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Emura KikouJust two and a half weeks after the 2013 World Amateur Go Championship ended, the knockout tournament to select the Japanese player for the 2014 WAGC was held at the Nihon Kiin in Tokyo. Emura Kikou, who was highly dissatisfied with his 8th place at the 2013 WAGC, came determined to win another try, but he was competing against four higher-finishing WAGC contestants of years past, including former world amateur champions Hiraoka Satoshi and Hironari Hirata. In the first round, played on the morning of September 21, Emura had a tough game against a highschool lad from Aichi prefecture, but managed to win by 1.5 points.

In the next round he faced a gentleman from Mie prefecture whose white beard set off a fierce-looking black mustache and black eyebrows. Emura won this game by resignation, and then defeated a former Student Meijin from Tokyo by 23.5 points to complete a successful first day. In the meantime, Hirata lost in the first round and Hiraoka lost, to another highschooler, in the third round.

Emura (left) and Wakabayashi discussing a variation after the final gameOn the morning of September 22 Emura was paired against an opponent who had been all-Japan Student Oza in 2003. Emura won by 4.5 points, and then beat the 1987 Student Honinbo Iwai Shinichi by 1.5 points in the semifinal round. His final opponent was Wakabayashi Daisuke, a university student from Tokyo who was having the tournament of his life: he had overcome the highschool genius who overcame Hiraoka.

Playing white in the final game, Wakabayashi went for a large area in the center. Emura reduced it by setting up a ladder, then playing a ladder break. White fought back by cutting off the ladder breaking stone, but black won the ensuing capturing race. Emura was over 20 points ahead when Wakabayashi resigned. In the playoff for third place Iwai beat Sakamoto Shusaku, Japanese Student Champion in 1994 and 1995.

At the awards ceremony Emura said, ‘I played terribly in the World Amateur and felt terrible afterwards, but after getting past the first round here yesterday, I regained confidence and was able to concentrate. I hope to take this attitude into the World Amateur next year. I want revenge.’ His chance for revenge may come even sooner, since he will also represent Japan in the upcoming Korea Prime Minister Cup on October 12-13.


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