by None Redmond: My memories of Don Wiener are filled with his kindness, a tenderness which was rarely seen. I especially remember some years ago when he was one of those in the go community who persuaded me to attend the annual U.S. Go Congress even though my husband Peter — who initiated our family’s involvement with go — had died a few months before and I would be alone. When I arrived in Santa Fe, Don reassured me, got me through the registration line quickly and shepherded me through the maze of buildings to where the children would be playing. It was a wonderful set up for the young people and I was pleased for them. Don became my constant companion during that Congress and I remember that while Michael was playing a simul with the four Redmond Cup finalists, I suddenly thought I saw my husband, young, healthy and vigorous coming in through the door to watch. Don quickly took my arm and led me out to the patio where he stayed and comforted me until I recovered. I remember his own sorrow when a friend of his died and I believe this tenderness of heart may be something that very few of you saw, obscured perhaps by his legendary prowess at the go board. Don was a mensch, an entire man and a good friend. I hope his example brings a gentler side to those of you who compete in this absorbing game. And perhaps a gentler side to all of us. I shall always remember him.
Phil Straus: Don was the last person I allowed to smoke cigarettes in my house. That was probably in the late nineties. I brought out my Chinese swan ashtray, and we played endless handicap games in my office. We’d play one-game kadobans, and he consistently pushed me to embarrassingly high number of stones.
Steven Jamar: One full-board game I played with Don was about a 7-stone handicap. He made an impossible invasion and when I said “You can’t do that!” he replied “if I can’t the handicap is too large.” That one comment taught me a whole new level of detachment to the game and any one result.
Chris Garlock: My favorite and most enduring memory of Don is of those summer evenings at The Woodlands in the Catskills, when Don, after a long day playing game after game on the wrap-around porch out front, would take his seat at the piano inside and play long into the night. His vast repertoire included every Tom Paxton, Harry Chapin and Phil Ochs song and we could stump him with an obscure song request about as often as we could beat him on the go board. Which is to say, almost never.
- photos by Phil Straus