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History of Topics 2004

27 July
20 July
14 July
06 July

27 July

Kobayashi Satoru takes sole lead in Kisei B League

  After only two rounds, Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan has taken the sole lead in the 29th Kisei B League, which shows how evenly the wins and losses are being divided among the other players. In a game played on 22 July, Kobayashi (B) beat O Rissei Judan by resignation to go to 2-0. O drops to 1-1, along with Cho Chikun, Cho U, and Yuki Satoshi. The other player is Imamura Yoshiaki, who is 0-2.
  Ryu Shikun 9-dan also has 2-0 in the A League, but this is only a provisional lead, as Mimura Tomoyasu and Yoda Norimoto are both on 1-0.

Kobayashi Koichi and Yuki secure Toyota & Denso Cup places

  Two more of the seven nonseeded Japanese places in the 2nd Toyota & Denso Cup, the tournament that is going to be the highlight of the summer, were decided on 22 July. Kobayashi Koichi (B) defeated Goto Shungo by half a point. He will be looking to improve on his performance in the 1st Cup, when he lost to Cho Hun-hyeon in the first round.
  The other player to win a place will have a similar aim. Yuki Satoshi 9-dan (B) defeated Nakamura Shinya 8-dan by resignation in the play-off. He lost to Yi Se-tol in the first round of the 1st Cup.
  The play-off for the seventh nonseeded place is between Otake Hideo 9-dan and Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan; it will be played on 29 July.

Otake wins 1,100 games

  Otake Hideo 9-dan has become the fifth Japanese professional to score 1,100 wins. He reached this mark on 22 July when he beat Oba Junya 2-dan in the preliminary round of the 60th Honinbo tournament (Otake had black and won by resignation).
  The other players to have achieved this mark are Kato Masao (the leader, as the only player with 1,200+ wins), Rin Kaiho, Kobayashi Koichi and Cho Chikun. Otake scored his first win in October 1956.
  Otake will meet O Meien in the play-off for a place in the league. His win put an end to a good run by Oba, who became a professional only last year. He won eight games in a row and came within two wins of securing a league place,

Michael Redmond loses important game

  Michael Redmond 9-dan lost an important game to So Yokoku 7-dan on 22 July. It was the penultimate game for securing a place in the 60th Honinbo league, which would have been a real milestone in his career. Playing white, Michael lost by resignation.

Upcoming: father vs. daughter clash

  On 29 July we will see the first-ever official game between father and daughter when Kobayashi Koichi plays Kobayashi Izumi in the Losers' Section of the 43rd Judan tournament. There have been father-son clashes, for example, between Hane Yasumasa and Naoki for a Kisei-league place (see Go World 92, page 8), but while there are many father-son combinations among professional, there are few father-daughter ones among active players (the only other one we can think of is Shiraishi Yutaka 9-dan and Kyoko 3-dan at the Kansai Ki-in).
  This game is bound to draw a lot of attention. Kobayashi Koichi commented: 'When I sit down at the go board, it will be just another game.' It will be interesting to see if he can put fatherly affection aside.

20 July

Yoda evens score in Gosei title match

  In a masterly demonstration of shinogi ability, Yoda Norimoto evened the score in the 29th Gosei title match and also put an end to a string of losses in important games. In the last couple of weeks, Yoda had lost the first Gosei game, the Fujitsu Cup final and the deciding Honinbo title match game; these losses were all the more painful in that he had had a good position in at least two of them but had played slackly because of overconfidence and optimism.
  Yoda made no mistake in the second Gosei game, played in the city of Ayabe in Kyoto Prefecture on 15 July. The challenger, Yamada Kimio 8-dan (B), had set up a large moyo, but Yoda plunged in and lived comfortably, forcing a resignation after 166 moves. His skill in taking care of this invading group under attack is the shinogi ability referred to above. The game ended at 5:03 p.m.; Yamada was down to his last minute of byo-yomi, but Yoda still had 77 minutes left of his four-hour time allowance.
  The third game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on 26 July.

Takao gains fourth Toyota & Denso Cup place

    The fourth of the seven nonseeded Japanese places in the 2nd Toyota & Denso Cup has gone to Takao Shinji 8-dan. He defeated the veteran player Awaji Shuzo 9-dan in the play-off, held on 15 July; holding white, Takao won by 4.5 points.
  As is frequently noted in the go press, Takao is the only member of a much-heralded quartet of young players (the others are Hane Naoki, Cho U and Yamashita Keigo) who has yet to win a title. This is his chance to make up for his late start by starring in the international arena.
  Pairings in the remaining play-offs are: Otake Hideo vs. Hikosaka Naoto, Nakamura Shinya vs. Yuki Satoshi, and Goto Shungo vs. Kobayashi Koichi. The seeded players are the top three titleholders, Hane Naoki, Yoda Norimoto, and Cho U. The three nonseeded players already decided are Mizokami Tomochika, Sakai Hideyuki, and So Yokoku.

Other participants are listed below.
Korea: Cho Hun-hyeon, Yu Ch'ang-hyeok, Yi Ch'ang-ho, Yi Se-tol, Ch'oe Ch'eol-han, Song T'ae-kon.
China: Chang Hao, Yu Bin, Wang Lei, Gu Li, Kong Jie, Zhou Heyang, Peng Quan, Wang Xi.
Chinese Taipei: Zhou Junxun.
North America: Jiang Mingjiu, Feng Yun.
South America: Fernando Aguilar.
Europe: Andrei Kulkov, Alexander Dinerchtein, Frank Janssen.
Oceania, Africa & Asia: yet to be decided.

  The opening rounds of the tournament will be held in Tokyo on 21, 23, 25 and 27 August. Four rounds are being held at one go to alleviate the scheduling problems experienced by top players with the recent proliferation of international tournaments. The best-of-three final will be held in Nagoya on 5, 7 and 8 January 2005.

9th Samsung preliminary tournament

  The Samsung Cup is the only international tournament in which participation in a preliminary qualifying tournament is open to all professionals. The preliminary for the 9th Cup will be held for a week in Seoul starting on 28 July. Players need to win four or five games, depending on the draw, to gain a place in the main tournament, where they join the seeded players. Sixty-one players from Japan, including ex-title holder Ryu Shikun, plan to take part.

Imai elected president of Nihon Ki-in

  On 13 July, Imai Takashi, a member of the Board of Directors of the Nihon Ki-in, was elected as President (the Japanese term is 'sosai', with a long 'o'). This post had been left vacant since the death of Asada Shizuo; Imai is only the eighth president in the history of the Nihon Ki-in. Imai became president of New Japan Steel in 1993. He also became president of Keidanren, the powerful Federation of Economic Organizations, in 1998. He joined the Board of Directors of the Nihon Ki-in in 2000.

14 July

Cho U defends Honinbo title

  The 59th Honinbo title match started and ended with half-point decisions. Both of them went in favour of the defending champion, Cho U, and they made all the difference. A tiny change in the flow of each game and there would have been a new Honinbo.
  The sixth game of the best-of-seven was played at the Shibusawa residence in Shibusawa Park, in the hot spring resort of Furumaki (Misawa City, Aomori Prefecture) on 8 and 9 July. Taking black, Cho U edged out Yoda Norimoto Meijin by half a point and so completed his first defence of the Honinbo title. The game was a very difficult one, and the lead shifted back and forth a number of times. For a large part of the game, Yoda seemed to be doing well; he may have missed an opportunity to take a tangible lead in the middle game. The endgame was extremely difficult, and the players were unable to make definitive pronouncements on it after the game. In the end, luck was not on Yoda's side.
  This win gave Cho a 4-2 lead, so he completed his first defence of the Honinbo title. If he can beat Yoda, there's no reason why he shouldn't remain Honinbo for some time.

29th Meijin league: Cho Chikun finally wins a game

  Cho Chikun, 25th Honinbo, has finally won a game in the 29th Meijin league just when he seemed to be headed towards the complete ignominy of a winless rout. In a game played at the Nihon Ki-in on 8 July, Cho, taking black, defeated O Rissei 9-dan by resignation; it's too late to save his place in the league, but at least he salvages some pride by making an entry in his win column to offset his six losses. O Rissei drops to 3-4, so he is in some danger of losing his league place.
  In another game played on the same day, Imamura Toshiya 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in (W) defeated Yamada Kimio 8-dan by resignation. Imamura goes to 4-3 and now has a good chance of keeping his seat; Yamada, in contrast, is in trouble, as he is now 3-4.

29th Kisei leagues: Ryu doing well

  Ryu Shikun 9-dan has made a good start in his bid for a second challenge for the Kisei title, becoming the first player to win two games. On 8 July, taking black, Ryu beat Miyazawa Goro 9-dan by resignation. Miyazawa is now 0-2.
  In another game played in the A League, immediate past Kisei Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (W) defeated O Meien 9-dan by resignation. Yamashita is now 1-1 and O is 0-2.
  One game was played in the B League on the same day. Yuki Satoshi 9-dan (W) defeated Imamura Yoshiaki 8-dan by 11.5 points. Yuki is now 1-1 and Imamura 0-2.

So Yokoku wins Toyota & Denso Cup place

  The third of the nonseeded Japanese places in the 2nd Toyota & Denso Cup was decided on 8 July. So Yokoku 7-dan, the winner of last year's King of the New Stars title, defeated Nakano Hironari 9-dan by resignation; So held black. Like Mizokami Tomochika and Sakai Hideyuki, So will be making his debut in an international tournament.


  We regret to have to report the death, from old age, of Sato Sunao 9-dan of the Kansai Ki-in on 8 July. Sato was born on 15 February 1924 and was a pupil of Hosokawa Senjin (or Chihiro) 9-dan. He became 1-dan in 1939. When the Kansai Ki-in split off from the Nihon Ki-in in 1950, Hosokawa stayed with the Nihon Ki-in, at its Osaka branch, but Sato joined the Kansai Ki-in. He reached 9-dan in 1963. He played in the 10th (Yomiuri) Meijin league (1970-71) and the 43rd Honinbo league (1987-88). He was also noted as a composer of life-and-death problems.

06 July

Pak wins 17th Fujitsu Cup

  Pak Yeong-hun has won his first international title, defeating Yoda Norimoto of Japan in the final of the 17th Fujitsu Cup. This is a remarkable feat, considering that Pak became a professional just five years ago; actually, he is the third teenager, after Yi Ch'ang-ho and Yi Se-tol, to win a world title (like Yi Se-tol when he first won the Fujitsu Cup, Pak is 19).
  Three Korean players and one Japanese had reached the semifinals. Yu Ch'ang-hyeok, who at 38 now qualifies as a 'veteran', was bidding for his third Fujitsu Cup, but he lost to Pak in the semifinals. Song T'ae-kon, who is still only 17, was hoping to improve on two second places in world titles, but lost to Yoda in the semifinal. The latter was Japan's first Fujitsu Cup finalist in seven years, but he had to be content with improving on his fourth place last year.This is the seventh year in a row that Korea has won this tournament.

Semifinals (3 July, Nihon Ki-in)
  Yoda Norimoto 9-dan (Japan) (B) beat Song T'ae-kon 6-dan (Korea) by resig.
  Pak Yeong-hun 5-dan (Korea) (W) beat Yu Ch'ang-hyeok 9-dan (Korea) by resig.

Final (5 July, Nihon Ki-in)
  Pak (B) beat Yoda by 1.5 points.

Play-off for 3rd place
  Song (B) beat Yu by 1.5 points.
  The top three placegetters will be seeded in the 18th Cup.

2nd round starts in Kisei leagues

  The first game in the second round of the 29th Kisei leagues was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 1 July. In a game in the B League, Cho U Honinbo (W) beat Cho Chikun Honinbo by resignation. Both players are now on 1-1.

Kobayashi Satoru takes provisional lead in Meijin league

  An important game in the 29th Meijin league was played at the Nihon Ki-in on 1 July. Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan, one of the joint leaders of the league, played his last game; taking black, he defeated O Meien 9-dan by 2.5 points. Kobayashi ended up on 6-2, so, at worst, he has secured a place in the play-off to decide the challenger. If Cho U Honinbo, who is on 5-2, loses his last game, Kobayashi will become the challenger to Yoda Meijin. However, Cho is not scheduled to play his final game until August, so there is still a long period of suspense for both players.
  O Meien is now 3-4, in equal second-last place with Rin Kaiho. Cho Chikun, on 0-6, is the only player so far who has definitely lost his place.

Oza semifinalists

  In a game played at the Nihon Ki-in on 1 July, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (B) beat Yuki Satoshi 9-dan by resignation and so secured the fourth semifinal place in the 52nd Oza tournament. The semifinal pairings are: Takao Shinji vs. Yoda Norimoto and Yamashita vs. Hane Naoki Kisei

Redmond report

  Michael Redmond 9-dan played a game in Preliminary A of the Ryusei tournament on 28 June. Taking white, he defeated Sonoda Yasutaka 9-dan by resignation.

Top game winners

  At the halfway mark for the year (actually, as of 5 July), the players listed below are dominating the list of top game winners. The biggest difference from 2003 is that Cho U, who topped the list for the year, has dropped to eighth place. However, the number one and number two are the players who finished just behind him last year. Another difference this year is the good performance of Yoda Meijin, most of whose losses have come recently.

1. Takao Shinji 8-dan: 27 wins, 5 losses
2. Kono Rin 7-dan: 23-8
3. Kobayashi Koichi 9-dan: 21-11
4. Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan: 20-9
5. Yamashita Keigo 9-dan: 19-19
6. Han Zenki 6-dan: 18-5; Yoda Norimoto Meijin: 18-8
8. Hikosaka Naoto 9-dan, Mizokami Tomochika 7-dan: 17-6;
Yamada Kimio 8-dan: 17-10; Cho U Honinbo: 17-14
12. O Rissei Judan: 16-15

In the 4-dan and under group, the leader is Oba Junya 2-dan with 14-4.

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