So now I am up to volume 10. This series is so addictive I have finally broken out my Go books. Yes, I am going to try to start playing Go again! I'll bet I can beat some smarty-pants 12-year-old Go prodigy. Har har har.
Anyway, my last review was incorrect -- in this volume, Yumi Hotta helpfully provides a score sheet for all
of the players taking the professional Go test (an ongoing series of games that spans weeks for the characters and so far, four volumes for the readers), and Hikaru is 13, not quite 14 yet.
Anyway, there was not a lot of forward progression in terms of plot in this volume. Hikaru is... still playing games in the pro test trials, just like the last three volumes. But still, if you've come this far, you're invested
in these fictional Go players and their tallies of wins and losses. Hikaru has a winning streak which is broken, but he recovers. A major cinch point comes when he is playing Isumi, an older boy more desperate than Hikaru is to make it to the end because he's failed the test three times. (The stress and tension they show these kids under is quite phenomenal, and probably quite realistic. You'd think they were competing in the Hunger Games.) Isumi does something that is a no-no in Go; he moves a piece after he took his finger off of it. According to the rules, this means he has just forfeited the game. Will Hikaru call him on it and win on a technicality, or will he play through?
One by one the final competitors are winnowed down to a handful, including one of the youngest Insei, Kosuke Ochi, who is an insufferable little brat and just the sort of obsessive little twit you can imagine having no life outside of Go. Man, I want to see Hikaru not only beat this kid, but beat
him. With blunt objects.
Ochi has a rich grandfather who hires professional Go players to tutor him, so who shows up to help prep Ochi for his game against Hikaru on the final day? Akira Toya, of course.
This volume maintains tension and interest in one Go game after another, but I'm only giving it four stars because, come on Hotta, sooner or later you have wrap up this pro test storyline. Either Hikaru's going to make it or he's not.