Segoe, Fujisawa and Cho

    Keywords: Culture & History

According to the Kido yearbook, in 1963 Cho Hun Hyun became the pupil of Segoe Kensaku. Cho Hunhyeon initially was to go to the Kitani dojo as many talented Korean players before him were. But, impressed by the immense talent, Segoe did everything to take Cho. It was rumored that there were some animosity between Kitani and Segoe because of that. Kitani dojo was so dominant since the era of Go Seigen. Ever since Kobayashi Koichi and Cho Chikun in the 80's, it is safe to say that the power shifts back to Segoe's lineage, namely Cho Hunhyeon and Yi Changho.

In 1972 Cho was pulled back to Korea for mandatory military training. The Korean government did not exempt Cho Hun-hyeon of the military service though it did for another Cho in Japan, Cho Chi-kun. The task of nurturing and developing Cho into a great player apparently was a major part of Segoe's life at that stage. He clearly had the feeling of loss from Cho's departure. Declining health must have been a major factor because in his note, Segoe confesses that he decides to commit suicide as he does not want to be a burden on anyone.

In his suicide note, Segoe asked the good friends of his to help Cho to succeed in Japan. Segoe considered Cho as the most talented player (even more so than another famous pupil of his, Go Seigen). Cho in many interviews and books says that he had to stay in Korea in order to assist his parents, who were poor in health and finance, although the suicide of Segoe certainly appears to have been a factor. Considering that 1) Cho's Korean was not as fluent at that time and 2) Japan was the major league of Go, it must have been a tough decision.

Although Cho was an in-house pupil of Segoe, Segoe played almost no teaching games with him[1]. His method was to let Cho replay the game he played on that day and give it a critique. According to Cho, Segoe played fewer than 10 teaching games with him over nine years. Nevertheless, it was customary at the Segoe house for the teacher and pupil to play a game for the occasional visitor. The games were usually adjourned in the middle without later completion. Cho described Segoe's play during those days as follows: "Very powerful go. He only played honte. He would always enclose with a knight's move, make a two-space extension, and only play the vital points. No matter how his opponent played, the game did not end in resignation. The score was always within the komi, from 1/2 to 5 points. It would be difficult to find such a style anywhere in the world."[2]

Fujisawa Shuko had a special relationship with Cho. Fujisawa actually played countless games with Cho and taught him many lessons, such that Cho considers Fujisawa as another teacher of his, though not formal. Fujisawa proudly expressed, though indirectly, that he was a teacher of Cho (Fujisawa never directly referred Cho as "his pupil" as that privilege is reserved only for Segoe. At the same time, he carefully chose an expression that would not offend Segoe even after Segoe passed away, i.e, "I taught Cho many lessons" instead of "I am Cho's teacher").

Fujisawa's fondness of gambling is legendary. Fujisawa once enticed Cho into playing a series of blitz games with Abe Yoshiteru, a pupil of Fujisawa. They wagered 100 yen on each match and Cho won six games in a row. Afterwards, Abe, who was 6 dan at the time, told everyone he met how strong Cho was by relating the story of the wager. The story eventually made its way back to Segoe, who was strict on gambling in any form, especially betting on Go. Hence, Cho at first declined the suggestion of Fujisawa's but gave in eventually. Segoe found it out and expelled Cho. Segoe forgave Cho after a few weeks (Cho actually did dishes at a small local restaurant after he got expelled).

Another famous story between Fujisawa and Cho was that Fujisawa surprised Cho in Korea with sudden visits. Fujisawa was sighted exiting the airport with no luggage but a bottle of whiskey in his pocket -- often already drunk. He told Cho that he had to come because he simply missed Cho so much (It is most likely that Fujisawa impulsively made the decision, while drinking, to fly into Korea and visit Cho).

At the first Ing's Cup, Cho and Fujisawa made the semi-final. Fujisawa boldly predicted that he would meet Cho in the final. He must have felt that he would able to beat Nie Weiping as it was the destiny for him and Cho to decide who was the stongest in the world. Unfortunately, he did not overcome Nie Weiping. And the world missed one of the greatest and most entertaining matches in the history of Go.

[1] This was a common method of teaching pro disciples in Japan. Often a pupil would only play twice with the teacher, once upon becoming a disciple, and again upon qualifying as 1-dan

[2] From Cho's web site [ext]

Segoe, Fujisawa and Cho last edited by on March 29, 2012 - 03:34
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