Keywords: Culture & History, People

Chinese: 棋圣 (qi2 sheng4)
Japanese: 棋聖 (kisei)
Korean: -

Table of contents

Go Saint

Kisei is Japanese title for Go Sage (or Go Saint). The first person called Kisei was Kanren?, a Buddhist high priest in the 9-10th centuries, who taught go to Japanese emperors. (He was inducted to Nihon Ki-in Hall of Fame in 2016.) Following Kanren, the term was conferred to Honinbo Dosaku and Honinbo Jowa. Then after the publication of Zain Danso, Jowa's infamous intrigues were revealed and the title was informally stripped from him and given to Honinbo Shusaku[1]. Later, Go Seigen was called the 'Showa era Kisei' for his overwhelming successes in his 10-game matches.

In 1976, the Kisei go tournament was established. As per normal, Japanese big title conventions, anyone attaining the Kisei title a) five or more years in a row, or b) ten or more years in all, was conferred the title Honorary Kisei (although no one has yet attained the latter b) feat).

In China, the term Qisheng is equivalent to Japan's Kisei and was applied to several ancient players, predating the Japanese word.

Japanese Tournament

The [ext] Kisei Go Tournament, established in 1976, is the most prestigious big title of the Japanese professional Go scene. It has been sponsored since its inception by the Yomiuri Shinbun. The winner's prize is ¥43,000,000 currently, making it the richest yearly Go tournament in the world. (The international Ing Cup has a higher purse depending on the exchange rates, but held only once per four years).

Due to the importance of the Kisei as one of the "big three" titles in Japan (along with the Honinbo and Meijin), there are several paths of automatic rank advancement through it in the Nihon Ki-in new promotion system. Qualifying for the Kisei league warrants a promotion to 7-dan, winning the league to challenge for the title promotes to 8-dan, and finally winning the title itself gives an immediate 9-dan promotion.

As with each of the three Japanese big titles, the previous year's title holder is challenged by the winner of a league. Entry to the league is gained through a series of preliminary tournaments. The title is decided in a best of seven match, where each player is given eight hours of thinking time over a two day period.

From the 40th edition, preliminaries include more league-type formats, S (former Kisei league), A, B and C leagues. See Kisei League Format for the new format.

The title Honorary Kisei is given to those players who have previously won the Kisei title five years in a row (or, ten years in all). Such a player can use the title on retirement or at the age of 60. Currently, this includes Fujisawa Hideyuki, Kobayashi Koichi and Iyama Yuta.

Winners and Runners-up

The title match usually starts in January.

Winners and defeated finalists
Ed. Year Winner Runner-up Result
1st 1977 Fujisawa Hideyuki Hashimoto Utaro 4-1
2nd 1978 Fujisawa Hideyuki Kato Masao 4-3
3rd 1979 Fujisawa Hideyuki Ishida Yoshio 4-1
4th 1980 Fujisawa Hideyuki Rin Kaiho 4-1
5th 1981 Fujisawa Hideyuki Otake Hideo 4-0
6th 1982 Fujisawa Hideyuki Rin Kaiho 4-3
7th 1983 Cho Chikun Fujisawa Hideyuki 4-3
8th 1984 Cho Chikun Rin Kaiho 4-2
9th 1985 Cho Chikun Takemiya Masaki 4-3
10th 1986 Kobayashi Koichi Cho Chikun 4-2
11th 1987 Kobayashi Koichi Takemiya Masaki 4-1
12th 1988 Kobayashi Koichi Kato Masao 4-1
13th 1989 Kobayashi Koichi Takemiya Masaki 4-1
14th 1990 Kobayashi Koichi Otake Hideo 4-1
15th 1991 Kobayashi Koichi Kato Masao 4-3
16th 1992 Kobayashi Koichi Yamashiro Hiroshi 4-3
17th 1993 Kobayashi Koichi Kato Masao 4-3
18th 1994 Cho Chikun Kobayashi Koichi 4-2
19th 1995 Kobayashi Satoru Cho Chikun 4-2
20th 1996 Cho Chikun Kobayashi Satoru 4-3
21st 1997 Cho Chikun Kobayashi Satoru 4-1
22nd 1998 Cho Chikun Yoda Norimoto 4-2
23rd 1999 Cho Chikun Kobayashi Koichi 4-2
24th 2000 O Rissei Cho Chikun 4-2
25th 2001 O Rissei Cho Sonjin 4-2
26th 2002 O Rissei Ryu Shikun 4-2
27th 2003 Yamashita Keigo O Rissei 4-1
28th 2004 Hane Naoki Yamashita Keigo 4-3
29th 2005 Hane Naoki Yuki Satoshi 4-3
30th 2006 Yamashita Keigo Hane Naoki 4-0
31st 2007 Yamashita Keigo Kobayashi Satoru 4-0
32nd 2008 Yamashita Keigo Cho Chikun 4-3
33rd 2009 Yamashita Keigo Yoda Norimoto 4-2
34th 2010 Cho U Yamashita Keigo 4-1
35th 2011 Cho U Iyama Yuta 4-2
36th 2012 Cho U Takao Shinji 4-3
37th 2013 Iyama Yuta Cho U 4-2
38th 2014 Iyama Yuta Yamashita Keigo 4-2
39th 2015 Iyama Yuta Yamashita Keigo 4-3
40th 2016 Iyama Yuta Yamashita Keigo 4-0
41st 2017 Iyama Yuta Kono Rin 4-2
42nd 2018 Iyama Yuta Ichiriki Ryo 4-0
43rd 2019 Iyama Yuta Yamashita Keigo 4-3
44th 2020 Iyama Yuta Kono Rin 4-2
45th 2021 Iyama Yuta Kono Rin 4-1
46th 2022 Ichiriki Ryo Iyama Yuta 4-3

See also the Challenger League crosstables.

Game 1 Locations in Foreign Countries

The first game of the title match was often held in a foreign city as a way of promoting Go worldwide. The game in Seoul 1985 was the first major title game in a foreign country. 2014 saw the last of Kisei game abroad (as of 2022).

9th  1985 Seoul, South Korea              Lotte Hotel
11th 1987 Los Angeles, California, USA    New Otani Hotel
12th 1988 Honolulu, Hawaii, USA           Kaimana Beach Hotel
13th 1989 New York, New York, USA         Hotel Kitano
14th 1990 Dusseldorf, Germany             Hotel Nikko Dusseldorf
15th 1991 Sao Paulo, Brazil               Caesar Park Hotel
16th 1992 Sydney, Australia               Hotel Nikko Darling Harbour
17th 1993 Hong Kong                       Hotel Nikko Hong Kong
18th 1994 Shanghai, China                 Garden Hotel
19th 1995 Atlanta, Georgia, USA           Hotel Nikko Atlanta
20th 1996 Amsterdam, Netherlands          Hotel Okura Amsterdam
21st 1997 Honolulu, Hawaii, USA           Ihilani Resort & Spa
22nd 1998 Hong Kong                       Grand Hyatt Hotel
23rd 1999 Paris, France                   Japanese Culture Centre
25th 2001 Taipei, Taiwan                  Hotel Royal Taipei
26th 2002 London, England, UK             Montcalm Hotel Nikko
28th 2004 Seattle, Washington, USA        Fairmont Olympic Hotel
30th 2006 Berlin, Germany                 Intercontinental Hotel
32nd 2008 Sao Paolo, Brazil               ???
34th 2010 Taipei, Taiwan                  ???
38th 2014 Alcala de Henares, Spain        ???


[1] Source: Honinbo Jowa - Sage or Scoundrel by John Fairbairn

Kisei last edited by Jono64a on January 5, 2024 - 06:29
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