by Yuki He, China correspondent for the E-Journal
Mi Yuting 9P retained his Mingren title on November 11th, defeating challenger Ke Jie 9P in the third and final game of the match, collecting the 400,000 RMB cash prize (about $55,000). With his 2-1 win, Mi Yuting achieved a three-peat in the Mingren, one of the most important titles in China. “I lost every tournament this year, but finally won the most important one at the end of the year,” he said.
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The Mingren Go Tournament in China was interrupted from 2020 to 2022 due to the pandemic and resumed in March 2023 for the 33rd edition. On the way to the final games, Ke Jie 9P bested Wang Xinghao 9P, Ding Hao 9P, Chen Xian 8P, and Lian Xiao 9P. In the challenger-deciding match, he defeated Yang Kaiwen 9P, earning the right to challenge for the title.
Mi Yuting and Ke Jie had faced each other 29 times before the title-deciding game, with Ke Jie leading 16 to 13. Both players notched wins in the final’s first two games. In the first game, Ke Jie missed a favorable position despite a nearly 100% winning chance. In the second game, Mi Yuting made a mistake during a large-scale fight, leading to a reversal, and sending the match to a title-deciding final game.
In the final game, playing Black, Ke Jie played a move that paid respect to the famous “Ear-reddening Move” of Honinbo Shusaku back in 1846. Move 71 was a beautiful move that reduced white's territory on the upper side, and also expanded Black's own influence, also looking to connect to the right side when the chance came. Brilliant! But that move dropped 16.9% chance of winning the game according to AI analysis, which says it’s more important to break into White’s corner on the lower left, which made White 72 the correct move.
When the game came to move 117, Ke Jie (Black) played hane at 117, and thought White would connect at 121, but White decided to cut the six Black stones on the right side by answering 118. After 121, even though Black captured a stone in the middle, it didn’t make up for the loss on the right side. Now White’s winning rate has climbed to 93.2%.
With the very aggressive move 123, Ke Jie (Black) decided to invade White’s territory directly. This move was Black's last chance to come back; after a few moves, Ke Jie successfully captured the three White stones in the middle, but the price was too high: Black sacrificed four stones, but White built an solid iron wall outside, leaving no space on the board for Black to get more points, and with sente, White 144 got the largest end-game move left on the board, securing White’s territory with about 7 points ahead. After 198 moves, Ke Jie resigned. It was the third second-place win for world champion Ke Jie this year.
Yuki He is the EJ’s new China Go news correspondent; if you’re interested in reporting Go news from your country, state or city, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
photos/graphics: top left: Mi Yuting 9P (left) vs Ke Jie 9P, image courtesy: Fox Weiqi; top right: Moves 1 - 71, Ke Jie 9P (Black) vs Mi Yuting 9P (White); bottom left: Moves 1 – 123; bottom right: Moves 1 – 198; W+R, AI analysis by Golaxy
NOTE: This post has been updated with the game record (see above)