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

Monday February 28, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday February 27, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

Yo Seiki 8P

Yo to challenge for Judan

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

Ueno defends Women’s Kisei

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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50 years aGO – February 1972

Sunday February 20, 2022

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

We start with another quick tidbit about inflation. The Nihon Ki’in released the prize leaders for 1971. Rin Kaihō led the pros with a princely income of $25,000.

On February 11, the Nihon Ki’in Team Tournament began. At the urging of Fujisawa Hōsai 9d, a “gaijin” team entered the event for 15 player teams. 11 Americans, 2 Austrians and 2 British made up the “Ishi Press Team.” Their first three boards were Manfred Wimmer, Richard Bozulich and James Davies – you can make them out in the attached picture from the event. Other notables were one time AGA President Robert McCallister and Congress Director Stuart Horowitz. Unfortunately full names are not given and we are left to speculate whether “Hall” was T. Mark Hall, co-creator of GoGOD. The top boards had a solid 70% win rate, but the tail end of the team was not as successful, and they were eliminated in the initial stage.

The Jūdan title match went the full 5 game distance. Beginning the month knotted at one game apiece, Sakata Eio took the lead in the third game played on February 9 and 10. Hashimoto Utarō managed to even the score by half a point on February 16 and 17. However, Sakata returned from the wilderness, taking the title on February 23-24. (Game records: Game 3, Game 4, Game 5.)

The Ishi Press Team at the Nihon Ki'in Team Tournament

Image 1 of 2

Photos from Go Review, game records from SmartGo

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Online go school continues to offer chance to learn and improve during pandemic

Friday February 4, 2022

When the COVID pandemic forced the closure of the popular Osaka Go Camp, the Kansai-Kiin’s Ryo Maeda 6P — like many — went online. The result was the International Osaka Go School. In operation since September 2020, the school provides students with online lectures and the opportunity for professionally reviewed games. The teaching staff includes Ryo Maeda 6P, Ting Li 1P, and Francis Meyer 1P, and Michael Redmond 9P is also available for game reviews.

The school welcomes players ranging from 15kyu to 6d, and there are multiple membership tiers available. For example, the two-month membership plan ($200USD) provides students with eight games played between the school’s league members, two teaching games with an instructor, and four lectures. Each game is personally reviewed by one of the teaching staff, and all the games and lectures are made available as video links, which are archived and accessible to members. A cheaper Observation plan allows students to access the lecture and game review videos. The wealth of learning opportunities is immense. Players can even request reviews of games played outside of the Osaka School. 

The school’s mission, along with conveying the charm of the game of go and providing accessible learning for go fans of all levels, is to ensure that learning during the pandemic remains fun. “It is still a severe time,” says Ryo Maeda 6P, “but we hope as many people [as possible] can have a joyful go experience.” 
– Edited by Hailey Renner

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Categories: Japan,Main Page,World
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The Power Report: 2021 in statistics

Wednesday February 2, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

Here is a statistical overview of Japanese go in 2021

Most prize money won
The Nihon Ki-in published the list of top prize-money winners on January 24. There were few surprises. Iyama Yuta took first place for the 11th year in a row and topped 100,000,000 (called “ichi-oku”) yen for the 10th year in a row. Only four players have reached this impressive figure, the others being Kobayashi Koichi (three times), Cho Chikun (four times), and Cho U (also four times). 
1. Iyama Yuta: ¥133,849,290 ($1,160,073 at $1 = ¥115.38)
2. Ichiriki Ryo: ¥44,285,702
3. Shibano Toramaru: ¥41,139,960
4. Kyo Kagen: ¥37,422,211
5.Fujisawa Rina: ¥31,993,482
6. Ueno Asami: ¥23,509,352
7. Kono Rin: ¥20,784,000
8. Seki Kotaro: ¥17,824,300
9. Hane Naoki: ¥13,609,000
10. Motoki Katsuya: ¥11,285,600

Most wins
Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, had the lead in the list of most wins for most of the year, helped, of course, by the boom in women’s go tournaments but also by her good results against male players. Sumire, boosted by her astonishing winning streak of 13 at the beginning of the year, kept her company. Even so, other players were in the running until the end of the year, when Ueno suddenly built a big lead.  She is the first woman player to top this list. Below are the top ten. 
1. Ueno Asami: 54 wins, 25 losses
2. Kyo Kagen Judan: 45-21
3. Nakamura Sumire 2-dan: 43-18
4. Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan: 39-12; Ichiriki Ryo 9-dan: 39-20; Shibano Toramaru 9-dan: 39-24
7. Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo: 38-15
8. Seki Kotaro Tengen: 37-14; Iyama Yuta Kisei: 37-16
10. Nyu Eiko 4-dan: 34-17

Most successive wins
14: Ichiriki Ryo
13: Fukuoka Kotaro, Nakamura Sumire
12: Ichiriki
11: Kyo Kagen, Fujisawa Rina, Tsuneishi Takashi
10: Seki Kotaro, Ogata Masaki 9-dan, Horimoto Mitsunari, Nakamura Sumire

Best winning percentage
Restricted to players with 24+ wins.
1. Tsuneishi Takashi: 76.92% (30-9)
2. Fukuoka Kotaro: 76.47% (39-12)
3. Shida Tatsuya 8-dan: 75% (30-10)
4. Ogata Masaki: 74.36% (29-10)
5. Yamamori Tadanao 7-dan: 73.08% (19-7)
6. Komatsu Hideki 9-dan: 72.73% (24-9)
7. Seki Kotaro: 72.55% (37-14)
8. Son Makoto 7-dan, Sakai Yuki 3-dan: 72.22% (26-10),
10. Matsumoto Takehisa 8-dan, Horimoto Mitsunari 5P: 71.88% (23-9) 

Prizemoney promotions
Every January there are eleven automatic promotions based on prizemoney won in the top-seven titles. To be specific, the top two 1-dans to 5-dans and the top 6-dan are promoted. Players who earned promotion in other ways are excluded. The 2021 promotions were announced early in January and are given below.
To 7-dan: Koike Yoshihiro
To 6-dan: Hirose Yuichi, Otake Yu
To 5-dan: Tsuneishi Takashi, Cho Zuiketsu
To 4-dan: (Ms.) Nyu Eiko, Muramoto Wataru
To 3-dan: Fukuoka Kotaro, Nishioka Masao
To 2-dan: (Ms.) Tsuji Hana, Chan Fukan (from Malaysia)

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The Power Report: International tournament for seniors; 77th Honinbo League; Meijin League; Sumire’s progress; Promotions/Retirements; Obituary: Kikuchi Yasuro

Monday January 31, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

International tournament for seniors

O Meien

   The final international event of 2021 was yet another special tournament for senior players, the 1004 Islands Shin-An International Senior Baduk Championship. Sixteen former top players took part, with eight players from the host country of Korea, three each from Japan and China, and two from Taiwan, though those two were actually the Nihon Ki-in players O Rissei and O Meien. The time allowance was just 30 minutes per player plus 30-second byo-yomi x 3; there were two rounds per day. The tournament was held on the net on December 21 and 22. Reaching the final were Yoo Changhyeok of Korea and O Meien. The latter took the lead early in the game, but Yu pulled off a late upset and won by half a point. First prize was 30 million won (about $25,000). O had to be content with half that. Results are given below, but full details for most of the games are not available to me. (All players are 9-dan.)

Round 1 (Dec. 21). Yoda Norimoto (Japan) beat Kim Jongsoo (Korea); Kim Yonghwan (Korea) beat Kobayashi Koichi (Japan); Yoo Changhyeok (Korea) beat O Rissei; Yu Bin (China) beat Seo Nun-uk (Korea); O Meien beat Cho Hoonhyun (Korea); Rui Naiwei (China) beat Kim Ilhwan (Korea); Seo Bongsoo (Korea) beat Takemiya Masaki (Japan); Nie Weiping (China) beat Choe Kyupeong (Korea).

Round 2 (Dec. 21). Yoda beat Kim Yonghwan; Yoo beat Yu; O (B) beat Rui by resig.; Seo beat Nie.

Semifinals (Dec. 22). Yu (B) beat Yoda by 2.5 points; O beat Seo on time.

Final (Dec. 22). Yu (B) beat O by half a point.   

77th Honinbo League

   As of the end of the year, with three rounds completed, Yo Seiki 8P of the Kansai Ki-in had the sole lead as the only undefeated player. 

(Nov. 1) Tsuruyama Atsushi 8P beat Sada Atsushi 7P by 3.5 points. 

(Nov. 12) Ichiriki Ryo Tengen (W) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resig. 

(Nov. 23) Shibano Toramaru (Oza) (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig.

(Dec. 2) Kyo Kagen Judan (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig.; Yo Seiki 8P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

(Dec. 10) Yo (W) beat Ichiriki by resig.

(Dec. 13) Shibano (W) beat Tsuruyama by resig.

(Dec. 16) Hane (W) beat Sada by resig.

Meijin League

   The three vacant seats in the 47th Meijin League went to three 8-dans: Yo Seiki, Ida Atsushi, and Shida Tatsuya. The deciding games were all played on November 11. Shida (B) beat Kono Rin, who has been a regular in the league for many years, by resignation and will make his league debut. Ida (B) beat Xie Yimin 7P by 2.5 points, so once again the debut of a woman player in a major league has been put off (recognizing as “major” only the Meijin, Honinbo, and Kisei S Leagues). Ida, a former Honinbo challenger, will make his debut in the Meijin League. Yo (B) beat Fujita Akihiko 7P by resignation, so he made an immediate comeback after losing his place in the previous league. Results of games played last year follow.

(Dec. 3) Ichiriki Tengen (W) beat Ida Atsushi 8P by resig. 

(Dec. 9) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by half a point.

(Dec. 18) Yo Seiki 8P (W) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resig.

(Dec. 20). Shida Tatsuya 8P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 3.5 points.  

Sumire’s progress

This report follows on from my report published on November 10 and takes Sumire to the end of the year. Her final record was 43 wins to 18 losses, which put her in third place in the most-wins list after Ueno Asami on 54-25 and Kyo Kagen Judan on 44-21.

(Nov. 11) Sumire (B) lost to Suzuki Ayumi 7P by half a point (25th Women’s Kisei main tournament, round 2).

(Nov. 13) Sumire (B) beat Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, by 1.5 points (Women’s Brains Match, details given earlier in this report); Sumire (W) lost to Xie Yimin 7P by resig. (final of the Brains Match). These are both unofficial games.

(Nov. 18) Sumire (W) lost to Kaneko Maki 2P by 4.5 points (round 1, prelim., Teikei Cup Young Stars).

(Nov. 22) Sumire (B) beat Fujii Koki 1P by 4.5 points (prelim., 47th King of the New Stars)

(Nov. 29) Sumire (B) beat Kimu Shujun 9P by 3.5 points (Prelim. C, 78th Honinbo).

(Dec. 2) Sumire (B) beat Hoshiai Shiho 3P by resig. (Prelim. B, Women’s Meijin).

(Dec. 9) Sumire (B) beat Suzukawa Natsumi 1P by resig. (Prelim., 47th King of the New Stars). 

(Dec. 23) Sumire (W) beat Shimoji Gensho 7P by resig. (Prelim. C, 48th Meijin tournament).

Promotions

To 2-dan (30 wins): Toyoda Hirohito (as of Nov. 12); Miura Taro (as of Nov. 26)

To 3-dan (40 wins): Kuwabara Shun (as of Nov. 23); Sakai Yuki (as of Dec. 24) 

To 4-dan: Sotoyanagi Sebun (50 wins, as of Dec. 7) 

Retirements

Otake Hideo 9P, one of the top players of the second half of the 20th century, retired on December 15 after a go career of 65 years. He was born in Kita Kyushu City in Fukuoka Prefecture on May 12, 1942. He became a disciple of Kitani Minoru in 1951 and made 1-dan in 1956. He won his first title, the Nihon Ki-in No. One Position, in 1966 and monopolized it for the five years of its existence. He won the 14th Yomiuri Meijin title in 1975 and the 1st (1976), 3rd (1978), and 4th (1979) Asahi Meijin titles. He acquired the nickname of “the Meijin man” when he played in the Meijin title match nine times in the decade from 1975 to 1984. He and Rin Kaiho 9P, who was born in the same year, were great rivals and this period was called “the age of Otake and Rin.” He won a total of 48 titles, which is fifth best, including seven Gosei, five Judan, and one Oza among the top-seven titles, and five NHK Cups. A winning streak of six years in the Gosei earned him the title of Honorary Gosei. He also won two international titles, the 5th Fujitsu Cup in 1992 and the 6th TV Asia tournament in 1994. His career record is 1319 wins, 846 losses, 5 jigo, 1 no-contest. He served as chairman of the Nihon Ki-in board of directors from 2008 to 2012.

Chino Tadahiko 9P retired as of December 16. Chino was born in Chiba Prefecture on July 4, 1937. He became a disciple of Nakamura Yutaro 9P and made 1-dan in 1953. He reached 9-dan in 1983. He played twice in the Honinbo League.

Obituary: Kikuchi Yasuro

Kikuchi Yasuro, the leading amateur player of the second half of the 20th century and founder of the Ryokusei Igo Gakuen (Igo College), died of old age on November 3. Kikuchi was born in Tokyo in 1929. In 1948, he entered Senshu University and established himself as the top university player. In 1957, he won the 3rd Amateur Honinbo Championship; in all, he won it 13 times. In 1992, he won the 14th World Amateur Go Championship; he made five appearances in this tournament in all. He also won the Amateur Best Ten nine times. Winners of the Amateur Honinbo and the Amateur Best Ten got to play games with professionals, and, playing on a handicap of reverse komi or two stones, he enjoyed quite a good winning percentage. For example, taking black with a reverse komi of five, he beat Sakata Eio by eight points in 1957. In 1979, he founded the Ryokusei Igo Gakuen with the goal of giving children a healthy upbringing through go. It was not meant to be a training school for professionals, though about 20 of his pupils did become professionals, starting with Muramatsu Ryuichi 8P and including Yamashita Keigo, former Kisei, Aoki Shinichiro 9P, and his sister Kikuyo 8P. His last pupil to become a pro was Hoshiai Shiho 3P. I recall reading that when he was young, he consulted Segoe Kensaku 9P about whether he should become a professional. Segoe’s answer was that he had enough talent, but that he would be “just another 9-dan,” whereas as an amateur he would have a more illustrious career.

Tomorrow: 2021 stats

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The Power Report: Iyama regains Oza title; The Teikei tournaments; Ueno wins Young Carp; Ida sets record in Crown title

Saturday January 29, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

Iyama regains Oza title

In contrast to his other recent title matches, Iyama never fell behind in the 69th Oza best-of-five. Rather, it was the titleholder, Shibano Toramaru, who had to play catch-up in the second game and then save a kadoban in the fourth. The final game, played on December 9, was the last title-match game of the year. Iyama got black in the nigiri. The game was very close and in the end was decided by a small slip in judgment by Shibano, who resigned after move 161.

With this win, Iyama regained the title that he lost to Shibano two years ago. He was also once again the holder of a quintuple crown. Of the top seven titles, he is missing just the Tengen and the Judan, but he has already been eliminated from the 60th Judan tournament, so there is no immediately prospect of his getting another grand slam.  Results follow (note that Black won all the games). Incidentally, the Go Weekly reporter worked out that during 2021 Iyama’s record in kadoban games (that is, games in which he could have lost a match) was eight successive wins. The Oza prize is 14,000,000 yen (about $123,000). This is Iyama’s 67th title.

Game 1 (Oct. 29). Iyama (B) by resig.; Game 2 (Nov. 12). Shibano (B) by resig.; Game 3 (Nov. 19). Iyama (B) by resig.; Game 4 (Dec. 3). Shibano (B) by resig.; Game 5 (Dec. 9). Iyama (B) by resig.

The Teikei tournaments

In 2021, three new tournaments were founded by one sponsor, the Teikei Corporation. This is actually a massive family of companies whose core business seems to be providing security services of various kind. The three tournaments are described below. 

The Teikei Cup New Stars Tournament is for players of 25 or under, as of April 1 of the tournament year (this date applies to the other two tournaments also). The top 12 players in a preliminary tournament qualify for two all-play-all six-player leagues, the winners of which meet in a best-of-three final. First prize is 10,000,000 yen (close to $88,000), the most generous of the three tournaments. Unusually for a Japanese tournament, the leagues were held at the rate of a game a day from December 20 to 25 (the 23rd was a rest day). In the A League, Shibano Toramaru tied on 4-1 with Ichiriki Ryo, but Shibano took precedence because he won their encounter in the league. Kyo Kagen Judan dominated the B League with a score of 5-0. Shibano and Kyo will meet in the final in March. 

The Teikei Cup Legends Tournament: for players 60 and above. Players start out in a preliminary tournament, but honorary titleholders and the top four players in the Women Legends (see below) are seeded into the main tournament, which is a standard knockout. In the 1st term, 17 players are in the main tournament. First prize is 5,000,000 yen.

The Teikei Cup Women Legends Tournament: for players 45 and older. First prize is 2,000,000 yen. Actually the 1st term of this tournament has already been completed.  Thirteen players took part in a knock-out tournament, with three of the players being seeded into the second round. In the semifinals, Aoki Kikuyo 8P (B) beat Hosaka Mayu 3-dan by 4.5 points (played on November 25) and Kato Tomoko 6P (W) beat Tsukuda Akiko 6P by resig. (December 2). In the final, held in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in on December 11, Aoki (W) beat Kato Tomoko by 4.5 points. All four of these players are seeded into the Legends Tournament.

Ueno wins Young Carp

The main tournament of the 16th Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp Tournament was held at the Hotel MyStays Hiroshima on November 20 and 21. In the final, Ueno Asami (B) beat Nishi Kengo 5P by resignation. Last year this tournament was won by Fujisawa Rina; this year it was the turn of her main rival in women’s go, Ueno. She didn’t get an easy draw, either; her defeated opponents, in order, were Otani Naoki 4P, Koike Yoshihiro 6P, recognized as one of the top young players, and Mutsuura Yuta 7P, who has played in the Meijin league. First prize is 3,000,000 yen (about $26,360).

Ida sets record in Crown title

Ida Atsushi 8P

This is a title open only to players at the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in, who number about 50. The final of the 62nd Crown title was held in the Hodaka Hotel in Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture, on November 30. Taking black, Ida Atsushi 8P, the titleholder, beat the challenger Otake Yu 5P by resignation. Ida surprised his opponent by unveiling a new move in a large-scale corner fight in the opening; he said later that it was a move that AI doesn’t give and which he discovered for himself. It turns a seki into a winning capturing race for Black. Otake found a way to live but at the cost of having other stones come under severe pressure. After this opening, AI assessed Black’s winning chances at 90%. Ida’s own assessment was that he gained about five points. He has now held this title for six years in a row, which is a new record. First prize is 1,700,000 yen (just under $15,000).

Tomorrow: Choi wins 4th Go Seigen Cup; China wins Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off; Shibano wins Ryusei; Suzuki to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Kuksu Mountains World Championship

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Meijin title; Han wins SGW Cup; Xie wins Women’s Brains Match; Seki wins Tengen

Friday January 28, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent  for the E-Journal

46th Meijin; Iyama (r)

Iyama defends Meijin title

When Iyama Yuta Meijin survived a kadoban in the sixth game of the 46th Meijin title match (see my report of November 4), he caught up with the challenger, Ichiriki Ryo Tengen, for the second time. In effect, the best-of-seven was down to a one-off clash. The seventh game was played in the Imai Villa, a Japanese-style inn, in Kawazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on November 4 and 5. The nigiri was held again and Iyama drew black. Both sides played aggressively, but, perhaps because of the pressure of staking everything on this one game, Ichiriki made a slack move in the middle game. Iyama took full advantage of it and seized control of the game. Ichiriki resigned after move 129. This gave Iyama his second Meijin title in a row and his eighth overall. Notably, following his Honinbo title defense earlier in the year, it is the second successive best-of-seven in which he fell behind and had to make a comeback. That may show that keeping his place at the top is getting harder. Be that as it may, he remained the indisputable number one in Japan and also reached some impressive milestones. This is his 66th title (two more than Sakata Eio and only nine behind Cho Chikun). It is also his 27th big-three title, which is just two behind the record-holder—Cho Chikun, of course. Finally, he also maintained his quadruple crown (holding four of the top-seven titles). First prize is 30 million yen (about $263,600, at $1 = ¥113.8). 

Han wins SGW Cup

Han Zenki

The SGW Cup Golden Mean Tournament is a tournament open to Nihon Ki-in players from 31 to 60 who have not won a top-seven title or the Ryusei or Agon Kiriyama titles or this title itself. It follows the NHK format.

The modified Swiss System tournament for the top 16 players that concluded the 4th Cup was held at the Nihon Ki-in on November 6 and 7. The two undefeated players after three rounds met in a final. Han Zenki 8P (B) beat Okuda Aya 4P by 3.5 points after 310 moves.

Previous winners, in order, are: Rin Kanketsu 8P, Ko Iso 9P, and Kanazawa Hideo 8P. First prize is 2,000,000 yen (about $17,500). 

Xie wins Women’s Brains Match

The Women’s Brains Match is an invitational tournament for four players organized by the Fumakira company and held at the Fumakira Brains Park Hiroshima on November 13. In the first round, Xie Yimin 7P (W) beat Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo, by resignation and Nakamura Sumire 2P (B) beat Ueno Asami, Women’s Kisei, by 1.5 points. Incidentally, this was the first time Sumire had won a game against Ueno. In the final, Xie (B) beat Sumire by resig. The tournament followed the NHK format. Brains Park (using the English words) is the name of a research facility established by the Fumakira company, whose main product is insecticides. It is located near a Fumakira factory and has a view of the Itsukushima shrine gate, which is considered one of the top three tourist attractions in Japan.

Seki wins Tengen

One of the biggest surprises of the 2021 tournament year was the one-sided triumph of the 20-year-old Seki Kotaro in the 47th Tengen title match. Recently, the 24-year-old Ichiriki has clearly established himself as the number two player after Iyama Yuta and he has won 14 titles. In contrast, the unheralded Seki had won just one junior title, the 45th King of the New Stars in 2020, and was not yet considered to be a dangerous rival for Ichiriki. Among his colleagues, Seki is known for his fondness for using AI in his research and for his aggressive middle-game fighting. In the pre-match interview with Go Weekly, however, he commented that beating Shibano Toramaru in the play-off to decide the challenger had given him confidence, and he also mentioned that he had spent a lot of time studying the opening and the endgame in preparation for the title match.

Seki started the match with a win, but Ichiriki evened the score in the second game. Significantly, however, Seki had played well though he ended up losing in the endgame. He bounced back and wrapped up the match with good wins in the third and fourth games. First prize is 13,000,000 yen (about $114,235). Results follow.

Game 1 (Oct. 5). Seki (W) by resig.

Game 2 (Nov. 16). Ichiriki (W) by resig.

Game 3 (Nov. 25). Seki (W) by resig.

Game 4 (Dec. 6). Seki (B) by resig.

Iyama set a slew of youth records early in his career. Recently Shibano has lowered some of them. Now Seki is following in their footsteps. Winning a top-seven title after just four years eight months as a professional is a new speed record (eclipsing Shibano’s five years one month). At exactly 20, he is one month older than Shibano was when he won the Meijin title. He is the first player born in the 21st century to win a top-seven title. For his part, Ichiriki had now lost both his top-seven titles and had also failed in his Meijin challenge despite coming very close to winning the match. He will be pinning all his hopes on his Kisei challenge.

Incidentally, while analyzing a game of Seki’s a year earlier, Cho Chikun commented that he was convinced he would soon win a title. Instead of just playing the move everyone would play, Seki looked “for something better and this is the difference between title-winners and ordinary players.” 

Tomorrow: Iyama regains Oza title; The Teikei tournaments; Ueno wins Young Carp; Ida sets record in Crown title

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50 Years aGO – January 1972

Sunday January 16, 2022

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Ōhira Shūzō wins the Nihon Ki’in Championship

On January 7th, Kitani Reiko 6d (daughter of the great Kitani Minoru, wife of Kobayashi Kōichi) defeated Honda Sachiko 4d to capture the Ladies Hon’inbo for the sixth time. It should be noted that the Hon’inbo title eluded her father and her husband, but not her daughter, Kobayashi Izumi. (Game record: Ladies Hon’inbo Game 3)

Two events dominated this month, our coverage of them started last. First, two games completed the Nihon Ki’in Championship, which started the new year knotted at 1-1. On January 11-12, Ishida Yoshio lost to Ōhira Shūzō in a game titled by Go Review, “Even Computers Make Mistakes.” Ōhira regained the title with a win in the fourth game on January 18-19. (Game records: Nihon Ki’in Championship Game 3, Game 4)

Sakata Eio wins Jūdan Game 1

Japanese go fans were enthralled by the Jūdan match between two members of the old guard. It should be noted, back in those days, the Jūdan was 4th in prestige amongst the big seven titles. On January 26-27, Sakata Eio defeated the title holder Hashimoto Utarō in the first game. (Game record: Jūdan Game 1)

There were interesting developments in the Meijin and Hon’inbo leagues. As of January 27, both dethroned champions were leading the leagues. Fujisawa Shūkō led the Meijin League, seeking revenge against Rin Meijin, while Rin led the Hon’inbo League looking for a rematch with Ishida Hon’inbo. Ishida was off to a bad start (0-2) in the Meijin League.

Game records thanks to SmartGo, photos from Go Review.

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50 Years aGO – December 1971

Friday December 31, 2021

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Nihon Ki'in Championship match between Ishida Yoshio and Ōhira Shūzō
Nihon Ki’in Championship match between Ishida Yoshio and Ōhira Shūzō

European amateur Manfred Wimmer played taisha expert Yamabe Toshirō 9d in a three stone game. Wimmer, studying go in Japan, played quite creditably, in a game featured in Go Review, losing by three points.

On December 16, Sakata Eio defeated Rin Kaihō for the right to challenge Hashimoto Utarō for the Jūdan title. (Game record attached here.)

Ōhira Shūzō began his bid to regain the Nihon Ki’in Championship from title holder Ishida Yoshio. Ishida won the first game on December 21st, but Ōhira evened the series on December 27. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2.)

Sakata Eio wins again Rin Kaihō in the Jūdan Tournament
Sakata Eio wins again Rin Kaihō in the Jūdan Tournament

Finally in this holiday season while many are out purchasing presents and facing a bit of inflation, we thought we would feature the prices of yesteryear, as stated in a Go Review ad. For those of you with a nice real kaya table board, slate and shell stones and cherry bowls on your wish list, the price was a “hefty” $110, shipping included. Happy Holidays!

Photos courtesy of Go Review, game records from SmartGo

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