Murakawa Daisuke takes Oza title in surpise victory over Iyama Yuta

The Oza is Murakawa Daisuke 8 dan's first major title.

The Oza is Murakawa Daisuke 8 dan’s first major title.

The final game of the 62nd Oza title match was played on December 16, 2014, in Toba, Mie Prefecture, Japan.

Murakawa Daisuke 8p defeated Iyama Yuta 9p with a 3-2 score, to become the new Oza title holder.

This is the first time a player from the Kansai Kiin has won the Oza since Hashimoto Shoji 9p did so in 1981 (33 years ago).

The Oza is Murakawa’s first major title.

Murakawa Daisuke 8 dan (left) defeated Iyama Yuta 9 dan to win the best of five Oza title match.

Murakawa Daisuke 8 dan (left) defeated Iyama Yuta 9 dan to win the best of five Oza title match.

A blow to Iyama Yuta’s ambitions

The result of this match attracted a lot of attention in Japan, because the former Oza, Iyama Yuta, currently dominates the domestic Japanese Go scene.

Before this match Iyama still held six of the seven major Japanese titles.

Are Iyama Yuta 9 dan's hopes of claiming all seven major Japanese titles slipping away?

Are Iyama Yuta 9 dan’s hopes of claiming all seven major Japanese titles slipping away?

However, in snatching the Oza, Murakawa has reduced that total to five.

This will further frustrate Iyama’s hopes of achieving the gland slam of Japanese Go, by claiming all seven major titles simultaneously.

Iyama currently holds the Kisei, Meijin, Honinbo, Tengen and Gosei titles, but not the Oza or the Judan.

It’s worth noting that no Japanese Go player has ever held all seven at once.

Iyama’s best chance to do so may have been to reclaim the Judan from Yuki Satoshi 9p earlier this year (Yuki took the title from Iyama in 2013).

Unfortunately, he lost the challenger decision match to Takao Shinji 9p and wasn’t able to challenge Yuki after all. Takao went on to take the title from Yuki in April 2014.

Takao Shinji 9 dan (right) took the Judan title from Yuki Satoshi 9 dan in April 2014.

Takao Shinji 9 dan (right) took the Judan title from Yuki Satoshi 9 dan in April 2014.

It may be too early to say for sure, but at this stage it seems like Iyama’s prospects of a grand slam are slipping away.

Professionals associated with the Kansai Kiin are proving to be Iyama Yuta’s kryptonite. Both Murakawa Daisuke and Yuki Satoshi are Kansai Kiin players.

Murakawa Daisuke

Murakawa Daisuke was born in 1990. He became a pro in 2002 at the Kansai Kiin. The Kansai Kiin is a Go association in Japan, like the Nihon Kiin, but based in Osaka.

Murakawa Daisuke 8 dan (left) reviews a game with Sakai Hideyuki 8 dan (facing camera) and Kono Rin 9 dan.

Murakawa Daisuke 8 dan (left) reviews a game with Sakai Hideyuki 8 dan (facing camera) and Kono Rin 9 dan.

Murakawa won the rookie of the year award in 2006.

In 2011, he won the 36th Shinjin-O, which is a tournament for young players, like the Chinese Xinrenwang tournament.

He was awarded the prize of ‘best player of the year’, by the Kansai Kiin, in 2012.

Murakawa has also been doing reasonably well on the international scene.

He proceeded to the main tournament of the 15th Samsung Cup in 2010, and was the only Japanese player to survive the preliminaries at the time.

He defeated Tuo Jiaxi 9p, the current LG Cup title holder, in the 17th LG Cup preliminaries (2012).

And he came 2nd in the Hase Cup, in February 2014, after losing to Shi Yue 9p in the final. However, in this exhibition match, Murakawa defeated Lee Sedol 9p.

After taking the Oza title from Iyama Yuta, Murakawa was promoted to 8p (from 7p) by the Kansai Kiin (based on the Kiin’s promotion rules).

The Oza

The Oza (ηŽ‹εΊ§ – literally king’s seat, or throne) is one of the seven big titles on the Japanese professional Go circuit.

The Oza follows a similar format to other big Japanese titles. A preliminary tournament is held for qualification into a 16 player single knockout tournament.

The winner of this knockout tournament challenges the defending title holder to a best of five match.

The sponsor is the Nihon Keizai Newspaper, and the winner’s prize is currently 14 million Yen (approximately $120,000 USD at the time of writing).

Since the Oza is one of the ‘Japanese big seven’ titles, a challenger is automatically promoted to 7 dan, while winning the title gains promotion to 8 dan. Winning the title twice results in acceleration to 9 dan.

An Younggil’s brief commentary

Younggil has kindly provided the following commentary, on game 5 of the Oza title match, for Go Game Guru readers (you can find the game record below):

Iyama Yuta held black.

The opening up to 21 was peaceful, but fighting began with White 22.

White 28 was a creative leaning tesuji, and the result up to White 42 was even.

Black 43 was questionable, and the result after the ko, up to Black 63, was favorable for White.

Another big ko started after White 70, and White was successful again up to White 84.

Black 111 was a nice move, which enlarged the right side, but White’s combination with 116 and 118 created yet another ko.

This ko fight made the game complicated, but White was still ahead through to White 124.

Black tried to catch up with Black 133 and 135, but White 138 and 142 were strong moves in the center fight.

White 150 was a brilliant way to take sente. After that, Black 155 was necessary, because White was aiming to play at G16.

White countered Black’s attack powerfully, with 156 through to 160, and White 168 was the coup de grΓ’ce.

Black’s dragon in the center was captured, so it looks like Iyama must have misread something around here.

Black tried to minimize the damage from 173 to 181, but it wasn’t good enough to catch up.

Murakawa played safely in the endgame and Iyama didn’t have any more chances to reverse the game.

62nd Oza title match results

Game 1: Oct 21, 2014 – Iyama Yuta (black) won by 0.5 points
Game 2: Nov 18, 2014 – Murakawa (black) won by 1.5 points
Game 3: Nov 20, 2014 – Iyama Yuta (black) won by 2.5 points
Game 4: Dec 08, 2014 – Murakawa (black) won by resignation
Game 5: Dec 16, 2014 – Murakawa (white) won by 1.5 points.

You can download all five games here and replay game 5 below.

62nd Oza title match – Game 5

Iyama Yuta vs Murakawa Daisuke


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


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About David Ormerod

David is a Go enthusiast who’s played the game for more than a decade. He likes learning, teaching, playing and writing about the game Go. He's taught thousands of people to play Go, both online and in person at schools, public Go demonstrations and Go clubs. David is a 5 dan amateur Go player who competed in the World Amateur Go Championships prior to starting Go Game Guru. He's also the editor of Go Game Guru.

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  1. Sounds like a lot of mistakes. But this magnificently brutish game gives me some hope for japanese go.

    • Younggil An says:

      Oh, well. You can assume that the other moves which I didn’t mention would mostly be nice and good moves! πŸ™‚

      I agree that the final game was different from typical Japanese style of play, and I hope they’re more competitive in the international matches.

  2. Oh another blow to Iyama’s hopes, he just lost the Tengen title to Takao Shinji, Judan. Could we expect a game commentary on one of the Oza or Tengen games?

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, it’s probably getting harder for Iyama to have all major titles. However, it would be a good sign for Japanese Go that new players emerge and defeat the current #1.

      I’ll consider of making a commentary though there’re some other games to do first.

  3. That’s one of those pro games in which so many things seem to happen simultaneously and the shapes are so incomplete that I don’t understand anything. One day maybe πŸ™‚

    • Younggil An says:

      You’re right. Top pros’ games these days are getting more like this, and it’s hard to understand because many things happen simultaneously.

      Some games are too hard to follow and understand even for me, so that’s not a problem even if you don’t understand the game. πŸ™‚

  4. I realise that 146 (P7) threatens to capture at Q8, settling the dragon; but could black not ignore it andplay at O6 to disrupt white’s enveloping move at N5? or simply connect out at N5 himself? I guess it feels a bit pusillanimous, but there are big moves left at E2 and E18, so sente seems pretty big…

    • Younggil An says:

      That sounds reasonable.

      If Iyama realized that his center dragon was going to die, he must have played differently like you suggested. However, he misread something which I don’t guess, he responded at Q8.

      It looks as if Iyama missed out White 168, but not quite sure.

  5. Quite a fantastic game! White didn’t make any big mistakes apparently, yet the end result is close: is this a masterpiece? When replaying the game for the first time elswhere, without the comments available, B43 made sense to me, as the black area at the left was opten on both sides, so B at c9 would not be that effective: where should black have played? To me, the most difficult to understand moves were W94 to W98, some kind of vague, flexible moves. Finally, if black could have saved his center group, he probably would have won, yet the mistake made is not that apparent. All in all, super game, thank you for the comments!

    Kind regards,

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, this was quite a nice game for Murakawa. I didn’t feel Iyama’s power that much in this game compared to his other nice games. He normally leads the game with sharp and brave moves, but I felt that Iyama played a bit loose somehow. Even if the result was very close, there wasn’t any chance for him after Black’s center group was captured.

      I agree that it’s hard to find any nice alternatives for Black 43, and that’s why Iyama chose to tenuki I reckon.

      And White’s strategy from White 94 was hard to understand, because it’s hard to play in this situation in your opponent’s area. Black’s right side was huge, and it’s not easy to sabaki. Murakawa’s play in that area was very sophisticated, and he made a ko at the top, and it was successful for White.
      It was Murakawa’s wonderful game, and I hope he’ll become stronger to verse against Chinese and Korean top players.

  6. i would like to ask how do you become a pro and what steps do you need to take to become a pro?

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s not easy to answer to your question, but I’ll try to explain about the steps to become a pro.

      If you’re young (around 10 years) and strong (about 4~5 dan on KGS), you can join the insei. There’re 12 groups, and each group has 10 players. You’ll be playing in the last group when you become an insei, and you should have a good result to stay in your group.

      If you have a good result, you’ll be promoted to the higher group, and you should study Go very hard to go to go up.

      When you’re in the first two groups and stay there stably, you’ll have a chance to participate the pro qualifier tournament. You have to win many games against other top inseis and only few players can be pros. There’re three times of the qualifiers, and that’s hard to become a pro because there’re many young and strong students.

      That system is in Korea, and I don’t know well about other countries. Anyway, I hope my answer is helpful for you. πŸ™‚

      • hi, thank you that answer was helpful. But do you know where you can study go?

        • Younggil An says:

          Which countries do you mean? There’re many places to study Go in China, Korea and Japan, but not many in western countries.

  7. and i would like to ask is their any tournaments for this year

  8. i would like to ask is their any local go club such as the area burwood ?