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History of Topics 2003

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Yoda one win away from taking Gosei title
  • 28th Kisei leagues
  • Yi Se-tol youngest-ever 9-dan
  • Cho U wins 58th Honinbo title
  • 28th Meijin league
  • 28th Kisei leagues
  • 16th Fujitsu Cup: Yi Se-tol repeats as champion
  • Korea monopolizes top three places
  • Yoda makes good start to Gosei challenge
  • Yamashita becomes Meijin challenger
  • Kobayashi Izumi eliminated from Judan tournament
  • Promotions
  • Fujisawa Shuko returns to Nihon Ki-in
  • Tengen semifinalists
  • 28th Kisei leagues
  • Top game winners

22 July

Yoda one win away from taking Gosei title

  The second game of the 28th Gosei title match was held in the Culture Hall Forte in the town of Nonoichi in Ishikawa Prefecture on 17 July. Playing white, Yoda scored another comfortable win, beating Kobayashi Koichi Gosei by 8.5 points. Yoda now has a 2-0 lead and needs just one more win to take the title. However, he won't be taking anything for granted. He also took a 2-0 lead against Kobayashi in the 24th Gosei title, but the latter fought back to take the match with three successive wins (on that occasion, Kobayashi was the challenger).
  The third game will be played in Naha City in Okinawa on 31 July.

28th Kisei leagues

  One game was played in each league on 17 July. In the A league, Imamura Yoshiaki 8-dan picked up his first win, defeating the previous Kisei, O Rissei. Playing black, Imamura won by half a point. Both these players are now on 1-1.
  In the B league, Ryu Shikun 9-dan also picked up his first win, defeating Cho U Honinbo by resignation with white. Both these players also go to 1-1.
  With two rounds completed, Hane Naoki has the sole lead in the A league and Cho Chikun in the B league.

14 July

Yi Se-tol youngest-ever 9-dan

  Korea seems to have adopted similar rules for promotion on merit to Japan. As a result, Yi Se-tol has been promoted to 9-dan, making him, at 20, the youngest 9-dan in the history of go. Yi started out the year as a 3-dan; he was promoted to 6-dan for winning the 7th LG Cup, then 7-dan for coming second in the KT Masters Cup, a domestic Korean tournament. His Fujitsu Cup triumph has now earned him promotion all the way. He is the only player we know of who has been promoted three times in one year (in less than four and a half months, actually).

Cho U wins 58th Honinbo title

  The rejuvenation of Japanese go has proceeded further: Cho U 8-dan has won his first big title. In the sixth game of the 58th Honinbo title match, played at the Kameyama-tei Hotel in Hita City, Oita Prefecture on 10 & 11 July, Cho, playing black, defeated Kato Masao by 9.5 points after 335 moves. At 23 years 5 months, Cho is the third youngest player ever to win a big-three title and the second youngest to win the Honinbo title.
  On the first day, the game looked like being a masterpiece for Kato, who was in superb form. However, on the second day he started playing erratically and little by little Cho caught up and finally upset his lead.
  Kato used only 5 hours 29 minutes of his time allowance of 8 hours, whereas Cho used 7 hours 20 minutes. The game therefore finished a little earlier than usual, at 3:47 p.m. on the second day.
  Thanks to this victory, Cho U earned promotion to 9-dan, making him the youngest 9-dan ever in Japan.

28th Meijin league

  Takemiya Masaki 9-dan has finally put an end to his horrendous losing streak in the Meijin league. On 10 July, playing black, he defeated Ryu Shikun 8-dan, forcing a resignation. That gave Takemiya his first win in the league, putting him on 1-6. Ryu is doing almost as badly as Takemiya: he drops to 2-5 and is in serious danger of losing his place.
  In another game played on the same day, O Rissei continued his recovery from his bad start (he lost his first three games). Playing white, he defeated O Meien Oza by resignation. That gave O a plus record, on 4-3 and ensured that he will keep his league place. O Meien dropped to 3-4; if he wins his final game, he will keep his place for sure, but even if he loses he still has a chance.

28th Kisei leagues

  One game was played in each league on 10 July. In the A league, Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan (W) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan by 11.5 points. Both these players are now 1-1.
  In the B league, Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, beat Yoda Norimoto Meijin (W) by 6.5 points. Cho goes to 2-0 and has made a good start this year. Yoda goes to 0-2, which is quite a surprise. Before the league started, he was naturally one of the favourites, but he now has very little chance of winning the league and instead will have to worry about keeping his place.

10 July

16th Fujitsu Cup: Yi Se-tol repeats as champion Korea monopolizes top three places

  Korea wasted no time reasserting its dominance after its setback in the CSK Cup, monopolizing the top three places in the 16th Fujitsu Cup. The final featured the youngest pairing ever, with the 20-year-old Yi Se-tol matched against the 16-year-old Song T'ae-kon. (The latter was the youngest player ever to reach the final - Yi Ch'ang-ho was 21 when he made his first Fujitsu final in 1996, though he did win the cup.)
  Playing white, Yi forced a resignation after 204 moves. The course of the game was too complicated to describe here - suffice it to mention that it was marked by two furious ko fights in which Yi took the lead by killing an enemy group. At the end, he had 47 minutes of his time allowance of three hours left to Song's four minutes.
  In the victory interview, Yi commented: 'There are still lots of strong players. I want to win all the world championships and have everyone recognize Yi Se-tol as the world's number one.'
  This is Yi Se-tol's second Fujitsu Cup in a row and his third world title. However, this year's tournament will also be remembered for the emergence of the 16-year-old Song T'ae-kon, who defeated Yi Ch'ang-ho in the semifinals.
  In the play-off for 3rd place (and a seeded place in next year's tournament), Yi Ch'ang-ho defeated Yoda Norimoto, who had been Japan's main hope. His loss by half a point to Song in the semifinals meant that for the third year in a row both finalists were Korean.

The results:
  Semifinals (Nihon Ki-in, 5 July)
  Yi Se-tol 7-dan (Korea) (W) beat Yoda Norimoto 9-dan (Japan) by half a point.
  Song T'ae-kon 4-dan (B) (Korea) beat Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) by resignation.

Final (Nihon Ki-in, 7 July)
  Play-off for 3rd place
  Yi Ch'ang-ho (W) beat Yoda by resignation.

Yoda makes good start to Gosei challenge

  The first game of the 28th Gosei title match was held at The Saihokukan Hotel [the name is written in English] in Nagano City on 1 July. Playing black, Yoda made an excellent start, defeating the title holder Kobayashi Koichi by 10.5 points. The decisive factor in the game seems to have been Kobayashi's faulty positional judgement. At a crucial point in the middle game, he had to invade Yoda's moyo to make a game of it, but he played safety-first moves as if he were ahead. In fact, he was way behind, as the final margin shows. Kobayashi has always been a bit of an optimist about positional judgement, but even so it's hard to believe he could be so far out.
  Incidentally, this is the first title-match game in Japan to use the new komi of 6.5 points.
  The second game will be played on 17 July.

Yamashita becomes Meijin challenger

Yamashita Keigo Kisei now has a chance of winning his second big title and so becoming the third Kisei Meijin (after Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi). He has maintained the superb form he displayed in the Kisei title match and has now won the 28th Meijin league before the final round has even been played by defeating the player who was in second place.
  On 3 July, taking black, Yamashita defeated Cho U 8-dan by 7.5 points. This gave him his seventh straight win to no losses. Cho U dropped to 5-2, so the final-round games became irrelevant, except to see whether Yamashita can finish with a clean slate.
  In the other league game played on the same day, Rin Kaiho 9-dan (W) defeated Cho Chikun 9-dan by resignation. Rin goes to 6-2 and moves up from 3rd to 2nd place; even if Cho U wins his final game, Rin outranks him, so the best Cho can hope for is 3rd place.
  Yamashita will meet O Meien in the final round of the league. The first game of the title match with Yoda Norimoto will be played on 10 & 11 September.

Kobayashi Izumi eliminated from Judan tournament

  Kobayashi Izumi 5-dan made news when she became the first woman player to reach the main section of the 42nd Judan tournament. In the first round of the Winners' Section, she ran into a tough opponent in O Meien Oza and lost her debut game. After switching to the parallel Losers' Section, she was matched against Yamada Kimio 8-dan on 26 June. Playing white, she lost this game by resignation and so has been eliminated from the tournament.


To 5-dan: Mitsunaga Junzo
To 3-dan: Kawada Kohei

Fujisawa Shuko returns to Nihon Ki-in

  A reconciliation has taken place between Fujisawa Shuko, Honorary Kisei, and the Nihon Ki-in, and the result is that Fujisawa, one of the preeminent figures of the postwar period, has returned to the fold.
  Fujisawa had left the Nihon Ki-in in November 1999 in order to issue his own amateur diplomas, on the grounds that Nihon Ki-in diplomas were too expensive. They are certainly not cheap, especially for the higher ranks, but they are one of the main financial supports of the Nihon Ki-in, so this move was a threat to its livelihood. The Nihon Ki-in therefore expelled him in December (this was made possible by not 'processing' the letter of resignation Fujisawa had submitted).
  We have no information on how Fujisawa's diplomas sold, but one of the main reasons cited for the reconciliation is that next year will be the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Nihon Ki-in, and it was felt to be highly undesirable that such an important figure as Fujisawa be left out in the wilderness. In return, he has promised to stop issuing his own diplomas.
  In a statement, Fujisawa pointed out that the diploma problem wasn't the only reason he left the Ki-in; he has also been disillusioned with its managerial stagnation and inability to solve the various problems faced by the Ki-in. In this respect, he said that he has been greatly encouraged by the new, reform-minded administration that took over the running of the Ki-in last year.
  The decision to readmit Fujisawa was made at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Nihon Ki-in on 1 July. Just for the record, he was born just over a year after the Nihon Ki-in was founded; he became a professional in 1940 and retired in 1998.

Tengen semifinalists

  The best four have been decided in the 29th Tengen tournament. The pairings in the semifinals are: Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan vs. Kono Rin 7-dan and O Rissei Judan vs. Yamashita Keigo Kisei. Whoever ends up as challenger to Hane Naoki will be making his first challenge for this title.

28th Kisei leagues

  The first two games in the second round of the in the Kisei leagues were played on 3 July. In the A league, Hane Naoki Tengen (B) defeated Ishida Yoshio 9-dan by resig. In the B league, O Meien Oza (W) defeated Awaji Shuzo 9-dan by resig.
  As a result, Hane (temporarily-) has the sole lead in the A league with 2-0. Ishida drops to 0-2. In the B league, both O Meien and Awaji are 1-1.

Top game winners

  At just over the halfway mark (3 July), it's time for our first listing of the top game winners this year. The leading young players who have been featured in our reports recently all make the top ten, but so do one or two players who haven't been so prominent.

1. Takao Shinji 8-dan: 29 wins 12 losses
2. Cho U 8-dan: 27-12
3. Kono Rin 7-dan: 24-7
4. Yamashita Keigo Kisei: 23-5
5. So Yokoku 7-dan: 20-6
6. Kono Mitsuki 7-dan: 19-4; Yoda Norimoto Meijin: 19-7; Hane Naoki Tengen: 19-9
9. Yamashiro Hiroshi 9-dan: 18-5; Matsumoto Takehisa 6-dan: 18-5; Kim Shujun 7-dan: 18-8.

  In next place (12th) is the top woman player, Yashiro Kumiko 5-dan, on 17-7. She is tied for wins with O Rissei Judan (17-15) and Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, (17-16).

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