I just heard that the New York Go Center will soon close because the Nihon Ki-in (Japanese Go Association) will sell the building that their Go club is in.
Now of course, down here in Australia we are lazy and can rarely be bothered to make the trip to New York (I have never been there), but the news came as something of a shock to me anyway.
This is because the Go club is one of four started by Iwamoto Kaoru, the great professional Go player and philanthropist.
The other three are in Amsterdam, Sao Paulo and Seattle.
Iwamoto dedicated a large part of his life, as well as a lot of his own money, promoting Go around the world. I think the Go clubs are an important part of his legacy and should remain so.
Details about exactly why the building is being sold seem sparse, even in the announcement from the managers of the Go center on their website.
Perhaps the building has become run down, necessitating sale? I suspect this would have been mentioned if it were the case.
Most likely the Nihon Ki-in just needs the money. The Japanese economy has been struggling for years, even before the world recession started and it’s clear this has affected funding of the Nihon Ki-in.
For example, the 2010 World Amateur Go Championships (which I attended in May this year) was held in China rather than Japan for the first time in 23 years.
However, even if they do need the money, there’s no indication of what they will do with the profits. Will a proportion of that money be used to provide the New York Go Center with a new home?
While it seems that Iwamoto did technically donate the building to the Ki-in, not the American Go Association for example, one still needs to keep in mind his intent in doing so.
Overall, it’s sad news for the Go world and Go players everywhere, because it represents another setback in promoting Go globally. Times are tough though and we should assume the Nihon Ki-in considered this matter carefully, and only followed this course very reluctantly.
If you live in New York, the organisers request that you visit the club on Tuesday 30 November 2010, to show your support and help to find a solution for the Go club. If you have any more information about this, or you have something you want to say about it, please feel free to make a comment below.