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History of Topics 2004

20 February
17 February
10 February
06 February

20 February

Yamashita scores first win in Kisei title match

  Yamashita Keigo has finally broken the drought in his defence of his Kisei title. In the fourth game of the 28th title match, he defeated Hane Naoki Tengen by just half a point, playing with black. after the game, he commented that he was relieved to have averted a wipeout.
  This game was played in Shusaku's hometown of In-no-shima on the island of the same name in the Inland Sea near Hiroshima on 18 & 19 February. On the first day, Yamashita set up a large moyo and Hane invaded it. With his sealed move (54), Hane secured life for this group.
  At this point, Hane had the lead in territory, but Yamashita had superior thickness and Hane had a weak group. Amidst the give-and-take of the fighting, Yamashita seemed to take a very small lead by harassing White, but a slack move let White recover a little. However, Yamashita just managed to hang on and secure a half-point win.
  The game ended at 7:50 pm. after 266 moves. Both players were in the final minute of byo-yomi.
  The fifth game will be played on 25 & 26 February.

17 February

Korea wins 5th Nong Shim Cup

  In the 5th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup, Korea had an uphill fight most of the way, but in the end it triumphed yet again, thanks to the genius of Yi Ch'ang-ho. The result was a bitter disappointment for Japan, which seemed to have victory within its grasp when it eliminated China from the tournament. However, it was unable to get past Yi, who deserves Nie Weiping's old nickname of 'the iron goalkeeper'.
  The final round of this team tournament was played in Shanghai from 11 to 14 February. Korea had made a good recovery from a bad start when Weon Seong-chin 5-dan won three games in a row to close off the Pusan Round. On 11 February, however, Gu Li 7-dan, currently the top rated player in China, defeated him, playing black, by 4.5 points.
  In Game 12, played the next day, Kato Masao 9-dan of Japan defeated Gu, thus eliminating China (Kato had white and won by resignation). At this stage, Japan had two players left to Korea's one, so the odds seemed to be in its favour. However, Korea had left its best player till last. In Game 13, played on the 13th, Yi Ch'ang-ho (W) defeated Kato by resignation. Then the next day he also polished off Japan's last player, Rin Kaiho 9-dan; taking black, Yi won by resignation.
  Korea has now won this team tournament and its predecessor, the Jinro Cup, ten times in a row. Its grip on international go remains as firm as ever.

Mimura takes lead in Honinbo league

  Two important games in the 59th Honinbo league were played at the Nihon Ki-in on 12 February. In one, Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan, one of only two players with just one loss, defeated O Meien; taking black, Mimura forced a resignation. In the other, O Rissei Judan (W) defeated Yamashita Keigo Kisei by 3.5 points.
  As a result, Mimura goes to 4-1, which puts him half a step in front of Kobayashi, who hasn't played his fifth-round game yet. O Rissei improved his score to 3-2, which keeps him in the running if Kobayashi or Mimura stumbles.

Current standings are:
  4-1: Mimura
  3-1: Kobayashi Koichi
  3-2: O Rissei, Yoda Norimoto, Cho Sonjin
  1-3: Kato Masao
  1-4: O Meien, Yamashita Keigo

Yamashita puts an end to horrendous losing streak

  Yamashita Keigo's loss in the third game of the Kisei title match was his eighth in a row, by far the worst losing streak of his career. He seemed to have forgotten how to win, though admittedly all the games were against top opponents: one in the Tengen title match, three in the Kisei title match, two games in the Honinbo league and two in the Meijin league. However, the losing run finally came to and end on 9 February, when he defeated Kono Rin 7-dan in the main section of the 29th Gosei tournament. Taking white, Yamashita won by 5.5 points. In contrast, Kono's loss put an end to a 14-game winning streak.
  However, Yamashita is by no means out of the woods yet. Three days later, he reverted to his losing ways in the Honinbo league, as reported above. Of course, the only game for really matters for him just now is the fourth Kisei game, scheduled for 18 and 19 February.

Yuki wins final Fujitsu place

  The last of the nonseeded Japanese places was decided on 12 February. Playing black, Yuki Satoshi 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in defeated Kataoka Satoshi 9-dan by resignation.
  We have to make a correction. In our 6 February report, we wrote that Kobayashi Satoru had won a place, but the game in which he beat Otake Hideo was only the semifinal. In the final, played on 9 February, he lost to O Meien, so it is the latter who gets the Fujitsu Cup place. (Playing black, O won by resignation.)
  To sum up, the seeded players are: Yamashita Keigo Kisei, Yoda Norimoto Meijin, and Cho U Honinbo. The four nonseeded players are: Hane Naoki Tengen, O Meien 9-dan, Takao Shinji 8-dan, and Yuki Satoshi 9-dan.
  The opening rounds of the tournament will be played on 10 & 12 April.

Miyazaki Shimako wins promotion

  Miyazaki Shimako has won promotion to 4-dan. Go Weekly did not give details, but presumably she earned her promotion by the new promotion system (total number of wins as 3-dan), thanks to a win on 12 February. (There have been no promotions for a while by the transitional Oteai system, so presumably everyone eligible has played the eight regular tournament games for which the old system was carried over.)

Yi and Mok reach LG Cup final

  The semifinals of the 8th LG Cup, in which all four players were Korean, were held on 3 February. Yi Ch'ang-ho 9-dan and Mok Chin-seok won their games, so they will meet in the final. It's good to see Mok doing well, as he has been overshadowed in the last couple of years by the dynamic teenage stars on the Korean scene.

The results: Yi (W) beat Weon Seong-chin by resignation.
Mok (B) beat Cho Han-seung by 2.5 points.

10 February

Yoda wins Shusai Prize

  The 41st Shusai Prize, honouring the most outstanding player of the previous year, was awarded to Yoda Norimoto Meijin. In 2003, Yoda won the Meijin title for the fourth year in a row, successfully challenged for the Gosei title, and also starred in the CSK Cup. This is the first time Yoda has won this prize.
  Just for the record, Cho Chikun has won it nine times and Kobayashi Koichi seven times.

29th Meijin league

  Two games in the league were held at the Nihon Ki-in on 5 February. In one, Yamada Kimio 8-dan (W) beat Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, by half a point. Yamada is now 2-1, which is a reasonable start for the Meijin league; former Meijin Cho is doing badly, with 0-2.
  In the other game, Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan (W) defeated Imamura Toshiya 9-dan by resignation. This was Kobayashi's first win, putting him on 1-2, and Imamura's first loss, taking him to 2-1.
  The only undefeated players in the league are Cho U Honinbo, on 3-0, and O Rissei Judan, on 2-0.

59th Honinbo league

  One league game was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 5 February. Yoda Norimoto Meijin (W) defeated Cho Sonjin 9-dan by resignation. Yoda and Cho both go to 3-2, which means they still have a chance of winning the league, but at the same time they can't be completely sure of keeping their seats.
  Joint leaders, on 3-1, are Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan and Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan.

Takao Shinji wins Fujitsu Cup place

  Takao Shinji 8-dan has won the third of the nonseeded Japanese places in the 17th Fujitsu Cup. In the play-off, held at the Nihon Ki-in on 5 February, Takao (B) beat Miyazawa Goro 9-dan by resignation.

Most games between two players

  This is an item for statistically minded readers. In its 2 February issue, Go Weekly published the latest figures for most pairings between two players. The players on top are Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi, who have played 125 games. Kobayashi used to have the lead, but recently Cho has overtaken him and now has 63 wins to Kobayashi's 62.
  Both these players also feature in many of the other top pairings, as the list below (updated to 8 February) shows.

2. 116: Rin Kaiho (58 wins) vs. Kato Masao (58 wins)
3. 114: Kato (60) vs. Kobayashi Koichi (54)
4. 113: Cho Chikun (70) vs. Kato (42) (+ 1 no result)
5. 99: Cho Chikun (53) vs. Otake Hideo (45) (+ 1 no result)
6. 91: Cho Chikun (59) vs. Takemiya Masaki (32)
7. 90: Rin (47) vs. Otake (43); Kobayashi (54) vs. Rin (36)
9. 89: Rin (54) vs. Sakata Eio (35); Otake (49) vs. Kato (40)
11. 87: Sakata (53) vs. Fujisawa Shuko (33) (+ 1 jigo)
12. 86: Cho (50) vs. Rin (36)
13. 85: Sakata (63) vs. Takagawa (22)
14. 76: Kobayashi Koichi (50) vs. Otake (26); Rin (45) vs. Fujisawa Shuko (31)
16. 75: Ishida Yoshio (42) vs. Rin (33); Kato (44) vs. Takemiya (31); Cho (39) vs. O Rissei (35) (+ 1 no result)

  The pairings on this list cover the main events in go history from the 60s to the early 90s. Of course, different players lead the current go scene, but it will be a while before a pairing such as, say, Yamashita vs. Hane (at present 10-8) makes the list. Incidentally, of the 36 names in the list (many making multiple entries, of course), 22 belong to Kitani disciples, which shows how much they dominated the go scene.

06 February

Hane one win away from taking Kisei title

  The superb form of the challenger, Hane Naoki Tengen, in the 29th Kisei title match continues, and he has now taken a 3-0 lead, so he needs just one more win to replace Yamashita Keigo as Kisei.
  The third game of the title match was played at the Rokkaen, a residence built for a local magnate in 1913 that is half Western and half Japanese style, in Kuwana City in Mie Prefecture on 4 & 5 February. The game had plunged into early fighting when Yamashita (white) played a new move with move 10. Hane in particular played very slowly on the first day, so the game progressed only 33 moves.
  Very difficult fighting continued on the second day, but the tide started to flow in Hane's favour when he put a white group into ko. He played an excellent move that at the same time as it generated ko threats also helped to stabilize a weak centre group.
  The game seemed very close in the endgame, but Hane managed to hang on to a small lead.
  The game ended at 7:09 p.m. after 263 moves. Black won by 3.5 points. Both players were in byo-yomi, with Yamashita having used 7 hours 54 minutes and Hane 7 hours 56 minutes.
  The fourth game will be played in In-no-shima City (on the island where Shusaku was born) in Hiroshima Prefecture on 18 & 19 February. Yamashita is faced with a kadoban, but his current form is not encouraging. He is in quite a slump - this was his eighth loss in a row, which is by far the worst losing streak of his career. He has two weeks to recover from his latest setback.

Cho U to challenge for Judan title

  Cho U Honinbo has a chance to win his third concurrent title. In the play-off to decide the challenger for the 42nd Judan title, held at the Nihon Ki-in on 5 February, Cho (B) defeated O Meien by resignation.
  The first game of the title match will be played on 11 March and will put two Taiwan-born players against each other. Cho has been in top form in recent months, so O Rissei can expect a tough title defence.

Fujitsu Cup places

  Two of the four nonseeded Japanese seats in the 17th Fujitsu Cup have been decided. They have gone to Hane Naoki Tengen and Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan
  In the first play-off, held on 22 January, Hane (W) defeated O Rissei Judan by 5.5 points. In the second, held one week later, Kobayashi (W) beat Otake Hideo 9-dan by 2.5 points.
  The pairings in the remaining two play-offs are: Takao Shinji 8-dan vs. Miyazawa Goro 9-dan and Yuki Satoshi 9-dan vs. Kataoka Satoshi 9-dan.
  The seeded players are the top three titleholders, Yamashita Keigo Kisei, Yoda Norimoto Meijin, and Cho U Honinbo.

Westerners at the Nihon Ki-in

  Both Western professionals at the Nihon Ki-in won their games played on 29 January. In Preliminary A of the Honinbo tournament, Michael Redmond 9-dan (B) beat So Kofuku 9-dan by resignation. In Preliminary C of the Meijin tournament, Catalin Taranu 5-dan (B) beat Shimohira Akio 6-dan, also by resignation.

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