by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Takao Takes Tengen Title From Iyama: The second game of the 40th Tengen title match was held at the Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo in Sapporo City, Hokkaido, on November 11. Playing white, Takao Shinji 9P (right) beat Iyama Yuta Tengen (left) by resignation after 164 moves. The game was the reverse of the first game: this time Takao held the initiative throughout. Iyama played unreasonably in an attempt to catch up and had to resign when he lost two groups. The third game was played at the Kameyama-Tei Hotel in Hita City, Oita Prefecture, on November 25. The opening was peaceful, but the game soon turned into a fierce fight between opposing groups. In the end, Iyama, playing white, brought down a large black group, forcing Takao to resign after 146 moves. With a 2-1 lead, Iyama’s chances of winning the Tengen title for the fourth year in a row looked very good. The fourth game was played at the Arima Grand Hotel in Kobe City on December 11. It featured three spectacular trades; Takao (white) seized the lead through his clever use of thickness. At the end, Iyama, realizing that he couldn’t give the komi, launched a do-or-die attack. Takao survived it safely, so Iyama resigned after move 288. The final game was held at the Hotel Clement Tokushima in Tokushima City on December 19. This was just three days after Iyama had lost the Oza title to Murakawa Daisuke. Takao drew white in the nigiri. Iyama’s fatigue perhaps showed in the fact that he played very fast. Early in the middle game,Takao made a trade of territory for central thickness and then skillfully erased the centre. From around move 64, Takao seized the initiative and held on to it throughout. In most games, the lead fluctuates, but Iyama was never ahead. Takao did give him a chance to create complications, but Iyama failed to take it. He resigned after move 212. Some observers commented that the game was a masterly win for Takao. He now has two titles (he also holds the Judan) and Iyama is reduced to four. First prize is 14 million yen, ranking the Tengen fifth among the top seven titles.
To 8-dan: Murakawa Daisuke (for winning the Oza title; promotion as of Dec. 17)
To 7-dan: Kanazawa Makoto (for entering the Meijin League; as of Nov. 14), Anzai Nobuaki (120 wins; as of Nov. 28)
To 4-dan: Tamai Shin (50 wins; as of Nov. 28)
To 3-dan: Kumamoto Shusei (40 wins; as of Nov. 21)
To 2-dan: Kikkawa Hajime (30 wins; as of Dec. 5)
Konishi To Challenge For Women’s Kisei: In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 18th Women’s Kisei title, Konishi Kazuko 8P (B) defeated Aoba Kaori 4P by resignation. The game was played on December 8. Konishi was born on October 28, 1972. She took second place in the 19th Women’s Kakusei title (1997), the 7th and 8th Women’s Strongest Player titles (2005 and 2006).
Good Year For Fujisawa Rina: The sixteen-year-old Fujisawa Rin had a breakthrough year this year, winning two titles. On the last day of professional play this year, December 25, she scored her 40th win of the year, beating Koyama Hideo 5P in the First Tournament of the Kisei tournament (the first section of the revamped Kisei is called “fasuto tonamento”). Forty wins is a significant number for a professional,
as you need to win about two-thirds of your games to achieve it, and only two male players made it this year. Fujisawa is only the third female player ever to reach this landmark. Her record was 40 wins to 14 losses; Xie Yimin scored 40-16 in 2007, and the record is held by Kobayashi Izumi with 41-18 in 2001.
Cho U Eliminated From Chunlan Cup: The quarterfinals of the 10th Chunlan Cup were held on Christmas Day. Gu Li 9P (China) defeated Japan’s sole remaining representative, Cho U 9P; Gu had white and won by 1.5 points. Results in the other games were: Zhou Weiyang 9P (W) (China) beat Shi Yue 9P (China) by resig.; Chen Yaoye 9P (China) (W) beat Pak Jung-hwan 9P (Korea) by resig.; Kim Je-seok 9P (Korea) (B) beat Mi Yuting 9P (China) by resig. Pairings in the semifinals, to be held on December 27, are: Gu vs. Kim and Zhou vs. Chen.
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by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Takao Scores 900th Win: Takao Shinji’s win in the Meijin League was his 900th as a professional. He is the 21st Nihon Ki-in player to reach this landmark. His record is 900 wins, 385 losses, 2 jigo, 2 no result. photo: Shinji
China Leads In Nong Shim Cup: The second round of the Nong Shim Cup, held in Busan, Korea, was dominated by Wang Xi 9P of China, who won four games in a row, but both Korea and Japan have hung on, each getting one player into the final round.
(Nov. 28) Wang Xi 9P (China) (B) beat Kang Tong-yun 9P (Korea) by resig.
(Nov. 29) Wang (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 7P (Japan) by resig.
(Nov. 30) Wang (W) beat An Song-jun 5P (Korea) resig.
(Dec. 1) Wang (B) beat Kono Rin 9P (Japan) by resig.
(Dec. 2) Pak Jung-hwan 9P (Korea) (W) beat Wang by resig.
(Dec. 3) Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) (B) beat Pak by resig.
Hane Wins Crown Title: The 55th Crown title, which is open only to Nagoya Nihon Ki-in players, was won by Hane Naoki 9P. In the final, played on November 29, Hane (W) beat Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P by resignation, thus winning his fourth Crown title in a row and 11th overall. He is within striking distance of Yamashiro’s record of 15 Cr
Gu Wins Japan-China Ryusei Play-Off: In the inaugural Japan-China Ryusei Play-off, Go Li 9P of China showed that he had recovered from his loss in his jubango (ten-game match) with Lee Se-tol by defeating Kono Rin 9P of Japan. Taking black, Gu won by resignation. The game was played on December 6.
Murakawa Takes Oza from Iyama: The second and third games of the 62nd Oza title match were played at the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto on November 18 and 20. Having just one rest day between games feels in go terms almost like a doubleheader in baseball.
In Game Two, the challenger Murakawa Daisuke 7P beat Iyama by 1.5 points playing black. The game was close, but Iyama made an attack that was a little over-aggressive. Murakawa erased potential white territory while settling his group and took the lead. The game later became close because of some slack play by Murakawa in the endgame.
In Game Three the titleholder Iyama Yuta pulled off an upset victory by 2.5 points. Murakawa had secured a slight edge with skillful play in a centre fight, but he let himself down with a couple of slack moves later. Once the game turned in his favor, Iyama gave his opponent no chance to stage another upset.
Game Four was played at the Sendai Royal Park Hotel in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, on December 8. Playing black, Murakawa seized the initiative in the opening and this time managed to hang on to it, despite a difficult middle game.
The final game was played at the Todaya inn in Toba City, Mie Prefecture, on December 16. The first part of the game featured two ko fights, both of which Murakawa won, though Iyama took reasonable compensation. The game went wrong for Iyama in a large capturing race in the center. Iyama made a miscalculation and thought he could win it; when he realized he couldn’t, he sacrificed his group, but in the meantime he had played some extra moves that became a loss without compensation. That decided the game. It ended after 249 moves, and Murakawa won by 1.5 points. (Other details about the game are given in the E-journal’s report of December 21.)
At 24, Murakawa is one year younger than Iyama. The two are good friends and often meet in the same study groups. It’s easy to imagine Murakawa’s feelings as he witnessed the extraordinary success of his friend over recent years. At the same time, Iyama was a good target to aim at, of course, but Murakawa confessed that it was a little disturbing to see an even younger player in Ida Atsushi (aged 20) emerge in this year’s Honinbo title match as the first younger challenger to Iyama. The flow of the match, as described above, shows that Murakawa’s win was not a fluke. His goal now is to do better in international tournaments.
Tomorrow, Part 4: Takao Takes Tengen Title from Iyama; Promotions; Konishi to Challenge for Women’s Kisei; Good Year for Fujisawa Rina; Cho U Eliminated from Chunlan Cup
Eight top US go players will gather just outside Boston next week to determine the next US professional. Play in the 3rd AGA Pro Qualification Finals starts on Sunday, January 4 and ends on January 10. The games will be broadcast live on KGS from the Nantasket Beach Resort by the E-Journal; morning rounds will begin at 9:30 AM and afternoon rounds will begin at 4:30 PM. The players are Eric Lui 7d, Ryan Li 7d, Yuan Zhou 7d, Jeremy Chiu 6d, Daniel Gourdeau 7d, Ricky Zhao 7d, Ben Lockhart 7d, and Matthew Burrall 6d. The tournament will be played in two parts, a Round Robin Prelim Sunday through Wednesday, followed by the Championship Thursday and Friday. Jeff Shaevel is the Tournament Director, AGA President Andy Okun will be on hand and Chris Garlock and Andrew Jackson will head up the EJ recording team.
photo: Calvin Sun, winner of the 2nd AGA pro tourney in January 2013; photo by Dennis Wheeler.
by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Ida Takes Sole Lead in Honinbo League: Two games in the second round of the 70th Honinbo League were played on November 13. Cho U 9P picked up his first win by beating Ryu Shikun 9P (B) by 3.5 points, and Ida Atsushi 8P (B) beat Mimura Tomoyasu 9P by resignation. This was the second win for Ida (right), the previous challenger. Another game was played on November 20. Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by 8.5 points. That put both players on 1-1. On November 27, the second round was completed when Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) defeated Kono Rin 9P by resig. That took Yamashita to 2-0, giving him a share of the lead with Ida. Kono had made a bad start with 0-2. What could turn out to be the decisive game in the league came in the third round in a clash between Ida and Yamashita. In the previous league, Ida had caught up with Yamashita in the final round, then beaten him in the play-off. This time, in a game played on December 4, Ida (B) beat Yamashita by 1.5 points. Yamashita will have to play catch-up, but forging ahead of the other players didn’t work for him in either the Honinbo or the Meijin League this year. On December 11, Cho U 9P (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resignation. On December 15, Ryu Shikun 9P (B) picked up his first win in the league when he beat Takao Shinji 9P by resignation. On December 18, Kono Rin (W) followed in Ryu’s footsteps by beating Mimura Tomoyasu 9P by resignation. That completed the third round and also the league schedule for this year. The league goes into the new year with a tidy arrangement: the top-ranked player, Ida, leads with 3-0, as mentioned above; the number two and three players, Yamashita and Cho U, are both on 2-1, and the other five players are on 1-2. As yet, no one is out of the running.
Suzuki Leads Women’s Meijin League: Two games were played in the Women’s Meijin League in November. On the 13th, Suzuki Ayumi 6P (W) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by 1.5 points. On the 20th, Mannami Nao 3P (B) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by resignation. On December 4, Chinen Kaori 4P (B) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by resignation. Two more games were played on December 11. Kato Keiko 6P (W) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8P by
4.5 points and Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) beat Mannami Nao 3P by resignation. On 4-1, Suzuki holds the sole lead — every other player has at least two losses.
Iyama Loses Chance for Grand Slam Next Year: Iyama Yuta was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 53rd Judan tournament, so he lost his chance to aim at a grand slam of the top seven titles in 2015. In a game played at the Osaka headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on November 28, Kobayashi Satoru 9P (W) beat Iyama by half a point. His prospects subsequently became even more distant, as you’ll see in tomorrow’s report.
Suzuki and Rin Win Pair Go Tournament For Married Couples: One of the events commemorating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Nihon Ki-in was a Pair Go tournament for married couples. There are 16 or 17 professional couples in Japan (I have lost count), of whom eight took part. The first two rounds in the knockout tournament were played on October 6, and the final was held on November 22, which is known as ‘good married couples’ day. If you take the first syllables of the numbers in 11/22 in Japanese, you get ‘ii fufu,’ a homophone for ‘good married couple.’ (Japanese are found of turning numbers into mnemonics). In the final, Suzuki Ayumi 6P and Rin Kanketsu 7P (W) defeated Mimura Kaori 2P and Tomoyasu 9P by resignation.
Meijin League Starts: The first game in the 40th Meijin League was played on December 4. Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation. Two more games were played on the 11th. Kono Rin 9P (W) beat So Yokoku by resignation and Murakawa Daisuke (B) beat Kanazawa Makoto 7P by 13.5 points. Incidentally, Kono’s win ended a losing streak of ten successive games, starting with the fourth game of the Meijin title match (a contrast to his winning streak of 19 games earlier in the year). The final game of the first round was played on Christmas Day. The new Tengen Takao Shinji (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by half a point.
Tomorrow, Part 3: Takao Scores 900th Win; China Leads in Nong Shim Cup; Hane Wins Crown Title; Gu Wins Japan-China Ryusei Play-Off; Murakawa Takes Oza from Iyama