American Go E-Journal » Japan

50 years aGO – May 1972

Thursday May 26, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka with Patrick Bannister

The Hon’inbo Title, held by Ishida Yoshio, was the big topic of the month. The Hon’inbo League ended in a tie between Rin Meijin and the veteran Sakata Eio, each with scores of 5-2. A playoff was held on May 3 and 4 and Rin was victorious, setting up a rematch of last year’s event. The first two games (on May 8 to 9 and May 17 to 18) resulted in wins for black, the first game to Ishida, the second to Rin. But in the third game, Rin scored a win with white on May 25 to 26 to take the lead in the best of seven contest. (Game records: playoff game, Game 1, Game 2, Game 3.)

Meanwhile, as the month closes, Fujisawa Shūkō remains unbeaten at 4-0 in the Meijin League, with Ōtake Hideo trailing him at 4-1.

Finally we share an amazing picture of two of the people most responsible for the spread of go in the world. Edward Lasker visited the Nihon Ki’in on May 9 and caught up with Iwamoto Kaoru. Lasker, who founded the New York Go Club which gave birth to the American Go Association, can be justly named the father of go in the United States. His book Go and Gomoku was a very early effort, and far more influential than its few predecessors. Iwamoto, who played in the famous “atom bomb game,” dedicated his life and his resources to spreading go throughout the world, funding go centers in North and South America as well as Europe.

Hon'inbo Title Game 1 on 9 May 1972

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Photos courtesy of Go Review, game records from SmartGo

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

Monday May 23, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday May 22, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Teikei Cup Shibano (left) & Kyo

Kyo wins Teikei New Stars
The second game of the 1st Teikei New Stars title match was held in the Ryusei Studio at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on April 2. Taking white, Kyo Kagen beat Shibano Toramaru by resignation after 238 moves. Kyo took the lead in the opening. Things became perilous when Shibano made a deep invasion, but Kyo managed to hang on to his lead. This was his second win, so he won the inaugural title. First prize is 10,000,000 yen (about $77,500).

Kyo defends Judan
The third game of the Daiwa House Cup 60th Judan title match was held at the ANA Holiday Inn Resort Shinano Omachi Kuroyon in Omachi City, Nagano Prefecture, on April 7. Taking black, Kyo Kagen Judan (photo) outplayed Yo Seiki 8-dan, the challenger, in the middle game and secured a resignation after 205 moves. This was Kyo’s third win, so he defended his title. First prize is 7,000,000 yen. This is Kyo’s sixth title.

Ueno wins 4th international Senko Cup
The Senko Cup World Go Strongest Woman Player tournament was held on the Net from April 8 to 10. In net tournaments, the venue for Japanese players is usually the Nihon Ki-in, but in this tournament they play at the Hotel Kaie in Koto Ward, which is one of the sponsors of the tournament. Ueno Asami won three games straight and secured her first victory in an international tournament. This was, in fact, the first victory by a Japanese woman in an international tournament. Ueno beat Yu Zhiying of China, winner of the first three Senko Cups, in the first round and her fellow Japanese representative Xie Yimin helped her out by beating Cho Jeong, the world’s top-rated woman player, also in the first round. Second place was taken by Lu Yuhua 4-dan of Chinese Taipei. First prize is 5,000,000 yen.

Round 1 (April 8). Fujisawa Rina 5-dan (Japan) (W) beat Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (Japan) by 2.5 points; Ueno Asami 4-dan (Japan) (W) beat Yu Zhiying 7-dan (China) by resig.; Lu Yuhua 3-dan (Chinese Taipei) (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan (Japan) by resig.; Xie Yimin 7-dan (Japan) beat Choi Jeong 9-dan (Korea) by resig.
Round 2 (April 9). Ueno (W) beat Fujisawa by resig.; Lu (B) beat Xie by resig.
Round 3 (April 10). Ueno (B) beat Lu by resig.
Playoff for 3rd place (April 10). Fujisawa (B) beat Xie by resig.

Fujisawa reaches best eight in Tengen
On April 4, Fujisawa Rina (W) beat Cho Riyu 8-dan by resignation in the main section the 48th Tengen tournament. This earned her a seat in the quarterfinals. This is only the second time a woman player has made the best-eight in a top-seven tournament. The first player to do so was the same Fujisawa – in last year’s Judan tournament. Incidentally, in the first round of the main section, Fujisawa beats Cho Chikun, Hon. Meijin.

Tomorrow: Ichiriki wins 1st New Ryusei; Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei; Meijin & Kisei S League reports; Sumire’s progress; Most wins, Most successive wins, Recently ended streaks & promotion

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

Saturday May 21, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki (right) becomes challenger in Honinbo

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

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

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

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

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

Sumire challenges

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

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

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

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

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

Fujisawa Rina

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

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

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

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50 Years aGO – April 1972

Saturday April 23, 2022

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

On April 12th, Ishida Yoshio nosed ahead of his modest challenger Iwata Tatsuaki 9d in the Pro Best Ten tournament. And, on April 24th, he completed his defense of the title. Although the games were all quite close, Iwata calmly remarked, “After all, the weaker player lost.” (Game records: Game 3, Game 4.)

As of April 15, the Hon’inbo League had but one game to play, and a playoff would be required to challenge Ishida Hon’inbo. Sakata Jūdan and Rin Meijin finished tied with 5-2 records. The Meijin League still had a way to go, but Fujisawa Shūkō led with a 4-0 record. Ōtake Hideo trailed at 3-1 and they had yet to play.

Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972)
Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972)

But the bulk of this month’s article will be devoted to Kawabata Yasunari, the Nobel Prize winning author of The Master of Go, who died on April 15 1972.

At the outset some important non-go business. It should be noted that Kawabata did not win his Nobel for our favorite work, but rather, for all of his efforts. The Nobel Committee cited three novels: Snow Country, Thousand Cranes, and The Old Capital. Additionally, there are growing theories that his death was accidental, as opposed to by his own hand as traditionally claimed.

Nothing I can say about The Master of Go can compare to simply picking it up and reading it. The book is based on his own newspaper accounts covering the famous retirement game between Hon’inbo Shūsai and Kitani Minoru. Some of the names are changed to protect the victorious, but the game is the same, and Kawabata calmly and deftly not only relates it to us, in wonderful detail, but locates it in history. For Kawabata, looking back in 1951, the Master and the game were the end of the old Japan, and the challenger “Otake” were the first wind of change, soon to be a whirlwind.

Kawabata’s place in the go world is of course grounded in this book, but went far beyond it. He was a 5d amateur player, back in a time when that was quite impressive. He served for many years on the committee that awarded the annual Shūsai prizes. A friend of Sakata, you can see him in the background of many title match photos.

Another lasting contribution, inspiring players today, is his wonderful calligraphy adorning the ceremonial playing room at the Nihon Ki’in – the Yūgen no Ma room, site of many matches and even featured in Hikaru no Go. His scroll means “deep, subtle mysteries.” A perfect, and frightening sight for a challenger to see over the shoulders of a champion, and a completely relatable description of the game for the rest of us.

Kawabata's novel The Master of Go (Meijin)

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

Wednesday March 30, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

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

Ichiriki wins Kisei after Iyama saves two kadobans (NEW)

Ichiriki looks happy

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

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

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

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

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

Kido Prizes

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

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

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

Kyo Kagen Judan

Kyo starts well in Judan (UPDATED)

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

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

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

The third game will be played on April 7.

77th Honinbo League (UPDATED)

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

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

47th Meijin League (UPDATED)

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

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

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

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

Teikei Cup New Stars

Teikei New Stars

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

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

Teikei Cup Legends Tournament (NEW)

Sonoda Yuichi

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

New Stars International Team Tournament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ichiriki wins NHK Cup (NEW)

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

Japan eliminated from 14th Chunlan Cup (NEW)

Chunlan Cup: Sada beats Mi

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

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

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

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

Sumire’s progress (UPDATED)

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

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

Most successive wins (UPDATED)

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

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

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

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

Iyama awarded 60th Shusai Prize (NEW)

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

Okura Kishichiro Prizes (NEW)

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

Promotions (UPDATED)

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

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

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50 years aGO – March 1972

Sunday March 20, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

We start this month with a report from the former editor of Go World, author of Invincible and translator of many go books, John Power. If you go back to the team match photo from last month’s column, I only identified the first three boards. Power’s sharp eye offers that Board 4 was Horst Mueller of Austria, Board 5 was Stuart Dowsey “cofounder of Ishi Press and founder of the London Go Centre,” and Board 6 was William Pinckard whose book on go art is one my favorites. I myself recognized Dowsey, but did not want to make everyone squint, but I am happy to offer this addendum simply out of pride that Mr. Power takes the time to read my efforts.

Speaking of Stuart Dowsey, on March 10 Dowsey and Manfred Wimmer taught Max Euwe, the President of the World Chess Federation and former World Chess Champion, how to play go during a visit to the Nihon Ki’in.

March 19 saw the start of the the Amateur Best 10 tournament. James Davies 4d made it to the second round, while Wimmer 5d made it to the third.

Mr. Wimmer had a busy month, here we see him playing on NHK TV. His opponent is the female junior high champion, Endō Keiko. According to Go Review, Wimmer demonstrated his knowledge of the taisha jōseki on his way to a three and a half point win.

On March 22, Ishida Yoshio began his defense of his Asahi Pro Best Ten title. The challenger, Iwata Tatsuaki 9d, was not a frequent challenger for top titles. Indeed, responding to the surprise of the go world, Iwata responded “That’s right, it is indeed a fluke.” Iwata, known for calm courtesy, was perhaps being modest, you do not defeat fellow senior Kitani disciple Ōtake Hideo, Hashimoto Shōji, Sugiuchi Masao and Sakata Eio in succession and not be worthy. Still the challenge created an almost modern style pregame show with various pros opining as to who would win. Katō Masao 7d backed Ishida, while Kanō Yoshinori 9d (author of Graded Go Problems for Beginners) believed Iwata had a very good chance because of the similarity of their styles. Rin Kaihō diplomatically and prudently suggested that in his experience, the winner of the first game usually won. Ishida took the first game by a half a point, but Iwata leveled the match on March 28. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2.)

As of March 23, the former title holders were still holding on to the lead in the leagues. Rin was 5-0 in the Hon’inbo, and Fujisawa Shūkō was 3-0 in the Meijin. Ishida had bounced back from his poor start in the Meijin League to level his result at 2-2.

World Chess Federation President Max Euwe learns to play Go

Image 1 of 3

Game records courtesy of SmartGo, photos from Go Review

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Ichiriki one win away from becoming Kisei

Monday February 28, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

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

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

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

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

Iyama makes a sealed move

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

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

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

Monday February 28, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday February 27, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

Yo Seiki 8P

Yo to challenge for Judan

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

Ueno defends Women’s Kisei

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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