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November 29th, 2005

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Pak Yeong-hun wins 1st Yeongnam; Gu Li wins Ahan Tongshan

International

Last Wednesday saw the beginning of the second-phase of the Nongshim Cup. Japan went into the second phase with a slight lead, but ended the phase behind China and Korea. Chinese 7-dan Liu Xing was eliminated in the 5th round by Japanese lightning-go specialist, Mimura Tomoyasu (9d), but Mimura went down in turn to Korean 6-dan, Won Seong-chin. Xie He, the Chinese 6-dan, managed two victories (over Won and Japanese 8-dan Yamada Kimio), before being displaced by Korean 8-dan Cho Han-seung. Cho completed the phase with a victory against Takao Shinji Honinbo yesterday, which means that he will face China’s second-last hope, Chang Hao at the beginning of the 3rd phase in Shanghai in February next year. Korea, who have never lost this tournament, again seems to be in the driving seat, with Yi Ch’ang-ho still up their sleeve, who is unbeaten in all the previous instances of the Nongshim Cup), but China still has a good chance, and even Japan cannot be discounted, although Yoda Norimoto will have to defeat Yi Ch’ang-ho, Kong Jie, and either Cho Han-seung or Chang Hao to give Japan the victory.

A noteworthy game in this tournament was the one between Xie He and Yamada Kimio on Saturday. As macelee reports on his website, go4go.net, “The fight in this game is so intense that one empty corner is not occupied until move 179!”

Japan

In Yamashita Keigo’s defence of his Tengen title, Kono Rin went 2-1 against him, winning the 3rd game by resignation. As John Power, reporting for the Nihon Ki-in, puts it: “In a game marked by fighting from the outset, Yamashita suffered from a hallucination that let Kono capture a large group.” Since this is a best-of-5 final, Kono can claim the title, as well as a promotion to 8-dan, if Yamashita does not win both of the remaining games in the final.

Things are not going well for Yamashita Keigo. He also lost the second game of his challenge for the Oza title against Cho U. Now up 2-0, Cho can potentially wrap up his title defence at the third game on Thursday.

The televised Ryusei tournament produced quite an upset last Friday. Sakai Hideyuki (7d) lost to 1-dan Ando Kazushige by 7.5 points. Sakai, for a long time one of Japan’s top amateurs (he received an 8-dan amateur diploma), won the World Amateur Go Champs in 2000, before turning pro, and starting out as a 5-dan at the Kansai Ki-in. He won the Kansai Ki-in 1st place tournament as a 6-dan in 2003. A high-dan player being defeated by a 1-dan would often go uncommented in Korea or China, but it is still unusual in Japan. Furthermore, Sakai is still doing well on other fronts: in the Japanese prelims of the Fujitsu Cup, Sakai eliminated 9-dan Ishida Yoshio by 6.5 points. Ishida is perhaps best-known to many in the West as the author of the “Dictionary of Basic Joseki”.

Another slight upset occured in the other major televised pro tournament in Japan, the NHK Cup: Ryu Shikun (9d) eliminated Cho Chikun Judan.

In the NEC Cup, Kobayashi Satoru got a little bit of revenge against Cho U on Saturday, taking a 3.5 point win as White, to eliminate Cho from the tournament. Cho, who successfully defended his Meijin title against Kobayashi earlier this year, was the defending champion in the NEC Cup as well.

9-dan Yamashiro Hiroshi won the Okan title for the 14th time yesterday. He forced title-holder Hane Naoki to resign to reclaim the title. The Okan title is only open to players in the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in.

Kobayashi Izumi’s run of good form in the female pro tournaments came to an end last Thursday, when she was eliminated from the Female Meijin tournament. The 6-dan lost to Inori Yoko(5d) in the semi-final of the losers’ bracket.

2 weeks ago, this year’s winner of the Kansai Ki-in 1st place tournament was decided. Almost without a pause, the next instance begins: the first matches of the 32-player knockout tournament begin tomorrow.

Korea

In the loser’s bracket of the 49th Kuksu (National Championship), Yi Se-tol took on Cho Hunhyun last Tuesday. Yi won the game by resignation.

Much more high profile was the 4th game of the GS Caltex Cup final. Ch’oe Ch’eol-han, fighting from a 2-1 disadvantage in the final, played a brilliant move “which exploited the aji in Lee’s territory and strategically aimed at Lee’s big dragon in the center. He eventually successfully captured a huge 40-stone dragon” (source: go4go.net). This brings the score to 2-2, making the last game on Thursday the all-important clash.

Despite losing the first game of the best-of-3 final in the inaugural Yeongnam Cup, Pak Yeong-hun forced his opponent Cho Han-seung to resign twice in a row last Tuesday, thus gaining him a 2-1 win in the final, earning him a cool 25 million Won. Cho’s second place scored him 8 million Won. The Yeongnam Cup is a lightning tournament, with 20 minutes of regular time and 3 40-second byo-yomi periods per player.

Something which slipped under my radar on the Korean pro scene at the beginning of this month was Ko Keun-t’ae (3d)’s victory over Korean #12, 9-dan An Cho-yeong to qualify for the finals of the 10th Cheonweon. The best-of-5 final began last Thursday, with Ko claiming a half-point victory in the first game. His opponent in the final is a relative outsider, not even in the Korean top 50: 1-dan Pak Jeong-geun. Pak has cut his way through a celebrated to reach the final. The second game of the final is on Friday.

In the Korean Baduk League, Team Net Marble could only achieve a draw against Team Pmang, allowing Team Holy Construction to end at the top of the log with 11 points. Net Marble’s 10 points was placed above Team Bohe by tie-break, and Team Hangame ended 4th on the log. However, the winner of the league is not yet determined, as there is another phase of the tournament which follows. The next phase uses a “winner-keeps-going” style format, where the teams placed 3rd and 4th play each other, the winner faces the second-placed team, and the winner of that encounter faces the team from the top of the log. How ties will be resolved in this situation remain to be seen. Although I have no results yet, the match between Team Hangame and Team Bohe should already be completed.

The BC Card Cup also used to employ this “winner-keeps-going format”, with players achieving multiple wins qualifying for a knockout stage. However, the format has changed for the next instance of the tournament. The new instance, which began this week, uses a simple 24-player knockout tournament.

China

The Chinese NEC Cup saw a large upset with the elimination of defending champion Chang Hao last Saturday. Chang, playing Black, was forced to resign against 6-dan Liu Shizhen in his first game of this year’s tournament.

In the finals of the 7th Ahan Tongshan Cup (Chinese Agon Cup) held last Tuesday, Mingren title-holder Gu Li defeated 7-dan Qiu Jun by resignation. As the winner of this tournament, he will face the winner of the Japanese Agon Cup, Iyama Yuta in the Japan-China Agon Kiriyama play-off in China early next year.

The focus of the next 2 days in China will be the 5th RICOH Cup which kicked off today with round 1. Round 2 is tomorrow. Amongst the casualties in the first round were Nie Weiping (9d) and Chen Yaoye (5d). Nie lost to 2-dan Shi Yue, and Chen was eliminated by 2-dan Liu Wei.

Taiwan

The main activity on the Taiwanese professional scene at the moment are the preliminaries to determine who represents Taiwan at international tournaments. The preliminaries for the CSK Cup have been underway for a while already, where one representative is being chosen from Taiwan to join 4 other Taiwanese representatives who are currently playing as pros in Japan: O Rissei, O Meien, Rin Kaiho and Cho U. The contenders for the remaining spot were: Zhou Junxun (9d), Lin Zhihan (7d), Lin Shengxian (7d), Dai Jiashen (7d), Chen Shien (5d) and one qualifier from the rest of the Taiwanese pros. The qualifier has not yet been decided, but Dai Jiashen and Lin Shengxian have both already been eliminated, both by Chen Shien. Dai was eliminated on Sunday, and Lin today. The more alert may have noticed that Chen’s reported rank has changed from 4-dan to 5-dan. Although this is unconfirmed, I suspect this is due to his victory in the Donggang Cup earlier this month.

Preliminaries for the solitary Taiwanese representative at the 3rd Toyota-Denso World Oza also kicked off in Taiwan today. The last time (in 2004), the representative was Zhou Junxun (9d), but this year he’s competing with Chen Shien, Lin Zhihan, Xiao Zhenghao (5d) and another qualifier from the rest of the Taiwanese pros. Note that Xiao has also been promoted to 5-dan, likely as a result of his victory in the 1st Guoshou tournament. The first game of the preliminary to choose the qualifier for the final stage was played today, with 1-dan Wang Yunzhong already causing an upset by eliminating one of the top Taiwanese pros, 4-dan Huang Xiangren.

Posted by Steve in Pro News

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2005 at 4:06 pm and is filed under Pro News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

One Response to “Pak Yeong-hun wins 1st Yeongnam; Gu Li wins Ahan Tongshan”

  1. Steve says:

    According to John Power, who writes the Nihon Ki-in’s English Pro news updates, Yamashiro Hiroshi’s 14th Okan title victory is a record. No-one else in Japan has won any one title as often.

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