by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Pair Go Celebrates 25th Anniversary: One of the biggest developments in go in recent decades has been the rise of Pair Go to worldwide popularity. The holding of the 25th International Amateur Pair Go Championship at the end of October also marked the 25th anniversary of the birth of Pair Go…click here to read more on this and all the following reports.
Korea Takes Lead in Nong Shim Cup: In the three-way team tournament, Korea ended this round with two wins to one each for Japan and China…
Iyama Makes Good Start in Oza Title Match: The 62nd Oza best-of-five is another title match in which Iyama Yuta is facing a younger challenger. The first game was held at the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel in Yokohama City on October 21 and the game was a fierce one, which is usually the case with Iyama, and featured some novel variations…
Iyama Wins First Tengen Game: The first game of the 40th Tengen title match was held on October 24, so Iyama was engaged in three concurrent title matches. Here his challenger is Takao Shinji, holder of the only top-seven title missing from Iyama’s portfolio, the Judan…
Iyama Yuta Defends Meijin Title: In the sixth game of the 39th Meijin title match Iyama took a territorial lead early in the game, then skillfully reduced a large moyo that Kono built…
Korea Wins O-kage Cup International New Stars Tournament: The O-kage (gratitude) Cup is a regional tournament for young players sponsored by an association of tourist shops in Ise City, the site of the famous Ise Shrine. The sponsors held an international tournament for teams from Japan, China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei on November 1 and 2…
Two Meijin League Places Decided: The Meijin is a conservative league, with only three out of nine places opening up every year. Two of the vacant seats were decided on November 6…
Fujisawa Wins Women’s Honinbo: The third game of the 33rd Women’s Honinbo title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on November 7. Taking black, Fujisawa Rin 2P won by 5.5 points after 233 moves…
Radical Reorganization of Kisei Tournament: There will be complete overhaul of the Yomiuri Newspaper-sponsored Kisei tournament as of the 40th term (the 39th term will be completed with the best-of-seven title match starting in January 2015). The only thing that won’t change is the title match itself. Even with charts, it’s hard to understand the system, but I’ll try to explain it without them…
Pair Go Celebrates 25th Anniversary: One of the biggest developments in go in recent decades has been the rise of Pair Go to worldwide popularity. The World Pair Go Association has 70 member countries and territories, so it’s hard to believe the game was invented in Tokyo just 25 years ago. An international tournament was started immediately, so the holding of the 25th International Amateur Pair Go Championship at the end of October also marked the 25th anniversary of the birth of Pair Go. The rise of the game is mainly due to the vision and dedication of two people, Hisao Taki, its inventor, and his wife Hiroko Taki (right), its main promoter.
The celebrations were held on a lavish scale and were a great success, culminating in a surprise appearance by one of Japan’s most powerful politicians at the farewell party. Besides the regular annual tournament and the international goodwill match and handicap tournaments that always accompany it, the sponsors organized a dinner party for some of the people who have helped popularize Pair Go, founded a new international tournament for students, and staged two commemorative Pair Go games among top-flight professionals from Japan, China, and Korea. On top of this, the Japan Pair Go Association also unveiled the Pair Go song, a professionally composed and performed song entitled “Pair Go, My Dream.” The main events of the weekend are described below.
The first big event was a lavish dinner party held at the Hotel Okura Tokyo in the evening of Friday, October 24. The aim was to express gratitude to the Pair Go Promotion Partners who have helped to popularize Pair Go in Japan and around the world. Some 26 PGPPs and other guests had been specially invited to Japan to attend this party (and the tournament). All told, there were 86 guests, including your reporter (on a personal note, this was the first go party in Japan for a long time that I attended as a guest and not as an interpreter). Apart from the excellent meal provided by the head chef of the hotel, there were some unusual features at this party. At one end of the room, there was a string quartet playing music; at the other there were four booths for simultaneous interpreters handling English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. This is the first time I have seen either a classical music group or simultaneous interpreters at a go function. The party was also interactive. The host, Hisao Taki, drew from a box the names of a number of people who were to join him on the stage and either ask a question about the future of Pair Go or say something about the game in their countries. The audience was supplied with handheld devices with which they voted their approval of the speakers. The most popular attracted 66 votes.
On Saturday morning, the first round of the 25th IAPGC was held. In the early afternoon, the goodwill match was held, with some professionals taking part and teaming up with amateurs. In the late afternoon, two special commemorative games were held. After lots were drawn, Xie (Hsieh) Yimin 6P and Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) were matched against Lee Hajin 3P and Cho Hoon-hyun 9P (Korea) and Zhang Xuan 8P and Chang Hao 9P (China) against Kobayashi Izumi 6P and Cho U 9P (Japan) (the last two teams are both husband-and-wife pairings). This was not a tournament, so the results are not important, perhaps, but just for the record the first-mentioned team won each contest. Live commentaries on these games were given by Ishida Yoshio 9P and Yoshida Mika 8P in Japanese and Michael Redmond 9P (left) in English.
These events were followed by a welcome party in the evening at which the Pair Go song made its debut with a live performance.
The Sunday is always the main day of this festival of Pair Go, as three large-scale handicap Pair Go tournaments (known collectively as the Araki Cup) are held in conjunction with the IAPGC. This year, however, there was also a new tournament, the 1st World Students Pair Go Championship, founded as one of the events commemorating Pair Go’s 25th anniversary. Eight teams from Japan, China, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Thailand took part in a three-round Swiss-system tournament. (Next year, the tournament will be expanded and held independently on a different date from the IAPGC.)
The weekend concluded with the usual lavish party (the word ‘lavish’ tends to come up often with Pair Go events in Japan), starting with the Awards Ceremony, proceeding to speeches by VIPs, and concluding with the drawing of lots for a large number of prizes donated by sponsors. The surprise guest referred to above was Suga Yoshihide, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, who is one of the top figures in the Abe government. As the chief spokesman for the government, Suga makes almost daily appearances in Japanese TV news programs, so he is almost as familiar a face as the prime minister. There was an audible gasp from the audience, followed by loud applause, when he appeared on the stage. Suga seemed to be well informed about Pair Go; the main theme of his speech was how much better the Abe government’s policy of promoting gender equality in Japan would be going if they had followed Pair Go’s lead 25 years ago.
Below are some of the results from the weekend’s play.
The 25th International Amateur Pair Go Championship
Teams from 21 countries and territories participated. The winning team is the first ever to win the tournament in successive years.
1. Kim Sooyoung 6D and Jeon Junhak 4D (Korea): 5-0 (right)
2. Lin Hsiao-tung 6D and Lai Yu-cheng 7D (Chinese Taipei): 4-1
3. Tsuji Moeka 6D and Tsunoda Daisuke 8D (Japan): 4-1
The top-placing Western pair was Klara Zaloudkova 3D and Jan Hora 6D of the Czech Republic in 13th place. Yiwen Ye 1D and Daehyuk Ko 7D of the USA came 16th. Click here for complete results, game records, the EJ’s November 6 report and Ranka’s report, which includes brief interviews with the players.
The 1st World Students Pair Go Championship
1. Kim Hyun-Ah 6D and Park Moon-kyo 5D
2. Tsukada Karin 5D and Kebukawa Satoru 6D
3. Hu shih-Yun 6D and Chan Yi-Tien 7D
Korea Takes Lead in Nong Shim Cup: The Korean-sponsored Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup is a three-way team tournament among Japan, China, and Korea. The opening round was held in Beijing from October 21 to 24. Japan’s lead-off player, the 17-year-old Ichiriki Ryo, made a good start by winning the opening game, but he lost the next. Korea ended this round with two wins to one each for Japan and China. Note: click here for Go Game Guru’s report on this round, including game records and more photos. Results are:
Game 1 (Oct. 21). Ichiriki Ryo 7P (Japan) beat Byong Sang-il 3P (Korea) by resig.
Game 2 (Oct. 22). Tuo Jiaxi 9P (China) (B) beat Ichiriki by resig.
Game 3 (Oct. 23). Kang Tong-yun 9P (Korea) (B) beat Tuo by resig. (photo at left)
Game 4 (Oct. 24). Kang (B) beat Ida Atsushi 8P (Japan) by resig.
The next round will be held in Busan, Korea, from November 28 to December 3 and the final round in Shanghai from March 2 to 6.
Iyama Makes Good Start in Oza Title Match: The 62nd Oza best-of-five is another title match in which Iyama Yuta is facing a younger challenger. In the Honinbo title match it was the 20-year-old Ida Atsushi 8P; this time it is the 23-year-old Murakawa Daisuke 7P (right) of the Kansai Ki-in, who is two years Iyama’s junior. The first game was held at the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel in Yokohama City on October 21. The playing room was a Japanese-style room on the 65th floor of the Landmark Tower, in which the hotel is located.
The game was a fierce one, which is usually the case with Iyama, and featured some novel variations. Murakawa played a move that was too tight (86) and another move that was dubious (110), so Iyama took the lead. However, both players hallucinated in the endgame fighting. Iyama, playing black, made an attack inside Murakawa’s corner that wasn’t a threat; the latter could have switched elsewhere after Iyama’s fourth move in the corner, but he answered, so Iyama didn’t suffer for his misreading. Apparently, however, Murakawa would not have taken the lead even if he realized what was going on, because at this stage of the game a move elsewhere would not have been big enough to upset Iyama’s lead. The game became very close subsequently only because of slack play by Iyama, and at times it looked as if either player could have won.
The game ended after 244 moves, with Iyama edging Murakawa by half a point. The second and third games will be played at the same venue, Kyoto, on November 18 and 20. ‘Bundling’ the games has become the practice recently because of the busyness of the tournament scene in the autumn.
Iyama Wins First Tengen Game: The first game of the 40th Tengen title match was held on October 24, so Iyama was engaged in three concurrent title matches. Here his challenger is Takao Shinji, holder of the only top-seven title missing from Iyama’s portfolio, the Judan. The game was played at the Yumoto Sakakibara-kan inn in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture. Iyama beat Takao by resignation after 188 moves. According to Go Weekly, Iyama dominated the game. He has held the Tengen title for three successive terms and won each title match 3-0, so this is an ominous start for Takao. The second game will be played on November 11. photo: Takao defeated Kono Rin 9P on Sept 26, earning the right to challenge Iyama.
Iyama Yuta Defends Meijin Title: The sixth game of the 39th Meijin title match was held at the Kami-Suwa Aburaya Inn in Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture, on October 29 and 30. Taking black, Iyama took a territorial lead early in the game, then skillfully reduced a large moyo that Kono built. The latter didn’t seem to make any really bad moves, but was outmaneuvered by Iyama. The final margin was 3.5 points in Iyama’s favor after 215 moves. This gave him a lead of 4-2, so he won the title for the second year in a row and the fourth time overall.
Iyama faltered a little earlier in this match, with two successive losses, but this win was his fifth in a row, all played during October, in three different title matches, so he seems to be back in peak form. Not only did he maintain his sextuple crown, he is still on track for aiming at a grand slam next year. The Meijin is Iyama’s 26th title overall, which puts him in 9th place in the all-time rankings. However, the players in joint 7th place, Rin Kaiho and Yoda Norimoto, are a little ahead of him, with 35 titles each, so it could take him a year or so to catch up.
Korea Wins O-kage Cup International New Stars Tournament: The O-kage (gratitude) Cup is a regional tournament for young players sponsored by an association of tourist shops in Ise City, the site of the famous Ise Shrine. The 5th Cup was held on May 15 and 16 and won by Ichiriki Ryo 7P (see my report at the end of May). The sponsors held an international tournament for teams from Japan, China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei on November 1 and 2. Each team had two male and one female players, and the games played by the latter were also counted in a female tournament. The first-stage was an all-play-all league, after which the top two teams met in the final and the bottom two in the play-off for third place.
In the first stage, the Chinese team, led by the 17-year-old Ke Jie 4P, who is already the number-three-ranked player in China, won all nine of its games. Korea beat Japan and Chinese Taipei and Japan beat Chinese Taipei. In the final, however, Korea beat China to win the cup (Na Hyeon 5P beat Ke). Chinese Taipei beat Japan in the play-off for third. In the women’s tournament, Pak Chi-yeon 3P defeated Cao Youyin 3P in the final and Xie Yimin of Japan beat Su Shengfang 2P of Chinese Taipei.
Two Meijin League Places Decided: The Meijin is a conservative league, with only three out of nine places opening up every year. Two of the vacant seats were decided on November 6. Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Oba Junya 7P by resig and So Yokoku 9P beat Yamada Akiyoshi 9P
by resig. Ko makes an immediate comeback after dropping out of the previous league and So makes his debut.
Fujisawa Wins Women’s Honinbo: The third game of the 33rd Women’s Honinbo title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on November 7. Taking black, Fujisawa Rin 2P (right) won by 5.5 points after 233 moves. This gave her a 3-0 lead over the titleholder, Mukai Chiaki, so she took the title. At 16 years one month, Fujisawa set a record as the youngest player to win this title (the previous record of 17 years 11 months was set by Xie Yimin).
It’s astonishing how quickly Fujisawa has developed. As the granddaughter of Fujisawa Hideyuki (Shuko), she attracted a lot of attention when she qualified as professional 1-dan in 2010, but few fans expected her to start winning titles so soon. In June this year, she set a record for the youngest woman title holder ever when she won a new tournament, the Aizu Central Hospital Cup, at the age of 15 years nine months, and already she is a dual titleholder. Actually, one could claim that she is now the top woman player. Xie Yimin also holds two titles, the Women’s Meijin and the Women’s Kisei, but in prize money they are both outranked by Fujisawa’s tiles (7,000,000 yen for the Aizu Central Hospital Cup and 5,800,000 yen for the Women’s Honinbo to 5,000,000 each for Xie’s titles). Fujisawa is having a good financial year for a third-year junior high school student.
Radical Reorganization of Kisei Tournament: There will be complete overhaul of the Yomiuri Newspaper-sponsored Kisei tournament as of the 40th term (the 39th term will be completed with the best-of-seven title match starting in January 2015). The only thing that won’t change is the title match itself. The Kisei was launched in 1977 with the most complicated system among Japanese tournament at the time. It was simplified a little in its 10th term, then changed to the current system, a knock-out tournament leading to two six-player leagues and a playoff to decide the challenger in its 25th term. It has now been changed to a very complicated system, featuring, for the first time in the go world, leagues in four stages. Even with charts, it’s hard to understand the system, but I’ll try to explain it without them.
First, there is a preliminary tournament with about 400 players in it, including four amateurs, the top four place-getters in the Net Kisei Tournament. The top 16 go up to the C League (a five-round Swiss System for 32 players), of whom the top six are promoted to the B1 and B2 Leagues (eight players each), of whom the top four join the A League (eight players), of whom the top two join the S League (six players). (These promotions take place the following term.) The challenger is then decided by an irregular knock-out tournament known as a “paramasu” (Paramas?). The number one player in the C League plays the number one player in the B League (there will be a play-off between the B1 and B2 winners); the winner plays the number one player in the A League; the winner plays the number two player in the S League; the winner then plays a best-of-two match with the number one player in the S League, but the latter is given a one-win advantage to start with (that is, he needs to win only one of the two games).
For the 40th term, the members of the S, A and B Leagues have already been decided. The top three players in each of the 39th League have been seeded into the S League (two of the names are not known exactly: they will be the loser of the upcoming title match and the loser of the play-off to decide the challenger). The other six members of the two leagues are in the A League. The other members of the A and B Leagues were chosen on the basis of their results in the Kisei tournament in the last three years.
This is an extremely complex system. The big innovation is that 62 players will get to play in leagues instead of just 12. Also, in theory, an amateur could become Kisei.
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