48th Tengen; Ida vs. Seki (right)
Seki defends Tengen
The 48th Tengen title match started off with Black winning both games (see my report of October 24). There was a gap of over three weeks before the next game, which was played at the Hotel Marital Sosei Kurume in Kurume City, Fukuoka Prefecture, on November 14. Taking white, Ida Atsushi 9-dan, the challenger, beat Seki Kotaro Tengen by resignation after 202 moves. This gave Ida a 2-1 lead, so Seki’s grip on the title seemed to have been loosened.
The fourth game was played at the Hotel New Awaji in Sumoto City on the island of Awaji in Hyogo Prefecture. Seki (B) fought strongly and evened the series.
The final game was played at the Tokushima Grandvrio Hotel in Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku (not far south of the venue for the fourth game) on December 15. Seki drew black when they redid the nigiri. The initial fighting seemed good for White, but when the dust settled, Seki had the lead. After that, however, he made a series of small mistakes, so the game became very close. At a crucial point in the endgame, Ida made a mistake, miscalculating the value of a move: he played a one-point move because he thought it was worth two points. That was his last chance to pull off an upset. Seki managed to hold on for a half-point win.
At 21 years zero months and 18 days of age, Seki set a new record for the youngest player to defend a top-seven title. (When Shibano Toramaru defended the Oza title in 2020, he was seven days older.)
Winning his second top-seven title earned Seki promotion to 9-dan.
Iyama defends Oza
Iyama Yuta made a good start in the 70th Oza title match, beating the challenger, Yo Seiki 8-dan of the Kansai Ki-in, in the first game, played on October 21, by the narrow margin of 1.5 points. The second game was played at the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto on November 11. The game featured a struggle between large groups, but it ended up even closer than the first game, with Iyama (B) winning by just half a point.
The third game was played at the Hotel Okura Kobe in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, on November 18. Like the first two games, this one was also very closely contested, but Yo (B) made a blunder while attacking a white group. He resigned after 180 moves.
Iyama thus defended his title with straight wins. He maintained his triple crown with the Honinbo and Gosei titles. This is also his 70th title. He commented that, what with losing the Kisei and Meijin titles, 2022 was not a great year for him, so he was relieved to have ended it with a success.
Shibano wins 47th Kisei play-off
The first game of the “best-of-three” play-off to decide the Kisei challenger was held on November 18. Taking black, Yamashita Keigo 9-dan, the winner of the A League, defeated Shibano Toramaru Meijin, the winner of the S League by resignation. However, the S League winner is gifted a win in this play-off, so Yamashita couldn’t afford to drop a game. The second game was played on November 21. Taking black, Shibano beat Yamashita by resignation, so he became the challenger.
Incidentally, since the current Kisei tournament system came into effect in the 40th term, the S League winner has always become the challenger. (In this report, I am focusing on 2022, but I can reveal that Ichiriki Ryo Kisei won the first game of the title match.)