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History of Topics 2001

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • O ties Kisei title match
  • Yoda and Kusunoki win professional Pair Go
  • Kobayashi Izumi to challenge Aoki
  • Cho U maintains lead in Honinbo league
  • O Meien leads Meijin league
  • Sole surviving amateur wins in Meijin tournament
  • Kido Prizes
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Miscellaneous results
  • O Rissei kicks off second millennium
  • Cho Sonjin makes good start in the Kisei title match
  • Hung Chang Cup quarterfinals and semifinals
  • 26th Meijin league
  • 56th Honinbo league
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan suspended for one year
  • 3rd Chunlan Cup

26 January

O ties Kisei title match

  The second game of the 25th Kisei best-of-seven title match was held in Unazuki Hot Spring in Toyama Prefecture on 24 and 25 January. Playing black, O Rissei forced Cho Sonjin to resignaiton after 181 moves, enabling the defending champion to tie the score. The third game is scheduled to be played in Koriyama City, Fukuyama Prefecture, on January 31 and February 1.
  In a way, the second game was the opposite of the first. In that game, O got a weak group inside Cho's sphere of influence; this time, playing black, he set up a large moyo on the first day of the game. Cho reduced it skilfully on the second day, but then he went wrong in going for territory while leaving behind a weak group. O managed to set up a winning position to applying pressure to this group.
  The game finished at 5:13 pm on Thursday

Yoda and Kusunoki win professional Pair Go

  The final of the 7th Ricoh Cup Pro Pair Go Championship was held in Taipei on 14 January. For Taipei, this was the second major Japanese go event in a row, following the first Kisei game. The large crowd that gathered to watch a public commentary by O Meien 9-dan and Yo Kagen 9-dan (both Taiwanese players) in Chinese testified not only to the great interest in the first professional pair go match held locally but also to a remarkable go boom that Taiwan has been enjoying recently. One factor in this boom has undoubtedly been the recent success of Taiwanese players in Japan, with O Rissei and O Meien winning the Kisei and Honinbo titles respectively last year, but another factor is the reputation go enjoys for helping the intellectual development of children. Parents of elementary-school children are eagerly enrolling them in go classes, go the future prospects of local go look bright.
  In the game, the Kusunoki Mitsuko 7-dan/Yoda Norimoto Meijin pair (W) defeated Osawa Narumi 2-dan and Rin Kaiho 9-dan. White won by 5.5 points after 251 moves.

23 January

Kobayashi Izumi to challenge Aoki

  The play-off to decide the challenger for the 13th Women's Meijin title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 17 January. Playing white, Kobayashi Izumi 4-dan defeated Kato Tomoko 4-dan by 4.5 points and so will challenge Aoki Kikuyo, the title holder, for the second year in a row. Last year Kobayashi lost 0-2, so she will be hoping for some revenge this year.
  The first game will be played in Tokyo on 21 February.

Cho U maintains lead in Honinbo league

  The 20-year-old Cho U is looking more and more like a serious contender to win the 56th Honinbo league. Last week he won his fourth game and so maintained his unbeaten record. Not only that, he had already defeated his two most dangerous rivals, the other two Chos, who had been considered the favourites before the league started. Cho U is now clearly the man to beat; if his good form continues, we may see the debut of the youngest challenger ever for a big-three title. It would also be the first title match between players both born in Taiwan.
  Three games were played in the league on 18 January. Playing white, Cho U 6-dan defeated Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by resignation. Also playing white, Oya Koichi 8-dan defeated Otake Hideo 9-dan by resignation. In the third game, Cho Sonjin 9-dan, playing black, defeated Hane Naoki 8-dan by 2.5 points.
  At this point, Cho U's closest rival is Cho Sonjin, who is the only player on 3-1. Following on 2-2 are Cho Chikun, Otake Hideo, and Oya Koichi, all of whom still have an outside chance of becoming the challenger. Following on 1-3 are Yamada Kimio 8-dan, Yuki Satoshi 9-dan and Hane Naoki 8-dan.

O Meien leads Meijin league

  One game was played in the second round of the 26th Meijin league last week. On the 18th, O Meien Honinbo, playing black, defeated Komatsu Hideki 9-dan by resignation. As a result, O became the first player to score two wins, so he enjoys the sole lead, at least temporarily. However, Cho Chikun and Cho Sonjin are both 1-0, so they might draw level with O when they play their second-round games.

Sole surviving amateur wins in Meijin tournament

  To commemorate the 40th year of the Amateur Best Ten tournament, the Asahi Newspaper invited the top five place-getters to play in the first preliminary round of the 27th Meijin tournament. That means, in theory, that an amateur could become Meijin if he kept winning.

  Four of the amateurs have already been eliminated, but the 71-year-old Kikuchi Yasuro is still fighting on. In his first game, played last year, Kikuchi beat one of his disciples at the Ryukusei Gakuen, Osawa Narumi 2-dan. In the second, played on the 17th, Kikuchi (B) defeated Nakazawa Ayako 4-dan by resignation and so reached the final of his section of the first preliminary round. One more win and he will go into the second preliminary round. To reach the league, he would probably have to win a total of nine games in a row. That would certainly stir up some interest.

Kido Prizes

  The Nihon Ki-in has just announced the 34th Kido prizes for the top players of 2000 (although the magazine Kido has ceased publication, the prizes are being continued). This time the prizes pick themselves. The most outstanding player was, of course, O Rissei, who won the Kisei title. Three players were awarded Outstanding Player prizes: Yoda Norimoto, for winning the Meijin title, O Meien, for winning the Honinbo title, and Yamashita Keigo for winning the Gosei title. The New Star prize went to Cho U, another choice about which there's little room for controversy. The Women's Prize went to Inori Yoko, who won the Women's Honinbo title. The International Prize went to O Rissei, who won the 2nd Chunlan Cup.

The statistics-related prizes were awarded as follows.
  Most wins: Yamashita Keigo 59-18
  Best winning percentage: Cho U 81.1% (53-12-1 jigo)
  Most successive wins: Takao Shinji 20
  Most games: Yamashita 77

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Western members of the Nihon Ki-in scored 2-1 last week. Picking up wins were Michael Redmond 9-dan, who defeated Akiyama Jiro 7-dan (W) by half a point in the preliminary round of the 26th Kisei tournament, and Catalin Taranu 4-dan, who beat Inagaki Yo 3-dan (B) by 2.5 points in the first preliminary round of the 27th Meijin tournament. On the debit side was Hans Pietsch 4-dan, who lost by 1.5 points to O Innin 4-dan (B).

Miscellaneous results

  Here are a couple of results that may not really be newsworthy but that struck us as we looked through the results list for last week.
  First, Cho U 6-dan won't be repeating as Japanese representative in the Fujitsu Cup this year. He was eliminated by Arimura Hiroshi 7-dan from the Japanese qualifying tournament. Also making his farewell was two-time Fujitsu champion Takemiya Masaki, who counted a 17.5-point loss against Kato Masao.
  In a domestic tournament, Kido-Prize winner Yamashita Keigo was eliminated from the Kisei tournament. Yamada Kimio 8-dan, one of the youthful stars who has been a little eclipsed by Yamashita recently, asserted his seniority.

17 January

O Rissei kicks off second millennium

  Because of his busy schedule with the Kisei match, O Rissei was not given much of a holiday this year, but that meant that he had the honour of kicking off the second millennium of professional go in Japan. Actually, the first Kisei game (see below), played on 12 & 13 January, was already his third game of the year.
  O, and his opponent, of course, played the first game of the year on the 5th, which is unusually early for serious go. Moreover, the game was an important one in the 26th Meijin league. It was won by Kato Masao 9-dan, who, playing white, edged O by half a point. Kato and O are now both on 1-1.
  O did better in the second game, from the Losers' Section of the 39th Judan tournament. Playing black, he beat Takemiya Masaki 9-dan by 2.5 points. O will now meet Yoda in the play-off between the losers' and winners' sections. If he wins, that's going to make him all the busier, as the Judan title match usually starts before the Kisei title match has finished (last year, for example, the first Judan game was played between the fifth and sixth Kisei games).

Cho Sonjin makes good start in the Kisei title match

  The first game of the 25th Kisei title match was held at the Hotel Royal Taipei on 12 & 13 January 2001. Playing black, Cho Sonjin 9-dan, the challenger, defeated O Rissei Kisei by 1.5 points. The game finished at 6:18 pm on the 13th after 291 moves. Cho made a good start to his first challenge for the Kisei title. O had been hoping to win on his home ground, but the result was a disappointment for local fans. Actually O seems to have made it a habit recently to lose the opening game of titles matches but to go on and win the match.
  The game was an exciting one, with the lead switching back and forth a couple of times. O had seemed to be doing well around move 158, when he secured life for an endangered group, but 34 moves later he made an oversight; not realizing that Black's previous move threatened his corner group, he finished off a ko, but then Black made a placement and killed his group. That let the challenger stage an upset, but Cho was a bit over-optimistic, and O almost whittled down his lead.
  The second game will be played in Unazuki Hot Spring on 24 and 25 January.

Hung Chang Cup quarterfinals and semifinals

  Higher-ranked Chinese players fared badly against lower-ranked Korean women in the two rounds of the 2nd Hung Chang Cup, a Korean-sponsored world championship for women players, which were held in Seoul on 9 and 11 January. The sole remaining Japanese player was eliminated by Rui Naiwei 9-dan, playing for Korea, who went on to gain a place in the final. There she is matched against another Korean representative.

The results:
  Quarterfinals (9 January). Rui Naiwei 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan (Japan) by resignation; Zhang Xuan 8-dan (China) (W) beat Korea's teenage star Cho Hye-yeon 2-dan by resignation; Park Ji-un 2-dan (Korea) (W) beat Hua Xueming 7-dan (China) by resignation; Yun Yeong-seon 2-dan (Korea) (B) beat Li Chunhua 5-dan (China) by resignation.
  Semifinals (11 January). Rui (B) beat Zhang by resignation; Park (W) beat Yun by 2.5 points.

  The best-of-three final between Rui and Park is scheduled to start on 12 February.

26th Meijin league

  Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo*, who had a bye in the opening round, played his first game in the 26th Meijin league on 11 January. Taking white, Cho forced Ryu Shikun 7-dan to resignaiton, and so got off to a good start in the league. Ryu is 0-2, so, for at least the next three or four months, he has dropped out of contention, but he could easily resurface in the closing rounds.
  *Recently the Nihon Ki-in has been referring to the players who have qualified as Honorary Honinbos by their title in the sequence of Honinbos going back to the Edo period. Thus, Ishida Yoshio is the 24th Honinbo, Sakata the 23rd, and Takagawa the 22nd. They are preceded by the last hereditary Honinbo, the 21st Honinbo, Shusai.

56th Honinbo league

  One game in the Honinbo league has been played so far this year. In the first game from the fourth round, Yamada Kimio 8-dan (B) defeated Yuki Satoshi 9-dan by resignation. This finally got Yamada off the mark, giving him the same score as Yuki, 1-3.
  The leader of the league is Cho U 6-dan on 3-0.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Only one Western professional has played a game so far in January. That was Michael Redmond 9-dan, who, taking black, defeated Nakayama Noriyuki 6-dan in the 2nd preliminary section of the 57th Honinbo tournament on 11 January. Nakayama resigned.

Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan suspended for one year

  Kobayashi Satoru has been banned from all official go activities at the Nihon Ki-in, including all tournaments, for one year, the suspension lasting from 31 December 2000 to 30 December 2001.
  This suspension is punishment for an incident that took place in Taizhou City, China, late at night on the 26th December. Kobayashi and the other Japanese representatives in the Chunlan Cup were drinking together and Kobayashi caused Ryu Shikun Tengen an injury.
  Kobayashi deeply regretted the incident and on returning to Japan he submitted his resignation to a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Nihon Ki-in held on 31 December. However, the board dissuaded him from taking this step and urged him to make a fresh start as a go player after his one-year suspension is up.

12 January

3rd Chunlan Cup

  The opening rounds of the 3rd Chunlan Cup, a Chinese-sponsored international tournament, were held in Taizhou, China, on 26 and 28 December. Like the 2nd Cup, the first two rounds were a triumph for local players, who secured five quarterfinal places. The most spectacular result was achieved by a teenager, Kong Jie, who first attracted international attention in the 2nd Cup. The previous year, Kong, then 17, defeated the Japanese Honinbo, Cho Sonjin, and Korea's multiple world-title-winner Cho Hun-hyun before losing to the eventual winner of the tournament, O Rissei, in a semifinal.
  This year Kong did even better, delighting Chinese fans by defeating the world's undisputed number one, Lee Chang-ho, while holding white. Kong could well be the greatest prodigy to come along since Lee himself.
  Of the other three quarterfinal places, two were taken by Korea and one by Japan. With five players left, China must be given a good chance of winning its own tournament for the first time, but the Korean players are very formidable -- Yoo Chang-hyuk and Cho Hun-hyun, who both won international titles last year -- and the remaining Japanese representative is the current champion, O Rissei.

Results of the first two rounds:

Round 1 (26 December)
  Wang Lei 8-dan (China) (B) beat Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan (Japan) by 3.5 points, Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan (Japan) (B) beat Liu Jing 8-dan (China) by 5.5, Lee Chang-ho 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Zhou Junxun 9-dan (Chinese Taipei) by 10.5, Yamashita Keigo 6-dan (Japan) (B) beat Seo Bong-su 9-dan (Korea) by 5.5, Yoo Chang-hyuk 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Liu Xiaoguang 9-dan (China) by resignation, Ryu Shikun 7-dan (Japan) (W) beat Luo Xihe 8-dan (China) by resignation, Yang Shihai 8-dan (China) (W) beat Jimmy Cha 4-dan (USA) by resignation, Peng Jinghua 5-dan (Chinese Taipei) (B) beat Rob van Zeijst, amateur 7-dan, (Europe) by 1.5.

Round 2 (28 December)
  In the second round, eight seeded players joined the eight winners in the first round.
  Kong Jie 5-dan (China) (W) beat Lee Chang-ho 9-dan (Korea) by resignation, Yoo Chang-hyuk 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Chang Hao 9-dan (China) by resignation, Ma Xiaochun 9-dan (China) (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan (Japan) by 1.5, O Rissei 9-dan (Japan) (B) beat Yang Shihai 8-dan (China) by resignation, Cho Hun-hyun 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 6-dan (Japan) by 2.5, Wang Lei 8-dan (China) (W) beat O Meien 9-dan (Japan) by resignation, Zhou Heyang 8-dan 8-dan (China) (B) beat Ryu Shikun 7-dan (Japan) by 3.5.

Quarterfinal pairings (to be played in April)
  Kong vs. Yoo, Cho vs. Ma, O vs. Yu Bin, Wang vs. Zhou.

  Just for the record, we heard from Rob van Zeijst that he lost his game by half a point (counting Japanese-style). His opponent, playing black, got to fill in the last dame point, and so edged him by half a point.
  Also for the record: the absence of Japan's Yoda Norimoto from the above line-up indicates that he's keeping to his vow not to play in international tournaments for the time being. At the party held on the night before the Chunlan quarterfinals last year, he vowed that if he didn't win one of the three current international tournaments being held at the time (the other two were the Ing and LG Cups), he would stop competing internationally for a while. In retrospect, this was an unfortunate vow: Yoda is one of the half dozen serious contenders in any tournament he plays in, and just because he didn't win one of those three doesn't mean he wouldn't win one of the tournaments he's passing up.

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