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History of Topics 2002

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Disagreement mars conclusion of 5th Kisei game
  • Yoda wins 24th Kakusei title
  • Chinen defends 5th DoCoMo Cup Women's Kisei title
  • Women's Meijin title
  • 57th Honinbo league
  • 27th Meijin league
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • New international tournament in Okinawa
  • Inori Yoko and Cho Chikun win Ricoh Cup Pair Go
  • 1st Haojue Cup
  • Obituaries
  • O ties score in Kisei title match
  • Fujitsu Cup qualifiers
  • Honinbo league
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Women's Kisei title match tied
  • Kato takes sole lead in Honinbo league
  • Cho Chikun leads in Meijin league
  • Kobayashi Satoru and Yuki win Fujitsu Cup places
  • Westerns at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Ryu takes lead in Kisei title match
  • Takemiya Judan challenger
  • Korea wins 3rd Nong Shim Cup

26 February

Disagreement mars conclusion of 5th Kisei game

  Until the last two moves, the fifth game of the 26th Kisei title match, played at the Manseikaku Hotel by the side of Lake Toya in the town of Abuta, Hokkaido, on 20 and 21 February, was another relatively peaceful affair, without any large fighting. O Rissei won the game by resignation after 300 moves, but actually the result of the game was reversed during the playing of the final dame points.
  What happened was that at around 7:10 pm while the players were filling in the final dame points, O Rissei put a group of six stones into atari with move 298, but Ryu did not connect, playing 299 elsewhere. Ryu was clearly not paying close attention to the dame-filling moves because he thought that the game was over. On move 293 he had said: "It's finished, isn't it?". However, O did not respond, so from his point of view the game was still in progress. After playing 299, Ryu realized that his stones were in atari and he made as if to replay his move, but at this point O said to him: "I haven't said anything [i.e. that the game was over]." Ryu reacted with incomprehension. O repeated his comment and asked the game recorder to confirm that he hadn't said anything. The game recorder was unable to confirm or deny this, so O asked for the referee to be called.
  According to the rules and conditions of the Kisei tournament, any dispute during a title-match game is to be resolved by the game referee in consultation with representatives of the sponsor, the Yomiuri Newspaper, and the Nihon Ki-in. The referee was Ishida Yoshio, who with the Yomiuri Newspaper and Nihon Ki-in representatives, conferred for about an hour and also reviewed the videotape of the game.
  When the game resumed, Ishida gave their ruling: according to the Nihon Ki-in official rules of go, a game continues until both players agree that it is over. The videotape gave no evidence that O had agreed the game was over, so his claim was accepted. O sought confirmation that it could therefore play; when this was given by Ishida, he captured the six stones. If the game had finished without incident, Ryu would have won by 3.5 points.
  Ryu did not resignaiton immediately. After breathing out loudly three times, he asked Ishida a question [as soon as something like this happens, the game is considered suspended and the timekeeper stops the clock -- Ryu was, as usual, in his final minute of byo-yomi]. His question concerned the question of whether he had replayed a move. When the game was first suspended, after Black 299, O commented that Ryu had already committed an infringement, replaying move 285. He said he hadn't objected at the time, but his clear implication was that for that reason he was not going to permit a second infringement. Before he resigned, Ryu wanted Ishida to confirm whether or not he had replayed his move. Ishida said that he was unable to comment, as the camera angle on the video, from directly above the board, made it impossible to see. O then pointed out that he only referred to it while the game was suspended, that is, that he was not officially objecting. Actually, in both cases -- the question of replaying a move and whether O agreed that the game was over -- Ryu did not seem to be actually disputing O's assertions. Rather, it seemed that he had been so caught up in the game that he was completely oblivious. O firmly maintained that Ryu had let go of his stone before replaying it.
  If O had agreed with Ryu that the game was over, does that mean that he would not have had the right to capture the six stones? According to the rules, a game ends when the players pass in succession. However, according to the official commentary on the rules (see "The Go Player's Almanac", pages 178, 183 and 184), it seems that dame-filling moves and necessary reinforcements inside groups can be played either before or after the end of the game. In the latter case, the moves are not part of the game, i.e. "these are not moves as defined by the rules, and need not be played according to the rules". This would seem to indicate that O wouldn't have been allowed to capture the stones if he had agreed the game was over. In practice, players often agree that the game is over, then proceed to fill in the dame without anyone passing a move, so there is a gap between the Japanese rules and what actually happens in practice.
  One can certainly say that under the traditional etiquette of go no one would capture stones in the dame-filling stage if both players had agreed the game was over. On the other hand, no one questioned O's argument that if he had not stated the game was over then it was still in progress. (Just for the record, Ishida couldn't even confirm from the videotape that Ryu himself had said that the game was over. O didn't purposely ignore him: he says he didn't hear him, which is reasonable if Ryu's words were not audible on the video -- quite apart from the fact that O has suffered from ringing in the ears and consequent hearing problems since 1998.
  This problem arises from the stubborn Japanese resistance to counting dame-filling moves as part of the game. Although this is the first time that a problem has occurred in a title match, it's long been one of the well-known hazards of Japanese go. One player announces the game is over; this puts the other player on the spot: he can still do something, but if he disagrees, that will be a poweerful hint to the first player to have another look at the board. The relevant World Amateur Go Championship rule states: "The players continue to play alternately until all the neutral points have been filled and all necessary defensive moves have been made." If professionals adopted a rule like this, problems like this would never arise.
  This makes an enormous difference to the title match. Ryu loses a game in which he had played well and instead of needing just one more win to take the Kisei title he is faced with a kadoban. There is a two-week break before the sixth game, scheduled to be played in the town of Oyama in Shizuoka Prefecture on 6 and 7 June. Will the break be long enough for Ryu to recover from the shock? One good sign is that Ryu himself has accepted responsibility for his slip, saying he regretted his carelessness and that he had already switched over to thinking about the sixth game.

Yoda wins 24th Kakusei title

  For the second year in a row, the final of the Kakusei title featured a clash between Kobayashi Koichi and Yoda Norimoto, but the result was the reverse of the previous year. In the 23rd final, Yoda had taken the lead, but lost by half a point after making an elementary slip in the endgame. This time he made no mistake: playing white, he forced a resignation from Kobayashi after 190 moves. Surprisingly, this was his first victory in the Kakusei Cup. This tournament has a first prize of 5,100,000 yen; playing conditions are one hour time allowance for each player, followed by one-minute byo-yomi.

Chinen defends 5th DoCoMo Cup Women's Kisei title

  Chinen Kaori made a bad start to her title defence this year when she lost the first game to the challenger, Ogawa Tomoko 6-dan, but she made a good comeback, taking the second and third games and so winning this title for the third year in a row.
  The third game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, on 21 February. Taking white, Chinen won by 4.5 points. This put an end to Ogawa's hopes of winning her first title since 1987.

Women's Meijin title

  The first game of the 14th Women's Meijin title match was held on 20 February. The challenger, Aoki Kikuyo Women's Saikyo, defeated Kobayashi Izumi by resignation. Aoki had black and the game lasted 217 moves. The issue was decided by a spectacular trade.
  This is the third year in a row the title match has featured this pairing. Aoki won in 2000 and lost in 2001.

57th Honinbo league

  On 21 February, Hane Naoki Tengen defeated Otake Hideo 9-dan to improve his score to 3-2. Hane had black and he forced a resignation. Hane is one of three players on 3-2 -- the others are Cho Sonjin 9-dan and Yamada Kimio 8-dan -- waiting for Kato Masao 9-dan, the league leader with 4-1, to stumble.

27th Meijin league

  One game was played in the 27th Meijin league on 21 February. Playing white, Yamashita Keigo 7-dan defeated Kato Masao 9-dan by resignation. This is Yamashita's second win against no losses; there are only two undefeated other players, Cho Chikun on 3-0 and Rin Kaiho on 2-0, so Yamashita has made an excellent debut in the league. In contrast to his first place in the Honinbo league, Kato is in last place in the Meijin league with 0-3.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  There was just one game last week involving a Western professional. Hans Pietsch 4-dan (B) beat Katsura Atsushi 3-dan by resignation (1st prelim. section of the Oza tournament).

New international tournament in Okinawa

  Okinawa will be staging its first-ever large-scale international go tournament, a four-country knockout team tournament named the Igo Asia Cup in Okinawa. The tournament will be held at the Okinawa Convention Center in Ginowan City, with the first round being held on the 22nd and the final and the play-off for 3rd place on the 23rd. First prize is 20 million yen, 2nd is ten million, third is six million and fourth is four million.
  The tournament is being organized by the Okinawa Igo League, with support and sponsorship from local newspapers and TV stations, the CSK group and Okinawa Prefecture. The president of CSK commented that he was inspired by the popularity of the city league in China. One unusual feature of the tournament is that top Taiwanese players at the Nihon Ki-in will be playing for the Chinese Taipei team.
The line-up is as follows:

Japan) Otake Hideo 9-dan, Yoda Norimoto Meijin, Hane Naoki Tengen, Awaji Shuzo 9-dan, Honda Kunihisa 9-dan
China) Chang Hao 9-dan, Yu Bin 9-dan, Ma Xiaochun 9-dan, Wang Lei 8-dan, Shao Weigang 9-dan
Korea) Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan, Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan, Yu Ch'ang-hyeok 9-dan, Yi Se-tol 3-dan, Pak Yeong-hyeon 2-dan
Chinese Taipei) Rin Kaiho 9-dan, Zhou Junxun 9-dan, O Meien Honinbo, Yo Kagen 9-dan, Lin Zhihan 2-dan

Inori Yoko and Cho Chikun win Ricoh Cup Pair Go

  This is a news item that slipped through our net at the time. The final of the Ricoh Cup Pro Pair Go 2002 was held in Ebisu, Tokyo, on 27 January and pitted the team of Inori Yoko 5-dan and Cho Chikun Oza against Kusunoki Teruko 7-dan and Yoda Norimoto Meijin. The game featured a battle of large territories, so although it was counted, it took only 198 moves. Victory went to the team of Inori and Cho by 2.5 points. Cho is usually fairly reticent in victory, but he was in really high spirits on winning this game and was clowning around in the victory interview.

1st Haojue Cup

  This is another report that has been a little delayed. The Haojue Cup is a Chinese-sponsored international women's title that emerged to take the place of the Hung Chang Cup, which was suspended by its Korean sponsor after being held just twice, in 2000 and 2001.
  Both Hung Chang Cups were won by Rui Naiwei 9-dan, but illness prevented her from participating in the Haojue Cup, so this was a good chance for a new champion to claim the crown.
  The new tournament is a knockout, leading to a best-of-three final. Its opening rounds and semifinals of the new tournament were held in Beijing in late January and early Februay and the full results are given below:

Round 1 (29 January)
Zhang Xuan 8-dan (China) defeated Diana Koszegi (Hungry), Hua Xueming 7-dan (China) d. Kan Ying (Hong Kong China), Li Chunhua 4-dan (China) d. Kato Tomoko 5-dan (Japan), Cho Hye-yeon 3-dan (Korea) d. Kobayashi Izumi 5-dan (Japan), Yun Yeong-seon 2-dan (Korea) d. Svetlana Chikchina (Russia), Zhang Zheng-ping 1-dan (Taiwan) d. Janice Kim 1-dan (US), Pak Chi-eun 3-dan (Korea) d. Xu Ying 3-dan (China).

Round 2 (30 January)
Zhang (China) d. Cho (Korea), Yun (Korea) d. Hua (China), Zhang (Taiwan) d. Li (China), Pak (Korea) d. Inori (Japan).

Semifinals (2 February)
Pak (Korea) d. Zhang Xuan (China), Yun (Korea) d. Zhang (Taiwan),

  The final between Pak and Yun will be held in March.
  Even without Rui, who would have represented Korea, Korean players still dominated the tournament. The drive to raise the level of women's go in Korea, which started only a few years ago, has already yielded fruit. If this tournament is anything to go by, Korean women are set to emulate the men in dominating international competition.


  Kodama Kunio died of heart disease on 30 January. Born on 23 February 1921, Kodama belonged to the generation that suffered most from the decline in go activity caused by the war. He became shodan in 1942 and reached 6-dan in 1974. He was promoted to 7-dan after his retirement in March 1997. Kodama was a member of the New Go Society, a group of eight players that broke away from the Nihon Ki-in in a short-lived rebellion in May 1947. Ironically, these players (Sakata Eio, for example) all became either leading players or administrators after rejoining the Ki-in in March 1949. Kodama belonged to the latter group, serving many terms as a Nihon Ki-in director.
  Tomita Tadao died of heart disease on 14 February. He was a disciple of Karigane Jun'ichi and he was one of a small group of players who sacrificed their competitive go careers out of loyalty to Karigane, who remained independent after withdrawing from the Nihon Ki-in soon after its founding in 1924. Tomita was born on 2 December 1910; he was granted a 3-dan diploma in 1941 when he joined Karigane's organization (the Kiseisha was changed into the Keiinsha in 1941 -- I don't know which one Tomita joined initially). In 1985 he was promoted to 8-dan, then was made honorary 9-dan in 1997. Although Tomita had no opportunities to play competitive go, he was active as a teacher to amateurs and professionals. In particular, he took a fatherly interest in Taiwanese inseis; many of the Taiwanese members of the Nihon Ki-in were disciples of his at one time, though only three of them (Tei Meiko 9-dan, Ko Mosei 8-dan, and Kaku Kyushin 5-dan) are officially listed in the Kido Yearbook as his disciples.

18 February

O ties score in Kisei title match

  O Rissei, the defending champion, scored a crucial win in the fourth game of the 26th Kisei best-of-seven title match, which was played on 13 and 14 February at the Meitetsu Inuyama Hotel in Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture. O was down 1-2 and if he had lost this game, he would have been in real trouble.
  The fourth game was fairly quiet, with no large-scale fighting, and the endgame started very early, around move 81. Halfway through the game, Ryu seemed to have a very slightly favourable position, but O overhauled him in the endgame and by the end had taken a lead of ten points on the board, giving him a win after komi by 4.5 points. The game took 253 moves.
  The game started unusually, with large-knight approach moves in three corners. It followed the pattern of the other games in the series so far, with O racing ahead to take territory and Ryu using his thickness to overhaul him. The game also followed the same pattern for time consumption, with Ryu playing very slowly. On the first day, he used five hours 23 minutes to O's two hours seven minutes. Ryu was down to his last minute of byo-yomi on move 88, so he had to play most of his moves within a minute. This strategy of spending most of his time on the opening had worked well for him so far, but perhaps it was costly in this game. At the end of the game, O still had 32 minutes left of his time allowance of eight hours.
  The fifth game will be played at Toya Lake Hot Spring in Hokkaido on 20 & 21 February.

Fujitsu Cup qualifiers

  The final two Japanese places in the 15th Fujitsu Cup were decided last week. In a game played on 11 February, Kato Masao 9-dan (B) defeated Otake Hideo 9-dan by half a point to earn a place in this tournament for the seventh time.
  The final game was played on 14 February. Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan (W) defeated Yo Kagen 9-dan by resignation and so will make his 13th appearance in the Cup.

Honinbo league

  Two games were played in the 57th Honinbo league on 14 February. In one, Yamada Kimio 8-dan (B) defeated Cho Chikun Oza by 4.5 points. In the other, Miyazawa Goro 9-dan (B) defeated Cho Sonjin 9-dan by 3.5 points.
  Cho Sonjin had been the only player with a chance of drawing even with Kato Masao on 4-1, so the latter now has the sole lead. Cho Sonjin is 3-2, but he plays Kato in the next round, so that game could be decisive. Yamada Kimio, also on 3-2, and Hane Naoki, on 2-2, will also be rooting for Cho. The other Cho, former Honinbo Honinbo Chikun, drops back to 2-3, the same score as the third Cho, Cho U; both seem to be out of the running this year.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Only one Western professional had a game last week. That was Hans Pietsch 4-dan, who resigned his game against Osawa Narumi 2-dan (B) in the first preliminary section of the Tengen tournament.

12 February

Women's Kisei title match tied

  The 5th DoCoMo Cup Women's Kisei title match got off to a start in Hiratsuka City on 18 January. Playing black, Ogawa Tomoko 6-dan won by 7.5 points after 269 moves. This title, which is often referred to simply as the Women's Kisei, is a best-of-three.
  The second game was played on 1 February at the Nihon Ki-in. The title holder, Chinen Kaori, leveled the score. Playing black, she forced a resignation from Ogawa.

Kato takes sole lead in Honinbo league

  Some important games have been played in the 57th Honinbo league in the last couple of weeks.
  First of all, the final two games of the fourth round were played on 24 January. In one, Kato Masao 9-dan (W) defeated Cho Chikun Oza by 1.5 points. In the other, Cho Sonjin 9-dan (B) defeated Otake Hideo 9-dan by resignation. At this point, the two winners, Cho Sonjin and Kato, shared the lead in the league, both being on 3-1.
  Two weeks later, Kato kicked off the fifth round. Playing white, he defeated Cho U 7-dan by resignation. That gave him, at least for the time being, the sole lead. Cho U drops back to 2-3 and is now definitely out of the running to repeat as challenger. Rather, he will have to worry about keeping his league place.

Cho Chikun leads in Meijin league

  Three games in the 27th Meijin league were played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo last week, with the following results.

Cho Chikun Oza (B) beat O Rissei Kisei by resignation.
O Meien Honinbo (W) beat Cho Sonjin 9-dan by resignation.
Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan (W) beat Ryu Shikun 7-dan by resignation.

  Thanks to his win, Cho takes the sole lead in the Meijin league on 3-0, but Rin Kaiho has yet to play his third-round game and he could catch up. So too could Yamashita Keigo, who has played only one game, which he won.

Japanese Toyota & Denso Cup places decided
  The preliminary tournament for Japan's seven non-seeded places in this new international tournament has now been completed, and the following players have won places in the main tournament: Goto Shungo 9-dan, Yuki Satoshi 9-dan (he defeated Takemiya Masaki in the play-off), Yamashita Keigo 7-dan, Hasegawa Sunao 9-dan (like Yuki, a member of the Kansai Ki-in), Yo Kagen 9-dan, Cho U 7-dan, and Komatsu Hideki 9-dan.

Kobayashi Satoru and Yuki win Fujitsu Cup places

  The first of the four non-seeded Japanese places in the 15th Fujitsu Cup was decided on 21 January. It went to Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan, who has still not lost a game since his return to active play last September (he has at least seven wins in a row). His opponent in the final round was Cho Chikun, who, for the first time in quite a while, did not have a seeded place. Playing white, Kobayashi forced Cho to resignaiton. This will be the first time that Cho misses out on playing in the Fujitsu Cup, so Cho Hun-hyeon of Korea will be alone in top place with most appearances. Kobayashi Satoru will be making his fifth appearance; he last played in the 13th Cup.
  The second play-off was held on 28 January. Playing white, Yuki Satoshi 9-dan defeated Yamada Kimio 8-dan by resignation. Yuki will be making his third appearance in the Cup.
  The remaining two play-offs will be fought between Kobayashi Koichi Gosei and Yo Kagen 9-dan and between Otake Hideo 9-dan and Kato Masao 9-dan.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Michael Redmond was the only Western professional to play a game last week. Taking white, he defeated Ogaki Yusaku 8-dan by resignation in the 2nd preliminary section of the 28th Meijin tournament.

04 February

Ryu takes lead in Kisei title match

  The third game of the 26th Kisei title match was held in the grounds of Ogura Castle in Kita-Kyushu City on 30 & 31 January. Playing black, Ryu Shikun 7-dan defeated O Rissei by 2.5 points and so took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven. The game finished at 6:55 p.m. on the second day after 265 moves. Ryu was down to his last minute of byo-yomi while O had 42 minutes left.
  This game started out as a territorial contest, but changed into a fierce fight between large groups on the afternoon of the second day when O made an aggressive invasion. Ryu, who went into byo-yomi quite early (one of the surprises of this series has been the slowness of his play), made a careless move that endangered one of his groups. However, O failed to attack correctly, so Ryu took the lead. In particular, O made a forcing move that later cost him the chance to kill a black group.

Takemiya Judan challenger

  The play-off to decide the challenger for the 40th Judan title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 31 January. It pitted the winner of the winners' section, O Meien Honinbo, against the winner of the losers' section, Takemiya Masaki 9-dan. The latter has made a welcome return to form recently and, playing white, he defeated O by 2.5 points.
  This will be Takemiya's first appearance in a title match since 1996, when he lost the Meijin title. It will also be his first title match with O Rissei. The latter has a lead of 14-8 over Takemiya in games to date, but of course this will be irrelevant to the title match.
  The first game will be played in Niigata on 1 March.

Korea wins 3rd Nong Shim Chup

  The final round of the 3rd Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was played in Shanghai at the end of January. China gave Korea a good run for its money, but the inevitable-seeming result was yet another victory for the country that has monopolized this title and the five terms of its predecessor. That's eight successive victories and no losses for Korea in international team tournaments.
  China took the lead near the end, with two players left to Korea's one, but that player was the invincible Yi Ch'ang-ho, who deserves to take over Nie Weiping's nickname of "the iron goalkeeper". A valiant effort by Chang Hao, in which he beat Cho Hun-hyun, who, on current form, is Korea's top international player, came to naught. (Japan had been eliminated in the previous round, when Chang beat the Japanese team captain Kato Masao.)
  As time goes on, the Korean predominance in international go only becomes more pronounced.

The Shanghai round
  Game 11 (29 Jan.). Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (Korea) (B) b. Yu Bin by resig.
  Game 12 (30 Jan.). Chang Hao 9-dan (China) (W) b. Cho by 2.
  Game 13 (31 January). Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) (W) b. Chang by resig.
  Game 14 (1 February). Yi (W) b. Zhou Heyang 9-dan (China) by resig.

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