77th Anniversary of the Atomic Bomb Game

This August 6th, 2022 is the 77th anniversary of America dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.  Our generous benefactor, Kaoru Iwamoto 9p, was playing a Honinbo title match game with Utaro Hashimoto about 5 miles from the impact site.  The blast disrupted the last day of their three-day game, and though windows were broken from the blast, nobody in the playing room was badly hurt.  Later in the day, they restored the board state and finished the game.  Only later, as they walked to their host’s house, did they get the terrible news of what happened as refugees were fleeing the center of Hiroshima..

Iwamoto Sensei’s wartime experiences motivated him to continue to share and teach the game of Go as a pathway for international understanding.

Back in 1926, he was one of the Japanese pros who encouraged the Chinese prodigy Wu Qingyuan to come to Japan.  Mr. Wu, better known as Go Seigen, became one of the strongest players of the 20th Century. After the war, which ended in 1945, Iwamoto Sensei devoted a lot of his efforts to teaching and outreach. He still played tournament Go, successfully defending his Honinbo title in 1947 and playing in tournaments until the mid 1970’s.

Iwamoto Sensei’s success in the Tokyo real estate market in the 1980’s allowed him to expand on his ability to teach and share Go internationally by endowing Go Centers in Seattle, New York, Sao Paulo, and Amsterdam. Thanks to Iwamoto Sensei’s generosity, Seattle has had a Go Center since 1995. He visited us in 1995 and 1996.  Iwamoto Sensei passed away in 1999 at 97 years old.

The other player in the Atomic Bomb Game, Mr. Hashimoto, also helped the Seattle Go Center significantly, if indirectly. He was the founder of the Kansai Ki-in, the professional Go association in Osaka. The Kansai Ki-in has sponsored many trips by the professional Ryo Maeda to Seattle. Mr. Maeda is one of our favorite teachers, and he attends the U.S. Go Congress nearly every year, stopping by Seattle to teach on his way.

Like Iwamoto Sensei, the Seattle community seeks to promote the crucial necessity of international understanding through From Hiroshima to Hope‘s beautiful yearly memorial to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb victims with a floating lanterns ceremony at Green Lake.

You can see the Atomic Bomb Game below. It is the 3rd Japanese Honinbo, title match #2.  Iwamoto Sensei had black.  Mr. Hashimoto won the game, but Iwamoto Sensei won the Honinbo title.  The last move before the atomic bomb blast was 106, which was played at the end of the 2nd day, Aug 5.  On the third day the players had just begun to play when the blast came.  This game is displayed on the outside west wall of the Seattle Go Center, but it only shows the game through move 74 for a cleaner view.  There is a detailed analysis of the game in Modern Master Games, Vol. 1, The Dawn of Tournament Go by Rob van Zeijst and Richard Bozulich (Kiseido Publishing).