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 Post subject: Iyama Yuta - key player in the record industry
Post #1 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 6:02 am 
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Iyama Yuta's May 2011 welcome success in the 1st Bosai Cup makes lack of info in places like SL about him all the more glaring. I thought it would be good to remedy that here "from the GoGoD archives". It's also his birthday next week, so the timing is nice.

He was born in Higashi-Osaka on 24 May 1989, which is of some significance to Japanese people. He was born early in the new Heisei era after the death of Hirohito, and the "first Heisei X to achieve Y" is a common meme among journalists. Iyama was to give the record-keepers lots to write about. Ironically, the term Heisei comes from the Chinese "Records of the Historian"!

He was a very late child for mother Hiromi and father Yutaka. It was his father who taught him go indirectly by buying himself a go program, which intrigued Yuta at the age of five. Within a year, thanks to tuition from dan-level grandfather Tetsubun he was around 3-dan.

At the age of six he appeared in the mini-go [i.e. 9x9] event that was run by Yomiuri TV and caught the attention of commentator Ishii Kunio 9-dan after winning five games in a row. All participants in this show were given a 19x19 GO BOARD and prizewinners also received a personal computer. Iyama has remained a devotee of studying on the computer, though he was already used to playing on a 19x19 BOARD at home, thanks to Gramps. The similarity with Hikaru no Go might not go unobserved, but Yuta's BOARD was not a traditional one like Hikaru's, but a flat one, on the floor of his bedroom.

More important than the prizes was becoming a pupil of Ishii. Since Ishii lived rather far away for regular commuting, they hooked up via modems and played each other remotely. Ishii said they played over 1,000 games that way.

Under Ishii's guidance he won the Boys and Girls Go Championship two years in a row in 1997 when in Grade 2 of primary school and in 1998 (Grade 3). This is a major event in Japanese go, sponsored nowadays by the Ministry of Education, and more than a dozen winners or finalists have become pros - the likes of Yamashita Keigo, Takao Shinji and Sakai Hideyuki. But winning twice is special. Iyama also won the inaugural national Children's Tournament in 1998.

In October of that year he became an insei in the Kansai (i.e. Osaka) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. In 2001 he reached the final of the event held between the Kansai and Central (i.e. Nagoya) branches for the sole pro qualification spot that year, but lost to Nagoya-based Kawada Kohei (nine years older; he has only just made it to 5-dan this year). This meant Iyama failed to break the record for the youngest pro in Japan (Cho Chikun held the record). But he made pro in 2002 while in Grade 1 of middle school (he actually qualified in November 2001, but indenture periods end the following April). He was only the third native-born player in Japan to have made pro at that age. The others were Hashimoto Utaro and Yuki Satoshi, both, like Iyama, Kansai boys.

His first notable success was in October 2005 when he won the 12th Agon-Kiriyama Cup as a 4-dan, beating not only Kobayashi Satoru in the final but also other 9-dans on the way: Cho Chikun, O Rissei and Cho U. He was aged 16 years and 4 months, and so broke a 32-year-old record to become the youngest title holder in Japanese history. The previous record (17 years 0 months) had been held by Cho Chikun, but that was in the far lesser 1973 Shinei, not open to the big beasts. Winning this title automatically made him 7-dan (the youngest ever in Japan) under the new promotion rules. At the time he said, "Of course I was happy about the record but being able to win in the final was better. Before this I lost in the Shinjin-O and so I was in poor form, but It seems as if I was able to fight back and give myself a chance. It hardly seems as if I'm making my usual desparate moves." What struck observers then was how calm and collected he sounded.

His maturity, and Kansai origins, can perhaps be detected in another of his utterances. Having sacrificed much of his education to become a pro, he revealed his alarm when he got his first game fee. He couldn't believe it was so low. It was 50,000 yen!

For good measure, and as a reminder of how young he was, he won the Nakano Cup for Under-20s that year, and was to win it three years in row.

He entered the Kisei leagues in 2007, the youngest ever entrant to one of the three major leagues, at age 17 years 10 months. He followed up by entering the Meijin League in Term 33, beating Ko Iso's record (18 years 6 months in 2005, Term 32) for that event. Not only that, he went on to qualify as the Meijin challnger with a 6-2 score. This made him the youngest ever challenger in one of the seven major titles in Japan (age 19 years 3 months), again beating a Cho Chikun record (20 years 4 months in the lower-ranked Oza). He also beat Rin Kaiho's record of 23 years 2 months for Meijin challenger, of course. Becoming challenger automatically made him 8-dan.

Iyama lost in his first Meijin titlematch, against Cho U, but only by 3-4, and he won a re-match the term immediately after. That time (2009) he bested Cho U 4-1 and so took the Meijin title at age 20 years 4 months, setting yet other new records, both for youngest Meijin and youngest to win any major title (the previous best were, respectively, Rin at 23 years 4 months in the Meijin and Cho Chikun at 20 years 5 months in the Oza). Winning the Meijin also earned him 9-dan, and so he became the youngest 9-dan and also the fastest to get there from 1-dan (8 years 10 months). Being the youngest Judan winner earlier this year hardly rates a mention with that background, does it?

The price of fame is such that he is also the youngest titleholder to be turned into a bobble-head. It also means he has to start signing lots of fans. So far, I have seen mottoes 心, 自然, 清心, 無心 and 克己 by him. Nothing special there: standard fare from the "Book of Mottoes for Go Players" kept by a lady at the Nihon Ki-in (although maybe the last one, kokki = conquering oneself, is a little out of the ordinary). What is special, to my inexpert eye, is the gaucheness of his writing. Literally - he is a lefty. Many of the older generation bewail the poor calligraphy of young go pros, but being left handed is, I think, ample excuse.

But who needs excuses when you're Meijin and you've just beaten Yi Se-tol and Gu Li!?

If you want to see what a Meijin looks like in the making, Iyama was just eight when he won his first title in the following game (courtesy of T Mark). Note that his opponent, Mannami Nao, was also a future pro.

[sgf-full](;SZ[19]FF[3]
PW[Mannami Nao]
PB[Iyama Yuta]
EV[18th Youth Championships]
RO[Primary School Section, Final]
DT[1997-08-06]
PC[Nihon Ki-in]
KM[5.5]
RE[B+6.5]
US[GoGoD95]
;B[pd];W[dp];B[oq];W[dc];B[de];W[dh];B[gd];W[ee];B[ef];W[fe];B[dd];W[fc]
;B[ff];W[ge];B[cc];W[ec];B[bd];W[jd];B[qp];W[qj];B[ql];W[qg];B[mc];W[rd]
;B[qc];W[jq];B[cn];W[ck];B[fp];W[fo];B[go];W[eo];B[cq];W[cp];B[dq];W[gp]
;B[fq];W[gq];B[gr];W[hr];B[fr];W[fm];B[ho];W[ip];B[hm];W[mq];B[jn];W[mo]
;B[bp];W[bo];B[bq];W[co];B[ol];W[mm];B[hk];W[rc];B[me];W[kc];B[cg];W[ch]
;B[bg];W[mk];B[fj];W[fh];B[hi];W[og];B[mg];W[rp];B[qq];W[qo];B[po];W[qn]
;B[pn];W[rq];B[rr];W[qr];B[pr];W[qm];B[pl];W[rl];B[rk];W[rm];B[qk];W[so]
;B[nn];W[mn];B[nk];W[mj];B[ni];W[rj];B[sj];W[si];B[sk];W[rh];B[hg];W[ek]
;B[ir];W[jr];B[hs];W[nj];B[oj];W[nl];B[no];W[jl];B[jj];W[mi];B[nh];W[np]
;B[op];W[kn];B[jo];W[iq];B[hq];W[ko];B[bh];W[bi];B[lb];W[kb];B[rb];W[qd]
;B[pc];W[pe];B[oe];W[pf];B[ie];W[id];B[ei];W[di];B[eh];W[dg];B[df];W[eg]
;B[fg];W[ej];B[fi];W[cb];B[bb];W[db];B[bj];W[bk];B[dj];W[cj];B[ci];W[dk]
;B[ai];W[sb];B[nr];W[hp];B[mr];W[lr];B[kf];W[ki];B[ji];W[qb];B[pb];W[ra]
;B[sq];W[rn];B[sr];W[sp];B[sl];W[sm];B[kh];W[nb];B[ka];W[ja];B[la];W[jb]
;B[pa];W[nd];B[nc];W[lc];B[mb];W[md];B[od];W[ld];B[he];W[hd];B[kj];W[il]
;B[hl];W[kk];B[ed];W[fd];B[ao];W[an];B[ap];W[bn];B[qa];W[hr];B[rb];W[is]
;B[sa];W[gs];B[sc];W[fs];B[es];W[hs];B[er];W[je];B[rf];W[se];B[of];W[rg]
;B[jf];W[pi];B[ca];W[da];B[ba];W[di];B[dh];W[fk];B[lq];W[ls];B[ms];W[lp]
;B[nq];W[mp];B[jm];W[km];B[gf];W[gk];B[gj];W[ik];B[ij];W[li];B[oh];W[ph]
;B[ok];W[le];B[nm];W[ml];B[lf];W[pm];B[om];W[lh];B[lg];W[gn];B[hn];W[ne]
;B[lj];W[mf];B[lk];W[ll];B[ak];W[al];B[aj];W[ep];B[eq];W[nf];B[ng];W[ke]
;B[jp];W[kp];B[gm];W[fn];B[gl];W[fl];B[pj];W[pg];B[oi];W[dj]
)[/sgf-full]


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 Post subject: Re: Iyama Yuta - key player in the record industry
Post #2 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 8:49 am 
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How strong were the players when they played the game above?

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Post #3 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 8:49 am 
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My god, what a boring game :lol:

What stands out to me in this game is how standard it all is. This could've been played by any of a dozen dan players I know. Nothing really exciting happened. Both played calm, reasonable moves. White makes one blunder on move 140, which decides the game. And that's it.

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Post #4 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 9:11 am 
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Just to quote from my recent favourite DreamWorks movie: Thank you, John, for summing that up! :D

I already knew quite a bit of it, but especially news about his youth are rare. Thank you for this very nice and informative article!

On GoGoD, how many games of Iyama's do you have? Is this game from above the oldest game? I already have quite a collection of his games of my own, but still there are some white spaces in terms of years when he was a low-ranking pro (nothing in 2004, and now after your post only 5 games from before that period). Do you also have his "inaugural" pro game? Who did he play against? Is the game in the GoGoD-database, too?

I just want to know as I plan on getting GoGoD anyway, but this might push my money-saving phase a bit. :lol:

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Post #5 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 9:42 am 
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GoGoD has 259 of Iyama's games in the current version (Winter 2010). As you can guess more are being added almost every day.

Here is a list of the earliest we have.

1997-08-06e Mannami Nao Iyama Yuta 18th Youth Ch'ps, Primary School Sec.. 262 B+6.5
1998-08-05e Koga Kiyoshi Iyama Yuta 19th Japanese Youth Ch'ps, Primary S.. 199 B+R
1999-00-00d Ishii Kunio Iyama Yuta Teaching game 93* W+R
2000-08-17i Sasaki Tadashi Iyama Yuta 27th Kintetsu Go Festival 127* B+R
2000-10-09b Iyama Yuta Otani Hiroharu Go-Net Summer Tournament 102* W+R
2001-04-03k Ko Iso Iyama Yuta East-West Japan Young Players Match 84* B+R
2001-12-01e Sakaguchi Ryuzo Iyama Yuta Kansai Year's End Charity Go Festival 173 B+R
2002-01-14g Yamada Kimio Iyama Yuta New 1-dans Series sponsored by Go We.. 124 W+R
2002-07-07a Jiang Zhujiu Iyama Yuta 152 W+R
2002-07-29u Cho U Iyama Yuta NHK's Special Summer Season Game 174 W+R
2002-12-05b Chen Yaoye Iyama Yuta Agon-Kiriyama Cup Exhibition Match 214 W+R
2003-05-26o Anzai Nobuaki Iyama Yuta Go-Net Super League 116* W+R
2003-07-14b Hiraoka Satoshi Iyama Yuta Go-Net Super League 125* B+R
2003-07-28g Suzuki Ayumi Iyama Yuta Kisei, 1st Preliminary 205 W+0.5
2003-08-04r Iyama Yuta Cao Dayuan 8th Samsung Cup, Qualifier 236 W+1.5
2003-10-13e Iyama Yuta Anzai Nobuaki Go-Net Go Super League 140* W+R
2003-11-03b Iyama Yuta Kubo Hideo 13th Ryusei, F Block, Game 1 263 W+4.5
2003-12-01e Iyama Yuta Ono Nobuyuki 13th Ryusei, F Block, Game 2 257 B+1.5
2003-12-23a Iyama Yuta Li Zhe Japan-China-Korea Youth Match, Rd. 2 181 B+R
2004-04-06d Mitani Tetsuya Iyama Yuta 1st Nakano Cup Under-20s Ch'p, Rd. 1 142 W+R
2004-05-02a Iyama Yuta Taga Bungo Commemorative game at festival to ma.. 146 W+R
2004-07-26g Iyama Yuta Uchida Shuhei 1st Nakano Cup Under-20s Ch'p, Rd. 1 192 W+R

The player in the left column is playing White.

Best wishes.

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Post #6 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 9:45 am 
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Does anyone know if the super-Meijin tournament is going to be repeated? Was it a one-time thing?

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Post #7 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 9:51 am 
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HermanHiddema wrote:
My god, what a boring game :lol:

What stands out to me in this game is how standard it all is. This could've been played by any of a dozen dan players I know. Nothing really exciting happened. Both played calm, reasonable moves. White makes one blunder on move 140, which decides the game. And that's it.


Eight years old, Dude.

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Post #8 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 10:17 am 
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TMark wrote:
GoGoD has 259 of Iyama's games in the current version (Winter 2010). As you can guess more are being added almost every day.

Here is a list of the earliest we have.

[..]


Thank you, TMark, for the ultra-fast reply! :) Just counted my collection and I have 297 games (although I think some recent games are missing as I was so busy with university stuff recently).

But as I already see from that list, I only have very, very few of the GoGoD-games you posted in my own collection. So it would be a great addition, even more so, if you are adding more and more games! Fortunately, starting from mid-July I will have quite a bit of spare time until the end of the year so I will definitely get GoGoD to meat my collection up and replay these games. (I have tried to get and replay every game of Iyama's I can lay my hands on for the last five years or so.. :D )

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Post #9 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 10:33 am 
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T Mark has the latest sales version of the GoGoD database. I keep the work-in-progress version. There are 286 Iyama games in my version.

For fans who like to follow certain players, one of the big movements in the work-in-progress version is games of Segoe, who could make a good case to have once been the strongest player in the world. We already had 285 games, but T Mark has just dumped another 61 on me this morning (we now have an old book of his games).

Our own favourite benchmark is Go Seigen games. We've now got 869 (plus two 9x9). Cho Chikun is still in the lead with 1938, and Cho Hun-hyeon is still pressing him on 1874 (all wip version figures).

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Post #10 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 12:19 pm 
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jts wrote:
HermanHiddema wrote:
My god, what a boring game :lol:

What stands out to me in this game is how standard it all is. This could've been played by any of a dozen dan players I know. Nothing really exciting happened. Both played calm, reasonable moves. White makes one blunder on move 140, which decides the game. And that's it.


Eight years old, Dude.


Yes, I know, that's why I think it is so exceptional. It looks to me like the kind of style of play that Guo Juan would classify as "old man's go". Kids are generally much more aggressive, in my experience.

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Post #11 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 5:58 pm 
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Thanks John, very interesting and timely. And you got me with the title... :)

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Post #12 Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 6:28 pm 
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Thanks for the nice profile. Am I right in thinking that Iyama's relationship to his teacher was unusual in the number of games they played against each other? I know in the Kitani school, teachers didn't play pupils that often. Is that also true of one on one mentors?

But I'd harumph that you might give people the wrong impression about Sensei's. We didn't have everything, but we had the first Heisai pro, youngest open title holder, youngest big title holder, fastest promotion to 9dan, and that he was among the youngest Japanese to qualify for professional status.

Bobble-head coverage is bogged down in committee. There's a debate about whether it deserves its own section on professionals' pages.

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Post #13 Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 1:33 am 
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Quote:
Am I right in thinking that Iyama's relationship to his teacher was unusual in the number of games they played against each other? I know in the Kitani school, teachers didn't play pupils that often. Is that also true of one on one mentors?


I suggest it's best to regard the Kitani example as the unusual one. Pros with large schools where they can safely leave the instruction to head pupils are rare, after all. Although far not unique (Shusai seems to have had a fairly similar arrangement), Kitani seems uniquely extreme. Some pupils he never played at all and even the best were lucky to get one game, and then only if a sponsor came along. But he was fond of group sessions, overlording the pupils as they studied a game, so it can hardly be said he was ignoring them, and he had to worry about favouritism.

Shusai, a more wilful person anyway, was happy to play several games with favourite pupils such as Kogishi and Fujisawa, but still not a great number.

In historical times, teachers also had large schools but were willing to play many games with a favourite pupil (e.g. Shuwa and Shusaku). They had a get-out against the charge of favouritism. Their system involved appointing an official heir, and it is natural that he would then be specially groomed. Pupils were also allowed to play other pros (if they, or a sponsor, could afford it). All in all, the cream rose to the top and the best got plenty of games with the right sort of people.

One-to-few pupillage is more common in moder times, and naturally the pro is then more likely to play his pupils. 1,000 probably is extreme, but many dozens probably isn't (e.g. Takemiya and his first teacher went into three figures, as I recall).

I have never come across a suggestion anywhere of a pushy parent being willing to pay extra to ensure a pupil got special patronage. While not ruling it out, I'd imagine that the prevailing (but not universal) system of a teacher getting recompense by taking all of his pupil's future earnings for a certain period militated against that.


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Post #14 Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 5:37 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
克己
:tmbup:

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Post #15 Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 6:21 am 
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Thanks. I had been wondering if there might be a connection between the large number of games against his teacher and his rapid growth as a player.

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Post #16 Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 7:54 am 
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Update: John Power tells me that he has seen somewhere that while Iyama does indeed play go left-handed, he is not left-handed in general. He says, "He plays go left-handed because he got into the habit of making his moves with his left hand when playing go as a computer game."

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Post #17 Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 9:18 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Update: John Power tells me that he has seen somewhere that while Iyama does indeed play go left-handed, he is not left-handed in general. He says, "He plays go left-handed because he got into the habit of making his moves with his left hand when playing go as a computer game."

That makes sense. Many right-handed people only use their left hand to operate the computer… :oops:

:lol: :mrgreen: :twisted:

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Post #18 Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 10:15 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Update: John Power tells me that he has seen somewhere that while Iyama does indeed play go left-handed, he is not left-handed in general. He says, "He plays go left-handed because he got into the habit of making his moves with his left hand when playing go as a computer game."



It is not important if you are right handed or left handed AFAIK in go. When I was starting, being ambidexterous, I used to play a few moves with my left hand, then with my right hand than left hand again and so on. After some time, I somehow started using my left hand more, and now I can't think about placing stones with my right hand. I suppose, if I forced myself to use right hand now, I wouldn't be able to normally play with left hand after a few months. Probably someone who is totally right handed can force himself to play normally with left hand and after some time play as if he is left handed. Maybe it is because the motion when placing stone isn't very complicated so you can do it with both hands or smthg..

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Post #19 Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 11:58 am 
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I'm really pulling for Murakawa Daisuke to step up to the plate the way Iyama has. It's high time we had another great Japanese Go rivalry (Chikun - Kobayashi, Sakata - Shukaku).

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Post #20 Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 12:29 pm 
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If you can tolerate a little age gap, I think that Cho-Iyama is doing quite well. I think they're 1 and 2 in Japan and the match is very even (17-13 in favor of Cho, 12-12 starting with Iyama's first Meijin challenge).

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