American Go E-Journal

The Power Report: Honinbo title match starts; Septuple crown in danger?

Wednesday May 11, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2016.05.11_honinbo-venue

The first game of the 71st Honinbo title match was played in the Honinbo Shusaku Igo Memorial Hall (right) on the island of Inno-shima (Shusaku’s birthplace) in the city of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture on May 9 and 10. This is Iyama Yuta’s first title defence since completing the first-ever Grand Slam of the top seven titles. The challenger is Takao Shinji 9P, who has a bad record against Iyama (13-30 before this match) but who took the Tengen title from him in 2014, thus slowing down his quest for the grand slam. Takao has also been in great form this year and, as of May 3, had 13 wins to one loss.

2016.05.11_Takao makes a good startTakao (left) drew white in the first game. During the middle game, Iyama (right) made a strong attack on a white group; Takao sacrificed it, getting an attack on two black groups as compensation. Later, Takao 2016.05.11_Iyama wonders where he went wrongwas able to force Iyama into a large ko fight that could potentially decide the game. Lacking ko threats, Iyama finished off the ko and let Takao revive his dead group. This trade was favorable for Takao. Iyama did his best to catch up, but couldn’t quite manage it. Takao likes to build thickness and in this case his thickness did him in good stead in the endgame. Iyama resigned after White 244. This was Takao’s first win against Iyama after a string of seven losses.

This is just one loss, so, my headline notwithstanding, Iyama will not yet be 
too worried. The second game will be played on May 23 and 24.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report