Literally, the title Kisei means Go Sage
. It has traditionally been regarded as a supreme accolade for a go player
, going back almost 2,000 years to the Chinese Han-Dynasty. The first Japanese player to be accorded the title of Kisei was Honinbo Dosaku
(1645-1702). The only other historical Kisei was Honinbo Shusaku
(1829-1862), so these two players are regarded as the best ever.
The Kisei tournament:
The Kisei tournament is awarded to the winner of a tournament is sponsored by the Yomiuri Shimbun, which had sponsored the Meijin tournament before. The prize money for the winner is set at about 42,000,000 Yen, making it the most prestigious tournament in the Japanese world of Go.
The current titleholder is challenged in late winter by the winner of a complex year-long qualification system that also allows players of lower rank to achieve their moments of glory. The first stage is a seperate knockout round amongst players of each of the nine dan grades. The winners of the 1- to 6-dan events and the runners-up in the 7- and 8-dan events then join in another knockout tournament, the winnes of which join the the top players of the 9-dan events as well as the 8-dan and 7-dan winners to go forward to yet another knockout round where they join various seeded players, such as the winners of other major tournaments, former Kisei and challengers. Finally, the semi-finalists of this knockout, which is called the Strongest Players Challenge, play a best-of-three final to determine the challenger, who proceeds to fight the current title holder in the final.
The final is a best-of-seven-games match with 8 hours thinking time for each player, over two days. Each game of the final is played in a different city, recently even abroad. Komi is set at 5.5 points.
The Women's Kisei tournament:
The women's Kisei is sponsored by the mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo. The winners purse is currently set at 3.5 million Yen. The main event is a 16-player straight knockout culminating in a best-of-three final. All Games are broadcast on SKY PerfecTV! Channel 320 (a go and shogi channel i wish I could receive). Of these 16 starting positions, 11 are female go professionals from the Nihon Kiin, 2 from the Kansai Kiin and three are seeded positions for title holders. The winner of the knockout round goes on to challenge the current womens' Kisei.
The tournament style is lightning go with time limits of 30 seconds a move plus 10 minutes extra thinking time in 1-minute units. Komi is 5.5 points.