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History of Topics 2002

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Kobayashi Izumi defends Women's Honinbo title
  • Yoda defends Meijin title
  • Pak's fabulous start in 4th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup
  • Kobayashi Izumi ties Women's Honinbo
  • Yamashita wins winners' section of Judan
  • Western professionals
  • Yamashita wins Kisei B league
  • Samsung quarterfinals: another triumph for China
  • China wins 3rd New Stars tournament
  • 58th Honinbo league
  • Cho U earns Meijin-league seat
  • Promotions
  • Western professionals
  • Yoda extends lead in Meijin
  • Cho breaks Sakata's record
  • Cho starts Oza defence with upset victory
  • Kobayashi Izumi scores first win in Women's Honinbo
  • Second-youngest Japanese professional shodan
  • Kisei: A League completed
  • 58th Honinbo league
  • Promotions
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Name change
  • Cho Sonjin becomes Tengen challenger
  • New Honinbo league gets off to a start
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Promotions
  • Top winners
  • Japan to adopt 6.5 point komi
  • Cho U wins King of the New Stars title
  • Challenger makes good start in Women's Honinbo title
  • Kobayashi Koichi wins 11th Ryusei title
  • Promotions
  • Cho Chikun scores first win in Meijin title match
  • Chinen makes it two in a row in Women's Honinbo

30 October

Kobayashi Izumi defends Women's Honinbo title

  Kobayashi Izumi has made a great comeback to defend her title in the 21stWomen's Honinbo title. After making a bad start with two losses in a row,she roared back with three straight wins to defeat the challenger, ChinenKaori, holder of the women's Kisei title. In the fifth game, played on 30 October, Kobayashi (W) defeated Chinen by 2.5 points.

Yoda defends Meijin title

  The fifth game of the 27th Meijin title match was held at the Yokohama Grand Intercontinental Hotel on 23 and 24 October. Playing white, Yoda forced a resignation after 164 moves, giving him the series 4-1. Yoda thus won the Meijin title for the third year in a row. After seven successful challenges for big-three titles, Cho Chikun suffered his first setback.
  This game got off to an unusual start when Cho played a tenuki with one move to go to finish off a standard joseki. This was only the first of many unpredictable moves he made. However, he was not able to faze Yoda, who himself surprised the observers with a number of his moves. During the middle game, Cho seemed to have the lead, but Yoda was full of confidence in his own position. In the end, he took the lead in an exchange arising from a complicated ko fight and secured enough territory to make the game close on the board.
  Cho seems unable to handle Yoda's style, which in its territorial orientation is a little similar to his. In 1998, when Yoda first challenged for the Kisei title, Cho beat him 4-2, then when he challenged for the Meijin title the following year Cho beat him 4-1. However, in 2000, Yoda made another challenge for the Meijin title and this time he beat Cho 4-0. With this latest win, Yoda has evened the score in title-match encounters.
  At the age of 36, Yoda seems to have reached his peak. He has now won 31 titles, which puts him in 7th place in the all-time list. Yoda is the fourth player (after Rin Kaiho, Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi) to win the Meijin title for three or more years in a row.

Pak's fabulous start in 4th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup

  As we reported earlier, Japan is fielding its strongest team ever in the Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup, beginning with its top three title holders, the Kisei, Meijin and Honinbo. However, it may be to no avail. The 17-year-old Pak Yeong-hun of Korea has got away to an extraordinary start, winning every game in the first section of the tournament. This includes victories over Japan's and China's number one players, so these two countries are already in bad trouble.
  The big question is: who will be able to beat Pak? He has a great target to aim at: Seo Pong-su's nine wins in a row for Korea in the 5th Jinro Cup (the predecessor of this tournament) in 1997.
Results in the Beijing Round:
1 (22 Oct.). Pak Yeong-hun (Korea) (B) beat Gu Li 7-dan (China) by resig.
2 (23 Oct.) Pak (W) beat O Rissei 9-dan (Japan) by resig.
3 (24 Oct.). Pak (W) beat Chang Hao 9-dan (China) by 2.5 points.
4 (25 Oct.). Pak (B) beat Cho U 7-dan (Japan) by half a point.

Kobayashi Izumi ties Women's Honinbo

  Kobayashi Izumi has recovered from her bad start in the 21st Women's Honinbo title and has evened the score at 2-all.
  The fourth game of the best-of-five title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on 23 October. Playing black, Kobayashi won by half a point.
  The match will now be decided by the fifth game, being played on 30 October.

Yamashita wins winners' section of Judan

  The final of the winners' section of the 41st Judan title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 24 October. Playing white, Yamashita defeated Kataoka Satoshi 9-dan by 1.5 points.
  Kataoka switches to the losers' section to join four other players still in the running: Yamada Kimio 8-dan, Cho Chikun Oza, Hashimoto Yujiro 9-dan, and Takao Shinji 7-dan. The winner of the losers' section will meet Yamashita in the play-off to decide the challenger to O Rissei Judan; the game will probably be held in late January or early February, so Yamashita has a long wait.
  This will be Yamashita's second appearance in the play-off; in 2000 he also won the winners' section, but in the play-off he lost to Nakano Hironari 9-dan, who went on to make an unsuccessful challenge to Kobayashi Koichi.

Western professionals

  Last week the tide turned for Western professionals at the Nihon Ki-in: three games, three wins. Let's hope this is the start of a trend.
(23 October). Hans Pietsch 4-dan (B) defeated Matsumoto Nayoko 1-dan by 19.5 points (Kise preliminary).
(24 October) Michael Redmond 9-dan (B) defeated Kubo Hideo 5-dan by resig.; Catalin Taranu 5-dan (B) defeated Enda Yoichi 7-dan by 8.5 points (both games in the 2nd prelim. section, Tengen tournament).

Yamashita wins Kisei B league

  Yamashita Keigo seems to be enjoying great form these days. Only four days after the success mentioned above, he scored another one, winning the B league in the 27th Kisei tournament.
  The last round in the B league was held on 28 October, a Monday instead of the usual Thursday, presumably because of the busy schedules of the players involved. Only Cho U and Yamashita were still in the running to win the league; the former stumbled, but the latter picked up a convincing win, so he ended up with the sole lead. He will meet the winner of the A league, Ryu Shikun 7-dan, in a play-off, scheduled for 14 November, to decide the challenger to O Rissei. If Ryu wins, it will be a chance for him to take revenge for his loss at the beginning of the year; if Yamashita wins, he will make his first appearance in a best-of-seven.

Results of the final round:
  Cho Chikun Oza (W) beat Cho U 7-dan by resignation.
  Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan (W) beat Awaji Shuzo 9-dan by 1.5 points.
  Yamashita Keigo 7-dan (W) beat Cho Sonjin 9-dan by 6.5 points.

27th Kisei B League (13 June to 28 October 2002)
Rank Player/Opponent CC CU AS CS KS YK Score
4 Cho Chikun Oza - 1 1 0 0 0 2-3
2 Cho U 7-dan 0 - 0 1 1 1 3-2
- Awaji Shuzo 9-dan 0 1 - 0 0 0 1-4
- Cho Sonjin 9-dan 1 0 1 - 0 0 2-3
3 Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan 1 0 1 1 - 0 3-2
1 Yamashita Keigo 7-dan 1 0 1 1 1 - 4-1

25 October

Samsung quarterfinals: another triumph for China

  China is continuing to dominate the 7th Samsung Cup, taking three of the semifinal places. However, the fourth place has gone to Cho Hun-hyeon of Korea, who has been a marvel of consistency in recent international tournaments, so China won't be counting its chickens yet.

The results:
  (16 October) Wang Yuhui 7-dan (China) (W) defeated Chang Hao 9-dan (China) by resignation; Wang Lei 8-dan (China) (W) defeated Ch'oe Myeong-hun 8-dan (Korea) by 2.5 points.
  (17 October) Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (Korea) (B) defeated Luo Xihe 9-dan (China) by half a point; Hu Yaoyu 7-dan (China) (W) defeated Cao Dayuan 9-dan (China) by resignation.

China wins 3rd New Stars tournament

  This is a tournament for eight-player teams of young professionals from Japan, China and Korea. To avoid having an odd man out in each round, the host country fields two teams.
  The third tournament was held in Korea from 2 to 5 October. As the winner of the second tournament, held in Beijing in December 2001, the Chinese team, which is nicknamed 'the small tigers brigade', was the favourite (there is a report, with games, on the 2nd tournament in Go World 94 in an article entitled 'International Youth Tournament'). However, the Korean A team included players who have already started to make their mark in international tournaments, so it was expected to be a formidable rival. The Korean B team was an unknown quantity internationally, as it was made up of players aged from 13 to 17 who are looked upon as potential future stars.
  As it turned out, the Chinese team was too strong and it scored its second victory in a row (unfortunately, we don't have the results of the first tournament to hand).
  In the first round, played on the 2nd, China defeated Japan 5-3, and the Korean B team pulled off an upset, defeating the A team by the same margin.
  In the second round, played on the 3rd, Japan lost to the Korean A team 3-5. At this point, Japan lost its last hope of winning the tournament. China defeated the Korea B team 5-3 and so took the lead.
  The 4th was a rest day, so the final rounds were played on the 5th. The key match was played between China and the Korean A team. If the latter had won, it had a chance of winning the tournament, but the Chinese prevailed, by the same margin as in the previous games. This clinched victory for China.
  The other places were decided by the game between Japan and Korea B. If Japan had lost, it would have come last, but it scored a 6-2 victory that gained it second place (compared to 3rd last year).

Final scores : China: 15-9
Japan: 12-12
Korea A: 11-13
Korea B: 10-14

  Best performer for Japan was its number one, Kim Shujun, who won all his games. The top Chinese board, Kong Jie, also won all his games.

58th Honinbo league

  Two remaining games in Round 1 of the new league were played on 17 October. In one, the recently deposed Honinbo O Meien (W) defeated Kobayashi Koichi Gosei by 6.5 points. In the other, O's predecessor as Honinbo, Cho Sonjin 9-dan (B), defeated league debutant Yamashita Keigo 7-dan by resignation.
  The result is that the four holdovers from the previous league have all started out with wins and the four newcomers have all suffered losses. However, the Honinbo league favours the status quo the least of the three tournaments with leagues, so the order of the players is bound to be shuffled up as the league progresses.

Cho U earns Meijin-league seat

  The first of the three vacant seats in the 28th Meijin league was filled on 17 October. Cho U 7-dan (B) defeated Ishida Akira 9-dan by resignation and so will make his debut in the Meijin league.


The following three players earned promotions last week:

To 8-dan: Takanashi Seiken
To 2-dan: Kim Hyon-jon, Kawada Kohei

Western professionals

  Last week was just as bad for Western professionals as the previous week: three games, three losses.

  (16 October) Takekiyo Yuji 2-dan (W) beat Hans Pietsch 4-dan by 9.5 points (first preliminary section, Honinbo tournament)
  (17 October) Morita Michihiro 9-dan (B) beat Michael Redmond 9-dan by half a point (Kisei preliminary); Imamura Yoshiaki 8-dan (B) beat Catalin Taranu 5-dan by resignation (Okan preliminary).

18 October

Yoda extends lead in Meijin

  Yoda Norimoto has taken a 3-1 lead over Cho Chikun in the 27th Meijin title match, so now he needs just one more win to win the Meijin title for the third year in a row.
  The fourth game of the best-of-seven was played at the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto on 16 & 17 October. Playing black, Yoda won by just half a point. According to professional observers, the lead fluctuated throughout the game, but Yoda's patient play paid off in the end. Actually, Yoda was surprised by the result, as he had miscounted and thought that he was 1.5 points behind.
  The game concluded at 8:45 pm on the second day after 263 moves. Both players were down to the final minute of byo-yomi. The fifth game is scheduled for 23 & 24 October.

Cho breaks Sakata's record

  On 13 October, Cho Chikun beat Cho U 7-dan in the final of the 9th Agon Kiriyama Cup, held at the Mt. Shaka Great Bodai Temple, the headquarters of the sponsor, the Agon sect of Buddhism. This was Cho's 65th title, so he has finally broken a record that stood for two decades, Sakata's record tally of 64 titles.
  Sakata was 63 when he set this record, whereas Cho is still only 46. Cho has another advantage, in that there are a lot more titles around these days than when Sakata was in his prime, so we can expect to see him really extend this record.

Cho starts Oza defence with upset victory

  Cho Chikun has made a lucky start to his defence of the Oza title, scoring an upset win against O Meien very late in the game.
  To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China and the 50th year of the Oza titles in go and shogi, both sponsored by the Nihon Keizai Newspaper, the third game of the shogi title match and the first game of the go title match were held on successive days, 9 and 10 October, at the Pudong Shangri-la Hotel in Shanghai. The shogi match was won by Habu Oza, who defeated the challenger Sato Kisei and so won this title for the 11th year in a row. This beats the best record in Japanese go, Cho's ten successive Honinbo titles.
  In the go game on the 10th, O Meien, playing black, countered Cho's usual territorial style with a large moyo. When Cho invaded, O attacked strongly at first, but later switched to endgame, giving up his attack and letting Cho live. Later, a slack move by Cho let O take the lead, and the players in the pressroom calculated that O would win by 1.5 points.
  On move 200, Cho made a hane, followed by a connection, that required Black to add a reinforcement inside his territory, but neither player realized this. The players in the pressroom were on tenterhooks, wondering who would be the first to see it. The answer was Cho, who attacked inside O's territory with 216. After this, a ko became unavoidable, which of course was a disaster for O so late in the game, so he resigned after White 228 (before the sequence actually reached the ko). If he had realized before Cho and defended, he would have won the game by half a point.
  The game finished at 8:54 pm and both players were down to the final minute of byo-yomi (the time allowance is five hours per player). The second game will be played on the island of In-no-shima, the birthplace of Honinbo Shusaku, on 31 October.
Games from the title match can be viewed at:

Kobayashi Izumi scores first win in Women's Honinbo

  Kobayashi Izumi made a bad start to her defence of her title in the 21st Women's Honinbo title match, losing the first two games to the challenger, Chinen Kaori, Women's Kisei, but, with her back to the wall, she has started her fightback with a win in the third game. It was played at the Hotel Plaza in Mizusawa, Mizusawa City, Iwate Prefecture on 9 October. Taking white, she won by 4.5 points.
  The fourth game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 23 October.

Second-youngest Japanese professional shodan

   In April this year the first professional born in the Heisei era (which began in January 1989 after the death of the Emperor Showa, better known in the West as Hirohito) made his debut. That was Iyama Yuta, who began his professional career in April this year at the age of 12 years 11 months (he actually qualified as a professional the previous November). Iyama has already earned promotion to 2-dan (as of 4 September). He is a member of the Osaka branch of the Nihon Ki-in.
  The second Heisei-born professional has now appeared. He is Murakawa Daisuke, who will make his debut at the Kansai Ki-in on 1 November at the age of 11 years 10 months. This is just one month above the Japanese record, held by Cho Chikun. Murakawa earned his professional status in a qualifying tournament that concluded on 11 October; unlike the Nihon Ki-in, which makes qualifiers wait close to half a year before making their debut, the Kansai Ki-in is letting Murakawa launch his career almost immediately (we do not know if this is the usual practice there).
  Like Iyama when he qualified, Murakawa is still in elementary school.

Kisei: A League completed

  The final three games in the A League of the Kisei tournament were played on 10 October. Since Ryu won his final game, he ended up with a perfect slate, two wins clear of the field. Ryu's opponent was Hane Naoki Tengen, who had dropped out of contention after losing in the fourth round; playing white, Ryu forced a resignation.
  The other two games were also important in determining who stayed in the league. Yoda Norimoto Meijin (W) defeated Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan by resignation and Ishida Yoshio 9-dan (B) defeated Nakaonoda Tomomi 8-dan by 4.5 points. Mimura and Nakaonoda lose their places in the league.
  The play-off between Ryu and the winner of the B League, who is yet to be decided, will be held on 14 November.

27th Kisei A League (6 June to 10 October 2002)
Rank Player/Opponent RS HN MT IY YN NT Score
1 Ryu Shikun 7-dan - 1 1 1 1 1 5-0
2 Hane Naoki Tengen 0 - 0 1 1 1 3-2
- Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan 0 1 - 0 0 0 1-4
4 Ishida Yoshio 9-dan 0 0 1 - 0 1 2-3
3 Yoda Norimoto Meijin 0 0 1 1 - 1 3-2
- Nakaonoda Tomomi 8-dan 0 0 1 0 0 - 1-4

58th Honinbo league

  The second game in the new Honinbo league was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 7 October between Cho Chikun Oza and Rin Kaiho, Hon. Tengen. Playing white, Cho won by 1.5 points, but he was lucky. Just before the end of the game, Rin hallucinated and played a move inside Cho's territory that didn't have to be answered. He therefore lost one move (worth one point at this stage) and one point, so he threw away a half-point win.


The following players have won promotions:
to 8-dan: Yanaka Katsunori
to 4-dan: Ms. Aoba Kaori
to 2-dan: Ohashi Hirofumi

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Last week was not a good week for Western professionals: three games, no wins. Details follow.
  (7 Oct.) Tozawa Akinobu 9-dan (B) beat Michael Redmond 9-dan by 3.5 points; Shudo Shun 3-dan (W) beat Hans Pietsch 4-dan by resig. (both games in the qualifying tournament for the 16th Fujitsu Cup).
  (9 Oct.). Mannami Kana 2-dan (W) beat Hans Pietsch 4-dan by 2.5 points (1st prelim. section, Meijin tournament).

Name change

  This news item is for readers who like to update their copies of The Go Player's Almanac. As of 11 October, Shinoda Hideyuki 7-dan has changed his name to Oka Yuji.

10 October

Cho Sonjin becomes Tengen challenger

  The play-off to decide the challenger for the 28th Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 3 October. Playing white, Cho Sonjin 9-dan defeated Yamashita Keigo by half a point and so became the challenger to Hane Naoki Tengen. This will be his first title match since losing the Kisei title match to O Rissei last year.
  The game between Cho and Yamashita was decided by a half-point ko right at the end. Yamashita had seemed to be doing well in the first part of the game, but Cho had gradually caught up. In his own words, Cho was just lucky that he had one more ko threat than Yamashita.
  The first game of the title match will be played on 7 November. In past encounters, Cho has a lead over Hane of 4-1, but the latter won the last game they played, so this statistic may not have much bearing on the match.

New Honinbo league gets off to a start

  The first game in the 58th Honinbo league was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 3 October. Playing black, Cho U 7-dan defeated Ryu Shikun 7-dan by resig.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Below are the results of Western professionals for the last three weeks.

  (16 September). Hans Pietsch 4-dan (W) beat Ueda Takashi 2-dan by 9.5 points (1st prelim. section, Honinbo tournament).
  (19 September) Cho U 7-dan (W) beat Michael Redmond 9-dan by resig. (3rd prelim. section, Meijin tournament).
  (2 October) Hans Pietsch (B) beat Kamichi Hiroki 1-dan by resig. (Kisei preliminary).
  (3 October) Kato Yuki 3-dan (black) beat Catalin Taranu by resig. (Oteai).

  Michael Redmond 9-dan (B) beat Ishigure Ikuro 9-dan by 2.5 points (Gosei preliminary).


To 5-dan: Ms. Yashiro Kumiko, Araki Issei
To 4-dan: Iwamaru Taira

Top winners

  As of 4 October, the top ten players in number of games won (5-dan and up) were as listed below. As usual, the list is dominated by the up-and-coming 7-dans, who typically get more games against weaker players than the title holders, nearly all of whose opponents are top-flight players. In view of this, Cho Chikun's appearance so high in the list is commendable. The other notable performance is that of Yashiro Kumiko, who just got promoted to 5-dan and so qualifies for inclusion in the top list.

1. Cho U 7-dan: 55-19
2. Yamashita Keigo 7-dan: 50-11
3. Takao Shinji 7-dan: 37-13
4. Yamada Kimio 8-dan: 32-13
5. Cho Chikun Oza: 31-19
6. So Yokoku 7-dan: 30-14
7. Nakano Hironari 9-dan: 29-9; Kim Shujun 6-dan: 29-11; Yashiro Kumiko 5-dan: 29-12; Kono Rin 6-dan: 29-14.

07 October

Japan to adopt 6.5 point komi

  The international trend in recent years has been to increase the size of the komi that Black gives to White to compensate for the advantage of having the first move. Korea is at present well advanced in the process of switching over to a 6.5-point komi and in spring this year China switched to a 7.5-point komi (in Japanese terms ? it's actually 3 3/4; under the Chinese rules, there's no equivalent to a 6.5 point komi, so they have to go from the equivalent of 5.5 to 7.5). In September, a meeting of the directors of the Nihon Ki-in voted to adopt a 6.5-point komi, and it will be put into effect once negotiations with the Kansai Ki-in and tournament sponsors have been completed.
  This change comes nearly half a century after the first tournament (the Oza) switched from the 4.5-point komi to 5.5 (in 1955). The main factor in the latest change was a survey of tournament results from 1996 to 2001, a total of about 15,000 games, that showed that Black won 51.86% of all games. This difference from White's winning percentage of nearly 4 percent was convincing.
  It will be interesting to see how the winning percentages change with this new komi.

Cho U wins King of the New Stars title

  The 27th King of the New Stars title (Shinjin-O) featured a clash between two top players of the younger generation: Takao Shinji 7-dan and Cho U 7-dan. The latter was victorious, taking the title with two straight wins. In the first game, played on 16 September, Cho U (white) won by 3.5 points. In the second game, played on 30 September, he forced a resignation after 177 moves.
  This is Cho's second title, following his NHK Cup earlier this year.

Challenger makes good start in Women's Honinbo title

  The first game of the 21st Women's Honinbo best-of-five title match was held on 26 September. The challenger, Chinen Kaori, Women's Kisei, made a good start; playing black, she defeated Kobayashi Izumi, Women's Honinbo, forcing a resignation after 225 moves.
  Chinen is expecting her third child in December. In recent years, women professionals in advanced stages of pregnancy have done very well, including Chinen herself in a previous title match. It looks as if this pattern may be maintained.

Kobayashi Koichi wins 11th Ryusei title

  Recently the final of the 11th Ryusei title was held. Playing black, Kobayashi Koichi Gosei defeated O Meien 9-dan by 6.5 points and so won this title for the second time. The game is being telecast on 27 September and 5 October.


Four players have earned promotions recently. They are:
To 7-dan: Shinoda Hideyuki, Takahashi Hideo
To 3-dan: Ms. Suzuki Ayumi
To 2-dan: Ko Iso (born in Taiwan).

Cho Chikun scores first win in Meijin title match

  Things were looking bad for the challenger, Cho Chikun, in the 27th Meijin title match, but he has finally scored his first win in the third game, which was held at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in Omachi City, Nagano Prefecture on 2 & 3 October. Playing black, Cho defeated Yoda Norimoto Meijin by 2.5 points.
  The fourth game could well be crucial. It is scheduled to be played at the Westin Miyako Hotel in Kyoto on 16 & 17 October.

Chinen makes it two in a row in Women's Honinbo

  Chinen Kaori now needs just one more win to take the Women's Honinbo title from Kobayashi Izumi. In the second game, played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 2 October, Chinen, playing white, defeated Kobayashi by 2.5 points. This gave her a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
  The third game will be played in Mizusawa City on 9 October.

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