- Kobayashi takes two-game lead in Judan title match
- Honinbo lead now tied
- Yoda wins third NHK Cup in a row
- Aoki defends Women's Meijin title
- Hane suffers first loss in Meijin league
- Gosei semifinals
- Kajiwara announces his retirement
- O Rissei wins the Kisei title
- Kobayashi makes good start to Judan defence
- 55th Honinbo league
- Meijin league
- O Rissei takes the lead in the Kisei title match
- O Rissei wins Kakusei title second year in a row
- Kobayashi close to lead in Meijin league
- Rui Naiwei triumphs in Korean Kuk-su title
- Rui wins 1st Hung Chang Cup
Kobayashi takes two-game lead in Judan title match
In the second game of the 38th Judan title match, played in Dogo Hot Spring in Ehime Prefecture on 23 March, Kobayashi Koichi (B) scored an upset victory over the challenger Nakano Hironari 9-dan. Kobayashi won the game by 13.5 points and so took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five title match.This was a regrettable loss for Nakano, as he played well and took the lead in the first part of the game.
However, he adopted a safety-first policy that led to slack play. Kobayashi went all out and eventually upset his lead.Kobayashi now needs just one more win to defend the title. Will Nakano be able to get back into the match? The third game will be played in Omachi City, Nagano Prefecture, on 5 April.
Honinbo lead now tied
An important game in the 55th Honinbo league was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 23 March. It matched the sole leader in the league, the previous Honinbo Cho Chikun, and Ryu Shikun, who was tied for second place. Playing white, Ryu defeated Cho, forcing him to resignaiton after just 92 moves. This was Cho's first game after losing the Kisei title, so perhaps he had not yet recovered from the shock of that defeat. Thanks to his win, Ryu went to 4-2, which gave him a share of the lead with Cho and O Meien. These three have the best chance of becoming the challenger to Cho Sonjin, and a playoff is quite possible, as they are not matched against each other in the final round of the league. If they all lost their final games and Hikosaka Naoto won (he plays O Meien), then the playoff would be between him and Cho, as the higher ranked players in the league.The final round will be played on 3 April.
Yoda wins third NHK Cup in a row
Yoda Norimoto 9-dan has become the first player since the legendary Sakata Eio to win three NHK Cups in a row. Four decades have passed since Sakata performed this feat, in 1957-59, which shows how hard it is to score successive victories in tournaments that don't have the defender/challenger system.In the final of the 47th NHK Cup, telecast on 26 March, Yoda, playing white, defeated Imamura Toshiya 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in by 7.5 points. This was Yoda's fifth win in the NHK Cup, which puts him in equal second place with Otake Hideo; he can now set his sights on Sakata's record of 11.Both Yoda and Imamura will represent Japan in the TV Asia Tournament, which features the haya-go champions of Japan, China and Korea. Yoda has won this tournament two years in a row. Will he be able to match his NHK record and pull off a third win?
Aoki defends Women's Meijin title
The second game of the 12th Women's Meijin title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 8 March. Playing white, Aoki Kikuyo, the defending champion, forced Kobayashi Izumi to resignaiton after 226 moves, so she defended her title with two straight wins. This was her third Women's Meijin title and her sixth title overall.
Hane suffers first loss in Meijin league
Just one game was played in the 25th Meijin league last week. On 16 March, playing white, Kobayashi Koichi defeated Hane Naoki by resignation, so now there is no player with a clean slate. Thanks to his win, Kobayashi joins Yoda Norimoto and O Meien in the lead, all having scored 3-1. Following, on 2-1, are Hane and Ryu Shikun.
The last quarterfinal of the 25th Gosei title was held on 16 March. Hikosaka Naoto defeated Takao Shinji. so he will meet Yamashita Keigo in one semifinal. The other semifinal pits Kobayashi Satoru against Kataoka Satoshi.
Kajiwara announces his retirement
On 17 March, Kajiwara Takeo 9-dan announced his attention to retire, on the grounds of age, as of 31 March. Kajiwara has been in poor health since the mid-90s and has not played any tournament games since 1994. Although he never won a title, Kajiwara has been one of the leading players of the postwar period; he has been very influential, both as a theorist and as a teacher (he taught the young Kitani school players like Ishida, Kato, Takemiya, Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi when Kitani fell ill in his later years). As a theorist, he paid great attention to the right direction of play in the fuseki and he also invented many josekis, including some spectacularly sacrificial lines. Kajiwara paid great attention to local tactics and tried to make all his stones work with peak efficiency. He also had a gift for coining new terms, often by combining and abbreviating existing terms, and many of his neologisms have become widespread. Some examples are owa (from owari), meaning that a game is as good as over (even if it's still in the opening), muzu (from muzukashii, meaning 'difficult'), and tsuki-su (meaning 'a great difference', a contraction of the proverbial expression tsuki to suppon hodo chigau, meaning 'as different from each other as the moon and a snapping turtle'). Kajiwara was born on 25 February 1923 in Niigata Prefecture. A disciple of Sekiyama Riichi, he became 1-dan in 1937 and 9-dan in 1965. He was one of the leading young players of the immediate postwar period and with Fujisawa Shuko and Yamabe Toshiro he was known as 'the three crows' of the postwar generation ('three crows' is a term meaning the leading trio). Altogether, Kajiwara played in seven Meijin leagues and three Honinbo leagues. He challenged Sakata unsuccessfully for the Oza title in 1964 and also reached the playoff of the 1971 Pro Best Ten title. His career results were 599 wins to 464 losses and 11 jigos.
O Rissei wins the Kisei title
In his 30th year in Japan, O Rissei has won his first big title and established himself for at least a year as the top player in Japan. In the sixth game of the 24th Kisei title match, played at the Imabari International Hotel in Imabari in Ehime Prefecture on 8 and 9 March, O Rissei, playing white, defeated Cho Chikun by resignation after 132 moves. This gave O a lead of 4-2 and made him the 24th Kisei. He is the first Taiwanese-born player to win one of the big-three titles. The final game featured difficult fighting right from the outset. In the end, Cho made a mistake in a fight in the centre and his group there was captured, forcing him to resignaiton. Of their time allowances of eight hours each, O had two hours 45 minutes left and Cho was down to his last minute of byo-yomi.
Cho Chikun accepted defeat philosophically. 'God is telling me that I don't have the talent yet to become Honorary Kisei. 'Cho had won the title for four years in a row and victory this year would have earned him the honorary title.
The new Kisei was born in Taiwan in 1958. He came to Japan in 1971 and became a disciple of the late Kano Yoshinori 9-dan. He qualified as 1-dan in 1972 and reached 9-dan in 1988. He won his first title, the Oza, in 1995. He regained it in 1998 and defended it (against Cho Chikun) last year.
Kobayashi makes good start to Judan defence
The first game of the 38th Judan best-of-five title match was played at Iwamuro Hot Spring in Niigata Prefecture on 9 March. The game finished at 8:54 pm after 262 moves; playing white, Kobayashi Koichi Judan won by 6.5 points and so got off to a good start in his defence of his title. The challenger, Nakano Hironari 9-dan, played well in the first part of the game, but some dubious moves in the latter part proved costly. The second game will be played at Dogo Hot Spring in Ehime Prefecture on 23 March.
55th Honinbo league
The following games have been played in the 55th Honinbo league since our last report. On 2 March, O Meien (B) defeated O Rissei by 5.5 points, and Yamada Kimio (W) defeated Otake Hideo by half a point. On 9 March Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan beat Rin Kaiho by 3.5 points.
The leaders in the league are:
4-1: Cho Chikun
4-2: O Meien
3-2: Ryu Shikun
The challenger should be one of these three players, with Cho Chikun the favourite, of course.
Two games were played on 9 March. In one, O Meien (B) beat Takemiya Masaki by resignation; in the other, Yoda Norimoto (W) beat Imamura Yoshiaki by resignation. The leading places in the league are unchanged: Hane Naoki is the only player with no losses, but he has played only two games. He is followed by Yoda and O Meien, both on 3-1.
O Rissei takes the lead in the Kisei title match
For the first time, the challenger, O Rissei, has taken the lead in the 24th Kisei title match. The fifth game was played in the town of Oshima in Yamaguchi Prefecture on 23 and 24 February. Playing black, O won by 5.5 points after 257 moves. This was the first game won by black in the series. Of their time allowances of eight hours each, O had 19 minutes left and Cho was down to his last minute of byo-yomi. The fifth game started with O taking profit and Cho setting up a moyo. A very difficult fight developed in the centre; it ended with O capturing five stones there and Cho taking compensation in the corner. The game was very close, but Cho played a slack move with White 132 and O seized the initiative. This is a very big win for O: he now has two chances to take his first big title. The sixth game will be played in Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture on March 8 and 9.
O Rissei wins Kakusei title second year in a row
Sandwiched in between the fourth and fifth games of the Kisei title match on 21 February, a Monday, O Rissei played in the final of the 22nd Kakusei title. O was the winner of the 21st Kakusei and he made it two in a row by defeating Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan. Playing white, O won by 5.5 points. The first prize is worth 5,100,000 yen.
Kobayashi close to lead in Meijin league
One game in the 25th Meijin league was played last week. It matched two former Meijins. On the 24th, Kobayashi Koichi (B) defeated Takemiya Masaki by the unusual margin of 19.5 points. This was Kobayashi's second win to one loss, and he shares second place with Yoda Norimoto, Ryu Shikun and O Meien. The leader is Hane on 2-0. Takemiya has made a terrible start, with three straight losses.
Rui Naiwei triumphs in Korean Kuk-su title
Rui Naiwei has become the first woman player to win a professional title open to all male and female professional players in the country concerned. With the score tied at 1-all between Rui and Cho Hoon-hyun, the defending title holder, the third game of the 43rd Kuk-su (National Champion) title was held on 21 February. Holding black, Rui forced Cho to resignaiton after 199 moves and so completed an historic triumph. Rui has been lionized by the Korean press and the morning after the third game she received a congratulatory telegram from the president of Korea, Kim Dae-jung. Rui has been a guest member of the Korean Ki-in for just over nine months.
Rui wins 1st Hung Chang Cup
The Hung Chang is the only world go championship for women professionals. It is the successor to the Bohae Cup, which also had a Korean sponsor. The final featured an 'all-Korean" pairing: Rui Naiwei, the Chinese 9-dan who is now the toast of her adopted country, Korea, and a 14-year-old genius, Cho Hye-hyeon 2-dan, who may well develop into the Rui of the future. Rui won the final 2-1 and so scored her fourth triumph in six world women's championships. However, Cho's winning one of the games confirms her promise.