- Kobayashi Koichi regains Gosei title
- Kato wins 23rd Women's Kakusei
- New face to be Tengen challenger
- Otake regains Honinbo-league place
- Cho Chikun only sole leader in Kisei leagues
- World's biggest go festival
- Sakai to debut as 5-dan
- Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
- Cho Hun-hyeon wins third Fujitsu Cup
- New international tournament: the Toyota & Denso Cup
- Final round of Meijin league
- Miyazawa wins Honinbo league place
- Kisei A league
- Yamashita gunning for 4th Shinjin-O
- Rating tournament
- Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
- Preliminaries of 6th Samsung Cup
- Kobayashi takes Gosei lead with masterly play
- Sakai qualifies for 3-dan
- Tengen semifinalists
- Top winners
Kobayashi Koichi regains Gosei title
Kobayashi Koichi has taken revenge on Yamashita Keigo, winning back the Gosei title that he lost to him last year. As of our last report, Kobayashi was leading the title match 2-1, having won the third game on 24 July. There was then a long break before the fourth game, which was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 15 August. Playing black, Yamashita scored an upset victory to defeat Kobayashi by 1.5 points and even the score.
So far, Black had won every game of the title match. To our knowlege, the same colour has never won all the games in a title match of five games or more. This year's Honinbo title match came close, with Black winning the first six games, but White won the seventh. However, both Yamashita and Kobayashi seem to have a stronger preference for black than the Honinbo contenders (O Meien and Cho U), so onlookers believed that the nigiri was going to be the key to the final Gosei game.
That's how it turned out, anyway. Kobayashi drew black and won the game by 1.5 points, the same margin as Yamashita's win in the fourth game. He thus reclaimed his title after a gap of only one year. This is his 8th Gosei title (two more than the next player, Otake), and his 54th title overall (which puts him in third place after Sakata on 64 and Cho Chikun on 61).
Kato wins 23rd Women's Kakusei
Kato Tomoko, the holder of the Strongest Woman Player title, has won the final of the 23rd Women's Kakusei tournament. The game was played on 21 August in the Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Building in Marunouchi, Tokyo, and Kato, playing white, defeated Kobayashi Izumi, Women's Meijin, by resignation.
New face to be Tengen challenger
The challenger for the 27th Tengen title is guaranteed to be a 'new face', a player making his debut in a top-seven title match. The only established title holder still left in the tournament, O Rissei Kisei, who had been considered the favourite, was eliminated in the semifinals, played on 16 August. Playing black, O lost by just half a point to Hane Naoki 8-dan (this game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo). In the other semifinal, played at the Kansai Ki-in in Osaka, Akiyama Jiro 7-dan defeated Kubo Katsuaki 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in; playing black, Akiyama won by 2.5 points. Both the losing players are in their 40s and both the winners in their 20s (Akiyama is 23 and Hane 25), so these results are yet another indication of the generational changeover that seems to be getting nearer and nearer in Japanese go.
Otake regains Honinbo-league place
The third play-off for a vacant place in the 57th Honinbo league was held between Otake Hideo 9-dan, who had been eliminated from the previous league, and Komatsu Hideki 9-dan, who was hoping to regain his seat after a four-year absence. The senior player prevailed, and Otake (B) won by 1.5 points. The game was played on 9 August at the Nihon Ki-in.
The remaining play-off will be fought between Kato Masao and Yuki Satoshi.
Cho Chikun only sole leader in Kisei leagues
Five games have been held in the two Kisei leagues over the last three weeks, with the following results.
| A league
||Ryu Shikun Tengen (W) beat Cho U 7-dan by resignation.
| B league
||Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, (B) beat Awaji Shuzo 9-dan by resignation.
Hane Naoki 8-dan (W) beat Ishida Yoshio 9-dan by 4.5 points.
| A league
||Cho Sonjin 9-dan (W) beat Miyazawa Goro 9-dan by resignation.
| B league
||Ishida Atsushi 8-dan (W) beat Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan by 3.5 points.
The result is that in the A league Miyazawa has dropped out of the sole lead, sharing it, on 2-1, with Ryu and Mimura Tomoyasu; in the B league, Cho Chikun has the sole lead on 3-0, with Hane and Ishida Yoshio in second place on 2-1.
World's biggest go festival
The world's largest go festival was held in the city of Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province in southwest China, from 10 to 14 August. As part of the festival, two international tournaments were staged: the 1st Guiyang Cup World Women's Go Championship and the Tournament to Decide the Number One Player from China, Japan, and Korea. The festival was jointly sponsored by Guiyang City and the Chinese Government and is said to have cost two million dollars to stage.
The 1st Guiyang International Go Cultural Festival got off to a start with an opening ceremony on an epic scale that dwarfed any previous go event: thousands of participants and 100,000 spectators. One of the themes of the festival was the traditional phrase of 'music, go, calligraphy, and painting', which defines go as one of the arts. There were 100 young women playing zithers, children writing calligraphy, and 4004 people playing go throughout the ceremony. Moreover, the go boards were laid out in a design spelling out '2001 China, Guiyang'. (We don't know how painting was represented.) Also featured were popular singers, rock bands, opera singers, ethnic dancers, and so on. It was more like the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics than anything previously seen at a go event. When a go event is held on such a magnificent scale, how can you feel anything but that the game has a great future, especially in Guizhou?
Both the featured tournaments were held at the Guiyang Ki-in, which was opened last year in an imposing white building. Fittingly, both were won by players from the host country. One player each from Japan, China and Korea was invited to compete in the tournament to decide the number one player. They were Ma Xiaochun, who won both his games, Yoda Norimoto of Japan, who scored 1-1, and Cho Hun-hyeon of Korea, who scored 0-2.
The women's tournament had 16 participants, including players from the US (Nancy Kim) and Europe (Diana Koszegi of Hungary and Svetlana Chikchina of Russia). The winner was Xu Ying 3-dan, who defeated the 16-year-old Yi Min-chin 2-dan of Korea by half a point in the final.
Sakai to debut as 5-dan
Sakai Hideyuki, a top Japanese amateur who won the World Amateur Go Championship last year, will make his professional debut at the Kansai Ki-in as a 5-dan. Sakai had already qualified for 3-dan by winning two games against Hasegawa Hiro 5-dan. He then won his first game against Nakano Yasuhiro 7-dan on 6 August and so qualified for 5-dan. The final game, against Nakano on 13 August, became irrelevant to his rank, but he finished off the series in fine style with another win, so he had a perfect record of 4-0. His professional career officially starts on 1 September and it's clear that he will make quite an impact.
This is not the first time a player has started at a higher rank than 1-dan -- the most famous example is Go Seigen, who was made a 3-dan when he began his career at the Nihon Ki-in in 1929 -- but the only other postwar example we know of is Chan Ka Yui. After winning the WAGC, he became a professional 5-dan at the Kansai Ki-in, but he had already reached 7-dan in China. However, Sakai's case may not be the last: the Kansai Ki-in Board of Directors has decided to provide the same opportunity to other WAGC champions who are under 30.
Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
Western members of the Nihon Ki-in played only three games in the last three weeks. Results are as follows:
(8 August) Kato Yuki 2-dan (B) defeted Catalin Taranu 5-dan by 1 point (Oteai).
(15 August) Catalin Taranu 5-dan (B) defeated Aoba Kaori 3-dan by resignation (Oteai).
(23 August) Michael Redmond 9-dan (W) defeated Ono Nobuyuki 6-dan by resignation (2nd preliminary, Tengen tournament).
The following players have earned promotions in the Oteai.
To 9-dan: Ishida Atsushi
To 8-dan: Sasaki Tadashi, Arimura Hiroshi, Omori Yasushi
To 4-dan: Tsuruyama Atsushi
To 3-dan: Ko Reibun (son of Nie Weiping 9-dan and Kong Shangming 8-dan).
Cho Hun-hyeon wins third Fujitsu Cup
Korea's redoubtable Cho Hun-hyeon has won his third Fujitsu Cup, beating a fellow countryman, Ch'oe Myeong-hun 8-dan in an all-Korean final. Cho has been having a great time in international tournaments recently: this is his second Fujitsu Cup in a row, his fourth international title in the last 15 months and his ninth international title overall. At the age of 48, he is enjoying a renaissance in his career.
The final of the 14th Fujitsu Cup was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 4 August. Playing white, Cho forced Ch'oe, who is 22 years his junior, to resignaiton after 186 moves. He thus became the second player to win the title two years in a row and the first to win it three times.
In the play-off for third place, Rin Kaiho 9-dan defeated Zhou Junxun 9-dan of Chinese Taipei and earned a personal seed in next year's cup.
First prize is worth 20 million yen, second 7 million and 3rd 4 million.
New international tournament: the Toyota & Denso Cup
A new world championship, to be held once every two years, will be launched in September: the 1st Toyota & Denso Cup -- World Go Oza Championship. The tournament will be the first with participation from all five continents and will be launched in September, with regional championships in four zones: Europe, North America, Central and South America, and Asia/Oceania/Africa (the first three zones will have one place each and the last two). Representatives of these areas will join professional players (ten from Japan and five each from Korea and China) and seven special seeded players, making a total of 32 competitors in the main tournament.
The main tournament will start in March 2002 and culminate in January 2003. First prize will be 30 million yen plus a luxury Toyota car, second prize ten million and there will be two third prizes of 5 million yen.
In order to promote the development of go around the world, special emphasis will be placed on the regional tournaments that lead off the Toyota & Denso Cup.
Final round of Meijin league
The final round of the 26th Meijin league was held on 2 July. The four games played in this round were a bit of an anticlimax, as the winner of the league had already been decided (it was Rin Kaiho, who had a bye), but they were quite serious for the players who were facing demotion.
The results were as follows:
Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, (W) beat O Rissei Kisei by resignation;
Kato Masao 9-dan (B) beat O Meien Honinbo by resignation;
Ryu Shikun Tengen (W) beat Komatsu Hideki 9-dan by resignation;
Cho Sonjin 9-dan (B) beat Hane Naoki 9-dan by resignation.
Final placings were as follows:
1st: Rin Kaiho 6-2
2nd: Cho Chikun 5-3
3rd: Ryu Shikun 5-3
4th: Cho Sonjin 5-3
5th: O Meien 4-4
6th: Kato Masao 4-4
Demoted from the league: O Rissei 3-5; Hane Naoki 2-6; Komatsu Hideki 2-6.
Miyazawa wins Honinbo league place
Miyazawa Goro 9-dan, who has probably the most aggressive style of any player at the Nihon Ki-in, has been doing well recently. He has taken the early lead in the Kisei A league and now he has won a place in the 57th Honinbo league. The play-off was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 2 August; Miyazawa, playing black, defeated Kataoka Satoshi 9-dan by resignation. Kataoka recently lost the play-off to decide the Gosei challenger for the second year in a row; this was also his second loss in a row in the final play-off for a Honinbo league place: nothing is going right for him.
This will be Miyazawa's second appearance in the Honinbo league, following his 2-5 score in the 51st league. We predict he will do better this time.
This is the second league place to be decided: Yamada Kimio 8-dan won the first one, beating Takao Shinji 7-dan. The third play-off, pitting Otake Hideo against Komatsu Hideki, will be held this week; Yuki Satoshi 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in will meet Kato Masao in the fourth.
Kisei A league
The first game in the third round of the Kisei A league was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 2 August. Playing white, Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan defeated league newcomer Yamada Takuji 6-dan by resignation. That puts Mimura, on 2-1, in second place after Miyazawa Goro, who is 2-0. Yamada is now 1-2.
Yamashita gunning for 4th Shinjin-O
For the last three years, Yamashita Keigo has monopolized the Shinjin-O (King of the New Stars) title. Although this is a minor title, open only to players under 8-dan, the winner doesn't defend the title but has to start out over again in the final section, so scoring successive victories is no easy task. Yamashita has already set a record by winning it three times in a row, something not even the formidable Yoda could achieve (though he did win the title five times in all). Now he has a chance of extending his record, as he has reached the final again. He accomplished this by defeating Arimura Hiroshi 7-dan (W) by 5.5 points in the semifinal, held on 2 August.
His opponent in the best-of-three title match will be Kubo Hideo 5-dan.
There was one promotion last week: that of Kurotaki Masanori to 7-dan. This follows the promotion of his younger brother, Masaki, to 5-dan at the end of June.
Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
The three Western members of the Nihon Ki-in have had the last four weeks off. The first to play a game this month was Hans Pietsch 4-dan, but he was without success. Playing white, he lost by resignation to Mannami Kana 2-dan in the 1st preliminary round of the Honinbo tournament.
Preliminaries of 6th Samsung Cup
Forty-three Japanese players, 31 from the Nihon Ki-in and 12 from the Kansai Ki-in, visited Seoul to compete in the largest-scale preliminary yet held for the Korean-sponsored Samsung Cup World Open Baduk Championship. This tournament has always been unique in that it is the only international tournament with a preliminary tournament open to players from different countries (in the others, each country decides its representatives in local qualifying tournaments). Another unusual feature is that participants have to bear their own expenses -- airfares, accommodation, and meals -- which is something that professionals are not accustomed to.
Previously, each country had had a quota for the preliminary. In Japan's case it was ten, so they were chosen on the basis of rankings in the prize-money list for the previous year. This year the preliminary was thrown open to all professionals. Besides the Japanese, 23 Chinese professionals also took part and a small number of Taiwanese (we don't have a figure). In all, 245 players took part, so presumably just about every Korean professional without a seeded place competed. They were competing for 16 places in the main tournament, which meant that 16 knockout tournaments of three or four rounds were held.
The result was that three Japanese and five Chinese players qualified, with the remaining places going to Koreans. The three Japanese were Takao Shinji 7-dan, Kono Rin 6-dan and Han Zenki 5-dan (Han is a Taiwanese-born member of the Nihon Ki-in).
The opening rounds of the main tournament will be held in Seoul on 29 and 31 August.
The seeded players are:
Korea: Yi Ch'ang-ho, Yu Ch'ang-hyeok, Cho Hun-hyeon, Seo Pong-su, Yang Chae-ho, Rui Naiwei, Mok Chin-seok, Yi Se-tol.
Japan: O Meien, Ryu Shikun, Cho Chikun, Hikosaka Naoto, Yamada Kimio.
China: Ma Xiaochun, Chang Hao, Yu Bin.
Kobayashi takes Gosei lead with masterly play
Kobayashi Koichi's chances of regaining the Gosei title look good after the masterly way he won the third game, played on 24 July. Playing black, Kobayashi held control throughout and forced Yamashita Keigo to resignaiton after 207 moves.
There is a three-week break before the 4th game, scheduled for 15 August, so Yamashita has time to recover from his wounds. He also does well with black, however, so the title match may well go the full distance. If it does, the fifth game will be played on 20 August. The game will be relayed live on 15 August on the Nihon Ki-in home page at:
Sakai qualifies for 3-dan
So far, Sakai Hideyuki has played two of the four test games that will decide his initial rank as a professional at the Kansai Ki-in. He has won both of them, against Hasegawa Hiro 5-dan, so he will start as at least a 3-dan.
The final two games will be against Nakano Yasuhiro 7-dan. If he wins one (or both) of them, he will start as a 5-dan. The 24-year-old Nakano may be a tough proposition, however, as he is one of the best players of his age group at the Kansai Ki-in. The games will be played live on 6 and 13 August and will be relayed live on the Kansai Ki-in home page at: http://club.pep. ne.jp/Kansaikiin/live/
The last quarterfinal of the 27th Tengen title was held on 26 July and it became clear that O Rissei is gunning for his fourth title. Playing white, he defeated Yamada Kimio 8-dan by resignation. He will meet Hane Naoki 8-dan in his semifinal; the other pits Akiyama Jiro 7-dan against Kubo Katsuaki 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in.
With the year nearly two thirds gone, the lists of top winners begin to assume some significance. This year we have some new faces in the top ten, such as Kobayashi Izumi, who has just qualified for inclusion by winning promotion to 5-dan. The list below is as of 27 July.
5-dan and up
1. Hane Naoki 8-dan 34-13
2. Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo: 30-13
3. Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan: 26-10
4. Kato Masao 9-dan: 25-11
5. Kobayashi Izumi 5-dan: 24-6; Cho Riyu 5-dan: 24-7
7. Yamada Kimio 8-dan: 23-7
8. Takao Shinji 8-dan: 22-6-1 jigo; O Rissei: 22-17
10. Kataoka Satoshi 9-dan: 21-5; Kim Shujun 6-dan: 21-9; Matsumoto Takehisa 5-dan: 21-9; Yamashita Keigo Gosei: 21-12.