News has belatedly reached us of the death of two former Philadelphia go players, Hugh Albright and John Bender.
Albright, who died of heart failure at 82 in 2011, “was an avid go player in the ’80′s and ’90′s,” says former AGA President Phil Straus. He “played regularly at the Philadelphia Go Club, which met in my house in the 80′s, and was a very active participant in East Coast tournaments.” A retired professor of mathematics and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at La Salle University, Albright was a Christian Brother who lived for 40 years in the Christian Brothers community in Mount Airy, Philadelphia. “Never did he show anger or impatience of criticism,” said fellow Brother Edward Davis. “He had a wonderful sense of humor and a passionate enjoyment of life.” Albright “enjoyed chess and played basketball in his younger years,” according to his obituary. He also played the piano and studied Gregorian chant.
The 44-year-old Bender – “the fastest-learning go player” Straus ever taught – “known on Wall Street as the troubled genius who’d quit the billionaire track without explanation in 2000 and retreated to a fortified compound in the Costa Rican jungle” died there mysteriously on January 8, 2010, reports Ned Zeman in “Love and Madness in the Jungle,” published May 7, 2013 in Outside Magazine. Originally thought a suicide, authorities have since charged Bender’s wife with his murder. Bender “went from beginner to 4-dan very quickly,” says Straus. Bender “Gave a talk about go attitude at the 1987 Go Congress,” Straus says. “Didn’t think blunders were important. Only plans were important. ” “His progress in the game was amazing,” agrees Wing Luk, who knew Bender when he was a student at Penn in 1985. “John and I together went to North Philadelphia to play against the Koreans a number of times.” This and other remembrances of Bender are on Jonathan Kaplan’s blog. photo: John and Ann Bender at their 1999 wedding; photo courtesy Outside Magazine