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Rina Fujisawa becomes 1st woman to win mixed professional Go tourney in Japan

Japanese professional Go player Rina Fujisawa, the Tachiaoi title holder, smiles with the victory cup in her hands after winning the Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Wakagoi Tournament in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on Nov. 22, 2020. (Mainichi/Susumu Maruyama)

HIROSHIMA -- Japanese professional Go player Rina Fujisawa clinched her first title in the Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Wakagoi Tournament held in this western Japan city on Nov. 22, becoming the first woman ever to win an official mixed tourney for the traditional board game in the country.

    Taking white, Fujisawa, 22, holder of the Female Tachiaoi Cup, defeated seventh-dan holder Makoto Son, 24, by half a point in the 332nd move.

    The Wakagoi Tournament is a knockout competition for the top 16 Nihon Ki-in players ranked seventh-dan or below and aged 30 or younger. The 15th Wakagoi Tournament was joined by those who made it through the preliminaries plus seeded players.

    During the first and second round matches held the previous day, Fujisawa beat third-dan holder Naoki Otani, 27, and Asami Ueno, 19, the holder of the female Honinbo title, making it into the semifinals.

    Japanese professional Go player Rina Fujisawa is seen in front of a Go board in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on Nov. 22, 2020. Fujisawa beat seventh-dan holder Makoto Son in the final match of the Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Wakagoi Tournament held on the day. (Mainichi/Susumu Maruyama)

    In the semifinal match on the morning of Nov. 22, Fujisawa faced off against seventh-dan Tomoya Hirata, 26, the defending champion in the Wakagoi Tournament. Fujisawa seized the initiative in the opening and continued to dominate the game through to the end.

    In the final match, Fujisawa took on Son, a leading young player who claimed the Shinjin-O title in 2019. Undaunted, Fujisawa competed on an equal footing with Son until the endgame before conquering the tight match by half a point.

    After the final, a jubilant Fujisawa commented, "I found the matches a bit hard. I can't believe I've been able to clinch victory."

    In the past mixed Go tournaments, eighth-dan Kikuyo Aoki, 52, and Asami Ueno finished in second place in the Shinjin-O tournament in 1997 and the Ryuo tournament in 2019, respectively. In 2006, sixth-dan Yi Min Hsieh, 31, secured victory in the first Wakagoi Tournament, then an unofficial tourney.

    (Japanese original by Susumu Maruyama, Cultural News Department)

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