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The Power Report (2): Kyo Kagen wins two junior titles; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama ekes out narrow win in Meijin

AGA news - Tue, 22/09/2015 - 22:00

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kyo Kagen wins two junior titles: Kyo Kagen 3-dan (right) is continuing his impressive form and has won two titles in the last week. On September 13, the semifinals and final of the 2nd Yucho Cup Youth Championship/Nakano Koji Memorial were held at the Nihon Ki-in. In the semifinals, which started at noon, Kyo (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig. and Motoki Katsuya 7P (W) beat Son Makoto 3P, also by resig. The final started at 3 o’clock, and Kyo (B) beat Motoki by resig. after 143 moves. This is an unofficial title sponsored by the post office bank (Yucho) for players under 21 and under 8-dan. Kyo also won the 10th term of the Nakano Cup, the predecessor of this tournament. These games were sandwiched in-between the first and second games of the 40th King of the New Stars title match. In the first game, played on September 11, Kyo (B) beat Hirata Tomoya 4P by resig. after 175 moves. In the second game (September 16, above left), Kyo (W) won by resig. after 194 moves, so he took the title with straight wins. This is his first official title. He turns 18 on the 24th.

Women’s Meijin League: One game in the 28th Women’s Meijin League was played on September 10. Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo (W) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by 7.5 points. On 2-0, Fujisawa shared the lead with Mannami Nao 3P. This game completed the second round. On September 17, Okuda Aya 3P (W) defeated Mannami Nao by resig. and Kato Keiko 6P (B) defeated Suzuki Ayumi 6P by 3.5 points. Mannami is now 2-1, along with Okuda. If Fujisawa Rina wins her third-round game, she will have the sole lead.

Iyama ekes out narrow win in Meijin: The second game of the 40th Meijin title match was played at the Hotel Oncri (written “onkuri” in Japanese) in the hot spring resort of Furuyu in Saga City, Kyushu on September 17 and 18. After very complicated fighting in the first 150 moves, the challenger, Takao Shinji 9P, took the lead around move 170, but he slipped up at least twice in the endgame, letting Iyama Yuta Meijin catch up and then stage an upset. Iyama, who had black, won by half a point (right). Losing a game like this is very painful and puts the challenger under a lot of pressure. Incidentally, this win was Iyama’s twelfth in a row. Another statistic: this win by the player with black stopped a winning streak of seven by White in games between these two players. Overall, Iyama now leads Takao 25-13, and White has won 23 of these games. The third game will be played on September 24 and 25.

Categories: World news

Second Volume of Yuan Zhou’s “Deep Thought: Extremely Thoroughly Commented Pro Games” Released

AGA news - Tue, 22/09/2015 - 16:00

Responding to popular demand, Slate and Shell has just published a second volume of “Deep Thought: Extremely Thoroughly Commented Pro Games,” by popular author Yuan Zhou. It contains three games with virtually every move explained and almost every diagram showing only one new move. “Unlike normal problem books, the ‘problems’ here are not limited to local situations,” says Slate and Shell publisher Bill Cobb. “You must always keep in mind the whole board. Read this way, the books provide an excellent study of opening, middle game, life and death, and endgame problems, considered in terms of what is going on elsewhere in the game.” Sample pages can be seen on the web site. Available now at a special introductory price.

Categories: World news

The Power Report (1): Iyama to challenge for two more titles; Kisei Leagues

AGA news - Tue, 22/09/2015 - 02:33

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama to challenge for two more titles: At present, Iyama (right) has four titles — Kisei, Meijin, Honinbo, and Gosei – but he is making a determined effort to retrieve the glory days of his sextuple crown. All he has to do is to win back the two titles he lost towards the end of last year. His campaign is running smoothly and last week he won the play-offs to decide the Oza and Tengen challengers.

First of all, the final of the 63rd Oza tournament was held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on Monday, September 7. Iyama (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in by resignation after 157 moves (left). This earned him a rematch with Murakawa Daisuke Oza, also of the Kansai Ki-in, who took the title from him last year. Murakawa showed tenacity in recovering from a 1-2 deficit to win two games in a row. Yo Seiki has been securing excellent results recently, regaining his Honinbo League seat immediately after dropping out and reaching the best eight in an international tournament, the LG Cup, but if you want to take a title in Japan, virtually the only way to do so is by defeating Iyama Yuta. Interviewed after the game, Iyama commented: “Since losing in the Oza match last year, the desire to return to the same stage has been one of the major factors motivating me. I hope to make a better showing than last year.” 

Later in the same week, on Thursday, September 10, the play-off to decide the Tengen challenger was held at the same venue (games are usually played on the home ground of the higher-ranked player).  Taking white, Iyama forced Yuki Satoshi 9P (Kansai Ki-in) to resign after 228 moves (left). Yuki was also strongly motivated for this game, as he had won the title in 2010, but lost it to Iyama the following year. He actually got off to a slightly superior start, but slipped up in the early middle game (right). Iyama now has a big opportunity to regain his sextuple crown, but he is looking further ahead than that. After the Tengen game, he commented: “I’m happy that the link to my goal of winning seven crowns has not been cut.” To keep this possibility open, Iyama has to make sure he keeps winning in the Judan tournament while fighting three title matches. The Oza title match starts on October 20 and the Tengen three days later.

Kisei Leagues: The final game in the S League of the 40th Kisei tournament was played at the Nihon Ki-in on September 10.  Playing white, Takao Shinji Tengen beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig. The place in the league are: 1. Yamashita Keigo (4-1); 2. Murakawa Daisuke Oza (3-2); 3. Yoda Norimoto 9P (3-2); 4. Takao (2-3); 5. Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (2-3); 6. Kobayashi (1-4). The top four players keep their seats, but actually Takao is not yet assured of staying in 4th place. If the winner of the B or C League were to become the challenger, Takao would be bounced out. At that point, Yamashita would remain in the league, but the loser of the title match would take the number one seat in the S League, so Takao would also drop to the A League. This is yet another permutation in the complicated tournament system the Yomiuri Newspaper came up with.

Previously we reported that Kono Rin 9P had won the A League in the sixth round. In his last game, Kono (B) beat 25th Honinbo Chikun by 8.5 points, so he finished the league undefeated on 7-0. The game was played on September 10. On September 17, the play-off between the winners of the B1 and B2 Leagues was held. Yamada Kimio 9P (B2 winner) (W) beat Awaji Shuzo 9P by 8.5 points. Yamada thus earned a place in the tournament to decide the challenger. He is guaranteed a place in the A League next year. From the B1 League, Awaji (first on 5-2) and Ryu Shikun 9P (second on 4-3 — thanks to being ranked number one, he pipped the other three players [out of eight] who also finished on 4-3) will be promoted to the A League. They will be joined by So Yokoku 9P, who was second in the B League. Second place in the A League was also decided on September 17 when Ichiriki Ryo 7P (B) beat Cho Riyu 8P by resig. Ichiriki earns a place in the S League.
Tomorrow: Kyo Kagen wins two junior titles; Women’s Meijin League; Iyama ekes out narrow win in Meijin

Categories: World news

Vienna Touchscreen Goban Wins Iwamoto Prize; “Surrounding Game” Runner-up

AGA news - Mon, 21/09/2015 - 22:00

A touchscreen go board built in the middle of a pedestrian shopping street in Vienna won this year’s World Wide Iwamoto Award from the European Go Center. Second place was taken by Will Lockhart and Cole Pruitt for their feature length documentary about go, “The Surrounding Game.”

The Public Touchscreen Go Table project was the work of a team led by Daniel Bösze, board member of the Austrian Go Federation, who wrote the software and negotiated with the city of Vienna to install the board. The project about a year and a half from start to opening ceremony and cost about $20,000 out of pocket, not including donated project planning and coding time, including $11,000 for the board itself. Since it opened in October 2014, the table has been averaging about 100 games a day, benefiting from a location on one of the busiest shopping streets in Mitteleuropa, Mariahilfer Straße. The board has room for two games at a time and is shielded from sun and rain by two large parasols. Bösze was awarded €1,000 for first place.

Pruitt and Lockhart meanwhile were awarded second place and a €500 “encouragement award” for their film, with which EJ readers are familiar. It is currently being finished up so it can be submitted to film festivals this fall and winter. It will premiere in Spring 2016.

Third place, also €500, went to Proyecto Gakko no Go, which since 2008 has taught go to low-income children at in the Jesús Maestro School in Petare, Caracas, Venezuela, one of the more marginalized and dangerous favelas in the country. The project was organized by Sister Marsela Mujica of the Catholic organization Fe y Alegria, who became enchanted by the Hikaru no Go manga. Starting with essentially nothing, she received support from the Venezuelan Go Association, Fe y Alegria, the Thai Go Association, Sociedad de Intercambio Internacional de Go, the Colegio Japones de Caracas and the International Go Federation, along with teaching visits from Argentinian player and organizer Fernando Aguilar.

“My congratulations to the three winners and hats off all the people who submitted projects,” said AGA president Andy Okun, who along with Aguilar and a half dozen other go officials and organizers, served on the Iwamoto Award jury. “It is amazing what people can do when they are tireless and dedicated.” The Iwamoto Awards seek to encourage projects that promote the spread of go. They are named for the late Japanese champion Iwamoto Kaoru, a tireless advocate for go for many decades, and are run by EGC with support from the European Go Federation and Nihon Ki-in.

Details of all the submitted projects can be found on the EGC website.
- Andy Okun

Categories: World news

European Student Championship 2015

European Go Federation - Mon, 21/09/2015 - 11:47
The European Student Go Championship took place in the Confucius Institute in Cluj Napoca, Romania, from 18 to 20 September 2015. There were 14 participants from 8 countries, fighting for 1 spot of financial support to go to the World Collegiate Championship in Toronto, and one of the 4 spots to represent Europe in the 2nd World Student Pair Go Championship in Tokyo.
Categories: World news

First IMSA Elite Mind Games Announced; 4 North American Players Needed

AGA news - Sat, 19/09/2015 - 13:00

The first International Mind Sports Association Elite Mind Games (IEMG) will be held January 5-12, 2016 in Huai-An City, Jiangsu Province, China. The North American team will comprise three male players and one female player. All participants will have travel, accommodation, and visa application expenses paid for. Players will all receive prize money, a minimum of €1,000, which, after IGF surcharge, will be around $1,000.

Online playoffs will be held on the weekend of October 3-4 with tie-breakers on Oct. 10-11 (if needed). Players will need to budget the entire weekend as the online selections will likely begin at 9:00am PST / 12:00pm EST and end in the late afternoon/evening.

Eligibility: US/Canadian Citizenship. US players must have had continuous AGA membership for a year and have been resident in the US for six of the last 12 months. Interested players must email by Sunday, September 27th.

According the International Go Federation, the format will be the same as the fourth Sport Accord World Mind Games (men’s team event, women’s individual event, pair go). The Men’s team competition is a round-robin, the women’s is a double-elimination with extra games to determine all places, and pair go is a straight knockout.


Categories: World news

Third Haylee Match Set for Saturday; 1-1 Against AGA Pros

AGA news - Fri, 18/09/2015 - 23:15

The third of Haylee’s (Hajin Lee 3p) live stream demonstration matches with AGA pros is set for this Saturday evening at 7 p.m. Eastern time on YouTube. Haylee is 1-1 so far, having won against Calvin Sun 1p but lost against Gansheng (William) Shi 1p. In each episode, Haylee does a short interview about the life and go career of the player, plays a game online while thinking out loud, and then reviews the game with the player. Tomorrow night’s game is against Ryan Li 1p.

Categories: World news

Tortoise and Hare tie in Correspondence Championship

Irish Go Association - Fri, 18/09/2015 - 20:11

The final game in the Open section of the Irish Correspondence Championship has ended. After many interesting games, the early pace was set by Philippe Renaut, but he was eventually joined at the top of the table by Irina Davis. Since there were no tiebreakers, they are this year’s joint winners, on 9 wins from 10 games. In a tie for third with 7 wins were Noel Mitchell, James Hutchinson, and Michael Plikk.

Full results are here.

Categories: World news

Go Spotting: “The Broken Seal” and the Mystery of Yamamoto’s Missing Go

AGA news - Fri, 18/09/2015 - 03:35

“Quite unexpectedly I found an interesting reference to go in a non-fiction book that I am currently reading, ‘The Broken Seal,’ by Ladislas Fargo,” writes Erwin Gerstorfer.

“This book, first published in 1967, deals with the hidden war between American and Japanese code breakers from WW1 to Pearl Harbour. In discussing Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (left), the “brain” behind the attack on Pearl Harbour, Fargo mentions that Yamamoto was considered one of the strongest go players in the Japanese Navy (he enjoyed other games too, like Shōgi, Bridge and Poker).

For me it was not too surprising that Yamamoto played go, as many members of the Japanese Navy were fond of it (see e.g. Ukiyo-e below right), but I did not know that he was such a strong player. However, when I checked the curriculum vitae of Admiral Yamamoto in Wikipedia I got another surprise. While go is listed on the German Wiki among other games that Yamamoto enjoyed, in his English Wiki entry go is not mentioned at all. This is quite a contrast to the fact that he was an expert go player.

Yamamoto was killed when American codebreakers identified his flight plans and his plane was shot down.


Categories: World news

Why We Play: Devin Fraze 3K

AGA news - Wed, 16/09/2015 - 22:08

Age: 25
Years playing go: 3
Lives in: Columbus, Ohio
Home club: Columbus Igo Club

“I love to travel. In the past, I always sought out swing dancing events as I traveled. Now, I often search for local go clubs or tournaments. Thanks to go, I’ve made friends all over the world. I’ve trained in the mountains of Costa Rica, played in the back alleys of Korea, competed in China and Ecuador, and hitch-hiked and cycled from New York to California visiting every club along the way. My opponent and I may not always speak the same language, but when I sit down across a board from them our hands begin to talk. Through grunts, sighs, and bursts of laughter we engage in a deep and meaningful conversation and by the end, I’ve made a new friend.”

Why do you play? Tell us in 100 words or less your favorite thing about the game of go, include your name, age, how long you’ve played go, where you live and your home go club, and email to Be sure to include a current photo!

Categories: World news

Your Move/Readers Write: Honinbo Sansa’s deathbed poem

AGA news - Wed, 16/09/2015 - 22:00

“Here is an example of another kind of verse, a famous kyoka (mad poem) attributed to Sansa, the first Honinbo and founder of that line,” writes Keith Arnold in response to Paul Celmer’s recent query (Searching for a literary go reference 9/9 EJ). “He is said to have composed it on his deathbed, which would date it at 1623. As a demonstration, perhaps, of mu-shin, and not without a touch of grim humor, he makes his own imminent death the subject.”

Go narabaya
ko ni mo tatete
iku beki wo
shinuru michi ni wa
te hitotsu mo nashi

If this were go
I’d start a ko fight
and surely live,
but on the road to death
there’s no move left at all.

This is from an article, Some Senryu about Go by William Pinckard who often contributed to Go World.  I found it on the Kiseido site, but I suspect it was originally published in Go World 15 and in the second edition of the Go Almanac.”
(Thanks also to Peter Schumer, who also sent in this poem)

Categories: World news

Myungwan Kim 9p Visits Mexico City Go Class

AGA news - Wed, 16/09/2015 - 04:06

Myungwan Kim 9p fields questions on September 2 from students at Pippiolo in Mexico City, where instructor Siddhartha Avila (to his left) teaches as part of a very successful curriculum for preschool and elementary school children. One asked Kim who his strongest three opponents have been, and when he answered Lee Changho, Lee Sedol and Cho Hoon Hyun, the kid immediately said “Have you played Gu Li?!”
- report/photo by Steven Burrall

Categories: World news

Burrall Father-Son Team Tops Davis-Sacramento Fall Tourney

AGA news - Tue, 15/09/2015 - 03:57

Matthew Burrall 7d and Steve Burrall 3d topped the Davis/Sacramento Go Club Fall Tournament, tying for first place after tie-breakers. The tournament was held September 5th at the Arden-Dimick library in Sacramento. “We had 16 players, our largest number in a few years,” reports organizer Willard Haynes. “It was also the strongest field that we have ever had.” There were five dan level players ranging from 1 dan to 7 dan. “One player, Jeremy Cook 9k, came all the way from Los Angeles,” Haynes adds. The lower division was won by Cordell Newmiller, 8k by tie breaker. Laura Holeman 12k, played in her first AGA tournament.

Categories: World news

WMSG Qualification tournaments start this month in Boston

AGA news - Tue, 15/09/2015 - 01:44

The selection process for the 2016 World Mind Sports Games (WMSG) will begin at the upcoming American Chang Qi Cup in Cambridge, MA, on September 26 – 28, says AGA President Andy Okun.   Although plans have not been formally announced, it is expected that the 2016 WMSG will be held in Macau, China. Prior WMSG competitions (2008 in Beijing, and 2012 in Lille France) invited large teams for both women and men. “That means that some players will have a chance to make the team with lower ratings than usual for our international events,” said Okun. “The existing qualification points system is being modified to include the lower ranks, and will be used for selection of both the men’s and women’s teams.” Other tournaments intended to be used as qualifiers include the Cotsen in Los Angeles, the New Jersey Open, The Maryland Open and at least two online tournaments; other tournaments that meet certain criteria may also be designated as qualifiers. The points system will also select for invitations to the North American Masters and may be used for other invitations that come up from time to time, Okun said.

Categories: World news

The Janice Kim Files: Email Bankruptcy & The Parking Lot Incident

AGA news - Tue, 15/09/2015 - 00:00

by Janice Kim 3P

Despite my well-known penchant for pompous, florid, and illiterate writing for comedic effect, it is literally true that I declared email bankruptcy several years ago. For the most part I let the bulk of all communication go by, reserving only ever-changing email addresses and phone numbers for specific day-to-day purposes, like I think I’m Tom Cruise who thinks he’s a super spy.

Even with filtering out spam and junk mail, I had just a hair under 28,000 emails in my inbox when I screwed my courage to the sticking point and went through them all in one blur of a Labor Day weekend. Doubtless some were overlooked, but I was touched by the emails I’ve received from people I’ve met in the go community, and it fills me with regret that many people wrote me more than once, and some wrote me only once, and all were doubtless confused why I did not answer. Perhaps I should also have been moved by the numerous overlooked opportunities for self-help, gainful employment or contribution to society in these emails, but that’s one of the beauties of go. One learns not to value oneself based on short-term specific results in a shifting, highly complex landscape involving other players.

download SGF file

Go teaches us that excuses are merely tools we use to remain at a plateau, but in sifting back through years of thoughtful emails from wonderful people that went unanswered, I noted that the date of the declaration of email bankruptcy appears to be somewhat co-related to the date in which I lost the connection, could not escape, and appeared to not be able to live except by repeatedly playing elsewhere through ko, when I was severely beaten up in a parking lot. It was not fatal, as I am fine now, but I can speak to the Asian truth of nearly dying of shame and embarrassment, why that’s not as peculiar and ridiculous as it may sound, even if meant literally. As you may have gleaned by reading previous entries of the Janice Kim files, it may also have something to do with constantly tripping over a super-selective eidetic memory. I will disavow any knowledge of this message, and it will self-destruct in five seconds. Meanwhile, here’s my long-promised actual piece with go diagrams, incorporating my parking lot incident in the way I was thinking about it.

Categories: World news

Guo Juan 5P’s Online Group Class Starts This Week

AGA news - Sun, 13/09/2015 - 12:46

There’s still time to sign up for Guo Juan 5P’s online group class, which starts on September 19. The 135 euro fee cover eight 90-minute classes and seven weeks of full access to Guo’s pro lecture site and training system. “Meet friends, have fun and learn from pro teachers,” says Guo. In addition to Guo, teachers include YoungSun Yoon 8P, Jennie Shen 2P and Mingjiu Jiang 7P.

Categories: World news

Chang Qi Cup Registration Tops 150 with Less Than Two Weeks to Go

AGA news - Sun, 13/09/2015 - 09:08

Registration is speeding up as the Chang Qi Cup approaches. At this point, less than two weeks remain before the Cup kicks off at Harvard University. The unprecedented event will include professional commentary on the Chinese semifinals, an amateur tournament with more than $10,000 in total cash prizes, and multiple other special events. There will be a lot of professional go players on hand: Chang Hao 9P, Yu Bin 9P, Mingming Yin 1P, Andy Liu 1P, Gansheng Shi 1P, Calvin Sun 1P, and Ryan Li 1P have all confirmed they’ll be in attendance.

Because there are less than two weeks left, organizers highly recommend that anyone who wants to make travel plans do so soon. Information about hotels and transportation, as well as general information and registration, is all available on the ACGA’s website. -Julian Erville. Photo: Student Organization Center at Hilles, Harvard University.

Categories: World news

Last Week for AGHS Applications

AGA news - Sat, 12/09/2015 - 21:19

Officer applications for the American Go Honor Society are due by September 19. The organization runs multiple events every year including the School Team Tournament and the Young Lions, and is run entirely by high school students.  The open positions include Vice President, Promotion Head, Webmaster, Tournament Organizer, Secretary, and Treasurer. To apply, download the application form on the AGHS’s website and send it in to by September 19.

Categories: World news

Pandanet AGA City League Registration Continues

AGA news - Fri, 11/09/2015 - 15:23
Registration has started for the new year for the Pandanet AGA City League. “We’re looking for your teams from local areas to compete for the best city across the US and Canada,” says organizer Steve Colburn. Check here for rules for team makeup and other information.  Registration continues through  Sept 27th. Contact for registration. “We’re running a special this year only for new and existing teams,” Colburn adds. For the 2015-2016 year the AGA has partnered with Pandanet to offer a deal to teams who play. If the following two conditions are met, each team member will receive $50 off of their Go Congress registration: All games are played throughout the year and player bio and photos are included with team registration.
Categories: World news

The Power Report, Special Edition: Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp/Meijin match

AGA news - Thu, 10/09/2015 - 12:41

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Last week, as Tokyo correspondent for the American Go E-Journal, I was invited to attend some special events held in connection with the Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp and the Meijin title match (at right). Here is my report.

Teaching Game: This year’s summer camp, which has become an annual event at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, was held for two weeks, from Friday, August 21, to Thursday, September 3. The camp had a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with 16 players of both sexes from 13 countries taking part and go ranks ranging from around 3-dan to double-digit kyu. One point that struck me was that, besides the Western countries you might expect, there were also participants from places like Hong Kong, China, and Singapore where there’s no shortage of local instructors. Word-of-mouth on this event must be good.

There was a full program, with morning and afternoon sessions every day. The program included sessions studying life-and-death and tesuji problems, lectures and simuls by professionals, goodwill matches with Japanese amateurs, and also a league tournament. A repeat participant, Michael Webster of England, was taken on as an intern at the Nihon Ki-in beforehand to help plan the camp; he also selected the life-and-death problems, including problems of various levels to cater for everyone. All the participants I got to speak to were happy with what they called a very enjoyable camp. The double-digit kyu-player referred to above told me that he was actually a virtual beginner but that he had a great time at the camp and that his motivation was now very high.

The event I was invited to attend was a teaching game played from noon to about two o’clock on Wednesday, September 2. This game was a reward for the winner of the camp league, who was Tyler Oyakawa 3D of the US. The professional was Fujisawa Rina 3P, holder of the Women’s Honinbo title and, at just 16, the great hope of women’s go in Japan.  Coincidentally, another American did a simultaneous public commentary in the same room: this was Michael Redmond 9P, who was assisted by his charming elder daughter Emi, who is about 1-dan amateur. Emi speaks three languages, Japanese, Chinese, and English; she is in her final year at Sophia University (Jochi) in Tokyo, and she is also interested in helping to spread go. The game, on three stones, was a relatively peaceful one because, for the most part, Rina did not, in Michael’s words (in conversation later), “play wildly, as I would have done.” If the handicap is correct, the pro can expect to catch up in the endgame, and this seemed to be Rina’s strategy; she ended up getting a good lead, however, leading Tyler to resign.

I found the commentary very instructive and so asked Michael to write it up for the E-Journal. He cheerfully complied, so you can click on his commentary here. After having the bright idea of making this request, I just sat back and enjoyed the game instead of taking notes. Just for the record, the Nihon Ki-in is also holding a winter camp this year, but it is of a different nature. It is open to go educators and instructors from the ASEAN countries, seven of which have go associations: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The camp will be mainly concerned with teaching and propagation methods.

Clash of the Honorary Meijins: In the afternoon on Wednesday, we were all invited to attend a special event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Asahi Meijin title and starting at 3:30. This was a public game between the only two players to have qualified as Honorary Meijin, Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi. Kobayashi has already assumed the title, as he turned 60 three years ago, but Cho Chikun is 59, so it’s not yet official for him. The criterion is winning the title five times in a row or ten times overall. Cho won the 5th to 9th titles, thus qualifying one way, then almost qualifying the other when he won the 21st to 24th titles. Kobayashi won the 10th title, then had a long run lasting from the 13th to the 19th.

This game was played in the Wisteria Room of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, informally known as just the Chinzanso, where the Meijin title match between Iyama Yuta and Takao Shinji was due to start the following day. The main commentator was 24th Honinbo Shuho, otherwise known as Ishida Yoshio 9P, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, among others. Prominent Meijins of the past in the audience, such as Otake Hideo, Rin Kaiho, Takemiya Masaki, and the incumbent, Iyama Yuta, were also called up on stage for their comments. Several people commented on how serious both Cho and Kobayashi seemed about the game. (As is usual with these public games, there were playing on the same stage as the commentary, but in theory the players are too absorbed in the game to pay attention to what is being said. That’s the theory, anyway.) In the past, these two were great rivals, especially in the 80s. Cho achieved success earlier and has outstripped Kobayashi (74 titles to 59); however, Kobayashi wrested his big titles, the Kisei and the Meijin, from the hands of Cho. The biggest regret of Kobayashi’s career is undoubtedly three successive Honinbo challenges rebuffed by Cho. Cho and Kobayashi hold the record for the most games between two players, at 129. We didn’t get an up-to-date breakdown at the public commentary, but someone did say that it was 63 wins each a couple of years ago (by the way, this game does not count, as it was unofficial).

As usual with these two, the game was a good contest and entertained the standing-room-only audience. Takemiya commented: “The game is so fierce you’d think there was a big prize at stake. Each one thinks, this is the one player I don’t want to lose to.” Iyama also expressed admiration for their fighting spirit. The highlight of the game was an attack on a weak group launched by Kobayashi (White) on move 108. Everyone thought Cho was in trouble, but he came up with a clever counter that linked up his weak group at the cost of a two-stone sacrifice. At this point, Cho was ahead, but Kobayashi pulled off an upset in the endgame while Cho was in byo-yomi. Kobayashi ended up winning by 1.5 points.After the game–Kobayashi: “Black 109 was the kind of move you expect from Cho.” Cho: “Next year I can call myself Honorary Meijin, but forget about this honorary stuff. I’m going to become the real Meijin.”

Actually the game review was the most entertaining part of the event. Cho is a compulsive joker; you rarely hear a straight line from him. On the stage, he was like a runaway train. Poor Ishida in particular was the butt of his humor, with comments like, “I may play badly sometimes, but not badly enough to lose to Ishida.” Cho’s fellow pros take his humor in their stride, and Ishida kept trying to review the game with Kobayashi although drowned out by Cho. A number of times, Cho said to the audience: “Do you have any idea what those guys are going on about? I don’t.“   He also reproached Ishida with not giving his clever move at 109 adequate appreciation at the time, so he was certainly listening to the public commentary.

The eve party: In Japan, there’s a strong tradition of holding parties on the eve of major events. There’s a special word for it, “zenyasai” or “night-before festival.” The tradition is honored in go, and these parties are big events (about 240 people attended on Wednesday), especially for games played away from the major cities. They are like showcases for the local go community. The summer camp group was also invited to the eve party held from 6 pm. on the 2nd. Persons in attendance ranged from the heavies of the go world to ordinary go fans who apply by postcard for invitations.

At the party there were the usual speeches and, of more interest, short speeches by the players expressing their resolve for the match. Takao: “This year my results have been bad and I have a minus record. I hear it’s the first time ever the Meijin challenger has had a minus record, so I have set an unprecedented record. Just between you and me, it’s because I have staked everything on the Meijin title, so at present things are proceeding according to my scenario. I also have a scenario for after this, but it’s a secret. It’s not so often in a lifetime that you get to play a best-of-seven, so this is a valuable period for me. It’s important for me.” Iyama’s reply: “I don’t know what kind of scenario Takao Sensei is writing, but the Meijin is a special title. This title alone I can’t hand over.”        

Among the guests appearing on stage was Michael Redmond, who, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, did a public commentary on the game on Friday afternoon. On Thursday morning, the summer-camp participants were invited to watch the start of the game in the playing room.

photos courtesy Tom Urasoe, Nihon Ki-in Overseas Dept. 

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