The most special kiroku

Last week I went to take kiroku of the 3rd Joryu Oza title match. I expected unforgettable experience and I got what I wanted.

The title match kiroku is different from the usual one. First day we came to Shizuoka, the second was the game and third coming back home.

The first day was a day of finals checks of the game. The pieces I brought from Shogi Renmei were tested by both players (Satomi Joryu Oza and Challenger Shimizu Ladies 6 dan). They checked the visibility of the pieces, room setting and shared all their worries (like the kiroku table being too close to them). The biggest things that the players are worried about is the room temperature or air conditioning sounds, is what I heard. Indeed I was asked in middle of kiroku to turn off the air conditioning at some point.

In the evening there was a usual event preceding any title match, called Zen-Ya-Sai (party the evening before). There were around 100 people waiting to see and heard a speech from both of the players. Shizuoka is close to Yamanashi so I met some of my friends there. There was also some games for participants like “answer the question right, get your name drawn and you will get a special prize”. One of the best prizes was a photo of a title holder or challenger, signed by hand. After some time both players leave the party which gives us, the other professionals attending tomorrow event, big board explanation or kiroku, to share some thoughts about the title match. I shared my thought about kiroku: It was my first time taking kiroku of title match, Satomi’s face looked scary (it was very determined), but I was happy to see the most important game from this close. I felt the pressure – I needed do my job properly.

The next day the game started at 10 o’clock. Different from usual kiroku, the start of the game is announced by Tachi-Ai-Nin (tran. observer, witness), in this case Fujii 9 dan. His job was to make sure the game is played in proper atmosphere and there are no problems; or so I understood. He used very formal Japanese to start the game (my jaw dropped). After few moves I was left alone with two players and the title match was no different from normal game procedures.

The lunch time was longer: from 12 to 13. Around 14:30 Oyatsu (kinda sweet snacks) were brought, but to my sadness, the players barely touched it.

I have taken kiroku of Shimizu’s games few times, so I usually know how she behaves. I know that she uses all of her time for the game, starting from the opening. On the other hand Satomi used around half of her time only. I could see the change in Satomi’s face expression in the middle of the game – it seems she was not as stressed. Maybe she was confident in her position already before lunch time? I thought.

And the pace didn’t change until end. Shimizu was lost in the position, showing her desperation by using all the pieces from her hand in the last battle cry. Byo yomi started, at 9 minutes left she was answering with “Hai” (yes), but as each minute passed the “hai” changed into smaller one and then into nothing. After 3 minutes she resigned in the ringing silence. I didn’t see her face, but I could feel her sadness. Losing three games in a row. It was painful.

But there I gained a lot of respect for her. I realized that strong players take responsibility for their actions: they jump into the game will full vulnerability and then allow themselves to be hurt. They don’t blame anyone else other then themselves. No excuses. Shimizu said in kansosen “even with my full power I wouldn’t be able to win against Satomi even once”. Everyone felt she was exaggeration, but yet the responsibility she showed as a professional – the total responsibility for each move she played – was amazing.

The determination of the title holder, the unstained behavior of legend in face of defeat, it all made a mark on my heart, and therefore I shared it on my blog. I hope you enjoyed this peek in the room of the title match between two giants.

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