Ida Atsushi becomes youngest Judan in history – 53rd Judan

Ida Atsushi 8p has won his first major title and become the youngest Judan in history, defeating Takao Shinji 9p in the 53rd Judan with a 3-2 score.

The fifth game of the best of five title match was played on April 22, 2015, at the Nihon Kiin, Tokyo, Japan.

Takao Shinji 9p (left) and Ida Atsushi 8p at the 53rd Judan final.

Takao Shinji 9p (left) and Ida Atsushi 8p at the 53rd Judan final.

Record breaker

As we said above, the 53rd Judan is Ida’s first major career title.

Ida also recently won the 62nd NHK Cup, defeating Ichiriki Ryo 7p, in March, 2015. That was his first career title and, only a month later, he’s added the Judan to the list.

In both cases, Ida broke existing records as the youngest ever player to win those titles – with the new records being 20 years and 11 months, and 21 years old respectively.

Not bad for a 21 year old!

Iyama Yuta 9p held the previous record for the Judan, which he set at 21 years and 11 months when he won the 49th Judan (against Cho U 9p) in 2011.

Cho U set the previous NHK record at the 49th NHK Cup in 2002 – he was 22 years and 2 months old at the time.

Ida Atsushi 8p, just after he became Judan.

Ida Atsushi 8p, just after he became Judan.

Ida Atsushi

Ida Atsushi was born in 1994, and became a pro in 2009.

In 2014, Ida became the challenger for the 69th Honinbo title. He lost 4-1 to Iyama Yuta at the time, but he must have learned a lot and become more powerful through that experience.

He defeated Kobayashi Satoru 9p in the challenger decision match in February, 2015, to challenge Takao Shinji for the Judan.

Ida is one of two top prospects amongst the young pros in Japan at the moment. The other is Ichiriki Ryo 7p, who won the 1st GLOBIS Cup in 2014.

These two players are the future hope for Japanese Go, following Iyama Yuta.

Many Japanese Go fans want to see them become stronger and challenge top Chinese and Korean players.

I also hope that they can lead other young and talented Japanese players to a higher level of play.

Is Ida 9 dan yet?

Some readers might be wondering whether this victory means Ida Atsushi will be promoted to 9 dan.

In the modern Japanese ranking system, players are only promoted straight to 9 dan for winning an international title, or one of the ‘big three’ Japanese domestic titles (the Kisei, Meijin and Honinbo).

Winning the Judan once would be enough to get Ida promoted to 8 dan, except he’s already 8 dan! Assuming that Ida doesn’t win any other titles in the meantime, he’ll be promoted to 9 dan if he successfully defends the Judan next year.

Takao Shinji

Takao Shinji won the 46th Judan, defeating Cho Chikun 9p in 2008, but he lost the title to Cho U in the following year.

Ida Atsushi 8p (left) and Takao Shinji 9p, after game 3 of the final.

Ida Atsushi 8p (left) and Takao Shinji 9p, after game 3 of the final.

Five years later, he returned as the challenger and won the 52nd Judan against Yuki Satoshi 9p in 2014.

However, once again, it didn’t last. This time he lost the Judan to a new, young challenger – Ida Atsushi.

Nevertheless, Takao still holds the Tengen, which is another major Japanese title.

He challenged and defeated Iyama Yuta in the 40th Tengen title match, in December 2014.

That was quite sensational, because Iyama had been practically invincible in Japan for a couple of years before that.

Takao showed his strength in the Tengen final, but he couldn’t repeat the feat this time.

Summary of games 1 to 4

(Note: you can find the game records just below. And if you’d like to discuss the match, please feel free to leave a comment. Everyone is welcome.)

Takao Shinji got off to a good start in the final.

Game 1 was peaceful and territorial, which is Takao’s favorite kind of game, and he won without any trouble. There weren’t any good chances for Ida to fight properly in that game, because Takao’s moves were smooth and solid.

However, Ida tied the match by winning game 2. There were some battles, and Ida managed them quite well to grasp his first win.

After winning game 3 as well, Ida took the lead. Game 3 was very interesting, with lots of nice tesujis by both players. Both Black and White built huge territories, and Ida won the game with excellent play in the endgame.

However, Takao returned fire in game 4. He took an early lead after a big ko at the top and he maintained his lead smoothly and flexibly. Ida couldn’t find any opportunities to fight back.

The score was tied at 2-2.

Game 5 – Brief commentary

Game 5 was the title match decider. Both Takao and Ida played quite cautiously to begin with, but Ida (Black) invaded White’s area at the bottom with 31 and 33, and the first fight began.

The result up to White 50 seemed to be even, but White 56 was a brilliant move, and White (Takao) took the lead up to 62.

Black 71 and 75 formed a nice combination, and Black 79 was a good tesuji to help catch up.

Black started to fight again with 99, and he got some points up to 115. However, White’s responses were also good, and the game was still very close.

White 154 was a skillful move to remove Black’s eye potential, but Black responded well with 155 and 157.

White went all out with 182, but Ida seemed to be expecting that. Black 189 was a nice counter, and the game reached its crescendo.

Black 199 was the correct move, and White’s big dragon couldn’t make two eyes. White 212 was tricky, but Ida responded accurately, and Takao resigned soon afterwards.

53rd Judan: the scene after game 5 finished.

53rd Judan: the scene after game 5 finished.

Game records

Ida Atsushi vs Takao Shinji – Game 1


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Takao Shinji vs Ida Atsushi – Game 2


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Ida Atsushi vs Takao Shinji – Game 3


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Takao Shinji vs Ida Atsushi – Game 4


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Ida Atsushi vs Takao Shinji – Game 5


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. Lawrence Gunnell says:

    Congratulations to Ida Atsushi, I was rooting for him ever since his exciting meijin matches against Iyama!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow, very impressive. Who knows, he might end up stronger than Iyama 9p 🙂

    In game three, the jonseok in the upper right seemed unusual for white to my kyu eyes, especially after B41. Is it due to the number of black stones that were already in the area?

    Thanks for the nice summary!

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question.

      Yes, you’re right that the opening in game 3 seemed to be weird for White. However the game was still quite even up to White 62, so it wasn’t bad as it looked.

      It was already Black’s area, and White’s other stones settled on the right side without any big trouble, so the sacrifice was tolerable I think. 🙂

  3. Hoang Anh says:

    You putting the game commentary above the game record gives me a real struggle. Still thank you for the effort though, I know it’s not an easy job putting the comments in the game record.