The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Education > People



The birth of a professional female student Go player.

Ms. Miori Shimosaka

Ms. Shimosaka's first encounter with the game of Go occurred when she was a second year elementary student. She and her older sister picked up the basics of the game from their father, who was a big Go fan. "During my childhood, I apparently was a bit of a sore loser. Whenever I lost a game, I'd burst into tears," said Ms. Shimosaka. However, it was difficult to believe her story while looking at her grinning face. "I don't want to lose. I feel as though I still continue playing Go with that single thought in mind."

During her high school years, Ms. Shimosaka won the Grand Prize at the All Japan Woman's Amateur Go Championship. Following this accomplishment, she decided to attend Waseda University in order to enter "the strongest club of Go players in all of Japan." She immediately entered the Waseda Go Club, but said she lost her confidence when she saw the skill level of the other players. Time and time again, she was stopped by the thick wall between her and the top of the league when she took on the Professional Ranking Qualification Match. In fact, there was one time when Ms. Shimosaka thought about giving up on obtaining a professional ranking. "But there just wasn't anything else that I could focus everything I had into, except for Go," she said. Upon this realization, Ms. Shimosaka decided that this year would be her final attempt and entered the Women's Special Qualifying Match. She pulled off a stunning first place victory and says that the person who was happiest when she received word of her professional ranking was her father.

"That final match, which I went into thinking would be my last ever, was the most difficult challenge I've faced in my entire life. That's why when I received the phone call telling me that I passed, I was overcome by all sorts of emotions and ended up crying without being able to think of anything to say," confessed Ms. Shimosaka, smiling. She went on to explain that the experience reinforced her belief that only thing that she could truly pour her "everything" into was Go. The morning of the match she listened to songs sung by her favorite artist, got herself psyched up, won the match, and grabbed hold of her dream with her own two hands.

Since April, Ms. Shimosaka has been appearing in tournaments as a professional player. Even though continuing to win matches is her number one goal, she says that "striving towards a more flexible mind-set is also a present goal of mine. Exactly how far you are able to read the development of events before they actually unfold is the difference between winning and losing in Go. That's why I feel I have to work towards deepening my humanity." Ms. Shimosaka analyzes her playing style as one of "well thought out attack," but hopes to become able to deal with scenarios as they develop on the board. Looking back on the four attempts it took to finally grasp her dream of becoming a professional Go player, she smiled and said, "It's all just a type of training that makes me able to hold my head up high and say that my vocation is professional Go."

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Miori Shimosaka

Born in Hokkaido in 1987. Graduated from Hakodate Shirayuri High School, and is currently a fourth year student of the School of Education. She passed the Japan Go Professional Ranking Qualification Match, and began her career as a professional player in April. She is also a member of the Waseda Go Club and competes in collegiate matches, placing third in the 2008 All Japan Female Student Honibo Competition. Her victory song is Chemistry's "The Promised Land."