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History of Topics 1999

January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • O completes first title defence
  • First round of 25th Meijin league
  • Four players share lead in Honinbo league
  • Lee wins 3rd Samsung Cup in a row
  • O takes lead in Oza title match
  • Shinkai wins first title
  • The 25th Meijin league gets under way
  • 38th Judan tournament
  • O evens score in 47th Oza title match
  • Chinen defends Honinbo title
  • Lee Chang-ho wins first game of Samsung final
  • Cho Chikun suffers first loss in the Honinbo league
  • Amateur Honinbo beats professional Honinbo
  • Iwamoto Kaoru 1902-99

13 December

O completes first title defence

  The fourth game of the 47th Oza title match was held at the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel Nikko on December 9, 1999. Playing black, O Rissei forced Cho Chikun to resignaiton after 123 moves and so completed his first defence of the Oza title. Overall, this is his third Oza title. Needless to say, the victory over Cho Chikun is an excellent prelude to O's challenge for Cho's Kisei title, scheduled to start in January. Like the three previous games, this game developed into a large-scale centre fight. Once again, O's attacking prowess overcame Cho's legendary shinogi skills, and he killed a large group in a capturing race. Of their time allowances of five hours each, O had two hours four minutes left and Cho was down to his last minute. The game finished at 7:15 pm.This was a great fighting match, with all the games featuring aggressive play by both sides.

First round of 25th Meijin league

  The first round of the 25th Meijin league has now been completed. Earlier, Yoda had beaten Takemiya and Ryu Shikun had beaten O Meien. In a game played on December 9, Kobayashi Koichi (White) defeated Kato Masao by resignation. The final game matched O Rissei against Imamura Yoshiaki, making his debut in the league, and was won by O. Hane Naoki had a bye.The result is that the top-four-ranked players in the league have all started off with wins. This is typical of the Meijin league, which has always been a very tough league for newcomers.

Four players share lead in Honinbo league

  The Honinbo league is also following its usual pattern, with four players claiming a share of the lead. After two rounds Ryu Shikun 7-dan had been the only undefeated player, but in a game played on December 9 he lost to Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan (white) by 2.5 points. On the same day O Meien (white) defeated Yamada Kimio 7-dan by resignation. The result is that Ryu, O Meien, Cho Chikun, and Hikosaka are now tied on 2-1.

Lee wins 3rd Samsung Cup in a row

  Lee Chang-ho of Korea has shown that he is too strong for Cho Sonjin in the final of the 4th Samsung Cup World Open Baduk Championship. Lee swept the final, winning three games straight. As reported earlier, the first game was played in Kwangju, Korea on November 23, and Lee (white) won by resignation. The second game was played in Seoul on December 6. Playing black, Lee again won by resignation. The third game was played on the following day, and Lee (white) won by 4.5 points. This gives Lee his third victory in a row in the Samsung Cup. Cho Sonjin was undoubtedly handicapped by his lack of experience at this level and he vowed to make a more even match of it the next time he gets to play Lee. However, opportunities to compete in the finals of these tournaments don't come around so often if your name is not Lee.

09 December

O takes lead in Oza title match

  In the third game of the 47th Oza title match, played at the Hyakumankoku Inn in Kaga City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on December 2. O Rissei, playing White, forced the challenger, Cho Chikun Kisei & Meijin, to resignaiton after 186 moves. O thus took a 2-1 lead in the title match. Of their time allowances of five hours each, O had six minutes left and Cho, as usual, was down to his last minute.In this game Cho had taken the initiative early in the middle game and seemed to be doing well, However, with his 90th move, O launched a violent do-or-die attack that precipitated a fierce centre struggle. This fight expanded over a large part of the board. Cho seemed to have survived the attack, but his 185th move was a hallucination, and White's next move killed his group.
  O thus took a 2-1 lead in the series.So far this has been a spectacular title match, with all three games featuring large-scale fighting. There is sure to be some more entertainment before the series is over.

Shinkai wins first title

  Despite the economic slump in Japan, women's professional go is flourishing. There are now five tournaments for women, of which the newest is the Women Professionals Strongest Player Tournament. This knockout tournament has just completed its first term, with the final being held on November 12 in Ikebukuro in Tokyo. The game was telecast on the Go and Shogi Channel on Sky Perfect TV on November 20. The final pitted Shinkai Hiroko 5-dan against Yashiro Kumiko 3-dan. Playing black, Shinkai won the game by 4.5 points and so secured her first title. Shinkai is a disciple of the late Iwamoto Kaoru 9-dan. She became professional shodan in 1978 and reached 5-dan in 1998. In 1986 she won the Kido New Star Prize, the only woman ever to do so.

The 25th Meijin league gets under way

  The first two games in the 25th Meijin league were played at the Nihon Ki-in on December 2. Ryu Shikun (Black) defeated O Meien by 3.5 points in one game and Yoda Norimoto (White) defeated Takemiya Masaki by half a point in the other.The Meijin league will be played over the next eight months to decide a challenger to Cho Chikun.

38th Judan tournament

  In the second semifinal of the Losers' Section of the 38th Judan tournament, Nakano Hironari 9-dan defeated Hane Naoki 7-dan and so will meet Cho Chikun in the final. The winner will then play Yamashita Keigo 6-dan, winner of the winners' section, in the playoff to decide the challenger to Kobayashi Koichi Judan.

01 December

O evens score in 47th Oza title match

  O Rissei 9-dan has been in a bit of a slump recently: in quick succession he has lost his first two games in the Honinbo league, the first game of the Oza title match, and the quarterfinal of the LG Cup. However, he bounced back in the second game of the Oza title match, which was played in the capital of his native Taiwan, Taipei, on November 18. Playing white, the challenger, Cho Chikun, started out by taking all four corners at the cost of creating a weak group in the centre. Cho thus staked the game on being able to save this group when it was attacked, but for once his legendary shinogi ability let him down. After a massive fight that last for 120 moves, O captured the group and forced Cho to resignaiton after Black 161.
  The defending champion thus leveled the score at 1-1. This was a very important win for him; if he were wiped out in the Oza title match, his chances wouldn't look so good in his upcoming Kisei clash with Cho. Of their time allowances of five hours each, O had four minutes left and Cho, as usual, was down to his last minute. The third game will be played in Kaga City in Ishikawa Prefecture on December 2.

Chinen defends Honinbo title

  In the fourth game of the 18th Women's Honinbo title, played in Osaka on November 17, Chinen Kaori (Black) forced Kobayashi Izumi to resignaiton after 133 moves. That gave Chinen her third win of the series, thus completing a successful defence of her title. Chinen has now held the Women's Honinbo title for three years in a row.

Lee Chang-ho wins first game of Samsung final

  The first game of the Samsung Cup World Open Baduk Championship was played in Kwangju, Korea, on November 23. Playing white, Lee Chang-ho defeated Cho Sonjin by resignation and so made a good start to the title match. Kwangju is Cho's birthplace, but that didn't help. Incidentally, this was Lee's 11th win in a row in world championship finals. Even though the komi in this tournament is 6.5 points, Lee is almost invincible when he has Black, so losing this first game on Black is quite a blow to Cho Sonjin's chances. The remaining games of the best-of-five series are scheduled for December 6, 7, 9 and 10.

Cho Chikun suffers first loss in the Honinbo league

  The first game in the third round of the 55th Honinbo league was played on November 26. Cho Chikun suffered his first setback in his quest to regain the Honinbo title that he held for a decade when he lost to Rin Kaiho by 3.5 points. Cho is now 2-1, while Rin opens his account after losses in the first two rounds. The only player still undefeated is Ryu Shikun on 2-0.

Amateur Honinbo beats professional Honinbo

  In a game played at the Nihon Ki-in on November 21, the amateur Honinbo, Miura Hiroshi, defeated the professional Honinbo, Cho Sonjin, by 10.5 points. However, the amateur Honinbo had the advantage of playing on a handicap of three stones, though he did give a komi of 2.5 points to White. The match between the two Honinbos has been a regular annual event for 37 years. It started out with the amateur playing on two stones without any komi. The handicap is adjusted every year (though the actual players in the match may be different). The smallest handicap the amateurs have got to is playing on Black receiving a reserse komi from White of 2.5 points. However, Cho Chikun lost only one game during his ten-year reign (he also had one jigo) and for the first time he forced the amateur side to three stones. The second time he forced the amateur side to three stones, he won; this was an incredible achievement, as the losing amateur was Harada Minoru, a veteran player who at his best has the strength of a mid-level professional. This was in 1997; Cho received a komi of 2.5 and won by 1.5. The following year, another amateur Honinbo, Tanaka Masahito, barely managed to beat Cho by one point (no komi). The amateur side will be keen to follow up this win by getting back to two stones and restoring some of their honour.

Iwamoto Kaoru 1902-99

  It is our sad duty to inform our readers that Iwamoto Kaoru died of pneumonia on 29 November 1999. Iwamoto was the greatest benefactor Western go has known; after making numerous instruction tours of Western countries, he donated his private fortune to found go centres in Sao Paulo, Amstelveen, New York and Seattle. Iwamoto Kaoru had a long and varied career, twice winning the Honinbo title and playing a major role in rebuilding the Nihon Ki-in after the war. However, he will be most remembered for his great achievements in making go an international game.

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