Iyama Yuta will once again play Cho U for the Meijin in the fall. The league hasn’t actually finished, but Iyama is 6-0, with two games to play. Yamada Kimio, Takao Shinji and Sakai Hideyuki are 5-2, 4-2 and 4-2 respectively, but they’ve each lost to Iyama head-to-head.
It’s potentially something of a weird year for Iyama. It’s his second year with a really high level performance, and he leads the Japanese win-loss standings, with a 22-7 record. And yet the Meijin will be the only title he’ll challenge for this year, after narrowly missing the chance to challege for the Kisei and Gosei titles. Whether or not he wins the Meijin he’ll be the top of his age group, but it would be strange for 2009 to essentially be a repeat of 2008.
Also interesting, Ri Ishu, a 20 year old player, is third in the win-loss standings, with a 17-2 (!) record. He just earned a 7-dan promotion for entering the Kisei league, making him one of the young players to watch.
July 9th: Iyama ended up sweeping the league 7-0.