American Go E-Journal » Japan

Go events in Japan this summer

Thursday January 11, 2018

The dates have been set for the third annual Go Congress in Japan, as well as Osaka Go Camp 2018, reports Ryo Maeda 6p of 2018.01.10_japan-go-congress-17the Kansai-Kiin. Maeda has been a popular lecturer at the last eighteen U.S. Go Congresses.
The camp, held from June 24th through July 12th, 2018, will feature morning league games, with English instruction taught by professionals in the afternoons. Outside of the classroom, sightseeing opportunities include trips to downtown Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and a two-day trip to Okayama. Friendship events with go players from Okayama and Kansai will be held on Fridays.
The 3rd Japan Go Congress will be held in Takarazuka, immediately following the Osaka go camp, from July 13th through July 16th. The event features a number of tournaments, as well as a go symposium, game reviews, and simultaneous games with Japanese pros.
If you’re a go fan, interested in seeing Japan, be sure to check out this website, which features information about both events. “I promise that everyone can improve quite a lot through the camp and the congress and will have a lot of fun,” says Maeda. “We are looking forward to seeing you in Osaka and Takarazuka!” The cities are only eleven miles apart.
photo: at the 2017 Japan Go Congress
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Your Move/Readers Write: Ukiyo-e at Shizuoka

Monday January 8, 2018

“I read your article about the Tokugawa Memorial Go Congress set for February 2017 in Shizuoka,” writes Erwin 2018.01.07_Ukiyo-eGerstorfer. “One additional bit of information that might be interesting to the readers of the American Go E-Journal is an exhibition of go-related Ukiyo-e — woodblock prints and paintings — in the Tokaido Hiroshige Art Museum of Shizuoka that will take place from February 6th to April 1st, 2018. There was a go related Ukiyo-e exhibition in Villach, Austria in 2007 in conjunction with the European Go Congress but this one will be bigger and more exciting and taking place in a dedicated Ukiyo-e museum.”

“I have met one of the Japanese organizers of the go festival at the European Go Congress in Oberhof last summer and my impression is that this event is well worth a visit. They are very dedicated to that event and especially interested in international participation. You can reach Shizuoka from Tokyo by train (Shinkansen) in about 90 min and there are several trains a day.”

Image: Kubo Shunman’s “Outfit for the Go Game” 

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Two new women’s world championships announced

Wednesday December 27, 2017

First is the SENKO CUP, organized by the Nihon Kiin, which will be held March 14-16 2018 in Tokyo.  Eight players are invited, including the top four finishers from the Japanese domestic version of the Senko Cup: Hsieh Yimin, Fujisawa Rina, Mukai Chiaki, and Nyu Eiko; Joanne Missingham (Hei Jia-jia) from Taiwan; and one each from South Korea, China, and Europe.
The second event is the Wu Chingyuan Cup (“Go Seigen” in Japanese pronunciation) to be held in Wu’s birth city Fuzhou of Fujian Province in China.  Twenty eight players will be invited for this late-April event, including possibly six from Europe and two from North America.  This event is sponsored by the Fuzhou city government, with support from Go Seigen’s family who donated the naming right.  In parallel, there will be an exhibition match between world champion Ke Jie and “a top AI program”.
- Thomas Hsiang
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Power Report (2 of 2): Ueno to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Awards for Iyama and Habu; World Go Championship 2018

Tuesday December 19, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal21fkisei_challenger Ueno

Ueno to challenge for Women’s Kisei:
A fresh face will be challenging Xie Yimin for the 21st Women’s Kisei title early next year. The play-off to decide the challenger was held in the Ryusei TV studio located in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo on December 11. Ueno Asami 1P (right), 21 fkisei Okudawho is aged 16 and who qualified as a pro last year, beat Okuda Aya 3P (left); Ueno had black and secured a resignation after 199 moves. She will be just 16 years two months when the title match starts on January 19 and will be the youngest challenger ever. She lowered the record of Nyu Eiko, set last year, by about a year.

Awards for Iyama and Habu: A government spokesman announced last week that the Prime Minister, Abe Shinzo, was considering giving People’s Honor Awards to the top go and shogi players Iyama Yuta and Habu Yoshiharu. Going by the timing, it would seem the idea was sparked by a recent achievement of Habu. Earlier this month, he won the Ryuo tournament for the seventh time and so qualified for the title of Eternal Ryuo (also translated as “Lifetime Ryuo”). The wording sounds grander, but this seems to be the equivalent of the “honorary” titles in go. The point was that Habu has qualified for the “eternal” title in all of the top seven shogi titles, an unprecedented feat. The reason for also giving a People’s Honor Award to Iyama was his success in achieving a grand slam of the top seven go titles for the second time.

Iyama (aged 28) and Habu (aged 47) will be the first board-game players (or mind-sport athletes, if you prefer) to win this award. Previously, it has been given to 23 individual athletes in various sports, actors, singers, composers, etc., and to all the members of the women’s soccer team that won the World Cup in 2011. The wording that the government is “considering” making these awards may seem a little funny, but surely the Prime Minister won’t change his mind. An official announcement is expected to follow within the year. The story was the lead-off article on the front page of the December 13 morning Yomiuri Newspaper and also featured on the front page of the afternoon edition. The criterion for the awards is: a person with conspicuous achievements who is widely loved and respected by the people and who have given bright hope to society.(Conditions for the shogi “eternal” title seem slightly easier for some of the titles than for honorary titles in go. They range from five cumulative wins to five wins in a row or ten cumulative wins, the latter being the condition in go. There are actually five variations in the conditions.)

World Go Championship 2018: The Nihon Ki-in has announced that this tournament will be held in March next year. It’s actually the second time: the 1st World Go Championship was held in March last year, but the next one is not being called the “2nd.” Last year, four “players” took part, one of them being the AI program DeepZenGo. First place was taken by Park Junghwan of Korea, 2nd by Mi Yuting of China, 3rd by DeepZenGo, and 4th by Iyama Yuta. Next year, six players will take part: two from Japan, two from Korea, one from China, and one from Chinese Taipei. Note that Korea is not being favored over China. As host country, Japan gets two slots (the host country gets more seats in many international tournaments); Korea gets two because the previous winner, Park, is seeded (as in the TV Asia tournament). The other participants will be: Iyama Yuta and the winner of a qualifying tournament open to the top four place-getters (after Iyama) in the prize-money rankings for Japan; Shin Jinseo 8P for Korea; Ke Jie for China; and Wang Yuanjun 8P for Chinese Taipei. The time allowance will be three hours per player, with the last five minutes being allotted to byo-yomi. Games will start at 10:30 a.m. and there will be no break for lunch. Prizes are: 1st, \20,0000,000 (about $182,000); 2nd, \5,000,000; 3rd & 4th, \2,50,000; 5th & 6th, \1,000,000. Park and Iyama will be seeded into the second round.

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Power Report (1 of 2): Tuo of China wins Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off; Meijin League starts; Honinbo League; Chinese program wins computer go tournament

Monday December 18, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.12.18_19 Agon leftMutsuura

Tuo of China wins Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off: 
The 19th Agon Kiriyama Cup Japan-China Play-off was held at the Westin Hotel in Beijing on December 6. Tuo Jiaxi 9P (aged 26, below left) of China beat Mutsuura 2017.12.18_19agonn TuoYuta 7P (aged 18, at left in photo at right) of Japan. Tuo had black and secured a resignation after 135 moves. This was China’s 1th win in this series (Japan won the first four and Iyama Yuta won the 17th play-off).

Meijin League starts: The first two games of the 43rd Meijin League were played on December 7 and were won by two former Meijins. Cho U 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. and Yamashita Keigo 9P beat Yo Seiki 7P, also by resig. Another former Meijin won the third game, played on Dec. 14: Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.

Honinbo League: The second game in the third round of the 73rd Honinbo League was played on December 7. Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by half a point. One more game was played on December 14. Ida Atsushi 8P (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig. On 3-0 Ida retains the sole lead; Ko is now 2-1, and Motoki and Kobayashi are 1-2.

Chinese program wins computer go tournament: A new tournament for computer go programs, the AI Ryusei Tournament, got off to a start on December 9 and 10. It was held in the UDX Building in front of Akihabara station in Tokyo. Seventeen programs, including four from overseas, took part, with the Igo & Shogi Channel acting as the main sponsor. The tournament is a successor to the UEC Cup, held for ten years by the University of Electro-Communications of Chofu City in Tokyo. FineArt of China, regarded as the favorite as the last winner of the UEC Cup, and DeepZenGo of Japan made the final. Playing white, FineArt won by resignation after 248 moves. It has been developed by the Tencent corporation.

Tomorrow: Ueno to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Awards for Iyama and Habu; World Go Championship 2018

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The Power Report: Nong Shim second stage honors go to China; Ri Ishu wins Young Carp; Xie regains Women’s Honinbo; Honinbo League

Wednesday December 13, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Nong Shim second stage honors go to China: The second stage, in which the fifth to ninth games are played, of the 19th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Busan in Korea from November 24 to 28. The first stage was dominated by Shin Minjun 6P of Korea. He also won the first two games of the second stage, taking his winning streak to six games. However, Dang Yifei of China then took over, winning the next three games, so China staged a recovery. Japan is down to its last player, Iyama Yuta, who will meet Dang in the first game of the third stage, scheduled to start in Shanghai on February 26. Korea has three players left and China two, so Iyama will need to reproduce his good form in the LG Cup if Japan is going to avoid early elimination. Full results for this round follow.
Game Five (Nov. 24). Shin Minjun (W) beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by 4.5 points.
Game Six (Nov. 25). Shin (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) by resig.
Game Seven (Nov. 26). Dang Yifei 9P (China) beat Shin by resig.
Game Eight (Nov. 27). Dang (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game Nine (Nov. 28). Dang (B) beat Kim Myeonghoon 5P (Korea) by resig.
Remaining players: (Japan) Iyama Yuta; (Korea) Kim Jiseok 9P, Shin Jinseo 8P, Park Junghwan 9P; (China) Dang, Ke Jie 9P

Ri Ishu wins Young Carp:  The main section (the best 16) of the 12th Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp Tournament was held in the Western Honshu Newspaper Building in Hiroshima on November 25 and 26. This tournament is open to2017.12.13_Wom Hon Xie players 30 and under and 7-dan and under. The finalists this year were two Nihon Ki-in players of Taiwanese birth, Ri Ishu (Li Yixiu) 7P (aged 29) and Yo Chito (Yao Zhiteng) 4P (aged 19). Playing black, Ri, who came second in the first cup, won by 3.5 points. First prize is 3 million yen (about $27,000).

Xie regains Women’s Honinbo: The 36th Women’s Honinbo title match, a best-of-five, went right down to the wire. Xie Yimin, the challenger (right), twice took the lead, but each time Fujisawa Rina (left), the titleholder, caught up. The deciding game was played in the 2017.12.13_Wom Hon Fujisawa_05Special Playing Room on the 7th floor of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 29. So far, Black had won every game. The nigiri to decide the colors was held again, and Xie drew black. After a hard-fought game extending to 307 moves, Xie won by 8.5 points. This meant that she took back the title Fujisawa won from her last year. It was the eighth time she had won the Women’s Honinbo and her 27th title overall. After the game, Xie commented: “All the games (in the series) were tough. I made lots of mistakes after going into byo-yomi, so I need to improve here. This year I lost the Women’s Meijin title, the Hollyhook (Aizu Central Hospital) Cup, and the Senko Cup to Fujisawa, so I really wanted to win in the final title match of the year. Not giving up until the end worked out well. I think I was lucky.” Fujisawa is still the top woman player, with three titles, but this win restored Xie to her customary position of multiple titleholder. Fujisawa: “Most of the games in this match were tough. I made lots of mistakes in the final game, so the content was not very good for me. I think your mistakes show your level, so I’ll have to start out from scratch again.” First prize for this tournament is 5.5 million yen (about $51,000), the third-highest of the five women’s titles.

Honinbo League: The first game in the third round of the 73rd Honinbo League was played on November 30. Taking black, Hane Naoki 9P (age 41) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P (age 18) by resig. This was Hane’s first win and Shibano’s second loss, so they are even on 1-2. The only undefeated player is former Honinbo challenger Ida Atsushi 8P on 2-0.

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Go miscellany Year End Edition (2 of 3)

Tuesday December 12, 2017

Being a collection of interesting items – in no particular order – that have landed in our in-box in recent months but never 2017.12.10_Haikyo-The Modern Ruins of Japanmade it into the E-Journal.

Modern ruins of Japan: A floor-style goban and bowls on the couch. From the book Haikyo: The Modern Ruins of Japan, by Shane Thoms.
- David Matson

The Stone of Kannon: A friend recommended the book, The Stone of Kannon, by O. A. Bushnell, to me a couple of weeks ago. The book tells the story of the first Japanese contract laborers who were imported in 1868 to work on sugar plantations in Hawaii. This was the first year of the Meiji reign and there was a lot of turbulence in Japan. Go is mentioned a number of times, but it is not a major aspect of the book. Go is present in many scenes both in Japan and on the ship sailing to Hawaii. There is a sub-plot about a retired prostitute who announced on the first day at sea that she was going to choose a husband before they landed in Hawaii. It is described starting on page 201. “O-Miya’s search for a husband worthy of her helped to lighten those long hours – and gave gamblers endless reasons for laying bets…she did not lack suitors. They surrounded her day and night, paying court. They played Go with her, at which she was very proficient, and hanafuda, at which she excelled…” The story focusses on a group that worked the Wailuku Plantation and Sugar Mill. It describes locations that are still in Wailuku and locations where the Maui Go Club has met. We made it the official book of the Maui Go Club. There is a longer version this story on our website.
- Danny Topp

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The Power Report: Obituary: Sugiuchi Masao; Nongshim Cup 2nd Stage dominated by China; Xie regains Women’s Honinbo title

Sunday December 3, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.22_sugiuchiforever

Obituary: Sugiuchi Masao
I very much regret having to report the death of Sugiuchi Masao, a player who was a part of 20th-century go history who remained active well into the 21st century, when he acquired new fans as the oldest active professional go player ever.

2017.12.03-SugiuchiSugiuchi died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital on November 21. He was born in what is now Miyako-no-jo City in Miyazaki Prefecture on October 20, 1920. As a child, he showed talent at go and in 1933 came to Tokyo to become a disciple of Inoue Ichiro 5P. He became professional 1-dan in 1937, but lost about three years of his career to military service during the war. When he returned to the go world in 1946, he became one of the leaders of the younger generation, along with players like Sakata Eio and Fujisawa Hideyuki (Shuko). The peak of his career came when he challenged Takagawa Kaku (Honinbo Shukaku) for the 9th and 13th Honinbo titles in 1954 and 1958; he lost both matches 2-4. He won the Rapid Go Meijin tournament in 1959 and the 7th Igo Championship in 1963. He played in the Honinbo League seven times and in the (Yomiuri) Meijin league five times. He received a decoration from the Japanese government in 1992, and the Nihon Ki-in awarded him the Okura Prize in 2004. His lifetime record was 883 wins, 677 losses, 12 jigo, and two no result. He also served as a director of the Nihon Ki-in, including a term as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Many decades ago, Sugiuchi acquired the nickname of “the god of Go, ” perhaps for his quiet, self-effacing demeanor and his dedication to the game. In his 90s, he became one of the understated wonders of the go world. Although the Nihon Ki-in had introduced a retirement system, which enabled some players to retire as young as in their 50s, he kept playing. His last official game was played on November 2, so his active go career extends to 80 years. This is a record, as is remaining active until the age of 97. He is survived by his wife Kazuko 8P, who is still active at the age of 90, a record for women players. She is now the oldest active professional at the Nihon Ki-in. Her career has lasted 75 years, so she might break her husband’s record. (By the way, a game Sugiuchi played at the age of 95 with the 15-year-old Onishi Ryuhei, then 1P, set a record for the biggest age gap between the players.)

Nongshim Cup 2nd Stage dominated by China: The first round of the 19th Nongshim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in2017.12.03-Dang (L) beats Shin Shenyang City in China from September 19 to 22. It was dominated by Shin Minjun 6P of Korea, who won all four games. In the second round, held in Busan in Korea, he extended his winning streak to six games, but then Dang Yifei of China took over and won the remaining games in the round. Results follow.
Game 5 (Nov. 24). Shin (W) beat Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by 4.5 points.
Game 6 (Nov. 25). Shin (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) by resig.
Game 7 (Nov. 26). Dang Yifei 9D (China) (W) beat Shin by resig.
Game 8 (Nov. 27). Dang (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P (Japan) by resig.
Game 9 (Nov. 28). Dang (B) beat Kim Myounghoon 5P (Korea) by resig.
The final round will be held in Shanghai and will start on February 26. Players remaining are Iyama Yuta for Japan, who will appear in Game 10), Dang and Ke Jie for China, and Kim Jiseok, Shin Jinseo, and Park Junghwan for Korea. Based on players remaining, Korea has an advantage, but someone has to stop Dang.

Xie regains Women’s Honinbo title: The fifth game of the 36th Women’s Honinbo title match was held in the Special2017.12.03_Xie left wins #5 hon05_06 Playing Room on the 7th floor of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 29. Playing black, Xie Yimin (left) defeated the defending champion Fujisawa Rina by 8.5 titles and regained the title she lost to her last year. She was very relieved to be able to end the year on a good note. In the last year or so, Fujisawa had dominated the women’s titles, winning four to Xie’s one, but this win restored her to her familiar position of multiple title-holder (she already held the Women’s Kisei). Fujisawa is left with the Women’s Hollyhock Cup (sponsored by the Aizu Central Hospital), the Women’s Meijin, and the Senko Cup. This is the ninth time Xie has won the Women’s Honinbo. She and Kusunoki Mitsuko are the only players who have made two comebacks. This is Xie’s 27th title.

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Tokugawa Memorial Go Congress features dozens of high-profile pros

Monday November 27, 2017

Forty-seven high-profile professional go players — including Michael Redmond 9P — will be participating in the Tokugawa Memorial Go 2017.11.27_ShizuokaCongress in Shizuoka, Japan next February. The event will run from February 11-18, 2018, with a main daily tournament game, followed by other events including instruction and commentaries by professional go players, as well as a 13×13 tournament, go relay, and kids tournament. Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Shizuoka is a city on the south coast of Japan. It’s known for views of Mount Fuji from Miho no Matsubara beach and the Nihondaira Plateau. A cable car links the plateau to Kunōzan Tōshō-gū, an ornate 17th-century shrine and original burial place of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Sunpu Castle features ruins of the original castle and a recreated turret. The Toro Museum archaeological site displays Iron Age dwellings.

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Oza and Tengen titles

Sunday November 26, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.11.26_tengen3.IyamaJPG

Iyama defends Oza and Tengen titles: Everything is going well for Iyama Yuta these days, both internationally and domestically. In quick succession, he defended two of his top-seven titles, making sure he ends the year with his Grand Slam intact.

2017.11.26_Oza 3 IrikiOn November 20, the third game of the 65th Oza title match was held at the same venue as the second game (on the 18th, covered in my previous report, published on the 21st), that is, at the Hotel Okura Kobe in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture. My description of the second game needs to be revised in light of the Go Weekly report. Apparently Ichiriki (white, at left) took the lead in the opening and in the middle game he built a winning position. However, Iyama made a do-or-die attack that ended in his capturing a large group and pulling off an upset. In the third game, in contrast, it was Iyama (white) who got a good position in the opening (mainly because Ichiriki was burdened with a heavy group). In the middle game, he kept up the pressure on Ichiriki and forced him to resign after 174 moves. This gave him a 3-0 lead, so he defended his title. It is his third Oza title in a row. One rest day may not have been enough for Ichiriki to recover from the shock of letting slip the second game. The fourth game was scheduled to be played in his hometown of Sendai, but he couldn’t take the match that far. The Oza prize is 14 million yen (about $127,000).

The third game of the 43rd Tengen title match was played at the Munakata Yurikkusu, an entertainment/sports/cultural complex in 2017.11.26_oza3 Iyama rightMunakata City, Fukuoka Prefecture, on November 24. Playing black, Iyama (right) built central influence in the opening, but Ichiriki attacked his centre group and tried to blockade it. In response, Iyama cut the blockading group into two and tried to surround the centre part of it. Ichiriki came up with a clever answer, so his group was able to break out, but in the subsequent fighting he missed the best sequence. After that, the game went downhill for him. Iyama set up and won two successive ko fights, also killing a white group in the second fight. Ichiriki resigned after Black 171. Iyama’s fighting ability gave him the edge over the challenger. This win made the score 3-0, so he 2017.11.26_tengen3 IchirikiJPGcompleted his Tengen defence just four days after his Oza success. Finishing off both these titles so quickly earns Iyama a lot of extra time for rest and recuperation in December.

Iyama: “In this series, each game could easily have gone either way. I think that in the end I was just lucky.”

Ichiriki (left): “In both the Tengen and Oza matches, I felt a gap between Iyama and me when byo-yomi started.”

The Tengen prize money is 13 million yen (about $118,000). Iyama has now won 48 titles, so he has moved ahead of Kato Masao into equal fourth place with Otake Hideo. It will take him a while to overhaul the players still ahead of him: Kobayashi with 60, Sakata Eio with 64, and Cho Chikun with 74.

Starting with the third game in last year’s Tengen title match, Ichiriki has now lost nine games in a row to Iyama. He has just over seven weeks to regroup before the Kisei title match starts. First of all, he will have to adjust to two-day games.

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