Kaoru Iwamoto(岩本薫 19021999) also known as Hon-inbo Kunwa, was a Japanese professional “Go” player who achieved the rank of 9-dan.

He was born in Masuda City of Shimane prefecture. He was a follower of Heijiro Hirose, 8-dan.  His strategy of “Go” was called “mamemaki Go” (scattering beans Go) , because at first his stones are scattered everywhere. Later those stones are used to pressure his enemy bit by bit.

 

He happened to be playing “Go” in the outskirts of Hiroshima, when the atomic bomb exploded in 1945. This game was continued after the war and ended in a 3-3 draw. A three-game playoff was held in 1946, Iwamoto won two straight games to take the Hon-inbo title.

 

He was the chief director of Nihon Ki-in and the director of Nihon Ki-in Chuo Kaikan.

 

In his later years he was the main benefactor of several European and American “Go” centers in London, Sao Paulo, New York, Seatle and Amsterdam.

 


Biography of Kaoru Iwamoto

Year

Age

Events

1902

 

 

On February 5, 1902, Kaoru Iwamoto was born in Takatsu, Masuda City, Shimane prefecture.

1905

 3

Moved to Busan, Korea with his parents.

1911

 9

Learned Go from his father.

1913

11

Returned to Japan to become a disciple of Hirose Heijiro 6-dan of Houensha in Tokyo.

1917

15

Achieved 1-dan.

1918

16

Visited China with Hirose Heijiro.

1919

17

Achieved 2-dan.

1920

18

Achieved 3-dan.

1922

20

Achieved 4-dan.

1923

21

Visited Taipei.

1924

22

Nihon Ki-iin was established and he joined it.

1925

23

Achieved 5-dan.

1926

24

Achieved 6-dan and visited China.

1927

25

Married Karasawa Kikue.

1929

27

Retired as a professional “Go” player and emigrated to Brazil.

1931

29

Came back to Japan and resumed his “Go” career and visited China.

1935

33

Elected as one of the top committee members of Nihon Ki-in. He won the Oteai, one of the most important tournaments in Japan at the time.

1941

39

Achieved 7-dan, and became a permanent director of Kidouhoukokukai.(棋道報国会) 

1945

43

Became a permanent director of Nihon Ki-in.

Nihon Ki-in’s office was burned by bombing from the war, Iwamoto’s home became the temporary site of Nihon Ki-in.

Challenged the third Hon-inbo match against Utaro Hashimoto in Hiroshima.

This match is famous as “The Atomic Bomb Go Game”. On this time, the match ended in a 3-3 draw.

1946

44

The third Hon-inbo match was continued after the war and he won two straight games to take the Hon-inbo title. He assumed the name Hon-inbo Kunwa.

1947

45

Defended the Hon-inbo title against Kitani Minoru at the forth Hon-inbo match.

He was instrumental in finding new headquarters of Nihon Ki-in in Takanawa town.

1948

46

Achieved 8-dan and became the president of Nihon Ki-in.(1949)

1950

48

Lost the Hon-inbo title, giving it back to Hashimoto Utaro.

1952

50

Won the All Hon-inbo all 8-dan match against Kotani Minoru.

1954

52

Became the first director of Nihon Ki-in Chuo Kaikan(Nihon Ki-in central hall)

1955

53

Won the second NHK Cup.

1959

57

Stayed in US for the 14th Hon-inbo league much in USA for two months.

1961

59

Stayed in US for a year to popularize “Go”.

1962

60

Visited Europe to popularize “Go”.

1967

65

Achieved 9-dan.  He visited North and South America for 2 months to popularize “Go”. He was given a medal with a Purple Ribbon.

1970

68

Visited South America and Europe for 2 months to popularize “Go”.

1972

70

Visited South America and Europe for 2 months to popularize “Go”.

1973

71

Given the medal of Kun-Santou Shiju Housho.

1974

72

Became the vice chief director of Nihon Ki-in.

1975

73

Visited South America for a month to popularize “Go”.

1978

76

His pupil, James Kerwin achieved Sho-dan(1-dan), he is the first professional “Go” player among westerners.

1983

81

Retired in April.

1987

85

Set up the Iwamoto Foundation with an initial contribution of 530 million yen and

became an honorary citizen of Tokyo.

1989

87

Was the main benefactor of “Go” centers in Sao Paulo (1989),  Amsterdam(1992), Seattle and New York (1995)

 

1999

97

Nov. 29th died.

 

History and Folk Museum’s collection of Iwamoto Kunwa

  A statue of Iwamoto Kunwa

  A “Go” board and a pair of stones Iwamoto Kunwa used.

  “Go” notations

  Diaries (1923193519371991)

  Notes (19661984)

  Insignias   

  Etc.

 

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Iwamoto Kaoru

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