Go Seigen passed away in hospital, in Japan, on Sunday December 30, 2014.
He was 100 years old.
The news was reported by the Nihon Kiin (Japanese Go Association) and the Yomiuri Shimbun, with the newspaper saying that Go Seigen was “heralded as the strongest professional player in the Showa era.”
In fact, many people regard Go Seigen to be the greatest Go player ever.
A Go prodigy
Go Seigen (吴清源) was born in Fujian, China on June 12, 1914.
He was recognized as a Go prodigy from an early age and moved to Japan, to become the live-in disciple of Segoe Kensaku 7p, when he was 14 years old.
He became only the second professional to be granted the rank of 9 dan in 1950 (Fujisawa Hosai, aka Fujisawa Kuranosuke, was the first).
A Go master
Between 1933 and 1955, Go Seigen played a total of 12 jubango (10 game matches) with other top pros.
Of these matches, he won ten, lost one (to Fujisawa) and one was discontinued (with Kitani Minoru).
Go later defeated Fujisawa in two subsequent 10 game matches and, since he was playing against the top players of the era, his results overall were amazing.
It was these matches, more than anything else, that established Go Seigen’s reputation as the top player of the era.
Go Seigen’s name has also become synonymous with the Shin Fuseki (new opening) movement, which started in the early 1930s and had a profound influence on the way Go is played today. You can read more about that and learn more about Go Seigen here.
And an inspiration
Go Seigen’s students include Rin Kaiho 9p and Rui Naiwei 9p. Many other pros, including Michael Redmond 9p, attended study sessions at Go’s home.
Beyond that, Go Seigen was an inspiration to the many thousands of Go players around the world who study his games.
An Younggil 8p said, “I was very fond of replaying Go’s games when I was an insei.”
“His games were something special to me and I felt a cool smoothness to his play. I replayed all of his recorded games at least three times, because it was enjoyable and also exciting.”
“I always felt that I was improving when I studied his games.”
“His moves are very sharp and light, especially compared to other top players of that period.”
“His opening was outstanding and he was also a master of ko.”
Go Seigen also provided inspiration to people in many other areas, including film, photography, and music.
Rest in peace
He will be missed by his family, and Go fans around the world.
Like other Go masters, he will live on through the game records he created.
Rest in peace, Go Seigen.
A private funeral service will be held for close relatives and a public farewell ceremony can be expected at a later date.
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