Match Meritee-Nakamura

Place: Kyoto, Japan

Rule: RIF Rated: Yes

Date: 1999-11-14 - 1999-11-16

See Games (6)

See Photos (12)

See Articles (3)


EST Estonia: Ando Meritee
JPN Japan: Nakamura Shigeru


1Meritee AndoEstonia2 02 12 12 ?2 ?2 ?3,5
2Nakamura ShigeruJapan1 11 01 01 ?1 ?1 ?2,5

The Match Nakamura vs Meritee

I had long time waited the match with the legendary player Shigeru Nakamura. Already when I was a little boy, I dreamed about playing with him some day. He has been the best player in Japan (in the world, too) over 20 years. He has never lost any game to a foreigner before. Everybody is so afraid of him - he is a legend of renju.
He participated in World Championships twice - in 1989 and 1991. He won both championships surely without losing any game. Since then he has not played in next World Championships. I became the World Champion in 1993 without having a chance to meet him. At that time there were talks about organizing match between me and Nakamura. But finally, nothing happened. The talks just remained talks. Thinking afterwards, I am happy that the match was not played in 1993. At that time I did not have much experience and he would have beaten me quite easily, I think. Now six years have passed since then. I won the World Championship for the second time. And finally, Japanese showed big interest towards the match idea. Mr. Hayakawa invited me and Ants Soosyrv (President of Estonian Renju Union) to come to Kyoto to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the name "renju" and to play the match with the great Shigeru Nakamura during November 14-16.

In the renju anniversary party on November 13 there were many speeches, interviews, talks. There were taken many photos, many people asked to sign the postcards, fans, etc. The atmosphere was very positive and relaxing. Everybody was enjoying the evening.
The match began in the morning of November 14. Six hard games were about to be played. Previously, I had used some time for preparing specially for this match - I studied Nakamura's old games from both theoretical and tactical aspect, I also asked other Japanese many questions about Nakamura and his ways of preparation. I took into consideration that Nakamura never uses computer, so he does not have knowledge about Internet games and renju databases. But on the other hand, the great Nakamura's experience to play matches so well was yet terrifying. He has a great talent of investigating new positions and new moves. The factor of surprising opponent with the new move could be the key of the match. So, I had good reason to be careful and not to rush into unknown positions.
It was very hard for both of us to prepare because we never played with each other yet, we have not had a chance to feel the strength of opponent. So, the psychological factor might be even bigger than usually. Technically we have quite same style - we are both playing in aggressive way, never let the opponent to have easy game, but fight till the end. We both work hard on new moves and try them on opponents. We both prefer reasonable moves rather than beautiful moves. (This is what makes Nakamura different from other Japanese - the other Japanese always want to play beautiful moves which eventually may not be very effective, whereas Nakamura plays more technical and reasonable way). So, technically we are equal. What could be the key of advantage then? There are two things - theoretical and psychological preparation. Oh, and one more thing. The physical strength and health is also very important. Fortunately, I was very healthy during the Japan trip. The Japan environment and the time zone difference did not affect me much.
It was good that Ants was in Japan with me, that was important moral support. We have been together in tournaments since we ever began to play renju. So Ants knows me well. He helped me to prepare for the match.
The match had to be played in Japanese style - using the low board. The referees were supposed to control the clocks and write the record of the game, Nakamura amd I had to play the moves only. The time regulation was 2 hours for each player with no control moves, then bayomi with 10 moves/10minutes.

In November 14, it was completely different feeling than in the previous day. Both Nakamura and me were serious and concentrated on coming match.
According to the "nigiri" (both players put some of his stones one the board, total even number will cause the change of color, in case of total odd number of stones the color will remain the same) I had to be tentative black in the first game. I wanted to be tentative white in the first game in several reasons. First of all I was having a big psychological pressure in the first game. This was surely a disadvantage for me. If I could be tentative white, I could be more confident in playing. The second reason I wanted to be tentative white was to make him to disclose his tactics in this match first. Anyway, I had to be the one to put the opening. D3, D8 and D11 were the only reasonable choices against The Great Nakamura. In any other opening he would have too big opportunity to beat me. Previously I had decided the tactics - if the match score is equal or I am leading, then I play D3, if I am behind then I try D8 or D11. As it was the first game and nobody was leading, so I followed my tactics - D3. In the last night I and Ants were looking the possible variants of this opening. The other choice of 5th move 5-6 did not bring up any problems for us, so we focused on 5-5 only. We discussed possible black developments with 9-10 but finally I felt it was not good plan. We focused on analyzing 9-9 but in some reason we only investigated the continuations after 12-22. When Nakamura put another 12th move in the game, we both understood - of course Nakamura will go to play that 12th move. Silly me! In previous Meijin match with Nishizono quite similar pattern was played, I remembered immediately. So Nakamura must have studied this pattern a lot. Why didn't I think about it in last night, I was angry to myself. The 13th move is probably the best one here. His 14th move came quickly and it confused me. Why so fast? Did he have some sure win plan there? I puzzled a lot while thinking of next move. I had a big temptation to play 15-37. I spent a lot of time trying to find what he would to after 15-37. Finally I found winning plan for him: 16-27(!!). So, naturally I chose another 15th move. Still, before playing that 15th move, I checked the main attacking ways for white. Nothing. It seemed to be safe. He took some time to think about 16th move. I replied his 16th move quickly: 17, 18, 19. An then I looked at the position with global look, I felt pleased about what I saw. Black left side and lower side is looking good. I am about to make a dangerous threat move to point 21, so he will probably stop there now. But his 20th move shocked me. Unbelievable, he left me a chance to attack so strongly! I was very shocked. I was sure Nakamura had made big mistake. And I began to search for my sure win. I searched for a long time. But I was not sure if the win is there or not - the variant until the end was too long to visualize it. So, hoping that the move 21-21 doesn't make my position any worse, I played that 21st move. Of course he put the right 22nd move, besides, he put it quite fast. Now, I began to suspect it might be his home analysis and he simply trapped me by provoking me into attack. But I still did not want to believe it. The passionate wish to win was so much bigger than other tactical calculations. I spent 1.5 hours to search for next move!! All in vain. There was no win for black even though it seemed to be so close. Now I was in time-trouble already. I regretted the 21st move, I should not have played that move there but defend on the right side instead. But now white had so useful 22nd stone on the left side. Now I was in trouble in both left and right side. I made 23rd move in upper side. I set up the simple VCF and continued my attack in that way, trying to eliminate white structures with tempo. I also provoked him into active defense - 24-L9 will make white three that cuts the black's VCF threat. I thought that this would help me to solve the defense problems on the right side. I think any other player would have chosen 24-L9. But Nakamura's level is so much beyond that. Her ignores my provocation and simply plays 24-24 and lets me to suffer in finding next move. He is a genius! I admire the passive move from such aggressive player in that important moment of the game. Now I had to choose the next move - where to play? White seems to be very strong in both left and right side. If I play 25-31, 25-33 or 25-26 then the white will attack strongly on the left side. Now I began to regret my 21st move even more - that gave white so useful white stone at point 22. Finally I decided, no matter what, I cannot let white kill me slowly on the left side. I must take a chance and play actively 25-25 hoping that the right side can still hold somehow.
Of course he played 26 in the best way. Simple and effective move. How to defend? Simple stop was not good enough - white wins quite easily. I had to play following threes 27 and 29. I had only some minutes of thinking time left. Very hard! I had a plan to play 31-33 but I mixed up my calculation and in terrible time-trouble I put the stone wrong - I put 31-31. I don't know if 31-33 will lose or not but it is surely better move than 31-31. Anyway, Nakamura won this game in effective manner, very powerfully!
There were lots of people in the room at that moment watching our game. Japanese were happy about Nakamura's success. The newspaper journalist asked several questions from both players. Nakamura told he was deeply concentrated during this game all the time. I told it was very difficult game for me under the big pressure, and I said that Nakamura was very good. Ants was near by me, he worried about my psychological condition - he wasn't sure if my self-confidence to play next games well had been broken or not. I let him know I was all right, maybe just a little disappointed about my poor performance in the first game. I had no chance to show any good play in that game. So I went to have lunch with heavy thoughts. The next game was supposed to begin already after 45 minutes - very tough schedule. The most important thing was to not let the negative thoughts into my head during the lunch time. So, during the lunch Japanese players tried to ask my opinion about the finished game and about Nakamura's strength. I kindly asked them to not ask any questions about finished game now as I am trying to concentrate on next round and get rid of all negative thoughts in my head. Nakamura seemed very satisfied, talking with people during lunch, smoking a lot though. I was quiet most of the lunch time, trying to think of coming round. Nakamura will set up opening. I was expecting D8 since he played D8 also in the first game of Meijin match this year against Kawamura. Of course I will change to Blacks if he puts D8, I told myself.
It is exactly what happened. When the next round began, he set the D8 opening I swapped. This game was the key game in this match, we both understood that. It was so important to not let him to surprise me again. So I decided to surprise him instead. I put the 5th moves in similar way as usually but more far from the center (h8). The effect of the board edge is very important in such case. It really seemed to confuse Nakamura. He could not figure out what was in my mind. As I had offered 5-8 as the second choice, he might have a temptation to play that move. So he might be thinking whether the board edge would bring any obstacle in black's winning attack after 5-8. Finally, he might have a conclusion that 5-8 is still too dangerous and so he continued with 5-5, having spent over 30 minutes of his time by then. But still he did not know what was my plan with this 5th move as I had set the 5th move more away from the center. So he went off from the regular path in this opening with move 14 - very interesting and surprising move. I was surprised but not confused. I knew black had good advantage there, the only thing I had to do was to sit back and think deeply about the continuation. The 15th and 17th moves were logical moves. His 18th move was the only possible move, the other 18th moves would lose. This is typical Nakamura's style - give the opponent a strong attack and wait until the opponent will fail the attack. Of course I spent lots of time to search for sure win here, but as in previous game, I could not find any way to victory here. So I decided to switch to positional attack with move 19. After his 20th move I had to find suitable continuation for the tactics of positional attack. Maybe 21-22 is good, I asked myself. But then he will play 22-21, 23-f4, 24-h4 and black position will become bad soon. Being convinced that white should not take the point 21, I played a three to point 21 myself. Here he took quite a lot of time to think. I was sure he will black my three from the left side but in some reason he had some doubts about it and so he took long time to think. Anyway, he blocked my three from the left side as I had expected.
24 - a beautiful move. As I mentioned before, beautiful moves are not Nakamura's style, he usually chooses the practical moves instead. 24-e7 is not beautiful move, but is probably stronger though than 24-24. My opinion is based on understanding that little white activity here is necessary to get away from continuous black pressure. Now I had easy way to develop the positional attack - 25, 27, 29. His 30th move was surely the strongest. Moves 31 and 33 gain more power for black. I am not sure about 34th move. Maybe 34 could be played elsewhere. The 35th move was the connection move - now both sides are united. I am surprised he played 36th move pretty fast. The 36th move was the biggest mistake. After that I had quite easy way to win. I think he had a chance to play better 36th move, however black would still remain strong attack. I was very happy about the win in second game, it gave me more self-confidence for further games. The match score after the second game was 1:1. There were 4 more games to playĄK

I felt good after the second game with Nakamura. I had won a game against the invincible man. He had never lost to a foreigner until now. I was very lucky! Ants and some others came to congratulate me. Ants seemed very happy too!
Nakamura and I continued discussion of moves after the game was over. We did not discuss the opening part although I was interested in it and wanted to ask him more questions about that. I wanted to know if the 14th move has different effect because my 5th move that was made more far from the center. But he preferred to analyze the alternatives for 36th move. So we analyzed few choices there and finally made the conclusion that although black a strong attack after any other 36th move, it is not easy to find sure win.
Nakamura was smiling during the analysis, he didn't seem to be upset about the loss. Perhaps he has a good self-control, it is typical for Japanese. He won't let himself to be upset before the end of the match. Yes, he is much more experienced player than I am.
In that evening we had very good dinner, lots of positive feelings. Yet I needed to prepare the opening for the 3rd game in hotel room despite the late hour. So, as soon as I and Ants went back to the hotel, we had a discussion about finished games and plans for the 3rd game. We regretted being careless about the first game tactics. This 5th move in d3 opening contains lots of interesting ideas, but it is not good enough for the Great Nakamura. He knows it too well. He seems to know everything too well.
Anyway, I was not behind in the match, so there was no reason to risk with D8 or D11 yet, so I had to prepare D3 again with newer ideas. Recently another 5th move had become quite popular in Europe. I decided to play this in the 3rd game although I was not sure about all the options there. As it was very late and I had to get some sleep, I quit the analysis and chose to sleep instead. Sleep is very important because I knew that finally the physical strength would determine the destiny of this match. If I don't get enough sleep then all my theoretical preparations will be useless as well.
November 15, the second day of the match. This time the games had to be played in Kyoto Park Hotel conference room. The game board, chairs, referee's table were set on the stage. There was also a vertical demonstration board in the corner of the stage, so all the audience could observe the game from there. For observers there were also tables and renju boards. They could use their boards and follow our games and analyze them during the game. The 3rd game began at 9.30 a.m. I was sure I will put the opening in the morning game but for my surprise the "nigiri" rule was used again. Anyway, after counting the stones it became clear that I still have to be tentative black. So, nothing had changed. We bowed to each other and referee started my clock.
I set the d3 opening. He didn't have any doubts - the 4th move was played quite fast by him. But after seeing the choices of 5th moves he became to think deeply. Last night Nakamura was doing a brief analyze together with us about this 5th move. He knew I must have had good preparation if I come to play it against him after disclosing him the idea in last night. Therefore his first thought was to escape from standard path - typical Nakamura's style. We played moves up to 9 quite fast. Now he took some time for thinking. I stood up and walked in the playing hall to relax myself. It is not easy to sit behind the table all 4 hours - I am too impatient person. Therefore, Nakamura preferred to sit behind the table most of the time, he only left the table for smoking breaks.
He played the 10th move - natural development, therefore I expected it. I think there were the tactical reasons why he didn't follow the logical idea here - 12-13. He didn't want to let me play the variant I was familiar with. So he played new 12th move to surprise me. It was very aggressive move! The following moves 13, 14, 15, 16 were very natural and we actually didn't spend much time on those moves.
The 17th move puzzled me. Whenever possible, I want to use the straight style. So I thought a lot about 17-20, but I couldn't see any good continuation for this move, so I continued positional style - 17-17. His 18th move seemed to be a gamble, I was very surprised he played so. I made calculations: 19-20, 21-h5ĄK and black has almost sure win in both lower and upper side. But miraculous defense moves would help to save the upper side, I calculated. I wonder if Nakamura had it all counted or he just played moves following his intuition.
Being sure I cannot win directly, I chose another positional move -19-19, forcing him to make tactically weak 20th move inside the position. Now I had finally got the position that suits best for my style - black advantage and positional pressure. I knew I will not get a second chance, I had to do my best to win in this game. Moves 23 and 25 were the best, I think. In some reason I knew Nakamura would play 26-26. It is technically correct move and aggressive move, but considering the global tactics, it might be the mistake in this game. Although 26-38 looks ugly and boring move, it was necessary to reduce black pressure. I also know why did he play like that. As Kawamura told me, it is typical Nakamura's style - he gives his opponent the chance to attack and then waiting his mistake, and as usually, the opponent fails the attack. I knew if I would fail the attack then my position will become bad because of that 26th stone. His tactics was right, but the strategy was wrong. The match score was 1:1. He was not behind or anything. There was no reason to gamble in the 3rd game with the price of loss. On the other hand, he had used the advantage of being tentative white in this game, so he had to try to get win here because the 4th game is about to be disadvantage for him.
Moves 27, 29, 31 - a straight attack. The 32nd move was the only move that saves from direct loss. Here I used about 1 hour of my thinking time to search for straight win, but without success. I had to strengthen the position by getting extra sources for the attack - 33!! This was the sure win move! Finally I had calculated all the possible variants and there seemed to be no mistake. The 34th move was the strongest defense again (Nakamura always defends very strongly). I was not easy to find the 35th move. See yourself! It is not very typical move, but apparently the only way to win, I think. Now, he could not stop me connecting the upper and lower side anymore. He resigned after 45th move.
The people were shocked. The Great Nakamura had lost the second game in a row. It seemed unbelievable for everyone including myself. Unlike the first game when the people crowded around our table after Nakamura's win, now the tournament hall was quiet. Everybody seemed to "not notice" the match and the results. There were no newspaper journalists making interviews after the 2nd and 3rd game. It surprised me. It seemed that the Japanese didn't know how to react to the current situation, they were confused maybe. They used to see their Meijin winning always. Actually, such "quiet" attitude confused me a lot and couldn't be happy about my victory as much as I would have wanted.
There was 45 minutes break before the 4th round. We went to have a lunch in hotel's restaurant. During the lunch, the 26th move was discussed. He agreed the 26th move was aggressive but yet too risky. He smoked a lot, and didn't seem as concentrated as before.
For the first time during the match I noticed that I feel exhausted. I didn't have energy even to think of coming round. The referees sat next to me in restaurant, they were tired too. It is not very traditional in Japanese renju to have such a long and hard match in short period. Traditionally the Japan Meijin match schedule is one game per day, next game played after 2 weeks or so.
I couldn't see if Nakamura was as tired as me or not but I think he must have been tired. Usually, searching for defense takes much more energy than searching for attack.
The 4th game began. Nakamura set the d11 opening. I changed to blacks immediately, showing my faith in blacks in this opening. Now, the biggest surprise happened - Nakamura switched into i10 opening with his 4th move. I was shocked by this move! People do not play i10 these days because the theory has proved it to be too good for black.
It seemed like a present for me, I could play the opening of big black advantage. Yet I had to be careful. Nakamura doesn't make presents. He must have had some plan there. For a moment, I had a thought of playing 5-9 in order to escape from the variant Nakamura was expecting. But then I told myself, I don't need to be afraid of strong 5-5 just because Nakamura lets me play it. I have to be brave enough to face his tactics and see how he plans to surprise me. The 11th move I played is very strong, it is actually the reason why people gave up playing this opening. His 12th move disclosed his tactics. He expected me to move 13-75 so that he could play 14-g8. But then black could play 15-37 and black seems very powerful all over the board. Anyway, trying to avoid the possible surprises, I chose the "peaceful" move 13-13. Looking at the position after 19th move, we both realized that white tactics had failed - black has very strong positional attack and controls the whole game. Being behind in match with the score 1:2, Nakamura should not have done this.
I didn't know if I would have enough strength to show good result in 5th and 6th game, so I tried hard to win this game. If I get to 3:1 then it is very satisfying score no matter how weak I will be in the last two games. The 21st move - wise move. After the game, when Ants asked him what Nakamura would have played here as black, he said, perhaps he would play the same 19 moves but the 21st move seems strange for him. I asked him to suggest any better 21st move. He tried one or two moves without success. The he said the 21st move is good in a way that it combines well with the next 23rd move.
The 24th move - good and expected move! Although the 25th move seems to be very simple, it contains lots of inner power. It offers lots of connections between upper, left and lower sides.
Here comes my first miscalculation. I was convinced that moves 27, 29 and 31 will bring the black win. But after he had played his 32nd move I realized I was wrong. His defense was so much better than my attack. I never had a chance for good provocation in this match yet, so I decided to test him with 41st move. I played a three inside the position - in the first look the move seems meaningless. Such a big temptation for Nakamura. He must have wondered why I played such move and give him the good stone 42-42. But he also knew I was going to attack in upper side and the 41st move will help to support the attack. So, he took quite a long time to thing of variants. After the game he said that the 41st move was the most surprising move for him.
Anyway, he is not afraid of challenges, so he bravely plays 42-42. Of course, I had taken this move into consideration. I knew that lower side couldn't offer any good attack or black anyway, so I wasn't worried about letting him to move 42-42, I only had to make sure that even if I lose a tempo elsewhere, he shouldn't win on the left side. Yes, I was convinced the left side was safe even if he first plays a move in that area. I focused on the attack on upper side. The 43rd move - strong and beautiful! I had a big advantage in upper side, several connections, but I didn't have any thinking time left to calculate all the variants. I had to play by my intuition. Move 45 and waiting his move. He doesn't slip here, he plays the only possible 46th move. I continue attack by creating more lines but I almost don't have time to check any variants. I think I might have had a chance to win somewhere there. He played very confident and continued the best defense. My moves 57 and 59 were made in time-trouble and they were very bad. As you can see, it cost me the loss of tempo. Fortunately, I had already made the general defense plan in case my attack should fail. The plan included the possible loss of tempo, therefore my moves 57 and 59 were not fatal mistakes. People were watching the game, everybody waited Nakamura's move on the left side because it was the strongest area for white because of that 42-stone. But the position is not strong enough to win by force, black has to make a mistake and then whit could win. Nakamura knew I would not make a mistake that easily unless I was in big time-trouble. So he continued to play moves on the right side, forcing me to think and spend time on searching for right moves there. He declined my draw offer in move 73. And when I had very short time left, he finally played the strong move 78 on the left side!! Very good tactics! I think his tactics might have been successful if I hadn't studied this area while I was thinking of 41st move. As a result, I could make moves there almost without thinking. After I played the 83rd move Meijin suggested the draw. The match score became 2.5-1.5.

November 16, the last day of the match. The last two games were about to be played.
By the nigiri, Nakamura had to set the opening in the 5th game. I expected d8 and classical development there. That is exactly what happened. I changes to the blacks, of course. It is amazing, I had been black all 5 games in this match. Everybody knew Nakamura is very strong as black, I knew it too. So I didn't want to get under his attack's pressure, especially because I was too tired by the 5th game, so I decided to play the match with black color myself. I had studied his game in Meijin match against Kawamura. In that game Kawamura played 25-38 and black attack failed quite soon. I decided to play another 25th move that is well-known move in Europe. Previously, I had prepared a lot against possible 26-36, etc. So I didn't spend much time to 26-26 in home analysis. I trusted myself to be able to find sure win during the game.
Nakamura played losing 26th move against me, it surprised me. He played moves 28, 30 and 32 very fast. I was confused. Was it some kind of trick? Black is supposed to win here but white plays here in very self-confident manner. I began to search for sure win from move 33. I spent 1.5 hours for search. All in vain. I couldn't see the win. There were many wins in this game, maybe 4-5 different ways, I didn't see any of them. I was very concentrated, but I didn't have enough energy. Later, after the match, many people asked me about why I missed the win chance. I don't know what to tell those people. They will understand it only when they are in same situation. Those people just follow the record of the game on paper after the match without thinking what was really happening in match. They have no idea how it feels to be exhausted by the match and being constantly under pressure during every game and there is only 10 minutes of thinking time left. And then they just try to outsmart by telling they found the win there at home and ask in ironic manner why the world champion missed the win. It makes me sad.
Studying this game after the match, I have made sure that I missed the win in the game at least 4 times. That is a lot! I am not sure I ever missed that many wins in one game in past. My great respect to Nakamura, he fought the 5th game till the end without giving up the hope. As there are many ways I could have won in this game, I will not point out here any of them. Who doesn't know the win yet, he may search for it as the homework. You may look for different ways to win by trying another move 33 or 41 or 43 or 49. Maybe there are more ways. I didn't have power to win this game, so after 52nd move I focused all my energy to make sure I will not lose the game. Fortunately it was easy job to do.
The match score was 3 : 2 after the 5th game.

Nakamura is a true fighter, he didn't lose the 4th and 5th game that were very hard for him. Even though he fought so well, I could sense his disappointment about 3 : 2 score. He must have had much more pressure than me because he knew that Japanese were expecting him to win the match. It is not easy to play well under such pressure. It is the kind of pressure that Kazuto Hasegawa might have felt during the last World Championship in China being responsible to show the good result as the best Japanese.
The last game. I had to set the opening. There were lots of people in the game hall by the time the 6th game began. They were all watching the match game. I opened d3. Nakamura seemed to not like my choice. He talked something in Japanese language by himself. He needed a victory in this game but he did not know how to get it for sure in d3 opening.
After long thinking, he chose to continue as white. As a result, I played all 6 games as black and Nakamura as white. That's amazing. Even though he said after the match that he actually plays much better as white than as black, I still think that Nakamura's black attack is the most dangerous.
So, I played the last game as black, I set up the same 5th choices that had brought me success in the 3rd game of the match. Nakamura considered every opening move very deeply. By the 10th move he had spent more than 1 hour of his thinking time. Finally he chose the classical 12th move. Moves 13 and 14 were played quite fast. The 15th move was my last night analysis in the hotel room. I had studied several ways of white's attack but in some reason I couldn't see any success for white at that night. So I made the conclusion that if white does not have win here then black is standing very well on both left and right side. However, white attack in the 6th game was stronger than I expected. Moves 16 and 18 are very simple and effective! I believed my 19th move will stop the white attack but I was wrong. He actually had a sure win chance in move 20:
a. 20-22, 21-25, 22-26.
b. 20-22, 21-37, 22-50, 23-51, 24-26.

Naturally, we were both so tired, so we didn't see it during the game. Anyway, his 20-20 move was good too! I played my 21st move a little carelessly. I am not sure about white win if 21-27. My bad 21-21 gave him new chance for win. The 22nd move is correct! I had to play a four in 23rd move, otherwise he would have taken that point himself. Nakamura played 26-26, it was the mistake. He missed his last chance to win in this game. Norio Nishizono told us the win he had found during the game: 26-45, 27-g10, 28-46. Of course, Nakamura was also in time-trouble just like me in the 5th game. By the 41st move I had got the advantage in the game. I tried hard to win the game. I used the same tactics as Nakamura in the end of the 4th game - I first attacked in the less promising areas and then finally tried to overplay him in the most promising areas. Nakamura was very confident, he didn't slip for a second. I could see he does not make any mistakes, and so I didn't even try to use my strongest area in left lower side, I just offered the draw in move 63. He accepted the draw immediately. After shaking hands and thanking each other, he run out from the playing hall.
The match had ended with the score 3.5 - 2.5.
For a moment it seemed that the time had stopped. Nothing happened in the hall. There was a silence in the hall. All the people stood near the stage quietly. They were waiting Nakamura to return to tournament hall. It was quite a strange moment. But everybody understood the reasons, of course. About 5 minutes later Nakamura came back. Now it was a time to make photos, interviews, discuss the last game, etc.
I was very happy! My dream had become true. I had had a chance to play with the greatest legendary player in the world and show a good result against him. My comment to the match result was: "Six games do not show well the real strength of both players. I had more luck, I think. If we played the match again, the result might be vice versa."

I learned a lot about him and his skill during these days. It was a big luck and honour to play with him. I really hope to play with him again in future, no matter who wins.

Ando Meritee

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