by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
January in Japan: I failed to submit a report last month, so I would like to make up for it with a review of the first month of professional go in Japan this year.
Kato to Challenge for Women’s Meijin: Kato Keiko 6P (right) hung on to her lead in the 26th Women’s Meijin League and will challenge Xie Yimin for the title. In the final round, held on January 9, she beat Okuda Aya 3P (W) by half a point to end up on 5-1, one point clear of the field. The match starts on March 5. Actually, this was Kato’s first game for three months. As mentioned in an earlier report, she took the winter off to have her second child. This is Kato’s first title match for six years (she lost the 20th Women’s Meijin title to the challenger, who was Xie Yimin). She won the title the previous term and the 10th Strongest Woman Player title in 2008. She is married to Mizokami Tomochika 8P.
Other results in the final round: Mukai Chiaki, Women’s Honinbo, (W) beat Yoshida Mika 8P by resig.; Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) beat Chinen Kaori 4P by 3.5 points. Mukai and Suzuki, both on 4-1, took 2nd and 3rd places respectively. The other player to keep her place in the league was Chinen, on 3-3. Okuda (1-5), Yoshida (2-4), and Ishii Akane 2P (2-4) all dropped out.
Yamashita Leads In Honinbo League: A win over Yuki Satoshi at the end of last year gave Yamashita Keigo (left) a share of the lead with Kono Rin in the 69th Honinbo League; both were on 3-0 and were the only undefeated players. However, in the fourth round, played in January, Yamashita beat league newcomer Yo Seiki while Kono lost to Cho U, so Yamashita now has the sole lead. The other league newcomer, Ida Atsushi, shares second place with Kono and Cho U. Games played since my last report are given below.
(26 December) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi Judan by resig.
(January 9) Ida Atsushi 7P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by half a point.
(January 16) Cho U 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by half a point; Sakai Hideyuki 8P (B) beat Yuki Satoshi by resig.
(January 23) Yamashita (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.
Meijin League: Three of the four games in the second round of the 39th Meijin League were played on January 9. At this point, Kono Rin (right) has the provisional lead with 2-0, but the winner of the fourth game, between Yamashita Keigo and Takao Shinji, will draw even with him.
(January 9): Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 7P by resig.; Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Yuki Satoshi Judan by resig.
Iyama Misses Shot at Grand Slam: Recently, with Iyama Yuta (left) holding six titles, there had been a lot of speculation about whether he would become the first player to score a genuine grand slam of the top seven titles, that is, holding them all concurrently instead of cumulatively. In the past, players have not been able to maintain a big tally of concurrent titles for very long because of the wear and tear of constant title matches, so if Iyama is going to have a try at it, the sooner the better. This year he seemed to have a good chance, as he had reached the play-off to decide the challenger for the only top-seven title he didn’t have, the Judan, and his opponent was a player, Takao Shinji, against whom he had a very good record. The play-off was held on Iyama’s home ground, at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, on January 23. The game was a difficult one, with a series of swaps, but Takao, playing white, prevailed by 5.5 points. Takao gets a chance to win back the title that he lost to Cho U in 2009. To keep the dream alive, Iyama will have to try again next year, but he must first defend all his titles this year. There is no precedent in Japan for such a long winning streak in title matches. The first game of the title match between Takao and Yuki Satoshi Judan will be played on March 4.
Chisato Cup: This is a special tournament being held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Chisato corporation, which makes uniforms, helmets, and various other work-related items. Participants were 16 young players recommended by the sponsor. First prize is two million yen. The time allowance is the same as for the NHK Cup, that is, 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes extra time in one-minute units. The first two rounds were held on January 17th and the following players have reached the semifinals: Suzuki Shinji 4P, Hirata Tomoya 3P, Kimoto Katsuya 2P, and Fujisawa Rina 2P. Fujisawa is the granddaughter of Fujisawa Shuko. The semifinals and final will be held on March 1 and 2.
Xie Defends Women’s Kisei: On her previous challenge, two years ago, Aoki Kikuyo 8P managed to take the Women’s Kisei title from the Xie Yimin (right) , the top woman player in Japan. Xie regained the title last year, but Aoki was back again as challenger. This time she did not do so well, however, and Xie has defended her title with straight wins. The first game was played on January 23; taking white Xie forced a resignation. In the second game, played on January 30, Xie had a different color but the result was the same, a resignation by Aoki. Actually, Aoki had the better of it for most of the first game; after a severe attack, she had a large enemy group at her mercy, but she failed to deliver the coup de grace. This is Xie’s 17th title.
In January every year there are a number of promotions for the top prize-money winners of the previous year among players from 1- to 6-dan. The following promotions became effective on February 1.
To 7-dan: Shida Tatsuya (only the top 6-dan is promoted); To 6-dan: Kawada Kohei, Ohashi Naruya; To 5-dan: Tajima Shingo, Sakamoto Yasuo; To 4-dan: Ichiriki Ryo, Muramatsu Hiroki; To 3-dan: Kimoto Katsuya, Adachi Toshimasa; To 2-dan: Kikuchi Masatoshi, Onishi Kenya.
There were also two promotions by the cumulative-wins system. Shimoji Gensho (120 wins) earned promotion to 7-dan as of December 26. With 50 wins, Ms. Makihata Taeko was promoted to 4-dan as of January 31. (Usually the date of the promotion is the day after the game that secured it, as the details have to be confirmed by the Ki-on office.)
Tomorrow: Iyama Leads 3-0 in Kisei Title Match; Kisei Game One Trivia; Yamashita and Cho U Share Lead in Meijin League; Shi Yue Wins New Year’s Tournament; A Promotion and a Retirement
The Argentine Go Association is holding its first Teachers Training Workshop this weekend in Buenos Aires. “Its goals are to develop a teaching system of the game of go to be used in classes and courses and to train the teachers that will give the courses,” Argentine Go Association president Santiago Laplagne told the E-Journal. “Recently, the AAGo signed agreements with the Amateur University Sports Association of Argentina and the Government of the City of Buenos Aires to give classes and courses of go in schools and universities. The workshop is expected to provide the base for these courses.” Fernando Aguilar (right) is coordinating the workshop on February 15-16; click here for details (in Spanish). “We are planning to organize more workshops in 2014,” Laplagne, “so some players might be interested in attending the future workshops.”
France: The 29th Antony Tournament finished February 2 with Junfu Dai 8d in first, Benjamin Blanchard 3d in second, and Francois Mizessyn 4d in third. Germany: Also on February 2, Viktor Lin 5d took the 17. Erdinger Go-Turnier in Erding. Behind him were Jonas Fincke 4d in second and Sebastian Koller 3d in third. Russia: Natalia Kovaleva 5d (left) bested Rusian Dmitriev 5d at the Festival Lariks in Moscow on February 2 while Igor Nemlij 5d 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
A commentary by Rob van Zeijst on the historic first jubango match between Gu Li and Lee Sedol highlights Kiseido’s launch of Go World Online this month. van Zeijst, three-time European champion and former Japan Go Association insei compiled the commentary on this showdown between the top two go players in the world from various commentaries of top Chinese, Korean and Japanese professionals. Go World Online “will present in-depth commentaries of important tournament games soon after they are played,” says Kiseido’s Richard Bozulich. The in-depth analysis in the commentary’s 24 game figures and 85 variation diagrams will give you a sense of Gu’s and Lee’s supreme reading powers and their flawless intuition that enables them to spot all the tesujis that are hidden under the moves played in the game,” says Bozulich. van Zeijst also explores the interesting question of “Why a Ten-Game Match?” Another game featured this month will be between Zhou Ruiyang 9-dan and Shi Yue 9-dan, two young (22) Chinese players who have both been ranked 3rd (2660) in the most recent Chinese ratings. And in preparation for release this month are the first and second games of the 38th Kisei Title Match between Iyama Yuta and Yamashita Keigo, the top two players in Japan.
The Twin Cities Go Club Winter Open tournament was held last Saturday, February 8, on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, MN. Thirty four players participated in a three-round McMahon tournament. “Additional players showed up throughout the day and enjoyed casual games in our social room but did not participate in the tournament,” reports Aaron Broege. Bongkyun Moon 4D won all three of his games to place first in the tournament. Bo Hessburg 3k and Xiaoyu Wang 2k also won all three of their games. Prizes were awarded for first place and for individuals who won all three of their games. “There was also a raffle for prizes including books donated by club members, gift cards to the coffee shops where we regularly meet, an AGA membership, and a game review session for kyu players with stronger members of the club,” Broege says. “We welcomed some new faces at the tournament and added four new AGA memberships that day to push our club totals to over 30 active AGA members. We are looking forward to our quarterly AGA ratings tournament in April.”
photo: Bongkyun Moon 4D (left) playing Yanqing Sun 2D; photo courtesy Aaron Broege
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