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 Post subject: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #1 Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2021 4:03 am 
Oza

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Kikuchi Yasuro was one of the greatest amateurs of all time, and as such deserves to mentioned in this Professionals sub-group. He died recently at the age of 92 - simply of old age.

He won over 20 amateur titles, and was remarkable enough to be honoured with a published collection of his best games - he had played over 300 games with professionals. He won the 14th World Amateur Championship. One of his foibles was the habit of playing his first move as Black in the lower right corner.

His main career was in a steelworks, but he was also, in retirement, a go writer and teacher of several successful professionals in his school, the Ryokusei Academy. Perhaps the most successful pupil was Yamashita Keigo. Yamashita was with him at the end, and said that although Kikuchi could at that stage no longer speak, he responded energetically to the news that the Japanese team (including Yamashita) had just won the 3rd CJK Nie Weiping Go Masters team tournament (Yamashita neat Yi Ch'ang-ho).

By way of tribute to Kikuchi, I give below an outdated (but still copyrighted) account of the Ryokusei Academy from the GoGoD files:

THE RYOKUSEI ACADEMY
ONE OF THE MOST significant forces in professional go in Japan at present [2000] is a frail-looking but still active amateur. He is Kikuchi Yasuro.

Born in 1929 in Tokyo, Kikuchi has won over 20 amateur titles, and so qualifies many times over for the new status of 8-dan amateur. He probably could have been a pro himself, but chose instead to stay with a small steelworks during his working life. Since retirement from that job, however, he has kept himself in full-time employment by running the Ryokusei Academy in Shibuya Ward in Tokyo. He founded the Academy in 1975, but it derives from an earlier Ryokuseikai that he formed in 1952. This was a study group in his own home and it ran for five years before blending with the Kanrokukai into the Amateur Study Group. Even then it was noted for the number of strong players it produced.

Ryokusei has arguably been the most effective school for producing professionals apart from the schools of Kitani Minoru and Kubouchi Shuchi, but what is not in doubt is that it is the one enjoying greatest success now.

The Academy began with ten students, mostly university students. In the second year, promising schoolchildren of any age were allowed in. In its fourth year (1982) it had its first major success when Muramatsu Ryuichi, now 7-dan, became a pro from its ranks. There was also Maeda Ryo, now 6-dan, though he later joined the school of Ohira Shuzo 9-dan.

Graduate success
In 1988, Yamashita Keigo, who as we write this is about to challenge for his first title in the 25th Gosei, was another graduate, having joined when in primary school (he went on to become Primary School Meijin too). Yamashita went to Tokyo all the way from Asahikawa City in Hokkaido, so as you can see the Ryokusei Academy had become a boarding school, having had to expand its premises to a whole house in Nakano Ward in 1992.

The successes of graduates have multiplied recently. For example, Aoki Shinichi won the Shunei and Miyazaki Shimako and Osawa Narumi both won the Women's Kakusei, and Yamashita also has several minor titles under his belt. Akiyama Jiro 7-dan and Mizokami Tomochika 6-dan are other senior graduates.

But there are other features which distinguish the Ryokusei Academy apart from such tangible successes. One of the most important in the longer term, probably, has been the way it has forged links with similar academies in China and Korea. An early link-up was with China's youth squad in Beijing, exchanges continuing for three years.

The Academy was then forced by its own success to move yet again, or rather to branch out, this time to Setagaya Ward in 1996.

Overseas links
At the time of writing, these overseas link-ups were still in full swing. May 2000 saw the second match between the Ryokusei Academy and the Heo Academy in Seoul. The Heo Academy is Korea's most famous training school for go pros and is run by Heo Chang-heui. Unlike Kikuchi, Heo is still an active pro, born in 1954 and making 8-dan in 1996. His school is purely for children and is run in a rather more regimented way than is usual in Japanese go schools, with a tailored programme of events reinforced by having classrooms devoted to those activities. But it is successful and includes Kim Myeong-wan 4-dan, An Yeong-kil 3-dan and Ch'oe Ch'oel-han 2-dan among its alumni - all teenagers cutting a swathe in domestic events.

For a game from that event, Akiyama Jiro 7-dan versus the 18-year-old Hong Chang-sik 3-dan, see game 2000-05-25b.

Also at the time of writing, the Academy had 14 pros, 13 inseis and 80 amateurs on its rolls. Of all the new pros enrolled in the Nihon Ki-in in the last five years, the Academy has been the top supplier with five, ahead of Cho Chikun's school (four) and Kobayashi Koichi's (three).

It is hard to say what makes one school better than another, but Kikuchi's Academy is not, on the face of it, especially innovative. The players all play each other in a league, they study both ancient and modern games, and Kikuchi himself stresses not just the refinement of on-the-board skills but also decorum and stamina.

These are core disciplines that have characterised his own go-playing career. His achievements have been enough to warrant a book of his own games published by the very distinguished publishing house Seibundo.

See, for example, one of Kikuchi's games from a ten-game match he won against top pro Kajiwara Takeo: 1962-00-00a. The GoGoD database has many other games by Kikuchi.

A quick resume of Kikuchi's career may be useful here. He learnt go at three, was a regular player at an all-day Sunday club at age 7 and by the time he entered Junior School (1942) he was amateur 2-dan. Because of the war he moved out to Yokohama in 1943 and there was able to study with Koizumi Shigero 5-dan, Morikawa Masao 1-dan and Fujisawa Kuranosuke 7-dan. By the time he went to university to read economics (1947) he was amateur 5-dan. He entered the first amateur championship after the war and reached the semi-finals, but more importantly was noticed by the legendary Yasunaga Hajime, author of Shin Fuseki. He began his working life in 1953 but went on to win the Amateur Honinbo 10 times.

[He of course has had further successes after 2000]


This post by John Fairbairn was liked by 3 people: Ferran, gowan, sorin
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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #2 Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2021 2:56 pm 
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I knew about Maeda, famous for his tsumego. A pro whose teacher was an amateur.

And I also knew that Yamashita, a former kisei, had been trained by an amateur, too. But I didn't know much else. John's post has a lot of interesting info.

Of course, I use "amateur" in the sense of not having a pro status. But being a pro, is more than that. What his life is about, dedication, knowledge... that defines a pro too.

As a player, he sure was great. But as a teacher, he was probably even better.

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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #3 Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2021 3:50 pm 
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I first heard of Kikuchi, along with Bunsho Murakami and Harada maybe 50 years ago - I refrained from giving John F a "like" for posting news of his death.....but it's news that needs to be shared, so thank you.

I bought a copy of the book of his games some years ago, flicking through it this evening reminded me just how strong he was. (You can look at the games on GoGod - but there is something about looking at the index of who he played and skimming over all the game records in a real book.)

266 pages, printed Showa 54 March (1979).The first eleven games are two stone games against Miyashita, Segoe, Sakata, Karigane, Kitani, Suzuki, Takagawa, Hashimoto, Fujisawa Hosai, Iwamoto and Fujisawa Shuko. He won ten of these, losing only to Fujisawa Hosai. Gosh.

There are games from the top amateur finals, an even game against Go SeiGen (Kikuchi lost by resignation) and a six game series against Ohira Shuzo with the handicap changing after every game - from even and White giving 2.5 komi to 2 stones and no komi. Kikuchi ties this series 3-3.He beats Kageyama (then 4 dan) in an even game and plays White and wins against Otake then aged 14 and one dan.

A remarkable achievement, great teacher and very hard to pick just one game, but to have beaten Karigane on two stones must have been special (but then Sakata and Kitani must have been special too).

Take Care - John

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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #4 Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2021 3:56 pm 
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Quote:
I knew about Maeda, famous for his tsumego. A pro whose teacher was an amateur.


That "God of Tsumego" Maeda was Maeda Nobuaki, whose main teacher was as far as you can get from an amateur, the Meijin Honinbo Shusai. And he's the one who found the move for Shusai that defeated Go Seigen in 1933. There's a little more about him in my forthcoming book about Go Seigen.

However, that Maeda did have a so-called amateur as his first teacher, Kubomatsu Katsukiyo. Kubomatsu was nicknamed The Great Amateur, but this was in the days when the word ama was first entering Japanese and it was used in its original sense of "lover of [go]". In reality he was a professional, not just in go but in renju, and in ninuki renju (which he invented). He was also the go-to expert on tengen.

The Maeda here (Ryo) is not yet at his level, but he did very kindly arrange permission from the family of Hashimoto Utaro for GoGoD to use photos in connection with the Atom Bomb Game, so I also keep him in mind. There is also a Maeda Ryoji. One or t'other has attended western congresses, I believe, so you may know him/them from there.

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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #5 Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2021 4:19 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #6 Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2021 2:36 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #7 Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2021 4:05 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #8 Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2021 4:48 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #9 Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2021 1:05 pm 
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Having an amateur as a teacher isn't common. But having 2 pros named Maeda, with both of them having an amateur teacher... what are the odds?

I knew about the tsumego maker.

Now, I know about Kikuchi's academy, and a bit about Yamashita's past (I like this guy).

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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #10 Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2021 4:17 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #11 Posted: Thu Nov 18, 2021 9:13 pm 
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I met Yasuro Kikuchi at the 2002 World Amateur Go Championship and managed to get a photo with him.

PS. This photo is of rather poor quality, but there don't seem to be any other photos online. If someone with more dedication and savvy than me wants to post this to Sensei's Library or Wikipedia, have at it.


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File comment: Yasuro Kikuchi, 2002 World Amateur Go Championship
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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #12 Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2021 3:44 am 
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There are some pictures and commented games in the Ranka Yearbook of 1993 (maybe in other issues too).

https://www.ranka.intergofed.org/?page_id=1878

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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #13 Posted: Sat Nov 20, 2021 9:03 am 
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Kikuchi Yasuro chose and commented on Yamashita's games in Chapter 3 of the Hinoki Press book "Breakthrough Attacking Power Yamashita-Style". In chaper 4 Kikuchi briefly talks about studying at the Ryokusei Gakuen "our policy is to have the students devise their own study methods and we do not direct them..."

Interesting - John

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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #14 Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:41 am 
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Some pictures of Kikuchi Yasuro's school in the early 2000s can be seen at http://jerome.hubert.pagesperso-orange. ... kyo_02.htm.

Note that the first six pictures are not pictures of the Academy but of the insei playing rooms in Tokyo. I guess the 13-year old Taiwanese insei in the first picture is Xie Yimin.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Kikuchi Yasuro RIP
Post #15 Posted: Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:02 am 
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pwaldron wrote:
This photo is of rather poor quality, but there don't seem to be any other photos online.


There are many photos if you do a Google image search for his name in Kanji: 菊池康郎

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