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The South Bay Ki-in


Last week I mentioned that I had translated “A Handbook of Handicap Joseki” (Nihon Ki-in edited) in 2000 and published it with Yutopian Enterprises. Amazingly, the next Saturday I was participating in the usual meeting at my go club, the South Bay Ki-in, when I saw a copy of the original Japanese book lying on a table! One of the players in the club had been reading it. (The club has a library of many Japanese go books that players can borrow.) It was nostalgic for me to leaf through the book after all these years and remember the material in the work.

What is even more amazing is that I had occasion to recommend this book to another player. I was paired against a player who placed seven handicap stones on the board. (That was his decision; I generally do not care how many handicap stones my opponents place.)

As might be imagined, my opponent made one passive move after another. I quickly gained an advantage and won the game by more than 40 points. What is the point of this? After the game, I told the player where he had made his mistakes. And I suggested that he read “A Handbook of Handicap Joseki.” “Oh, I actually have a copy of that book! I’ll go through it again.”

I hope that he does that. Players often ask me what they did wrong in their games against me, but I can only give a couple of words of advice. There are just too many ways for one to go wrong in the game of go! But reading a book like “A Handbook of Handicap Joseki” is a good way to learn the standard techniques that are effective against stronger players when taking a handicap.

But getting back to the matter of seeing the original Japanese book that I had translated and published more than 15 years ago, this is the kind of thing that makes visiting the club so enjoyable for me. I never know what to expect and I am always gratified to discover little nuggets of wisdom or esoteric go material in the clubroom. Players post things all the time, both trivial and profound.

There is a single sentence posted by Norimoto Yoda, a former Meijin, (and also amazingly, born in the same place as my ex-wife, Iwamizawa), that may be found on the bulletin board of the club:

Strength in go is not a matter of innate ability or technique, but of having vision of the whole board.

In another part of the room, there are two pages of Japanese text that I have been meaning to read but have not gotten around to doing so. I have glanced through the material and it looks interesting, but the pages are filled with dense wording. It will take at least a half hour of focused attention to do the article justice, and I have not found occasion to make that time.

And there is much more in the clubroom that demands focus. I have mentioned in the past that more than twenty professional go players have visited at various times, including Michael Redmond 9 dan and Shuzo Awaji 9 dan. One of the fine calligraphers in the club, Mr. Watanabe, created banners to welcome all of those players. They are posted in a corner to commemorate those visits.

Again, back to the bulletin board, there is an article cut out from a Japanese newspaper that was published on the day of Go Seigen’s death. He was perhaps the greatest player in the history of the game. He was born in China, but was honored and beloved by go players everywhere. The Chinese players in the club must feel pride in seeing how the South Bay Ki-in keeps Go Seigen’s memory alive.

However, the South Bay Ki-in honors the memory of ordinary people as well. I introduced Tom Trilling to the club more than fifteen years ago, and we engaged in all sorts of club-oriented events together, including representing the South Bay Ki-in in Japan at an international tournament in Nagoya. When Tom passed away a few years ago, the South Bay Ki-in dedicated wall space to remembering him, including posting photographs of him playing go at various places, including at the club and in Japan.

Besides all of what has been mentioned, regular club members post things. I, myself have had things of mine posted, and another player whom I introduced to the club has posted information about American go clubs around the state, as well as contact notes about Kim Myungwan 9 dan and his business card.

I wrote above that I have not made time to read an article posted on a wall. Perhaps some might wonder what usurps my attention. The point is that the South Bay Ki-in is located in the New Gardena Hotel. This is the largest hotel in the city and a bustling hub of activity. On most weekends there is something going on in the banquet room.


There are all sorts of seminars held there. The banquet room is located right off the lobby, and I go there every week to read the Japanese newspapers that are placed in a rack daily. At the same time, I peek in on what is happening in the banquet room.

This past weekend there was a seminar on financial planning held there. However, all sorts of events have taken place in the banquet room, including the Cotsen Open Go Tournament years ago. I was not involved in the planning or running of that tournament, but I participated.

That just shows how active the South Bay Ki-in has always been in the go community of Southern California. (For years, when Japan Expo was held, the Nihon Ki-in would sponsor a booth and the South Bay Ki-in would make members available to meet and greet attendees of the event. They would teach people about the game, and accommodate professional go players who would be sent from Japan on promotional missions to the US.)

The South Bay Ki-in has been an actively contributing member of the go community in Southern California for more than twenty years. At a time when support for the game is getting harder and harder to find, it is good to have this resource available.

A couple of weeks ago, the club held a dinner for the members. Tom Ooki, the manager of the New Gardena Hotel and the informal leader of the South Bay Ki-in, said, “Shogatsu ka bonenkai mo kotoshi shinai kara, kono doyobi issho ni shokuji-kai wo shiyou, yo.”

That is the only problem about attending the club meetings. Only Japanese is spoken. In fact, it is so hard to explain what Mr. Ooki meant, that a literal translation of his words is impossible. But everyone knew what he meant. The club will not hold a year-end or New Year’s party, so it would be best to celebrate next Saturday. One of the American members of the club did not understand what was going on, so he did not join the party. That is a shame. I was asked earlier by Mr. Ooki if I would attend and I immediately said I would. So I did not think a thing of Mr. Ooki’s later announcement to everyone in the club.

The American member misunderstood and did not ask anyone for a translation. If one does not speak up, misunderstandings will occur.

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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