Iyama Yuta has…
either won or lost the Kisei! Spoilers hidden!
defended his Kisei title for the 7th consecutive year!
His opponent was Yamashita Keigo, a man who has previously won the Kisei five times, with his first victory coming in 2003, ten years before Iyama’s current reign of dominance. While he’s recently celebrated his 40th birthday, Yamashita is playing stronger than ever. He’s currently the 3rd highest rated Japanese player, and has recently crossed the 3400 rating threshold for the first time. He still plays true to his “old school” roots, preferring to approach 4-4s instead of invading every 3-3 point, as some of the younger players have taken to doing.
This year’s Kisei, leading up to the final game, was not lacking for excitement. Iyama took an early 3-1 lead, before Yamashita pulled level with a pair of good, fighting wins. Game 5, in particular, was an exciting game with massive trades more or less leaving the board divided into two huge territories, each filled with dead stones.
Game 7, though, was perhaps the best of the bunch. Massive, full board-scale combat leading to huge exchanges, and only a single 3-3 invasion on the board. This is my game of the year, so far, for 2019, and I’d encourage everyone to take a look at it. Here’s the game:
And a kyu-level summary. Spoilers!
Yamashita took a similar approach to the opening as he did in game 5, but went for the modern 2-space high enclosure instead of the 1-space. Such enclosures are a bit more open, leading to complications if the opposing player goes for a severe attack. Iyama played just such an attack, and ended up with a huge weak group behind enemy lines, while leaving Yamashita with a few dragons surrounding it.
The weak group, though, was a sacrifice. A HUGE sacrifice! Iyama attacked the dragons on the outside, not to kill them, but to develop territory on the top and the side. Yamashita held on to the attack, and successfully killed a 29 stone group, but lost by 6.5 points!
My spoiler-y summary aside, I struggle to understand what’s going on in this game, other than at a very superficial level. Both I, and likely the OGS community at large, would enjoy seeing a strong player’s opinion as to what’s going on! Would any strong players be interested in doing a pro game review?