- Hane increases lead in Kisei
- Cho U takes sole lead in 29th Meijin league
- 10th Ricoh Cup
- 7th Women's Kisei
- Inori to challenge for Women's Meijin
- Youngest woman professional
- Hane wins first Kisei game
- Kobayashi Izumi secures triple crown
- Cho Sonjin grabs a share of Honinbo-league lead
- Nihon Ki-in to found an Igo Hall of Fame
- Chunlan Cup: China almost monopolizes quarterfinal places
- Meijin league
- Lead in Honinbo league tied
- Judan tournament
- Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
Hane increases lead in Kisei
Hane Naoki Tengen seems to be in great form and he has now taken a 2-0 lead in the 29th Kisei title match. In the second game, played at the Hotel New Otani Hakata in Fukuoka City on 28 & 29 January, Hane (W) secured a resignation after 206 moves. The game, which started with the large-avalanche joseki, was too complicated to summarize here. The lead switched back and forth, but in the latter part of the game Yamashita played a little slackly and fell behind. He launched a do-or-die attack, but it was skilfully parried by Hane.
Things are now looking tough for Yamashita; he seems to be in a bit of a slump and he's going to have to come out of it for the third game, to be played in Kuwana City in Mie Prefecture on 4 & 5 February.
Cho U takes sole lead in 29th Meijin league
Two games in the second round of the 29th Meijin league were played on 22 January. In one, Imamura Toshiya 9-dan (W) beat O Meien 9-dan by resig. In the other, Yamada Kimio 8-dan (W) beat Yamashita Keigo Kisei, also by resig.
As a result, Imamura, a member of the Kansai Ki-in, went to 2-0, which meant that at this point he shared the lead with Cho U Honinbo and O Rissei. This was O Meien's first game in the league, so he has got off to a bad start, but not as bad as Yamashita. The latter is now 0-2, so his chances of repeating as challenger don't look good.
On 29 January, the first game in the third round was played. Taking black, Cho U defeated Rin Kaiho 9-dan by resignation, so, for the time being at least, he took the sole lead in the league. Rin dropped to 1-2.
Besides Imamura, O Rissei Judan also has a chance of catching up with Cho if he wins his third-round game.
10th Ricoh Cup
The final of the 10th Ricoh Cup, a pair-go tournament for professionals, was held at the Ebisu Garden Hall in Tokyo on 25 January. The pair of Inori Yoko 5-dan and Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, was bidding for its third successive win, but victory went to the team of Kobayashi Izumi, Women's Meiin & Honinbo, and Yamashita Keigo Kisei. Playing white, they forced a resignation.
First prize is five million yen, of which one million is set aside to be used to promote go by donating go equipment to schools throughout Japan. Second prize is one million yen.
7th Women's Kisei
The first game of the 7th Women's Kisei title match, a best-of-three, was held in Hiratsuka City on 22 January. Making her title-match debut, Mannami Kana 2-dan, defeated the titleholder, Chinen Kaori 3-dan, by 3.5 points holding white. The 20-year-old Mannami is well known to go fans in Japan as the MC of the NHK Cup.
Inori to challenge for Women's Meijin
The play-off to decide the challenger for the 16th Women's Meijin title was held on 21 January. Playing white, Inori Yoko 5-dan defeated Yashiro Kumiko 5-dan by half a point. Yashiro missed out on the chance to make consecutive challenges to the Women's Meijin, Kobayashi Izumi - she challenged unsuccessfully for the Women's Honinbo in October and November last year.
Inori will be seeking revenge for her loss to Kobayashi Izumi in the Women's Honinbo title match in 2001. The two are both disciples of Izumi's father Koichi.
Youngest woman professional
The 14-year-old Xie Yimin has set a record for the youngest woman professional in Japan. Xie, who comes from Taiwan, will make her debut as a shodan in April. She will then be 14 years five months old, which lowers the previous record, set by Tanimura Kuniko, by four months. As an elementary-school pupil, Xie was hailed as a go prodigy in Taiwan, and she made countless study trips to Korea and Hong Kong. Two years ago, with the assistance of Ko Mosei 8-dan, she came to Japan.
Hane wins first Kisei game
Hane Naoki Tengen has made an excellent debut in the arena of two-day go, winning the first game of the 28th Kisei title match. His challenge to Yamashita Keigo Kisei has thus got off to an excellent start -- he seems to have retained the momentum of his Tengen defence against the same opponent.
The opening game of the series was held at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle on 15 & 16 January. Holding black, Hane took an early lead in territory and then successfully erased Yamashita's moyo. Thereafter, he kept a firm grip on the lead, and Yamashita resigned at 4:54 in the afternoon of the second day after 179 moves. Of their time allowances of eight hours each, Hane had nine minutes left and Yamashita 35 minutes.
There will now be a lot of pressure on Yamashita to win the second game playing with black. The game will be played in Fukuoka City on 28 and 29 January.
Kobayashi Izumi secures triple crown
Kobayashi Izumi is certainly the in-form woman player in Japan these days. She has now won the 1st JAL Women's Haya-go championship and so has become the first player to hold three women's titles concurrently. In the final of this title, she defeated Nakazawa Ayako 5-dan by 5.5 points, holding black (we don't have a date for the game).
Cho Sonjin grabs a share of Honinbo-league lead
An important game in the 59th Honinbo league was played on 15 January between O Rissei Judan and Cho Sonjin 9-dan. Both players were on 2-1, so the winner would secure a share of the lead with Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan, who had stumbled in the fourth round. Playing white, Cho forced a resignation, so the former Honinbo will now have his sights firmly set on the challengership. O drops to 2-2, which means that while he still has a chance of winning the league he also has to worry about keeping his place.
In a second game played on the same day, O Meien, another former Honinbo, picked up his first win after a dismal start to the league. Playing white, he defeated Kato Masao 9-dan by 11.5 points. Both these players are now 1-3.
Nihon Ki-in to found an Igo Hall of Fame
The Nihon Ki-in has announced that as one of the activities to celebrate its 80th anniversary this year it plans to found an Igo Hall of Fame, along the lines of the Japanese baseball Hall of Fame. It will be set up in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Ichigaya. There will be displays and panels illustrating the history of go, and there are also plans to induct great players, past and present, into the Hall of Fame. Early candidates are said to be the first Honinbo Sansa and the star of mid-20th century go Go Seigen. Nonprofessionals who have contributed to the development of go will also be honoured.
Chunlan Cup: China almost monopolizes quarterfinal places
The first two rounds of the 5th Chunlan Cup were the final go event of the old year, being played in Beijing on 29 and 31 December. Chinese players did very well, securing six of the quarterfinal places. This might seem only natural in their own tournament, but actually the Chunlan Cup has been a history of frustration for the locals. The best they have been able to do so far is one second place, which has bitterly disappointed Chinese fans.
This year it may finally be their turn, and if a Chinese player wins, it might encourage the sponsor to switch back to holding the tournament once a year instead of once every two years. However, they won't be counting their chickens yet, as Korea's Yi Ch'ang-ho, the most successful player internationally, has also secured a quarterfinal place. There is also an unfortunate precedent: in the 7th Samsung Cup, China also secured six quarterfinal places, but the eventual winner was the Korean Cho Hun-hyeon.
The last member of the best eight is Cho U, representing Japan, who is also not a player to be taken lightly.
Round 1 (29 December, Beijing)
Cho Chikun 9-dan (Japan) (W) beat Kong Jie 7-dan (China) by resig.; Yu Ch'ang-hyeok 9-dan (Korea) (B) b. Peng Jinghua 6-dan (Chinese Taipei) by resig.; Yu Bin 9-dan (China) (B) b. Yi Se-tol 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Song T'ae-kon 6-dan (Korea) (W) b. O Rissei 9-dan (Japan) by 11.5; Wang Lei 8-dan (China) (B) b. O Meien 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Peng Quan 5-dan (China) (B) b. Zhou Junxun 9-dan (Ch. Taipei) by 4.5; Gu Li 7-dan (China) (B) b. Michael Redmond 9-dan (USA) by resig.; Hu Yaoyu 7-dan (China) (B) b. Guo Juan 5-dan (Europe) by resig.
Round 2 (31 December, Beijing)
Gu Li (W) b. Yuki Satoshi 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Chang Hao 9-dan (China) (B) b. Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) b. Yu Bin by 6.5; Wang (W) b. Song by half .5; Peng (W) b. Yu Ch'ang-hyeok by 21/2; Zhou Heyang 9-dan (China) (W) b. Hane Naoki 9-dan (Japan) by 3.5; Cho U 9-dan (Japan) (N) b. Luo Xihe 9-dan (China) by resig.; Hu (W) b. Cho Chikun by resig.
There is a long break now, as the quarterfinals are scheduled for September.
Three games have been played in the 29th Meijin league since our last report. In the first, played on 25 December last year, O Rissei (B) defeated Yamashita Keigo Kisei by resignation.
The other two games were played on 8 January. In one, O Rissei (W) defeated Rin Kaiho 9-dan by 5.5 points; in the other, Cho U Honinbo (B) defeated Kobayashi Satoru by half a point.
At this point, O Rissei and Cho U share the lead on 2-0, but other players may catch up to them.
Lead in Honinbo league tied
Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan lost his fourth-round game in the 59th Honinbo league, so he no longer holds the sole lead. In a game played on 8 January, he lost to Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan (W) by 1.5 points. These two now share the lead on 3-1.
In another game played on the same day, Yoda Norimoto Meijin (B) defeated Yamashita Keigo Kisei by resignation. Yoda goes to 2-2, while Yamashita is 1-3.
The final of the Losers' Section of the 42nd Judan tournament was played on 8 January. Playing black, O Meien 9-dan defeated Yamada Kimio by resignation. O will meet the winner of the Winners' Section, Cho U Honinbo, in the playoff to decide the challenger to O Rissei Judan. Whatever happens, the title match will be an all-Taiwanese affair.
Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
(15 December) Kamimura Kunio 9-dan (W) defeated Michael Redmond 9-dan by 3.5 points (Toyota & Denso Cup, Preliminary A).
(18 December) Redmond 9-dan (B) defeated Takemiya Masaki 9-dan by resig. (Tengen, main tournament).
(8 January) Ogaki Yusaku 9-dan (W) d. Redmond 9-dan by resig. (Kisei tournament, Preliminary A).
Catalin Taranu 5-dan (W) d. Takeda Yoshinori 1-dan by 10.5 (Meijin tournament, Preliminary C).