American Go E-Journal

The Power Report: Iyama Sweeps Yamashita 4-0 in Kisei, Stretches Title Match Streak to 16-0

Tuesday February 23, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

The first game of the 40th Kisei title match was held at the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in the city of Aizu-wakamatsu in 2016.02.23_kisei40_3_shukyoku_iyama_2Fukushima Prefecture on January 14 and 15. Defending champion Iyama Yuta (aged 26) drew white in the nigiri to decide the colors. The challenger Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (37) made a positive start, playing aggressively in the opening. The game was decided by a ko fight in which Yamashita sacrificed a group in order to win a ko started after White invaded a black position. Iyama (right) took the lead in this exchange and hung on for a win, rebuffing some do-or-die attacks by Black. Yamashita resigned after 202 moves. In retrospect, the game was a convincing win for Iyama.

The second game was played at the Bokoro inn in the town of Yurihama in Tottori Prefecture on January 28 and 29. Yamashita (W) played cleverly in the early middle game and took the lead. However, he missed a chance to decide the game and then began playing erratically, letting Iyama upset his lead. Iyama later played a thin move that let Yamashita narrow the gap, but the latter slipped up in the endgame. After 273 moves, Iyama won by 2.5 points. Considering his good play in the first part of the game, this was a painful loss for Yamashita.

The third game was also played in Tottori Prefecture after a break of only two days. It’s quite unusual to schedule two two-day games so close together in the same prefecture. The venue was the Kasuitei inn in Kaike Hot Spring in Yonago City. The game started with difficult fighting in the top right corner in which Iyama took the lead. Yamashita attacked fiercely in the middle game, but Iyama fought back strongly and kept his lead. Yamashita resigned after move 200. Like the first game, this was a good win for Iyama.

2016.02.23_kisei4_syukyokuThe fourth game was played at the Hokkaido Hotel in Obihiro City, Hokkaido on February 17 and 18. Playing black, Iyama controlled the flow of the game and took the lead in the middle-game fighting. Yamashita didn’t seem to make any really bad moves, but his attacks were skilfully parried by Iyama. The latter maintained a comfortable lead, so Yamashita resigned after 189 moves. Last year, after losing the first three games, Yamashita was able to fight back and win the next three before losing the seventh game. However, Iyama seems to be in even better form this year and, apart from the second game, dominated the series. After having his winning streak broken at 24 late last year, he has started another, winning seven games in a row. He has also won 16 games in a row in title matches, starting with the third game of the Gosei title match and continuing with the Meijin, Tengen, and Oza matches. This is his fourth Kisei title in a row and his 36th title overall. He is now in seventh place in the all-time list of title winners.

Categories: Japan