Hashimoto Utaro

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Hashimoto Utaro (橋本宇太郎) - left, with Segoe - middle, and Go Seigen - right

Hashimoto Utaro (橋本宇太郎, Honinbo Shou, Hashimoto Utarō, February 27, 1907 - July 24, 1994) was a Japanese professional 9-dan. He was the founder and first director of the Kansai Ki-in, one of the strongest players in the early days of tournament go, the third player in modern go to reach 9-dan status, a player in the famous Atomic Bomb Game, and a prolific tsumego composer. His professional go career lasted 72-years.

Hashimoto's teacher was Kubomatsu Katsukiyo and followed by Segoe Kensaku.

Hashimoto was known for his longevity, with a professional career lasting 72-years. He played in the final of the 1st Kisei title in 1977 (at the age of 69); set a record by entering the 3rd Gosei league in 1978 (at the age of 71)[1]; won the 24th Kansai Ki-in First Place Championship in 1980 (at the age of 73); and played against Cho Chikun in the 7th Sanyo Exhibition Matches? in 1981. At the time of his death he set the record for the oldest active player at the age of 87 (previously held by Hayashi Yutaro).

One of Hashimoto's most famous matches was his come-from-behind victory over Sakata Eio in the 6th Honinbo title match in 1951. It was a clash between factions -- the newly formed Kansai Ki-in (with Hashimoto leading the charge) and the already established Nihon Kiin (with Sakata challenging to regain control of the title). By game five Sakata was leading 3-1. Hashimoto changed his style completely from his usual rapid development to a solid style and in games five and six he mounted his comeback. Staying composed Hashimoto refused to be drawn into the wild fights that Sakata tried to start. By game seven Sakata crumbled as Hashimoto triumphed, claiming the Honinbo title for the Kansai Ki-in. Had Hashimoto lost, it might have caused the Kansai Ki-in to fade away like so many splinter groups before it.

Biographies commonly refer to him as the most prolific tsumego composer ever. As quoted in Go World Iss. 71 p. 6:

It was his practice to compose a problem a day every day (including the morning of his death), and his compositions were published daily in the Osaka Yomiuri for 40 years. That's an impressive achievement, considering that his problems were noted for being original, not rehashes of classical problems.

Sakata Eio 7d v. Hashimoto Utaro 8d, 6th Honinbo Final Game 7 (1951). As early as B13, Hashimoto indicates to Sakata that he has fully regained his composure in this famously tumultuous match. Both players establish a modern version of the Shusaku opening.  

As was the norm with being a top player of his day he was approached to participate in a number of one-on-one, multi-game matches. Nearly all were sponsored by the newspapers of the time.

  • In 1940, he played a 3-game match against Kitani Minoru.
  • In 1944, he played a 3-game match against Go Seigen.
  • In 1944-5, he played a jubango against Fujisawa Kuranosuke.
  • In 1946-8, he played a jubango against Go Seigen.
  • In 1950, he played a 3-game match against Go Seigen.
  • In 1950-1, he played a jubango against Go Seigen.
  • In 1953-4, he played a 3-game match against Go Seigen.
  • In 1954-5, he played a jubango against Fujisawa Kuranosuke.[2]
  • In 1956, he played a 3-game match against Handa Dogen.
  • In 1956-7, he played a 3-game match against Go Seigen.
  • In 1956-7, he played a 3-game match against Kubouchi Shuchi.


Hashimoto had a fast-paced, free-wheeling and confrontational go style. One pattern often seen in his games was his use of a light and fast-paced style to grab an early territorial lead. Then in the middle game he would skillfully make sabaki when he invaded his opponent's moyo. Known for "skillfully psyching out his opponents." [3]

Go reporter Akiyama Kenji? said, in an article about professional players post-game review styles, that Hashimoto was noted as being 'weak' at the post-game analysis, especially when he wins.

Hashimoto docilely agrees with whatever the opponent says — yes, if you'd played that way, I'd have lost. It is standard practice for the winner to be 'weaker' than the loser in the post-game analysis, but when it reaches this extreme, the opponent must lose his enthusiasm.[4]

Rank Promotion

  • 1922: 1-dan
  • 1923: 2-dan
  • 1925: 3-dan
  • 1926: 4-dan
  • 1933: 5-dan
  • 1936: 6-dan
  • 1940: 7-dan
  • 1946: 8-dan
  • 1954: 9-dan


  • 1929: Oteai, Autumn Group A
  • 1939: Oteai, Autumn Group A
  • 1943: 2nd Honinbo
  • 1946: Oteai, Spring Group A
  • 1950: 5th Honinbo
  • 1951: 6th Honinbo
  • 1953: 1st Oza
  • 1955: 3rd Oza
  • 1956: 3rd NHK Cup
  • 1956: 4th Oza
  • 1960: 7th Hayago Meijin - West Japan
  • 1961: 6th Hayago Meijin - All Japan
  • 1962: 1st Judan
  • 1963: 10th NHK Cup
  • 1968: 12th Kansai Ki-in First Place Championship
  • 1969: 13th Kansai Ki-in First Place Championship
  • 1970: 2nd Hayago Championship
  • 1970: 7th Pro Best Ten
  • 1971: 9th Judan
  • 1971: 13th Kansai Kiin Championship? (diff. from the Kansai Ki-in First Place Championship)
  • 1972: 14th Kansai Kiin Championship
  • 1973: 15th Kansai Kiin Championship
  • 1974: 16th Kansai Kiin Championship
  • 1980: 24th Kansai Ki-in First Place Championship


  • 1933: 1st All-Japan Championship - Yomiuri Shimbun event to celebrate its 20,000th issue.
  • 1936: 6-dan Winners' Oteai
  • 1945-6: 3rd Honinbo - Atomic Bomb Game. Match prolonged due to war circumstances.
  • 1952: 7th Honinbo
  • 1959: 5th Hayago Meijin - West Japan
  • 1961: 8th Hayago Meijin - West Japan
  • 1962: 9th NHK Cup
  • 1963: 2nd Judan
  • 1971: 1st Kansai Kiin Stars Tournament?
  • 1972: 4th Hayago Championship
  • 1972: 10th Judan
  • 1972: 20th Oza
  • 1973: 10h Pro Best Ten
  • 1974: 5th Kansai Kiin 9-dan Tournament?
  • 1977: 1st Kisei
  • 1979: 23rd Kansai Ki-in First Place Championship


Hashimoto composed many tsumego and edited several classic problem texts. The following is only a partial list.

  • Gengen Gokyo, editor. The book was published by 山海堂; 改訂版. The latest printing (2008) is dated as a June 2004 edition. ISBN: 438107968X
  • Gokyo Seimyo, editor.
  • Gokyo Shumyo, editor. The book was published by Sankaido?, a publishing office for the Kansai Ki-in in 1980.
  • Time & Wind - Hashimoto Utaro Life and Death Masterpiece Selection Vols. 1-3 (風と刻―橋本宇太郎詰碁名作選〈上中下〉) (1993-94).

His memoirs were published as Go, Once in a Life (Igo Ichigo Ichie) (1992).


English Commentaries

Date Opponent Resource
1934-08-04 Sugiuchi Masao Masterpieces of Handicap Go Vol. 1
1944-02-02 Go Seigen Go Review Autumn 1976
1945-08-04 Iwamoto Kaoru Modern Master Games Vol. 1
1946-07-15 Hashimoto Shoji Masterpieces of Handicap Go Vol. 1
1946-08-19 Iwamoto Kaoru Modern Master Games Vol. 1
1950-02-11 Yamabe Toshiro Go World Iss. 4
1951-04-14 Sakata Eio Modern Master Games Vol. 1
1951-06-27 Sakata Eio Go World Iss. 50, [Modern Master Games Vol. 1
1952-08-06 Takagawa Kaku Master Play - The Playing Styles of Seven Top Pros
1952-08-08 Takagawa Kaku Modern Master Games Vol. 1
1974-10-17 Kubouchi Shuchi Go Review Spring 1975
1976-12-02 Fujisawa Hideyuki Go Review Spring 1977, Master Play - The Playing Styles of Seven Top Pros
1977-01-12 Fujisawa Hideyuki Go World Iss. 1
1977-01-20 Kajiwara Takeo Go World Iss. 1
1977-01-26 Fujisawa Hideyuki Go World Iss. 1 & 3
1977-02-07 Fujisawa Hideyuki Go World Iss. 2
1977-04-22 Nie Weiping Nie Weiping on Go


[1] Source: [ext] 3rd Gosei Tournament, GoGoD.

[2] Source: [ext] http://www.playaudiovideo.com/msearch?co=v&loc=69-91372175893-1-0-1177862739&wo=match.

[3] Source: Modern Master Games Vol. 1: The Dawn of Tournament Go.

[4] Source: A Twofold Victory, Go World Iss. 10, p. 37.

  • Both Hashimoto Utaro and Hashimoto Shoji attended the prize-giving at the 1st Essen Open in January 1990, together with the late Kato Masao and other pros. They were in Germany to attend the opening game of 14th Kisei match? in Düsseldorf - two days later - where Otake Hideo challenged Kobayashi Koichi.
  • Hashimoto's final game was with a Kansai Kiin co-founder, Okabe Hiroaki. It was surprisingly their first encounter in a tournament since the founding of the Kiin in 1950. Hashimoto could say that he won his final game.

Hashimoto Utaro last edited by PJTraill on September 30, 2019 - 21:01
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