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The Power Report: Sumire wins 3rd Discovery Cup; Shin Jinseo wins Kuksu Mountains; New record set for youngest player

Monday September 26, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Sumire wins 3rd Discovery Cup 

The Discovery Cup is an unofficial tournament for players 18 and under and 2-dan and under, including insei. Eight players who have won their way through a preliminary compete in a three-round league. The two players on 2-0 meet in what is virtually a “final” inside the third round. The format is the same as the NHK Cup: players have 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes thinking time to be used in one-minute units. First prize is ¥200,000 ($13,956, at $1 = ¥143.3). The tournament was founded by the late Ogino Shoji, who owned an art gallery on the Ginza. His family is continuing the sponsorship after his death.

The main tournament was played on August 11, which happened to be Nakamura Sumire’s off day in the Chinese Women’s B League (see previous item)—she was certainly keeping busy. After two rounds, the players on 2-0 were Sumire and last year’s winner, Miura Taro 2-dan. Taking white, Sumire won by resignation after 172 moves. Sumire: “I’m happy: winning this tournament was one of my goals.” (Results of all three games are given below in “Sumire’s progress.)

Shin Jinseo wins Kuksu Mountains

The 8th Kuksu Mountains International Baduk Championship, a Korean-sponsored international tournament, was held from August 13 to 15, with the 16 participants playing on the net. The tournament was dominated by Korean players, with seven of the quarterfinalists and all the semifinalists being from Korea. In the final, Shin Jinseo 9-dan beat Byan Sangil 9-dan, winning his fourth big international title. 

The time allowance is 30 minutes per player plus 40-second byo-yomi x 3. First prize is 75 million won ($52,891, at $1 = 1418 won). Below are the results (in most cases, full details are not available to me).

Round One (Aug. 13). Park Junghwan 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Kim Jiseok 9-dan (Korea) beat Iyama Yuta 9-dan (Japan) by half a point; Shin Minjun 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Kyo Kagen 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9-dan (Korea) beat Mi Yuting 9-dan (China); Zhao Zhenyu 9-dan (China) beat Kim Myeonghun 9-dan (Korea); Weon Seongjin 9-dan (Korea) beat Lai Junfu 7-dan (Ch. Taipei); Kang Dongyun 9-dan (Korea) beat Wang Yuanjun 7-dan (Ch. Taipei); Byan Sangil 9-dan (Korea) beat Ding Hao 9-dan (China).

Round Two (Aug. 13). Shin Jinseo beat Kim; Park beat Zhao; Weon beat Kang; Byan beat Shin Minjun.

Semifinals (Aug. 14). Shin Jinseo beat Park; Byan beat Weon.

Final (Aug. 15). Shin Jinseo 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Byan Sangil 9-dan (Korea) on time. 

New record set for youngest player

Nakamura Sumire, who became 1-dan at the age of exactly ten, has lost her record as the youngest professional ever in Japan. In April this year, the Kansai Ki-in announced that it had set up a system, the Special Induction System for Young Players, to enable talented young players to debut at a younger age in professional play in the belief that this will speed up their development. It is similar to the system under which Nakamura Sumire was chosen at the Nihon Ki-in; in her case, the system has been a resounding success. At a press conference held on August 17, the Kansai Ki-in announced that Fujita Reo, aged nine years four months, would become a professional 1-dan as of September 1. Fujita has set a new world record for the youngest professional. Previously, Cho Hunhyun of Korea and Chang Hao of China had shared the record at nine years seven months. 

Fujita was born in Osaka on April 25, 2013. At the age of four, he became addicted to the game of Othello. One day, when he was four years ten months old, his mother took him downtown to find an Othello club but couldn’t (not surprising, because they don’t exist, as far as I know), so she took him to a go club instead, since it looked similar to Othello. Reo was immediately fascinated by the game and started playing it all day long. The manager of the go club commented that he made amateur shodan in ten months. He started attending classes for children and playing in youth tournaments. When he was six, he won the Osaka qualifying tournament for lower-grade elementary-school pupils for the Children’s Kisei tournament, but couldn’t play in the all-Japan tournament because kindergarten pupils were not eligible. From June in first grade to April in third grade, he enrolled as an insei at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in. In 2021, he had the second-best results; apparently, from second grade he would occasionally play even games with low-ranked professionals and won some of them. (By the way, the Kansai Ki-in, which had some claim on Nakamura Sumire, cooperated with the Nihon Ki-in in her appointment as a pro; on this occasion, the Nihon Ki-in returned the courtesy.)

When Reo heard about the new Kansai Ki-in system, he sent in an application. He had to submit game records for vetting and play a game on black (no komi) with Seto Taiki 8-dan. Seto won the game by six points, but the Kansai Ki-in concluded he was strong enough to play as a pro. At the press conference, he commented that his ambition was to become the world’s top player. He said that his goal was to beat Shin Jinseo and that he wanted to play Iyama Yuta.

Nakamura Sumire’s reaction: “I’m astonished! I look forward to being able to play him!”

Japanese Wikipedia has some stories about Reo. He has a phenomenal memory: when he was one, he memorized all the stations in the Osaka train network (that’s at least 123 stations); when he was four, he memorized the 47 Japanese prefectures in order of size. He became a disciple of Hoshikawa Takumi 5-dan at the Kansai Ki-in. At first, he played him on the handicap of black without komi; in January this year, he played his first game on even and won it. Their results on even are 50-50. Hoshikawa: “The main feature of his go is his destructive power, based on reading. His opening is also strong; I find myself under pressure all the time.” His teacher at the go club commented: “I was often surprised by how he perfectly memorized long and complicated life -and-death sequences.”

Incidentally, Reo is the youngest male professional in Japan; he lowered the record set by Cho Chikun, who became 1-dan at 11 years nine months in 1968.

On September 2, Reo played a game to commemorate his becoming a pro. Taking black (no komi) against Yo Seiki 8-dan, he lost by resig. after 160 moves. He played a little too aggressively, creating weak groups.

Tomorrow:  Seats filled in the new Honinbo League; Shibano takes lead in Meijin title match; China dominates 4th Nie Weiping tournament

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The Power Report: Sumire stars in the Chinese Women’s B League; Korea does well in Go Seigen Cup; Iyama starts badly in Chinese A Team League

Sunday September 25, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Sumire stars in the Chinese Women’s B League

The much-delayed 2021 edition of the Chinese Women’s B League Team tournament was held in Fuzhou City in Fujian Province from August 9 to 16. The three-player teams represent different areas of China, and a match was played every day, with just the third day off as a rest day. Two players from Japan, Nyu Eiko 4-dan and Nakamura Sumire 2-dan, took part, playing their games on the net. Nyu, who was on a Hubei team, made a bad start, losing her first three games, but she recovered to win the next three. She lost her final game, however, so she ended up with a minus record of 3-4. In contrast, Sumire had an excellent tournament, playing on a Fujian team and scoring 5-2 and helping her team to win promotion into the A League. Both served as captains of their teams, but I am afraid I do not know how to render the team names in English. Sumire’s best performance was in the last game; the match was tied 1-1, so her result would decide whether her team went up or not. Sumire demonstrated a good understanding of the Chinese rules, in which victory goes to the player with more stones surviving on the board. She worked out that if she played the “natural” move according to the Japanese rules, she would lose, so she tried to find a sequence that secured a half-point victory by the Chinese rules. Actually, her opponent, Kim Dayong of Korea, made a mistake, so Sumire won by half a point. Playing the way she did gave her opponent the opportunity to make this mistake. Ko Reibun 7-dan, who was acting as referee at the Japanese site, commented: “You can only call this a miracle.”

Korea does well in Go Seigen Cup

The opening rounds of the 5th Go Seigen Cup World Women’s Go Championship were held from July 30 to August 1. This is a Chinese-sponsored tournament with a top prize of 500,000 yuan (about $70,220, at $1 = 7.12 yuan). Sixteen players start out in the first round, then eight seeded players join the winners in the second round.

The tournament was a triumph for Korea, which secured three of the semifinal places. The fourth went to a Chinese representative. Japan had three players taking part, but only Ueno Asami picked up a win. In the second round, she beat Zhou Hongyyu 6-dan, one of China’s top players. Results to date are given below. The semifinals are scheduled for November 30. It was interesting to see Wu Yiming, who turns 16 on Nov. 22, again representing her country in an international tournament. In the not too distant future, she might become the world’s top woman player. Also, Hei Jiajia (aka Joanne Missingham) seemed to be in good form, just missing out on a semifinal seat. 

Round One (July 30). Wu Yiming 4-dan (China) (B) beat Nyu Eiko 4-dan (Japan) by 7.5 points; Li Xiaoxi 2-dan (China) (W) beat Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (Japan) by resig.; Hei Jiajia 7-dan (Ch. Taipei) (W) beat Rui Naiwei 9-dan (China) by resig.; Feng Yun 9-dan (North America) (W) beat Dina Burdakova, am. 5-dan, (Russia) by half a point; Zhou Hongyu 6-dan (W) beat Kim Eunji 3-dan (Korea) by 10.5 points; Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan (Japan) (W) beat Virzhinia Shalneva, am. 3-dan, (Russia) by resig.; Lu Yuhua 4-dan (Ch. Taipei) (B) beat Wang Yubo 4-dan (China) by resig.; Cho Seunga 5-dan (Korea) (B) beat Yin Mingming (Stephanie Yin, North America) by resig.

Round Two (July 31). Kim Jaeyoung 7-dan (Korea) (B) beat Wu by 1.5 points; Wang Chenxing 5-dan (China) (W) beat Cho by resig.; Lu Minquan 6-dan (China) (B) beat Suzuki by resig.; Hei (B) beat Yu Zhiying 7-dan (China) by 2.5 points; Lu Yuhua (W) beat Li He 5-dan (China) by half a point; Ueno (B) beat Zhou by resig.; Choi Jeong 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Li by resig.; Oh Yujin 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Feng by resig.

Quarterfinals (August 1). Oh (W) beat Lu Minquan by resig.; Kim (W) beat Hei by half a point; Choi (W) beat Ueno by resig.; Wang (B) beat Lu Yuhua by resig. 

Semifinal pairings (Nov. 30). Oh v. Choi, Kim v. Wang

Iyama starts badly in Chinese A Team League

The first round of the Chinese A Team League was held from August 3 to 11. There are 16 teams in this league; teams are made up of four players, but each team actually has a pool of five or six players to call upon. They announce their team just before a match. In the second round, the top eight teams will vie for supremacy, while the bottom eight will compete to avoid relegation to the B League. Iyama Yuta represented the Zhejiang Zheshang Securities team in Match 5 (the 8th) and Match 7 (the 10th). In the first game, Iyama (B) lost to Dang Yifei 9-dan, who was playing for the Zhengdu Agricultural & Commercial Bank; he resigned after 180 moves. Dang is a top player and won the 21st LG Cup. In the second game, Iyama was paired against Rong Yi of the Shenbo Dragon Flower team. Iyama had white and resigned after 141 moves. Actually, he had the lead for most of the game but made some errors in the latter stage of the game. 

Iyama’s team finished 8th. He is hoping to get a chance to redeem himself in the second round, but first, he has to be picked to play . . .

Tomorrow: Sumire wins 3rd Discovery Cup; Shin Jinseo wins Kuksu Mountains; New record set for youngest player

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The Power Report: Early August updates

Thursday August 11, 2022

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Photos (l-r): 9th Hollyhock, Ueno (left Rina); 7th Senko Cup Rina, Sumire, Ueno & Nyu at venue; 7th Senko: Nyu wins; 7th Senko Ueno (left) beat Sumire; 47 Gosei Iyama (l) & Ichiriki review; 47 Meijin challenger Shibano; 47 Meijin: last round Shibano (left) vs Hane

Ueno wins first Women’s Hollyhock Cup

In the 9th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup title, Ueno Asami, holder of the Women’s Kisei title, became the challenger to Fujisawa Rina, who had held this title for five years in a row. In the best-of-three title match, Ueno made a good start, winning the opening game, but Fujisawa made a comeback in the second game. Both of these games were played at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City. In the deciding game, held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, a large ko started early. Fujisawa made a misjudgment in ignoring a strong ko threat by Ueno and ending the ko. That gave Ueno the lead and she hung on to it to the end, so the title changed hands. Details of the games follow.

Game 1 (June 18). Ueno (W) by resig. (218 moves).

Game 2 (June 20). Fujisawa (W) by resig. (146 moves).

Game 3 (June 24). Ueno (W) by resig. (150 moves).

With a first prize of 7,000,000 yen (about $53,000 at $1 = ¥132), the Hollyhock is the second richest of the women’s titles. To review its history, Fujisawa won the first title, O Keii the second, Xie Yimin the third, then Fujisawa the 4th to 8th.

Nyu wins Senko Cup

The number one and number two women players were missing from the final of the 7th Senko Cup, played at the Geihinkan Akekure (Guesthouse Dawn and Dusk) in Omi City, Shiga Prefecture, on July 17. Nakamura Sumire beat Fujisawa Rina in one semifinal and Nyu Eiko beat Ueno Asami in the other (details given below). Neither of the finalists had won this title before. For Sumire, it was a second chance to set a new record for the youngest title winner. Taking black, she played well in the final and set up an overwhelming lead over Nyu, but then she began to play negatively. Nyu fought fiercely and little by little whittled down her lead. In the end, Nyu won by 2.5 points. This is her first title. First prize is ¥8,000,000 (about $60,600).

Semifinals (July 15, same venue as above). Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (W) beat Fujisawa Rina Senko Cup by 1.5 points; Nyu Eiko 4-dan (B) beat Ueno Asami Women’s Hollyhock Cup by resig.

Iyama defends Gosei title

Iyama Yuta’s devastating form against Ichiriki Ryo continues. After rebuffing his challenge 4-0 in the Honinbo title match (see my report of June 22), he has now beaten him 3-0 in the 47th Gosei title match.

The first game was played on the titleholder’s home ground, the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Kita Ward, Osaka City, on June 24. Iyama (W) continued the momentum of the Honinbo match, seizing the initiative through positive play in the opening and maintaining the pressure throughout. Ichiriki resigned after 176 moves. Iyama played a move not predicted by AI, but after he played it the AI rating of White’s position went up. This is quite rare—you could argue that Iyama surpassed AI.

There was a gap of three weeks before the second game (presumably, one or two of the Honinbo games that turned out to be unneeded would have been played in this interval). It was played at the North Country Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on July 16. Iyama (B) staged a carefully calculated sacrifice strategy that led to a whole-board fight. Late in the game, he was subjected to a fierce attack by Ichiriki, but he answered with precision and wrapped up another win. Ichiriki resigned after 201 moves.

The third game was played at the Miyajima Hotel Makoto in the town on Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture on July 27. Iyama (W) took the lead in the fighting in the opening and held on to it without slackening. Ichiriki resigned after White 154. Iyama won the title for the second year in a row and the 8th time overall. First prize is ¥8,000,000 (about $60,600). He also maintained his quadruple crown, with the Honinbo, Meijin, and Oza. At the age of 33, he’s still the top player in Japan, though the Kisei gives Ichiriki the top rank.

Ichiriki was quite disappointed. “All three games ended without my being able to exert my strength,” he commented. “This is my worst performance in a title match.” For Ichiriki, the alternative explanation doesn’t bear thinking about: Iyama may have taken his measure. 

Shibano wins Meijin League

In the final round of the 47th Meijin League, only two players were still in the running: Shibano Toramaru on 6-1 and Ichiriki Ryo on 5-2. The final round was labeled the “August” round in the Japanese league chart, but it was actually played on July 21. Ichiriki did all he could, winning his game, but Shibano also won his final game, so he won the league outright. Actually his game finished first of all the games. An opening sequence that he had researched only the day before appeared in his game with Hane Naoki, so he took the lead immediately. He will reappear in the Meijin title match after a gap of a term (he won the 44th title from Cho U, but lost it to Iyama the following term; Iyama then defended it against Ichiriki last year). League results since my last report follow.

(June 13) Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (W) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by 1.5 points.

(June 16) Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (B) beat Ida Atsushi 8-dan by resig.

(June 20) Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (B) beat Shida Tatsuya 8-dan by 4.5 points.

(June 30) Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by 1.5 points.

(July 7) Hane Naoki 9-dan (W) beat Ida Atsushi 8-dan by resig.

(July 11) Shibano (B) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resig.

(July 21) Ichiriki (B) beat Kyo by resig.; Yo Seiki 8-dan (W) beat Yamashita by resig.; Shibano (W) beat Hane by resig.; Ida (B) beat Shida by 1.5 points.

Hane, Motoki, and Ida lost their seats. Hane had held his seat for 12 years in a row.

Shibano leads Kisei S League

A key game in the 47th Kisei S League was played on August 4. Shibano beat the previous Kisei, Iyama Yuta, so he kept the sole lead on 3-0. Although he has the advantage of being ranked number one in a league with no play-offs, suffering his second loss makes it very hard for Iyama to recover, though he can still aim at second place, which also secures a seat in the final knock-out. This win will also give Shibano some momentum for his Meijin challenge, which starts at the end of this month. With all players having completed three rounds in the S League, Shibano’s main rival is Kyo Kagen Judan, the only player with just one loss. Recent results are given below.

(June 16) Iyama Yuta Meijin (W) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by 1.5 points.

(July 4) Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Takao Shinji 9-dan by resig.

(July 7) Yo Seiki 8-dan (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8-dan by resig. 

(August 4) Shibano (W) beat Iyama Yuta by resig.

Yamashita wins Kisei A League

The seventh and final round of the 47th Kisei A League has yet to be played, but Yamashita Keigo 9-dan has already secured victory. He is on 5-1, and his nearest rival is Son Makoto 7-dan on 4-2. Son plays Yamashita in the final round, but even if he wins, there is no play-off in the league: the higher-ranked player – Yamashita is #2 and Son is #5 – prevails.

The winners of the B1 and B2 Leagues have likewise been decided in the penultimate rounds. Fujita Akihiko 7-dan, who is on 6-0, has won the B1 League. B2 was won by Suzuki Shinji 7-dan, who was also on 6-0. Both these players are two wins ahead of their rivals. Suzuki ended up with 7-0.

Ida to challenge for Tengen

The play-off to decide the challenger for the 48th Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 4. Taking white, Ida Atsushi 9-dan (aged 28) defeated Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (aged 25) by resig. Ida will make his first challenge for the Tengen title. The titleholder is Seki Kotaro (aged 20). The match will start on October 3.

Sumire’s progress

(June 13) Sumire (W) beat Yo Kaei 8-dan by resig. (Prelimin. B, 48th Meijin).

(June 16) Sumire (W) beat Osawa Narumi by resig. (7th Senko Cup, main section).

(June 20) Sumire (B) lost to Nakamura Hidehito 9-dan by resig.(Prelim. C, 49th Tengen).

(June 23) Sumire (W) beat Takeshita Ryoya 1-dan by 6.5 points (Prelim. C, 71st Oza).

(June 27) Sumire (B) beat Jo Bunen 1-dan by resig.i(Prelim. C, 48th Gosei).

(July 4) Sumire (B) lost to Koyama Kuya 5-dan by 8.5 points (Prelim. B, 48th Meijin).

(July 15) Sumire (W) beat Fujisawa Rina by 1.5 points (7th Senko Cup).

(July 17) Sumire (B) lost to Nyu Eiko 4-dan by 2.5 points (Senko Cup final)

(July 21) Sumire (B) beat Ito Masashi 5-dan by 4.5 points (Prelim. C, 48th Gosei).

(July 25) Sumire (B) beat Ueno Risa 2-dan by resig. (3rd round, main section, 41st Women’s Honinbo).

(July 28) Sumire (W) beat Koda Akiko 4-dan by 1.5 points (Prelim. C, 71st Oza).

(July 30) Sumire lost to Li 2-dan (5th Go Seigen Cup). Sumire’s record for the year was 27-15.

Yamada Kimio wins 1,000 games

When Yamada Kimio 9-dan (W) beat Takahashi Masumi 4-dan by resig. in Prelim. B of the 48th Meijin tournament on June 30, he became the 30th player to reach the benchmark of 1,000 wins. He had 487 losses, for an excellent winning percentage of 67.2%. It took him 33 years two months and his age was 49 years nine months. However, after reaching 999 wins, he lost four games in a row.

Most wins 

1. Ueno Asami, Women’s Hollyhock Cup: 36-10

2. Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 32-16

3. Nakamura Sumire: 27-15

4. Ida Atsushi 8-dan, Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo: 25-11  

6. Nyu Eiko, Senko Cup: 24-13

7. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 23-8

8. Kato Chie 2-dan: 20-9; Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 20-17

10. Otake Yu 6-dan: 19-5; Ueno Risa 2-dan: 19-9; Shibano Toramaru 9-dan: 19-10

13. Hirata Tomoya 7-dan: 18-3; Rin Kanketsu 8-dan, Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan, Ikemoto Ryota 2-dan: 18-7; Kyo Kagen Judan: 18-10

Winning streaks

8: Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan, Sakai Yuki 3-dan

6:  Suzuki Shinji 7-dan, Mito Shuhei 1-dan

5: Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan 

Streaks ended since my last report

9: Sakai Takashi 2-dan, Iyama Yuta Meijin, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan 

7: Inaba Takahiro 4-dan, Mito Shuhei 1-dan

6: Ko Iso 9-dan, Ogata Masaki 9-dan, Suzuki Shinji 7-dan

5: Kuwabara Yoko 6-dan, Otake Yu 6-dan, Mitani Tetsuya 8-dan, Fujii Koki 2-dan, Hoshiai Shiho 3-dan

Promotions

To 9-dan (200 wins): Izumitani Hideo (as of July 1); Ida Atsushi (as of July 26). It’s rare to see two promotions by the cumulative-wins system in the same month. There are now 82 9-dans at the Nihon Ki-in. Izumitani is the son of the late Izumitani Masanori 9-dan. Born in 1969, he came second in the 14th King of the New Stars in 1988. Ida, born in 1994, was promoted to 8-dan when he won the 69th Honinbo League in 2014; he lost the title match 1-4 to Iyama Yuta. In 2015, he won the 53rd Judan title and the 62nd NHK Cup (at 20 years 11 months, he’s still the youngest player to win this title). He has also won the Crown title six years in a row. His win-loss record to date is 346-183. He is married to Mannami Nao 4-dan. 

To 8-dan: Takei Takashi (150 wins, as of July 1)

To 5-dan (70 wins): Ueda Takashi (as of June 21), Furuya Masao (as of June 24)

To 4-dan: Osawa Kenro (50 wins, as of July 5)

To 3-dan: Kibe Natsuki (40 wins, as of July 8)

To 2-dan: Ueno Risa (30 wins, as of June 21)

Marriage between professionals

On July 15, Son Makoto 7-dan (aged 26) and Hoshiai Shiho 3-dan (aged 25) announced that they had registered their marriage on July 7.

Obituaries 

Iwata Tatsuaki

Iwata Tatsuaki 9-dan died of aspiration pheumonia on June 30. He was born in Aichi Prefecture on January 2, 1926. He became a disciple of Kitani Minoru 9-dan and made 1-dan in 1943. He was a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He reached 9-dan in 1964 and retired in 2011. He won the Crown title nine times and won the top section of the rating tournament in 1963. He won the Central Japan Top Position tournament three times in a row. He played in the Meijin League twice and the Honinbo League seven times. His lifetime record was. 881 wins to 618 losses, with 9 jigo (winning percentage 58.4).

Oto Shozo

Oto Shozo died of cirrhosis of the liver on July 26. He was born in Tokyo on Sept. 4, 1948. He became a disciple of Kitani Minoru 9-dan and qualified as 1-dan in 1971. He reached 5-dan in 1981; after retiring in 2013, he was promoted to 6-dan. He was posthumously promoted to 7-dan. 

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The Power Report: June news updates

Wednesday June 22, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Photos (l-r): 1st Hoban Fujisawa Rina; 1st Hoban Wu Yiming; 9Globis Fukuoka 2nd; 9Globis Wang the winner; 9th Hollyhock Uenl (left) beats Okuda; 27LG Shibano best 8; 77honinbo2 Ichiriki Iyama rugby jerseys; 77honinbo2 playing room view of ground; 77honinbo3 Iyama; 77honinbo4 Iyama (left) Cho Chikun Ichiriki; 77honinbo4 Kyushu Nat Museum; Meijin-Kisei Leagues.

Iyama sets new record in Honinbo title

After Ichiriki Ryo’s success in taking the top title from Iyama Yuta in this year’s Kisei title match, most fans probably installed him as the favorite in the 77th Honinbo title match, but that’s not how things worked out. Iyama took a full measure of revenge on his closest rival.

As described in my report of May 21, Iyama took the first game through tenacious play in the late middle game and endgame. This pattern continued in the other games of the best-of-seven.

The second game was played in the Special Room at the Kumagaya Rugby Ground in Kumagaya City, Saitama Prefecture, on May 24 and 25. The room is on the fourth floor of the stadium and offers a view of the playing field. Presumably the venue was chosen by Kumagaya City, which was a supporting sponsor for this game. (Recently, it seems to have become usual for the cities etc. where games are staged to become supporting sponsors just for that game. This gains them publicity and presumably relieves the financial burden on the main sponsors of the tournament.) Kumagaya is a mecca for Japanese rugby fans, and some games in the 2019 Rugy World Cup, which Japan hosted, were played there. The players got into the spirit of things by posing in rugby jerseys holding on to footballs, though they switched back to the regulations suits to play the game.

As indicated above, Ichiriki made another good start, but Iyama (white) refused to give up. He played aggressively, complicating the position and eliciting an error from Ichiriki. Once he had upset his lead, Iyama played solidly, giving Ichiriki no chance to get back into the game.

The third game was played at the Fujii residence in Yamada Hot Spring in Nagano Prefecture on June 1 and 2. Once again, Ichiriki (W) took the lead in the opening and early middle game, but Iyama fought very strongly in the latter part of the game (meaning, in this case, from about move 121 on). He sacrificed a group in a way that surprised the professionals following the game on the spot, but that was part of a far-seeing whole-board strategy. Under pressure, Ichiriki played some sub-optimal moves that let Iyama dominate the game. Not only did he upset Ichiriki’s lead, he gradually increased his own lead. When Ichiriki resigned, after Black 259, he was ten points or more behind on the board. If you have access to a game record, check out Black 179, an unlikely-looking tesuji that Ichiriki didn’t see. It enabled Iyama to maximize his territory in a corner fight.

The fourth game was played at the Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu City, Kyushu, on June 11 and 12. This turned out to be the most spectacular game of the series. Early in the game, there was a spectacular trade, in which Ichiriki (black) sacrificed a group in exchange for capturing some white stones. However, the result was a little advantageous for Iyama. Ichiriki subsequently played some dubious moves, letting Iyama expand his lead. Ichiriki resigned after 196 moves.

   The referee for this game was Cho Chikun, so he had a close-up view as Iyama broke his record by scoring his 11th successive victory in a top-seven title. It was also Iyama 68th title (55 of them top-seven titles), so he is drawing closer and closer to Cho’s record of 75 (42).

Iyama’s comment: “After the new year started, there was a difficult period for me when I couldn’t get good results. Things were tough for me, so I’m happy I got a good result this time. . . . As a go fan watching Cho win ten in a row, I never dreamed I could challenge his record. It’s a great honor.”

Cho’s comment: “It felt good when we were lined up together on ten-in-a-row, but now that he’s gone past me, I feel bad. Now it’s happened, I want him to win about 20 in a row. He defended with straight wins, but in this series Ichiriki’s content was better. He should be able to keep competing with confidence.”

There was no quote from Ichiriki in the newspaper. First prize is 28,000,000 yen (about $208,955, at $1=¥134). Below is a list of the top successive-title records.

11: Iyama Honinbo (2012~22)

10: Cho Chikun Honinbo (1989~98)

9: Iyama Kisei (2013~21)

9: Takagawa Kaku Honinbo (1952~60) 

8: Kobayashi Koichi Kisei (1986~93)

8: Kato Masao Oza (1982~8

Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup

The semifinals and final of the 9th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup were held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 21 and 22. In the semifinals (May 21), Ueno Asami (B) beat Kibe Natsuki 2-dan by resignation, and Oku Aya 4-dan (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan, also by resignation. The next day, Ueno (B) beat Okuda by resignation and earned the right to challenge Fujisawa Rina for the title. Fujisawa has held this title for five years in a row and six times overall. Ueno made two unsuccessful challenges, for the 6th and 8th Cup; she lost 0-2 each time, so she will be looking for revenge.

Wu of China dominates 1st Hoban Cup

The Hoban Cup Seoul Newspaper Women’s Baduk Championship 2022 is a new international tournament run along the same lines as the Nong Shim Cup, with the difference that it is split into just two rounds, not three. The first round was dominated by the 15-year-old Wu Yiming 3-dan of China, who won five games in a row. According to Chinese rules for international tournaments, this earned her a promotion to 4-dan. The second round is scheduled for October.

Game 1 (May 22). Wu Yiming 3-dan (China) (W) beat Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (Japan) by resig.

Game 2 (May 23). Wu (W) (B) beat Lee Suljoo 1-dan (Korea) by resig.

Game 3 (May 24). Wu (B) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan (Japan) by 11.5 points.

Game 4 (May 25). Wu (B) beat Heo Seohyun 3-dan (Korea) by resig.

Game 5 (May 26). Wu (B) beat Xie Yimin 7-dan (Japan) by resig.

Game 6 (May 27). Kim Jaeyeong 7-dan (Korea) (W) beat Wu 4-dan by resig.

Game 7 (May 28). Fujisawa Rina 5-dan (Japan) (B) beat Kim by resig.

LG Cup: Shibano makes best eight

The opening rounds of the 27th LG Cup, an international tournament sponsored by the LG Corporation in Korea, were held on the net from May 30 to June 1. Twenty-four players took part, with 16 starting out in the first round and eight being seeded into the second round. As the host country, Korea had 13 players; China had seven, Japan three, and Chinese Taipei one. The Japanese participants were Shibano Toramaru and Yo Seiki, who were seeded, and Sada Atsushi, who won the Japanese qualifying tournament. Shibano, who was seeded into the second round, was the only Japanese player to make the best eight.

The time allowance is three hours, followed by 40-second byo-yomi x 5. Results follow (for most of the games, I don’t have full details).

(Round 1, May 29). Shin Minjun 9-dan (Korea) beat Shi Yue 9-dan (China); Zhao Chenyu beat Park Geunho 6-dan (Korea); Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 8-dan (Japan) (B) beat Park Hamin 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Kim Jiseok 9-dan (Korea) beat Gu Jihao 9-dan (China); Park Jinseol 6-dan (Korea) (B) beat Sada Atsushi 7-dan (Japan) by resig.

(Round 1, May 30) Wang Yuanjun 9-dan (Ch. Taipei) beat Weon Seongjin 9-dan (Korea); Kang Dongyun 9-dan (Korea) beat Cho Hanseung 9-dan (Korea); Kim Myeonghoon 9-dan (Korea) beat Seol Hyunjun 7-dan (Korea).

Round 2 (31 May). Mi Yuting 9-dan (China) beat Cho; Shin Jinseo 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Yo by resig.); Ke Jie 9-dan (China) beat Shin Minjun; Ding Hao 9-dan (China) beat Kim; Yang Dingxin 9-dan (China) beat Park. 

(Round 2, June 1). Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (Japan) (W) beat Wang by resig.; Kang beat Park Junghwan 9-dan (Korea); Kim beat Byun Sangil 9-dan (Korea).

Semifinal (Nov. 24) pairings: Ke v. Kang, Mi v. Shin Jinseo, Ding vs. Kim, Shibano v. Yang.

Globis Cup

The 9th Globis Cup was held in the same week at the LG Cup, so suddenly there was a lot of activity in international go. Unfortunately, this tournament, too, had to be held on the net. Founded in 2014, it is a tournament for players under 20. It is sponsored by the Globis Graduate School of Business. The tournament is run by the NHK format: 30 seconds per move, with ten minutes of thinking time to be used in one-minute units. First prize is 1,500,000 yen; second prize is 250,000 yen, and third prize is 100,000 yen. The tournament system is complicated: the 16 participants are split up in four mini-knockout tournaments, with the top four proceeding to the main tournament. However, there is also a losers’ tournament in which four more players earn seats in the main tournament. Thanks to this second chance, Kevin Yang of North American, who is listed as amateur 7-dan, won a seat in the main tournament. The above games were all played on June 4. Results in the main tournament, held on June 5, follow.

(Quarterfinals) Zhou Hongyu 6-dan (China) beat Lai Junfu (Ch.Taipei); Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan (Japan) beat Kevin Yang; Wang Xinghao 7-dan (China) beat Tsuji Shigehito 3-dan (Japan); Tu Xiaoyu 7-dan (China) beat Lee Yeon 4-dan (Korea).

(Semifinals) Fukuoka beat Zhou; Wang beat Tu.

(Final) Wang (W) beat Fukuoka by resig.

(Play-off for 3rd place) Tu beat Zhou.

Wang Xinghao also won this tournament last year, beating Tu Xiaoyu in the final. 

Fujisawa fails to reach best four in Tengen

  Fujisawa Rina’s excellent run in the 48th Tengen tournament finally came to an end on June 2. Playing white, she lost by resignation to Otake Yu 6-dan. If she had won, she would have been the first woman to make the best four in a top-seven title. Actually, Fujisawa took the lead in the opening, but Otake was able to pull off an upset.

Shibano leads in 47th Meijin League

Shibano Toramaru, former Meijin, holds the sole lead on 4-1, followed by Ichiriki Ryo Kisei and Shida Tatsuya 8-dan on 4-2 and Kyo Kagen Judan on 3-2. Recent results follow.

(May 19) Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 9-dan by resig.

(June 2) Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (W) beat Hane Naoki 9-dan by resig.

(June 9) Shida Tatsuya 8-dan (B) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by 1.5 points

Kisei S League

Two games in the second round have been played so far. On June 2 Murakawa Daisuke 9-dan (W) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resignation, and on June 6 Shibano (B) beat Takao Shinji 9-dan by resig. On 2-0, Shibano Toramaru is the only undefeated player. 

Sumire reaches 100 wins

Scoring one’s 100th win is not usually considered a significant landmark, but things are different if the player concerned is only 13 years old. The Yomiuri reported on June 7 that Nakamura Sumire 2-dan had recorded her 100th win in a game played at the Nihon Ki-in on the previous day. Taking white, she beat Kato Keiko 6-dan by resignation in the second round of the main section of the 41st Women’s Honinbo tournament. At 13 years three months, she set yet another youth record. The previous record of 15 years 11 months was set by Cho Chikun, Honorary Meijin. At a press conference after the game, Sumire commented: “I’m not very aware of my number of wins. It was like: really?” When a reporter commented that she had done it in three years two months as a pro, she smiled. “I don’t really know, but that seems fast.” To become the challenger, she needs three more wins. Sumire has played only two games since my last report, one of them the game reported here. For the other, see the report on the Hoban Cup above.

Most wins (as of June 10)

The latest Go Weekly gave only the top two places, so positions 3 to 10 are my best guess. There are five women in the top ten.

1. Ueno Asami: 27-5

2. Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 26-10

3. Nyu Eiko 4-dan: 20-10

4. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 19-4; Ida Atsushi 8-dan: 19-6; Nakamura Sumire 2-dan: 19-10

7. Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo: 18-7

8. Kyo Kagen Judan: 17-6

9. Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 16-14

10. Ikemoto Ryota 2-dan: 15-6 

Most successive wins

10: Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan

6: Yo Kaei 8-dan, Ueno Risa 1-dan (younger sister of Ueno Asami)

5: So Yokoku 9-dan, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan, Mitani Tetsuya 8-dan, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan, Hirose Yuichi 6-dan, Sakai Takashi 2-dan, Kawahara Yu 1-dan

Recently ended streaks

13: Koike Yoshihiro 

6: Fujisawa Rina

5: O Rissei 9-dan, Son Makoto 7-dan, Nishioka Masao, Fujisawa Rina, Konishi Yoshiakira 1-dan, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan, Shibano Toramaru 9-dan

Correction

There was some funny arithmetic in my article on Ishida Yoshio’s government decoration (ejournal, May 23). Total games played by Ishida should have read 1870. His record, updated to June 7, is: 1146 wins, 725 losses, 1 no-result, total 1872 games. Thanks to Peter St. John for pointing out my mistake.

NOTE: John Power sent in these reports on June 13 but publication was delayed due to EJ Managing Editor being on travel; our apologies for the delay.  

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The Power Report: Ichiriki wins 1st New Ryusei; Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei; Meijin & Kisei S League reports; Sumire’s progress; Most wins, Most successive wins, Recently ended streaks & promotion; Decorations for Iyama and Ishida

Monday May 23, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki wins 1st New Ryusei
This is a new tournament with an unfamiliar (to me) time system known as Fischer Time, after its inventor the late Bobby Fischer, a world chess champion. In the format used in this tournament, players have a time allowance of one minute, but receive an extra five seconds every time they play a move. First prize is 2,000,000 yen (about $15,500). It is separate from the existing Ryusei title, which is now in its 31st term.
The tournament was telecast on the Igo Shogi channel. It culminated in a best-of-three final, in which Ichiriki Ryo defeated Kyo Kagen 2-0. The second game was telecast on May 7. The results in the final, with the dates of actual play, follow.
Game 1 (Jan. 29). Ichiriki (W) by 22.5 points.
Game 2 (Feb. 5). Ichiriki (B) by resig.

Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei
The play-off to decide the challenger for the 47th Gosei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on May 16. Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (B) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by resignation after 219 moves. Ichiriki gets a return match with Iyama Yuta, who took the title from him last year. This will be the third title clash this year between these two. The match starts on June 24. Yo has now lost two play-offs in a row to Ichiriki.

47th Meijin League
After five rounds, Shibano Toramaru, former Meijin, holds the sole lead on 4-1, but there are three players on 3-2. Of these, his main rival will probably be Ichiriki Ryo, who has the advantage of being ranked number one in the league. To counterbalance that, Shibano has won their individual encounter. Results since my last report follow.
(March 26) Shibano Toramaru (B) beat Shida Tatsuya 8-dan by resig.
(April 7) Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (B) beat Shibano by resig.
(April 11) Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Shida Tatsuya 8-dan by half a point.
(April 14) Ida Atsushi 8-dan (W) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by resig.
(April 21) Ichiriki (B) beat Yamashita by resig.
(May 2) Shibano (B) beat Yo by resig.
(May 5) Shida (W) beat Hane by resig.

Kisei S League
The 47th Kisei S League got off to a start on April 28. Paying in his first league since the 37th tournament, Iyama Yuta got off to a bad start. Taking black, Takao Shinji 9-dan beat him by resig. This is a short league, with only five rounds, so the other players in the league will be encouraged by Iyama’s initial setback. Other results in the first round follow.
(May 9) Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Yo Seiki 8-dran by resig.
(May 12) Shibano Toramaru (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 9-dan by resig.

Sumire’s progress
Sumire may have suffered a setback in her first title challenge, but overall she is having another good year. As of May 17, her results are 18-9, giving her an excellent winning percentage, and she is again near the top in the most-wins list (see article below). Her cumulative record as a pro is 99 wins to 51 losses (exactly 66%, which is in line with her results this year).
(March 24) Sumire beat Mukai Chiaki (see Women’s Meijin item above)
(March 26) Sumire (W) lost to Kubo Hideo 7-dan by resig. (Prelim. A, Agon 29th Kiriyama Cup).
(March 29) Sumire beat Jo Bun’en 1-dan and Takeshita Ryoya 1-dan (3rd Discovery Cup).
(March 31) Sumire (W) beat Kibe Natsuki 2-dan by resig. (prelim., 41st Women’s Honinbo).
(April 4) Sumire (W) beat Tsuji Hana 2-dan by half a point (Prelim., 7th Senko Cup).
(April 8) Sumire lost to Fujisawa (International Senko Cup – see article aabove)
(April 14 & 16) Sumire lost 0-2 in the Women’s Meijin title match—see above.
(April 18) Sumire lost to Fujii Koki 1-dan (9th Globis Cup). At this point, she had lost four games in a row.
(April 25) Sumire (B) beat Hoshiai Shiho 3-dan by resig. (prelim., 7th Senko Cup). This win secured Sumire a seat in the main tournament. 
(April 28) Sumire (W) beat Yamada Shinji 6-dan by 3.5 (Prelim. C, 48th Meijin).
(May 2). Sumire (B) lost to Kono Rin 9-dan by 6.5. (Prelim. A, 78th Honinbo).
(May 5) Sumire (W) beat Omori Ran 1-dan by resig. (round 1, main tournament, 41st Women’s Honinbo).
(May 12) Sumire (B) beat Takao Mari 1-dan by resig. (round 1, main section, 7th Senko Cup).

Most wins
There are six women in the top ten in this list, the most that I can remember. It’s generally agreed that the current top group of women players is the strongest ever. On top of that, the increase in the number of women’s tournaments gives them plenty of competition and, of course, chances to improve their win records. (Results are as of May 17.)
1. Ueno Asami Women’s Kisei: 22-4; Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 22-8
3. Nakamura Sumire 2-dan, Nyu Eiko 4-dan: both 18-9
5. Kyo Kagen Judan: 17-4; Ida Atsushi 8-dan: 17-5
7. Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo: 15-5
8. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 14-2; Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 14-12
10. Mukai Chiaki 5-dan: 13-12

Most successive wins
10: Koike Yoshihiro
7: Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan
5: O Rissei 9-dan, Son Makoto 7-dan, Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo, Konishi Yoshiakira 1-dan

Recently ended streaks
11: Ueno Asami Women’s Kisei
10: Ichiriki Ryo Kisei
8: Fujita Akihiko 7-dan
7: Yokotsuka Riki,
6: Otake Yu 6-dan, Byan Wonkei 3-dan

Promotion
To 4-dan: Kikkawa Hajime (30 wins, as of March 29)

Decorations for Iyama and Ishida
Two go-players were awarded decorations by the government in the spring honors list. These awards honor persons who have made outstanding contributions in their own fields and, by extension, to Japanese society and culture. The players were Iyama Yuta and Ishida Yoshio. Ishida has won 24 titles and his main achievement was to set an unbroken youth record by winning the Honinbo title at the age of 22. He held this title for five years, earning him the title of 24th Honinbo Shuho. He is now 73 and is still an active player. He is also a popular teacher and commentator. In 2016, he was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon; this time he received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. At a press conference, he said that his targets as a player are to reach 1200 wins and to play 2000 official games. He is optimistic about reaching the first target, but is not so sanguine about the latter. As of May 17, his record was 1144 wins, 725 losses, 1 no-result, for a total of 1700 games.

Iyama Yuta, holder of the Meijin, Honinbo, Oza, and Gosei titles, was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon. At 32, he is the youngest go player to have received an award. At a press conference, he referred to how arduous professional go was, the constant pressure from his rivals, especially the new generation, the consequent need to keep developing, and the importance of studying AI. He also commented that the joy from achieving a successful result was only momentary and that not only was the summit of go not visible, but that one didn’t even know where it was. On the plus side, he cited the profundity and limitless fascination of the game. Twenty-nine go players have received awards, eight of them more than once.

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The Power Report: Ichiriki challenging for Honinbo title, Iyama makes good start; Nakamura Sumire makes first challenge, Fujisawa defends Women’s Meijin

Saturday May 21, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki (right) becomes challenger in Honinbo

Ichiriki challenging for Honinbo title, Iyama makes good start
All the games in the final round of the 77th Honinbo League were played on March 31. Yo Seiki had held the lead all the way in the league, including the sole lead from the third round on, but he slipped up in the final round, coming out on the wrong side of a half-pointer. Ichiriki, who had been in the sole second place from the fourth round on, won his game, so he finally caught up with Yo. In the play-off, Ichiriki was victorious, enabling him to make his first challenge for the Honinbo title. This is also his second successive challenge to Iyama Yuta in a best-of-seven. If Yo had won, he would have been the first Honinbo challenger from the Kansai Ki-in for 60 years. Actually, Shibano, who beat him in the final round, has been his nemesis, and he has won only one of 13 games with him. Results since my last report follow.
(March 26) Ichiriki (B) beat Hane Naoki by resig.
(March 31) Ichiriki (B) beat Sada Atsushi 7-dan by resig.
Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Hane Naoki by resig.
Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (B) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by half a point.
Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi by resig.
Play-off to decide the challenger (April 4). Ichiriki (W) beat Yo by resig.

The title match has started. Iyama is aiming at setting a new record by winning a big-three title 11 years in a row. Ichiriki is seeking what would be only his third victory in his tenth title match with Iyama. His record versus Iyama before the match began was 21 wins to 33 losses, which actually represents a recovery by Ichiriki. From late 2016 to early 2018, he suffered 13 successive losses to Iyama, at which point his record was 3-15.

Iyama starts with a narrow win
The first game in the best-of-seven was played in the Kinkeikaku (Golden Valley Pavillion) in the Oyama Shrine, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on May 10 and 11. To review the game conditions: the time allowance is eight hours per player and the final ten minutes are used for byo-yomi.

Iyama drew black in the nigiri. Because of a number of ko fights, the game was the longest in a Honinbo title match: 357 moves. It finished at 9:34 p.m. on the second day, and Iyama won by half a point. From start to finish, the game was marked by relentless fighting. In the early part of the game, Ichiriki seemed to have an edge, but in the latter part Iyama played a clever move that enable him to manipulate the multiple ko fights to his advantage. More than half the game was fought with both players in the final minute of byo-yomi.

The second game will be played on May 24 and 25.

Sumire challenges

Nakamura Sumire makes first challenge, Fujisawa defends Women’s Meijin
As mentioned in my previous report (March 30), Sumire finished the 33rd Women’s Meijin League with the sole lead of 5-1 on March 24. However, if Xie Yimin 7-dan won her final game, she would catch up and force a play-off. That game was played on March 28. Ueno Asami helped her out by beating Xie; taking black, she won by resig., so Sumire became the challenger.

No one will be surprised to hear that Sumire set yet another record. Previously, the youngest challenger for a women’s title was Fujisawa Rina, who was 16 when she challenged for the 33rd Women’s Honinbo. Sumire was 13 years one month when the Women’s Meijin title match started, so she lowered the record by nearly three years.

Other league results since my previous report follow.
(March 24) Sumire (B) beat Mukai Chiaki 6-dan by half a point.
(April 4) Ueno Asami Women’s Kisei (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan by resig.

The title match, the Hakata Kamachi Cup 33rd Women’s Meijin Best-of-Three, to give it its full name, is sponsored by what seems to be a related group of organizations, namely,  the Kyoju-no-kai (an incorporated body that runs a hospital), the Total Medical Service Inc., and Medical Tender Inc.

In the title match, Sumire fell short. In the first game, played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on April 14, she drew black in the nigiri. She fought strongly, but Fujisawa took the lead in the middle game. However, she made a blunder that let Sumire catch up. The game became very close, but Sumire also made a mistake. Fujisawa outplayed Sumire in the endgame and steadily expanded her lead. The game became even on the board, so Sumire resigned after move 248.

Fujisawa Rina

The second game was played at the same venue on April 16. Playing with black, Fujisawa dominated the game and held the lead throughout. Sumire resigned after 203 moves. Fujisawa won this title for her fifth year in a row, so she qualified for the title of Honorary Women’s Meijin. First prize is worth 7,000,000 yen (about $54,200 at $1 = 129 yen). This is her 21st title.

Despite her loss, Sumire can be proud of beating a high-level field in the league and of setting a record for challenging at the age of 13. One of her ambitions is to win a title while in middle school, so she still has almost two years to reach this goal.

Tomorrow: Kyo wins Teikei New Stars; Kyo defends Judan; Ueno wins 4th international Senko Cup; Fujisawa reaches best eight in Tengen.

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The Power Report: Kido Prizes & more (UPDATED!)

Wednesday March 30, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

EDITOR’S NOTE: The previous report has been updated holus-bolus with the latest results and also includes new reports.

Ichiriki wins Kisei after Iyama saves two kadobans (NEW)

Ichiriki looks happy

Ichiriki Ryo’s chances of winning his first big-three title looked good when he took a 3-1 lead (see my report of Feb. 28), but Iyama made him work hard to pull it off. The final three games are described below.

The fifth game of the 46th Kisei title match was played at the Hotel Kagetsuen in the town of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture on March 3 and 4. Taking black, Iyama played brilliantly and survived his first kadoban. Ichiriki resigned after 213 moves.

The sixth game was played at the same venue on March 10 and 11. Iyama (W) took the lead, but complications ensued when Ichiriki set his sights on a large white group. Iyama just barely managed to save it, and that decided the game. Ichiriki resigned after White 236. Iyama had now saved two kadobans, which must have put a lot of pressure on Ichiriki. Last year, he had taken the lead over Iyama in both his Gosei defence and his Meijin challenge, but each time had fallen victim to an Iyama fightback.

The deciding game was played at the Ninnaji temple in northeast Kyoto on March 17 and 18. The nigiri was conducted again, and Ichiriki drew black. He took a small lead in the middle-game fighting, putting a lot of pressure on Iyama. At a crucial point in a large-scale fight, Ichiriki thought for exactly one hour and found a move that kept the initiative. Iyama went wrong in his continuation here, playing two moves that Yamada Kimio 9-dan called “probably the losing moves.” Ichiriki took a lead of over ten points on the board. Iyama couldn’t get back into the game, so he resigned after move 199.

This is Ichiriki’s third top-seven title and his first top-three title. All told, he has won 15 titles. Winning the Kisei makes him the top-ranked player in Japan. First prize is 45,000,000 yen (about $364,845). Incidentally, this is 50% more than the number two title, the Meijin. Iyama missed out on becoming the first player to win the Kisei for ten years in a row. Ichiriki is the tenth player to have won the Kisei title.

Kido Prizes

The magazine Kido is defunct, but the Kido Prizes live on. The 55th Kido Prizes for the outstanding Nihon Ki-in players of 2021 were decided by a committee of go journalists, including staff on TV go programs, on February 7. Details follow.

Most outstanding player: Iyama Yuta, for holding on to the top three titles, the Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo, and adding the Oza and Gosei, to give him a quintuple crown. The choice was unanimous, and he was picked for the 10th year in a row. Even in his 30s, Iyama continues to dominate Japanese go.

Outstanding player: Kyo Kagen, for winning the Judan
New Star: Nakamura Sumire
Woman’s Prize: Fujisawa Rina
International Prize: Iyama Yuta
Most wins: Ueno Asami (54-25)
Best winning percentage: Tsuneishi Takashi (76.9%, 30-9)
Most successive wins: Ichiriki Ryo (14)
Most games: Ueno Asami (79)

Kyo Kagen Judan

Kyo starts well in Judan (UPDATED)

The Daiwa House Cup 60th Judan title match featured a clash between two Taiwanese players: Kyo Kagen Judan (Hsu Chiayuan or Xu Jiayuan) (aged 24) and Yo Seiki 8-dan (Yu Chengch’i or Yu Zhengqi) (aged 26), the latter being a member of the Kansai Ki-in. Kyo led 10-5 in past encounters, including a win in the play-off to decide the Judan challenger last year.

The first game was played at the Osaka University of Commerce on March 1. Taking black, Kyo played strongly and seized the initiative, but Yo fought back and made the game a very close endgame contest. However, he fell short by half a point.

The second game was played at the “Hotel & Resorts NAGAHAMA” (the official English name) in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture, on March 23. The venue is a tourist hotel that overlooks Lake Biwa. Taking white, Kyo won by resignation after 210 moves. The game started with fierce fighting in which neither side was able to take the lead. However, clever play in two interrelated ko fights enabled Kyo to edge ahead of his opponent. Yo finished off one of the kos, but at the price of having a center group come under attack. He was unable to save it.

The third game will be played on April 7.

77th Honinbo League (UPDATED)

Yo Seiki’s chances of becoming the challenger are looking better and better. He enjoys the sole lead on 5-0 and has played and beaten his closest rival, Ichiriki Ryo, who is on 4-1. Yo’s remaining game is against  Shibano Toramaru.

(Feb. 17) Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan (W) beat Hane Naoki 9-dan by resig.
(March 10) Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 9-dan by resig.
(March 14) Yo (W) beat Tsuruyama by resig.; Sada Atsushi 7-dan (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by resig.

47th Meijin League (UPDATED)

Two players are undefeated in the current Meijin League: Shibano Toramaru and Shida Tatsuya, who are both on 2-0. However, all of the other players are still in the running.
(Feb. 15) Yo Seiki 8-dan (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 9-dan by resig.
(March 7) Yo (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by resig.
(March 14) Ichiriki Ryo 9-dan (W) beat Hane Naoki 9-dan by resig.
(March 17) Kyo Kagen (B) beat Ida Atsushi 8-dan by resig.

Sumire leads 33rd Women’s Meijin League (NEW)

With four of the seven players in this league having completed their games, Nakamura Sumire 2-dan has the provisional lead on 5-1. Her only rival is Xie Yimin 7-dan, who is on 4-1. If she can win her final game with Ueno Asami, she will draw level with Sumire and meet her in a play-off to decide the challenger to Fujisawa Rina. Results since my previous report follow.

(Feb. 14) Xie Yimin 7-dan (B) beat Mukai Chiaki 6-dan by resig.
(Feb. 17) Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan (B) beat Nakamura Sumire 2-dan by 4.5 points.; Nyu Eiko 4-dan (W) beat Omori Ran 1-dan by resig.
(Feb. 23) Ueno Asami Women’s Kisei (B) beat Mukai Chiaki 6-dan by 7.5 points.
(Feb. 24). Nakamura (B) beat Xie Yimin 7-dan by 2.5 points.
(Feb. 28) Nyu (B) beat Ueno by resig.; Mukai (B) beat Omori by resig.
(March 7) Xie (W) beat Nyu by resig.
(March 10) Nakamura (B) beat Ueno by resig.; Suzuki (W) beat Mukai by 4.5 points.
(March 17) Nakamura (W) beat Nyu by resig.; Suzuki (W) beat Omori by resig.
(March 24) Nakamura (B) beat Mukai by half a point; Xie (B) beat Omori by resig.

Teikei Cup New Stars

Teikei New Stars

Some details of the three new Teikei tournaments can be found in my report of January 29. The New Stars is limited to players 25 and under. The pairing in the final was predictable: Kyo Kagen Judan v. Shibano Toramaru, a former Meijin. They are members of the top group in Japanese go, so it feels a little funny to find them playing in a self-proclaimed “junior” tournament, but this is possible because there is no dan ceiling, unlike most junior tournaments. Kyo has started well in the best-of-three final, winning the first game.

Game 1 (March 4). Kyo Kagen Judan (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 9-dan by half a point. (This was Kyo’s second half-point win in four days: he won the first Judan game by the same margin.)

Teikei Cup Legends Tournament (NEW)

Sonoda Yuichi

The final of this new tournament was held in the Ryusei TV studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in on March 18. Taking white, Sonoda Yuichi 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in beat Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan by resignation. He noted wryly that this was his first tournament victory since 1995. First prize is ¥5,000,000 (about $40,500). (Aoki qualified for this tournament by winning the Teikei Cup Women Legends Tournament, in which first prize is ¥2,000,000.)

New Stars International Team Tournament

This is a new tournament for players 19 and under from Japan, Korea, China, and Chinese Taipei. According to the Nihon Ki-in’s HP, the full name is the Parliamentary Government International Go New Stars Team Tournament. Games, of course, were played on the net. The time allowance was one hour, followed by 40-second byo-yomi x 3. For extra details, please see the excellent report by Daniela Trinks on March 10 (she calls the tournament Uijeongbu after the Korean city that sponsors it) .

Japan came fourth, with the only player to come out of the tournament with reputation enhanced being Nakamura Sumire, who won two games. One of the wins was over Zhou Hongyu, who is one of the top woman players in China; she won the 3rd Go Seigen Cup in 2020.

Results follow (all Chinese names are given in Pinyin). In the first match, Fukuoka forfeited his game because of illness. He was replaced by Sakai Yuki in the other matches.

Round One (March 3): Chinese Taipei beat Japan 2-1: Lai Junfu 7-dan (B) beat Miura Taro 2-dan by resig.; Xu Jingen 4-dan beat Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan by forfeit; Lin Yuting 1-dan lost to Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (B) by resig; China beat Korea 2-1: Tu Xiaoyu 7-dan lost to Moon 5-dan (W) by resig; Wang Xinghao 6-dan (W) beat Han 3-dan by resig; Zhou Hongyu 6-dan (W) beat Kim Eunji 2-dan by resig.

Round 2 (March 4): China beat Japan 2-1: Tu (W) beat Miura by resig; Wang (B) beat Sakai Yuki 3-dan by resig; Zhou Hongyu 6-dan lost to Nakamura (B) by 1.5 points. Korea beat Chinese Taipei 3-0: Moon (B) beat Lai on time; Han (B) beat Xu by resig; Kim (W) beat Lin by resig.

Round 3: Korea beat Japan 3-0: Moon (B) beat Miura by 6.5 points; Han (B) beat Sakai by resig; Kim (W) beat Nakamura by resig. China beat Chinese Taipei 3-0: Tu (B) beat Lai by resig; Wang (W) beat Xu by resig; Zhou (W) beat Lin by resig.

Placings: 1st: China (3-0); 2nd: Korea (2-1); 3rd: Chinese Taipei (1-2); 4th: Japan (0-3).

Ichiriki wins NHK Cup (NEW)

The final of the 69th NHK Cup was telecast on March 13. Ichiriki Ryo beat Takao Shinji by half a point and won this tournament for the second year in a row and the third time overall. His record in NHK finals is now 3-3. Surprisingly, this was Takao’s first appearance in the final. This was the start of a good week for Ichiriki: he also stopped a losing streak in the Meijin League and won the Kisei title.

Japan eliminated from 14th Chunlan Cup (NEW)

Chunlan Cup: Sada beats Mi

The Chunlan Cup is a Chinese-sponsored international tournament for 24 players. It was founded in 1999 and since its 4th term has been held every two years. First prize is $150,000. The time allowance is two hours 30 minutes, with the last five minutes being used for byo-yomi (according to the Nihon Ki-in HP—Go Weekly says the byo-yomi comes after all the time is used up). Five Japanese representatives took part this year, but just one player made the second round, where he too was eliminated. Results of the opening rounds follow.

Round 1 (March 22). Byan Sangil 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Kim Jiseok 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Li Qincheng 9-dan (China) (W) beat Seki Kotaro 8-dan (Japan) by resig.; Ding Hao 9-dan (China) (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Sada Atsushi 7-dan (Japan) (W) beat Mi Yuting 9-dan (China) by resig.; Li Weiqing 9-dan (China) (W) beat Ilya Shikshin 4-dan (Europe) by resig.; Kim Myounghoon 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Shi Yue 9-dan (China) by resig.; Li Xuanhao 8-dan (China) beat Ryan Li 3-dan (North America) by 1.5 points.

Round 2 (March 24) Tang Weixing 9-dan (China) (W) beat Sada by resig.; Byan (W) beat Gu Zihao 9-dan (China) by resig.; Li Xuanhao (W) beat Xu Haohong 7-dan (Chinese Taipei) by resig.; Ke Jie 9-dan (China) (W) beat Kim Myounghoon by resig.; Tang (W) beat Sada by resig.; Shin Minjun 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Ding by resig.; Yang Dingxin 9-dan (China) (B) beat Kim Jiseok by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Li Qincheng by resig.; Li Weiqing (B) beat Park Junghwan 9-dan (Korea) by resig.

The quarterfinals are to held later in the year, but I don’t have a date yet. Unfortunately, the two outstanding favorites, Shin Jinseo and Ke Jie meet each other in this round. The other pairings are: Yang v. Li Xuanhao, Shin v. Tang, and Li Weiqing v. Byan.

Sumire’s progress (UPDATED)

As of the end of March, Nakamura Sumire’s record was 12-5, but if you included the unofficial games she played in an international team tournament for young players (see above), her record is 14-6.  She is also sitting on a winning streak of seven games (see below).

(Feb. 17 & 24 and March 10, 17 & 24) Sumire won four games and lost one in the Women’s Meijin League—see above.
(Feb. 28) Sumire (B) beat Terayama Rei 6-dan by resig. (Prelim. B, 78th Honinbo)
(March 14) Sumire (B) beat Rin Shien 8-dan by 1.5 points; Sumire (W) beat Yamada Takuji 8-dan by 2.5 points (both games in Prelim. B, 29th Agon Kiriyama Cup). Beating two 8-dans in one day shows how far Sumire has come.

Most successive wins (UPDATED)

Go Weekly is not yet publishing a most-wins list, but the most likely candidates for top place are  given below (as of March 27).

Kyo Kagen: 12-1; Nakamura Sumire: 12-5; Ichiriki Ryo: 12-7

Best winning streaks
12: Kyo Kagen (since Jan. 13)
7: Nakamura Sumire (since Feb. 24)
6: Kimu Shujun 9-dan, Shimojima Yohei 8-dan, Han Zenki 8-dan

The following players have seen their streaks come to an end recently.
8: Ikemoto Ryota 2-dan
7: Fujisawa Rina, Ueno Asami, Sakai Yuki 3-dan, Ida Atsushi 8-dan
6: Nyu Eiko 4-dan, Kono Mitsuki 8-dan

Iyama awarded 60th Shusai Prize (NEW)

This prize honoring the 21st and last hereditary Honinbo is awarded to the outstanding player of the previous year. Iyama Yuta won it for the 10th time.

Okura Kishichiro Prizes (NEW)

The Okura Kishichiro Prizes (previously referred to just as the Okura Prizes) are awarded to people, professional or amateur, who have made major contributions to popularizing go. This year’s prizes were announced on March 23 and went to Fukuda Yasuhisa, president of Senko Group Holdings, which sponsors the two Senko tournaments, and Takemiya Masaki 9-dan, who became famous for his center-oriented “cosmic style” and who won the Honinbo title six times and Meijin title once.

Promotions (UPDATED)

To 4-dan (50 wins): Komatsu Daiki (as of March 15). Komatsu is the son of Komatsu Hideki 9-dan and Komatsu Eiko 4-dan. Also, Kikkawa Hajime (as of March 29).

To 3-dan: (Ms.) Tanemura Sayuri (40 wins; as of Feb. 25)

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Ichiriki one win away from becoming Kisei

Monday February 28, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

Ichiriki (l), almost there; Iyama (r), back to the wall

Ichiriki Ryo, the challenger, made a good start in the 46th Kisei best-of-seven title match, winning the first game. Iyama Yuta evened the score in the second game, but then Ichiriki again took the lead, winning two games in a row and securing a commanding 3-1 lead. This could be the end of Iyama’s record nine-year run as Kisei. 

For the fifth year in a row, the match got off to a start at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo. The first game was played on January 13 and 14. Iyama drew black in the nigiri. Ichiriki was in excellent form; he attacked positively and seized the initiative at an early stage. Iyama resigned after move 214. Already Ichiriki had improved on his previous Kisei challenge (he lost 0-4 in the 42nd title match).

The second game was played at the Mikazuki Sea Park Katsuura Hotel, Chiba Prefecture, on January 21 and 22. Ichiriki took the initiative in a reading contest in the opening on the first day, but Iyama fought back on the second day and secured a slight lead. A white group came under pressure in the closing stages of the game, but Iyama showed great skill in rescuing it. Ichiriki resigned after 158 moves. 

Iyama makes a sealed move

The third game was played at the Olive Bay Hotel in Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture, on February 4 and 5. In the opening, both sides went for territory. In the middle game, Iyama settled a group under attack while taking territory. Ichiriki countered by splitting Black into two in the center. With both sides in byo-yomi, Iyama missed a chance to decide the game, letting Ichiriki secure a large territory and stage an upset.

The fourth game was played at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on February 18 and 19. In a game marked by continuous fighting, the lead shifted back and forth, with observers noting two upsets. Ichiriki (B) played with greater tenacity in the late middle game and endgame and pulled off a win by half a point. He now has three chances to take the title. Ichiriki won’t be counting his chickens. In two of his big-three title defenses last year, Iyama staged fightbacks after falling behind—in the 76th Honinbo title match he recovered from 1-3 down against Shibano Toramaru and in the 46th Meijin from 2-3 against Ichiriki. If you include his other title matches last, Iyama faced eight “kadoban,” that is, a game that can lose a series, and won all of them. No one is stronger with his back to the wall. The fifth game will be played on March 3 and 4.

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The Power Report: Yo leads 77th Honinbo League; Shibano and Shida share lead in 47th Meijin League; 33rd Women’s Meijin League; Sumire’s progress

Monday February 28, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

Yo leads 77th Honinbo League
Yo Seiki 8-dan of the Kansai Ki-in was the in-form player in the first month and a half of the new year. Besides becoming the Judan challenger, he also holds the sole lead in the Honinbo League on 5-0. His closest rival is Ichiriki Ryo on 4-1. 2022 results follow.
(Jan. 6) Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (B) beat Hane Naoki 9-dan by resig.
(Jan. 17) Kyo Kagen Judan (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan by resig.
(Jan. 27) Ichiriki (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by resig.
(Feb. 3) Kyo (W) beat Sada Atsushi 7-dan by resig.
(Feb. 10) Ichiriki (B) beat Shibano by resig.; Yo Seiki (B) beat Motoki by 1.5 points

Shibano and Shida share lead in 47th Meijin League
Only two and a half rounds have been completed in the Meijin, but already there are only two undefeated players: Shibano Toramaru and Shida Tatsuya, who are both on 2-0. Results this year follow.
(Jan. 6) Shida Tatsuya 8-dan (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by resig.
(Jan. 10) Yamashita Keigo (B) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resig.
(Jan. 17) Shibano (W) beat Ichiriki by resig.
(Jan. 20) Hane Naoki (W) beat Yo Seiki by 3.5 points.
(Feb. 3) Shibano (B) beat Yamashita by 4.5 points.
(Feb. 10) Kyo (B) beat Hane by resig.

33rd Women’s Meijin League
So far, only one round + two games have been played in this seven-player league. Four players—Ueno Asami, Xie Yimin, Mukai Chiaki, and Nakamura Sumire— are undefeated, but their score is just 1-0. Nyu Eiko is 1-1, and Suzuki Ayumi and Omori Ran are both on 0-2. Results to date follow.
(Jan. 27) Mukai Chiaki 6-dan (B) beat Nyu Eiko 4-dan by resig.
(Jan. 31) Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, (B) beat Omori Ran 1-dan by resig.; Xie Yimin 7-dan (B) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan by 2.5 points.
(Feb. 10) Nyu Eiko 4-dan (W) beat Suzuki by 1.5 points; Nakamura Sumire (W) beat Omori by 3.5 points.

Sumire’s progress
The first game given below should have been included in my previous report. Sumire has made a reasonable start to the new year with five wins to three losses.
(Dec. 27) Sumire 2-dan (B) beat Jo Bun-en 1-dan by resig. (prelim., 41st Women’s Honinbo).
2022
(Jan. 6) Sumire (B) beat Nishioka Masao 2-dan by resig. (prelim., 47th King of the New Stars).
(Jan. 13) Sumire (W) beat Moro Arisa 2-dan by resig.; Sumire (W) beat Kato Chie 2-dan by resig. (both games in Prelim. A, 33rd Women’s Meijin). These wins secured for Sumire the final open seat in the seven-player league.
(Jan. 20) Sumire (W) lost to Nakazawa Ayako 5-dan by 2.5 points (Prelim., 9th Women’s Hollyhock). 
(Jan. 24) Sumire (B) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan by 3.5 points (Prelim. C, 79th Honinbo tournament). With this win, Sumire advanced to Prelim. B.)
(Jan. 31) Sumire (B) lost to Kobayashi Izumi 7-dan by 6.5 points (First Tournament, 47th Kisei tournament) 
(Feb. 7) Sumire (W) lost to Imabun Taro 2-dan (B) by 1.5 points (47th King of the New Stars.
(Feb. 10) Sumire won her first game in the Women’s Meijin League—see article above.

Promotions
To 7-dan: Nobuta Shigehito (120 wins, as of Jan. 28)
To 2-dan: Nakano Shoya (30 wins, as of Jan. 21)

Retirement
Takagi Shoichi retired as of  January 20. Born in Yokohama City on November 7, 1943, he became a disciple of the late Nakagawa Shinshi 7-dan in 1956. He made 1-dan in 1962 and reached 9-dan in 1981. He won three titles: the 13th Prime Minister’s Cup (1969), the 2nd New Stars (1970), and the 19th Prime Minister’s Cup (1975). He challenged unsuccessfully for the 11th Judan (1973). He played in the Meijin League three times and the Honinbo League four times. His lifetime record is 989 wins, 626 losses, 4 jigo. He has written four books about go.

Obituary
Tsujii Ryotaro 8-dan died of a myocardial infarction on January 31, aged 91. He was born on March 16, 1930 in Kyoto. He was a disciple of Fujita Goro 8-dan (1902-94). He became 1-dan in 1949 and was promoted to 8-dan when he retired in 2011. He was a member of the Kansai branch of the Nihon Ki-in. 

Correction
In the item about best winning percentage in my previous report (published Feb. 2), the first line should have read: “Restricted to players who have played 24+ games” (not “wins”). Thanks to Howard Warshaw for catching this.

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The Power Report: Yo to challenge for Judan; Ueno defends Women’s Kisei; Sumire no longer youngest professional

Sunday February 27, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

Yo Seiki 8P

Yo to challenge for Judan

The play-off to decide the challenger to Kyo Kagen for the 60th Judan title was held at the Kansai Ki-in on January 27. It featured two Kansai Ki-in members. Yo Seiki 8-dan (B) beat Sada Atsushi 7-dan by 3.5 points. This will be Yo’s third challenge for a top-seven title; in the 64th Oza title match in 2016, he lost 0-3 to Iyama Yuta and in the 55th Judan title match (2017) he lost 1-3 to Iyama. He will doubtless be glad the titleholder this time is someone different. The title match will start on March 1. 

Ueno defends Women’s Kisei

The Women’s Kisei has featured the same pairing for three years in a row. In the 23rd title match, Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan challenged Ueno Asami (left), who had held the title for two years; Suzuki won the match 2-1 and made her debut as Women’s Kisei. In 2021, Ueno became the challenger and regained her title by winning the match 2-1.  This year Suzuki was back as challenger again. The first game was held at the Hotel Sunlife Garden in Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, on January 20. Ueno Asami drew black in the nigiri. Unusually for her, she did not play very aggressively, so the challenger, Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan, led the game into an endgame contest, which is her forte. However, Ueno managed to eke out a win by 1.5 points.

The second game was played in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on January 27. There was more fighting than in the first game, but this game also became an endgame contest. Ueno played with precision and won the game by 5.5 points.

Cho Koharu makes 1-dan; Sumire no longer youngest professional

For the first time ever, two elementary-school pupils met in the deciding game in the 2022 Women’s Special Professional Qualification League. The two were Yanagihara Saki (aged 11) and Cho Koharu (aged 12). After six rounds of the league, both were on 5-1, so the winner of their final-round game would win the league and qualify as professional shodan as of April 1. Taking black, Koharu won by 6.5 points. I have no information about Saki, but she still has a chance of making pro while in elementary school. There’s lots of information about Koharu. She is the daughter of Cho U 9-dan and Kobayashi Izumi 7-fan. Her grandmother is Kobayashi Reiko, daughter of Kitani Minoru, and her grandfather is Kobayashi Koichi. Her older sister, Kosumi, who is now 15 (born on March 24, 2006), became a professional in April 2020. Koharu is eight months younger than Nakamura Sumire, so she will be the youngest active player at the Nihon Ki-in (she will be 12 years four months; Sumire turns 13 on March 2). Sumire’s record of debuting at ten years of age no months is still safe.

The January 30 Yomiuri Newspaper published an interview with Koharu and her parents. Her father offered some interesting background information about her given name. “Koharu” sounds like a typical girl’s name, but usually it would be written “small spring”小春 . In Cho’s case, her name is written心治. The first character is “kokoro,” which means “heart,” though only the first syllable is used. Go players who know kanji will immediately recognize the second character as the “chi” in Cho Chikun’s name. Cho U greatly respects Cho Chikun and actually asked him for permission to use the character from his name. The core meaning of this character is something like “cure” or “make better” or “regulate.”

Nakamura Sumire: “Congratulations on making 1-dan. Last year I studied together with Koharu. I hope that we can both do our best to get stronger.” 

Tomorrow: Yo leads 77th Honinbo League; Shibano and Shida share lead in 47th Meijin League; 33rd Women’s Meijin League; Sumire’s progress

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