Cho Chikun (Japanese: 趙 治勲 Chō Chikun, Korean: 조치훈, 趙 治勲, RR: Jo Chi-hun, MC-R: Cho Ch'i-hun, born June 20, 1956) is a professional go player. He is sometimes referred to by his honorific title "the 25th Honinbo", which he gained by winning the Honinbo title 10 times in a row.
Cho was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1956. His uncle Cho Nam-ch'eol was one of the leaders of professional Go in South Korea in the post-war period. He was brought to Japan at the age of 6 by his older brother Cho Shoen (who was himself a young professional Go player in Japan) to become a student at the Kitani dojo. He qualified as a professional shodan at the age of 11, and was the youngest person to do so in Japan until Fujisawa Rina beat his record in 2010.
In 1975, he became the then youngest player to win a Japanese open professional title by beating Kato Masao in the Pro Best Ten (a record since eclipsed). On 2012-09-27 he became the first Japanese professional to win 1400 professional games. Starting with his first professional win on 1968-05-08, he averaged 31 wins a year for 44 years in reaching that milestone.
Cho has been the champion of the two-day matches. Between 1980 and 2000 he won nearly 50% of the big three Japanese titles (Kisei, Meijin and Hon'inbo). He is the only person to have held all three of these titles simultaneously.
In December 2003, Cho registered another remarkable performance by winning the 8th Samsung Cup, a major international title. Cho is Korean but his victories are always counted for Japan, as he is a Nihon Ki-in professional. Winning this title broke a streak of 15 consecutive victories by Korean professionals in international go.
Cho has won a total of 72 titles (as of October 2012), more than any other Japanese professional. In 2010, March, he also won the 3rd Yugen Cup, an unofficial tournament.
Cho has shown great longevity as a professional, winning the Samsung Cup at 47 and the Judan at 51. In 2011, he continued to place in the top ten in tournament winnings among Japanese professionals, and continues to compete in the major titles. In 2012 he reached the finals of the NEC Cup, the Daiwa Shoken Cup, and the Igo Masters Cup but unfortunately lost to Takao Shinji, Iyama Yuta, and O Meien respectively.
Cho Chikun is a model territorial player, whose confidence is built on deep and thorough reading, his ability to switch between different territorial styles, and a joy for experimenting with new positions. Up to the early 1980s he would try to develop rapidly even at the expense of creating thin positions. He usually became involved in running fights with a number of weak groups under attack. As such he became a master of shinogi (rescuing weak groups). As his career progressed his territorial style grew to encompass a more steady, slow-paced game; and as he learned to split the game up into a number of smaller fights and skillfully coordinate them his play developed new depth.
He is well known for his flexible and amorphous style. When Cho won the Meijin title in 1980 he said: "I try to match strength with strength, lightness with lightness. My ideal is to play in such a way that no one can tell who the player was."
Cho is a player who tries to read everything out, thus often finds most of his time used in the first fifty moves. Yet Cho rarely falters once in byo-yomi. Abe Yoshiteru, who often played fast games with Cho, once commented "By the time I work out that the position looks like a ko, Cho has already finished calculating all the ko threats."
- My favorite professional anecdote:
- When asked by Dutch television why he liked go so much, Cho Chikun replied: "I hate go." Source: Behind the Scenes at the Meijin
- A large biography and more than 1555 games of Cho Chikun can be found
at the Cho Chikun Internet Book.
- Sizable Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cho_Chikun.
- Most games played by Cho can be found at: http://rongen17.home.xs4all.nl/Cho/index.html