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History of Topics 2001

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • O Meien defends Honinbo title
  • Yamashita ties score in Gosei title match
  • Cho Chikun shares lead in Kisei B league
  • O Meien evens Honinbo match
  • Rin becomes Meijin challenger
  • Kisei leagues
  • Honours shared in last Japan-China Super Go
  • All-Korean final in Fujitsu Cup
  • Kobayashi makes good start in Gosei challenge
  • Cho Chikun reaches Oza play-off
  • Kisei leagues
  • Meijin league
  • Promotions
  • Western professionals
  • Sakai wins first test game
  • Yi's 100th title
  • Yu Ch'ang-hyeok wins Chunlan Cup
  • Cho U one win away from Honinbo title
  • Rin leads Meijin league
  • Kisei A League
  • Former WAGC champion turns pro
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Promotions

21 July

O Meien defends Honinbo title

  The seventh game of the 56th Honinbo title match was held at the Naeba Prince Hotel in Niigata Prefecture on 18 & 19 July. This was actually the first time for seven years that the Honinbo title match had gone the full distance.
  Since this was the seventh game, the nigiri was held once again and the challenger, Cho U 7-dan, drew black. It's hard to guess how he felt: Black had won every game of the match so far, so drawing black might have seemed an advantage; on the other hand, all seven games in a title match have never been won by the same colour.
  The seventh game turned out to be a very complicated one, like the previous games in the series, but the greater experience of the defending champion prevailed in the end. Cho U resigned after 226 moves, so O defended his title 4-3.
  Cho U failed to set a new record for the youngest player to win a big-three title, but he is still young enough to have another chance next year -- if he can become the challenger again.

Yamashita ties score in Gosei title match

  The second game in the 26th Gosei best-of-five title match was held in the town of Nonoichi in Ishikawa Prefecture on 19 July. Playing black, Yamashita Keigo, the defending champiom, defeated Kobayashi Koichi by 16.5 points. The game lasted for 287 moves and featured violent fighting that ended in a large trade in a ko fight.
  This win enabled Yamashita to tie the score at 1-1. The third game will be played in Hiroshima on 24 July.

Cho Chikun shares lead in Kisei B league

  One game was played in the Kisei B league on 19 July. Playing white, Cho Chikun defeated Hane Naoki 8-dan by resignation. That took Cho to 2-0, so he shares the lead in the B league with Ishida Yoshio. Hane is now 1-1.

13 July

O Meien evens Honinbo match

  For the third time in the 56th Honinbo title match, the defending champion, O Meien, has caught up with the challenger, Cho U, and evened the score. That is to say, Black has now won six games in a row.
  The sixth game was played in the City of Hanamaki in Iwate Prefecture on 10 & 11 July. Playing black, O forced Cho to resignaiton after 237 moves, thus evening the score at 3-3. The game ended at 7:07 pm on the second day; of their time allowances of eight hours each, O had two minutes left and Cho 29.
  O seemed to take the lead on the first day when he built excellent centre thickness in the initial fighting. Cho's efforts to catch up on the second day made the game close, but he never usurped the lead. O actually was far enough ahead to survive a small slip-up in the endgame.
  The deciding game will be played at the Naeba Prince Hotel, Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture on 18 & 19 July.
  This is the first time for seven years that the Honinbo title match has gone to a seventh game. If black manages to win the last game, it will probably (we have to check this) be the first time ever that the same colour has won every game in a best-of-seven, In this year's Judan best-of-five, white won the first four games but lost the last. At the time, we predicted this, but this time we are sure that the player who draws black in the nigiri for the final Honinbo game will be happy. So far, both Cho and O have been very consistent in keeping hold of the initiative granted to Black by having the first move. In fact, the games have mainly been comfortable wins for Black, so it will be very hard to buck this trend in the final game.

Rin becomes Meijin challenger

  The phoenix-like Rin Kaiho is making another Meijin challenge ? at the age of 59. In his last game in the 26th Meijin league, Rin, playing white, managed to defeat Komatsu Hideki 9-dan by the narrowest margin, just half a point, and so ended the league with a 6-2 score. On the same day, 12 July, Cho Chikun, the only other player still with a chance to catch up with Rin, lost to Cho Sonjin 9-dan. Playing white, Sonjin beat Chikun by 6.5 points. As this was Chikun's third loss, Rin became the only player with just two losses, so the other unplayed games in the league became irrelevant.
  As a result of last week's games, Komatsu dropped to 2-5 and so faces certain demotion. The two Chos are both on 4-3 and so should keep their places regardless of what happens in the final round.
  Rin dominated the old Meijin title, sponsored by the Yomiuri Newspaper, winning it seven times. When he first won it, defeating Sakata Eio in 1965, he set a still unbroken record as the youngest tournament Meijin, at 23. He also won the new Meijin title, sponsored by the Asahi Newspaper, once. He last challenged for the Meijin title seven years ago.
  Since Rin's victory was decided so early, he will have around two months to prepare for the title match with Yoda Norimoto. The date of the first game has not yet been decided, but it is usually played towards the middle of September.

Kisei leagues

  One game in each league was played on 12 July. In the A league, Miyazawa Goro 9-dan continued his winning ways of the first league, defeating Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan by resignation (Miyazawa had white) to take the league lead with a 2-0 score. Mimura drops to 1-1.
  In the B league, Ishida Yoshio, who, like Miyazawa last year, just missed out on a league victory, also went to 2-0. Also playing white, he eked out a more narrow victory, defeating Ishida Atsushi 8-dan by just half a point. The latter is now 0-2, so his focus will no longer be on winning the league but on keeping his league place.

11 July

Honours shared in last Japan-China Super Go

  Once again honours were more or less evenly shared in the 16th and last Japan-China Super Go: Japan won the clash between the NEC champions, but China won the other two matches.
  The top play-off was between Cho Chikun 9-dan, winner of the Japanese NEC Cup, and Luo Xihe 8-dan, holder of the Chinese NEC Cup. Cho dominated this match, winning it 2-0. However, Dong Yan 7-dan defeated Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan in the play-off between the Chinese and Japanese NEC New Stars champions, and Xu Ying 3-dan defeated Inori Yoko 5-dan by the same margin in the women's play-off.
  The Super Go series started off as team matches, which China won 7-4, then switched to the format of three best-of-three matches. Japan did better in these, winning four out of five on the top board and seven out of 15 overall (neither side ever made a clean sweep). However, the sponsors seem to have decided that, with the proliferation of international titles, this series has served its purpose.
  The matches were played in Hangzhou in China on 27, 28, 29 June. Full results are given below.

NEC Champions play-off
  Game 1. Cho (B) beat Luo by resignation.
  Game 2. Cho (W) beat Luo by resig.

NEC New Stars play-off
  Game 1. Dong (B) beat Mizokami by resig.
  Game 2. Mizokami (B) beat Dong by resig.
  Game 3. Dong (B) beat Mizokami by resig.

Women's play-off
  Game 1. Xu (W) beat Inori by 0.5.
  Game 2. Inori (W) beat Xu by resig.
  Game 3. Xu (W) beat Inori by resig.

All-Korean final in Fujitsu Cup

  The semifinals of the 14th Fujitsu Cup, sponsored by Fujitsu Corporation and the Yomiuri Newspaper, were held at the Toyo Hotel in Osaka on 7 July. Both Korean players won their games, so, for the first time since 1994 and the third time overall, the final will be all-Korean.
  In one semifinal, Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (B) defeated Rin Kaiho 9-dan, representing Japan, by 16.5 points. In the other, Ch'oe Myeong-hun 8-dan (B) defeated Zhou Junxun 9-dan of Taiwan by 7.5 points.
  The final and the play-off for third place will be played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 4 August. Ch'oe will be making his first appearance in a world championship final -- his previous best result was 3rd place in the 1st Chunlan Cup. Cho, on the other hand, will be bidding for his second successive Fujitsu Cup, his ninth world title and his second this year, following his TV Asia Cup victory.

Kobayashi makes good start in Gosei challenge

  Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan has taken the first step towards regaining the Gosei title he lost to Yamashita Keigo last year. In the first game of the 26th Gosei best-of-five title match, played at the Hotel Sun Valley in the town of Izu Nagaoka, Shizuoka Prefecture on 5 July, Kobayashi forced Yamashita to resignaiton after 165 moves. The general impression of the game, according to Ishida Yoshio 9-dan, was that Kobayashi successfully parried or contained Yamashita's power. However, the latter is at his best playing with black, so the second game, scheduled for 19 July, will give us a better idea of how the series is going to go.

Cho Chikun reaches Oza play-off

  When Cho Chikun visited China for the Super Go play-off, local journalists were more interested in how he felt being titleless than in his thoughts about the upcoming match. Well, Cho may soon have a chance to remedy what for him is an unusual state of affairs. In the semifinal of the 49th Oza title, played at the Nihon Ki-in on 5 July, he defeated Yoda Norimoto Meijin (W) and so reached the play-off to decide the challenger to O Rissei. In their game, Yoda made a bad misjudgement about a capturing race: he started it, but it turned out Cho was comfortably ahead, so Yoda had to resignaiton. At the crucial point, when it became clear he'd embarked on a losing campaign, Yoda yelled out: 'I'm astonished!' -- honest, maybe, but a little unusual as a comment during a game.
  Cho's opponent in the play-off will be Kato Atsushi 7-dan.

Kisei leagues

  For the first time in the 26th Kisei tournament, games were held simultaneously in both leagues. In the A league, Ryu Shikun 7-dan (B) defeated Cho Sonjin 9-dan by resignation, taking Ryu to 1-1 and Cho to 0-2, and Yamada Takuji 6-dan (B) defeated Cho U 7-dan by resignation, putting both players on 1-1.
  There was just one game in the B league. Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan (W) picked up his first win by beating Awaji Shuzo 9-dan by resig. Awaji and Cho Sonjin, the league winners last year, are both 0-2, so it looks as if we're going to see a different pairing in the league play-off.
  All the above games were played on 5 July.

Meijin league

  Two games in the 26th Meijin league were held on 5 June. In one, Kato Masao 9-dan (B) defeated Hane Naoki 8-dan by resignation. In the other, O Meien Honinbo (B) defeated O Rissei Kisei by resignation. As a result, Kato goes to 3-4, Hane to 2-5, O Meien to 4-3, and O Rissei to 3-4. That means that of these four only O Meien remains in the running for victory in the league, but only if Rin Kaiho, on 5-2, stumbles in the last round. The other three players have to worry about keeping their league places.


  Kobayashi Koichi's daughter Izumi is steadily moving up the dan ladder. Together with another woman player, Kato Tomoko, she won promotion to 5-dan last week. Reaching this rank puts both of them in an elite group of woman players: there are only ten women ranked 5-dan or higher at the Nihon Ki-in (plus five at the Kansai Ki-in).

Other new promotions: To 8-dan: Ueki Yoshio
To 6-dan: Suzuki Yoshimichi
To 3-dan: Iwamaru Taira.

Western professionals

  Only one Western member of the Nihon Ki-in had a game last week. That was Catalin Taranu 5-dan who defeated Asano Motoko 1-dan (B) by resignation in the first preliminary section of the Honinbo tournament. The game was played on 4 July.

Sakai wins first test game

  We have some more details on the test games that Sakai Hideyuki is playing to decide his rank at the Kansai Ki-in. He is playing four games, two with Hasegawa Hiro 5-dan and two with Nakano Yasuhiro 7-dan, all on even, with time allowances of three hours per player. If he wins three games or all four, he will be made 5-dan; two wins will qualify him as 3-dan; one or zero and he'll have to start out as shodan.
  The first game, against Hasegawa, was held on 3 July. PLaying white, Sakai won by 1.5 points, so he has made a good start. However, he will have to win at least one more game to make an accelerated start to his career. (If he were to start out as 5-dan, he could set a new record for quickest promotion to 9-dan.)
  The other games will be played on 16 July and 6 and 13 August. The Kansai Ki-in is presenting the games live on its home page at:
  More than 1,000 fans followed the first game.

Yi's 100th title

  In our report at the end of May on Yi Ch'ang-ho's victory in the 5th LG Cup, we surmised that he must have reached his 100th title. We have subsequently learned that the LG Cup was itself his 100th title. He reached that mark after just 16 years as a professional.

02 July

Yu Ch'ang-hyeok wins Chunlan Cup

  Yu Ch'ang-hyeok has scored yet another triumph for Korea, defeating O Rissei 2-1 to win the 3rd Chunlan Cup. This is a Chinese-sponsored international tournament, but so far it has been monopolized by Korean (twice) and Japanese (once) representatives.
  The best-of-three final for the 3rd Cup was held in Beijing on 22, 24 and 26 June. O Rissei, the previous champion, made a good start, defeating Yu by 7.5 points (the komi is 5.5) with white. However, Yu fought back to take the second game by just half a point. He then scored a convincing win in the third game; holding black, he forced O to resignaiton.
  This gives Yu his fifth international title, to go with his two Fujitsu Cups, one Ing Cup and one Samsung Cup.
  In the play-off for third place, held on 22 June, Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan of Korea defeated Wang Lei 8-dan of China.

Cho U one win away from Honinbo title

  The fifth game of the 56th Honinbo title match was played in Sapporo City on 27 and 28 June. Playing black, Cho won by 1.5 points after 231 moves. This gave him the lead, for the third time, in the match, and puts him just one win away from becoming the youngest Honinbo in the history of the modern title.
  The sixth game will be played in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture, on 10 and 11 July.

Rin leads Meijin league

  The great veteran player Rin Kaiho has taken the sole lead in the Meijin league with a win over Kato Masao in the 7th round on 21 June. Playing white, Rin forced Kato to resignaiton and so became the first player to score five wins (to two losses). His chances of becoming the Meijin challenger, for the first time since 1994, now look quite good. If he wins his last game, against Komatsu Hideki 9-dan, Rin will be guaranteed at least a place in the play-off. However, his nearest rival, Cho Chikun, who is on 4-2, has to play two tough opponents in his final games: O Rissei and Cho Sonjin.
  If both Rin and Cho falter, there are four players on three losses who could join them in a tie for first: O Meien, O Rissei, Ryu Shikun, and Cho Sonjin.

Kisei A League

  One Kisei league game was played last week. Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan, who is making his debut, defeated Ryu Shikun 7-dan in their first-round game in the A League. Playing black, Mimura won by 7.5 points.

Former WAGC champion turns pro

  In the past, winning the World Amateur Go Championship was often a prelude to turning professional for Chinese players. Recently, Koreans have begun to imitate them. Now, for the first time, a Japanese player has followed in their footsteps. He is Sakai Hideyuki, who won the 22nd WAGC in 2000. Sakai had sat out the Japanese WAGC qualifying tournament for this year's WAGC, as he was going to be too busy as an intern. However, after he secured his license as a physician in spring this year, he found that he was unable to put his go aspirations behind him. "I didn't want to end my go life without really testing myself,' he said. Ironically, the fact that he is of professional strength (he has beaten a professional 9-dan in an even game) meant that amateur tournaments were not a challenge for him, so he decided to turn professional. He applied to the Kansai Ki-in for professional status and this was granted. This month he will play a trial game, on the basis of which his rank will be decided. That sounds as if he is not going to have to start out as a 1-dan, which will help him a little in making up for lost time. Sakai turned 28 this year; one of his childhood friends and rivals was Yuki Satoshi, who is already 9-dan. He will probably make his debut in September, and we will keep readers informed of his progress.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Below are the results of Western professionals in the second half of June.
  Hans Pietsch 4-dan (W) defeated Kirimoto Kazuo by 9 points in the Oteai (20 June).
  Catalin Taranu 5-dan (W) defeated Inagaki Yo 3-dan om the first preliminary round of the Okan title (27 June).
  Michael Redmond 9-dan (W) lost to Kamimura Haruo 9-dan in a preliminary round of the Gosei title (28 June).


The following players have earned promotions in the Oteai (all dated to 29 June):
  To 9-dan: Oya Koichi
  To 5-dan: Matsumoto Takehisa, Kurotaki Masaki
  To 3-dan: Rin Kanketsu, Shudo Shun

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