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History of Topics 2004

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Yamashita wins Tengen title
  • 6th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup
  • Kiyonari wins Kansai Ki-in Number One
  • Yoda beats Cho U in Judan tournament
  • 80th Anniversary celebrationsw
  • Wang Xi and Yi Se-tol make Samsung Title final
  • Cho U wins second Oza game
  • Hane defends Okan title
  • Cho Chikun wins Winners' Section of Judan
  • Takao doing well in Honinbo league
  • Michael Redmond breaks losing streak
  • 35th game between family members
  • Yamashita increases lead in Tengen title match
  • China makes good start in Cheongkwanjang Cup
  • Yuki Satoshi becomes Kisei challenger
  • Meijin seats go to Cho Sonjin and Ogata Masaki
  • 2nd round of Honinbo league starts
  • Kansai Ki-in championship tied
  • The Redmond report
  • Death of Toshimitsu Matsuo
  • Chinen wins Women's Honinbo
  • Cho U wins 29th Meijin title
  • Yamashita makes good start in Tengen title match
  • Sakai wins a place in Meijin league
  • More Okura Prizes
  • 6th Nong Shim Cup: Beijing round ends
  • Cho U makes LG Cup semifinals
  • Chinen takes lead in women's Honinbo
  • Cho U makes good start in Oza defence
  • Honinbo league: first round completed
  • Nakayama, Sugiuchi awarded Okura Prizes

29 November

Yamashita wins Tengen title

  After just over eight months in the wilderness, Yamashita has rejoined the ranks of the titleholders. Moreover, he has also taken revenge on the player who took the Kisei title from him at the beginning of the year.
  Yamashita's second challenge in a row for the Tengen title has been quite a contrast to the first. Last time he lost 2-3 to Hane Naoki; this time he overwhelmed him 3-0. The third game of the 30th title match was played on 26 November. Taking white, Yamashita won by resignation.
  This is Yamashita's first Tengen title and his third top-seven title (the others are the 2003 Kisei title and the 2000 Gosei title). It is his ninth title overall.
  Hane's lacklustre form is not a good sign for his upcoming Kisei defence against Yuki Satoshi.

6th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup

  The second round of this tournament was held in Pusan from 24 to 29 November. As we write this, we do not yet know the result of the tenth game, but so far in this round no player has scored successive wins, which is unusual (though Takao's win in the opening game was his second in the series). Korea has done the worst, scoring only one win to four losses, so it is down to its last player. Once again, it will be depending on Yi Ch'ang-ho to rescue it.
  After nine games, China has a slight edge, with only two losses to Japan's three.
  The remaining players are Kato Masao and O Meien for Japan and for China Wang Lei and Wang Xi.

The Pusan Round
  Game 5 (24 Nov.). Takao (W) beat Yu Ch'ang-hyeok 9-dan (Korea) by 4.5 points.
  Game 6 (25 Nov.). Peng Quan 5-dan (China) (W) beat Takao by 1.5 points.
  Game 7 (26 Nov.). Ch'oe Ch'eol-han 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Peng by resignation.
  Game 8 (27 Nov.). Cho Chikun 9-dan (Japan) (W) beat Ch'oe by resignation.
  Game 9 (28 Nov.). Luo Xihe 9-dan (China) (W) beat Cho by resignation.
  Game 10 (29 Nov.). Luo vs. Yi Ch'ang-ho.

Kiyonari wins Kansai Ki-in Number One

  The third game of the 48th Kansai Ki-in Number One Position title match was held on 25 November. Playing white, Kiyonari Tetsuya 9-dan beat Sakai Hideyuki 6-dan by 1.5 points and so won this title for the second time. Sakai had taken the first game, but the senior Kansai Ki-in player made a comeback in the second and third games, so Sakai was unable to repeat his success of last year.

Yoda beats Cho U in Judan tournament

  This is the year for Yoda-Cho clashes - these two players just seem to keep running into each other. Not satisfied with the Honinbo and Meijin title matches, in both of which the honours went to Cho U, they have met again in the Losers' Section of the 43rd Judan tournament.
  This time Yoda prevailed. Playing black, Yoda beat Cho by half a point. He will play Takao Shinji in the semifinal.

80th Anniversary celebrations

  The climax of a series of events celebrating the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Nihon Ki-in came on 15 November with the opening of the Igo Hall of Fame. At the same ceremony, the Okura Prizes awards ceremony was held, and on the same day Otake Hideo received a decoration from the Emperor to honour his lifetime achievements in promoting go.
  The Hall of Fame is located in the Nihon Ki-in basement, which has been completely remodeled. The hall was designed by a professional museum designer, with the keynote being to achieve a sense of spaciousness despite the limited area available. Various historical items, including the go board bought by Shusaku's mother for him to study go on, are on display. There are also video presentations on ancient and modern go. Although all information is in Japanese, the hall is well worth a visit if you are in Tokyo.

22 November

Wang Xi and Yi Se-tol make Samsung Title final

  The 20-year-old Chinese player Wang Xi 5-dan has reached the final of the 9th Samsung Cup. This is quite a coup for a player who was virtually unknown on the international scene until quite recently. In the semifinals, he defeated his compatriot Zhou Heyang 9-dan 2-0.
  The other place in the final, which is scheduled for 7, 9 and (if necessary) 10 December, was taken by Yi Se-tol 9-dan of Korea, who defeated Gu Li 7-dan of China.

  Game One (16 November). Yi Se-tol (W) beat Gu Li by resig.; Wang Xi (B) beat Zhou Heyang by 3.5 points.
  Game Two (18 Nov.). Gu (W) beat Yi by resig.; Wang (W) beat Zhou by 3.5 points.
  Game 3 (19 Nov.). Yi (B) beat Gu by resig.

Cho U wins second Oza game

  Yamashita Keigo 9-dan is doing well in his Tengen challenge, but he is not faring so well in the 52nd Oza title match, in which he is now two down to the defending champion, Cho U. The second game was played at the Bankokuya hotel in Atsumi Hot Spring in Nishi Tagawa County, Yamagata Prefecture, on 18 November. Taking black, Cho defeated Yamashita by 3.5 points, so he needs just one more win to defend his title.
  The third game will be played on 29 November.

Hane defends Okan title

  Hane Naoki Kisei has maintained his supremacy at the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. In the 45th Okan (Crown) title game, played on 17 November, he defeated Yamashiro Hiroshi 9-dan; taking black, Hane secured a resignation. This is Hane's third Okan title in a row and his fourth overall. His defeated opponent holds the record, with 13 Okan titles.

Cho Chikun wins Winners' Section of Judan

  The final of the winners' section of the 43rd Judan title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 18 November. Playing white, Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, defeated Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan by resignation. He needs to win just one more game to become the challenger.
  Mimura moves sideways to the semifinal of the Losers' Section. The play-off between the winners of the Winners' and Losers' section will probably be held in about 10 weeks' time.

Takao doing well in Honinbo league

  Takao Shinji 8-dan made a good start in his first league with a win over fellow debutant Han Zenki 7-dan. He has followed that up with a big win in the second round, defeating previous league winner Yoda Norimoto Gosei. Taking black, Takao won by 1.5 points. This was the last game of the second round, and at this point Takao shares the lead with Cho Sonjin 9-dan. Yoda drops to 1-1.

Michael Redmond breaks losing streak

  Michael Redmond 9-dan has put an end to the losing streak that followed his summer break. Playing black, he defeated Tei Meiko 9-dan by resignation in Preliminary A of the 44th Judan tournament. The game was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 18 November.

35th game between family members

  As far as possible, the Nihon Ki-in tries to avoid games between members of the same family, whether by birth or by marriage, and also between fellow live-in disciples. When drawing lots to decide the pairings in the first round of tournaments, all such pairings are avoided. However, they come up occasionally in the later rounds, as shown by the father-daughter game between Kobayashi Koichi and Izumi earlier this year (on 29 July).
  This week, the 35th such clash occurred in Preliminary A of the 30th Kisei tournament. Fukui Susumu 9-dan played his older brother Masaaki 9-dan, beating him by 7.5 points with white.
  Actually, 17 or nearly half of the family games have been between two sisters, Honda Sachiko 7-dan and Kusunoki Mitsuko 7-dan. The reason, of course, is that they were both top competitors in the women's titles when there was a smaller pool of women players. For example, they met three years in a row in the Women's Honinbo title from 1983 to 1985. Honda has the edge, with 11 wins to 6 losses.

17 November

Yamashita increases lead in Tengen title match

  Hane Naoki Kisei is in serious trouble in his defence of the Tengen title and the challenger, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan, seems to have a good chance of securing revenge for his successive title-match losses to Hane nearly a year ago.
  In the second game of the 30th Tengen title match, played in Noboribetsu Hot Spring in Hokkaido on 12 November, Yamashita started boldly, playing black 1 on the 6-4 point. Neither player took a lead in the middle game, but Yamashita played skilfully in the endgame and secured a win by 1.5 points. He now needs just one more win to redeem his unsuccessful challenge last year.
  The third game will be played in In-no-shima City on 26 November.

China makes good start in Cheongkwanjang Cup

  Now in its third term, this women's championship has been changed from a regular knockout tournament to a team tournament organized along similar lines to the Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup. The opening round was held in Beijing from 9 to 12 November. China has made the best start, with two wins to one each for Korea and Japan.

Details of the opening games:
  Game 1 (9 Nov.). Yi Min-chin 4-dan (Korea) (B) beat Cao Cheng 1-dan (China) by 5.5 points.
  Game 2 (10 Nov.). Umezawa Yukari 5-dan (Japan) (W) beat Yi by resignation.
  Game 3 (11 Nov.). Ye Gui 5-dan (China) (B) beat Umezawa by resig.
  Game 4 (12 Nov.). Ye (W) beat Hyoen Mi-chin 3-dan by 6.5 points.

The next round is scheduled to start in Seoul on 19 December.

Yuki Satoshi becomes Kisei challenger

  At the age of 32, Yuki Satoshi, the shining hope of the Kansai Ki-in, will make his first challenge for a big title. In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 29th Kisei title, held at the Nihon Ki-in on 8 November, Yuki, playing black, defeated Yamashita Keigo 9-dan by 6.5 points.
  This will be the first time that a Kansai Ki-in player has appeared in a big-three title match since Hashimoto Utaro lost the inaugural Kisei tournament to Fujisawa Shuko in 1977. The last time a Kansai Ki-in player won a big title was when the same Hashimoto defeated Sakata Eio 9-dan in the Honinbo title in 1951. As can be imagined, Yuki will be carrying a very heavy load of expectations by Osaka fans on his shoulders when the title match starts on 12 and 13 January next year.
  Incidentally, Yuki has won the right to challenge for the title in his first year in the league. He lost his opening game in the B League, but won all the remainder to end up one point clear of the field. His only previous top-seven challenges were for the 22nd (1997) and 27th (2002) Gosei titles, both of which failed. However, he has won three fast-go titles (the 28th Haya-go in 1995, the 25th Kakusei in 2003 and the 1st JAL Super Haya-go earlier this year).

Meijin seats go to Cho Sonjin and Ogata Masaki

  The first of the vacant seats in the 30th Meijin league went, as reported earlier, to a player who will be making his league debut, Sakai Hideyuki 6-dan, ex-amateur and new Kansai Ki-in star. The second went to a player, who as a former Honinbo, qualifies more as a veteran, though he is still only 34 and just recently got married: Cho Sonjin 9-dan. In the play-off, held at the Nihon Ki-in on 4 November, he defeated Komatsu Hideki 9-dan (B) by resignation. He will be playing in his third Meijin league.
  The third place goes to another player who, like Sakai, will be making his debut in any league: Ogata Masaki 9-dan of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in. In the play-off, held at the central Japan headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Nagoya on 11 November, Ogata (B) defeated Kato Atsushi 8-dan by 1.5 points. Ogata is aged 40 and is in his 24th year as a professional; he commented: 'Even at this age, I'm happy.'
  Ogata actually had a tough time winning his place. Early in the game with Kato, he launched a challenge to white, but halfway through the fight had to back off from what he had thought was a ko fight because he'd overlooked a ladder. That let Kato get a twin ponnuki facing the centre. However, Kato made the mistake of playing too thickly after that in order to coast to a win and Ogata caught up. If he can show similar tenacity in the league, Ogata may do well.

2nd round of Honinbo league starts

  The first game in the second round of the 60th Honinbo league was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on 4 November. Playing white, O Meien 9-dan defeated O Rissei 9-dan by half a point. O Meien thus recovered from his initial loss to even his score at 1-1; in contrast, O Rissei is down 0-2, which comes close to putting him out of the running for the challengership.
  Two more games were played at the Nihon Ki-in on 11 November, and these both went badly for newcomers to the league. So Yokoku 7-dan (B) had to resignaiton to Cho Sonjin 9-dan and Han Zenki 7-dan (W) was edged by Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan by 3.5 points. Cho at present leads the league on 2-0; Mimura and So are both 1-1, and Han has yet to open his account.

Kansai Ki-in championship tied

  Two games have been played so far in the 48th Kansai Ki-in Number One Position title match. The Kansai Ki-in's new star, ex-amateur Sakai Hideyuki 6-dan, won the first game, played on 20 October, by 8.5 points. Sakai had black. In the second game, Kiyonari Tetsuya 9-dan evened the match when he secured a resignation; this game was played on 13 November. The deciding game is scheduled for 25 November.

The Redmond report

  Michael Redmond 9-dan still hasn't got back into his stride after his summer break and has now suffered his sixth loss in a row. On 4 November, he faced Awaji Shuzo 9-dan in Preliminary A of the 30th Kisei tournament; playing white, he was forced to resignaiton. Discussing a losing streak unprecedented in his career, Michael claimed that he was not unduly upset, as he understood the reasons for his losses. That is half the battle, so we're sure he'll soon resume his winning ways. In the meantime, his career as a commentator on title-match games is proceeding smoothly, with well-received appearances on satellite TV and in newspaper go columns.

Death of Toshimitsu Matsuo

  We regret to have to report the death from heart failure of Toshimitsu Matsuo, former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nihon Ki-in and former President of the International Go Federation, on 9 November. He was 80 years old. A former president of Japan Air Lines, he became a director of the Nihon Ki-in in 1997 and in April 1999 succeeded Watanabe Fumio, becoming the twelfth chairman of the board. He resigned for health reasons in April this year.

05 November

Chinen wins Women's Honinbo

  he fourth game of the 23rd Women's Honinbo title match was played in the Yugen Room, the top playing room, at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 2 November. Holding white, Chinen Kaori 3-dan defeated Kobayashi Izumi by 2.5 points. This gave the challenger a 3-1 lead, so she made a comeback as Women's Honinbo
  This is Chinen's fourth Women's Honinbo title. She has also won the Women's Kisei title four times.
  Kobayashi Izumi still holds the Women's Meijin and the JAL Women's Haya-go titles.

Cho U wins 29th Meijin title

  First of all, we neglected to report on the fifth game. It was played at an inn called the Devil's Dwelling Place in Izu Shuzenji in Shizuoka Prefecture on 21 and 22 October. Cho U scored a comfortable win with black, taking him to within one win of securing the title.
  The sixth game was played at the Wakatsuki Villa in Ito City in Shizuoka Prefecture on 3 and 4 November. The game was a very tight one, with both players having chances to win. Cho took the lead in the middle game, but Yoda successfully reduced his moyo, making the game close. However, he slipped up late in the middle game, omitting a strategic move that would probably have made the position favourable for him.
  The game finished at 7:36 p.m. on the 4th, and Cho claimed victory by 1.5 points after 280 moves. Both players were in the final minute of byo-yomi.
  This gave Cho a 4-2 lead in the series, so, at the age of 24, he became the fifth and youngest Meijin-Honinbo in modern tournament history. He takes home a prize of 36 million yen (about $327,000).
  Yoda's loss means that he fell just short of earning the title of Honorary Meijin. He's now down to one title, the Gosei.

Yamashita makes good start in Tengen title match

  In his return match with his great rival Hane Naoki for the 30th Tengen title, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan has made a good start. In the first game, played at the Gifu Grand Hotel in Gifu City on 4 November, Yamashita, taking white, defeated Hane by 4.5 points. This title match has a short time allowance of just four hours per player. Yamashita had five minutes left and Hane was down to his final minute. The game started at 9 a.m. and finished at 6:51 p.m.
  The second game will be played in Noboribetsu in Hokkaido on 12 November.

Sakai wins a place in Meijin league

  Sakai Hideyuki, former WAGC champion, suffered a setback recently in the King of the New Stars title, but he has now scored the biggest success of his career - and one that in the opinion of some people is more significant than winning a junior title. Sakai has taken the first of the three vacant seats in the 30th Meijin League. Moreover, he defeated Japan's current number one, Hane Naoki Kisei, in the play-off. The game was played at the Nagoya headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on 28 October and, taking white, Sakai forced a resignation. This comes in the fourth year of his career as a professional after abandoning his medical career, and it may console him for his failure earlier in the year in a play-off for a Kisei League place.
  Pairings in the play-offs for the other two places are Ogata Masaki 9-dan vs. Kato Atsushi 8-dan and Komatsu Hideki 9-dan vs. Cho Sonjin 9-dan. As this indicates, the three top players who dropped out of the previous league, Rin Kaiho, Cho Chikun and O Rissei, have failed to win their way back in.

More Okura Prizes

  Since our last report, we have seen a full list of the recipients of the 34th Okura Prizes. It included two other persons well known to Western go fans. One is Honda Sachiko 7-dan, who won seven women's titles during her career, which lasted from 1947 to her retirement in March 2000. The other is Watanabe Fumio, who served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nihon Ki-in from 1993 to 1999. He also served as President of the International Go Federation.

01 November

6th Nong Shim Cup: Beijing round ends

  The final game in the Beijing Round of this team tournament was played on 15 October. Takao Shinji 8-dan of Japan (W) defeated Zhou Heyang 9-dan of China, who had scored two successive wins. Takao secured a resignation after 154 moves.
  Japan and China have both done satisfactorily in the opening round, scoring two wins each. Korea has made a bad start, but the same thing happened in the 5th Cup. Japan and China started with two wins each (though the sequence was different), but, as always, Korea ended up winning the tournament. Perhaps its rivals can do better this time.
  The second round will be played in Pusan, starting on 24 November.

Cho U makes LG Cup semifinals

  The quarterfinals of the 9th LG Cup were held in Seoul on 26 October, with the following results.

Cho U 9-dan (Japan) (W) defeated Yu Ch'ang-hyeok 9-dan (Korea) by resignation.
Cho Han-seung 7-dan (Korea) (B) defeated Kong Jie 7-dan (China) by resig.
Yu Bin 9-dan (China) (B) defeated Weon Seong-chin 5-dan (Korea) by 6.5 points.
Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) (B) defeated Yi Se-tol 9-dan (Korea) by resig.
Pairings in the semifinals, scheduled for January, are: Cho vs. Cho, Yi vs. Yu.

Chinen takes lead in women's Honinbo

  The third game of the 23rd Women's Honinbo title match was played in Hanamaki City in Iwate Prefecture on 27 October. Playing black, Chinen Kaori 3-dan beat Kobayashi Izumi 6-dan by 9.5 points, so the challenger has taken a 2-1 lead in the title match.   The fourth game will be played on 2 November.

Cho U makes good start in Oza defence

  Cho U has been extremely busy recently, playing the 5th game in the Meijin title match on 21 and 22 October, flying to Seoul for his quarterfinal game in the 9th LG Cup on the 26th, then playing the first Oza title match game just three days later. It doesn't seem to have bothered him, though, as he won all three games. When you're in top form, it doesn't seem to matter how hectic your schedule is.
  In the first game of the 52nd Oza title match, which was played at the Daimaru Villa in Chikushino City in Fukuoka Prefecture, Cho secured a resignation from the challenger, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan, after just 118 moves. The game was not one-sided, however, but Yamashita, taking black, based his strategy on attack, and each attack he made was successfully parried by Cho.
  The game started at 9 a.m. and ended at 7:36 p.m. Of their time allowances of five hours each, Cho had 87 minutes left while Yamashita was down to his last minute of byo-yomi. The second game will be played on 18 November.

Honinbo league: first round completed

  The first round in the 60th Honinbo league has now been completed.
  On 14 October, former Honinbo title-holder Cho Sonjin 9-dan made a good start. Playing black, he defeated O Rissei by resignation. On 21 October, another former Honinbo, O Meien 9-dan, made a bad start. Taking black, he lost by resignation to league debutant So Yokoku 7-dan.
  The final game in the first round was played on 28 October between Yoda Norimoto Meijin and Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan. Yoda had just lost two games in a row in the Meijin title match, but he showed no signs of aftereffects. Taking white, he beat Mimura by 2.5 points.

Nakayama, Sugiuchi awarded Okura Prizes

  The 34th Okura Prizes will be awarded on 15 November to six people who have played outstanding roles in popularizing go, including two professional players.
  One is Nakayama Noriyuki 6-dan, who is perhaps the most prolific go writer ever, having written over 200 books. He has also been very active in teaching go overseas and has made dozens of trips to Europe and North America. The other is Sugiuchi Masao 9-dan, who was one of the top players in the 50s and 60s and who has served many terms as a director of the Nihon Ki-in.

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