- Cho U wins back Meijin title
- Yamashita defends Oza title
- Kono defends Tengen title
- Cho U wins Agon Kiriyama Cup
- Cho Chikun to challenge for Kisei title
- Xie Imin wins Women's Honinbo
- Suzuki wins Strongest Woman Player title
- Nong Shim Cup
- 12th Samsung Cup: all-Korean final
- 12th LG Cup: 1-dan reaches final
- Yuanyang Cup: all-Korean final
Cho U wins back Meijin title
Cho U has wasted no time reclaiming the title he lost to Takao Shinji last year. However, the path to victory was by no means an easy one. Cho outplayed Takao in the first half of the 32nd Meijin title match, but then the latter made a fighting comeback to take the match to the full distance. Cho then played masterly go in the final game to take the honours and win his 21st title.
Game 1 (6, 7 Sept.). Takao (B) by 4 1/2.
Game 2 (19, 20 Sept.). Cho (B) by resig.
Game 3 (26, 27 Sept.). Cho (W) by 1 1/2.
Game 4 10, 11 Oct.). Cho (B) by resig.
Game 5 (17, 18 Oct.). Takao (B) by 2 1/2.
Game 6 (1, 2 Nov.). Takao (W) by 1/2.
Game 7 (8, 9 Nov.). Cho (B) by 2 1/2.
Yamashita defends Oza title
In recent years, winter has been the busiest time of the year for Yamashita Keigo. This year, just like last year, he is playing in all the winter title matches, the Oza, Tengen, and Kisei. So far, his record is 1-1. His success came in the 55th Oza title match, in which he rebuffed the challenge of Imamura Toshiya 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in 3-1.
The title match got off to a hectic start, with each player winning a game by killing a large group. Because Yamashita's schedule was so packed, it was decided to play the next two games in three days at the same inn at Hakone. This is very rare in Japan, where games in the same title match usually have at least a week between them. As it happened, it worked to Yamashita's advantage, as he won both games and wrapped up his title defence. The headline in Go Weekly referred to Yamashita as 'the winter general'.
Incidentally, the time allowance in the title match was shortened by one hour to three hours per player, making it the same as international tournaments. This is perhaps an inescapable trend these days, but one hopes that the two-day games that both represent the peak of Japanese go and embody its best traditions are retained.
Game 1 (26 October). Yamashita (W) by resig.
Game 2 (15 November). Imamura (W) by resignation.
Game 3 (27 November). Yamashita (W) by resig.
Game 4 (29 November). Yamashita (B) by resig.
Kono defends Tengen title
Just a week after his Gosei triumph, Yamashita met with a setback, losing the final game of the 33rd Tengen title match to Kono Rin. This was the third year in a row that Kono had defeated Yamashita in this title. Kono has still not played in a league (he lost the final play-off for a seat in the Meijin League earlier this year), but somehow he has Yamashita's measure, at least in one-day games.
Yamashita has played in all Tengen title matches for the last five years (with just one success), so no one will be surprised to see him back as challenger next year.
Game 1 (2 November). Yamashita (W) by resig.
Game 2 (8 November). Kono (W) by resig.
Game 3 (22 November). Kono (B) by resig.
Game 4 (6 December). Kono (W) by resig.
Cho U wins Agon Kiriyama Cup
The final of the 14th Agon Kiriyama Cup (Agon is the name of the Buddhist sect that sponsors the title and Kiriyama is the name of the head of the sect) was held at the Kyoto headquarters of the Agon sect on 20 October. Taking white, Cho U Gosei defeated Cho Chikun Judan by 6.5 points.
Cho U will meet the winner of the Chinese version of this title in a play-off early in 20088.
Cho Chikun to challenge for Kisei title
Cho Chikun has won more best-of-sevens than anyone else, but he is still hungry for big titles. In the play-off to decide the challenger to Yamashita Keigo for the 32nd Kisei title, held on 19 November, he defeated Cho U. Taking white, he won by 4.5 points and took revenge for his Agon Kiriyama loss. Cho U had earlier won the A League in the fourth round while Cho Chikun had to win his fifth game in the B League. This was Cho U's first game after regaining the Meijin title-up one week, down the next. He had a big lead over Cho Chikun in previous encounters, with 12 wins to just three losses, but on the day he was outmanoeuvred by his wily opponent. The 51-year-old Cho will be playing in his first best-of-seven since his unsuccessful challenge for the Meijin title, then held by Yoda Norimoto, in 2002. It will be his first Kisei title match since he lost the title to O Rissei in 2000. Cho has won 29 best-of-sevens (that is, Kisei, Meijin and Honinbo), which is the most by a long way.
The first game will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on 12 and 13 January 2008. It will be one of the events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the start of Japanese migration to Brazil.
Xie Imin wins Women's Honinbo
Xie Yimin 3-dan won her second title when she defeated Yashiro Kumiko 5-dan with straight wins in the 26th Women's Honinbo title match. At 17 years 11 months, Xie set a record as the youngest-ever winner of this title (she had already set a record as the youngest woman to win a title in Japan when she won the Strongest Woman Player title on 25 December 2006, five weeks after her 17th birthday).
Game 1 (27 Sept.). Xie (B) by 1/2.
Game 2 (3 Oct.). Xie (W) by resig.
Game 3 (17 Oct.). Xie (B) by 1/2.
Suzuki wins Strongest Woman Player title
In the final of the 9th Strongest Woman Player title, held in the Ryusei [TV] Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo, Suzuki Ayumi 4-dan defeated Aoki Kikuyo 8-dan to win this title for the second time. Taking white, she won by 1.5 points.
This title, called in full the Tokyo Precision [Instruments] Cup: Strongest Women Player, is the youngest of the four women's titles. Suzuki first won it four years ago, when she was a 3-dan; to date, she has not won any other title, but this latest victory secures her a ranking among the top women players in Japan (just for the record, she beat Rui Naiwei in the preliminary round of the 12th Samsung Cup, though she failed to make the main tournament).
First prize is worth 4,500,000 yen. Suzuki's win meant that the winner of the 8th Cup, Xie Imin, Women's Honinbo, lost her place as the only woman dual titleholder. The Women's Honinbo is Umezawa Yukari and the Women's Meijin Kato Keiko.
Nong Shim Cup
After two rounds of the 9th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup, China and Korea are more or less tied, as each has two players left, but China has done slightly better, with four wins to Korea's three. Remarkably, four out of the first eight games were half-pointers.
Remaining players are Chang Hao and Gu Li for China, Pak Yeong-hun and Yi Ch'ang-ho for Korea, and just Takao Shinji for Japan.
Game 1 (16 Oct.). Hane Naoki 9-dan (Japan) (W) defeated Peng Quan 7-dan (China) by half a point.
Game 2 (17 Oct.). Hong Min-p'yo 6-dan (Korea) (W) d. Hane by half a point.
Game 3 (18 Oct.). Wang Xi 9-dan (China) (B) d. Hong by resig.
Game 4 (19 Oct.). Wang (B) d. Kono Rin 9-dan (Japan) by 2.5 points.
Game 5 (26 Nov.). Wang Xi (B) d. Cho Han-seung 9-dan (Korea) by 11.5 points.
Game 6 (27 Nov.). Yamada Kimio 9-dan (Japan) (B) d. Wang by half a point.
Game 7 (28 Nov.). Mok Chin-seok 9-dan (Korea) (W) d. Yamada by 3.5 points.
Game 8 (29 Nov.). Mok (W) d. Hu Yaoyu 8-dan (China) by half a point.
Game 9 (30 Nov.). Mok (B) d. Yoda Norimoto 9-dan (Japan) by 6.5 points.
Game 10 (1 Dec.). Chang Hao 9-dan (China) (W) d. Mok by resig.
12th Samsung Cup: all-Korean final
The final of the 12th Samsung Cup will feature a clash between two of the young Korean players who have dominated international go in the 21st century: Pak Yeong-hun and Yi Se-tol. In the semifinals, held from 20 to 23 November in Korea, Yi defeated Huang Yizhong 6-dan of China 2-0 and Pak defeated Gu Li 9-dan of China 2-1.
12th LG Cup: 1-dan reaches final
In the 12th LG Cup, another international tournament sponsored by a major Korean corporation, Han Sang-hun 1-dan has continued his incredible run and reached the final. Here he will be matched against Yi Se-tol 9-dan, who will be a tough opponent. Even if Han loses, this is already the best performance ever by a 1-dan.
Yuanyang Cup: all-Korean final
The Yuanyang Cup is a new international women's championship sponsored by a Chinese real-estate company. The first four rounds were held in Beijing from 29 October to 1 November, and the result is that two Korean representatives, Pak Ch-eun 8-dan (promoted to that rank for her win in the Dali Travel Cup earlier this year) and Rui Naiwei 9-dan (who is actually Chinese), will meet for the title.