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January 13th, 2006

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Samsung Cup up for grabs, Gu Li going for 3 in 5; top earners for 2005

Welcome to a bumper issue of pro news for the last 3 weeks. There’s a special summary report of the various titles, along with the current champions and runners-up, and information on the prize-money for each title, now available on – check it out here. Otherwise, enjoy the news…


Samsung Cup up for grabs today: this week sees the best-of-3 final in the 10th Samsung Cup, between Chinese Luo Xihe and Korea’s Yi Ch’ang-ho. Luo started well, claiming avictory by resignation against Yi after losing his 4 previous games against him. However, yesterday, Yi led the way to a 3.5 point victory as Black, leaving the title up for grabs in the last game of the final being played today.

On Tuesday, China’s dominance over Japan in international Go competition was again demonstrated when Gu Li, winner of the Chinese Agon Cup, forced Iyama Yuta, holder of the Japanese Agon Cup title, to resign in the 7th annual Japan-China Agon Cup.

Next week is the third, final, stage of the 4th Jeongganjang Cup in Shanghai, China. Rui Naiwei (9p) defeated Japan’s Chinen Kaori (4p) in the last game of the second stage to end Chinen’s 3-game winning streak, and to put China in a very dominating position. Besides Rui, China still has Ye Gui and Xu Ying in reserve, while Korea’s last hope, Pak Chi-eun faces Rui on Monday. The winner of that game will face Japan’s last remaining player, Female Meijin Koyama Terumi (5p).

Finally, China and Korea will face down in the 1st China-Korea Supergo tournament this year. Based on the Japan-China Supergo tournaments of previous years, each team consists of 6 players, some qualifying by preliminaries, and some selected by recommendation. The final squads are as follows: China: Gu Li and Chang Hao by recommendation, and Luo Xihe, Wang Xi, Chen Yaoye and Piao Wenyao via a preliminary tournament. Korea: Yi Ch’ang-ho by recommendation, and through the preliminaries, Yi Se-tol, Cho Hun-hyun, Kim Tong-yeop, An Cho-yeong and Hong Seong-chi.

This weekend, the western Go focus will almost undoubtedly be on the selection of the 2 American representatives for the Toyota-Denso World Oza. The selection is being done by means of 2 major tournaments, one in New York and the other in Las Vegas. The winner of each tournament will get to participate in the final field of 32.


Last year’s top Go prize-money winner in Japan (and the world) was Cho U Meijin. Besides his Meijin title, he also claimed the LG Cup, the Asian TV Cup, the Oza, the Japanese NEC Cup, and the NHK Cup, as well as finishing as runner-up in the Ryusei. His greatest disappointment for 2005 will probably be the loss of his Honinbo title to Takao Shinji. Cho’s total prize-money for 2005 was just shy of a million dollars, at about $960 000.

However, Cho only ended 6th in the Japanese win-loss table for 2005 (at 39-24). Topping the table with a 46-16 record was Kobayashi Satoru. with the next 4 places going to So Yokoku (43-15), Yuki Satoshi (42-18), Kono Rin (41-15) and Iyama Yuta (40-13). Check out the top 30 here.

Another notable achievement in 2005 was Takemiya Masaki (9p)’s winning streak of 16 games. It was finally ended on 12 December, when he lost a game to Omori Yasushi (8p) in the preliminaries of the Toyota-Denso Cup. Besides that, Takemiya showed off another of his talents, backgammon, on Christmas Eve, when he defeated the previous winner, Ms. Abe Akiko, to claim the 12th Saint of the Board backgammon title.

Sunday sees a rare event in Berlin, Germany. The first game of the best-of-7 Kisei title match takes place there then, and it is extremely rare for games in title matches to be played abroad (I am not aware of it happening before). The next 6 games are all scheduled in Japan.

In the 31st Meijin League, the 7-dans had no luck in the first round, with Takao Shinji Honinbo defeating Sakai Hideyuki in December to ensure that none of the 7-dans claimed a win. However, in the second round this month, the 2 games completed so far have both gone the way of the 7-dan: Han Zenki defeated Yamashita Keigo last week; and then Imamura Toshiya was ousted by Ko Iso yesterday.

In the Honinbo League, Cho U Meijin and Hane Naoki Kisei were level pegging after the first 3 rounds, both with 3-0 scores. However, Cho emerged victorious from their match last Thursday, giving him the lead in the Honinbo league. At the other end, O Meien is in serious trouble, with no victories after the first four games.

Takao Shinji, the current Honinbo, had the opportunity to force the handicap in the annual pro-amateur Honinbo playoff to 3 handicap stones if he could beat his challenger, amateur Honinbo and previous winner of the World Amateur Go Championships, Hiraoka Satoshi. Both players were Honinbo for the first time this year, and in this 43rd playoff held in December, Takao was able to overcome the 2-stone handicap, but not the additional 6.5 points of komi currently being awarded to the amateur. The only time that the amateurs have previously been pushed to 3 handicap stones was when Cho Chikun held the Honinbo title for 10 consecutive years. Interestingly, this playoff allows free placement of the handicap stones.

In the Judan challenger decision tournament, Yamashita Keigo defeated Kobayashi Satoru and Mimura Tomoyasu (9p) to win the loser’s bracket of the double elimination tournament. He will face the victor in the winner’s bracket, Takao Shinji Honinbo, to select Cho Chikun Judan’s challenger.

Kobayashi Koichi went down in his first game of the challenger decision tournament in the Tengen, losing to Katayama Yasuo (8p). Meanwhile, O Rissei and Hane Naoki Kisei won their first games in the tournament, defeating Ryu Shikun (9p) and Iyama Yuta (7p) respectively.

In the Oza, Michael Redmond secured a good victory on 22 December: he eliminated Yuki Satoshi by resignation. If he can beat Yata Naoki (9p), Redmond will qualify for the challenger decision tournament.

The Gosei challenger decision tournament saw So Yokoku (8p) eliminated by Kiyonari Tetsuya (9p), while Takemiya Masaki won his second-round game against Awaji Shuzo(9d) yesterday – he faces Yamashita Keigo next in the quarterfinals.

Ando Kazushige (1p) continued his great form in the Ryusei: after beating Sakai Hideyuki 7p in the previous game of his group, he followed up with a win against 7-dan Iguchi Toyohide broadcast on 23/12. With 3 straight wins, his next opponent will be Matsuoka Hideki(8d) – that game will be broadcast next Friday.

The first games of the Shinjin O tournament were played on the Thursday before Christmas, with Ko Iso (7p) and Anzai Nobuaki (2p) both winning their initial games. Rin Kanketsu (6p) was not so lucky, going down to relatively unknown Yamamoto Kentaro (4p).

In the NHK Cup, Christmas TV viewers in Japan were treated to the sight of Yoda Norimoto Gosei losing by 3.5 points to underdog Moriyama Naoki (9p). Last Sunday, Imamura Toshiya (9p) grabbed a 6.5 point victory against O Rissei. This week’s match also promises to be very worthwhile: Kobayashi Satoru vs So Yokoku.

After an almost-2-month hiatus, the NEC Cup continues, with the last quarterfinal being played tomorrow. The winner between Yamada Kimio (8p) and Miyazawa Goro (9p) will face Kobayashi Satoru in a semi-final, while the other semi-final will feature Takao Shinji and Cho Sonjin.

The challenger to Koyama Terumi (5p), current Female Meijin, was determined on Monday, when Yoshida Mika (8p) lost to fellow 8-dan, Aoki Kikuyo. The best-of-3 title match takes place in February, with the first game on 9 Feb.

In the female Kisei tournament, the last 4 games broadcast saw the elimination of the 2 title-holders in the challenger decision tournament: Kobayashi Izumi, who won the Female Strongest tournament a month ago, lost to Yoshida Mika on 28 December, and this Wednesday, Kato Tomoko (5p) eliminated Female Meijin Koyama Terumi.

Three more Japanese pros have announced their retirements in late 2005. The best-known is Magari Reiki (9p), a leading student of Iwamoto Kaoru (who was famous as the black player in the atomic bomb game, and for his work in spreading Go to the West). Magari turned 81 last year, after being 9-dan for over 30 years. Next is Ito Makoto, who has been 8-dan since at least 1989. Ito is a former member of the well-known Kitani dojo. Finally, Nishimoto Kinya retired again. Nishimoto retired for the first time in 1974 as a 30-something one-dan, but after an almost 20-year break, he returned to the professional scene and achieved promotion to 2-dan in 1997.


The top prize-money winner in Korea for 2005 was triple world-championship winner, Yi Se-tol: Yi won the Toyota-Denso World Oza, the Samsung Cup, and the Fujitsu Cup, was runner-up in the Zhonghuan Cup, and won the domestic Korean Maxim Cup to rake in almost $600 000. Second on the list is Yi Ch’ang-ho ($470 000), followed by Ch’oe Ch’eol-han ($450 000), Pak Yeong-hun ($240 000) and Cho Han-seung ($110 000).

Ch’oe topped the 2005 win-loss tables with his 66-33 record, with Yi Yeong-ku close behind at 64-23. The next 3 spots went to Cho Han-seung (63-28), Yi Se-tol (61-21) and Pak Yeong-hun (61-29). The top 20 is available here.

Yi Se-tol’s hopes of claiming the Kuksu as a second domestic title were dashed when he was soundly defeated 2-0 in the challenger decision match by Yi Ch’ang-ho, both games being decided by resignation. Yi Ch’ang-ho will face Ch’oe Ch’eol-han in the best-of-5 final – the first game is on 25 January.

Yi Ch’ang-ho also defeated Pak Yeong-hun in the first game of the 1st Siptan Wonik Cup final on Sunday, by 1.5 points. The next game of the best-of-3 final is this Sunday.

The semi-finals of the challenger decision tournament of the Korean equivalent of the Kisei, the Gisung, were played in the last week. Song T’ae-kon (7p) claimed a victory by resignation over Pak Cheong-sang (5p) last Friday, and on Monday, Yi Se-tol was once again denied a second domestic title when he lost to An Cho-yeong (9p). The challenger decision match is a best-of-3 affair, and the first game was already won by Song T’ae-kon yesterday. The next game is on 2 February.

In the Etland Cup preliminaries, Yi Min-chin (4p) was eliminated from the women’s pool by Ha Ho-cheong (2p). Yi Sang-hoon (9p) was defeated by Ch’oe Kye-byeong in another pool, and Seo Pong-su reached the finals of a third pool by eliminating Cho Hun-hyun.

My report on the KBS Cup suggesting a new format for the tournament was faulty – my source just did not have all the pools showing on the website when I visited it. There were finally 23 berths competed for, which joined 5 other players in a 28 player double elimination tournament. One of the qualifiers, Pak Jeong-geun, who eliminated Yi Yeong-ku in the prelims, caused quite an upset by relegating Pak Yeong-hun to the losers’ bracket in the first round. One of the top female players, Pak Chi-eun, also qualified, but lost to Kim Hyo-kon (4p) in the first round. Kim and Ko Keun-t’ae (4p) also did well to qualify by defeating Kim Il-whan (9p) and Cho Hun-hyun (9p) respectively. Rui Naiwei, Cho Hye-yeon, Song T’ae-kon and An Tal-hun, were all defeated in the preliminary stages.

In the BC Card Cup, the closest result to an upset so far was that On So-chin (2p) was eliminated in the first round by Jin Siyoung (1p).

The 2 leagues in the SK Gas New Stars Cup are underway, with one game being played each Tuesday. 3 games have been completed so far, the most notable being Ko Keun-t’ae’s victory over female Yi Min-chin (4p).

In the Maxim Cup, the last 3 games in the tournament, played between 28 December and 10 January, saw the 3 biggest names in the tournament all proceeding to the next round: Yi Se-tol disposed of Hong Jong-hyun (9p), Pak Yeong-hun beat An Cho-yeong (9p) and Ch’oe Ch’eol-han also eliminated a 9-dan, Kim Il-whan.

Rui Naiwei defeated Cho Hyeyeon in the first game of the 7th Korean Women’s Myeongin title match on Saturday, but on Tuesday, Cho fought back to level the final at 1-1. The last game of the final is on 26 January. Cho also beat Rui in the final of the winner’s bracket in the Female Kuksu (currently held by Cho). Rui now has to face Pak Chi-eun in the final of the loser’s bracket – but first they will face each other in the Jeongganjang Cup on Monday.


China’s Chang Hao won the Ing Cup, as well as being runner-up in the Toyota-Denso World Oza. Domestically, he won the Chinese NEC Cup, and formed the runner-up pair with Zhang Xuan (8p) in the Chinese Ricoh Pro Pair-Go Championships. His total prize-money for the year is about $640 000, the most of any Chinese pro.

Team Shanghai maintained their status of League winners in the 2005 Chinese City League A, topping the table after 22 rounds.

Just 2-days after defeating Iyama Yuta in the China-Japan Agon Cup playoff, Gu Li won the 18th Mingren tournament yesterday, defeating Yu Bin with a resounding 3-0 score. With the NEC Cup final tomorrow, Gu Li has the opportunity to claim his third title in less than a week. Gu is definitely the favourite for the NEC Cup final – his opponent is Liu Shizhen (6p).

Zhou Heyang (9p) clinched the 2nd Chang-Ki Cup last Saturday to become the first Chinese pro championship winner of the year, after 2 successive victories by resignation over his opponent Kong Jie (7p). This is the most lucrative Chinese Go tournament – the prize money for the winner of the tournament is 400 000 RMB.

Another round of the RICOH Cup has been completed reducing the field from 16 to 8, with no serious upsets. The remaining 8 players are all in the Chinese top 15 according to the latest available English versions of the Chinese pro ratings (August 2005), including the top 3 Chinese players, Gu Li, Kong Jie and Zhou Heyang. The surprise 2-dan who stuck it out to the last 16, Shi Yue, was eliminated by Liu Shizhen. In any case, the quarter-finals to watch out for are Kong Jie (#2) vs Zhou Heyang (#3), and Gu Li (#1) vs Wang Lei (#5).


Comfortably topping the Taiwan win-loss table for 2005 with a 43-8 record is Chen Shien, who also plays as a pro in Korea. Not only does he have 10 more wins than second placed Lin Zhihan (31-19), he also has less losses than any other player in the top 20. The number 3 spot goes to Xiao Zhenghao (30-16), and the rest of the top 20 can be seen here.

In the Taiwanese preliminaries for the Toyota-Denso World Oza, Peng Jinghua lost to Zhou Yinnan on 23 December. This is noteworthy only because the result was decided by time – something that happens very rarely at pro level. One of Taiwan’s top players, Dai Jiashen (7p), was also eliminated from the preliminaries by Yang Mengyun (2p).

The prelims for the 5th Tianyuan tournament began last Saturday, but there have been no notable results.

The 4th Wangjia league has already begun, but all the preliminaries are not yet completed. Yoo Kyeong-min (5p) defeated Dai Jiashen (7p) and Lin Shengxian (7p) (by 0.5 points) to claim a spot in the league, while Chen Shien (5p) took a league berth on Tuesday by defeating Chen Yongan (5p). Dai Jiashen was then also beaten in the loser’s pool by Yang Zhude (5p).

In the CMC TV Cup, Lin Zhihan defeated one of his greatest threats to retaining his title, when he beat Chen Shien 5d by resignation in the second round. The game was broadcast on Sunday. Lin and Chen will also square off in the second round of the 5th New Star Match tournament, which started on New Years’ Day.

Posted by Steve in Pro News


This entry was posted on Friday, January 13th, 2006 at 2:10 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.

3 Responses to “Samsung Cup up for grabs, Gu Li going for 3 in 5; top earners for 2005”

  1. markwirdnam says:

    Quote: “Sunday sees a rare event in Berlin, Germany. The first game of the best-of-7 Kisei title match takes place there then, and it is extremely rare for games in title matches to be played abroad (I am not aware of it happening before).”

    Hi. Kisei has regularly had the first game abroad. I’m nearly sure Meijin title has done it too in the past, and a Korean title at least once. Here’s some evidence I managed to find. Maybe invite them to South Africa for next year 🙂

  2. Steve says:

    Thanks for the correction, Mark 😉

    So it seems like an almost annual event for the Kisei. Do you know of other title match games being played abroad?

  3. konrad says:

    I attended the 2002 Kisei first round in London, O Rissei vs Ryu Shikun, with Kato Masao, Michael Redmond and others doing live commentary and some teaching on the day after the match.

    Yes, maybe we should consider inviting them…

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