Iyama Yuta and Yamashita Keigo deadlocked in 67th Honinbo

Over the last few months, Iyama Yuta 9p and Yamashita Keigo 9p have been playing the 67th Honinbo title match in various locations throughout Japan.

Iyama Yuta (9 dan, left) and Yamashita Keigo (9 dan) review game 5 of the 67th Honinbo title match, as Takemiya Masaki (behind Iyama) watches.

After six exciting games, the score stands at three wins each.

Iyama Yuta starts strong

Iyama started off strong, winning the first two matches in May 2012 and throwing down the gauntlet to Yamashita.

Yamashita answered by winning games three and four, bringing the scoreboard to 2-2.

On June 25, Iyama won the 5th match, giving him the chance to win the title in game six.

This was a golden opportunity for Iyama, who lost his Meijin title to Yamashita late last year and was surely looking forward to having his revenge.

Yamashita Keigo won game 6 of the Honinbo to equal the series at three all.

Yamashita Keigo evens the score

However, Yamashita wasn’t ready to give up his title just yet.

He faced down the kadoban (game that could lose the match), equalling the score at three all on July 10, 2012.

Crunch time

This brings the best of seven Honinbo title match to a decisive 7th game.

The final two day match is scheduled for July 18 and 19, one week from today.


Two exciting players

Can Iyama Yuta win his first Honinbo title?

Yamashita Keigo, well known for his sharp attacking style, is arguably one of the most aggressive Japanese professional players of the current era.

Iyama Yuta, in contrast, prefers to play a thick game, but can fight it out with the best of them.

Whatever happens next week, we can look forward to an exciting and explosive final game.

Who will win?

Can Yamashita hold on to make it three in a row? Or will Iyama reverse 2011’s Meijin result? Who are you supporting?

The Honinbo

The Honinbo is the oldest professional Go tournament in the world. Today it is, arguably, still the most prestigious title in Japan.

The Honinbo is sponsored by Mainichi Shimbun (The Daily Newspaper) and the prize money is currently $32 million Yen (approximately $400,000 USD at the time of writing).

During the Edo period, the Honinbo was a ‘hereditary’ title, which was bestowed upon the head of the Honinbo school, passed down from master to student. The last hereditary title holder, Honinbo Shusai, sold (some say gave) the title to the fledgling Nihon Kiin (Japanese Go Association) and it became a tournament title.

Typical of Japanese titles, the title holder is challenged by the winner of a league. The title is decided in a best of seven match. Each player is given eight hours of play over a two day period.

67th Honinbo photos

Game records

Here are the games for the series so far…

Iyama Yuta vs Yamashita Keigo – Game 1


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Yamashita Keigo vs Iyama Yuta – Game 2


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Iyama Yuta vs Yamashita Keigo – Game 3


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Yamashita Keigo vs Iyama Yuta – Game 4


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Iyama Yuta vs Yamashita Keigo – Game 5


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Yamashita Keigo vs Iyama Yuta – Game 6


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. Wow ,great i wanted a long Honinbo battle.

    • David Ormerod says:

      You have a new website? 🙂

      Nice idea. It would be fun to play against some other countries online in a team event sometimes.

  2. Ah, complicated games … I sometimes forget that longer play times also mean a possibility for increased complication.

    • David Ormerod says:

      When even Lee Sedol is calling for an international slow play tournament, you know there should be one ;).

      What do you think about Tony’s comment on game 5?

      • Yes, it look like mistake. Sometimes n7 shape is special tesuji, but White miss B189. Clearly White think she can reduce while live.

  3. In game 5 would the w group have lived if he played L7 before N7? Seems like it would secure the cutting point at M9.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Interesting Tony, as far as I can see you’re right.

      My reading is white L7, M7, (if white simply wants to live) K7, M8 (practically forced if black wants to capture) then white O7 is a double threat and I can’t see a move for black. It looks pretty straightforward, but it would be strange for a pro to make a mistake like that. They had plenty of thinking time.

      Maybe white was trying to prevent black gaining too much in the lower right? Something like M8 at N7 would gain a lot for black, but white K7 could be N7 too…

      I’ll mention your comment to Younggil if you want? He’s on a plane somewhere over the Pacific at the moment, but he’ll be home tomorrow.

      Does anyone else have any ideas about this?

      • If you could ask Young Gil that would be very kind, it doesn’t seem like such a complicated position but that’s what I always think when i mess up 🙂

      • they had plenty of time for the whole game, but the endgame was played in byoyomi. i was watching at IGS. Yamashita spent most of his period studying some higher level problems on the left side and only returned to the center to quickly answer black’s move. unfortunately, he made a mistake and blundered the already won game away. at least, that was how Cornel Burzo 6d interpreted the end of the game for us. someone who speaks Japanese could surely get more info

        amazing Yama was able to successfully survive kadoban after that

  4. Thank you for uploading the game records, I really wanted to see these! It’s so much easier when they’re all in one place!

  5. According to a Chinese news website, white 182 is a blunder. The exchange at L7 and M7 is correct.


  6. Clearly the Japanese formula with a few long standing traditional titles, in which a challenger battles a best of seven against last year’s winner, is a much better recipe for lasting popularity than the current storm of new names in the internationals as a result of short paced, open knock-out tournaments.

    • Agreed Dieter, but given Yamashita’s blunder in game 5 I half wondered if your comment is tongue in cheek. I guess we’re all human.

      To go back to our favorite tennis analogy, Federer won Wimbledon! I stayed up all night watching. If Federer can do it, maybe Lee Changho can bounce back too? 😀