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I turned to sixteen years old.
As I reached that age, I was treated as a senior student in the Academy, and there seemed to be more necessary things to be done.
It wasn’t possible to skip it. That was because it sounded unpleasant. However, for ordinary students, their credits for studies would almost finished.
The number of free slots in the timetable would also increase, and speaking of the total credit, it was easier than the time to enter the higher education.
Once the students became a senior, there were something new at the start of the academy and that were [All Togi Competition] and [Knights Martial Arts Demonstration].
The Knights Martial Arts Demonstration was an event that decided the strongest person in the school of Knights.
Two students would be selected from under the age of twenty five and over the age of sixteen to compete for the title of the strongest person. Furthermore, about ten excellent people who were chosen to perform the opening ceremony.
It seemed to be an honor as a Knight to participate in this, so people around twenty years old seemed to work hard at the practice during summer. However, at the age of sixteen, we weren’t chosen since we would be like a bean sprout of the event. Apart from me who wasn’t interested, the atmosphere in the dormitory didn’t change that much.
The [All Togi Tournament] was an event for the Liberal Arts rather than the Knights. However, it had a strong appeal between the two schools.
The Knights must send on representative each from the dormitory of 16 until 23 years old. Unlike the [Knights Martial Arts Demonstration], there would be a person remained. The upper limit was 23 years old. That was because the number of candidates decreased because the students would gradually graduate when they exceeded the age of twenty.
So, at this time, I was playing Togi in the dormitory. Of course, there were people who weren’t interested in Togi, but even though there weren’t interested, I couldn’t be like them.
That was because the top two players in this dormitory were Myaro and me. This didn’t mean that I wouldn’t participate in the representative selection match.
The selection match was held by a Togi enthusiast in the dormitory, and it was decided to do it in the league, and not in the tournament. Since the difference in skill was brutal, neither Myaro and I lost a single game.
If that was the case, Myaro and I only needed to have a game from the beginning. It wasn’t that I didn’t think of it, but this was still a festival to enjoy the festivities, and it would be uncool to say it.
So, the final match was a match between me and Myaro.
I put my hands together and lightly rubbed.
“Yuri-kun, let me tell you this first.” (Myaro)
“I will not lose this game.” (Myaro)
It seemed that Myaro was unusually motivated.
‘Is that what you want?’
“Well, yeah. Do your best.” (Yuri)
“Yes. Then, I’ll roll the dice.” (Myaro)
Myaro shook the dice and roll it. It was six.
“Six, is it? You beat me.” (Yuri)
As for the dice, who got higher would start first. In Togi, who started first would be somewhat advantageous.
Then, I rolled the dice. It was two.
“That’s too bad.” (Myaro)
I felt a bit happy inside. The game wasn’t decided by the state of the dice, but it was surely a disadvantage.
I intended to lose this match.
‘Why do I have to compete in such a match when I’m busy? Since my strength is known to the dormitory, it isn’t possible to hold back or to lose consecutive matches. However, if Myaro is the opponent, it is possible to lose without fooling anyone. Even if I lose with a somewhat unnatural move, there is no one who has reached the level of Myaro and me, so I can’t be noticed.’
“Well, then.” (Myaro)
Myaro moved the end of the Lance piece forward.
‘Hmm? The pieces called the ‘Galloping Bird Soldier’ and the ‘Eagle King Soldier’ has a function of a Rook piece. And its path would be blocked by the ‘Spearman’ piece in initial state which corresponded to the ‘Foot Soldier’ piece of Shogi.’
‘Unlike Shogi, there is no tactic to complete a defensive opening immediately. Speaking of the beginning, it’s usually either moving the Galloping Bird Soldier or the Eagle King Soldier.’
In other words, putting the edge Spearman forward is a bad move that people never thought of it. What is she thinking?’
I felt a bit pleasant when I remembered about the end of the moon.
I thought a bit, and made a move to open the path for the Galloping Bird Soldier.
‘How did you lose so naturally? There’s also a matter of saying ‘I lost’ with a hand on board. Even if you say ‘I lost’ when you are in an absolutely dominant situation, the surroundings won’t be convinced if you don’t explain it how.’
‘It’s bad to fall into that situation. The dormitory residents who are the audience, are barely convinced that you lose under the guise of nature.’
‘If that’s the case, you can get away from the tournament in the possible way. That’s what I thought.’
However, Myaro squeezed all of her techniques so that she couldn’t create the situation.
From an outsider’s point of view especially those amateurs who just got interested in Togi, they were looking at the match to point out while confirming the rules. However, there was a more advanced exchange of skills among us than ever before.
‘Don’t come out, don’t come out. I don’t want to be in the tournament.’
But, Myaro was relentless and thorough. Even though it’s required to point differently from the usual, she was amazingly calm and reading it accurately.
Then, after taking twice as much time as usual and unprecedented 230 moves had been taking place, a form of three-movements checkmate that was obvious to everyone appeared.
Of course, I was being checkmated.
Let alone Carol, Dolla also could see it. While always looking at the board, he put up a wry smile on his expressionless face that was analyzing the game situation. Then, he nodded with a refreshing face.
While I was convinced in a certain sense, I pointed to the checkmate move. Immediately after that, Myaro said ‘I give up’.
‘The preparedness is different…’
Myaro had made up her mind from the beginning to lose the game. On the other hand, I was convinced that Myaro was doing this seriously based on the first few moves. That was the turning point of the game.
I coughed on purpose.
“I suddenly feel sick. I may fall asleep tomorrow.” (Yuri)
The main tournament would begin at the royal castle tomorrow.
“I believe that’s not going to happen.” (Myaro)
Myaro said it with a grin.
“You don’t want to compete that much, huh…” (Yuri)
‘There it is. That’s where I misread it. Myaro like Togi, so I didn’t think that he didn’t want to compete in the main tournament.’
‘Perhaps, she studied for a week in order to lose this match. While she was doing it, there were a few movements that seemed to be out of place compared to the talent she had. It would be easier to go to the tournament than doing such a thing.’
‘Well, if she lost two matches, my victory would have been confirmed. No, if that’s the case, shall I adjust accordingly to be defeated? This has become a game of cat and mouse, and there’s no mistake that the last match will be the ultimatum.’
“I look forward to your struggle, Yuri.” (Myaro)
Myaro smiled again with a smile that didn’t contain a shred of bad intention.
“And I thought I have become an expert…” (Carol)
As usual, Carol commented in the middle of the match.
“I don’t understand the current situation. It seems to have been turned into a trap.” (Dolla)
I would have been beaten if they knew why. Compared to the others, it was a game between two people with exceptional skills, so no one was talking about it.
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The next day, the tournament started at the royal castle. Even though it was a holiday, for some reason, I was sitting in a chair and lined up in front of other people.
It was Myaro’s fault. That was because she sneakily lose the match.
“Well then, we will start the [All Togi Tournament] of the Year 2316! Please give generous applause to the players of the Academy lined up here!!!” (??)
When a female chairperson opened the ceremony, the audience applauded.
However, the audience wasn’t as much as I expected.
‘Is it about 500 people?’
The tournament was held in the large hall of the royal castle which was used for the entrance ceremony. So, those who were at the rear were quite lonely. Most of them were students who came to support their peers, and Togi-loving adults who had spare time.
The match play today wasn’t that important. The highlight was tomorrow’s final, and today was only a prelude.
“The tournament is a combination of the ranking in which they appear here.” (??)
The moderator said so.
I was thinking why there was such a ranking, but I was able to understand. Men and women were sitting on the chairs alternately.
I, or rather the men, were all sandwiched between girls. I was wondering if this was a joint party or something.
In other words, the first match would be between the Knights and the Liberal Arts.
‘I don’t know if I want to fight that much.’
‘According to what I heard in advance, the participants were from 16 to 23 years old. There were eight Knights, one from each dormitory, and there was the same number of Liberal Arts.’
‘The dormitory of the school of Liberal Arts is divided into men and women, between the Blue Cat Dormitory and the Silver Birch Dormitory. So, how do they decide the representatives? Looking at the participants in line, there seems to be no man from the Liberal Arts.’
‘I don’t know the details on how they choose it, but it seems all Liberal Arts students are older than me. Perhaps, they are chosen solely on their skills. I feel more disadvantaged at the time of the selection.’
‘Of course, it doesn’t stand out as the martial arts that use the body since Togi is a match of the brain. In other words, there is a tendency that the upper grades are better. In that respect, the Knight representatives are bound by the age specific dormitory. Speaking of the tendency, the Liberal Arts will be more advantageous. Since it is a tournament match, I think what will happen is the most talented player will eventually wins.’
There were four tables in the hall. First, eight people in the first round were pointed to the four waiting rooms, while the remaining eight people including me stayed in the remaining four waiting room.
Other players might be watching other matches with the audience. When I entered the waiting room, there was no one other than me.
I was lucky enough to lie down on the sofa and slept on it. I woke up an hour later.
“Participant Yuri. The previous game is over. Please come with me.” (??)
A person who seemed to be an attendant said so.
I followed the attendant for a while and entered the hall.
“Please open, it’s the participant.” (??)
While the voice resounded, it split the waves of people and we went inside.
When the attendant remove a thick rope stretched on a simple waist-length fence…
“Please come in.” (??)
I was prompted, and went into the fence,
‘Since I’m here, I should take this seriously.
I didn’t want to participate because it was troublesome, but it wasn’t that I really didn’t want to participate. That’s because I was representing my dormitory.
The opponent was already sitting at the table.
“Nice to meet you.” (??)
The girl who stood up and greeted me was a girl of unfamiliar age.
‘Is she about twenty something?’
She picked up the hem of the Liberal Arts skirt, and finished her greeting.
“…Nice to meet you too.” (Yuri)
I also bowed normally and returned the greetings.
When we got on our seats, the girls standing behind the opponent seat sent a cheer and said ‘do your best’.
The opponent responded to the cheering by smiling and waving her hands.
I felt like I could hear the same kind of cheering, but it was all male voice. It felt unpleasant.
When the dice were rolled and the first move was taken, the match started.
I knew the opponent strategy after the fourth move.
It was a strategy called line of spears.
‘In Shogi, it is a strategy called Climbing Silver. This strategy is the patch that everyone goes through in the process of amateurs getting good.’
In addition to large pieces like the Galloping Bird and the Eagle King, the Lance and the Chariot make another pillar which becomes the key of the attack. The Lance and the Chariot are very compatible, and sticking them out at the same time is a very reasonable tactic. It’s simply strong and difficult to break.’
‘However, because of that, countermeasures are being developed. Considering the fact that the tactics are immediately determined from the characteristic pieces movement in the early stage, but on the contrary, it’s difficult for an expert to use it.’
‘Carol is a believer of this strategy, and she uses it like a fool if she makes the first move. She is still in the middle of beginner level, so there’s no ingenuity.’
‘I forgot the name of the opponent, but if she comes out as a representative, she was quite ingenious unlike the middle of beginner level.’
‘However, when it’s done, it will be something like that, isn’t it? That’s my impression. She seems to be quite inferior compared to Myaro.’
Even when it was over, just because I was ending this match on my own, the opponents seemed to be aware that she was at a disadvantage situation, but still she tried hard to resist. If I wasn’t mistaken, she wasn’t aware that she was already been checkmated. No matter where the king ran away, there was only a difference between ending it with five moves or seven moves.
There seemed to be no time limit for this game, so the opponent repeatedly had long thought.
I had been strayed enough to the extent of seventh moves. When I made the next move, she took a while but she knew that she was checkmated. Then, she said ‘I lost’. She seemed extremely frustrated. She fell down and began to spill tears and started sobbing.
The audiences who seemed to be her friends immediately entered to comfort her. When she crossed the fence, they stroked her back and encouraged her.
- I’m just going to butcher the part of the Togi/Shogi. Sorry for the inconvenience.
- The match between Myaro and Yuri reminds me the pool scene between Francis and Commander Spangler in Malcolm in the Middle where they try hard to lose pool matches. I wanted to find the compilation video of that scene, but I couldn’t.
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