An opening ceremony and reception for the 32nd World Amateur Go Championship was held at the Ichibata Hotel in Matsue on the evening of May 28, with Ms Hitoko Masuda, a smart-looking and highly professional free-lance announcer, acting as master of ceremonies. The reception was attended by the contestants, at least ten professional players from the Nihon Kiin, and numerous guests, including Mr Takashi Yamazaki, a direct descendent of Honinbo Dosaku, and Mr Mitsuharu Iwamoto, a relative of Kaoru Iwamoto (Honinbo Kunwa).
In an opening address Hideo Otake, the tournament director, welcomed the players and guests, thanked the organizers, and thanked the many people overseas who have extended their sympathy and support to Japan following the March earthquake and tsunami. Mr Zembei Mizoguchi, Governor of Shimane Prefecture, added his welcome and thanks, and urged the players to explore the history, culture, and natural beauty of Shimane. Mr Masataka Matsuura, Mayor of Matsue, echoed these sentiments and urged the players to tell the people back home that Japan is working hard to recover from the earthquake damage and that everything is all right. Mr Masashi Tanoue, president of the local branch of Fujitsu Limited, regaled the audience with stories of Fujitsu’s long involvement in the game of go, including the Fujitsu Go Team’s first-place finish in Japan’s Jumbo tournament in 2010 and its second-place finish in 2011. He also noted that the players were gathered in a district that was formerly known by the name of Izumo, the area where all the Japanese gods gathered every October to bring people together. Mr Hiroyuki Wakasa, vice-chairman of the tournament committee, then led a toast, which was drunk with glasses of potent locally brewed sake. The players and guests were then treated to a lavish buffet banquet, featuring profuse quantities of the seafood for which Matsue is justly famous.
During the banquet, the Seicho Yasuragibushi Preservation Society gave a performance of traditional songs and dances, accompanied by drums and shamisen. This was followed by the announcement of the players’ pairings for the first round and then a remarkable pledge by the United Kingdom’s Alexander Selby, in which he invited the players to join him in committing themselves to a specific agenda of fair play: punctuality, courtesy toward opponents and officials, respect for referees’ decisions, and good grace in both victory and defeat.
Former Honinbo Masaki Takemiya, the chief referee, then gave a reply that radiated with his joy at seeing everybody, his sympathy for their jet lag (which is, he noted, a great leveler, giving all players a chance), his hope that they will go home friends (‘more important than the tournament results’), and his wish to see many of them again at the European Go Congress this summer.
– James Davies