- O defends Judan title
Cho Chikun takes sole lead in Meijin league
- 5th Fujitsu Cup: another triumph for Korea
- Takemiya ties score in Judan title match
- O takes lead in Judan title match
- Kato to challenge for Honinbo title
- Korea triumphs in Igo Asia Cup in Okinawa
- Meijin league
- Mizokami wins New Stars
- Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
O defends Judan title
The fifth and deciding game of the 40th Judan title match was played at Ikaho Hot Spring in Gumma Prefecture on 25 April. Playing white, O Rissei defeated Takemiya Masaki by 1.5 points. The game ended at 8.45 p.m. after 309 moves. O had 13 minutes left, while Takemiya was down to his final minute of byo-yomi. This win gave O victory by a 3-2 margin and so he completed his first defence of the Judan title he won last year.
This game was typical of the series, with Takemiya playing the sanrensei as a prelude to building a large moyo, which O then invaded. He followed that up later with a successful corner invasion and secured the lead.
Incidentally, White won every game in this series, which is probably a first for title-match go in Japan.
Cho Chikun takes sole lead in Meijin league
Two key games were played in the 27th Meijin league on 25 April. In one of them, Cho Chikun Oza (black) defeated Ryu Shikun 7-dan by resignation. In the other, O Meien Honinbo defeated Yamashita Keigo 7-dan, also by resignation. As a result, Cho Chikun improved his score to 5-0 and became the sole leader. Now on 4-1, Yamashita has falled one step behind. O Meien goes to 4-2 and Ryu to 2-2.
5th Fujitsu Cup: another triumph for Korea
The opening rounds of the 15th Fujitsu Cup were held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 13 and 15 April. In the first round, all five Korean players competing won their games and so advanced to the second round. In contrast, only one out of four Japanese players won, and the Chinese fared likewise.
In the second round, the Koreans met with some reverses, with last year's finalists, Cho Hun-hyeon and Ch'oe Myeong-hun, both being eliminated. However, four other Koreans were victorious. Yu Ch'ang-hyeok followed up his victory over one Japanese titleholder, Kobayashi Koichi, in the first round by beating another in O Rissei; Yi Ch'ang-ho scored his second victory in less than a month against the player who used to be his nemesis, Yoda Norimoto (according to our count, that reduces Yoda's overall lead over Yi to 7-6); Yi Se-tol and Pak Yeong-hyeon also scored wins, so the Korean teenagers didn't let their side down.
The result is that Korea has got four players into the quarterfinals, Japan two, and China and Chinese Taipei one each. That means that Japan has actually improved on its last two international outings, having the second-best results this time. In particular, Kobayashi Satoru looks to be in fine form, scoring impressive wins over Chang Hao of China and Ch'oe of Korea; an international win would help make up for the ground he lost during his enforced absence from competition last year. Even so, Korea is once again dominating the Fujitsu Cup; the odds are that it will extend its winning streak in this tournament to a sixth year.
Takemiya ties score in Judan title match
Takemiya Masaki 9-dan, the challenger for the 40th Judan title, was faced with a kadoban (a game that could lose a series) in the fourth game of the best-of-five, but, playing white, he managed to defeat the defending champion, O Rissei, by 1.5 points after a marathon battle lasting 311 moves.That made the score 2-2, so the fate of the title will be decided in the final game, scheduled to be played on the 25th.
The fourth game was played at Dogo Hot Spring in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture on 18 April. It ended at 11:02 pm, with both players down to their last minute of byo-yomi (the time allowance is five hours each). Actually, Takemiya had played very slowly from the beginning and he was in byo-yomi for nearly all the last 200 moves of the game.
O takes lead in Judan title match
The third game of the 40th Judan title was held at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in Omachi City in Nagano Prefecture on 4 April. Playing white, O Rissei, the defending champion, forced a resignation after exactly 200 moves. He thus took a 2-1 lead and needs just one more win to defend his title.
The game started with Takemiya playing a tasuki fuseki (1 and 3 in diagonally opposite corners) instead of his usual nirensei or sanrensei, but inevitably it ended up with his building a moyo. O managed to drive a wedge through the centre of his position and secured the lead.
The fourth game will be played on 18 April. So far white has won all games, but this time Takemiya will face the extra pressure of a kadoban.
Kato to challenge for Honinbo title
Kato Masao won his final game in the Honinbo league and so earned the right to challenge O Meien for the 57th Honinbo title. He will be attempting to regain the title he last won in 1979.
Kato's opponent in the last game was Hane Naoki Tengen, the only other player still with a chance of winning the league, though to do so he would have had to beat Kato twice, in the final round and in a play-off.
Not only did he fail to force a tie for first place, he also lost his place in the league. That is the kind of thing that happens only in the Honinbo league, which turns over half of its eight players each year.
The four final-round games were all played on 4 April. The results:
Kato Masao 9-dan (B) beat Hane Naoki Tengen by 2.5 points; Cho U 7-dan (W)
beat Otake Hideo 9-dan by half a point; Cho Chikun Oza (B) beat Miyazawa
Goro 9-dan by resig.; Cho Sonjin 9-dan (B) beat Yamada Kimio 8-dan by resig.
Four players tied for second on 4-3, but, thanks to their higher ranks in the league, Cho U took second place, Cho Sonjin third, and Cho Chikun fourth. Although he was ranked fourth in this league, which is usually good enough to keep your place in the case of a multiple tie, the three Chos ended up in the same order, so Hane was pushed out.
The first game of the title match is scheduled for 13 & 14 May. Kato will be 55 years 2 months old when the match starts, making him the second-oldest challenger ever, after Sakata Eio, who challenged for the 30th Honinbo title at 55 years 3 months.
Kato recently became the first player in Japan to score 1,200 wins.It took him 38 years.
Korea triumphs in Igo Asia Cup in Okinawa
Korea has once again shown overwhelming strength, winning a new international team tournament, the 'Igo Asia Cup in Okinawa', without dropping a single game.
The tournament was held at the Okinawa Convention Center in Ginowan City on 22 and 23 March with four five-player teams participating. On the first day, Korea defeated Japan 5-0 and Chinese Taipei bested China 3-2. The latter result was considered a bit of an upset, but Chinese Taipei was helped out by three members of the Nihon Ki-in, Rin Kaiho, O Meien, and Yo Kagen.
In the final, Korea continued its winning ways, shutting out the Chinese Taipei team 5-0, while in the play-off for third place China beat Japan almost as decisively, dropping just one game. This was quite a disappointing result for the home team.
The main sponsor, the CSK group, pledged to hold the tournament again next year.
Korea vs. Japan
Cho Hun-hyeon (W) beat Otake Hideo by resig.
Yi Ch'ang-ho (B) beat Yoda Norimoto by 1.5.
Pak Yeong-hyeon (W) beat Honda Kunihisa by 1.5.
Yu Ch'ang-hyeok (B) beat Awaji Shuzo by 8.5.
Yi Se-tol (W) beat Hane Naoki by 4.5.
Chinese Taipei vs. China
Rin Kaiho (B) beat Ma Xiaochun by 2.5.
O Meien (W) beat Chang Hao by 3.5.
Yo Kagen (B) lost to Yu Bin by resig.
Zhou Junxun (W) beat Shao Weigang by 2.5.
Lin Zhihan (B) lost to Wang Lei by resig.
Final: Korea vs. Chinese Taipei
Cho (W) beat Rin by 7.5.
Pak (B) beat O Meien by resig.
Yi Se-tol (W) beat Yo Kagen by resig.
Yu (B) beat Zhou by resig.
Yi Ch'ang-ho (W) beat Lin Zhihan by 5.5.
Play-off for 3rd place: China vs. Japan
Chang (W) beat Otake by resig.
Yu Bin (B) beat Hane by 3.5.
Ma (W) lost to Yoda by resig.
Wang (B) beat Honda by resig.
Shao (W) beat Awaji by resig.
Although China was forced into third place, it actually won six out of ten games, so it can be reasonably satisfied. Following upon its setback in its own tournament, the Toyota & Denso Cup, in which it scored 4-9, Japan sank even lower, with 1-9. March was probably the worst month ever for Japanese go in the international arena.
First prize is 20 million yen, 2nd ten million, 3rd six million and 4th four million.
One game was held in the 27th Meijin league on 28 March. PLaying white, Ryu Shikun 7-dan defeated O Meien Honinbo by resignation. That puts Ryu on 2-1 and O on 2-2. The current leaders are Cho Chikun on 4-0 and Yamashita Keigo on 3-0.
Incidentally, we have received an inquiry as to why such a strong player as Ryu is still only 7-dan. The reason is that in recent years he hasn't bothered to play in the Oteai (rating tournament) -- he obviously attaches no importance to his dan rank, which is a reasonable attitude when you're able to win titles.
Mizokami wins New Stars
The final of the 32nd New Stars (Shin'ei) tournament was telecast last week. Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan (W) defeated Kim Shujun 6-dan by resignation to take the first prize of 800,000 yen. Kin also finished second last year.
Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
Western professionals were not very active in March, but they did play two games last week, with mixed success. In the second preliminary round of the Kiriyama Cup, Michael Redmond 9-dan (W) defeated Takabayashi Takuji 6-dan by resignation. In the same tournament, Catalin Taranu 5-dan (B) lost to Ito Makoto 8-dan by 6.5 points.
The following Nihon Ki-in players have announced their retirements, all effective as of 31 March: Miyazaki Hiroshi 5-dan, Shimamura Michihiro 4-dan, and Sakamaki Kosuke 3-dan.
Segawa Yoshio 9-dan died on 22 March, aged 88. Born on 23 October 1913 in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, Segawa became 1-dan in 1929 and reached 8-dan in 1971. After retiring in 1981, he was promoted to 9-dan. He played in the 7th and 9th Honinbo leagues. In 1960 he was a member of the Japanese delegation that toured China and initiated postwar go exchange with that country. He won the Okura Prize and received a decoration from the government for his contributions to spreading go. His disciples include Hayase Hiroshi 9-dan and Oka Mitsuo 7-dan.