Kato Masao

    Keywords: People

Kato Masao's Nihon Ki-in photo

Kato Masao, (加藤正夫 Katō Masao, 15 March 1947 - 30 December 2004) was a Japanese 9-dan professional Go player known for his attacking play.

Kato won the Meijin (twice), Honinbo (four times), Judan (seven times), Tengen (four times), Oza (eleven times) and Gosei (three times). He is one of the few to have won 1,200 professional games.

His most recent title was Honinbo in 2002, in which set the record for oldest player ever to win this title, at age 55. Kato followed an old tradition and, upon winning, he resumed using the name "Kato Kensei" as he had in the past when winning that title. He lost this title in July 2003 to Cho U.

His pupils include Okada Shinichiro, Omori Yasushi, Suzuki Isao, Nishida Terumi and Umezawa Yukari.

His teachers include Kitani Minoru, Kato being one of the Three Crows of the Kitani dojo.

His wife is Kato Sekiizumi (née Sasaki).

Kato was the author of two books available in English: Kato's Attack and Kill and The Chinese Opening.

The Chinese Opening: The Sure-Win Strategy is published in English by Kiseido. His name is ordered in the book and in some Anglophone sources as Masao Kato, while many Go-related sources and websites order his name as Kato Masao. The English version of Kato's Attack and Kill also uses "Masao Kato". Usually in Japan a person's name is written family name followed by given name but in many Western books and other sources the names are written given name followed by family name.

Kato, elected in 2004 to be Chief Director of the Nihon Kiin and President of the International Go Federation, successfully led many important reforms during a difficult period. These reforms included reversing the financial deficit, changing the dan promotion rules by eliminating the Oteai, changing komi to 6.5 points, and shortening game time limits among others. At the same time he still managed to play actively in the top tournaments of Japan.

In his youth Kato had a very aggressive style. There are many classic examples of Kato killing large groups. One such took place on March 11&12, 1970 during the 25th Honinbo League. Kato (black) played Takagawa Kaku and forced him to resign in 93 moves! Kato's awesome power is frightening in this game (eg. Black 67). The [ext] game can be found on Gobase, but be warned, it is not for the faint of heart. The tables were turned on Kato by Fujisawa Hideyuki (Shuko) in a Kisei title game in which Fujisawa mounted a severe attack and killed one of Kato's large groups. Later in his career Kato's style became more moderate and instead of "Killer Kato" his nickname was "Endgame Kato".

On 30 December 2004, he died of a cerebral infarction, aged only 57.


  • 2003 10th Agon
  • 2002 57th Honinbo
  • 2001 10th Ryusei
  • 1999 32nd Hayago Championship
  • 1998 4th JT Cup?
  • 1997 35th Judan, NEC Cup
  • 1996 3rd Agon, 18th Kakusei
  • 1995 2nd Agon, 17th Kakusei
  • 1994 27th Hayago Championship
  • 1993 41st Oza
  • 1992 NEC Cup
  • 1991 NEC Cup
  • 1989 37th Oza
  • 1988 36th Oza, NHK Cup, 21st Hayago Championship
  • 1987 12th Meijin, 25th Judan, 12th Gosei, 35th Oza
  • 1986 11th Meijin, 34th Oza, 8th Kakusei
  • 1985 33rd Oza
  • 1984 32nd Oza
  • 1983 21st Judan, 31st Oza
  • 1982 30th Oza
  • 1981 7th Tengen
  • 1980 28th Oza, 6th Tengen, 2nd Kakusei
  • 1979 34th Honinbo, 17th Judan, 27th Oza, 5th Tengen
  • 1978 33rd Honinbo, 16th Judan, 4th Tengen
  • 1977 2nd Gosei, 15th Judan, 32th Honinbo
  • 1976 1st Gosei, 14th Judan

Books at Sensei's Library


kobayashi koichi kato masao judan 1984 (Image credit: 1)
kobayashi koichi kato masao judan 1984 (Image credit: Foxwq.com)

kato masao (Image credit: 3)
kato masao (Image credit: Foxwq.com)

hideyuki fujisawa kato masao 1993 (Image credit: 5)
hideyuki fujisawa kato masao 1993 (Image credit: Foxwq.com)

In the back of my Life and Death book, it lists other Go books, including, Kato's Attack and Kill, Kato Masao, 10d. What's that about?

Hikaru79: The Japanese word for 'ten' is 'Ju'. Therefore, the 'Judan' title is like saying '10-dan.' That's what that was reffering to.

Then are there as many "10 dan" players out there as there are times the Judan title has changed hands?

Bob McGuigan: "Judan" is the name of a tournament, i.e. a title, not a rank. Winners of the title hold it only until they are defeated. Saying "Kato Masao, Judan" is just like saying "kato Masao, Honinbo", for example.

Kato Masao last edited by 2603:9001:6e0b:2694 on December 17, 2023 - 08:12
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