Alongside series such as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Saiunkoku Monogatari and Kaiji, which all have plenty of time to build up, Shion no Ou forms an excellent addition, simply because the time it has to work with is quite limited, so it has to keep up quite a fast pacing to finish in time. Unlike the series above, you just know that every episode will be interesting and push the storyline a considerable amount further. This effect becomes even more apparent when the characters are just so addictive as in this series. I could care less about the Shougi at this point, the characters themselves make this series worthwhile enough to keep watching.
This episode probably forms the end of the small intermezzo, where Satoru gets fleshed out even more, and where we see two matches: one between Saori and Shion, and one between Ayumi and Satoru. All of them were interesting, and quite important for the storyline. After the first one, Saori finally starts to consider Shion as a worthy opponent, instead of a cute girl who happens to be good at shougi, after Shion makes quite a few smart moves in a quick match. Satoru on the other hand, loses to Ayumi on purpose, in order to test the guy/girl out. His motivations are still quite fuzzy at the moment, but I think that we’ll find these out quite soon.
I’m also quite surprised at how often the reporter-guy passes by. The guy gets featured in the OP, but is he something more than just a bystander, or will he too play some kind of more important role in the future? In the later part of the episode, we also see Shion and Ayumi, going to a local fast-food-restaurant, and the two of them were SO cute at the time. I’m really surprised at how the usually stoic Ayumi talked in such a gentle way to Shion.
One thing that I’ve been wondering: how come the police couldn’t find anything through fingerprint analysis? The murderer basically placed the king of shougi on the board after he killed Shion’s parents. He wasn’t wearing gloves, as Shion recognized how the fingers of the guy were pretty… so why hasn’t fingerprint analysis pointed out the victim? Or could this be because the murderer has never been in contact with the police before?