Greetings from Innoshima, the birthplace of Honinbō Shūsaku!
Last Thursday, me and my friend Kurt, who is generously accommodating me in Tōkyō, went out of our way to visit the Shūsaku memorial hall in Innoshima; you could call this a go player’s pilgrimage of sorts. Those of you who have read the manga, Hikaru no Go, might remember Hikaru’s visit to Innoshima in search of Sai. Innoshima is located near the south coast of Honshū, Japan’s biggest island, between Ōsaka and Hiroshima. The distance between Tōkyō and Innoshima is close to 700 kilometres, which translates to a four-hour train trip. Last Thursday was actually a Japanese national holiday, which meant that the memorial hall was closed; what we did was travel to south of Ōsaka and spend the night there at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), and we then continued to Innoshima early on Friday morning.
After taking some local trains and a local bus, we finally arrived on the island of Innoshima, and were greeted by this kind of a view:
Another insei week is now done with, this one having been my first week in the D class. My result was another 7/7 (seven wins out of seven games), meaning that if there was a playing level difference to the E class, it’s still not quite decisive. I only played the insei ranked from place 5 to 12 (myself being ranked 11), so I didn’t get to play the insei who were in class C last month. I’m hoping they’ll be of different caliber than the rest — at least in class E, there was a notable difference between the previously-D-class insei and previously-not. The difference is mostly in technique relating to the opening game and to shape, so when playing a peaceful game, even class D insei can give me some hard time.
Indeed, having moved up a class, the first thing this weekend I wanted to probe out the level of my new opponents. The very first game I played peacefully, which actually led me to being a little bit behind in terms of points sometime in the middle game. Some manoeuvres later I did get the lead, however, and finally won the game by 6.5 points. Thanks to these games having byo-yomi, the opponents no longer make such blatant mistakes (well, myself included of course) as in the E class. My reaction to the first game was something along the lines of “Phew, that was close, better make sure I don’t get more games as close as this one”, and the six following games were more fighting-oriented. The same six I also won by resignation.
Some people have expressed interest in speculating the level of my future adversaries, so I went out of my way on Sunday’s lunch break to take photos of the C and D class results sheets:
Just to get the number of Japan-related photos up, here’s also one from the Nihon Ki-in’s entrance hall:
Of course, an insei related blog post is nothing without a game record, so here’s the second-most-peaceful game that I played this weekend. I was looking to fight in this one, but the opponent wouldn’t let me.
I somehow got the impression that my opponent here (insei number 8 in the results sheet) is a fan of Lee Changho, due to his steady and simple way of playing.
At move 14, I had the sequence of black 1, white 2, black 3, white 4 and black 5 in mind, but for some reason I chose the inferior way of playing, seen in the game record. However…
…move 24 seems like an incredibly slow white move, even if there was some potential threat at d9 or e9 to try to cut the white stones apart. I would have played k3 as white without thinking.
At move 29, the game already feels good to black.
Move 38: this move, even if today sometimes seen in professional games, was the one that struck me as the most Lee Chango -like move in the game. It works effectively at getting a base for the white stone, prioritizing territory over influence since the centre area looks like dame anyway. I planned the answer of black 39 so that I’d have the chance to exploit white’s shape weakness of l18 later.
Moves 47-66: this sequence somehow worked incredibly smoothly for black; even though the corner died, black got a fair profit while reserving sente.
The game quickly proceeds to the endgame after the upper side sequence, starting with black l18, is carried out. Eventually, white resigns because of the point difference.
Since the D class has an even number of 14 insei, I’ll unfortunately no longer get teaching games with the instructors. However, it’s still possible to get a review if a game ends quickly enough, and if the teacher is free at the time, as long as I’m able to ask for the review in Japanese.
This week, on Thursday, I’m finally doing some vital Japanese go-related activity that I missed out on my last trip here, two years ago: I’m visiting the island of Innoshima, the birthplace of Honinbō Shuusaku (1829-1862), up to date one of the most famous (and strongest) go players ever. Innoshima is a good 700 kilometres away from Tokyo, so a two-day trip is necessary. Points of interest while in Innoshima will be Shusaku’s grave and the Shusaku museum, which includes go equipment used by the legend himself. Expect to read a report on this trip in approximately one week!