American Go E-Journal

Kerwin Retires from Nihon Ki-in (But Not From Go)

Sunday March 31, 2013

James Kerwin 1P, the first Westerner to become a professional player at the Nihon Ki-in, has retired as of 31 March. A disciple of the late Iwamoto Kaoru 9P, Kerwin became professional 1-dan on February 14, 1978. The following year he¬†won the 1-dan section of the Kisei tournament. Although he went back to the US to teach a couple of years later, Kerwin had retained his affiliation with the Nihon Ki-in. “I was informed that they now have a mandatory retirement rule, so I obliged,” Kerwin tells the E-Journal. “While I have retired from the Nihon Ki-in, I have not retired from go.”

“I have the deepest gratitude to the Nihon Ki-in for training me in the game I love so much and for accepting me as one of them,” Kerwin said in a note accompanying his official retirement letter. “During the years I lived in Japan I gained the greatest respect for the Japanese people and a love of their culture and art. I came to Japan because I could not reach my potential as a go player in my own country. When I returned to the United States, I wanted to help advance the level of teaching in the United States so other players could reach their potential without living abroad. Even today American players cannot reach their full potential here, but they can come much closer. I am pleased that I could contribute to that advance in a small way, and the Nihon Ki-in made that possible. I must also say the many efforts the Nihon Ki-in has made to assist Western go players are extraordinary.”

Three other players retired on the same day (which is the end of the financial year in Japan). They included Haruyama Isamu 9P, known in the West for his frequent instruction tours and for co-authoring a classic Ishi Press/Kiseido book Basic Techniques of Go.
- John Power; photo courtesy Nihon Ki-in

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