Go Commentary: Iyama Yuta vs Takao Shinji – 68th Honinbo – Game 7

This is the final game of the 68th Honinbo title match, played between Iyama Yuta 9p and Takao Shinji 9p.

Iyama won the first game, but Takao won next two games, leaving the score at 2-1. Iyama countered by winning games 4 and 5, and Takao defended the kadoban in game 6. This left the Honinbo title tied at 3-3, to be decided by a single decisive game (this one).

Iyama Yuta


Iyama Yuta 9 dan.

Iyama Yuta is the #1 player in Japan. He currently holds five of the seven major Japanese domestic titles, and he even recently won the 25th TV Asian Cup, defeating Park Junghwan 9p in the final.

In the 67th of Honinbo tournament, Iyama defeated Yamashita Keigo 4-3 and became the new Honinbo. This was his first time defending the title.

Takao Shinji

On the other hand, Takao Shinji won the 60th Honinbo tournament (in 2005), defeating Cho U 9p 4-1. He also defended the title again challengers Yamada Kimio 9p (4-2) and Yoda Norimoto 9p (4-1) to hold the Honinbo for three years in a row.

However, he was eventually defeated by Hane Naoki (4-3) in the 63rd Honinbo, and was unsuccessful in challenging for the title the following year (Hane won 4-2 in 2009). Takao was even ahead in the title match, 3-0, in the 63rd Honinbo final, but he lost the next four games in a row.


Takao Shinji 9 dan signs a commemorative document at the start of the 68th Honinbo title match.

This year (2013) Takao made a comeback and attempted to reclaim the Honinbo title. He swept the Honinbo league with seven wins and no losses, and proceeded through to challenge Iyama Yuta for the title.

Let’s have a look at the final game from the title match.

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. Thanks Younggil sensei very much. I’m very interested in your commentary games. They’re all useful materials for studying and enjoying igo.

  2. Thank you again for this insightful review Younggil sensei!

    Can I request for a review of one of your best games? I think that would be awesome! Thank you! ^_^

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for your request. 🙂 I will consider of it, but it’s more interesting and fun to see great players’ games! ^^

  3. sébqstien says:

    Thank you for you commentary .
    I think this game is very interesting.
    Iyama find always crucial Tesuji . what reading !
    otherwise I think the problem japan for internationals tournaments is Time Because time for japan title is greater and they are best for this type of game.
    But recently Iyama proved he can win this type of game.

  4. I have been following Iyama’s games since 2011, this is by far one of his best games.

  5. Thank you for the wonderful commentary Younggil, as always. At my level – sdk – I find the following aspects of the commentary useful: First there always seem to be some simple, common paterns that occur in many games: It’s very helpful to see some variations and analysis of these. For example in this game I especially noticed the wedge in between the two stones and when to atari from outside for thickness vs. atari from below. Second, I find it helpful to ask myself which moves I’d consider and when the actual move is something I would never even have conceived I find that very helpful in expanding my overall judgement. The deep variations are perhaps unlikely to affect my own play but I still do enjoy seeing them. Without your commentary I would not be able to appreciate them at all, but wit the commentary I can look at them and enjoy them like looking at a lovely piece of art.

    I wonder, are there any tournaments outside of Japan with long time limits? It would be nice to see a top tournament in China, Korea, as well as an international one along these lines.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thank you for your kind comment.
      For the time limit, 3 hour each is the longest one in the international matches. (Ing Cup has longer time limit, but there’s no byoyomi, so it’s actually shorter than 3 hours)

  6. Great commentary, thanks!
    How about white B11 for 50?
    It’s low but better aji on the left side
    and larger pressure on the lower left black, I guess??

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question. I haven’t thought about that, but it looks possible. Takao didn’t play there because the center area would become weaker than in the game I guess.
      But it’s still a good idea! 🙂

  7. Thank you Mr Younggil for commenting this game. Very useful material for studying.

  8. As usual, when I see the commentary, I realize I didn’t understand the game at all. :/
    thank you for the insight, it’s very valuable.

  9. “This counter-hane is a common tesuji when trying to manage weak stones inside your opponent’s sphere of influence.”

    This is the kind of comment I find most valuable – it helps me see past the situational value of a particular move and understand it as a tool useful in many situations. Thank you!

  10. Hi Mr. An truly you are doing the go world a huge service you truly help many people outside of Korea, China and Japan who have no access to go material and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would just like to ask what can you say about the style Takao Shinji Judan-Tengen? I feel that I have an affinity for his games and I really enjoy playing over his games. What type of player is he?

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Sabaki for your kind words. 🙂

      That’s hard to describe Takao Shinji’s style of play in a word. Whenever I look at his games, I feel like his play is stable with full of tesuji. He’s not fighting oriented, but he’s very good at compromise with nice tesuji and haengma.

      His games are good to learn about tesuji, balance of the game, and negotiation skill in a battle.