After a stretch of fine weather and Halloween hijinks, Tokyo hunkered down under gray skys and intermittent rain for the weekend of November 2-3, but inside the Hotel Metropolitan Edmont, the atmosphere was warm and festive: thirty-two pairs from twenty-two countries and territories were there to compete in the 24th International Amateur Pair Go Championship. China returned to the competition by sending an editor (Zhou Gang) and reporter (Wang Rui) from Weiqi Tiandi, China's leading go magazine. Korea sent its top-rated junior amateur Jeon Junhak, who recently won the Incheon Mayor's Cup for the second consecutive year. (In the Korean amateur rating system, junior means under 40 and not an insei). His partner was Kim Soo-young, a student at Myongji University who is an active player on the Korean pair-go scene, who won this year's Women's Amateur Kuksu title, making her the reigning queen of Korean amateur go, and who hopes to help spread go internationally in the future. Chinese Taipei sent Lo Sheng-chieh and Lin Hung-ping, who also competed in the World Students Go Oza Championship in Tokyo in February. Russia sent Dmitry Surin and Natalia Kovaleva, who finished tenth in the 23rd IAPG Championship last year. Japan entered eleven pairs who had won their way in through regional qualifying tournaments.
In the first round, played right after lunch on November 2, the Japanese pair from the Tokai-Hokuriku region (central Japan) defeated the Chinese pair. The winners of this game were Shinichi Torii, a local government worker, and Chie Kato, a cheery primary-school student who played from a wheelchair. Three Japanese pairs lost their first games, to the pairs from Chinese Taipei, Korea, and Russia.
The first round was followed by goodwill games that partnered the championship competitors with a variety of non-competing pair-go players, including a dozen pros. Before the games began, the pros were introduced and asked to give some advice. Always think of your partner, said one. Don't keep thinking of your partner, said another. The weaker partner should relax, play his or her own game, and let the stronger partner worry about teamwork, said a third. After a mistake, take a deep breath and look over the whole board, said a fourth. One of the more perspicuous comments came from 4-dan pro Sachiko Hara, who said she found pair go very effective in teaching children because it forced them to behave well and think realistically, which made them stronger.
Most of the overseas players donned national costume for the goodwill games. The British pair were decked out as a helmeted knight and his lady. The Australian pair wore koala suits. The Swedish pair sported midsummer wreaths, and treated the crowd at the welcoming party that followed the goodwill games to a midsummer frog song and dance.
Next day the remaining four rounds were played in parallel with a huge (138-pair) handicap tournament. Chie Kato and Shinichi Torii gave the contestants' pledge in Japanese, and Wang Rui and Zhou Gang repeated it in Chinese. The Russian pair lost to a Japanese pair in round two, but the pairs from Chinese Taipei, Germany, and Korea remained undefeated in this round and the next, as did Ayako Oda and Kazumori Nagayo, a married pair of former insei who operate a go school in Yokohama.
In round four, the Korean pair defeated the German pair in less than an hour. "We never had a chance," said law student Olga Silber. "They didn't make a single mistake," added Benjamin Teuber, who is currently training at a go school in Beijing.
In a much longer game, the Oda-Nagayo pair defeated the pair from Chinese Taipei. "Our opening strategy worked, we got a territorial advantage, and we kept it," Kazumori Nagayo said. "Last time we competed we lost to the Korean pair, so we'll be looking for revenge in the final round."
And they very nearly got it. They matched their Korean opponents in the opening and came out of the middle game with a sizeable lead. The Koreans managed to reduce the lead by setting up a ko, but the ko was too indirect for them to win, and the Japanese pair simplified things by connecting it, after which they were still ahead. Near the end, however, they made a slip that cost them four points, and the Koreans won by 2.5.
This is the tenth Korean victory in IAPG championship competition, as compared with seven for Japan, four for China, two for DPR Korea, and one for Chinese Taipei. Korean pairs have triumphed every year since 2009, and this year (2013) Korean players made clean sweep by also winning the World Students Oza Championship, the World Amateur Go Chamionship, the Korea Prime Minister Cup, and Thailand's 15-dan team tournament.
The final game was followed by the traditional gala award ceremony and party. Jeon Junhak and Kim Soo-young came away loaded down with prizes. Kazumori Nagayo and Ayako Oda received a prize for the best result by a Japanese pair: their SOS score placed them third, behind the pair from Chinese Taipei. The 4th-place prize went to Dmitry Surin and Natalia Kovaleva, whose four victories included a second win over a Japanese pair in the final round. Japanese pairs took the prizes for 5th to 8th places, but the pairs from Germany (9th), Romania (11th), Sweden (13th), Vietnam (14th), and Czechia (16th) scored three wins apiece to join three more Japanese pairs in the top sixteen, and the pair from the Netherlands (Merijn de Jong and Els Buntsma) won a best-dressed prize. In all, European and Vietnamese pairs won a total of five games against Chinese and Japanese opposition, another sign of the rising level and popularity of pair go worldwide.
Full results and players' pictures are here.
“I started a go club in my school this year, and more than 100 people signed up in the first week,” reports Yunxuan Li 6d, a sophomore at Diamond Bar High, a suburb in the LA metro area. Li, who has won the Young Lions Tournament for the past two years in a row, is well known on the AGA circuit, having also been a Redmond Cup finalist, and representing the US at the 2013 Samsung World Baduk Masters Championship. “In the game of go, there are no formulas or equations,” says Li, “it is all about creating your own tactics and solutions to everything. In a way, it is very similar to life. I was very happy to see my club be successful because it showed that people appreciate and are interested in this wonderful game. We have had five meetings so far, with 30-50 people showing up and participating actively. I have taught everyone the basic steps slowly and they all seem to understand the process very well.” Li has a few tips for youth who want to start a club at their school. “First, I think it is necessary to make an attractive poster, it will give people a reason to join your club.* Second, I think it is necessary to make good flyers and handouts that introduce the game. These make people think your club is organized and give them detailed ideas about what will happen. Third, don’t take out the go boards and play on the first meeting. The first meeting is better if it is a lot of fun and gives people a reason to stay in your club. Fourth, it is a good idea to use a large demonstration board when teaching; it makes people understand the concepts so much easier than going around with a small board. If you don’t have a demonstration board, you can use KGS with a projector. Fifth, hold some tournaments, so members develop a competitive mindset” *Editor’s note: Posters, playing sets, and everything you need to launch a school club, are all included in the AGF Classroom Starter Set, which is free for any US school that wants to launch a go program. Details on the AGF website here.
-Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photos by Yunxuan Li: Upper left: Yunxuan Li 6d talks about tengen; Lower right: More students than chairs, at a recent meeting.
Portugal: Pedro Carmona 2k bested Cristovao Neto 1d at the 2013 Porto Open on October 27 while Jose Teles-Menezes 7k came in third. Turkey: Also on October 27, the 6th Bursa Go Tournament finished in Bursa with Ozgur Degirmenci 2d in first, Emre Bektore 1d in second, and Engin Serkan Solmazoglu 1d in third. Finland: Suvi Rovio 2d (left) won the Finnish Women’s Championship in Helsinki on October 20. Luciana Voutilainen 1k came in second and Helena Niinisalo 1k placed third.
- Annalia Linnan, based on reports from EuroGoTV, which include complete result tables and all the latest European go news; photo courtesy of EuroGoTV
Iyama Starts Well In Tengen And Oza Title Defences: There’s no rest for Iyama: he had almost no time to bask in the glory of winning the Meijin as he was immediately engaged in two more title matches. There are no signs yet that the accumulated fatigue from continuous top-level play is affecting his play; to the contrary, he now has seven wins in a row in title-match games. The first game of the 39th Tengen title match was held in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture, on October 21, with the challenger, Akiyama Jiro 9P (right), making his title-match debut. The two haven’t played each other much, and so far Akiyama had a good record against Iyama of 3-1; he won the first three games they played, starting in 2008, then Iyama picked up his first win in the Kisei League in 2010. Iyama, playing white, won the opening Tengen game, but things didn’t go smoothly. Akiyama made a bad start in the opening, but in the middle game he landed what Go Weekly described as “an astonishing counterpunch” and upset Iyama’s lead. However, Iyama hung on and managed to pull off his own upset, forcing Akiyama to resign after 146 moves.
Iyama again had little time to rest before meeting Cho U’s challenge in the 61st Oza title match. The first game was played in the Westin Hotel Osaka on 24 October. Taking white, Iyama secured a resignation after 268 moves. The second game will be played on November 19.
The second game of the Tengen title match was played at the Oe Honke inn in Kitami City in Hokkaido on October 28. Iyama (B) won by 3.5 points after 321 moves. The third game is scheduled for November 28.
China Makes Good Start In Nong Shim Cup: The first round of the 15th Nong Shim Spice Noodles Cup was held in Beijing in late October. Fan Tingyu 9P (aged 17, at left) made a good start for China by winning three games in a row before losing to Korea. Results were as follows:
Game 1 (October 22). Fan (B) defeated Yo Chito 1P (Japan) by resignation.
Game 2 (October 23). Fan (B) d. Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P (Korea) by 6.5 points.
Game 3 (October 24). Fan (W) d. Anzai Nobuaki 6P (Japan) by resig.
Game 4 (October 25). Kang Tongyun 9P (Korea) (W) d. Fan by resig.
The experiment of giving two seats to junior players did not work out for Japan this time, but they have surely gained valuable experience. The second round will be played in Pusan, Korea, from December 2 to 7.
Mukai Takes Lead In Women’s Honinbo: The third game of the 32nd Women’s Honinbo title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on October 29. Playing black, Mukai Chiaki 5P won by 3.5 points after 280 moves. This gives Mukai a 2-1 lead in the title match, so she needs just one more win to win her first title. This is the first time that the title holder, Xie Yimin 6P, has fallen behind 1-2 in a Women’s Honinbo defence. The fourth game will be played on November 8.
E-Journal reader Zhiping You sent us a link to a terrific 2009 NHK documentary about Fujisawa Shuko that’s been posted on YouTube with English narration. The 26-minute video provides an excellent overview of Fujisawa’s fascinating life, with an emphasis on his role as a stern but inspirational teacher for many top players.
One of the best players of his era, Fujisawa was one of the “Three Crows” along with Toshiro Yamabe and Suzuki Keizo (and later Kajiwara Takeo). Even though he was known for controversial acts, such as a drinking habit, his go skill shone through. Besides go, he was known for gambling and was a successful real estate dealer. He was also known for his calligraphy and had several exhibits of his works.
Fujisawa, a student of Fukuda Masayoshi, began studying at the Nihon Kiin in 1934 and turned pro in 1940. Although he struggled at first, taking 23 years to reach 9 dan, he started a title run in the early 1960′s, continuing through the 70′s and 80′s. He won his first major title in 1962, the Meijin. He then won two Asahi Pro Best Ten titles in 1965 and 1968. He held the Oza for three consecutive years from 1967 to 1969. The same year that he lost the Oza, he won the NHK Cup. The Meijin title was Fujisawa’s again when he won it in 1970. He then went on a dry streak of titles. By 1976, he won his first title since the Meijin in 1970, the Tengen.
Perhaps the crowning achievement of his go career was winning the Kisei title on its inception in 1976, at the relatively advanced age of 51, and holding it for 6 straight years from 1976 to 1982. By 1980, nobody thought anyone else but Fujisawa would win the Kisei, but that was silenced when he finally lost it to Cho Chikun in 1982. He won the first three games, controlling each and every move Cho made. It looked like Fujisawa would hold the Kisei for the 7th year in a row, but Cho fought back and won four games, Fujisawa making a blunder in a winning position in the seventh game. After his run of consecutive Kisei titles, the Japanese Nihon Ki-in awarded him Honorary Kisei. He is known to play a very flexible fuseki but infamous in making errors, or poka later in the game.
Fujisawa was getting old now, and wouldn’t win another title until ten years later. Again he won the Oza and held it for two years at the age of 67. He had set a record for the oldest player to defend a title, a record which still stands to this day. In October of 1998, he decided to retire from the Go world at the age of 74. The following year Fujisawa was expelled from the Nihon Ki-in for selling unsanctioned rank diplomas to amateurs in protest against what he considered improper Ki-in policies. In June, 2003, the dispute was resolved and Fujisawa was reinstated in the Ki-in. Fujisawa died on May 8, 2009.
- report based on the YouTube video text
by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal
Iyama’s New Records: As reported previously (Iyama Yuta Achieves Rare ‘Triple Crown’ with 38th Meijin Victory 10/19) Iyama Yuta won the fifth game of the 38th Meijin title match, played on October 16-17, taking the title from Yamashita Keigo with a 4-1 score. Iyama did very well to win four games in a row after losing the opening game of the best-of-seven, though Yamashita did make a gift of the third game. By making a comeback as Meijin after an absence of two terms, Iyama not only won his 20th title, he also became the second player to win the Big Triple Crown of Kisei, Meijin, and Honinbo. As usual, he set a record as the youngest so far (age 24 years four months). As the same time, he reassembled his sextuple crown, with the Meijin replacing the Judan. Since there was a gap, this counts as the second time he has held a sextuple crown.
The previous player to hold the Big Triple Crown is Cho Chikun or 25th Honinbo Chikun. He first achieved the feat in 1983 at the age of 26 years eight months and he maintained it for just over four months, from March 18 until July 28, 1983. He repeated the feat in 1996 (at the age of 40 years four months), and this time he held on to the top three titles for the better part of three years, that is, from November 8, 1996 to July 6, 1999. The first time Cho achieved this success, he also held the Judan title; holding the top four titles simultaneously might seem to be still a goal for Iyama, but actually the Judan has been downgraded to the number seven title, as the sponsors reduced the prize money from 15 to seven million yen. Iyama’s six titles are the top six, so he has far surpassed Cho.
More trivia (this information all comes from the October 28 issue of Go Weekly): Cho won the Big Triple Crown 14 years 11 months after becoming a pro to Iyama’s 11 years six months. Iyama is the third player to hold the Kisei and Meijin simultaneously (the third is Kobayashi Koichi) and the eighth Meijin-Honinbo. Iyama has now won six big-three titles to Cho’s 29 ? here, at least, he has a long way to go. Finally, it’s worth noting that this is the first time Osakan players have held all the seven top titles. It’s the first time Tokyo has been shut out.
For all five game records from the 38th Meijin, check out GoGameGuru’s 10/18 post,
Iyama Yuta completes Japanese trifecta with 38th Meijin victory, where there are also more photos.
Kato Loses Sole Lead In Women’s Meijin League: Just one week after taking the sole lead in the 26th Women’s Meijin League, Kato Keiko 6P let it slip. In the official chart for the league, as published in Go Weekly, the game in which she beat Suzuki Ayumi on October 10, is listed as her November game, and the game with Mukai Chiaki 5P described below is given as her October game (she was playing in successive weeks to open up time for maternity leave in November), though it was played later, on October 17. Taking black, Mukai won by 7.5 points. Another game was played on October 24. Chinen Kaori 4P (B) beat Ishii Akane 2P by resignation.
Start Of 69th Honinbo League: The first game of the new Honinbo League was played on October 17. Taking white, Kono Rin 9P defeated Yuki Satoshi 9P by resignation. Two more games were played on October 24. In a match-up between favorites, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) defeated Takao Shinji 9P by resignation. In a game between teenagers, Ida Atsushi 7P (Black) beat Yo Seiki 7P by 2.5
Tomorrow: Iyama Starts Well In Tengen And Oza Title Defences; China Makes Good Start In Nong Shim Cup; Mukai Takes Lead In Women’s Honinbo
A spectacular, all-out battle for the British Championship is expected this month between “The Two Andrews.” Andrew Simons 4d (left) will challenge Andrew Kay 4d (right) for the title in the best-of-three British Championship final, set for November 15 and 23. The games, with three hours main time per player, will be played at 10a UTC on 11/15 and 11a on 11/23 in Milton Keynes at the home of Tim Hunt, who will referee. They will be broadcast online in the British Room on the KGS server with live commentary throughout from Alexandre Dinerchtein 3p (11/15) and Guo Juan 5p (11/23). The champ and his challenger are the best of friends and also the greatest of rivals, having both risen to dan level during the same period at Cambridge University Go Club, which will lend a special edge to the competition. In this summer’s European Open, Simons finished 38th while Kay came 58th so a strong challenge is expected as well as a determined defense of the title. Click here for an interview with Kay at this year’s World Amateur Go Championship (WAGC) where he gives his thoughts on the challenge.
Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the EJ. Photos: Kay (right) at the 2013 WAGC, courtesy of Ranka Online; Simons (left) by Tony Collman.