by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal
Cho U beats the odds: Some more details about the final round of the 71st Honinbo League, held on March 31. The league was in a state of flux: the only player certain of retaining his place was Takao Shinji 9P, who became the challenger. The only player certain of losing his place was Ida Atsushi 8P, whose score was 1-5. Even Motoki Katsuya 7P, who won his game and came second, would have had to drop out if he had lost. The luckiest player was Cho U, who started out by losing four games in a row, then keeping his place by winning the last three. When the final round began, though, he not only needed to win his game, he also needed to have Kono Rin 9P, Yo Seiki 7P, and Ichiriki Ryo 7P lose. According to Go Weekly, the odds of all this happening were only 1 in 16. The other three players all tied with Cho, but he was ranked higher.
Korea starts well in Huang Longzi Shuangdeng: The first stage of the 6th Huang Longzi Shuangdeng Cup, a Chinese-sponsored women’s team tournament for five-player teams from Japan, China, and Korea, was held last week in the city of Taizhou in China. Korea made a good start, winning five games to Japan’s two and none for China. Full results are:
Game 1 (April 7). Kim Cheyong 2P (Korea) (B) beat Kibe Natsuki 2P (Japan) by r
Game 2 (April 8). Kim (W) beat Wang Xiangyun 2P (China) by resig.
Game 3 (April 9). Kim (W) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game 4 (April 10). Kim (B) beat Song Ronghui 5P by resig.
Game 5 (April 11). Xie Yimin 6P (Japan) (W) beat Kim by resig.
Game 6 (April 12). Xie (W) beat Lu Jia 2P (China) by resig. (see photo above)
Game 7 (April 13). Pak Jiyeon 4P (Korea) (B) beat Xie by resig.
The second stage will be held in the same city from June 4 to 10.
Meijin League: Murakawa drops back: Takao Shinji 9P has made the best start in the 41st Meijin League with four straight wins. Close on his heels were two players on 3-0, Cho U 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P, but the latter lost his fourth game and has slipped back. Cho has yet to play his fourth game.
(March 7) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
(April 14) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig.
280 million watched Alphago match: According to Google, the cumulative live audience for the five games in the match between Alphago and Lee Sedol (right) was 280 million, which must be the largest audience for any go event by a long way. The estimate includes YouTube and Net and TV broadcasts in the Far East.
In the wake of AlphaGo’s match, the Go Club of Strasbourg, France has been busy promoting the game with its own teaching method. The Strasbourg Teaching Method has been used successfully for a long time, indeed it won the Iwamoto Award in 2001. They have created their own software (StrasGo), which is free of charge, to help beginners learn go through this approach. As of this month it now has an English language version. For the moment it is only available for Windows but a Mac version will be available later this year. The Strasbourg Teaching Method encompasses a three phase approach, which is widely used in the schools in their local region. Essentially these phases are: 1. Capture game on 9×9; 2. Strasbourg Rules on 9×9 or 13×13; 3. French (AGA) rules on 13×13.
by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal
Iyama wins Judan, scores grand slam: The third game of the 54th Judan title match was played at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in the town of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture on April 14. The title holder, Ida Atsushi, was facing a kadoban, as he had lost the first two games. There were about 60 reporters and photographers from 22 media organizations in attendance hoping to witness the first simultaneous grand slam in go; this was too many to fit in the playing room at the start of the game, so they had to draw lots. The game was fairly even for the first 100 moves, but Ida thought he was a little behind. The decisive fight came when Ida, playing black, invaded a corner position and, instead of trying to live small, set up a ko that gave him a chance of capturing some of the enclosing stones. The ko was an approach-move ko for Black, but Ida fought tenaciously and won it, securing the lead. Iyama was two and a half points behind when he resigned after move 269. Ida picked up his first win and stopped Iyama’s winning streak in title matches at 18.
The fourth game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on April 20. The game started at 9:30 and finished at 5:21 pm. Playing black, Iyama forced Ida to resign after 163 moves. That gave Iyama the title 3-1 and secured him the first-ever grand slam in Japanese go. Iyama has held six of the top seven titles twice, but this is the first time he has held all seven at the same time. It is his first Judan title for four years and his 37th title overall. That puts him in seventh place, just two titles behind Cho U. It is not an exaggeration to say that the possibility of this achievement has been the centre of attention in the go media for the last couple of years. Iyama has been the first player for whom this feat has appeared possible; more than “possible” perhaps, it has sometimes seemed just a matter of time. Apparently the Nihon Ki-in’s magazine Go Weekly put out an extra in the evening of the 20th. The regular newspapers sometimes put out extras concerning the tournament they sponsor, but this is the first time I can recall Go Weekly doing it.
There will be a lot of celebrating going on, but soon another title match will start, so the pressure will be on Iyama to maintain this unique distinction as long as he can.
Tomorrow: Cho U beats the odds; Korea starts well in Huang Longzi Shuangdeng; Meijin League: Murakawa drops back; 280 million watched AlphaGo match
The E-Journal has just gotten word that US players Andy Liu 1p and Eric Lui 1p will play two of the top players in the worldtonight, starting at 9:30p EST. Liu (right) will play Lee Sedol 9p (left) of Korea and Lui will play Hane Naoki 9p of Japan in the first round of the 8th Ing Pro tournament in Shanghai. The games start at 9:30a local time April 20 in Shanghai, which is tonight, April 19, at 9:30 p.m. EST, 6:30 PST. The games will be watchable on Sina.com, Tygem and wbaduk, various sources say. The tournament, which is single elimination, gives each player three hours main time and two extra 20-minute periods to be bought for two points each. Please post to the AGA’s Facebook page or tweet us @theaga if you have better information about viewing the games.
– Andrew Okun, President, American Go Association; photo courtesy XIAO Qiang and SHENG Hongli, organizers in the Shanghai Ing Foundation
As a special free bonus for all E-Journal readers, Michael Redmond’s 2nd round Kisei FT game commentary against Sato Masaharu 9P appears here. Full AGA members get exciting commentaries like this every week. The game commentaries alone are worth the price of AGA membership. For youth memberships the deal is even better, just $10 a year! To sign up for the members edition, register with the AGA here.
Michael gives this background for the game: “In the 2nd round of the Kisei FT played on 2015-12-03, I have White against Sato Masaharu 9P. Sato is known to be a strong fighting player, and has entered the Meijin league twice.“
California’s Cupertino High School became the champion of the open division, after 4 hard fought rounds, reports American Go Honor Society President Yunxuan Li. “This year’s school team tournament (STT) drew 13 teams from every part of the country consisting of all kinds of educational institutions,” says Li. “The STT is an annual tournament for school aged kids to compete as a team against teams from other schools. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet young go lovers from other schools. Many participants enjoyed the competitive and friendly atmosphere of the STT. Want to be the next winner of the biggest youth team tournament? Tune in for our event next year!” The top two teams won a full scholarship to the AGA Go Camp, winners in all brackets are receiving cash prizes, t-shirts, and trophies as well – courtesy of the the AGA and the AGF. For a complete list of winners, click here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo: The Haze Middle School Team, from Hikaru no Go, © 1998 Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata/Shueisha Inc.
The (in)famous Ladder tournament is back again for 2016 and is open to all Irish folks (residents or not) and friends.
To register please send an email to ladder [at] irish-go [dot] org or contact Tibi.
Let the games begin!
Andy Liu 1p won his next Sankei Cup game against amateur Shingo Ono in Osaka Saturday. Liu, taking white with no komi, won by six by taking a large central territory. The win puts him in a game today with Murakawa Daisuke 8p, among whose accomplishments are winning the 62nd Oza and two previous Sankei Cups. The game will be 12:30 p.m. Sunday Japan time, evening or night in the US. The broadcast can be found at http://kansaikiin.jp/subpage/live.html.
Eric Lui 1p and Andy Liu 1p are headed to Shanghai to play in the opening rounds of the 8th Ing Pro Cup. The Ing Foundation’s quadrennial tournament is considered one of the most prestigious international titles in the go world, with a top prize of more than $400,000. The opening ceremony is on April 19 and the first game on April 20. The EJ will update with details about broadcasts from the tournament. Lui and Liu won the representation spots in an online qualifier in January against Feng Yun 9p and Yang Huiren 1p.
Andy Liu is travelling to Shanghai by way of Osaka, Japan, for the next round of the Sankei Cup. Liu pleased his American fans last fall by winning all three of his games against Japanese pros in the Sankei Cup prelim. He will play on April 16 at 12:30 Japanese time against amateur player Shingo Ono. If he wins, there will be another game the following day at 12:30 again. According to the Kansai Kiin, the games can be watched online here.
The AGA Summer Go Camp will be held from July 3 to July 9 at YMCA Camp Campbell Gard in Hamilton, OH (45 minutes South of Dayton). Camp directors Nano Rivera and Frank Luo invite campers of all skill levels, between the ages of 8 and 18 to join them for a week of go-playing and fun. Professional instruction, and fun outdoor activities, will both be on the schedule. Youth who played in the NAKC or the Redmond Cup are eligible for a $400 scholarship, and need-based scholarships of up to $250 are also available. For more information on the latest camp-related news, and to download the (soon to be available) registration forms, please visit the camp website. Any questions can be e-mailed to Nano Rivera at email@example.com. Photo: Campers trying their hand at archery at last year’s Go Camp.
Registration is now open for the American Yunguseng Dojang 15th season of on-line classes. Taught by former Korean insei and EGF 8-dan Inseong Hwang, the program each month offers members five games of league play, three lectures of about an hour each on topics such as opening theory, local techniques, and positional evaluation, and a weekly highlights video. The American program began in January 2014 with three six player leagues. The season just concluded had seven six player leagues. There are video reviews of all league games available on-line.
Starting in the 15th season, the winner of the top league each month will get that month free. As of the moment there are 37 registered players for the 15th season, which kicks off April 25. “If you are looking for a training program to sharpen your game, this is something for you to check out,” suggests Bob Gilman.
- photo: AYD members at the 2015 US Go Congress
The American Go Foundation (AGF) is offering $200 youth scholarships to this year’s US Go Congress. Interested youth must write an essay on why they want to go; the application deadline is May 31st. Twenty-five scholarships are available, and up to 15 awardees will be selected by June 1. Five scholarships are available to residents of Canada or Mexico. Applications received after May 31st will be approved on a space available basis. The scholarships are available for US youth who are under 18. Youth who competed in either the NAKC or the Redmond Cup are eligible for an additional $200 scholarship, for $400 total. For more information, and to apply, click here. - Story and photo by Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo: The Youth Team Tournament is one of the many activities in the Youth Room at Congress.
Google DeepMind team members Aja Huang 7d and Hui Fan 2P have just confirmed that they’ll attend this year’s US Go Congress in Boston. “This is an exciting opportunity for the American go community to meet some of the team behind AlphaGo, which attracted global attention to go,” said Congress Director Walther Chen. The Congress runs July 30-August 7; click here for details. Dr. Huang (right), who was seen by millions worldwide last month playing for AlphaGo against Lee Sedol 9P, will give the keynote speech — together with European champion Hui Fan 2p — at the Congress opening ceremony on July 30. They’ll also attend a “Computer Go Afternoon” session on August 4. In other Congress updates, the attendance of the following professional players have been confirmed: Myungwan Kim 9P, An Yan 7P, Hajin Lee 3P, Yi Tang 2P and Shuang Yang 2P.
- Chun Sun
Nominations for the American Go Foundation’s Teacher of the Year award are due by May 8th. Presented each year at the U.S. Go Congress, the award recognizes an outstanding American teacher. The winner will receive an all expenses paid trip to the US Go Congress. To be eligible, a teacher must be a member of the AGA, have been teaching go to children for at least two hours a week (during the school year) for two years, have started a go club or organization for youth, and have helped their students enter appropriate tournaments, if possible. If you would like to nominate someone for this award, including yourself, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominations are due by May 8th and should include a description of the teacher’s activities, how long they have been teaching, and how many students attend their program. - Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo: Xinming Simon Guo, 2015 AGF Teacher of the Year, working with students in Chicago. Read more about Guo’s work here.
It’s unusually nice out today*. As I stroll down my neighborhood and head towards the park, the sun’s rays hit me square in the back, right between the shoulder blades. The tingling warmth spreads all the way down and brings feeling to my toes…
It’s midnight in Huai-An, China, the site of the inaugural IMSA Elite Mind Games 2016. After a thirty-hour ordeal that included a cab ride of record-breaking speed between Shanghai’s international and domestic airports followed by a half-day layover, I arrived at the New Century Grand Hotel, a majestic venue secluded from downtown and just about everything else.
I’m looking around for a familiar face. There are none, to my slight disappointment mixed with relief, since at this point I’m rather unsure in my ability to form a coherent thought, let alone communicate in words. I stumble inside the luxurious living quarters on the eighth floor (surely a sign of good things to come), dragging the trusty luggage that has been with me to the ends of the earth. I check my phone for messages, and there it is, in flawless pinyin, ‘ming tian jian’, meaning ‘see you tomorrow’. Just for a moment, the fatigue melts away and my mind is clear and sharp.
The next morning at the dining hall I’m greeted by Ryan Li and Sarah Yu, the Canadian half of our North American Go Dream Team led by Mingjiu Jiang on the first board and Andy Okun, AGA president extraordinaire, as team leader. With players from around the world representing the various disciplines (Go, Chess, Draughts, Bridge, and Xiangqi), it’s a truly international event, complete with a security checkpoint and metal detectors located at the entrances to each of the playing areas.
“If the situation is bad, keep your head up and wait for your opponent to make a mistake.” Mingjiu chuckled slightly, motioning with his fork towards the air. It was lunch the next day and he was giving us some last-minute advice before we were set to take on Korea in the Men’s Team competition. We nodded solemnly in unison, Ryan and me, carefully avoiding each other’s gaze to prevent the inevitable burst of laughter. Despite arriving after midnight and missing the opening ceremony, Mingjiu appeared in good spirits, greeting anyone he recognized with a hearty clap on the shoulder. With so many varied and delicious desserts up for grabs, it was all I could do to resist overindulging myself right before the game. I reluctantly bade farewell to the sublime chocolate cake, looking back one last time before taking the long walk to the battlefield with the others, each of us lost in our own thoughts.
Both Korea and China fielded teams of some of the world’s top players. While we were unable to take a game from either country, we scored a win against Japan in a game where Ryan (right) fully showcased his fighting skills to defeat one of Japan’s up-and-coming young professionals. Against the Taiwanese team there were also good chances to win, although their superior experience prevailed in the end. After consecutive defeats, we managed to regain some pride with a victory over Europe. Overall, we were still somewhat disappointed, but there were moments during my own games when I felt that my opponents were not as strong as I imagined, and I was not as weak. With steady, determined effort, I wholeheartedly believe that in the foreseeable future the West will be competitive on the international stage.
After the conclusion of the Men’s Team and Women’s Individual events, the Pair Go knockout in which Ryan and Sarah participated took place. I wandered into the game review room during the final round, and, whilst standing around awkwardly, was invited by one of the top Taiwanese players, Chen Shiyuan 9p, to take a seat alongside him and Zhou Junxun 9p as they analyzed their compatriots’ game. Being able to ask them questions when I didn’t understand something was a real treat. Even after just a couple of hours, I felt like I had gotten stronger. These are the moments that every go player lives for.
I’m on the trail now, picking up speed as I navigate the winding path through the riverbend. When I reach the top of the hill, I’m breathing hard and my jet-lagged legs are starting to cry out in protest. In just a few days it’ll be roughly twenty degrees cooler again for a while before the warmth finally returns for good. But for now, on the cusp of spring, I’ll take one more lap around the baseball field, one more breath of the crisp air, enjoying the moment while it lasts, wishing for one more day in sunny Huai-An, and my very own copy of AlphaGo.
*The IMSA Elite Mind Games were held in early March and Eric sent in this report a few weeks ago; we apologize for the delay in publication. Click here for the E-Journal’s previous reports on the IMSA. Team photo (l-r): Mingjiu Jiang, Sarah Yu, Andy Okun, Eric Lui, Ryan Li
by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal
Takao leads Meijin League: Takao Shinji 9P, the previous challenger, has the provisional lead in the 41st Meijin League with four straight wins, but two other players, Cho U 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P, are also undefeated on 3-0 (they have each had a bye). Round 4 of the league has been completed. The league is proving inhospitable for the two league debutants, who have yet to win a game. Hirata Tomoya and Uchida Shuhei are both 0-4.
Recent results: (March 3) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; (March 10) Murakawa Daisuke 8P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; (March 17) Takao (B) beat Hirata by resig.; (March 24) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
Fujisawa Rina wins junior tournament: The final of the 2nd Ibero-Japan Cup, a tournament limited to players under 18, was held at the Nihon Ki-in on March 18. Fujisawa Rina 3P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 2P by resig. This is the second win by a woman player in a tournament open to both sexes (the first was Xie Yimin’s win in the 1st Young Carp tournament ten years ago). This is a good win, as Shibano is building a reputation as one of the top players of his age group, along with Kyo Kagen 3P, whom Fujisawa beat in the first round.
Tuo wins 2nd Japan-China Ryusei: This is a play-off between the winners of the Japanese and Chinese Ryusei titles and was held at the Chinese Qiyuan (Ki-in) in Beijing on March 16. Taking black, Tuo Jiaxi 9P of China beat Yuki Satoshi 9P of Japan by resig.
Three-way tie in junior international tournament: The 4th Japan-China-Korea Young Stars tournament, sponsored by the Korean Baduk Association, was held in Hapchon, Korea on March 19 & 20. This is an all-play-all tournament for three young players from these countries. It started with Onishi Ryuhei 1P of Japan beating Pak Zonghun 1P of Korea but losing to Liao Yuanhe of China. Liao then lost to Pak, so the result was a three-way tie.
Promotions: To 2-dan: Ms. Kibe Natsuki (30 wins) (as of March 4); To 4-dan: Horimoto Mitsunari (50 wins) (as of March 25)
Obituary: Kosugi Masaru
Kosugi Masaru 8P died of stomach cancer on March 2 aged 72. Kosugi was a disciple of his father, Kosugi tei (Chokufu) 7P. He was born on January 22, 1944. He became 1-dan in 1969 and reached 7-dan in 1986. He was promoted to 8-dan a
fter retiring in 2010.His older brother, Kiyoshi 9P, is also a professional.
by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal
Cho Chikun wins 2015 Title Winners Tournament: This is a new tournament now in its third term. Participants are all the title winners from the previous year plus one player selected by a vote by go fans. Even though Iyama holds six titles, there were still eleven participants in this year’s tournament. Tournament conditions are the same as the NHK Cup (30 second per move plus ten minutes). The semifinals and final were held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on March 19. In the semifinals, 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun beat Yo Seiki 7P and Kyo Kagen 3P beat Iyama Yuta, winner of the first two tournaments. The final was played on the stage in the second-floor hall of the Nihon Ki-in with a public commentary being given on the same stage. Cho (B) beat Kyo by resignation after 217 moves.
Takao becomes Honinbo challenger: Going into the final round, there were only two players still in the running
in the 71st Honinbo League: Takao Shinji, on 5-1, and Motoki Katsuya, on 4-2. Motoki, a league debutant, had held the sole lead at the end of the third round, then shared the lead for the next two rounds, but he stumbled in the sixth
round. He therefore needed to win his own final game and have Takao lose to end in a tie for first. However, Takao made no mistake, winning his final game by resignation. That secured him the right to make his first Honinbo challenge
since the 68th term, when he lost 3-4 to Iyama Yuta. Takao won the 60th to 62nd Honinbo titles and was Meijin Honinbo in 2004. The title match with Iyama Yuta will start on May 9.
Recent results: (March 17) Cho U 9P (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.; Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by half a point.
(March 31) Takao (W) beat Kono by resig.; Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Yo Seiki by half a point; Motoki Katsuya 7P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Ida Atsushi Judan by resig.
Tomorrow: Takao leads Meijin League; Fujisawa Rina wins junior tournament; Tuo wins 2nd Japan-China Ryusei; Promotions; Obituary: Kosugi Masaru
Iyama closing in on Grand Slam in Judan challenge: The first game of the 54th Judan title was played at the Osaka University of Commerce on March 8. The Judan is the lowest-ranked of the seven open titles, but this year an extraordinary amount of interest is being taken in the title match because it is the last title Iyama Yuta needs to complete an unprecedented simultaneous grand slam, that is, a genuine grand slam. Usually there would be a lot of fan support for the youthful titleholder, Ida Atsushi, who turns 22 on March 16, but probably few people want to see Iyama miss this opportunity to set a new record. Ida got black in the nigiri. In the opening, Iyama played just one stone on the right side before building a position on the left, so the game became a moyo contest. Instead of trying to save his solitary stone,
Iyama switched to invading the top right corner. When he settled his group in sente, he got a good game. Ida later invaded White’s bottom left position; he lived, but White severely harassed his group, taking a definite lead. Ida resigned after 206 moves. The second game was played at the Yu-no-yama Hot Spring Yumoto Green Hotel in the town of Komono in Mie Prefecture on March 23. The first 41 moves were the same as in Game Three of the Korean Myeongin (Meijin) title match, played on January 20 between Park Junghwan (black) and Lee Sedol. Iyama had reviewed the game in a study group and concluded that the opening, in which Black built thickness, was not bad for Black and wanted to try it out in a game. Ida obviously felt that it was playable for White, though he diverged from the Korean game with move 42. In the middle game, the game seemed even, but Ida made two mistakes: playing in the wrong direction with 124, then choosing the wrong hane out of two possibilities with 134. The latter move was labeled the losing move. Ida faces a kadoban, that is, a game that could lose a series, on April 14. Iyama has now won 18 title-match games in a row.
Xie defends Women’s Meijin: The second game of the 28th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Osaka University of Commerce on March 9. As has been the recent practice, it was held in conjunction with the Judan title match. Playing black, Aoki Kikuyo 8P forced a resignation after 209 moves, so she evened the score. The third game was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on March 16. In a tense endgame contest, Xie emerged the victor by half a point, so she defended her title. She has now held it for nine years in a row and it is her 23rd title overall. Xie was also recently named as a Guest Professor at the Heian Jogakuin University (Jogakuin means Women’s Academy), which was the venue of the first game. The university is also known as St. Agnes’ University and is Anglican. A game in the title match has been held at this university for five years in a row. Xie has played in all of them, and on each occasion has given students instruction in go the day after the game. Correction: The first game was played on March 3, not February 28, as given in my previous report.
Cho U wins NHK Cup: The final of the 63rd NHK Cup was telecast on March 20. The finalists were Cho U 9P, who has won this title three times, and Teranishi Rei 4P, who reached the final on his debut in this tournament. Playing with white, Teranishi perhaps took a small lead after a large-scale trade arising from a ko fight, but Cho overhauled him in the middle game. Teranishi resigned after move 211. Cho’s last NHK cup was eight years ago; this is his first title since 2012. Last year Cho moved back to Taiwan with his family, partly to give his children a chance to learn Chinese and partly to try and recover form. He “commutes” to Japan for his tournament games. His NHK win may be a sign that this decision is paying off. Apparently he plans to return to live in Japan this summer.
Tomorrow: Cho Chikun wins 2015 Title Winners Tournament; Takao becomes Honinbo challenger; Recent results