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The Difference Between Professionals and Amateurs


By Oka Mitsuo 5 dan

From Kido May 1972


Random Thoughts


Photograph of Oka Mitsuo 5 dan from the issue of Kido from which this article was translated

Oka Mitsuo 5 dan was the winner of the 2nd Annual Amateur Honinbo Tournament in 1956, and then in 1962 at the age of 30 he turned professional. He had to bear the handicap of being the only player in Kyushu [of his strength at that time; later Otake Hideo and Kato Masao would emerge from Kyushu as talented players] to aspire to become professional, but then in autumn of last year he wonderfully reached the level of 5 dan. So he is a tenacious worker at the craft.

A go event to celebrate the rising in strength of Oka 5 dan was held at the Hakata Kanko Hotel in Fukuoka on this past February 20 in the elegant confines of the 1600 square foot Grand Ballroom. Present were Chairman Takada of the Kyushu Branch, along with his staff, with Shinohara 8 dan, Segawa 8 dan, Ishii Kunio 8 dan, Hayase Hiroshi 7 dan among others, as well as local fans. All mingled happily at the gathering.

In May of last year, the inaugural issue of Igo Kyushu (published by Igo Kyushu Corporation) featured in its pages thoughts from Oka 5 dan regarding his thorny path on the way to rising in the ranks. Excerpts of that follow.

"—Finally in April the Oteai Ranking Tournament started. I had been winning in the newspaper tournaments [with the top tournaments sponsored by such newspapers as the Mainichi for the Honinbo tournament and the Nihon Keizai for the Oza tournament, etc.] so I was really energized. I faced the games full of confidence, but unfortunately, I suffered three straight defeats. I played well in all of them, and past the middlegame I had the advantage. But in the end, I winded up losing by one point or two points.

"Here is what professional players feel acutely, the ‘long, drawn-out nature of the game.’ This point is what is completely different from amateurs. What amateurs do is when they make even a small mistake, they immediately try to recover. However, if the opponent does not make a slip, it is not that easy to recover. The wound remains open.

"But professional players do not do that. They recognize a mistake as a mistake, and until a chance to recover appears, they bear down patiently. The point to be seen there is that they have confidence that, ‘My opponent is a human being, too, a because of that he will unavoidably make mistakes.’ I think that I was knocked down by that confidence. In the end, my result in 1962 was a large majority of losses. I also lost my own confidence.

"However, this became medicine for me and I learned a lot. My playing technique became better and my psychological condition got better than ever. —"

Those who wish to comment on the opinions expressed here may send their thoughts to info@GoWizardry.com. The most interesting responses will be addressed in future postings.

Robert J. Terry

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