Iwamoto Kaoru

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Iwamoto Kaoru (岩本 薫, 2 May 1902 - 29 November 1999), also known as Honinbo Kunwa (本因坊薫和 Hon'inbō Kunwa), was a Japanese professional Go player who achieved the rank of 9-dan. He retired in 1929 and moved to Brazil for two years, but returned to Japan and resumed his career. He won the Honinbo title in 1945 and defended it in 1947.

Contributions to the Go community

Iwamoto funded the Igo Kenshu Center in Japan and donated it to the Nihon Ki-in. Outside of Japan, Iwamoto was very active in promoting Go, founding Go centers in [ext] Sao Paulo, New York City, [ext] Seattle and Amsterdam, financing them from his own means, as well as providing a measure of support to the London Go Centre. Many occidental players picked up his book Go for beginners when first learning the rules and basic principles of the game. For these reasons, the Chile and Argentina Go Associations created an international online tournament (the Iwamoto Tournament) in his honour. To honour Iwamoto's dream of spreading go around the world, the European Go Cultural Centre holds the Iwamoto Awards every few years: an international competition that rewards promising go projects with money prizes.

Books at Sensei's Library

The Atomic Bomb game

Perhaps he is even better known as holder of the black stones during the famous 'atomic bomb game'. Iwamoto and Hashimoto Utaro were playing the second game of the Honinbo match in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped on that city. The board was knocked over, but both players replaced the stones on the goban and finished the game before they realised what had happened in the outside world.

The game was played in a suburb about four miles outside Hiroshima city limits.Segoe, the referee, was at the open window when the bomb exploded. He did not hear a sound, but saw several blue flashes in the sky. He turned and said, "The bomb . . ." and was blown off his feet.

More Trivia

Iwamoto played a critical role, along with Segoe Kensaku, in bringing Go Seigen from China to Japan.

Iwamoto's name is similar to that of Kaoru Kishimoto (岸本 薫 Kishimoto Kaoru), a fictional character in Hikaru no Go.

In 1992, he played a sponsored game against Michael Redmond, setting the record for the oldest player in a professional game. ([ext] ref).

His memory lives on in the Iwamoto Europe Foundation out of which the European Go Cultural Centerhas grown.

Iwamoto's pupils

Miscellaneous Links

[ext] brief biography at MSO site by John Fairbairn

Robert McCallister writes about [ext] Iwamoto Kaoru in New York and [ext] memories of Iwamoto-sensei

Iwamoto Kaoru last edited by Dieter on August 31, 2021 - 12:31
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