Archive for February, 2008

Kisei Title: Cho closes the gap

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Kisei game 5 ended with Cho’s 3.5 points victory.

Cho Chikun after winning game 5 of 2008 Kisei

One of the most interesting parts of the game was the sacrifice that Cho (playing Black) made on the right side instead of living by playing in 3×3 (see the sequence shown in the next 2 diagrams): as a result, he got thickness into the center that translated later, among other advantages, into a quite large territory on the lower side.

The score is now 3-2 for Yamashita. Next game is on March 12th.

Lee Sedol fights back and wins LG Cup

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
The final game of the 12th LG Cup is over: the famous Lee Sedol managed a 2-1 win over his countryman Han Sanghoon 2p.

Han Sanghoon became famous recently for scoring big wins shortly after qualifying as a pro 1-dan in Korea. (He was still shodan when he qualified for the LG Cup). He even won the first game against Lee Sedol in this LG final.

Link to the games. Interview with Han Sanghoon. Another interview with Han Sanghoon.

Kisei Title, game 5, day 1

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
Game 5 of the Kisei title started today: Cho (Black) played the last move of day one (49, in the upper-right corner) before Yamashita sealed his next move. While Cho cannot afford to lose any other game, Yamashita has a comfortable 3-1 lead so he only needs to win one of the next 3 games (including this one) in order to win this match and keep the title.

kisei 2008, game 5, day 1

Black seems to have more territory, but he also has several groups on the right hand side to worry about. The game will continue tomorrow.

Kisei Title – can Cho recover from 1-3?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
The next Kisei Title game between Yamashita Keigo and Cho Chikun will be today. Yamashita leads Cho 3-1, which means that one more win will assure Yamashita of keeping his title again this year. Will Cho be able to make a recovery from this uncomfortable score? The Nihon Ki-in website published a table with the history of best-of-seven titles where one of the players recovered from 1-3 (or even from 0-3) to win the title. Out of 10 such cases, Cho recovered 3 times from 0-3 to win the title: against Fujisawa Shuko in Kisei, 1983, against Otake Hideo in Meijin, 1984, and against Kobayashi Koichi in Honinbo, 1992. Cho also came back once from 1-3 to win the Honinbo title in 1990, also against Kobayashi Koichi. Cho was also on the the other side of “miraculous comebacks” once: he led 3-0 against Rin Kaiho in Honinbo 1983 before losing the title 3-4.

So Cho Sensei is the master of comebacks. He is renowned for doing his best under pressure. I’m sure we’ll see an exciting game later today!

Yamashita just one win away from defending Kisei Title

Friday, February 22nd, 2008
Yamashita Keigo leads Cho Chikun 3-1 in the Kisei Title match. Yamashita won game 4 in which Cho seemed to have had a comfortable position for the first 160 moves or so. White’s slack play a little bit earlier allowed Black to play a beautiful double purpose move with 165 (the circle marked Black stone in the lower right) which threatens White’s positions on both lower and right sides. In the game Cho defended his right hand side group and Yamashita laid wasted on White’s lower side territory. The diagram shows what happens if White defends the lower side instead: his right side group dies.

kisei 2008 game 4 - black's winning move

China wins Nongshim Cup 2008

Friday, February 22nd, 2008
I already wrote about Chang Hao’s (China) wins against Takao Shinji (Japan) and Lee Changho (Korea). That resulted in Japan being eliminated from Nongshim (Takao was the last member of Japan’s team), and Korea being down to their last member, Park Yeonghun.

Nongshim 2008 final game

Chang Hao was unstoppable and he defeated Park Yeonghun too (game record here). Some interesting action happened in the upper right quarter of the board: first Black built a huge moyo there…

… then White managed to reduce it in a spectacular fashion, but Black kept enough of it to have a good lead.

Chang Hao proved again that he is a great champion – I became his fan when he came to the WAGC in 1990 as the Chinese representative (he was 14) and he won with a perfect 8-0 score (that was my first WAGC as the Romanian representative).

The final Chinese team member, Gu Li, didn’t have to play a single game during this Nongshim Cup.

Kisei game 4 started today

Thursday, February 21st, 2008
Kisei game 4 started today, it will conclude tomorrow. This is an important game: at 2-1 for Yamashita, one more win will bring him just one step away from defending his title against Cho. Here is the situation so far (click on the board image to download the game record). It is amazing how quickly the position turned into a non-standard variation in the lower-left corner.

Kisei 2008, game 4

On a related note, Cho Hye Yeon 7p of Korea was wondering what did Cho Chikun think about during day one of game 3 (when only 25 moves were played). Read her wonderful “Only a matter of TIME” article – it is very interesting and informative with respect to (decreasing) time limits in professional tournaments.

Nongshim Cup 2008

Thursday, February 21st, 2008
Nongshim Cup is a team tournament between China, Korea and Japan: each team member keeps playing until they lose once, at which point they get replaced by the next team member. In the past few days, Chang Hao of China eliminated Takao Shinji of Japan and Lee Changho of Korea, and he’s playing with Park Yeonghun of Korea as I am writing this (I am following the game live on Cyberoro). Photo of the end of the game between Chang Hao and Takao Shinji: Chang Hao won by 2.5 points.

Nongshim Cup 2008

Yet another photo from the same moment, different angle: Takao smiles even in defeat. I like the little kid in the background: maybe a future Go champion?

Nongshim Cup 2008

Chang Hao defeated Lee Changho next, by 0.5 points.

Nongshim Cup 2008

I also liked the following photo. Since Nongshim, the sponsor of this international tournament, is an instant noodles producer, is this one of the prizes? :-)

Nongshim noodles

Umezawa Yukari defends Female Kisei title against Mukai Chiaki

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
Umezawa Yukari (of Hikaru-no-Go fame) defended her Female Kisei title against Mukai Chiaki 2p with 2 straight wins.

Female Kisei 2008, game 2

Ishida Yoshio 9p is participates in the game commentary after the second game in the picture above Here’s the beginning of the game – click on the board to download the game record for the second and final game. (Here’s the game record for the first game.)

Female Kisei 2008, game 2

Xie Yimin captures Female Meijin from Kato Keiko

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
Kato Keiko was again on the wrong side of a half point game in the second Female Kisei game, so she lost her title to Xie Yimin (who is currently also Female Honinbo in Japan).

Female Meijin 2008, game 2

Here’s the beginning of the second game – click on the board to download the game record.

Female Meijin 2008, game 2