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|China does well in Seoul Round of 3rd Cheongkwanjang Cup
As in the first round, held in Beijing, of this Korean-sponsored international tournament that has switched to a team format this year, China took the honours, scoring four wins to two by Korea and none by Japan. The star for China was Ye Gui 5-dan, who won five games in a row, including three in this round.
After this round, China is in the box seat, with three players left to one each for Korea and Japan. The question is whether China will require the services of Zhang Xuan 8-dan and Rui Naiwei 9-dan.
The Seoul RoundThe remaining games will be played in Shanghai, starting on 17 January
Korea wins International New Stars tournament
Earlier this month, the 5th International New Stars tournament was held in Korea, with victory going, for the third time, to the Korean team. This tournament pits eight-player teams from China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan (participating as of this year) against each other. The time allowance is two and a half hours per player, with the last five minutes allotted to one-minute byo-yomi.
Like last year, the Korean team won all its three matches, winning 18 games and losing 6. China won two matches, scoring 14-10; Japan won one match, scoring 11-13; Taiwan failed to win a match, picking up five individual wins in all.
Although the Japanese team did badly, both Kono Rin 7-dan and Kim Shujun 7-dan won all three games, as did the top Korean player Song T'ae-kon 9-dan.
The matches were played on 6, 7 and 9 December.
Anzai Nobuaki earned promotion to 2-dan, thanks to a cumulative total of 30 wins.
The tournament year in Japan was completed as of 23 December, apart from a game in the NEC Cup scheduled for the 29th. Below are some statistics for the top players. More important than the numbers, of course, are the results of the title matches, so, first, a quick review.
On 18 March, Hane Naoki took the Kisei title from Yamashita Keigo, staging a comeback in the final game after winning three, then losing three. O Rissei held on to his Judan title, edging player of the year Cho U 3-1 in the latter's only setback in '04. The match was decided on 15 April. Cho rebuffed Yoda Norimoto's first-ever Honinbo challenge 4-2, clinching the title on 9 July, but Yoda recovered to defend his Gosei title against Yamada Kimio 8-dan. Yoda won 3-1, with the match concluding on 12 August. The highlight of the autumn was Cho U's challenge for the Meijin title, which saw him become the fifth Meijin-Honinbo of modern times on 4 November when he defeated Yoda Norimoto 4-2. Yamashita took revenge on Hane Naoki by wresting the Tengen title from him with straight wins (3-0) on 26 November. The Tengen is usually the final match of the year, but Cho U was so busy that he couldn't complete the Oza title match until 9 December. Here he had no trouble fending off Yamashita Keigo's challenge, winning 3-1. O ended the year on a high note as a triple titleholder; everyone expects him to dominate the go scene again in 2005.
1. Takao Shinji 8-dan: 44 wins, 15 losses
2. Yamashita Keigo Tengen: 39-32
3. Han Zenki 7-dan: 38-15; Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan: 38-17; Kono Rin 7-dan: 38-18; Cho U Meijin: 38-25
7. Yoda Norimoto Gosei: 37-21
8. Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan: 33-21; Yamada Kimio 8-dan: 33-21
10. Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan: 31-21
11. Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo: 30-23
Best winning percentage
1. Tsuruyama Atsushi 5-dan: 75% (27-9)
2. Takao Shinji: 74.58%
3. Ishikura Noboru 9-dan: 74.19% (23-8)
Most successive wins
1. Takao Shinji: 15
2. Kono Rin: 14
3. Ishikura Noboru: 13
Top players at the Kansai Ki-in
1. Sakai Hideyuki 6-dan: 48-13
2. Yuki Satoshi 9-dan: 47-15
3. Seto Taiki 6-dan: 35-11
Cho's winning percentage: correction
If the winning percentage we gave for Cho U last week of 79.8 (taken from a TV program that shall remain nameless) sounds too good to be true, it is. According to the January 2005 issue of Monthly Go World, which gives detailed statistics for his career, his record as of 25 November is 630 games, 473 wins, 155 losses, 2 jigo, for a 75.3 winning percentage. That's still quite impressive, but, judging by his record this year of 60.3% (38-25), his percentage will probably settle around 70% in a couple of year, which is about where it was for players like Kobayashi Koichi and Cho Chikun at their peak.
Another impressive mark from his career: for five years in a row, from 1999 to 2003, Cho won over 50 games each year. That might be a record. To keep that pace up is very difficult once you become a title holder, because you play fewer games and more games against really top opponents.