2019 Kyushu Basho: Day 9
We begin Week 2 of the Kyushu Basho with Hakuho still in sole possession of the lead at 7–1, and now just two rikishi behind him with 6–2 records—komusubi Asanoyama and M13 Kagayaki. What a weird basho this continues to be!
• How strange was the final match between Hakuho and M4 Tamawashi yesterday? Two false starts, both because Tamawashi couldn’t get into the right rhythm, and the second resulting in Hakuho giving him a “pull yourself together, dude!” shove in the chest. And then when the match got underway, Tamawashi wound up just inadvertently taking a big step out of the ring before things even got tight. I guess it shows he really was out of sorts, and how impactful that is in a sumo bout. Anyway, it led to a relatively easy, but clearly frustrating day for the yokozuna.
• The other really bizarre match was where M9 Yutakayama almost seemed hesitant to square off against M6 Enho. First, I can’t remember the last time I saw a bout where both rikishi just stood up and the tachi-ai [initial charge] and waited for the other to come at them, leaving both just sort of standing there looking pretty foolish. On top of that, I don’t ever recall seeing a gyoji stop a match because the rikishi were too hesitant to mix it up—that first tachi-ai was clean . . . it was just boring. And in the end, the tachi-ai they kept was almost identical. Anyway, after starting the basho 4–1, Enho is now 4–4 and likely to have a very difficult Week 2.
• Another rikishi who is having tachi-ai problems is M7 Tsurugisho. He’s been called for false starts three days running (and multiple times on Day 6). He just doesn’t seem to want to put his hands all the way down to the clay. It hasn’t hurt him terribly in the end, though, as he’s standing at 5–3 and seeming like a kachi-koshi [majority of wins] is likely.
• The biggest surprise of all yesterday was ozeki Takayasu’s kyujo [absence due to injury]. He was announced as being ready to fight, but withdrew just twenty minutes before his bout citing severe back pain. NHK coverage showed him needing support from his attendants as he left the building. So far there’s been no official announcement about how long it will take him to recover, so there remains some chance that he might come back into action after a day or two of rest. But I seriously doubt that will happen. Since he’s kadoban, though, if he doesn’t manage to get back and secure a kachi-koshi, he will start 2020 demoted to sekiwake and needing 10 wins in the January tournament to regain his rank.