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The Power Report: Iyama Takes Game 5 To Win Honinbo; Fujisawa Rina Wins First Title; Kono Makes Good Start In Gosei Challenge; Kisei Leagues; Yamashita Misses First Chance To Win 39th Meijin League

Saturday July 12, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Takes Game 5 To Win Honinbo: Iyama Yuta (at right) completed his Honinbo title defense by winning the fifth round to take the title 4-1 over Ida Atsushi in the best-of-seven match. The fifth game was played at the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture on June 30 and July 1. It was a very difficult game featuring attack and counterattack, and the players following the game in the anteroom at the tournament venue had a lot of trouble predicting the moves. The fighting spilled over from the left side into the center and then into the bottom, but eventually came to a peaceful end with Ida (W) capturing some black stones. A tense endgame fight followed, with Ida using up all his time allowance for the first time. Ida had a good position, but on move 198 he missed a move that would have secured him a win by 2.5 or 3.5 points (according to the newspaper commentator, Yo Seiki 7P). Then, on move 212, Ida made a fatal mistake; the move was played in the final minute of byo-yomi after the game recorder had read out ‘nine’. In conducting the 30-second byo-yomi, the recorder reads out ‘ten seconds,’ ‘twenty seconds,’ then ‘one’ to ‘ten’ for the final ten seconds. If he reads out ‘ten,’ the player loses on time. The move Ida played under this pressure let Iyama upset his lead. Iyama increased his lead after that and was ahead by ten points on the board when Ida resigned on move 247. Click here for Younggil An’s game commentary on Go Game Guru.
In winning the Honinbo League, Ida Atsushi added to his budding reputation for deep and accurate reading and fighting ability, but in this title series Iyama showed that he was more than a match for him. This is Iyama’s 24th title and he has also maintained his sextuple crown, currently holding six out of seven of the major Japanese go titles (the only one he doesn’t currently hold is the Judan). Just to review his record here, he first achieved the sextuple crown when he won the Kisei title in March 2013; he lost the Judan title in the following month, but resumed his sextuple crown when he won the Meijin title in October. He has now kept it for eight months.

Fujisawa Rina Wins First Title: The final of the 1st Aizu Central Hospital Cup Women’s Tournament was held at the Konjakutei, a traditional inn, in Higashiyama Hot Spring, Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture on June 26 and 27. Fujisawa Rina 2P (left), playing black, beat Okuda Aya 3P by resignation after 193 moves. This victory will extend the illustrious history of the Fujisawa name in Japanese go; Fujisawa Rina is Fujisawa Shuko’s granddaughter. A number of records were set in this tournament. The prize of seven million yen is the biggest for a women’s tournament in Japan; the final was the first two-day game in a woman’s tournament; at fifteen years nine months, Fujisawa Rin became the youngest woman to win a title in Japan and also the youngest player of either sex to make a sealed move.

Kono Makes Good Start In Gosei Challenge: Kono Rin 9P has made a good start in his challenge for the 39th Gosei title. In the first game, played at the Matsushima Ichi-no-bo hotel in the town of Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture on June 26, Kono (B) secured a resignation after just 129 moves. After the game, Iyama expressed considerable regret about move 18, a move which seemed to put him on the back foot early in the game. Kono built thickness on the right side and went all out in attack when Iyama invaded. Rather than play negatively and attempt to live small, Iyama also went all out and tried to live on a large scale. However, Kono was able to bring down his group. Kono suffered straight losses in his Gosei challenge last year, so he has already improved on that performance. Iyama suffered his second title-match loss in a row; both games were short, which was perhaps due to Iyama’s aggressive play when he fell behind. The second game is scheduled for July 20.

Kisei Leagues: Recent results in the 39th Kisei Leagues are listed below. It may be a little early to talk about leaders, but just for the record there are four players on 2-0: Yamashita Keigo (right) and Kono Rin in the A League and Murakawa Daisuke and Kobayashi Satoru in the B League.
(June 26) (A League) Yamashita 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji Judan by resig.; Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 2.5 points; (B League) Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by resig.
(July 3) Cho Riyu (B) beat Cho Chikun by resig.

Yamashita Misses First Chance To Win 39th Meijin League: On 6-2, Yamashita Keigo was two wins clear of the field in the 39th Meijin League, but he missed his first chance to become the challenger when he dropped his seventh-round game to Cho U. The latter is now on 5-2 and will be hoping for Murakawa Daisuke to help him out by beating Yamashita in the final round. If Cho U won his last game, he would qualify for a play-off with Yamashita. At the other end of the league, Ko Iso, who has played all his games and won only two of them, is the first player to lose his place.
Below are results of games played since my last report.
(June 19) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke by resig.
(July 3) Cho U 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points; Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.

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The Power Report: Ida Picks Up First Win In Honinbo Title Match; Kisei Leagues; 39th Meijin League

Sunday June 22, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Ida Picks Up First Win In Honinbo Title Match:Faced with his first kadoban (a game that can lose a series) in the 69th Honinbo best-of-seven, Ida Atsushi 8P (right) fought strongly and killed a large group of his opponent, Iyama Yuta Honinbo. This keeps his chances of becoming the youngest tournament Honinbo alive, but Iyama will be doing his best to see that it’s just a consolation prize. The fourth game was played at the Olive Bay Hotel in the town of Saikai in Nagasaki Prefecture on June 18 and 19. Saikai is a ship-building center, and the Olive Bay Hotel is a luxury hotel built to accommodate customers. In the game, an invasion by Iyama, playing white, in the top right corner let Ida build strong thickness on the right side. Later, when Iyama invaded the bottom right as well, Ida countered very aggressively. With his 63rd move, he proclaimed his intention of killing White’s group. Iyama is usually an expert at rescuing weak groups, but not this time. He tried to turn the lost group into a sacrifice by aiming at a squeeze on the outside. When Ida foiled this, Iyama had to resign. The game lasted just 139 moves. This is Ida’s first win against Iyama. Avoiding the shut-out will be a big relief, while outfighting Iyama will give him confidence. Even so, the next game, scheduled for June 30 and July 1, will be another kadoban.

Kisei Leagues: Three games have been played in the 39th Kisei Leagues recently. The results are given below.
(June 12) (B League) Murakawa Daisuke (W) beat Cho Riyu8P by resig.
(June 19). (A League) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.; (B Leagu
e) Yoda Norimoto 9P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by resig.
In the A League, Kono Rin 9P, on 2-0, has the provisional lead. In the B League, Murakawa Daisuke 7P, on the same score, has the provisional lead.

39th Meijin League: In a game played on June 19, Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke by resig. Takao (left) is now 3-3, so his chances of keeping his place have improved. Murakawa drops to 1-5, so he is close to losing his place. Yamashita Keigo 9P, on 6-0, is two points clear of the field.

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The Power Report: Iyama Increases Lead in Honinbo; Yamashita Closer to Becoming Meijin Challenger

Friday June 6, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Increases Lead in Honinbo Title Match: Iyama Yuta (right) is now just one win away from defending his Honinbo title. In the third game of the 69th title match, played at the Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort in Abashiri City, Hokkaido, on June 4 and 5, Iyama (B) beat Ida Atsushi by resignation after 201 moves. Iyama had one minute left and Ida 18 minutes.
The game started with an innovation by Ida. After making a small-knight approach move to a star-point stone in the top right corner on move 6, answered by Iyama with a knight’s-move enclosure, Ida invaded on the 18-3 point (instead of the usual 17-3, that is, the 3-3 point). Iyama didn’t know what to do, so he switched elsewhere, for a while, but later there was complicated fighting linked to this move that continued for a large part of the game.  On the first day, there was a trade on the left side that seemed reasonable for Ida, and many observers thought that he had made the better start. On the second day, however, Ida seemed to miscalculate after launching an attack on Black; Iyama settled his group satisfactorily and took the lead. Ida started a ko fight, but was unable to catch up. In the end, Iyama had an unshakeable lead of ten points on the board, so Ida had to resign.
In this game, Iyama showed what a skillful all-round player he is: he attacks well, defends well, and does everything in-between well. Ida is now down to his last chance. The fourth game will be played on June 18 and 19.

Yamashita Closer to Becoming Meijin Challenger: Three games in the 39th Meijin League were played on June 5. Yamashita Keigo (B) beat Yuki Satoshi by resig.; Cho U (B) beat Ko Iso by half a point; and Hane Naoki (B) beat Ryu Shikun by 1.5 points. Yamashita (left) has maintained his two-point lead over the rest of the field, so he is edging closer and closer to a return match with Iyama Yuta Meijin. He just has to win one of his last two games, which are with Cho U and Murakawa Daisuke, to win the league outright. Both Cho U and Kono Rin have just two losses, so they still have an outside chance of making a play-off.

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The Power Report (Part 2): Iyama Extends Lead in Honinbo Title Match; Fujisawa and Okuda Reach Final of New Women’s Tournament; Promotions

Monday June 2, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Extends Lead in Honinbo Title Match: Ida Atsushi is an aggressive player and Iyama Yuta’s philosophy is to always look for the strongest move, so the 69th Honinbo best-of-seven is proving to be an exciting title match. The second game was held in the Old Inn Kaneyu, a traditional building that is nationally registered as a Tangible Cultural Asset, on May 25 and 26. Taking black, Ida set the tone of the game early when he chose an attacking move with Black 39 rather than a defensive one. If his move worked, he would swallow up a white group that was trying to reduce his main potential territory, but if it failed that territory would be ruined. Ida followed up with more attacking moves, so his play was consistent, but his 45th move was “probably an overplay,” according to Takao Shinji. Iyama (right) needed to secure a second eye for a cut-off group, but he counterattacked for over 50 moves before doing so. By the end of the fight, he had split Black into two weak groups in the centre while he had only one weak group. The pressure finally got to Ida on move 91, a mistake that overlooked a brilliant counter by White. Thereafter, Iyama took control of the game and, as usual, ratcheted up the pressure instead of coasting to a win on territory. Ida resigned after White 182. This game is full of brilliant tesujis accessible to players of all levels, so if you have access to it on the Net we recommend you play through it. Perhaps the highlight is a three-step hane by Iyama that gives Black a double atari, but ironically one that helps White more than Black. After the game, Ida consoled himself with the reflection that he was at least getting more used to two-day games. However, I can’t help wondering if he is using his time allowance effectively. In both games, Iyama was in byo-yomi, being down to his final three minutes, whereas Ida had 70 minutes left in this game and 55 minutes left in the first game.Two sidelights: This was the first time a Honinbo game was held in Aizu Wakamatsu for nearly half a century, the predecessor being the second game of the 20th title match between Sakata Eio Honinbo and Yamabe Toshiro. At the party held on eve of the game, Iyama was presented with a cake in a surprise celebration of his 25th birthday. He looked after his present himself. The third game, scheduled for June 4 and 5, is going to be a test of Ida’s mettle. To avoid being forced to a kadoban, he will have to beat Iyama with White, not an easy task.

Fujisawa and Okuda Reach Final of New Women’s Tournament: Few things would make Japanese go fans happier than to see Fujisawa Shuko’s granddaughter Rina (left) develop into a top player. She is already showing signs of potential, having reached the final of a new women’s tournament, the Aizu Central Hospital Cup. As the name shows, this tournament is sponsored by a hospital in Aizu Wakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture, the region which suffered the heaviest earthquake damage three years ago. The director of the hospital is a keen go player, and in an interview he said that at one time 20 of the doctors on the staff were go players who often held their own tournaments. His aim in sponsoring the tournament is to help raise the level of Japanese women so that they can compete better internationally. Most of the tournaments with regional sponsors that we report on are minor events, without substantial prize money, but this tournament is a serious affair. First prize is seven million yen, the top prize for a women’s tournament, and the final will be a two-day game June 26 and 27, which is a first for a women’s tournament. All 62 women players at the Nihon Ki-in and the Kansai Ki-in took part in preliminary rounds held during late January and early February to select seven finalists for the main tournament. Dual title-holder Xie Yimin was seeded in the eighth place. The quarterfinals and semifinals were held at the Konjakutei Inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in Aizu Wakamatsu City on May 24 and 25. Results follow.
Quarterfinals (May 24): Fujisawa Rina 2P (B) defeated Xie Yimin, Women’s Meijin & Kisei, by 2.5 points; Mannami Nao 3P (B) d. O Keii 2P by resig.; Okuda Aya 3P (B) d. Koyama Terumi 6P by 5.5 points; Ishii Akane 2P (B) d. Kato Keiko 6P by resig.
Semifinals (May 25): Fujisawa (W) d. Mannami by resig.; Okuda (B) d. Ishii by resig.

Promotions: To 4-dan: Terayama Rei (50 wins); To 3-dan: Ito Masashi (40 wins); To 2: dan: Takagi Junpei (30 wins)

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The Power Report (Part 1): Cho U Eliminated from Oza; Ichiriki Wins O-kage Cup; Kono to Challenge Again for Gosei; Kisei Leagues

Sunday June 1, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Cho U Eliminated from Oza: Cho U seems to have an affinity with the Oza tournament and has played in the title match six years in a row, winning it four times, then losing the last two matches to Iyama. Altogether, he has won this title seven times, but his good run has come to an end. In the first round of the final section of the main tournament (the round of 16), Cho (B) lost to Murakawa Daisuke 7P by half a point.

Ichiriki Wins O-kage Cup: The O-kage (literally “gratitude”) Cup is a tournament for players 30 and under sponsored by O-kage Alley, a street of tourist-related shops (many of them recreations of Edo-period buildings) in the street leading to Ise Shrine, which is one of the two most important Shinto shrines in Japan (the other being Izumo Shrine). The 5th Cup was held on May 15 and 16, with 16 young players taking part. Ichiriki Ryo (left), last year’s winner, followed up his victory in the Globis Cup the previous week with another victory. In the final, he beat Seto Taiki 7P (B) by resignation. This is the 5th minor title that the 16-year-old Ichiriki has won. Both these players will represent Japan in an international version of the title scheduled for the autumn.

Kono to Challenge Again for Gosei: Kono Rin 9P (right) will try to improve on his 2-3 loss to Iyama Yuta in last year’s Gosei title match. In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 39th title, Kono (B) beat Cho Riyu 8P by resig. The title match will begin on June 26. Cho missed out on his first chance to challenge for a title, but he should be back. Aged 32, Cho seems to have improved recently and he is enjoying good results. Born in Taiwan, Cho makes a big contribution to Japanese go by acting as a coach to young players in the national team; he often escorts Japanese representatives to international tournaments.

Kisei Leagues: All the games in the first round of the 38th Kisei A and B Leagues were played within the month. The A League got off to a start on May 22 and the first round of the B League was completed. The last game in the A League was played the following Thursday.
Results: (May 22) (A League) Takao Shinji Judan (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 3.5 points; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resig.; (B League) Cho Chikun (25th Honinbo Chikun) (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by resig. (May 29) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.
Tomorrow: Iyama Extends Lead in Honinbo Title Match; Fujisawa and Okuda Reach Final of New Women’s Tournament; Promotions

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The Power Report (Part 2): Iyama Makes Good Start In Honinbo Title Defense; Kisei B League Starts

Wednesday May 21, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Makes Good Start In Honinbo Title Defense: The difference in experience seemed to be a big factor in the opening game of the 69th Honinbo title match, which was held on May 14 and 15. Though still only 24 (until May 24), Iyama Yuta Honinbo (right) has already played in eleven best-of-sevens (and won seven of them). In contrast, Ida Atsushi 8P, at 20, was playing in his first title match and was the youngest player ever to challenge for the Honinbo title.

One advantage for Ida (left) is that this is the first time that Iyama has faced an opponent younger than himself in a title match, so he will now know how his seniors felt. The opening game was played in Ida’s home town of Suzuka in Mie Prefecture, so he also had the overwhelming support of the fans on the spot. The game was actually played in the Tsubaki Okami Yashiro, a Shinto shrine, in a building called the Sanshuden, which had just been renovated as a training center. This game was held to celebrate the upcoming official opening of the hall on May 18. The arrangements for an event like this are made many months in advance; Ida was a complete dark horse in the Honinbo league, so city officials had no way of knowing that a local player would be starring.

Ida drew white in the nigiri. The game started with his taking profit in three corners, letting Iyama build a moyo. Ida made an invasion on the right side and had to fight hard to settle his group. However, he then had to switch to another invasion at the top before he had made the side group completely alive. Iyama made a clever placement on the side that set up a double attack on the two groups and he was able to kill the one at the top. Ida was forced to resign after 197 moves.

The main impression from this game is of Iyama’s greater skill in fighting, but Ida seemed to improve round by round in the Honinbo league, so we can expect him to adapt rapidly to two-day games. His play with black in the second game, scheduled for May 25 and 26, will give an indication of how his challenge
will fare.

Kisei B League Starts: The first two games were played in the 39th Kisei B League on May 15. Murakawa Daisuke 7P (W) scored an upset half-point win over Yoda Norimoto 9P and Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Cho Riyu 8P by resignation. The A League starts on the 22nd.

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The Power Report (Part 1): Yamashita Increases Lead In Meijin League; Ichiriki Wins New International Tournament

Tuesday May 20, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Yamashita Increases Lead In Meijin League: Yamashita Keigo (right) hasn’t played a game in the 39th league since our last report, but his lead has opened up to two wins because of a loss suffered by Cho U. In a game played on May 8, Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) picked up his first win in the league by beating Cho by half a point. Cho drops back to 3-2, putting him in a three-way tie for second with Hane Naoki 9P and Ryu Shikun 9P. Yamashita is on 5-0, so he has a two-game cushion, which makes him an even better bet for challenger than he appeared to be in the Honinbo league. On the same day, Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke by resig. Murakawa slips to 1-4 and now will have a tough job keeping his place.

Ichiriki Wins New International Tournament: Japan had its best result in an international tournament for 17 years when its representatives took first and second place in the Globis Cup World Igo U-20. The official name notwithstanding, the tournament is open to players 20 and under (there is some confusion, as the Nihon Ki-in’s HP defines it as “under 20,”but the  Chinese player Lian Xiao turned 20 on April 8 ). At any rate, 16 top young players from Japan, China, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Europe, North America, and Oceania took part. The time system is NHK-style, that is 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes’ thinking time in one-minute units. The first round consists of four double-elimination mini-tournaments (similar to the opening round of the Samsung Cup). Four players compete in each, playing until they have two wins, thus qualifying for the quarterfinals, or two losses, thus being eliminated. The tournament was held from May 9 to 11.

Globis is a Japanese venture-capital company that also provides educational services in business and management. It runs its own university, the Graduate School of Management, Globis University, and the main force behind its sponsorship is the college president, Hori Yoshito, a keen go player.

Because of their outstanding results recently, the players from Korea and China were considered the favorites, especially Lian Xiao 7-dan of China, who won the 15th Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off with Japan last December. Local fans were surprised and pleased, therefore, to see two of the Japanese representatives make the final. One was Ichiriki Ryo (left), who was recently promoted to 7-dan for winning a place in one of the current Kisei leagues; the other was Kyo Kagen 2P, a Taiwanese-born player, who has been doing very well this year (he is top of the most-wins list at present, with a 23-4 record, including 17 wins in a row; Ichiriki is in second place with 20-2).

Both Ichiriki and Kyo qualified quickly for the quarterfinals with two straight wins; one of the players falling by the wayside with 1-2 was Ida Atsushi, who is now challenging for the Honinbo title. Ichiriki beat Na Hyeon 4P of Korea in the quarterfinals and Lian Xiao 7P of China in the semifinals; Kyo first beat Li Qincheng 1P, then Xia Chenkun 3P, both of China. In the final, Ichiriki (black) beat Kyo by resignation after 155 moves. In the play-off for third place, Lian beat Xia. First prize is worth 3,000,000 yen (close to $30,000), second 500,000, and third 200,000.
Tomorrow: Iyama Makes Good Start In Honinbo Title Defense; Kisei B League Starts
photo (bottom left): Ichiriki Ryo 7 dan plays Kyo Kagen 2 dan at the 1st GLOBIS Cup; photo courtesy Go Game Guru

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The Power Report (Part 2): Kono and Yuki Secure Kisei League Places; Japanese Team Plays in Chinese League; Yamashita Keeps Sole Lead in Meijin League

Monday May 5, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Kono and Yuki Secure Kisei League Places: The remaining two vacant seats in the 39th Kisei Leagues were decided on April 21. In the play-offs, Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. and Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) beat Mizokami Tomochika 8P by resig. Kono (right) has made an immediate comeback after being eliminated in the previous league; this will be his 7th Kisei league in a row. He has kept his seat in the Honinbo League and is playing in the current Meijin League, so he is one of only two players (the other is Yamashita Keigo) to be a member of all three leagues. Yuki will be playing in his ninth Kisei league and reappears after a five-year gap; he made an unsuccessful challenge for the 29th Kisei title. Incidentally, he played this game three days after losing the Judan title, so it seems he has not been crushed by this reverse.

Japanese Team Plays in Chinese League: This year, too, a Japanese team competed in the Chinese league. Known as the China-Japan Friendship team, it was composed of Ida Atsushi 8P, Yo Seiki 7P, Yo Chito 2P, and Kyo Kagen 2P; apart from Ida, these players were all born in Taiwan. The team played in the C League and took 5th place out of 22 teams. The league was held in Hangzhou City from April 21 to 29; the Japanese team scored two wins, four draws, and one loss, giving it eight points (out of a possible 14). The top three teams are promoted to the B League. Ida, who will launch his challenge to Iyama Yuta for the Honinbo title in mid-May, scored 4-3, Yo Seiki 2-5, Yo Chito 3-4, and Kyo an impressive 7-0.

Yamashita Keeps Sole Lead in Meijin League: With a win over Ryu Shikun 9P on May 1, Yamashita Keigo (left) remained the only undefeated player in the 39th Meijin League. He is now 5-0. Ryu’s loss meant that he dropped out of second place. Cho U 9P has won his fourth game and, with 3-1, is now in sole second place. Yamashita is the favorite, but he also led the Honinbo League throughout only to stumble right at the end.
Recent results:
(April 14) Yamashita (W) beat Kono Rin 90 by 3.5 points.
(April 24) Cho U (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by 2.5 points.
(May 1) Yamashita (W) beat Ryu by resig.; Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.

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The Power Report (Part 1): Takao Makes Comeback as Judan; Iyama Sets New Prize Money Record; Computer versus Yoda

Sunday May 4, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Takao Makes Comeback as Judan: Six years after he last won a top-seven title, Takao Shinji 9P (left) has made a comeback, taking the Judan title from Yuki Satoshi with a win in the final game of the 52nd title match. Takao started off well in the best-of-five, winning the first game by half a point, but then the title holder fought back with his own half-point win, then took the lead in the third game. Takao saved his first kadoban in the fourth game, then won the deciding game. Below are details of the games played since my last report.
The third game was played at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in Omachi City in Nagano Prefecture on April 10. Omachi, a town set at the foot of the Japan Alps, calls itself ‘the Alps igo village’ and actively promotes the game among its citizens. The Kuroyon Royal Hotel has hosted a game from the Judan title match for 21 years in a row. The game featured complicated fighting, but was evenly poised in the late middle game. Instead of taking some profit on move 158, Takao chose to attack an isolated black group. However, this backfired on him: Yuki found a clever tesuji to secure life and at the same time took the lead on territory.
The fourth game was held at the Kansai Ki-in in Osaka, Yuki’s home ground, on April 17. Playing with white, Yuki focussed a little too much on building thickness in the opening, letting Takao take the lead in territory. Yuki did his best to use his thickness to harass Black, but he missed his best opportunity to attack a weak black group. With no scope to create complications, Yuki resigned after Black 169.
The final game was played on Takao’s home ground, the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, on April 21. In the nigiri to decide colors, Takao drew black. In the middle game, he played riskily because he thought he was behind, but that actually gave Yuki the chance to make a powerful attack, which really did put Takao behind. However, Takao managed to set up a double attack on two white groups. Yuki saved one of them, but slipped up with the other, missing the only move that would have saved it. He resigned after 167 moves.
This is Takao’s 13th title. Incidentally, he broke the monopoly of the top seven titles enjoyed by Osakan players since Iyama won the Meijin title in October last year.

Iyama Sets New Prize Money Record: Not surprisingly, considering he set a new record by winning six of the top seven titles, Iyama Yuta (right) also set a new record for most prize money won in one year. Often there is quite a big gap between first and second in this list, with the top player sometimes making twice as much as the next player; not so in 2013: Iyama earned over four and a half times as much as Cho U. Below is the list of the top ten (amounts are in yen). Note that these sums do not include income from teaching etc.
1. Iyama Yuta: 164,613,000 (about $1,600,000)
2. Cho U: 35,241,200
3. Takao Shinji: 30,846,000
4. Yamashita Keigo: 30,630,200
5. Kono Rin: 23,210,192
6. Xie Yimin: 14,582,100
7. Hane Naoki: 14,052,431
8. Kobayashi Satoru: 11,134,600
9. Mizokami Tomochika: 10,973,600
10. Shida Tatsuya: 10,420,500

Computer versus Yoda: Games between computers and professionals seem to be popular these days. In February, the program Zen played a series of 9×9 games and got within half a point of its professional opponent in one of them. On March 21, Yoda Norimoto 9P played two four-stone handicap games against Zen and another program, CrazyStone. Yoda beat Zen by resignation, but lost to CrazyStone by 2.5 points (Black gave a komi of half a point). In the UEC Cup, a computer-go tournament, held just before this, Zen had taken first place and CrazyStone second. Yoda’s comments after the games implied that he benefited from familiarity with Zen’s style of play, whereas he knew nothing about CrazyStone.

Tomorrow: Kono and Yuki Secure Kisei League Places; Japanese Team Plays in Chinese League; Yamashita Keeps Sole Lead in Meijin League

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The Power Report (Part 3): Cho U Advances in Chunlan Cup; Ida Becomes Honinbo Challenger; Meijin League Update; Promotions; Obituary: Yoshida Yoichi

Thursday April 10, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Cho U Advances in Chunlan Cup: The opening rounds of the 10th Chunlan Cup, another Chinese-sponsored international tournament, were held in the city of Taizhou in China on March 26 and 28. Japan had five players seeded in the first round, of whom four won their games, but only Cho U (right) survived the second round. Full results for the opening rounds are given below (note that individual seeds, as opposed to country seeds, join the tournament in the second round).
Round 1 (March 26). Iyama (W) beat Wang Yuanjun 7P (Chinese Taipei) by half a point; Tang Weixing 9P (China) (B) beat Yamashita Keigo by resig.; Cho U 9P (B) beat Fan Hui 2P (Europe) by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Fan Tingyu 9P (China) by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 7P (B) beat Lian Xiao 7P by resig.; Gu Li 9P (China) (B) beat Kim 4P (Korea) by resig.; Tuo Jiaxi 9P (China) (B) beat Jiang Mingjiu 7P (North America) by resig; Mi Yuting 9P (China) (B) beat Mok Chin-seok 9P (Korea) by resig. (Black won seven out of eight games.)
Round 2 (March 28). Zhou Ruiyang 9P (China) (B) beat Iyama by resig.; Cho U (W) beat Jiang Weijie 9P (China) by resig.; Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (W) beat Kono by resig.; Shi Yue 9P (China) b. Murakawa by resig.; Gu Li 9P (China) (B) beat Yi Se-tol 9P (Korea) by resig.; Pak Cheong-hwan 9P (Korea) (W) beat Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig.; Mi (B) beat Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P (Korea) by resig.; Kim Chi-seok 9P (Korea) (W) beat Tuo by resig.
There are five Chinese, two Koreans and one Japanese representative in the quarterfinals. Pairings are: Cho vs. Gu, Shi vs. Zhou, Pak vs. Chen, and Kim vs. Mi.

Ida Becomes Honinbo Challenger: There was a big upset at the end of the 69th Honinbo League. Going into the final round, held on April 3, only two players were in the running: Yamashita Keigo, on 6-0, and Ida Atsushi (left), on 5-1. To become the challenger, Ida would have to beat Yamashita twice in a row. Surprising many go fans, who had expected to see the third big match between Iyama and Yamashita in less than a year (after the 2013 Meijin and 2014 Kisei matches), he managed to do this, winning the play-off held on April 7. This win also earned him an automatic promotion to 8-dan for becoming a big-three challenger, following his jump from 4-dan to 7-dan when he entered the league last year. Ida just turned 20 on March 15. The title match starts on May 14. Below are league results since my last report.
(24 March) Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.
Final round (April 3) Ida Atsushi 7P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by half a point; Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by 4.5 points; Kono Rin 9P (B) Sakai Hideyuki 8P by 3.5 points; Yuki Satoshi Judan beat Cho U 9P by forfeit. (Cho thought the game was at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, but when he turned up there learned that it was in Osaka. He published an apology in the current Go Weekly.)
Play-off (April 7) Ida (W) won by 5.5 points.
Placings in the league are as follows: 2nd, Yamashita; 3rd, Cho U (4-3); 4th, Kono Rin (4-3). Losing their places are Yuki Satoshi (3-4), Yo Seiki (3-4), Takao Shinji (1-6), and Sakai Hideyuki (1-6).

Meijin League Update: Ryu Shikun 9-dan (right), a strong player who has been lying low over the last decade, is doing well in the 39th Meijin League. With three wins, Yamashita Keigo is still in the lead, but Ryu, on 3-1, is following hard on his heels, along with Kono Rin 9P (3-1) and Cho U 9P (2-1).
Recent results:
(March 27) Ryu Shikun 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.
(April 3) Murakawa Daisuke 7P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

Promotions: To 2-dan: Kyo Kagen (30 wins)

Obituary: Yoshida Yoichi
Yoshida Yoichi 9-dan, a member of the Kansai branch of the Nihon Ki-in, died on March 26. Born on October 7, 1935, he became a disciple of Hosokawa Chihiro (Senjin). He made 1-dan in 195, reached 9-dan in 1977 and retired in 1997. 

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