by Jan Engelhardt
While a number of western countries have begun hosting professionals from Japan, Korea and China to teach and promote go, westerners who have become professional go players are still very rare. So rare that thus far it’s only happened eleven times.
The only German who ever became a professional go player was Hans Pietsch, who became a professional 1-dan at the Nihon Ki-In in 1997. Born in 1968 in Bremen, Germany, Pietsch discovered go at the relatively late age of 12 but after great sucess in German and European tournaments he decided to try to become a professional in Japan. In 1990 he started as an Insei at the Nihon Ki-in Go Scool in Chiba, studying with Kobayashi Chizu, who supported him a lot from the very beginning. After seven long years he finally made pro and was promoted to 4-dan in just three years.
Pietsch’s most famous game was his 1997 half-point victory against Yoda Norimoto. An Youngil 8P recently published a very detailed commentary about that game.
Tragically, Pietsch’s blossoming career was cut short when he was murdered 10 years ago during an armed robbery while on a promotional tour for the Nihon Ki-In in Guatemala. He was posthumously promoted to 6-dan. The German go community honors his memory annually at the ‘Hans Pietsch Memorial’ tournament, a team tournament in which schools from all over Germany take part. This year there will also be a large international tournament in Budapest. The main goal of the organizers around Csaba Mero is to keep the memory of Hans Pietsch alive
It’s impossible to know that the German go scene would look like today if it had a native professional. We can just try to follow his example in realising our dreams, keeping in mind that the time to do so can be much shorter than you think.
- Jan Engelhardt is the E-Journal’s German correspondent.Click here to see more photos.