Chairperson of the Matsuda Masatake Commemorative Project Committee
Inventor of Pair Go
Honorary Chairperson of the Japan Pair Go Association
Person of Cultural Merit
Unfortunately, at this year’s tournament the figure of Matsuda Masatake, who served for many years as the Chairperson of the Japan Pair Go Association, is not present. Even now, I vividly remember the sight of Mr. Matsuda hunched over a Go board. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m sure that there are many people, both amateurs and professionals, with fond memories of his individualistic, rapid playing style.
Everyone is probably familiar with the achievements of Mr. Matsuda as one of the prime movers in the splitting up and privatization of the Japan National Railway and then as chairman of the board of directors and president of East Japan Railway. Soon after I invented Pair Go, he extended his assistance and cooperation in the promotion of the new game.
I devised the game in 1990 and in the same year we held the first tournament, the 1st International Igo Amateur Pair Tournament (now called the International Amateur Pair Go Championship). Through this event, we were able to confirm its value as a competitive game. The first person I consulted about how to promote the game properly was Mr. Matsuda, who at the time was Vice President of East Japan Railway.
Without beating around the bush, I simply said to him: ‘Please support Pair Go.’ For me, Mr. Matsuda was like an older brother and I was well aware that he was an enthusiastic Go player and that, like me, he was seriously interested in popularizing Go. He understood immediately when I passionately explained how I wanted to increase the number of Go fans by making the game more attractive to women and he readily agreed to offer his support
By the time of the second tournament, in 1991, we had secured sponsorship by East Japan Railway and other corporations that appreciated the significance of the tournament. The support of various railway companies, beginning with East Japan Railway, made up very happy. As the date of the tournament drew near, these companies would put up many posters at stations and on trains. Publicizing the tournament in traffic media used by people going to work or school or shopping played a major role in increasing public knowledge of Pair Go soon after its birth, and we remain grateful for this invaluable assistance.
As society’s evaluation of Pair Go rose, I aimed at establishing a foundation to promote the further popularization of the game. Thanks to assistance extended by Yoshikuni Ichiro, for many years the director of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, Watanabe Fumio, at that time the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nihon Ki-in, Kogayu Masami, Deputy Office Director of the Ministry of Finance, Yazaki Shinji, director of the Board of Audit of Japan, Iwama Eitaro, Vice Minister of Education, Kokubun Masaaki, Vice Minister of Education, and also Iwamoto Kaoru Sensei and Masubuchi Tatsuko Sensei, and others, we were able to realize our goal of establishing the Juridical Body Japan Igo Association (the present Public Interest Incorporated Foundation Japan Pair Go Association). Mr. Yoshikuni was kind enough to become the first president, and Mr. Matsuda, who was my greatest counselor and supporter, became Vice President.
Upon this foundation, Pair Go made great strides, with the founding of a professional Pair Go tournament, the establishment of the World Pair Go Association, the holding of world cups, and so on. When I look back afresh at the path that Pair Go had trodden, I recall at every stage the presence of Mr. Matsuda. He took every opportunity to inform people about the fascination of this game and he would refer to it in newspaper articles he wrote. Nowadays Pair Go has spread so widely that the World Pair Go Association has 75 countries and territories as members. This is thanks to the strong support we received from Mr. Matsuda from the outset and I am very grateful to him.
This year’s tournament has been affected by the pandemic caused by the novel corona virus, but I feel proud that, with your support, we have been able to stage the Matsuda Masatake Memorial. Next year we plan to hold the Pair Go World Cup 2020 Japan. We are striving with all our might so that we can report to Mr. Matsuda splendid results for all the tournaments being held.
In closing I would like to offer my heartfelt prayers that all the participants do their best and to express my gratitude to all the persons whose support and cooperation have made the tournament possible.