Ichiriki wins Teikei Young Stars
The name of this tournament may make it sound like a junior tournament, but the prize money for the winner of ¥10,000,000 is more than for two top-seven titles (the Gosei and Judan) and also more than for its sister titles, the Teikei Cup Legends (¥5,000,000) and the Teikei Cup Women Legends (¥2,000,000). On top of that, the qualifiers for the best-of-three final were the number one and two players, Ichiriki Ryo Kisei and Shibano Toramaru Meijin.
Unfortunately for the latter, he clashed with a player who is enjoying the best form of his career. In the first half of 2023, Ichiriki has seemed almost unbeatable (details of his winning streaks are given below).
The first game was played on April 1; Ichiriki prevailed in a closely contested struggle. There was an unusually long gap before the second game, played May 6, because of how busy the two players were. Ichiriki took the lead in the middle game; Shibano had to play a little unreasonably, and Ichiriki took advantage to kill a group and score a convincing win. This was his 11th win in a row in his latest winning streak.
Game 1 (April 1). Ichiriki (W) by resig. after 156 moves.
Game 2 (May 6). Ichiriki (B) by resig. after 191 moves.
The winner graduates from the tournament, but Ichiriki is also ruled out by age for the next term: he turned 26 on June 10. Shibano turns 24 on November 9, so he gets two more chances. He lost the inaugural title match to Kyo Kagen, then Judan.
Fujisawa becomes Hollyhock challenger
The semifinals and final of the 10th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup were held on at the Konjakutei Inn in Aizu-wakamatsu City on May 20 and 21. The results were:
Semifinals (May 20). Mukai Chiaki 6-dan (B) beat Nakamura Sumire Women’s Kisei by resig.; Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo (W) beat Ueno Risa 2-dan by resig.
(Final). Fujisawa (B) beat Mukai by resig.
Ichiriki becomes Gosei challenger
The playoff to decide the challenger for the 48th Gosei challenger was held at the Nihon Ki-in on May 25. It featured the same pairing as last year: Yo Seiki 8-dan (Kansai Ki-in) v. Ichiriki Ryo Kisei. Yo drew black. His strategy in the middle game was to go for territory instead of defending his weak positions. Ichiriki is known for his powerful attack: he set up a leaning attack and eventually killed a black group, so Yo had to resign.
Shibano wins New Ryusei Tournament
The New Ryusei Tournament is an ultra-fast TV tournament sponsored by the Go and Shogi Channel. Each player has a one-minute time allowance, and five seconds is added for each move they make. This is the Fischer format, invented by chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer. In the case of go, a game usually takes less than half an hour.
Thirty-two players took part in the main tournament. In the first round, Ichiriki Ryo beat Nakamura Sumire but lost to Yuki Satoshi in the next round. Ueno Asami won her way through to the semifinal but lost to Shibano Toramaru. His opponent in the best-of-three final was another top-seven title-holder, Seki Kotaro Tengen. In the first game, telecast around mid-May, Shibano (W) beat Seki by resig. Seki took the lead, but Shibano pulled off an upset. In the second game, telecast later in May, Shibano (B) won by 1.5 points. Once again, Seki took the early lead, but Shibano attacked powerfully and overtook him.
First prize is 2,000,000 yen ($14,545).
Ichiriki takes lead in 78th Honinbo title match
Ichiriki was challenging Iyama for the Honinbo title for the second year in a row. Last year Iyama beat him 4-0 and set a new record by winning this title 11 years in a row. In top-seven title matches, Iyama has an overwhelming lead of 9-2 over Ichiriki, but one of these losses came in last year’s Kisei and Ichiriki continues his recent marvelous form.
The first game was played at the Fugetsuro in Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on May 18 and 19. The Fugetsuro (“wind moon tower”) is a Japanese-style building used by the last shogun, Tokugawa Keiki, as his residence after the Meiji Restoration in 1868. It is now operated as a restaurant and venue for weddings.
Iyama drew black in the nigiri. In the early middle game, he missed a good chance to put a weak white group under pressure. Ichiriki played aggressively and took the initiative in the fighting on the second day. He cut off a large black group extending through the center from bottom to top and remorselessly crushed its eye shape. Black resigned after White 164. Judging by this beginning, Ichiriki’s chances of taking the title were looking very good.
The second game was played at the Former Ryotei Kaneyu in Noshiro City, Akita Prefecture, on May 28 and 29. It was built in 1937 as a guesthouse for the local timber industry and was made of Akita cedarwood. It’s now a tourist facility. The game was played at one end of an enormous (110 mats) tatami room.
The game started with Iyama (W) sacrificing a corner position in exchange for forcing moves on the outside. Other professionals considered the result favorable for Black. Iyama did his best to build a large moyo, but Ichiriki had no trouble laying waste to it. White resigned after Black 201. This took Ichiriki’s winning streak to 16. On June 1, he beat Mitani Tetsuya 8-dan in the Oza tournament, so the streak went to 17.
The third game was played at the Kanda Myojin temple in Tokyo on June 6 and 7. Iyama (B) countered Ichiriki’s sharp play with thickness and power; he seized the lead in complicated middle-game fighting and picked up his first win of the series. Ichiriki resigned after Black 249. His winning streak, during which he had looked unbeatable, finally came to an end.
The fourth game was played at the Hotel Agora Osaka Moriguchi, in Moriguchi City, Osaka Prefecture, on June 20 and 21. Playing black, Ichiriki won by half a point after 350 moves. The lead shifted back and forth in the middle game. Iyama missed a good chance to take the lead, but later Ichiriki made a miscalculation, so White did go ahead. However, Iyama made a number of small mistakes, uncharacteristic of him, so Ichiriki retook a narrow lead. At this point, his chances of becoming Honinbo were looking good.
Late news. Ichiriki took the match 4-3. My next report will cover the final three games.
28th LG Cup
The opening rounds of the 28th LG Cup were held at a leisure center near Seoul on May 29 and 31, with 24 players taking place. Bad results in the past meant that only three Japanese players took part. Yo Seiki picked up a win in the first round and joined Shibano Toramaru, who was seeded into the second round, thanks to making the best eight in this tournament last year, but a second win for Japan proved elusive. Below are the results of the opening two rounds. Dates for later rounds of this tournament are not yet known.
Round 1 (May 29). Yo Seiki 8-dan (W) beat Seol Hyunjun 8-dan (Korea) by resig.; Ahn Sungjoon 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Kyo Kagen 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Han Sungjoo 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Lai Junfu 8-dan (Ch. Taipei) by resig.; Mi Yuting 9-dan (China) (W) beat Han Tehi 8-dan (Korea) by resig.; Wang Xinghao 8-dan (China) (W) beat Kim Myeonghun 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Li Xuanhao (China) (W) beat Ahn Kukhyun 7-dan (Korea) by resig.
Round 2 (May 31). Gu Zihao 9-dan (China) (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (Japan) by resig.; Byun Sangil 9-dan (Korea) (B) beat Yo by resig.; Han Seungjoo (W) beat Ding Hao 9-dan (China) by resig.; Ke Jie 9-dan (China) (B) beat Shin Minjun 8-dan (Korea) by resig.; Wang (W) beat Park Junghwan 9-dan (Korea) by resig.; Mi (B) beat Kim Junghyun 7-dan (Korea) by resig.; An (W) beat Yang Dingxin 9-dan (China) by resig.; Shin Jinseo 9-dan (Korea) (W) beat Li by resig.
Tomorrow: Han wins Globis Cup; 6th Go Seigen Cup; Ueno defends Hollyhock Cup; Iyama makes good start in Gosei defence; Yoda does well in international tournament for seniors.