Hikaru now enters the preliminary tests to join the ranks of professional go players. It's actually true that adolescents can become professional go players in Japan and Korea, though usually they've been playing and studying intensively for years, unlike Hikaru. Of course, most adolescent go players don't have a thousand-year-old ghost as a tutor.
Once again, Hikaru almost defeats himself by allowing himself to be psyched out. In his first of five games for the preliminary trials (in which one must win at least three to move on to the next round), he faces a boorish, bearded motorcyle-riding man whom he and his young friends refer to as a "godzilla." Since anyone below the cut-off age of 30 can take the pro test, he's an outsider who intimidates his young opponent, even inviting him to lunch and then bragging about how Hikaru made the mistake of making the last move before lunch, thus letting his opponent think about his next move over the lunch.
This is echoed in the subplot of Ogata 9-dan vs. Kuwabara sensei. Kuwabara is a much older go master who currently holds the Hon'inbo title, which Ogata wants to take away from him. Kuwabara turns out to be a crafty old man who psyches out Ogata after Ogata makes a "sealed move" before their overnight break.
Most of this volume was just Hikaru playing in the preliminaries. There is a female Insei who is actually a named character (Asumi Nase), and she's quite the little hottie. There's one brief moment where Hikaru seems to notice this. Is the kid finally going to take an interest in something besides go?
Also, his mother apparently has been clueless all this time that Hikaru is actually preparing to be a professional go player. I know Japanese housewives tend to live rather secluded stay-at-home lives and cater excessively to their sons, but Hikaru really needed to be slapped. Also, I don't think we've seen dad since volume one...