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History of Topics 2001

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • O Rissei wins first Judan title
  • 3rd Chunlan Cup quarterfinals
  • Yamada Takuji enters Kisei league
  • Promotions and a retirement
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • O ties Judan title match
  • O Meien loses sole lead in Meijin league
  • Father-son clash looms in Kisei
  • Cho U makes 7-dan
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Host country does well in Fujitsu Cup
  • Mizokami secures second Kisei-league place
  • Meijin league
  • Promotions
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Meijin league: Rin drops out of lead
  • Mimura gains Kisei league place
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Kobayashi takes lead in Judan title match
  • Taiwanese players to vie for Honinbo title

30 April

O Rissei wins first Judan title

  As we predicted last week, Black won the final game of the 39th Judan title match, so it didn't become the first title match in which White won all games. As O Rissei was holding black, he won the title match 3-2 and secured his first Judan title. With the Kisei and Oza already in his hands, he is now a triple title holder, which makes him all the more the indisputable number one on the Japanese go scene.
  The fifth game was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 25 April. The game started at 9:30 am and finished at 8:55 pm, when Kobayashi resigned after 177 moves. Kobayashi had four minutes left of his time allowance of five hours and, unusually, O was down to his final minute of byo-yomi. The game was an anticlimax to a hard-fought series, as it was a bit of a one-sided win for O.
  Incidentally, Kobayashi's loss meant that for the first time in 30 years there is no title holder from the Kitani school.

3rd Chunlan Cup quarterfinals

  The quarterfinals of the 3rd Chunlan Cup were held on Sunday, 29 April, and one player from Japan, two from Korea, and one from the host country advanced to the semifinals. That result was a little disappointing for China, as it had five players in the quarterfinals.
  The Japanese representative was O Rissei, who is winding up April in exemplary fashion. Playing white, O defeated China's Yu Bin 9-dan, forcing him to resignaiton after 163 moves. The Korean players to advance were Cho and Yu. Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (W) defeated China's Ma Xiaochun 9-dan, forcing him to resignaiton after 208 moves. Yu Ch'ang-hyeok (B) beat Kong Jie 5-dan (China) by 5.5 points after 285 moves. The sole win for the home side was scored by Wang Lei 8-dan, but his opponent was another Chinese player, Zhou Heyang 9-dan. Playing white, Wang won by 2.5 points.
  The semifinals will be held on 25 May in Xian and the best-of-three final on 22, 24 & 26 June in Beijing.

Yamada Takuji enters Kisei league

  Another newcomer is making his debut in a league: Yamada Takuji 6-dan, a 21-year-old disciple of Ando Takeo 6-dan. In the final game in the Kisei preliminary tournament, played on 26 April, Yamada (W) defeated Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan by resignation and so secured the third of the four vacant places.

Promotions and a retirement

  Two woman players secured promotions last week: Kin En to 3-dan and Makihata Taeko to 2-dan. Another woman player, Tanimura Kuniko 3-dan, announced her retirement (at the early age of 39) as of 30 April

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  There was just one game played by a Western member of the Nihon Ki-in last week. On 25 April, Hans Pietsch 4-dan (B) defeated Inori Yoko 5-dan by resignation in the Oteai (rating tournament).

23 April

O ties Judan title match

  The fourth game of the 39th Judan title match was held at the Takashimaya Inn at Iwamuro Hot Spring in Niigata Prefecture on 19 April. Playing white, O Rissei Kisei, the challenger, defeated Kobayashi Koichi by 1.5 points. This win tied the score at 2-2, so the title match will be decided by the fifth game, scheduled for 25 April.
  Incidentally, all games so far have been won by white. To our knowledge, there has been no title match to date in which white won every game. That might indicate that the player who draws black in the nigiri for the last game should win.

O Meien loses sole lead in Meijin league

  A crucial game in the 26th Meijin league was played last week, and the result throws the league into confusion. Cho Sonjin 9-dan (B) defeated O Meien Honinbo by 6.5 points in a game played on 19 April. As a result, O Meien loses the sole lead, falling back into a tie with Rin Kaiho 9-dan. Besides these two, there are five other players with just two losses: Cho Sonjin, Cho Chikun, O Rissei, Kato Masao, and Komatsu Hideki (all on 2-2), so in effect there is virtually a seven-way tie for first. Not only that, the minus records of Hane Naoki and Ryu Shikun, both on 2-3, suddenly don't look so bad. All nine players still have a chance of winning the league.

Father-son clash looms in Kisei

  The final play-off to decide one of the last two remaining vacant places in the 26th Kisei leagues will feature a very unusual clash: between father and son. This was ensured when Hane Naoki 8-dan (the son) defeated Chan Ka Yui (Chin Kaei) 9-dan in the semifinal of the final preliminary section. Playing white, Hane forced Chan to resignaiton.
  His father, Yasumasa, had already qualified for the final, so father will play son on 3 May at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in. Yasumasa is 56 and Naoki, his second son, is 24.
  This is the second official game between father and son in Japanese professional go. The first occurred in November last year between Izumitani Masanori 7-dan (age 59) and Hideo 8-dan (age 31). That game was in the second preliminary section of the Judan tournament and was won by the son.

Cho U makes 7-dan

  The Honinbo challenger is not going to be a lowly 6-dan. Cho U won promotion to 7-dan when he defeated So Yokoku 6-dan (W) in an Oteai game on 16 April. That makes him the same dan as Ishida Yoshio when he challenged for (and won) the Honinbo title.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Last week was not a good week at the Nihon Ki-in: two players had games and they both lost. One was Catalin Taranu 4-dan, who lost by resignation to Aoba Kaori 3-dan (B) in the first preliminary section of the Tengen title. The other was Hans Pietsch 4-dan, who lost, also by resignation, to Ko Reibun 2-dan (B) in the Oteai (rating tournament). Both games were played on the 18th.

16 April

Host country does well in Fujitsu Cup

  The first two rounds of the 14th Fujitsu Cup were played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 14 and 16 April, and the host country has done well, getting four players into the quarterfinals. Chinese Taipei has also done well, with its top player scoring two good wins.
  With so many world championship tournaments around, it's inevitable that some current or former world champions suffer 'upset' losses in the early rounds. This year there were three big surprises in the first two rounds of the Fujitsu Cup. One was the victory by the unheralded Ishii Kunio 9-dan over the world's number one, Yi Ch'ang-ho, in the first round. The veteran Ishii, who turns 60 later this year, must be very pleased with this success; however, he was unable to maintain his form in the second round, losing to another current world champion, Yu Bin.
  Another surprise was the win by Zhou Junxun of Chinese Taipei over Korea's 18-year-old Yi Se-tol 3-dan, also in the first round. Yi at present has a lead of 2-0 over the more famous Yi in the 5th LG Cup final; considering that he's on the verge of taking a world championship, he was expected to do better in the Fujitsu Cup.
  The final surprise was the win by an even more unheralded Japanese player, Kono Rin 5-dan, over Zhou Heyang 9-dan, one of the top three in China. Kono Rin, who turned 20 at the beginning of this year, has been one of the top players of the new generation for a couple of years, but reaching the quarterfinals of this tournament is his biggest success to date. He is a disciple of Kobayashi Koichi; so far the two are moving through the tournament in tandem.
  Another notable success for Japan was Kobayashi's successive wins over top Chinese players in Ma and Chang Hao. In the 80s, Kobayashi was almost invincible against Chinese players; he seems to be recovering some of his old form. However, his next opponent is the wily Cho Hun-hyeon, who has usually had the better of him in the past (he leads 6-3).
  Another noteworthy game was the encounter between Rui Naiwei, playing in her first Fujitsu Cup, and Cho Chikun in the second round. The latter won, but it was a close game.

Round 1. Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan (Japan) (B) defeated Ma Xiaochun 9-dan (China) by resig.; Kono Rin 5-dan (Japan) (W) d. Shao Weigang 9-dan (China) by resig.; Ch'oe Myung-hun 7-dan (Korea) (W) d. O Meien 9-dan (Japan) by 5.5 points; Kong Jie 5-dan (China) (W) d. Thomas Hsiang amateur 6-dan (USA) by resig.; Rui Naiwei 9-dan (Korea) (W) d. Guo Juan 5-dan (Europe) by resig.; Ishii Kunio 9-dan (Japan) (B) d. Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Rin Kaiho 9-dan (Japan) (W) d. Fernando Aguilar amateur 6-dan (South America) by resig.; Zhou Junxun 9-dan (Chinese Taipei) (W) d. Yi Se-tol 3-dan (Korea) by resig.
Incidentally, White won six out of eight games in the first round.

Round 2. Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (Korea) (B) d. Kong Jie (China) by resig.; Zhou (Chinese Taipei) (B) d. Mok Chin-seok 5-dan (Korea); Rin Kaiho (Japan) (B) d. Yu Ch'ang-hyeok 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Kobayashi Koichi (B) d. Chang Hao 9-dan (China) by 4.5; Kono Rin (Japan) (W) d. Zhou Heyang 9-dan (China) by resig.; Yu Bin 9-dan (China) (W) d. Ishii Kunio by resig.; Ch'oe (Korea) (W) d. O Rissei (Japan) by half a point; Cho Chikun 9-dan (Japan) (W) d. Rui Naiwei (Korea) by 2.5.

Semifinal pairings (2 June, Shenbo, China). Kobayashi vs. Cho Hun-hyeon; Rin vs. Yu Bin; Kono vs. Zhou; Cho Chikun vs. Ch'oe.

Mizokami secures second Kisei-league place

  The second of the four vacant places in the 26th Kisei leagues was decided on 12 April in a game played at the Kansai Ki-in. Playing white, Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan of the Nihon Ki-in defeated Nakano Yasuhiro 7-dan of the Kansai Ki-in by resignation and so secured his first place in a league. Both players are 23 and are among the leading players in their age group in their respective organizations. Nakano's record to the end of March was 13-1 and Mizokami's 13-3. They are also good friends on and off the go board, so in a way it was a pity that they had to run into each in the final.

Meijin league

  Two games in the 26th Meijin was played last week. In one, Hane Naoki 8-dan (W) d. O Rissei by resig. This secured Hane his second win against three losses and made his chances of retaining his league place look a lot brighter. Despite his loss, O Rissei is still well in contention: he is now 2-2.
  In the other game, Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, playing black, defeated Kato Masao 9-dan by 3.5 points. Cho and Kato are now both on 2-2.
  The leader of the league is O Meien on 3-1.


  The spring session of the Nihon Ki-in Oteai or rating tournament has started and already we have two promotions, both to 7-dan. The players are Kono Mitsuki and Kenmochi Jo.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Western professionals did well last week. In the second preliminary round of the Meijin tournament, Michael Redmond 9-dan (B) defeated Okada Shin'ichiro 7-dan by 4.5 points. Catalin Taranu 4-dan, playing black, defeated Okumura Yasushi 6-dan in the Oteai by resignation.

07 April

Meijin league: Rin drops out of lead

  One game in the 26th Meijin league was held last week. Playing Ryu Shikun 7-dan, Rin Kaiho 9-dan lost by 4.5 points taking black. This gave Ryu his second win after his dismal start of three successive losses. For his part, Rin dropped to 3-2, so he lost the share of the lead that he had held briefly. O Meien is on top with 3-1, followed by O Rissei on 2-1.

Mimura gains Kisei league place

  The first of the four vacant places in the 26th Kisei leagues has been decided. In the play-off, Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan defeated O Meien Honinbo.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Westerner members of the Nihon Ki-in have not been very active recently. They had no games in the third week of March, but played two in the final week. In one, Michael Redmond 9-dan lost to Kuwamoto Shimpen 5-dan (B) by resignation in the second preliminary round of the Kiriyama Cup Open Haya-go Tournament. In the other, Hans Pietsch 4-dan lost to Shuso Shun 2-dan (B) by resignation in the first preliminary round of the 41st Judan tournament.
  Westerners played no games in the first week of April.

06 April

Kobayashi takes lead in Judan title match

  The third game game of the 39th Judan title match was played at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in the city of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture on 5 April. Playing white, Kobayashi Koichi defeated O Rissei by 5.5 points after 245 moves. This gives him a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five title match, so he is now just one step away from defending his title. Incidentally, all three games so far have been won by white.
  The fourth game will be played at Iwamuro Hot Spring in Niigata Prefecture on 19 April.

Taiwanese players to vie for Honinbo title

  The 56th Honinbo best-of-seven title match will be an all-Taiwanese affair. Despite losing his last game in the league, Cho U 6-dan became the challenger and will meet O Meien in the title match. Starting last year, Taiwanese players have threatened to dominate tournament go in Japan, with O Rissei winning the Kisei title, to add to his Oza title, and O Meien winning the Honinbo title. Even so, this is the first time ever that two Taiwanese players have been pitted against each other in a title match.
  Perhaps even more newsworthy is the fact that Cho U, who will be 21 years three months old when the match starts, is the youngest player ever to challenge for a big-three title. The previous record was held by Kato Masao, who challenged (unsuccessfully) for the 24th Honinbo title (1969) when he was 22.
  The final four games of the league were played on 5 April. At the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, Cho U 6-dan (B) lost to Hane Naoki 8-dan by resignation. At this point, the possibility of a play-off existed, but Cho Sonjin 9-dan (W) lost his game to Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by resignation, so Cho U was the only player on 5-2. In the other two games, Yamada Kimio 8-dan (W) defeated Otake Hideo 9-dan by resignation and Yuki Satoshi 9-dan (W) defeated Oya Koichi 8-dan by 2.5 points.
  As a result, Hane, Cho Chikun, and Cho Sonjin, all on 4-3, retained their league places. Dropping out are Otake (3-4), Yamada (3-4), Yuki (3-4) and Oya (2-5). It's a little unusual for there to be no play-offs at either the top or the bottom of the league.
  The first game will be played in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, on 14 & 15 May.
  In the Mainichi interview held after he secured the challengership, Cho U commented: 'It feels strange to become the challenger after losing my game. I was really happy when I won five games in a row, but losing successive games leaves me with regrets. I'm very fortunate to be able to appear on the important stage of a best-of-seven title match.'

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