American Go E-Journal


Sunday December 5, 2010

After fifteen years, the New York Go Center closed its East 52nd Street location on November 30. However, leaders and members pledged to keep the Center’s go community going until a new physical location can be established. The Center opened in 1995 when the Nihon Ki-in purchased the four-story building with a generous bequest by Honinbo Iwamoto Kaoru 9P, who also founded centers in Brazil, Amsterdam and Seattle. The Center succeeded the New York Go Club, which had existed since the 1950’s in a series of temporary locations. Iwamoto always seemed especially interested in the outside world. He played a key role in bringing Go Seigen to Japan from China, and lived in Brazil for two years in his twenties. In 1945, he challenged Hashimoto Utaro for the Honinbo title and they were concluding the second game of the title match in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, when the first atomic bomb exploded over the city. The experience transformed Iwamoto, who became dedicated to using go as a way to promote peace and international understanding. He traveled extensively in the West, spending eighteen months in the US at one point. Over the years he made repeated visits to New York, instructing the New York go community in the depth and profundity of the game. The Center’s closure, while a bitter disappointment to all concerned, was not entirely unexpected. Attendance averaged just six players per day, and the building, which requires major renovations, had become an economic liability for the Nihon Ki-in. Newly elected Nihon Ki-in Board member Chizu Kobayashi 5P (standing, at right), Executive Director of the Nihon Kiin’s Overseas Department, traveled from Japan with Norio Wada, the Overseas Department’s Secretary General, to attend the closing meeting on November 30. Ms. Kobayashi, who has visited New York in the past and lived in Europe for many years, is an ardent supporter of Western go and expressed her strong personal support for the Center. More than thirty players (left) came out on a cold, rainy Tuesday to support the Center and to participate in a general discussion of the issues with Ms. Kobayashi, who said that all proceeds from the sale of the building will be used to support international go, as Iwamoto had intended. “He could have given this money to his family,” she said. “But he gave it to support go in the West, and that is how it will be used. The go world has changed very much in the past fifteen years, and we must adjust to today’s situation.” The recently expanded board of Nihon Ki-in America, the 501c3 corporation that has been operating the Center’s go activities, will continue working with Ms. Kobayashi and the Nihon Ki-in board to find a way to support a Go Center for all players in New York. In the meantime the Center’s leadership intends to provide news and information about other playing sites in New York. By getting to know the other playing communities better, they hope to open a new, more successful site in the near future. Visit the New York Go Center’s website for further information, or subscribe to the Center’s mailing list by writing to
– reported by Chris Garlock; photos by Terry Benson

Farewell Haiku for the New York Go Center
the dead master’s tears
drown the click of stone on wood
bitter autumn rain
– Keith Arnold

Categories: U.S./North America