American Go E-Journal » John Power Report

The Power Report: New Honinbo League starts; Ueno doing well in 1st Hoban Cup; Sumire promoted to 3-dan; Sumire’s progress

Tuesday October 25, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

New Honinbo League starts

Top left: Choi Jeong at the Hoban Cup; top right: Li He of China; bottom right: Ueno wins; bottom left: Ueno being checked for electronic devices.

The first game in the 78th Honinbo League was played on October 3. Yo Seiki (W) 8-dan beat league newcomer Fujita Akihiko 7-dan by 3.5 points.

Ueno doing well in 1st Hoban Cup

The Hoban Cup Seoul Newspaper World’s Women’s Baduk Championship is a new international tournament for female teams. Its main sponsors are the Hoban Construction company and the Seoul Newspaper and it is organized by the Korean Baduk Association. First prize is 100,000,000 won (about $69,400 at $1 = 1440.8 won).

The second round was held on the net in mid-October. China dominated the first round, with Wu Yiming earning a promotion to 4-dan by winning five games in a row. After that, China and Japan each won a game. (See my report of June 22.) In the second round, Li He of China won two games in a row, then Ueno Asami of Japan won three in a row. However, China still has two players left.

Results to date:

Game 8 (Oct. 15). Li He 5-dan (China) (B) beat Fujisawa Rina 5-dan by resig. (193 moves).

Game 9 (Oct. 16) Li (W) beat Oh Yujin 9-dan (Korea) by resig. (166 moves).

Game 10 (Oct. 17). Ueno Asami 4-dan (Japan) (B) beat Li by resig. (183 moves).

Game 11 (Oct. 18). Ueno beat Choi Jeong 9-dan (Korea) by resig. (Korea was eliminated).

Game 12 (Oct. 19). Ueno (W) beat Lu Minquan 6-dan (China) by resig. (266 moves).

Sumire promoted to 3-dan

A win in the Teikei Young Stars tournament over Takei Taishin (see next item) on October 13, earned Sumire promotion to 3-dan. It was her 40th win in a game that counts toward promotion. At this stage, her career record was 120 wins to 60 losses, a statistic of interest for two reasons. One is that Sumire has a winning record of exactly two thirds, which is quite respectable. The other is that it shows that 50 of her wins (women’s tournaments, unofficial tournaments, etc.) don’t count for promotion. 

Moving on to new records: at 13 years seven months, Sumire is the second youngest 3-dan at the Nihon Ki-in, the record being held by Cho Chikun, at 13 years four months. However, she makes a big dent in the previous record for youngest female 3-dan, which was 16 years four months, set by Xie Yimin.

Sumire’s progress

The two wins in the TK Young Stars tournament listed below not only earned Sumire a promotion but also secured her a share of the lead in the most-wins list—see below. 

(Sept. 29) Sumire (B) beat Tsuji Hana 2-dan by resig. (Prelim., 10th Women’s Hollyhock Cup). 

(Oct. 6) Sumire (W) lost to Motoki Katsuya 8-dan resig. (Prelim. A, 48th Gosei).

(Oct. 13) Sumire (W) beat Yo Chito 6-dan by 5.5 points; Sumire (W) beat Takei Taishin 2-dan by resig. (prelim., 2nd TK Young Stars).

Tomorrow: Most wins; Most successive wins; Winning streaks recently ended; Promotion; Quasi-professionals; Retirement
UPDATE: The post has been updated to reflect Sumire’s promotion at 13 years seven months, making her the second youngest 3-dan at the Nihon Ki-in, the record being held by Cho Chikun, at 13 years four months (we had switched the promotion ages in our original post)


The Power Report: Tengen title match tied; Fujisawa makes good start in Women’s Honinbo; 47th Kisei tournament; Nong Shim Cup

Monday October 24, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Tengen title match tied

Left: Ida at the Tengen; top right: Fan Tingyu at the Nongshim; bottom right: Women’s Honinbo: Rina, Xie & Ueno reviewing game

The 49th Tengen best-of-five got off to a start on October 3, with the 20-year-old titleholder Seki Kotaro meeting the challenge of Ida Atsushi 9-dan, aged 28. Ida’s main claim to fame is that he challenged (unsuccessfully) for the Honinbo title in 2014; the previous year he won the 53rd Judan title and the 62nd NHK Cup. He won the latter at the age of 20 years 11 months, a youth record he still maintains. However, this is his first title match for six years.

The first game was played at the Ise Kaguraba Resort in Ise City, Mie Prefecture. Ida, who had white, played his first move on the centre point or “tengen.” He continued positively, sacrificing a group on the side so he would wall off one side of the center. Ida achieved his aim of starting large-scale fighting in the center, but at a crucial point he played a purely territorial move instead of continuing the fight and this may have cost him the game. Black was able to maintain his territorial lead. Ida resigned after Black 199.

The second game was played at the Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo on October 18. Ida (B) won by 1.5 points. The third game will be played on November 14. 

Fujisawa makes good start in Women’s Honinbo

The 41st Women’s Honinbo title match, a best-of-five, features the most common pairing in women’s go in Japan: Fujisawa Rina vs. Ueno Asami. The 24-year-old Fujisawa and 20-year-old Ueno (21 on October 26) have met in nine title matches; Fujisawa has enjoyed more success so far, having won six of these. Overall, Fujisawa has won 21 titles to Ueno’s nine, but her longer career accounts for some of that. This is the ninth year in a row she has played in this title match.

The first game was played at the Kashoen, a traditional Japanese inn, in Hanamaki Hot Spring, Iwate Prefecture, on October 4. Fujisawa drew black in the nigiri and won by resignation after 253 moves. The second game will be played on October 23.

47th Kisei tournament

First of all, Shibano Toramaru 9-dan finished off the S League with a perfect record. The last remaining game in the 47th Kisei S League was played on September 26. Shibano (B) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by resignation to end on 5-0. The two Kansai Ki-in players, Yo Seiki and Murakawa Daisuke, drop down to the A League.

The final irregular knock-out to decide the Kisei challenger is now under way. Results follow. 

(Oct. 6). Otake Yu 7-dan (C League winner) (B) beat Suzuki Shinji 7-dan (B League winner) by 1.5 points.

(Oct. 13) Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (winner of A League) (W) beat Otake by half a point.

Nong Shim Cup

China has made the best start in Round 1 of the 24th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup. Only four games are played in the opening round and Fan Tingyu of China has won three of them. Actually, the surprise was to see him lose in the 4th game, as he has twice won seven games in a row in this tournament.

Game 1 (Oct. 11). Fan Tingyu 9-dan (China) (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 9-dan (Japan) by resig.

Game 2 (Oct. 12). Fan (W) beat Shin Minjun 9-dan (Korea) by resig.

Game 3 (Oct. 13). Fan (B) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 9-dan (Japan) by resig.

Game 4 (Oct. 14). Kang Dongyun 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Fan by resig.

The second round will start on November 25.

Tomorrow: New Honinbo League starts; Ueno doing well in 1st Hoban Cup; Sumire promoted to 3-dan; Sumire’s progress


The Power Report: Oh wins Go Seigen Cup; Sakai wins King of the New Stars; Hirata wins Agon Kiriyama Cup; Shibano increases lead in Meijin title match, Iyama fights back

Sunday October 23, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Oh wins Go Seigen Cup

Top left: Meijin, Shibano at left; top right: Iyama; bottom right: Agon winner Hirata; bottom left: King New Stars, Sakai at right.

The best-of-three final of the 5th Go Seigen Cup was held on the net at the end of September. Oh Yujin 9-dan of Korea beat Wang Chenxing 5-dan of China 2-0. This is Oh’s first victory in this tournament. She also won the 7th Bingsheng Cup in 2016.

Game One (Sept. 27). Oh (B) by resig.

Game Two (Sept. 28). Oh (W) by resig.

Sakai wins King of the New Stars

The best-of-three final of the 47th King of the New Stars was fought between Otake Yu 7-dan and Sakai Yuki 3-dan. Otake had been enjoying good results this year, so he was the favorite, but Sakai showed that his rank was lagging behind his real strength. As noted in my previous report, his win in the first game of this match put an end to a winning streak by Otake of thirteen.

The second game was played at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya on September 30. Taking black, Otake took the lead, but in the endgame, which is supposed to be his forte, he blundered, allowing Sakai to stage an upset. The latter won by 1.5 points after 285 moves. This is the 18-year-old Sakai’s first title.

Here are details of the tournament. Players are eligible if they are 6-dan and under and 25 and under on August 1 when a new term of the tournament starts. Since the 32nd term, winners graduate from the tournament. Before this rule came in, many players won a number of terms, the record being five times, achieved by Yoda Norimoto, closely followed by Yamashita Keigo, who won it four times in a row. Playing time is 3 hours each for the main tournament and the title match. First prize is ¥2,000,000 (about $13,450 at $1 = ¥148.7).

Hirata wins Agon Kiriyama Cup

The final of the 29th Agon Kiriyama Cup was played in a tea house called the Kagyuan (Snail’s Hermitage) in the grounds of the headquarters of the Agon sect in Yamashina Ward, Kyoto City, on October 1. Playing black, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan prevailed in a tight endgame contest and beat Iyama Yuta Meijin Honinbo by 1.5 points. This is Hirata’s first win in a tournament open to all players; the game was his first ever with Iyama. He won the 14th Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp tournament in 2019. Iyama has won this tournament five times.

Shibano increases lead in Meijin title match, Iyama fights back

The fourth game in the 47th Meijin title match was held at the Takarazuka Hotel, Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture, on October 6 and 7. Taking white, Shibano Toramaru won by resignation after 208 moves. Iyama Yuta did not make any big mistakes, but some of his play in the middle game was a little dubious. Shibano took the lead and was able to hang on to it until the end. He now led the match 3-1, so his chance of making a comeback as Meijin looked good.

The fifth game was played at the Imai Residence in the town of Kawazu in Shizuoka Prefecture on October 12 and 13. Iyama suffered from a hallucination in the middle-game fighting, so Shibano took the lead. However, he made a miscalculation later on in the middle game, and that allowed Iyama to pull off an upset. 

With a 3-2 lead, Shibano still has the advantage, but he will have bitter memories of last year’s Honinbo title match in which he lost three games in a row after taking a 3-1 lead. The sixth game will be played on October 24 and 25.

Tomorrow: Tengen title match tied; Fujisawa makes good start in Women’s Honinbo; 47th Kisei tournament; Nong Shim Cup


The Power Report: King of the New Stars starts; Sumire’s progress; Most wins; Best winning streaks; Promotions

Thursday September 29, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

King of the New Stars starts

King of New Stars Kato Yuki

The first game in the 47th King of the New Stars best-of-three title match was played at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in on September 22. Go Weekly is billing this game as “the plain style” v. “the chaotic style.” Otake Yu 7-dan likes to keep things straightforward, whereas his opponent in the match, Sakai Yuki 3-dan, likes to plunge the game into messy fighting. In the first game, Sakai’s style prevailed. Taking black, he forced a resignation after 207 moves. This loss put an end to a winning streak of 13 games that Otake had enjoyed. The second game will be played on September 30.

Sumire’s progress

Nakamura Sumire’s results for the year so far are 36-16 (see “Most Wins” item below). Her overall results as a pro are 117 wins to 58 losses, so she has won just over two-thirds of her games.

(Aug. 8) Sumire (B) beat Kawai Shoji 6-dan by resig. (Prelim B, 48th Gosei).

(Aug. 11) Sumire beat Hoda Shota 1-dan; beat Kawahara Yu 1-dan; beat Miura Taro 2-dan (these games were in the 3rd Discovery Cup—see article above).

(Aug. 18) Sumire  (W) lost to Ueno Asami Women’s Hollyhock by resig. (semifinal, 41st Women’s Honinbo).

(Aug. 25) Sumire (W) beat Tsuneishi Takashi 5-dan by 6.5 points (Prelim. B, 48th Gosei). With this win, Sumire advanced to the A preliminary.

(Aug. 29) Sumire (W) beat Suzukawa Natsumi 1-dan by resig.; Sumire (W) beat Cho Chien 2-dan by resig.; Sumire (W) beat Taguchi Misei 2-dan by resig. (these games were in the preliminary, 17th Young Carp). Sumire secured a seat in the main tournament (the best 16).

(Sept. 8) Sumire (B) beat Nakaonoda Tomomi 9-dan by resig. (Prelim. B, 71st Oza).

(Sept. 22) Sumire (W) beat Kuwabara Yoko 6-dan by resig. (Prelim. A, 26th Women’s Kisei).

Most wins (as of Sept. 23)

1. Ueno Asami: 38-14

2. Nakamura Sumire: 36-16

3. Ichiriki Ryo: 34-18

4. Nyu Eiko: 33-14

5. Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo: 32-13

6. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 31-9

7. Otake Yu 7-dan: 30-6

8. Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 28-18

9. Ida Atsushi 9-dan: 27-12; Kato Chie 2-dan: 27-13

Best winning streaks

10: Hane Yasumasa 9-dan

8: Kato Yuki 7-dan, Nyu Eiko Women’s Senko Cup, Nakamura Sumire 2-dan

7: Rin Kanketsu 8-dan, Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan

6: Mizokami Tomochika 9-dan, Ueno Risa 2-dan

5: Cho U 9-dan, Akiyama Jiro 9-dan, Kono Takashi 8-dan, Sotoyanagi Sebun 4-dan

Streaks that have ended since my last report.

13: Otake Yu 7-dan

9: Sasaka Shiro 8-dan,

8: Sakai Yuki 3-dan, Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan, Shibano Toramaru 9-dan, Sonoda Yasutaka 9-dan, Tajiri Yuto 5-dan, Tanaka Nobuyuki 4-dan

7: Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan, Izumitani Hideo 9-dan, Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan, Mukai Chiaki 6-dan, Muramoto Wataru 4-dan

6: Itani Shunta 2-dan, Nakamura Hidehito 9-dan, Hirose Yuichi 6-dan, Tsuruyama Atsushi, Takao Mari 1-dan, Shuto Shun 8-dan, Ohashi Hirofumi 7-dan

5: Ida Atsushi 8-dan, Kobayashi Izumi 7-dan, Miura Taro 2-dan, Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo, Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan, Kumamoto Shusei 4-dan, Kato Chie 2-dan, Terayama Rei 6-dan, Sotoyanagi Sebun 4-dan, Arimura Hiroshi 9-dan, Yamagisawa Satoshi 6-dan


To 7-dan: Kurotaki Masaki (120 wins, as of Aug. 23); Otake Yu (for entering the Honinbo League, as of Sept. 9)

To 6-dan: Yamamoto Kentaro (90 wins, as of Aug. 12)

To 3-dan: Utani Shunta (40 wins, as of Sept. 16)


The Power Report: Yo to challenge Iyama for Oza; Ueno to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; New youngest player at Nihon Ki-in; Shibano wins Kisei S League

Wednesday September 28, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Yo to challenge Iyama for Oza

Yo Seiki 8-dan

The play-off to decide the challenger for the 70th Oza title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 29. Taking black, Yo Seiki 8-dan of the Kansai Ki-in beat Shibano Toramaru 9-dan by resig. after 191 moves. This will be his fourth challenge for a top-seven title. In the 64th Oza (2016), he lost 0-3 to Iyama; in the 55th Judan (2017), he lost 1-3 to Iyama; and in the 60th Judan (2022), he lost 0-3 to Yo Kagen. He has also come second in the 38th King of the New Stars (2013), the 23rd (2014) and 26th (2017) Ryusei tournaments, and the 68th NHK Cup (2021), so his career is a little reminiscent of that of the late Kato Masao’s. Yo will be hoping he can turn it around as dramatically as Kato did. It may not be a consolation, but he has won the Kansai Ki-in No. One Position title five years in a row.

Ueno to challenge for Women’s Honinbo

Kato Chie 2-dan

The play-off to decide the challenger for the 41st Women’s Honinbo title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on September 1. Based on results this year, you can argue that four players make up the top group in Japanese women’s go: Fujisawa Rina, Ueno Asami, Nyu Eiko, and Nakamura Sumire. However, the play-off featured a player who may be a new face for Western readers: Kato Chie 2-dan. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce her. Kato was born on September 13, 2001. Her results have been consistently good since she became a professional in April 2018 and recently she got into the top ten in the “most wins” list. Her consistent results are proof of significant talent, as she has to battle a major handicap in her daily life. As a child, she suffered from a bone disease that prevented the full development of her bones, so she has to use a wheelchair. Her bones were fragile and she had broken bones about 20 times. Fortunately, she received treatment that stopped these breaks. She took up go in kindergarten and in sixth grade, in 2013, she won the 34th (all-Japan) Boys and Girls Tournament, the first time in 14 years that a girl had won it (that was Mukai Chiaki in 1999). She started out at the Osaka branch of the Nihon Ki-in, but then switched to Nagoya. Her win-loss record to date is 116-74 (61%) and she will surely be a title-winner soon. 

The play-off was won by Ueno Asami (W) by 4.5 points. Kato had the lead, but Ueno pulled off an upset in the endgame. Ueno took the 38th Women’s Honinbo title from Fujisawa in 2019, but the latter reclaimed it in 2020. If Ueno wins it back, it will be her 10th title. The match starts on October 4.

New youngest player at Nihon Ki-in

Yanagihara Saki 1-dan

At a press conference held on September 13, the Nihon Ki-in announced that Yanagihara Saki would be inducted as 1-dan by the Ki-in’s Women’s Special Induction Recommendation system. Yanagihara is in sixth grade and is 11 years old; she is a member of the A class in the Nihon Ki-in insei system. She will officially become 1-dan in April 2023, but she will begin playing professional games in January. She took second place in the section for 12 years and under in the World Youth Championship run by the Ing Chang-Ki Foundation. The four insei teachers all recommended Yanagihara and the Nihon Ki-in board of directors approved her appointment on September 13th. She will be the youngest professional. She learned go from her parents, both of whom play go, when she was three. She has studied at Hong Seisen’s dojo. Hong 4-dan is a member of the Kansai Ki-in, but he runs a go school in Tokyo. He seems to be a very good teacher, as many of his students have succeeded in becoming pros and are doing well.

Shibano wins Kisei S League

Although he still has a game to play in the 47th Kisei S League, Shibano Toramaru is in an unbeatable position with 4-0, as every other player has at least two losses. Takao Shinji secured second place when Iyama Yuta lost his last game. Results since my last report follow.

(Aug. 11) Takao Shinji 9-dan (W) beat Yo Seiki by resig.

(Aug. 18) Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (W) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resig.

(Sept. 1) Iyama Yuta (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8-dan by 1.5 points.

(Sept. 12) Takao (B) beat Murakawa by resig.

(Sept. 22) Kyo Kagen Judan (B) beat Iyama Yuta by resig.

A and B Leagues

The play-off between the winners of the B1 and B2 Leagues was held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 25. Taking black, Suzuki Shinji 7-dan beat Fujita Akihiko 7-dan by 5.5 points. Suzuki won the B League 7-0, so he now had eight wins in a row in the Kisei tournament. The A League was decided on August 25, when Yamashita Keigo beat Hane Naoki. This took Yamashita to 6-1, two points clear of the field.

Knock-out to decide the challenger

The final irregular knock-out to decide the challenger looks like this. Otake Yu 7-dan (C winner) v. Suzuki Shinji 7-dan (B winner), the winner v. Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (A winner), the winner v. Takao Shinji (2nd in S), the winner v. Shibano. The last two play a best-of-three in which Shibano is gifted a win at the outset. Takao’s only path to the challengership is winning 2-0 whereas Shibano needs just one win. 

Just for the record: The current league system, topped by the S League and ending in the irregular knock-out, was introduced in the 40th term of the Kisei. So far, it has been held seven times, and each time the winner of the S League has become the challenger. During that time, Kono Rin was the challenger three times and each time he lost the first game in the best-of-three, the only S League winner to do so. In two cases, his opponent was Takao, so he knows from bitter experience how tough the challenge will be for him.

Tomorrow: King of the New Stars starts; Sumire’s progress; Most wins; Best winning streaks; Promotions


The Power Report: Shibano takes lead in Meijin title match; Seats filled in the new Honinbo League; China dominates 4th Nie Weiping tournament

Tuesday September 27, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano takes lead in Meijin title match

Shibano Toramaru 9-dan at left

In the 47th Meijin title match, the challenger, Shibano Toramaru 9-dan, has made a good start, taking a 2-1 lead over the defending Meijin, Iyama Yuta. However, Shibano had the bitter experience of taking a 3-1 lead over Iyama in the Honinbo title match last year without being able to win the title, so he won’t be counting his chickens. So far, Shibano has played five title matches with Iyama and won only of them. They are: the 67th Oza (2019), which Shibano, the challenger, won 3-1; the 45th Meijin (2020), which Iyama, the challenger, won 4-1; the 75th Honinbo (2020), which Iyama defended 4-1; the 76th Honinbo (2021), which Iyama defended 4-3; the 69th Oza title (2021), which Iyama defended 3-2.

The first game was played in the customary venue for opening games in recent years, the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, on August 24 and 25. Shibano drew black in the nigiri. In the opening, he played less aggressively than usual, storing up strength instead. This seems to have let Iyama secure a small territorial lead. Shibano kept on playing patiently, so White’s territorial lead became decisive. Black made use of his thickness to launch an all-out attack on a large, weak white group, which Black had surrounded on a large scale. However, Iyama found the perfect move to rescue this group. Black kept attacking it and reduced it to one eye, but in the end, he found that he had to give up one of his own attacking groups or let White link up. Shibano resigned after 152. In effect, he didn’t get a chance to use his stored-up strength to full advantage.

The second game was played at the Todaya, a long-established traditional inn in Toba City, Mie Prefecture, on September 5 and 6. Shibano (W) played very boldly in the early middle game, making an invasion in which he used 11 stones as a sacrifice. However, the limited compensation he got on the outside didn’t seem to justify the sacrifice. Iyama maintained a lead throughout most of the middle game, but he went wrong in an invasion into White’s moyo. In a position in which there were only two feasible moves, he chose the wrong one. Shibano took profit from attacking the group, enabling him to upset Black’s lead; in the end, he no longer needed to kill the group. Black resigned after White 220.

The third game was played at the Hotel Agora Osaka Moriguchi in Moriguchi City, Osaka Prefecture, on September 15 and 16. As in the previous two games, Iyama (W) took the early lead in territory and staked the game on a shinogi strategy, that is, on being able to rescue groups in trouble. Shibano again built thickness. The game was very close all the way through. Perhaps it became slightly favorable for Black when he walled off one side of a center moyo by sacrificing a few stones in sente. A little later, he had the option of attacking a vulnerable white group, but there would have been uncertainties involved. Shibano calculated that a peaceful enclosing move would retain a small lead. His calculations in choosing this safety-first move turned out to be correct. Convinced that he was behind, Iyama abruptly resigned after Black 171. The players following the game in the pressroom were astonished—according to their endgame research, Black had a win, but the margin was just half a point. 

For the second time in a best-of-seven, Shibano had the lead over Iyama, but he was well aware that the match had only just started. The fourth game will be played on October 6 and 7.

Seats filled in the new Honinbo League

The first seat in the 78th Honinbo League was decided on August 18 in a game held at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in, Fujita Akihiko 7-dan (B) beat Ida Atsushi 8-dan, a former Honinbo challenger (the 69th term), by resig. Fujita will make his debut in a league.

The second seat was decided on August 25. Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (W) beat Cho U 9-dan by resig. Motoki regained his seat immediately after dropping out. Cho U failed to make a comeback after an absence of six years.

The remaining two seats were decided on September 8. Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan (B) beat Hirata Tomoya 7-dan by resig., securing a seat in the Honinbo League for the third year in a row. Otake Yu 6-dan (W) beat Fujisawa Rina by resig. Otake will make his debut in a big-three league (Kisei S, Meijin, Honinbo); he earned an automatic promotion to 7-dan. Unfortunately, Fujisawa Rina missed her second chance to be the first woman player to enter a top league—three years ago she lost a play-off to enter the Meijin League to Ichiriki Ryo. 

The new league will start in October.

China dominates 4th Nie Weiping tournament

The Nie Weiping Cup Youth Masters, named after the legendary Chinese player who dominated international go in the 1980s, is an unofficial tournament for 16 young players from the four Far Eastern countries with professional systems. The tournament is open to players born on January 1, 2002, or later. The time allowance is one hour plus byo-yomi of 30 seconds a move. The first two rounds were held on the net on August 27. In the opening round, China fielded eight players, who won seven games; Wen of Korea was the only one to dent their record and he was eliminated in the next round.

Results are given below. The dates of the semifinals and the final have not yet been decided. First prize is 250,000 yuan (about $35,100).

(Round 1)  Zheng Zaixiang 4-dan (China) beat Xu Jing’en 4-dan (Chinese Taipei); Li Haotong 4-dan (China) beat Lee 4-dan (Korea); Tu Xiaoyu 7-dan (China) beat Kweon 4-dan (Korea); Wen Minzhong 5-dan (Korea) beat Wang Chunhui 2-dan (China); Zhou Hongyu 6-dan (B) beat Miura Taro 2-dan (Japan) by resig.; Zhang Baiqing 2-dan (China) beat Sakai Yuki 3-dan (Japan) by 5.5 points; Jin Yucheng 4-dan (China) (B) beat Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan (Japan) by resig.; Wang Xinghao 7-dan (China) beat Lai Junfu 7-dan (Ch. Taipei).

(Round 2) Li beat Zheng; Tu beat Wen; Zhang beat Zhou; Wang beat Jin.

(Semifinal pairings) Li v. Tu, Zhang v. Wang

Tomorrow: Yo to challenge Iyama for Oza; Ueno to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; New youngest player at Nihon Ki-in; Shibano wins Kisei S League


The Power Report: Sumire wins 3rd Discovery Cup; Shin Jinseo wins Kuksu Mountains; New record set for youngest player

Monday September 26, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Sumire wins 3rd Discovery Cup 

The Discovery Cup is an unofficial tournament for players 18 and under and 2-dan and under, including insei. Eight players who have won their way through a preliminary compete in a three-round league. The two players on 2-0 meet in what is virtually a “final” inside the third round. The format is the same as the NHK Cup: players have 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes thinking time to be used in one-minute units. First prize is ¥200,000 ($13,956, at $1 = ¥143.3). The tournament was founded by the late Ogino Shoji, who owned an art gallery on the Ginza. His family is continuing the sponsorship after his death.

The main tournament was played on August 11, which happened to be Nakamura Sumire’s off day in the Chinese Women’s B League (see previous item)—she was certainly keeping busy. After two rounds, the players on 2-0 were Sumire and last year’s winner, Miura Taro 2-dan. Taking white, Sumire won by resignation after 172 moves. Sumire: “I’m happy: winning this tournament was one of my goals.” (Results of all three games are given below in “Sumire’s progress.)

Shin Jinseo wins Kuksu Mountains

The 8th Kuksu Mountains International Baduk Championship, a Korean-sponsored international tournament, was held from August 13 to 15, with the 16 participants playing on the net. The tournament was dominated by Korean players, with seven of the quarterfinalists and all the semifinalists being from Korea. In the final, Shin Jinseo 9-dan beat Byan Sangil 9-dan, winning his fourth big international title. 

The time allowance is 30 minutes per player plus 40-second byo-yomi x 3. First prize is 75 million won ($52,891, at $1 = 1418 won). Below are the results (in most cases, full details are not available to me).

Round One (Aug. 13). Park Junghwan 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Kim Jiseok 9-dan (Korea) beat Iyama Yuta 9-dan (Japan) by half a point; Shin Minjun 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Kyo Kagen 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9-dan (Korea) beat Mi Yuting 9-dan (China); Zhao Zhenyu 9-dan (China) beat Kim Myeonghun 9-dan (Korea); Weon Seongjin 9-dan (Korea) beat Lai Junfu 7-dan (Ch. Taipei); Kang Dongyun 9-dan (Korea) beat Wang Yuanjun 7-dan (Ch. Taipei); Byan Sangil 9-dan (Korea) beat Ding Hao 9-dan (China).

Round Two (Aug. 13). Shin Jinseo beat Kim; Park beat Zhao; Weon beat Kang; Byan beat Shin Minjun.

Semifinals (Aug. 14). Shin Jinseo beat Park; Byan beat Weon.

Final (Aug. 15). Shin Jinseo 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Byan Sangil 9-dan (Korea) on time. 

New record set for youngest player

Nakamura Sumire, who became 1-dan at the age of exactly ten, has lost her record as the youngest professional ever in Japan. In April this year, the Kansai Ki-in announced that it had set up a system, the Special Induction System for Young Players, to enable talented young players to debut at a younger age in professional play in the belief that this will speed up their development. It is similar to the system under which Nakamura Sumire was chosen at the Nihon Ki-in; in her case, the system has been a resounding success. At a press conference held on August 17, the Kansai Ki-in announced that Fujita Reo, aged nine years four months, would become a professional 1-dan as of September 1. Fujita has set a new world record for the youngest professional. Previously, Cho Hunhyun of Korea and Chang Hao of China had shared the record at nine years seven months. 

Fujita was born in Osaka on April 25, 2013. At the age of four, he became addicted to the game of Othello. One day, when he was four years ten months old, his mother took him downtown to find an Othello club but couldn’t (not surprising, because they don’t exist, as far as I know), so she took him to a go club instead, since it looked similar to Othello. Reo was immediately fascinated by the game and started playing it all day long. The manager of the go club commented that he made amateur shodan in ten months. He started attending classes for children and playing in youth tournaments. When he was six, he won the Osaka qualifying tournament for lower-grade elementary-school pupils for the Children’s Kisei tournament, but couldn’t play in the all-Japan tournament because kindergarten pupils were not eligible. From June in first grade to April in third grade, he enrolled as an insei at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in. In 2021, he had the second-best results; apparently, from second grade he would occasionally play even games with low-ranked professionals and won some of them. (By the way, the Kansai Ki-in, which had some claim on Nakamura Sumire, cooperated with the Nihon Ki-in in her appointment as a pro; on this occasion, the Nihon Ki-in returned the courtesy.)

When Reo heard about the new Kansai Ki-in system, he sent in an application. He had to submit game records for vetting and play a game on black (no komi) with Seto Taiki 8-dan. Seto won the game by six points, but the Kansai Ki-in concluded he was strong enough to play as a pro. At the press conference, he commented that his ambition was to become the world’s top player. He said that his goal was to beat Shin Jinseo and that he wanted to play Iyama Yuta.

Nakamura Sumire’s reaction: “I’m astonished! I look forward to being able to play him!”

Japanese Wikipedia has some stories about Reo. He has a phenomenal memory: when he was one, he memorized all the stations in the Osaka train network (that’s at least 123 stations); when he was four, he memorized the 47 Japanese prefectures in order of size. He became a disciple of Hoshikawa Takumi 5-dan at the Kansai Ki-in. At first, he played him on the handicap of black without komi; in January this year, he played his first game on even and won it. Their results on even are 50-50. Hoshikawa: “The main feature of his go is his destructive power, based on reading. His opening is also strong; I find myself under pressure all the time.” His teacher at the go club commented: “I was often surprised by how he perfectly memorized long and complicated life -and-death sequences.”

Incidentally, Reo is the youngest male professional in Japan; he lowered the record set by Cho Chikun, who became 1-dan at 11 years nine months in 1968.

On September 2, Reo played a game to commemorate his becoming a pro. Taking black (no komi) against Yo Seiki 8-dan, he lost by resig. after 160 moves. He played a little too aggressively, creating weak groups.

Tomorrow:  Seats filled in the new Honinbo League; Shibano takes lead in Meijin title match; China dominates 4th Nie Weiping tournament


The Power Report: Sumire stars in the Chinese Women’s B League; Korea does well in Go Seigen Cup; Iyama starts badly in Chinese A Team League

Sunday September 25, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Sumire stars in the Chinese Women’s B League

The much-delayed 2021 edition of the Chinese Women’s B League Team tournament was held in Fuzhou City in Fujian Province from August 9 to 16. The three-player teams represent different areas of China, and a match was played every day, with just the third day off as a rest day. Two players from Japan, Nyu Eiko 4-dan and Nakamura Sumire 2-dan, took part, playing their games on the net. Nyu, who was on a Hubei team, made a bad start, losing her first three games, but she recovered to win the next three. She lost her final game, however, so she ended up with a minus record of 3-4. In contrast, Sumire had an excellent tournament, playing on a Fujian team and scoring 5-2 and helping her team to win promotion into the A League. Both served as captains of their teams, but I am afraid I do not know how to render the team names in English. Sumire’s best performance was in the last game; the match was tied 1-1, so her result would decide whether her team went up or not. Sumire demonstrated a good understanding of the Chinese rules, in which victory goes to the player with more stones surviving on the board. She worked out that if she played the “natural” move according to the Japanese rules, she would lose, so she tried to find a sequence that secured a half-point victory by the Chinese rules. Actually, her opponent, Kim Dayong of Korea, made a mistake, so Sumire won by half a point. Playing the way she did gave her opponent the opportunity to make this mistake. Ko Reibun 7-dan, who was acting as referee at the Japanese site, commented: “You can only call this a miracle.”

Korea does well in Go Seigen Cup

The opening rounds of the 5th Go Seigen Cup World Women’s Go Championship were held from July 30 to August 1. This is a Chinese-sponsored tournament with a top prize of 500,000 yuan (about $70,220, at $1 = 7.12 yuan). Sixteen players start out in the first round, then eight seeded players join the winners in the second round.

The tournament was a triumph for Korea, which secured three of the semifinal places. The fourth went to a Chinese representative. Japan had three players taking part, but only Ueno Asami picked up a win. In the second round, she beat Zhou Hongyyu 6-dan, one of China’s top players. Results to date are given below. The semifinals are scheduled for November 30. It was interesting to see Wu Yiming, who turns 16 on Nov. 22, again representing her country in an international tournament. In the not too distant future, she might become the world’s top woman player. Also, Hei Jiajia (aka Joanne Missingham) seemed to be in good form, just missing out on a semifinal seat. 

Round One (July 30). Wu Yiming 4-dan (China) (B) beat Nyu Eiko 4-dan (Japan) by 7.5 points; Li Xiaoxi 2-dan (China) (W) beat Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (Japan) by resig.; Hei Jiajia 7-dan (Ch. Taipei) (W) beat Rui Naiwei 9-dan (China) by resig.; Feng Yun 9-dan (North America) (W) beat Dina Burdakova, am. 5-dan, (Russia) by half a point; Zhou Hongyu 6-dan (W) beat Kim Eunji 3-dan (Korea) by 10.5 points; Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan (Japan) (W) beat Virzhinia Shalneva, am. 3-dan, (Russia) by resig.; Lu Yuhua 4-dan (Ch. Taipei) (B) beat Wang Yubo 4-dan (China) by resig.; Cho Seunga 5-dan (Korea) (B) beat Yin Mingming (Stephanie Yin, North America) by resig.

Round Two (July 31). Kim Jaeyoung 7-dan (Korea) (B) beat Wu by 1.5 points; Wang Chenxing 5-dan (China) (W) beat Cho by resig.; Lu Minquan 6-dan (China) (B) beat Suzuki by resig.; Hei (B) beat Yu Zhiying 7-dan (China) by 2.5 points; Lu Yuhua (W) beat Li He 5-dan (China) by half a point; Ueno (B) beat Zhou by resig.; Choi Jeong 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Li by resig.; Oh Yujin 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Feng by resig.

Quarterfinals (August 1). Oh (W) beat Lu Minquan by resig.; Kim (W) beat Hei by half a point; Choi (W) beat Ueno by resig.; Wang (B) beat Lu Yuhua by resig. 

Semifinal pairings (Nov. 30). Oh v. Choi, Kim v. Wang

Iyama starts badly in Chinese A Team League

The first round of the Chinese A Team League was held from August 3 to 11. There are 16 teams in this league; teams are made up of four players, but each team actually has a pool of five or six players to call upon. They announce their team just before a match. In the second round, the top eight teams will vie for supremacy, while the bottom eight will compete to avoid relegation to the B League. Iyama Yuta represented the Zhejiang Zheshang Securities team in Match 5 (the 8th) and Match 7 (the 10th). In the first game, Iyama (B) lost to Dang Yifei 9-dan, who was playing for the Zhengdu Agricultural & Commercial Bank; he resigned after 180 moves. Dang is a top player and won the 21st LG Cup. In the second game, Iyama was paired against Rong Yi of the Shenbo Dragon Flower team. Iyama had white and resigned after 141 moves. Actually, he had the lead for most of the game but made some errors in the latter stage of the game. 

Iyama’s team finished 8th. He is hoping to get a chance to redeem himself in the second round, but first, he has to be picked to play . . .

Tomorrow: Sumire wins 3rd Discovery Cup; Shin Jinseo wins Kuksu Mountains; New record set for youngest player


The Power Report: Early August updates

Thursday August 11, 2022

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Photos (l-r): 9th Hollyhock, Ueno (left Rina); 7th Senko Cup Rina, Sumire, Ueno & Nyu at venue; 7th Senko: Nyu wins; 7th Senko Ueno (left) beat Sumire; 47 Gosei Iyama (l) & Ichiriki review; 47 Meijin challenger Shibano; 47 Meijin: last round Shibano (left) vs Hane

Ueno wins first Women’s Hollyhock Cup

In the 9th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup title, Ueno Asami, holder of the Women’s Kisei title, became the challenger to Fujisawa Rina, who had held this title for five years in a row. In the best-of-three title match, Ueno made a good start, winning the opening game, but Fujisawa made a comeback in the second game. Both of these games were played at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City. In the deciding game, held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, a large ko started early. Fujisawa made a misjudgment in ignoring a strong ko threat by Ueno and ending the ko. That gave Ueno the lead and she hung on to it to the end, so the title changed hands. Details of the games follow.

Game 1 (June 18). Ueno (W) by resig. (218 moves).

Game 2 (June 20). Fujisawa (W) by resig. (146 moves).

Game 3 (June 24). Ueno (W) by resig. (150 moves).

With a first prize of 7,000,000 yen (about $53,000 at $1 = ¥132), the Hollyhock is the second richest of the women’s titles. To review its history, Fujisawa won the first title, O Keii the second, Xie Yimin the third, then Fujisawa the 4th to 8th.

Nyu wins Senko Cup

The number one and number two women players were missing from the final of the 7th Senko Cup, played at the Geihinkan Akekure (Guesthouse Dawn and Dusk) in Omi City, Shiga Prefecture, on July 17. Nakamura Sumire beat Fujisawa Rina in one semifinal and Nyu Eiko beat Ueno Asami in the other (details given below). Neither of the finalists had won this title before. For Sumire, it was a second chance to set a new record for the youngest title winner. Taking black, she played well in the final and set up an overwhelming lead over Nyu, but then she began to play negatively. Nyu fought fiercely and little by little whittled down her lead. In the end, Nyu won by 2.5 points. This is her first title. First prize is ¥8,000,000 (about $60,600).

Semifinals (July 15, same venue as above). Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (W) beat Fujisawa Rina Senko Cup by 1.5 points; Nyu Eiko 4-dan (B) beat Ueno Asami Women’s Hollyhock Cup by resig.

Iyama defends Gosei title

Iyama Yuta’s devastating form against Ichiriki Ryo continues. After rebuffing his challenge 4-0 in the Honinbo title match (see my report of June 22), he has now beaten him 3-0 in the 47th Gosei title match.

The first game was played on the titleholder’s home ground, the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Kita Ward, Osaka City, on June 24. Iyama (W) continued the momentum of the Honinbo match, seizing the initiative through positive play in the opening and maintaining the pressure throughout. Ichiriki resigned after 176 moves. Iyama played a move not predicted by AI, but after he played it the AI rating of White’s position went up. This is quite rare—you could argue that Iyama surpassed AI.

There was a gap of three weeks before the second game (presumably, one or two of the Honinbo games that turned out to be unneeded would have been played in this interval). It was played at the North Country Newspaper Hall in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on July 16. Iyama (B) staged a carefully calculated sacrifice strategy that led to a whole-board fight. Late in the game, he was subjected to a fierce attack by Ichiriki, but he answered with precision and wrapped up another win. Ichiriki resigned after 201 moves.

The third game was played at the Miyajima Hotel Makoto in the town on Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture on July 27. Iyama (W) took the lead in the fighting in the opening and held on to it without slackening. Ichiriki resigned after White 154. Iyama won the title for the second year in a row and the 8th time overall. First prize is ¥8,000,000 (about $60,600). He also maintained his quadruple crown, with the Honinbo, Meijin, and Oza. At the age of 33, he’s still the top player in Japan, though the Kisei gives Ichiriki the top rank.

Ichiriki was quite disappointed. “All three games ended without my being able to exert my strength,” he commented. “This is my worst performance in a title match.” For Ichiriki, the alternative explanation doesn’t bear thinking about: Iyama may have taken his measure. 

Shibano wins Meijin League

In the final round of the 47th Meijin League, only two players were still in the running: Shibano Toramaru on 6-1 and Ichiriki Ryo on 5-2. The final round was labeled the “August” round in the Japanese league chart, but it was actually played on July 21. Ichiriki did all he could, winning his game, but Shibano also won his final game, so he won the league outright. Actually his game finished first of all the games. An opening sequence that he had researched only the day before appeared in his game with Hane Naoki, so he took the lead immediately. He will reappear in the Meijin title match after a gap of a term (he won the 44th title from Cho U, but lost it to Iyama the following term; Iyama then defended it against Ichiriki last year). League results since my last report follow.

(June 13) Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (W) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by 1.5 points.

(June 16) Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (B) beat Ida Atsushi 8-dan by resig.

(June 20) Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (B) beat Shida Tatsuya 8-dan by 4.5 points.

(June 30) Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8-dan by 1.5 points.

(July 7) Hane Naoki 9-dan (W) beat Ida Atsushi 8-dan by resig.

(July 11) Shibano (B) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resig.

(July 21) Ichiriki (B) beat Kyo by resig.; Yo Seiki 8-dan (W) beat Yamashita by resig.; Shibano (W) beat Hane by resig.; Ida (B) beat Shida by 1.5 points.

Hane, Motoki, and Ida lost their seats. Hane had held his seat for 12 years in a row.

Shibano leads Kisei S League

A key game in the 47th Kisei S League was played on August 4. Shibano beat the previous Kisei, Iyama Yuta, so he kept the sole lead on 3-0. Although he has the advantage of being ranked number one in a league with no play-offs, suffering his second loss makes it very hard for Iyama to recover, though he can still aim at second place, which also secures a seat in the final knock-out. This win will also give Shibano some momentum for his Meijin challenge, which starts at the end of this month. With all players having completed three rounds in the S League, Shibano’s main rival is Kyo Kagen Judan, the only player with just one loss. Recent results are given below.

(June 16) Iyama Yuta Meijin (W) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by 1.5 points.

(July 4) Kyo Kagen Judan (W) beat Takao Shinji 9-dan by resig.

(July 7) Yo Seiki 8-dan (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8-dan by resig. 

(August 4) Shibano (W) beat Iyama Yuta by resig.

Yamashita wins Kisei A League

The seventh and final round of the 47th Kisei A League has yet to be played, but Yamashita Keigo 9-dan has already secured victory. He is on 5-1, and his nearest rival is Son Makoto 7-dan on 4-2. Son plays Yamashita in the final round, but even if he wins, there is no play-off in the league: the higher-ranked player – Yamashita is #2 and Son is #5 – prevails.

The winners of the B1 and B2 Leagues have likewise been decided in the penultimate rounds. Fujita Akihiko 7-dan, who is on 6-0, has won the B1 League. B2 was won by Suzuki Shinji 7-dan, who was also on 6-0. Both these players are two wins ahead of their rivals. Suzuki ended up with 7-0.

Ida to challenge for Tengen

The play-off to decide the challenger for the 48th Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 4. Taking white, Ida Atsushi 9-dan (aged 28) defeated Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (aged 25) by resig. Ida will make his first challenge for the Tengen title. The titleholder is Seki Kotaro (aged 20). The match will start on October 3.

Sumire’s progress

(June 13) Sumire (W) beat Yo Kaei 8-dan by resig. (Prelimin. B, 48th Meijin).

(June 16) Sumire (W) beat Osawa Narumi by resig. (7th Senko Cup, main section).

(June 20) Sumire (B) lost to Nakamura Hidehito 9-dan by resig.(Prelim. C, 49th Tengen).

(June 23) Sumire (W) beat Takeshita Ryoya 1-dan by 6.5 points (Prelim. C, 71st Oza).

(June 27) Sumire (B) beat Jo Bunen 1-dan by resig.i(Prelim. C, 48th Gosei).

(July 4) Sumire (B) lost to Koyama Kuya 5-dan by 8.5 points (Prelim. B, 48th Meijin).

(July 15) Sumire (W) beat Fujisawa Rina by 1.5 points (7th Senko Cup).

(July 17) Sumire (B) lost to Nyu Eiko 4-dan by 2.5 points (Senko Cup final)

(July 21) Sumire (B) beat Ito Masashi 5-dan by 4.5 points (Prelim. C, 48th Gosei).

(July 25) Sumire (B) beat Ueno Risa 2-dan by resig. (3rd round, main section, 41st Women’s Honinbo).

(July 28) Sumire (W) beat Koda Akiko 4-dan by 1.5 points (Prelim. C, 71st Oza).

(July 30) Sumire lost to Li 2-dan (5th Go Seigen Cup). Sumire’s record for the year was 27-15.

Yamada Kimio wins 1,000 games

When Yamada Kimio 9-dan (W) beat Takahashi Masumi 4-dan by resig. in Prelim. B of the 48th Meijin tournament on June 30, he became the 30th player to reach the benchmark of 1,000 wins. He had 487 losses, for an excellent winning percentage of 67.2%. It took him 33 years two months and his age was 49 years nine months. However, after reaching 999 wins, he lost four games in a row.

Most wins 

1. Ueno Asami, Women’s Hollyhock Cup: 36-10

2. Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 32-16

3. Nakamura Sumire: 27-15

4. Ida Atsushi 8-dan, Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo: 25-11  

6. Nyu Eiko, Senko Cup: 24-13

7. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 23-8

8. Kato Chie 2-dan: 20-9; Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 20-17

10. Otake Yu 6-dan: 19-5; Ueno Risa 2-dan: 19-9; Shibano Toramaru 9-dan: 19-10

13. Hirata Tomoya 7-dan: 18-3; Rin Kanketsu 8-dan, Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan, Ikemoto Ryota 2-dan: 18-7; Kyo Kagen Judan: 18-10

Winning streaks

8: Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan, Sakai Yuki 3-dan

6:  Suzuki Shinji 7-dan, Mito Shuhei 1-dan

5: Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan 

Streaks ended since my last report

9: Sakai Takashi 2-dan, Iyama Yuta Meijin, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan 

7: Inaba Takahiro 4-dan, Mito Shuhei 1-dan

6: Ko Iso 9-dan, Ogata Masaki 9-dan, Suzuki Shinji 7-dan

5: Kuwabara Yoko 6-dan, Otake Yu 6-dan, Mitani Tetsuya 8-dan, Fujii Koki 2-dan, Hoshiai Shiho 3-dan


To 9-dan (200 wins): Izumitani Hideo (as of July 1); Ida Atsushi (as of July 26). It’s rare to see two promotions by the cumulative-wins system in the same month. There are now 82 9-dans at the Nihon Ki-in. Izumitani is the son of the late Izumitani Masanori 9-dan. Born in 1969, he came second in the 14th King of the New Stars in 1988. Ida, born in 1994, was promoted to 8-dan when he won the 69th Honinbo League in 2014; he lost the title match 1-4 to Iyama Yuta. In 2015, he won the 53rd Judan title and the 62nd NHK Cup (at 20 years 11 months, he’s still the youngest player to win this title). He has also won the Crown title six years in a row. His win-loss record to date is 346-183. He is married to Mannami Nao 4-dan. 

To 8-dan: Takei Takashi (150 wins, as of July 1)

To 5-dan (70 wins): Ueda Takashi (as of June 21), Furuya Masao (as of June 24)

To 4-dan: Osawa Kenro (50 wins, as of July 5)

To 3-dan: Kibe Natsuki (40 wins, as of July 8)

To 2-dan: Ueno Risa (30 wins, as of June 21)

Marriage between professionals

On July 15, Son Makoto 7-dan (aged 26) and Hoshiai Shiho 3-dan (aged 25) announced that they had registered their marriage on July 7.


Iwata Tatsuaki

Iwata Tatsuaki 9-dan died of aspiration pheumonia on June 30. He was born in Aichi Prefecture on January 2, 1926. He became a disciple of Kitani Minoru 9-dan and made 1-dan in 1943. He was a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He reached 9-dan in 1964 and retired in 2011. He won the Crown title nine times and won the top section of the rating tournament in 1963. He won the Central Japan Top Position tournament three times in a row. He played in the Meijin League twice and the Honinbo League seven times. His lifetime record was. 881 wins to 618 losses, with 9 jigo (winning percentage 58.4).

Oto Shozo

Oto Shozo died of cirrhosis of the liver on July 26. He was born in Tokyo on Sept. 4, 1948. He became a disciple of Kitani Minoru 9-dan and qualified as 1-dan in 1971. He reached 5-dan in 1981; after retiring in 2013, he was promoted to 6-dan. He was posthumously promoted to 7-dan. 


The Power Report: June news updates

Wednesday June 22, 2022

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Photos (l-r): 1st Hoban Fujisawa Rina; 1st Hoban Wu Yiming; 9Globis Fukuoka 2nd; 9Globis Wang the winner; 9th Hollyhock Uenl (left) beats Okuda; 27LG Shibano best 8; 77honinbo2 Ichiriki Iyama rugby jerseys; 77honinbo2 playing room view of ground; 77honinbo3 Iyama; 77honinbo4 Iyama (left) Cho Chikun Ichiriki; 77honinbo4 Kyushu Nat Museum; Meijin-Kisei Leagues.

Iyama sets new record in Honinbo title

After Ichiriki Ryo’s success in taking the top title from Iyama Yuta in this year’s Kisei title match, most fans probably installed him as the favorite in the 77th Honinbo title match, but that’s not how things worked out. Iyama took a full measure of revenge on his closest rival.

As described in my report of May 21, Iyama took the first game through tenacious play in the late middle game and endgame. This pattern continued in the other games of the best-of-seven.

The second game was played in the Special Room at the Kumagaya Rugby Ground in Kumagaya City, Saitama Prefecture, on May 24 and 25. The room is on the fourth floor of the stadium and offers a view of the playing field. Presumably the venue was chosen by Kumagaya City, which was a supporting sponsor for this game. (Recently, it seems to have become usual for the cities etc. where games are staged to become supporting sponsors just for that game. This gains them publicity and presumably relieves the financial burden on the main sponsors of the tournament.) Kumagaya is a mecca for Japanese rugby fans, and some games in the 2019 Rugy World Cup, which Japan hosted, were played there. The players got into the spirit of things by posing in rugby jerseys holding on to footballs, though they switched back to the regulations suits to play the game.

As indicated above, Ichiriki made another good start, but Iyama (white) refused to give up. He played aggressively, complicating the position and eliciting an error from Ichiriki. Once he had upset his lead, Iyama played solidly, giving Ichiriki no chance to get back into the game.

The third game was played at the Fujii residence in Yamada Hot Spring in Nagano Prefecture on June 1 and 2. Once again, Ichiriki (W) took the lead in the opening and early middle game, but Iyama fought very strongly in the latter part of the game (meaning, in this case, from about move 121 on). He sacrificed a group in a way that surprised the professionals following the game on the spot, but that was part of a far-seeing whole-board strategy. Under pressure, Ichiriki played some sub-optimal moves that let Iyama dominate the game. Not only did he upset Ichiriki’s lead, he gradually increased his own lead. When Ichiriki resigned, after Black 259, he was ten points or more behind on the board. If you have access to a game record, check out Black 179, an unlikely-looking tesuji that Ichiriki didn’t see. It enabled Iyama to maximize his territory in a corner fight.

The fourth game was played at the Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu City, Kyushu, on June 11 and 12. This turned out to be the most spectacular game of the series. Early in the game, there was a spectacular trade, in which Ichiriki (black) sacrificed a group in exchange for capturing some white stones. However, the result was a little advantageous for Iyama. Ichiriki subsequently played some dubious moves, letting Iyama expand his lead. Ichiriki resigned after 196 moves.

   The referee for this game was Cho Chikun, so he had a close-up view as Iyama broke his record by scoring his 11th successive victory in a top-seven title. It was also Iyama 68th title (55 of them top-seven titles), so he is drawing closer and closer to Cho’s record of 75 (42).

Iyama’s comment: “After the new year started, there was a difficult period for me when I couldn’t get good results. Things were tough for me, so I’m happy I got a good result this time. . . . As a go fan watching Cho win ten in a row, I never dreamed I could challenge his record. It’s a great honor.”

Cho’s comment: “It felt good when we were lined up together on ten-in-a-row, but now that he’s gone past me, I feel bad. Now it’s happened, I want him to win about 20 in a row. He defended with straight wins, but in this series Ichiriki’s content was better. He should be able to keep competing with confidence.”

There was no quote from Ichiriki in the newspaper. First prize is 28,000,000 yen (about $208,955, at $1=¥134). Below is a list of the top successive-title records.

11: Iyama Honinbo (2012~22)

10: Cho Chikun Honinbo (1989~98)

9: Iyama Kisei (2013~21)

9: Takagawa Kaku Honinbo (1952~60) 

8: Kobayashi Koichi Kisei (1986~93)

8: Kato Masao Oza (1982~8

Ueno to challenge for Hollyhock Cup

The semifinals and final of the 9th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup were held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 21 and 22. In the semifinals (May 21), Ueno Asami (B) beat Kibe Natsuki 2-dan by resignation, and Oku Aya 4-dan (W) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan, also by resignation. The next day, Ueno (B) beat Okuda by resignation and earned the right to challenge Fujisawa Rina for the title. Fujisawa has held this title for five years in a row and six times overall. Ueno made two unsuccessful challenges, for the 6th and 8th Cup; she lost 0-2 each time, so she will be looking for revenge.

Wu of China dominates 1st Hoban Cup

The Hoban Cup Seoul Newspaper Women’s Baduk Championship 2022 is a new international tournament run along the same lines as the Nong Shim Cup, with the difference that it is split into just two rounds, not three. The first round was dominated by the 15-year-old Wu Yiming 3-dan of China, who won five games in a row. According to Chinese rules for international tournaments, this earned her a promotion to 4-dan. The second round is scheduled for October.

Game 1 (May 22). Wu Yiming 3-dan (China) (W) beat Nakamura Sumire 2-dan (Japan) by resig.

Game 2 (May 23). Wu (W) (B) beat Lee Suljoo 1-dan (Korea) by resig.

Game 3 (May 24). Wu (B) beat Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan (Japan) by 11.5 points.

Game 4 (May 25). Wu (B) beat Heo Seohyun 3-dan (Korea) by resig.

Game 5 (May 26). Wu (B) beat Xie Yimin 7-dan (Japan) by resig.

Game 6 (May 27). Kim Jaeyeong 7-dan (Korea) (W) beat Wu 4-dan by resig.

Game 7 (May 28). Fujisawa Rina 5-dan (Japan) (B) beat Kim by resig.

LG Cup: Shibano makes best eight

The opening rounds of the 27th LG Cup, an international tournament sponsored by the LG Corporation in Korea, were held on the net from May 30 to June 1. Twenty-four players took part, with 16 starting out in the first round and eight being seeded into the second round. As the host country, Korea had 13 players; China had seven, Japan three, and Chinese Taipei one. The Japanese participants were Shibano Toramaru and Yo Seiki, who were seeded, and Sada Atsushi, who won the Japanese qualifying tournament. Shibano, who was seeded into the second round, was the only Japanese player to make the best eight.

The time allowance is three hours, followed by 40-second byo-yomi x 5. Results follow (for most of the games, I don’t have full details).

(Round 1, May 29). Shin Minjun 9-dan (Korea) beat Shi Yue 9-dan (China); Zhao Chenyu beat Park Geunho 6-dan (Korea); Yo Seiki (Yu Zhengqi) 8-dan (Japan) (B) beat Park Hamin 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Kim Jiseok 9-dan (Korea) beat Gu Jihao 9-dan (China); Park Jinseol 6-dan (Korea) (B) beat Sada Atsushi 7-dan (Japan) by resig.

(Round 1, May 30) Wang Yuanjun 9-dan (Ch. Taipei) beat Weon Seongjin 9-dan (Korea); Kang Dongyun 9-dan (Korea) beat Cho Hanseung 9-dan (Korea); Kim Myeonghoon 9-dan (Korea) beat Seol Hyunjun 7-dan (Korea).

Round 2 (31 May). Mi Yuting 9-dan (China) beat Cho; Shin Jinseo 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Yo by resig.); Ke Jie 9-dan (China) beat Shin Minjun; Ding Hao 9-dan (China) beat Kim; Yang Dingxin 9-dan (China) beat Park. 

(Round 2, June 1). Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (Japan) (W) beat Wang by resig.; Kang beat Park Junghwan 9-dan (Korea); Kim beat Byun Sangil 9-dan (Korea).

Semifinal (Nov. 24) pairings: Ke v. Kang, Mi v. Shin Jinseo, Ding vs. Kim, Shibano v. Yang.

Globis Cup

The 9th Globis Cup was held in the same week at the LG Cup, so suddenly there was a lot of activity in international go. Unfortunately, this tournament, too, had to be held on the net. Founded in 2014, it is a tournament for players under 20. It is sponsored by the Globis Graduate School of Business. The tournament is run by the NHK format: 30 seconds per move, with ten minutes of thinking time to be used in one-minute units. First prize is 1,500,000 yen; second prize is 250,000 yen, and third prize is 100,000 yen. The tournament system is complicated: the 16 participants are split up in four mini-knockout tournaments, with the top four proceeding to the main tournament. However, there is also a losers’ tournament in which four more players earn seats in the main tournament. Thanks to this second chance, Kevin Yang of North American, who is listed as amateur 7-dan, won a seat in the main tournament. The above games were all played on June 4. Results in the main tournament, held on June 5, follow.

(Quarterfinals) Zhou Hongyu 6-dan (China) beat Lai Junfu (Ch.Taipei); Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan (Japan) beat Kevin Yang; Wang Xinghao 7-dan (China) beat Tsuji Shigehito 3-dan (Japan); Tu Xiaoyu 7-dan (China) beat Lee Yeon 4-dan (Korea).

(Semifinals) Fukuoka beat Zhou; Wang beat Tu.

(Final) Wang (W) beat Fukuoka by resig.

(Play-off for 3rd place) Tu beat Zhou.

Wang Xinghao also won this tournament last year, beating Tu Xiaoyu in the final. 

Fujisawa fails to reach best four in Tengen

  Fujisawa Rina’s excellent run in the 48th Tengen tournament finally came to an end on June 2. Playing white, she lost by resignation to Otake Yu 6-dan. If she had won, she would have been the first woman to make the best four in a top-seven title. Actually, Fujisawa took the lead in the opening, but Otake was able to pull off an upset.

Shibano leads in 47th Meijin League

Shibano Toramaru, former Meijin, holds the sole lead on 4-1, followed by Ichiriki Ryo Kisei and Shida Tatsuya 8-dan on 4-2 and Kyo Kagen Judan on 3-2. Recent results follow.

(May 19) Ichiriki Ryo Kisei (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 9-dan by resig.

(June 2) Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (W) beat Hane Naoki 9-dan by resig.

(June 9) Shida Tatsuya 8-dan (B) beat Yo Seiki 8-dan by 1.5 points

Kisei S League

Two games in the second round have been played so far. On June 2 Murakawa Daisuke 9-dan (W) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resignation, and on June 6 Shibano (B) beat Takao Shinji 9-dan by resig. On 2-0, Shibano Toramaru is the only undefeated player. 

Sumire reaches 100 wins

Scoring one’s 100th win is not usually considered a significant landmark, but things are different if the player concerned is only 13 years old. The Yomiuri reported on June 7 that Nakamura Sumire 2-dan had recorded her 100th win in a game played at the Nihon Ki-in on the previous day. Taking white, she beat Kato Keiko 6-dan by resignation in the second round of the main section of the 41st Women’s Honinbo tournament. At 13 years three months, she set yet another youth record. The previous record of 15 years 11 months was set by Cho Chikun, Honorary Meijin. At a press conference after the game, Sumire commented: “I’m not very aware of my number of wins. It was like: really?” When a reporter commented that she had done it in three years two months as a pro, she smiled. “I don’t really know, but that seems fast.” To become the challenger, she needs three more wins. Sumire has played only two games since my last report, one of them the game reported here. For the other, see the report on the Hoban Cup above.

Most wins (as of June 10)

The latest Go Weekly gave only the top two places, so positions 3 to 10 are my best guess. There are five women in the top ten.

1. Ueno Asami: 27-5

2. Ichiriki Ryo Kisei: 26-10

3. Nyu Eiko 4-dan: 20-10

4. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 19-4; Ida Atsushi 8-dan: 19-6; Nakamura Sumire 2-dan: 19-10

7. Fujisawa Rina, Women’s Honinbo: 18-7

8. Kyo Kagen Judan: 17-6

9. Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 16-14

10. Ikemoto Ryota 2-dan: 15-6 

Most successive wins

10: Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan

6: Yo Kaei 8-dan, Ueno Risa 1-dan (younger sister of Ueno Asami)

5: So Yokoku 9-dan, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan, Mitani Tetsuya 8-dan, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan, Hirose Yuichi 6-dan, Sakai Takashi 2-dan, Kawahara Yu 1-dan

Recently ended streaks

13: Koike Yoshihiro 

6: Fujisawa Rina

5: O Rissei 9-dan, Son Makoto 7-dan, Nishioka Masao, Fujisawa Rina, Konishi Yoshiakira 1-dan, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan, Shibano Toramaru 9-dan


There was some funny arithmetic in my article on Ishida Yoshio’s government decoration (ejournal, May 23). Total games played by Ishida should have read 1870. His record, updated to June 7, is: 1146 wins, 725 losses, 1 no-result, total 1872 games. Thanks to Peter St. John for pointing out my mistake.

NOTE: John Power sent in these reports on June 13 but publication was delayed due to EJ Managing Editor being on travel; our apologies for the delay.