American Go E-Journal

The Power Report: Amateur makes Kisei C League; Cheating discovered in Korean qualifying tournament; Virus upsetting tournament schedule; Promotions; Yoda suspended for six months

Saturday February 22, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Amateur makes Kisei C League

For a number of years now, the top four place-getters in the Net Kisei tournament for amateur players have earned places in the professional Kisei qualifying tournament, called the First Tournament. So far the best performance by an amateur had been three wins, but this year Kurita Yoshiki won five games in a row and secured a place in the C League. In the final, held on February 13, he beat Sotoyanagi Sebun 3P playing with black. The C League is an irregular Swiss System: there are five rounds, but players drop out with their third loss.

Cheating discovered in Korean qualifying tournament

On January 14, one of the competitors in the Korean professional qualifying tournament was discovered to be cheating. The player (gender unknown) had concealed a small camera inside his or her clothing and had a wireless earphone hidden in a bandage. An accomplice outside the venue was relaying the moves suggested by an AI program. The player was immediately disqualified; after an emergency meeting of the officials on January 17, it was decided to proceed with a criminal prosecution.

Virus upsetting tournament schedule

The corona virus still shows no signs of letting up in China and is daily getting worse in Japan, so it is beginning to take a toll in deferments of international tournaments. As noted above, the second game of the Wild Fox final was put off, even though it’s a Net tournament. The 13th Chunlan Cup, scheduled to start on February 24 in Taizhou City in China, has likewise been postponed indefinitely. We can expect other casualties. There is no word yet on the Nihon Ki-in’s World Go Championship, scheduled for March 17~19 in Tokyo.

Promotions

To 7-dan: Iwamaru Taira (120 wins, as of Jan. 24)
To 2-dan: Aoki Hirotaka (30 wins, as of Feb. 7)

Yoda suspended for six months

The mills of the Nihon Ki-in grind slowly; whether or not they grind fine is another matter, but they have caught up with Yoda Norimoto. In the E-Journal issue of August 23 last year, I reported that the sponsors of the Masters Cup had cancelled it because of distaste for criticism Yoda was making of the Ki-in administration in tweets and via the Ki-in’s mailing list. When the medium was criticized as inappropriate, Yoda withdrew his tweets, but did not apologize to the persons who felt they had been libeled. Kobayashi Satoru 9P, chairman of the board of directors, said at the time that in due course Yoda would be punished for disturbing and defaming the Nihon Ki-in and causing it to lose a sponsor. On February 12, the Ki-in announced that a board of directors meeting had decided that he would be suspended from tournament participation for six months (from this day to August 11). The decision was announced at a press conference attended by Kobayashi and Obuchi Morito 9P, a director. They said the decision had been transmitted to Yoda through his lawyer. The next day, Yoda turned up to play a previously scheduled game, but was denied access to the playing room. It’s hard to get a full picture, but Yoda’s criticism was said to be related to the dismissal in May 2018 of his wife Hara Sachiko 4P as a director for—what else?–slandering other candidates in an election, though the timeline doesn’t seem to match.

The Power Report: Nakamura Sumire receives Kansai prize, scores 20th win; Shin Jinseo wins LG Cup; Fourth-generation professional

Friday February 21, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Nakamura Sumire receives Kansai prize, scores 20th win

On January 27, Sumire was awarded the 2019 New Power Prize by the Association for Promoting the Kansai Cultural Sphere. The committee gives a number of prizes to Kansai figures who have had a national impact. Iyama received prizes in 2011 and 2018. Sumire was busy playing on the 27th, so Goto Shungo 9P, a Nihon Ki-in director, attended in her place. Sumire did send a video message.

Sumire has made a slow start this year, starting out with one win to four losses, but she has now improved her score to 4-4. Her cumulative record is a commendable 21-11; at this rate, she could earn promotion this year. Below are her 2020 results. (Unless otherwise indicated, games were played at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in.)

(Jan. 13) Miyamoto Chiharu 1P (B) beat Sumire by 2.5 points (Hakata Kamachi Cup preliminary). (Miyamoto also beat her in the Young Carp tournament last September.)
(Jan. 23) Iwamaru Taira 6P (B) beat Sumire by 10.5 points (semifinal of 46th Kisei First Tournament. (This win earned Iwamaru promotion to 7-dan—see below.)
(Jan. 27) Sumire (W) beat (Ms.) Osuga Seira 1P by resig.; Yahata Naoki 2P (B) beat Sumire by resig. (both games in the 7th Globis Cup preliminary round).
(Jan. 30) O Keii 3P (B) beat Sumire by resig. (Women’s Hollyhock Cup preliminary, played at the Nagoya headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in).
(Feb. 3) Sumire (W) beat Yanagawa Hiromasa 7P by 7.5 points (Preliminary C, 46th Gosei tournament).
(Feb. 10) Sumire (W) beat Yoshida Naoyoshi 4P (Preliminary C, 46th Meijin tournament).
(Feb. 13) Sumire (W) beat Ono Ayako 1P by resig. (5th Senko Cup preliminary, played at the Kansai Ki-in).

Shin Jinseo wins LG Cup

Shin Jinseo 9P (aged 19) has been the world’s top-rated player for a while without winning a major international tournament, but he redressed that in the 24th LG Cup. After beating Ke Jie 9P of China in the semifinal, he beat Park Junghwan 2-0 in an all-Korean final. In Game 1 (Feb. 10), he won by resig. with white; in Game 2 (Feb. 12), he won by resig. with black. First prize is 300,000,000 won (about $253,000). The venue was probably in Korea, but I checked three Net sites without being able to confirm this.

Fourth-generation professional

The 2020 Women’s Special Qualification Exam (actually a tournament) concluded on February 8. It was won by the 13-year-old Cho Kosumi, who scored seven wins to one loss. The results have to be ratified by a screening committee and then by a Nihon Ki-in directors meeting, but these are formalities, so Cho should start her professional career on April 1. As a professional, she could hardly be more of a blue blood: her father is Cho U 9P, former Kisei; her mother is Kobayashi Izumi 6P, daughter of Kobayashi Koichi 9P, also a former Kisei, and Kobayashi Reiko 6P, the former Kitani Reiko; her great-grandfather is Kitani Minoru 9P, a legendary player of the mid-20th century. Kosumi is the first fourth-generation professional at the Nihon Ki-in and the second in Japan. The Sekiyama family at the Kansai Ki-in was the first to have four generations of professionals. Incidentally, all the members of Kosumi’s family mentioned above have won titles: the family haul is 125 titles.

Tomorrow: Amateur makes Kisei C League; Cheating discovered in Korean qualifying tournament; Virus upsetting tournament schedule; Promotions; Yoda suspended for six months

The Power Report: Suzuki wins Women’s Kisei title; Shibano to challenge for Judan; 75th Honinbo League; 45th Meijin League

Thursday February 20, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Suzuki wins Women’s Kisei title

In the last year or so, women’s go has been dominated by two players, Fujisawa Rina (Women’s Hollyhock Cup, Women’s Meijin, Senko Cup) and Ueno Asami (Women’s Honinbo, Women’s Kisei). This year things may be different. In the 23rd DoCoMo Cup Women’s Kisei title match, Suzuki Ayumi 7P, who at 36 qualifies as a veteran, challenged the 18-year-old Ueno Asami. Suzuki won the match 2-1 and took her first title for 16 years (she won the Strongest Woman Player tournament in 2003 and 2004). The first game was played at the Hotel Sun Life Garden in Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, on January 16. Ueno is known for her fighting strength, but in this game Suzuki (W) outplayed her. She won by 3.5 points after 241 moves.

In the second game, played in the Ryusei Studio at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on Jan. 27,Ueno took revenge. Playing white, she fought fiercely and secured a resignation after 144 moves.

The deciding game was played at the same venue on February 10. Ueno (W) seemed to be doing well in the first part of the game, but little by little Suzuki overhauled her and secured the lead. She won by 3.5 points after 285 moves. Winning her third title after a gap of sixteen years is quite an achievement. Like many of the women professionals, Suzuki has been busy with child-rearing in recent years; she has two daughters, Yuzuki (five) and Yuri (two). Yuzuki was happy for her win; Yuri was happy because her mother brings home sweets for them when she’s won a game. Her husband is Rin Kanketsu 8P, who commented: “With [my wife] now falling behind, now taking the lead, any number of times I thought my heart was going to stop.”

Shibano to challenge for Judan

The play-off to decide the challenger for the 58th Judan title was held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on January 30 and featured a clash between the current top two: Iyama Yuta and Shibano Toramaru. Taking white, Shibano won by resignation; it was the first time he had qualified for the main section of the Judan (the best 19—the seeding process is too complicated to describe), so he made the most of his opportunity. The title match with Murakawa Daisuke will start on March 3. At 20 years three months, Shibano will be the youngest-ever challenger for the Judan title (the previous record, 20 years 11 months, was set by Ida Atsushi 8P). If Shibano wins, he will draw (almost) even with Iyama as a triple crown-holder.

75th Honinbo League

After two games in the fifth round, Shibano Toramaru and Ichiriki Ryo have the provisional lead on 4-1, but they are closely followed by two players on 3-1: Hane Naoki 9P, and Kyo Kagen 8P. However, Kyo and Hane meet in this round. 2020 results:

(Jan. 9) Ichiriki (W) beat Shida Tatsuya 8P by resig.

(Jan. 16) Shibano Toramaru Meijin (B) beat Kyo Kagen 8P by resig.; Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.

(Jan. 23) Yokotsuka Riki 7P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 10.5 points.

(Feb. 6) Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Yokotsuka by resig.

45th Meijin League

After three rounds, Kyo Kagen has the sole lead with 3-0. However, Ichiriki and Iyama Yuta, who had byes in the second and third rounds respectively, are also undefeated. Results so far this year:

(Jan. 9) Cho U 9P (B) beat Rin Kanketsu 8P by resig.

(Jan. 16) Iyama Yuta Kisei (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.

(Jan. 30) Kono (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke Judan by resig.; Kyo Kagen 8P (B) beat Hane Naoki Gosei by resig.

(Feb. 13) Ichiriki (B) beat Yamashita by resig.; Kyo Kagen (W) beat Cho U by resig.; Murakawa (W) beat Hane by half a point.

Tomorrow: Nakamura Sumire receives Kansai prize, scores 20th win; Shin Jinseo wins LG Cup; Fourth-generation professional

Go Spotting: Smithsonian Magazine

Thursday February 20, 2020

This month, Smithsonian Magazine published an article called Great Board Games of the Ancient World; naturally Go is included, though towards the end of the article, along with Mancala, Senet, the Royal Game of Ur, Mehen, Backgammon, the Game of the Goose, and others. Thanks to Steve Zilber for spotting this article.

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The Power Report: Iyama close to defending Kisei title; Iyama ahead in international final; Park wins New Year’s Cup

Wednesday February 19, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama close to defending Kisei title

Iyama Yuta made a great start in the 44th Kisei best-of-seven, racing to a 3-0 lead, but Kono Rin picked up his first win in the fourth game, so Iyama won’t be counting his chickens. In his previous challenges to Iyama for big-three titles—the 26th Meijin, the 41st Kisei, and the 74th Honinbo—Kono scored two wins each time. He can still improve on that record, but each game is a kadoban for him.

The title match got off to a start on January 9 and 10, with the first game being played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo. Iyama, who drew black in the nigiri, won by 5.5 points. Kono started well, taking the initiative in the opening, but he made an error of judgment in the crucial fight, and this cost him the game.

The second game was played at the Renkeiji Temple in Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, on January 20 and 21. Iyama (W) took the lead in the opening, but Kono caught up in the middle game. However, Iyama again secured the lead in the endgame. Kono resigned after 198 moves. There was a complication under the surface that became clearer later. After playing move 114, Iyama began muttering bitter self-recriminations; after the game, he said he had overlooked a simple counter by black. Fortunately, Kono was out of the room at the time; when he came back, Iyama reverted to a poker face. Kono took his move on trust and didn’t think to query it, so Iyama got away with his blunder.

The third game was played at the Olive Bay Hotel in Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture on February 1 and 2. In a word, Iyama (B) simply outfought Kono and forced him to resign after 153 moves.

The fourth game was played at the Kyushu National Museum, Dazaifu City, Kyushu, on February 14 and 15. Kono (B) won by resignation after 231 moves, thus saving his first kadoban. The fifth game will be played on February 26 and 27.

Iyama ahead in international final

The 1st Wild Fox Contest for Supremacy is an online tournament run by a Chinese server, Wild Fox, and has a top prize of 500,000 yuan (about $71,700). It was open to the 32 top-ranked players on the server. As no. 30, Iyama just made the cut, but he has done very well, winning eight games in a row to make the final, a best-of-three in which he started off with a win. In order, he beat Son Tengyu, Li Weiqing, Tang Weixing, Jiang Weijie, Chen Zijian, and Xie Ke to reach the semifinals; there he beat Chen Yaoye 2-0. His opponent in the final is Tong Mengcheng. The first game was played on January 29, with Iyama eking out a win by half a point. The second game of the best-of-free was scheduled for February 12 but has been deferred because of the corona-virus crisis in China.

Park wins New Year’s Cup

The 8th CCTV New Year’s Cup, which celebrates the Chinese New Year, is an invitational mini-tournament for one player each from China, Japan, and Korea. This year it was held in Zhengdu City with a first prize of 800,000 yuan (about $112,000). Game conditions follow the NHK format. With three participants, the tournament is an irregular knock-out. After drawing lots, the pairing for the first game (Jan. 20) was Park Junghwan 9P of Korea versus Ke Jie 9P of China. Taking white, Park won by 1.5 points and went through to the final. The first-game loser gets a second chance. In the second game (Jan. 21), Ke (W) beat Shibano Toramaru by resig. The loser of this game is the only player who doesn’t get to play two games; Shibano suffered the same fate last year, though his opponent then was Park. In the final (Jan. 22), Park (B) beat Ke by resig., winning this tournament for the third year in a row.

Tomorrow: Suzuki wins Women’s Kisei title; Shibano to challenge for Judan; 75th Honinbo League; 45th Meijin League

The Power Report: 2019 review

Tuesday February 18, 2020

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Most wins
Shibano Toramaru, the youthful new Meijin, topped this list for the third year in a row. Considering the level of his competition now, as he’s playing top-flight opponents in leagues and title matches, that’s a significant achievement and testimony to his great form for most of the year. Also significant are the two best results ever attained by female players, with Ueno Asami and Fujisawa Rina coming third and fourth respectively. In particular, their good results against male players show that the level of women’s go is steadily rising. Here are the top 12.

  1. Shibano Toramaru: 52 wins, 18 losses
  2. Ichiriki Ryo 8P: 47-14
  3. Ueno Asami, Women’s Honinbo: 44-25
  4. Mutsuura Yuta: 38-20; Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Hollyhock Cup: 38-28
  5. Otake Yu 3P: 36-12
  6. Kono Rin 9P: 35-18
  7. Iyama Yuta Kisei: 34-27
  8. Suzuki Shinji 7P: 33-15; Son Makoto 7P: 33-19
  9. Kyo Kagen 8P: 32-17
  10. Xie Yimin 6P: 31-23

Most successive wins

  1. Ichiriki Ryo, Fujita Akihiko 7P (twice): 16
  2. Kono Rin: 13
  3. Yokotsuka Riki 7P, Fujisawa Rina: 12
  4. Hane Naoki Gosei: 11
  5. Shibano Toramaru, Adachi Toshimasa 6P, Muramoto Wataru 2P (twice), Nyu Eiko 2P: 10

Best winning percentage

  1. Ichiriki: 77.05
  2. Otake Yu, Fujita Akihiko (30-10): 75
  3. Shibano Toramaru: 74.29
  4. Oomote Takuto 3P (20-7): 74.07

2019 Prize-money promotions
There are three ways to earn promotions. One is through cumulative wins, which is the slow way. The fast way is through a tournament success, which will enable a low-ranked player to skip some intervening ranks. The conditions are fairly complicated, so here is a summary. Promotion to 7-dan: challenging for one of the bottom four (Oza, Tengen, Gosei, Judan) of the top seven titles; winning the Agon Kiriyama Cup or the Ryusei tournament; winning a place in the Kisei S League or the Honinbo or Meijin League. To 8-dan: winning one of the bottom four of the top seven titles; challenging for one of the top three titles (Kisei, Meijin, Honinbo); coming second in an international tournament. To 9-dan: winning a top-three or an international title; winning one of the bottom four of the top seven titles a second time. In theory, a new 1-dan could go straight to 9-dan by this system. In practice, however, it’s unlikely because it would take close to two years to go from the first qualifying round to a top-three title match, during which time a player strong enough to do this would have already made 2-dan or 3-dan.
The third way to get promoted is by coming first or second in the prize-money list for each dan from 1-dan to 5-dan; the top 6-dan is also promoted. Only prize money won in the top seven titles is counted. These promotions take effect on January 1 and are based on the previous year. (Players who earn promotions through the cumulative-wins system are not considered.) The promotions for 2019 are given below.

To 7-dan: Adachi Toshimasa
To 6-dan: Terayama Rei, Yo Chito
To 5-dan: Onishi Ryuhei, Koike Yoshihiro
To 4-dan: Otake Yu, Hirose Yuichi
To 3-dan: Seki Kotaro, Torii Yuta
To 2-dan: Chotoku Tetsushi, Sakai Yuki

Top prize-money winners for 2019 (in yen)

  1. Iyama Yuta: 108,259,237 (about $984,000)
  2. Shibano Toramaru: 67,669,600
  3. Ichiriki Ryo: 36,847,129
  4. Cho U: 32,272,656
  5. Fujisawa Rina: 26,593,572
  6. Yamashita Keigo: 26,177,458
  7. Kono Rin: 25,230,600
  8. Hane Naoki: 21,004,400
  9. Ueno Asami: 20,777,172
  10. Kyo Kagen: 19,044,240

Top news of 2019
The readers of Go Weekly chose the following as the hottest news topics of the year.

  1. Shibano Toramaru’s breakthrough
  2. The blossoming of Nakamura Sumire
  3. The rising dragon Ueno Asami
  4. Iyama Yuta stays on top
  5. The new Gosei Hane Naoki
  6. Death of Ogawa Tomoko
  7. Busy year for Fujisawa Rina
  8. Retirement of Lee Sedol
  9. Cho U’s win in China-Japan Agon Kiriyama Cup
  10. Ichiriki’s success rapid-go titles
    Just missing the top ten was Sakai Hideyuki retiring from go to resume his medical career.

Tomorrow: Iyama close to defending Kisei title; Iyama ahead in international final; Park wins New Year’s Cup

Players wanted for new international Pair Go Handicap Tournament

Monday February 17, 2020

The AGA is looking for one male player and one female player to play as a pair in the new Pair Go Handicap Tournament at the Pair Go World Cup 2020 in Tokyo, Japan from July 1 to July 6, 2020. Both players must be American citizens and have been continuous members of the AGA for one year. Room and board are provided by the tournament, and 50% of the cost of airfare will also be covered, with players expected to bear 50% of airfare and other travel costs.

Eligible interested players (male, female, or pairs) should contact AGA Pair Go Coordinator Hajin Lee at hajin.lee@usgo.org no later than February 26.

Upcoming Go Events: Springfield and Seattle

Monday February 17, 2020

February 22: Springfield, MA
Western Mass Go Club Winter 2020 Tournament
Trevor Morris gotrevor@gmail.com 413-548-6256
Neil Ritter ritter.neil@gmail.com

March 1: Seattle, WA
Seattle Monthly Ratings Tournament – March
Mike Malveaux programs@seattlego.org 206-545-1424

Get the latest go events information.

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Go-Spotting: Seattle Asian Art Museum

Monday February 17, 2020

Go was part of the February 8-9 grand re-opening of the Seattle Asian Art Museum, following a $56 million renovation of the 1933 art-deco building.  On prominent display was a large Chinese decorative screen (artist uncertain) featuring the four classical arts required of aristocratic gentlemen: playing the guqin (a stringed zither-like instrument), calligraphy, painting, and playing go (right).  Thanks to Steve Jones, South Sound Go Club, Tacoma WA.

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Evan Lin wins 2020 Globis Cup Qualifier

Monday February 17, 2020

Evan Lin (B) beat Jeremy Chiu (W) by 11.5 points on Sunday, Feb. 16 in the final game of the 2020 Globis Cup Qualifier, to become the North American representative to the 2020 Globis Cup.

In Game #1, Jeremy Chiu (W) beat Willis Huang (B) by resignation. In Game #2, Evan Lin (B) beat Jeremy Chiu (W) by resignation. In Game #3 Jeremy Chiu (B) beat Willis Huang (W) by resignation. In Game #4 Jeremy Chiu (B) beat Evan Lin (W) by 7.5 points.

“Thanks to everyone who participated and to Justin and Paul for their assistance organizing and monitoring,” said TD Jeff Shaevel.