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History of Topics 2003

29 September
19 September
17 September
11 September
05 September
01 September

29 September

Yoda increases lead in Meijin title match

  Yoda Norimoto has displayed devastating form so far in the 28th Meijin title match. In the second game, played at the Hotel Niigata in Niigata City on 24 & 25 September, Yoda, taking white, led from the outset and scored a convincing win over Yamashita Keigo Kisei. Yamashita has so far failed to play his natural game, which perhaps means that he is being outmanoeuvred by Yoda.
  As in the first game, Yamashita got off to a bad start. In the middle game, he launched a fierce attack in an attempt to catch up, but Yoda showed flexibility and considerable skill at shinogi, so the attack petered out.
  Yamashita resigned at 5:34 p.m. on the second day, after 176 moves. Of their time allowances of eight hours each, Yamashita had just three minutes left to Yoda's one hour eight minutes.
  The third game will be played in Izumo City in Shimane Prefecture on 1 & 2 October. If Yamashita doesn't recapture the brilliant form he showed in this year's Kisei title match, his Meijin challenge will be in danger of foundering.

Kobayashi Koichi wins Ryusei title

  The young lions now dominating Japanese go suffered one of their rare setbacks when the veteran Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan defeated Hane Naoki Tengen in the final of the 12th Ryusei tournament. Playing white, Kobayashi forced his opponent to resignaiton after 190 moves. Going into the endgame, the game had been very close, but when Hane made a mistake, Kobayashi pounced and quickly set up a win. The game was played on 9 September and telecast on the 28th.
  This is Kobayashi's second Ryusei title in a row and his third overall. It is the 57th title of his career.
  Incidentally, this was the last official game in Japanese professional go to be played with the old komi of 5.5 points.

42nd Judan

  Yoda Norimoto Meijin and Cho U Honinbo have reached the final of the winners' section of the 42nd Judan tournament. On 15 September, Yoda (B) defeated Hashimoto Yujiro 9-dan by resignation. On 25 September, Cho U (B) defeated Cho Chikun by half a point in the other semifinal.
  The winner of the winners' final will have to wait until spring next year to see who his opponent will be in the play-off to decide the challenger.

Hane wins Kisei A league

  One game in the 28th Kisei A League was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 25 September. Taking white, Hane Naoki Tengen defeated Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan by 2.5 points. Hane improved his score to 4-0, which is good enough to secure him victory in the A League. Imamura Yoshiaki 8-dan, who is on 3-1, could conceivably draw even with him in the final round, but Hane would take precedence in a tie, as he is higher ranked.
  Mimura is now on 2-2. He will have to win his final game to be sure of keeping his league place.
  Hane's opponent in the play-off to decide the Kisei challenger is most likely to be Cho Chikun 9-dan or O Meien Oza, who hold the joint lead in the B League on 3-1.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  (18 September) Katayama Yasuo 8-dan (W) defeated Catalin Taranu 5-dan by resig. (60th Honinbo tournament, Preliminary B).

19 September

Cho to challenge for Oza title

  The play-off to decide the challenger for the 51st Oza title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 18 September between the players who fought the Honinbo title match this year and once again victory went to the younger player. Cho U Honinbo, playing white, beat Kato Masao 9-dan by 3.5 points after a marathon game of 302 moves. Cho will now make his first challenge for the Oza title, and his opponent will be the player who rebuffed his first Honinbo challenge, O Meien.
  The first game of the title match will be played in Tokyo on 30 October.

28th Kisei Leagues

  One game was played in each league on 18 September. In the A league, O Rissei Judan (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan by 8.5 points. That takes O to 2-2, giving him a good chance of keeping his league place, but Kobayashi drops to 1-3 and his league future looks uncertain.

  In the B league, Yoda Norimoto Meijin continued his recovery from his bad start. Playing white, he defeated Awaji Shuzo 9-dan by 5.5 points. Yoda has now evened his score, at 2-2, but Awaji, on 1-3, is in trouble.

17 September

Yoda makes good start in 28th Meijin title match

  This year's Meijin title match features an exciting pairing: Yoda Meijin vs. Yamashita Kisei. Both appear to be in excellent form. Yoda has won the Meijin title three years in a row; another two or three years would establish him as one of the great Meijins. Yamashita is the most dynamic player of the younger generation. He plays boldly, emphasizing the centre and favouring thickness. In contrast, Yoda is a territorial player, but he is very flexible; he is good at looking after groups under attack and he has a knack for making unexpected sacrifices.
  In the first game, played at the Station Hotel Kokura in Kokura, Kita Kyushu City on 10 & 11 September, everything went Yoda's way. Playing black, he played very positively on the first day. The expected scenario had been for Yamashita to attack and Yoda to parry, but it was Yoda who started the fighting. Then on the second day he played very flexibly, sacrificing some stones that he had pulled out the day before. He held the initiative throughout the game and was never in danger. In the end, he won by the comfortable margin of 7.5 points.
  The game ended at 7:03 p.m. The time allowance is eight hours each; Yoda was down to his final minute of byo-yomi, and Yamashita had seven minutes left (i.e. he had used three minutes of byo-yomi).
  The second game, when he has black, will be important for Yamashita. If he doesn't even the series, his challenge will be in trouble. It will be played in Niigata City on 24 and 25 September.

Mimura takes last Honinbo league place

  The play-off for the fourth vacant place in the upcoming Honinbo league was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 11 September. Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan, playing black, defeated Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by resignation and so will make his debut in the Honinbo league.
  Mimura has been enjoying excellent form this year; in fact, after winning the 50th NHK Cup in March, his game seems to have risen to a new level. He is doing well in the Kisei league, he took second place in the TV Asia Cup, including a win over Yi Ch'ang-ho, and now he has entered the Honinbo league. It's nice to see an unheralded player make a big improvement in his 30s.
  On the other hand, it's a bit of a shock that the greatest tournament Honinbo, Cho Chikun, who held the title for ten years in a row, will be missing from the league. Fans certainly hope that he will make a comeback in the near future.
  The 59th league will get under way in October. The players retaining their places from the previous league are Kato Masao (previous titleholder), O Meien, Yamashita Keigo, and Kobayashi Koichi; the new members are Yoda Norimoto, O Rissei, Cho Sonjin, and Mimura.

Agon Kiriyama Cup & Oza finalists

  Sometimes players who clash with each other in a major title match keep running into each other. Kato Masao and Cho U met in this year's Honinbo title match, with victory going to the younger player. They are scheduled to clash in two more important games. One of them is the final of the 10th Agon Kiriyama Cup. On 8 September, Kato (W) beat Cho Chikun by 1.5 points in one semifinal, and three days later Cho U (B) beat Hane Naoki by resignation in the other. The date of the final has not yet been announced.
  This week, on the 18th, Kato and Cho will meet in the final to decide the challenger for the 51st Oza title.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in0

  Catalin Taranu 5-dan played two games in the Preliminary C section of the 16th Fujitsu Cup on 8 September. In the first, playing white, he beat Matsumoto Nayoko 1-dan by resignation, but was then eliminated when he lost to Shimojima Yohei 6-dan, who had black, by 7.5 points. Catalin's decision to play in the Japanese qualifying tournament for the Fujitsu Cup presumably means that he won't be playing in the European qualifying.

11 September

China takes 3-0 lead in China-Japan Cyberspace

  The third game of China-Japan Cyberspace '5x5' Team Match was played on the Net on 1 September. Gu Li 7-dan, who is the current number one in the Chinese rating system, defeated Takao Shinji 8-dan of Japan. Takao resigned after 179 moves.
  With this win, China takes a 3-0 lead, so it has already won the team match. The question for Japan now is whether it can avoid a wipeout. The fourth game, in which Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan plays Wang Wei 8-dan, will be played on 11 September. O Rissei will play Kong Jie in the fifth game, the date of which has not yet been decided.

Yoda back in Honinbo league

  For a player of his stature, Yoda Norimoto has done surprisingly poorly in the Honinbo tournament, having played in the league only twice. He appeared in the 45th and 46th leagues, but has been unable to win a place over the last 12 years. This is quite a contrast to his performance in the Meijin league, in which he played ten times before winning the title. The record he set as the youngest league entrant by winning a Meijin-league place at the age of 18 still stands.
  Yoda has taken the first step towards remedying the imbalance by winning a place in the upcoming 59th league. In the final round of the preliminary tournament, played on 4 September, he defeated Rin Kaiho (W) by 2.5 points.
  Mimura Tomoyasu and Cho Chikun will fight it out for the remaining place,

8th Samsung Cup: 2nd round

  Below are the full results for the 2nd round, which we didn't have last week.

  Yi Se-tol 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Han Chong-chin 5-dan (Korea) by resignation; Pak Yeong-hun 4-dan (Korea) (B) b. Ding Wei 8-dan (China) on time; Xie He 5-dan (China) (W) b. Ch'oe Ch'eol-han 5-dan (Korea) by resig.; Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (Korea) (W) b. Song T'ae-kon 5-dan (Korea) by resig.; Hu Yaoyu 7-dan (China) (B) b. Yu Ch'ang-hyeok 9-dan (Korea) by 3.5; Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) (W) b. Wang Yuhui 7-dan (China) by resig.; Cho Chikun (W) b. Weon Seong-chin by resig.; Yamada Kimio (W) b. Jiang Zhujiu by 1.5.

  Semifinal pairings are: Cho Hun-hyeon vs. Cho Chikun; Yi Ch'ang-ho vs. Xie He; Yi Se-tol vs. Hu Yaoyu; Pak Yeong-hun vs. Yamada Kimio.
  The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played on 15 & 16 October.

Yashiro to challenge for Women's Honinbo

  Yashiro Kumiko 5-dan has enjoyed excellent results in the last few years without quite going all the way. She has twice lost tournament play-offs, most recently in the 2001 Women's Honinbo tournament. However, she has refused to let losing important games become a habit and has made the most of her latest opportunity to make her title-match debut.
  In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 22nd Women's Honinbo title, held by Kobayashi Izumi, Yashiro, playing white, defeated Yoshida Mika 8-dan of the Kansai Ki-in by 9.5 points.
  The title match will begin on 2 October.

Zhou Heyang wins 15th TV Asia Cup

  China has scored what is only its second victory in the TV Asia Cup, a haya-go tournament for the winners and runners-up in the NHK Cup (Japan), KBS Cup (Korea) and the CCTV Cup (China). In the final, he defeated Mimura Tomoyasu of Japan. The China-Japan pairing in the final was a bit of a change - for the last three years both finalists have been Korean. Full results are given below:

4 September
  Round 1
  Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan (Japan) (W) defeated Peng Quan 5-dan (China) by 2.5.
  Zhou Heyang 9-dan (China) (W) d. Jiang Zhujiu 9-dan (Korea) by resig.

5 September
  Round 1
  O Rissei 9-dan (Japan) (B) d. Yi Sang-hun 7-dan (Korea) by resig.
  Mimura (W) d. Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) by resig.

6 September
  Zhou Heyang (B) d. O Rissei 9-dan (Japan) by half a point.

7 September
  Zhou Heyang (W) d. Mimura by resig.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Western professionals had a good week last week, winning both the games they played.
  (4 September) Michael Redmond (B) beat Umeki Suguru 8-dan by resig. (Preliminary A, Tengen tournament); Catalin Taranu 5-dan (W) beat Sakai Isao 6-dan by resig. (Prelim. C, Fujitsu Cup).

xx January

8th Samsung Cup begins

  The opening rounds of the 8th Samsung Cup were held in Seoul on 27 and 29 August. As usual in this tournament, in which the majority of places go to local players, the action was dominated by Korean players. However, Japan had moderate success, with two of its four entrants making it to the quarterfinals. They are Cho Chikun 9-dan and Yamada Kimio 9-dan. Cho doesn't usually do well in international tournaments, with their short time limits, but he had defeated two young Korean stars. Yamada made the final in 2000, so this is not his first success in this tournament.
  The world's top woman player, Rui Naiwei 9-dan, was eliminated in the first round and her husband, Jiang Zhujiu 9-dan, in the second.
  Below are the full results for Round 1. We have only the Japanese results in the second round.

Round 1
  Pak Yeong-hun 4-dan (Korea) (W) beat Yi 2-dan (Korea) by resig.; Wang Yuhui 8-dan (China) (B) b. Rui Naiwei 9-dan (Korea) by 5.5 points; Cho Hun-hyeon 9-dan (Korea) (B) b. Zhang Wendong 9-dan (China) by resig.; Yamada Kimio 8-dan (Japan) (B) b. Yu Bin 9-dan (China) by resig.; Yu Ch'ang-hyeok 9-dan (Korea) (B) b. Hane Naoki 9-dan (Japan) by half a point; Hu Yaoyu 7-dan (China) (W) b. Cho Han-seung 6-dan (Korea) by resig.; Song T'ae-kon 5-dan (Korea) (W) b. Qiu Jun 6-dan (China) by resig.; Cho Chikun 9-dan (Japan) (B) b. Kim Chu-ho 4-dan (Korea) by resig.; Jiang Zhujiu 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Liu Jing 8-dan on time; Ch'oe Ch'eol-han 5-dan (Korea) (B) b. Chang Hao 9-dan (China) by 2.5; Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan (Korea) (B) b. Peng Quan 5-dan (China) by 1.5; Weon Seong-chin 3-dan (Korea) (W) b. Wang Lei 8-dan (China) by resig,; Ding Wei 8-dan (China) (B) b. Kim Chong-su 5-dan (Korea) by resig.; Xie He 5-dan (China) (B) b. Yi Chae-ung 2-dan (Korea) by half a point; Han Chong-chin 5-dan (Korea) (B) b. Kato Masao 9-dan (Japan) by 4.5; Yi Se-tol 9-dan (Korea) (W) b. Kong Jie 7-dan (China) by resig.

Round 2
  Cho Chikun (W) b. Weon Seong-chin by resig.; Yamada Kimio (W) b. Jiang Zhujiu by 1.5.

O Rissei wins second vacant Honinbo league place

  The second of the four vacant seats in the 59th Honinbo league has gone to O Rissei Judan, who makes a comeback after missing three leagues. His opponent in the play-off, held on 28 August, was Ryu Shikun 9-dan, who had dropped out of the 58th league; playing white, O won by 1.5 points.

Kansai Ki-in's first woman 8-dan

  So far, no woman player has made 9-dan in Japan. The Nihon Ki-in has two 8-dans: Sugiuchi Kazuko and Aoki Kikuyo. The Kansai Ki-in now joins them with its first woman 8-dan. She is Yoshida Mika, who has been the most successful woman player at the Kansai Ki-in, winning the Women's Honinbo title for four years in a row and also the Women's Kakusei once. She recently won promotion to 8-dan (we don't have the exact date).

01 September

Yoda wins Gosei title

  The fifth game of the 28th Gosei title match was held at the Nihon Ki-in on 27 August. After successive wins in the third and fourth games, the momentum of the match was running in favour of the defending titleholder, Kobayashi Koichi, but the challenger, Yoda Norimoto Meijin, came good in the deciding game. Playing ---. he defeated Kobayashi by 3.5 points after 221 moves.
  This is Yoda's fourth Gosei title; he previously held it from 1996 to 1998 (21st to 23rd). Kobayashi missed out on his chance to acquire the degree of Honorary Gosei by winning the title for the 10th time.

Kisei league

  One game was played in the 28th Kisei B League on 28 November. Playing black, O Meien Oza beat Cho U 9-dan by resignation. O Meien is now 2-1, one point behind the league leader, Cho Chikun. Cho U goes to 1-2; to have a chance of winning the league, he now needs Cho Chikun to lose both his remaining games, in one of which he is the opponent.

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