On July 7-8 the seventh game of the Hon’inbo title match happened between Rin Kaihō Meijin and Ishida Yoshio Hon’inbo. We see a smiling Ishida in close up, and again in the game photo surveying his 2.5 point win. (Game record: Hon’inbo Game 7.)
The NHK television network sponsored an afternoon of go for foreigners at the Nihon Ki’in on July 16. Forty beginners participated in the lessons, led by Stuart Dowsey, ably assisted by Mark Hall. Honorary Hon’inbo Takagawa Shukaku (pictured with Dowsey) welcomed the group to a very successful event.
At the same time, on July 16-17 Fujisawa Shūkō continued his rear guard action against the attack of the younger generation, in the Meijin League. His victory (pictured) over Ishida Hon’inbo gave him the right to challenge Rin Meijin. (Game record: Meijin League Fujisawa vs. Ishida.) For our younger readers, the strange item in the corner of the playing room is a television set.
On July 23, the world patron of go, Iwamoto Kaoru left Japan for a tour of Europe. On the left, he is pictured with Kodama Sachiko 2d (later Honda Sachiko) in the center. Look for details of the trip in coming months.
In what could only in hindsight be called foreshadowing, the final of the 4th New Faces Tournament was televised on July 24. In a match up that will truly become monotonous in these reports if I live long enough, Kobayashi Kōichi 6d defeated Cho Chikun 5d. (Game record: New Faces Final Game.)
We close this month sadly, and looking back instead of forward. On July 26 1972, Segoe Kensaku, Honorary 9d, passed at age 83. He was simply a giant of go in the early part of the 20th Century. Central to the founding of the Nihon Ki’in, he became for decades its elder statesman. In the West, one of the founding books of English go literature was his essential Go Proverbs Illustrated and we can see him smiling at us from the back of its slipcover. Unlike Kitani Minoru, he had few formal disciples, but they were unmatched in terms of quality. His first was Hashimoto Utarō 9d, who won many titles, and founded the Kansai Ki’in. He was central to bringing his second, Go Seigen, to Japan, and little need be said about his accomplishments. Cho Hunhyun who dominated the Korean Go World for decades was the third.
Segoe’s most dramatic episode centered on his efforts to keep go alive during wartime Japan. By 1945, the Nihon Ki’in building had been destroyed, and Segoe had left Tokyo for the safety of his home in Itsukaichi, nestled in the hills ten kilometers from the center of the city of Hiroshima. There he managed to get the contestants in the Hon’inbo Title match together, and the first game was won by Iwamoto, over his pupil Hashimoto. The match was forced out of the city for safety reasons and the second game was played near his home in Itsukaichi. After two days, Hashimoto had managed a small lead, and on the morning of the third day, August 6, they had just finished wiping off the board, when they paused for an air raid warning. It ceased, and the moves from the previous days play were repeated, while the group noticed a lone plane circling the city in the distance. Soon there was a flash, and then a blast which rocked the room. It took an hour to clean up the room and play resumed. As the game ended, a few hours later, dying refugees from Hiroshima began to wander into the hills. Among them were Segoe’s son and his nephew, both of whom would shortly die.
Much of what we know of this event comes from the victor of the game, Hashimoto Utarō. In 1989 I was honored to attend the opening ceremony of the Kisei title in New York City, a match between Takemiya Masaki and Kobayashi Kōichi. But for me, the highlight were the brief remarks of the victor of the Atom Bomb Game, Hashimoto. I cannot specifically recall his translated words, but I will never forget the gentle grace, faith in humanity and love of go, he expressed – sharing his feelings of being in the United States, while filled with the memories of the past. For me, that is the legacy of the man, who made that game, and that grace, possible.
Photos from Go Review and by Keith Arnold, special thanks to John Fairbairn and T. Mark Hall for their “Go in Wartime Japan” chapter from The Go Companion