Why Can’t Women’s Go players Beat Male Players? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why Can’t Women’s Go players Beat Male Players?

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Kana Satomi Women’s Go-kan, who is challenging the entrance examination for professional Go players

Kana Satomi, the leading Women’s Shogi player, is challenging the entrance examination to become a professional Go player. She will play 5 games against a 4-dan player, and if she wins 3 games, she will pass the exam. However, they have been playing each other once a month since August and have already lost the first game on August 18 and the second game on September 22.

In the Japanese chess world, there are two systems: the professional “Kishi” system, which makes no distinction between men and women, and the “Onna-ryu Kishi” system, which is exclusively for women. In order to become a “Kishi”, a female player must pass the Kishi entrance examination. This time, she challenged this examination. No woman has ever become a professional Go player. In other words, there are currently only male professionals.

In 2004, Kana Satomi, a leading Women’s Shogi player, entered the professional ranks as a Women’s 2nd level player, and became a Women’s Go-kan. In 2010, she participated in the 48th Ki-On Tournament as a Women’s player, and defeated Yuta Komori 5-dan in the final of the qualifying round to qualify for the professional Go examination. She is attracting attention as the first female professional Go player (Photo: Kyodo News)

They say there is no difference between men and women in terms of physical strength and playing style. ……

The entrance examination for professional Go players is 3 hours long. Each player has 3 hours, so if you use up all the time you have, you have 6 hours. There is a lunch break in between, so it will take almost 7 hours. This seems to be tough. I wonder if women can beat men in terms of physical strength.

I have lost about two kilograms of body weight after playing one game of Shogi. That is how much physical energy is consumed. Shogi is also a mental game, and when I was active, I refrained from going out the day before a game in order not to disturb my mind. The day after the game, I was so tired that I sometimes could not get up.

says Miki Ohba, who retired from active duty in 2020.

If they use so much physical strength, the difference in physical strength may be one of the reasons for their defeat.

There are eight title tournaments for women professionals: Women’s Meijin, Women’s Ousho, Women’s O-dai, Kurashiki Fujika, Mynavi Women’s Open, Women’s Oza, Seirei, and Hakurei.

Currently, Kana Satomi holds five titles: Women’s Osho, Women’s Oza, Kurashiki Fujika, Women’s Oza, and Seirei, and she plays in all of them, but the Women’s Meijin, Women’s Osho, Mynavi Women’s Open, and Women’s Oza tournaments all have a duration of The Women’s Oza, Seirei, and Hakurei tournaments have a duration of 4 hours.

Since you have experienced such games, I don’t think that the exam for professional transfer is particularly hard for you with a duration of 3 hours,” she said.

Then, is the way of playing different from male players?

I have heard it said that women tend to defend more and men tend to play in a cut-and-paste style. I think it is more a matter of individuality rather than gender difference.

Ms. Miki Ohba, a first-year student of the Women’s Professional Development Association. She is a member of the first Women’s Professional Development Association. Her sister, Mika Oba, and her niece, Maho Isotani, are also women’s shogi players. When Ms. Oba started playing Shogi, there were few women who played Shogi, and when she participated in a tournament, the Oba sisters were the only women among 100 men.

The number of junior high school female shogi players has also increased. The number of players is increasing, and the gap between male players and female players seems to be narrowing.

Then, why can’t female professionals beat male professionals?

I think it is the difference in the number of players. The Women’s Professional Go player system was established in 1974. At that time, there were six female professional Go players.

At that time, it was only necessary to have the ability to be recommended by a professional player and the will of the player, and there was no examination or qualification to become a Women’s Professional Go player. It was 10 years later that the “Women’s Professional Go Association” was established to train women professionals. Ms. Ohba is a member of the first class.

To become a professional Go player, one must join the “Shorei Association,” a training organization for professional Go players, and reach the rank of 4-dan by the age of 26. The “Training Session” is a subordinate organization of the Shorei Association, and if a female player is promoted to B2 class, she is qualified to become a Women’s Professional Go player.

Both men and women can join the association, and Satomi Women’s 5-kan was promoted to 3-dan by the association, but she could not be promoted to 4-dan by the age of 26. In other words, there is a difference in ability even among professionals.

If that is the case, is it true that Women’s Go players cannot win against Men’s Go players?

No, that is not true. There is a small number of women professionals in the official professional tournaments, and if you have a good result, you can participate in these official tournaments. To be eligible to take the entrance examination for the Women’s Go player, you must win 10 or more games in the most recent official tournaments and achieve a record of 60.5 percent or higher.

In other words, Satomi Women’s Go-Kan has already won more than 10 games against professionals. It does not mean that her playing ability is inferior to that of her male counterparts.

In the first Shogi Newcomers Tournament of the Federation of High School Culture in 1992, there were 15 female participants, but in the 2020 tournament, there are 118 female participants compared to 92 male participants. Two women also belong to the Shogi Promotion Association, and in May 2022, a second-year junior high school female player was born.

I am the 26th woman to become a Women’s Go player. Until then, there were only 26 Women’s Go players, but now there are 74 active players. Including retired players, there are now 108.

The number of female Shogi players is steadily increasing and the scope of the female population is expanding. As the number of female shogi players increases, there will be more actual games and they will become more powerful. The gap between women and men in terms of playing ability is expected to narrow.

At the Shogi school where Ms. Ohba teaches, there is also a class for women only. More and more women are taking up shogi as a hobby.

I am worried about Satomi’s overcrowded schedule.

There is no difference in physical strength and no difference in chess ability. Does this mean that she has a good chance of becoming a professional Shogi player?

The only thing that worries me is the overcrowded schedule of Satomi Women’s Go-Kan. In addition to the Women’s Ki Tournament, she also participates in general Ki Tournaments where she plays against professionals, and she also has the highest Women’s Ki Tournament, the Hakurei-Sen 7-Ban Tournament.

The title game is sometimes held in a local area, so she needs time to travel. I am sure she will be tired and I am worried if she will have enough time to study her opponents and prepare well.

Satomi’s opponents for the transfer examinations change each time she plays against the women’s five-ranked Satomi, who has an overcrowded schedule. My opponent’s schedule is rather relaxed. Will this also be a handicap?

If I could concentrate only on the transfer examination, I would be able to prepare for it and adjust my physical strength so that it peaks there, but I also have an important title match, so I think it will be very hard. But I think it will be very difficult because of the important title match.

With two defeats, Satomi’s career was over. I hope that Satomi will hold her ground and open a new door to the world of Shogi.

  • Reporting and writing Izumi Nakagawa Photographed by Ayumi Kagami

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