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The Power Report: Professional go to resume & more reports

Thursday May 28, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Professional go to resume

When the Japanese government declared an emergency on April 7, the Nihon Ki-in and the Kansai Ki-in fell in line and cancelled face-to-face go activity. The emergency was lifted on May 25, and on the same day the Nihon Ki-in announced that it would resume tournament activity on June 1, as will the Kansai Ki-in. However, some precautions will be observed.

  1. The temperatures of players will be measured.
  2. Players will wear masks.
  3. Attention will be paid to air circulation.
  4. There will be a limit to the number of games being played so that venues don’t become overcrowded. First of all, the first round of an international tournament, the 25th LG Cup, will be played on the net on June 1. The Japanese participants will play their games at the Nihon Ki-in Two domestic title matches were affected by the shut-down. The first game of the 75th Honinbo title match will be played in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on June 2 and 3. Shibano Toramaru Meijin will be challenging Iyama Yuta Honinbo. Games 3 to 5 from the 58th Judan tournament which is being fought between Murakawa Daisuke Judan and Shibano Toramaru, have been rescheduled for June 17 and June 26 at the Nihon Ki-in and, if the match goes the full distance, July 3 at the Kansai Ki-in. The match is tied 1-1.

Tong wins Net tournament

On February 19, I published a report on a new net tournament, the 1st Wild Fox Contest for Supremacy, in which Iyama Yuta had won his way to the final and made a good start, winning the first game by half a point with white. However, in the second, his opponent, Tong Mengcheng 8P, returned the courtesy, winning by the same margin. The game was played on April 14. In the third game, played on April 22, Tong drew black and won by 3.5 points. First prize was 500,000 yuan (about $70,000). About 59,000 spectators followed the final game. Iyama had to be content with second place, but this is the best result a Japanese representative has scored recently. His cumulative score against eight Chinese opponents was 9-2. (Note: in English, the server seems to be called just “Fox.”)

Ohashi wins first tournament

The Young Bamboo Cup is a small-scale tournament for players 40 and under at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in. The tournament is open to 16 players, which comes close to matching the number of players at this branch who meet the age condition. If there are more than 16 applicants, preliminaries are held; if fewer, the organizers can nominate extra players. The tournament was founded in 2018, but has already concluded its fourth term. The semifinals and final were held on April 7. In one semifinal, Ohashi Naruya 7P beat Utani Shunta 2P; in the other, Muramoto Wataru 2P beat Otani Naoki 3P. In the final, Ohashi (B) beat Muramoto by 9.5 points. First prize is 200,000 yen (about $18,570), and second is 100,000 yen. This is admittedly a minor title, but the 29-year-old Ohashi was very happy to win it. He commented: “This is my first victory. I hadn’t received any trophies since becoming a professional, so I’m extremely happy. Other tournaments have been postponed for the time being because of the corona virus, but I’ll be able to hole up at home cheerfully. Don’t tell anyone, but I was so excited after the win that I couldn’t sleep until the morning.”

Onishi and Son qualify for LG Cup

As mentioned in a previous report, the organizers of the 25th LG Cup cancelled the international qualifying tournament scheduled to be held in Seoul in April and instead allocated seats to the different professional organizations to use as they wished. Japan has three seeded places, taken by Murakawa Daisuke Judan, Ichiriki Ryo 8P and Kyo Kagen 8P, and was allotted two more places. These were decided by a net tournament among eight young players held on April 6 and 7. Onishi Ryuhei 5P won one side of the mini-tournament and Son Makoto 7P the other. They will play their first-round games at the Nihon Ki-in on June 1.

Ichiriki eliminated from MLily Cup

The quarterfinals of the 4th MLily Cup were held on the net, the first time ever for a major international tournament, on April 27. Ichiriki Ryo 8P was the only player standing in the way of complete Chinese domination of this Chinese-sponsored tournament, but his winning run came to an end in this round. Taking white, Xie Ke 8P beat him by resignation. Even so, this was Ichiriki’s best result so far in a major. Other results follow (full details are not available): Mi Yuting 9P beat Xie Erhao 9P; Ke Jie 9P beat Fan Tingyu 9P; Xu Jiayang 8P beat Meng Tailing 7P.

Go players marry

There is yet another professional couple. On February 10, O Keii 3P, the daughter of O Rissei, former Kisei, and Yamamori Tadanao 7P tied the knot. They are both members of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in.

Retirements

Ezura Yuichi retired as of April 30. Born on January 15, 1943 in Tokyo, he became 1-dan in 1962 and reached 8-dan in 1995. On his retirement, he was promoted to 9-dan.

Aragaki Takeshi retired on the same date. Born in Okinawa on June 4, 1956, he became a disciple of Sakata Eio and qualified as professional 1-dan at the Tokyo Nihon Ki-in in 1971. He reached 9-dan in 1994.

Obituary: Honda Sachiko

Honda Sachiko 7P died of old age on May 1. Born on December 30, 1930, she was 89. She was the middle one of the famous three Honda sisters, her older sister being Sugiuchi Kazuko (born on March 6, 1927, and still active) and her younger sister Kusunoki Teruko 8P (born on September 3, 1939; retired in 2019). Honda was born in Shizuoka Prefecture. She became a disciple of Kitani Minoru 9P and made 1-dan in 1947. She was promoted to 6-dan in 1981 and retired in 2000, and was then promoted to 7-dan. She won the Women’s Championship five times and the Women’s Honinbo title twice. In 1961, she made a two-month instruction tour of the U.S. along with her sister Teruko and Kitani Reiko, and in 1974 toured Europe with Kobayashi Chizu. As one of three go-playing sisters, it seems apposite that she took the three Mukai sisters–Mimura Kaori 3P (born in 1981, wife of Mimura Tomoyasu 9P), Nagashima Kozue 2P (born in 1984; not married to a professional), and Chiaki 5P (born in 1987, wife of Sugimoto Akira 8P, but she plays under her maiden name)—as disciples.

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Redmond’s Reviews, Episode 22: Yasui Sanchi 7P vs Honinbo Shusaku 6P

Friday May 22, 2020

In the latest Redmond Review, Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock take a break from their AlphaGo vs AlphaGo series to take a look at another classic game, Honinbo Shusaku’s first castle game, against the 9th Yasui Sanchi (Shuntetsu). The program originally aired on April 12 on Twitch, and includes an update on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Japanese professional go scene, as well as Michael’s historical insights into the four go houses, the castle games and the connections to modern go, including the influence of AI. Tune in on the AGA’s Twitch channel this Sunday at 7p EDT for the next live game commentary.

[link]

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 40: It gets weird in the endgame

Friday May 15, 2020

Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, reviews the 40th game of the amazing AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo selfplay games. The 50-game series was published by Deepmind after AlphaGo’s victory over world champion Ke Jie 9p in May 2017.

Originally broadcast live on the AGA’s Twitch channel on April 5, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael and Chris begin by checking in on the status of the professional go community in Japan, and they also talk about Michael’s YouTube channel, which he had just launched.

“In this game, AlphaGo is going to look a bit like two human players,” Michael says. The game starts with the mini-Chinese opening and the rest of the game “looks like a game two human players would play, but then it gets weird in the endgame.”

Also, tune in this Sunday on Twitch at 7p EDT for another live commentary on the historic 2016 AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol match; and you get to help choose which game Michael and Chris analyze! Click here now to vote!

AG #40 produced by Stephen Hu, Allen Moy and Chris Garlock

[link]

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 39: Playing Away

Friday May 1, 2020

Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, reviews the 39th game of the AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo selfplay games. The 50-game series was published by Deepmind after AlphaGo’s victory over world champion Ke Jie 9p in May 2017. Chris and Michael chat about Redmond’s new YouTube channel and catch up on how Japanese pros are dealing with the COVID19 shutdown. “In this game, you’re going to be surprised a few times, when AlphaGo plays away from a position,” says Redmond, “plus there’s the usual stuff that it does with ladders. AlphaGo has special ways that it deals with ladders, which is something that’s caught on with human players.”

[link]

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Mark your calendar: Upcoming Redmond commentaries

Thursday April 30, 2020

Honinbo Shuwa-Genan Inseki or Honinbo Dosaku-Yasui Santetsu? That’s the choice for this Sunday’s live video commentary by Michael Redmond 9P on the AGA’s Twitch channel with E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock. Click here to vote!

Then on May 9, Redmond will review one of his own tournament games.

And on May 17, Redmond and Garlock will review one of the AlphaGo-Lee Sedol games and discuss their new book AlphaGo to Zero. Click here to vote on which AG-Sedol game you’d like to see reviewed.

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Redmond on AlphaGo vs AlphaGo Game 41 Sunday night on Twitch

Saturday April 25, 2020

Tune in to the AGA’s Twitch channel Sunday night at 8p EDT (note later time!) to catch Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock with their latest live game commentary on the AlphaGo vs AlphaGo series. SpaceTime Machine calls it “my favorite YouTube series hands down.” Tune in at 8p on Sunday, April 26; viewers will be able to ask Redmond and Garlock questions during the live commentary.
PLUS: Check out None Redmond’s captivating story about “11 year old Michael meets a legendary Go player” on Redmond’s YouTube channel.

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 38: Trippy stuff with ladders

Friday April 24, 2020

Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, reviews the 38th game of the amazing AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo selfplay games. The 50-game series was published by Deepmind after AlphaGo’s victory over world champion Ke Jie 9p in May 2017. Redmond: “This game starts with a complicated variation on the 3-3 invasion, then goes on to a completely different part of the game where a ko is the focus, and then there’s a lot of trippy stuff with ladders and finally there’s some life and death problems.” Garlock: “A little bit of everything.”
Produced by Stephen Hu, Allen Moy and Chris Garlock

[link]

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50 years aGO April 1970

Friday April 24, 2020

by Keith Arnold, hka with Patrick Bannister

Deprived of face-to-face go, we gaze with great longing at this fantastic photo of the climax of the 24th Honinbo league on April 8, 1970 (right).

In the foreground at left is my favorite player, Fujisawa Hideyuki, forever to be known as Shuko.  A truly brilliant — if erratic — player, his passion for go was without equal.  And you can see him living the game in his face in this photo. We can surmise that perhaps poker would not be his best game, but of course we know go was.  A favorite player of my teacher, Yilun Yang, he played a prominent role in supporting go in China and his teaching boot camps were legendary.  We can access them through Hinoki Press’ two volume “Shuko: The Only Move, as well as Slate and Shell’s 4 volume “Basic Tesjuji” and finally (though first) Ishi Press’ “Reducing Territorial Frameworks”

Foreground right is Kato Masao, the kid in the room, and his manner evokes a quiet respect for his far more emotive elder.  Indeed, in all of my reading about this great player, who went on lead the Nihon Kiin, I have never read a word suggesting anything but kindness about him.  He game was far more aggressive, “Killer Kato” was his reputation, and he shared his skill in Ishi Press’ “Kato’s Attack and Kill”.  He was the first of the “Three Crows” of the Kitani school to make a name for himself, but the last to breakthrough.  He needs to win this game to catch another player in the room to challenge for the title.  Game record here.

Background right, hunched over the board, is Fujisawa Hosai – the older nephew of Shuko and the first Oteai 9 dan.  A player of extraordinary concentration and determination who once played a match with his letter of resignation in his pocket, Hosai was known for his deliberate play, which is evidenced by the far fewer stones on the background board.  Although he could not win the league, he is determined to make his opponent earn it.

His opponent is “Razor Sharp” Sakata, and his personality also shines in this picture.  Wiry and erect, cigarette in hand, Sakata seems amused by time Hosai is taking, his mind racing from one brilliant counter to the next to whatever ploy Hosai comes up with.  This is a man in his element, not showing the pressure of needing this win to become the challenger.  Hosai’s determination would take them until after midnight, and Sakata became the challenger.  Game record here.

April 25-26 featured what was billed the “First International Team Tournament” in New York city.  Fourteen three player teams competed from the USA, China, Korea, Canada, Japan and Yugoslavia.  The Chinese team emerged victorious, followed by Japan and the US.  The US team was Matsuda, Ryder and Kaslow – all 5 dan – as good as it got in those days.  The match was featured in the NY Times and we can clearly see (top left) the great Edward Lasker playing.  In an early moment of “fake news” the Times says the event took place at “The Chess House” but I trust Mr. Horiguchi’s report in Go Review stating the event happened in the Nihon Kiin Chapter House at the same address.

Finally the first game of the Honinbo title took place on April 27 and 28.  I am not sure challenger Sakata and Honinbo Rin Kaiho are actually interested in whatever Takagawa is saying in this staged photo (top middle).  We will be hearing a lot about Rin who was in the young and early stages of his dominance.  Reading Go Review it seems that the go press was not yet buying it, and seemed to expect Sakata to be the victor. We shall see…Game One record is here.

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The Power Report: Discovery Cup: new tournament for young players; Amateur wins seat in Kisei C League; Amateur wins seat in Kisei C League

Monday April 13, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Discovery Cup: new tournament for young players

A new tournament for young players has been founded. It is the Discovery Cup (using the English word “discovery”), which is open to professionals and inseis at the Nihon Ki-in and Kansai Ki-in up to 2-dan and up to 18 years of age. The tournament is an unofficial one, so results will not be included in players’ official records. The preliminary tournament started on the Net on March 23; the top eight players will qualify for the main tournament, starting on April 29, which will be held at the Nihon Ki-in. The tournament follows the NHK format.

Amateur wins seat in Kisei C League

Two Japanese tournaments are also open to amateur players. One is the Agon Kiriyama Cup, in which eight amateurs took part and four reached Preliminary A. They have all now been eliminated, but their record was a very respectable 17 wins to eight losses. One was Kurita Yoshiki, who beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P before losing to Hoshiai Shiho 2P on March 30. Kurita is actually a former insei who ended up going to college instead. Even more impressive, he also qualified for the C League in the 45th Kisei tournament by winning five games in a row in the qualifying round, called the First Tournament. He has made a good start in the league by winning his first game. Taking white, he beat Mochizuki Kenichi 8P by 5.5 points.

Promotions

Obuchi Kotaro

To 7-dan: Koyama Ryugo (130 wins, as of March 13)
To 5-dan: Obuchi Kotaro (70 wins, as of April 3)
To 2-dan: Shibusawa Machiko (30 wins, as of March 13)

Retirements

Three players retired as of March 31. They are Hagiwara Mutsumi 8P, (Ms.) Shinkai Hiroko 6P, and (Ms.) Nakamura Kuniko 3P. The ladies were both disciples of Iwamoto Kaoru.

Postponement

The semifinals and finals of the new women’s tournament the Hakata Kamachi Cup, originally scheduled for April 13 and 14, have been put off until June 8 and 9. In the semifinals, Ueno Asami, Women’s Honinbo, meets Mukai Chiaki 5P and Fujisawa Rina, holder of the Hollyhock Cup, plays Nyu Eiko 2P.

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The Power Report: Iyama leads Meijin League; Sumire’s progress; Nyu tops wins list

Sunday April 12, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama leads Meijin League

On 4-0, Iyama Yuta is the only undefeated player in the 45th Meijin League. This is one of those leagues where the higher-ranked players, with one exception, Iyama, do badly. The bottom three players are the only ones with just one loss. Recent results:

(March 19) Cho U 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Iyama Yuta Kisei (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig.

(April 2) Murakawa Daisuke Judan (B) beat Cho U 9P by resig.

Sumire’s progress

On March 26, Nakamura Sumire 1P (W) lost to Muramoto Wataru 2P, a fellow member of the Kansai HQ (Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in) by 4.5 points in Preliminary C of the 46th Gosei tournament.

On April 2, Sumire played her first game as a sixth-grader, but was not successful. Taking white, she lost by resignation (191 moves) to Takei Takashi 7P (Kansai HQ). The game was in Preliminary C of the 47th Tengen tournament.

On April 6, Sumire played three games on the Net in the female preliminary for the 11th Gratitude Cup, which became an official tournament as of this term. In the first, starting at 10 a.m., she beat Kato Chie 1P; in the second, starting at 1 p.m., she beat Nyu Eiko 2-dan; in the third, starting at 6 p.m., she lost to Xie Yimin 6P. The win over Nyu is significant, as she has been one of the top woman players recently.

At this point, Sumire’s record for the year was 7-10, which makes her cumulative record 24-17. However, the numbers match up only if I repair an omission in my report published on February 21. I overlooked a game played on January 16 in Preliminary B of the 76th Hoininbo tournament. Hane Yasumasa 9P (W) beat Sumire by 5.5 points. In the same report, “Yoshida” in the February 10 game is a mistake for “Furuta.”

Nyu tops wins list

Kyo Kagen

It’s still early days yet, but it’s worth noting that a second woman player has topped the most-wins list, following the lead of Ueno Asami last year. Nyu Eiko has 15 wins to three losses. Following her, on 13-3, are the three players who were in contention in the final round of the Honinbo League: Kyo Kagen, Shibano Toramaru, and Ichiriki Ryo. Kyo’s loss in the Honinbo play-off ended a winning streak of his at nine.

Tomorrow: Discovery Cup: new tournament for young players; Amateur wins seat in Kisei C League; Amateur wins seat in Kisei C League

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