one move. As a life-and-death problem, it could easily be solved by an average amateur. Having assumed it was dead, neither player took another look at it. At the end of the game, Iyama took this group of six stones off the board and counted the score. He and Kato had agreed the game was over and the latter made no objection when the former took the group off the board (it needed another move to live). The result was a 3.5-point win for Iyama. Kato accepted this result, so there was no problem as far as the rules were concerned. Takao Shinji 9-dan, who did the commentary for the TV program, said that in 30 years as a professional he had never seen anything like it.

Iyama confided to Cho U, who later became the commentator for the final, that he was deeply upset by his oversight and felt that he had lost the trust of go fans. He told Cho that he was determined to win the final while playing a good game to regain the trust of fans.


The Power Report: Ueno repeats as Young Carp champion; New members of the Meijin league; Meijin & Honinbo League updates

Monday January 23, 2023

Ueno Asami

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ueno repeats as Young Carp champion

The main section (for the best 16) of the 17th Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp Tournament was held in the Central Japan Newspaper Headquarters Building on November 26 and 27. For the third year in a row it was won by a woman player and for the second year in a row that woman player was Ueno Asami. In the final, Ueno (W) defeated Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan by resignation. (The winner of the 15th Cup was Fujisawa Rina.)

This tournament is open to players 30 and younger and 7-dan and under. First prize is 3,000,000 yen.

New members of the Meijin league

The play-offs for the new seats in the 48th Meijin League were held on November 18. Cho U 9-dan (B) beat Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan by resignation. Cho, who has won the Meijin title five times, is making a return after missing two leagues. Fujita Akihiko 7-dan (W) beat  Kono Rin 9-dan by half a point. Sada Atsushi 7-dan beat Ida Atsushi 9-dan by resig. Both Fujita and Sada are making their debuts in the league.

48th Meijin League

The first round was completed during December. Results follow.

(Dec. 8) Cho U (B) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resignation.
(Dec. 15) Shida Tatsuya 7-dan (B) beat Fujita Akihiko by half a point.
(Dec. 19) Iyama Yuta (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9-dan by resignation.
(Dec. 24) Sada Atsushi (W) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by 2.5 points.

Honinbo League

The following games have been played since my last report.
(Nov. 7) Yo Seiki (B) beat Otake Yu 7-dan by 1.5 points.
(Nov. 10) Shibano Toramaru  (W) beat Fujita Akihiko by resig.
(Nov. 17) Kyo Kagen (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan by resig.
(Nov. 24) Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by resig.
(Dec. 8) Yo Seiki (W) beat Tsuruyama by resign. 
(Dec. 12) Shibano (B) beat Otake by resig.
(Dec. 15) Ichiriki (B) beat Kyo Kagen by resig.
(Dec. 22) Motoki (W) beat Fujita by resignation.

As of the end of 2022, Ichiriki, Yo, and Shibano were tied on 3-0. (In my previous report, I wrote that I would present the league this time, but a software malfunction prevents me from keeping my promise.)

Tomorrow: Ida sets new record in Crown; China wins 23rd Agon Kiriyama Play-off; Iyama wins Ryusei title after life-and-death hallucination


The Power Report: Seki defends Tengen; Iyama defends Oza; Shibano wins 47th Kisei play-off

Sunday January 22, 2023

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Seki defends Tengen

48th Tengen; Ida vs. Seki (right)

The 48th Tengen title match started off with Black winning both games (see my report of October 24). There was a gap of over three weeks before the next game, which was played at the Hotel Marital Sosei Kurume in Kurume City, Fukuoka Prefecture, on November 14. Taking white, Ida Atsushi 9-dan, the challenger, beat Seki Kotaro Tengen by resignation after 202 moves. This gave Ida a 2-1 lead, so Seki’s grip on the title seemed to have been loosened.

The fourth game was played at the Hotel New Awaji in Sumoto City on the island of Awaji in Hyogo Prefecture. Seki (B) fought strongly and evened the series.

The final game was played at the Tokushima Grandvrio Hotel in Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku  (not far south of the venue for the fourth game) on December 15. Seki drew black when they redid the nigiri. The initial fighting seemed good for White, but when the dust settled, Seki had the lead. After that, however, he made a series of small mistakes, so the game became very close. At a crucial point in the endgame, Ida made a mistake, miscalculating the value of a move: he played a one-point move because he thought it was worth two points. That was his last chance to pull off an upset. Seki managed to hold on for a half-point win.

At 21 years zero months and 18 days of age, Seki set a new record for the youngest player to defend a top-seven title. (When Shibano Toramaru defended the Oza title in 2020, he was seven days older.)

Winning his second top-seven title earned Seki promotion to 9-dan.

Iyama defends Oza

Iyama Yuta made a good start in the 70th Oza title match, beating the challenger, Yo Seiki 8-dan of the Kansai Ki-in, in the first game, played on October 21, by the narrow margin of 1.5 points. The second game was played at the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto on November 11. The game featured a struggle between large groups, but it ended up even closer than the first game, with Iyama (B) winning by just half a point.

The third game was played at the Hotel Okura Kobe in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, on November 18. Like the first two games, this one was also very closely contested, but Yo (B) made a blunder while attacking a white group. He resigned after 180 moves.

Iyama thus defended his title with straight wins. He maintained his triple crown with the Honinbo and Gosei titles. This is also his 70th title. He commented that, what with losing the Kisei and Meijin titles, 2022 was not a great year for him, so he was relieved to have ended it with a success.

Shibano wins 47th Kisei play-off

The first game of the “best-of-three” play-off to decide the Kisei challenger was held on November 18. Taking black, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan, the winner of the A League, defeated Shibano Toramaru Meijin, the winner of the S League by resignation. However, the S League winner is gifted a win in this play-off, so Yamashita couldn’t afford to drop a game. The second game was played on November 21. Taking black, Shibano beat Yamashita by resignation, so he became the challenger. 

Incidentally, since the current Kisei tournament system came into effect in the 40th term, the S League winner has always become the challenger. (In this report, I am focusing on 2022, but I can reveal that Ichiriki Ryo Kisei won the first game of the title match.)

Tomorrow: New members of the Meijin league; Meijin & Honinbo League updates; Ueno repeats as Young Carp champion


The Power Report: Yoda suspended by the Nihon Ki-in; Most wins; Best winning streaks; Winning streaks recently ended; Retirements

Thursday November 17, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Yoda suspended by the Nihon Ki-in

This is not a matter one wants to get involved in, the reason being that, with the paucity of information available, it’s not possible for an outsider to make any meaningful judgment, but I can give some details. My report on the Masters Cup published on August 23, 2019, gives the bare bones of the dispute. More details are given in my report of February 22, 2020. The Nihon Ki-in board of directors suspended Yoda from play for six months. At the time, he missed some games, but when Yoda launched a legal appeal against the ruling, making the matter sub judice, the Nihon Ki-in reinstalled him until the court case was finished. The court gave its decision on October 14 and found in favor of the Nihon Ki-in, which announced that Yoda had been suspended for six months, from October 15 to March 16 next year. When he turned up at the Ki-in to play a game the next day, a director blocked his way to the playing room and he was informed in person of the ban. Yoda had won a seat in the Samsung Cup in the Japanese domestic qualifying tournament, but had to give this up. Nakamura Sumire was selected to replace him.

Most wins
 (as of Nov. 4)

Ida wins 2nd Tengen game

1. Ueno Asami Women’s Hollyhock: 43-20

2. Nakamura Sumire 3-dan: 42-20

3. Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo: 41-15

4. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 36-10; Nyu Eiko Senko Cup: 36-18; Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 36-21

7. Otake Yu 7-dan: 33-12; Ida Atsushi 9-dan: 33-14

9. Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 32-22

10. Shibano Toramaru Meijin: 31-16

(This week Go Weekly listed only the top six. 7th to 10th are my best guesses.)

Best winning streaks

7: Cho U 9-dan, Kono Rin 9-dan

6: Kobayashi Izumi 7-dan, Nishioka Masao 3-dan,

Winning streaks recently ended

10: Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan

9: Rin Kanketsu 8-dan

8: Motoki Katsuya 8-dan, Sakai Yuki 3-dan

7: Shida Tatsuya 8-dan, Muramatsu Daiki 6-dan, 

6: Akiyama Jiro 9-dan, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan

5: Iyama Yuta Honinbo, Ogaki Yusaku 9-dan, Kono Takashi 8-dan, Anzai Nobuaki 8-dan, Konishi Yoshiakira 1-dan, Takao Shinji 9-dan 


Makihata Taeko 5-dan retired as of November 5. She was born in Tokyo on February 9, 1980. She became 1-dan in 1997 and reached 4-dan in 2014. She was promoted on 5-dan after retiring. 


The Power Report: Honinbo League; Women’s Meijin League; Sumire’s progress; Reo loses first game; Record win?

Wednesday November 16, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Honinbo League

As I reported on October 25, the 78th Honinbo League got off to a start on October 3 when Yo Seiki beat Fujita Akihiko. 

(Oct. 20) Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by 1.5 points.

(Oct. 24) Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Otake Yu 7-dan by resig. 

That completes the first round. I will give the league chart in my next report.

Women’s Meijin League

Kobayashi Izumi, a newcomer to the league, and Nakamura Sumire, the previous challenger, have both made good starts. Results to date:

Kobayashi Izumi 7-dan (B) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan by 7.5 points.

(Oct. 27) Nakamura Sumire 3-dan (W) beat Xie Yimin

Sumire’s progress

Nakamura Sumire’s results for the year so far are 42-20 (see “Most Wins” item below). Her overall results as a pro are 123 wins to 62 losses, so she has won a fraction under two thirds of her games.

(Oct. 17) Sumire (W) lost to Xie Yimin 7-dan by 2.5 points (Prelim. B、71st Oza).

(Oct. 20) Sumire (B) beat Tsukuda Akiko 6-dan by resig. (main tournament, 26th Women’s Kisei).

(Oct. 27) Sumire beat Xie Yimin – see Women’s Meijin League article above.

(Oct. 28) Sumire beat Kwon Hyojin – see Samsung article above.

Reo loses first game

Fujita Reo 1-dan, who set a new record by becoming professional 1-dan at nine years four months, played his first official game on October 25. His opponent was a fellow member of the Kansai Ki-in, Watanabe Koki 4-dan and the game was in the first round of the King of the New Stars preliminary. Taking white, Reo lost by resignation. His play was perhaps a little too reckless; his more experienced opponent was able to take charge of the game. 

Record win?

On October 17, Sugiuchi Kazuko 8-dan (W) beat Koda Akiko 4-dan by resig. in the preliminary round of the 10th Women’s Hollyhock Cup. She was born on March 6, 1927, so that makes her age 95 years eight months. Her husband, Masao 9-dan, played his last game at the age of 97. He holds the record for the oldest professional to win a game: 96 years 10 months. His wife is surely the oldest woman professional to win a game.

Tomorrow: Yoda suspended by the Nihon Ki-in; Most wins; Best winning streaks; Winning streaks recently ended; Retirements


The Power Report: China wins 1st Hoban Cup; Shibano wins Meijin title; 2022 Samsung Cup

Sunday November 13, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

China wins 1st Hoban Cup

I submitted my previous report (uploaded on October 25) in the midst of the final round. Ueno Asami had just won three games in a row, including a win over the world’s number one woman player, Choi Jeong 9-dan. In game 13, played on October 20, Zhou Hongyu 6-dan (B) beat her by resignation, so China won the 1st Cup with one player, Yu Zhiying, still in reserve. First prize is 100,000,000 won ($71,225 at $1 = 1404 won). Japan came second and Korea third. Ueno received a prize of for winning three games in a row.

Shibano wins Meijin title

The sixth game of the 47th Meijin title match was held at the Atami Sekitei Inn in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on October 24 and 25. Taking black, Iyama Yuta Meijin, who was facing his second successive kadoban, played solidly in the opening. The challenger, Shibano Toramaru 9-dan, played aggressively, making attack after attack. In the middle game, a black group suddenly got cut off. It looked as if the fate of this group would decide the game: Iyama’s response was to play a tenuki, that is, to switch elsewhere.

There was an incident in this game that won’t appear in the game record. After Black 31, Shibano suffered a nosebleed. Usually it’s a breach of etiquette for the player whose turn it is to leave the go board, but, after seeking Iyama’s approval, Shibano returned to his room and somehow stopped the bleeding. He also changed his mask, as the previous one was spotted with blood. Of course, all this happened on his time, though Go Weekly doesn’t say how long Shibano was absent.

Iyama’s tenuki strategy worked well for him. Gradually he seized the initiative. Shibano was unable to find a good way of attacking the group Iyama had left to fend for itself. He resigned after 215 moves. The title match was now even. Iyama was displaying great tenacity, just as he did in last year’s Honinbo title match with Shibano.

The final game was played at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on November 2 and 3. Iyama drew black. From the opening, Shibano launched fierce attacks on black, but Iyama displayed his customary skill at looking after his groups and took the lead. However, Shibano made a relentless attack on a large black group and was able to kill it. Iyama resigned after 202 moves.

After a gap of two terms, Shibano was Meijin again. Iyama still had three titles—the Honinbo, Oza, and Gosei—but he dropped to third place in the official rankings, after Ichiriki Kisei and Shibano Meijin. Shibano commented that beating Iyama in a big-three title match had been one of his major goals, so he was very happy at finally being able to pull it off. The top seven titles are now divided among five players.

2022 Samsung Cup

The highlight of this year’s Samsung’s Cup, the 27th, was the extraordinary performance of Korea’s Choi Jeong 9-dan. She has long been the world’s top woman player, but this time she surpassed herself, becoming the first woman to reach the final of an international tournament. In Round 2, she beat Japan’s number one, Ichiriki Ryo, then beat two players who have won international tournaments. Japan started out well, with three out of four players making the second round, but no one went further. Still, it was encouraging to see Nakamura Sumire win her first game against an 18-year-old Korean 4-dan. She was a late entry for the tournament when Yoda Norimoto was suspended and became unable to play (see story below). Selected results followed. 

Round 1 (Oct. 27, 28). Ichiriki Ryo 9-dan (Japan) (W) beat Oh Yujin 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Kyo Kagen 9-dan (Japan) beat Han Woojin 5-dan (Korea) by resig.; Yang Dingxin 9-dan (China) (B) beat Shin Minjun 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Choi Jeong 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Sada Atsushi 7-dan (Japan) by resig.; Nakamura Sumire 3-dan (Japan) (W) beat Kwon Hyojin 4-dan (Korea) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9-dan (Korea) beat Mi Yuting 9-dan (China); Fan Tingyu 9-dan (China) beat Kang Dongyun 9-dan (Korea).

Round 2 (Oct. 31, Nov. 1) Choi (W) beat Ichiriki by resig.; Byun Sangil 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Gu Jihao 9-dan (China) by resig.; Kim Myonghoon 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Tang Weixing 9-dan (China) by half a point; Kim Jiseok 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Xu Haohong 8-dan (Ch. Taipei) by half a point; Yang (W) beat Kyo by resig.; Lee Hyeonjin 6-dan (Korea) (B) beat Nakamura by 1.5 points; Park Jeonghoon 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Tan Shui 9-dan (China) by resig.; Shin (W) beat Fan Tingyu 9-dan (Korea) by 1.5 points.

Quarterfinals (Nov. 2, 3). Kim Myonghoon (W) beat Kim Jiseok by resig.; Shin (W) beat Park by resig.; Choi (B) beat Yang by resig.; Byun (W) beat Lee by resig. Semifinals (Nov. 4, 5). Choi beat Byun; Shin plays Kim in the other semifinal—it must have been played by now, but the result is not given on the Nihon Ki-in HP.

Tomorrow: Fujisawa defends Women’s Honinbo; Iyama makes good start in Oza; Kisei challenger: Shibano or Yamashita; Tsuruyama wins first title


The Power Report: Most wins; Most successive wins; Winning streaks recently ended; Promotion; Quasi-professionals; Retirement

Wednesday October 26, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Most wins

The top four players in this list are all women, which is probably a first.

1. Ueno Asami, Women’s Hollyhock: 39-15; Nakamura Sumire 2-dan: 39-18
3. Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo: 37-14
4. Nyu Eiko, Senko Cup: 36-16
5. Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 34-20
6. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 32-9
7. Otake Yu 7-dan: 31-9
8. Ida Atsushi 9-dan: 30-14; Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 30-19
10. Hirata Tomoya 7-dan: 29-6

Most successive wins
8: Rin Kanketsu 8-dan, Motoki Katsuya 8-dan, Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan
6: Akiyama Jiro 9-dan, Shida Tatsuya 8-dan, Sakai Yuki 3-dan
5: Yamashita Keigo 9-dan, Cho U 9-dan, Kono Rin 9-dan, Kono Takashi 8-dan, Muramatsu Hiroki 6-dan, Konishi Yoshiakira 1-dan

Winning streaks recently ended
10: Hane Yasumasa 9-dan
9: Kato Yuki, Nakamura Sumire 
8: Nyu Eiko
7: Ueno Risa 2-dan
6: Shibano Toramaru 9-dan, Mizokami Tomochika 9-dan
5: Yamashiro Hiroshi 9-dan, Sotoyanagi Sebun 4-dan, Kono Mitsuki 8-dan

To 8-dan: Anzai Nobuaki (150 wins, as of Sept. 27)


The Nihon Ki-in has long had a system of “quasi-professionals.” Players who failed to qualify as professionals by the age deadline are able to become professional teachers, though they cannot play in tournaments. They have also played a part in go history. They do not play in a promotion tournament, but are periodically granted promotions. In recognition of their long years of service, the four quasi-professionals registered at the Nihon Ki-in were each promoted a rank on August 30 (the decision was made by the board of directors). Details follow. To 5-dan: Sumino Sachiyo (age 99). To 4-dan: Kawamura Noriko (turned 77 on Oct. 17); Kobayashi Takayuki (age 66); Mizuno Yoshika (also 66). Ms. Sumino was a disciple of Kubomatsu Katsukiyo 8-dan; she was married to the late Sumino Tsunehiro 9-dan, a member, like her, of the Kansai branch of the Nihon Ki-in; the late Kubouchi Shuchi 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in was her elder brother. Kobayashi is the second of the four go-playing siblings Chizu 6-dan, Kenji 7-dan, and Satoru 9-dan. The last-mentioned has won the Kisei title and is at present chairman of the board of directors of the Nihon Ki-in. 


Koyama Hideo 5-dan retired as of September 28. Born on February 26, 1951, in Tokyo, Koyama became a disciple of Kitani Minoru. He became 1-dan in 1974 and reached 5-dan in 1989. After his retirement, he was promoted to 6-dan. 


The Power Report: New Honinbo League starts; Ueno doing well in 1st Hoban Cup; Sumire promoted to 3-dan; Sumire’s progress

Tuesday October 25, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

New Honinbo League starts

Top left: Choi Jeong at the Hoban Cup; top right: Li He of China; bottom right: Ueno wins; bottom left: Ueno being checked for electronic devices.

The first game in the 78th Honinbo League was played on October 3. Yo Seiki (W) 8-dan beat league newcomer Fujita Akihiko 7-dan by 3.5 points.

Ueno doing well in 1st Hoban Cup

The Hoban Cup Seoul Newspaper World’s Women’s Baduk Championship is a new international tournament for female teams. Its main sponsors are the Hoban Construction company and the Seoul Newspaper and it is organized by the Korean Baduk Association. First prize is 100,000,000 won (about $69,400 at $1 = 1440.8 won).

The second round was held on the net in mid-October. China dominated the first round, with Wu Yiming earning a promotion to 4-dan by winning five games in a row. After that, China and Japan each won a game. (See my report of June 22.) In the second round, Li He of China won two games in a row, then Ueno Asami of Japan won three in a row. However, China still has two players left.

Results to date:

Game 8 (Oct. 15). Li He 5-dan (China) (B) beat Fujisawa Rina 5-dan by resig. (193 moves).

Game 9 (Oct. 16) Li (W) beat Oh Yujin 9-dan (Korea) by resig. (166 moves).

Game 10 (Oct. 17). Ueno Asami 4-dan (Japan) (B) beat Li by resig. (183 moves).

Game 11 (Oct. 18). Ueno beat Choi Jeong 9-dan (Korea) by resig. (Korea was eliminated).

Game 12 (Oct. 19). Ueno (W) beat Lu Minquan 6-dan (China) by resig. (266 moves).

Sumire promoted to 3-dan

A win in the Teikei Young Stars tournament over Takei Taishin (see next item) on October 13, earned Sumire promotion to 3-dan. It was her 40th win in a game that counts toward promotion. At this stage, her career record was 120 wins to 60 losses, a statistic of interest for two reasons. One is that Sumire has a winning record of exactly two thirds, which is quite respectable. The other is that it shows that 50 of her wins (women’s tournaments, unofficial tournaments, etc.) don’t count for promotion. 

Moving on to new records: at 13 years seven months, Sumire is the second youngest 3-dan at the Nihon Ki-in, the record being held by Cho Chikun, at 13 years four months. However, she makes a big dent in the previous record for youngest female 3-dan, which was 16 years four months, set by Xie Yimin.

Sumire’s progress

The two wins in the TK Young Stars tournament listed below not only earned Sumire a promotion but also secured her a share of the lead in the most-wins list—see below. 

(Sept. 29) Sumire (B) beat Tsuji Hana 2-dan by resig. (Prelim., 10th Women’s Hollyhock Cup). 

(Oct. 6) Sumire (W) lost to Motoki Katsuya 8-dan resig. (Prelim. A, 48th Gosei).

(Oct. 13) Sumire (W) beat Yo Chito 6-dan by 5.5 points; Sumire (W) beat Takei Taishin 2-dan by resig. (prelim., 2nd TK Young Stars).

Tomorrow: Most wins; Most successive wins; Winning streaks recently ended; Promotion; Quasi-professionals; Retirement
UPDATE: The post has been updated to reflect Sumire’s promotion at 13 years seven months, making her the second youngest 3-dan at the Nihon Ki-in, the record being held by Cho Chikun, at 13 years four months (we had switched the promotion ages in our original post)


The Power Report: Tengen title match tied; Fujisawa makes good start in Women’s Honinbo; 47th Kisei tournament; Nong Shim Cup

Monday October 24, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Tengen title match tied

Left: Ida at the Tengen; top right: Fan Tingyu at the Nongshim; bottom right: Women’s Honinbo: Rina, Xie & Ueno reviewing game

The 49th Tengen best-of-five got off to a start on October 3, with the 20-year-old titleholder Seki Kotaro meeting the challenge of Ida Atsushi 9-dan, aged 28. Ida’s main claim to fame is that he challenged (unsuccessfully) for the Honinbo title in 2014; the previous year he won the 53rd Judan title and the 62nd NHK Cup. He won the latter at the age of 20 years 11 months, a youth record he still maintains. However, this is his first title match for six years.

The first game was played at the Ise Kaguraba Resort in Ise City, Mie Prefecture. Ida, who had white, played his first move on the centre point or “tengen.” He continued positively, sacrificing a group on the side so he would wall off one side of the center. Ida achieved his aim of starting large-scale fighting in the center, but at a crucial point he played a purely territorial move instead of continuing the fight and this may have cost him the game. Black was able to maintain his territorial lead. Ida resigned after Black 199.

The second game was played at the Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo on October 18. Ida (B) won by 1.5 points. The third game will be played on November 14. 

Fujisawa makes good start in Women’s Honinbo

The 41st Women’s Honinbo title match, a best-of-five, features the most common pairing in women’s go in Japan: Fujisawa Rina vs. Ueno Asami. The 24-year-old Fujisawa and 20-year-old Ueno (21 on October 26) have met in nine title matches; Fujisawa has enjoyed more success so far, having won six of these. Overall, Fujisawa has won 21 titles to Ueno’s nine, but her longer career accounts for some of that. This is the ninth year in a row she has played in this title match.

The first game was played at the Kashoen, a traditional Japanese inn, in Hanamaki Hot Spring, Iwate Prefecture, on October 4. Fujisawa drew black in the nigiri and won by resignation after 253 moves. The second game will be played on October 23.

47th Kisei tournament

First of all, Shibano Toramaru 9-dan finished off the S League with a perfect record. The last remaining game in the 47th Kisei S League was played on September 26. Shibano (B) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by resignation to end on 5-0. The two Kansai Ki-in players, Yo Seiki and Murakawa Daisuke, drop down to the A League.

The final irregular knock-out to decide the Kisei challenger is now under way. Results follow. 

(Oct. 6). Otake Yu 7-dan (C League winner) (B) beat Suzuki Shinji 7-dan (B League winner) by 1.5 points.

(Oct. 13) Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (winner of A League) (W) beat Otake by half a point.

Nong Shim Cup

China has made the best start in Round 1 of the 24th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup. Only four games are played in the opening round and Fan Tingyu of China has won three of them. Actually, the surprise was to see him lose in the 4th game, as he has twice won seven games in a row in this tournament.

Game 1 (Oct. 11). Fan Tingyu 9-dan (China) (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 9-dan (Japan) by resig.

Game 2 (Oct. 12). Fan (W) beat Shin Minjun 9-dan (Korea) by resig.

Game 3 (Oct. 13). Fan (B) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 9-dan (Japan) by resig.

Game 4 (Oct. 14). Kang Dongyun 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Fan by resig.

The second round will start on November 25.

Tomorrow: New Honinbo League starts; Ueno doing well in 1st Hoban Cup; Sumire promoted to 3-dan; Sumire’s progress


The Power Report: Oh wins Go Seigen Cup; Sakai wins King of the New Stars; Hirata wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Shibano increases lead in Meijin title match, Iyama fights back

Sunday October 23, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Oh wins Go Seigen Cup

Top left: Meijin, Shibano at left; top right: Iyama; bottom right: Agon winner Hirata; bottom left: King New Stars, Sakai at right.

The best-of-three final of the 5th Go Seigen Cup was held on the net at the end of September. Oh Yujin 9-dan of Korea beat Wang Chenxing 5-dan of China 2-0. This is Oh’s first victory in this tournament. She also won the 7th Bingsheng Cup in 2016.

Game One (Sept. 27). Oh (B) by resig.

Game Two (Sept. 28). Oh (W) by resig.

Sakai wins King of the New Stars

The best-of-three final of the 47th King of the New Stars was fought between Otake Yu 7-dan and Sakai Yuki 3-dan. Otake had been enjoying good results this year, so he was the favorite, but Sakai showed that his rank was lagging behind his real strength. As noted in my previous report, his win in the first game of this match put an end to a winning streak by Otake of thirteen.

The second game was played at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya on September 30. Taking black, Otake took the lead, but in the endgame, which is supposed to be his forte, he blundered, allowing Sakai to stage an upset. The latter won by 1.5 points after 285 moves. This is the 18-year-old Sakai’s first title.

Here are details of the tournament. Players are eligible if they are 6-dan and under and 25 and under on August 1 when a new term of the tournament starts. Since the 32nd term, winners graduate from the tournament. Before this rule came in, many players won a number of terms, the record being five times, achieved by Yoda Norimoto, closely followed by Yamashita Keigo, who won it four times in a row. Playing time is 3 hours each for the main tournament and the title match. First prize is ¥2,000,000 (about $13,450 at $1 = ¥148.7).

Hirata wins Agon Kiriyama Cup

The final of the 29th Agon Kiriyama Cup was played in a tea house called the Kagyuan (Snail’s Hermitage) in the grounds of the headquarters of the Agon sect in Yamashina Ward, Kyoto City, on October 1. Playing black, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan prevailed in a tight endgame contest and beat Iyama Yuta Meijin Honinbo by 1.5 points. This is Hirata’s first win in a tournament open to all players; the game was his first ever with Iyama. He won the 14th Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp tournament in 2019. Iyama has won this tournament five times.

Shibano increases lead in Meijin title match, Iyama fights back

The fourth game in the 47th Meijin title match was held at the Takarazuka Hotel, Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture, on October 6 and 7. Taking white, Shibano Toramaru won by resignation after 208 moves. Iyama Yuta did not make any big mistakes, but some of his play in the middle game was a little dubious. Shibano took the lead and was able to hang on to it until the end. He now led the match 3-1, so his chance of making a comeback as Meijin looked good.

The fifth game was played at the Imai Residence in the town of Kawazu in Shizuoka Prefecture on October 12 and 13. Iyama suffered from a hallucination in the middle-game fighting, so Shibano took the lead. However, he made a miscalculation later on in the middle game, and that allowed Iyama to pull off an upset. 

With a 3-2 lead, Shibano still has the advantage, but he will have bitter memories of last year’s Honinbo title match in which he lost three games in a row after taking a 3-1 lead. The sixth game will be played on October 24 and 25.

Tomorrow: Tengen title match tied; Fujisawa makes good start in Women’s Honinbo; 47th Kisei tournament; Nong Shim Cup