Cover Ryuuou No Oshigoto! Novel Volume 1 Chapter 1
Ryuuou No Oshigoto! Novel Volume 1 Chapter 1
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Read Ryuuou No Oshigoto! Novel Volume 1 Chapter 1

Chapter 1

1st Score

Kuzu’s Repayment[1]“I wanna peeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”The man’s voice echoed down Naniwasuji.It’s Osaka, at a strange building with the words ‘Shogi Association’ written on the wall.At the 5th floor, a man poked his head out of the window, undid his belt, and pulled his trousers down to his knees, showing his stripe trunks as he yelled to the outside.I wanna pee! I wanna pee!!“Kiyotaki-sensei! It’s too dangerous, come down!”“Aren’t you a 9th Dan grandmaster!? You’re 50 years old, and you act like this!?”“I wanna pee!! I wanna peeeeeeee!!!”The staff of the Kansai Branch of the Shogi Association and the fellow pro players swarmed in, intending to stop him. But this man, 9th Dan Kousuke Kiyotaki could not be stopped, and was further agitated.Downstairs, there were salarymen and office ladies passing by, wondering, “He’s intending to jump down?”, “Eh, he’s showing his underwear!?”, and they all started taking out their cellphones, intending to take photos.“Master!! Stop with the stupid thing!”I, Yaichi Kuzu, grabbed the waist of Master Kiyotaki, clinging onto him for dear life with the risk of falling down from the building.“Let go of me, Yaichi!! I… I wanna peeee heeeeeeeerrrrreeeeeeee!!”Master showed his underwear as he grabbed the window sill, yelling,“PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!”Why in the world did my master go crazy?Why would a 50-year-old man do such a barbaric thing to ‘pee from the window of his workplace’?It all started a few hours ago– That day, I was playing a ceremonial match against my Master at this Kansai Shogi Association.It’s a match between ‘Master and disciple’.The first time the disciple challenged his master after becoming a pro.“I hope to ‘repay’ Master by showing him the growth I have attained.”I told the reporters before our match.Two years ago, in October, I became a professional Shogi player at the age of 15, and the 4th ‘Middle School Player’ in history, and the owner of the title of the youngest champion ever, attaining the attention of the world of Shogi.9th Dan Master Kiyotaki never obtained the title, but he was a veteran who managed to challenge a Meijin twice.Steady in his moves, he aggressively seeks victory, and is a heavyweight in the world of Kansai Shogi.“My disciple will be my opponent, but is the title owner. I shall take on this match in a humble manner. I’m hoping to release my younger self and have a free-flowing game of Shogi.”Master, sitting on the lower seat, smirked at me as he said this. He was dressed in a new suit, and oozing with fighting spirit.Before our match, we shook hands as per the reporters’ request. In this serious and yet warmly atmosphere, the first match between Master and Disciple began– And then, not only did Master release his younger self, he released his lower body, intending to scatter sacred holy water on the Mecca of the Kansai Shogi world.“Peeeeeeeeeeee!!!!”““Don’t do itttttttttt!!!””Everyone of the Kansai Shogi Association went on to stop him from peeing.Ah, as for the match, I won.In the world of Shogi, a disciple beating the Master is called ‘repaying gratitude’.“I’m able to get this strong. It is all thanks to your teachings.”This is not conveyed through words, but through winning a Shogi match.But even though the opponent was his beloved disciple, Master was definitely pissed about losing. This is Shogi.Several years ago, he could easily beat me even with a few handicaps, and treated me as a son despite being the opponent, but now, without any handicaps, playing on equal terms, he still got completely walloped.This clearly practically signaled the death of a player, and a lot more to lament than an ordinary loss.“Don’t pee here just because of that, Master!”“Peeeeeeeeeeee!!! I wanna peeeeeee!!!!!”My Master (50 years old) was throwing a tantrum like a kid at a toy shop. He really hated losing way too much.The reporters gathered here were logically hoping to see some heartwarming scenes like “You got stronger, Yaichi.” “M-Master!”, but it ended up as a huge pissing photo contest. There’s no way this can be reported.To be honest, I was disappointed too.I didn’t expect to obtain Master’s praise, but I hoped that he could at least show some dignity as a Shogi player, and give a respectable look.However, the reality was a complete opposite, that he was pissing in front of everyone.Master smashed his Shogi pieces on the board, and admitted defeat in the worst possible manner, unable to say anything as he was displeased. He looked down, and was shaking. He was frustrated, really frustrated, he was shaking.I too didn’t know what to say due to the awkwardness. “Ahh…I missed up!” I had such a feeling as I sat down.Normally, this was the moment where we should analyze the prior match, but the mood clearly showed that it was not the time, and the reporters looked down silently as though a wake was going on.15 minutes, and Master continued shaking, not making a sound.And then, he slowly got to his feet, dashing to the window, and shouted,“Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!”“Shut uppppppppppppppppppppp!!!”I had enough! I’m at my limit!I didn’t want to do this against Master…but I decided to move out of my position.“As ‘Ryuuou’, I command you!! Go to the toilet like a proper adult!!”“…!!”Master shivered, and his hands, about to remove his underwear, stopped.Starting and ending a match with courtesy is an important tradition and etiquette of a mental match.I, as the disciple, sat on the upper seat on this day, and even between elders and masters, they have to show respect to the one ‘ranked higher’. This goes especially for the Ryuuou, on par with the Meijin in Shogi, one of the 7 titles.“Master, no, 9th Dan Kiyotaki. Put on your trousers.”“……Kuzu Ryuuou.”[2]“Ah?”“What Ryuuou are you, you scum? You’re just scum! You’re just a scumbag Ryuuou who just chanced upon the title!”Th-this old man… saying all that…!“I’m not Kuzu Ryuuou, I’m the Ryuuou Kuzuryuu ! Didn’t you just lose that match anyway, right?”“This is just a match arranged by the magazine! It’s not an official match, it doesn’t count!”“This is a match arranged by the world’s number 1 selling magazine Shogi World! It bears the same weight as an official match!!”“But the other magazines are just the ‘NHK Shogi Seminar’ and the ‘Tsumeshogi Paradise’!”[3]“Number 1 in the world means number 1 in the world! Don’t underestimate the 200,000 copies released!”‘Shogi World’, a magazine that allows both Pros and Amateurs to properly understand the world of Shogi.“You could have said that you hate losing to your disciple! Enough with all those excuses!”“I hate this!!! I lost to a Scum Ryuuou who has a 30% win rate!!!”“Say that again, you shitty old man!!”“I’ll say that as many times as you want scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag!!”“I’m quitting! I’m quitting from being your disciple!”We’re no longer master and disciple! I want to beat this old man up! And then I’m going to get him to the toilet.At this moment.“Yaichi.”“Ah! Anedeshi!!”[4]The girl who was as pretty as silvery white snow wordlessly stood behind me, dressed in a sailor uniform.Ginko Sora.She was my senior disciple, and though she’s younger than me, I still have to call her ‘big sister’. She’s the first disciple under Kiyotaki.“Andeshi! C-cover that! Get something to cover Master’s thing!!”“Here.”“As to be expected of you, anedeshi! You came prepared–”I saw the thing I had in my hand, and froze up.She gave me the lid of the pieces’ box.It’s too small! This is way too small!!”“It can be used to contain the Kin and the Gyoku though?”[5]“You just wanted to say dirty jokes, didn’t you!?”This woman (Amateur) could have brought a cushion over instead. What’s with the double entendre at this moment!“Anedeshi! This isn’t the time for jokes!? Please think of a way to settle this problem!!”“You can urinate right now too, Yaichi?”“Me!? Why?”“That’ll be a great talking point between you and Master.”“Of course not!”While Anedeshi and I continued with our Manzai routine as we traded barbs back and forth, Master took the opportunity to pull his trousers down.“Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!”And he started peeing while the yells occurred.“Woah!” “He peed!”The veteran players watching from a safe distance away exclaimed and cheered on for some strange reason. Stop him! Stop cheering him and stop him!”“Master! Cover that filthy thing first! Masteeerrrr!!”“Peeeeeeeeeeee!!!”“Watch out! Get away!”“Kyaaaaa!! It got on my face! My face!!”I screamed, followed by master moving around like an animal, followed by the screams of the onlookers outside the building, causing massive chaos on Naniwasuji in the afternoon. Crumples on the pantsLater on, Master’s daughter came to the Shogi Association, and finally managed to get Master to put on his underwear, put him into the taxi, and dragged him off home.“He finally went back.”“…I guess.”Both anedeshi and I watched the taxi leave.Right when I finally relaxed, and talked to the Chess Association staff who came running over to me, looking guilty“Sorry to bother you, Kuzuryuu-sensei, Sora-sensei. We will handle the rest…”“No, we shall handle this ourselves.”Anedeshi declared. There was still the dirty work of cleaning up the urine.“B-but…how can we allow both of you to do this.”“The humiliation of the master is to be carried by his disciples.”“But…”Sponsored Content

This staff member still would not answer, but it appeared there was other matters later that caused him to agree to anedeshi and me cleaning up, and he returned to the Shogi Association. The Shogi World sure was busy on this day.Anedeshi took out a mop and pail from the staff, and shoved it to her junior.In other words, me.“Why only me?”“Allocation of responsibilities. I’ll apologize to the victims.”“Ah, better let the title holder handle the public–”“I do have a title too.”Well, anedeshi does have a title, two of them actually. Damn it…!The skirt of anedeshi’s uniform flipped, and she turned her back on me.“Sorry to cause all the passers-by trouble. If you are hurt in any way, please contact the Kansai Branch of the Shogi Association–”Anedeshi bowed once she said that, and the passers-by started to chatter,“Huh? Aren’t…ar-are you the ‘Snow White of Naniwa’!?”“…”“I saw you on TV before! Please sign an autograph!”Anedeshi was instantly surrounded by the crowd. Sure, she is popular.“Kyaa! So cute!” “Snow White’s really white!” the girls seem to like her a lot too. I say, you guys, the Ryuuou is here too, you know? I removed my glasses, trying to emphasize this to everyone, but none of them noticed.‘Snow White of Naniwa’ is the nickname given to anedeshi.I didn’t know whether the nickname started from a Shogi magazine or somewhere else, but it started gaining popularity about a year ago when she had a TV interview. I did become famous for a while as a pro player in Middle School and the youngest Ryuuou in history, but anedeshi’s fame was way up there, and I’m completely under her shadow. Damn it…!Just to note, anedeshi herself doesn’t like this nickname.At this place, in Osaka, the nickname ‘Snow White of Naniwa’ is more pronounced than ‘the Rocky of Naniwa’ or ‘Mozart of Naniwa’, and she, currently a middle school student, rejected it, saying, “I don’t need such a nickname.” It does sound like she really hated it.Speaking of which, this was really a frivolous thing to be bothered over.In the world of Shogi, nicknames are a proof of popularity and ability. Only those really famous Shogi players can get their nicknames, and these nicknames are really awe-inspiring, like ‘the man able to read 100 million and three moves in a second’, ‘the engine of the playing board’, ‘the end game magician’, ‘the youth preserver’, ‘the offensive Yamato Nadeshiko’, the ‘Fork Monk’, ‘the Ruling Evangelist’, ‘the Woodchopper Daigorou’. Maybe some might think the last one ‘Woodchopper Daigorou’ has nothing to do with Shogi, but woodchopping, but that’s a different matter altogether. Well, anything goes as long as the Shogi fans are pumped up.“Haa… this is troublesome.”The last-minute autograph meeting ended, and anedeshi opened her umbrella, and sighed.“Such troublesome matters just increase after winning some titles, how troublesome…”“Such a frivolous bother huh, Princess.”“Don’t call me that, or I’ll kill you.”Anedeshi’s title is limited to females in the ‘Female Chess Tourney’. There are 6 titles in all, and the ‘Queen’ and ‘Ladies Champion’ titles belong to her. She’s a Princess, and yet she has the title of a Queen (LOL).Given anedeshi’s ability, it’s not a dream for her to dominate all the titles, but given the standings, it was impossible. As for the reason, it shall be mentioned, so please look forward to it.“Yaichi, what are you slacking around for? Hurry up and clean up the place!”“But Master really spread the urine so far away…”“In Shogi, we move our hands, and not our mouth.”Yes, yes… I move the mop enthusiastically.“Goodness, that peeing Master…! It’s all over the place! Did he pass out dozens of liters or something?”“Can’t be helped. He drank a lot during the match.”It’s said that when the mind’s moving at full speed, it craves for sweets, but when playing Shogi, we subconsciously desire more of something else.That’ll be water.Some players bring along 5 or so PET bottles of 2 liters, and especially at end games, some players take a cup of water for every move, so they often needed to head to the toilet.For a player, fighting against the urge to pee is a very serious situation, and in fact, it’s likely that some end up losing in an embarrassing manner of running out of time because they kept going to the toilet. Why did I keep talking about peeing?“In Go matches, they have toilet breaks; I really wish the Shogi world can incorporate that too.”“Getting warm…”“Eh? Warm, anedeshi, what do you do if you want to go to the toilet?”“Just pee out.”“…?”“Peeing out isn’t much compared to losing, isn’t it?”Is she for real?“Shogi is a battle with lives on the line. It is strange for anyone to be worried about urinating during the battle.”“You’re just like Master, anedeshi.”“I’ll kill you.”But she’s really worthy of respect. She’s like a Feudal Lord during the Sengoku Era; no wonder she’s able to dominate the women’s Shogi landscape.By the time anedeshi said that cleaning was done, the sun was already setting, the color of sunset shining on the ground. The slow trip of pee finally ended, and I didn’t feel lonely at all.“Yaichi.”I was about to bring the pail and mop back, but anedeshi called for me–grabbing my neck with her hands.“Here’s… a prize for you.”“Eh!? A-a prize, anedeshi… wh-what–”“Okay, here.”Anedeshi draped something hard on my neck. It’s Master’s trousers.“I don’t need such a thing!! What can I do with it anyway!?”“Smell it?”“For what!? Only a pervert will bring the trousers home to sniff!”“It can be used as some good memorabilia.”“Memorabilia what!? You want me to look at these trousers and remember the nightmare today!?”“The knees.”Hearing that, I was shocked, and opened Master’s pants.Only the right knee was crumpled, but not the left.“Even if one did think of a good move, you can’t play it immediately, and to withstand that urge, you’ll pinch the trousers hard. Normally, a player’s pants will only be crumpled at the knee of the strong-arm side…right?”Anedeshi said, and I looked at my knees. Like Master’s trousers, only one side had lots of crumples.A Shogi player’s instincts are right 70% of the time, and the first move thought of is typically the best one. However, during the other 30%, there are often dangers lying in wait. Moves that one may think ‘brilliant’ and made without further thought would be the worst of them all, and there are many instances of losing because of this step.Thus, there was a need to endure, to take action immediately, the pinch the knees, and ponder.The crumples on the trousers showed that Master never relaxed one bit in his match against me, and he played seriously against his disciple; this was the decisive proof.“…We often crumple our pants too.”“…I guess.”“We imitated Master, and crumpled the right knee of the pants even when we aren’t playing.”“And we ruined our pants and got scolded.”I guess even if it was a figure of speech, I hoped to recall the times when I was younger; we grimaced at each other.Anedeshi covered her face with the umbrella, and told me,“…Master must have been happy to play against you, Yaichi, and he might have prepared for this a long time back…to play it as seriously as an official match, to be enthusiastic, and go all out. So–”“…Right, I know.”I nodded, holding onto Master’s trousers. I saw the crumples on the trousers, and understood what mentality Master had as he battled me, and what mood he was in.A bout of holy water was sprayed upon the Mecca of Shogi on this day.But that might be the fiery tears from Master… Kuzu Ryuuou“I’m going back. As for that filthy… Master’s important trousers, you can bring them home, Yaichi.”“You wanted to say filthy thing, right!? You thought of Master’s important trousers as something dirty, right?”“I didn’t.”“What did you want to say in the first place?”“Ob…rigada.”[6]Portuguese?“I guess we should just play rock paper scissors to decide who brings these trousers back? Leaving aside the crumple on the knee, there’s some strange stain on the crotch–”“Yaichi. You free tomorrow?”“Eh…? Ehh, yeah. I got a match two days later, so nothing for tomorrow.”“Then I’ll play a match at your house, Yaichi.”‘VS’ refers to a one on one practice match. It appeared anedeshi had decided to completely ignore the matter about the pants.“But tomorrow’s a weekday, right? What about school tomorrow, anedeshi? You’re skipping it?”“Public schools have graduation ceremonies today. I’m starting Spring Break from tomorrow onwards. It has nothing to do with the unemployed Yaichi though.”“Unemployed… I’m a professional Shogi player.”Though I didn’t enter High School.Recently, a few players chose to enter High School or college. In fact, most would attend High School, but I, who became a pro in Autumn of my third year, had given up on my studies and chose to enter the path of Shogi.If I chose to further my studies… I’ll be in my second year of high school starting next month.I have nothing good about me other than Shogi, and never once regretted my choice to not further my studies. However, if anyone’s to ask me if I’m happy with spending entire days talking about Shogi, I would say that a lot of times, it’s painful…“Leaving that aside, anedeshi, these trousers–”“I’ll kill you if you dare forget about our match tomorrow.”Anedeshi reminded me, raised the umbrella, and elegantly strolled to the station, leaving me with Master’s trousers (still dirty).“Haaa…I’m going back.”I folded the trousers, put them in a second bag, and opened my cellphone, switching it on.I got on to the internet, and opened the ‘Shogi + Chess Board’ on the massive imageboard, and searched for discussion threads with my name mentioned. My name’s at the top! How popular.“Kuzu Ryuuou” Yaichi Kuzuryuu is expected to lose his title as Ryuuou Discussion thread 108 (30% win rate)“…Looks like they increased in numbers.”The rules state that we’re to switch off electronic devices during matches, so I could not check, but I remembered that there was less than a 100 replies this morning. I sure am popular…Recent matches are uploaded onto the internet, and passionate Shogi fans(?) will watch the matches in the day, giving their views. Let’s see them.“Everyone, let’s discuss on the 4th Middle School Shogi player, the youngest title holder in Shogi history at 16 years and 4 months–the fastest to reach the peak of the Shogi world, Ryuuou Yaichi Kuzuryuu!”“Just trash who wasted his talent after reaching the top.”“Just a scumbag who cared about the massive prize money from the Ryuuou match, and plays his matches carelessly against the rest.”“A scumbag amongst scumbags who plays loose losing games against other players and yet goes all out against his Master.”“Just got back. How did he play today? Succeeded with the repayment?”“He played a Bear in the Hole formation at his master, and killed him off by turtling.”[7]“You kidding me… he’s a real scumbag”“He won today, but it’s not an official match, so his losing streak continues!”“This guy’s playstyle has been really boring ever since he won the title.”“True. He gave up quickly, and only cared about defenses, not initiating any offenses at all.”“He just plays set, rigid Shogi, and loses in a boring manner too. The worst trash of a Ryuuou.”“If he keeps losing until October and loses his title as Ryuuou, he might become a legend.”Sponsored Content

“Being the youngest title hold and the youngest to lose it… what a genius.”“So, what happens if he loses his title?”“He became an 8th dan after winning the title, so he’ll become 8th dan Yaichi Kuzuryuu.”“818 dan LMAO.”[8]“Sounds better than being a Ryuuou LOL.”“Start folding paper cranes and pray that he can ascend towards that.”…Reading till here, I silently kept my cellphone back into my pocket. My stomach hurts…After I challenged the Ryuuou, there was a sudden spike in discussion, and the moment I won the title, it ended up being a hive that really hated me.Once I lost, they would say ‘the title of Ryuuou doesn’t suit me’; if I won, they would complain ‘such a boring game’. I really didn’t understand why these guys hated me.Meanwhile, ‘Cute and Smart’ Ginko Sora is often discussed as ‘the best in history’–however, she’s popular with Shogi fans, and has people discussing this for her. Damn it… I’m so envious…I–Yaichi Kuzuryuu is a ‘pro Shogi player’.A pro player means being an official member of the ‘Japanese Shogi Association’… simply put, they’re people who live on Shogi, and definitely not some unemployed folk.Male or female, young or old, even with some slight communication difficulties, anyone with strong Shogi skills can become a professional Shogi player. If they’re strong enough, they can earn honor and money, and if they’re too weak, in 10 years, minimum, they’ll retire.The world of professional Shogi players, a simple world where ability dictates everything.To become such a pro player, other than ability, there’s also one other condition–the need for a ‘master’.To become a pro player, one has to be under the mentorship of a professional player.Such a ‘master-disciple’ standard forms the basis of the Shogi world…I don’t know anything about the others, but in Shogi, there’s no benefit to raising a disciple.The so-called tradition in the world of Shogi is all give and no take.Anedeshi and I were under the tutelage of Master Kiyotaki, and under his guidance, we played thousands of matches. For our sake, he gave up his time and effort.“And he lost in the last match…”Even though it’s necessary for the continual state and development of the world of Shogi, I just felt that raising a disciple is just all hassle and no benefit. Will I lose to a disciple one day and piss out of the window of the venue…?“No… but it’s too early for me to have a disciple!”There are other instances of people winning titles in their teenage years, but a teenager having disciples was unheard of.I guess I would wait until I’m past 20 before I start taking disciples, and I do think that I’m not the time to spare time for my disciples. Besides, ‘and he has time to take care of others’, I might get criticized on the internet…While wondering about such things, I reached home.I live alone at the shopping street near the Kansai Shogi Association, and it was just less than a 10 minute work.It’s an old apartment building without autolock or elevator, and to get rid of the loneliness, I shouted as I returned home.“I’m back~! There’s no one at home huuuuhhh!?”There was someone inside.There was someone in the apartment that was supposedly empty.An unfamiliar girl–definitely an elementary school girl no matter how I looked at her, was in my house. She looked at me, and said enthusiastically,“Welcome back! Master!!”……What? Seeking Out a MasterLet’s sort this out first.There was a little girl in what should have been an empty room, and she was staring at me with wide, sparkling eyes.It’s a really cute girl.Age-wise… probably in elementary school, carrying a school bag.Her slender limbs are in a proper Seiza posture, staring at me like a puppy while I was standing on the corridor. There was a large carrying bag by her side.I… didn’t remember ever seeing her.An unfamiliar elementary school girl was in my house, but why?Just to note, this house, which I rented after graduating from Middle School, is a 2DK.[9]Actually, I only needed a room, but for some reason, when I was looking for a room, anedeshi joined in for some reason, and decided to rent this place. Why could anedeshi decide this for me anyway? Isn’t this my house?Leaving that aside, the important thing would be the elementary school girl before me.“Erm… you are? And why are you in my house?”“Yes! Erm, Yaichi K-Kuduryuryu!”She bit her tongue!“A-are you alright? You spoke so fast that you bit your tongue…”“…bar you…?”It appeared she was really hurting.The teary girl waited for her tongue to recover, “Kuzu… Kuzuryu…” and then tried practicing my name again. Do your best!And then.“Are you… Kuhyuu… Ku… Kuzu… sensei!?”She gave up!!“I am…”I guess this would continue forever if I tried correcting her. An eternal zero.But I was really a little surprised.As the youngest title holder in history, my photo should normally appear on the tabloids, and there are occasional moments of people talking to me. Stuff like, you play Shogi, bro? Looks shady man! and so on. You got to be joking.However, this little girl called me by my full name, and even added the title ‘sensei’ (though she didn’t say it well). It was the first time for me outside the Shogi Association.What this unfamiliar elementary school girl said next shocked me beyond my expectations. “As promised, please have me as your disciple!!” …Huh?“Eh…? Disciple? Eh?”“Yes! Erm… yes!!”“Me? I promised to have you as my disciple?”“Yes!!”“Eh? When?”“Eh? E-erm…last year…during the last Ryuuou match…”“…?”“…You forgot?”She asked nervously, and I recalled the battle for the title 3 months back– 7th Round of the Ryuuou MatchThree wins, three losses, the final round of the full set 7 round Ryuuou match, held in a posh hotel at the Ishikawa-ken Wakura Onsen. The result of the piece toss determined that I, the challenger would have the chance to start for the fourth time, and I decided to start with an undefined joseki.[10]The opposing Ryuuou agreed, and chose to fight head on. Since the match started, there were no precedent moves to be followed, and it became an intense battle.It just so happened that the match occurred on the 24th and 25th of December–Christmas.The Ryuuou matches all around the country has a ‘2-day schedule’ that occurs over the same number of days, and there was an explanatory arena beside the match arena, with typically 200 people or so watching, but I guessed nobody would be watching on this day… so I thought.Turned out that I worried too much.99% of the participants were male, and 97% bespectacled. Anedeshi entered the explanatory arena, “This place is full of men and glasses.” so she said without thinking. Many Shogi enthusiasts ignored the fact that it was Christmas, and came to this already packed hotel even though it was snowing hard.About 800 Shogi youths left behind their wives, children and lovers aside and gathered in this hall, satisfied as long as they had Shogi. It was like a Christmas present bestowed by the God of Shogi, and on this White Christmas, this battle became a rare intense one.The pro players discussing the match up in the rest room determined that the Sente has the advantage! The Gote is about to reverse the situation! The battle continued on, with the result still undetermined.[11]And so, came the end game.The allotted time was about to run out, and at this moment, I found a move to checkmate the opponent, and I could not help but shiver.Just one more move.Just one more move, and I would win. Again, I checked the moves, and determined that there was no way I could be wrong.–I win?The moment I had that thought, I just could not bring myself to move.My hand was trembling, and I could not hold onto the Shogi piece.“…!?”It was the first time I encountered this. I had a few moments of anxiety beforehand, but to be trembling so much that I could not lift the piece…I could not move with my hand, but at the very least, I could say the move with my mouth.But I could not do that either.“…! …!!”I could not let out my voice.I tried to get my throat working, but the anxiety left me nauseous. I wanted to soothe my throat with a cup of water, and reached out for it, but I could not stop trembling, and toppled it over.–Calm down. Just one more move, and I win.I tried my best to act calm, got up from my seat, and slowly walked out of the arena. I left, and went straight to the toilet, puking into the basin over and over again. I did not eat much for lunch, so I was only puking out gastric juices. I puked until I could not, but the nauseous feeling just did not subside.“Gah…! uu… uuuu…”There was only a few minutes left. I got to hurry back…But the more I got anxious, the giddier I got, and my knees went weak. I ended up being unable to stand up right.–Just one more step.–Just one more step, and I would become Ryuuou…The prize money of 42 million Yen, the highest honor in the world of Shogi, a special promotion to 8th dan, and I would leave my name in the records.Such a notion flashed by my mind, and I felt disgusted again, my head giddy.I lost my sense of balance, and I literally crawled out of the toilet.If I walked, I could reach back in less than 30 seconds, but the straight corridor just felt so far away, as though it was the distance to the moon. My Japanese clothing, soaked in sweat, was as heavy as lead.–…Am I going to run out of time here…?Right when I had that worry,“Erm.”Someone called out to me.The owner of the voice knelt towards me, and then said,“Please have some water.”“!!”I crawled to the cup, brought my face over, and that person clamped my face with both hands, tilted the cup slowly, and poured water for me to drink. The cold water seeped through my entire body at that moment.“Ahh…”Without knowing it, my shivering and dizziness vanished like magic.I think I had some words with the owner of the voice, but my mind was filled with Shogi, as the allotted time was about to run out.Sponsored Content

“…Thank you.”I finally thanked the person, and walked to the arena–And so, I became the Ryuuou. Entrance Test“…Were you the one who gave me water?”“Y-yes! It’s me!”The girl clenched her fists, and put them on her knees, nodding hard.“So it was you...”……I had no impression at all.Well, yeah, I did vaguely remember talking to someone, but I completely forgot how that person looked like, and I didn’t remember the content exactly.“So, I said that I would take you in as my disciple?”“Uu… well…”“Hm?”“Actually… it was a little different…”The girl seemed hesitant as she talked.Maybe she just expanded too much on what I was getting at, and what I actually wanted to say was, “Hello, I’ll teach you Shogi!” or some frivolous promise.“So, what did I say back then?”“You said ‘once I get the title, I’ll promise to do anything you say’.”I made such a ridiculous promise.Did I really say that…? I guess I did. In the heart of a shogi player, the title is more important than anyone else, so much that one can sell his heart out to the devil for that; promising a kid would be nothing in comparison. If the God of Shogi told me “If you want to become a Meijin, eat shit.”, I will do that without hesitation.But…why was it that she wanted to become my disciple…And I just made up my mind that I would never take in any disciples…“…Understood. I’ll do that.”“Really!?”“But first, you need to pass a test.”“Test…?”“I need to be sure of your abilities first.”Saying that, I went to the Japanese room inside.This apartment, located near the Shogi Association, is often visited by young shogi players and anedeshi, so the Japanese-styled room became a shogi room.“Please come in, though it’s not exactly clean.”“Pl-please pardon me…”I invited her to the cushions, and sat with a thud.This girl, all frozen up as she sat before me, was really an endearing kidShe has a nice-looking face, but it’s her proper manners that gave me a good impression of her.Even now, she had her little limbs placed neatly, and I, a shogi player, was captivated by that pretty seiza posture. It’s rare to see that from kids nowadays.“But, how did you get into my house…did I leave the door unlocked…?”“S-sorry! It’s…”My place became a waiting room for young people, so I left the door unlocked for anyone who wanted to come in. There’s no valuables other than Shogi boards to steal. It’s not good to leave them behind in such a conspicuous place after all.“Also…while waiting, I was worried if I would be bothering you.”“That’s true.”I’ll be given weird looks if an unfamiliar elementary school girl is to wander around in front of my house. She’s a curious one. However, I’m also worried about ‘cracking sounds that occur in the middle of the night’.”“But anyway, you knew where my house was?”“You wrote down your address in the thank-you book of our hotel, sensei.”“Ahh, now that you mentioned it–”I remembered that after I became the Ryuuou, various people talking to Master.“Eh? Then you are the daughter of the owner of that hotel?”“Yes! I’m the daughter of the owner of the hot spring resort ‘Hinatsuru’, Ai Hinatsuru! Third grade… ah, I’ll be in Fourth Grade in April!”“Third grade… huh.”“I’m 9! I’ll be 10 this year!”Hearing that age, I was shocked.So that meant that her age’s not even in double digits…“It’s far from that hotel to this place. You came alone?”“Yes! I took the ‘Thunderbird’!”The Limited Express train between the Hokuriku region and Osaka, huh? It’s true that there was no need to transfer trains on the ride from the Onsen area of ‘Hinatsuru’ to Osaka Station.[12]It’s a round loop from Osaka station to this place. I don’t think this is some huge adventure… anyway.“Your parents allowed you to come here?”“Y-yes! Erm… my parents… know…”“Hm?”Why did she seem to stammer out of a sudden…?I guess her parents are passionate shogi enthusiasts since they invited players and had a title match here. However, letting her come alone might not be down to the education directive of ‘a cute girl should go on a journey’.“Well, since you want to come by, why didn’t you notify me? I was shocked by this sudden visit.”“Erm… I-I wrote you a letter hoping that you’ll accept me as your disciple, but I never got a reply…”“…”I sheepishly look at the mailing inbox, and found a large number of flyers and letters inside.I didn’t bother to read them as I was lazy… and besides, the Association would send mails to contact me recently…“I-I see. Sorry about that. Yeah.”Assuming that this girl was lying, it didn’t matter either.–I don’t have any intention of having her as my disciple either.It’s too much of a stretch for me, in my teenage years, to raise a disciple, and at this point, I had no heart to care for others. Also, I didn’t want to go about spraying my pee everywhere just because I lost to my disciple.In that case, I could only agree in another method, and have her give up on being my disciple.“Okay then…”I took out the shogi board from the wall shelf, and brought it before Ai Hinatsuru-chan.“Wh-what an amazing shogi board…!”“Take care of it. I’m not done repaying the loan.”The price of the shogi board and pieces combined would be the equivalent of a new car.It’s a shogi board 7 inches thick (about 21cm), and has legs, so when I put it before the elementary school girl who was kneeling, it practically blocked half of her body.While Ai-chan was overwhelmed by the physical presence, I continued to pressure her mentally.“I’m a pro player. I can only accept a disciple who’ll become a pro player.”In fact, it wasn’t the case. I just said it.“So I need to know if you have that talent, go it?”It was just an excuse.Even though I had 11 straight losses in official matches, less than 30% win rate for the year, and was dire, there was no way I could lose to an elementary school kid. It’s pitiful, but I intended to send her crying back home, and give up on being my disciple.“I’m going test your mettle. I’m not going to play with any handicaps.”“Yes! Please do so!!”Oh? I wondered.Even after she was intimidated by me, she straightened her back, and answered me enthusiastically.–She passed in her guts and posture, in any case.There seemed to be a light breeze flowing into the room, even though the windows were sealed. Double Wing Attack[13]We took out the brown shogi pieces from the box, and laid them out onto the table.The movements of how a person lay out the pieces would give a rough indicator of how much shogi experience she had.As for this little girl before me–Ai Hinatsuru-chan,“Nnsh… nnsh…”…To be honest, it was very casual.She seemed to be hastily laying them onto the board, not knowing where to put them. She was having much difficulty in laying them onto the squares, probably due to tension. It appeared I would win with ease.Once we were done laying them out, I said,“You can start first.”“Yes! Please take care of me!!”[14]“Please take care of me.”We bowed towards each other, and so the match began.So, let’s see her shogi abilities.“Suu, haa…………………..nn!!”Ai-chan took a deep breath, scowled, curled her lips, put her hand on the pawn before the rook, and advanced one step forward.“Hmm, so the ‘static rook’ type…”In shogi, the playstyles can be basically classified as ‘Static Rook’ or ‘Ranging Rook’.[15]Simply put, the ‘Static Rook’ requires deliberate and logical thinking; in blood type terms, it would be similar to A type. ‘Ranging Rook’ emphasizes lots on feeling, and basically B type. Just to note, anedeshi and I are both of the ‘Static Rook type’. Of course, Master’s of the ‘Static Rook type’ too. He might look that way, but he was the delicate type too.Since she made this move, I too responded with moving the pawn before my rook.3rd turn–Ai-chan immediately moved the same pawn before the rook, and advanced it a step forward.This is–“…Double Wing Attack?”[16]It was the same shogi move I played during the 7th match of the Ryuuou battle–at Ai-chan’s house.We let the pawns before our rooks move forward, and this would be the most basic, undefined, and intensive battle sequence, as though we’re charging forward naked, swinging axes about.This was the ‘Double Wing Attack’.This elementary school girl really intended to challenge the Ryuuou head on… huh?“…Looking down on me…?”I muttered subconsciously, and let my rook advance one step further.There was a saying that “shogi is a conversation by itself”.It is not simply about moving pieces; once one’s abilities are of a certain standard, it is possible to establish conversations on the board.“I have confidence in my own ability! Please go all out and don’t hold back!”“This shitty brat doesn’t know her own limits… fine. I’ll show you. Come on!”The first four steps had this intent.There was no fixed sequence in the ‘Double Wing Attack’. Soon, we entered an unknown development.Naturally, I started with a massive advantage from the opening. I used a few tricks and some professional skill to rattle the girl’s formations, with no chance to fight back, and cornered her king.“Ah… uu…”Ai-chan easily fell into a pit, and showed a teary look.We entered the middle game, almost at the end game where the victor was to be decided. This often happened in Double Wing Attacks.“…This should be it.”I felt that this would be enough to determine her ability, and to end this as quickly as possible, I deliberately moved on with strong attacks, using my major pieces to corner the opposing gyoku to the bottom row, and launched an attack with the silver general.[17]In the face of such potent attacks, Ai-chan would naturally choose to solidify her defenses. That should be the case.However–“………Like this……. like this… like this…”“Hm?”“…Like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this……”Once she saw me make this move–the girl’s teary eyes suddenly flickered.“Like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this–”The fingertips that were moving quickly suddenly stopped, and she brought her face to the shogi board, the tip of her nose nearly touching the piece, her body shaking as she muttered to herself.–She’s stopping here? Maybe…Did she realize that this was a forceful attack? But given her skills, it was impossible for her to withstand the attacks of a pro player. This game is decided.“Like this like this like this like this like this like this like this–yes!!”The little girl straightened her back, and reached her arm forth as though she wanted to cover the large shogi board with her board, moving her board. The shogi piece let out a loud click.“…Eh?”I saw this, and could not help but blurt out. That was not a defensive move. The girl’s move–was an offensive one. This move landed on the board, the impact like a punch to this careless me.“…!?”On first glance, it was a bad move.Attacking against an attack would appear to be no different from self-destruction.However, this attack meant that she saw it was a faint, and I felt a bone-chilling strike through me.“!? …no way…!?”The more I pondered, the more I felt the sharp force of the ‘unbelievable’ thought I once had aimed right at my throat.“You plan to sacrifice the knight to pull a fork on the king and silver general? But if I let the gyoku king on 6-One escape, following that will be rook on 4-Seven, 6-two Silver…gyoku to the same spot, and checkmate!? If gold general diagonally down to 8-three, it’ll be check with the promoted silver!? Th-this girl…”[18]–How many steps in advance did she predict?I could not help but look up and stare at the girl seated before me.She never noticed my stare, and was leaning forward as though she had just finished a sprint, surveying the board, shaking,“…Like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this …”She muttered without saying anything, her eyes obviously swirling on the shogi board at an amazing speed, processing the massive and complicated moves that numbered in millions.There’s no me on the board.[19]She never bothered with solidifying her defenses or tried to please me.“This girl…!”–Ai Hinatsuru’s definitely going for the kill!!Once I had such a thought, I shivered.I was not terrified of losing to an elementary school girl, just the opposite. As a shogi player seeking truth on the board showing an unknown development, I instinctively felt delighted.Also–as a competitor, there was the delight of facing a powerful opponent.“…Not bad.”I licked my lips, put on my glasses I would wear for matches, pulled myself together, and started attacking too.I never took a step back. I would never do that.Ai too showed no intention of doing to the same, and while it’s hard to imagine given her cute appearance, she’s conveying her convictions with stubborn, forceful methods.…Like this, like this, like this like this like this like this like this like this–yes!!”The little killer stood up slightly, tried her best to reach her arm forward, and fired a diagonal bullet towards my gyoku. Of course, I fought back immediately. Kill or be killed, I would die if I tried to defend.A messy skirmish with no regards for defense.The sound of the piece clicking got louder, and our thoughts clashed intensely as a bloody battle occurred.Without knowing it, I forgot that the person in front of me was an elementary school girl, and I was crushing her heart with all my might. Post-mortem“…I lost.”I suddenly heard those words.Ai’s end game was far stronger than I assumed.But more importantly–I felt overwhelming joy during that time.This was the first time I felt such sweet, agitating time ever since I challenged the top pro during the Ryuuou match.Of course, a person alone could not play shogi.So if the opponent’s strength was overwhelmingly strong or weak, there would never be a ‘classic game’ developed.Both sides grappling each other, giving their best moves on the grand stage, the winner would win by the skin of his teeth, and the loser making it the most beautiful stage possible.These are the criteria of creating a ‘classic game’.This match couldn’t be considered one. It would be too shoddy and clumsy to call it one.But no matter how capable a shogi player is–even a pro player with the latest research–there will be insignificant games. This is shogi that will cause people’s heart to cool down.In contrast, if it was some strange shogi that ignored the latest research, that goes against common play, or that both sides keep making miscues, that would excite the human heart more.No matter how much was said, without the words from the heart, one would not be moved, and without playing with the heart in it, people would not be moved.If one was to put in courage, will and pride, timidity and fear and tenacity and stubbornness and passion and hope and despair and guts–‘the thoughts’ of a player–shogi will get people fired up. More than ever.Ai’s shogi caused me to recall that thought.That shogi was such a passionate, delightful thing.I was terrified of the heavy pressure from the title of Ryuuou, feared losing, concerned about criticism on the internet and the looks from others, did my best to play safe as Master’s opponent, and sidestepped while he attacked me. This me no longer had that passion and joy from back thenMy heart, cooled from the 11 straight losses, just felt excited, and something seemed to lit up my heart.“E-erm…”After the match, I was wondering about this, still dumbfounded, and Ai spoke to me uneasily.“S-sensei, erm–”“Here.”“Eh?”“What did you play after I made this move?”“Ah, erm, well… this.”I focused my attention back on the match, and let both sides reveal their thoughts.This is called ‘Post mortem’, a unique method of learning in shogi, and in any case, feels like a reflection.Even for pros, not every move would be a good mood.Limited time and stamina meant that the less mistakes, the likelier the chances of winning. We are humans are all.“Shogi is that if there is a mistake at the last moment, all is lost.”[20]There was this saying.However, in a post mortem, one could seek the perfect scenario in a relaxed manner, and seek the truth of shogi without any restrictions. It’s the most enjoyable time in shogi. However, it’s frustrating after a loss.“…I see. That’s good.”Once I affirmed Ai’s thoughts, again, I was moved by the ability she showed in the end game.“Messy opening and middle game, but brilliant performance in the end game. Very sharp instincts reading the board when the match is on the line.”“N-no, that’s… th-thank you very much… ehehe ♡”“Do you often play Double Wing Attack?”“Often… you ask? Erm…”Ai lowered her head, looking sheepish, and stated the shocking truth with a teeny-weeny voice.“I… only know this move…”“Eh!?”I was speechless, and Ai, blushing, leaned over, saying,“I saw your match in the Ryuuou battle, sensei, and I thought, “that’s amazing!”, so I started learning shogi! I want to be a shogi player like you, sensei, so I kept imitating your moves–”“Wait! …eh? Wait a moment…?”That sudden declaration left me confused.…She only knew Double Wing Attack as an opening? In other words, she only knew how to move the rook forward? A beginner? What if she faced a Ranging Rook?No, more importantly–she started after seeing my Ryuuou title match…?“Eh? Then… you started shogi about 3 months back…?”“E-erm… yes. I’m sorry…”Ai apologized to be dejectedly, probably thinking that I was angry.No no no no no, this… should be something major, right?It’s something big for an elementary school girl with 3 months of shogi experience to fight the Ryuuou to a standstill, but it’s even bigger when there’s an elementary school player who has the end game ability to corner the Ryuuou.“Erm… senseeei?”“Hmm? Ah, yes?”“I-I… erm… test…”Ai’s eyes were moist, erm, erm, and repeated those words over and over again.“Test?”“Erm… disciple…”“Ah.”That’s right. This was an entrance test. Yes, yes.I intended to use this as an excuse to reject her, but I completely forgot about it.“Hm, let’s see…”I pretended to ponder over it, but to me, having a disciple did not matter at this point.I wanted to play a few more rounds against this girl.“Still unsure of your abilities. Anyway, how about another round?”“Y-yes!!”Her face lit up immediately, and she hurriedly rearranged the shogi pieces.After that, we continued playing until who knew what time, even forgetting our meals as we kept playing shogi.We kept playing, late into the night.

1st Score

Kuzu’s Repayment[1]

“I wanna peeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”

The man’s voice echoed down Naniwasuji.

It’s Osaka, at a strange building with the words ‘Shogi Association’ written on the wall.

At the 5th floor, a man poked his head out of the window, undid his belt, and pulled his trousers down to his knees, showing his stripe trunks as he yelled to the outside.

I wanna pee! I wanna pee!!

“Kiyotaki-sensei! It’s too dangerous, come down!”

“Aren’t you a 9th Dan grandmaster!? You’re 50 years old, and you act like this!?”

“I wanna pee!! I wanna peeeeeeee!!!”

The staff of the Kansai Branch of the Shogi Association and the fellow pro players swarmed in, intending to stop him. But this man, 9th Dan Kousuke Kiyotaki could not be stopped, and was further agitated.

Downstairs, there were salarymen and office ladies passing by, wondering, “He’s intending to jump down?”, “Eh, he’s showing his underwear!?”, and they all started taking out their cellphones, intending to take photos.

“Master!! Stop with the stupid thing!”

I, Yaichi Kuzu, grabbed the waist of Master Kiyotaki, clinging onto him for dear life with the risk of falling down from the building.

“Let go of me, Yaichi!! I… I wanna peeee heeeeeeeerrrrreeeeeeee!!”

Master showed his underwear as he grabbed the window sill, yelling,

“PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!”

Why in the world did my master go crazy?

Why would a 50-year-old man do such a barbaric thing to ‘pee from the window of his workplace’?

It all started a few hours ago–

 

That day, I was playing a ceremonial match against my Master at this Kansai Shogi Association.

It’s a match between ‘Master and disciple’.

The first time the disciple challenged his master after becoming a pro.

“I hope to ‘repay’ Master by showing him the growth I have attained.”

I told the reporters before our match.

Two years ago, in October, I became a professional Shogi player at the age of 15, and the 4th ‘Middle School Player’ in history, and the owner of the title of the youngest champion ever, attaining the attention of the world of Shogi.

9th Dan Master Kiyotaki never obtained the title, but he was a veteran who managed to challenge a Meijin twice.

Steady in his moves, he aggressively seeks victory, and is a heavyweight in the world of Kansai Shogi.

“My disciple will be my opponent, but is the title owner. I shall take on this match in a humble manner. I’m hoping to release my younger self and have a free-flowing game of Shogi.”

Master, sitting on the lower seat, smirked at me as he said this. He was dressed in a new suit, and oozing with fighting spirit.

Before our match, we shook hands as per the reporters’ request. In this serious and yet warmly atmosphere, the first match between Master and Disciple began–

 

And then, not only did Master release his younger self, he released his lower body, intending to scatter sacred holy water on the Mecca of the Kansai Shogi world.

“Peeeeeeeeeeee!!!!”

““Don’t do itttttttttt!!!””

Everyone of the Kansai Shogi Association went on to stop him from peeing.

Ah, as for the match, I won.

In the world of Shogi, a disciple beating the Master is called ‘repaying gratitude’.

“I’m able to get this strong. It is all thanks to your teachings.”

This is not conveyed through words, but through winning a Shogi match.

But even though the opponent was his beloved disciple, Master was definitely pissed about losing. This is Shogi.

Several years ago, he could easily beat me even with a few handicaps, and treated me as a son despite being the opponent, but now, without any handicaps, playing on equal terms, he still got completely walloped.

This clearly practically signaled the death of a player, and a lot more to lament than an ordinary loss.

“Don’t pee here just because of that, Master!”

“Peeeeeeeeeeee!!! I wanna peeeeeee!!!!!”

My Master (50 years old) was throwing a tantrum like a kid at a toy shop. He really hated losing way too much.

The reporters gathered here were logically hoping to see some heartwarming scenes like “You got stronger, Yaichi.” “M-Master!”, but it ended up as a huge pissing photo contest. There’s no way this can be reported.

To be honest, I was disappointed too.

I didn’t expect to obtain Master’s praise, but I hoped that he could at least show some dignity as a Shogi player, and give a respectable look.

However, the reality was a complete opposite, that he was pissing in front of everyone.

Master smashed his Shogi pieces on the board, and admitted defeat in the worst possible manner, unable to say anything as he was displeased. He looked down, and was shaking. He was frustrated, really frustrated, he was shaking.

I too didn’t know what to say due to the awkwardness. “Ahh…I missed up!” I had such a feeling as I sat down.

Normally, this was the moment where we should analyze the prior match, but the mood clearly showed that it was not the time, and the reporters looked down silently as though a wake was going on.

15 minutes, and Master continued shaking, not making a sound.

And then, he slowly got to his feet, dashing to the window, and shouted,

“Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!”

“Shut uppppppppppppppppppppp!!!”

I had enough! I’m at my limit!

I didn’t want to do this against Master…but I decided to move out of my position.

“As ‘Ryuuou’, I command you!! Go to the toilet like a proper adult!!”

“…!!”

Master shivered, and his hands, about to remove his underwear, stopped.

Starting and ending a match with courtesy is an important tradition and etiquette of a mental match.

I, as the disciple, sat on the upper seat on this day, and even between elders and masters, they have to show respect to the one ‘ranked higher’. This goes especially for the Ryuuou, on par with the Meijin in Shogi, one of the 7 titles.

“Master, no, 9th Dan Kiyotaki. Put on your trousers.”

“……Kuzu Ryuuou.”[2]

“Ah?”

“What Ryuuou are you, you scum? You’re just scum! You’re just a scumbag Ryuuou who just chanced upon the title!”

Th-this old man… saying all that…!

“I’m not Kuzu Ryuuou, I’m the Ryuuou Kuzuryuu ! Didn’t you just lose that match anyway, right?”

“This is just a match arranged by the magazine! It’s not an official match, it doesn’t count!”

“This is a match arranged by the world’s number 1 selling magazine Shogi World! It bears the same weight as an official match!!”

“But the other magazines are just the ‘NHK Shogi Seminar’ and the ‘Tsumeshogi Paradise’!”[3]

“Number 1 in the world means number 1 in the world! Don’t underestimate the 200,000 copies released!”

‘Shogi World’, a magazine that allows both Pros and Amateurs to properly understand the world of Shogi.

“You could have said that you hate losing to your disciple! Enough with all those excuses!”

“I hate this!!! I lost to a Scum Ryuuou who has a 30% win rate!!!”

“Say that again, you shitty old man!!”

“I’ll say that as many times as you want scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag scumbag!!”

“I’m quitting! I’m quitting from being your disciple!”

We’re no longer master and disciple! I want to beat this old man up! And then I’m going to get him to the toilet.

At this moment.

“Yaichi.”

“Ah! Anedeshi!!”[4]

The girl who was as pretty as silvery white snow wordlessly stood behind me, dressed in a sailor uniform.

Ginko Sora.

She was my senior disciple, and though she’s younger than me, I still have to call her ‘big sister’. She’s the first disciple under Kiyotaki.

“Andeshi! C-cover that! Get something to cover Master’s thing!!”

“Here.”

“As to be expected of you, anedeshi! You came prepared–”

I saw the thing I had in my hand, and froze up.

She gave me the lid of the pieces’ box.

It’s too small! This is way too small!!”

“It can be used to contain the Kin and the Gyoku though?”[5]

“You just wanted to say dirty jokes, didn’t you!?”

This woman (Amateur) could have brought a cushion over instead. What’s with the double entendre at this moment!

“Anedeshi! This isn’t the time for jokes!? Please think of a way to settle this problem!!”

“You can urinate right now too, Yaichi?”

“Me!? Why?”

“That’ll be a great talking point between you and Master.”

“Of course not!”

While Anedeshi and I continued with our Manzai routine as we traded barbs back and forth, Master took the opportunity to pull his trousers down.

“Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!”

And he started peeing while the yells occurred.

“Woah!” “He peed!”

The veteran players watching from a safe distance away exclaimed and cheered on for some strange reason. Stop him! Stop cheering him and stop him!”

“Master! Cover that filthy thing first! Masteeerrrr!!”

“Peeeeeeeeeeee!!!”

“Watch out! Get away!”

“Kyaaaaa!! It got on my face! My face!!”

I screamed, followed by master moving around like an animal, followed by the screams of the onlookers outside the building, causing massive chaos on Naniwasuji in the afternoon.

 

Crumples on the pants

Later on, Master’s daughter came to the Shogi Association, and finally managed to get Master to put on his underwear, put him into the taxi, and dragged him off home.

“He finally went back.”

“…I guess.”

Both anedeshi and I watched the taxi leave.

Right when I finally relaxed, and talked to the Chess Association staff who came running over to me, looking guilty

“Sorry to bother you, Kuzuryuu-sensei, Sora-sensei. We will handle the rest…”

“No, we shall handle this ourselves.”

Anedeshi declared. There was still the dirty work of cleaning up the urine.

“B-but…how can we allow both of you to do this.”

“The humiliation of the master is to be carried by his disciples.”

“But…”

This staff member still would not answer, but it appeared there was other matters later that caused him to agree to anedeshi and me cleaning up, and he returned to the Shogi Association. The Shogi World sure was busy on this day.

Anedeshi took out a mop and pail from the staff, and shoved it to her junior.

In other words, me.

“Why only me?”

“Allocation of responsibilities. I’ll apologize to the victims.”

“Ah, better let the title holder handle the public–”

“I do have a title too.”

Well, anedeshi does have a title, two of them actually. Damn it…!

The skirt of anedeshi’s uniform flipped, and she turned her back on me.

“Sorry to cause all the passers-by trouble. If you are hurt in any way, please contact the Kansai Branch of the Shogi Association–”

Anedeshi bowed once she said that, and the passers-by started to chatter,

“Huh? Aren’t…ar-are you the ‘Snow White of Naniwa’!?”

“…”

“I saw you on TV before! Please sign an autograph!”

Anedeshi was instantly surrounded by the crowd. Sure, she is popular.

“Kyaa! So cute!” “Snow White’s really white!” the girls seem to like her a lot too. I say, you guys, the Ryuuou is here too, you know? I removed my glasses, trying to emphasize this to everyone, but none of them noticed.

‘Snow White of Naniwa’ is the nickname given to anedeshi.

I didn’t know whether the nickname started from a Shogi magazine or somewhere else, but it started gaining popularity about a year ago when she had a TV interview. I did become famous for a while as a pro player in Middle School and the youngest Ryuuou in history, but anedeshi’s fame was way up there, and I’m completely under her shadow. Damn it…!

Just to note, anedeshi herself doesn’t like this nickname.

At this place, in Osaka, the nickname ‘Snow White of Naniwa’ is more pronounced than ‘the Rocky of Naniwa’ or ‘Mozart of Naniwa’, and she, currently a middle school student, rejected it, saying, “I don’t need such a nickname.” It does sound like she really hated it.

Speaking of which, this was really a frivolous thing to be bothered over.

In the world of Shogi, nicknames are a proof of popularity and ability. Only those really famous Shogi players can get their nicknames, and these nicknames are really awe-inspiring, like ‘the man able to read 100 million and three moves in a second’, ‘the engine of the playing board’, ‘the end game magician’, ‘the youth preserver’, ‘the offensive Yamato Nadeshiko’, the ‘Fork Monk’, ‘the Ruling Evangelist’, ‘the Woodchopper Daigorou’. Maybe some might think the last one ‘Woodchopper Daigorou’ has nothing to do with Shogi, but woodchopping, but that’s a different matter altogether. Well, anything goes as long as the Shogi fans are pumped up.

“Haa… this is troublesome.”

The last-minute autograph meeting ended, and anedeshi opened her umbrella, and sighed.

“Such troublesome matters just increase after winning some titles, how troublesome…”

“Such a frivolous bother huh, Princess.”

“Don’t call me that, or I’ll kill you.”

Anedeshi’s title is limited to females in the ‘Female Chess Tourney’. There are 6 titles in all, and the ‘Queen’ and ‘Ladies Champion’ titles belong to her. She’s a Princess, and yet she has the title of a Queen (LOL).

Given anedeshi’s ability, it’s not a dream for her to dominate all the titles, but given the standings, it was impossible. As for the reason, it shall be mentioned, so please look forward to it.

“Yaichi, what are you slacking around for? Hurry up and clean up the place!”

“But Master really spread the urine so far away…”

“In Shogi, we move our hands, and not our mouth.”

Yes, yes… I move the mop enthusiastically.

“Goodness, that peeing Master…! It’s all over the place! Did he pass out dozens of liters or something?”

“Can’t be helped. He drank a lot during the match.”

It’s said that when the mind’s moving at full speed, it craves for sweets, but when playing Shogi, we subconsciously desire more of something else.

That’ll be water.

Some players bring along 5 or so PET bottles of 2 liters, and especially at end games, some players take a cup of water for every move, so they often needed to head to the toilet.

For a player, fighting against the urge to pee is a very serious situation, and in fact, it’s likely that some end up losing in an embarrassing manner of running out of time because they kept going to the toilet. Why did I keep talking about peeing?

“In Go matches, they have toilet breaks; I really wish the Shogi world can incorporate that too.”

“Getting warm…”

“Eh? Warm, anedeshi, what do you do if you want to go to the toilet?”

“Just pee out.”

“…?”

“Peeing out isn’t much compared to losing, isn’t it?”

Is she for real?

“Shogi is a battle with lives on the line. It is strange for anyone to be worried about urinating during the battle.”

“You’re just like Master, anedeshi.”

“I’ll kill you.”

But she’s really worthy of respect. She’s like a Feudal Lord during the Sengoku Era; no wonder she’s able to dominate the women’s Shogi landscape.

By the time anedeshi said that cleaning was done, the sun was already setting, the color of sunset shining on the ground. The slow trip of pee finally ended, and I didn’t feel lonely at all.

“Yaichi.”

I was about to bring the pail and mop back, but anedeshi called for me–grabbing my neck with her hands.

“Here’s… a prize for you.”

“Eh!? A-a prize, anedeshi… wh-what–”

“Okay, here.”

Anedeshi draped something hard on my neck. It’s Master’s trousers.

“I don’t need such a thing!! What can I do with it anyway!?”

“Smell it?”

“For what!? Only a pervert will bring the trousers home to sniff!”

“It can be used as some good memorabilia.”

“Memorabilia what!? You want me to look at these trousers and remember the nightmare today!?”

“The knees.”

Hearing that, I was shocked, and opened Master’s pants.

Only the right knee was crumpled, but not the left.

“Even if one did think of a good move, you can’t play it immediately, and to withstand that urge, you’ll pinch the trousers hard. Normally, a player’s pants will only be crumpled at the knee of the strong-arm side…right?”

Anedeshi said, and I looked at my knees. Like Master’s trousers, only one side had lots of crumples.

A Shogi player’s instincts are right 70% of the time, and the first move thought of is typically the best one. However, during the other 30%, there are often dangers lying in wait. Moves that one may think ‘brilliant’ and made without further thought would be the worst of them all, and there are many instances of losing because of this step.

Thus, there was a need to endure, to take action immediately, the pinch the knees, and ponder.

The crumples on the trousers showed that Master never relaxed one bit in his match against me, and he played seriously against his disciple; this was the decisive proof.

“…We often crumple our pants too.”

“…I guess.”

“We imitated Master, and crumpled the right knee of the pants even when we aren’t playing.”

“And we ruined our pants and got scolded.”

I guess even if it was a figure of speech, I hoped to recall the times when I was younger; we grimaced at each other.

Anedeshi covered her face with the umbrella, and told me,

“…Master must have been happy to play against you, Yaichi, and he might have prepared for this a long time back…to play it as seriously as an official match, to be enthusiastic, and go all out. So–”

“…Right, I know.”

I nodded, holding onto Master’s trousers. I saw the crumples on the trousers, and understood what mentality Master had as he battled me, and what mood he was in.

A bout of holy water was sprayed upon the Mecca of Shogi on this day.

But that might be the fiery tears from Master…

 

Kuzu Ryuuou

“I’m going back. As for that filthy… Master’s important trousers, you can bring them home, Yaichi.”

“You wanted to say filthy thing, right!? You thought of Master’s important trousers as something dirty, right?”

“I didn’t.”

“What did you want to say in the first place?”

“Ob…rigada.”[6]

Portuguese?

“I guess we should just play rock paper scissors to decide who brings these trousers back? Leaving aside the crumple on the knee, there’s some strange stain on the crotch–”

“Yaichi. You free tomorrow?”

“Eh…? Ehh, yeah. I got a match two days later, so nothing for tomorrow.”

“Then I’ll play a match at your house, Yaichi.”

‘VS’ refers to a one on one practice match. It appeared anedeshi had decided to completely ignore the matter about the pants.

“But tomorrow’s a weekday, right? What about school tomorrow, anedeshi? You’re skipping it?”

“Public schools have graduation ceremonies today. I’m starting Spring Break from tomorrow onwards. It has nothing to do with the unemployed Yaichi though.”

“Unemployed… I’m a professional Shogi player.”

Though I didn’t enter High School.

Recently, a few players chose to enter High School or college. In fact, most would attend High School, but I, who became a pro in Autumn of my third year, had given up on my studies and chose to enter the path of Shogi.

If I chose to further my studies… I’ll be in my second year of high school starting next month.

I have nothing good about me other than Shogi, and never once regretted my choice to not further my studies. However, if anyone’s to ask me if I’m happy with spending entire days talking about Shogi, I would say that a lot of times, it’s painful…

“Leaving that aside, anedeshi, these trousers–”

“I’ll kill you if you dare forget about our match tomorrow.”

Anedeshi reminded me, raised the umbrella, and elegantly strolled to the station, leaving me with Master’s trousers (still dirty).

“Haaa…I’m going back.”

I folded the trousers, put them in a second bag, and opened my cellphone, switching it on.

I got on to the internet, and opened the ‘Shogi + Chess Board’ on the massive imageboard, and searched for discussion threads with my name mentioned. My name’s at the top! How popular.

“Kuzu Ryuuou” Yaichi Kuzuryuu is expected to lose his title as Ryuuou Discussion thread 108 (30% win rate)

“…Looks like they increased in numbers.”

The rules state that we’re to switch off electronic devices during matches, so I could not check, but I remembered that there was less than a 100 replies this morning. I sure am popular…

Recent matches are uploaded onto the internet, and passionate Shogi fans(?) will watch the matches in the day, giving their views. Let’s see them.

“Everyone, let’s discuss on the 4th Middle School Shogi player, the youngest title holder in Shogi history at 16 years and 4 months–the fastest to reach the peak of the Shogi world, Ryuuou Yaichi Kuzuryuu!”

“Just trash who wasted his talent after reaching the top.”

“Just a scumbag who cared about the massive prize money from the Ryuuou match, and plays his matches carelessly against the rest.”

“A scumbag amongst scumbags who plays loose losing games against other players and yet goes all out against his Master.”

“Just got back. How did he play today? Succeeded with the repayment?”

“He played a Bear in the Hole formation at his master, and killed him off by turtling.”[7]

“You kidding me… he’s a real scumbag”

“He won today, but it’s not an official match, so his losing streak continues!”

“This guy’s playstyle has been really boring ever since he won the title.”

“True. He gave up quickly, and only cared about defenses, not initiating any offenses at all.”

“He just plays set, rigid Shogi, and loses in a boring manner too. The worst trash of a Ryuuou.”

“If he keeps losing until October and loses his title as Ryuuou, he might become a legend.”

“Being the youngest title hold and the youngest to lose it… what a genius.”

“So, what happens if he loses his title?”

“He became an 8th dan after winning the title, so he’ll become 8th dan Yaichi Kuzuryuu.”

“818 dan LMAO.”[8]

“Sounds better than being a Ryuuou LOL.”

“Start folding paper cranes and pray that he can ascend towards that.”

…Reading till here, I silently kept my cellphone back into my pocket. My stomach hurts…

After I challenged the Ryuuou, there was a sudden spike in discussion, and the moment I won the title, it ended up being a hive that really hated me.

Once I lost, they would say ‘the title of Ryuuou doesn’t suit me’; if I won, they would complain ‘such a boring game’. I really didn’t understand why these guys hated me.

Meanwhile, ‘Cute and Smart’ Ginko Sora is often discussed as ‘the best in history’–however, she’s popular with Shogi fans, and has people discussing this for her. Damn it… I’m so envious…

I–Yaichi Kuzuryuu is a ‘pro Shogi player’.

A pro player means being an official member of the ‘Japanese Shogi Association’… simply put, they’re people who live on Shogi, and definitely not some unemployed folk.

Male or female, young or old, even with some slight communication difficulties, anyone with strong Shogi skills can become a professional Shogi player. If they’re strong enough, they can earn honor and money, and if they’re too weak, in 10 years, minimum, they’ll retire.

The world of professional Shogi players, a simple world where ability dictates everything.

To become such a pro player, other than ability, there’s also one other condition–the need for a ‘master’.

To become a pro player, one has to be under the mentorship of a professional player.

Such a ‘master-disciple’ standard forms the basis of the Shogi world…I don’t know anything about the others, but in Shogi, there’s no benefit to raising a disciple.

The so-called tradition in the world of Shogi is all give and no take.

Anedeshi and I were under the tutelage of Master Kiyotaki, and under his guidance, we played thousands of matches. For our sake, he gave up his time and effort.

“And he lost in the last match…”

Even though it’s necessary for the continual state and development of the world of Shogi, I just felt that raising a disciple is just all hassle and no benefit. Will I lose to a disciple one day and piss out of the window of the venue…?

“No… but it’s too early for me to have a disciple!”

There are other instances of people winning titles in their teenage years, but a teenager having disciples was unheard of.

I guess I would wait until I’m past 20 before I start taking disciples, and I do think that I’m not the time to spare time for my disciples. Besides, ‘and he has time to take care of others’, I might get criticized on the internet…

While wondering about such things, I reached home.

I live alone at the shopping street near the Kansai Shogi Association, and it was just less than a 10 minute work.

It’s an old apartment building without autolock or elevator, and to get rid of the loneliness, I shouted as I returned home.

“I’m back~! There’s no one at home huuuuhhh!?”

There was someone inside.

There was someone in the apartment that was supposedly empty.

An unfamiliar girl–definitely an elementary school girl no matter how I looked at her, was in my house. She looked at me, and said enthusiastically,

“Welcome back! Master!!”

……What?

 

Seeking Out a Master

Let’s sort this out first.

There was a little girl in what should have been an empty room, and she was staring at me with wide, sparkling eyes.

It’s a really cute girl.

Age-wise… probably in elementary school, carrying a school bag.

Her slender limbs are in a proper Seiza posture, staring at me like a puppy while I was standing on the corridor. There was a large carrying bag by her side.

I… didn’t remember ever seeing her.

An unfamiliar elementary school girl was in my house, but why?

Just to note, this house, which I rented after graduating from Middle School, is a 2DK.[9]

Actually, I only needed a room, but for some reason, when I was looking for a room, anedeshi joined in for some reason, and decided to rent this place. Why could anedeshi decide this for me anyway? Isn’t this my house?

Leaving that aside, the important thing would be the elementary school girl before me.

“Erm… you are? And why are you in my house?”

“Yes! Erm, Yaichi K-Kuduryuryu!”

She bit her tongue!

“A-are you alright? You spoke so fast that you bit your tongue…”

“…bar you…?”

It appeared she was really hurting.

The teary girl waited for her tongue to recover, “Kuzu… Kuzuryu…” and then tried practicing my name again. Do your best!

And then.

“Are you… Kuhyuu… Ku… Kuzu… sensei!?”

She gave up!!

“I am…”

I guess this would continue forever if I tried correcting her. An eternal zero.

But I was really a little surprised.

As the youngest title holder in history, my photo should normally appear on the tabloids, and there are occasional moments of people talking to me. Stuff like, you play Shogi, bro? Looks shady man! and so on. You got to be joking.

However, this little girl called me by my full name, and even added the title ‘sensei’ (though she didn’t say it well). It was the first time for me outside the Shogi Association.

What this unfamiliar elementary school girl said next shocked me beyond my expectations.

 

“As promised, please have me as your disciple!!”

 

…Huh?

“Eh…? Disciple? Eh?”

“Yes! Erm… yes!!”

“Me? I promised to have you as my disciple?”

“Yes!!”

“Eh? When?”

“Eh? E-erm…last year…during the last Ryuuou match…”

“…?”

“…You forgot?”

She asked nervously, and I recalled the battle for the title 3 months back–

 

7th Round of the Ryuuou Match

Three wins, three losses, the final round of the full set 7 round Ryuuou match, held in a posh hotel at the Ishikawa-ken Wakura Onsen.

 

The result of the piece toss determined that I, the challenger would have the chance to start for the fourth time, and I decided to start with an undefined joseki.[10]

The opposing Ryuuou agreed, and chose to fight head on. Since the match started, there were no precedent moves to be followed, and it became an intense battle.

It just so happened that the match occurred on the 24th and 25th of December–Christmas.

The Ryuuou matches all around the country has a ‘2-day schedule’ that occurs over the same number of days, and there was an explanatory arena beside the match arena, with typically 200 people or so watching, but I guessed nobody would be watching on this day… so I thought.

Turned out that I worried too much.

99% of the participants were male, and 97% bespectacled. Anedeshi entered the explanatory arena, “This place is full of men and glasses.” so she said without thinking. Many Shogi enthusiasts ignored the fact that it was Christmas, and came to this already packed hotel even though it was snowing hard.

About 800 Shogi youths left behind their wives, children and lovers aside and gathered in this hall, satisfied as long as they had Shogi. It was like a Christmas present bestowed by the God of Shogi, and on this White Christmas, this battle became a rare intense one.

The pro players discussing the match up in the rest room determined that the Sente has the advantage! The Gote is about to reverse the situation! The battle continued on, with the result still undetermined.[11]

And so, came the end game.

The allotted time was about to run out, and at this moment, I found a move to checkmate the opponent, and I could not help but shiver.

Just one more move.

Just one more move, and I would win. Again, I checked the moves, and determined that there was no way I could be wrong.

–I win?

The moment I had that thought, I just could not bring myself to move.

My hand was trembling, and I could not hold onto the Shogi piece.

“…!?”

It was the first time I encountered this. I had a few moments of anxiety beforehand, but to be trembling so much that I could not lift the piece…

I could not move with my hand, but at the very least, I could say the move with my mouth.

But I could not do that either.

“…! …!!”

I could not let out my voice.

I tried to get my throat working, but the anxiety left me nauseous. I wanted to soothe my throat with a cup of water, and reached out for it, but I could not stop trembling, and toppled it over.

–Calm down. Just one more move, and I win.

I tried my best to act calm, got up from my seat, and slowly walked out of the arena. I left, and went straight to the toilet, puking into the basin over and over again. I did not eat much for lunch, so I was only puking out gastric juices. I puked until I could not, but the nauseous feeling just did not subside.

“Gah…! uu… uuuu…”

There was only a few minutes left. I got to hurry back…

But the more I got anxious, the giddier I got, and my knees went weak. I ended up being unable to stand up right.

–Just one more step.

–Just one more step, and I would become Ryuuou…

The prize money of 42 million Yen, the highest honor in the world of Shogi, a special promotion to 8th dan, and I would leave my name in the records.

Such a notion flashed by my mind, and I felt disgusted again, my head giddy.

I lost my sense of balance, and I literally crawled out of the toilet.

If I walked, I could reach back in less than 30 seconds, but the straight corridor just felt so far away, as though it was the distance to the moon. My Japanese clothing, soaked in sweat, was as heavy as lead.

–…Am I going to run out of time here…?

Right when I had that worry,

“Erm.”

Someone called out to me.

The owner of the voice knelt towards me, and then said,

“Please have some water.”

“!!”

I crawled to the cup, brought my face over, and that person clamped my face with both hands, tilted the cup slowly, and poured water for me to drink. The cold water seeped through my entire body at that moment.

“Ahh…”

Without knowing it, my shivering and dizziness vanished like magic.

I think I had some words with the owner of the voice, but my mind was filled with Shogi, as the allotted time was about to run out.

“…Thank you.”

I finally thanked the person, and walked to the arena–

And so, I became the Ryuuou.

 

Entrance Test

“…Were you the one who gave me water?”

“Y-yes! It’s me!”

The girl clenched her fists, and put them on her knees, nodding hard.

“So it was you...”

……I had no impression at all.

Well, yeah, I did vaguely remember talking to someone, but I completely forgot how that person looked like, and I didn’t remember the content exactly.

“So, I said that I would take you in as my disciple?”

“Uu… well…”

“Hm?”

“Actually… it was a little different…”

The girl seemed hesitant as she talked.

Maybe she just expanded too much on what I was getting at, and what I actually wanted to say was, “Hello, I’ll teach you Shogi!” or some frivolous promise.

“So, what did I say back then?”

“You said ‘once I get the title, I’ll promise to do anything you say’.”

I made such a ridiculous promise.

Did I really say that…? I guess I did. In the heart of a shogi player, the title is more important than anyone else, so much that one can sell his heart out to the devil for that; promising a kid would be nothing in comparison. If the God of Shogi told me “If you want to become a Meijin, eat shit.”, I will do that without hesitation.

But…why was it that she wanted to become my disciple…

And I just made up my mind that I would never take in any disciples…

“…Understood. I’ll do that.”

“Really!?”

“But first, you need to pass a test.”

“Test…?”

“I need to be sure of your abilities first.”

Saying that, I went to the Japanese room inside.

This apartment, located near the Shogi Association, is often visited by young shogi players and anedeshi, so the Japanese-styled room became a shogi room.

“Please come in, though it’s not exactly clean.”

“Pl-please pardon me…”

I invited her to the cushions, and sat with a thud.

This girl, all frozen up as she sat before me, was really an endearing kid

She has a nice-looking face, but it’s her proper manners that gave me a good impression of her.

Even now, she had her little limbs placed neatly, and I, a shogi player, was captivated by that pretty seiza posture. It’s rare to see that from kids nowadays.

“But, how did you get into my house…did I leave the door unlocked…?”

“S-sorry! It’s…”

My place became a waiting room for young people, so I left the door unlocked for anyone who wanted to come in. There’s no valuables other than Shogi boards to steal. It’s not good to leave them behind in such a conspicuous place after all.

“Also…while waiting, I was worried if I would be bothering you.”

“That’s true.”

I’ll be given weird looks if an unfamiliar elementary school girl is to wander around in front of my house. She’s a curious one. However, I’m also worried about ‘cracking sounds that occur in the middle of the night’.”

“But anyway, you knew where my house was?”

“You wrote down your address in the thank-you book of our hotel, sensei.”

“Ahh, now that you mentioned it–”

I remembered that after I became the Ryuuou, various people talking to Master.

“Eh? Then you are the daughter of the owner of that hotel?”

“Yes! I’m the daughter of the owner of the hot spring resort ‘Hinatsuru’, Ai Hinatsuru! Third grade… ah, I’ll be in Fourth Grade in April!”

“Third grade… huh.”

“I’m 9! I’ll be 10 this year!”

Hearing that age, I was shocked.

So that meant that her age’s not even in double digits…

“It’s far from that hotel to this place. You came alone?”

“Yes! I took the ‘Thunderbird’!”

The Limited Express train between the Hokuriku region and Osaka, huh? It’s true that there was no need to transfer trains on the ride from the Onsen area of ‘Hinatsuru’ to Osaka Station.[12]

It’s a round loop from Osaka station to this place. I don’t think this is some huge adventure… anyway.

“Your parents allowed you to come here?”

“Y-yes! Erm… my parents… know…”

“Hm?”

Why did she seem to stammer out of a sudden…?

I guess her parents are passionate shogi enthusiasts since they invited players and had a title match here. However, letting her come alone might not be down to the education directive of ‘a cute girl should go on a journey’.

“Well, since you want to come by, why didn’t you notify me? I was shocked by this sudden visit.”

“Erm… I-I wrote you a letter hoping that you’ll accept me as your disciple, but I never got a reply…”

“…”

I sheepishly look at the mailing inbox, and found a large number of flyers and letters inside.

I didn’t bother to read them as I was lazy… and besides, the Association would send mails to contact me recently…

“I-I see. Sorry about that. Yeah.”

Assuming that this girl was lying, it didn’t matter either.

–I don’t have any intention of having her as my disciple either.

It’s too much of a stretch for me, in my teenage years, to raise a disciple, and at this point, I had no heart to care for others. Also, I didn’t want to go about spraying my pee everywhere just because I lost to my disciple.

In that case, I could only agree in another method, and have her give up on being my disciple.

“Okay then…”

I took out the shogi board from the wall shelf, and brought it before Ai Hinatsuru-chan.

“Wh-what an amazing shogi board…!”

“Take care of it. I’m not done repaying the loan.”

The price of the shogi board and pieces combined would be the equivalent of a new car.

It’s a shogi board 7 inches thick (about 21cm), and has legs, so when I put it before the elementary school girl who was kneeling, it practically blocked half of her body.

While Ai-chan was overwhelmed by the physical presence, I continued to pressure her mentally.

“I’m a pro player. I can only accept a disciple who’ll become a pro player.”

In fact, it wasn’t the case. I just said it.

“So I need to know if you have that talent, go it?”

It was just an excuse.

Even though I had 11 straight losses in official matches, less than 30% win rate for the year, and was dire, there was no way I could lose to an elementary school kid. It’s pitiful, but I intended to send her crying back home, and give up on being my disciple.

“I’m going test your mettle. I’m not going to play with any handicaps.”

“Yes! Please do so!!”

Oh? I wondered.

Even after she was intimidated by me, she straightened her back, and answered me enthusiastically.

–She passed in her guts and posture, in any case.

There seemed to be a light breeze flowing into the room, even though the windows were sealed.

 

Double Wing Attack[13]

We took out the brown shogi pieces from the box, and laid them out onto the table.

The movements of how a person lay out the pieces would give a rough indicator of how much shogi experience she had.

As for this little girl before me–Ai Hinatsuru-chan,

“Nnsh… nnsh…”

…To be honest, it was very casual.

She seemed to be hastily laying them onto the board, not knowing where to put them. She was having much difficulty in laying them onto the squares, probably due to tension. It appeared I would win with ease.

Once we were done laying them out, I said,

“You can start first.”

“Yes! Please take care of me!!”[14]

“Please take care of me.”

We bowed towards each other, and so the match began.

So, let’s see her shogi abilities.

“Suu, haa…………………..nn!!”

Ai-chan took a deep breath, scowled, curled her lips, put her hand on the pawn before the rook, and advanced one step forward.

“Hmm, so the ‘static rook’ type…”

In shogi, the playstyles can be basically classified as ‘Static Rook’ or ‘Ranging Rook’.[15]

Simply put, the ‘Static Rook’ requires deliberate and logical thinking; in blood type terms, it would be similar to A type. ‘Ranging Rook’ emphasizes lots on feeling, and basically B type. Just to note, anedeshi and I are both of the ‘Static Rook type’. Of course, Master’s of the ‘Static Rook type’ too. He might look that way, but he was the delicate type too.

Since she made this move, I too responded with moving the pawn before my rook.

3rd turn–Ai-chan immediately moved the same pawn before the rook, and advanced it a step forward.

This is–

“…Double Wing Attack?”[16]

It was the same shogi move I played during the 7th match of the Ryuuou battle–at Ai-chan’s house.

We let the pawns before our rooks move forward, and this would be the most basic, undefined, and intensive battle sequence, as though we’re charging forward naked, swinging axes about.

This was the ‘Double Wing Attack’.

This elementary school girl really intended to challenge the Ryuuou head on… huh?

“…Looking down on me…?”

I muttered subconsciously, and let my rook advance one step further.

There was a saying that “shogi is a conversation by itself”.

It is not simply about moving pieces; once one’s abilities are of a certain standard, it is possible to establish conversations on the board.

“I have confidence in my own ability! Please go all out and don’t hold back!”

“This shitty brat doesn’t know her own limits… fine. I’ll show you. Come on!”

The first four steps had this intent.

There was no fixed sequence in the ‘Double Wing Attack’. Soon, we entered an unknown development.

Naturally, I started with a massive advantage from the opening. I used a few tricks and some professional skill to rattle the girl’s formations, with no chance to fight back, and cornered her king.

“Ah… uu…”

Ai-chan easily fell into a pit, and showed a teary look.

We entered the middle game, almost at the end game where the victor was to be decided. This often happened in Double Wing Attacks.

“…This should be it.”

I felt that this would be enough to determine her ability, and to end this as quickly as possible, I deliberately moved on with strong attacks, using my major pieces to corner the opposing gyoku to the bottom row, and launched an attack with the silver general.[17]

In the face of such potent attacks, Ai-chan would naturally choose to solidify her defenses. That should be the case.

However–

“………Like this……. like this… like this…”

“Hm?”

“…Like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this……”

Once she saw me make this move–the girl’s teary eyes suddenly flickered.

“Like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this, like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this–”

The fingertips that were moving quickly suddenly stopped, and she brought her face to the shogi board, the tip of her nose nearly touching the piece, her body shaking as she muttered to herself.

–She’s stopping here? Maybe…

Did she realize that this was a forceful attack? But given her skills, it was impossible for her to withstand the attacks of a pro player. This game is decided.

“Like this like this like this like this like this like this like this–yes!!”

The little girl straightened her back, and reached her arm forth as though she wanted to cover the large shogi board with her board, moving her board. The shogi piece let out a loud click.

“…Eh?”

I saw this, and could not help but blurt out. That was not a defensive move.

 

The girl’s move–was an offensive one.

 

This move landed on the board, the impact like a punch to this careless me.

“…!?”

On first glance, it was a bad move.

Attacking against an attack would appear to be no different from self-destruction.

However, this attack meant that she saw it was a faint, and I felt a bone-chilling strike through me.

“!? …no way…!?”

The more I pondered, the more I felt the sharp force of the ‘unbelievable’ thought I once had aimed right at my throat.

“You plan to sacrifice the knight to pull a fork on the king and silver general? But if I let the gyoku king on 6-One escape, following that will be rook on 4-Seven, 6-two Silver…gyoku to the same spot, and checkmate!? If gold general diagonally down to 8-three, it’ll be check with the promoted silver!? Th-this girl…”[18]

–How many steps in advance did she predict?

I could not help but look up and stare at the girl seated before me.

She never noticed my stare, and was leaning forward as though she had just finished a sprint, surveying the board, shaking,

“…Like this like this like this like this like this like this like this like this …”

She muttered without saying anything, her eyes obviously swirling on the shogi board at an amazing speed, processing the massive and complicated moves that numbered in millions.

There’s no me on the board.[19]

She never bothered with solidifying her defenses or tried to please me.

“This girl…!”

–Ai Hinatsuru’s definitely going for the kill!!

Once I had such a thought, I shivered.

I was not terrified of losing to an elementary school girl, just the opposite. As a shogi player seeking truth on the board showing an unknown development, I instinctively felt delighted.

Also–as a competitor, there was the delight of facing a powerful opponent.

“…Not bad.”

I licked my lips, put on my glasses I would wear for matches, pulled myself together, and started attacking too.

I never took a step back. I would never do that.

Ai too showed no intention of doing to the same, and while it’s hard to imagine given her cute appearance, she’s conveying her convictions with stubborn, forceful methods.

…Like this, like this, like this like this like this like this like this like this–yes!!”

The little killer stood up slightly, tried her best to reach her arm forward, and fired a diagonal bullet towards my gyoku. Of course, I fought back immediately. Kill or be killed, I would die if I tried to defend.

A messy skirmish with no regards for defense.

The sound of the piece clicking got louder, and our thoughts clashed intensely as a bloody battle occurred.

Without knowing it, I forgot that the person in front of me was an elementary school girl, and I was crushing her heart with all my might.

 

Post-mortem

“…I lost.”

I suddenly heard those words.

Ai’s end game was far stronger than I assumed.

But more importantly–I felt overwhelming joy during that time.

This was the first time I felt such sweet, agitating time ever since I challenged the top pro during the Ryuuou match.

Of course, a person alone could not play shogi.

So if the opponent’s strength was overwhelmingly strong or weak, there would never be a ‘classic game’ developed.

Both sides grappling each other, giving their best moves on the grand stage, the winner would win by the skin of his teeth, and the loser making it the most beautiful stage possible.

These are the criteria of creating a ‘classic game’.

This match couldn’t be considered one. It would be too shoddy and clumsy to call it one.

But no matter how capable a shogi player is–even a pro player with the latest research–there will be insignificant games. This is shogi that will cause people’s heart to cool down.

In contrast, if it was some strange shogi that ignored the latest research, that goes against common play, or that both sides keep making miscues, that would excite the human heart more.

No matter how much was said, without the words from the heart, one would not be moved, and without playing with the heart in it, people would not be moved.

If one was to put in courage, will and pride, timidity and fear and tenacity and stubbornness and passion and hope and despair and guts–‘the thoughts’ of a player–shogi will get people fired up. More than ever.

Ai’s shogi caused me to recall that thought.

That shogi was such a passionate, delightful thing.

I was terrified of the heavy pressure from the title of Ryuuou, feared losing, concerned about criticism on the internet and the looks from others, did my best to play safe as Master’s opponent, and sidestepped while he attacked me. This me no longer had that passion and joy from back then

My heart, cooled from the 11 straight losses, just felt excited, and something seemed to lit up my heart.

“E-erm…”

After the match, I was wondering about this, still dumbfounded, and Ai spoke to me uneasily.

“S-sensei, erm–”

“Here.”

“Eh?”

“What did you play after I made this move?”

“Ah, erm, well… this.”

I focused my attention back on the match, and let both sides reveal their thoughts.

This is called ‘Post mortem’, a unique method of learning in shogi, and in any case, feels like a reflection.

Even for pros, not every move would be a good mood.

Limited time and stamina meant that the less mistakes, the likelier the chances of winning. We are humans are all.

“Shogi is that if there is a mistake at the last moment, all is lost.”[20]

There was this saying.

However, in a post mortem, one could seek the perfect scenario in a relaxed manner, and seek the truth of shogi without any restrictions. It’s the most enjoyable time in shogi. However, it’s frustrating after a loss.

“…I see. That’s good.”

Once I affirmed Ai’s thoughts, again, I was moved by the ability she showed in the end game.

“Messy opening and middle game, but brilliant performance in the end game. Very sharp instincts reading the board when the match is on the line.”

“N-no, that’s… th-thank you very much… ehehe ♡”

“Do you often play Double Wing Attack?”

“Often… you ask? Erm…”

Ai lowered her head, looking sheepish, and stated the shocking truth with a teeny-weeny voice.

“I… only know this move…”

“Eh!?”

I was speechless, and Ai, blushing, leaned over, saying,

“I saw your match in the Ryuuou battle, sensei, and I thought, “that’s amazing!”, so I started learning shogi! I want to be a shogi player like you, sensei, so I kept imitating your moves–”

“Wait! …eh? Wait a moment…?”

That sudden declaration left me confused.

…She only knew Double Wing Attack as an opening? In other words, she only knew how to move the rook forward? A beginner? What if she faced a Ranging Rook?

No, more importantly–she started after seeing my Ryuuou title match…?

“Eh? Then… you started shogi about 3 months back…?”

“E-erm… yes. I’m sorry…”

Ai apologized to be dejectedly, probably thinking that I was angry.

No no no no no, this… should be something major, right?

It’s something big for an elementary school girl with 3 months of shogi experience to fight the Ryuuou to a standstill, but it’s even bigger when there’s an elementary school player who has the end game ability to corner the Ryuuou.

“Erm… senseeei?”

“Hmm? Ah, yes?”

“I-I… erm… test…”

Ai’s eyes were moist, erm, erm, and repeated those words over and over again.

“Test?”

“Erm… disciple…”

“Ah.”

That’s right. This was an entrance test. Yes, yes.

I intended to use this as an excuse to reject her, but I completely forgot about it.

“Hm, let’s see…”

I pretended to ponder over it, but to me, having a disciple did not matter at this point.

I wanted to play a few more rounds against this girl.

“Still unsure of your abilities. Anyway, how about another round?”

“Y-yes!!”

Her face lit up immediately, and she hurriedly rearranged the shogi pieces.

After that, we continued playing until who knew what time, even forgetting our meals as we kept playing shogi.

We kept playing, late into the night.

Thank you for reading Ryuuou No Oshigoto! Novel Volume 1 Chapter 1

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