Go Commentary: Takemiya Masaki vs Cho Chikun – 5th Igo Masters Cup

This game is from the final of the 5th Igo Masters Cup.

The game was played between Takemiya Masaki 9p and Cho Chikun on July 11, 2015, in Tokyo, Japan.

Takemiya Masaki 9 dan (left) and Cho Chikun 9 dan at the 5th Igo Masters Cup

Takemiya Masaki 9 dan (left) and Cho Chikun 9 dan at the 5th Igo Masters Cup

The Igo Masters Cup

The Igo Masters Cup is a Japanese Go tournament for veteran players over the age of 50.

There are preliminary matches, but former major title holders don’t need to play in the preliminaries and can start in the round of 16.

Cho Chikun defeated Hane Yasumasa 9p, Hikosaka Naoto 9p and Kobayashi Satoru 9p to proceeded to the final, and Takemiya Masaki defeated Rin Kaiho 9p, Ishida Yoshio 9p, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9p.

The prize money for the winner is ¥5 million Yen (approximately $40,000 USD), and ¥1.5 million Yen for the runner up.

Cho Chikun

Cho Chikun 9 dan at the 5th Igo Masters Cup.

Cho Chikun 9 dan at the 5th Igo Masters Cup.

Cho Chikun 9p was born in 1956, in Korea, and he went to Japan to study Go when he was 6 years old.

He became a pro in 1968 when he was only 11 years old, and he took his first major title (the Pro Best Ten) in 1975.

He never stopped playing throughout his career, and he’s won 73 titles in total. That’s a record in Japan.

The former record holder was Sakata Eio 9p (1920-2010), with 64 career titles.

Cho also won two international titles – the 4th Fujitsu Cup in 1991, and the 8th Samsung Cup in 2003 (defeating Park Younghun 9p).

At the time of the 8th Samsung Cup, Cho was 47 years old, and Park was only 18. It was amazing to see Cho defeating a far younger opponent to win another international title.

In 2012, he achieved 1400 career wins, which was also a new record in Japan, and he’s still going.

Cho won the 1st Igo Masters Cup, defeating Kobayashi Koichi 9p in 2011, and he won the 4th Igo Masters Cup, defeating Kobayashi Satoru 9p in 2014. He was aiming for a third win in this final.

Takemiya Masaki

Takemiya Masaki 9 dan at the 5th Igo Masters Cup.

Takemiya Masaki 9 dan at the 5th Igo Masters Cup.

Takemiya Masaki was born in 1951, and he became a pro in 1965.

He won the 31st Honinbo title, defeating Ishida Yoshio in 1976, and it was the first major title of his career.

In the following year, he lost Honinbo title to Cho Chikun, but he came back to win the Honinbo again, and won it five more times afterwards.

He held the Honinbo for four consecutive years, from 1985 to 1988, and was hoping to become an Honorary Honinbo by defending the title for one more year. However, Cho Chikun was the challenger in 1989, and Takemiya didn’t succeed.

In 1988, the Fujitsu Cup was established as the first international title, and Takemiya became the first international champion of the historic title. He defeated Rin Kaiho 9p in the final.

He wasn’t satisfied with one victory though, and he won the 2nd Fujitsu Cup too (defeating Rin Kaiho again) in 1989.

In the same year, the first international lightning Go tournament was established. Takemiya became the inaugural winner of that too, after defeating Kobayashi Satoru 9p in the final.

He performed very well in that tournament, and continued winning the title for another three years; defeating Lee Changho 9p, Cao Dayuan 9p and Cho Hun Hyun 9p in the finals.

In 1995, he won the 20th Meijin, defeating Kobayashi Koichi 9p, and it was his first Meijin title. However, he lost the title to Cho Chikun in the following year.

In 2009, he proceeded to the final of the 56th NHK Cup, but lost to Yuki Satoshi 9p.

This was his first appearance in the final of the Igo Masters Cup, and Go fans were expecting an exciting match for the final.

Opposing styles of  play

Takemiya Masaki 9 dan (left) and Cho Chikun 9 dan, when the game was finished.

Takemiya Masaki 9 dan (left) and Cho Chikun 9 dan, when the game was finished.

Both Takemiya and Cho are from the Kitani dojo (Kitani Minoru 9p, 1909-1975). However, ironically, their styles of play are complete opposites.

Cho’s style of play is very dynamic and passionate. He used to play extremely territorial games when he was in his 30s, and he was also famous for spending a long time to think and making accurate moves in byo-yomi.

He’s regarded as the master of two day matches, like the big three Japanese titles (Kisei, Meijin and Honinbo), and he was nearly always playing frantically, in the last byo-yomi, by the end of his games.

On the other hand, Takemiya was very famous for his cosmic style of play. He preferred to call it ‘natural style’ himself, but most people call it cosmic style.

His large scale style of play was very new and sensational at the time, and many Go fans were impressed and fascinated by his humongous moyo games.

His unique center oriented style of play, with his creative point of view, was like a romantic dream. Practically nobody else could mimic Takemiya’s style and win, so he was very highly regarded by other top players.

When I was an insei, I liked their styles of play very much and I greatly enjoyed replaying their games. Their games were always exciting and fun to watch, with their opposing, colorful styles of play.

Let’s have a look at the final of the 5th Igo Masters Cup.

Takemiya Masaki 9 dan (third from left), and Cho Chikun 9 dan at the presentation.

Takemiya Masaki 9 dan (third from the left), and Cho Chikun 9 dan at the presentation.

Commented game record

Takemiya Masaki vs Cho Chikun

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