Well, here's a bit of Taichi time, since she pretty much ignored him most of the prior chapters.
Chihaya and Hyoro-kun are watching Kana and Desktomu-kun's match closely.
If there is something I can glean from watching them, I will certainly steal it.
Chihaya notices that the pair are slowly pulling apart in points. Desktomu-kun made two mistakes and Kana-chan none. She realizes that by making mistakes you help your opponent lead by two more cards. All this time she thought she could simply correct her mistakes by taking two subsequent cards. But when facing a player who makes no mistakes, like Ms. Kanai making mistakes is dangerous. But the scary thing isn't just the number of cards you're losing by. It's the frantic turmoil you give yourself that gives your opponent even more opportunities.
This isn't just a matter of being behind by two cards.
Desktomu-kun is able to take the next card, thinking that now is the time to counter-attack. But as a "penalty" he gives her the wrong card. He gives her an easy single syllable card. By the time he realizes his mistake it's too late, and he realizes that not only is he battling Kana, he's also battling himself. Now he's down by 8 cards.
This is it, Desktomu-kun (for this championship). It's not like when we're practicing, and you can tell yourself you'll "do better next time." There isn't a "do-over" in this case.
Desktomu-kun notices that Kana-chan is at her limit. She's exhausted. Behind Kana-chan he can see Taichi and Meat-bun kun tired but still battling. They all remember what Taichi once told them.
"You have to build your endurance to last at least 10 hours."
After all, that's what they've been training for.
Desktomu pauses the game to rearrange his cards. Arranging them closer together, since he has ten cards left and Kana only 4, the chances of one of his cards being read is higher. So, when the time comes, he can hazard to strike all his cards at once, and not letting his opponent take any. (TN: isn't that kind of cheating...?) Even the crowd is starting to root for Kana.
Kana thinks if he can do it, then so can she. But the contest get closer as Desktomu-kun strikes a single syllable card on Kana's side, one he just gave her as a "penalty" and so he is still in control of the playing field. Having struck a card behind Kana's defenses, he feels that he should not lose to Kana, nor should he lose to himself.
Kana notes there are only five cards difference between them now. Even though Desktomu-kun is using this kind of tactic, she knows she still has a chance.
Completely straight....incredibly swift.... Kana thinks of the way Chihaya and the Queen play karuta...going all out!
Even though she thinks that, Desktomu-kun takes the next card as well.
I can't do that! It's impossible for me!
Without even thinking, Kana takes the card. Everyone is shocked. Desktomu-kun was reaching for another "chi" card. But, just like Desktomu took the "surpassing the great mountain" card, before she knew it, her friend's "namesake" card has become a card of personal significance for Kana as well.
There is only one card left.
I don't want to lose! thinks Desktomu-kun.
Even so, Kana takes the last card and wins the match. Desktomu is shocked. They bow and mutually exchange thanks, but Kana doesn't raise her head as if bowing in apology to him.
Desktomu-kun congratulates her. They both had practiced hard together to get to this point. Kana breaks down in tears, as does Chihaya. Her two friends have placed first and second in the D rank tournament. Just as she is blowing her nose (and is pulling a trail of snot with her tissue -_-;) someone yells, "GOOD!"
She turns and realizes that Taichi and Meat bun-kun's match is still ongoing. SHE COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT THEM....
Chihaya begs Hyoro-kun to tell her what's happened. He tells her they each have one card left. It's a duel of Fates! Whomever is lucky enough to have the card he's guarding read next is the winner.
You've already come this far and now you have to leave it up to Fate? Hyoro-kun thinks.
Meat-bun kun has the "ashi" card. Taichi has the "se" card, and calculates that there should be 6 "empty" cards left. The only cards that have yet to be read are the "a" cards, and thus it has become a one syllable sudden death match.
The next card read is an "empty" card, and Taichi quickly attacks and withdraw without gaining or losing a point. Everyone is shocked that even at this juncture, Taichi is willing to go on the offensive.
Chihaya wonders why she wasn't able to watch both matches instead and is kicking herself for ignoring this important match. Meat bun-kun wonders why Taichi wants to take his card, but he can't remember how many "a" cards there are left (since there are 16 total).
Duel of the Fates? Don't make me laugh, Taichi thinks. How can I just leave it up to Fate?!