This year’s 38th Kisei was the first time Iyama went into the title match as the title holder.
He took the Kisei title from Cho U 9p in 2013.
The final game
Game 6 of the match was played on March 12 and 13, in Uonuma city, Niigata Prefecture, Japan.
The game finished with Yamashita’s resignation, after 229 moves, at 7:51 pm.
Both players were playing under byo-yomi by that stage, after spending their full 8 hour time allocations.
After securing this win, Iyama still holds six of the seven major Japanese domestic titles. The only one he doesn’t hold is the Judan, which he lost to Yuki Satoshi 9p last year.
Iyama also lost the challenger decision match for the 52nd Judan to Takao Shinji 9p, in January, 2014.
Because of that, he won’t be challenging Yuki for the title in 2014, so it’s not possible for him to achieve the ‘grand slam’ of Japanese Go this year (by holding all seven major titles – something no modern Go player has achieved yet).
However, if he can accomplish the incredibly difficult feat of defending all his current titles, he’ll have another chance to become the challenger for the Judan next year.
Returning to the present match, Yamashita Keigo was playing to win his 6th Kisei title (he last held the Kisei in 2009), but he was unsuccessful this time.
It appears that Yamashita’s powerful and creative attacking style doesn’t work well against Iyama’s flexible and solid style of play.
Iyama won the first three games of the final, but Yamashita fought back to win the next two games. If Yamashita had won this game, he’d have been in a good position to win the title in a reverse sweep, but it wasn’t to be.
A treat for Spanish Go players
The first game of the final was held in Madrid, Spain, and it would have been a very special event for Spanish Go fans.
Did any Go Game Guru readers attend the event or meet the players? If you did, please leave a comment to share your experience with Go fans around the world.
An interview with the players
There were interviews with both players just before this final match.
“I expected that Yamashita would be the challenger for the Kisei, because he’s very strong and was in good form.”
“Yamashita’s style of play is very powerful and active. He often plays nice moves which I don’t expect, and whenever I see such moves, I feel that he’s extraordinary.”
“I was very lucky to defeat him in the final of the Meijin, and I’m still focused on the goal of sweeping all the seven major titles. This final is the hardest match for me on the road to that goal so far. I’m very excited to have a chance to play with Yamashita in the final of the Kisei.”
“The Meijin final was awful for me, but I’m challenging Iyama again. His perception throughout the game is outstanding, and his moves are flexible. He never loses a game easily.”
“However, I don’t want to let him to sweep all seven titles. I’ll stop him in order to become #1 again, and that’s why I’m here as the challenger today.”
“Actually, both Iyama’s and my style of play are based on fighting. Recently, he starts fighting rather often, and some of his moves defy my imagination, which sometimes discourages me.”
“Anyway, I’ll do my best, and I’ll fight openly and squarely against him. By the way, I’m still improving. I might have been better at reading in the past, but my perception of the game is still improving. I want to create better games in this Kisei final.”
Let’s have a look at the game…