26th Kisei - Game 1 in London
A Japan 2001 event
The Kisei Title is the most prestigious go tournament in Japan and hence one of the most important in the world. It is an annual tournament culminating in a best-of-seven-games final between the reigning Kisei and the challenger, who has had to battle his way through a rigorous series of preliminaries and qualifying tournaments.
In 2002, the first of these seven games was played in the Montcalm Hotel, a four-star de luxe hotel close to the north-east corner of London's Hyde Park and the west end of Oxford Street, on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th January 2002. This was also the venue for the pre-match reception, attended by about 50 BGA members.
'Kisei' means 'Go Saint', a term applied to truly outstanding players from the game's long history. Only a very few players have ever been considered worthy of this title, the most well known being Honinbo Dosaku and Honinbo Shusaku. In 1977 it was adopted as the title of this Go tournament.
The Kisei is organised by the Nihon Ki-in, the Japanese professional go association, and is sponsored by the Yomiuri newspaper. In 2002 the winner received 42,000,000 Yen (about £250,000) whilst the loser of the title match received 12,000,000 Yen (about £70,000). The Yomiuri newspaper has a long history of sponsoring Go, longer than the age of the Kisei tournament. It used to sponsor the Meijin tournament which was then considered the most important, but the Asahi Newspaper, who sponsored the Shogi (Japanese Chess) Meijin title wanted to sponsor the Go title too. They offered the Nihon Ki-in increased sponsorship in exchange. After months of intense negotiation an agreement was reached: the Asahi obtained the Meijin Title in exchange for the increased prize money, and Yomiuri created the Kisei title with an even higher level of sponsorship, making it more prestigious than the Meijin title. This arrangement suited professional go players and the Nihon Ki-in, as it increased the number of tournaments and the level of sponsorship.