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No clouds in WASEDA shogi
Two shogi players of Seihoku, protecting the tradition of the Shogi Club

Mr. Yusuke Yamada / Ms. Yuko Suzuki

Among club activities at WASEDA, the Shogi Club has a long established history and tradition. The club has professional shogi players and is one of the strongest in Japan.

In the Girl Class of the 14th Student Shogi Championship held in March 2011, Yuko Suzuki won all five games, becoming the champion for two consecutive years. In May, Yusuke Yamada, captain of the club, won the championship at the Student Meijin Matches* for the first time in 13 years. This year, the Shogi Club is strong both in the male and female categories. The two started to play shogi when they were in elementary school. Yuko was impressed with a television program called, "Futarikko" (NHK). "As partners can now be found on the Internet, barriers in shogi between professionals and amateurs have been lowered a great deal. Motivation is needed to be strong," says Yusuke with a smile.

Referred to as a "sport for the brain," shogi requires daily practice. "I love it and am not satisfied unless I play every day. Reflecting on previous games played is also important. Just playing without a review, will not improve the game," Yusuke says. "I solve shogi problems and workbooks day after day," Yuko adds, who seems to steadily practice her skill.

Both of them say that there is not a day that goes by without thinking about shogi. Yusuke discusses its attraction, saying, "When a match is nearing the end, there is a great rush of adrenalin. While my brain is working at a threateningly high speed, I sometimes feel my awareness doesn't keep up with it, and when the game is near the end, I just see how the game will be finished on the board." At a master's level, they seem able to predict the immediate future.

Fierce competition on the board

While shogi is a lonely battle, human relations are one of its attractions. "I played against adults when I was a kid and I have interacted with people of different generations," Yusuke says. Yuko also finds joy in teaching children shogi. "I used to play just to win before entering university, but now it is fun that children learn how to play shogi," she says with a smile.

Has Yusuke's attitude toward shogi changed since becoming a university student? "I started to become more concerned about how to win. I have lost some games in an unsatisfactory way, but there are also defeats that make me feel content enough to celebrate my opponent. WASEDA Shogi Club has traditionally honored matches where both players go all out. I want to play in a way that is compliant with that tradition." When he won the Student Meijin Matches, he got words of celebration not only from previous university students but also from the opponent. Yuko describes Yusuke's style of shogi as "clean shogi." Looking at the way someone plays shogi; she says she knows what type of person it is. Yusuke smiles, explaining Yuko's style as "shogi with a competitive spirit." In contrast with her neat and clean persona, in matches she is tenacious and has often won by staging a comeback towards the end of a game. "My style is completely different from Yusuke's style," she laughs.

The two say they want to enjoy shogi as a lifetime interest. Yusuke wants to repay shogi through overseas promotion activities and instructions to children. Both of them have learned from shogi and enriched their lives. Their next move is to graduate and contribute to shogi.

Yuko observing the next move of an opponent

Student Meijin Matches. Puzzling over and finding the next move

* WASEDA became the national champion at the 2011 Fujitsu Cup All Japan University Shogi Championship (August 13 ~ 15).

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Yusuke Yamada

Born in Osaka in 1991. Graduated from Osaka Prefectural Yamada High School. 3rd year of the School of Social Sciences. His interest is Karaoke. His favorite songs are DEEN tunes. "The Shogi Club is considered as a group of congenitally gloomy persons, but in fact, many members are cheerful, having great times at karaoke. Stress from shogi is let off by Hitokara(going karaoke by oneself)."

Ms. Yuko Suzuki

Born in Shizuoka in 1990. Graduated from Shizuoka Futaba High School. 3rd year of the School of Education. Her way of relieving stress is "going to barbecues or sweets buffets and eating and talking as much as I can."