American Go E-Journal » Japan

AGA IVP Thomas Hsiang awarded Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation

Tuesday December 1, 2020

Hsiang with former IGF Secretary General Yuki Shigeno.

Thomas Hsiang has been selected to receive a 2020 Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation, after being recommended by the Nihon Ki-in for his dedication to the promotion of Go worldwide. The Commendations are awarded to “individuals and groups with outstanding achievements in international fields, in order to acknowledge their contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries and areas.” Hsiang is the American Go Association’s longtime International Vice President, as well as the IGF Vice President since 2008. Among his most notable achievements are the organization of a number of international mind-sport events, including the World Mind Sport Games, and the establishment of the Iwamoto North American Foundation.

“I am honored” by the award, Hsiang said, adding that “The culture of Go has enriched the world civilization as a whole since its introduction from Japan to the West over a century ago. In recent years, Go and other mind sports are further shown to benefit the cognitive development of the youth and the cognitive maintenance of the senior citizenry. Promoting Go has thus taken on new significances beyond just being a great pastime.”

Hsiang noted that “My own contribution to this development has focused on promoting collaborations between the international Go organizations and on advancing Go as a member of the mind-sport family. The success that I have enjoyed was made possible with the great help from my friends and colleagues at the Nihon Kiin, to whom I owe a deep gratitude.”

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Michael Redmond 9P joins Osaka Go School teachers

Friday November 13, 2020

After two months of successful operation, the Osaka Go School staff is excited to welcome new teacher Michael Redmond 9P, who joined the school in November. The Osaka Go School opened in September with 25 students, including 10 American players. Redmond joins teachers Ryo Maeda 6P, Francis Meyer 1P, and Ting Li 1P of the Kansai-Kiin. “Mr. Redmond will play special teaching games every month,” reports Ryo Maeda 6P, who founded the school and is one of the primary organizers. The school offers players teaching games, game reviews, and professional lectures all online every month, giving players a chance to continue to study and have fun with Go during a time when much activity is restricted due to COVID-19. Mr. Maeda invites all interested players to the International Osaka Go School website for more information. “Please come join us!”

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Categories: Japan,Main Page,World
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Osaka Go School opens with wide range of skill levels

Wednesday September 16, 2020

Ryo Maeda 6P reports that his new online Osaka Go School has opened with 25 students, 10 of whom are Americans, with levels ranging from 15k to 6d. “I hope to have more students in the future!” says Maeda. “Our setup allows even busy people to participate.” The once-per-week league games are flexible, and allow the opponents to collectively decide date and time. Teachers at the school are Maeda himself, Ting Li 1P, and Francis Meyer 1P. Visit the Osaka Go School website for more information and to register.

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The Power Report: Kataoka wins 1100 games; Sumire’s progress

Thursday August 27, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kataoka wins 1100 games
A win former titleholder Kataoka Satoshi 9P picked up on July 23 was his 1100th in the 48 years three months of his career (12th fastest). He is the 16th player to reach this mark and the 14th at the Nihon Ki-in. The landmark win came against Fujisawa Kazunari 8P in Preliminary B of the 46th Gosei tournament. His 1000th win came against the same opponent. He has suffered 598 losses and had 4 jigo, giving him a winning percentage of 64.8, which is ninth best.

Sumire’s progress
In my previous report (Aug. 4), I reported on the start of “Sumire’s Oro Challenge,” four three-game matches with Korean players arranged by the Cyber Oro, server, which runs the Nihon Ki-in’s home page. Things started badly when Sumire was unable to pick up a win against Korea’s number two woman player Kim Chaeyoung. However, taking black, she won the second game in her series with Suh (also spelled Seo) Neung-uk 9P. Taking black, she won by 3.5 points. This is no mean achievement, as Suh (aged 62) is no journeyman 9-dan; unfortunately for him, when he was at his peak, Korean go was dominated by Cho Hunhyun and Suh Bongso; he took second place in 13 tournaments. The games with Sumire were played on July 17 and 18. Suh had the lead in the second game, but Sumire pulled off an upset. Sumire had the lead in the third game, but this time she was the one to suffer an upset.

Today (writing on August 16), brief details of the remaining two matches were finally published (the go press shuts down for O-bon in midsummer; this is a kind of All Souls’ Day; dead relatives are said to return to visit their relatives; in an ordinary year, millions of people would return to their ancestral homes and visit the family graveyard). The report is very brief: Sumire lost 0-3 to Suh Bongsu, but picked up a win against Jeong Yujin 1P.

The final result was one-sided, but, as usual with these special projects, Sumire was ridiculously outmatched. In that context, she deserves to be commended for her win against the 9-dan. Playing the legendary Suh Bongsu is also an honour shared by none of her contemporaries in Japan. Incidentally, Sumire has now played nine games against five 9-dans and won two of them. Just to recap: besides the games described above, she beat Baba Shigeru 9P on November 28 last year, lost to Hane Yasumasa 9P on January 16 this year, and lost to Sakaguchi Ryuzo 9P on February 24 this year.

A Sumire brand has appeared. A major sauce manufacturer created “Sumire-chan’s Barbecued Meat Sauce” (“chan” in an affectionate title used for young children) and distributed it free to participants in a go festival held at the Umeda Go Club in Osaka on July 19, 26, August 2 and 9. It was also sold for 300 yen a bottle. As far as I know, it is not being generally distributed.

Promotion
To 6-dan: Kawai Shoji (90 wins)

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The Power Report: Moon wins Globis Cup; Takei wins Discovery Cup; Kisei S League; Ichiriki wins 45th Gosei

Wednesday August 26, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Moon wins Globis Cup
The 7th Globis Cup, an international tournament for players under 20, was originally scheduled for May 8 to 10, but was delayed by the virus. It was finally held on the net on August 1 and 2. The winner was the 17-year-old Moon Minjeong 2P of Korea. In the semifinals, he beat Liao Yuanhe 8P of China. The final was played on the afternoon of the second day; taking white, Moon beat Li Weijing 8P by resig. First prize is 3 million yen (about $28,150).

Takei wins Discovery Cup
The Discovery Cup is a new tournament for players and inseis at the Nihon Ki-in and the Kansai Ki-in 18 or under and 2-dan or under. After a Net preliminary round, the top eight faced off in a three-round Swiss tournament held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 11. No inseis or women players made the cut. Takei Taishin 1P scored three wins in a row and took the prize of 200,000 yen ($1,876).

Kisei S League
The contest has heated up in the 45th Kisei S League, with four players on 2-1. Kyo Kagen, who had made the best start, stumbled in the third round. Results since my previous report follow. For the record, Yamashita Keigo 9P and Yo Seiki 8P, both on 4-1, share the lead in the A League. Recent results:
(July 20). Murakawa Daisuke 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(July 30) Ichiriki (W beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(August 3) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Kyo Kagen 8P by resig.

Ichiriki wins 45th Gosei
Ichiriki Ryo 8P had nine titles but so far no top-seven ones. That changed with his 3-0 victory over Hane Naoki in the 45th Gosei title match. The result of the first game was given in my previous report. The second game was played at the Central Japan headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on August 3 but being on home ground didn’t help Hane. Playing black, Ichiriki won by resignation. The third game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 14. This was Hane’s 44th birthday, but fate was not kind to him. Playing white, Ichiriki forced a resignation after 160 moves. On his sixth top-seven title challenge (the others were all to Iyama Yuta), he was finally successful, and, as luck would have it, his first title was one of which his family’s newspaper is a co-sponsor. With his 10th title, Ichiriki is already 24th in the all-time title standings in Japan.

Tomorrow: Kataoka wins 1100 games; Sumire’s progress

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The Power Report: 13th Chunlan Cup; Fujisawa defends Hollyhock Cup; Iyama to challenge for Meijin

Tuesday August 25, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

13th Chunlan Cup
The Chunlan (literally, Spring Orchid) Cup is a Chinese-sponsored international tournament that is held every two years. First prize is $150,000, and the current titleholder is Park Junghwan of Korea. Like many other tournaments, it was postponed because of Covid-19, but the two opening rounds were finally held on the net at the end of July. As usual, the best eight were mainly Korean (four) and Chinese (three) players, but this year a new star from Chinese Taipei, Hsu Hao Hung (Xu Haohong in Pinyin) 6P, wedged into their ranks. He has already beaten two Chinese former world champions, and in the quarterfinals, presumably to be played at the end of the year, he will be matched against the Chinese number one. Hsu was born on April 30, 2001, and became 1-dan in 2013. Results follow. 

Round 1 (July 29) Murakawa Daisuke 9P (Japan) (B) beat Ryan Li 1P (US) by resig.; Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 8P (Japan) (B) beat Ilya Shikshin 3P (Russia) (by resig.); Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan by resig.); Lian Xiao 9P (China) (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 9P (Japan) by resig.; Kang Dongyun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P (Japan) by resig.; Byun Sangil 9P (Korea) (W) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by resig.; Xu Jiayang 8P (China) (W) beat Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) by resig.; Hsu Hao Hung (Ch. Taipei) (W) beat Shi Yue 9P (China) by resig.

Round 2 (July 31) Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Kang by resig.; Tang Weixing (W) beat Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) by resig.; Lian (W) beat Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) by resig.; Byun (W) beat Yang Dingxin 9P (China) by resig.; Shin (W) beat Xu by resig.; Hsu (B) beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by resig.; Fan Yuting 9P (China) (B) beat Murakawa by resig.; Park Yeonghun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Yo by resig.

Quarterfinal pairings) Ke vs. Hsu, Tang vs. Park, Lian vs. Byun, Fan vs. Shin.

Fujisawa defends Hollyhock Cup
The main point of interest in the 7th Hollyhock Cup was whether the veteran player Suzuki Ayumi 7P (aged 36), who has won three women’s titles, could make a comeback. She met with doughty resistance from the titleholder Fujisawa Rina (aged 21), so the answer is, not this year. What with the truncated schedule of these matches that have been delayed by Covid-19, everything was over in a flash, giving the challenger little time to enjoy the exhilaration of fighting in a title match. The first and second games were played at the Nihon Ki-in on July 27 and 29. In the first game, Fujisawa took white and won by half a point after 259 moves. This was a painful loss for Suzuki, as she miscounted and had thought she was winning. There was just one day’s rest before the second game, which is not much time to recover from a half-point loss. It was played at the same venue. Taking black, Fujisawa won by 8.5 points. She won this title for the fourth year in a row and the fifth time overall; it is her 13th women’s title (second to Xie Yimin on 27).

Iyama to challenge for Meijin
It’s the practice to play all the games in the final round of the Meijin title on the same day, unlike the other rounds, to add to the drama. Go journalists originally dubbed this “the go world’s longest day,” playing off a famous movie called “Japan’s Longest Day,” which dealt with the infighting within the government about how and when to surrender, following the dropping of the atom bombs in early August in 1945. This year, perhaps influenced by global warming, “Go Weekly” referred to the day of the final round as “Japan’s hottest day.” It was a day of tension not only for the players competing for the challengership but also the players struggling to keep their seats in the league. A league seat is more valuable in games fees that some of the minor titles.

Ominous note for Shibano Meijin: Iyama has challenged for and won the Meijin title twice previously, and each time he won the league 8-0. Results since my last report follow. The title match will start on August 25
(July 23) Rin Kanketsu 8p (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke by 1.5 points.
(July 27) Iyama Kisei (W) beat Cho U 9P by half a point.
(Final round, (Aug. 6) Hane Naoki Gosei (B) beat Cho U 9P by resig.; Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Kyo Kagen 8P by resig.; Iyama Yuta Kisei (B) beat Rin Kanketsu 8P by resig.; Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 9P by resig.

One comment: Yamashita was having a horrible time before the virus shutdown, having lost all his games so far in the Honinbo and Meijin Leagues, so Covid-19 has not spoilt things for everybody. In the former league, you can lose your place with 4-3 but retain it in the latter with 3-5 (on top of which it pays more).

Tomorrow: Moon wins Globis Cup; Takei wins Discovery Cup; Kisei S League; Ichiriki wins 45th Gosei

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International Osaka Go School to open in September

Friday August 14, 2020

After the popular Osaka Go Camp was cancelled for the 2020 year due to COVID-19, organizer Maeda Ryo 6P has decided to organize and open a new online Go school for players of all levels. The International Osaka Go School will allow members to play four reviewed league games amongst each other, play one teaching game with a professional, and attend two lectures per month. Teachers include Maeda Ryo 6P, Francis Meyer 1P, and Ting Li 1P of the Kansai-Kiin. Interested players should visit the International Osaka Go School’s website for more details and to sign up. Any players who sign up for two full months of the school will be eligible for a discount of 10000JPY off of registration for the next Osaka Go Camp, to be held during the summer of 2021.

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Categories: Japan,Main Page,World
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The Power Report: Iyama defends Honinbo; Ichiriki makes good start in Gosei; League updates; Sumire’s winning streak ends; More tournaments rescheduled

Tuesday August 4, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Honinbo, matches Takagawa: The fifth game of the 75th Honinbo title match was held at the Todaya hotel in Toba City, Mie Prefecture, on July 8 and 9. Taking white, Honinbo Monyu, aka Iyama Yuta, won by 4.5 points after 243 moves. Shibano did not seem to make any big mistakes, but Iyama took the lead in territory. With move 116, Iyama went for more territory instead of strengthening his only weak group. He staked the game on being able to look after it and was successful. Iyama defended his title with four wins to one loss. This is his ninth successive Honinbo title, so he has matched the record of 22nd Honinbo Shukaku (Takagawa Kaku), who held the title from 1952 to 1960. Next year he will have a chance to draw even with 25th Honinbo Chikun (Cho Chikun), who won the title for ten years in a row. 

45th Meijin League: Ichiriki Ryo, now on 6-1, has maintained the pressure on Iyama Yuta by winning his July game. Iyama is on 6-0 and faces Cho U in this round. Results since my last report follow.
(July 6) Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Hane Naoki Gosei by resig.
(July 9) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points.

S League: With two out of three second-round games played in the 45th Kisei S League, Kyo Kagen 8P has the provisional lead on 2-0. Cho U, on 0-2, is in trouble. Just one game has been played since my last report. On July 13, Kyo Kagen (W) beat Cho U by resig.

Sumire’s winning streak ends: “Streak” is perhaps an exaggeration. Nakamura Sumire 1P won her first three games after the resumption of professional go last month, with one of the wins earning her one of the 16 seats in the main tournament of the 5th Senko Cup. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw pitted her against Ueno Asami, holder of the Women’s Honinbo title, who is one of the top two women players in Japan at present. Taking white, Ueno won by resignation after 164 moves. This was Sumire’s first game with a current titleholder. Her record for the year is now 10-11. As there was no title-match game last week, this game adorned the front page of Go Weekly.     The Korean server Cyber Oro, which runs the Nihon Ki-in’s server, has organized a series of Net games, called “Sumire’s Oro Challenge,” among Sumire and four Korean players. She plays each player three times, so it’s quite a large-scale project. The games are fast games, with a time allowance of 10 minutes per player plus byo-yomi of 40 seconds x 3. The first opponent was Korea’s number two woman player Kim Chaeyoung 6P; the first game was played on July 10 and the next two the following day. Not surprisingly, Kim won 3-0. The second opponent was Seo Neung-uk 9P; the games were played on July 17 and 18, but I don’t have the results yet. The third opponent is the legendary Suh Bongsu 9P, with the games to be played on July 24 and 25. The fourth player is Jeong Yujin 1P, and the games are scheduled for July 31 and August 1. I would have chosen four Korean female 1-dans for a series like this, but you could say that Sumire has been lucky to get to play so many top players. We know from the invitational games organized last year that losses to top-level opposition don’t discourage her.

Ichiriki makes good start in 45th Gosei challenge: Ichiriki Ryo 8P is making his fourth challenge for a top-seven title, after three failures against Iyama Yuta. In the case of the Gosei title, he has the added incentive that his family’s newspaper, the Hokkoku (North Country) Newspaper, which is based in Sendai, is a member of the Newspaper Igo League that sponsors the tournament. Since graduating from university, he has been working in the Tokyo office of the newspaper, so conceivably he could also report on his own performance. The defending titleholder is Hane Naoki 9P, who beat Ichiriki in the play-off to decide the challenger last year. He beat Kyo Kagen in the title match, winning his first title since winning the Gosei title in 2011. He is aged 43 to Ichiriki’s 23. The first game was played at the Hokkoku Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on July 18. Taking white, Ichiriki won by 1.5 points after 261 moves. The second game will be played on August 3.

More tournaments rescheduled: The 7th Hollyhock Cup title match, in which Suzuki Ayumi, Women’s Kisei, is challenging Fujisawa Rina, will be played at the Nihon Ki-in on July 27, 29, and, if necessary, 31.
The 7th Globis Cup was originally scheduled for May 8 to 10 this year, but it was another of the victims of Covid-19. It is now scheduled to be played on the Net on August 1 and 2.
The opening rounds of the 13th Chunlan Cup were supposed to be played in February, but this Chinese-sponsored international tournament was one of the first casualties of Covid-19. It has finally been decided to play the games on the Net, with Round 1 slated for July 29 and Round 2 July 31. Both Iyama and Shibano will play in this tournament.

Promotion: To 9-dan: Arimura Hiroshi (200 wins, as of July 7)

Retirement: Ms. Furusho Katsuko 2P has retired as of July 8, which is her birthday. Born in Tokyo in 1943, she became a disciple of Nakaoka Jiro 9P. She became 1-dan in 1969 and was promoted to 2-dan in 2005. She was promoted to 3-dan after her retirement.

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The Power Report: Shibano starts fightback in Honinbo; S & Meijin League reports; Fourth-generation player loses first game

Tuesday July 7, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano starts fightback in Honinbo

The fourth game of the 75th Honinbo title match was played at the Imai Villa, Kawatsu Town, Shizuoka Prefecture on June 30 and July 1. For the challenger, Shibano Toramaru Meijin (photo), it was his first kadoban, that is, a game that can lose a series. With Shibano having won the Judan title two days after the third Honinbo game, this game became a clash between two triple crowns: Iyama Kisei, Honinbo & Tengen vs. Shibano Meijin, Oza & Judan. Go Weekly didn’t mention if this was the first such pairing.

In this game, Shibano, who played white, followed a consistent policy of making strong groups so that he would not come under attack. Iyama was able to build a moyo and seemed to take a small lead (according to AI), but Shibano used his thickness to stage an upset late in the middle game. Black resigned after 166 moves. The fifth game will be played on July 8 and 9.

S League

An important game in the second round of the 45th Kisei S League was played on July 2. Taking white, Takao Shinji 9P beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig. Having reached the play-off to decide the challenger in the previous tournament, Ichiriki was considered one of the favorites, but it’s hard to recover from an early setback in a small league (just five rounds).

Meijin League

One game in the 45th Meijin League was played last week. On June 30, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig.

Fourth-generation player loses first game

Nakamura Sumire is not the only young female player who is attracting attention from the go media. Cho Kosumi 1P (photo), the daughter of Cho U 9P and Kobayashi Izumi 6P, who in turn is the daughter of Kobayashi Koichi 9P and Kobayashi (Kitani) Reiko 7P, who was the daughter of Kitani Minoru 9P, made her debut as a professional in April, but didn’t get to play her first official game until July 6. Playing black, she lost to Seki Kotaro 3P in Preliminary B of the 30th Ryusei tournament. She resigned after 148 moves. Incidentally, a reporter asked Kosumi if she was thinking of her father in choosing her navy-blue shirt and she answered, yes. Cho U is fond of black and navy-blue clothing; maybe Kosumi will make it a family tradition.

Promotions

To 8-dan: Mizuma Toshifumi (150 wins, as of July 3)
To 5-dan: Ms. Osawa Narumi (70 wins, as of July 3)

Obituary: Sakai Isao

Sakai Isao 7P died on June 3. He was born on July 9, 1939, and became a disciple of his father, Sakai Michiharu 9P (three of whose brothers were also professionals in Nagoya). He qualified for 1-dan at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in in 1961, reached 6-dan in 1983 and was promoted to 7-dan after his retirement in 2005.

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The Power Report: Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei; Tournaments canceled; Retirement: Honda Kunihisa

Wednesday July 1, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki to challenge for Gosei

   The play-off to decide the challenger for the 45th Gosei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on June 29. Taking white, Ichiriki Ryo 8P beat Cho U 9P by 4.5 points, so he will make his first Gosei challenge. The first game with Hane Naoki Gosei will be played on July 18.

Tournaments canceled

   The Nihon Ki-in has announced that two Japanese-sponsored international tournament have been cancelled for this year. They are the World Go Championship 2020 and the Senko Cup World Go Women’s Strongest Player 2020. These tournaments had already been postponed and it had been hoped to hold them in the autumn, but that came to look less and less feasible. 

Retirement: Honda Kunihisa

   Honda Kunihisa 9P of the Kansai Ki-in retired as of June 15, which was his 75th birthday. Born in Ishikawa Prefecture, he became a disciple of Hashimoto Utaro 9P and qualified for 1-dan in 1961. He reached 9-dan in 1973. Back in the late Showa period (1926-89), he was one of the mainstays of the Kansai Ki-in. He was also known as probably the least talkative player in the go world. He won the rating tournament four times, the Kansai Ki-in No. One Position tournament four times, and the 31st NHK Cup in 1984. He played in the Kisei leagues three times, the Meijin League seven times, and the Honinbo League once. He also won a number of Kansai Ki-in prizes.

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