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The Power Report (2 of 2): Shibano picks up first league win; Fujisawa levels score in Women’s Honinbo; Suzuki makes Tengen main tournament; Iyama increases lead in Oza

Monday November 20, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano picks up first league win: Two games were played in the 73rd Honinbo League on November 16. Kobayashi Satoru 9P (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig. and Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P, also by resig. The latter result will probably attract the most attention. Shibano is a breath of fresh air in the go world, and a lot of Japanese go fans would like to see him stir things up. The second round has now been concluded. Ida Atsushi 8P has made the best start with two wins, Hane Naoki 9P the worst with two losses, and all the 2017.11.20_Hon4 Xie Rinaother players (Ko Iso 8P and Yo Seiki 7P besides players already mentioned) are all on 1-1.

Fujisawa levels score in Women’s Honinbo: The fourth game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo best-of-five was held in the Special Playing Room at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 17. Xie Yimin (left), the challenger, had won the third game, so this was a kadoban for the defending champion, Fujisawa Rina (right). Taking black, Fujisawa won by 2.5 points after 270 moves. Apparently, the game was good for Xie, but Fujisawa overhauled her in the endgame. The final game will be played on November 29.

Suzuki makes Tengen main tournament: A while back (at the end of September), I reported on the success of Fujisawa Rina in reaching the main tournament of the Gosei tournament, this being an unusual achievement for 2017.11.20_oza02 Iyamawomen players. Suzuki Ayumi 7P has now become the tenth woman to do so. On November 16, she beat Ryu Shikun 9P in the final of Preliminary A of the Tengen tournament, so she won a place in the main tournament (she had white and secured a resignation).

Iyama increases lead in Oza: The second game of the 65th Oza title was held at the Hotel Okura Kobe in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, on November 18. The game started at 10 a.m., with Iyama (left) playing black. The players have a time allowance of three hours each, with the last five minutes allotted to byo-yomi. The game was full of the aggressive kind of fighting that is usual for title matches these days, but Iyama took the lead and hung on to it. The game ended at 7:33 p.m. after 325 moves; Iyama won by 4.5 points. The third game will be held at the same venue just two days later, so the match could well be over by the time this report appears.

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The Power Report (1 of 2): Iyama and Xie to meet in LG Cup final; Ida defends Crown title

Sunday November 19, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.19_LG Xie Erhao Iyama

Iyama and Xie to meet in LG Cup final:  A Japanese representative had made the best eight of the 22nd LG Cup, so the Nihon Ki-in offered to host the quarterfinals and semifinals at its headquarters in Tokyo. If one motive was to give its player the advantage of playing on home ground, this worked out just right, as Japan got its first finalist in a world championship since 2007. That year was also the only previous time that Japan hosted LG Cup games. All the games were telecast with live commentary on the Igo & Shogi Channel.

 The quarterfinals were played on November 13. The results were as follows: Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Shin Jinseo 8P (Korea) by resig.; Xie Erhao 5P (China) (W) beat Choi Cheolhan 9P (Korea) by resig.; Jiang Weijie 9P (China) (W) beat Lee Wonyong 7P (Korea) by half a point; Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) (W) beat Yang Tingxin 6P (China) by resig.

2017.11.19_LG Ke IyamaThe LG Cup is a Korean-sponsored tournament, but no Korean players made the 2017.11.19_LG Ke Jiesemifinals, so perhaps Korean fans didn’t mind the tournament’s being held overseas. Lots are drawn after each round to do the pairings for the next round, and Iyama (at right in photo at left) was paired with Ke Jie (left), who is widely recognized as the world’s number one. In this tournament, the player who wins the nigiri can choose colors; Ke (right) took white—perhaps he was influenced by the fact that White won all the games in the quarterfinals. He started out with two three-three points, showing the influence of AI. In contrast, Iyama played the high Chinese Opening. Initially, Ke took the lead, but in a later fight his play was perhaps a little too aggressive, letting Iyama get back into the game. Later on, Ke made a mistake and resigned after 267 moves. In the all-Chinese semifinal, Xie (W) Jiang beat by resig.

The best-of-three final will be held on February 5, 7, and, if needed, 8. Iyama has won the TV Asia Cup, but this will be his first final in a full-scale international tournament. If he wins, it will be Japan’s first international title since 2005, when Cho U won the LG Cup. Unfortunately, I have no information about Xie Erhao.

Ida defends Crown title: The Crown tournament is open only to players at the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. First prize is 1.7 million yen (about $15,400). Ida Atsushi 8P won this title for the first time last year and was able to defend it this year. The one-game final was played on November 13; taking white, Ida defeated Mutsuura Yuta 7P by resig. after 174 moves.

Tomorrow: Shibano picks up first league win; Fujisawa levels score in Women’s Honinbo; Suzuki makes Tengen main tournament; Iyama increases lead in Oza

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AlphaGo Zero-AlphaGo Master: Two openings, less variety

Saturday November 11, 2017

“In the set of 20 games between AG Zero and AG Master, there are pretty much just two openings — i.e. identical moves for about the first 202017.11.11_ag-ag-zero-opening moves — one with Zero as Black and one with Master as Black,” says Michael Redmond 9p in this first commentary on the recently released AG Zero games. “This provides an opportunity to examine how Zero differs from Master, as well as how Master differs from earlier versions. ”

“When AGMaster plays against AGZero, it does not show the variety that it had before,” says Redmond. “As AG does not change within a version, I find it hard to accept that it apparently does not have the option to play moves that it played before in identical board positions. In the ‘Master series’, 60 games played against top pros in Dec 2016 to Jan 2017, Master could play the 3-4 point as it’s first move in about 1/4 of the games when it had Black. Incidentally, AGKeJie also could play the 3-4 point in some of it’s games. The fact that Master repeats the same opening every time in these games against AGZero bothers me and makes me question, is this truly the same version of AGMaster that played the Master series, and if so, what caused it to play the same opening every time in this series, when it was allowed to have variety in previous games with identical board positions? The difference in calculated winning percentage between A and B should be extremely small and I would expect it to have little or no effect on the ultimate win-loss record. This set of games would be much more valuable if Master had been allowed to vary in it’s choices for moves.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, and see below for the two sgf commentaries. Note that these commentaries focus only on the two openings; watch for a full-game Zero-Master commentary next week. Click here for a playlist of all the Redmond AG commentaries.

Video produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf files were created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.

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The Power Report (2 of 2): Rin Kaiho receives decoration in autumn honors; Ichiriki to challenge for Kisei

Saturday November 11, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.10_Rin Kaiho

Rin Kaiho receives decoration in autumn honors:
Rin Kaiho (Lin Haifeng) 9P has been awarded a decoration by the Japanese government in the autumn honors. Rin (right) was one of the top players in the second half of the 20th century. He has scored 1400 wins as a professional, behind only Cho Chikun, and has won 35 titles, including the Meijin eight times, the Honinbo and Tengen five times each (he is Honorary Tengen), and the Oza, Judan, and Gosei once each. He is a disciple of Go Seigen, who received the same decoration, and has many Taiwanese disciples (though born in Shanghai in 1942, he is a citizen of Taiwan), including Cho U. The success for which Rin is best remembered is defeating Sakata Eio, 2017.11.10_Ichiriki L Yamashita Rconsidered almost invincible at the time, and becoming Meijin at the age of 23, then a youth record. Twenty-six Nihon Ki-in players have received a total of 37 decorations.

Ichiriki to challenge for Kisei: The first game of the play-off to decide the challenger for the 42nd Kisei title was held at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on November 9. Taking white, Ichiriki Ryo (left), the winner of the S League, defeated Yamashita Keigo 9P (right), second in the same league, by resignation after 216 moves. As the S League winner, Ichiriki starts the play-off with a one-win advantage, so this win made him 2-0 and made him the challenger to Iyama Yuta Kisei. That means that the two will meet in three successive title matches, making a super-series best-of-17 (a minimum of ten games will be played). Ichiriki is the youngest player to challenge for the Kisei title. Becoming the challenger earned him promotion to 8-dan (as of (November 10). The first game of the title match will be played on January 18 and 19.

Promotion: To 2-dan: Hirose Yuichi (30 wins, as of Nov. 3)

Correction: this post has been updated to reflect the fact that Rin Kaiho has born in 1942, not 1952. 

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AlphaGo-AlphaGo Game 15: New, different and possibly bad

Friday November 10, 2017

“I don’t like to call it weird, but in this game we’re going to see some new and different stuff that AlphaGo is doing with the joseki that I don’t 2017.11.10_ag-ag-thumb-15really understand and I don’t like it,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his commentary on Game 15. “It’ll be interesting to see if eventually I change my mind, but for now I’m going to say it’s a bad move.” Redmond adds that “We’ll also see another typical AlphaGo move later in the game that’s pretty exciting too.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock. Click here for a playlist of all the Redmond AG commentaries.

And keep an eye out here and on the AGA YouTube channel for the launch of Redmond’s commentaries on the AlphaGo Zero-Master games, coming very soon!

The Game 15 video is produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf file was created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.

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The Power Report (1 of 2): Shibano sets Meijin League record; 73rd Honinbo League; Xie takes lead in Women’s Honinbo

Friday November 10, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.10_Ichiriki right

Shibano sets Meijin League record:
The play-offs to decide the vacant seats in the 43rd Meijin League were held at three different venues on November 2. Usually games are played on the home ground of the senior player; by coincidence, all three play-offs featured members of the same institution, so no one had to travel. In Nagoya, at the Central Japan headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, Hane Naoki, who was bounced out of the previous league, was matched against a fellow Nagoya player, Hirata Tomoya 7P. The latter was seeking to make a comeback after a gap of one term. Taking white, Hane won by resignation; he will play in his ninth league. This is the third year in a row Hane has regained his seat immediately after dropping out. In Osaka, the Kansai Ki-in players Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 7P and Yuki Satoshi 9P were competing for a place. Taking black, Yo won by resignation. There was a big contrast in form between these two. Yo was leading the lists for most wins, best winning percentage and most games played at the Kansai Ki-in by a long way. Yuki has been the main title contender at the Kansai Ki-in for more than a decade, but this year, regardless results in games still to be played, he has lost a majority of his games for the first time in his career. This difference was reflected in the result: taking black, Yo won by resignation.

2017.11.10_Xie takes leadThe most spectacular pairing was in Tokyo, with the two hottest stars of the post-Iyama generation playing each other. Ichiriki Ryo (above, right) turned 20 on June 10; Shibano Toramaru turned 18 on November 9. Ichiriki won last year’s Ryusei tournament and is at present challenging Iyama Yuta for the Oza and Tengen titles. Shibano won this year’s Ryusei tournament in August, then in September set a record for the youngest player to win a seat in the Honinbo League. In August, however, he lost the play-off to decide the Oza challenger to Ichiriki. In the play-off for the Meijin League seat, Shibano (W) beat Ichiriki by resignation, so he took revenge. In the process he set another record, becoming, at 17 years 11 months, the youngest player to win a seat in the Meijin League.2017.11.10_Old Inn Kaneyu

73rd Honinbo League: The first game of the second round was played on October 2. Ida Atsushi 8P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by 7.5 points. With two wins, Ida has made a good start.

Xie takes lead in Women’s Honinbo: The third game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match was played at the Old Inn Kaneyu (at right; “Old” is part of the name) in Noshiro City, Akita Prefecture on October 4. Taking black, Xie Yimin (left), the challenger, beat Fujisawa Rina by resignation after 167 moves. She now leads the match 2-1. The fourth game will be played on November 17.

Tomorrow: Rin Kaiho receives decoration in autumn honors; Ichiriki to challenge for Kisei

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Redmond announces new series on AlphaGo Master vs AG Zero

Saturday November 4, 2017

“We were expecting DeepMind to make some sort of an announcement (about a new version of AlphaGo),” says Michael Redmond 9p, “But 802017.11.04_agzupdatethumb games was a big present.” (Self-taught AlphaGo Zero bests all previous versions in record time Redmond discusses AlphaGo Zero with the E-Journal’s Chris Garlock in a brief video announcing the launch of a new series of game commentaries. DeepMind released four sets of games for the self-taught AI, including training games, games against the Fan Hui version, the Lee Sedol version and the Master version, which defeated 60 top human opponents earlier this year. “I’m going to be looking at the games where Master plays Zero, mainly because Master is such a popular version of AlphaGo,” Redmond says. Master’s tactics, including big shimaris and emphasizing the center “people wanted to play, but were afraid because that way of playing is weak in territory. Master showed us some successful ways…and is still having an effect on how professionals play. So it’s going to be really interesting to see Master playing against a stronger version of AlphaGo.”

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AlphaGo-AlphaGo Game 14: A double kakari and a new joseki

Saturday November 4, 2017

“In this game we’re going to see a double kakari against a star point, a first for this series of games,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his game 2017.11.03_AG-14commentary on Game 14. “In the Master vs. human series back in January, Master would play away when the opponent played a kakari against a star point, sometimes. Now we’ll get to see how Master plays this with White, and it has a special move. Its a new joseki that actually make s some sense, so it’s going to be interesting.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock.

The Game 14 video is produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf file was created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Meijin, achieves second Grand Slam; Iyama makes good start in Oza; Iyama extends lead in Tengen; Yamashita makes Kisei playoff; Fujisawa evens score; First round completed in 73rd Honinbo League

Sunday October 29, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.10.29_42 Meijin5 Iyama

Iyama defends Meijin, achieves second Grand Slam: The fifth game in the 42nd Meijin title match was held at the Atami Sekitei inn (below left), one of the traditional venues for the Meijin, in Atami City in Shizuoka 2017.10.29_43meijin5_8Prefecture on October 16 and 17. After winning the first game in the match, the defending champion, Takao Shinji Meijin, had lost three in a row, so he faced his first kadoban. The game got off to a stormy start, with Takao, who had white, capturing a large group of Iyama Yuta’s. Actually Iyama (right) could have made a second eye, but he didn’t like the result, so instead he discarded the group and tried to squeeze on the outside as compensation. As usual, it was a fierce game, and the lead switched back and forth. In the end, Iyama set up a ko to kill the white group surrounding his “captured” group, and Takao had to resign when he ran out of ko threats.

2017.10.29_42meijin5 TakaoLosing this title to Takao (left) last year cost Iyama his simultaneous grand slam, the first in Japanese go history. In the meantime, he defended his other six titles, so regaining the Meijin gave him his second grand slam, a first for. This is a first for go or shogi. Iyama maintained the first one for 197 days. Fans will be looking forward to his extending this. This is his 46th title, which leaves him in sixth place, one behind Kato Masao.

This success earned Iyama a report in the nightly news, which also revealed in passing that his tournament prize money now amounted to 1,000 million ten (about $9 million).

Iyama makes good start in Oza: Just three days after regaining his grand slam, Iyama was busy with maintenance, meeting the challenge of Ichiriki Ryo 7P for the 65th Oza title. The first game was played at the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, on October 20. Iyama drew white. The game started with a fierce struggle for the initiative, and fighting continued to the end. Iyama was able to take an edge, leading Ichiriki to resign after 168 moves. The second game is scheduled for November 18.1 Oza1 Ichiriki right

Iyama extends lead in Tengen: The second game of the 43rd Tengen title match was played at the Hotel Emisia Sapporo in Sapporo City, Hokkaido, on October 27. Taking white, Iyama Yuta secured a resignation after 162 moves, making the game almost the same length as the Oza one reported above. Ichiriki Ryo (right) faces his first kadoban in the third game, scheduled for November 24. As least he has the better part of a month to consider how to righten his ship in his double challenge.

Yamashita makes Kisei playoff: The third game in the knock-out to decide the challenger in the 42nd Kisei tournament was played on October 27. Motoki Katsuya 8P had done well, moving up from bottom of the knock-out, as C League winner, past the B and C League winners, but his run came to a stop when he met Yamashita Keigo 9P, second-place-getter in the S League. Taking black, 2017.10.29_female-honinbo2 FujisawaYamashita won by resig. He will meet Ichiriki in the final, though the latter starts with a one-win advantage.

Fujisawa evens score: The second game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Izanro Iwasaki inn in2017.10.29_female-honinbo2 Izanro Iwasaki_8 the town of Miasa in Tottori Prefecture (at right, with the Mitoku River flowing in front of it). Taking black, Fujisawa Rina (left), the defending champion, forced Xie Yimin, the challenger, to resign after 205 moves. This evened the score at 1-1. The third game will be played on November 4.

First round completed in 73rd Honinbo League: With the two results given below, the first round of the new league has now been completed. Of the four newcomers to the league, only Ida Atsushi has won a game. Besides the players below, Motoki Katsuya and Yamashita Keigo have won a game. The others to have lost a game are Kobayashi Satoru and Shibano Toramaru.
(Oct. 19) Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.
(Oct. 26) Ida Atsushi 8P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by 3.5 points.

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AlphaGo-AlphaGo Game 13: The large knight’s move enclosure workout

Sunday October 29, 2017

“This is a very different game, in that there are three corner enclosures,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his game commentary on AlphaGo-2017.10.27_AG-13AlphaGo Game 13. “Black isn’t playing a kakari, which is different from what human players do now. So we’re going to have kind of a workout in how to deal with the large knight’s move enclosure.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock.

The Game 13 video is produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf file was created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.

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