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History of Topics 2006

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Takao takes Meijin title from Cho U
  • Matsumoto wins New Stars title
  • Hane and Kobayashi Satoru win Kisei leagues, Kobayashi becomes challenger
  • Cho U wins Ryusei and Agon Kiriyama
  • Cho U makes good start in Oza title match
  • Kono Rin wins first Tengen game
  • Yashiro defends Women's Honinbo title
  • Honinbo League gets under way
  • Yamashita wins Winners' Section of Judan
  • Vacant seats in Meijin League decided
  • Takao wins Daiwa Securities Cup
  • The Redmond report
  • KCC Igo wins Computer Go tournament
  • Rin Kaiho scores 1,300th win
  • Xie Imin wins first title
  • A marriage is announced

13 November

Takao takes Meijin title from Cho U

  Takao Shinji has reached the peak of the go world, becoming the sixth Meijin Honinbo in modern tournament history. He achieved this feat by defeating Cho U 4-2 in the 31st Meijin title match. A significant role in his victory was played by half-point wins in the first and fourth games. In particular, his loss in the latter was a shock for Cho, as both he and Takao had thought the game was a win for Cho.
  For some reason, Takao seems to do very well against Cho. He took the Honinbo title from him last year and now he has taken another big title from him. Takao's thickness-oriented style is a little unusual in contemporary go, in which territory-oriented strategies are the mainstream, but at present it certainly seems to have the edge over Cho's fast-paced, shinogi-oriented style.
  The sixth game of the title match was played at the Nagoya Tokyu Hotel on 2 and 3 November. Playing white, Takao won by 3.5 points

The full results of the series are given below.
  Game One (8, 9 September). Takao (B) by half a point.
  Game Two (20, 21 September). Takao (W) by resignation.
  Game 3 (28, 29 September). Cho (W) by resig.
  Game 4 (11, 12 October). Takao (W) by half a point.
  Game 5 (18, 19 October). Cho (W) by resignation.
  Game Six (2, 3 November). Takao (W) by 3.5 points.

Matsumoto wins New Stars title

  The third and deciding game of the 31st King of the New Stars title match was held in the Yugen room at the Nihon Ki-in on 4 October. Playing white, Matsumoto Takehisa 6-dan defeated Ko Iso 7-dan by 5.5 points to win this title for the first time. Ko Iso, who suddenly made a name for himself last year when he lowered the record for the youngest player to play in a league, had been the favourite and had started off the match with a win, so at this point no one thought much of Matsumoto's chances. However, Matsumoto, a disciple of another tenacious player, Cho Chikun, fought back to even the series, then played a masterly game to take the title (incidentally, it was won by another Cho disciple, Kim Shujun, last year).
  First prize is 3,280,000 yen (about $27,800).

Hane and Kobayashi Satoru win Kisei leagues, Kobayashi becomes challenger

  This year all the final-round games in the 31st Kisei Leagues were held on the same day, 5 October, in the style of the Meijin League. Winners of the A and B Leagues were Hane Naoki and Kobayashi Satoru, respectively. Actually both leagues ended in 4-1 ties, but the above two players prevailed because of their higher rankings.
  A play-off to decide the challenger to Yamashita Keigo Kisei was held on 2 November. Kobayashi (W) won by resignation and so will make his first appearance in a Kisei title match for ten years.

Results in the final round:
 A League Hane Naoki 9-dan (B) beat Honda Kunihisa 9-dan by resig.
Cho U Meijin (B) beat Komatsu Hideki 9-dan by resig.
Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan (W) beat Yoda Norimoto 9-dan by 2.5 points.
 B League  Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan (W) beat Imamura Toshiya by half a point.
Kato Atsushi 8-dan (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9-dan by 2.5 points.
O Rissei 9-dan (B) beat Cho Chikun Judan by resig.

Cho U wins Ryusei and Agon Kiriyama

  Although he lost the Meijin title, the autumn has not been a complete write-off for Cho U, as he has picked up two minor titles. One is the 15th Ryusei title; in the final, telecast on 29 September, he beat Yuki Satoshi (B) by resignation. This was actually his third appearance in the Ryusei final and his first success. He took revenge for his loss to Yuki in the final of the 14th Ryusei. First prize is five million yen.
  Cho also won the 13th Agon Kiriyama Cup, which brings with it a prize of ten million yen. In the final, held at the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon sect of Buddhism on 7 October, he scored a convincing win over Hane Naoki 9-dan. Taking white, Cho secured a resignation after 160 moves. Similarly to the Ryusei, Cho finally won this tournament on his third appearance in the final.

Cho U makes good start in Oza title match

  Yamashita Keigo Kisei is making his third successive challenge for the Oza title, but his chances of improving on his previous performances don't look good at present. In the first game, which was played at the Four Seasons Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo in Bunkyo Ward in Tokyo on 26 October, the defending champion, Cho U, showed to better advantage; playing white, he won by the convincing margin of 6.5 points.
  In 2004, Yamashita lost 1-3 and last year 0-3. As the Kisei, it will be hard for Yamashita to accept this verdict. He has until 16 November to work out some countermeasures against Cho.

Kono Rin wins first Tengen game

  Yamashita has not done any better in the 32nd Tengen title match, in which he is trying to regain the title that Kono Rin took from him last year. In the first game, played at Gero Hot Spring in Gifu Prefecture on 2 November, Kono (B) played aggressively and won by 3.5 points.

Yashiro defends Women's Honinbo title

  The 25th Women's Honinbo title match witnessed a clash between Yashiro Kumiko 5-dan, who made her long-awaited debut as a titleholder by winning this title last year, and Inori Yoko 5-dan, who was bidding for her second Women's Honinbo title.
The challenger got off to a good start by taking the first game, but Yashiro made a good comeback, winning the next three games and so defending her title.

Full results are: Game One (5 October). Inori (W) by 3.5 points.
Game Two (12 October). Yashiro (W) by 1.5 points.
Game Three (25 October). Yashiro (B) by 5.5 points.
Game Four (1 November). Yashiro (W) by 8.5 points.

Honinbo League gets under way

  The four vacant seats in the 62nd Honinbo League were taken by Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan, O Meien 9-dan, Cho Sonjin 9-dan, and So Yokoku 8-dan. The last three of these players had won their back into the league immediately after dropping out of the 61st league, so the new league looks very much like the old one. Statistically, the success rate for players regaining their places immediately is 25% (players dropping out go into the final qualifying round, where they have to win three or four games in a row to make a comeback).
  The first round in the 62nd Honinbo League was completed during October. The league got under way with a game played at the Nihon Ki-in on 5 October in which So Yokoku 8-dan (W) defeated O Meien 9-dan by resignation.
  The second game was held a week later, on 12 October. Cho Sonjin 9-dan (W) defeated Hane Naoki 9-dan by resignation.
  The third game was held on a Monday, 23 October, because of Cho U's hectic schedule. The burden of fighting two title matches did not seem to weigh heavily on him; playing white, he defeated Yoda Norimoto 9-dan by 2.5 points.
  In the final game in this round, played on 26 October, the previous challenger, Yamada Kimio 9-dan, perhaps showed that he had his mind set on a return match. Playing black, he defeated Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan by resignation.
  To date, two games have been played in the second round, both on 2 November. Cho Sonjin (W) defeated So Yokoku 8-dan by resignation and at present has the lead in the league. In the other game, Yoda Norimoto 9-dan (B) defeated Yamada Kimio 9-dan by resignation.

Yamashita wins Winners' Section of Judan

  The final game of the Winners' Section of the 45th Judan tournament was played on 2 October. Usually games between high-ranked players are played on a Thursday, but this game was played on a Monday because of the tightly crammed schedules of both these players.
  Cho U has been doing well recently, the Meijin title match aside, but on this occasion victory went to Yamashita, who secured a resignation playing black. Cho will now have to win the Losers' Section to make the play-off to decide the challenger to Cho Chikun.

Vacant seats in Meijin League decided

  The three vacant seats in the 32nd Meijin League have been decided; they have gone to Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan, Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan, and Ko Iso 7-dan. The last-mentioned won his way back into the league immediately after dropping out. Up-and-coming young players like Ko often make a painful debut in a league, but do much better on their second appearance.

Takao wins Daiwa Securities Cup

  The full name of this tournament is the Daiwa Securities Cup Net Igo Open. Actually, only professionals played in the inaugural cup, but it is planned to include amateurs from the second year. Games were played on Saturday and Sunday nights on the Nihon Ki-in go server the Yugen Room. The 1st Cup got off to a start on 3 September, with 21 top players participating, including Michael Redmond. Sixteen players competed in four four-player leagues, with the four winners joining five titleholders in an irregular knockout (two players played an extra game). The time allowance is five minutes per player, followed by byo-yomi of 30 seconds a move.
  The winners of the leagues were Iyama Yuta 7-dan, Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan, O Meien 9-dan, and Kim Shujun 7-dan (Michael Redmond suffered three losses to O Meien, Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan, and Yamashiro Hiroshi 9-dan). They joined five titleholders (Cho U Meijin, Takao Shinji Honinbo, Cho Chikun Honinbo, Yoda Norimoto, who was Gosei when the tournament participants were decided, and Kono Rin Tengen ? Yamashita Keigo Kisei did not participate) in the knockout, which was played during October.
  The players who made the best-of-three final were, not by chance, the two who were contesting the Meijin title match at the same time, Cho U Meijin and Takao Shinji Honinbo. Once again, Takao showed that he has Cho U's number: he won the final 2-0. The games were played on 21 and 28 October, that is, between the fifth and sixth games of the Meijin match.
  First prize is 1,500,000 yen (about $12,700) and second prize is 500,000 yen.

The Redmond report

  In a game in Preliminary A of the 29th Fujitsu Cup, played on 2 October, Michael Redmond 9-dan (B) defeated Ikeda (formerly Nakazawa) Ayako 5-dan by resignation. On the same day, he defeated another woman player, Suzuki Ayumi 3-dan, in the same tournament. Taking white, Michael won by 3.5 points.
  On 19 October, Michael (B) defeated Yo Kaei 8-dan by resignation in Preliminary C of the 62nd Honinbo tournament. Michael also won his next game in this tournament, defeating Shuto Shun 4-dan (B) by resignation on 9 November. In between, however, on 2 November, he lost a game to Shuto in Preliminary B of the 32nd Kisei tournament; Shuto took black and won by resignation.

KCC Igo wins Computer Go tournament

  The World Computer Go Championship: The Gifu Challenge was held in Ogaki City in Gifu Prefecture on 30 September and 1 October. Seventeen programs competed, including five from overseas countries. For the fourth year in a row, victory went to the DPR Korea program KCC Igo, which won all nine games. Its strength is estimated to be around 1-dan.
  Second place went to the multinational program GNUGO and third to INDIGO of France. The top local program was Aya, which was fourth.

Rin Kaiho scores 1,300th win

  Rin Kaiho, Hon. Tengen, became the first player in Japan to score 1,300 wins when he defeated Anzai Nobuaki 3-dan in Preliminary A of the 32nd Kisei tournament on 19 October. His score at this point was 1300 wins, 793 losses, 1 jigo, two no-results. It took him 51 years six months, since he played his first game in the Oteai in May 1955.

Xie Imin wins first title

  Xie Imin is a 16-year-old player from Taiwan who became a professional at the Nihon Ki-in in 2004. In just two years, she has already shown that she has the potential to reach the top in women's professional go in Japan and she has now won her first tournament. It is the 1st Hiroshima Aluminium Cup Young Carp Tournament, which is open to male and female professionals under 31 and under 6-dan. The final round, a knock-out tournament for 16 players who had won their way through the qualifying round, was held in Hiroshima on 4 and 5 November. In the final, she defeated another Taiwanese player, Ri Ishu 2-dan (B), by 7.5 points to take the two-million-yen first prize.

A marriage is announced

  At the opening ceremony for the above title, Kato Keiko 5-dan, after prompting from the MC, announced that she was going to marry Mizokami Tomochika 8-dan later in February. They will be the 16th married couple among members of the Nihon Ki-in.

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