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The Power Report: Fujisawa wins Senko Cup; Kyo evens score in Gosei; Cho Chikun wins Masters Cup

Friday August 23, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Fujisawa wins Senko Cup: The semifinals and final of the 4th Senko Cup Women’s Igo Strongest Player Tournament, which is sponsored by Senko Group Holdings, were held at the Guesthouse Akekure in Higashi-omi City, Shiga Prefecture, on July 12 and 14. The semfinals on the 12th featured the current top three in women’s go in Japan, joined by a player, Mukai Chiaki 5P, who for many years was one of the top three. However, Mukai was beaten by the current number one, Fujisawa Rina, holder of the Women’s Honinbo, Hollyhock and Meijin titles. Fujisawa had black and forced Mukai to resign. In the other semifinal, Xie Yimin 6P (B) beat Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, by resig. This meant that the final, played on the 14th, featured the most common pairing in women’s go in recent years, Fujisawa vs. Xie. Taking black, Fujisawa beat Xie by 1.5 points in a game marked by a number of reversals. This win secured her fourth concurrent title for Fujisawa. The previous champion, Mannami Nao, lost to Mukai in the first round of the main tournament (round of 16). This is Fujisawa’s 12th title. First prize is 7,000,000 yen (about $63,000).

Kyo evens score in Gosei title match: The 44th Gosei title match started out with the challenger, Hane Naoki 9P, winning the first two games, but the titleholder, Kyo Kagen, made a comeback in the next two, so the tournament is evenly poised. Details of the first game were given in my previous report.

   The second game was held in the special playing room Yugen on the fifth floor of the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on July 19. Taking white, Hane won by resignation after 216 moves. As is usual these days, the game was marked by continuous fighting. Hane shows few signs of being influenced by AI go, but he does make an effort to play aggressively. A ko fight in the late middle game led to a large-scale trade, but another ko fight followed soon after. Hane lost this but used his ko threats to capture a large black group. 

   The third game was held at the North Country Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on July 27. In the opening and middle game, Kyo (white) built thickness and apparently Hane went wrong in his strategy for countering it. Kyo used his thickness to secure enough territory to take the lead. Hane resigned after 162 moves.

   The fourth game was played at the Central Japan Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, on August 9. This was Hane’s home ground, but he was outplayed by Kyo and had to resign after just 133 moves. Kyo had recovered from his bad start and evened the series. The deciding game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 23.

Cho Chikun wins Masters Cup: The final of the 9th Fumakira Masters Cup was held at the Nihon Ki-in on July 20. Taking black, Cho Chikun, Hon. Meijin, defeated Komatsu Hideki 9P by resignation after 149 moves. Cho won this title for the fourth time and Komatsu failed in his first final. This is Cho’s 75th title. First prize is 5,000,000 yen (about $45,000).

   That’s the go side of it. At the awards ceremony, a representative of Fumakira announced that it was discontinuing its sponsorship. According to a comment later posted on the Nihon Ki-in’s home page, Kobayashi Satoru 9P, Chairman of the Board of Directors, commented that Fumakira had objected to some tweets made by Yoda Norimoto, who forfeited his semifinal to Komatsu, which they felt blemished the tournament. Kobayashi concluded by saying that the board would examine the question of how to deal with Yoda. 

   That’s all the information given out officially. A Net search did not turn up much supplementary information. Briefly, Yoda’s tweets apparently criticized the new board of directors created after a recent election. On being criticized in turn, Yoda apologized and deleted the tweets. There is no indication about their contents. There are a couple of blogs that discussed the problem, but they don’t give a coherent story. Perhaps this just reflects go’s lack of popularity compared to shogi.

Tomorrow: Shibano to challenge for Meijin title; Kyo becomes Tengen challenger; 6th Kuksu Mountains Cup

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Honinbo title; Nakamura Sumire records first wins, sets new records; Cho Sonjin wins Samsung seat

Thursday August 22, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Honinbo title: The sixth game of the 74th Honinbo title match was held at the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture, on July 3 and 4. Taking black, Iyama Yuta, otherwise known as Honinbo Monyu, forced the challenger, Kono Rin, to resign after 171 moves. Kono had tried to take the initiative by launching an attack in the opening, but it failed to come off, leaving him in a difficult position. Iyama then steadily increased his lead and dominated the game. In the end, Kono got into a losing capturing race, so he had no choice but to resign.

   When Iyama started out by losing the first two games of the match, he seemed in danger of having his swag of titles reduced even further. However, Kono failed to make the most of a favorable position in the third game, letting the titleholder pull off an upset. In retrospect, this may have been the key game, as it changed the flow of the series. Iyama’s play picked up and he ended up winning four games in a row. He has now won the Honinbo title for eight years in a row, which takes him ahead of Sakata Eio’s seven and leaves him just behind Cho Chikun’s ten and Takagawa Shukaku’s nine. This is his 56th title, which puts him in fourth place after Cho Chikun (74 at this point, but soon after 75), Sakata (64), and Kobayashi Koichi (60). Top-seven titles account for 45 of his total, which is a record (Cho’s top-seven tally is 42). Iyama still holds four of the top-seven titles, so he remains head and shoulders above his Japanese rivals.

  First prize is 28 million yen (about $254,000), down 2 million yen from last year.

Nakamura Sumire records first wins, sets new records: A fateful day came for Nakamura Sumire, Japan’s youngest professional ever, on July 8. In a game in Preliminary B of the 23rd Women’s Kisei, held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, she was matched against the veteran player Tanaka Chieko 4P (aged 67). Taking white, Sumire got into a tough position in the middle game, but her opponent blundered. Once she took the lead, she played with precision and secured a resignation after 146 moves. She was ten years four months old, making her the youngest player ever to win a professional game in Japan. The previous record of 11 years eight months was set by Fujisawa Rina.

   As usual, the press was out in full force. According to Go Weekly, there were 60 reporters from 25 media outlets. Sumire’s mother Miyuki commented that when she lost her first game, the atmosphere at the press conference after the game was like a wake, but this time everyone was cheerful, including Tanaka. The latter commented: “I was surprised how calmly she played, like an adult.” Sumire’s father, Shinya 9P, commented: “I was on tenterhooks throughout the game. I was happier than when winning one of my own games. No one recognizes you unless you win a game.” 

   Two days later, Sumire played a practice game with a new AI program–practice for both sides. The program is called AQZ, and is being developed by a group led by Yamaguchi Hiroshi in cooperation with the president of Globis University, Hori Yoshito. Their goal is to compete in an AI world championship to be held in August. Taking black, AQZ won the game. 

   On August 5, Sumire played another game in the Women’s Kisei tournament. Taking white, she beat Kim Hyon-jon 4P (aged 40) by resignation after 120 moves. Sumire came under attack in the opening and had to work hard to rescue a group, but when her opponent made a slack move, she counterattacked and quickly wrapped up the game. This win earned her a seat in the main section (best 16) of the tournament. She is the youngest player ever to reach the main section of a tournament. The previous record, 13 years eight months, was set by Fujisawa Rina. Sumire’s official record is now 2-1. During the summer holidays, she spent two weeks studying in Korea, but I have no details about this trip.

Cho Sonjin wins Samsung seat: The international qualifying tournament for the 2019 Samsung Cup was held in Seoul from June 30 to July 5. Forty-one players from Japan competed in the different sections of the tournament, but the only one to be successful was Cho Sonjin 9P, who defeated Ryu Shikun 9P, also from Japan, in the final round of the section for senior players. He will join Japan’s two seeded players, Iyama Yuta and Kyo Kagen, in the main tournament, which starts on August 30.

Tomorrow: Fujisawa wins Senko Cup; Kyo evens score in Gosei title match; Cho Chikun wins Masters Cup

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The Power Report: Shin Jinseo wins 31st TV Asia; Park Junghwan wins Chunlan Cup; Hane wins first Gosei game; Promotions; Obituaries

Friday July 5, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shin Jinseo wins 31st TV Asia: This year Japan hosted the TV Asia, a fast-go tournament for the top-two place-getters in TV titles in China, Korea, and Japan. With Japan being eliminated in the first round, the tournament became exclusively a clash between China and Korea, and the latter came out on top. In the final, Shin Jinseo 9P (aged 19) beat Ding Hao 6P of China, who is the same age. Taking white, Shin won by resignation after 276 moves. First prize is 2.5 million yen (about $22,700). Ironically, Shin came only third in the Korean KBS title, but he stood in for Park Junghwan, who came second, when the latter gave priority to competing in the tournament below. Although he has not yet won a large-scale international tournament, Shin has recently passed Park to become the number one in the Korean (world?) ratings. Full results:
Round 1 (June 21). Ding Hao 6P (China) (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.; Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Iyama Yuta (Japan) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) beat Xu Jiayang 8P (China).
Semifinals (June 22). Ding beat Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea, seeded as last year’s winner); Shin Jinseo beat Shin Minjun.
Final (June 23). Shin (W) beat Ding by resig.

Park Junghwan wins Chunlan Cup: One thing was certain going into the final of the 12th Chunlan Cup: the winner was going to be Park of Korea. But which Park? The final, a best-of-three, was held in Zhejiang Province in China, at the end of June and featured a clash between Park Junghwan 9P and Park Yeonghun 9P. The first game, played on June 27, was won by Junghwan, playing black. In the second, played on June 27, Junghwan (white) won by resignation after 210 moves. However, the game was not smooth sailing. With 96, White made an uncharacteristic blunder, letting Black take the initiative. However, Yeonghun also made a blunder with 147, letting White play a brilliancy that led to an upset. This was the first time Junghwan won this title; Yeonghun had to be content with second place for the second time in a row. First prize is worth about $22,000.

Hane wins first Gosei game: In the 44th Gosei title match, the 42-year-old Hane Naoki is challenging the 21-year-old Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) for the title he took from Iyama Yuta last year. The first game was played at the Konkai Komyoji temple in Kyoto on June 30. Playing black, Hane forced a resignation after 155 moves. The second game will be played on July 19.

Promotions
To 9-dan: Yanaka Katsunori (Nihon Ki-in Kansai Headquarters) (200 wins, as of June 4)
To 8-dan: Endo Yoshifumi (150 wins, as of June 7), Shida Tatsuya (150 wins, as of June 28)
To 2-dan: Nishioka Masao (NK Nagoya HQ) (30 wins, as of June 7), Muramoto Wataru (30 wins, as of June 28)

Obituaries
Tanida Harumi: Tanida Harumi 8P, a member of the Kansai Ki-in, died of heart disease on May 9. He was born on October 6, 1947 and became a disciple of Kubouchi Shuchi 9P. He made 1-dan in 1964 and reached 8-dan in 19823. He won the rating tournament once.

Hoshino Masaki: Hoshino Masaki 9-dan died of a cerebral hemorrhage on May 14. He was born on Jan. 11, 1967, became a disciple of Oka Nobumitsu 7P and made 1-dan in 1985. He reached 9-dan in 2015. He reached the landmark of 500 wins earlier this year.

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The Power Report: Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup; Nakamura Sumire update

Thursday July 4, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup: The semifinals and finals of the main tournament in the 6th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup were held in the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring, Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 18 and 19. The final was won by the 17-year-old Ueno Masami, who has already won two Women’s Kisei titles. She will challenge Fujisawa Rina for the title, with the first game of the best-of-three being played on June 16. Results follow:
(Semifinals) Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, (B) beat Hoshiai Shiho 2P by resig.; Suzuki Ayumi 7P (W) beat Nannami Nao, Senko Cup-holder, by resig.
(Final) Ueno (W) beat Suzuki by resig.
The result of the title match is given later.

Nakamura Sumire update: Sumire is still waiting to play her second official game in Japan. In the meantime, she received a special invitation from the tournament sponsors to take part in the international qualifying tournament for the 4th MLily Cup. This is a Chinese-sponsored international tournament; the official name seems to have changed a little: it is now the MLily Dream Lily Pressureless Mattress Cup Open Tournament (“MLily” is in Roman letters and means “Dream Lily”). Sumire took part in the 2nd round, held on May 21, where she played Wang Chenxing 5P, a top Chinese woman player. Taking black, Wang won by resignation after 185 moves. Games in the qualifying tournament have no game fees and are not recognized as official games by the Nihon Ki-in. Subsequently, the tournament sponsor invited Sumire to play in the main tournament, in which 64 players start out. The first round will be played on October 8.

On June 6, Sumire visited Seoul to play a game with Korea’s number two woman player, Oh Yujin 6P. The game was played at the Han Jongjin dojo, where Sumire was formerly a pupil. Playing time was 40 minutes each plus byo-yomi of 40 seconds x 3. Sumire took white; presumably there was a komi, but Go Weekly does not mention it. Inevitably Oh won, with Sumire resigning after 153 moves. In Japan, the game was broadcast on the Net. Like the game above, it was an unofficial game, so Sumire’s official professional record remains 0-1.

On June 30, Sumire was invited to attend a go event, the World Go Festival, organized by Takarazuka City in Hyogo Prefecture. She played yet another unofficial game, this time against Murakawa Daisuke, holder of the Judan title, before an audience of about 300 fans. Taking black, with no komi, Sumire played aggressively. She handled the early fighting fairly well, but fell behind on territory and resigned after 154 moves.

The two international games above show that there is a lot of interest in Sumire’s debut in China and Korea. The go media are making a great fuss over her, but is arranging games for her with top players whom she has little chance of beating really beneficial? It might be kinder to give her a year or two to secure her place in the professional go world in competition with her peers in the early rounds of the professional tournaments.

Tomorrow: Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup; Nakamura Sumire update; Korea wins 9th Huanglongshi; Fujisawa defends Hollyhock; Ueno tops Most Wins list; Mixed success for Japanese team in Chinese B League

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The Power Report: 24th LG Cup; Korea wins 9th Huanglongshi; Fujisawa defends Hollyhock; Ueno tops Most Wins list; Mixed success for Japanese team in Chinese B League;

Wednesday July 3, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

24th LG Cup: The first and second rounds of the 24th LG Cup were held in Gimpo City in Korea on May 27 and 29. As in the previous cup, China took five of the quarterfinal places and Korea the other three. Iyama Yuta survived the first round, but lost to Ke Jie of China in the second. Some of the results are given below.
Round 1 (May 27) Iyama (B) beat Li Xianhao 7P (China) by resig.; Zhao Chenyu 7P (China) (B) beat Cho U 9P (Japan) by resig.; Tao Xinran 7P (China) (B) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 8P (Japan) by resig.
Round 2 (May 29). Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Iyama by resig.

Korea wins 9th Huanglongshi: Unlike the Nong Shim Cup, the women’s team tournament Huanglongshi is split into just two rounds. The second round was played in Taizhou City in the province of Jiangsu in China from June 9 to 12. The opening round was dominated by China (see my report of May 11), but, thanks mainly to the efforts of Oh Yujin 6P, backed up by Choi Jeong 9P, the tournament was won by Korea. This is its fourth win in this tournament. First prize is about $65,000. Results in the second round:
Game 8 (June 9) Oh Yujin (Korea) (B) beat Zhou Hong 4P (China) by resig.
Game 9 (June 9) Oh (B) beat Nyu Eiko 2P (Japan) by resig.
Game 10 (June 10) Oh (B) beat Li He 5P (China) by resig.
Game 11 (June 10) Oh (W) beat Ueno Asami 2P (Japan) by resig.
Game 12 (June 11) Lu Minquan 5P (China) (W) beat Oh by resig.
Game 13 (June 12) Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) (B) beat Lu by resig.
Game 14 (June 12) Choi (B) beat Yu Zhiying 6P (China) by 4.5 points.

Fujisawa defends Hollyhock: With three titles to her name (Women’s Honinbo, Women’s Hollyhock, and Women’s Meijin), Fujisawa Rina is Japan’s top woman player. This year the challenger for the 6th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup was the number three player, Ueno Asami, holder of the Women’s Kisei title (Mannami Nao is number two by virtue of holding the Senko Cup), so this was a good pairing. However, the Hollyhock Cup is a best-of-three and the games are not spread out, so the match seemed to be over in a flash. In the first game, held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu-Wakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture on June 14, Fujisawa (W) won by resignation after 174 moves. In the second game, played two days later at the same venue, Fujisawa (B) won by resignation after 211 moves. She has now held this title for three years in a row and it is her 11th title overall. This puts her in a tie for second place with Aoki Kikuyo (top is Xie Yimin with 27 titles). First prize is worth 7 million yen (about $64,000).

Ueno tops Most Wins list: For the fourth week in a row, Ueno Asami has topped the list of most wins. As of June 7, her record was 21-10. Ironically, she suffered four losses over the next two weeks, but no one caught up with her wins. This week she won two games and is still on top of the list with 23-14. I can’t confirm this, but it’s the first time I can recall a woman player topping this list.

Mixed success for Japanese team in Chinese B League: Tournaments for teams representing localities, as in soccer, have not caught on in Japan, but they seem to one of the most important activities in Chinese go. There are three levels and also a women’s team tournament, and they all attract a lot of an interest. In recent years, overseas teams from Japan and Chinese Taipei have also been invited to take part. A Japanese team, participating for the eighth year, has been playing in the B League and so far has been frustrated in its ambition to earn promotion to the A League, though it did ascend from its starting point in the C League. This year the B League tournament was held in Zhejiang Province from June 14 to 23. Over those ten days, the teams each played eight matches, making it a pretty heavy schedule, at least by Japanese standards. The Japanese team was made up Kyo Kagen, Shibano Toramaru, Motoki Katsuya, and Yo Seiki. It won three matches, drew one, and lost four, earning it 9th place out of 16 teams (only the top two get promoted to the A League). Each member of the team had four wins to four losses.
Players are also recruited individually by these teams. In one of their games, the team ran across Onishi Ryuhei, playing on board one for a Hebei team. He also scored 4-4, but his team came fourth.

Tomorrow: Shin Jinseo wins 31st TV Asia; Park Junghwan wins Chunlan Cup; Hane wins first Gosei game; Promotions; Obituaries

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The Power Report: Kono keeps lead in Meijin League; 44th Kisei Leagues; Shibano wins 10th Gratitude Cup

Tuesday July 2, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kono keeps lead in Meijin League: As of my previous league report, (May 12) Kono Rin was the sole undefeated player. He tripped up in the May round, but his nearest rivals, Shibano Toramaru and Hane Naoki, also suffered losses. Kono won his June game, and, on 5-1, retains the sole lead. He is followed by three players on 4-2: Iyama Yuta, Shibano, and Yamashita Keigo. Recent results:
(May 16) Iyama Yuta (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Son Makoto 7P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(May 30) Mutsuura Yuta 7P (B) beat Suzuki Shinji 7P by 4.5 points.
(June 13) Yamashita Keigo (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke Judan by resig.
(June 27) Iyama (B) beat Son by resig.; Kono (B) beat Hane by resig.

44th Kisei Leagues
S League: This league is proceeding slowly, so there is not much to report. After just two rounds, there is only one undefeated player: Murakawa Daisuke. Recent results:
(May 9) Murakawa Daisuke Judan (W) beat Kyo Kagen Gosei by resig.
(May 30) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points; Murakawa Daisuke Judan (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by resig.
A League: Ichiriki Ryo, on 4-0, has the sole lead. Two players follow him on 3-1: Cho U 9P and Shida Tatsuya 8P.
B Leagues: In the B1 league, Hane Naoki has the provisional lead with 4-1. He is followed by Yoda Norimoto 9P, Tsuruyama Atsushi 7P, and Onishi Ryuhei 4P, all on 3-1. In the B2 league, Motoki Katsuya 8P has the sole lead on 4-0.

Shibano wins 10th Gratitude Cup: This is a tournament for players 30 and under. The 16 players who survive the preliminary round meet in the main tournament, which this year was held in “Gratitude Alley” in Ise City, Mie Prefecture, on May 14 and 15. The sponsors are a group of tourism-related restaurants and shops. Conditions are NHK-style, with 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes of thinking time (to be used in one-minute units). First prize is 3 million yen (about $27,000), which is quite reasonable for a unofficial junior tournament. In the semifinals, held on the morning of the second day, Adachi Toshimasa 6P (B) beat Kyo Kagen Gosei by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (I don’t know the margin). In the final, Shibano (W) beat Adachi by resig. In the play-off for 3rd place, Ichiriki (W) beat Kyo by resig.

Tomorrow: Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup; Nakamura Sumire update

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The Power Report: Kisei S League starts; Otake wins 1,300 games; Meijin League; Shibano wins Grand Champion Tournament; Obituary: Ing Ming-hao

Sunday May 12, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2019.05.12_kisei-s-league

Kisei S League starts: The S League, the last of the 44th Kisei leagues to get under way, got off to a start on April 25 with a clash between two heavyweights. Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resignation. The second game in the league was played on May 2. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by resig. In the A League, Ichiriki Ryo 8P and Cho U Meijin, who are both on 2-0, share the lead. In the B1 league, Yoda Norimoto 9P, on 3-0, has made the best start, but Hane Naoki, on 2-0, is also undefeated. In the B2 League, Motoki Katsuya 8P, on 3-0, is the only undefeated player.

Otake wins 1,300 games: In a game in the 9th Masters Cup played on April 25, Otake Hideo. Hon. Gosei, (W) defeated 2019.05.12_Otake 1300Hane Yasumasa by resig. This was Otake’s 1,300th win in a go career lasting 63 years. He is the fourth player to reach this mark. He has 820 losses, five jigo, and one no-contest for a winning record of 61%. (Top is Cho Chikun with 1531 wins.)

Meijin League: Only three games have been played in the 44th Meijin League since my last report. On 2019.05.12_meijin-leagueApril 11, Suzuki Shinji 7P (B) beat Son Makoto 7P by 3.5 points. This result slightly improved the former’s chances of retaining his seat and worsened the latter’s. Incidentally, these two featured in the first game in the new NHK Cup, the 67th, and the result went the other way, with Son (W) winning by resignation. On April 25, Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by resig. and Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Mutsuura Yuta 7P, also by resig. As before, Kono Rin, leads the league on 4-0.

Shibano wins Grand Champion Tournament: The Grand Champion Tournament is a fast-go (NHK format) knock-out2019.05.12_champions Shibano Iyama tournament open to current title-holders plus, if necessary to bring the numbers up to 16, the top players in the previous year’s prize-money list. First prize is a relatively modest one or two million yen (there’s ambiguity because the Nihon Ki-in HP gives both figures). The semifinals and final of the 2018 (6th) Grand Champion Tournament were held at the Nihon Ki-in on May 6. In the semifinals, Iyama Yuta beat Ichiriki Ryo and Shibano Toramaru beat Kyo Kagen. The final was open to the public, being played on the stage of the Nihon Ki-in’s second-story auditorium with a public commentary being given on the same stage at the same time. Presumably the players are so focused on the game they shut out the commentary. Taking white, Shibano beat Iyama by resig. to win this title for the first time. This is his fourth title.

2019.05.12_Ing Ming-haoObituary: Ing Ming-hao
Ing Ming-hao, chairman of the board of directors of the Ing Chang-ki Wei-ch’I Educational Foundation, died on April 20, just a few days after making a speech at the opening ceremony of the Changqi Cup. He was 76. As the son of Ing Chang-ki, Ing Ming-hao carried on his mission of promoting and supporting go around the world. The Chinese Weiqi Association called it “an unfortunate loss for us” and go organizations and players around the world benefited from the Ing Family’s longstanding efforts to support and promote go across the globe. Players at the Changqi Cup stood in silence to express mourning before the second round of Changqi Cup.

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The Power Report: Shin Minjun wins 6th Globis Cup; China starts well in 9th Huanglongshi Cup; Nakamura Sumire makes pro debut; Gosei challenger: Ichiriki or Hane

Saturday May 11, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2019.05.11_6globis Shin

Shin Minjun wins 6th Globis Cup: The Globis Cup is an international tournament sponsored by the Globis University Graduate School of Management (president Hori Yoshito) for players under 20 (as of January 1) and is held at the university’s Tokyo campus, which is quite close to the Nihon Ki-in. The professed aim of the sponsor in founding the tournament was to give younger Japanese players more international experience. This year the tournament was held from April 19 to 21 and was dominated by Korea and China. It was won by Shin Minjun (right) of Korea, who lost in the final last year. He turned 20 on January 11, so he made the most of his last chance to compete. Sixteen players start out in four mini-tournaments in which two wins earn you a seat in the main tournament (the best eight). Below are the results for the main tournament.
(Quarterfinals, April 20). Ding Hao 5P (China) (B) beat Chen Jirui 5P (Chinese Taipei) by resig.; Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P (Japan) by 3.5 points; Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (B) beat Chen Zijian 7P (China); Wang Zejin 6P (China) (W) beat Park Sangjin 4P (Korea) by 2.5 points.
(Semifinals, April 21) Shin Minjun (W) beat Ding by resig.; Wang (W) beat Shin Jinseo by resig.
(Final, April 22). Shin (B) beat Wang by resig.
(Play-off for 3rd place). Ding (B) beat Shin by resig.

China starts well in 9th Huanglongshi Cup: The first round of this team tournament for five-women teams from China, Korea, and Japan was held in Taizhou City from 23 to 26 April. This continue-until-beaten Chinese-sponsored tournament is similar in format to the Nong Shim Cup, but one difference is that two games are played on most days.  China is threatening to dominate the tournament in the same way their male players did the most recent Nong Shim Cup. After the seven games of the opening round, China has four players left while both Korea and Japan have only two. Japan’s team leader, Rin Shien 8P commented that he was surprised how closely the play of the Chinese players matched the style of AI programs, especially in the opening. He comments that the Chinese players not only study AI go intensively but also share the fruits of the study with each other. Results follow.
Game 1 (April 20). Gao Xing 4P (China) (W) beat Cho Seungah 2P (Korea) by resig.
Game 2 (April 20). Gao (B) beat Xie Yimin 6P (Japan) by 4.5 points.
Game 3 (April 21). Gao (W) beat O Jeongah 4P (Korea) by resig.2019.05.11_Nakamura Sumire
Game 4 (April 21). Mannami Nao 4P (Japan) (W) beat Gao by resig.
Game 5 (April 22). Kim Chaeyoung 5P (Korea) (W) beat Mannami by resig.
Game 6 (April 23). Zhou Hongyu (China) (W) beat Kim by 3.5 points.
Game 7 (April 23). Zhou (B) beat Fujisawa Rina 4P (Japan) by resig.

Nakamura Sumire makes pro debut: After all the waiting and the advance publicity, Japan’s youngest-ever go professional Nakamura Sumire has finally made her debut, by which time she was ten years one month old. Her first professional game was in Preliminary B of the 29th Ryusei tournament and her opponent was another debutante and member of the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, Ms. Omori Ran 1P, who was all of 16. On the morning of April 22, when the game was played, 100 members of the press, from 40 different media organizations, turned up to cover the game, which was also telecast live on the Igo & Shogi Channel. This was probably a first for a game from the preliminary round. It was also one of the top items on TV news programs that day, which shows that public interest in Sumire is not waning.
Although Sumire lowered Fujisawa Rina’s record for the youngest professional, she did not set a new record for the youngest player to win a pro game. Omori, who had white, outplayed her in the middle-game fighting and forced her to resign after 174 moves. Some people, myself included, have been worried that the excessive media attention may put too much pressure on her, but there were no signs of this on the day. Both she and Omori were relaxed and smiling at the press conference before the game and afterwards Sumire did not appear too upset by her loss. Unfortunately, with the way debutantes are slotted into the opening rounds of tournaments in progress, Sumire will not play her second official game until some time in June, but a week later she took part in an unofficial tournament. This was the 2nd Young Bamboo Cup, a tournament for 16 “young” players (40 and under) at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in. The first two rounds were held on April 28. Forty members of the press turned up to report on Sumire. Seeing the level of interest, a representative of the sponsor, the Iida Group, who was present, doubled the first prize to 200,000 yen (about $1800) on the spot. In Round One, Sumire beat (Ms.) Tanemura Sayuri 2P but lost in Round Two to Muramatsu Hiroki 6P (who, ironically, is a disciple of her father’s), although this was reported to be a tight game. According to the tournament referee, Goto Shungo 9P, Sumire had the lead at one stage, but was tricked by Muramatsu’s superior technique. In any case, this was clearly a professional-level performance. On May 1, Sumire fever reached a new level when she was tapped for the ceremony of “pitching the first ball” at the first Giants baseball game of the Reiwa era at Tokyo Dome. Her pitch didn’t quite reach the catcher, who was standing closer than on the home base, on the full stretch, but the direction was good, and she got a warm round of applause from the crowd. Sumire was wearing a special Giants uniform with “15” on the back, as this number can be read “igo.”

Gosei challenger: Ichiriki or Hane:  Ichiriki Ryo’s good form against Iyama Yuta continues after his NHK win. In the second semifinal of the 44th Gosei title, played on April 23, Ichiriki (B) beat Iyama by resig. He will meet Hane Naoki 9P in the final; Hane beat Yo Seiki 8P in the first semifinal on April 1; taking white, Hane won by resig.

Next: Kisei S League starts; Otake wins 1,300 games; Meijin League; Shibano wins Grand Champion Tournament; Obituary: Ing Ming-hao

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The Power Report: Murakawa takes Judan title; Ke Jie wins new tournament; Takao wins 1,000 games

Tuesday May 7, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Murakawa takes Judan title:
The third game of the 57th Judan title match was held at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in Omachi City, Nagano Prefecture, on April 11. In the second game (March 29), Murakawa had finally put an end to a losing streak of 13 games against Iyama, but the following week Iyama had reasserted his supremacy with a win in the Meijin League (details in our last report), so this was an important game for Murakawa. Early in the game, Murakawa made an oversight, letting Iyama take the lead in territory. However, Iyama also went wrong, making a forcing exchange based on an oversight. He then played aggressively, but for once his policy of always playing the strongest move backfired. The above-mentioned dubious exchange handicapped him in a large-scale fight that broke out, so he had to resign after 151 moves. This is only the second time Murakawa has taken the lead in a title match with Iyama.
The fourth game was played on April 18. Taking white, Murakawa won by resignation after 226 moves, so he won his first Judan title and his second top-seven title (he won the 62nd Oza title in 2014, beating Iyama 3-2). This game was played at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on March 19. There was an interesting start to the game: Iyama played his first move on the 3-3 point and Murakawa immediately did the same in the opposite corner. That did not lead to a territorial contest, however, as the game was marked by continuous fighting. It featured an unresolved ko fight in the opening, that is, a potential ko that neither side could start until they were sure of their ko threats. Murakawa eventually started it on move 100 and ignored Iyama’s ko threat. After hectic middle-game fighting, the outcome was decided by a much bigger ko fight; it was a big white group at stake, but White had good ko threats, so he also won this fight. Black’s compensation was inadequate, so Iyama resigned. Murakawa had turned his losing streak into a winning streak.  “Before when I won a title,” Murakawa said, “I was lazy after that, so this time I’m going to be serious and study to get stronger.” The Judan prize is 7,000,000 yen (about $63,000). It is the last of the top seven open titles. (It used to be ranked fourth when the prize money was 15,000,000 yen. It was reduced as of the 51st term.)
This loss leaves Iyama with “just” four titles: Kisei, Honinbo, Oza, and Tengen. It also puts a third simultaneous grand slam out of reach for some time. Incidentally, this was the last title match of the Heisei era, which yielded to the Reiwa era on May 1.

Ke Jie wins new tournament: The first Japan-China-Korea Ryusei tournament was held in the Ryusei Studio, located in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in, from April 11 to 13. This is where the Go and Shogi Channel, which sponsors the Ryusei tournament, makes many of its go programs. The new tournament is for the holders of the Ryusei titles in the above-mentioned three countries and follows the NHK format (30 seconds per move plus ten minutes thinking time to be used in one-minute units) and is an irregular knock-out. Previously it was the China-Japan Ryusei Play-off, but recently a Korean Ryusei tournament was also founded, so it has become a three-way play-off. The tournament started well for Japan, with Ichiriki Ryo 8P defeating Ke Jie 9P of China, who is one of the world’s top two, but Ke survived the play-off with Kim Jiseok 9P of Korea and took revenge on Ichiriki in the final. The tournament proceeded as follows.
Round 1 (April 11). Ichiriki (W) beat Ke by resig.
Round 2 (April 12). Ke (W) beat Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) by resig.
Round 3 (April 13). Ke (W) beat Ichiriki by resig.
It’s hard for a knock-out among three players to be fair. The players in the first game get two chances, but the player seeded into the second game gets no second chance if he loses.

Takao wins 1,000 games: Takao Shinji 9P scored his 1,000th win on April 18 when he beat Onishi Kenya 3P in Preliminary A of the 75th Honinbo tournament (Takao had white and won by resig.). He is the 26th player to reach this mark. He has 468 losses, two jigo and one no-contest, for a winning record of 67.9%

Tomorrow: Shin Minjun wins 6th Globis Cup; China starts well in 9th Huanglongshi Cup; Nakamura Sumire makes pro debut; Gosei challenger: Ichiriki or Hane

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The Power Report (2 of 2): Murakawa wins second Judan game; Kono leads Meijin League; Change at top of Nihon Ki-in board

Saturday April 13, 2019

by John Power, Japan Correspondent of the E-Journal2019.04.13_57judan Murakawa

Murakawa wins second Judan game: Game Two of the 57th Judan title match was held in the special playing room, Yugen, at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on March 29. The time allowance for this tournament is relatively short, being just three hours per player, so the game was over by 5:23 p.m. (it started at 10 a.m.). Taking white, the challenger Murakawa Daisuke 8P won by resignation after 154 moves, so he evened the score at 1-1. Iyama was a little dissatisfied with his opening, so he tried to make the fighting 2019.04.13_57judan2_1as complicated as possible, with an ambiguous sacrifice of a group that he later was able to save. However, Murakawa found the right timing to simplify a large-scale fight, and this made the difference. The win is quite significant for Murakawa: it put an end to a losing streak to Iyama of 13 games, which was part of a career record of three wins to 18 losses. Those three wins came in the 62nd Oza title match in 2014 when he beat Iyama 3-2. He lost the three other title challenges he made to Iyama. The third game will be played on April 11.

Kono leads Meijin League: There has not been much action in the 44th Meijin League in recent weeks. After the March 2019.04.13 meijin leagueround, Kono Rin, on 4-0, had the sole lead. So far, only one game in the April round has been played. Iyama Yuta recovered to even his score after his bad start, so he is still in the running to win the league, though he will need help from someone else to drag Kono down (he himself plays Kono in the July round).
Recent games:
(March 21) Hane Naoki (W) beat Mutsuura Yuta 7P by resig.
(March 28) Yamashita Keigo (W) beat Suzuki Shinji 7P by 3.5 points.
(April 4) Iyama Yuta (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig.

Change at top of Nihon Ki-in board: Dan Hiroaki, chairman of the board of directors of the Nihon Ki-in, announced that2019.04.13_Kobayashi Satoru he would resign his post as of March 31 to take responsibility for a deterioration in the finances of the Nihon Ki-in, though he planned to serve as a director until the end of his term in June 2020. At a special meeting of the board on April 2, Kobayashi Satoru 9P, the vice chairman of the board, was chosen to replace him. He will serve out the remainder of Dan’s term. He has not (yet) been replaced as vice chairman. In its 2018 budget, the Ki-in anticipated a loss of 30,000,000 yen but the actual deficit turned out to be 70,000,000 (around $600,000). I’m afraid I have no information about how serious the Nihon Ki-in’s financial troubles are. Incidentally, one of Kobayashi’s first tasks in his new post was the pleasant one of welcoming a delegation of Chinese monks on a courtesy call to the Nihon Ki-in. There were four monks from the Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou and one monk from the Shaolin Temple and they were accompanied by Wang Runan 9P of the Chinese Weiqi Association and two woman professionals. The Lingyin temple was founded during the Sung dynasty (960~1279) by the monk Ji Gong, who was a go player and has maintained a go connection. In 2009, it founded a Buddhism and Weiqi Cultural Exchange Center. It holds tournaments and is active in spreading go. (There’s lots of information about this temple on the Net, but a quick search didn’t find any mention of its go connections.)

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