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The Power Report: Shibano to challenge for Meijin title; Kyo becomes Tengen challenger; 6th Kuksu Mountains Cup

Saturday August 24, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano to challenge for Meijin title: The final round of the 44th Meijin League was held in Tokyo and Osaka on August 1. All of the games were important to the players playing them, either for winning the league or retaining their places. Three players were in the running to be the challenger: Iyama Yuta, Shibano Toramaru, and Kono Rin. They were not playing each other, so a three-way tie was possible, but only the two higher-ranked players would qualify for a play-off. This meant that Iyama and Shibano had an advantage, but Iyama lost his final game while Shibano and Kono won, so these two made the play-off. Results of games played since my last report are given below.

   The play-off between Shibano and Kono was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 8. Taking black, Shibano won by half a point after 202 moves; he took revenge for losing the Honinbo play-off to Kono earlier this year. He will be making his first challenge for a top-seven title. Without intending any disrespect to Kono, it’s safe to say that the Japanese go public has been eagerly awaiting Shibano’s title-match debut. When the best-of-seven starts, on August 27, he will be 19 years nine months old, making him the second-youngest challenger ever for the Meijin title (Iyama holds the record of 19 years three months). Shibano took four years 11 months from the start of his career to make this challenge, the quickest for any top-seven challenger (previous record was held by the late Kato Masao, who challenged for the Honinbo title five years after becoming a pro. Becoming the challenger for a top-three title earned Shibano an automatic promotion to 8-dan, effective the following day. He is the fastest to reach this mark.

(July 4) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Suzuki Shinji 7P by 2.5 points.
(July 11) Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Mutsuura Yuta 7P (W) beat Son Makoto 7P by resig.
(July 18) Iyama (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(August 1) Hane (B) beat Iyama by resig.; Kono (W) beat Yamashita by 3.5 points; Shibano (B) beat Suzuki by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke Judan (W) beat Son by resig.

Kyo becomes Tengen challenger: The play-off to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta for the 45th Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 15. Taking black, Kyo Kagen Gosei beat Sada Atsushi 4-dan (Kansai Ki-in) by resignation. Kyo’s form has picked up this month. The title match will start on October 11.

6th Kuksu Mountains Cup: This is a Korean-sponsored tournament that was a team tournament for its first four years but switched to an individual tournament last year. Players have a time allowance of 30 minutes plus 40 seconds by three times. First prize is 50 million won. The four rounds were held over three days, from August 3 to 5 and, which must be very unusual, as three different locations.

   This year Chinese players dominated the tournament, with “veteran” Chen Yaoye 9P, who is 29 years old, defeating Liao Yuanhe 8P in the final. Of the three Japanese participants, only Yamashita Keigo picked up a win, but that was over Park Junghwan, many times a world champion. Results follow (I don’t have full details for most of the games):

Round 1 (August 3). Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) beat Wang Yuanjun 9P (Chinese Taipei); Byun Sangil 9P (Korea) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig.; Lee Tonghun 9P (Korea) beat Fan Tingyu 9P (China); Liao Yuanhe 8P (China) beat Lee Jihun 9P (Korea); Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P (Japan); Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) beat Xu Haohong 6P (Chinese Taipei); Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) (B) beat Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) by resig.; Chen Yaoye 9P (China) beat Lee Changho 9P (Korea).

Quarterfinals (August 4) Byun beat Shin Minjun; Liao beat Lee Tonghun; Shin Jinseo beat Kim; Chen beat Yamashita.
Semifinals (Aug. 4). Liao beat Byun; Chen beat Shin
Final (Aug. 5). Chen beat Liao  

   As a side event, an invitational Pair Go tournament was also held. Results: 
Round 1 (Aug. 3). Yu Li-chun 2P & Wang Li-ch’eng 9P (O Rissei) (Chinese Taipei) (B) beat Heo Seohyun 1P & Yoo Changhyuk 9P (Korea) by resig.; Gao Xing 4P & Yu Bin 9P (China) (B) beat Tsuji Hana 1P & Yamada Kimio 9P (Japan) by resig.
Final (Aug. 5). Yu/O (W) beat Guo/Yu by resig.
(Play-off for 3rd) Heo/Yoo (W) beat Tsuji/Yamada by resig.

Tomorrow: 1200 wins for O Rissei; Iyama’s second marriage; Sakai to resume medical career

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The Power Report: Fujisawa wins Senko Cup; Kyo evens score in Gosei; Cho Chikun wins Masters Cup

Friday August 23, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Fujisawa wins Senko Cup: The semifinals and final of the 4th Senko Cup Women’s Igo Strongest Player Tournament, which is sponsored by Senko Group Holdings, were held at the Guesthouse Akekure in Higashi-omi City, Shiga Prefecture, on July 12 and 14. The semfinals on the 12th featured the current top three in women’s go in Japan, joined by a player, Mukai Chiaki 5P, who for many years was one of the top three. However, Mukai was beaten by the current number one, Fujisawa Rina, holder of the Women’s Honinbo, Hollyhock and Meijin titles. Fujisawa had black and forced Mukai to resign. In the other semifinal, Xie Yimin 6P (B) beat Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, by resig. This meant that the final, played on the 14th, featured the most common pairing in women’s go in recent years, Fujisawa vs. Xie. Taking black, Fujisawa beat Xie by 1.5 points in a game marked by a number of reversals. This win secured her fourth concurrent title for Fujisawa. The previous champion, Mannami Nao, lost to Mukai in the first round of the main tournament (round of 16). This is Fujisawa’s 12th title. First prize is 7,000,000 yen (about $63,000).

Kyo evens score in Gosei title match: The 44th Gosei title match started out with the challenger, Hane Naoki 9P, winning the first two games, but the titleholder, Kyo Kagen, made a comeback in the next two, so the tournament is evenly poised. Details of the first game were given in my previous report.

   The second game was held in the special playing room Yugen on the fifth floor of the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on July 19. Taking white, Hane won by resignation after 216 moves. As is usual these days, the game was marked by continuous fighting. Hane shows few signs of being influenced by AI go, but he does make an effort to play aggressively. A ko fight in the late middle game led to a large-scale trade, but another ko fight followed soon after. Hane lost this but used his ko threats to capture a large black group. 

   The third game was held at the North Country Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on July 27. In the opening and middle game, Kyo (white) built thickness and apparently Hane went wrong in his strategy for countering it. Kyo used his thickness to secure enough territory to take the lead. Hane resigned after 162 moves.

   The fourth game was played at the Central Japan Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, on August 9. This was Hane’s home ground, but he was outplayed by Kyo and had to resign after just 133 moves. Kyo had recovered from his bad start and evened the series. The deciding game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 23.

Cho Chikun wins Masters Cup: The final of the 9th Fumakira Masters Cup was held at the Nihon Ki-in on July 20. Taking black, Cho Chikun, Hon. Meijin, defeated Komatsu Hideki 9P by resignation after 149 moves. Cho won this title for the fourth time and Komatsu failed in his first final. This is Cho’s 75th title. First prize is 5,000,000 yen (about $45,000).

   That’s the go side of it. At the awards ceremony, a representative of Fumakira announced that it was discontinuing its sponsorship. According to a comment later posted on the Nihon Ki-in’s home page, Kobayashi Satoru 9P, Chairman of the Board of Directors, commented that Fumakira had objected to some tweets made by Yoda Norimoto, who forfeited his semifinal to Komatsu, which they felt blemished the tournament. Kobayashi concluded by saying that the board would examine the question of how to deal with Yoda. 

   That’s all the information given out officially. A Net search did not turn up much supplementary information. Briefly, Yoda’s tweets apparently criticized the new board of directors created after a recent election. On being criticized in turn, Yoda apologized and deleted the tweets. There is no indication about their contents. There are a couple of blogs that discussed the problem, but they don’t give a coherent story. Perhaps this just reflects go’s lack of popularity compared to shogi.

Tomorrow: Shibano to challenge for Meijin title; Kyo becomes Tengen challenger; 6th Kuksu Mountains Cup

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Honinbo title; Nakamura Sumire records first wins, sets new records; Cho Sonjin wins Samsung seat

Thursday August 22, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Honinbo title: The sixth game of the 74th Honinbo title match was held at the Hotel Hankyu Expo Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture, on July 3 and 4. Taking black, Iyama Yuta, otherwise known as Honinbo Monyu, forced the challenger, Kono Rin, to resign after 171 moves. Kono had tried to take the initiative by launching an attack in the opening, but it failed to come off, leaving him in a difficult position. Iyama then steadily increased his lead and dominated the game. In the end, Kono got into a losing capturing race, so he had no choice but to resign.

   When Iyama started out by losing the first two games of the match, he seemed in danger of having his swag of titles reduced even further. However, Kono failed to make the most of a favorable position in the third game, letting the titleholder pull off an upset. In retrospect, this may have been the key game, as it changed the flow of the series. Iyama’s play picked up and he ended up winning four games in a row. He has now won the Honinbo title for eight years in a row, which takes him ahead of Sakata Eio’s seven and leaves him just behind Cho Chikun’s ten and Takagawa Shukaku’s nine. This is his 56th title, which puts him in fourth place after Cho Chikun (74 at this point, but soon after 75), Sakata (64), and Kobayashi Koichi (60). Top-seven titles account for 45 of his total, which is a record (Cho’s top-seven tally is 42). Iyama still holds four of the top-seven titles, so he remains head and shoulders above his Japanese rivals.

  First prize is 28 million yen (about $254,000), down 2 million yen from last year.

Nakamura Sumire records first wins, sets new records: A fateful day came for Nakamura Sumire, Japan’s youngest professional ever, on July 8. In a game in Preliminary B of the 23rd Women’s Kisei, held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, she was matched against the veteran player Tanaka Chieko 4P (aged 67). Taking white, Sumire got into a tough position in the middle game, but her opponent blundered. Once she took the lead, she played with precision and secured a resignation after 146 moves. She was ten years four months old, making her the youngest player ever to win a professional game in Japan. The previous record of 11 years eight months was set by Fujisawa Rina.

   As usual, the press was out in full force. According to Go Weekly, there were 60 reporters from 25 media outlets. Sumire’s mother Miyuki commented that when she lost her first game, the atmosphere at the press conference after the game was like a wake, but this time everyone was cheerful, including Tanaka. The latter commented: “I was surprised how calmly she played, like an adult.” Sumire’s father, Shinya 9P, commented: “I was on tenterhooks throughout the game. I was happier than when winning one of my own games. No one recognizes you unless you win a game.” 

   Two days later, Sumire played a practice game with a new AI program–practice for both sides. The program is called AQZ, and is being developed by a group led by Yamaguchi Hiroshi in cooperation with the president of Globis University, Hori Yoshito. Their goal is to compete in an AI world championship to be held in August. Taking black, AQZ won the game. 

   On August 5, Sumire played another game in the Women’s Kisei tournament. Taking white, she beat Kim Hyon-jon 4P (aged 40) by resignation after 120 moves. Sumire came under attack in the opening and had to work hard to rescue a group, but when her opponent made a slack move, she counterattacked and quickly wrapped up the game. This win earned her a seat in the main section (best 16) of the tournament. She is the youngest player ever to reach the main section of a tournament. The previous record, 13 years eight months, was set by Fujisawa Rina. Sumire’s official record is now 2-1. During the summer holidays, she spent two weeks studying in Korea, but I have no details about this trip.

Cho Sonjin wins Samsung seat: The international qualifying tournament for the 2019 Samsung Cup was held in Seoul from June 30 to July 5. Forty-one players from Japan competed in the different sections of the tournament, but the only one to be successful was Cho Sonjin 9P, who defeated Ryu Shikun 9P, also from Japan, in the final round of the section for senior players. He will join Japan’s two seeded players, Iyama Yuta and Kyo Kagen, in the main tournament, which starts on August 30.

Tomorrow: Fujisawa wins Senko Cup; Kyo evens score in Gosei title match; Cho Chikun wins Masters Cup

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The Power Report: Shin Jinseo wins 31st TV Asia; Park Junghwan wins Chunlan Cup; Hane wins first Gosei game; Promotions; Obituaries

Friday July 5, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Shin Jinseo wins 31st TV Asia: This year Japan hosted the TV Asia, a fast-go tournament for the top-two place-getters in TV titles in China, Korea, and Japan. With Japan being eliminated in the first round, the tournament became exclusively a clash between China and Korea, and the latter came out on top. In the final, Shin Jinseo 9P (aged 19) beat Ding Hao 6P of China, who is the same age. Taking white, Shin won by resignation after 276 moves. First prize is 2.5 million yen (about $22,700). Ironically, Shin came only third in the Korean KBS title, but he stood in for Park Junghwan, who came second, when the latter gave priority to competing in the tournament below. Although he has not yet won a large-scale international tournament, Shin has recently passed Park to become the number one in the Korean (world?) ratings. Full results:
Round 1 (June 21). Ding Hao 6P (China) (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.; Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Iyama Yuta (Japan) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) beat Xu Jiayang 8P (China).
Semifinals (June 22). Ding beat Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea, seeded as last year’s winner); Shin Jinseo beat Shin Minjun.
Final (June 23). Shin (W) beat Ding by resig.

Park Junghwan wins Chunlan Cup: One thing was certain going into the final of the 12th Chunlan Cup: the winner was going to be Park of Korea. But which Park? The final, a best-of-three, was held in Zhejiang Province in China, at the end of June and featured a clash between Park Junghwan 9P and Park Yeonghun 9P. The first game, played on June 27, was won by Junghwan, playing black. In the second, played on June 27, Junghwan (white) won by resignation after 210 moves. However, the game was not smooth sailing. With 96, White made an uncharacteristic blunder, letting Black take the initiative. However, Yeonghun also made a blunder with 147, letting White play a brilliancy that led to an upset. This was the first time Junghwan won this title; Yeonghun had to be content with second place for the second time in a row. First prize is worth about $22,000.

Hane wins first Gosei game: In the 44th Gosei title match, the 42-year-old Hane Naoki is challenging the 21-year-old Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) for the title he took from Iyama Yuta last year. The first game was played at the Konkai Komyoji temple in Kyoto on June 30. Playing black, Hane forced a resignation after 155 moves. The second game will be played on July 19.

Promotions
To 9-dan: Yanaka Katsunori (Nihon Ki-in Kansai Headquarters) (200 wins, as of June 4)
To 8-dan: Endo Yoshifumi (150 wins, as of June 7), Shida Tatsuya (150 wins, as of June 28)
To 2-dan: Nishioka Masao (NK Nagoya HQ) (30 wins, as of June 7), Muramoto Wataru (30 wins, as of June 28)

Obituaries
Tanida Harumi: Tanida Harumi 8P, a member of the Kansai Ki-in, died of heart disease on May 9. He was born on October 6, 1947 and became a disciple of Kubouchi Shuchi 9P. He made 1-dan in 1964 and reached 8-dan in 19823. He won the rating tournament once.

Hoshino Masaki: Hoshino Masaki 9-dan died of a cerebral hemorrhage on May 14. He was born on Jan. 11, 1967, became a disciple of Oka Nobumitsu 7P and made 1-dan in 1985. He reached 9-dan in 2015. He reached the landmark of 500 wins earlier this year.

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The Power Report: Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup; Nakamura Sumire update

Thursday July 4, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup: The semifinals and finals of the main tournament in the 6th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup were held in the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring, Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 18 and 19. The final was won by the 17-year-old Ueno Masami, who has already won two Women’s Kisei titles. She will challenge Fujisawa Rina for the title, with the first game of the best-of-three being played on June 16. Results follow:
(Semifinals) Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, (B) beat Hoshiai Shiho 2P by resig.; Suzuki Ayumi 7P (W) beat Nannami Nao, Senko Cup-holder, by resig.
(Final) Ueno (W) beat Suzuki by resig.
The result of the title match is given later.

Nakamura Sumire update: Sumire is still waiting to play her second official game in Japan. In the meantime, she received a special invitation from the tournament sponsors to take part in the international qualifying tournament for the 4th MLily Cup. This is a Chinese-sponsored international tournament; the official name seems to have changed a little: it is now the MLily Dream Lily Pressureless Mattress Cup Open Tournament (“MLily” is in Roman letters and means “Dream Lily”). Sumire took part in the 2nd round, held on May 21, where she played Wang Chenxing 5P, a top Chinese woman player. Taking black, Wang won by resignation after 185 moves. Games in the qualifying tournament have no game fees and are not recognized as official games by the Nihon Ki-in. Subsequently, the tournament sponsor invited Sumire to play in the main tournament, in which 64 players start out. The first round will be played on October 8.

On June 6, Sumire visited Seoul to play a game with Korea’s number two woman player, Oh Yujin 6P. The game was played at the Han Jongjin dojo, where Sumire was formerly a pupil. Playing time was 40 minutes each plus byo-yomi of 40 seconds x 3. Sumire took white; presumably there was a komi, but Go Weekly does not mention it. Inevitably Oh won, with Sumire resigning after 153 moves. In Japan, the game was broadcast on the Net. Like the game above, it was an unofficial game, so Sumire’s official professional record remains 0-1.

On June 30, Sumire was invited to attend a go event, the World Go Festival, organized by Takarazuka City in Hyogo Prefecture. She played yet another unofficial game, this time against Murakawa Daisuke, holder of the Judan title, before an audience of about 300 fans. Taking black, with no komi, Sumire played aggressively. She handled the early fighting fairly well, but fell behind on territory and resigned after 154 moves.

The two international games above show that there is a lot of interest in Sumire’s debut in China and Korea. The go media are making a great fuss over her, but is arranging games for her with top players whom she has little chance of beating really beneficial? It might be kinder to give her a year or two to secure her place in the professional go world in competition with her peers in the early rounds of the professional tournaments.

Tomorrow: Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup; Nakamura Sumire update; Korea wins 9th Huanglongshi; Fujisawa defends Hollyhock; Ueno tops Most Wins list; Mixed success for Japanese team in Chinese B League

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The Power Report: 24th LG Cup; Korea wins 9th Huanglongshi; Fujisawa defends Hollyhock; Ueno tops Most Wins list; Mixed success for Japanese team in Chinese B League;

Wednesday July 3, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

24th LG Cup: The first and second rounds of the 24th LG Cup were held in Gimpo City in Korea on May 27 and 29. As in the previous cup, China took five of the quarterfinal places and Korea the other three. Iyama Yuta survived the first round, but lost to Ke Jie of China in the second. Some of the results are given below.
Round 1 (May 27) Iyama (B) beat Li Xianhao 7P (China) by resig.; Zhao Chenyu 7P (China) (B) beat Cho U 9P (Japan) by resig.; Tao Xinran 7P (China) (B) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 8P (Japan) by resig.
Round 2 (May 29). Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Iyama by resig.

Korea wins 9th Huanglongshi: Unlike the Nong Shim Cup, the women’s team tournament Huanglongshi is split into just two rounds. The second round was played in Taizhou City in the province of Jiangsu in China from June 9 to 12. The opening round was dominated by China (see my report of May 11), but, thanks mainly to the efforts of Oh Yujin 6P, backed up by Choi Jeong 9P, the tournament was won by Korea. This is its fourth win in this tournament. First prize is about $65,000. Results in the second round:
Game 8 (June 9) Oh Yujin (Korea) (B) beat Zhou Hong 4P (China) by resig.
Game 9 (June 9) Oh (B) beat Nyu Eiko 2P (Japan) by resig.
Game 10 (June 10) Oh (B) beat Li He 5P (China) by resig.
Game 11 (June 10) Oh (W) beat Ueno Asami 2P (Japan) by resig.
Game 12 (June 11) Lu Minquan 5P (China) (W) beat Oh by resig.
Game 13 (June 12) Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) (B) beat Lu by resig.
Game 14 (June 12) Choi (B) beat Yu Zhiying 6P (China) by 4.5 points.

Fujisawa defends Hollyhock: With three titles to her name (Women’s Honinbo, Women’s Hollyhock, and Women’s Meijin), Fujisawa Rina is Japan’s top woman player. This year the challenger for the 6th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup was the number three player, Ueno Asami, holder of the Women’s Kisei title (Mannami Nao is number two by virtue of holding the Senko Cup), so this was a good pairing. However, the Hollyhock Cup is a best-of-three and the games are not spread out, so the match seemed to be over in a flash. In the first game, held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu-Wakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture on June 14, Fujisawa (W) won by resignation after 174 moves. In the second game, played two days later at the same venue, Fujisawa (B) won by resignation after 211 moves. She has now held this title for three years in a row and it is her 11th title overall. This puts her in a tie for second place with Aoki Kikuyo (top is Xie Yimin with 27 titles). First prize is worth 7 million yen (about $64,000).

Ueno tops Most Wins list: For the fourth week in a row, Ueno Asami has topped the list of most wins. As of June 7, her record was 21-10. Ironically, she suffered four losses over the next two weeks, but no one caught up with her wins. This week she won two games and is still on top of the list with 23-14. I can’t confirm this, but it’s the first time I can recall a woman player topping this list.

Mixed success for Japanese team in Chinese B League: Tournaments for teams representing localities, as in soccer, have not caught on in Japan, but they seem to one of the most important activities in Chinese go. There are three levels and also a women’s team tournament, and they all attract a lot of an interest. In recent years, overseas teams from Japan and Chinese Taipei have also been invited to take part. A Japanese team, participating for the eighth year, has been playing in the B League and so far has been frustrated in its ambition to earn promotion to the A League, though it did ascend from its starting point in the C League. This year the B League tournament was held in Zhejiang Province from June 14 to 23. Over those ten days, the teams each played eight matches, making it a pretty heavy schedule, at least by Japanese standards. The Japanese team was made up Kyo Kagen, Shibano Toramaru, Motoki Katsuya, and Yo Seiki. It won three matches, drew one, and lost four, earning it 9th place out of 16 teams (only the top two get promoted to the A League). Each member of the team had four wins to four losses.
Players are also recruited individually by these teams. In one of their games, the team ran across Onishi Ryuhei, playing on board one for a Hebei team. He also scored 4-4, but his team came fourth.

Tomorrow: Shin Jinseo wins 31st TV Asia; Park Junghwan wins Chunlan Cup; Hane wins first Gosei game; Promotions; Obituaries

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The Power Report: Kono keeps lead in Meijin League; 44th Kisei Leagues; Shibano wins 10th Gratitude Cup

Tuesday July 2, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kono keeps lead in Meijin League: As of my previous league report, (May 12) Kono Rin was the sole undefeated player. He tripped up in the May round, but his nearest rivals, Shibano Toramaru and Hane Naoki, also suffered losses. Kono won his June game, and, on 5-1, retains the sole lead. He is followed by three players on 4-2: Iyama Yuta, Shibano, and Yamashita Keigo. Recent results:
(May 16) Iyama Yuta (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Son Makoto 7P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(May 30) Mutsuura Yuta 7P (B) beat Suzuki Shinji 7P by 4.5 points.
(June 13) Yamashita Keigo (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke Judan by resig.
(June 27) Iyama (B) beat Son by resig.; Kono (B) beat Hane by resig.

44th Kisei Leagues
S League: This league is proceeding slowly, so there is not much to report. After just two rounds, there is only one undefeated player: Murakawa Daisuke. Recent results:
(May 9) Murakawa Daisuke Judan (W) beat Kyo Kagen Gosei by resig.
(May 30) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points; Murakawa Daisuke Judan (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by resig.
A League: Ichiriki Ryo, on 4-0, has the sole lead. Two players follow him on 3-1: Cho U 9P and Shida Tatsuya 8P.
B Leagues: In the B1 league, Hane Naoki has the provisional lead with 4-1. He is followed by Yoda Norimoto 9P, Tsuruyama Atsushi 7P, and Onishi Ryuhei 4P, all on 3-1. In the B2 league, Motoki Katsuya 8P has the sole lead on 4-0.

Shibano wins 10th Gratitude Cup: This is a tournament for players 30 and under. The 16 players who survive the preliminary round meet in the main tournament, which this year was held in “Gratitude Alley” in Ise City, Mie Prefecture, on May 14 and 15. The sponsors are a group of tourism-related restaurants and shops. Conditions are NHK-style, with 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes of thinking time (to be used in one-minute units). First prize is 3 million yen (about $27,000), which is quite reasonable for a unofficial junior tournament. In the semifinals, held on the morning of the second day, Adachi Toshimasa 6P (B) beat Kyo Kagen Gosei by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (I don’t know the margin). In the final, Shibano (W) beat Adachi by resig. In the play-off for 3rd place, Ichiriki (W) beat Kyo by resig.

Tomorrow: Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup; Nakamura Sumire update

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Traveling Go Board: World Go Festival

Sunday June 30, 2019

by Bart Jacob

While attending the Osaka Go Camp, we had an opportunity to attend the World Go Festival. In the morning session, there was an exhibition match between Nakamura 1P who recently became the youngest pro play at age 9 (she has since turned 10), and Murakawa, who recently won the Judan tournament and thus given the honorary rank of 10P. Game commentary was provided by Cho Chikun 9P. It was a great experience and a chance to see and interact with many Go legends.
Murukawa had also visited the Go Camp a few days earlier and I was lucky enough to play him in a simul games with four others.

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Categories: Japan,Main Page
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The Power Report: China dominates 2nd Go Seigen Cup; Hane to challenge for Gosei title; Korea wins Tiantai Mountain team tournament; Iyama recovers from bad start in Honinbo challenge

Sunday June 23, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

China dominates 2nd Go Seigen Cup

    The preliminary tournament and Rounds 1 to 3 of the 2nd Go Seigen Cup World Women’s Go Championship were held in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, China, from April 26 to 29. Reaching the best four were three Chinese players and one Korean. Ueno Asami 2P from Japan made it to the third round, but there she was beaten by Rui Naiwei. The latter took revenge on Ueno for her loss to her in this tournament last year. In that game, Ueno captured a large group; this time Rui returned the courtesy. A tournament for AI programs was held at the same time and was won by the program Golaxy. An exhibition match was held, with the top four in the human tournament playing Golaxy on two stones. The program won all these games. The remaining two rounds will be played in November.

Hane to challenge for Gosei title

    The play-off to decide the challenger for the 44th Gosei title was held at the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in on May 9. It featured a clash between Hane Naoki 9P, one of the stars of the second half of the Heisei era (1989~2019) and Ichiriki Ryo 8P, one of the top players of the post-Iyama generation. The game was decided by a large ko fight, during the course of which the position tilted from Ichiriki in favor of Hane. The latter, taking black, won by resignation after 261 moves. The titleholder is Kyo Kagen, so this will be the first top-seven title match for quite a while not to feature Iyama Yuta. (To be precise, the last was the 53rd Judan title match between Takao Shinji and Ida Atsushi in 2015, which is 30 matches ago.) Hane’s last top-seven title was the 36th Gosei title in 2011 and his last top-seven title match was the 2012 Meijin. The match will get off to a start on June 30.
Incidentally, Hane’s daughter Ayaka made her professional debut on May 6、so three generations of the Hane family are now in action. Her grandfather is Hane Yasumasa 9P. There are other examples of three generations of professionals in a family (the most notable being Kitani Minoru, his daughter Kitani/Kobayashi Reiko, and Kobayashi Izumi), but this is the first time all three generations have been active at the same. (Unfortunately, Ayaka lost her first game.)

Korea wins Tiantai Mountain team tournament

    The 8th Tiantai Cup Women’s Team Championship was held in Zhejiang Province in China from May 10 to 12. Competing were three-women teams from China, Korea, Japan, and Chinese Taipei. Two teams, perhaps, got a bit of a shock. Recently Chinese players have been dominating international go, but at present Korean women players seem to have an ascendancy over their Chinese rivals. Korea sailed through the tournament without dropping a game, taking first place with a score of 3-0 (9-0). China beat the other two teams and took second place on 2-1 (6-3). The second shock was for Japan, which was beaten 2-1 by Chinese Taipei. On the top board, Hei Jiajia beat Fujisawa Rina by 2.5 points. Scoring 1-2 (2-7), Chinese Taipei forced Japan, 0-3 (1-8) into fourth place. Japan picked up its sole win when Xie Yimin beat Yu Lijun 2P of Chinese Taipei.

Iyama recovers from bad start in Honinbo challenge

   

Kono Rin 9P made an excellent start in his challenge for the 74th Honinbo title match, so Iyama Yuta seemed to be in danger of having his multiple crown whittled down even further, but the momentum switched to Iyama when Kono let slip a sure-win game. Now Iyama is on top.

   The match got off to a start on May 11 and 12, with the first game being played at Ofuna Port, also known as the Ofunato City Disaster Prevention, Tourism and Exchange Center, in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture. Kono drew black in the nigiri. He took the initiative in the opening and maintained an edge throughout the game. The combination of 155 and 165 was a brilliancy that wrapped up the game, as these two moves set up a double threat. No matter how he answered, White faced disaster, so Iyama resigned on move 169. O Meien 9P, who served as referee, commented that it was rare to see such a decisive blow in a top game. Incidentally, this was the first title-match game of the new Reiwa era.

   The second game was played at the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Literature in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on May 22 and 23. The circumstances of the game are a good indication of the place go holds in traditional Japanese culture. It was one of a number of events commemorating the 30th anniversary of the founding of the museum and was actually played in a traditional teahouse attached to the museum. The name of the teahouse is Soshin-an, which means something like Hermitage of the Simple (or Pure) Heart. The head of the museum is the poet Saigusa Takayuki; as one of about 30 spectators, he witnessed the start of the game. The sight of Kono carefully wiping the board before the game led him to write a tanka (a 31-syllable poem also called “waka”), which reads: Shiroki nuno/mote banjou/migakitari/hito wa kokoro ni/kagami wo moteri (note that the “n” in “banjou” is counted as a syllable). My poor translation: Polishing the board with a white cloth, we have a mirror into our hearts.

   This game started out more peacefully than the first one, but the lead changed a number of times in middle-game fighting. Just when the game looked like going into a tight endgame contest, Iyama (black) made a major blunder and had to throw in the towel after move 166.  

   Trivia note: Iyama’s birthday was on May 24, so this was the last game of his 20s. These two losses may be an anticlimactic ending to his 20s, but it’s worth remembering that he has already won 55 titles; his nearest rivals in this respect are Cho Chikun and Cho U, who had both won approximately 30 titles by the age of 30.

The third game was played in the Goryokaku in Hakodate City, Hokkaido, on June 4 and 5. The venue is a fortress shaped like a five-pointed star built by the Tokugawa government in 1855 (a Net search of the name will bring up more information and photos). Playing black, Kono took the initiative in the opening and held it throughout, but, near the end of the endgame, he missed the best move a couple of times, losing a point each time. This let Iyama stage an upset and win by half a point. Kono commented that he had miscounted the score by a point, so he played facilely. The game ended on move 289. This was a costly reversal for Kono: the difference between 3-0 and 2-1 is enormous. 

   The fourth game was played at the Former Numazu Imperial Villa in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on June 13 and 14. This is a building that was once used as a summer residence for members of the imperial family, but is now a museum. Playing black, Iyama convincingly outplayed the challenger and won by resignation after 203 moves. It was his first good game of the series.    The fifth game was played at the Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu, Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, on June 18 and 19. Playing white, Iyama won by 4.5 points.

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IMSA World Masters Championship report

Sunday May 19, 2019

The 2019 IMSA World Masters Championship was held in Hengshui, China, from May 13 to 18. The Championship included five sports, Go, Chess, Bridge, Draughts, and Xiangqi, which in total offered 99 medals in 17 disciplines, with 170 players from 47 countries participating.
In Go, Men’s team (round-robin), Women’s team (round-robin), and Pair Go (bracket-tournament) competitions took place. Players were invited from six regions – China, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Europe, and North America. North America was represented by Ryan Li 1P, William Shi 1P, and Eric Lui 1P in Men’s, Shirley Lin 1P and Gabriella Su 6D in Women’s, and Eric Lui 1P and Shirley Lin 1P in Pair Go. 
The competition results are as follows:
Men’s Team
1st: China; 2nd: Korea; 3rd: Japan; 4th: Chinese Taipei; 5th: Europe; 6th: North America
Women’s Team: 1st: Korea; 2nd: China; 3rd: Japan; 4th: Chinese Taipei; 5th: North America; 6th: Europe
Pair Go (6 pairs from each region plus 2 wildcard pairs selected by drawing): 1st: Korea (Choi Jeong & Shin Jinseo); 2nd: Chinese Taipei – wildcard (Pai Hsin Hui & Lin Li Hsiang); 3rd: Chinese Taipei (Jiajia Missingham Joanne & Wang Yuan Jyun); 4th: Europe (Natalia Kovaleva & Ilya Shikshin); 5th: China (Yu Zhiying & Mi Yuting)6th: Europe – wildcard (Ariane Ougier & Pavol Lisy); 7th: Japan (Eiko Nyu & Daisuke Murakawa); 8th: North America (Shirley Lin & Eric Lui).
– Hajin Lee

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