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Japanese Go player Iyama advances to 2nd place tie for consecutive Honinbo titles

The Honinbo Monyu Yuta Iyama smiles after winning a game to claim his ninth consecutive Honinbo title, in Toba, Mie Prefecture on the evening of July 9, 2020. (Mainichi/Koji Hyodo)

Professional Go player Yuta Iyama advanced to a second-place tie for consecutive wins in the prestigious Honinbo competition when he defeated Toramaru Shibano in the fifth game of the 75th Honinbo tournament on July 9 to claim his ninth straight title.

Iyama, 31, known as the Honinbo Monyu, defeated Shibano, 20, holder of the Meijin title, in 243 moves, with a 4.5-point compensation for playing second, in their game that began in the city of Toba in the western Japan prefecture of Mie on July 8.

Iyama conceded one game in the best-of-seven tournament to Shibano before coming back to win the match with a 4-1 record. He has now tied Kaku Takagawa, the 22nd Honinbo Shukaku, for second place in consecutive wins in the tournament. The record holder, with 10 straight Honinbo titles, is 64-year-old Cho Chikun, the 25th Honinbo Shukaku.

When the game ended on July 9, Shibano had just 10 minutes left on the clock while Iyama had 46.

Iyama has now won a total of 48 titles among the seven major tournaments. He currently also holds the Kisei and Tengen titles. He had already qualified to become the 26th Honinbo upon retirement, or at the age of 60, but after achieving nine consecutive tournament wins he is now allowed to take up that name before turning 60.

The 20-year-old Shibano, who holds both the Meijin and Oza titles, also claimed the Judan tournament title during the latest tournament, becoming the youngest player to hold three titles at the same time. The 75th Honinbo championship was accordingly played between powerful contenders who held three of the seven major titles each.

The 75th Honinbo tournament was sponsored by the Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Ki-in (Japan Go Association) and the Kansai Ki-in (Kansai Go Association)

(Japanese original by Susumu Maruyama, Cultural News Department)

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