Cho Chikun repays his debts

When the first game of the 25th Meijin match was played in Amsterdam (sept. 2000), I had the privilige to look behind the scenes and even to be present in the post game dinner with Cho Chikun and Yoda Norimoto. There, one of the Asahi reporters made a remark that I didn't immediately understand: what an honourable man Cho Chikun was repaying his debts. What was he talking about?

When his daughter became an insei in 1990, that became the occasion for Cho (very unusually for a top player) to become for two years an insei instructor. It was his way to "repay his debts" to the world of Japanese go. Whenever he could, during two years, he would go to the Nihon Ki-in once every week to instruct the insei. I do not think his daughter made it to a professional level, but Cho has had some pupils that did.

The oldest pupils are Kim Kwang-sik and Kin Shujun, both from Korea, both born in 1979. Kim has returned to Korea, Kin is still playing in the Nihon Ki-in. Number 3 is Matsumoto Takehisa.

Number 4 and 5 are Tsuruyama Atsushi and Mitani Tetsuya. They both played for Japan in the World Youth Championship of 1997 in Taiwan, Tsuruyama in the group above 12 years and Mitani in the group below 12 years. Is that a coincidence? I do not think so, witness a big write-up report in the Gunma edition of the Yomiuri Shinbun earlier this year (Mitani is from Gunma).


Mitani Tetsuya was just 15 or 16 in 2001 when he was promoted to professional sho-dan. Apparently Cho heard about him a long while back and wrote to him, inviting him and half a dozen similar top young talents to stay with him for a training camp at his home in Chiba. It lasted 6 months. Mitani had to ask permission from his father, of course, but he sounded gobsmacked: "If Cho Chikun says so, I have to say yes." Mitani later switched to Ando Takeo via yet another Korean connection, Cho Sonjin (a pupil of Ando).

Kin Shujun is doing very well in several tournaments (especially Hayago), although he has yet to win his first title. In the 16th NEC Shunei when he was 5 dan he came pretty close: he made it to the final. His Sensei was playing the "big" NEC Final on the same day. Kin said before the game that it was an honour to play in the final on the same day as his teacher, and that of course his goal was to win it together with his teacher. He lost though, Cho won. Some examples of his games follow: OpponentColor ResultEventMoves
1 2000-05-27 Kato Atsushi 7d W W+8.5 16th NEC Shunei, Round 1 259
2 2000-12-16 Hane Naoki 8d W W+12.5 16th NEC Shunei, Round 2 244
3 2001-02-24 Kono Rin 5d B B+11.5 16th NEC Shunei, Round 3 287
4 2001-03-10 Mizogami Tomochika 6d B W+R 16th NEC Shunei, Final 206
5 2001-06-16 Han Zenki 5d B B+R 17th NEC Shunei, Round 1 191
6 2001-11-17 Takao Shinji 7d B W+R 17th NEC Shunei, Round 2 156
7 2002-04-17 Yamamori Tadanao 3d W W+R 18th NEC Shunei, Round 1 128
8 2002-09-21 Matsumoto Takehisa 5d W W+10.5 18th NEC Shunei, Round 2 191

(page in progress -- Jan van Rongen -- 2002-11-08)

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