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The Power Report: Otake awarded decoration; Yamashita reaches Gosei final

Sunday May 3, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.05.03_Order-Rising-Sun

Otake awarded decoration: The go world has been honored with the award of a decoration in the spring honors list to Otake Hideo 9P. The decoration is the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. (that’s the Wikipedia translation; the Japanese name is just five characters and reads kyokujitsu-chuu-jushou.) Otake is the 23rd go player to be honored (it’s actually his second decoration). His award, which is the sixth-highest, is the same one given to Takagawa Shukaku, Go Seigen, and Fujisawa Shuko. Besides winning 48 titles, including four Meijin titles and the Fujitsu Cup, Otake served as chairman of the board of directors of the  Nihon Ki-in from December 2008 to June 2012. He is now a counselor to the Nihon Ki-in.

2015.05.03_yamashitaYamashita reaches Gosei final: Although his recent Kisei challenge faltered at the final hurdle, Yamashita (left) is making his presence felt on the tournament scene this year. In the semifinal of the 40th Gosei tournament, held on April 30, Yamashita (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke Oza by resignation. His opponent in the play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta will be the winner of the semifinal between Kono Rin 9P and Shida Tatsuya 7P. If Yamashita becomes the challenger the start of the match might overlap his Honinbo title match with Iyama.

Correction: I jumped to a wrong conclusion about Iyama Yuta in the Judan article in my previous report. He never held the record for fastest to win a top-seven title. Before Ida’s six years, the record was held by Ryu Shikun 9P, who won the Tengen title after six years eight months as a pro.  Yamashita is third, winning the Gosei after seven years four months, and Iyama (seven years six months) is fourth. Rounding out the top five is Ishida Yoshio, who won the Honinbo title after eight years two months.

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The Power Report: Ida wins Judan title; Meijin League; Kisei leagues

Sunday April 26, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.04.26_Ida-Atsushi-53rd-Judan-Final-300x338

Ida wins Judan title: The final game of the 53rd Judan title match was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on April 22. The challenger, Ida Atsushi 8P, had taken the lead in the match by winning the second and third games, but Takao Shinji 9P, the title-holder, evened the score in the fourth game. The nigiri to decide the colors was held again, and Ida drew black. The lead in the game switched back and forth, with both players having winning chances. Late in the game, a large group of Black’s came under attack, but instead of just making two eyes Ida countered by setting up a capturing race that he won. Takao resigned after 217 moves. This gave Ida the match by a 3-2 margin.This is Ida’s first title. At 21 years one month, he is the youngest player to win the Judan title and the third-youngest player to win a top-seven title. Ida became a professional in April of 2009, so it has taken him exactly six years to win his first title. This is a new record (it used to be held by Iyama Yuta, but he took seven a half years to win his first top-seven title). photo courtesy Go Game Guru; click here for the Game Guru report, which includes game records.

Meijin League: One game from the Meijin League was played last week. Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation. Takao improved his score to 3-1, drawing even with Kono Rin 9P and Yamashita Keigo 9P. The provisional leader in the league is Ko Iso 8P on 4-1.

Kisei leagues: The Kisei A and B Leagues have started this month. As I reported in early November last year, there has been a large-scale reorganization of this tournament. The Kisei tournament has always been the most complicated tournament since its founding, but apparently the sponsor, the Yomiuri Newspaper, was not satisfied. The biggest change was instituting five separate leagues instead of just
 one. The top players from a large-scale knock-out tournament (with about 400 participants, including four amateurs) move up into the C League (32 players), above which are two B Leagues, the A League, and the S League (so the leagues are in four stages). The winners of the leagues meet in an irregular knock-out tournament, the winner of which meets the winner of the S League in a play-off. The latter is given a one-win advantage in this play-off, so he has to win only one game, whereas his opponent has to win two games to become the challenger. The six-player S League is at the peak of the tournament pyramid, so I plan to report just on its results. The members, in order, are Yamashita Keigo 9P, Murakawa Daisuke Oza, Takao Shinji Tengen, Yoda Norimoto 9P, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P, and Kobayashi Satoru 9P.

Correction: The phrase “same whole-board decision” in the Nihon Ki-in rule quoted in my previous report is a typo for “same whole-board position.”

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The Power Report: Takao evens score in Judan; Meijin League; More details on quadruple ko

Sunday April 19, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.04.19_judan

Takao evens score in Judan: The fourth game of the 53rd Judan title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on April 15. Playing black, Takao Shinji Judan forced a resignation after 167 moves and drew level with the challenger, Ida Atsushi 8P. Ida made a dubious move in the opening (move 46), creating a weak group and letting Takao take the lead. He kept up the pressure and shut Ida out of the game. The deciding game will be played at the same venue on April 22.

Meijin League: One game was played in the 40th Meijin League on April 16. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by 10.5 points. Yamashita improved his score to 3-1, just behind Ko Iso 8P on 4-1. On 1-4, Kanazawa is in bottom place and his chances of keeping his seat don’t look good.

More details on quadruple ko: This week’s Go Weekly printed an interview with Kono Rin about his quadruple ko the previous week (see my last report). Some interesting points came up. First of all, Go Weekly states that a quadruple ko comes up once every eight thousand games. Despite this, Kono has featured in two of the 11 recorded cases in Japan and also in a case of triple ko, a record matched only by Cho Chikun (three triple kos). According to Kono, he deliberately set up these kos as the only way to avoid losing the games concerned. In his game against Mitani Tetsuya, Kono set up the second of the double kos in an attempt to make Mitani add a reinforcement; compared to the regular endgame sequence, that would have cost Mitani two thirds of a point. Both Kono and Mitani thought that they were fighting over whether Mitani (black) ended up seven or six points ahead on the board (komi is six and a half). That’s why neither gave way and they agreed to make the game a “no result.” It became clear later, however, that both players had been miscounting the score by one point. Mitani could have given way, as he would still have won the game by half a point. That shows how important counting is. (By the way, Mitani lost the replay on the 13th.) Kono also realized that he (and probably many other professionals) didn’t have an accurate knowledge of the rules. When the quadruple ko started, the players had someone call the referee (probably only one referee was on duty for all the games being played that day). They thought that the referee had to make the decision to declare the game a no-result, but Article 12 of the Japanese rules states: “When the same whole-board decision is repeated during a game, if the players agree, the game ends without result.” In other words, the referee’s job is to oversee the process and confirm the agreement. Kono also commented that he mistakenly thought that the game automatically became a no-result if the same whole-board position was repeated, but the only reference to whole-board repetition is the rule quoted above. He said that he and Mitani could have kept capturing and recapturing the kos all night without infringing the rules. The rule just gives the players the option of agreeing to a no-result to avoid this futility. The reporter interviewing Kono, Sekine Shingo, surmises that go players have perhaps got the go rule mixed up with the shogi rule. In shogi, the rule apparently is that a game is replayed if the same whole-board position occurs four times. The Japanese rules are only one and a half pages long (though there’s a longer commentary), so it’s surprising that players are not completely familiar with them. One reason may be that the average professional would have to play for a dozen lifetimes to experience a no-result.

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The Power Report: Ida takes lead in Judan; Ko Iso leads Meijin League; Quadruple ko; LG Challengers Cup

Monday April 13, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.04.13_Judan-Shinji Takao

Ida takes lead in Judan: The second game of the 53rd Judan title match was held at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in the city of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture on April 9. Omachi has become closely linked with the Judan tournament: this is the 22nd year in a row that a game from the title match game has been staged here. Omachi is a gateway to the Northern Alps and it has sought to establish itself as “the Alps go village.” Four years ago, Ida Atsushi was the game recorder for the Judan game held here and now he was playing in the title match, challenging Takao Shinji (right). 
        The game started with fierce fighting, and the first notable move was a move by Ida, playing black, that defied a go proverb by letting the opponent drive a wedge through some neighbouring stones (the proverb is, “don’t let yourself be split into two”). Despite this, Ida got off to a reasonable start. In the middle-game fighting, Ida took a small lead and managed to hold on to it to the end. He won by 2.5 points after 277 moves. After making a bad start in the title match, he has won two games in a row and now needs just one more win to  take the title.

Ko Iso leads Meijin League: Two games were played in the 40th Meijin League last week. On April 6, Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke by 3.5 points. On April 9, So Yokoku 9P (B) Cho U 9P by half a point. There are four players with only one loss in the league, but Ko holds the provisional lead by virtue of having completed five rounds. His score is 4-1; the other players are Rin Kono 9P on 3-1 and Yamashita 2015.04.13_Kono-RinKeigo 9P and Takao Shinji 9P, both on 2-1.

Quadruple ko: A game between Kono Rin 9P (left) and Mitani Tetsuya 7P (black) played in the main section of the Gosei tournament on April 6 was declared no-contest (by agreement between the players) because of a quadruple ko. There were two double kos in Black’s position, one in the top right, the other in the bottom left. So long as these kos continued, the game could not end, but it was so close that Black could not afford to add a stone inside his territory to finish off either ko.
        This was the 24th no-contest in an official tournament at the Nihon Ki-in. Eleven of them were from quadruple kos, ten from triple kos, and one from a quintuple ko. The other two were from “chosei” or “eternal (or long) life” (an example is given on page 185 of The Go Players Almanac). Chosei is a hypothetical position that first occurred in a professional game in 1993 and then again in 2009. According to Wikipedia, it also appeared in a Korean game in 2013. Incidentally,  a chosei is embedded in the floor of the concourse of Ichigaya Station (the closest station to the Nihon Ki-in), just before the ticket gates.

LG Challengers Cup: To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the LG Cup, an international tournament for players 18 and under was held at the Korean Kiwon (Ki-in) in Seoul on April 10 and 11. At stake was a seat in the main LG tournament, which starts on June 8. There were eight players from Korea, including inseis, and four each from Japan and China. Representing Japan were Ichiriki Ryo 7P, Kyo Kagen 3P, Fujisawa Rina 2P, and Mutsuura Yuta 1P. Three of these players were eliminated in the first round, but Kyo Kagen made it to the second day; he lost to the eventual winner of the tournament, Byan Sang-il 3P of Korea, in the semifinals.

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The Power Report: Ida fights back in Judan; Yamashita keeps sole lead in Honinbo League; Promotions; Crazy Stone wins computer go tournament

Sunday March 29, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent

Ida fights back in Judan: 
Ida Atsushi 8P suffered some setbacks recently but he also won his first open title, as detailed in our last report,
2015.03.29_Takao-Shinji-9pand he seems to be taking his cue from
 the latter. In the second game of the 53rd Judan title, Ida (W) defeated Takao Shinji Judan (left) by resignation after 220 moves, so he has evened the score in the match at 1-1. Takao fell behind when he missed the best move in a fight: he read a variation out correctly for 17 moves but hallucinated about the resultThe game was played on March 26 at the Old Tanaka Family Residence in Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture. This is a three-story Western-style brick house built during the Taisho period (1912-26), with a Japanese-style building, tea house and garden being added later. The whole complex was designated a Nationally Registered Tangible Cultural Asset in 2006. The game was played in the teahouse. The third game will be played on April 9.

Yamashita keeps sole lead in Honinbo League: The last game of the sixth round in the 70th Honinbo League 2015.03.29_yamashitawas played on March 26. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B, right) beat Ryu Shikun 9P by resignation. He improved his score to 5-1 and hung on to the sole lead. All the games in the final round will be played on April 2. Two other players, Ida Atsushi 8P and Cho U 9P, are on 4-2 and so still have a chance of winning the league. Cho U plays Yamashita in the final round; if Yamashita wins, he becomes the challenger; if Cho wins, he will be tied with Yamashita and could meet him in a play-off. The word is “could,” because if Ida wins his final game against Yo Seiki 7P, creating a three-way tie, only the top two-ranked players qualify for a play-off, which would mean Ida and Yamashita. If a play-off is necessary, it will be held on April 6.

Promotions
To 8-dan (as of March 27): Kurotaki Masanori (150 wins)
To 3-dan (as of March 24): Kyo Kagen (40 wins)

2015.03.29_crazy-stoneCrazy Stone wins computer go tournament: The 8th UEC Cup Computer Go Tournament was held at the Electrical Communications University in Chofu City in Tokyo on March 14 and 15 with 22 programs competing. In the preliminary tournament, the programs that  won the 6th and 7th cups, Crazy Stone (developed by Remy Coulom of France) and Zen (developed by Team DepZen of Japan) took first and second place in the seven-round Swiss System preliminary tournament, but Zen suffered an upset loss in the quarterfinals of the knock-out stage. Zen is rated 5- or 6-dan on KGS, but it lost to Nomitan, a Japanese program rated as 2- or 3-dan on KGS. In the final, Crazy Stone beat DolBaram, a Korean program developed by Lim Jae-bum. Two commemorative games were played with Cho Chikun (25th Honinbo Chikun) on March 17. Taking four stones, DolBaram won, but on three stones Zen lost.

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The Power Report: Ida surrenders lead in Honinbo league to Yamashita; Ida wins NHK Cup; Meijin League; Go lessons in train station; Iyama defends Kisei title; 57-year gap in women’s game; Retirements

Wednesday March 25, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent2015.03.25_Ida-Atsushi

Ida surrenders lead in Honinbo league to Yamashita: Ida Atsushi 8P (right) held the sole lead after the first four rounds in the 70th Honinbo League and seemed to be headed for a rematch with Iyama Yuta Honinbo. However, he has stumbled badly in the latter part of the league, with successive losses. As reported previously, he lost his fifth-round game with Kono Rin 9P in February. In his sixth-round game with Takao Shinji Tengen, played on March 12, Ida (W) lost by resignation. This follows on his loss to Takao in the first game of the Judan title match. Takao already had no chance of retaining his league place, so, as the Japanese idiom has it, Ida was “kicked by a dead horse.” Go Weekly conjectured that Takao perhaps wanted to make sure Ida didn’t get into the habit of winning against him. On 4-1, Yamashita Keigo finds himself in similar position to last year, that is, in the sole lead after five rounds, with the difference that he has already got his game with Ida out of the way. Ida is on 4-2 and his remaining game is against Yo Seiki 7P. Yamashita has two games left and will play Ryu Shikun 9P and Cho U 9P. Cho and Kono are both on 3-2 and also have a chance of winning the league outright or ending in a tie for first.

Ida wins NHK Cup: Although he lost two important games in the Honinbo League and the first Judan game, not everything went wrong for Ida Atsushi recently. In the final of the 62nd NHK Cup, telecast on March 15, Ida beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P and set a new record for the youngest player to win this title. Ida is 20 and he beat the 17-year-old Ichiriki. The game was a fiercely fought one, but Ida, playing black,
 forced Ichiriki to resign after 257 moves. This is Ida’s first win in an official tournament.

2015.03.25_kono-rinMeijin League: Two games were played in the 40th Meijin League on March 12. Kono Rin 9P (W, left) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation and Murakawa Daisuke Oza (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by resignation.  Kono and Murakawa both go to 3-1 and share the provisional lead. Another game was played on March 19. Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by 8.5 points. Ko joins Kono and Murakawa on 3-1. They are followed by two players on 2-1: Yamashita Keigo and Takao Shinji.

Go lessons in train station: The headline is a little misleading, but that’s how Go Weekly reported it. To celebrate the 120th anniversary of the opening of the Japan Railway station at Ichigaya (the closest station to the Nihon Ki-in), go lectures and teaching games by professionals were staged in an Italian restaurant on the second floor of the building over the station on March 6 and 7. Around 30 people attended the introductory lectures given by Mizuma Toshifumi 7P. About the same number of people played teaching games with five professionals. Not only were these events free of charge, there were also complimentary drinks and snacks.

Iyama defends Kisei title: Iyama Yuta (right) emerged from one of the worst slumps of his career just in time for the 7th game of the 39th Kisei 2015.03.25_iyama-yutatitle match. After Iyama started the match with three wins, Yamashita fought back. Last year, the Kisei title match between these two followed the same pattern, but Yamashita ran out of steam in the sixth game, letting Iyama clinch his title defence. This year, Yamashita won three games in a row and his momentum seemed to be unstoppable. There were bad omens for Iyama. At the end of last year, he took a 2-1 lead in both the Oza and Tengen title matches, but went on to lost both by 2-3. Now he had missed three chances to defend his Kisei title. In short, he had missed seven chances to clinch a title win. Also, in the past there have been nine best-of-sevens in which one player won the first three games and the other the next three and in six cases the player making the comeback has won the seventh. It’s unlikely that players pay as much attention to statistics like these as go journalists or fans, but Iyama was certainly looking vulnerable. The game was played at the Ryugon inn in Minami Uonuma City in Niigata Prefecture on March 19 and 20. Being the seventh game, the nigiri to decide the colors was held again, and Iyama drew black. It may sound like a contradiction, but he played calmly but aggressively. Yamashita also fought hard, so the game became a very complicated one, with strategic sacrifices being made by both sides. The turning point seems to have come when Iyama played a move that looked like bad style but that cut off some white stones and made them heavy. They became a burden on Yamashita, and thereafter Iyama held the initiative. Despite attempts to complicate the game by white, he held on to the lead and won by 5.5 points after 216 moves. This is Iyama’s third Kisei title in a row and his 28th title overall. He also retains his quadruple crown. Having turned the corner with this win, he will probably face his Honinbo and Meijin defences with renewed confidence. The Age of Iyama continues!
2015.03.25_ Sugiuchi Kazuko
57-year gap in women’s game: Sugiuchi Kazuko 8P (left) is 88 years old but still an active player (as is her husband Masao, who is six years older). In the final of Preliminary A in the Women’s Honinbo tournament, Sugiuchi (B) beat Nagashima Kozue 2P, who is aged 31, by 2.5 points, so she won a place in the main tournament for the first time in 15 years. Sugiuchi won the predecessor of this tournament, the Women’s Championship, four times in a row (from 1953 to 1956). I don’t know what the record age gap is (it’s probably held by her husband), but it would be nice to see a game between Sugiuchi Kazuko and the 16-year-old Fujisawa Rina.

Retirements: Two players are retiring as of March 31. They are Su Kaiseki 7P and Sato Machiko 2P. Both will be promoted by one rank. Su was born in Shanghai on September 22, 1948 and qualified as a pro at the Nihon Ki-in in 1968. He reached 7-dan in 2000. Sato was born on January 20, 1949. She became a disciple of Kitani Minoru, qualified as a pro in 1972 and was promoted to 2-dan in 1981. She is the wife of Sato Masaharu 9P.

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The Power Report (Part 2): Korea Makes Good Start In Women’s Tournament; Multiple Tie In Meijin League; Two Young Players Make NHK Cup Final; Promotions; Obituary: Okubo Ichigen

Monday March 9, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Korea Makes Good Start In Women’s Tournament: The first round of the 5th Huanglong Shuangdeng Cup World Women’s Team Championship was held in the city2015.03.08_Women’s Tournament of Meiyan in Jiangsu Province. It is run along similar lines to the Nong Shim Cup, but is split up into just two stages. Korea made a great start when O Jonga 2P won the first five games, but China won the final two games. The second round starts on April 5. Results are:
Game 1 (March 1). O Jonga (Korea) (W) beat Okuda Aya 3P (Japan) by resig.
Game 2 (March 2). O (B) beat Li He 5P (China) by resig.
Game 3 (March 3). O (W) beat Kibe Natsuki 1P (Japan) by resig.
Game 4 (March 4). O (W) beat Wang Chenxing 5P (China) by resig.
Game 5 (March 5). O (W) beat Fujisawa Rina 2P (Japan) by resig. (photo)
Game 6 (March 6). Song Ronghui 5P (China) beat O by 2.5 points.
Game 7 (March 7). Song (B) beat Hoshiai Shiho 1P (Japan) by resig.

Multiple Tie In Meijin League: One game was played in the 40th Meijin League on March 5. Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Cho U 9P by 5.5 points. Yamashita improved his score to 2-1 and Cho dropped to 1-2. Yamashita shares the lead with four other players: Kono Rin, Takao Shinji, Murakawa Daisuke, and Ko Iso.

Two Young Players Make NHK Cup Final: Probably not many fans predicted the finalists in the 62nd NHK cup. In the first semifinal, telecast on March 1, the 17-year-old Ichiriki Ryo (W) defeated quadruple title-holder Iyama Yuta by resignation. Ichiriki played brilliantly in the middle-game fighting. Ichiriki made his debut in the NHK Cup this year and so far has won five games in a row, all with whit2015.03.08_Okubo Ichigene. In his last two games before the semifinal, he beat Kono Rin 9P and Takao Shinji 9P. The second semifinal was telecast on March 8. Playing black, the 20-year-old Ida Atsushi 8P (he turns 21 on March 15) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 6.5 points. In the third round, Ida eliminated the winner of the last three NHK cups, Yuki Satoshi 9P.

Promotions
To 9-dan: Hoshino Masaki (200 wins)
To 3-dan: Tsuruta Kazushi (40 wins)

Obituary: Okubo Ichigen
Okubo Ichigen 9P (right) died of pneumonia on March 2. Born on March 15, 1929, Okubo became a disciple of (Ms) Masubuchi Tatsuko 8P. He made 1-dan in 1944 and reached 9-dan in 1968. He retired in 1999. He won the rating tournament in 1948 and 1950. In 1965, he played in the final of the Oza tournament, but lost 0-2 to Handa Dogen. He won a number of Kido Prizes during his career. In the late 60s or early 70s, he made a long instruction tour of North America that was a bit of a landmark at the time.

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The Power Report (Part 1): Tuo Wins New Year’s Cup; Yamashita Catching Up In Kisei Title Match; Xie Wins First Game Of Women’s Meijin; Takao Makes Good Start In Judan Defense; China Wins Nong Shim Cup

Sunday March 8, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent2015.03.08_Tuo Jiaxi

Tuo Wins New Year’s Cup: The CCTV New Year’s Cup is a TV tournament held to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Last year it was upgraded to an international tournament, with a player each being invited from Japan and Korea. Last year it was won by Shi Yue 9P of China. Murakawa Daisuke 7P, who participated because the original invitee from Japan, Iyama Yuta, was too busy with the Kisei title match, took second place after scoring a win over Yi Sedol. Murakawa took part again this year. In the first round, he lost to Tuo Jiaxi 9P (right) of China by half a point. In this irregular knock-out tournament, Tuo advanced to the final, and Murakawa played Kim Jiseok 9P of Korea, who drew a bye in the first round. Kim won this game but lost to Tuo in the final. The prizes are 800,000, 400,000, and 200,000 yuan. Although he lost both games, Murakawa played well (his loss to Tuo was an upset late in the game), and a team in the Chinese B League made him an offer to play on their top board. Click here for Go Game Guru’s report, which includes game records.

Yamashita Catching Up In Kisei Title Match: The fifth game of the 39th Kisei title match was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on February 25 and 26. Playing white, Yamashita won by resignation after 194 moves. This is his second wins after three losses, so he needs just one more win to even the score. The sixth game will be played on March 11 and 12. After both sides set up moyos, Yamashita made a shallow reduction of Black’s bottom moyo with White 16. Iyama made a sharp attack, so Yamashita plunged further into Black’s moyo. After White settled his group, the focus of the game became Black’s attempt to reduce White’s moyo. In the extensive fighting that followed, White broke into Black’s top right moyo and took the lead. Yamashita: ‘Last year I lost the match in the sixth game, so I hope to go further this year.’ Iyama: ‘I made lots of simple mistakes. I hope to play a little more solidly.’

Xie Wins First Game Of Women’s Meijin: The first game of the 27th Women’s Meijin best-of-five title match was held at the Osaka University of Commerce in Higashi (East) Osaka City on March 4. Xie Yimin made a good start in her quest for eight titles in a row; playing 2015.03.08_Ida Atsushiwhite, she beat Suzuki Ayumi 6P by resignation after 248 moves. The second game will be played on March 11.

Takao Makes Good Start In Judan Defense: The first game of the Mori Building 53rd Judan tournament title match, to give it its full name, was played at the same venue as the first Women’s Meijin game though on the following day. The defending champion Takao Shinji, playing white, beat Ida Atsushi 8P (left) by resignation after 198 moves. Takao seized the initiative and avoided letting Ida drag the game into the kind of confused fighting that is Ida’s forte. The second game will be played on March 26. This is the fifth year that the first games of the Women’s Meijin and Judan titles have been played in tandem

China Wins Nong Shim Cup: The third round of the Nong Shim Cup was held in Shanghai at the beginning of
this month. Lian Xiao, the fourth batter for China, finished off the opposition in the third game of this round, so Shi Yue of China didn’t have to play. At the start of the round, Iyama Yuta briefly raised Japan’s hopes with his second win, following his win at the end of the second round, but he fell to Kim Jiseok in his next game.
Results in this round:
Game 11 (March 3). Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) (B) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by resig.
Game 12 (March 4). Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) (B) beat Iyama by 4.5 points.
Game 13 (March 5). Lian Xiao 7P (China) (W) beat Kim by resig.

Tomorrow: Korea Makes Good Start In Women’s Tournament; Multiple Tie In Meijin League; Two Young Players Make NHK Cup Final; Promotions; Obituary: Okubo Ichigen

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The Power Report: Ida loses sole lead in Honinbo League; Yamashita keeps his Kisei challenge alive

Wednesday February 25, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Ida loses sole lead in Honinbo League: Ida Atsushi 8P (right) seemed to be heading inexorably for a rematch with Iyama Yuta Honinbo,2015.02.24_Ida-Atsushi but he finally stumbled in the fifth round of the 70th Honinbo League. In a game played on February 19, Kono Rin 9P (W) beat him by resignation. Ida’s loss means that Yamashita Keigo 9P pulls even with him on 4-1; we might see another play-off between these two. Cho U 9P and Kono, both on 3-2, are also in contention. In another game played on the same day, Yo Seiki 7P picked up his second win when he beat Ryu Shikun 9P; playing white, he forced a resignation. Yo improves to 2-3 and has an outside chance of keeping his league place. Ryu and Takao Shinji 9P, both on 1-4, have lost their places.

2015.02.24_Yamashita-KeigoYamashita keeps his Kisei challenge alive: Yamashita Keigo (left) finally picked up his first win in the 39th Kisei title match and survived his first kadoban (a game that can lose a series). The fourth game was held at the Zagyoso. The Zagyoso (which literally means ‘fishing-while-seated-villa’) was the retirement villa of a famous statesman, Saionji Kinmochi, who led the Japanese delegation at the Versailles peace conference; it was moved from its original location in Shizuoka to Meiji Village, a theme park in Inuyama City in Aichi Prefecture that recreates traditional Japanese buildings. The game was played on February 19 and 20. Iyama (White) took the lead in the middle game when Yamashita made a misreading about a life-and-death position. His group didn’t die, but he had to add an extra stone and so fell behind. However, Iyama slipped up with an oversight of his own when he tried to wrap up the game. Yamashita played a brilliant atekomi tesuji and pulled off an upset. He won by 2.5 points after 224 moves. Yamashita will be greatly encouraged by this win, but, on 1-3, he is still in a tough position. The fifth game, to be played on February 25 and 26, will show whether he has really changed the flow of the match.

Promotion
To 2-dan: Komatsu Daiki (30 wins). Komatsu is the son of Komatsu Hideki 9P and Komatsu Hideko 4P. The promotion took effect on the 17th.

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The Power Report: Iyama close to defending Kisei title; Ida to challenge for Judan title; Meijin League; Honinbo League; Promotions

Tuesday February 17, 2015

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama close to defending Kisei title:  The third game of the 39th Kisei title match was held at the Bella Vista Sakaigahama Hotel in 2015.02.17_Yamashita-KeigoOnomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, on February 5 and 6. Yamashita Keigo 9P (right) held his own in the fighting and in fact finished the middle game with a slight edge over the titleholder, but he slipped up in the endgame. Playing black, Iyama Yuta Kisei secured a win by 1.5 points. This was his third successive win, so Yamashita will face his first kadoban in the fourth game. Fortunately for him, there is a two-week break, so he has time to recover mentally from his bad start. The game will be played on February 19 and 20.

2015.02.17_Ida AtsushiIda to challenge for Judan titleThe play-off to decide the challenger for the 53rd Judan title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on February 5. Playing black, Ida Atsushi 8P (left) defeated Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resignation after 137 moves. The title match with Takao Shinji will start on March 5. This will be Ida’s second challenge for a top-seven title.

Meijin League: The February round, which is the third round, of the 40th Meijin League has already been completed. The two undefeated players, Takao Shinji Tengen and Ko Iso 8P, both lost their games, so there is now a four-way tie for first. Takao and Ko are joined by Cho U 9P and Murakawa Daisuke Oza. Third-round results are given below.
(February 5) Cho U (B) beat Takao Shinji by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by resig.
(February 9) Murakawa Daisuke (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
(February 12) So Yokoku 9P (B) beat Ko Iso by resig.

Honinbo League: Yamashita Keigo 9P is keeping up the pressure on the leader of the 70th Honinbo League, Ida Atsushi 8P. Yamashita 2015.02.17_KonoRinwon his fifth-round game, so he goes to 4-1. Ida is undefeated and will meet Kono Rin 9P (right) in the fifth round on February 19. Cho U 9P also won his fifth-round game and, on 3-2, is next in line. Both Yamashita and Cho have already lost to Ida, so they have to rely on other players to pull him back.
(February 12) Cho U 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji Tengen by resig.; Yamashita Keigo (W) beat Mimura Tomoyasu 9P by 3.5 points.

Promotions
To 8-dan: Rin Shien (150 wins)
To 4-dan: (Ms.) Kim Hyon-jon (50 wins)

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