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History of Topics 2003

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Cho U evens score in Honinbo title match
  • Imamura Yoshiaki secures fourth Kisei-league place
  • Kobayashi Izumi slips up in Judan debut
  • Promotions: Fukui finally mades 9-dan
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Kato makes good startin Honinbo title match
  • Japan triumphs in 2nd CSK Cup Asian Team Match
  • 28th Meijin league
  • SARS countermeasures
  • Promotions
  • Retirements
  • Yamashita keeps Meijin-league lead
  • Michael Redmond loses in Gosei semifinal
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

29 May

Cho U evens score in Honinbo title match

  The second game of the 58th Honinbo title match was played at the Station Hotel Kokura in Kokura Kita-ku, Kita Kyushu City on 26 and 27 May. Playing black, the challenger, Cho U 8-dan, forced a resignation after 205 moves and so evened the series 1-1. The game ended at 3:25 p.m. on the second day. Cho had two hours 47 minutes of his time allowance of eight hours left and Kato 52 minutes.
  Cho U took the lead very early, when Kato settled a group in heavy fashion, starting with White 24. With Black 51, Cho sealed him in, which was painful. Kato fought hard after that, but Cho managed to hold on to the initiative. He played steadily and gave Kato no chance to state an upset. That was why the game ended relatively early. This convincing win for Cho makes the series dead even.
  The third game will be played in Chitose City in Hokkaido on 2 & 3 June.

23 May

Imamura Yoshiaki secures fourth Kisei-league place

  The fourth of the vacant places in the 28th Kisei leagues was filled on 8 May when Imamura Yoshiaki 8-dan defeated Kobayashi Koichi Gosei in the play-off. Playing white, Imamura forced a resignation from Kobayashi. Imamura played in the 25th Meijin league, so this will be his second league. He is 34 years old.
  One thing this result shows is how difficult it is to make a comeback once you lose a title. Kobayashi held the Kisei title for a record eight successive terms, but now he has failed to even get into the league.
  With the other three qualifiers, O Meien Oza, Awaji Shuzo 9-dan, and Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan, Imamura will join the previous title holder, O Rissei, and the seven players who retained their places from the 27th Kisei. They are: Yoda Norimoto Meijin, Hane Naoki Tengen, Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, Ishida Yoshio 9-dan, Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan, Ryu Shikun 9-dan and Cho U 8-dan. These players will be assigned to the A and B leagues by drawing lots.

Kobayashi Izumi slips up in Judan debut

  The main focus of interest of go fans this week was the debut of Kobayashi Izumi 5-dan, holder of the Women's Meijin & Honinbo titles, in the main section of the 42nd Judan tournament on 22 May. She is the first woman player ever to reach the final section of the Judan, which has places for only 16 players.
  Unfortunately, in the first round of the Winners' Section, Kobayashi ran into one of the toughest opponents there, a current title holder, in the person of O Meien Oza. Playing white, O forced a resignation. Kobayashi will now move sideways to the Losers' Section, where she will meet the loser of the game between Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, and Yamada Kimio 8-dan.

Promotions: Fukui finally mades 9-dan

  Four players won promotions by the transitional Oteai system recently. They are:

To 9-dan: Nakaonoda Tomomi, Fukui Masaaki. The latter promotion has been long delayed: Fukui made 8-dan back in 1984, so he has spent over 18 years as an 8-dan. He may not have been a title contender during his career, but he is well known as the leading expert on go history among professional players.
To 7-dan: Shimojima Yohei
To 4-dan: Shudo Shun
To 3-dan: Takekiyo Isamu, Ko Iso

  Incidentally, since the new system came into effect on 1 April, there have been at least a dozen promotions by the transitional system (that is, the old Oteai) and only two by the new system. Since games played before that date can be counted under the new system (actually, 90% of them, to be precise), that seems to indicate that the new system will put a stop to dan inflation.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  (8 May) Catalin Taranu 5-dan (W) beat Hamanaka Takamitsu 6-dan by 4.5 points (B preliminary, Okan tournament).

16 May

Kato makes good startin Honinbo title matc

  The first game of the 58th Honinbo title match, a best-of-seven, was held on the Korean resort island of Cheju on 14 and 15 May. Kato Masao, who as Honinbo has resumed the name of Kensei, made an excellent start with a convincing win. Playing black, he forced a resignation from the challenger, Cho U 8-dan, after 183 moves.
  After a fairly peaceful opening day, the game suddenly became tense on the second day when Kato started a ko in the bottom right corner with move 103. He won the ko and secured a large territory here, but the fate of a black group under attack in the top right then became the focus of the game. Playing very slowly, as this was the decisive point of the game, Cho set out to capture the group. However, a key attacking move turned out to be dubious and Kato secured a ko in which he took enough compensation to win. The oldest player to hold the Honinbo title thus made an excellent start to his defence.
  The second game will be played in Kita Kyushu City on 26 and 27 May.

13 May

Japan triumphs in 2nd CSK Cup Asian Team Match

  Last year this tournament (then known as the Igo Asia Cup in Okinawa) was a complete triumph for Korea, which didn't drop a game in sweeping to victory. This year it was changed from a knockout to an all-play-all, so instead of two days it lasted three days. It was held at the Manza Beach Hotel in the village of Onna in Okinawa from 27 to 29 April. The result was Japan's first victory for a long time in an international tournament; it won all three matches and scored 11 wins out of a possible 15. Most important, it won its crucial clash with Korea by the decisive margin of 4-1; perhaps their shock at this setback played a part in Korea's also losing to Chinese Taipei in the final round.
  Besides the change in the tournament format, the time allowance was reduced from three hours to two, with the last five minutes being allotted to byo-yomi. An unchanged feature of the tournament is that after the first match teams can juggle their order, having to inform the tournament office of their decision two hours before a match begins. Opponents and colours were decided by drawing lots at the opening ceremony held on the 26th. If a team drew black for a certain match, the number one, three and five boards would play with black. That meant that players could choose their colours, providing their fellow team members agreed. It's well known that Yoda plays better with black, so his team arranged for him to get black in all his games. Yuki also likes black, and got it in two out of three games. These arrangements paid off, as both players won all their games. Even though he dropped a game, Hane Naoki was probably just as satisfied: by beating Yi Ch'ang-ho, he took some revenge for his defeat in the Chunlan final.
  First prize for the winning team is 20 million yen; 2nd is 10 million; 3rd is 6 million; and 4th is 4 million.

Full results
Round 1 (27 April)
Japan vs. Chinese Taipei: 4-1
Kato Masao (W) beat Rin Kaiho by resig.
Yoda Norimoto (B) beat O Rissei by resig.
Yamashita Keigo (W) lost to O Meien by 2.5.
Hane Naoki (B) beat Cho U by resig.
Yuki Satoshi (W) beat Huang Xiangren by resig
Korea vs. China: 4-1
Cho Hun-hyeon (W) lost to Yu Bin by resig.
Yi Ch'ang-ho (B) beat Ding Wei by resig.
Yu Ch'ang-hyeok (W) beat Dong Yan by resig.
Yi Se-tol (B) beat Liu Jing by resig.
Song T'ae-kon (W) beat Wang Xi by resig.
Round 2 (28 April)
Japan vs. Korea: 4-1
Kato (W) lost to Cho Hun-hyeon by resig.
Yoda (B) beat Yi Se-tol by resig
Hane (W) beat Yi Ch'ang-ho by resig.
Yuki (B) beat Song by resig.
Yamashita (W) beat Yu by resig.
China vs. Chinese Taipei: 3-2
Dong (B) beat Huang by resig.
Yu (W) lost to Cho U by 0.5.
Wang (B) lost to O Rissei by resig.
Liu (W) beat O Meien by 0.5.
Ding (B) beat Rin by 1.5.
Round 3 (29 April)
Japan vs. China: 3-2
Yoda (B) beat Dong by resig.
Kato (W) lost to Liu by 2.5.
Yamashita (B) beat Wang by resig.
Hane (W) lost to Yu Bin by resig.
Yuki (B) beat Ding by resig.
Chinese Taipei vs. Korea: 3-2
Cho U (B) beat Yi Ch'ang-ho by resig.
O Rissei (W) beat Yi Se-tol by resig.
O Meien (B) beat Yu by 1.5.
Huang (W) lost to Song by resig.
Rin (W) lost to Cho by 8.5.

Summary matches wins
1st: Japan 3 11
2nd: Korea 1 7
3rd: China 1 6
4th: Ch.Taipei 1 6

28th Meijin league

  One game was played in the Meijin league on 1 May. Playing white, Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, defeated Ryu Shikun 9-dan by 7.5 points. This win leaves Cho with an outside chance of becoming the challenger (if Yamashita on 4-0 and Cho U on 4-1 falter), but Ryu, now on 2-3, drops out of the running. Instead, he'll have to worry about keeping his league place.

SARS countermeasures

  Last week we reported on the effect of the SARS epidemic on international tournaments, including cancellations. Fortunately, the outright cancellations have been retracted. The Japan-China Tengen play-off (Hane Naoki vs. Gu Li) will just be postponed; also, the 15th TV Asia Cup may still be held, depending on developments.
  As expected, it was announced that the opening rounds of the 8th LG Cup have been postponed. It's unlikely that any of these tournaments will be staged soon, as SARS shows no signs of clearing up. Fans were lucky that last week's CSK Cup was not also postponed; it was touch-and-go, but in the end the organizers decided to chance it, provided the Chinese participants submitted medical certificates giving them a clean bill of health.


  There were two promotions last week under the transitional Oteai system (in which ordinary games are assigned Oteai points).
  To 8-dan: Yo Kaei
  To 6-dan: Matsumoto Takehisa


  Tanimura Yoshiyuki 7-dan and Ando Akio 2-dan both announced their retirements as of 30 April. They were both subsequently awarded promotions by one rank.

Yamashita keeps Meijin-league lead

  Three games in the 28th Meijin league were played at the Nihon Ki-in on 8 May. Both the leaders of the league won, but for the player on top the goal is getting closer and closer.
  Yamashita Keigo Kisei (B) defeated Rin Kaiho 9-dan by 6.5 points. This keeps Yamashita in the sole lead on 5-0; Rin goes to 4-2, so his chances of becoming the challenger have dimmed considerably.
  Cho U 8-dan (W) defeated Takemiya Masaki 9-dan by 8.5 ponts. Cho goes to 5-1, so he is in sole second place. Takemiya's record is now an abysmal 0-5; perhaps he has just given up on this year's Meijin league.
  In the third game, O Rissei Judan (B) defeated Mizokami Tomochika by resignation. O improves his record to 2-3 and also improves his prospects of keeping his league place. Mizokami is doing almost as badly as Takemiya; he is now 1-5.

Michael Redmond loses in Gosei semifinal

  Recently, the hopes of Western go fans have been riding on Michael Redmond, who has had an excellent run in the 28th Gosei title. It looked as if the dream of having a Westerner challenge for a top-seven title might finally come true. Unfortunately, Michael ran into some tough opposition in the semifinal. Playing black, he lost to Yoda Norimoto Meijin by 8.5 points. The game was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 8 May.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Catalin Taranu 5-dan played his first game for a while on 8 May. Taking white, he defeated Hamanaka Takamitsu 6-dan by 4.5 points in the B preliminary section of the Okan (Crown) title, a tournament open only to Nagoya members of the Nihon Ki-in.

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