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50 Years aGO – June 1972

Sunday June 26, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

The month began with a tour group visit by 25 Japanese amateur players to London where an informal match was held at Imperial College on June 1. The group was led by Itō Tomoe, who was then 4d. Itō was a disciple of Kita Fumiko, and by the time of the tour, she had won the Women’s Championship seven times, including five consecutive victories. The British Go Journal reported that the locals won most of their games, but “Mrs. Itō…won all of her games.” The photo attached was taken when the tour group visited Köln, Germany.

The big story continued to be the Hon’inbo title rematch between Ishida Hon’inbo and Rin Meijin. The month began with the challenger leading 2-1. On June 7 and 8, Ishida evened the score with a comeback win in Game 4. However, we see a confident Rin after going up 3-2 on June 16 and 17. Finally, we see Ishida concentrating from over the challenger’s shoulder as he survived kadoban and evened the series at 3-3 on June 29 and 30. (Game records: Game Four, Game Five, Game Six).

On the weekend of June 23-24, John Diamond 4d defeated Tony Goddard 4d in straight games for the British Championship.

Rin Kaihō after winning Hon'inbo Game 5

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Photos from Go Review, game records from SmartGoOne

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50 years aGO – May 1972

Thursday May 26, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka with Patrick Bannister

The Hon’inbo Title, held by Ishida Yoshio, was the big topic of the month. The Hon’inbo League ended in a tie between Rin Meijin and the veteran Sakata Eio, each with scores of 5-2. A playoff was held on May 3 and 4 and Rin was victorious, setting up a rematch of last year’s event. The first two games (on May 8 to 9 and May 17 to 18) resulted in wins for black, the first game to Ishida, the second to Rin. But in the third game, Rin scored a win with white on May 25 to 26 to take the lead in the best of seven contest. (Game records: playoff game, Game 1, Game 2, Game 3.)

Meanwhile, as the month closes, Fujisawa Shūkō remains unbeaten at 4-0 in the Meijin League, with Ōtake Hideo trailing him at 4-1.

Finally we share an amazing picture of two of the people most responsible for the spread of go in the world. Edward Lasker visited the Nihon Ki’in on May 9 and caught up with Iwamoto Kaoru. Lasker, who founded the New York Go Club which gave birth to the American Go Association, can be justly named the father of go in the United States. His book Go and Gomoku was a very early effort, and far more influential than its few predecessors. Iwamoto, who played in the famous “atom bomb game,” dedicated his life and his resources to spreading go throughout the world, funding go centers in North and South America as well as Europe.

Hon'inbo Title Game 1 on 9 May 1972

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Photos courtesy of Go Review, game records from SmartGo

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50 Years aGO – April 1972

Saturday April 23, 2022

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

On April 12th, Ishida Yoshio nosed ahead of his modest challenger Iwata Tatsuaki 9d in the Pro Best Ten tournament. And, on April 24th, he completed his defense of the title. Although the games were all quite close, Iwata calmly remarked, “After all, the weaker player lost.” (Game records: Game 3, Game 4.)

As of April 15, the Hon’inbo League had but one game to play, and a playoff would be required to challenge Ishida Hon’inbo. Sakata Jūdan and Rin Meijin finished tied with 5-2 records. The Meijin League still had a way to go, but Fujisawa Shūkō led with a 4-0 record. Ōtake Hideo trailed at 3-1 and they had yet to play.

Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972)
Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972)

But the bulk of this month’s article will be devoted to Kawabata Yasunari, the Nobel Prize winning author of The Master of Go, who died on April 15 1972.

At the outset some important non-go business. It should be noted that Kawabata did not win his Nobel for our favorite work, but rather, for all of his efforts. The Nobel Committee cited three novels: Snow Country, Thousand Cranes, and The Old Capital. Additionally, there are growing theories that his death was accidental, as opposed to by his own hand as traditionally claimed.

Nothing I can say about The Master of Go can compare to simply picking it up and reading it. The book is based on his own newspaper accounts covering the famous retirement game between Hon’inbo Shūsai and Kitani Minoru. Some of the names are changed to protect the victorious, but the game is the same, and Kawabata calmly and deftly not only relates it to us, in wonderful detail, but locates it in history. For Kawabata, looking back in 1951, the Master and the game were the end of the old Japan, and the challenger “Otake” were the first wind of change, soon to be a whirlwind.

Kawabata’s place in the go world is of course grounded in this book, but went far beyond it. He was a 5d amateur player, back in a time when that was quite impressive. He served for many years on the committee that awarded the annual Shūsai prizes. A friend of Sakata, you can see him in the background of many title match photos.

Another lasting contribution, inspiring players today, is his wonderful calligraphy adorning the ceremonial playing room at the Nihon Ki’in – the Yūgen no Ma room, site of many matches and even featured in Hikaru no Go. His scroll means “deep, subtle mysteries.” A perfect, and frightening sight for a challenger to see over the shoulders of a champion, and a completely relatable description of the game for the rest of us.

Kawabata's novel The Master of Go (Meijin)

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50 years aGO – March 1972

Sunday March 20, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

We start this month with a report from the former editor of Go World, author of Invincible and translator of many go books, John Power. If you go back to the team match photo from last month’s column, I only identified the first three boards. Power’s sharp eye offers that Board 4 was Horst Mueller of Austria, Board 5 was Stuart Dowsey “cofounder of Ishi Press and founder of the London Go Centre,” and Board 6 was William Pinckard whose book on go art is one my favorites. I myself recognized Dowsey, but did not want to make everyone squint, but I am happy to offer this addendum simply out of pride that Mr. Power takes the time to read my efforts.

Speaking of Stuart Dowsey, on March 10 Dowsey and Manfred Wimmer taught Max Euwe, the President of the World Chess Federation and former World Chess Champion, how to play go during a visit to the Nihon Ki’in.

March 19 saw the start of the the Amateur Best 10 tournament. James Davies 4d made it to the second round, while Wimmer 5d made it to the third.

Mr. Wimmer had a busy month, here we see him playing on NHK TV. His opponent is the female junior high champion, Endō Keiko. According to Go Review, Wimmer demonstrated his knowledge of the taisha jōseki on his way to a three and a half point win.

On March 22, Ishida Yoshio began his defense of his Asahi Pro Best Ten title. The challenger, Iwata Tatsuaki 9d, was not a frequent challenger for top titles. Indeed, responding to the surprise of the go world, Iwata responded “That’s right, it is indeed a fluke.” Iwata, known for calm courtesy, was perhaps being modest, you do not defeat fellow senior Kitani disciple Ōtake Hideo, Hashimoto Shōji, Sugiuchi Masao and Sakata Eio in succession and not be worthy. Still the challenge created an almost modern style pregame show with various pros opining as to who would win. Katō Masao 7d backed Ishida, while Kanō Yoshinori 9d (author of Graded Go Problems for Beginners) believed Iwata had a very good chance because of the similarity of their styles. Rin Kaihō diplomatically and prudently suggested that in his experience, the winner of the first game usually won. Ishida took the first game by a half a point, but Iwata leveled the match on March 28. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2.)

As of March 23, the former title holders were still holding on to the lead in the leagues. Rin was 5-0 in the Hon’inbo, and Fujisawa Shūkō was 3-0 in the Meijin. Ishida had bounced back from his poor start in the Meijin League to level his result at 2-2.

World Chess Federation President Max Euwe learns to play Go

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Game records courtesy of SmartGo, photos from Go Review

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50 years aGO – February 1972

Sunday February 20, 2022

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

We start with another quick tidbit about inflation. The Nihon Ki’in released the prize leaders for 1971. Rin Kaihō led the pros with a princely income of $25,000.

On February 11, the Nihon Ki’in Team Tournament began. At the urging of Fujisawa Hōsai 9d, a “gaijin” team entered the event for 15 player teams. 11 Americans, 2 Austrians and 2 British made up the “Ishi Press Team.” Their first three boards were Manfred Wimmer, Richard Bozulich and James Davies – you can make them out in the attached picture from the event. Other notables were one time AGA President Robert McCallister and Congress Director Stuart Horowitz. Unfortunately full names are not given and we are left to speculate whether “Hall” was T. Mark Hall, co-creator of GoGOD. The top boards had a solid 70% win rate, but the tail end of the team was not as successful, and they were eliminated in the initial stage.

The Jūdan title match went the full 5 game distance. Beginning the month knotted at one game apiece, Sakata Eio took the lead in the third game played on February 9 and 10. Hashimoto Utarō managed to even the score by half a point on February 16 and 17. However, Sakata returned from the wilderness, taking the title on February 23-24. (Game records: Game 3, Game 4, Game 5.)

The Ishi Press Team at the Nihon Ki'in Team Tournament

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Photos from Go Review, game records from SmartGo

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50 Years aGO – January 1972

Sunday January 16, 2022

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Ōhira Shūzō wins the Nihon Ki’in Championship

On January 7th, Kitani Reiko 6d (daughter of the great Kitani Minoru, wife of Kobayashi Kōichi) defeated Honda Sachiko 4d to capture the Ladies Hon’inbo for the sixth time. It should be noted that the Hon’inbo title eluded her father and her husband, but not her daughter, Kobayashi Izumi. (Game record: Ladies Hon’inbo Game 3)

Two events dominated this month, our coverage of them started last. First, two games completed the Nihon Ki’in Championship, which started the new year knotted at 1-1. On January 11-12, Ishida Yoshio lost to Ōhira Shūzō in a game titled by Go Review, “Even Computers Make Mistakes.” Ōhira regained the title with a win in the fourth game on January 18-19. (Game records: Nihon Ki’in Championship Game 3, Game 4)

Sakata Eio wins Jūdan Game 1

Japanese go fans were enthralled by the Jūdan match between two members of the old guard. It should be noted, back in those days, the Jūdan was 4th in prestige amongst the big seven titles. On January 26-27, Sakata Eio defeated the title holder Hashimoto Utarō in the first game. (Game record: Jūdan Game 1)

There were interesting developments in the Meijin and Hon’inbo leagues. As of January 27, both dethroned champions were leading the leagues. Fujisawa Shūkō led the Meijin League, seeking revenge against Rin Meijin, while Rin led the Hon’inbo League looking for a rematch with Ishida Hon’inbo. Ishida was off to a bad start (0-2) in the Meijin League.

Game records thanks to SmartGo, photos from Go Review.

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50 Years aGO – December 1971

Friday December 31, 2021

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Nihon Ki'in Championship match between Ishida Yoshio and Ōhira Shūzō
Nihon Ki’in Championship match between Ishida Yoshio and Ōhira Shūzō

European amateur Manfred Wimmer played taisha expert Yamabe Toshirō 9d in a three stone game. Wimmer, studying go in Japan, played quite creditably, in a game featured in Go Review, losing by three points.

On December 16, Sakata Eio defeated Rin Kaihō for the right to challenge Hashimoto Utarō for the Jūdan title. (Game record attached here.)

Ōhira Shūzō began his bid to regain the Nihon Ki’in Championship from title holder Ishida Yoshio. Ishida won the first game on December 21st, but Ōhira evened the series on December 27. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2.)

Sakata Eio wins again Rin Kaihō in the Jūdan Tournament
Sakata Eio wins again Rin Kaihō in the Jūdan Tournament

Finally in this holiday season while many are out purchasing presents and facing a bit of inflation, we thought we would feature the prices of yesteryear, as stated in a Go Review ad. For those of you with a nice real kaya table board, slate and shell stones and cherry bowls on your wish list, the price was a “hefty” $110, shipping included. Happy Holidays!

Photos courtesy of Go Review, game records from SmartGo

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50 Years aGO – November 1971

Wednesday November 24, 2021

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

On November 4, Sakata Eio won the first game in his defense of the Ōza title against Hashimoto Shōji 9d. He completed the defense on November 17. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2)

Back in the USA, Takao Matsuda won the New York Championship on November 20 and 21. Future AGA President John Stephenson was promoted to shodan after winning the kyu championship.

Go Seigen made a trip to the US, visiting Hawaii as well as New York from the 15th to the 20th and San Francisco on the 22nd. New York Champion Matsuda was one of the few players to manage a win against him – on three stones. The game was featured in Go Review.

As mentioned previously in this column, the “new” (and current) Nihon Ki’in building was opened on November 22.

Finally, in Europe, the International Go Master Tournament was held in Yugoslavia from the 26th to the 29th. The clear champion with a perfect 6-0 record was Jürgen Mattern of Germany.

Sakata Eio wins Ōza title match Game 1

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Photos courtesy of Go Review

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50 Years aGO – October 1971

Monday October 25, 2021

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Fans of Japan’s “old guard” had gotten hopeful that Fujisawa Shūkō might hold the Meijin title, but those hopes were dashed on 5-6 October as Rin Kaihō won the sixth game, regaining the title with a 4-2 finish. (Game record: Meijin Game 6.)

On 23 to 24 October, the second U.S. International Go Tournament took place in New York City. Once again, the Chinese team led by Dr. C.S. Shen were the victors, with a 16-2 record in the competition between three player teams – two Chinese teams, two Japanese teams, two Korean teams, and one U.S. team. (Author’s note – I suspect that these teams were drawn on racial lines, some of the “foreign players” were probably citizens, certainly residents of the U.S.) The U.S. team of Robert Ryder, Harry Gonshor, and Gerald Rogers were a surprise second place. The Japan A team, headed by long time New York Go Club President Mitsuo Horiguchi, placed third.

On 31 October (the following weekend) the 2nd Wessex Tournament was held, sponsored by the Bristol Go Club. The 52-player British Go Association event was won by Rick Hubbell, 3 dan of Seattle Washington.

Rin Kaihō wins Game 6 of the Meijin title match, retaking the Meijin title.
Rin Kaihō retakes the Meijin title

Image courtesy of Igo Club.

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50 Years aGO – September 1971

Saturday September 25, 2021

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Two early matches in the TV tournaments attracted attention because of interesting match ups. First, on September 5, Kitani Reiko 6d, daughter of the great Kitani Minoru (and future wife of Kobayashi Koichi and mother of Kobayashi Izumi) upset Takagawa Shukaku 9d in the 4th Quick Go Tournament. (Game record: Kitani-Takagawa.)

Second, on September 12, the new Hon’inbo Ishida Yoshio faced off against the legendary Go Seigen in the 19th NHK Tournament. Go Review remarked that Go “overwhelmingly defeated” the young star. See for yourself in the game record: Go-Ishida.

But the month was dominated by Rin Kaihō’s attempt to get the Meijin title back from Fujisawa Shūkō. The second game was postponed for a day due to the title holder’s health and he lost the game to go down 0-2. Shūkō then came back to win the 3rd and 4th games, played from September 9 to 10 and September 17 to 18 respectively, to even the series. But we offer a photo of a smiling Rin after his victory in the 5th game, played from September 27 to 28, to lead the series 3-2. (Game records: Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, Game 5.)

Kitani Reiko wins Hayago tournament game against Takagawa Shukaku

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Photos courtesy of Go Review

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