In a seesaw match that’s been fought over 3,500 miles, the venerable Meijin tournament — one of the ‘big titles’ on the Japanese domestic circuit — now comes down to one final match November 12-13. Challenger Hane Naoki 9P forced a deciding Game 7 after defeating current title holder Yamashita Keigo 9P in the sixth game October 31 and November 1. The battle for the title of 37th Meijin has been waged from end to end of the island nation, beginning with the first match August 30-31 in sticky Tokyo, which Yamashita won, adding another notch to his 33-17 record against Hane. The contest then headed north to cooler Hokkaido, where Hane leveled the match at 1-1 on September 20-21. Having visited one end of the country, the players then traveled all the way south to the other end for Game 3 in Miyazaki, on September 27-28, where Hane won again to pull ahead 2-1 in the series. The match then moved back to the center of Japan, to Sendai, Miyagi, for Game 4 on October 10-11, where Yamashita dug deep and clawed his way back to even the score at 2-2. The Meijin title match was now almost back to where it started – both in terms of the score and the location – evened up and on the outskirts of Tokyo overlooking Sagami Bay, in Kanagawa Prefecture. This time, Yamashita turned the tables on Hane, edging ahead 3-2. For Game 6, the action moved to Atami, Shizuoka on October 31 and November 1, where Hane won Game 6 to stretch the Meijin title match out to a seventh and final game. The battle is now set to climax in Yamanashi, the top grape and wine region in Japan, where Yamashita and Hane will play one more game to decide who will lay final claim to the title of 37th Meijin. Click here for a more detailed blow-by-blow report on the tournament thus far, including game records (scroll down to “The 37th Meijin tour”).
- adapted from reporting on Go Game Guru