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 Post subject: Shibano Toramaru
Post #1 Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:01 pm 
Oza

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When 18-year-old Shibano Toramaru beat Ke Jie (then world no.1 ) in the Japan-China Ryusei-Longxing match at the end of April 2018, it got, so far as I can see, a brief and ignored one-line mention from uberdude here. In stark contrast, the Japanese were squirming with excitement.

I have just been reading an interview with Shibano. He was already fairly well known, having won the 2017 Shinjin-O (this tournament over the long years has been a reliable indicator of future greatness), and in the process he set a couple of records: he became the youngest player to progress from turning pro to winning a title, and also the first title holder from the generation that learnt go from Hikaru no Go. He also has a highly individualistic style - an aggressive one that seems suited to today's international go where, so far, he has held his own.

What caught my eye was his approach to go. He said he was aware that he was in the vanguard of what is already being called the post-Iyama generation and that there were great expectations of him, but he claimed not to think about that and to play each game on its own merits. He said his approach to both ordinary day-to-day life and go study is a relaxed, natural one. If he does make any special effort in anything it is precisely to make each day hassle free.

His usual method of study is to play on the internet, which he does a lot, and if he has time left over he plays over game records or does tsumego. But he does not play over game records from books on a real board, but on the computer - click, click, click. He spends about a minute per game. He concedes this is not a great way to study, but he is not looking at all the moves, only at the new moves, which he tries to store away in a corner of his brain. This of course means all his free waking hours are spent on go, but he sees no other way to improve his technique. He has sought advice from older pros but the main takeaway from that was just to keep his physical fitness in trim, and so he has started on that.

The game against Ke Jie was a rare but welcome chance to test himself against the best. What he got from it, having won, was a huge boost to his confidence - though it won't have escaped his notice that he also got a 3 million yen prize.

His victory against Ke Jie was, in a small way, also a victory against AI strategy. Ke played the Q16-R14-N17 two-sided shimari said to be popular with AI programs but which humans had previously scorned on the grounds that it uses too many stones for too little certain territory (and FWIW Ke got only just over 20 points out of it, whereas a two-stone shimari usually works out on average at about 16 points).

Shibano commented on his own style. He admitted he's not quite sure what to make of it. When he first turned pro (in 2014) he favoured thickness but he then tried experimenting with other styles and has ended up with his current mish-mash. But one thing that hasn't changed, he said, is that the basis of his style is that he loves to attack. He is not specially proud of his reading ability, and he lagged behind others in his tsumego study group, at least as regards depth of analysis. His real strength may be that he is unfazed by who his opponent is, and he always stays calm whether he is winning or losing. That helps him find the best move. He got this attitude from Hong Malk-eun Saem, a Korean who settled in Japan to try to become a pro, failed, set up a successful salon in Osaka, then eventually did become a pro in the Kansai Ki-in. Hong taught him to play the board, not the man.


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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #2 Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:02 pm 
Judan

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Here's the game vs Ke Jie, I did get the impression he wasn't intimidated facing the world #1, playing with plenty of flexibility and fighting spirit. Followers of popular go streamer 'dwyrin' are probably familiar with Shibano as he's quite a fan.



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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #3 Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:12 pm 
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Would love to see him in the nongshim cup— sometime soon I expect!

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #4 Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:22 pm 
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Ke Jie lost his world No 1 position to Park Junghwan in 2017 so he wasn't No 1 when that game was played in April 2018. Ke Jie's rating was 3616 and Park 3675.

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #5 Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:51 pm 
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I can't find any game of Shibano vs Iyama in go4go.net (whereas he played Ke Jie and Park JH twice), is that true that they never met in official matches?

Shibano indeed is doing quite well. I hope that his style will be more balanced than Iyama. In his last B-League game, after the first 100 moves it seems to me that he will lose by at least 20 points, but he managed to turn the game in the end by super aggressive moves :).

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #6 Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:59 am 
Oza

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Shibano has only played Iyama once (publicly), when he met him in one of the Hankyu "Cool of the Evening" Festivals last summer (2017). He lost. But the dearth of games is no surprise. Iyama holds most of the titles and so is seeded straight through to the title match. There is no opportunity to meet him in the leagues, say.

Furthermore, being so young, Shibano still has to work his way up through the qualifying stages. For example he is still in the B Leagues in the Kisei and so has yet to make his way through the A and S leagues. Nevertheless, he has done well in the Honinbo league (joint runner-up) and still has a plausible chance to win the Meijin league. He is still "alive" in the other events except for the Gosei, I think.

For 2017 Shibano won the Kido prizes for most games played and most games won. The Japanese pay no attention to Elo grades (even for foreign players) and always measure a player by these criteria. Most games played is seen as a good criterion because it reliably measures progress both through the knockouts and stays in a league. In other words, the more games you have played, the nearer you are to the sharp end of things. It's a subtle form of last-man standing.

In 2017, he played 66 games and scored 53-13. This included a 16-game winning streak. That almost matched his first full year (2015) when he scored 81%. So far this year, in which he is now obviously facing a much better class of opponent, he has scored 20-9 (70%). This is Go Seigen level. For comparison, Iyama is currently on 15-8 (65%).

Factors in Shibano's favour, apart of course from his youth, include the fact that he has a group of young rivals to keep him on his toes, notably Yu Zhengqi (akak Yo Seiki) and Kyo Kagen - but Shibano is a couple of years or more younger than them. They are Taiwanese-born, so much rests on Shibano's shoulders to meet the expectations of Japanese fans. His attitude to life seems to work in his favour in that regard, and one sign of it is that he has done well overseas (his Ryusei match win was in Beijing). Japanese people, and quite a few go players, have been notorious for not travelling well. They have missed their food and felt handicapped by their "rare" language. This used to be a major issue when Japanese businessmen were sent abroad, and even Japanese trawlermen went through agonies in foreign ports. Japanese tourists could always be seen in crocodile lines in the world's capitals, marching off behind the raised umbrella to the nearest Japanese restaurant - even in Paris! That seems to be a thing of the past for the young Japanese, and certainly for Shibano.

Like all the very young players he is also starting off his career facing a climb up the cliffs of the AI programs. Well, even there Shibano has already shone - he's had a couple of wins against DeepZen.

Seems worthy of a Shibano Watch?


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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #7 Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:21 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:

...Furthermore, being so young, Shibano still has to work his way up through the qualifying stages. For example he is still in the B Leagues in the Kisei and so has yet to make his way through the A and S leagues. Nevertheless, he has done well in the Honinbo league (joint runner-up) and still has a plausible chance to win the Meijin league. He is still "alive" in the other events except for the Gosei, I think...


Does he, however, then have a chance to qualify for the title match playoffs?

Quote:
...Factors in Shibano's favour, apart of course from his youth, include the fact that he has a group of young rivals to keep him on his toes, notably Yu Zhengqi (akak Yo Seiki) and Kyo Kagen - but Shibano is a couple of years or more younger than them. They are Taiwanese-born, so much rests on Shibano's shoulders to meet the expectations of Japanese fans. His attitude to life seems to work in his favour in that regard, and one sign of it is that he has done well overseas (his Ryusei match win was in Beijing). Japanese people, and quite a few go players, have been notorious for not travelling well. They have missed their food and felt handicapped by their "rare" language. This used to be a major issue when Japanese businessmen were sent abroad, and even Japanese trawlermen went through agonies in foreign ports. Japanese tourists could always be seen in crocodile lines in the world's capitals, marching off behind the raised umbrella to the nearest Japanese restaurant - even in Paris! That seems to be a thing of the past for the young Japanese, and certainly for Shibano...


The secret to Japan's poor international performance revealed :)

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...Like all the very young players he is also starting off his career facing a climb up the cliffs of the AI programs. Well, even there Shibano has already shone - he's had a couple of wins against DeepZen.

Seems worthy of a Shibano Watch?


Yes.

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #8 Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:01 am 
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Does he, however, then have a chance to qualify for the title match playoffs?


Yes. As you can see https://gotoeveryone.k2ss.info/jp/kisei/, Shibano is 4-0 in Kisei League B-2. Has 3 games left, the deciding will probably be against Yamashiro Hiroshi (5-0).

In Meijin league, Shinano is 4-2 and Cho U has 5-0. Shibano already lost to Cho U, so he needs a miracle there.

Besides Kisei, he's still alive in Tengen (plays Hirata Tomoya 7D), Agon (plays Seto Taiki 8d), Ryusei (but needs to win in knockout against Suzuki Shinji 7d), NHK (plays Cho Chikun 9d).

You can see how he did in the other tournaments in https://gotoeveryone.k2ss.info/news/.

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #9 Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:26 am 
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Guess which two people Japan has seeded into the main rounds of the Samsung Cup.

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #10 Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:19 am 
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Shibano Toramaru has won again and is now 6-0 in Kisei League B-2. He has only one game left and has multiple ways of advancing to the knockout tournament determining Kisei's challenger:
a) win last game against O Meien
b) Yamashiro Hiroshi (5-1) and O Meien (4-1) lose their last game

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Post #11 Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:58 am 
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O Meien (4-1)
Is it still possible for all three people -- Mr. Shibano, Mr. Yamashiro, and Mr. O Meien -- to tie at (6-1) ?

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #12 Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:21 am 
Oza

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Quote:
Is it still possible for all three people -- Mr. Shibano, Mr. Yamashiro, and Mr. O Meien -- to tie at (6-1) ?


Not really. It's possible for all three to finish on 6-1 but it wouldn't be a real tie because ranking in the previous league then comes into force. It's not the same as a proper tiebreaker like SOS because it's known in advance and the players can't control it. If that happens, Shibano has the lowest ranking.

He really needs to wrap it up with a 7-0. If he does, though, he still has to win the B Leagues playoff, then beat the winners of the C, A and S League and also the S League runner-up. So at this stage it's likely to be close but no cigar.

In fact he maybe still has to keep his fingers crossed to earn promotion to the A League. If a triple 6-1 occurs, I think he stays in the B Leagues.

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #13 Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:28 pm 
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Quote:
Is it still possible for all three people -- Mr. Shibano, Mr. Yamashiro, and Mr. O Meien -- to tie at (6-1) ?


As you can see here: https://gotoeveryone.k2ss.info/jp/kisei/, Yamashiro and O Meien have to play a lower ranking player (Koike Yoshihiro 3d). So it is quite likely they will both win. So Shibano really needs to win to go further

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #14 Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:31 am 
Judan

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Shibano missed out on being Meijin challenger as Cho U just wrapped that up with 7 wins.

Nihon Ki-in post: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php? ... 1298096771

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #15 Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:15 am 
Judan

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But he beat Tan Xiao in 1st round of (now-smaller and invitational) Bailing Cup: forum/viewtopic.php?p=234162#p234162

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #16 Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:03 pm 
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Very interesting topic and nice to see that a young Japanese pro is doing so well!

I came here after a Google search, because I wanted to know who that young lad was that convincingly beat Cho U in an NHK Cup YouTube video from earlier this year. For those interested, a nice video of the Cho vs. Shibano game is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMNtX3zqnxM

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #17 Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:44 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
In 2017, he played 66 games and scored 53-13. This included a 16-game winning streak. That almost matched his first full year (2015) when he scored 81%. So far this year, in which he is now obviously facing a much better class of opponent, he has scored 20-9 (70%). This is Go Seigen level. For comparison, Iyama is currently on 15-8 (65%).


Go Seigen level. Wow. I find this vaguely offensive. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #18 Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:34 am 
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Shibano Toramaru got some help from Koike Yoshihiro(3p) who defeated O Meien(9p) in Kisei B-2 league. This means Toramaru wins league B2 regardless of result of his last game.

This qualifies him for challenger tournament and ensures his promotion to league A for next year.

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #19 Posted: Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:03 am 
Judan

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Shibano made it to the final of the Agon cup, but lost to Ichiriki Ryo



In the Kisei he finished 7-0 in league B2 and then in the challenger tournament beat league B1 winner Akiyama Jiro but then lost to another talented youngster Onishi Ryuhei 3p.

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 Post subject: Re: Shibano Toramaru
Post #20 Posted: Sat Oct 06, 2018 8:23 am 
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The Kisei structure is quite complex. Let's see if I've got this right: as champion of C league, Onishi will move up to B* league...where he'll probably face tougher competition and have to win one more game against other league champions to become challenger. Shibano will move up to A, where he'll only have to win four in a row after winning the A league. Not a tournament for the teens.

* Not sure what happens if he manages to win five in a row and become challenger.

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