Go Commentary: Iyama Yuta vs Takao Shinji – 40th Tengen Final

This is game 4 from the 40th Tengen final.

The game was played between Iyama Yuta 9p and Takao Shinji 9p on December 11, 2014 in Kobe, Japan.

Iyama Yuta 9 dan (left) and Takao Shinji 9 dan at the 40th Tengen final.

Iyama Yuta 9 dan (left) and Takao Shinji 9 dan at the 40th Tengen final.

Iyama Yuta

Iyama Yuta is the absolute #1 player in Japan, and he’s still Japan’s greatest hope in the international Go scene.

He was holding six major titles out of seven when this game was played. However, he was defeated by Murakawa Daisuke 7p in the 62nd Oza final by 3-2 after few days from this game.

Takao Shinji 9 dan (left) and Iyama Yuta 9 dan were walking along the garden.

Takao Shinji 9 dan (left) and Iyama Yuta 9 dan were walking along the garden.

Iyama challenged for 37th Tengen in 2011, and defeated Yuki Satoshi 9p 3-0 in the final to take the Tengen title.

On the following year, Iyama defeated Kono Rin 9p by 3-0 in the final as well.

In 2013, Akiyama Jiro 9p was the new challenger, but he couldn’t win any games against Iyama in the final.

Iyama played nine games in first three finals of Tengen since he challenged, and he shut them out all.

This was his 3rd time defending Tengen, and he was leading the series by 2-1 in the best of five before this game.

Takao Shinji

Takao Shinji was the new challenger, and it was his first time to challenge the Tengen.

He won the 60th Honinbo, defeating Cho U 9p in 2005, and that was his first major title. He won four more major titles up to 2008, and he was one of the best players in Japan by that time.

However, he didn’t add any major titles after five years since then. He challenged for 35th Meijin, but lost to Iyama Yuta by 4-0 in 2010.

Iyama Yuta 9 dan (left) and Takao Shinji 9 dan, when the game was finished.

Iyama Yuta 9 dan (left) and Takao Shinji 9 dan, when the game was finished.

He also challenged for 36th Kisei, but was defeated by Cho U by 4-3 in 2012.

On the following year, he challenged for 68th Honinbo, but lost to Iyama Yuta again by 4-3.

Nevertheless, he eventually came back to the title holder with Judan in 2014. He challenged for 52nd Judan against Yuki Satoshi, and he won the title with a 3-2 score.

Therefore, if he took the Tengen, he would be holding two major titles.

In this final of Tengen, Iyama won game 1 and 3, so this was kadoban for Takao in this best of five match.

Let’s have a look at the game.

Commented game record

Iyama Yuta vs Takao Shinji


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)



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About Younggil An

Younggil is an 8 dan professional Go player with the Korean Baduk Association. He qualified as a professional in 1997 and won an award for winning 18 consecutive professional matches the following year. After completing compulsory military service, Younggil left Korea in 2008, to teach and promote the game Go overseas. Younggil now lives in Sydney, Australia, and is one of the founders of Go Game Guru. On Friday evenings, Younggil is usually at the Sydney Go Club, where he gives weekly lessons and plays simultaneous games.

You can follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.


  1. Very interesting game, Takao played very well.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, An Younggil, if white plays 288 at N16 in sente, he still win by 0.5 points, right?

  2. Marvelous game and great commentary ! I’m a huge fan of Takao typical japanese style, thick but refined with elegant suji. It’s always very pleasant and instructive to go through his games !

    • Younggil An says:

      You’re a big fan of Takao!

      Yes, his games are pleasant to watch, and relatively easier to follow and understand too I think.

  3. Gil Dogon says:

    Indeed a very nice game with classical tesuji feel …

    I have a question about W 172. You wrote that it eliminates aji in the corner, but I do not see that aji. I do understand however, that without it B 186 at F18 would be sente and my understanding is that is the main reason for playing W 172.

    Can you explain more about that aji ?

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for your question, and here’re my additional explanation about the aji.



  4. Excellent review An-sensei!!! Interesting game!!! Relatively less fighting and a more peaceful and calculating game! Just the way I like it! Thanks for the review. I really like Takao’s game so I really appreciated this game.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Sabaki for your kind comment.

      I’m glad to hear that you like the review of Takao’s game. I also think his games are instructive and enjoyable to study.

  5. An-sensei may I request a game review of An-sensei’s lifetime masterpiece game? I just want to see your playing style because I am very interested on how you play go/wei qi/baduk. Thank you for reading and replying to my comments!

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Sabaki for your request.

      Unfortunately I don’t have any masterpiece games, but I’ll think about that. 🙂

  6. Steve C says:


    Just a note to say I really appreciate your English commentaries (I only found your site a few days ago). They are a pleasure to follow and help me appreciate the key points in professional games. Please keep producing them!

    Thanks very much.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Steve for your cheerful comment.

      Yes, We’ll keep going, and I’m happy to hear that you like the commentaries. 🙂