American Go E-Journal

Shin Min-jun wins first major world championship

Monday February 15, 2021

South Korean baduk player Shin Min-jun has won his first world championship, coming first in the LG Cup World Baduk Championship.
The 22-year-old who’s ranked 4th in South Korea, defeated top-ranked Chinese player Ke Jie, giving him his first major victory since his debut eight years ago. Shin lost the first game, before winning the next two. Shin also became the 15th South Korean to win a major event.

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Monday February 15, 2021

Have you moved this year? Changed your email address? Make sure you’ve updated your contact information in the AGA’s membership database. There are few tournaments going on and our TDs love to have accurate info. Tournaments have different residency requirements which we check. We have video guides for your Member account and Chapter account. Chapters info is published on our Where to Play Go map and the AGAGD.

50 years aGO – February 1971

Sunday February 14, 2021

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Hashimoto

On February 2 Ishida Yoshio finally played his third game – picking up his second win — in the Honinbo League, over Sakata Eio.  By the end of the month, Kato Masao had played twice as many games, with a 4-2 record, while Fujisawa Hosai led the league with a perfect 4-0 record. (Game record here).

Also on February 2, Otake Hideo defeated Hashimoto Utaro to even up the Judan title at 2-2.  Otake is pictured making the sealed move (which proved to be a mistake, though not a fatal one).  However, on February 11 Hashimoto, the 64-year-old veteran of the atom bomb game, defeated his youthful opponent to win the title.  Interestingly, he also won the first Judan title, and veteran Fujisawa Shuko, who just regained the Meijin title last year, had won the first Meijin as well. (Game records here: Judan 4 & Judan 5)

Speaking of old and new, on February 18th a match occurred in the Nihon Kiin Championship Tournament.  On the right is 70-year-old Hayashi Yutaro 9 dan.  On the left is a 14-year-old 4 dan named Cho Chikun.  The score was a lot closer than the age difference; a half point to the elder.  (Game record here).

The Power Report: Sumire’s progress; Ida wins 5th Crown

Saturday February 13, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Sumire’s progress

First of all, some good news for Nakamura Sumire fans. On August 15, she scored a commendable win over Takao Shinji in a practice game played on the net. Takao was playing in his capacity of coach of the national team. Taking white, Sumire won by 1.5 points. It’s not an official result, of course, but pros take all their games quite seriously.

In the September 14 issue of Go Weekly, it was announced that Sumire would be transferring to the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on January 1. The timing is right for her, as she had finished elementary school and will proceed to junior high in April. Sumire: “I thought that I wanted to study hard in Tokyo, where there would be many strong players and rivals. I will do my best to improve, even if only a little.” Her father, Nakamura Shinya 9P, commented: “Sumire has been saying that she wanted to test herself in Tokyo. . . . She won’t forget her feelings of gratitude to all the people who helped her in the Kansai. I hope she will do her best.”

Incidentally, the magazine also mentioned that a fan with an anime-style portrait of Sumire on it had gone on sale.

Results since my previous report are given below.

(Sept. 7) Sumire (W) beat Tsukuda Akiko 5P by 6.5 points (Prelim. A, 24th Women’s Kisei tournament). This win earned Sumire a seat in the main tournament for the second year in a row.

(Sept. 14) In the preliminary tournament for the 15th Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp Tournament, Sumire won three games in one day and qualified for the main tournament. This tournament is open to players under 31 and under 8-dan. The time allowance is 30 seconds per move with ten minutes of thinking time to be used in one-minute units (the NHK Cup format). She beat three woman players: Honda Mariko 1P, Miyamoto Chiharu 1P, and Omori Ran 1P.

(Sept. 17) Sumire beat Ishida Atsushi 9P (Preliminary C, Oza tournament). Go Weekly noted that her record since the resumption of professional play in June was now 8-2.

(Oct. 1) Sumire (W) lost to Takahashi Masahiro 7P by resig. (Prelim. B, 69th Oza tournament).

(Oct. 8) Sumire (W) beat Ueno Risa 1P by 6.5 points (main tournament, 24th Women’s Kisei). With Sumire being 11 and Ueno 14, this was a game between the two youngest players at the Nihon Ki-in, for which the combined age of 25 was probably a record. They became pros at the same time, but this was the first official game between them. Sumire also played in the main tournament last year, but on more favorable terms, as she had to play only one game in the qualifying tournament. This is her first win in the main section of a tournament.

(Oct 26) Sumire (B) lost to Aoki Kikuyo 8P by 8.5 points (24th Women’s Kisei).
(Oct. 29) Sumire (W) beat Kori Toshio 9P (Prelim. C, 77th Honinbo). This was her fourth win over a 9-dan in 11 encounters.
(Nov. 16) Sumire (B) lost to Tsuji Hana 1P (46th King of the New Stars preliminary).
(Nov. 19) Sumire (B) beat Taguchi Misei 1P by resig. (Prelim. B, 32nd Women’s Meijin).
(Nov. 21) Sumire (W) lost to Ueno Asami, Women’s Honinbo, by resig. (round 1, main tournament, 15th Young Carp).
(Dec. 3) Sumire (B) lost to Iwamaru Taira 7P by 7.5 points (Prelim. C, 77th Honinbo).
(Dec. 10) Sumire (B) beat Nakajo Chihiro 1P by resig.; Sumire (W) beat Mizuno Hiromi 5P by resig. (both in Prelim. B, 32nd Women’s Meijin)
(Dec. 17) Sumire (W) beat Miyamoto Chiharu 1P by 32.5 points (8th Women’s Hollyhock Cup prelim.)

Sumire’s results for the year were 21 wins to 17 losses

Ida wins Crown title for 5th straight year

This year, the 19-year-old Otake Yu 4P challenged Ida Atsushi 8P (aged 26) for the 61st Crown title. The game was played at the Nagoya headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on November 26; taking black, Ida won by resignation after 181 moves. He won the Crown title for the fifth year in a row. First prize is 1,700,000 yen (about $16,300).

Promotions

To 2-dan: (Ms.) Moro Arisa (30 wins; as of Sept. 4); (Ms.) Kato Chie (30 wins, as of Oct. 30)

To 4-dan: Fujimura Yosuke (50 wins; as of Sept. 8); Kazama Jun (50 wins; as of Nov. 13)

Retirement

Inoue Kunio 9P retired as if October 5. Born in Tokyo on January 19, 1948, he became a disciple of Suzuki Goro 9P in 1955, then switched to the Kitani school in 1966. He made 1-dan in 1968 and reached 8-dan in 1988. After his retirement, he was promoted to 9-dan.

Obituaries

Sakai Masanori 5P died on September 15. Born in Hiroshima Prefecture on October 12, 1929, he became a disciple of Iyomoto Momoichi Hon. 8P. He became 1-dan in 1950 and reached 4-dan in 1974. He retired in 1996 and was promoted to 5-dan.

Kosugi Kiyoshi 9P died on September 27. Born on February 2, 1939, he was taught by his father Kosugi Chokufu 7P. He became 1-dan in 1957 and reached 8-dan in 1991. He was promoted to 9-dan after his retirement in 2004. With James Davies, he was the author of 38 Basic Joseki in the ISHI press Elementary Go Series. The late Kosugi Masaru 9P was his younger brother.

Asano Hideaki 8P died of a cerebral hemorrhage on Nov. 10. Born on January 14, 1945, he entered the Kitani school. He made 1-dan in 1966 and reached 7-dan in 1997. He retired in 2011 and was promoted to 8-dan.

The Power Report: Ichiriki wins Tengen; Shibano defends Oza; Ke Jie wins Samsung Cup

Friday February 12, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Ichiriki wins Tengen

Ichiriki (r) beats Iyama

After failing in five challenges to Iyama Yuta for top-seven titles, Ichiriki Ryo finally prevailed in his sixth challenge, which was for the 46th Tengen title. He now has two top-seven titles to his name.

First of all, Ichiriki had to overcome the redoubtable resistance of Kono Rin 9-dan, whom he defeated in the play-off to decide the challenger. The game was played on September 4, and Ichiriki (W) won by resignation. The results in the title match are detailed below. Ichiriki made a lucky start by scoring a half-point win, but Iyama fought back to take two games in a row. At this point, it looked like the same old story, but Ichiriki has acquired some tenacity. He scored two successive wins and won his second top-seven title, to add to the Gosei he won earlier in the year from Hane Naoki. Iyama, with his major triple crown of the three top titles, is still indisputably the number one, but Ichiriki is competing for the number two position with Shibano Toramaru.

Game 1 (Oct. 8). Ichiriki (B) by half a point.
Game 2 (Oct. 20). Iyama (B) by resig.
Game 3 (Nov. 27). Iyama (W) by resig.
Game 4 (Dec. 7). Ichiriki (W) by resig.
Game 5 (Dec. 16). Ichiriki (B) by resig.

Shibano defends Oza title

The 68th title match pitted two of the new leaders of Japanese go against each other: the 22-year-old Kyo Kagen 8P and the 20-year-old Shibano Toramaru Oza. The latter’s play in the Oza title match showed that he had recovered from the shock of losing the Meijin title. He managed to fend off Kyo’s challenge while dropping just one game, though he did seal his victory with a half-pointer.

Game 1 (Oct. 23). Shibano (W) by resig.
Game 2 (Nov. 6). Shibano (B) by resig.
Game 3 (Nov. 17). Kyo (B) by 5.5 points.
Game 4 (Dec. 3). Shibano (B) by half a point.

Ke Jie wins Samsung Cup; Ichiriki carries the flag for Japan

Four players from Japan took part in the 25th Samsung Cup, which, like other international tournaments these days, was played on the net. Ichiriki Ryo 8P and Kyo Kagen 8P were seeded for Japan. Sada Atsushi 7P won a seat in the open section and Mimura Tomoyasu 9P in the senior section respectively of the Japanese qualifying tournament. Once again, Ichiriki led the way for Japan, reaching the quarterfinals with two wins (the first win was on time, but he was ahead). Fittingly, the final featured the top two ranked players in the world: Shin Jinseo, who is number one, and number two, Ke Jie. The latter won 2-0, but Shin was handicapped in the first game by a move that was made accidentally. The cord of his mouse touched the “touch panel” of his notebook computer and triggered a ridiculous move: Black’s move 21 on the 1-8 point. There was a technical problem in the 21st Nong Shim Cup (see the first installment of this report), which led to a replayed game, but Shin not appeal, something that the Samsung rules for this tournament did not allow for anyway. In the second game, Shin took the lead but fell victim to an upset in the endgame. Ke picked up his fourth victory in the Samsung Cup and his eighth international victory overall. First prize is worth 300,000,000 won (about $272,000).

Selected results:

(Round 1, Oct. 27). Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) (W) beat Gu Jihao 9P (China) on time; Shi Yue 9P (China) (W) beat Sada Atsushi 7P (Japan) by resig.; Kang Jihoon 2P (Korea) (W) beat Kyo Kagen 8P (Japan) by 1.5 points; Choi Jaeyoung 5P (Korea) (W) beat Mimura Tomoyasu 9P by resig.;

Round 2 (Oct. 28). Ichiriki (W) beat Shin Minjun by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Cho Hanseung 9P (Korea) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (W) beat Lian Xiao 9P (China) on time.

Quarterfinals (Oct. 30). Xie Erhao 9P (China) (B) beat Ichiriki by resig.; Yang Dingxin 9P (China) (B) beat Li Weiqing 8P (China) by resig.; Ke (B) beat Li Xuanhao 8P (China) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (W) beat Shi Yue by resig.

Semifinals (Oct. 31). Shin (W) beat Xie by resig,; Ke (W) beat Yang by resig.

Final
Game 1 (Nov. 2). Ke (W) by resig.
Game 2 (Nov. 3). Ke (B) by half a point.

Tomorrow: Sumire’s progress; Ida wins 5th Crown

The Power Report: Kono to challenge for Kisei; New Meijin League; 22nd Nong Shim Cup

Thursday February 11, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Kono to challenge for Kisei title

Kono Rin

After the fourth round of the S League in the 45th Kisei tournament, Takao Shinji 9P was in the sole lead, but he slipped up in the final round, losing to Murakawa Daisuke 9P. Kono Rin won his final game, against Cho U, so he ended on 3-2, even with Takao, Murakawa Daisuke, and Ichiriki Ryo. In such a short league, multiple ties are common, but there are no play-offs. The higher-ranked player prevails, and this was Kono, who was number one. However, Takao, as number two, came second and so qualified for the irregular knock-out tournament that decides the challenger. Below are S League results since my last report and details of the knock-out.

(Aug. 20) Cho U 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 9P by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Kyo Kagen 8P by resig.
(Aug. 31) Takao Shinji (B) beat Cho U 9P by half a point.
(Sept. 14) Murakawa (W) beat Ichiriki by 1.5 points.
(Sept. 21) Murakawa (W) beat Takao by 4.5 points.
(Sept. 24) Kono (W) beat Cho U by resig.; Ichiriki (W) beat Kyo Kagen by resig.

The play-off between the winners of the two B Leagues was held on September 19. Shibano (B) beat Mutsuura Yuta 7P by 3.5 points. Results that follow are those in the Tournament to Decide the Challenger, an irregular knock-out.

(Oct. 5) Shibano Toramaru Meijin (B), winner of the B Leagues, beat Hong Akiyoshi 3P (Kansai Ki-in), winner of the C League, by resig.
(Oct. 19) Yamashita Keigo (B), winner of A League, beat Shibano by resig.
(Oct. 30) Takao Shinji 9P (B), second in S League, beat Yamashita by resig.
(Nov. 9) (Best-of-three match to decide the challenger, Game 1). Takao (B) beat Kono, first in S League, by resig.
(Nov. 12) Kono (B) beat Takao by half a point. Kono started this “best-of-three” with a one-game advantage, so he won it 2-1. He is making his second successive challenge to Iyama Kisei.

New Meijin League

   The new players in the 46th Meijin League are Anzai Nobuaki 7P, Motoki Katsuya 8P, and Yo Seiki 8P. Anzai has played in a Honinbo League, but is a debutant in the Meijin League. Motoki has played in three Honinbo leagues and has challenged for the title, but this is his first Meijin League. Yo is playing in his third Meijin League and had made five appearances in the Honinbo League. Only one round was completed by the end of the year. Results follow.

(Dec. 3) Ichiriki Ryo Gosei (B) beat Anzai by resig.
(Dec. 10) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.
(Dec. 14) Kyo (W) beat Shibano Toramaru Oza by half a point.
(Dec. 17) Yo Seiki 8P (B) beat Motoki by resig.

22nd Nong Shim Cup

   The conclusion of the 21st Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was delayed until August (see the first installment in this report), but the 22nd Cup got off to a start on schedule, though, like the final round of the previous cup, it was played on the net. So far, the first two rounds, that is, nine games have been played. As a tournament, it has been more even than usual, with no one player dominating. In fact, only one player, Gu Jihao of China, has won successive games. China has four wins to Korea’s three and Japan’s two; each country has two players left. The final round is scheduled for February 22 to 26.

Round 1
Game 1 (Oct. 13). Hong Kipyo 9P (Korea) (B) beat Fan Tingyu 9P (China) by resig.
Game 2 (Oct. 14). Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 8P (Japan) (W) beat Hong 9P by resig.
Game 3 (Oct. 15). Gu Jihao 9P (China) (W) beat Kyo by resig.
Game 4 (Oct. 16). Gu (W) beat Kang Dongyun 9P (Korea) by resig.

Round 2
Game 5 (Nov. 20). Gu (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 9P (Japan) by resig.
Game 6 (Nov. 21). Shin Minjun 9P (Korea) (W) beat Gu by half a point.
Game 7 (Nov. 22). Shibano Toramaru 9P (W) beat Shin by resig.
Game 8 (Nov. 23). Tang Weixing 9P (China) (B) beat Shibano by resig.
Game 9 (Nov. 24). Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) (W) beat Tang by 4.5 points.

Tomorrow: Ichiriki wins Tengen; Shibano defends Oza; Ke Jie wins Samsung Cup

The Power Report: Seki wins King of New Stars; Cho U scores 1,000 wins; Fujisawa wins Young Carp & Women’s Honinbo; Iyama wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Ichiriki sets new Ryusei record, leads Honinbo League

Tuesday February 9, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Seki wins 45th King of New Stars title

Seki Kotaro 3P

This year’s title match was fought between Sada Atsushi 7P (aged 25) of the Kansai Ki-in and Seki Kotaro 3P (aged 18) of the Tokyo branch of the Nihon Ki-in Sada had recently earned promotion to 7P for winning a seat in the Honinbo League; this title is restricted to players 6P and under, but he had already qualified for the next term of the tournament before the promotion, so this was his second-last chance. He started out well with a win, but Seki made a strong comeback to win the next two games and secure his first title. Seki commented that winning this title made him feel he had “been rewarded” for his efforts, since it had been his main target, which he reached on his third attempt in the main tournament.

There was an unusual incident toward the end of the game. The contraption placed by the board to film the game for a net commentary suddenly started streaming the verbal commentary. Fortunately, officials were able to have the mistake rectified before the commentary got too personal. Results follow.

Game 1 (Sept. 18). Sada (W) by resig.
Game 2 (Sept. 28). Seki (W) by resig.
Game 3 (Oct. 16). Seki (W) by resig.

Cho U scores 1,000 wins

On November 2,Cho U 9P became the 28th player at the Nihon Ki-in to win 1,000 games. His record was 1,000 wins, 451 losses, 2 jigo, and 1 no-contest. His winning percentage of 68.9 is the best for 1,000-game winners. At 40 years nine months, he is the second youngest and he reached the landmark in 26 years seven months, the second quickest.

Fujisawa wins Young Carp in first for a woman player

The Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp Tournament is open to players 30 and under and 7-dan and under. First prize is 3,000,000 yen (about $28,800), which is about par for a tournament with limited participation.

Young Carp; Fujisawa Rina (center)

The main tournament (for the top 16) was held at the Sotetsu Grand Fresa Hiroshima on November 21 and 22. Reaching the final were Fujisawa Rina, women’s triple crown, and Son Makoto 7P. Taking white, Fujisawa won by half a point and made history as the first woman professional in Japan to win an official tournament open to both male and female players. (Actually, Xie Yimin, then 3P, won the 1st Cup, but for the first five terms it was not an official tournament.)

Fujisawa Rina wins Women’s Honinbo

It was no surprise to see Fujisawa Rina emerge as the challenger to Ueno Asami in the 39th Women’s Honinbo title match, as she had already played in the title match six years in a row. She won the title three times but each time failed to make a successful defense. Against that, all her challenges were successful.

The match was highly competitive, with Fujisawa starting off well, then surrendering the lead to Ueno. After Fujisawa caught up again, the fate of the title was decided by the narrowest of margins. This came just three days after her Young Carp win by the same margin.

This was Fujisawa’s 14th title. She now held five titles: the Women’s Honinbo, Women’s Meijin, Women’s Hollyhock, and the Hakata Kamachi Cup, and the Young Carp. The only women’s titles missing are the Women’s Kisei (Suzuki Ayumi) and the Senko Cup (Ueno Asami). Results of the title match are given below.

Game 1 (Oct. 1). Fujisawa (B) by resig.
Game 2 (Oct. 18). Ueno (B) by resig.
Game 3 (Oct. 31). Ueno (W) by resig.
Game 4 (Nov. 7). Fujisawa (W) by 5.5 points.
Game 5 (Nov. 25). Fujisawa (B) by half a point.

Iyama wins Agon Kiriyama Cup

Iyama

The final of the 27th Agon Kiriyama Cup was held at the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon Buddhist sect on October 3. Taking black, Iyama Yuta beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig. This is the fifth time Iyama has won this title; he is tied with Cho U for the record. It is also his 61st title, which moves him one ahead of Kobayashi and into sole third place. (Still ahead of him are Sakata Eio with 64 and Cho Chikun with 75.)

Ichiriki sets new record for Ryusei title

The final of the 29th Ryusei tournament was telecast on October 26. It featured a clash between the top two exponents of rapid go in Japan, Iyama Yuta and Ichiriki Ryo. Taking black, Ichiriki won by resignation after 221 moves. He set a new record for this tournament by winning it for the third year in a row, a first, and the fourth time overall, also a record. These two players have now met in the finals of five TV tournaments, and Ichiriki has a slight edge, having beat Iyama twice in this tournament and once, to two losses, in the NHK Cup.

Ichiriki leads Honinbo League

The first of the vacant seats in the 76th Honinbo League was decided on August 27. Taking black, Onishi Ryuhei 5P (aged 20) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. (if the game had been played out, the margin would have been 1.5 points). This is Onishi’s first league place and he earned an automatic promotion to 7-dan (effective the following day).

The next two seats were decided on August 31. Tsuruyama Atsushi 8P (B) beat Ida Atsushi 8P by 6.5 points and Sada Atsushi 4P (W) beat Yo Seiki 8P by resig. Both these players will play in a league for the first time. Tsuruyama gave himself a good present on what was his 39th birthday. Sada (aged 24) earned himself an automatic promotion to 7-dan.

The new league started on October 8. After three rounds, Ichiriki Ryo is the only undefeated player. Results in the new league follow.

(Oct. 8) Shibano Toramaru Meijin (W) beat Sada Atsushi 7P by half a point; Kyo Kagen 8P (W) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8P by half a point.

(Oct. 15) Ichiriki (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
(Oct. 22) Onishi Ryuhei 7P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.
(Nov. 5) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Koi Iso 9P by resig.
(Nov. 12) Ichiriki (B) beat Tsuruyama Atsushi 8P by resig.
(Nov. 20) Kyo Kagen 8P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru Oza by resig.
(Nov. 26) Sada Atsushi 7P (B) beat Onishi Ryuhei 7P by resig.
(Dec. 10) Ichiriki (W) beat Ko Iso by resig.
(Dec. 18) Shibano (B) Onishi by resig.; Hane (B) beat Kyo by resig.

Tomorrow: New Meijin League; Kono to challenge for Kisei; 22nd Nong Shim Cup

Submit stories to the AGA E-Journal

Monday February 8, 2021

The American go community is always eager for reports of local tournaments, mentions of go for our Go Spotting column, new tools or study resources, and any go-related news. Please submit all your stories to our E-Journal Article Submission form, which allows us to better manage your article submissions, improve our workflow and publishing turn-around time. You can still get in touch with us by email for any inquiries related to the E-Journal or your subscription at journal@usgo.org!
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The Power Report: Fujisawa wins 1st Hakata Kamachi Cup; Ueno wins Senko Cup; Zhou wins 3rd Go Seigen Cup

Monday February 8, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Fujisawa wins 1st Hakata Kamachi Cup

Fujisawa Rina

The Hakata Kamachi Cup is a new tournament with a first prize of 7,000,000 yen (about $67,300), which ranks it with the Women’s Hollyhock Cup and one million yen behind the Senko Cup. It is organized similarly to the other tournaments, with a preliminary round and a main tournament for the top 16. The semifinals, final, and play-off for third of the first term were held at the Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk on October 8 and 9. In the semifinals, Ueno Asami, Women’s Honinbo, (W) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by resig. and Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Hollyhock Cup-holder, (W) beat Nyu Eiko 3P, also by resig. In the final, Fujisawa (B) beat Ueno by resig., and in the play-off for 3rd place Mukai (B) beat Nyu by half a point. At the prize-giving ceremony, the sponsors announced that this tournament would finish and instead they would become a sponsor of the Women’s Meijin Tournament. The latter tournament had been suspended after 31 terms, but it was now resurrected as the 32nd Hakata Kamachi Cup Women’s Meijin Tournament. When the preliminaries started (on November 11), Fujisawa resumed the title of Women’s Meijin. The “new” tournament concludes in a seven-player league to choose the challenger.

Ueno wins Senko Cup
It was originally planned to hold the semifinals and final of the 5th Senko Cup Strongest Woman Player Tournament in Shiga Prefecture, but because of the pandemic the games were switched to a Tokyo venue, the Hotel Kaie in Koto Ward. In the semifinals, held on September 11, Ueno Asami, Women’s Honinbo, (W) beat Kuwabara Yoko 6P by resig. and Xie Yimin 6P (W) beat Fujisawa Rina, holder of the Senko Cup, also by resig. In the final, held two days later, Ueno (W) beat Xie by 5.5 points to win this title for the first time.

Zhou wins 3rd Go Seigen Cup

The opening rounds of this Chinese-sponsored international women’s tournament are usually held in the sponsoring city of Fuzhou in Fujian Province in the spring, but instead they were put off until the autumn and were held on the net. The semifinals and finals were then held on the net in winter. This year, the tournament was won by a new face, Zhou Hongyu 6P, who beat Yu Zhiying 6P 2-1 in the final. Chinese players dominated the play throughout the tournament and the semifinals were all Chinese. However, Japanese fans were happy to see local heroine Ueno Asami reach the quarterfinals with two wins, including one over the world’s number one woman player, Choi Jeong of Korea.

Games are played by Chinese rules, with a komi of 7.5. Time allowance is two hours each, and the last five minutes are used for byo-yomi. First prize is 50,000 yuan (about $77,000).

Round 1 (Sept. 27). Suzuki Ayumi 7P (Japan) (B) beat Kim 1P by resig.; Wu Yiming 2P (aged 13) (W) beat Xie Yimin 6P (Japan) by resig.; Hei Jiajia 7P (Ch. Taipei) (W) beat Dina Burdakova 5D (Russia) by resig.; Ueno Asami 3P (Japan) (W) beat Wang Shuang 4P (China) by resig.; Yang Zixuan 4P (Ch. Taipei) (W) beat Feng Yun 9P (USA) by resig.; Kim Chaeyoung 6P (Korea) (W) beat Pan Yang 3P (China) by resig.; Li He 5P (China) (W) beat Yin Mingming (Stephanie Yin) (USA) by resig.; Oh Jeonga 4P (Korea) (W) beat Ariane Ougier 5D (France) by resig.

Round 2 (Sept. 28).

Lu Minquan 5P (China) (B) beat Hei by resig.; Yu Zhiying 6P (China) (W) beat Suzuki by 2.5 points; Li He 5P (China) (W) beat Fujisawa 4P by resig.; Ueno (W) beat Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) by 1.5 points.; Wang Chenxing 5P (China) (B) beat Oh (Korea) by 7.5 points; Zhou Hongyu 6P (China) (W) beat Kim by resig.; Rui Naiwei 9P (China) (B) beat Yang by resig.; Oh Yujin 7P (China) (B) beat Wu by resig.

Quarterfinals (Sept. 29): Wang (B) beat Ueno by resig.; Rui (B) beat Li by resig.; Yu (W) beat Lu by resig.; Zhou (W) beat Oh by resig.

Semifinals (Nov. 30): Yu (W) beat Wang by resig.; Zhou (B) beat Rui by resig.

Final (Dec. 2, 3, 4): (Game 1) Yu (W) by resig.; (Game 2) Zhou (W) by 6.5 points; (Game 3) Zhou (W) by resig.

Tomorrow: Seki wins 45th King of New Stars title; Cho U scores 1,000 wins; Fujisawa wins Young Carp in first for a woman player; Fujisawa Rina wins Women’s Honinbo; Iyama wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Ichiriki sets new record for Ryusei title; Ichiriki leads Honinbo League

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The Power Report: Iyama regains Meijin title and triple crown; China wins 21st Nong Shim Cup; Ichiriki does well in Ing Cup

Sunday February 7, 2021

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama regains Meijin title and triple crown
With both the challenger, Iyama Yuta, and the champion, Shibano Toramaru, holding three of the top-seven titles, the 45th Meijin title match represented the peak of Japanese go. The same was true of the preceding Honinbo title match. Unfortunately for Shibano, Iyama seems to have the edge on him in two-day games: he won the earlier match 4-1.

The first game of the match was played, as has been the practice recently, at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on August 25 and 26. Japanese tournaments, unlike international ones, have resumed face-to-face play, though the usual precautions (wearing face masks, checking body temperatures, avoiding crowded rooms) are observed. Iyama, who drew white in the nigiri, took the lead in the opening and early middle game, but he made a mistake that threw the game into confusion. A large ko led to a large-scale trade; the game became a half-pointer, but Iyama just managed to fend off the defending champion. A slip by Shibano let Iyama secure a win by 1.5 points. The game concluded after 275 moves.

The second game was played at the Takarazuka Hotel in Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture, on September 15 and 16. Shibano (W) played well and seemed to have victory within his grasp, but he slipped up and allowed his opponent to pull off an upset. Iyama won by resignation after 213 moves. Shibano’s grip on his title had been considerably loosened.

The third game was held at an historical building, the Yamaguchi City Saikotei, on September 23 and 24. Like the second game, Shibano (B) had the lead, but Iyama make a tricky attack in an attempt to stage another upset. He almost succeeded, but this time Shibano just barely managed to ride out the storm. Iyama resigned after 211 moves. This win could have become a turning point in the series.

The fourth game was played at the Todaya, a hotel in Toba City, Mie Prefecture on September 29 and 30. This was Shibano’s chance to even the score. He did his best to capture a large black group, but Iyama came out on top after some complicated fighting, forcing Shibano to resign after 145 moves. The title-holder was now faced with a kadoban.

The fifth game was played at the Atami Sekitei inn in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on October 13 and 14. Playing white, Iyama was in outstanding form. He dominated the game and forced Shibano to resign after 178 moves. After a gap of two years, Iyama was Meijin again. This was the fifth time he had won this title and the third time that he had secured the big triple crown of Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo. He also held the Tengen, so he had four of the top seven titles. It was his 60th title—he drew even with Kobayashi Koichi in third place. At 31 years of age, he is still the central figure on the Japanese tournament scene.

China wins 21st Nong Shim Cup
The much-delayed final round (originally scheduled for Shanghai in February 2020) of the 21st Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held on the net in August. Both Korea and Japan were down to their last player, so China, which had suffered only one loss in the first two rounds, was the overwhelming favorite. Brilliant play by Park Junghwan of Korea, however, made the contest an exciting one right to the finish.

The first game of the round was a clash between the Japanese and Chinese number ones; as usual, victory went to Park Junghwan of Korea. He went on to eliminate three Chinese players as well, so the match became a showdown with the Chinese number one. Along the way, however, there was a complication: the game between Park and Fan Yuting of China ended up as a no-result that was the first of its kind. In the endgame, Park had the lead, but when he clicked with his mouse to play move 158, there was no response; he was in byo-yomi and lost on time. After the Korean and Chinese officials conferred, it was decided to declare the game a no-result. Park won the replay comfortably. As the result shows (see below), Game 13 was a tight contest, but Xie missed a clever move that would have made it a half-pointer that could have gone either way. The reverse happened in the final: this time Park missed a brilliancy that would have made the game favorable for him. Ke’s win secured victory for the Chinese team for the second year in a row and the eighth time overall. First prize is 500 million won (about $420,000). Results are given below.

Game 10 (Aug. 18). Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig.
Game 11 (Aug. 19). Park (B) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by resig.
Game 12-1 (Aug. 20). Park (W) v. Fan Yuting 9P (China): no result.
Game 12-2 (Aug. 21). Park (B) won by resig.
Game 13 (Aug. 21). Park (W) beat Xie Erhao 9P (China) by 1.5 points.
Game 14 (Aug. 22). Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Park by half a point.

Ichiriki does well in Ing Cup
The Ing Cup, which is held every four years in the year of the Olympics, shared the fate of the other international tournaments, but, unlike the Olympics, did manage to be staged in 2020. The first three rounds of the 9th Cup were held on the net from September 8 to 11. For Japanese fans, the welcome news was the success of Ichiriki Ryo, who won all his games and qualified for the semifinals.

This tournament was founded by the Taiwanese industrialist Ing Chang-Ki, partly as a means of promoting the rules he developed. It features the biggest prize for international tournaments, $400,000. The time allowance is three hours per player, with sudden death if your time runs out. However, you can buy extra time twice, at the rate of 20 minutes for two points of komi. Komi is eight points, with black winning a tie.

A total of 30 players competed this year. There were six from Japan, of whom Iyama Yuta, Shibano Toramaru, and Murakawa Daisuke lost in the first round. Kono Rin and Kyo Kagen lost in the second round. Selected results are given below. Note that Tang Weixing 9P, the previous winner, and Park Junghwan 9P (previous runner-up) were seeded into the second round.

Round 1 (Sept. 8). Gu Zihao 9P (China) (B) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by 3 points; Yang Dingxin 9P (China) beat Shibano Toramaru 9P (Japan) by 5 points; Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) (W) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by resig.; Jiang Weijie 9P (China) (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 9P (Japan) by 1 point; Kono Rin 9P (Japan) (B) beat Lin Lixiang 8P (Ch. Taipei) by resig.; Kyo Kagen 8P (Japan) (B) beat Dang Yifei 9P (China) by resig.; Ke Jie 9P (China) beat Kim Jiseok 9P (Korea); Tao Xinran 8P (China) beat Lee Donghoon 9P (Korea); Xie Ke 8P (China) beat Ali Jabarin 2P (Europe); An Soonjoon 8P (Korea) beat Li Wei 5P (Ch. Taipei); Shin Jinseo 9P (Korea) beat Xie Erhao (China); Fan Tingyu (China) beat Shin Minjun (Korea); Xu Haohong 6P (Ch. Taipei) beat Byun Sangil (Korea); Zhao Chenyu 8P (China) beat Ryan Li 1P (USA).

Round 2 (Sept. 9): Ichiriki (B) beat An by resig.; Gu (B) beat Kono by 3 points; Xu (W) beat Kyo by resig.; Tao beat Tang; Ke beat Jiang; Xie beat Yang; Shin beat Fan; Zhao beat Park.

Round 3 (Sept. 11): Ichiriki (B) beat Tao by resig.; Xie beat Ke; Shin beat Gu; Zhao beat Xu.

NOTE: This is the first of a series of 2020 year-end reports on Japanese go news we’ll be publishing over the next week. Tomorrow: Ueno wins Senko Cup; Zhou wins 3rd Go Seigen Cup; Fujisawa wins 1st Hakata Kamachi Cup