American Go E-Journal » 50 years aGO

50 years aGO – January 1973

Sunday January 22, 2023

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Ceremonial game for the Uchizomeshiki at Nihon Ki'in
Ceremonial game for the Uchizomeshiki at Nihon Ki’in

We begin the New Year with the Uchizomeshiki, a ceremony held at the Nihon Ki’in in Ichigaya on January 5. The event, which Go Review compared to a “purification ceremony,” is an essential kick off for the tournament year. Pictured is a ceremonial game. Your editor recognizes some of the faces of the “old guard” of Japanese go at the time.

The action began promptly on January 7 with the Nihon Ki’in Championship. The title holder, Ōhira Shūzō 9d, entered the New Year one game down after losing Game One in December. Ōhira had dominated this title since winning it from Sakata Eio in 1966, winning it every year except one. However, faced once again with an in-form Sakata, Ōhira had to summon all his fighting strength to kill shinogi expert Sakata’s huge group to even the series in Game Two. (Game record: Game Two.) We see Sakata during the third game on January 16, once again going ahead. (Game record: Game Three.) Finally, Sakata ended his eight year drought in this title on January 25-26 by a 3-1 score. (Game record: Game Four.)

As of January 10, we note that Ishida Hon’inbo was leading the Meijin League with a 2-0 record.

On January 11, Ōtake Hideo 9d began his defense of the All Japan 1st Place Tournament which he had defended five times in a row. Here we see him react to the confident play of Kajiwara Takeo. He sorted out the problem and won this first game. (Game record: Ōtake vs. Kajiwara.)

On the same day, Takagi Shōichi 7d defeated Takagawa to win the “losers bracket” and went on to defeat Rin Meijin for the right to challenge Sakata for the Jūdan title. Pictured during the match against Takagawa, Takagi was the author of Beyond Forcing Moves and attended the 1993 U.S. Go Congress. (Game records: Takagi vs. Takagawa, Takagi vs. Rin.)

Sakata was presented with the 9th Shūsai Prize as the past year’s outstanding player on January 16. With the Meijin and Hon’inbo titles divided between Rin and Ishida, Sakata’s dominance of the lesser titles made him a unanimous choice for the third time.

Finally, on January 26, Honda Sachiko 4d defeated Kitani Reiko two straight in the Ladies’ Hon’inbo Title. (Game record: Honda vs. Kitani.)

Takagi vs. Takagawa in the Jūdan

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Photos from Go Review, game records from SmartGoOne

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50 years aGO – December 1972

Sunday December 18, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

The month began with the 4th Bled International Go Masters event in Yugoslavia (now Slovenia) on December 1-3. The undefeated winner was a Japanese visitor, a Mr. Takahashi. Second was Mr. Merrissert of France on five wins.

On December 20, challenger Honda Sachiko 4d defeated Kitani Reiko 6d to take a one game lead in the Ladies’ Hon’inbo title. (Game record available here.)

Sakata Eio continues his domination of the smaller titles with a victory over Hashimoto Utarō in the Ōza title on December 14, winning the 3 game series 2-1. (Game record available here.)

Ōhira Shūzō 9d (author of the Ishi Press Classic Appreciating Famous Games) defeated Yamabe Toshirō 9d for the right to challenge Sakata in the Nihon Ki’in Championship. The first game was held on December 20-21. Sakata won by resignation. (Game record available here.)

2022.12.10_19721214_oza

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Photos courtesy of Go Review, game records from SmartGoOne.

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50 Years aGO – November 1972

Monday November 28, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

On November 5, Takao Matsuda, once again, secured the title of U.S. Hon’inbo, winning the telephone match by a half a point over Shigeo Matsubara. Matsuda had never lost this tournament since it began in 1968.

Hashimoto Utarō challenged Sakata Eio for the Ōza title. Sakata won the first game on November 16, but Hashimoto evened the score on November 30. (Game records: Game 1, Game 2.)

The 33rd Anniversary of Shūsai Meijin’s death was memorialized with an exhibition match between Rin Kaihō Meijin and Ishida Yoshio Hon’inbo. Over 2,000 people watched the match. We also share this casual picture of the two men at the top of the Japanese go world.

We lack specific dates on some other events. First, Bruno Rüger passed away in mid November (according to Go Review; Sensei’s Library states September 24). Born in 1886, Rüger (pictured) was one of the leading proponents of go in Germany. He founded the “German Go News” in 1920, and went on to write at least 10 books on the game. He received, along with Edward Lasker, the prestigious Ōkura Prize. Sadly, he passed before he could receive his nidan diploma from the Nihon Ki’in.

Two “Gaijin” leagues took place in Japan. James Davies won the Gaijin Hon’inbo at 6-0, while Manfred Wimmer won the Gaijin Meijin with a 7-0 record. Other members of both leagues were Stuart Dowsey, Horst Müller, Richard Bozulich, William Pinckard and Mark Hall.

Finally, a family match was resumed in New York. Robert Ryder 5d and his son Jonathan Ryder 2d played Mitsuo Horiguchi and his son Tsuneo for the 4th time in their rivalry. The Ryders prevailed to even the series at 2-2. Robert Ryder was a president of the American Go Association and one of the first Western 5 dan players. Horiguchi was the long time manager of the New York Go Club. Here is a picture from the early 1980s of Ryder playing a game at a crowded New York Go Club, with Mr. Horiguchi looking on.

Ishida and Rin

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Photos courtesy of Go Review and Keith Arnold, game records from SmartGoOne

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50 Years aGO – October 1972

Wednesday October 19, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

October 4-5 was the sixth and final game of the Meijin title match. Rin Kaihō retained the title, defeating veteran Fujisawa Shūkō. This was his 6th Meijin title overall. (Game record: Meijin Game 6.) Go Review had an interesting take on the generation wars at the time, opining that because Rin and Ishida Yoshio used all of their time, and Shūkō and Sakata Eio did not, the young men were somehow inferior in “the techniques of go.” Somehow, Go Review seemed to blame time controls for the players who used their time defeating the players who did not.

On October 9 Nihon Ki’in held a celebration of Japan-China rapprochement. Few details are available, but the picture we present is filled with go players, including Shūkō, Sakata and Ōtake Hideo.

Speaking of the the generational divide, October 19 saw an old school matchup in the semifinal of the Ōza title, with Takagawa Kaku defeating the legendary Go Seigen. (Game record: Ōza semifinal.)

We now take a glance at the future looking at the statistics for the go year as of October 20. Leading all pros with an 89.5% winning percentage was Cho Chikun 5d, closely followed by Kobayashi Kōichi 6d at 85.7%.

Takao Matsuda once again became New York Champion on October 22.

Finally we complete Stuart Dowsey’s survey of American go with the pro tour’s “West Coast Swing” in early October. The large go scene in Los Angeles, was noted as being completely dominated by Japanese players, with 5 different clubs, led by the Rafu-Ki’in. Purportedly, the only non-Japanese member of these clubs was a young man named Richard Dolen (pictured). The scene in San Francisco was less insular, under the leadership of Bill Yamato, Wayne Dote and Mark Okada. Visits were also made at the two clubs in Seattle, the Seattle Ki’in and the Last Exit Go Club.

Meijin Game 6 post-game review joined by Go Seigen

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Photos courtesy of Go Review, game records from SmartGoOne

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50 Years aGO – September 2022

Sunday September 25, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

The month began with the 3rd International Tournament taking place in New York on September 2. Unfortunately, we cannot recover any further details on this fun team event.

On September 3-4 the Hawai’i Ki’in celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a visit from the Great Kitani, his wife, his daughter Reiko, as well as Ishida Yoshio, Takemiya Masaki and Haruyama Isamu. More than 40 were in attendance.

Also this month the Argentine Championship was won by a Mr. Hara, over 100 players participated.

Beginning on September 5-6 the Meijin Title continued. Rin Meijin won Game 3, and Game 4 on September 14-15 putting challenger Fujisawa Shūkō‘s back to the wall. But in Game 5, Shūkō extended the match on September 26-27. (Game records: Game 3, Game 4, Game 5).

On September 9th, Katō Masao defeated defending champion Sakata Eio in the first round of the 20th NHK Championship. (Game record available here.)

Finally, Stuart Dowsey reported extensively on the Japanese Tour of America (the term used advisedly because it included visits to Canada). The month started in New York on September 1 and then went to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Northfield, Edmonton and Seattle (the West Coast swing will be covered in our next column). The tour group consisted of Dowsey, Okubō Ichigen 9d and Nagahara Yoshiaki 6d (who wrote several the early Ishi Press books and attended one U.S. Go Congress). The New York Go Club was located on West 10th St. in the basement of the Marshall Chess Club. Mitsuo Horiguchi was the long standing President of the club which was open daily. Dowsey praises Vice President John Stephenson for various initiatives regarding membership and teaching. More evidence of Stephenson’s efforts are contained in the “Go Digest” pictured, which covered the visit by the two professionals. Brief mentions were made of Robert Ryder’s Bell Lab Go Club, Bill Mann’s Massachusetts Go Association, Walter Reitman‘s work at in Ann Arbor on computers and go, with James Kerwin on his team and Craig Hutchinson teaching go to cadets at West Point. Of particular interest to your correspondent was the visit to Baltimore, where Bob Gross knew of only two other players in town and a few others in Annapolis. But when over 300 people turned out for the two day visit, the pros left behind a thriving Gilbert W. Rosenthal Memorial Go Club, which, at least started out with 70 people turning out to sessions at Johns Hopkins. It seems current President and your author needs to work on increasing membership…

Dowsey reports that activity in Canada was centered on Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton but activity was increasing, from one club 5 years ago to at least 13, and the recent formation of the Canadian Go Association led by first President John Williams. Dowsey estimated the Japanese tour addressed 600 players in Canada.

Overall, the group visited 19 clubs and 17 universities and reached 4,500 people, over half of whom were taught how to play. We would love to hear from anyone who learned the game from this very successful effort.

Rin Kaihō vs. Fujisawa Shūkō in Meijin Game 4

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Photos from GoReview, game records from SmartGoOne

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50 Years aGO – August 1972

Sunday August 28, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

August 4th found Iwamoto Kaoru in London on his European tour. He gave a lecture and scored 9-1 in a simultaneous exhibition.

The European Go Congress carried into the first two weeks of August, in Ensechede, Holland. Iwamoto made an appearance there as well, along with 120 participants from all over Europe, including visitors from the U.S. and Mexico. Jürgen Mattern of Germany was undefeated, and secured his fifth Championship. Germany won the team championship, followed by the host nation.

On August 14, James Davies played T. Miyoshi, a mystery author known as the “Literary Hon’inbo,” in a special televised match. Davies opened on tengen and secured a convincing victory.

The Meijin Title, between Rin Kaihō Meijin and Fujisawa Shūkō 9d began on August 16. Go Seigen is pictured in our photo of the match, which was won convincingly by Shūkō. In the second game, on August 26-27, our photo captures the moment, after a long game and long ko fight, that Shūkō realizes he has lost by one point. As the month closes, the match is tied. (Game records: Game One, Game Two.)

Finally on August 19-20, the Brazil Ki’in celebrated its 25th anniversary, with an incredible 218 players participating.

James Davies plays a televised match

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Photos from Go Review, game records from SmartGo One

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50 Years aGO – July 1972

Tuesday July 26, 2022

By Keith L. Arnold, hka with Patrick Bannister

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.

Ishida Yoshio

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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

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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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