History of Topics 2008
Cho U and Iyama share the spotlight
So far this month, the spotlight on the Japanese go stage has been monopolized by Cho U and Iyama. We are not referring just to the Meijin title match being fought by the two. In the period of eight days from 4 to 11 September, both played three very important games, two of them against each other. They had equal success, each winning two out of three. Perhaps Cho’s wins were more significant, as they ensured that, regardless of what happens in the Meijin title match, he will keep his place on centre stage for most of the rest of the year.
Iyama wins first game of Meijin title match
Iyama Yuta 8-dan made a dream start to his big-title-match career by winning his first two-day game-and, moreover, doing it quite convincingly.
The 33rd Meijin best-of-seven title match, which features the first-ever challenge by a teenager for a big-three title, got off to a start on 4 and 5 September, with the first game being played at the Hotel Aomori in Aomori City. Taking white, the 19-year-old Iyama Yuta 8-dan won by 5.5 points.
The game featured repeated attacks by Cho U; these were parried by Iyama in a calm manner that earned him high praise from his fellow professionals.Ishida Yoshio 9-dan even said that the game was ‘a masterpiece for White’. After the game, Cho was unable to pinpoint his losing move, which certainly seems to indicate that White played well. Cho now knows that he’s got a tough match on his hands.
The second game will be played on 17 and 18 September.
Cho U becomes Oza challenger
Just a couple of days after his setback in the Meijin title match, Cho U took revenge by defeating Iyama Yuta in the play-off to decide the challenger for the 56th Oza title. The game was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 8 September; playing white, Cho defeated Iyama by resignation.
The Oza will be Cho’s third successive title match, following the already completed Gosei （in which he rebuffed the challenge of Yamashita） and the current Meijin match.
The first game of the best-of-five title match, in which Yamashita Keigo is the defending champion, will be held on 27 October.
Cho U to challenge for Tengen title
The play-off to decide the challenger to Kono Rin for the 34th Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on 11 September. Taking white, Cho U defeated Ko Iso 7-dan by 2.5 points.
This will be Cho’s first Tengen challenge, but it will be his fourth successive title match.
The finalists in the 33rd Shinjin-O are two new faces: Uchida Shuhei 2-dan of the Nihon Ki-in and Ha Yeong-il 4-dan of the Kansai Ki-in. Uchida was born on 8 September 1989 and became a professional in 2006. Ha was born 1 June 1985 and became 1-dan in 2001. Whoever wins, this will be his first title.
The first game was played at the Kansai Ki-in in Osaka on 11 September. Taking white, Uchida won by 8.5 points.
The Shinjin-o （King of the New Stars） title is restricted to players under 7-dan and 26 years of age.
Suzuki Ayumi to challenge for Women’s Honinbo title
In the play-off to decide the challenger to Xie Yimin for the 27th Women’s Honinbo title, held on 4 September, Suzuki Ayumi 4-dan （W） defeated Okuda Aya 2-dan by resignation. Suzuki has twice won the Strongest Woman Player title and will be making her first challenge for the Women’s Honinbo title.
In the play-off, Okuda took the early lead and had the initiative, but slack play later permitted an upset.
The first game of the title match will be played on 1 October.
Iyama wins Kisei A League
Iyama Yuta took an unbeatable lead in the 33rd Kisei A League when he defeated Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, in their fourth-round game on 11 September and improved his score to 4-0. Takao Shinji also scored a win, which left him with only one loss, but even if Iyama loses his final-round game, he is ranked higher than Takao, so the latter can’t catch up. O Rissei, one of the two players ranked above Iyama, suffered his second loss on 11 September, so that cleared the path for Iyama.
In the B League, Yoda Norimoto picked up his third win to only one loss, which puts him in a tie with Cho U. Although the latter is ranked higher, the situation in the B League is a lot simpler than in the A League: Yoda and Cho play each other in the final round, so the winner will win the league and advance to the play-off with Iyama.
Hane Naoki also has only one loss, but, because of his low rank, the best he can hope for is second place.
Iyama Yuta 8-dan （B） defeated Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by resignation.
Takao Shinji Judan （B） d. O Rissei 9-dan by resignation.
Kataoka Satoshi 9-dan （B） d. Yuki Satoshi 9-dan by resignation.
Yoda Norimoto 9-dan （B） d. Kono Rin Tengen by resig.
Takanashi reaches Agon Kiriyama final
Takanashi Seiken 8-dan has reached his first final. In the first semifinal of the 15th Agon Kiriyama Cup, held on 4 September, Takanashi （W） defeated Mizokami Tomochika 8-dan by resignation.
Cho U Meijin meets Yuki Satoshi 9-dan in the other semifinal.
Umezawa takes lead in Women’s Meijin League
Umezawa Yukari, Women’s Kisei, has, at least temporarily, taken the sole lead in the 1st Women’s Meijin League. In a game played on 4 September, Umezawa （W） defeated Mukai Chiaki 2-dan by 4.5 points. On the same day, Yoshida Mika 8-dan （B） defeated Chinen Kaori 4-dan by resignation.
The 21th Women's Meijin Title Match
* Date: mm/dd
Thanks to a cumulative score of 150 wins, Nishimura Keiji has earned promotion to 8-dan.
International／13th Samsung Cup
The opening two rounds of the 13th Samsung Cup, a Korean-sponsored international tournament, were held in the city of Taejon early this month. The tournament was another success for China, which took five of the quarterfinal places. However, not everything went its way, as its Fujitsu Cup champion Gu Li was ambushed by a relatively unknown Korean 3-dan, Chin Se-young. Moreover, both the Yis, Ch’ang-ho and Se-tol, survived, so the Chinese players will not be counting their chickens.
The complicated seeding system of this tournament means that Japan, because of its past poor results, gets few places. However, the tournament sponsors have some seats at their disposal; they gave one to Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan, so he played in his first international tournament for a while （without success, however）. He was joined by the national seeds Takao Shinji and Yamashita Keigo. The latter enjoyed some rare international success, defeating Xie He, who had played so well in the Toyota & Denso Cup, and Zhou Heyang to make the quarterfinals.
Round One （3 September, Taejon City）
Takao Shinji 9-dan （Japan） （W） defeated Ms. Rui Naiwei 9-dan （Korea） by resig.
Yamashita Keigo 9-dan （Japan） （W） d. Xie He 7-dan （China） by resig.
Zhang Li 4-dan （China） （B） d. Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan （Japan） by 2 1/2.
Yi Se-tol 9-dan （Korea） （B） d. Shi Yue 4-dan （China） by resig.
Yi Ch’ang-ho 9-dan （Korea） d. Ms. Zheng Yan 2-dan （China） by resig.
Cho Han-seung 9-dan （Korea） （W） d. Li Tang 6-dan （China） by 1.5.
Huang Yizhong 6-dan （China） （W） d. Hong Seong-chi 7-dan （Korea） by resig.
Ding Wei 9-dan （China） （B） d. Mok Chin-seok 9-dan （Korea） by half a point.
Chen Yaoye 9-dan （China） （B） d. Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan （Korea） by 1.5.
Wang Xi 9-dan （China） （B） d. Pak Cheong-sang 9-dan （Korea） by 3.5.
Kong Jie 7-dan （China） （B） d. Pak Yeong-hun 9-dan （Korea） by resig.
Zhou Heyang 9-dan （China） （B） d. Yu Ch'ang-hyeok 9-dan （Korea） by half a point.
Chin Se-yeong 3-dan （Korea） （B） d. Gu Li 9-dan （China） by half a point.
Li Zhe 6-dan （China） （W） d. Pak Chung-hwan 2-dan （Korea） by resig.
Yi Yeong-ku 7-dan （Korea） 7-dan （W） d. Chang Hao 9-dan （China） by half a point.
Zhou Ruiyang 5-dan （China） （W） d. Yun Chun-sang 7-dan （Korea） by resig.
Round Two （5 September, Taejon City）
Yamashita （W） d. Zhou Heyang by resig.
Kong Jie （W） d. Takao by resig.
Yi Se-tol （B） d. Zhang by resig.
Yi Ch’ang-ho （B） d. Cho Han-seung by 1.5.
Huang （B） d. Ding Wei by 2.5.
Wang Xi （W） d. Chen by half a point.
Li （B） d. Chin by half a point.
Zhou Ruiyang （B） d. Yi Yeong-ku by half a point.
Cho U defends 33rd Gosei title
Cho U has successfully rebuffed the challenge of Yamashita Keigo Kisei for his Gosei title, defeating him 3-1 in the best-of-five title match.
Game Two was played at the Nagaoka Grand Hotel in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, on 27 July. Cho U （B） won by resignation. Game Three was played in Naha City in Okinawa just four days later on 31 July. The hectic scheduling is mainly because of Cho's tight schedule. It worked to the advantage of Cho, who, taking white, again won by resignation.
The fourth game was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 15 August. Playing black, Cho forced a resignation after 153 moves. Cho has now won this title three years in a row.
So far, these two have played each other in four title matches, of which Cho has won three. In each case, Cho was defending a title. In the victory interview, Cho said: ‘Next time, I'd like to attack him.' He was presumably referring to the Oza tournament, in which he has to win just one more game to become the challenger to Yamashita Oza. Looking further ahead, we could also take it as referring to the Kisei title, as Cho is leading in one of the leagues （see story below）.
China triumphs in 4th Toyota & Denso Cup
Chinese players harnessed the momentum from the just completed Olympic Games in Beijing to completely dominate the 4th Toyota & Denso Cup, a Japanese-sponsored international tournament that is held once every two years. This is the largest-scale world title, being the only one to give the other go-playing centres besides South America in the southern hemisphere a chance to compete for a seat in the main tournament.
The scale of the Chinese triumph can be measured in one simple statistic: they played nine games with players from the leading go power, Korea, and won eight of them. It's unlikely Korea has ever done so badly against another country before on the international stage. With just five players competing, China took three of the semifinal places and both places in the final.
Japan had a dismal tournament, with only one player, Cho U, performing up to the level required. Cho reached the semifinals after a satisfying win in the quarterfinals against Liu Xing 7-dan, one of the new Chinese stars, who has beaten him twice in a row in the Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off. However, his luck then ran out.
One of the finalists is Gu Li 9-dan, who has been China's number one for a couple of years now. He had a good tournament, beating Pak Yeong-hun of Korea in Round 2 and Cho U in the semifinal. However, even more sterling work was done by lower-ranked Chinese players. The other finalist, the 20-year-old Piao Wenyao 5-dan, scored a convincing win over Yi Ch'ang-ho in the second round. The 24-year-old Xie He 7-dan also made a big contribution to China's success by defeating Yi Se-tol in the quarterfinal before losing to Piao in the semifinal.
The final will be held in Tokyo early in January next year.
Preliminary round （Nihon Ki-in）
（21 August） Yang Shihai 8-dan （Singapore） （B） beat Joanne Missingham （Australia） by resignation.
（Joanne was given in the program as amateur 6-dan, but actually she qualified as professional 1-dan in the Chinese promotion tournament this summer.）
（22 August） Yang （W） beat Victor Chow am. 6-dan （South Africa） by resig.
Round One （Nihon Ki-in, 23 August）
Cho Han-seung 9-dan （Korea） （W） d. Yamashita Keigo 9-dan （Japan） by 7.5 points.
Cho U 9-dan （Japan） （W） d. Jiang Mingjiu 7-dan （North America） by 6.5.
Mok Chin-seok 9-dan （Korea） （W） d. Hane Naoki 9-dan （Japan） by resig.
Takao Shinji 9-dan （Japan） （W） d. Yang Shihai 8-dan （Singapore） by 1.5.
Yi Se-tol 9-dan （Korea） （W） d. Kono Rin 9-dan （Japan） by resig.
Zhou Junxun 9-dan （Taiwan） （B） d. Yoda Norimoto 9-dan （Japan） by half a point.
Han Sang-hun 3-dan （Korea） （B） d. Yamada Kimio 9-dan （Japan） by 1.5.
Gu Li 9-dan （China） （B） d. Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan （Japan） by resig.
Piao Wenyao 5-dan （China） （W） d. Ogata Masaki 9-dan （Japan） by resig..
Iwamura Toshiya 9-dan （Japan） （W） d, Cristian Pop am. 7-dan （Europe） by resig.
Pak Yeong-hun 9-dan （Korea） （W） d. Kim Shujun 8-dan （Japan） by 5.5.
Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan （Korea） （B） d. Fernando Aguilar am. 6-dan （South America） by resig.
Pak Cheong-sang 9-dan （Korea） （B） d. Chang Hao 9-dan （China） by 4.5.
Xie He 7-dan （China） （W） d. Ilja Shikshin am. 6-dan （Europe） by resig.
Liu Xing 7-dan （China） （B） d. Hong Seong-chi 7-dan （Korea） by 1.5.
Alexandre Dinerchtein 3-dan （Europe） （W） d. Li Jie am. 7-dan （North America） by resig.
Round Two （Nihon Ki-in, 25 August）
Cho U （B） d. Dinerchtein by 23.5.
Cho Han-seung （W） d. Takao by resig.
Gu （W） d. Pak Yeong-hun by resig.
Liu （B） d. Han by 6.5.
Yi Se-tol （B） d. Iwamura by resig.
Piao （W） d. Yi Ch'ang-ho by resig.
Xie （B） d. Pak Cheong-sang by 4.5.
Mok （W） d. Zhou by resig.
Quarterfinals （Nihon Ki-in, 27 August）
Cho U （B） d. Liu by resig.
Gu （B） d. Cho Han-seung by 2.5.
Xie （W） d. Yi Se-tol by 2.5
Piao （B） d. Mok by resig.
Semifinals （Nihon Ki-in, 29 August）
Gu （B） d. Cho by resig.
Piao （W） d. Xie by resig.
Oza challenger: Cho U or Iyama
Quite often, when two players clash in a big title match, such as a best-of-seven, they seem to run into each other in other important games as well. That's certainly true of Cho U and Iyama Yuta, who will meet in this year's Meijin title match. Iyama recently beat Cho in the final of the Daiwa Securities Cup Grand Champion tournament. They will also meet in the final of the play-off to decide the challenger to Yamashita Keigo for the 56th Oza title.
In the second semifinal, held on 24th July, Iyama 8-dan （W） defeated Nakano Hironari 9-dan by resignation. He took advantage of a shinogi failure by Nakano to kill a large group.
The play-off with Cho will be held in early September. Since the first game of the Meijin title match will be played on 4 and 5 September, it will probably be played the following week. Whoever wins will find himself engaged in two title matches at the same time.
Honinbo League seats
The third of the vacant seats in the 64th Honinbo League went to Cho U, who thus makes an immediate comeback after dropping out of the previous league. In the play-off, held on 21 July, Cho （B） beat Kono Rin Tengen by half a point. The fourth seat was decided on 31 July, when Kataoka Satoshi 9-dan （B） defeated Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan by half a point.
Cho and Kataoka will join Nakaonoda Tomomi and So Yokoku in the new league.
Cho U reaches Tengen play-off
In a semifinal of the 34th Tengen tournament, Cho U Meijin defeated Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, on 24 July. Taking black, Cho U won by 1.5 points. His opponent in the play-off to decide the challenger to Kono Rin will be the winner of the semifinal between Hane Naoki Honinbo and Ko Iso 7-dan.
Cho U has never done well in this tournament and it is the first time he has reached the play-off. Yamashita Keigo, who has played in the last five Tengen title matches, was eliminated by Ko in the quarterfinals.
In the A League, Iyama Yuta 8-dan has taken the undisputed lead by defeating Takao Shinji Judan, the only other player with no losses, on 14 August. Iyama now has an excellent chance of winning the league, but both the players he has yet to play are ranked above him. If the league ends in a tie, the higher-ranked player takes precedence.
In the B League, three players, Cho U Meijin, Yoda Norimoto 9-dan, and Hane Naoki Honinbo, all have only one loss, but Cho has two advantages, having played one more game and being the top-ranked player.
The 33rd Kisei League
in the chart
21st Women's Meijin League
This is the first league ever in a women's tournament in Japan. With just one and a half rounds having been played so far, it's too early to make any predictions.
（24 July） Suzuki Ayumi, Women's Strongest Player, （B） d. Kobayashi Izumi 6-dan by resig.
（21 August） Chinen Kaori 4-dan （B） beat Kobayashi Izumi 6-dan by resig.
The 21th Women's Meijin Title Match
* Date: mm/dd
2nd Daiwa Securities Cup Net Igo Ladies
Kobayashi Izumi 6-dan has followed up her success in winning the 1st Cup by reaching the final of the 2nd. In the first semifinal, played on 16 August, she defeated Kato Keiko 6-dan （black） by resignation. In the second semifinal, played on 23 August, Xie Yimin defeated Suzuki Ayumi. The final will be played on 27 September.
Cho Chikun doing well in Judan tournament
On 14 August, Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, defeated So Yokoku （B） in the first semifinal in the Winners' Section of the 47th Judan tournament by 1.5 points. It looks as if Cho is making a determined effort to regain the title he lost to Takao Shinji earlier this year. The pairing in the other semifinal is Cho U Meijin vs. Akiyama Jiro 8-dan.
Progress in this year's Judan tournament is being speeded up to make room in the tournament calendar for the World Mind Sports Games in October.
In our report on Hane Naoki's winning the Honinbo title, we wrote that only once has the player winning the 4th to 6th games of a best-of-seven failed to win the seventh game, but actually this has happened twice. We overlooked Hane's own effort in the 28th Kisei title match in 2004. Hane, the challenger, won the first three games, but then Yamashita Keigo Kisei won the next three. However, Hane won the final game.