Photo/IllutrationUsing a robotic arm, computer software Ponanza defeated Takayuki Yamasaki, an 8-dan professional shogi player, in the first leg of the two-round final match held at Chusonji temple in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture. (Shinji Fukamatsu)

HIRAIZUMI, Iwate Prefecture--Artificial intelligence came out on top against a formidable human opponent when computer software Ponanza won the first leg of the final match of a shogi tournament on April 9 and 10.

Using a robotic arm developed by Denso Corp. for playing shogi, Ponanza took the opening move at the match at Chusonji temple in the northern town of Hiraizumi.

Representing humanity, Takayuki Yamasaki, 35, an 8-dan-ranked professional Japanese chess player, was beaten in the first round within 85 moves.

Yamasaki said he had not anticipated such an outright defeat.

“I wasn't planning to let this happen, and I was at a huge disadvantage after the first day of the match,” he said. “I will make better moves in the second leg with a more relaxed and flexible mind."

The annual "Denosen" shogi series between ranked professionals and advanced computer software, sponsored by the information technology company Dwango Co., has been held since 2012. Artificial intelligence leads the series 10-5 with one draw.

Between 2013 and 2015, five human players and computers each competed in team competitions. For this year’s series, tournaments were held for both humans and computers to determine the champions of their ranks.

Yamasaki and Ponanza won the tourneys to face off in the final, the second leg of which will be held at Enryakuji temple in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, western Japan, on May 21 and 22 with Yamasaki holding the first move.