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History of Topics 2003

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Yoda defends Meijin title
  • Japan's good start in 5th Nong Shim Cup
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Yoda takes commanding lead in 28th Meijin title match
  • Samsung Cup: both Yis eliminated
  • 2nd Cheongkwanjang Cup: further results
  • Kobayashi evens score in Women's Honinbo
  • Kato wins Agon Kiriyama Cup, takes revenge on Cho U
  • Hiraoka wins 1st Inch'on International Amateur Championship
  • Cho Chikun wins Kisei B League
  • So takes 28th King of the New Stars title
  • Yuki wins 1st JAL Super Go
  • 2nd Cheongkwanjang Cup starts
  • Yamashita to challenge for Tengen title
  • Kato makes good start in Honinbo league
  • Yashiro doing well
  • Komatsu reaches milestone
  • Promotion
  • Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in
  • Yamashita opens his account in Meijin title match
  • Kisei A League concludes
  • A win and a loss for the Kobayashi family
  • King of the New Stars

28 October

Yoda defends Meijin title

  With the top two titleholders, the Kisei and the Meijin clashing everyone expected a keenly fought series in the contest for the 28th Meijin title, but the match turned out to be surprisingly one-sided. Yoda Norimoto, the defending champion, exerted his mastery and rebuffed the challenge of Yamashita Keigo Kisei by four wins to one loss.
  The fifth game was played at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture on 22 and 23 October. On the first day, Yoda seemed to have the better position, but with his sealed move (White 64) Yamashita launched an unexpected but very strong attack that gave him the lead. However, Yamashita made a misreading about the life and death of a corner white group that had been cut off; he missed a chance to secure absolute life and instead let Yoda get a ko. This hallucination led to a premature and anticlimactic ending to the game, with Yamashita resigning after 185 moves.
  Of their time allowances of eight hours each, Yoda had 12 minutes left and Yamashita had 65 minutes. The game ended at 4:45 p.m. on the 23rd.
  Even though he was lucky in this game, Yoda fully deserved to win the series, as in general he outplayed Yamashita. He has now won the Meijin title four years in a row, which puts him in third place after Kobayashi Koichi (seven years in a row) and Cho Chikun (five years in a row and four years in a row). One more year and he will qualify for the title of Honorary Meijin.

Japan's good start in 5th Nong Shim Cup

  The first round of the 5th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was played in Beijing from 22 to 25 October. Japan made a good start, with Cho U winning the first two games. However, he lost the third game, so now the onus is on the other members of his team to keep up the good work.

The results:
Game one (22 October). Cho U 9-dan (Japan) (W) beat Yu Bin 9-dan (China) by resignation.
Game two (23 October). Cho (B) beat Heo 2-dan (Korea) by 1.5 points.
Game three (24 October). Wang Lei 8-dan (China) (B) beat Cho by 3.5 points.
Game four (25 October). Result not yet to hand.

  The other players on the Japanese team are Rin Kaiho, Kobayashi Koichi, Kato Masao, and Ryu Shikun. The other Chinese players are Zhou Heyang, Hu Yaoyu, and Gu Li.
  The other Korean players are Hong 3-dan, Pak Chi-eun 4-dan, Weon Seong-chin 5-dan, and Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan. Pak is the first woman to win a place on a team. Yi was the only player seeded; the others won their places through a qualifying tournament in which 183 players participated. The average age of the Korean team is 21, as against 25 for the Chinese team and 44 for the Japanese team. The fact that former stalwarts of the Korean team, such as Yi Ch'ang-hyeok and Cho Hun-hyeon, not to mention new international stars like Song T'ae-kon and Pak Yeong-hun, are missing indicates the phenomenal strength of young Korean professionals. (Yi Se-tol didn't take part in the qualifying tournament because he objected to the fact that not all five places were being decided by it.)

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Western professionals have not been very active this month, though Michael Redmond 9-dan has received a lot of exposure at the commentator on the satellite TV coverage of the fifth game of the Meijin title match. Catalin Taranu 5-dan was slated to play a game in the Japanese qualifying tournament, in the Preliminary C round, for the 2nd Toyota & Denso Cup, but he forfeited to Kato Yuki 3-dan.

20 October

Yoda takes commanding lead in 28th Meijin title match

  Yoda Norimoto's chances of defending his Meijin title are looking better and better. In the fourth game, played at the Atami Sekitei inn in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on 15 and 16 October, Yoda, playing white, scored a convincing win against Yamashita Keigo Kisei. For the first time in the series, Yamashita was able to set up an enormous moyo, but Yoda reduced it very skilfully and secured victory by 3.5 points. Yoda's positional judgement and precise analysis were both seen to advantage, reinforcing the impression that he has the measure of the challenger.
  There is a break of less than a week before the fifth game, scheduled to be played in Kofu City in Yamanashi Prefecture on 22 and 23 October. With his back to the wall, Yamashita has to find a way to turn the tide against Yoda.

Samsung Cup: both Yis eliminated

  The quarterfinals of the 8th Samsung Cup were a triumph for China, with two young Chinese players eliminating the two Yis from the tournament. However, Korea did get one semifinal place. The other went to Cho Chikun of Japan, who does not usually shine in international tournaments, with their short time allowances.
  The quarterfinals were held over two days, which seems to be the fashion in Korea these days. On 15 October, the 19-year-old Xie He 5-dan of China scored a big win when he edged Yi Ch'ang-ho by half a point (the komi is 6.5, of course) in their game; Xie had black. The next day, Hu Yaoyu, who is 21, disposed of the world's number two player, Yi Se-tol. It's not often that you see both Yis suffering defeats in the same round of a tournament.

  (11 October) Xie He 5-dan (China) (B) b. Yi Ch'ang-ho by half a point; Pak (Korea) (B) b. Yamada Kimio 8-dan (Japan) by resig.
  (12 October) Cho Chikun 9-dan (Japan) (B) b. Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Hu Yaoyu 7-dan (China) (W) b. Yi Se-tol 9-dan (Korea) by resig.

  The best-of-three semifinals will be held in Korea on 4, 5 and 7 November. Pairings are Cho vs. Hu and Pak vs. Xie.

2nd Cheongkwanjang Cup: further results

  The remaining results, which we were unable to give last week, in this women's championship are now to hand. Like the Samsung Cup quarterfinals, the second round was split into two days' play. The games below were played on 10 October.

  Rui Naiwei 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan (Japan) by resig.
  Yi Yeong-sin 3-dan (Korea) (W) beat Hua Xueming 7-dan (China) by resig.

  The best-of-three semifinals are scheduled to be played in Korea on 24, 25 & 27 November. Pairings are Rui vs. Pak and Yi vs. Yun. The best-of-three final will be held in Shanghai on 9, 10 & 12 January 2004.

Kobayashi evens score in Women's Honinbo

  The second game of the 22nd Women's Honinbo title match was played at the Jinya inn in Hadano City in Kanagawa Prefecture on 16 October. Kobayashi Izumi, the defending champion, made up for her bad start in the match by defeating Yashiro Kumiko 5-dan, the challenger, and evening the score at 1-1. Playing black, Kobayashi won by 6.5 points. The game featured some fierce fighting, and her win should boost Kobayashi's confidence, as it put an end to a four-game losing streak against Yashiro.
  The third game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in on 29 October.

Kato wins Agon Kiriyama Cup, takes revenge on Cho U

  The final of the 10th Agon Kiriyama Cup featured yet another clash between two players who keep running into each other in important games this year: Kato Masao 9-dan and Cho U Honinbo. The latter, of course, took this title off Kato earlier this year. More recently (18 September), they clashed in the play-off to decide the Oza challenger, with victory once again going to the younger player. However, Kato has now taken some revenge on Cho, playing what was described as a haya-go (fast go) masterpiece in the Agon Kiriyama final. Taking white, Kato forced a resignation after 220 moves.
  This is Kato's 47th title; he needs just one more to draw level with Otake Hideo in fourth place in the all-time title-winning lists.

Hiraoka wins 1st Inch'on International Amateur Championship

  The 1st Inch'on International Amateur Championship was held in the port city of Inch'on in Korea from 27 September to 3 October, with players from 58 countries and territories participating.
  After six rounds of a Swiss-system tournament, the top four players met in a two-round knockout tournament. They were Kim Jun-hwan of Korea, Hiraoka Satoshi of Japan, Emil Nijhuis of the Netherlands and Dmitry Bogatskyy of the Ukraine. Kim and Hiraoka won their games, and Hiraoka won the final, so he has another international trophy to add to his WAGC victory in 1994. Unlike the WAGC, there was a cash prize of $3,000 for the winner, together with an amateur 7-dan diploma from the Korean Ki-in.
  Hiraoka had defeated one of the favourites, Yi Guosun of China, in the third round. This was a very painful defeat for Yi; although he lost no other game, he finished up 5th in the rankings after six rounds and so couldn't secure a place in the knockout tournament. Hiraoka then lost to Korea in the sixth round, but still finished in second place. In the final, Hiraoka, playing black, defeated Kim by half a point.
  Nijhuis is listed as 3rd in the tournament results, so presumably he won a play-off.

14 October

Cho Chikun wins Kisei B League

  The final round of the 28th Kisei B League was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 9 October, and the result was that Cho Chikun won the league. Actually, he ended in a tie with O Meien, with both on 4-1, but he took precedence because of his higher rank in the league. Cho will meet Hane Naoki, the winner of the A League, in a play-off to decide the challenger to Yamashita Kisei.

The results of the final round:
  Cho Chikun (B) beat Ryu Shikun 9-dan by 3.5 points.
  Cho U Honinbo (B) beat Awaji Shuzo 9-dan by resig.
  O Meien Oza (W) beat Yoda Norimoto Meijin by half a point.

  As a result, Cho U (3-2) takes 3rd place, Yoda (2-3) 4th, and Ryu and Awaji (both on 1-4) drop out.

So takes 28th King of the New Stars title

  So Yokoku 7-dan followed up his good start in the King of the New Stars (Shinjin-O) title match with a second win on 9 October to win this title for the first time. Playing white, So defeated Fujii Shuya of the Kansai Ki-in by resignation.
  Born in Guangzhou in China in 1979, So came to Japan in 1991 and made pro 1-dan three years later. This is his first title.

Yuki wins 1st JAL Super Go

  Yuki Satoshi 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in has scored another triumph in a haya-go (fast go) tournament, winning the 1st JAL Super Haya-go tournament, which is the successor to the 25th Kakusei Cup. Yuki won the last (25th) Kakusei Cup, so in effect he has repeated as champion, which is quite a feat in a knockout tournament. Taking white, Yuki won by 5.5 points.
  This is one of the few haya-go (quick go) tournaments that could justifiably be called a lightning tournament. There is no initial time allowance and the players have just ten seconds per move. However, they do have ten minutes thinking time that they can use at will in one-minute units, NHK style.

2nd Cheongkwanjang Cup starts

  The opening rounds of the 2nd Cheongkwanjang Cup, a Korean-sponsored women's international tournament, were recently held in Beijing. The name of this tournament literally means 'upright official's village'; it is the name of a health food made from red ginseng.
  We do not yet have full details, but apparently the semifinal places have been monopolized by Korea. Only one Japanese player, Aoki Kikuyo, got through to the second round, but she lost to last year's champion, Rui Naiwei.

First round (8 October, Beijing)
Rui Naiwei 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Osawa Narumi 3-dan (Japan) by resig.
Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan (Japan) (W) beat Yu Hailing 1-dan (China) by resig.
Hua Xueming 7-dan (China) (B) beat He Xiaoren 5-dan (China) by resig.
Pak Chi-eun 4-dan (Korea) (W) beat Okada Yumiko 6-dan (Japan) by resig.
Meng Zhaoyu 2-dan (China) (B) beat Kobayashi Izumi 5-dan (Japan) by forfeit (Kobayashi made an illegal move, but we don't have details).
Zhang 1-dan (China) (W) beat Kim 1-dan (Korea) by resig.
Yi Yeong-sin 2-dan (Korea) (W) beat Zhang Xuan 8-dan (China) by 2.5 points.
Yun Yeong-seon 2-dan (Korea) beat Zheng Yan 2-dan (China) by half a point.

Second round (9 October)
Pak (W) beat Zhang by resig.
Yun (W) beat Meng by resig.

  The remaining second-round games were apparently played on the 10th. We will publish the results when they come to hand.

Yamashita to challenge for Tengen title

  The 29th Tengen title match will feature the first challenge to a 'young hawk' by a 'young hawk'. The play-off was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 9 October; playing white, Yamashita Keigo Kisei forced Kono Rin 7-dan to resignaiton after 200 moves. Yamashita, aged 25, will challenge Hane Naoki, aged 27, for the title.
  In the past, Hane has done badly against Yamashita, losing successive King of the New Stars (Shinjin-O) title matches to him in 1999 and 2000, both by 0-2 scores. In all encounters, Yamashita has an 8-2 lead. However, there is no doubt that Hane has got a lot stronger in the last couple of years, so the title match should be a hard-fought one.
  The first game will be played on 30 October.

Kato makes good start in Honinbo league

  The second game in the 59th Honinbo league was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 9 October. The immediate past Honinbo, Kato Masao 9-dan, made a good start in his quest for a return match with Cho; playing black, he defeated Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan by resignation.

Yashiro doing well

  Yashiro Kumiko 5-dan, who has the lead in the ongoing Women's Honinbo title match, is making a bid to challenge for its sister title, the Women's Meijin, as well. The latter tournament is organized like the Judan, with parallel winners' and losers' sections. The play-off of the winners' section was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 8 October; holding white, Yashiro forced a resignation from Chinen Kaori, Women's Kisei. This was a very encouraging win for her, as she had done very badly against Chinen in the past; her record against her was 3-8 before this game and she was sitting on a losing streak of four games. However, Yashiro is the in-form player in Japanese women's go at present, and she scored a convincing win against Chinen.
  Yashiro now has to wait for the winner of the losers' section to be decided.

Komatsu reaches milestone

  Because of the computerization of the Nihon Ki-in records, more milestones are being noticed by the go press. We can't claim that they are all terribly significant, but they may be of interest to statistically-minded fans.
  The most recent such milestone to be published is Komatsu Hideki's scoring his 600th win. He is the 37th player to reach this total, but, at 36 years 7 months, he is the 6th-youngest to do so.


  Nakane Naoyuki has won promotion to 8-dan by the transitional Oteai system. The promotion is dated 10 October.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Michael Redmond played two games in the Fujitsu Preliminary A qualifying tournament on 6 October. He won the first, against Kato Atsushi 8-dan, by a forfeit (Kato did not play), but lost the second, against Miyazawa Goro 9-dan, so he has been eliminated. Taking black, Miyazawa won by 3.5 points

06 October

Yamashita opens his account in Meijin title match

  With his back to the wall, Yamashita Keigo Kisei reverted to his natural style, building centre thickness that proved powerful enough to secure him a 2.5-point win in the third game of the 28th Meijin title match. In the first two games, Yamashita had let himself be outmanoeuvred by the defending champion, Yoda Norimoto Meijin, but in this game he played the kind of go that has taken him to the top of the Japanese go world.
  The third game was held in Izumo City on 1 and 2 October. It finished at 6:56 p.m. after 246 moves. Both players were in the final minute of byo-yomi (the time allowance is eight hours each, with the last ten minutes going to byo-yomi).
  The fourth game will be played in Atami City in Shizuoka Prefecture on 15 & 16 October.

Kisei A League concludes

  The final three games of the 28th Kisei A League, which had already been won by Hane Naoki Tengen in the fourth round, were played on 2 October. Hane won his final game as well, so he ended up with a perfect record. Playing white, he defeated Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan by 4.5 points. In the other two games, O Rissei Judan (W) beat Ishida Yoshio 9-dan by 6.5 points and Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan (W) forced a resignation from Imamura Yoshiaki 8-dan.

The final placings in the league are:
  Hane: 5-0
  O Rissei: 3-2
  Mimura: 3-2
  Imamura: 3-2
  Kobayashi: 1-4
  Ishida: 0-5

  Kobayashi and Ishida lose their places.

A win and a loss for the Kobayashi family

  The favours of fortune were unevenly distributed in the Kobayashi family last week: the father made a good start to the new Honinbo league, but the daughter got off to a bad start in a title defence.
  To take the bad news for the Kobayashi family first, the first game of the 22nd Women's Honinbo title was played at Hanamaki Hot Spring in Iwate Prefecture on 2 October. Appearing in her first title match, Yashiro Kumiko 5-dan (B) showed no signs of nerves; she played her usual lively brand of go and earned a resignation from the titleholder, Kobayashi Izumi, after 243 moves. The second game will be played on 16 October. This match is a best-of-five. Izumi lost the first two games last year, but still managed to defend her title; rather than relying on this precedent, however, she will undoubtedly be hoping to even the series immediately.
  At the Nihon Ki-in on the same day, the first game of the 59th Honinbo league was played. Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan (B) defeated a former Honinbo, O Meien Oza, by 5.5 points. With nearly all the top players in it - ex-Honinbo Kato, Yoda Meijin, Yamashita Kisei, and O Rissei Judan - this promises to be a very tough league, so getting off to a good start is important.

King of the New Stars

  The best-of-three title match in the 28th Shinjin-O or King of the New Stars title was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 29 September. This year's match features a fresh pairing: So Yokoku 7-dan of the Nihon Ki-in and Fujii Shuya 5-dan of the Kansai Ki-in, both of whom are making their title-match debut. They are 24 and 23 respectively.
  Playing black, So Yokoku won by 3.5 points.

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