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The Power Report: Over-40 Lightning Go Tournament; Honinbo League; Murakawa reaches Kisei play-off; Women’s Meijin League; Obituary: Hiroe Katsuhiko

Thursday November 12, 2015

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Over-40 Lightning Go Tournament: The term “haya-go” is usually translated as “rapid go,” and a haya-go in the NHK format actually 2015.11.12_O Rissei Haya-gotakes around 90 minutes. In the Over-40 Lightning Go Tournament, which is open to veteran Nihon Ki-in players, the term “lightning” is justified, as the time allowance is ten seconds per move (plus three minutes’ thinking time). This is actually the second term of this unofficial tournament, but I think I missed the first last year. In the original, the name reads “OVER40 Haya-go Tonamento-sen,” but, if the report in Go Weekly is correct, this should be “40 or over.” First, 56 players competed in four preliminary blocks, held on October 27. These were won by O Meien 9P, Nakaonoda Tomomi 9P, Oya Koichi 9P, and O Rissei 9P; they qualified for the main tournament, held on November 7. Cho Sonjin, the winner of the first tournament, lost to Nakaonoda in the final of his block. In the semifinals, held on the morning of November 7, the time expanded to 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes’ thinking time, that is, the NHK format. O Meien beat Oya and O Rissei beat Nakaonoda. In the final, held in the afternoon of the same day, Rissei (W) beat Meien by resignation (photo). First prize is 500,000 yen.
Honinbo League: Good starts for Ida and Motoki: As a former challenger, Ida Atsushi Judan probably feels he has a lot to prove in the Honinbo League, especially against a junior player. In his opening game in the 71st league, played on October 29, Ida (B) defeated Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resignation. In his debut game, the 20-year-old Motoki Katsuya, a newly minted 7-dan by virtue of winning his league place, beat veteran player Cho U 9P, also by resignation. Motoki had white. This completes the opening round of the league.

Murakawa reaches Kisei play-off: Yamada Kimio 9P’s charge through the knock-out section of the Kisei tournament was halted when he ran into Murakawa Daisuke Oza, second-place winner in the S League, on October 29. Taking black, Murakawa won by 2.5 points. That meant that for the third year in a row, the play-off to decide the challenger would pit Murakawa against Yamashita. The big difference is that previously, as the winners of the old A and B Leagues, they met on even terms. This time Yamashita starts the play-off with a one-win advantage, so the only way Murakawa can become the challenger is by winning two in a row. (This play-off is referred to by Go Weekly as “an irregular best-of-three,” the fact that there can never be three games played justifying the adjective.)

Women’s Meijin League: Fujisawa suffers setback: The fourth round of the 28th Women’s Meijin League was completed on November 2 when Okuda Aya 3P (W) defeated Fujisawa Rina by resignation. This was Fujisawa’s first loss, putting her on 2-1, so she dropped into a tie for third place with Mannami Nao 3P. The sole lead is held by Aoki Kikuyo 8P, on 3-0, and Okuda is second. Thanks to her number-two ranking, Aoki just has to win two of her remaining three games to win the league. See chart at left for standings.2015.11.12_Womens Meijin league chart


Obituary: Hiroe Katsuhiko
Hiroe Katsuhiko died of an eating disorder on October 27 at the age of 75. Born in Gifu Prefecture, Hiroe was a disciple of Sakai Toshio 8P. He qualified as 1-dan in 1960 at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in and reached 7-dan in 1981. He was promoted to 8-dan when he retired in 2006. Hiroe Hiroyuki 9P is his son.

 

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The Power Report (2): Fujisawa Rina makes good start in title defense; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama wins Agon Kiriyama title

Tuesday October 13, 2015

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2014.10.13_WomHon1 Rina right

Fujisawa Rina makes good start in title defense: The first game of the 34th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Kashoen inn in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture on October 8. It matches the 17-year-old titleholder Fujisawa Rina (right) against Xie Yimin, who held this title for six years in a row. This is the first title match between the two, and it gives us some insight into what the next five years will look like. If Xie can win, the age of Xie, who now holds two titles, may continue. If Fujisawa wins, she may displace Xie from the top position. At the party on the eve of the game, Fujisawa commented that playing a match with Xie had been one of her goals. Perhaps she didn’t expect to play her first match with her as the defending champion. Xie, who will be 26 on November 16, commented that this was her first match with a younger player. Taking white, Fujisawa beat Xie by 2.5 points after 290 moves. The game was decided by a ko fight in the endgame. The second game will be played on October 18.

Women’s Meijin League: In a game played on October 8, Suzuki Ayumi 6P (W) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by resig. As the previous challenger, Suzuki is the number one-ranked player in the league, but this is her first win after two losses. Chinen has already suffered four losses, so she 2015.10.13_22agon_finalis teetering on the edge of demotion. Joint leaders are Fujisawa Rina and Aoki Kikuyo 8P on 2-0.

Promotion: 
To 2-dan: Shibano Toramaru (aged 16) (30 wins; promoted as of Oct. 9)

Iyama wins Agon Kiriyama title: The final of the 22nd Agon Kiriyama Cup was held at the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon sect in Kyoto on October 10. Iyama Yuta (left), playing black, beat Kyo Kagen 3P by resig. after 187 moves. This is the fourth time Iyama has won this title, which matches Cho U’s record. The play-off between the Japanese and Chinese titleholders will be held in China on December 25.

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The Power Report: Aoki makes good start in Women’s Meijin; Awaji scores 1000th win; Yuki wins 24th Ryusei; Grand slams update

Monday September 28, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Aoki makes good start in Women’s Meijin League: The last game of the third round of the 28th Women’s Meijin League was played on September 24. Taking black, Aoki Kikuyo 8P beat Chinen Kaori 4P by resig. Aoki is now 2-0 (she had a bye in the second round), so she shares the provisional lead with Fujisawa Rina, also on 2-0 (she has a bye in this round).

Awaji scores 1000th win: A win in Preliminary B of the 64th Oza tournament on September 24 was Awaji Shuzo 9P’s 1000th official win.2015.09.28_Awaji Shuzo Awaji (right) is the 17th player at the Nihon Ki-in to reach this landmark. His record is 592 losses, 3 jigo, and 1 no-result, a winning percentage of 62.6. Awaji was born on August 13, 1948 in Tokyo. He became a disciple of Ito Tomoe 7P, made 1-dan in 1968 and reached 9-dan in 1984. He also graduated from the College of Law (note that this is not the same as a law school in the US) of Aoyama Gakuin University. He has won four minor titles, but challenged unsuccessfully for the Gosei, Tengen, Honinbo and Meijin titles.

Yuki wins 24th Ryusei tournament: Yuki Satoshi 9P won the 24th Ryusei tournament by default. On the day of the final, Cho Chikun’s wife fell critically ill (she died the following day), so he was unable to play. The result was just revealed in this week’s Go Weekly because the organizers took a while to make their decision. Nonetheless, this counts as a title for Yuki and is his 13th (he is now 21st on the all-time list).

Grand slams update: With the theoretical revival of Iyama’s chance of achieving a simultaneous grand slam of the top seven titles, Go Weekly published some statistics. Three players have scored a cumulative grand slam: Cho Chikun, Cho U, and Iyama Yuta. Three players have won six of the top seven: the late Kato Masao (missing the Kisei), Rin Kaiho (missing the Kisei), and Yamashita Keigo (missing the Judan despite three challenges). Next is Kobayashi Koichi with five (missing the Honinbo and the Oza). They are followed by three players who have won four: Otake Hideo, Takao Shinji, and Hane Naoki. Note that this list refers only to current titles. Sakata Eio won seven titles in 1961 and 1964 (in the latter year the only open title he missed out on was the Judan). The final stage of the 54th Judan tournament starts on October 1. Both Iyama and Yamashita have made the final 20.

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Iyama wins third straight Meijin game, threatening to sweep Takao

Sunday September 27, 2015

The third game of the 40th Meijin title match was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture on September 24 and 25. Playing2015.09.27_Iyama wins game 3 white, Iyama Yuta Meijin beat Takao Shinji Tengen by resignation after 148 moves. Iyama now needs just 2015.09.27_Meijin-Game 3one more win to defend his title. Eighty moves were played on the first day, and Takao commented: “I spoiled it on the first day.” Actually, however, according to Go Weekly, he did not play any moves that could clearly be labeled as dubious. Rather, as Takao indicated after the game, he had regrets about some of his moves, as in retrospect he didn’t feel that they were the best attacking moves. Thanks to his skill at settling weak groups, Iyama seems to have gained a slight edge. On the second day, Iyama drew further ahead. In the end, Takao had to play unreasonably, and Iyama wrapped up the game by attacking and bringing down a large group. The fourth game will be played on October 5 and 6. The pressure on Takao has increased; he will want to avoid a repeat of his 0-4 loss to Iyama in the 35th Meijin title match. This, by the way, is Iyama’s 13th successive win. He is now fourth on the list of most games won. He probably has more games left this year than most of his rivals, so he should move up a place or two.
– John Power

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The Power Report (2): Kyo Kagen wins two junior titles; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama ekes out narrow win in Meijin

Tuesday September 22, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kyo Kagen wins two junior titles: Kyo Kagen 3-dan (right) is continuing his impressive form and has won two titles in the last week. On 2015.09.21_Kyo wins King of New StarsSeptember 13, the semifinals and final of the 2nd Yucho Cup Youth Championship/Nakano Koji Memorial 2015.09.21_King of New Stars Game 2were held at the Nihon Ki-in. In the semifinals, which started at noon, Kyo (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig. and Motoki Katsuya 7P (W) beat Son Makoto 3P, also by resig. The final started at 3 o’clock, and Kyo (B) beat Motoki by resig. after 143 moves. This is an unofficial title sponsored by the post office bank (Yucho) for players under 21 and under 8-dan. Kyo also won the 10th term of the Nakano Cup, the predecessor of this tournament. These games were sandwiched in-between the first and second games of the 40th King of the New Stars title match. In the first game, played on September 11, Kyo (B) beat Hirata Tomoya 4P by resig. after 175 moves. In the second game (September 16, above left), Kyo (W) won by resig. after 194 moves, so he took the title with straight wins. This is his first official title. He turns 18 on the 24th.
2015.09.21_womens-meijin-league-chart
Women’s Meijin League: One game in the 28th Women’s Meijin League was played on September 10. Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo (W) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by 7.5 points. On 2-0, Fujisawa shared the lead with Mannami Nao 3P. This game completed the second round. On September 17, Okuda Aya 3P (W) defeated Mannami Nao by resig. and Kato Keiko 6P (B) defeated Suzuki Ayumi 6P by 3.5 points. Mannami is now 2-1, along with Okuda. If Fujisawa Rina wins her third-round game, she will have the sole lead.

2015.09.21_A painful half-point lossIyama ekes out narrow win in Meijin: The second game of the 40th Meijin title match was played at the Hotel Oncri (written “onkuri” in Japanese) in the hot spring resort of Furuyu in Saga City, Kyushu on September 17 and 18. After very complicated fighting in the first 150 moves, the challenger, Takao Shinji 9P, took the lead around move 170, but he slipped up at least twice in the endgame, letting Iyama Yuta Meijin catch up and then stage an upset. Iyama, who had black, won by half a point (right). Losing a game like this is very painful and puts the challenger under a lot of pressure. Incidentally, this win was Iyama’s twelfth in a row. Another statistic: this win by the player with black stopped a winning streak of seven by White in games between these two players. Overall, Iyama now leads Takao 25-13, and White has won 23 of these games. The third game will be played on September 24 and 25.

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The Power Report (1): Iyama to challenge for two more titles; Kisei Leagues

Monday September 21, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama to challenge for two more titles: At present, Iyama (right) has four titles — Kisei, Meijin, Honinbo, and Gosei — but he is making a 2015.09.21_Two in a row for Iyamadetermined effort to retrieve the glory days of his sextuple crown. All he has to do is to win back the two titles he lost towards the end of last year. His campaign is running smoothly and last week he won the play-offs to decide the Oza and Tengen challengers.

2015.09.21_Iyama (L) beat Yo Seiki in Oza play-offFirst of all, the final of the 63rd Oza tournament was held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on Monday, September 7. Iyama (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in by resignation after 157 moves (left). This earned him a rematch with Murakawa Daisuke Oza, also of the Kansai Ki-in, who took the title from him last year. Murakawa showed tenacity in recovering from a 1-2 deficit to win two games in a row. Yo Seiki has been securing excellent results recently, regaining his Honinbo League seat immediately after dropping out and reaching the best eight in an international tournament, the LG Cup, but if you want to take a title in Japan, virtually the only way to do so is by defeating Iyama Yuta. Interviewed after the game, Iyama commented: “Since losing in the Oza match last year, the desire to return to the same stage has been one of the major factors motivating me. I hope to make a better showing than last year.” 

Later in the same week, on Thursday, September 10, the play-off to decide the Tengen challenger was held at the same venue (games are 2015.09.21_Iyama (L) beat Yuki Satoshi in Tengen play-offusually played on the home ground of the higher-ranked player).  Taking white, Iyama forced Yuki Satoshi 9P (Kansai Ki-in) to resign after 228 moves (left). Yuki was also strongly motivated for this game, as he had won the title in 2010, but lost it to Iyama the following year. He actually got off to a slightly superior start, but slipped up in the early middle game (right)Iyama now has a big opportunity to regain his sextuple crown, but he is looking further ahead than that. After the Tengen game, he commented: “I’m 2015.09.21_last move in Tengen play-offhappy that the link to my goal of winning seven crowns has not been cut.” To keep this possibility open, Iyama has to make sure he keeps winning in the Judan tournament while fighting three title matches. The Oza title match starts on October 20 and the Tengen three days later.

Kisei Leagues: The final game in the S League of the 40th Kisei tournament was played at the Nihon Ki-in on September 10.  Playing white, Takao Shinji Tengen beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. The place in the league are: 1. Yamashita Keigo (4-1); 2. Murakawa Daisuke Oza (3-2); 3. Yoda Norimoto 9P (3-2); 4. Takao (2-3); 5. Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (2-3); 6. Kobayashi (1-4). The top four players keep their seats, but actually Takao is not yet assured of staying in 4th place. If the winner of the B or C League were to 2015.09.21_40th-kisei-leagues-chartbecome the challenger, Takao would be bounced out. At that point, Yamashita would remain in the league, but the loser of the title match would take the number one seat in the S League, so Takao would also drop to the A League. This is yet another permutation in the complicated tournament system the Yomiuri Newspaper came up with.

Previously we reported that Kono Rin 9P had won the A League in the sixth round. In his last game, Kono (B) beat 25th Honinbo Chikun by 8.5 points, so he finished the league undefeated on 7-0. The game was played on September 10. On September 17, the play-off between the winners of the B1 and B2 Leagues was held. Yamada Kimio 9P (B2 winner) (W) beat Awaji Shuzo 9P by 8.5 points. Yamada thus earned a place in the tournament to decide the challenger. He is guaranteed a place in the A League next year. From the B1 League, Awaji (first on 5-2) and Ryu Shikun 9P (second on 4-3 — thanks to being ranked number one, he pipped the other three players [out of eight] who also finished on 4-3) will be promoted to the A League. They will be joined by So Yokoku 9P, who was second in the B League. Second place in the A League was also decided on September 17 when Ichiriki Ryo 7P (B) beat Cho Riyu 8P by resig. Ichiriki earns a place in the S League.
Tomorrow: Kyo Kagen wins two junior titles; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama ekes out narrow win in Meijin

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The Power Report, Special Edition: Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp/Meijin match

Thursday September 10, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.09.06_Meijin-Iyama-Takao-review-1st-game

Last week, as Tokyo correspondent for the American Go E-Journal, I was invited to attend some special events held in connection with the Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp and the Meijin title match (at right). Here is my report.

Teaching Game: This year’s summer camp, which has become an annual event at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, was held for two weeks, from Friday, August 21, to Thursday, September 3. The camp had a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with 16 players of both sexes from 13 countries taking part and go ranks ranging from around 3-dan to double-digit kyu. One point that struck me was that, besides the Western countries you might expect, there were also participants from places like Hong Kong, China, and Singapore where there’s no shortage of local instructors. Word-of-mouth on this event must be good.

There was a full program, with morning and afternoon sessions every day. The 
program included sessions studying life-and-death and tesuji problems, lectures and simuls by professionals, goodwill matches with Japanese amateurs, and also a league tournament. A repeat participant, Michael Webster of England, was taken on as an intern at the Nihon Ki-in beforehand to help plan the camp; he also selected the life-and-death problems, including problems of various levels to cater for everyone. All the participants I got to speak to were happy with what they called a very enjoyable camp. The double-digit kyu-player referred to above told me that he was actually a virtual beginner but that he had a great time at the camp and that his motivation was now very high.


2015.09.09_NHK-Redmond-game-commentary.jpgThe event I was invited to attend was a teaching game played from 
noon to about two o’clock on Wednesday, September 2. This game was a reward for the winner of the camp league, who was Tyler Oyakawa 3D of the US. The professional was Fujisawa Rina 3P, holder of the Women’s Honinbo title and, at just 16, the great hope of women’s go in Japan.  Coincidentally, another American did a simultaneous public commentary in the same room: this was Michael Redmond 9P, who was assisted by his charming elder daughter Emi, who is about 1-dan amateur. Emi speaks three languages, Japanese, Chinese, and English; she is in her final year at Sophia University (Jochi) in Tokyo, and she is also interested in helping to spread go. The game, on three stones, was a relatively peaceful one because, for the most part, Rina did not, in Michael’s words (in conversation later), “play wildly, as I would have done.” If the handicap is correct, the pro can expect to catch up in the endgame, and this seemed to be Rina’s strategy; she ended up getting a good lead, however, leading Tyler to resign.

I found the commentary very instructive and so asked Michael to write it up f
or the E-Journal. He cheerfully complied, so you can click on his commentary here. After having the bright idea of making this request, I just sat back and enjoyed the game instead of taking notes. Just for the record, the Nihon Ki-in is also holding a winter camp this year, but it is of a different nature. It is open to go educators and instructors from the ASEAN countries, seven of which have go associations: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The camp will be mainly concerned with teaching and propagation methods.

Clash of the Honorary Meijins: In the afternoon on Wednesday, we were all invited to attend a special event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Asahi Meijin title and starting at 3:30. This was a public game between the only two players to have qualified as Honorary Meijin, Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi. Kobayashi has already assumed the title, as he turned 60 three years ago, but Cho Chikun is 59, so it’s not yet official for him. The criterion is winning the title five times in a row or ten times overall. Cho won the 5th to 9th titles, thus qualifying one way, then almost qualifying the other when he won the 21st to 24th titles. Kobayashi won the 10th title, then had a long run lasting from the 13th to the 19th.

2015.09.09_NHK-pro-game-commentary-600x450.jpgThis game was played in the Wisteria Room of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, informally known as just the Chinzanso, where the Meijin title match between Iyama Yuta and Takao Shinji was due to start the following day. The main commentator was 24th Honinbo Shuho, otherwise known as Ishida Yoshio 9P, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, among others. Prominent Meijins of the past in the audience, such as Otake Hideo, Rin Kaiho, Takemiya Masaki, and the incumbent, Iyama Yuta, were also called up on stage for their comments. Several people commented on how serious both Cho and Kobayashi seemed about the game. (As is usual with these public games, there were playing on the same stage as the commentary, but in theory the players are too absorbed in the game to pay attention to what is being said. That’s the theory, anyway.) In the past, these two were great rivals, especially in the 80s. Cho achieved success earlier and has outstripped Kobayashi (74 titles to 59); however, Kobayashi wrested his big titles, the Kisei and the Meijin, from the hands of Cho. The biggest regret of Kobayashi’s career is undoubtedly three successive Honinbo challenges rebuffed by Cho. Cho and Kobayashi hold the record for the most games between two players, at 129. We didn’t get an up-to-date breakdown at the public commentary, but someone did say that it was 63 wins each a couple of years ago (by the way, this game does not count, as it was unofficial).

As usual with these two, the game was a good contest and entertained the stan
ding-room-only audience. Takemiya commented: “The game is so fierce you’d think there was a big prize at stake. Each one thinks, this is the one player I don’t want to lose to.” Iyama also expressed admiration for their fighting spirit. The highlight of the game was an attack on a weak group launched by Kobayashi (White) on move 108. Everyone thought Cho was in trouble, but he came up with a clever counter that linked up his weak group at the cost of a two-stone sacrifice. At this point, Cho was ahead, but Kobayashi pulled off an upset in the endgame while Cho was in byo-yomi. Kobayashi ended up winning by 1.5 points.After the game–Kobayashi: “Black 109 was the kind of move you expect from Cho.” Cho: “Next year I can call myself Honorary Meijin, but forget about this honorary stuff. I’m going to become the real Meijin.”

Actually the game review was the most entertaining part of the event. Cho is 
a compulsive joker; you rarely hear a straight line from him. On the stage, he was like a runaway train. Poor Ishida in particular was the butt of his humor, with comments like, “I may play badly sometimes, but not badly enough to lose to Ishida.” Cho’s fellow pros take his humor in their stride, and Ishida kept trying to review the game with Kobayashi although drowned out by Cho. A number of times, Cho said to the audience: “Do you have any idea what those guys are going on about? I don’t.“   He also reproached Ishida with not giving his clever move at 109 adequate appreciation at the time, so he was certainly listening to the public commentary.

The eve party: In Japan, there’s a strong tradition of holding parties on the eve of major events. There’s a special word for it, “zenyasai” or “night-before festival.” The tradition is honored in go, and these parties are big events (about 240 people attended on Wednesday), especially for games played away from the major cities. They are like showcases for the local go community. The summer camp group was also invited to the eve party held from 6 pm. on the 2nd. Persons in attendance ranged from the heavies of the go world to ordinary go fans who apply by postcard for invitations.

At the party there were the usual speeches and, of more interest, short speeches by the players expressing their resolve for the match. Takao: “This year my results have been bad and I have a minus record. I hear it’s the first time ever the Meijin challenger has had a minus record, so I have set an unprecedented record. Just between you and me, it’s because I have staked everything on the Meijin title, so at present things are proceeding according to my scenario. I also have a scenario for after this, but it’s a secret. It’s not so often in a lifetime that you get to play a best-of-seven, so this is a valuable period for me. It’s important for me.” Iyama’s reply: “I don’t know what kind of scenario Takao Sensei is writing, but the Meijin is a special title. This title alone I can’t hand over.”        

Among the guests appearing on stage was Michael Redmond, who, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, did a public commentary on the game on Friday afternoon. On Thursday morning, the summer-camp participants were invited to watch the start of the game in the playing room.

photos courtesy Tom Urasoe, Nihon Ki-in Overseas Dept. 

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The Power Report (3): Women’s Meijin League; Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense; Vacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled

Wednesday September 9, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Women’s Meijin League: The final game in the first round of the new league was played on August 28. Aoki Kikuyo 8P (W, at right) beat Okuda 2015.09.07_Aoki KikuyoAya 3P by 7.5 points. On September 3, Okuda recovered from her bad start, beating Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) by 5.5 points. On the same day, Mannami Nao 3P (W) improved her score to 2-0 by beating Kato Keiko 6P by 6.5 points.

Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense: The first game of the 40th Meijin best-of-seven was played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on September 3 and 4. Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 180 moves. Iyama owed his victory to his skillful play in rescuing a group under attack. Iyama had given Takao this attack as compensation for winning a large ko. After the game, the challenger Takao Shinji 9P commented that perhaps his positional judgment had been a little slack. He said that he played a little mildly in a couple of areas because he thought he was ahead when he may not have been. The second game will be played on September 17 and 18.

2015.09.07_Motoki-KatsuyaVacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled: The following four players have won seats in the 71st Honinbo League, due to start in October. They are Takao Shinji Judan, Yo Seiki 8P, Ichiriki Ryo 7P, and Motoki Katsuya 3P (left). The first two, Takao and Yo, won their way back in immediately after dropping out of the previous league. The other two, Ichiriki (aged 18) and Motoki (aged 20), will be making their debuts. Motoki earned promotion to 7-dan for his feat. Ichiriki set a record for youngest player in the Kisei league when he was sixteen years nine months; he is now 18 years two months, the second-youngest player to win a seat in the Honinbo league. He fell just nine days short of breaking the record set by Yo Seiki last year.

Promotions
To 8-dan: Miyagawa Fumihiko (150 wins) (as of August 28). Miyagawa, born on February 18, 1972, is a disciple of Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P; he is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He also serves as a director of the Nihon Ki-in.
To 7-dan: Motoki Katsuya 3P (for winning a place in the 71st Honinbo league; as of September 4)

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The Power Report (2): Yamashita Keigo wins S League; Kyo wins Kisei C League

Tuesday September 8, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei Leagues Updates2015.09.07_Yamashita-Keigo-67th-Honinbo

Yamashita Keigo wins S League: Three important games in the 40th Kisei S League were played recently. The results were: (August 27) Murakawa Daisuke Oza (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. (September 3) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 2.5 points; Murakawa (W) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resig. Yamashita (right) finished the league with 4-1, securing first place and a seat in the final play-off to decide the challenger. Since he will start this play-off with a one-win advantage, there’s a good chance we will see the third successive Kisei title match between him and Iyama. Thanks to his win, Murakawa, who ended on 3-2, earned a seat in the knock-out tournament — he goes directly into the semifinal. Yoda finished with the same score, but was ranked fourth to Murakawa’s second, so he drops to third place. Yoda’s loss to Yamashita was probably his most expensive of the year. One game is still to be played in the final round, so we do not know yet who will drop out. The final games in the B Leagues were also played on the 3rd. Awaji Shuzo 9P won the B1 league with a 5-2 score and Yamada Kimio 9P the B2 League, also with 5-2. There will be a play-off between these two to decide the overall B League winner. The winner will join the knock-out tournament at the bottom rung (see the end of the next item).

Kyo wins Kisei C League: After four rounds in the 40th Kisei C League, there were only two players with undefeated records; they were Kyo Kagen 3P and Akiyama Jiro 9P. The game between them in the final round, played on August 20, was in effect a play-off to decide the league winner though this league is nominally a Swiss System. The 17-year-old Kyo (not 15, as I wrote in my previous report; just for the record, he will be 18 on September 19) won this game, taking black, by resignation. This earned him a place in the knock-out tournament to decide the challenger and (assuming he doesn’t become the Kisei challenger) promotion to one of the B Leagues next year. Kyo: “The new league system for the Kisei tournament encourages young players. I aim to be the challenger.” Incidentally, Kyo is leading the most-wins list with 32 wins to six losses (next is Yamashita Keigo on 29-19, followed by Ichiriki Ryo on 27-13). Recently, there have been more and more signs that Kyo may be the strongest teenager in Japan. To summarize the knock-out stage of the Kisei tournament: The C League winner, Kyo Kagen, will play the overall B League winner (Awaji or Yamada); the winner then plays the winner of the A League, Kono Rin; the winner of this game then plays the S League number two, Murakawa; the winner then joins the final match with Yamashita to decide the challenger.
Tomorrow: Women’s Meijin League; Iyama makes good start in Meijin title defense; Vacant seats in 71st Honinbo League filled

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The Power Report (1): Yi Sedol repeats in TV Asia Cup; Yuki reaches Tengen final; Oza semifinal; Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Agon Kiriyama semifinal

Monday September 7, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Yi Sedol repeats in TV Asia Cup: 
Our previous report took this tournament as far as the first semifinal, in which Park Junghwan 9P (B)2015.09.07_Lee-Sedol-27th-Asian-TV-Cup-300x418 of Korea beat his compatriot Lee Donghun 5P by resig. In the second semifinal, played on August 27, Lee Sedol 9P of Korea, made his first appearance; as the previous winner, he was seeded. Lee (B) beat Yang Dingxin 3P of China by resig. In the final, Lee (B) beat Park by resig., winning this title for the second year in a row and the fourth time overall. This matches the record of Takemiya Masaki, who won the first four titles. By my count, this is Lee’s 17th international title, not counting his jubango win. Though he is rated the world’s number one, Park has been unable to win this tournament in five appearances. For more on this tournament, click here for Go Game Guru’s report, with more photos and game records.

Yuki reaches Tengen final: The second semifinal of the 41st Tengen tournament was held on August 24. Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) came out ahead in an endgame contest, beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points. He will play Iyama Yuta in the final to decide the challenger to Takao Shinji.

Oza semifinal: The second semifinal of the 63rd Oza tournament was played on August 24. Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by 2.5 points. He will meet Iyama Yuta in the final, scheduled for September 7.  2015.09.06_Xie reviewing the play-offThis will be the first game between the two. Whoever wins, the title match will be an all-Kansai affair, as the titleholder is Murakawa Daisuke of the Kansai Ki-in.

Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo: In the play-off to decide the challenger to Fujisawa Rina for the 34th Women’s Honinbo title, held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 27, Xie Yimin (left), Women’s Meijin and Kisei, (W) defeated Chinen Kaori 4P by resig. Xie will challenge for the title she lost to Mukai Chiaki two years ago (Fujisawa took it from Mukai last year). Xie has an even record, 2-2, against Fujisawa in official games, but this will be their first series. The best-of-five starts on October 8.

Agon Kiriyama semifinal: In the first semifinal of the 22nd Agon Kiriyama Cup, Iyama Yuta (B) beat Son Makoto 3P by 7.5 points, as already reported. The second semifinal was held on August 31 between Yo Seiki 7P and Kyo Kagen 3P. It was held on Yo’s home ground of the Kansai Ki-in, with Kyo traveling from Tokyo. Apparently these two are good friends, often putting each other up when they travel for games, but on the morning of this game there was no chitchat. Kyo (W) won the game by resignation. The final will be played on October 10.  This is the third tournament final that Iyama has qualified for recently.
Tomorrow: Yamashita Keigo wins S League; Kyo wins Kisei C League

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