Believing in Oneself and “Go” Forward
Mr. Sato Koya (Aged 24)
He aims to become number one Go amateur of Japan.
He is a Go instructor from Numazu city who will participate in the final round of 63rd All-Japan Amateur Honinbo National Competition (August 19-20 at Nihon Ki-in), which will decide who is the best player in Japanese amateur Go world. This will be his second participation in a row and his fourth overall. He scored a success in the 59th installment of the competition in 2013, in which he participated as a 20-year-old, when he secured his place as the first runner-up, and now he says, “My goal is to be the winner,”
“I won my way through the competition smoothly. Even I myself was surprised that I got to the final. Maybe I could make it in the final too, I thought, but I did not stand a chance against the opponent and was completely crushed. However, I could defeat many formidable players. Also, I guess my skill improved since then.” He turned the experience from that competition into self-confidence for challenging the coming one.
On the contrary, he kept regretting the provincial competition in June, which consisted of 32 contenders, even though he defended the champion title. “I messed up my reading in the final’s game opening stage where careful attention was a must, and my game position went downhill.”
His watching the anime “Hikaru no Go” when he was a fourth grader led him to begin playing Go. He and his older siblings went to Mishima Go Classroom every Saturday. He persisted with Go even after they had stopped playing. Then, in his second year of Numazu Junior High School, he finished sixth of Japan in the junior high division of the Youth Go Competition.
He aims to be a pro Go player. He has already passed the normal age limit to become a pro Go player, but, were he to become a training Go player of Kansai Ki-in, he can keep attempting until he turns 26. If one got the Amateur Honinbo title, the age limit will be moved up to 30. It is also for this that he stated, “My goal is to be the winner.”
Every time he gains knowledge about various ways to play and think, he can feel the interesting aspects of Go. “When I get to know thoughts that never occurred to me, the differences in people’s judging which side fared better regarding the same board position, etc., I was forced to acknowledge that my “normal” isn’t normal after all.” Yet he says, “But in the end I believe my own judgment and thoughts, and I play accordingly.” He believes in himself because he aims to be a pro.
He works as an instructor four days a week. On the remaining three, he alternates between going to a Go study group and competing on the Internet. His days are filled with Go. His favorite Go players are Hane Yasumasa 9p and Hane Naoki 9p (Yasumasa’s son), of whom he has been under the guidance. And there is Mr. Choi Cheol-han, a Korean Go player. “I think Mr. Choi is a player with the strongest playing style that doesn’t let his opponent have an easy time of it. My own playing style isn’t pushy, so I want to make myself able to go pushy in certain board positions.”
■人物略歴 Brief Biography
Born in 1992 in Numazu city. Played four games with Honingo Mon’yu (aged 28) a.k.a. “Six Crowns” Iyama Yuta. He says, “I could feel his aura.” He won only one of them when he got three handicap stones. His hobby is tennis.
Mainichi shimbun 30 July 2017