Othello news

Akihiro Takahashi - The youngest Meijin winner.

4 April 2019
Written by Tad Maehata, Benkt Steentoft, Daniel Turunen

When we decided to do an interview with Akihiro Takahasi we realized that not only are we doing an interview with a 13 year old Japanese player. We are doing an interview with one of the best players in the world. Takahasi is rated 17th in the world. That rating is before Meijin 2019 is taken into account in to the World Othello rating
In 2017 he won the Japan Youth Championship in a tight game against Keisuke Fukuchi. That win gave him a chance to travel to Ghent in Belgium and the World Othello Championship 2017. There he showed everyone that he was a player they should count on. When the 13 first rounds were played, Takahashi was at the top. He only lost one game of thirtheen. He played three semi-final games against the 2016 World Champion, Pianyat Aunchele, and won with 2-1. In the WOC-final he met Yusuke Takanashi. He lost, and ended up as runner up in WOC 2017. They were two very great games. You can see the games with WOF commentators here
The year after he was close to qualifying to WOC 2018. He was high up in the standings for the traditional tourneys Meijin-sen, Japan Championship and Ouza-sen. Takahasi played 32 tournaments (!) in 2018. This year, 2019, he won the highest rated tournament in Japan, Meijin, and will play in WOC 2019 in Hong Kong. 

Tad Maehata did an interview for Othello News with Akihiro Takahashi just before Meijin 2019. We hope we can add this article with answers about his win in Meijin 2019, and thoughts about WOC 2019 in Hong Kong.

Interview with Akahiro Takahashi

Othello News: How old are you?
Akihiro Takahasi: I’m 13 years old.
  ON: あなたは何歳ですか?
AT: 私は13歳です。

Othello News: When did you first encounter the game Othello? And do you have any episode when you encountered the Othello game?
Akihiro Takahasi: The first time I met the game Othello was when i was 10 years old.
Actually, I participated in the Othello grand prix for elementary school students in 2015, which I lost during qualification. I bought a book written by Goro Hasegawa right after the game because I was so frustrated. I read the book again and again and kept playing  Othello on the internet. As a result, I was able to pass the qualification without losing and got to 3rd place in the grand prix for elementary school students held in 2016.

  ON: オセロに出会ったのは何歳ですか?そしてその出会いに何かエピソードがありますか?
AT:オセロに出会ったのは10歳です。

はじめて参加したオセロ小学生グランプリ2015で予選落ちしました。悔しさのあまり、その足で本屋に行って長谷川五郎さんのオセロ本を買いました。オセロ本とネットオセロで練習した結果、翌年のオセロ小学生グランプリ2016は、全勝で予選を通過しました。決勝大会も3位になることができました。

Othello News: Does your family also play Othello?
Akihiro Takahasi: Yes, my father plays Othello a little bit.

 

ON: 家族はオセロをプレーしますか?
AT: はい。私の父がオセロを少しします。

Othello News: Has Othello changed your life?
Akihiro Takahasi: Yes. My life has changed. I can board on bullet trains and air planes to take part in some competitions, and am able to go to a lot of places.

 

ON: オセロはあなたの生活(人生)を変えましたか?
AT: はい。私の人生は変わりました。
オセロ大会に行くために、生まれて初めて新幹線や飛行機に乗ることができ、色々な場所に行くことができました。

DCIM2318.JPG   DCIM2544 (1).JPG

Othello News: What other hobbies do you have besides playing Othello?
Akihiro Takahasi: Yes. I like hot springs.
I used to go to more than 100 hot springs a year before I started  playing Othello.

 

ON: 他に何かオセロ以外の趣味はありますか?
AT: はい。私は温泉が好きです。
オセロをはじめる前は、年間100湯以上、温泉巡りをしていました。

Othello News:. What are your plans going forward with othello? 
Do you have any dreams for your life in the future?

Akihiro Takahasi: I want to be a champion of the world, and spread the game of Othello around the world.

 

ON: 貴方のオセロでの今後の予定は?
また将来の夢は何かありますか?

AT: 私は世界チャンピオンになって、世界中にオセロを普及させたいです。

Othello News:. Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for people just getting started with Othello?
Akihiro Takahasi: I believe losing is the best opportunity to get stronger. Therefore, when you are frustrated by losing, it is the time to keep playing it.

 

ON: オセロを始める人々に何か励ましの言葉やアドバイスはありますか?
AT: 負けてこそ強くなるので、負けて悔しいと思ったら、オセロを続けてください。

Othello News:. Do you have any Othello openings you prefer over others?
Akihiro Takahasi: Yes. I like “Akkun Jouseki"  (F5D6C4D3C3F4C5B3E2)”, which has my name on it.

Othello News:. Do you have any Othello openings you try to avoid?
Akihiro Takahasi: No.

Othello News:. Do you prefer Black or White in Othello?
Akihiro Takahasi: I like to play as black.

      
Tiger-opening, variation as Akihiro Takahashi plays it.

 

ON: オセロゲーム前半で好きな定石や展開はありますか?
AT: はい。私の名前がついた「あっくん定石(F5D6C4D3C3F4C5B3E2)」が好きです。

ON: ゲーム前半で苦手な定石や展開はありますか?
AT: いいえ。

ON: オセロの石の色は、どちらが好きですか?
AT: 私は黒が好きです。

The opening used by Takahashi against Arthur Juigner, WOC 2017.

Othello News:. Do you have any tips on how to best prepare for Othello tournaments?
Akihiro Takahasi: It is very important to care for my fitness.

Othello News:. Do you have any tips or tricks regarding staying focused during a tournament?
Akihiro Takahasi: I usually drink orange juice to concentrate on the games.

 

ON: 大会に向けての準備でいいアドバイスがありますか?
AT: 大会当日のコンディションを整えることが、とても大事です。

ON: 大会中に集中力を保つためのヒントかコツは何かありますか?
AT: 私は、オレンジジュースを飲むことで集中力を高めています。

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Takahashi played the WOC final 2017 shown in WOF Othello Live TV
 
M.Suekuni-T. Nakajima-A Takahashi. T Nagashima from leftside.JPG
Meijin 2019: Makoto Suekuni, Tetsuya Nakajima, Akihiro Takahashi & Takahiro Nagashima

Othello News:. Whats your most memorable moment in Othello?
Akihiro Takahasi:  My most memorable moment in Othello is the time I won Keisuke Fukuchi and got the 1st place in the Othello grand prix for elementary school students in 2017. After the final game, there was an explanation of the final game by Mr. Suekuni(9th Dan) and Mr. Takanashi(9th Dan). they said “It was a really wonderful game that no one could expect which would win like a world championship” and I was so glad to hear that.

 

ON: オセロでの一番の思い出は何ですか?
AT: オセロ小学生グランプリ2017で、福地啓介くんに勝って優勝したことです。決勝終了後、末國九段と高梨九段による解説がありました。「世界大会のようなハイレベルな戦いで、どちらが勝つか最後まで分からない素晴らしい試合だった」と称賛されたことがとても嬉しかったです。

Othello News:. Are there any other Othello players that you look up to? How have you been inspired with these othello persons?
Akihiro Takahasi: It is Suekuni-Kudan(9th Dan). The way he plays Othello is similar to mine, so I learned how fun it is to play Othello from him.

 

ON: 尊敬するオセロプレーヤーはいますか?どういう影響をあなたに与えましたか?
AT: 末國誠九段です。棋風が似ており、読みオセロの楽しさを学びました。

Othello News: How did you feel to be the youngest Meijin?
Tell us about your games?

Akihiro Takahasi: 

I was the happiest ever, since I was able to go up to "7th Dan" with winning the title of my best wish. In the second round I had a match with Shimizu Naoki, who is " 7th Dan, played in last year's final game. He was an opponent who I had lost the final game completely last year.

This year, the Match was so conpetitive each other, moerover I was rather  disadvantaged. However, when I took advantage by the time attack operation at contrary, I won at a stretch.

The opponent of the semifinals was Makoto Suekuni, who is "9th Dan", the former world champion.

He is a player who has a similar style of being good at reading Othello, and he is also my longing person.

There were five minutes left around end of the game, so I counted down 8 squares and calmly was gonna forward to win. I was surprised at the victory giving the four corners to the opponent.

The opponent for the final was Tetsuya Nakajima, who is ”8th Dan” ranked number one in the Japan ranking before Meijin-sen.

It is the player who is difinitely sure with a solid way of proceeding.

It became the final match that each bet with promotion up to Dan.

In the first half, I was aggressively attacking toword Nakaijima-san. The attack worked effective and the win went to me around the middle of the game.

  ON :最年少の名人になってどう思いましたか?その時の対戦の事について教えて下さい。
AT: 念願のタイトルをとって七段に昇段できたので、今までで一番うれしかったです。
2回戦は、昨年の名人戦決勝で対局した清水直希七段。昨年、なすすべもなく負けた
相手です。今年は、中盤まではお互い一歩も引かず、形勢はぼくの方が不利でした。
しかし、時間攻めで逆転のチャンスをつかむと、一気に勝ちきりました。
準決勝の相手は、元世界チャンピオンの末國誠九段。読みオセロが得意という棋風が
似ており、ぼくが憧れている選手です。終盤5分ほど残っていたので、8マス空きを数
えきり冷静に打ち進め、引き分け勝ち。四隅を与えての勝ちに自分も驚きました。
決勝の相手は、名人戦前の日本ランキング1位の中島哲也八段。堅実な打ち回しで大
崩れしない選手です。お互い昇段を賭けた決勝戦になりました。序盤自分から仕掛け
ていって、その仕掛けがうまくいき中盤で試合が決まる展開で勝ちました。

Othello News: You played 32 tournaments 2018. Is the fact you play a lot tournaments one of the reasons why you have been a so strong player?

Akihiro Takahashi: Actually I played over 32 tournament. In fact it was 48 tournaments I played. (Official tournament 36, reguler tournament 9, Elementary students tournament 3)

In 2018, I played not only in the official tournament but also in regular tournaments and Elementary students tournament, and played 289 games (232 wins, 56 lose and 1 draw) in a year. I think that it is a shortcut which makes you strong to play in a lot of tournaments and playing Othello in a real tournament. It is very important to look back on all the winning and losing matches.

  ON: あなたは、2018年に3248回(公式戦36回、定例会9回、小学生大会3回)も大会に出ましたが、強くなった理由の一つはたくさんの大会に出る事でしょうか。
AT: 2018年は、公式戦だけでなく定例会や小学生大会にも出て、1年で289試合(232勝56敗1分)打ちました。たくさん大会に出て実戦でオセロをすることは、強くなる近道だと思います。勝った試合も負けた試合も、全て振り返ることがとても大切です。

Othello News: WOC 2019. You are qualified to WOC in Hong Kong. You was runner-up in WOC 2017. What is your thoughts about WOC?

Akihiro Takahasi: I will go to Hong Kong to pick up my things left in Belgium.

 

 

ON: 2019年のWOC in香港への切符をあなたはつかみました。2017年は準優勝している世界大会です。今回の大会に思う事はありますか?

AT: 香港にはベルギーでの忘れ物をとりに行きます。