Nakayama Noriyuki 6P died on February 16. The prolific author, reporter and go writer was well-known to American go players who met him during his many trips to the United States over the last three decades. “Nakayama’s deep and abiding love for the game of go and his irrepressible sense of humor endeared him to everyone who was fortunate enough to cross his path over the years,” said American Go Association President Allan Abramson. “He’ll be missed by his many friends around the world.” Said Ji Li 7D, one of the top American amateur players, “Nakayama made significant impacts and contributions to the American go community.” One of Nakayama’s most popular books in the West, The Treasure Chest Enigma, was re-issued in 2005; he ghost wrote books for many top professionals and authored several for himself. Well known as one of the professionals who most toured the West to spread and teach go, Nakayama – born September 3, 1932 — loved to play amateurs and – a twinkle in his eye – would respond to their questionable moves by saying, with a quizzically cocked head, “Ah! New Joseki, neh?!”, or “Oohh! Strong move! But maybe… this (playing his move…) better!!!” Although Nakayama never won a title, “He was funny and approachable,” said longtime fan Keith Arnold 5d. “There was an unmistakable quiet dignity that did not ask for, yet clearly demanded respect. Respect for a dedication to the game, to teaching, and to spreading its joys, winning players with a smile.”
- Chris Garlock, includes reporting on Sensei’s Library; photo by Phil Straus; click here for his album of Nakayama photos
NAKAYAMA’S LAST LECTURE: Longtime Congress favorite Noriyuki Nakayama 6P announced at the 2006 US Go Congress that it would be the last year he’d be attending the U.S Go Congress. His wife had been ill recently and it was a great hardship for him to be away for the month it took to attend both the U.S. and European Congresses. At a standing-room only lecture at the Congress, the irrepressible Nakayama said that “I’m afraid the answer might be ‘jigo’ if my wife asks me which is more important, my American go friends or her.” Much-loved for his cherubic delight in teaching go to players of all strengths, Nakayama said “The best thing about go is that you make many friends.” At the lecture, he set up two life and death problems and invited members of the audience to come up and try to solve them, gleefully refuting the wrong moves until somebody solved the problem correctly. For the game section of the lecture, he showed part of the game he won to get promoted to 2P.
- Chris Garlock; Photo by Jian Zhang
LETTER FROM JAPAN: Goodbye, The Congress I Love
By Noriyuki Nakayama 6P
I participated in the US Go Congress this year (2006) as I have for last 21 years. The US Go Congress, which started in 1985, could just as well be described as “the US Open Go Festival.” Participants include players from European countries, Japan and many other countries who love this “Festival” as well as go enthusiasts and go maniacs from every corner of the United States. For many participants, these events are a vacation involving spouses and other members of the family. Many wives and children learn go and participate in events like Pair Go, the 9×9 tournament and Kid’s Go.
I have been engaged in activities to introduce and popularize the game of go in the USA before the US Go Congress was organized, but unfortunately, this year’s visit will be the last one due to my wife’s health problems. I know that I will miss the Go Congress and my friends there very much since I started this journey when I was 49 and it has lasted a full quarter-century since then.
On August 19, 2006, my last lecture started after all the Congress events were finished. It had become a kind of Congress custom for me to present a lecture as the final event but this year’s — literally “the last lecture” – attracted most of the approximately 250 people at the Congress. In the standing ovation which lasted long after I finished, overwhelmed by the emotion, I could not find the words to say Goodbye Go Congress, Goodbye America, Goodbye my dear American go friends!
- A longer version of this letter appeared in the October 9, 2006 edition of the Nihon Ki-in’s weekly Go magazine. Translated by Frank Fukuda and edited by Chris Garlock. This letter also appears in the 2006 American Go Yearbook.
As it turned out, Nakayama was able to attend one last U.S. Go Congress, in 2007…
“There are three steps to get better,” Noriyuki Nakayama 6P said at a lecture at the 2007 U.S. Go Congress. “Step 1: buy a book. Step 2: read it! Step 3: practice!” As entertaining as always, Nakyama kept the attentive crowd laughing appreciatively as he mixed game analysis of Takemiya’s games with fascinating and amusing anecdotes from the go world. “Replay professional games,” Nakyama advised. “Eventually you will start playing better moves because your fingers will know where to play. Not your mind, your fingers.”
“Ah, The Clam Shells Are Heavy”
Excerpted from The Treasure Chest Enigma; A Go Miscellany, by Nakayama Noriyuki
A little before six in the evening, Kajiwara, who had been glaring at the board hard enough to bore a hole in it, suddenly raised his head and glanced at the scenery outside in the gathering dusk. Not surprisingly, he bore signs of considerable fatigue.
The game recorder’s voice rang out. “Time is up. Kajiwara Sensei, please seal the next move.”
Kajiwara gave a deep nod of assent, then shifted his gaze back to the board. Some five minutes passed by. Suddenly he called out in a flurried tone, “What? The next move’s the sealed move.” His eyes were riveted on the board.
With his whole being concentrated on the go board, Kajiwara had only half taken in the game recorder’s words when he first spoke.
“Yes. The next move – is – the sealed move.” The game recorder replied slowly and carefully, enunciating each syllable clearly.
Kajiwara finally seemed to have grasped that the next move was the sealed move. He let out a long sigh. “Oh? The sealed move?” After a little while he sighed again. “I’m tired out,” he muttered. Preoccupied though he was with his own game, Tainaka happened to overhear these words. Glancing over at the neighboring board, he commented sarcastically: “Why? You’ve only played four stones.”
Kajiwara’s reply to this was a masterpiece. Glaring at the board with a look of complete exhaustion on his face, he muttered: “The clam shells are heavy today.”
Photo: Nakayama and Yoshiaki Nagahara 6P watch a casual game at the 2007 Congress; photo by Roy Laird
IN MEMORY OF NAKAYAMA SENSEI: A number of Nakayama appreciations, tributes and memories has been posted on GoDiscussions.com http://www.godiscussions.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11152 , including a record of a game between Nakayama and Kojima Takaho, which made the Kido yearbook’s section on noteworthy games, posted by John Fairbairn.
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