Go Seigen, regarded by many as the greatest go player ever, passed away at 1:11 am on November 30 in Japan. Go Seigen had celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year, joined by go players around the world. “We mourn the passing of a truly great master and celebrate his life and the deep understanding of the game he left us with,” said American Go Association President Andy Okun.
Born in China on June 12, 1914, Go Seigen (Wu Qingyuan in Chinese) did not start learning the game of go until he was nine, a relatively late age for a professional. But he quickly excelled and soon became known as a go prodigy, immigrating to Japan in 1928 at the invitation of Baron Kihachiro Okura and Inukai Tsuyoshi (later prime minister of Japan), where he embarked on a professional career. He was tutored by Segoe Kensaku, the same teacher as Hashimoto Utaro and Cho Hunhyun.
In 1933, along with his great friend Kitani Minoru, Go Seigen developed and popularized the Shinfuseki that broke away from the traditional opening patterns. It is for this very important contribution that Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru are recognized as the fathers of modern go. Starting in 1939, Go Seigen began a spectacular series of Jubango matches against other top players of the day. It was through these matches that Go Seigen convincingly demonstrated an overwhelming dominance over his contemporaries. Go Seigen had only one formal disciple – Rin Kaiho, Honorary Tengen. Go Seigen’s star began to fade in the early 1960s due to health reasons and he had to virtually retire from playing professional go by 1964. However, he continued to remain active in the go community through teaching, writing, and promoting go around the world.
“I still study Go every day, placing stones on the board,” Go Seigen wrote in “A Way of Play for the 21st Century.” “You might think study is meaningless for me, since I retired so many years ago. But for people who play it, Go is like an eternal friend, a permanent art form. I’ll continue playing and studying Go. Probably just like you.”
Read more about Go Seigen here Go Seigen: The Go Master and here. We welcome your thoughts about Go Seigen’s influence on the game of go or on you as a go player; please add your comment below or send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Includes reporting in Go Game Guru and Wikipedia; photo (left) by Zhang Jingna.