It’s been four months since my last larger excursion here in Japan. Last time was Innoshima, an island southwest from Osaka; this time Kofu, a smaller city not far away from mount Fuji. I conducted this trip with Tom (from the Nihon Ki-in), who worked out the details of the day trip. We left slightly after noon, went first to the Shinjuku train station, and took a train from there directly to Kofu, which took about 80 minutes. From the Kofu train station we took a taxi to the ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) that was used as the venue for the last Kisei game.
I’d of course prepared some go activity for the train trip, namely tsumego and theory books. The setting looked approximately like this:
Japan is nice in the way that there’s a lot of content stuffed in a relatively small area (it turns Japan’s surface area is still larger than Finland’s, though). After the train went through a few tunnels, maybe twenty minutes into the journey, I was forced to turn my attention from tsumego to the sights. Poor iPhone-taken photos don’t do much justice to the spectacle that was visible from the train’s windows, but I’ll add a few photos here anyway:
The tournament venue ryokan was rather spectacular as well. When we got into the entrance hall, it looked pretty much like this:
The entrance hall was maybe about eight metres tall, with huge windows facing the Japanese-style garden that the ryokan was built around. The entrance hall itself looked more like this:
The entrance to the ryokan is on the left side, and the windows to the garden on the right. Poor lighting in the latter photo is due to it having been taken at night.
Once we got to the ryokan, we asked for directions to the Kisei match, and found a room that was used for analyzing the game for amateur players (and also for broadcasting the analysis). Photographing was forbidden in that room, so I’ve nothing to show from there, unfortunately. There were about fifty people present watching the analysis, and principal commentators were Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan and Komatsu Hideki 9-dan, the latter of which is often reviewing insei games during the weekends.
We continued to the professionals’ game research room, which was was surprisingly laid-back, with myriad laptops. We didn’t have trouble getting in, thanks to Tom belonging to the Nihon Ki-in, and me being insei. The referee, Takemiya-sensei, was there at the time we came in, not to mention several (or dozens of) other professionals. They’d arranged for three television screens, one for showing the game board from above, one for showing the players, and one more for showing tv news about the match. Here’s a photo from there:
The professionals were analyzing the game as it went on, and it was really interesting to watch some 9-dans researching what was the most optimal way to play the endgame out. They went through dozens of game trees, and it seemed like at best white might have been able to make it into a half-point loss. This involved playing the last 70 or so moves exactly correctly.
Once the final game ended (in Chō-sensei’s favor), everybody rushed to the game room, where the players commented the game a bit, and then some interviews were held. Here’s two photos from there:
After the game, there was a party on the third floor of the ryokan, involving really good traditional Japanese food. We got an invitation there, having come all the way to watch the game, and dined and socialized there for about an hour. I don’t suppose many of the readers have had Takemiya-sensei pour some drink for them? There was a long dinner table for all the food, and maybe about thirty people present, naturally including Chō-sensei and Takao-sensei. I missed out on taking photos from there for not having wanted to look like a complete tourist. The Japanese people were pretty interested in the westerner that was attending the party, and were checking out how much I could talk and understand (and how I liked the special dishes). I got at least one home run in by getting to say うまかった about a horse meat dish that was being served.
About one hour in of the after game party, we had to leave with Tom for the train station. We actually were in a hurry in the end, as we were leaving at 8:55 PM from the ryokan, while the last train for Tokyo departed at 9:09 PM. We took a taxi again, and I got to do the classic “keep the change” scene as we finally had to run out of the taxi. We did make it in time however, and I was finally back at the apartment at about 11 PM, several experience points richer.