“Though we’ve lost one of the go world’s brightest lights,” said AGA President Andy Okun. “We’re fortunate that Chen Zude inspired so many to follow in his path, leaving a community that, while saddened by this loss, is larger and stronger than ever.”
Credited as the first modern Chinese player to defeat a Japanese nine-dan (Iwata Tatsuaki) in an even game, Chen grew up during the “Cultural Revolution” era and was a self-taught player as well as a politically savvy go promoter, bringing the game from the status of “bourgeois decadence” to that a mind sport of national pride. He is often considered the father of modern go in China and as go became integrated into the sports ministry in China, Chen was selected as the first president of China Qiyuan when it was established in 1992 to promote go as a profession. He continued in that position until 2003 when it was passed on to Wang Runan. Chen was also the first president of the Chinese Weiqi Association, a body that represents go on the international scene. In 1980, when Chen was playing in the “Xintiyu Bei” (New Sports Cup), he vomited blood and was diagnosed with stomach cancer, which he battled for 32 years.
“Because of his health, Chen never visited the US, but he often expressed his hope that the West would get to appreciate the fascinating game to which he devoted his life,” reports International Go Federation (IGF) vice president Thomas Hsiang, who met Chen in Beijing in 2008. “He always gladly hosted visitors from the West, giving them copies of his books and offering the full cooperation of China Qiyuan.” Chen’s study of fuseki “triggered the systematic study of fuseki both in China and Japan,” adds Frank Fukuda. “He also advocated and emphasized the cultural aspects of go, saying that it would bring peace and help people conduct themselves well.”
photo: Chen (second from left) in 2008 with Thomas Hsiang (second from right), Hua Yigang (then president of the China Qiyuan) and Hsiang’s wife, Joy (left).