- O Rissei scores upset win in 4th Kisei game
- Judan challenger Nakano
- Chinen wins first game in Women's Kisei title match
- Japanese Fujitsu representatives decided: brilliant performance by Redmond
- Cho takes sole lead in Honinbo league
- Lead unclear in Meijin league
- Cho Chikun wins Shusai Prize
- Sakata Eio retires
- Death of Hisai Keishi
- Cho takes lead in Kisei title match
- Yoda suffers first loss in Meijin league
- Ryu keeps his hopes alive in Honinbo league
- Kobayashi Izumi becomes challenger for Women's Meijin
- Death of Yamabe Toshiro
- O Rissei evens the score in Kisei title match
- Ryu shares lead in Meijin league
O Rissei scores upset win in 4th Kisei game
The fourth game of the 24th Kisei title match was played at Gero Hot Spring in Gifu Prefecture on 16 and 17 February. After the first fight of the middle game, Cho Chikun, playing black, took the lead and seemed to be headed towards a 3-1 lead in the title match. O Rissei fought back hard, but Cho hung on to his lead. However, he started playing erratically in byo-yomi, and O managed to kill a large group. O commented later that he had been on the point of resigning.
Of their time allowances of eight hours each, O had 21 minutes left and Cho, as always, was down to his last minute of byo-yomi. The title is now tied at 2-all and, unusually, all four games have been won by the player with white. The fifth game will be played in the town of Oshima in Yamaguchi Prefecture on 23 and 24 February.
Judan challenger Nakano
The playoff to decide the challenger to Kobayashi Koichi for the 38th Judan title was held in Nagoya on 10 February. Whoever won it would be making his first title challenge. Meeting in the playoff were Yamashita Keigo 6-dan of the Tokyo branch of the Nihon Ki-in and Nakano Hironari 9-dan of the Nagoya branch. Probably the majority of go fans were hoping to see a victory by Yamashita Keigo. Aged just 21, Yamashita is considered to have the potential to become a top player in the near future; last year he missed out on his first chance to make a title challenge when he lost the Tengen playoff to Kudo Norio. His opponent, Nakano Hironari 9-dan, is aged 30. His major achievement to date has been winning a place in the 51st Honinbo league. Yamashita had already beaten Nakano in the final of the winners' section. After switching to the losers' section, Nakano defeated Hane Naoki 7-dan, also a Nagoya player, then bested Cho Chikun Kisei in the final of the losers' section. That earned him a return match with Yamashita. In the playoff, Nakano (black) adopted a bold sacrifice strategy, declining to attempt to rescue a weak centre group and going for profit on the side instead.
Nakano's positional judgement seems to have been accurate and he ended up winning by half a point. The best-of-five Judan title match will start on 9 March. Two games are scheduled for March and the remaining three for April. If Nakano wins, he will regain the title lost by a fellow Nagoya player, Hikosaka Naoto, last year.
Chinen wins first game in Women's Kisei title match
The 3rd Women's Kisei will be the first title match of the new millenium to be decided. The first two terms of this new title were won by Kobayashi Izumi. This year the challenger is Chinen Kaori, the Women's Honinbo. Although the title has has 'Kisei' in its name, it's quite different from the open Kisei tournament.
The Women's Kisei is a haya-go tournament, with a time limit of 30 seconds a move plus a ten minutes' time allowance to be used in one-minute units whenever the player wants.
In other words, the format is the same as the NHK Cup. The first game was played in Hiratsuka City. Playing black. Chinen defeated Kobayashi by resignation after 193 moves. Chinen needs just one more win to take her second title.
Japanese Fujitsu representatives decided:brilliant performance by Redmond
The final two playoffs to decide the non-seeded Japanese representatives in the 13th Fujitsu Cup were held last week. In one game, played on 10 February, Takemiya Masaki, playing white, defeated Kobayashi Koichi by half a point. Takemiya, winner of the 1st and 2nd Fujitsu Cups, will make a return to this tournament after a two-year absence. The other game, of greater interest to Western fans, was played earlier in the week, on Monday the 7th. Michael Redmond 8-dan (white) defeated O Rissei by resignation and so will make his debut as a Japanese representative. Actually, Michael has already played in the Cup five times as the North American representative, but recently he has been finding flying to America for the qualifying tournament too big a disruption to his schedule. He therefore decided to participate in the Japanese qualifing tournament, which, of course, he is entitled to do as a member of the Nihon Ki-in. Michael played brilliantly, putting together a superb string of seven wins. Regardless of how he does in the international tournament, winning one of the Japanese seats must rank as one of the major achievements of his career. The seeded players for Japan are Cho Chikun (as Kisei and Meijin), Cho Sonjin (as Honinbo) and Kobayashi Satoru (for taking 3rd place in the 12th Cup). The other non-seeded players are Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan, Cho U 6-dan, and Moriyama Naoki 9-dan.
Cho takes sole lead in Honinbo league
Three games in the 55th Honinbo league were played on 10 February, with the following results:
Cho Chikun (black) beat Hikosaka Naoto by resignation;
O Rissei (black) beat Yamada Kimio by half a point;
Otake Hideo (black) beat O Meien by two and a half points.
Cho now has the sole lead in the league, with 4-1, and O Meien has dropped back into a tie with Otake and Ryu Shikun, all on 3-2. Cho still has to play Ryu and Otake, so anything could happen, but at the moment he seems to have a good chance of securing a return match with Cho Sonjin Honinbo.
Lead unclear in Meijin league
Only one game was played last week in the 25th Meijin league. On 10 February, Kato Masao (white) defeated Ryu Shikun by half a point, so there is now no clear leader in the league. One player, Hane Naoki 7-dan, is still undefeated, but he has played only two games. Tied on 2-1 are Yoda, Ryu, and O Meien.
Cho Chikun wins Shusai Prize
The Shusai Prize is an annual prize awarded to the most outstanding player of the previous year. This month Cho Chikun set a new record by being awarded this prize for the 9th time (one more than Kobayashi Koichi), in recognition of his success in winning the top two titles, Kisei and Meijin, in 1999.
Sakata Eio retires
Sakata Eio, 23rd Honinbo, has decided to retire on his 80th birthday, which falls on 15 February. Sakata is one of the greatest players of the 20th century and still holds the Japanese record for the highest number of titles at 64. His retirement puts an end to a go career lasting 65 years.
Death of Hisai Keishi
Hisai Keishi 9-dan died of pneumonia on 8 February 2000. He was aged 79. Hisai was born in Osaka on 13 May 1920. In 1934 he became a disciple of Segoe Kensaku and made professional shodan in 1937. He reached 9-dan in 1978. Hisai played in the 4th (1965) and 7th (1968) Meijin leagues (Yomiuri) in 1968 and the 23rd (1967) and 24th (1969) Honinbo leagues. He also took 8th place in the 1969 Pro Best Ten. As a young man he was noted for the rapidity of his play. Until his retirement in May 1985, he was one of the leading players of the Osaka branch of the Nihon Ki-in.
Cho takes lead in Kisei title match
The third game of the 24th Kisei title match was played at the Hotel Sun Life Garden in Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture on 2 & 3 February. As in the second game, Cho Chikun surprised the professionals following the game by playing a new move in a common joseki. A complicated game with a number of local skirmishes followed, but the result was a solid win for Cho.
The challenger, O Rissei (black), resigned after 194 moves. Of their time allowances of eight hours each, O had one hour 53 minutes left while Cho was down to his final minute of byo-yomi. Cho now has a 2-1 lead in the series, so the next game, scheduled for 16 & 17 February, will be crucial for O.
Yoda suffers first loss in Meijin league
Two games were played in the 25th Meijin league on 3 February. In Tokyo, O Meien 9-dan (W) defeated Yoda Norimoto 9-dan by 4.5 points in what was the first game in the third round. Yoda is one of the favourites in this year's league, but his path to the challengership has now become a little steeper. O Meien is on the same score, 2-1, he is doing well in both leagues this year. The other game was played in Nagoya between the two debutants in the league, Hane Naoki 7-dan and Imamura Yoshiaki 8-dan. Playing black, Hane edged Imamura by half a point and so scored his second win. The other player on 2-0 is Ryu Shikun, so at this stage the laders are Hane, Ryu, Yoda and O Meien. However, it's early days yet and this situation could change rapidly.
Ryu keeps his hopes alive in Honinbo league
Ryu Shikun has already lost two games in the 55th Honinbo league, but he kept his hopes alive by defeating Rin Kaiho 9-dan in their fifth-round game played on 3 February. Leading the league are Cho Chikun and O Meien, both on 3-1, but if either stumbles, Ryu is well placed, on 3-2, to join the contest for the lead. This was the only game in the Honinbo league played last week.
Kobayashi Izumi becomes challenger for Women's Meijin
The playoff between the winners' and losers' sections of the 12th Women's Meijin tournament was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 2 February. Playing white, Kobayashi Izumi 4-dan defeated Komatsu Hideko 3-dan, winner of the winners' section, by 7.5 points. This avenged her loss to Komatsu in the semifinal of the winners' section and earned her the right to challenge Aoki Kikuyo 7-dan for the title. The best-of-three title match will begin on 1 March, with subsequent games scheduled for the 8th and the 15th. Aoki and Kobayashi have played only five games to date, but the latter has won four of these, so she might appear to be the favourite, but she has not done well in recent title matches.
Death of Yamabe Toshiro
Yamabe Toshiro 9-dan died of stomach cancer on 5 February at the age of 73. Nicknamed 'Kaleidoscopic Yamabe' for his spectacular go, Yamabe was one of the leading players of the postwar decades. He was born in Tokyo on 31 July 1926. He became 1-dan in 1941 and 9-dan in 1963. After the war, he was considered one of the top three young players, along with Fujisawa Shuko and Kajiwara Takeo. In his youth his flair also earned him the nickname 'Genius Yamabe'. However, although the nickname was well-deserved, he failed to live up to his potential. Perhaps the reason was an inability to play his best under the pressure of important games. He played in the Meijin league eight times and the Honinbo league nine times. His biggest success was winning the 20th Honinbo league in 1965, but he lost the title match 0-4 to Sakata. He also challenged unsuccessfully for the 6th Tengen title and for two Nihon Ki-in Championships. He was perhaps the strongest player to fail to win a title.
O Rissei evens the score in Kisei title match
O Rissei scored a valuable win against Cho Chikun in the second game of the 24th Kisei title match, played at the Hotel Forest Breeze Oshuku in Shizukuishi, Iwate Prefecture, on 26 & 27 January. Cho (playing black) was handicapped by a misreading about the life and death of his group after he invaded O's moyo, but even so he fought on tenaciously, making this a tense and exciting game, before he resigned after 180 moves. O's win evened the series at 1-all. The game ended at 5: 58 pm on the 27th. Of their time allowances of eight hours each, O had 64 minutes left and Cho, as always, was down to his last minute. The third game is scheduled to be played in Hiratsuka City on 2 & 3 February.
Ryu shares lead in Meijin league
Only one game was played last week in the 25th Meijin league, but it was an exciting affair, with Takemiya Masaki making a centre enclosure (moves to the left and right of the centre point) with his 11th and 15th moves. His opponent, Ryu Shikun, responded in like spirit, leading to a very interesting game. Ryu lost a large group, but got an outside squeeze. Even so, Takemiya was ahead, but perhaps he was overoptimistic, for he let Ryu overhaul him in the endgame. Ryu (W) won by 5.5 points. This was Ryu's second win for no loss, so he shares the lead in the league with Yoda Norimoto. The only other undefeated player is Hane Naoki, who has played just one game. Takemiya has made a bad start, with two losses.