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History of Topics 2001

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • O Rissei regains Meijin-league place
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Top game winners
  • 5-dan and up
  • Yoda one win away from defending Meijin title
  • 6th Samsung Cup quarterfinals
  • 3rd Nongshim Spicy Noodles Cup starts
  • Cho Sonjin wins Agon Kiriyama Cup
  • Women's Honinbo title match tied
  • Honinbo league: first round completed
  • Kobayashi Satoru plays first game
  • Promotion
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Rin levels score in Meijin title match
  • Cho Chikun wins Kisei B league.
  • Honinbo league
  • Kato wins Ryusei title
  • Ryu wins Kisei A league
  • Second game in Honinbo league
  • Western members of the Nihon Ki-in
  • Rin scores first win in Meijin title match
  • Yamashita wins Shinjin-O title
  • Hane junior becomes Tengen challenger
  • Honinbo league gets under way
  • Veteran Kikuchi becomes WAGC representative
  • Western members of the Nihon Ki-in
  • Promotions

30 October

O Rissei regains Meijin-league place

  O Rissei Kisei did badly in the last Meijin league, scoring only three wins in eight games and dropping out of the league. However, he has immediately fought his way back in and so will play in his eighth successive league.
  The first play-off for the vacancies in the 27th league was held on 25 October. Playing black, O forced Hasegawa Sunao 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in to resignaiton.
  The pairings for the other two play-offs are Cho U 7-dan vs. Hikosaka Naoto and Yamashita Keigo 7-dan vs. Yo Kagen 9-dan. Of these four, only Yo has previously played in the league.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Only one Western professional played a game last week. That was Michael Redmond 9-dan, who defeated Konagai Masaru 7-dan by 5.5 points in the second preliminary round of the 28th Tengen tournament. Michael had black.

Top game winners

  Below is an update of the listing of top game winners as of 25 October. With only two months to go, Hane looks a certainty for a Kido prize. He will be more concerned with taking the Tengen title, of course.

5-dan and up

1. Hane Naoki 8-dan 51-21
2. Cho U 7-dan: 41-17; Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan: 41-19
4. Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo: 40-18
5. Yamashita Keigo 7-dan: 37-14
6. Kim Shujun 6-dan: 35-13; Kobayashi Izumi 5-dan: 35-15
8. So Yokoku 7-dan: 34-10; Takao Shinji 8-dan: 34-11-1 jigo; Kono Rin 6-dan: 34-12

23 October

Yoda one win away from defending Meijin title

  The fifth game of the 26th Meijin title match was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Yumura Hot Spring, Kofu City, on 17 & 18 October. Playing black, Yoda Meijin forced Rin Kaiho 9-dan to resignaiton after 229 moves, so he now needs just one more win to complete his first defence of the Meijin title.
  On the first day (the sealed move was Black 55), Rin was doing well and Yoda was quite pessimistic. On the second day, he went all-out. The flow of the game changed when Rin had a hallucination with 66 and let Yoda make a superb squeeze in a centre fight. Yoda commented later: 'I thought I was dreaming. Suddenly the scenery changed.' Rin said later that he felt like resigning, but he kept on fighting and actually got the game more or less back to even. However, with 108 Rin made yet another misreading. He continued to play until move 229, but was unable to close the gap.
  Without wishing to make excuses for Rin, one can't help wondering if, at 59 years of age, he was suffering from fatigue and that the six-day break between the games (actually only four days if you count the traveling before and after each game) was not enough for him to recuperate.
  The sixth game will be played in the Yokohama Grand Intercontinental Hotel on 31 October and 1 November.

6th Samsung Cup quarterfinals

  Six Korean and two Chinese players competed in the quarterfinals of the 6th Samsung Cup, held in Korea on 10 October, and two players from each country made the semifinals. Considering they were outnumbered, the Chinese players can be quite satisfied with their performance, but will they be able to dent the recent Korean monopoloy of the international titles (seven successive victories at present)?

Results were as follows (we don't have full details):
Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Yi Se-tol 3-dan (Korea) by resig..
Chang Hao 9-dan (China) (B) beat Rui Naiwei 9-dan (Korea) by 29.5 points.
Ma Xiaochun 9-dan (China) beat Pak Cheong-sang 2-dan (Korea).
Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (Korea) beat An Tal-hun 4-dan (Korea).

3rd Nongshim Spicy Noodles Cup starts

  The third Nongshim Spicy Noodles Cup, a five-player team tournament, got off to a start in Beijing in mid-October. This tournament and its predecessor, the Jinro Cup (which lasted for five terms), have been monopolized by Korea. This time the Chinese team is giving Korea a run for its money. In the Beijing round, both Korea and China scored two wins. In contrast, Japan made a dismal start with two losses. One of them, that of Kobayashi, was particularly painful: he was making his debut in this team tournament (including the Jinro Cup) and was expected to be Japan's ace. Instead, he suffered a painful half-point loss to the 16-year-old Ch'oe. The latter had made a brilliant debut last year when he won three games in the 2nd Cup; this year also he had made a valuable contribution to his team.

Game 1 (15 Oct.). Shao Weigang 9-dan (China) (B) beat Awaji Shuzo 9-dan (Japan) by 8 points.
Game 2 (16 Oct.). Ch'oe Ch'eol-han 3-dan (Korea) (B) beat Shao by resig.
Game 3 (17 Oct.). Ch'oe (B) beat Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan (Japan) by point.
Game 4 (18 Oct.) Luo Xihe 8-dan (China) (W) beat Ch'oe by resig.

Cho Sonjin wins Agon Kiriyama Cup

  The final of the 8th Agon Kiriyama Cup was held at the Mt. Shaka Great Bodai Temple, the headquarters of the sponsor, the Agon Sect of Buddhism, in Kyoto on 8 October. This year the final featured a clash between the previous year's winner, Cho Sonjin (the title doesn't follow the challenger system: he started out from the first round of the final section of the tournament, a 16-player knockout), and O Rissei Kisei. The game was a very fierce one, not befitting the peaceful and contemplative religious environment in which it was held, but it turned into a very close contest in the endgame. The issue was resolved by a half-point ko; when Cho connected it, O resigned. It's very unusual for a resignation to take place after one player has connected a half-point ko. Of course, the game was lost, but O perhaps had second thoughts about his resignation, as he anxiously sought confirmation from his opponent and from Kato Masao, who gave a public commentary, that he really had been losing. They confirmed the correctness of his resignation.
  Winning this title last year was some consolation for Cho Sonjin after losing his Honinbo title. He earned more kudos by going on to defeat the winner of the same title in China in an international play-off. Will he do as well this time?

Women's Honinbo title match tied

  The first game of the 20th Women's Honinbo title match, a best-of-five, was played in Toyama City on 11 October. It featured a clash between fellow disciples of Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan: his daughter, Izumi, and Inori Yoko 5-dan. Playing black, Izumi took the first game, forcing Inori to resignaiton after 177 moves.
  The second game was played in Morioka City on 18 October. This time Inori forced the challenger to resignaiton and so evened the series. Incidentally, this was only her second win in nine games against Kobayashi.
  The third game is scheduled to be played in Tokyo on 29 October.

Honinbo league: first round completed

  The last game of the first round of the 57th Honinbo league was played on 18 October. Playing black, Cho Sonjin 9-dan defeated Hane Naoki 8-dan by just half a point.
  Winners in the first round are Cho U, Cho Sonjin, Kato Masao and Otake Hideo. Losers are Cho Chikun, Hane, Miyazawa Goro and Yamada Kimio.

Kobayashi Satoru plays first game

  Although his suspension was lifted as of 1 September, it has taken seven weeks for Kobayashi Satoru to play his first game. The reason is that he had to wait until now for a tournament to start off a new term (as a 9-dan, he plays in the second preliminary); until now, all the games played were from tournaments in progress, so he could not join in. That meant that the gap in his playing career amounted to 293 days.
  Kobayashi was finally able to resume his career on 18 October. He made a good start, defeating Ishikura Noboru 9-dan in a game in the 27th Kisei tournament. Playing white, he earned a resignation after 144 moves. 'Go Weekly' wrote up the game and expressed the hope that before long the Satoru style would be on display in a title match, so it would seem that all has been forgiven. We also wish him the best of luck. However, it will be a while before he can get back into the full swing of tournament play. The Kisei game was his only game scheduled for this month. Next month he will be playing in the Japanese qualifying tournament for the Toyota & Denso Cup.


  A win in the Oteai on 17 October earned Ko Iun, a Taiwanese member of the Nihon Ki-in, promotion to 4-dan. That has been the only promotion in the last two weeks.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Below are the results of games played by Western professionals in the last two weeks.

(8 October) Michael Redmond 9-dan (W) beat Mannami Kana 2-dan by resig. (Fujitsu qualifying).
(8 October) Redmond (B) beat Miyazaki Ryutaro 6-dan by resig. (Fujitsu qualifying).
(10 October) Catalin Taranu 5-dan (B) lost to Suzuki Yoshimichi 6-dan by resig. (Oteai).
(17 October) Hans Pietsch 4-dan (B) beat Takabayashi Takuji 6-dan by resig. (Oteai).
(18 October)  Redmond (W) beat Sugiuchi Masao 9-dan by resig. (Kisei preliminary).

15 October

Rin levels score in Meijin title match

  After losing the first two games in the 26th Meijin title match, The challenger Rin Kaiho has made a great fightback and has now leveled the score at 2-2. The title match is now down to a best-of-three. Rin is extremely popular with Japanese fans, especially older ones, who have nostalgic memories of his youthful successes, and they have been heartened by his good recovery.

  The fourth game was held at Oni no Sumika (Devil's Dwelling Place) Inn in Shuzenji-cho, Shizuoka Prefecture, on 10 & 11 October. The game finished at 7:35 pm on the second day after 207 moves. Playing black, Rin won by 5.5 points. Both players were down to their last minute of byo-yomi.

  The main factor in Rin's win was his superb positional judgement. He made skilful use of the thickness that he had build up on the first day's play and by move 63 had secured a sufficiently large territory at the top to give him the lead. Difficult middle-game fighting followed, but he left no chinks in his armour for Yoda to exploit. According to the Asahi Newspaper commentator, Nakano Hironari 9-dan, Rin kept firm hold of the initiative throughout the game.

  The fifth game will be played at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on 17 & 18 October.

Cho Chikun wins Kisei B league.

  The final games in the Kisei B league were held on 11 October with the following results.

Awaji Shuzo 9-dan (2-3) (B) beat Ishida Atsushi 8-dan (1-4) by 3.5 points.
Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, (W) (4-1) beat Ishida Yoshio 9-dan (2-3) by 4.5 points.
Hane Naoki 8-dan (B) (4-1) beat Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan (2-3) by resignation.

  Cho and Hane therefore finished in a tie on 4-1, but according to the league rules the higher-ranked player takes precedence, so Cho won the league. He will now contest a play-off with Ryu Shikun to decide the challenger to O Rissei Kisei.

Honinbo league

  The third game of the new Honinbo league was held on 11 October and the result was another win for one of the veterans. Playing white, Otake Hideo 9-dan defeated Miyazawa Goro 9-dan by resignation, so he and Kato Masao, the two oldest members of the league, have both got off to good starts.

09 October

Kato wins Ryusei title

  The Ryusei tournament is an eight-player knockout tournament whose games are telecast on cable TV. Playing conditions are the same as the NHK Cup (30 seconds per move + ten minutes to be used at will in one-minute units), but the prize money, at five million yen for first place, is 25% more generous.
  This year the final of the 10th Ryusei tournament featured a match-up between the veteran Kato Masao, 9-dan, who has been enjoying good form recently, and Cho U 7-dan, this year's Honinbo challenger. Kato's greater experience gave him the edge and, playing white, he defeated Cho by 1.5 points. The game was telecast on 28 September.
  This is Kato's second victory in this title; his first was in 1998. It is his 45th title overall.

Ryu wins Kisei A league

  The final three games in the A league of the 26th Kisei tournament were held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 4 October. The results were as follows.

Ryu Shikun 7-dan (B) beat Miyazawa Goro 9-dan by half a point.
Cho Sonjin 9-dan (W) beat Yamada Takuji by resignation.
Cho U 7-dan (B) beat Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan by 5.5 points.

  The result was that Ryu was unchallenged for first place, as he ended on 4-1 and the only other player still in the running, Mimura, dropped back to 3-2. Actually, his loss meant that Ryu would have won the league even if he'd lost his last game, as he was ranked higher than Cho U, who also ended on 3-2.
  Cho U takes second place and Mimura 3rd. The other three players all ended on 2-3, but Cho Sonjin takes precedence, thanks to his higher ranking, so Miyazawa and Yamada drop out.
  Ryu's opponent in the play-off to decide the challenger to O Rissei will be decided 12 October.

Second game in Honinbo league

  The second game in the 57th Honinbo league was held on 3 October at the Nihon Ki-in. Playing white, Kato Masao 9-dan defeated Yamada Kimio 8-dan by 11.5 points to get off to a good start in the new league.

Western members of the Nihon Ki-in

  Only one of the Western members of the Nihon Ki-in had a game last week. That was Hans Pietsch 4-dan, who picked up a win in the preliminary section of the Kisei tournament. Playing white, he defeated Takamure Tetsuro 4-dan by resignation.

04 October

Rin scores first win in Meijin title match

  Rin has finally picked up his first win in the 26th Meijin title match after coming very close in the first two games. In fact, he returned the courtesy to Yoda Norimoto Meijin for the latter's half-point win in the second game with a half-point win of his own in the third game.
  The venue for this game, held on 26 and 27 September, switched from Hokkaido to the island of In-no-shima, near Hiroshima, which is the birthplace of Shusaku. Playing white, Rin won by half a point after 253 moves. The game finished at 8:13 pm, with both players down to their last minute of byo-yomi.
  So far, results in two of the games have gone against the flow of the play. Rin really should have won the first game, having taken the lead in the middle game, but he slipped up in the endgame. In the second game, Yoda was the one who played slackly in the endgame, but the game just failed to turn into an upset. In the third game, he again had the lead, but this time Rin did succeed in staging an upset.
  The fourth game will be played in Shuzenji Town in Shizuoka Prefecture on 10 & 11 October.

Yamashita wins Shinjin-O title

  Yamashita Keigo 7-dan has extended his record in the Shinjin-O (King of the New Stars) title, winning it for the fourth year in a row. In the second game of the 26th title match, held at the Nihon Ki-in on 26 September, Yamashita (B) defeated Kubo Hideo 5-dan, forcing him to resignaiton after 135 moves.
  Yamashita still has Yoda's record of a total of five Shinjin-O titles to aim at, but he has to do it before he's promoted to 8-dan, which will disqualify him.

Hane junior becomes Tengen challenger

  Hane Naoki 8-dan earned the right to make his first challenge for a top-seven title when he defeated Akiyama Jiro 7-dan on 27 September. The game was held at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in and Hane won by 1.5 points, playing black. He will challenge Ryu Shikun for the 27th Tengen title.

Honinbo league gets under way

  The first game of the 57th Honinbo league was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 27 September. Cho U 7-dan showed that he had already recovered from the loss of losing to O Meien in the 56th Honinbo title match. Playing black, he defeated Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by resignation. This is an excellent start for the youngest of the top Chos, as he has now disposed of his main rival in the first round.
  If Cho wins the league and challenges successfully, he can still set a record for the youngest holder of a big-three title.

Veteran Kikuchi becomes WAGC representative

  Japan's greatest amateur player of the postwar period, Kikuchi Yasuro, has won the 24th Japanese WAGC qualifying tournament. He will make a comeback to the world stage after a break of exactly a decade: he won the 14th WAGC in 1992. Kikuchi has accomplished his latest feat at the age of 72. He won't set a record for oldest competitor next year, however, as Yasunaga Hajime was 77 when he played in the inaugural tournament in 1979.

Western members of the Nihon Ki-in

(19 Sept.). Hans Pietsch 4-dan (B) beat Miyazaki Ryutaro 6-dan by resig. (Oteai).
Izawa Akino (B) beat Catalin Taranu 5-dan by forfeit (Oteai).
(20 Sept.). Michael Redmond 9-dan (B) beat Kobayashi Kenji 7-dan by resig. (2nd prelim. section, 28th Tengen tournament).
(24 Sept.). Redmond 9-dan (W) beat Sugiuchi Kazuko 8-dan by resig. (Fujitsu Cup qualifying tournament, second section).
(26 Sept.).  Kono Yukio 4-dan (W) beat Hans Pietsch 4-dan by resig. (1st prelim. section, 28th Meijin tournament).


To 8-dan: Sasaka Shiro
To 7-dan: Kono Takashi
To 3-dan: Koda Akiko

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