- Hane makes good start to title defence
- Pak wins Zhonghuan Cup
- Japan eliminated from Cheongkwanjang Cup
- Osawa wins JAL Women's Haya-go Championship
- 60th Honinbo league
- The Redmond report
- Cho U earns a million dollars
- Yi Se-tol wins 2nd Toyota & Denso Cup
- Takao takes sole lead again in Honinbo league
- Yoda and Kobayashi win in Meijin league
Hane makes good start to title defence
Hane Naoki has shown impeccable timing in regaining form just in time for his Kisei title defence. The first game of the 29th Kisei title match was held on 12 and 13 January, and Hane showed great strength in containing the power of an aggressive challenger, Yuki Satoshi 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in.
This was actually an extraordinary game to launch a series. Usually the players like to feel out the opponent a little in the first one or two games, but fighting erupted immediately when Yuki played an unusual pincer. The game was already out of the books after ten moves or so, and both sides played very slowly, as one misstep would have prematurely ended the game. Moves 17 to 19, for example, took the players three hours and 16 minutes. Only 23 moves were played on the first day (making it the second slowest in the Kisei title - the record is 20 moves in game 3 of the 21st Kisei title match between Kobayashi Satoru and Cho Chikun).
On the morning of the second day, Hane played a powerful pressing move with White 38 that forced Yuki to compromise and give his opponent a squeeze. This gave Hane the initiative. A lot of difficult fighting followed in the centre, but the game was decided when Hane secured a sente seki for a group that Yuki was attacking with White 132. Yuki resigned.
Hane started 2004 well by taking the Kisei title from Yamashita Keigo, but he fell into a bad slump in the second part of the year. For the first time in his career, he lost more games than he won over the year, his record being 19 wins to 26 losses. Winning the Agon Kiriyama Cup was just about his only success, but he then lost the play-off with China; he also surrendered his Tengen title to Yamashita without offering any resistance. In contrast, Yuki had a very successful year, recording 47 wins to only 15 losses. However, a best-of-seven affords a player a good chance to play himself back into form, as he can afford to lose a couple of games, unlike in knockout tournaments. It's too early to say, perhaps, but Hane's good play in the opening Kisei game may indicate that he's back in top form.
The game was played at the Hotel Okura Niigata. The second game will be played on 26 and 27 January.
Pak wins Zhonghuan Cup
Pak Yeong-hun 9-dan of Korea, the current Fujitsu champion, has won the 1st Zhonghuan Cup, a Taiwanese-sponsored international tournament. In the final, he defeated O Rissei 9-dan, who was representing Taiwan.
The final was held on 15 January. Playing white, Pak won by resignation. In the semifinals, played on the 13th, O (B) defeated Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) by half a point and Pak (B) defeated Yamashita Keigo 9-dan of Japan by resignation.
Japan eliminated from Cheongkwanjang Cup
The first game in the Shanghai round of the 3rd Cheongkwanjang Cup was played on 17 January. Xu Ying 5-dan of China defeated Kobayashi Izumi 6-dan of Japan and eliminated Japan from this tournament. Xu had white and forced a resignation.
If Xu beats the last Korean player, Pak Chi-eun, on the 18th, China will win the tournament. Even if Xu loses, her team still has Zhang Xuan 8-dan and Rui Naiwei 9-dan left.
Osawa wins JAL Women's Haya-go Championship
The final of the 2nd JAL Women's Haya-go Championship was telecast on 9 and 16 January. Osawa Narumi 3-dan (W) defeated Inori Yoko 5-dan by resignation. First prize is 2,500,000 yen (a little over $24,000). Osawa has also won the 21st (1999) and 24th (2003) Kakusei Cups (the Kakusei is the predecessor of this tournament).
This haya-go tournament could justifiably be called a lightning tournament: the players have just ten seconds per move.
60th Honinbo league
One game was played in the 60th Honinbo league on 13 January. O Meien (W) defeated Yoda Norimoto Gosei by 2.5 points. Both these players are now on 2-2, which means that they are not completely out of the running, though they will have to rely on other players to slow down Takao Shinji (4-0) and Cho Sonjin (3-0).
The Redmond report
Michael Redmond 9-dan has made an auspicious start to the new year, winning his first game. On 13 January, playing in Preliminary A of the 44th Judan tournament, he defeated Tsuryama Atsushi 5-dan (black) by 7.5 points.
Cho U earns a million dollars
Cho U had a great year last year, and now we know how well he did financially. Cho earned ¥ 104,956,528 in prize money last year, worth just over a million dollars. He is the third player in Japan to reach the 100 million yen mark. His predecessors were Cho Chikun (five times) and Kobayashi Koichi (twice, according to Go Weekly, but three times according to our count - see the list on page 325 of The Go Player's Almanac 2001). The list of top prize winners for last year is given below.
1. Cho U Meijin Honinbo: ¥104,956,528
2. Hane Naoki Kisei: ¥67,830,604
3. Yamashita Keigo Tengen: ¥57,101,390
4. Yoda Norimoto Gosei: ¥53,288,550
5. Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan: ¥38,270,000
6. O Rissei Judan: ¥34,049,100
7. Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo: ¥27,660,004
8. Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan: 26,537,040
9. O Meien 9-dan: ¥24,770,488
10. Takao Shinji 8-dan: ¥17,149,060
Prize money lists were first published in 1981. One player has made the top ten every year: Cho Chikun.
Yi Se-tol wins 2nd Toyota & Denso Cu
Yi Se-tol 9-dan of Korea has won his fifth international title, defeating Chang Hao 9-dan of China 2-1 in the best-of-three final of the 2nd Toyota & Denso Cup. Yi wins a prize of 30 million yen (about $290,000), with ten million yen going to Chang.
The match was played in Nagoya on 5, 7, and 8 January, with white winning all three games by resignation. Yi has won the Fujitsu Cup twice, the LG Cup, and, most recently, the Samsung Cup. For Chang, this was his sixth second place in an international tournament, but he still has a chance to win the Ing Cup (in which he is tied 1-1 with Ch'oe Ch'eol-han in the final).
Takao takes sole lead again in Honinbo league
Two games in the 60th Honinbo league were played at the Nihon Ki-in on 6 January. Takao Shinji 8-dan (B) beat O Rissei Judan by resignation and Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan (W) beat So Yokoku 7-dan, also by resignation.
With four straight wins, Takao Shinji, temporarily at least, has the sole lead in the league, though Cho Sonjin 9-dan could draw level with him. Mimura is on level pegging with 2-2 and has improved his chances of keeping his league place. In contrast, O Rissei's prospects look bleak, as he has dropped to 0-4. So is on the same score as Mimura.
Yoda and Kobayashi win in Meijin league
The two top-ranked players in the 30th Meijin league still share the early lead, with both scoring wins in their second-round games, played on 6 January. Yoda Norimoto Gosei (B) beat Ogata Masaki 9-dan by 3.5 points and Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan (B) beat Cho Sonjin 9-dan by resignation. Both Yoda and Kobayashi go to 2-0 and both Ogata and Cho drop to 0-2.