This excerpt comes from Noriyuki Nakayama’s essay “The New Year’s Eve Disciple”, found in the book The Treasure Chest Enigma: A Go Miscellany (1984). Noriyuki was born on 3 September 1932 in Nagano Prefecture. In 1953 he became a disciple of Suzuki Goro 8-dan.
The teaching game played over two years
This was the start of my long history of trials in the qualifying tournament. Every year, at the New Year, came the season I had to test myself.
In the following year, 1955, Homma Akio, Kudo Norio, Amano Masafumi, Kitamura Hiroshi, Tanimiya Teji and Sakaguchi Tadao all became professional shodan. In my final game I defeated Tanimiya Teiji and I shall never forget the tear which dropped from his face onto the go board just before he resigned. The loss made his score ten wins to five losses and he must have been afraid that he would not qualify.
In 1956 Tozawa Akinobu, Kitani Reiko, Hanadachi Masaaki, Otake Hideo and Honda Teruko gained the laurels. Young Tozawa (aged 15) won all 15 of his games.
In 1957 Sanno Hirotaka and Shirae Haruhiko made it. It looked as if my turn would never come.
Fourteen or fifteen is the age when one’s go strength increases the most rapidly. A 7- or 8-kyu boy of whom we had not heard one year would turn up in the qualifying tournament the next years as a 2-or 3-kyu — and, what’s more, he would qualify. Otake Hideo 9-dan was perhaps a typical example. My strength might go up a little in one year, but it would not begin to approach the high-speed development of those young geniuses.
On 31 December 1959 I was at Suzuki Sensei’s house to help him with some manuscripts he was writing. Suzuki was one of the very few professionals who were proficient at writing; a load of work that had to be finished within the year had piled up, and I had stayed over at his house for two days to help him.
The last of the work was polished off at about eight in the evening. I was waiting for the right time to take my leave when Suzuki spoke.
“We have nothing more to do this year. How about playing a game?”