National

Toramaru Shibano becomes first teenage go player to win major Japanese title

Kyodo

Nineteen-year-old go professional Toramaru Shibano beat Cho U, a 39-year-old Meijin, or master, on Tuesday, capturing the title for that rank and making him the first teenage player to have won one of the seven major Japanese titles.

Shibano, an eighth-dan player who will turn 20 on Nov. 9, broke the record Yuta Iyama, now 30, set in 2009 for the traditional board game when he was 20 years and four months old.

Iyama challenged Cho for the Meijin rank in 2008, when he was 19, but lost, before going on to secure all seven titles.

“I thought it would be difficult (to win a title) in my teens, but it was good that I won,” Shibano said after the match with Cho in the Meijin tournament in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture.

A native of Kanagawa Prefecture, Shibano became a professional player in 2014 at the age of 14. He rose to prominence when he won the Ryusei tournament in 2017.

Shibano also broke the record for being the fastest to earn one of the seven titles after becoming a professional five years and a month ago.

He will obtain ninth dan, the highest degree as a professional player, on Wednesday, becoming both the youngest and fastest to do so, according to Nihon Ki-in, an association that manages the professional system of Go.