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History of Topics 2002

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Yuki scores first win in Gosei title match
  • Hane sets speed promotion record
  • Kato sets records in Honinbo comeback
  • Kobayashi wins Gosei Game 2
  • Kato reaches Oza play-off
  • Yamashita drops out of Meijin-league lead
  • Kisei leagues
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Promotions
  • Defending champion makes good start in Gosei title match
  • All-Korean final in 15th Fujitsu Cup
  • Cho keeps Meijin-league lead, with Yamashita close behind
  • 27th Kisei: Ryu and Hane share lead in the A league
  • New board of directors at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Promotion
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Obituary
  • Kato takes lead in Honinbo title match
  • Kisei B league
  • Meijin league

31 July

Yuki scores first win in Gosei title match

  The third game of the 27th Gosei title match was held on the island of In-no-shima, the birthplace of Honinbo Shusaku, in the city of the same name on 26 July. Playing white, Yuki Satoshi 9-dan scored his first win of the series, defeating Kobayashi Koichi Gosei by 3.5 points. Yuki triumphed in what was an extremely scrappy game. In a fight in the upper right, two crosscuts were made close to each other and the players each attempted to link them to his own advantage; the result was a very messy fight in which Yuki managed to secure an advantage.
  The fourth game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 21 July.

Hane sets speed promotion record

  Hane Naoki Tengen earned promotion to 9-dan by winning an Oteai game on 25 July and in so doing he set a new speed record for promotion to the highest rank at the Nihon Ki-in: 11 years 3 months. This beat the previous record of 11 years 7 months, set by Ishida Yoshio. Actually, Ishida received his final promotion by recommendation after he had won both the Honinbo and Meijin titles in 1974; the previous record for promotion through the Nihon Ki-in Oteai was 12 years 1 month, set by Nakano Hironari. (The record at the Kansai Ki-in, which at the time had a slightly different system, is 10 years 3 months, set by Kiyonari Tetsuya.)

22 July

Kato sets records in Honinbo comeback

  Kato Masao has set a number of records by winning the 57th Honinbo title:the oldest Honinbo titleholder, the longest gap before a comeback, and the first Nihon Ki-in top office holder (Vice Chairman) to win a title.
  The sixth game of the title match was held at the Gyokeikan Inn in Inubo in Choshi City, Chiba Prefecture on 10 & 11 July. Playing white, Kato defeated O Meien by 1.5 points and so won the title match 4-2. When he started out by losing the first two games, some fans queried whether his stamina was up to the endurance contest of a two-month best-of-seven title match with two-day games, but Kato vanquished the doubters by winning four games in a row.
  In the final game, O Meien started out by taking a lead in the opening, thanks to some aggressive play. On the second day he maintained his advantage as the middle game progressed, but around move 81 he switched from attack to taking territory and for the first time started playing a little erratically. Kato had the better of it in successive fights and finally was able to upset O's lead. As usual throughout the series, Kato had plenty of time left, so he was able to concentrate on playing the endgame. In the end, he edged O by a margin of one and a half points in a game lasting 244 moves. Of their time allowances of eight hours each, Kato had 64 minutes left, whilte O was down to his last minute of byo-yomi.
  This is Kato's fourth Honinbo title. He won it for three years in a row from 1977 to 1979. After losing the title to Takemiya in 1980, he made unsuccessful challenges in 1995 and 1997; his success in making a comeback after a gap of 22 years is a record for any title. At 55, he is the oldest Honinbo title holder and in fact the first player in his 50s to take the title. Earlier this year, in March, he became the first Japanese player to score 1,200 wins.

Kobayashi wins Gosei Game 2

  Kobayashi Koichi has got off to an excellent start in his defence of his Gosei title. The second game of the 27th Gosei best-of-five title match was played in the town of Nonoichi in Ishikawa Prefecture on 18 July. Playing white, Kobayashi forced the challenger, Yuki Satoshi 9-dan, to resignaiton after 144 moves, so he has taken a 2-0 lead. Yuki now has his back to the wall. The third game will be played on the island of In-no-shima (the birthplace of Shusaku) on 26 July.

Kato reaches Oza play-off

  The good form of Kato Masao, the new Honinbo, is continuing.
  On 18 July, playing black, he defeated Kono Rin 6-dan by resignation in the semifinal of the 50th Oza tournament. He now just has to win one more game to earn the right to challenge Cho Chikun for the title.

Yamashita drops out of Meijin-league lead

  Yamashita Keigo 7-dan suffered a painful loss in the 27th Meijin league on 11 July. Playing black, he was bested by Ryu Shikun 7-dan by 2.5 points, so Cho Chikun, on 6-1, now has the sole lead. Ryu and Yamashita are now tied in second place on 5-2. Neither can win the league on his own, as they have both already played Cho Chikun; instead they have to rely on Cho Sonjin 9-dan doing the job for them. If Sonjin beats Chikun in the final-round game and both Yamashita and Ryu win their final games, then ? bad luck for Yamashita! The top-two-ranked players, who would be Ryu and Cho Chiku, would meet in a play-off. Yamashita needs both Cho and Ryu to lose their final games to reach a play-off.

  The final four games of the league will be played on 1 August.

Kisei leagues

  Three games have been played in the Kisei leagues since our last report. On 11 July, Cho Chikun Oza (B) defeated Awaji Shuzo 9-dan by resignation in the B league.

  One game in each league was played on 18 July. In the A League, Nakaonoda Tomomi 8-dan, a newcomer to the league, opened his account by defeating Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan by resignation (Nakaonoda had black). Both players are now 1-1. The league lead is shared by Ryu Shikun 7-dan and Hane Naoki Tengen, who are both on 2-0.

  In the B league, Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan (B) defeated Cho Sonjin 9-dan by 4.5 points. This result has created what may be an unprecedented situation: every player in the league is tied for first place on 1-1.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Western professionals at the Nihon Ki-in have played only two games in the last two weeks, with mixed results.

  (18 July) Morishima Kaoru 7-dan (B) beat Catalin Taranu 5-dan by half a point (2nd preliminary section, Judan tournament).
  Michael Redmond 9-dan (W) beat Ishikura Noboru 9-dan by resignation (Gosei tournament, preliminary round).


To 6-dan: Han Zenki
To 4-dab: Yamamori Tadanao
To 3-dan: Mochizuki Kenichi.

17 July

Defending champion makes good start in Gosei title match

  Kobayashi Koichi has got off to an excellent start in the 27th Gosei best-of-five title match. Playing black, he outlasted the challenger, Yuki Satoshi 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in, to win by 1.5 points. Yuki had made a good start, building superb thickness in a completely new variation of an old joseki. At a key point in the middle game he played a little slackly, letting Kobayashi take over the lead; however, he then used his superiority in ko threats to start and win a ko fight that made the game even; unfortunately for Yuki, Kobayashi played the endgame with greater precision and just managed to edge out the challenger. Winning an endgame contest like this often does more psychological damage to the opponent than winning a fighting game, so Kobayashi had made a good start to his title defence.

  The game was played in Niigata City on 3 July and lasted for 264 moves. The second game is scheduled for 18 July.

All-Korean final in 15th Fujitsu Cup

  For the second year in a row, the Fujitsu Cup will feature an all-Korean final, though with different players from last year. This time the 19-year-old Yi Se-tol 3-dan will be challenging for his first world title and standing in his way will be two-time Cup winner Yu Ch'ang-hyeok, who, at 36, is nearly double Yi's age.

  The quarterfinals were held in Osaka on 6 July. There were three Koreans competing and representing the rest of the world was O Meien, a member of the Nihon Ki-in who hails from Taiwan. Playing white, O lost to Yu Ch'ang-hyeok by 4.5 points. The other semifinal pitted the two Yis against each other. Playing white, the younger Yi beat the world's number one, Yi Ch'ang-ho, by resignation.

  The final and the play-off for third place (and a personal seeding in the next cup) will be held in Tokyo on 3 August. Whatever happens, Korea will win this tournament for the fifth year in a row and the eighth time overall.

Cho keeps Meijin-league lead, with Yamashita close behind

  Three games were played in the 27th Meijin league last week. On 2 July, Rin Kaiho 9-dan (W) beat O Meien Honinbo by resignation. On 4 July, O Rissei Kisei (W) beat Kato Masao 9-dan by 3.5 points and Cho Chikun Oza (W) beat Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan by 13.5 points.

  This win gives Cho, on 6-1, the sole lead in the league. However, Yamashita Keigo 7-dan also has only one loss, so if he wins his seventh-round game he will pull even with Cho -- his opponent is Ryu Shikun, who, on 4-2, is the only other player still in the running.

  With this last loss, Kato Masao has definitely lost his league place, together with Cho Sonjin (both are on 1-6). However, O Rissei, now on 3-4, has improved his chances of hanging on for another year. O Meien, on 4-3, is fairly safe.

27th Kisei: Ryu and Hane share lead in the A league

  The word is that Ryu Shikun is determined to have a second crack at the Kisei title. He has made a good start in the Kisei A league, with two straight wins. His main rival looks like being Hane Naoki Tengen, who has also started with two wins and whom he is scheduled to play in the final round.

  Three games were played on 4 July. In the A league, Ryu 7-dan (W) beat Ishida Yoshio, who is now on 1-1, by 3.5 points and Hane (W) beat Yoda Norimoto Meijin by 5.5 points. Yoda had been regarded as one of the favourites, but with a 0-2 start he is already out of the running (either Ryu or Hane must score 3-2 at a minimum; they are both ranked above Yoda and there is no play-off within a league).

  In the B league, Cho U 7-dan made up for a bad start by beating Yamashita Keigo 7-dan; playing black, he forced a resignation. Cho and Yamashita are both on 1-1

New board of directors at the Nihon Ki-in

  There has been a big change in the administrative line-up of the Nihon Ki-in. At a general meeting of all Nihon Ki-in professionals, held on 30 April, the budget for the upcoming financial year presented by the board of directors was rejected, so the board resigned en masse. Rather than holding elections for a new board, as has been customary, the meeting decided to delegate the selection of a new board to the chairman of the board of directors, Toshimitsu Matsuo, and Kato Masao. Apparently Kato is one of the leaders of Nihon Ki-in members favouring reform.

  The reason for the rejection of the budget was related to the fact that the Nihon Ki-in has run a deficit for eight years in a row. Although the hemorrhage of red ink had been stemmed a little, the new budget still envisaged a deficit. Moreover, some of the belt-tightening measures, such as a drastic reduction in game fees for the Oteai (rating tournament), had not been popular.

  On 25 June, the composition of the new board was announced. Toshimitsu remains as Chairman and Imanaka Akio remains as Vice Chairman, with Kato being appointed to the newly created post of second Vice Chairman. This is the first time for 16 years that an active player has been appointed to a leading post (probably the first time ever that the player concerned has been in the thick of a title match). The directors are: Kudo Norio, Kawamoto Noboru, Umeki Suguru, Hidaka Toshiyuki, Fujisawa Kazunari, Sakai Yoshimitsu, and Kitani Yoshimi. Only Kawamoto and Sakai are holdovers from the previous board.

  The new board is committed to carrying out radical reforms and it will serve for two years from 30 July. The big problem is going to be finding a way to improve the finances of the Nihon Ki-in while Japan remains mired in a recession. The Nihon Ki-in's financial problems have not been unrelated to the dire straits of the economy in general.


  To 4-dan: Yamamoto Kentaro

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Western professionals have done very well in the last two weeks, winning all their games.

  (26 June) Hans Pietsch 4-dan (W) defeated Furuta Naoyoshi 3-dan by resig. (Oteai).
  (27 June) Catalin Taranu 5-dan (B) defeated Tsuchida Masamitsu 9-dan by 4.5 points (Gosei preliminary).
  (27 June) Michael Redmond 9-dan (B) defeated Chino Tadahiko 9-dan by resig.
  (2nd prelim. section, Meijin tournament)
  (3 July) Pietsch 4-dan (W) defeated Kono Yukio 4-dan by resig. (1st prelim. section, Honinbo tournament).
  (4 July) Redmond 9-dan (W) defeated Kurotaki Masaki 5-dan by resig. (2nd prelim. section, Judan tournament).


  Hasegawa Hiro 6-dan (1981-2002)
  Hasegawa Hiro 6-dan, a member of the Kansai Ki-in, died of carbon monoxide poisoning at his home on 1 July. Born in Shimane Prefecture, he was a disciple of Imamura Toshiya 9-dan. In 1990 he won the elementary school championship. He became professional shodan in 1995 and was promoted to 6-dan earlier this year.

2 July

Kato takes lead in Honinbo title match

  After making a bad start with successive losses, Kato Masao has made a magnificent recovery. He has now won three games in a row and so, for the first time, has taken the lead in the 57th Honinbo title match.

  The fifth game was played at the Grand Hotel New Oji in the city of Tomakomai in Hokkaido on 26 & 27 June. Playing black, Kato forced O Meien Honinbo to resignaiton at 4:49 p.m. on the second day after 167 moves. Kato now would seem to have a good chance of making a comeback as Honinbo.

  The players have a time allowance of eight hours each. As usual, O was down to his final minute, but Kato still had two hours 11 minutes.

  Kato had taken the lead early in the game, but O went all out in the endgame and managed to catch up. The game was looking like a half-pointer when O made a blunder in a capturing race that had suddenly broken out near the end of the game (presumably lack of time was the culprit).

Kisei B league

  One game was played in the Kisei B league on 27 June. Playing black, Awaji Shuzo 9-dan edged Cho U 7-dan by half a point and so got off to a good start in the league.

Meijin league

  One game was played in the 27th Meijin league on 27 June. Playing white, Ryu Shikun 7-dan defeated O Rissei Kisei by 4.5 points. Ryu improves his score to 4-2, thus virtually ensuring him of retaining his league place, whereas O, now on 2-4, has to worry about demotion.

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