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The Power Report: Yuki Satoshi 9P’s Good Form Continues; Iyama’s Sextuple Crown in Danger?; Cho U Keeps Sole Lead in Meijin League

Sunday April 7, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the American Go E-Journal

Yuki Satoshi 9P’s Good Form Continues: The ‘good week’ described in our previous report (Power Report, 4/1 EJ) looks like turning into a good month for Yuki Satoshi 9P (right). The third game of the 51st Judan title match was played at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in the city of Omachi in Nagano Prefectures on April 4. Taking black, Yuki forced the titleholder, Iyama Yuta, to resign after 189 moves, so he took a 2-1 lead in the series. He is now just one win away from taking his second top-seven title.
This was Yuki’s third win in a row against Iyama, so he is exacting some revenge for the ten successive losses he suffered previously. The fourth game will be played on April 18.

Iyama’s Sextuple Crown in Danger? Past records of multiple crowns show that they don’t usually last very long, usually less than a year (a detailed listing is given on page 6 of Go World 129). Iyama Yuta 9P (right) picked up his quintuple crown in November 22 last year and is in no danger of losing it for a few months yet, but his sextuple crown, acquired as recently as March 14, already seems to be in some danger. Many fans in Japan are rooting for him to score a genuine grand slam by winning all seven top titles, but first he has to defend the ones he already has.

Cho U Keeps Sole Lead in Meijin League: A week ago, Cho U (left) lost his share of the lead in the current Honinbo League, but he remains the sole leader in the 38th Meijin League. In a game played on April 4, he defeated Sakai Hideyuki 9P by 2.5 points to extend his score to 4-0. Cho is the only undefeated player, but he is closely followed by Hane Naoki 9P and Iyama Yuta, who are both on 3-1. To have a shot at a grand slam, Iyama’s first task is to overhaul Cho. In another game played on the same day, Takao Shinji 9P (black) beat Mizokami Tomochika 8P by resignation.

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The Power Report: A Good Week for Yuki; Takao Takes Sole Lead In Honinbo League; Gu Li Wins Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-Off; 38th Kisei Leagues

Monday April 1, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the American Go E-Journal

A Good Week for Yuki: The last week of March was undoubtedly one of the best of Yuki Satoshi 9P’s career.  On the 23rd, Yuki (right), the top player of the Kansai Ki-in, defeated Takao Shinji 9P in the final of the 8th Daiwa Securities Cup. Taking black, Yuki won by 3.5 points. As of this term, the Daiwa Cup, a tournament played on the internet, was upgraded to an official title, which means two things. First, it was opened to participation by Kansai Ki-in professionals, which gave Yuki his chance. Second, it is now included in the tallies of official titles won by a player. Just for the record, Yuki’s predecessors (in order) are Takao, O Meien, Takao again, Kono Rin for the 4th and 5th cups, and Iyama Yuta for the 6th and 7th (none of these players can include the cup in their official tallies; that makes a difference, especially for someone like Iyama, who, on present form, can be expected to challenge Cho Chikun’s all-time record of 72 titles). First prize is 3 million yen (about $32,000).

The next day, Sunday the 24th, the final of the 60th NHK Cup was telecast on NHK educational TV. Taking white, Yuki defeated Iyama Yuta by 9.5 points to win the NHK Cup for the fourth time and twice in a row for the second time.
This game would actually have been played a week or two before telecasting. Yuki’s win put an end to a losing streak against Iyama of ten games in a row.His last previous win was in the final of the same tournament in 2010, when he won this title for the first time.

Ironically, Iyama had enjoyed much better form in the NHK Cup up to the final, scoring decisive wins over Komatsu Hideki 9P, Mizokami Tomochika 8P, Hane Naoki 9P, and Kono Rin 9P. In contrast, Yuki struggled, almost losing to Kurahashi Masayuki 9P before he pulled off an upset, beating Akiyama Jiro 8P by half a point, and then needing all his patience to prevail in tough games with Murakawa Daisuke 7P and Yamada Kimio 9P. Yuki dominated the final however, as Iyama chose a slightly unreasonable variation early in the game and got a bad result; he admitted later that he wasn’t really in the game after his opening setback.

Both players will represent Japan in the TV Asia tournament, usually played towards the end of spring.

Yuki’s third success was his win in the second game of the 51st Judan title match on the 28th. This evened the series and kept alive his chances of taking his second top-seven title. The game was played in Tamana City in Kumamoto Prefecture. Taking white, Yuki won by 2.5 points. The third game will be played on 4 April.

Takao takes sole lead in Honinbo League: 
After the first five rounds, only two players were left undefeated in the 68th Honinbo League: Takao Shinji 9P (at left) and Cho U 9P, who are both former Honinbos. The winner of their 6th-round clash, held on March 27, would take a big step towards becoming the challenger to Iyama Yuta Honinbo. Both sides played very fast for such an important game. Cho, in particular, took almost no time on his moves. He seemed to make the better start, but in the middle game Takao made a skilful sacrifice, then took advantage of his superiority in ko threats to start a ko fight that clinched the game. In the end, Cho, who played black, had to resign.

In the final round, Takao plays Imamura Toshiya 9P, who is on 2-4, and Cho plays Yamashita Keigo 9P, who is on 4-2. Whatever happens, Takao will at least make a play-off.

Gu Li Wins Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-off: Cho U played his Honinbo League game on a Wednesday instead of the usual Thursday because he had to play the 14th Agon Kiriyama Cup Japan-China play-off on Saturday, March 30. The extra rest day didn’t help: for the 10th year in a row China won this play-off.

This year it was Japan’s turn to host the play-off. The last international event held in Japan, the International Amateur Pair Go Championship in November 2012, was boycotted by China to show their displeasure with the Japanese government’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands, but fortunately Gu Li (right) turned up for this game. Taking white, he won by 4.5 points to score his fourth victory in the play-off. After winning the first four play-offs, Japan has been outclassed in this play-off.

38th Kisei Leagues: The four vacant seats in the upcoming Kisei Leagues have been decided. They have gone to Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (making an immediate comeback after being eliminated in the previous league), 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun, Kiyonari Tetsuya 9P, and Murakawa Daisuke 7P. Murakawa, the top player of his age group at the Kansai Ki-in (he is 23), is making his debut in a league. Kiyonari, also from the Kansai Ki-in is playing in his second Kisei league.
Longtime go writer John Power is a veteran author, translator and compiler of go books and magazines.  

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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Women Creating Stir In Japanese Ryusei

Monday December 15, 2008

Two female players have created a bit of a stir in the popular Ryusei tournament, now underway. With two wins each, Suzuki Ayumi (left) 4P and Xie Yimin 4P have a good chance to advance to the second round in an event where women players rarely win more than one game. The Ryusei is a fast-play — 30 seconds per move plus 10 one-minute thinking periods — event that’s broadcast on TV and draws a large audience. The play begins with eight groups of twelve players each who play a win-and-continue round; the winner and the player who wins the most games in each group then join a sixteen player single elimination tournament. Women players are always included though it is rare for them to win more than one game and this year Suzuki Ayumi 4P has defeated two men in Block G, Kuwamoto Shinpei 6P and Furuya Masao 3P, while Xie Yimin 4P has defeated a fellow female player Kim Hyunjung 3P as well as Miyasaki Ryutaro 6P who is male. Xie next faces Ko Iso 7P and Suzuki’s next opponent is Sakai Hideyuki 7P. These two male opponents are better-known because they have good records in tournament play and will be a real challenge for Suzuki and Xie. Since it’s possible to make it into the final event by winning three games, both women have a chance to reach the next level. Last year Rin Kaiho 9P made it into the final event with only two wins; he outranked the two other two-game winners in his group. Kono Rin 9P won this event last year, and Cho U 9P the two years before that.

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Categories: Go News,Japan
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CORRECTION

Monday December 15, 2008

“Kono Rin won the Tengen title from 2005 to 2007 — each year the other player was Yamashita Keigo, who played in the Tengen title match five years in a row — so Cho U was the challenger,” writes longtime go journalist John Power (Cho Holds Onto Tengen, Recaptures Oza 12/8 EJ). “Surprisingly, this year was the first time he had reached the title match. The EJ may have been looking forward a year, as the odds are that Cho will defend in 2009 if he maintains the great form he’s in now. Kono Rin also won the Ryusei tournament this year, so he still has two titles. This year was the first time that Kono won more than one title.”

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Categories: Go News,Japan
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Cho U Makes It 2-0 In Tengen Title Match

Monday November 24, 2008

Cho U 9P took the second game of his challenge for the Tengen title held by Kono Rin 9P to make the score 2-0 in the best-of-five-game match. Kono, who has held this title for the last three years, defeating Yamashita Keigo 9P in the title match each year, will have a hard fight to make it four. Cho’s winning percentage so far this year is 79%, while Kono’s is 60%, so the odds favor Cho’s taking another of the top seven Japanese titles — he already holds the Meijin and Gosei.

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Kobayashi Koichi Near The Top Again

Monday November 24, 2008

Kobayashi Koichi (left) 9P is one of the most popular pros of what is now the older generation in Japan. Though in his fifties, Kobayashi is still active, and won two titles as recently as 2004, though he rarely reaches the later sections of tournaments now. However, by defeating Shuto Shun 6P on Saturday November 22nd, he has reached the finals of the Daiwa Cup where he will face Kono Rin 9P and current Tengen. The Daiwa Cup is a fast-play event on the Internet and one of three events sponsored by the Daiwa Securities Company of Japan; the others are the Daiwa Ladies Cup, won back in September by Xie Yimin 3P, and the Daiwa Grand Champion Cup, won by Iyama Yuta 8P last July.

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Cho One Game From Regaining Oza Title

Monday November 17, 2008

Cho U (left) 9P has taken the first two games of the best-of-five-game title match with Yamashita Keigo 9P for the Oza title. Yamashita has held this title for the last two years, having taken it from Cho in 2006. Cho had held it for three years before that. He currently holds four titles: MeijinGoseiAgon Cup, and NHK Cup. Cho is also challenging for the Tengen title against Kono Rin 9P, and leads 1-0 in that contest. You can watch the third game of the Oza title match live on IGS on November 30th starting at 6P EST. - Photo from the Hungarian Go Association website

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