James Kerwin (born November 1, 1946) is a Nihon Ki-in professional Go player (1978); now in the USA.
Kerwin was the first Western pro at the Nihon Ki-in, and the second ever after Manfred Wimmer (who had become pro in Kansai Ki-in shortly before). Kerwin won the 1-Dan section of the 4th Kisei tournament.
James Kerwin grew up in Minnesota. He attended Carleton College where his friend Arthur Gropen introduced him to the game of Go.
During the Vietnam War, Kerwin was a Conscientious Objector and served his civilian alternative service as an advisor to Walter Reitman, a University of Michigan professor who was studying Artificial Intelligence as it related to Go.
Kerwin eventually traveled to Japan with his wife and Gropen in 1971, staying approximately one year. According to Gropen, at the time the Nihon Kiin had fairly inexpensive rates for Americans to take lessons from pros, and Kerwin was to be found almost every day at the Kiin. [At an exchange rate of Y300=$1, a typical pro game fee of Y8,000 amounted to only $26.] During that time in Tokyo Kerwin also regularly sat zazen at the dojo of Sogen Omori Roshi.
In 1973, Kerwin was accepted as a student under Iwamoto Sensei. A Japanese newspaper article at the time quoted Kerwin as saying, "I learn Go and at the same time I learn something more about life. Go is like developments in someone's life. It's like a summary of a whole person's life."
In 1978, Kerwin became the first American to achieve a professional ranking in the Nihon Kiin. His two main professional achievements in Japan were winning the Shodan division of the 4th Kisei Tournament and earning the "Fighting Spirit Award."
Since returning to America in 1982, Kerwin has traveled extensively throughout the United States and Canada to share his expertise with North America's emerging Go scene. He has led 81 Go workshops outside of Minnesota since 1982. A frequent contributor to the AGA's weekly e-mail newsletter, he also actively teaches on KGS, at the annual US Go Congresses, and at monthly meetings in his home in Minneapolis.
(In July 2006 Steve Titterud organized a dinner honoring Kerwin's achievements. Biographical notes in the booklet Titterud put together for the evening -- as well as informal comments by those in attendance -- were the source for much of the above information).
Teaches on KGS as farmboy and JKerwin.