American Go E-Journal » 50 years aGO

50 years aGo – September 1970

Thursday September 17, 2020

by Keith L. Arnold, hka with Patrick Bannister

On September 9 a young man traveled to Japan from Seattle, intending to stay for one year. That man was James Davies, and I think he has been there ever since, producing many of the true classics of Western Go literature including “Life and Death” and “Tesuji”.

A changing of the guard was noted when Sakata lost to Otake in the final game of the Meijin league. This loss dropped Sakata from the league. This same year saw Takagawa dropped from the Honinbo League after more than 20 years as the title holder or member of the league.

The European Go Congress ended on September 13 in Vienna, with Jurgen Mattern of Germany winning the European Championship.

A certain S. Horowitz of the USA was staying in Tokyo and working as an assistant editor of Go Review, according to Go Review.

But the dominant topic of the month was the the struggle for the Meijin title between Rin Meijin and challenger Shuko. Rin looks quite pleased to even the score with a win in the second game played September 7 and 8. That’s the back of the late Go Seigen’s head in the foreground. Rin won again in the third game, played on the 15th and 16th, but Shuko evened the score at 2-2 with a win in game 4 on September 24-25. We will see who wins next month.

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50 years aGO: August 1970

Saturday August 22, 2020

Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

I was pleased that I was not the only one to struggle with identifying Takagi Shoichi, pictured last month.  It takes a pro to know one, congratulations to Alexandre Dinerchtein for recognizing the Mt. Holyoke Congress attendee and winner of his second title this month fifty years ago.

On August 6, Fujisawa Shuko defeated Sakata Eio for the right to challenge Rin Kaiho for the Meijin title. (game record here)  Rin can be seen watching along with Takagawa, Otake and Awaji Shuzo.  Shuko started the match on August 28 in classic style, winning the first game while using only 4 hours and 25 minutes of his clock in the two day match.

Here we see the great Iwamoto waving goodbye (top left) as he takes an extended trip to spread go in the west.  Leaving Tokyo on August 7, his itinerary included Berlin, Frankfurt, Zagreb and Vienna.

He would leave behind the E-Journal’s own Richard Dolen (bottom right), who was visiting Japan during an extended research visit.  The then-4dan college professor also took part in the third annual match (top right) on August 23 between the “Gaijin” (foreigner) team and the Koyukai, a woman’s go group at the Nihon Kiin.  The all-male team were victorious, winners including Dolen, Richard Bozulich, Horst Muller, William Pinckard, John Tilley and future Congress Director Stuart Horowitz.  The two losses for the west were U.S. attorney Gene Kazlow on board one, and the late T. Mark Hall, co-creator of GoGod.

Speaking of Richard Bozulich, not only was the founder of Ishi Press victorious on board 2, here he is (bottom left, in the glasses) enjoying some whiskey with Iwamoto and others in an ad in the August issue of Go Weekly.

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Mystery man no more

Sunday August 9, 2020

We have a winner! The mystery go player shown in the last 50 years aGO is Takagi Shoichi, 9-dan. We had a number of incorrect guesses, including Noriyuki Nakayama – well-known for his wide and infectious smile — and Takagawa Kajiwara, who did write an Ishi Press book. “It does look like Kajiwara,” says Keith Arnold, “However the timing is way off, this guy is way too young to be Kajiwara, and Kajiwara never came to a Congress.”

In the end, Alexandre Dinerchtein came through, saying that Takagi is “One of my favourite masters. I really like his active playing style and fuseki (5-4 stones, thickness). He is the author of Beyond Forcing Moves.” Takagi “had a mane of wild hair Sakata- or Cho Chikun-style as he aged, so the closer cropped hair totally stumped me,” says Arnold.

This is a preview of the upcoming August 50 years aGO, which will feature Takagi, who won the Shin’ei Tournament — final match with Kudō Norio played on 2 August 1970. The caption mentions that he had recently won the Shushō Cup in 1969.

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Your Move/Readers Write: Still stumped

Tuesday August 4, 2020

“Is the photo a very young Ishida Yoshio?” wonders Shai Simonson, in response to our recent 50 years aGO stumper: Who’s pictured in the photo at left? Hints were that he attended a U.S. Go Congress and wrote an Ishi Press book. “(Ishida) wrote ‘All About Thickness’ for Ishi Press, and attended the (first?) Go Congress in 1985 in Maryland,” adds Simonson.
“It looks like it could be a young Takemiya Masaki, who later wrote ‘Enclosure Josekis’ and attended the 29th US Go Congress,” writes Michael Kyriakakis.
Nope and nope, says Keith Arnold. If you think you know the answer, send it to us c/o journal@usgo.org.

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50 years aGO: July 1970

Sunday July 12, 2020

Keith Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Our feature photo this month was originally captioned “Clash of the Titans: Takagawa vs. Go Seigen in the 18th Ōza Tournament,” 9 July 1970.  Takagawa (left, in photo at right)  was by this time one of the elder statesmen of the game,   His greatest achievement was holding the Honinbo title for nine consecutive years.  His “simple,” solid style has long been prized as one amateur players should emulate as they get stronger.  Two of the early go books in English – How to Play Go and Vital Points of Go – were published by the Nihon Kiin.

Go Seigen, of course, needs no introduction, arguably the greatest go player of all time.  At his peak, it is fair to say that he was at least a stone better than the entire world.  Game record here.

The quizmaster, stumped: While I rely on my collaborator Mr. Bannister for dates and competitions on these old photos, I invariably know the player’s names, since these were the greats when I was beginning to play. Embarrassingly, however, I was stumped by the gentleman in this photo (left).  We will share why he is pictured next month, but for now – who is he?  Bonus questions/hints – Which US Go Congress did he attend, and what Ishi Press go book did he author? Send your answers to us c/o journal@usgo.org.

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50 years aGO — June 1970

Thursday June 25, 2020

Keith Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

On June 4 the Nihon Kiin Igo Festival was held.  There were a variety of events, but the greatest excitement was created by the 2nd place finish in the All-Japan Ladies Amateur Championship of an 11-year-old prodigy, Ashida Isoko (pictured)  She would enter the pro ranks in 1975. Today she’s a 6d player with Kansai Ki’in. Her biggest tournament victory so far was taking 1st place in the Kakusei in 1985.

On June 9, veteran player Hashimoto Utaro completed his victory in the Asahi Pro Best Ten (picture) with three straight wins over Kato Masao. (game records: Game 1; Game 2; Game 3).  He held off other young players – Rin Kaiho, Ishida Yoshio and Otake Hideo in the course of this triumph.

Go Review reports that William Pinckard returned to Japan and was furthering his go studies at Iwamoto’s Go Salon and had achieved 2 dan.

Finally, on June 14, the North American Honinbo match was held via telephone.  New York’s Takao Matsuda turned back the challenge of the West Coast’s Shigeo Matsubara.

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50 years aGO – May 1970

Saturday May 30, 2020

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

May was dominated by Rin Kaiho’s defense of the Honinbo Title against challenger Sakata Eio. Already down a game, Sakata lost a bitter half pointer in the second game (top right) on May 7-8.

Those of you fortunate enough to travel (travel, I remember travel) to Japan will recognize this drawing (top left) – on May 8 the Nihon Kiin unveiled the plans for its “new” headquarters.

In the middle of the month Rin and Sakata squared off again (bottom right), and with a third straight loss on May 15-16, Sakata’s back was against the wall.

As of May 21, Fujisawa Shuko was leading the Meijin League (bottom left), with a 4-1 record, thanks to Takagawa Kaku’s victory over Kajiwara Takeo, giving them both matching 4-2 records.

Finally, the May 27 game brought the swiftest of ends to Sakata’s Honinbo challenge, losing in four straight games.

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50 years aGO April 1970

Friday April 24, 2020

by Keith Arnold, hka with Patrick Bannister

Deprived of face-to-face go, we gaze with great longing at this fantastic photo of the climax of the 24th Honinbo league on April 8, 1970 (right).

In the foreground at left is my favorite player, Fujisawa Hideyuki, forever to be known as Shuko.  A truly brilliant — if erratic — player, his passion for go was without equal.  And you can see him living the game in his face in this photo. We can surmise that perhaps poker would not be his best game, but of course we know go was.  A favorite player of my teacher, Yilun Yang, he played a prominent role in supporting go in China and his teaching boot camps were legendary.  We can access them through Hinoki Press’ two volume “Shuko: The Only Move, as well as Slate and Shell’s 4 volume “Basic Tesjuji” and finally (though first) Ishi Press’ “Reducing Territorial Frameworks”

Foreground right is Kato Masao, the kid in the room, and his manner evokes a quiet respect for his far more emotive elder.  Indeed, in all of my reading about this great player, who went on lead the Nihon Kiin, I have never read a word suggesting anything but kindness about him.  He game was far more aggressive, “Killer Kato” was his reputation, and he shared his skill in Ishi Press’ “Kato’s Attack and Kill”.  He was the first of the “Three Crows” of the Kitani school to make a name for himself, but the last to breakthrough.  He needs to win this game to catch another player in the room to challenge for the title.  Game record here.

Background right, hunched over the board, is Fujisawa Hosai – the older nephew of Shuko and the first Oteai 9 dan.  A player of extraordinary concentration and determination who once played a match with his letter of resignation in his pocket, Hosai was known for his deliberate play, which is evidenced by the far fewer stones on the background board.  Although he could not win the league, he is determined to make his opponent earn it.

His opponent is “Razor Sharp” Sakata, and his personality also shines in this picture.  Wiry and erect, cigarette in hand, Sakata seems amused by time Hosai is taking, his mind racing from one brilliant counter to the next to whatever ploy Hosai comes up with.  This is a man in his element, not showing the pressure of needing this win to become the challenger.  Hosai’s determination would take them until after midnight, and Sakata became the challenger.  Game record here.

April 25-26 featured what was billed the “First International Team Tournament” in New York city.  Fourteen three player teams competed from the USA, China, Korea, Canada, Japan and Yugoslavia.  The Chinese team emerged victorious, followed by Japan and the US.  The US team was Matsuda, Ryder and Kaslow – all 5 dan – as good as it got in those days.  The match was featured in the NY Times and we can clearly see (top left) the great Edward Lasker playing.  In an early moment of “fake news” the Times says the event took place at “The Chess House” but I trust Mr. Horiguchi’s report in Go Review stating the event happened in the Nihon Kiin Chapter House at the same address.

Finally the first game of the Honinbo title took place on April 27 and 28.  I am not sure challenger Sakata and Honinbo Rin Kaiho are actually interested in whatever Takagawa is saying in this staged photo (top middle).  We will be hearing a lot about Rin who was in the young and early stages of his dominance.  Reading Go Review it seems that the go press was not yet buying it, and seemed to expect Sakata to be the victor. We shall see…Game One record is here.

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50 years aGO – March 1970

Sunday March 22, 2020

by Keith Arnold, hka with Patrick Bannister

The Third British Go Congress took place on March 21 and 22. A visiting Japanese 4 dan, a Mr. Akiyama, won the British Open Championship, narrowly defeating John Diamond 3 dan who was declared British National Champion. Mr. Diamond would go on to serve as BGA President and win the British Championship 8 times.

European Horst Mueller, 3 dan, played a televised game with Iwamoto 9 dan on March 26th. Iwamoto praised the visitor for his efforts, losing by 3 points in the 5 stone game. Perhaps Mr. Mueller was already working on the German translations included in the “GO; International Handbook and Dictionary” written by John Tilley and first published in the summer of 1970.

Finally we feature this glorious photo of two top Japanese matches. In the foreground, Hashimoto Shoji holds the white stones against Ishida Yoshio in the All Japan Pro Best 10. In the background, Sakata Eio defends the challenge of Ishida’s fellow Kitani disciple, Kato Masao, who takes black in one of the final games of the 25th Honinbo League. The games were played on March 4, I could only find the record of the Honinbo League match (below).

[link]

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50 years aGO – February 1970

Saturday February 22, 2020

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Humbled by drafting this column in the midst of John Power’s latest excellent reports from Japan, we bring you a slightly less up-to-date view of the Honinbo and Meijin leagues. Fifty years ago, Fujisawa Shuko 9 dan and Kajiwara Takeo 9 dan led the Meijin league and Sakata Eio 9 dan led the Honinbo League. 

In this photo (right) of the competition in the Honinbo league from February 4, we see Kato Masao 6 dan in the foreground against Kano Yoshinori 9 dan.  Kato, of course, is well-known in the West, and Kano has a place as well, as author of the 4-volume graded go problems for beginners.  Behind in the center we see the first tournament 9 dan, Fujisawa Hosai, taking on Hisai Keishi 6 dan.  Finally, in the game on the right, Takagawa Kaku 9 dan takes on Fujisawa Shuko 9 dan.  Takagawa had already held the title for nine straight years and published two English texts – How to Play Go, and Vital Points of Go.  Game records can be found here: Katō v Kano; Takagawa v Shuzo; Hōsai v Hisai.

We can’t leave my favorite player Shuko without comment.  In the photo at left, we see him winning by half a point in the first game of the first All Japan First Place Tournament, which would later become the Gosei.  Shuko had a penchant for making the finals of tournaments in their first year, and usually won them. His opponent is Otake Hideo, who, as the current Judan, we will call 10 dan. The game record is here.

photos courtesy Igo Club

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