- O Rissei evens score in Judan title match
- Korea wins 2nd Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup
- Cho Chikun wins 20th NEC Cup, Mizokami wins Young Stars
- 26th Meijin league
- 26th Gosei tournament
- Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
- Ishida wins NHK Cup
- O Meien loses sole lead in Meijin league
- Valuable wins in Honinbo league
- Chinese do well in 1st Veterans Tournament
- Hanes could meet in Kisei preliminary
- Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
- O Rissei defends Kisei title
- New Korean prodigy on verge of defeating former prodigy
- Kobayashi Koichi wins first Judan game
- Izumi wins Women's Meijin title
- Honinbo league: both leaders lose
- 26th Meijin league
- Last amateur eliminated from Meijin tournament
- Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
O Rissei evens score in Judan title match
O Rissei has just finished - successfully - one very hectic title match and now he is plunged full tilt into another. We predicted that he would do better when he no longer had the Kisei on his mind, and that is how is turned out, though O just barely proved us right.
The second game of the 39th Judan title match, a best-of-five, was played at the Tamatsukuri Grand Hotel Choseikaku in Tamatsukuri Hot Spring in Shimane Prefecture on 22 March (Choseikaku is a building in the grounds of the hotel and literally means 'long life pavilion' - not an auspicious name for a go venue, as in go a 'chosei' is a repetitive-capture position that can't be resolved and so leads to the game ending with no result). Playing white, O defeated the title holder, Kobayashi Koichi, by just half a point after 231 moves. The game finished at 8:38pm. Of their time allowances of five hours each, Kobayashi was down to his last minute while O still had 43 minutes left.
This was a very exciting game. The pros following it in the pressroom (including Rin Kaiho, the referee, Miyamoto Naoki 9-dan and Kanda Ei 9-dan) predicted it would be a half-pointer early on in the endgame, but, according to their analysis, the lead kept switching back and forth. In the end, O's greater tenacity perhaps made the difference.
The score is now tied 1-1. The third game will be played at the Kuroyon Royal Hotel in the city of Omachi in Nagano Prefecture on 5 April.
Korea wins 2nd Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup
The final round of the 2nd Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup has just been played at the Rainbow Hotel in Shanghai.
When the Shanghai round got under way, China started out well, with Chang Hao 9-dan defeating Ch'oe Myeong-hun 7-dan of Korea on 14 March, but the next day he was eliminated by Japan's Yamashita Keigo 7-dan. For the latter, it was one of his first big wins in international go.
In the 11th game (16 March), Korea fielded its wily veteran Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan, who promptly disposed of Yamashita and, on the following day, Yu Bin 9-dan of China. That loss eliminated the Chinese team. However, the current double world champion (Fujitsu Cup and TV Asia Cup) met his match in the form of Kato Masao of Japan on 18 March.
The tournament was thus decided by the final game between Kato and Yi. The latter had been complaining of fatigue recently, but he showed no signs of it in disposing of Kato. That meant that Korea continues its monopoly of this tournament and its predecessor.
Game 9 (14 March). Chang Hao 9-dan (China) (B) beat Ch'oe Myeong-hun 7-dan (Korea) by 2.5 points.
Game 10 (15 March). Yamashita Keigo 7-dan (B) defeated Chang Hao by resignation.
Game 11 (16 March). Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (Korea) (W) defeated Yamashita Keigo.
Game 12 (17 March): Cho (W) defeated Yu Bin 9-dan (China).
Game 13 (18 March). Kato Masao 9-dan (Japan) defeated Cho.
Game 14 (19 March). Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan defeated Kato Masao.
Cho Chikun wins 20th NEC Cup, Mizokami wins Young Stars
Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, had his first tournament success for one year when he defeated Kato Masao in the final of the 20th NEC Cup. The final was held on 11 March; playing white, Cho forced Kato to resignaiton after 190 moves. Cho has now won this title two years in a row and four times overall (which is the record). Incidentally, this was the 107th game between Kato and Cho; the latter has won 68 to the former's 39. It's very unusual for results between two top players to be as unbalanced as this. Cho seems to be Kato's nemesis in the same way that Sakata was Takagawa's.
The 16th NEC Young Stars, a parallel tournament, was won by Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan. He beat Kim Shujun 6-dan in the final; holding white, he forced him to resignaiton after 206 moves. This is Mizokami's first title. He prevented Cho Chikun and his disciple Kim from pulling off a double victory on the same day.
26th Meijin league
Two games were played in the 26th Meijin league on 15 March. In one of them, O Rissei (B) defeated Cho Sonjin 9-dan by resignation. To Cho, fresh from his defeat by O in the Kisei title match, that must have seemed like having salt rubbed in his wounds. That took O to 2-1 and Cho to 1-2.
In the other game, Ryu Shikun finally posted his first win of the league, defeating Hane Naoki 8-dan by 3.5 points.
Both players are on 1-3.
26th Gosei tournament
In the final preliminary stage of the 26th Gosei tournament, Kobayashi Koichi became the first player to reach the semifinals. He did this by defeating Cho Chikun (W) by just half a point in what was their 119th game. This is probably a record total for two players in Japan. Kobayashi has a narrow lead: 61 wins to 58.
Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
Only one Western professional was scheduled to play a game last week. That was Catalin Taranu and he forfeited it, presumably because of illness. His opponent was Kato Yuki 2-dan and the tournament was the Kiriyama Cup Haya-go tournament.
Ishida wins NHK Cup
It was a nostalgic day for older go fans last Sunday when Ishida Yoshio, the top star of the mid-70s, won his first title for 11 years.
In the final of the 48th NHK Cup, Ishida (B) defeated Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by 2.5 points, securing his first title triumph since the 37th NHK Cup in 1990. Around the time he won the 1st IBM Cup in 1988, Ishida was fond of saying of saying that the best player at fast go was really the strongest. No doubt, he is now more convinced of this than ever.
O Meien loses sole lead in Meijin league
O Meien Honinbo has finally suffered his first loss in the Meijin league, at the hands of his senior compatriot Rin Kaiho 9-dan. In a game played on 8 March, O (B) was edged by Rin by 1.5 points. That secured Rin a share of the lead, with both him and O on 3-1. Rin's winning the league would evoke even more nostalgia than Ishida's NHK triumph.
Valuable wins in Honinbo league
Two players scored valuable wins in the Honinbo league last week (8 March): though they are out of the running for the challengership, these wins give them a chance of retaining their places in the league.
In one game, Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, defeated Oya Koichi 8-dan (W) by resignation. That took Cho to 3-3; thanks to his favourable ranking in the league (2nd place), he now has an excellent chance of keeping his place, and an outside chance of keeping it even if he loses his final game.
The other win was scored by Hane Naoki 8-dan, who has recovered from his bad start to level his score at 3-3 also. Playing white, he defeated Yamada Kimio 8-dan by 5.5 points. However, he will have to win his final game (against Cho U) to keep his place.
Chinese do well in 1st Veterans Tournament
Fujitsu and the Bank of China have combined to sponsor a new tournament for veteran players, with the format being Japan vs. China. The name of the tournament is an interesting one: the term used for 'veteran' is 'genro', which also means 'elder statesman'. The term doesn't seem quite appropriate for some of the players, who are still very active (Rin, for example, shares the lead in the Meijin league).
The opening rounds were held in Guangzhou, China, on 3 and 4 March. So far six games have been played and China has taken the honours 4-2. The results:
||Chen Zude 9-dan defeated Rin Kaiho.
Nie Weiping 9-dan defeated Hane Yasumasa 9-dan
Wang Runan 8-dan defeated Miyamoto Yoshihisa 9-dan.
||Rin Kaiho defeated Wang Runan.
Nie Weiping defeated Hane.
Miyamoto defeated Chen.
Hanes could meet in Kisei preliminary
A father and son could meet in the final to decide one of the places in the 26th Kisei leagues. Hane Yasumasa 9-dan, the father, has already reached the final (he defeated Kobayashi Koichi in the semifinal) in his section of the final preliminary tournament. His son Naoki 8-dan is two steps behind, having just reached the quarterfinal, where he is slated to play Cho Riyu 4-dan. If he wins this, he will then have to beat Chan Ka Yui (Chin Kaei) 9-dan to qualify for the final.
Usually pairings between members of the same family are avoided; unfortunately, we have no information about whether such father-son match-ups have occurred in the past, but it's safe to say that it must be very unusual.
Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
Only one Western professional had a game last week, and that didn't turn out very well. Michael Redmond 9-dan (B) lost by 2.5 points to Narusawa Yasuichi 8-dan in the second preliminary stage of the Oza tournament.
O Rissei defends Kisei title
O Rissei has successfully completed his first defence of the Kisei title. The sixth game of the 25th Kisei title match was held at the Nagano Hotel in Nagano City on 7 and 8 March. Playing black, O defeated Cho Sonjin 9-dan by 5.5 points. The game lasted 281 moves and finished at 7:04 pm on the second day.
Like all the other games of the series, this game featured very complicated middle-game fighting. O seemed to have the lead, thanks to a large right-side moyo, but Cho laid waste to it with some excellent play. However, O captured four centre stones as compensation, taking a lead that he held on to the end of the game.
In general, this series was a contrast between O's fast-paced development and Cho's attacking skills and tenacity. One of the factors in O's victory was his knack of creating complications when he was behind. As O himself acknowledged, the turning point of the series was his upset win in the fifth game, which he engineered with a do-or-die move in an inferior position. Cho played very well, but he was not quite able to match the title-holder's flexibility.
The 42-year-old O will now reign for another year as the top player in Japan. He also holds the Oza title (winning it for the third year in a row at the end of last year) and is also challenging for the Judan title.
New Korean prodigy on verge of defeating former prodigy
The first two games of the 5th LG Cup have just been played in Seoul and the score is quite a surprise: the new Korean prodigy Yi Se-tol 3-dan, who turned 18 on 2 March, has taken a 2-0 lead over the world's number one Yi Ch'ang-ho. In the first game, played on 26 February, the younger Yi beat the senior Yi (who is now 25 years old) with white, forcing him to resignaiton. In the second game, played the next day, Yi Se-tol (B) again forced Yi ch'ang-ho to resignaiton. The older Yi has won this Korean-sponsored international tournament twice already, but his chances of a third victory don't look good.
There is now a big gap before the match is resumed in May.
The emergence of a brilliant young player like Yi Se-tol shows that the Korean go boom is bearing fruit at the top level of the game. It looks as if in go the 21st century is going to be the Korean century.
Kobayashi Koichi wins first Judan game
It was a good week for the Kobayashi family, with both father and daughter winning title-match games. In the case of Koichi, he was starting his defence of the 39th Judan title. The challenger is the current number one, O Rissei, but he is handicapped by being caught up in the Kisei title match. Because O is so busy, the game was played on a Saturday (3 March). The venue was the Hakuunkaku inn in Ikaho Hot Spring, Gumma Prefecture. Kobayashi got off to a good start; playing white, he won by 2.5 points.
The second game is scheduled for 22 March in Tamatsukuri Hot Spring, Shimane Prefecture. The Kisei match will be over, so the Judan title match will probably begin in earnest.
Izumi wins Women's Meijin title
The second game of the 13th Women's Meijin title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 28 February. After a fierce struggle lasting 303 moves, Kobayashi Izumi 4-dan (W) defeated Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan by 1.5 points and so won the title match 2-0. This gave her revenge for her loss by the same margin to Aoki last year and secures her first Women's Meijin title. Aoki failed in her attempt to take this title for the third year in a row.
Aoki is now reduced to just one title, the Women's Kakusei. In fact, the women's titles are now spread around, with no multiple title holders. Women's Honinbo is Inori Yoko, the Women's Kisei is Chinen Kaori, and Kato Tomoko holds the Women's Top Position title.
Honinbo league: both leaders lose
The relative standings in the 56th Honinbo league are unchanged, but the only two players in the running to become the challenger both suffered setbacks last week.
Two games were played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 1 March. In one, Yuki Satoshi 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in (W) defeated Cho Sonjin 9-dan by 8.5 points. In the other, Otake Hideo 9-dan (B) beat Cho U 6-dan by 1.5 points.
This was Cho U's first loss in the league. As we mentioned before, having already played and lost to Cho U, Cho Sonjin had to rely on other players to help him to catch up, but at the same time he had to make sure he won his own games. Of course, conditions were not favourable for him, as he is caught up in a fierce struggle for the Kisei title and had just suffered a painful upset loss.
Cho U is now 5-1 and Cho Sonjin 4-2. The final round, on 5 April, could lead to two results. If Cho U wins his game against Hane Naoki or Cho Sonjin loses to Cho Chikun, Cho will become the youngest challenger ever for a big-three title. If Cho U loses and Cho Sonjin wins, there will be a play-off.
Other scores in the league:
Cho Chikun, Yamada Kimio, Oya Koichi, Hane Naoki 2-3
Yuki Satoshi 2-4.
As these scores indicate, the competition to stay in the league (i.e., take 3rd or 4th place) is going to be fierce.
26th Meijin league
Two games were played in the 26th Meijin league last week, but they did not affect the lead. In one, played on Monday, 26 February, because of Cho Sonjin's busy schedule, Cho was defeated by Kato Masao 9-dan (W) by 3.5 points. In the other, played on the regular playing day of Thursday (1 March), Cho Chikun 25th Honinbo (W) was defeated by Komatsu Hideki 9-dan by 2.5 points. The two Chos had been among the favourites in this year's league, but they have both dropped behind the pace. In fact, Cho Chikun, the previous Meijin, may have to worry about keeping his league place.
At present, O Meien Honinbo has a clear lead on 3-0: he is the only undefeated player. The order of the other players is as follows. On 2-1: Kato and Rin Kaiho; on 2-2: Komatsu Hideki; on 1-1: Cho Sonjin and O Rissei; on 1-2: Cho Chikun and Hane Naoki; on 0-3: Ryu Shikun.
Last amateur eliminated from Meijin tournament
The first experiment in letting amateur players participate in a top professional tournament came to an end last week when Cho Riyu 4-dan (W) defeated Kikuchi Yasuro, amateur 8-dan, in the final game in the first preliminary stage of the 27th Meijin tournament. Cho, a Taiwan-born disciple of O Rissei, is one of the up-and-coming young stars at the Nihon Ki-in and he was too strong for Kikuchi. However, the Asahi Newspaper was pleased with the success of this experiment and plans to let amateurs participate again in the 28th tournament.
Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
After a free week the previous week, Western professionals were in action again last week and scored an even 3-3. However, all the wins were by Catalin Taranu. First of all, he scored two wins in the first preliminary stage of the Kiriyama Cup Haya-go Open Tournament, both on the same day. In the morning of 26 February, he defeated Shimamura Michihiro 4-dan (B) by 14.5 points. He followed that up with a win against Ikezaki Tokinori 4-dan (B) by resignation. Then, in the first preliminary stage of the Meijin tournament on 28 February he defeated Hotta Seiji 4-dan (B) by resignation.
Playing in the same tournaments on the same days, Hans Pietsch (B) lost to the top amateur player Kanazawa Moriei in the Kiriyama Cup when he ran out of time. In the Meijin preliminary, he lost to Shuto Shun 2-dan (W) by resignation.
In the 6th game, Michael Redmond (B) resigned against Yamada Kimio 8-dan in the 3rd preliminary stage of the Judan tournament. The game was played on 1 March.