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November 18th, 2005

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Kang wins SK Gas Cup; Kono draws level in Tengen title match

International:

The Samsung Cup is an unusual tournament in that it features a best-of-3 match to determine the winners of the semi-finals. This year, the semi-finals will be held on 13, 15 and 16 December; the first semi-final is between Yi Ch’ang-ho and Hu Yaoyu, and the second between Luo Xihe and Ch’oe Ch’eol-han. Ch’oe qualified for the semi-final on Wednesday by defeating fellow-Korean Cho Hun-hyeon in a game where Cho’s aggressive moves caused him more weaknesses in his groups than he could safely handle. Hu Yaoyu, the only Chinese quarter-finalist beside Luo Xihe, did well to qualify for the semi-final by defeating Korean Kim Myeong-wan. Kim allowed two of his groups to be split in order to take profit elsewhere, and lost one of the groups with inadequate compensation in a ko fight a little later, leaving him more than 10 points behind when he resigned.

In the Japanese prelims for the Fujitsu cup, the most notable news is the upset of 2-time Kansai Ki-in 1st Place Champion, Honda Kunihisa (9d), by 7-dan Yamada Takuji yesterday.

Japan:

The most important game on the Japanese Go scene the last few days was the second match of the Tengen best-of-5 final. After his 6.5 loss in the first game, Kono Rin struck back against Yamashita Keigo with a 5.5 point victory to bring the score to 1-1. The next game of the final is next Thursday.

Yamashita is currently under a busy schedule though, while defending the Tengen, he is challenging for the Oza: the second game of that best-of-5 final takes place on Monday, where he has a chance to cancel his current 1-0 deficit against title-holder Cho U.

2 games were also played in the Honinbo: league yesterday, identify clear leaders. After 2 games each, no-one has a 1-1 score. More interesting, however, is that 3 of the 4 newcomers have 2-0 scores, while only Cho U Meijin has been able to claim a win amongst the established league members from last year. We mentioned Hane Naoki and So Yokoku before – the other league newcomer to establish himself with a good record in the Honinbo league so far, is a player who was considered the “king of cool” on the Japanese pro Go scene in 2000, surprising spectators when he appeared to challenge for the Oza in 1997 in casual clothes, rather than traditional or formal wear, as is customary. This 33-year-old player, who has been playing Go since he started school, is Yamada Kimio (for more on Yamada, check out this old article on Mindzine)

In the Gosei preliminaries, So Yokoku (8d) won his playoff against Komatsu Hideki (9d) as expected for a berth in the Gosei challenger’s decision tournament. However, Awaji Shuzo (9d) pulled off a surprise win by resignation against Kobayashi Satoru (9d) in the play-off for the last open berth. Awaji, who is 56-years old, has been a challenger for a number of titles over the years, so is no pushover, but Kobayashi is undoubtedly in fine form this year. Unfortunately for Awaji, despite his many challenges, he has never won a Big Seven title – his persistence has earned him the nickname “Rocky” in the West, though.

After almost a month with no activity, the 25th NEC Cup resumes matches next Saturday, with two opponents who have seen more than enough of each other this year: Cho U faces Kobayashi Satoru in one of the 2 remaining quarterfinals.

Kobyashi Izumi (6d) is still standing in all the female pro tournaments underway. Yesterday she beat Xie Yimin (2d) to qualify for the final of the 7th Female Strongest (Saikyo) tournament against Konishi Kazuko (8d). The date of the final is not yet available.

Korea:

Kang Tong-yun won the second game of the 9th SK Gas Cup final against Ko Keun-t’ae by resignation as well as the first, this time taking Black. This is Kang’s first ever professional title.

In the final match of the 1st Yeongnam Cup, Cho Han-seung is facing Pak Yeong-hun. The first game took place on Tuesday, with Cho claiming victory by resignation. The second game is next Tuesday.

In the Female Kuksu, Rui Naiwei won her game against Kim Soojin(2d) to qualify for final of winners’ section of the tournament. Her opponent is title defender Cho Hye-yeon.

As mentioned earlier this week, team Net Marble needed a 4-0 victory to be completely assured of victory in this year’s Korean Baduk league. However, Pak Ji-eun of Team Pmang put Mok Chin-Seok’s team under pressure, when she defeated Seo Moo-sang in the first game. To have a chance of victory now, the rest of Team Net Marble need a perfect score, including Mok’s game against Yi Se-tol. If they don’t make it, victory in the league goes to Pak Yeong-hun’s Team Holy Construction.

China:

Like the Samsung Cup, the Chang-ki cup features a best-of-3 semi-finals stage. The first game in the semi-finals took place on Tuesday. In the first semi-final, Zhou Ruiyang pulled off a surprise victory by resignation against China’s number 2 player, Kong Jie, to go into a 1-0 lead. Zhou is not even included in the latest Chinese top 30 listing from April. The other semi-final features two top-10 players, and Zhou Heyang (#3) won the first game against Xie He (#9) by resignation there. The next game of the semi-finals takes place on 6 December.

In the 3rd Jiangqiao Cup, Chang Hao’s wife, Zhang Xiang won the second game of the best-of-3 final against Zheng Yan (2d) on Wednesday to defend her title with a 2-0. Zhang won both games by resignation, the first as White, the second as Black.

(Image of Kono Rin courtesy of Gobase.)

PS: In order to try and get the pro news to you quicker, I’ll try to do reports on Fridays rather than Mondays, since particularly most Japanese go activity happens on Thursdays.

Posted by Steve in Pro News

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