Iyama Yuta wins 25th Asian TV Cup

Japan continued their recent strong form with Iyama Yuta 9p winning the 25th Asian TV Cup on June 30, 2013.


Iyama Yuta 9 dan wins the 25th Asian TV Cup

Over the two previous days, in Tokyo, Iyama defeated Lee Changho 9p and Wang Xi 9p to reach the final, where he came face to face with Korea’s wunderkind, Park Junghwan 9p.

Japan’s great hope

Iyama’s rise in the world of Japanese Go has been nothing short of meteoric.

When Iyama was promoted to 9p, he was the youngest pro to reach 9p in Japan (at the time).

After winning the Kisei earlier this year, he became the third player (and the youngest) to have won all seven major Japanese titles – Meijin, Honinbo, Kisei, Judan, Oza, Gosei and Tengen.

The only other players who’ve completed this feat are Cho Chikun 9p and Cho U 9p.

Iyama is also currently leading 3-2 against Takao Shinji 9p in the Honinbo title match. He only needs one more win to retain the title, with game 6 scheduled for July 10 and 11, 2013.

Back to the Asian TV Cup…

This is Iyama’s second win on the international stage. In 2011, he won the 1st Bosai Cup – defeating Gu Li 9p and Lee Sedol 9p in an invitational mini-tournament between China, Japan and Korea.

Yuki Satoshi 9p, also from Japan, defeated China’s Jiang Weijie 9p, before losing to Park in the semifinal.

Yuki won the NHK Cup in 2012 and 2013, and also successfully challenged Iyama for the 51st Judan earlier in 2013 – frustrating any ambitions Iyama may have had of monopolizing all seven Japanese titles simultaneously.


Jiang Weijie (left) was defeated by Yuki Satoshi at the 25th Asian TV Cup. Yuki seems to have a talent for lightning games.

After Japan’s recent good results in the 18th LG Cup, another good showing on the international stage adds some credence to those who are attributing the improvement to Japan’s new national study group initiative, called Go 碁 Japan (pronounced ‘Go Go Japan’), and hoping for sustained improvement.

But Iyama Yuta himself is surely another factor.

The Lee Changho effect

In fact, many Go fans are hoping that Iyama can continue his good form and make his mark on the international Go scene.

If, for argument’s sake, Iyama wins the 18th LG Cup (the final will be in February, 2014), it could be the catalyst for a grassroots resurgence in the popularity of Go in Japan – in other words, the Lee Changho effect.

The popularity of Go in Korea increased markedly from the mid 80s onwards as, first Cho Chikun, then Cho Hunhyun, and finally Lee Changho dominated the Go scene.

Lee Changho became a household name and scores of Korean children became interested in and learned Go because of his success.

Those who wish to see a more level playing field in the Go world again are hoping something similar could happen in Japan soon.


Lee Changho (left) and Iyama Yuta play at the 25th Asian TV Cup.

The Asian TV Cup

The Asian TV Cup is a lightning Go tournament open to the winners and runners up of domestic Chinese, Japanese and Korean lightning tournaments.

The name ‘Asian TV’ came about because the domestic lightning tournaments were all sponsored by local broadcasting stations – CCTV, NHK and KBS respectively.

However, in 2013, China’s spoiled the party by changing the sponsor of their qualifying tournament to CITIC Bank.

Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul take turns as tournament hosts.

The previous year’s winner is seeded into the semifinals while the other six players battle it out for the three remaining semifinal places.

The players receive 10 minutes main time and 30 seconds byo-yomi for their games.

Where’s the defending champion?


Baek Hongseok 9 dan, a notable absentee.

As I mentioned, the defending champion is traditionally seeded directly into the semifinal. However, last year’s winner, Baek Hongseok 9p was a notable absence at this year’s tournament.

Baek is currently completing compulsory military service and was therefore unable to participate.

The coveted seeded spot was given to Park Junghwan and, since Park had also already qualified for the tournament in his own right by winning the KBS Cup, Lee Sedol received a wildcard to make up the draw.

Will Iyama’s run continue?

There are a lot of hopes resting on Iyama Yuta’s shoulders and, as a child prodigy who’s now grown up, he’s carried that weight of expectation for years now.

Do you think that Iyama can maintain his momentum and win the LG Cup? Do you think he’ll be able to bring about a Lee Changho effect in Japan?

Join the conversation and leave a comment below!


Iyama Yuta 9 dan.

25th Asian TV Cup photos

Game records

Park Junghwan vs Iyama Yuta


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Lee Changho vs Iyama Yuta


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


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About Jing

Jing likes writing, and can occasionally be convinced to play a game of Go. Even though she doesn't play Go as often as she once did, she still enjoys following the professional Go scene and writing about it on Go Game Guru.

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


  1. Congratulations to Iyama Yuuta!!!

    but… … … is there anyone following Iyama Yuuta’s lead?

  2. Lee Changho is one of my favorite players, but he always looks so sleepy… lol

    As someone who learned Go in Japan, I’m overjoyed to see Iyama doing so well.

  3. Go go Japan! It would be nice to know how the top professionals in China, Korea and Japan studied, and study. What do they do solitary, what do they do in groups? Besides playing a lot of games? Apparently study groups make the difference, why? Is there a difference between the Kitani dojo in the sixties and the Chinese and Korean groups now?

    So many questions marking the road to success. Could this topic be touched in a special? Many congratulations to Iyama Yuta. Besides talent and stamina he found a way to become really strong!

    Kind regards,

  4. Adrien Dupont says:

    Japan is in the heart of many frenchs, we have high hopes for him!
    Our mind and heartsupports Iyama Yuta
    Adrien Dupont

  5. It is really important to point out imho, that Iyama did not play internationaly for 2 years. And he is ,I’d say, the flagship of Japanese Go.
    But now it seems he will start competing and if he does it will probably be a big rise in Japanese international results 🙂

  6. Somebody please check him for steroids.

  7. I really enjoy that rise of japanese go! It’s nice to see japan shine in a internacional Go competitons, after so many years. I learnt Go by Hikaru no Go, there was a scene where Korean young players beat Japaneses. depicting the world go scenario of that time. Who knows now is time of payback!!! GO Go Japan!!!!

  8. I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better David, I was very worried about you.

  9. happysocks says:

    “Do you think that Iyama can maintain his momentum and win the LG Cup? Do you think he’ll be able to bring about a Lee Changho effect in Japan?”

    Yes. Yes I do.

  10. mark twain says:

    who know this is the time for a comeback.