Murakawa Daisuke takes Oza title in surpise victory over Iyama Yuta

Murakawa Daisuke 62nd Oza t 300x300 picture

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 Iyama Yuta 62nd Oza picture

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.

Iyama Yuta 62nd Oza 1 300x439 picture

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.

Yuki Satoshi Takao Shinji 52nd Judan picture

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 Sakai Hideyuki 62nd Oza 550x366 picture

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 (王座 – 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 grâce.

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

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