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The Power Report: Ida sets new record in Crown; China wins 23rd Agon Kiriyama Play-off; Iyama wins Ryusei title after life-and-death hallucination

Tuesday January 24, 2023

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ida sets new record in Crown

Ida Atsushi 9-dan

The Crown title is a regional title, open only to the members of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. The one-game final of the 63rd title was held on November 22. Ida Atsushi 9-dan (B) beat Mutsuura Yuta 7-dan by resignation. This was his seventh successive Crown title, a new record (though other players have won it more often). First prize is 1,700,000 yen.

China wins 23rd Agon Kiriyama Play-off

Li Qincheng 9-dan

The annual Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-off was held on the net on December 17. Li Qincheng 9-dan of China, who held white, beat Hirata Tomoya 7-dan of Japan by resignation. Actually, the Chinese go world has apparently been in a chaotic state because of covid-related restrictions, and there were repeated changes in the arrangements for this play-off. In the end, the Chinese managed to hold their Agon-Kiriyama Cup the day before this play-off (Li beat Xie Erhao 9-dan in the final). The chaos didn’t seem to affect Li’s play. 

Iyama wins Ryusei title after life-and-death hallucination

The final of the 31st Ryusei title was telecast on December 26. Iyama Yuta (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in by resignation after 111 moves. This is his fourth Ryusei title, but his first for ten years. Most title matches in 2022 featured at least one young player, but this was an exception: Iyama is 33 and Yuki 50. This is Iyama’s 71st title, so he is just four behind Cho Chikun. His pace has slowed considerably, so it no longer seems so certain that he will reach three digits.

There’s a strange story attached to this triumph, though. In his quarterfinal game with Kato Atsushi 9-dan, both Iyama and Kato hallucinated that one of Kato’s groups was dead when it could live with one move. As a life-and-death problem, it could easily be solved by an average amateur. Having assumed it was dead, neither player took another look at it. At the end of the game, Iyama took this group of six stones off the board and counted the score. He and Kato had agreed the game was over and the latter made no objection when the former took the group off the board (it needed another move to live). The result was a 3.5-point win for Iyama. Kato accepted this result, so there was no problem as far as the rules were concerned. Takao Shinji 9-dan, who did the commentary for the TV program, said that in 30 years as a professional he had never seen anything like it.

Iyama confided to Cho U, who later became the commentator for the final, that he was deeply upset by his oversight and felt that he had lost the trust of go fans. He told Cho that he was determined to win the final while playing a good game to regain the trust of fans.

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The Power Report: Ueno repeats as Young Carp champion; New members of the Meijin league; Meijin & Honinbo League updates

Monday January 23, 2023

Ueno Asami

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Ueno repeats as Young Carp champion

The main section (for the best 16) of the 17th Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp Tournament was held in the Central Japan Newspaper Headquarters Building on November 26 and 27. For the third year in a row it was won by a woman player and for the second year in a row that woman player was Ueno Asami. In the final, Ueno (W) defeated Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan by resignation. (The winner of the 15th Cup was Fujisawa Rina.)

This tournament is open to players 30 and younger and 7-dan and under. First prize is 3,000,000 yen.

New members of the Meijin league

The play-offs for the new seats in the 48th Meijin League were held on November 18. Cho U 9-dan (B) beat Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan by resignation. Cho, who has won the Meijin title five times, is making a return after missing two leagues. Fujita Akihiko 7-dan (W) beat  Kono Rin 9-dan by half a point. Sada Atsushi 7-dan beat Ida Atsushi 9-dan by resig. Both Fujita and Sada are making their debuts in the league.

48th Meijin League

The first round was completed during December. Results follow.

(Dec. 8) Cho U (B) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resignation.
(Dec. 15) Shida Tatsuya 7-dan (B) beat Fujita Akihiko by half a point.
(Dec. 19) Iyama Yuta (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9-dan by resignation.
(Dec. 24) Sada Atsushi (W) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by 2.5 points.

Honinbo League

The following games have been played since my last report.
(Nov. 7) Yo Seiki (B) beat Otake Yu 7-dan by 1.5 points.
(Nov. 10) Shibano Toramaru  (W) beat Fujita Akihiko by resig.
(Nov. 17) Kyo Kagen (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan by resig.
(Nov. 24) Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by resig.
(Dec. 8) Yo Seiki (W) beat Tsuruyama by resign. 
(Dec. 12) Shibano (B) beat Otake by resig.
(Dec. 15) Ichiriki (B) beat Kyo Kagen by resig.
(Dec. 22) Motoki (W) beat Fujita by resignation.

As of the end of 2022, Ichiriki, Yo, and Shibano were tied on 3-0. (In my previous report, I wrote that I would present the league this time, but a software malfunction prevents me from keeping my promise.)

Tomorrow: Ida sets new record in Crown; China wins 23rd Agon Kiriyama Play-off; Iyama wins Ryusei title after life-and-death hallucination

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The Power Report: Seki defends Tengen; Iyama defends Oza; Shibano wins 47th Kisei play-off

Sunday January 22, 2023

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Seki defends Tengen

48th Tengen; Ida vs. Seki (right)

The 48th Tengen title match started off with Black winning both games (see my report of October 24). There was a gap of over three weeks before the next game, which was played at the Hotel Marital Sosei Kurume in Kurume City, Fukuoka Prefecture, on November 14. Taking white, Ida Atsushi 9-dan, the challenger, beat Seki Kotaro Tengen by resignation after 202 moves. This gave Ida a 2-1 lead, so Seki’s grip on the title seemed to have been loosened.

The fourth game was played at the Hotel New Awaji in Sumoto City on the island of Awaji in Hyogo Prefecture. Seki (B) fought strongly and evened the series.

The final game was played at the Tokushima Grandvrio Hotel in Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku  (not far south of the venue for the fourth game) on December 15. Seki drew black when they redid the nigiri. The initial fighting seemed good for White, but when the dust settled, Seki had the lead. After that, however, he made a series of small mistakes, so the game became very close. At a crucial point in the endgame, Ida made a mistake, miscalculating the value of a move: he played a one-point move because he thought it was worth two points. That was his last chance to pull off an upset. Seki managed to hold on for a half-point win.

At 21 years zero months and 18 days of age, Seki set a new record for the youngest player to defend a top-seven title. (When Shibano Toramaru defended the Oza title in 2020, he was seven days older.)

Winning his second top-seven title earned Seki promotion to 9-dan.


Iyama defends Oza

Iyama Yuta made a good start in the 70th Oza title match, beating the challenger, Yo Seiki 8-dan of the Kansai Ki-in, in the first game, played on October 21, by the narrow margin of 1.5 points. The second game was played at the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto on November 11. The game featured a struggle between large groups, but it ended up even closer than the first game, with Iyama (B) winning by just half a point.

The third game was played at the Hotel Okura Kobe in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, on November 18. Like the first two games, this one was also very closely contested, but Yo (B) made a blunder while attacking a white group. He resigned after 180 moves.

Iyama thus defended his title with straight wins. He maintained his triple crown with the Honinbo and Gosei titles. This is also his 70th title. He commented that, what with losing the Kisei and Meijin titles, 2022 was not a great year for him, so he was relieved to have ended it with a success.

Shibano wins 47th Kisei play-off

The first game of the “best-of-three” play-off to decide the Kisei challenger was held on November 18. Taking black, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan, the winner of the A League, defeated Shibano Toramaru Meijin, the winner of the S League by resignation. However, the S League winner is gifted a win in this play-off, so Yamashita couldn’t afford to drop a game. The second game was played on November 21. Taking black, Shibano beat Yamashita by resignation, so he became the challenger. 

Incidentally, since the current Kisei tournament system came into effect in the 40th term, the S League winner has always become the challenger. (In this report, I am focusing on 2022, but I can reveal that Ichiriki Ryo Kisei won the first game of the title match.)

Tomorrow: New members of the Meijin league; Meijin & Honinbo League updates; Ueno repeats as Young Carp champion

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50 years aGO – January 1973

Sunday January 22, 2023

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Ceremonial game for the Uchizomeshiki at Nihon Ki'in
Ceremonial game for the Uchizomeshiki at Nihon Ki’in

We begin the New Year with the Uchizomeshiki, a ceremony held at the Nihon Ki’in in Ichigaya on January 5. The event, which Go Review compared to a “purification ceremony,” is an essential kick off for the tournament year. Pictured is a ceremonial game. Your editor recognizes some of the faces of the “old guard” of Japanese go at the time.

The action began promptly on January 7 with the Nihon Ki’in Championship. The title holder, Ōhira Shūzō 9d, entered the New Year one game down after losing Game One in December. Ōhira had dominated this title since winning it from Sakata Eio in 1966, winning it every year except one. However, faced once again with an in-form Sakata, Ōhira had to summon all his fighting strength to kill shinogi expert Sakata’s huge group to even the series in Game Two. (Game record: Game Two.) We see Sakata during the third game on January 16, once again going ahead. (Game record: Game Three.) Finally, Sakata ended his eight year drought in this title on January 25-26 by a 3-1 score. (Game record: Game Four.)

As of January 10, we note that Ishida Hon’inbo was leading the Meijin League with a 2-0 record.

On January 11, Ōtake Hideo 9d began his defense of the All Japan 1st Place Tournament which he had defended five times in a row. Here we see him react to the confident play of Kajiwara Takeo. He sorted out the problem and won this first game. (Game record: Ōtake vs. Kajiwara.)

On the same day, Takagi Shōichi 7d defeated Takagawa to win the “losers bracket” and went on to defeat Rin Meijin for the right to challenge Sakata for the Jūdan title. Pictured during the match against Takagawa, Takagi was the author of Beyond Forcing Moves and attended the 1993 U.S. Go Congress. (Game records: Takagi vs. Takagawa, Takagi vs. Rin.)

Sakata was presented with the 9th Shūsai Prize as the past year’s outstanding player on January 16. With the Meijin and Hon’inbo titles divided between Rin and Ishida, Sakata’s dominance of the lesser titles made him a unanimous choice for the third time.

Finally, on January 26, Honda Sachiko 4d defeated Kitani Reiko two straight in the Ladies’ Hon’inbo Title. (Game record: Honda vs. Kitani.)

Takagi vs. Takagawa in the Jūdan

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Photos from Go Review, game records from SmartGoOne

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50 years aGO – December 1972

Sunday December 18, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

The month began with the 4th Bled International Go Masters event in Yugoslavia (now Slovenia) on December 1-3. The undefeated winner was a Japanese visitor, a Mr. Takahashi. Second was Mr. Merrissert of France on five wins.

On December 20, challenger Honda Sachiko 4d defeated Kitani Reiko 6d to take a one game lead in the Ladies’ Hon’inbo title. (Game record available here.)

Sakata Eio continues his domination of the smaller titles with a victory over Hashimoto Utarō in the Ōza title on December 14, winning the 3 game series 2-1. (Game record available here.)

Ōhira Shūzō 9d (author of the Ishi Press Classic Appreciating Famous Games) defeated Yamabe Toshirō 9d for the right to challenge Sakata in the Nihon Ki’in Championship. The first game was held on December 20-21. Sakata won by resignation. (Game record available here.)

2022.12.10_19721214_oza

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Photos courtesy of Go Review, game records from SmartGoOne.

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50 Years aGO – November 1972

Monday November 28, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

On November 5, Takao Matsuda, once again, secured the title of U.S. Hon’inbo, winning the telephone match by a half a point over Shigeo Matsubara. Matsuda had never lost this tournament since it began in 1968.

Hashimoto Utarō challenged Sakata Eio for the Ōza title. Sakata won the first game on November 16, but Hashimoto evened the score on November 30. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2.)

The 33rd Anniversary of Shūsai Meijin’s death was memorialized with an exhibition match between Rin Kaihō Meijin and Ishida Yoshio Hon’inbo. Over 2,000 people watched the match. We also share this casual picture of the two men at the top of the Japanese go world.

We lack specific dates on some other events. First, Bruno Rüger passed away in mid November (according to Go Review; Sensei’s Library states September 24). Born in 1886, Rüger (pictured) was one of the leading proponents of go in Germany. He founded the “German Go News” in 1920, and went on to write at least 10 books on the game. He received, along with Edward Lasker, the prestigious Ōkura Prize. Sadly, he passed before he could receive his nidan diploma from the Nihon Ki’in.

Two “Gaijin” leagues took place in Japan. James Davies won the Gaijin Hon’inbo at 6-0, while Manfred Wimmer won the Gaijin Meijin with a 7-0 record. Other members of both leagues were Stuart Dowsey, Horst Müller, Richard Bozulich, William Pinckard and Mark Hall.

Finally, a family match was resumed in New York. Robert Ryder 5d and his son Jonathan Ryder 2d played Mitsuo Horiguchi and his son Tsuneo for the 4th time in their rivalry. The Ryders prevailed to even the series at 2-2. Robert Ryder was a president of the American Go Association and one of the first Western 5 dan players. Horiguchi was the long time manager of the New York Go Club. Here is a picture from the early 1980s of Ryder playing a game at a crowded New York Go Club, with Mr. Horiguchi looking on.

Ishida and Rin

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Photos courtesy of Go Review and Keith Arnold, game records from SmartGoOne

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INAF announces new professional lecture videos

Monday November 21, 2022

Video stills: top: Takemiya Masaki 9p; bottom right: Cho Zuiketsu 5p; bottom left: Tajiri Yuto 5p

The Iwamoto North American Go Foundation (INAF) has just released three videos produced in cooperation with the Nihon Kiin. The first is a lecture by Takemiya Masaki 9p on his choice of the “best selection of cosmic-style game”. He gives detailed commentary of the game between himself and Cho Chikun to decide the 1988 Kisei challenger.

The second video introduces several modern “AI style Josekis” in a lecture by Cho Zuiketsu 5p. These new moves are analyzed in detail using actual games between Cho and other pros as examples, “including a very clever ladder-blocker that you don’t want to miss!” says INAF’s Thomas Hsiang. Cho should be familiar to the western players as he was dispatched by the Nihon Kiin to the Seattle Go Center in 2018 and to Europe in 2019.

The third video is given by Tajiri Yuto 5p on “how to use thickness for kyu players”. Tajiri visited the US Go Congress and the Seattle Go Center in 2019 and was a popular lecturer for the kyu players. In this lecture he discusses how to build and use thickness, an important topic as one moves from the kyu to dan ranks.

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The Power Report: Yoda suspended by the Nihon Ki-in; Most wins; Best winning streaks; Winning streaks recently ended; Retirements

Thursday November 17, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal


Yoda suspended by the Nihon Ki-in

This is not a matter one wants to get involved in, the reason being that, with the paucity of information available, it’s not possible for an outsider to make any meaningful judgment, but I can give some details. My report on the Masters Cup published on August 23, 2019, gives the bare bones of the dispute. More details are given in my report of February 22, 2020. The Nihon Ki-in board of directors suspended Yoda from play for six months. At the time, he missed some games, but when Yoda launched a legal appeal against the ruling, making the matter sub judice, the Nihon Ki-in reinstalled him until the court case was finished. The court gave its decision on October 14 and found in favor of the Nihon Ki-in, which announced that Yoda had been suspended for six months, from October 15 to March 16 next year. When he turned up at the Ki-in to play a game the next day, a director blocked his way to the playing room and he was informed in person of the ban. Yoda had won a seat in the Samsung Cup in the Japanese domestic qualifying tournament, but had to give this up. Nakamura Sumire was selected to replace him.


Most wins
 (as of Nov. 4)

Ida wins 2nd Tengen game

1. Ueno Asami Women’s Hollyhock: 43-20

2. Nakamura Sumire 3-dan: 42-20

3. Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo: 41-15

4. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 36-10; Nyu Eiko Senko Cup: 36-18; Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 36-21

7. Otake Yu 7-dan: 33-12; Ida Atsushi 9-dan: 33-14

9. Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 32-22

10. Shibano Toramaru Meijin: 31-16

(This week Go Weekly listed only the top six. 7th to 10th are my best guesses.)

Best winning streaks

7: Cho U 9-dan, Kono Rin 9-dan

6: Kobayashi Izumi 7-dan, Nishioka Masao 3-dan,

Winning streaks recently ended

10: Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan

9: Rin Kanketsu 8-dan

8: Motoki Katsuya 8-dan, Sakai Yuki 3-dan

7: Shida Tatsuya 8-dan, Muramatsu Daiki 6-dan, 

6: Akiyama Jiro 9-dan, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan

5: Iyama Yuta Honinbo, Ogaki Yusaku 9-dan, Kono Takashi 8-dan, Anzai Nobuaki 8-dan, Konishi Yoshiakira 1-dan, Takao Shinji 9-dan 

Retirement

Makihata Taeko 5-dan retired as of November 5. She was born in Tokyo on February 9, 1980. She became 1-dan in 1997 and reached 4-dan in 2014. She was promoted on 5-dan after retiring. 

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The Power Report: Honinbo League; Women’s Meijin League; Sumire’s progress; Reo loses first game; Record win?

Wednesday November 16, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal


Honinbo League

As I reported on October 25, the 78th Honinbo League got off to a start on October 3 when Yo Seiki beat Fujita Akihiko. 

(Oct. 20) Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by 1.5 points.

(Oct. 24) Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Otake Yu 7-dan by resig. 

That completes the first round. I will give the league chart in my next report.

Women’s Meijin League

Kobayashi Izumi, a newcomer to the league, and Nakamura Sumire, the previous challenger, have both made good starts. Results to date:

Kobayashi Izumi 7-dan (B) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan by 7.5 points.

(Oct. 27) Nakamura Sumire 3-dan (W) beat Xie Yimin

Sumire’s progress

Nakamura Sumire’s results for the year so far are 42-20 (see “Most Wins” item below). Her overall results as a pro are 123 wins to 62 losses, so she has won a fraction under two thirds of her games.

(Oct. 17) Sumire (W) lost to Xie Yimin 7-dan by 2.5 points (Prelim. B、71st Oza).

(Oct. 20) Sumire (B) beat Tsukuda Akiko 6-dan by resig. (main tournament, 26th Women’s Kisei).

(Oct. 27) Sumire beat Xie Yimin – see Women’s Meijin League article above.

(Oct. 28) Sumire beat Kwon Hyojin – see Samsung article above.

Reo loses first game

Fujita Reo 1-dan, who set a new record by becoming professional 1-dan at nine years four months, played his first official game on October 25. His opponent was a fellow member of the Kansai Ki-in, Watanabe Koki 4-dan and the game was in the first round of the King of the New Stars preliminary. Taking white, Reo lost by resignation. His play was perhaps a little too reckless; his more experienced opponent was able to take charge of the game. 

Record win?

On October 17, Sugiuchi Kazuko 8-dan (W) beat Koda Akiko 4-dan by resig. in the preliminary round of the 10th Women’s Hollyhock Cup. She was born on March 6, 1927, so that makes her age 95 years eight months. Her husband, Masao 9-dan, played his last game at the age of 97. He holds the record for the oldest professional to win a game: 96 years 10 months. His wife is surely the oldest woman professional to win a game.

Tomorrow: Yoda suspended by the Nihon Ki-in; Most wins; Best winning streaks; Winning streaks recently ended; Retirements

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The Power Report: Fujisawa defends Women’s Honinbo; Iyama makes good start in Oza; Kisei challenger: Shibano or Yamashita; Tsuruyama wins first title

Monday November 14, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Fujisawa defends Women’s Honinbo

Rina (R) defends Women’s Honinbo

Fujisawa Rina v. Ueno Asami is the top pairing in women’s go in Japan, but recently Fujisawa seems to have the edge over her closest rival. In the 41st Women’s Honinbo title match, she rebuffed Ueno’s challenge with three straight wins. This gave her her third Women’s Honinbo title in a row and her sixth overall. Fujisawa tally of titles has now reached, so she is getting closer to the record, Xie Yimin’s 27. At her present pace, two years should do it.

(Game 1)  Fujisawa (B) won by resig. (included in our previous report).
Game 2 (Oct. 23). Fujisawa (W) won by resig.
Game 3 (Nov. 4). Fujisawa (B) won by half a point.

Iyama makes good start in Oza

The first game in the 70th Oza title match was played at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on October 21. Iyama Yuta, the defending champion, drew white in the nigiri. Both players played an innovative opening that led to fierce fighting. Iyama followed a tenuki (not answering the opponent’s move) strategy in the opening. He had three stones in the top left. Black made two moves threatening these stones, but Iyama ignored them. Only when Black attacked a third time did he add a stone. His group was very thin, yet later Iyama made yet another tenuki. Despite this, he managed to secure a slight edge in the middle-game fighting and nursed his lead into a 1.5-point win.

Just for the record, the time allowance is three hours per player and play begins at 10 o’clock. Lunch is taken from 12 to one. If Iyama wins, it will be his landmark 70th title.

Kisei challenger: Shibano or Yamashita

Only one game has been played in the Kisei knockout since our previous report (October 24). On October 27, Yamashita Keigo, the winner of the A League, (B) beat Takao Shinji 9-dan, second in the S League, by resig. Yamashita will meet Shibano in the “best-of-three” playoff to decide the challenger, but Shibano is gifted one win, so one win will make him the challenger. 

Tsuruyama wins first title

Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan is an unusual example these days of a player achieving more success around 40 than around 20 (he was born on August 21, 1981). First of all, he gained seats in two Honinbo Leagues; now he has won his first title, the 5th SGW Golden Mean Cup. Actually, this is not a title a young player could win, as it is for Nihon Ki-in players from 31 to 60 who haven’t won a major title. In the final, he defeated Anzai Nobuaki 8-dan (aged 37); playing white, he won by resignation after 222 moves. This tournament uses the NHK format: 30 seconds per move, plus ten minutes to be used at will in one-minute units. It starts out with 16 mini-tournaments, each with eight players (actually, one of them had only seven, as the total number of players taking part was 127—one player was seeded into second round). Three successive wins earn you a seat in the main tournament, which is a 16-player modified Swiss; the two players with three wins after three rounds meet in the “final”, which is part of the fourth round. That means that you have to win seven games in a row to win first place.  First prize is ¥2,000,000 ($13,640 at $1 = ¥146.62). Winners cannot take part again. Incidentally, Tsururyama is the only player to have played in all five main tournaments.

Tomorrow: Women’s Meijin League; Sumire’s progress; Reo loses first game; Record win?

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