Memories of Pair Go


Imayo Matsumoto (Japan)

People teased me with the comment ‘Never too late to learn’ when I started to learn go. I just watched my husband (5-dan) and son (former captain of the Tokyo University team) play, without any real hope of improving myself.

However, things changed when I encountered Pair Go 20 years ago. Just imagine being able to compete in the same arena as my husband and son when I had previously just been a spectator! When I look back, many happy memories come to mind.

On December 23, 1990, while conferring with my husband about just how one played Pair Go, I took part in the 1st International Amateur Pair Go Championship Handicap Tournament. We took third place. Since then, I have been a captive of Pair Go.

Every year, after tasting defeat in the regional open qualifying tournament, my husband and I came to Tokyo to take part in the handicap tournament. We made it every year for 15 years. My husband passed away, and I am now looking forward to my third appearance with my son.

Every evening my son calls me up and asks, ‘How many more days until November 15?’ At the tournament venue, he happily introduces me to everyone as ‘my mother’. This is a day of supreme happiness for mother and son.

An unforgettable memory for me is my appearance in the Shikoku regional qualifying tournament as a pair with the governor of Ehime Prefecture Moriyuki Kado. When I had an opportunity to meet the governor and explained to him about Pair Go and invited him to play, he seemed even happier than I had expected and readily promised. You would think he could find a younger, stronger, more beautiful partner, but I was the lucky one. Some people said that it was unheard-of for the governor to pay a fee and participate in a private event as an ordinary citizen. It was like a dream when I welcomed the governor and his wife, who turned up with big smiles on their faces, on the day of the tournament. Everyone there was very happy and offered us their congratulations.

‘Some of my moves may disappoint you, but please don’t be angry,’ I said. ‘The other men will be feeling the same way.’ The governor’s wife promptly commented: ‘Don’t worry about that. He’s never once got angry with me in 40 years of married life.’ He turned out to be an ideal partner, full of humour and able to take a tumble in his stride.

Many women avoid Pair Go because ‘I feel sorry about handicapping my partner’ or ‘I don’t want to be scolded for playing a bad move.’ Since they have stepped inside the world of go, they should enjoy the game with all their might and find the courage to meet the challenge of playing with a high-ranked partner.

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