The team national karuta tournament has been won, and one of Chihaya's most fervent dreams fulfilled - between that and a reunion with Arata, it seems like everything is going swimmingly for our protagonist on the cusp of the individual tournament...
...at least it would be if Chihaya's hand injury from that team final wasn't proving to be more problematic than initially expected. Come the end of the match and the dishing out of medals and the winner's flag, Chihaya's finger has swollen alarmingly, and so it's off to a nearby clinic to get it checked out. While Chihaya is being informed that the staff at said clinic really aren't too sure what the problem is while advising her to avoid anything which may be strenuous to her finger (like, y'know, competitive karuta), the reunion of Taichi and Arata is bringing up mixed emotions for the former amidst a blurring of the lines between their friendship and rivalry.
Of course, the second half of the episode turns into a "will she or won't she" story regarding Chihaya's participation in the individual tournament, and just as she's about to admit defeat and stand down up pops motivation after motivation to keep her playing in spite of her injury, to the point where she even decides to play as best she can left-handed. With another Class A player set to face her in the very first round, it seems as if there is no hope for our heroine given her handicap - we shall, of course, have to wait until next week to see if she can pull something out of the bag.
Although it was frustrating to see this episode delve into montages on a couple of occasions where they really weren't necessary (with the second of the two covering events that had only happened in the past week or two!), thankfully what new material there was to be found was satisfying enough in serving as the preamble to the individual tournament - there are so many delicious rivalries and friendships on difficult ground amongst those taking part that it's almost disappointing to think that we only have five episodes to go. Hopefully those remaining instalments will be as rip-roaring as everything that we've seen up to this point to ensure that, if nothing else, Chihayafuru can claim a place as one of the champions of sports anime.