- Korea dominates 18th Fujitsu Cup
- Cho defends Judan title
- Yamada becomes challenger after three-way tie in Honinbo League
- Meijin League
- Honda regains Kisei League place
- The Redmond report
- Death of Hisajima Kunio
Korea dominates 18th Fujitsu Cup
China dominated the 6th Chunlan Cup, taking six of the quarterfinal places, but now it's Korea's turn. It has done almost as well in the 18th Fujitsu Cup, the opening rounds of which were held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on 8 and 10 April, taking five quarterfinal places. Two went to China and just one to the host country, Japan. Both the formidable Yis, Ch'ang-ho and Se-tol, have been successful, so at this point they are the obvious favourites for the final.
Japan started off well in the first round, winning four out of six games, but it faded in the second round (in which it had only one of the eight seeded places). Yuki Satoshi is the lone player left carrying the flag for Japan; if he could win this tournament, that would make up for his failure last year in the Kisei title.
The quarterfinals will be played in Beijing on 3 June.
Round 1 (The Nihon Ki-in, 8 April)
Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (Japan) (W) defeated Cho Han-seung 8-dan (Korea) by resig.
Yuki Satoshi 9-dan (Japan) (W) defeated Yu Bin 9-dan (China) by resig.
Cho U 9-dan (Japan) (W) defeated Eduardo Lopez am. 6-dan (South America) by resig.
Cho Chikun 9-dan (Japan) (W) defeated Alexandre Dinerchtein 1-dan (Europe) by 14.5 points.
Zhou Junxun 9-dan (Chinese Taipei) (B) defeated Takao Shinji 9-dan (Japan) by resig.
Pak Yeong-hun 9-dan (Korea) (B) defeated Yamashiro Hiroshi 9-dan (Japan) by resig.
Pak Cheong-sang 5-dan (Korea) (W) defeated Jiang Mingjiu 7-dan (North America) by 9.5 points.
Zhou Heyang 9-dan (China) (W) defeated Ko Keun-t'ae 4-dan (Korea) by resig.
Round 2 (The Nihon Ki-in, 10 April)
Yi Se-tol 9-dan (Korea) (B) defeated Cho Chikun by resig.
Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) (W) defeated Yamashita Keigo by 2.5 points.
Zhou Heyang (W) defeated Yu Ch'ang-hyeok 9-dan (Korea) by 1.5 points.
Ch'oe Ch'eol-han 9-dan (Korea) (B) defeated Cho U by 1.5 points.
Chang Hao 9-dan (China) (W) defeated Zhou Junxun by resig.
Pak Yeong-hun (W) defeated Luo Xihe 9-dan (China) by resig.
Yuki (B) defeated Gu Li 7-dan (China) by resig.
Pak Cheong-sang (B) defeated Hane Naoki 9-dan (Japan) by 2.5 points.
Cho defends Judan title
Cho Chikun has won his fifth Judan title and his 69th title overall, defeating the challenger, Yamashita Keigo Kisei, 3-1 in the 44th Judan title match. Cho had taken the early lead with two successive wins, but Yamashita made a comeback in the third game. However, Cho then finished off the match with a convincing win.
The fourth game was played at the Takara-so inn in Dogo Hot Spring in Matsuyama City on 13 April. The game ended at 7:26 p.m.; playing black, Cho won by 2.5 points after 267 moves. Each player was in his last minute of byo-yomi (the time allowance is four hours). In contrast to the usual pattern with these two, this game featured attack by Cho and shinogi (rescuing a group in trouble) by Yamashita. Cho took just enough of a lead in the middle-game fighting for him to secure victory through his endgame expertise.
In the victory interview, Cho commented: 'I didn't feel at all that I'd be able to win this match. I felt I had nothing to lose, but when I won the first two games, I realized I had a chance and I got nervous. I hardly expected to defend the title when I'd done so badly against Yamashita in the past. This has given me new energy.' He also commented that it was his goal to keep competing on equal terms with the younger generation.
Yamada becomes challenger after three-way tie in Honinbo League
Yamada Kimio has earned the right to make his first challenge for a big-three title by winning two successive play-off games after the 61st Honinbo League ended in a three-way tie.
All four games in the final round of the league were played on 30 March. Going into this round, Hane Naoki seemed to be in the best position, as he held the sole lead. However, as one of the newcomers to the league, he had a low rank, so he was also in danger of missing out on a place in the play-offs in case of a multiple tie; for, example, if both Cho U and Yoda Norimoto joined him on 5-2, they would make a play-off, but not Hane.
The results in this round were as follows:
So Yokoku 8-dan (W) beat Cho U Meijin by resignation.
Yoda Norimoto Gosei (B) beat O Meien 9-dan by resignation.
Cho Sonjin 9-dan (W) beat O Rissei 9-dan by resignation.
Yamada Kimio 9-dan (B) beat Hane Naoki 9-dan by half a point.
This meant that Yoda, Hane and Yamada all ended on 5-2. Fortunately, for Hane, he and Yamada had the same rank, so Hane at least avoided being bumped from the play-offs, though he must have been full of regrets at missing sole first place in the league by such a narrow margin.
As they were both ranked 5th in the league, Yamada and Hane met in the first play-off, held on 3 April. The former scored his second win in a row against Hane, eliminating him from contention. Taking black, Yamada secured a resignation after 125 moves
The final play-off was held on 13 April. Taking black against Yoda, Yamada pulled off yet another half-point win and so became the challenger. At the halfway point in the league, Yamada was 2-2, so going into the final round his main concern, he said, had been with keeping his place. To be frank, not many observers had tipped Yamada as the challenger. However, in the sixth and seventh rounds, he beat the leaders in the league, Cho U and Hane, so he was obviously in good form.
Yamada has taken second place in an international title, the 5th Samsung Cup in 2000, but he has won only one top-seven title, the 45th Oza in 1997. This is his chance to take his career up to the next level.
The first game of the best-of-seven match with Takao Shinji Honinbo will be played in Sapporo on 8 and 9 May. Their record to date is seven wins for Yamada to six for Takao, which indicates that it should be a close match. However, this is the first title match between them.
Only one game has been played in the 31st Meijin League since our last report. On 6 April, Ko Iso 7-dan (B) beat Sakai Hideyuki by half a point, putting both players on 2-2. This win is significant for Ko, as his prospects of keeping his league place, something that's always hard for a newcomer, suddenly look better. His task now is to do no worse in the second half of the league.
Honda regains Kisei League place
The first of the vacant places in the 31st Kisei Leagues was decided on 23 March. Honda Kunihisa 9-dan (W) defeated Sato Masaharu 9-dan resignation and so immediately won his way back into the league after dropping out of the 30th League.
The Redmond report
On 30 March, Michael Redmond 9-dan (W) beat Kasai Koji 6-dan by 23.5 points in Preliminary B of the 32nd Meijin tournament
On 6 April, Michael lost a game to a fellow Oeda disciple, Ryu Shikun 9-dan, in the main section of the 32nd Tengen tournament; taking white, Michael lost by 1.5 points.
Death of Hisajima Kunio
Hisajima Kunio 9-dan died suddenly on 5 April; cause of death was bleeding from a duodenal ulcer. He was 59.
Born on 5 June 1956, Hisajima became a disciple of Kitani Minoru; he made 1-dan in 1965 and reached 9-dan in 1991. In the mid-60s, he was a member of a group of five strong Kitani disciples who were nicknamed 'the five tiger generals'; the term was taken by Go Seigen from the classic Chinese historical novel The Tale of the Three Kingdoms. The other four were Ishida Yoshio, Kato Masao, Takemiya Masaki, and Sato Masaharu. Hisajima did not match the achievements of the first three, but he was a solid, well-respected player. In 1988, he won the top section of the Oteai (rating tournament), winning all his games; in 1990 he won the 8-dan section of the Kisei tournament. The closest he came to challenging for a title was reaching the play-off to decide the 20th Gosei challenger in 1995.
Ishida Yoshio expressed his sadness at the death of the third Kitani disciple in his 50s (following Kamimura Kunio and Kato Masao).