American Go E-Journal » 50 years aGO

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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50 years aGO – January 1970

Tuesday January 28, 2020

Keith Arnold, hka with Patrick Bannister

Perhaps the best evidence of time flying appears in an ad in the January issue of Go Review.  A Deluxe Go set  is offered for sale – Cherry bowls, 7.5mm Clamshell and Slate stones and a two inch thick Kaya board for the princely sum of $110, shipping from Japan included.

On January 15, Sekiyama Riichi, the first tournament Honinbo, passed away.  He was the teacher of Kajiwara Takeo 9 dan

We will be seeing a lot of Ishida Yoshio in this series, as he begins his dominance in this period.  But he still had time for fun, as shown in this striking photo.  Below is a photo of the second game of the Nihon Kiin Championship against the champion, Ohira.  This was the only game Ishida lost, securing the title 3-1 on January 20-21.  Game records of the match here. Game 1; Game 2; Game 3; Game 4.

Here in the United States, Takao Matsuda 6 dan of New York, author of the famous Matsuda Go Letters, won the New Jersey Open, defeating Takahiko Ishikawa 5 dan of Philadelphia in an all-Japanese final.  Ishikawa was a judo instructor, and was the All Japan Judo Champion two years in a row.

League matches started with the New Year.  Pictured at right is Kajiwara Takeo taking black against Fujisawa Hosai 9 dan  in the Meijin league on January 21st.  Perhaps you can see Kajiwara’s first move, on tengen.  An expert on the fuseki, Kajiwara played the move to offset Hosai’s penchant for mirror go.  Did it work? Find out in the game record here.

Finally, just to show that we have not come that far, a go computer was demonstrated by Toshio Ikeda of Fujitsu.  The computerized board, 2 meters square, could solve “any problem given to it” but could not play a full game.  A steal at $30,000 dollars.  The article concludes “one day we may yet have a computer become a pro!”  Pictured next to Ikeda is Go Seigen.  Ikeda was an avid go player and rule expert, his “On the Rules of Go” was published posthumously by Fujitsu in 1992.  Here’s a game between Ikeda and Go Seigen.

photos courtesy of Go Review, Igo Club and GoBase.org, game records courtesy of SmartGo/GoGod

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50 years aGO: December 1969

Tuesday December 24, 2019

Keith Arnold (hka) with Patrick Bannister

On December 10 we see the daughter of the great Kitani, then Kitani Reiko 6 dan (right), defeating Honda Sachiko 4 dan to even up her defense of the 16th Ladies Honinbo Title. She would lose the decisive game on Christmas Eve. She was also the wife of Kobayashi Koichi 9 dan and mother of Kobayashi Izumi 6 dan. It is noteworthy that while she held this title half a dozen times, her great father and dominant tournament playing husband never managed to capture the Honinbo title.

On December 17 rising star Ishida Yoshio 4 dan captured the first game of the 17th Nihon Kiin Championship over veteran Ohira Shuzo 9 dan. We know Ohira 9 dan s the author of the book translated as “Appreciating Famous Games” by Ishi Press. Of course, Ishida now 9 dan is still active, a recent Redmond Reviews featured a game of Michael’s with him recently.

On Christmas, Otake Hideo 8 dan completed his sweep of Sakata Eio 9 dan in the Judan title. Go Review, while praising the young man’s victory, shared a classic go fan’s lament, “ Sakata, who once had many big titles became a mere 9 dan, losing the last title he had”. Here’s a shot of the first game of that match.

Finally, in its tenth issue, The British Go Journal reported the promotion of John Fairbairn to 2 dan. In addition to being the greatest baseball fan in England, fantastic Scots dancer and best inside London tour guide a dad could ask for, John is a prolific translator and author of go books – including “Appreciating Famous Games,” and my all-time favorite, “Kamakura.” If that is not enough, surely his role with the late T Mark Hall on the GoGod game collection and database cement his place on the Mount Rushmore of Western Go.

Photo credits: Go Review, Igo Club and Melanie Arnold

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50 years aGO: November 1969

Wednesday November 20, 2019

This month we start a new feature, as we look back fifty years in world Go.

by Keith Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

On November 14, 1968, the Nihon Kiin celebrated Rin Kaiho’s victory as the 8th Meijin. He towers above the dignitaries in our photo , but also notable is the late Go Seigen 9 dan, fourth from the left and , at far right, Rin’s teacher, Goro Fujita 6 dan.

As was his custom, Fujisawa Shuko won the first year the Oza became a title match. He’s shown here, at left, turning aside the challenge of Otake Hideo, then 8 dan, on November 12, 1968. Otake was the first of the Kitani school disciples to make his presence felt.

Go Review also heralded the “Big Three’ of the younger generation, 50 years ago this month, but these three – Ishida Yoshio “the Computer”, Kato Masao “ the Killer”, and Takemya Masaki would become better known as the “Three Crows “ of the Kitani school.

Finally, William Pinckard returned home to New York after a 6-month stay in Tokyo, with a 2 dan diploma from Iwamoto 9 dan. Pinckard is well known in the west for his writings about go history and culture, particularly his wonderful “Japanese Prints and the World of Go” available from Kiseido.

Please forward any ideas for future months to the journal, ejournal@usgo.org. Photos are borrowed from Go Review.

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