Iyama wins 40th Meijin, three years in a row

Iyama Yuta 9p successfully defended his Meijin title on October 6, 2015, defeating Takao Shinji 9p with a perfect 4-0 score in the 40th Meijin title match.

Game 4 of the final was played on October 5 and 6 in Mie Prefecture, Japan and Iyama Yuta won by resignation after 227 moves.

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

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

Iyama still holds four Japanese titles

 Iyama Yuta 9 dan at the 40th Meijin final.

Iyama Yuta 9 dan at the 40th Meijin final.

Having successfully defended the Meijin title again, Iyama currently holds four of the seven Japanese “majors”, including the Kisei, Honinbo and Gosei.

Earlier this year, he also successfully defended three other titles, defeating Yamashita Keigo 9p in the 39th Kisei, 70th Honinbo, and the 40th Gosei title matches.

Yamashita won three games in the Kisei title deciding match, but only managed one win each in the Honinbo and Gosei finals.


Iyama in Meijin title matches

This is the 5th Meijin title in Iyama’s career.

Iyama first challenged Cho U 9p in the 33rd Meijin in 2008 but was defeated 4-3.

However, Iyama got a second chance the following year in the 34th Meijin and won his first Meijin title with a 4-1 score.

In 2010, Iyama defeated Takao Shinji 4-0 to successfully defend his title.

However, his hold was short-lived and he lost to Yamashita Keigo 9p in 2011.

In 2013, Iyama challenged Yamashita Keigo for the title back, and he won his third Meijin title with a 4-1 score.

In 2014, Kono Rin 9p challenged, but Iyama defeated him 4-2 to defend the title.

Takao Shinji’s defeat

Takao Shinji with the sealed move, at the end of the first day from game 4.

Takao Shinji 9 dan with the sealed move, at the end of the first day from game 4.

At the end of 2014, Takao defeated Iyama to win the 40th Tengen with a 3-2 score.

He was behind the final 2-1, but won the last two games to win the title.

Takao’s style is calm but lively, and he favors tesuji and flexible haengma.

Yamashita Keigo was soundly defeated by Iyama earlier this year, so some thought Takao’s style of play might be more effective against Iyama’s powerful and creative style of play.

However, Takao didn’t manage to win a single game in the final so we can assume that it’s even harder for Takao to fight against Iyama.

Rising stars up to the challenge

There are a few young talented Japanese players rising rapidly through the ranks such as Murakawa Daisuke 8p, Ida Atsushi 8p and Ichiriki Ryo 7p.

Murakawa has already managed to win one title from Iyama with the 62nd Oza in 2014 and Ida is the youngest Judan holder.

So the professional circuit in Japan is about to get a lot more interesting!

Takao Shinji 9 dan (left) and Iyama Yuta 9 dan, at the beginning of the game 4.

Takao Shinji 9 dan (left) and Iyama Yuta 9 dan, at the beginning of game 4.

The 40th Meijin Series

Game 1

The opening up to White 54 was even.

White 58 to 60 were good probes, and White 66 and 68 were practical.

Black 87 was premature, and White took the lead up to White 96.

White 106 and 112 were nice moves to make eyeshape.

White 142 and 146 were sharp, and decided the game.


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Game 2

White 22 to 26 were nice, and the result up to White 32 was slightly more favorable for White.

Black 35 to 37, Black 47 to 49 were full of fighting spirit.

Black 73 to 77 were strong, and Black 89 and 103 were good tesuji.

The big trade up to Black 123 was good for Black, and Black took the lead.

White 170 was sharp, and White 182 was a nice way to reverse the game.

White 200 was the losing move, and the game was reversed again up to Black 211.


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Game 3

White 22 to 28 were creative moves by Iyama.

Black 37 was questionable, and White 46 to 56 were sophisticated.

White 82 was a nice counter-move, and the result up to White 92 was satisfactory for White.

Black 97 to 103 were bold, but Iyama’s sabaki up to White 128 was excellent.

Black went all out with 129, but White 140 and 142 were accurate, and Black’s center group was captured.


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Game 4

White 22 and 24 were questionable, and Black had a nice start up to 31.

Black 39 and 41 were a good combination, and Black 49 was a good tesuji as well.

White 74 was slack, and Black solidified his lead with 77.

Black 81 to 85 were creative, and Black 89 was practical. Black was still in the lead up to 123.

Black 143 to 149 were severe, and Black 167 to 175 were strong and powerful.

White 210 was tricky, but Black 211 and 213 were accurate, and simplified the game.

Black 215 and 217 were played in precisely the right order, and the game was over.


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. It seems to me like Iyama really likes to leave his groups ‘hanging’ in a state where they’re not really alive, but can’t be killed or killing them would give him something else. Really tricky to follow for a measly 1d like me.

    • hahah, 4d here and i still feel exactly the same. i look at so many of his groups and i’m like well….that seems kind of risky… but then seems he’s always okay. pros are scary at reading…

      • Younggil An says:

        Iyama’s style of play is quite powerful, and he’s confident at his reading.

        I also feel a few of his moves are overplay or too aggressive, but most of them are actually fine.That’s mainly because he anticipates the following fighting and manages it well.

  2. Hello! id like to ask where you find these game records!

    • Younggil An says:

      Hi Anton, I could find these game records from some other Go websites such as Cyber Oro.

  3. In game 2, what does black play if white 76 is at k16?

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question Mark.

      If White plays at K16 for 76, Black will connect at E16, White E15 and Black G15. As we can see, Black 75 will be useful for the following battle.

  4. I’m curious about your comment that 37 is wrong in game 3.
    Should black have played M3? Or maybe s6, to take away white’s strong block on the right.

    • Younggil An says:

      The hane at M4 might be better I think. The following battle would be alright for Black, because White’s stones don’t have enough liberties to fight freely.