RIP Go Seigen

Go Seigen passed away in hospital, in Japan, on Sunday November 30, 2014.

He was 100 years old.


Go Seigen at the Ing Cup in 2009. Photo: Zhang Jingna

The news was reported by the Nihon Kiin (Japanese Go Association) and the Yomiuri Shimbun, with the newspaper saying that Go Seigen was “heralded as the strongest professional player in the Showa era.”

In fact, many people regard Go Seigen to be the greatest Go player ever.

A Go prodigy

Go Seigen (吴清源) was born in Fujian, China on June 12, 1914.

He was recognized as a Go prodigy from a relatively early age and moved to Japan, to become the live-in disciple of Segoe Kensaku 7p, when he was 14 years old.

He became only the second professional to be granted the rank of 9 dan in 1950 (Fujisawa Hosai, aka Fujisawa Kuranosuke, was the first).

A Go master

Between 1933 and 1955, Go Seigen played a total of 12 jubango (10 game matches) with other top pros.

Of these matches, he won ten, lost one (to Fujisawa) and one was discontinued (with Kitani Minoru).

Go later defeated Fujisawa in two subsequent 10 game matches and, since he was playing against the top players of that time, his results overall were amazing.

It was these matches, more than anything else, that established Go Seigen’s reputation as the top player of the era.

Go Seigen’s name has also become synonymous with the Shin Fuseki (new opening) movement, which started in the early 1930s and had a profound influence on the way Go is played today. You can read more about that and learn more about Go Seigen here.

And an inspiration

Go Seigen’s students include Rin Kaiho 9p and Rui Naiwei 9p. Many other pros, including Michael Redmond 9p, attended study sessions at Go’s home.

Beyond that, Go Seigen was an inspiration to the many thousands of Go players around the world who study his games.

An Younggil 8p said, “I was very fond of replaying Go’s games when I was an insei.”

“His games were something special to me and I felt a cool smoothness to his play. I replayed all of his recorded games at least three times, because it was enjoyable and also exciting.”

“I always felt that I was improving when I studied his games.”

“His moves were very sharp and light, especially compared to other top players of that period. His opening was outstanding and he was also a master of ko.”

Go Seigen also provided inspiration to people in many other areas, including film, photography, and music.

Rest in peace

He will be missed by his family, and Go fans around the world.

Like other Go masters, he will live on through the game records he created.

Rest in peace, Go Seigen.

Go Seigen at game 5 of the 36th Kisei match. Photo: Nihon Kiin.

Go Seigen at game 5 of the 36th Kisei match. Photo: Japanese Go Association

A private funeral service will be held for close relatives and a public farewell ceremony can be expected at a later date.


Related Articles

About David Ormerod

David is a Go enthusiast who’s played the game for more than a decade. He likes learning, teaching, playing and writing about the game Go. He's taught thousands of people to play Go, both online and in person at schools, public Go demonstrations and Go clubs. David is a 5 dan amateur Go player who competed in the World Amateur Go Championships prior to starting Go Game Guru. He's also the editor of Go Game Guru.

You can follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.


  1. Anonymous says:

    quick change the december to november before people notice ^^

  2. Shin Ryuouki says:

    RIP a legend. You’ll be severely missed by Go community

  3. Flagellator1974 says:

    Nyugodj békében, Mester!

  4. the next stone in hand
    he pauses over a board
    grown suddenly vast

  5. I have just watched “The Go master” movie about Wu with my wife three days ago. We spoke how so special this man was, and how long he lived, despite the TB he had suffered and the accident. The movie itself, is not so easy to watch, maybe too much meditative, and had too little emphasis on Go-related content, but it still was interesting. Maybe we had a premonition of what was to happen. RIP Go saint.

    • Brandon Freels says:

      My wife and I watched the same movie just 2 weeks go. We really enjoyed the refreshing slow pace of the film. My wife understood the Jubangos after seeing the Lee Sedol/Gu Li one this year. I have that premonition feeling as well…

  6. Go Masters pass away, but they leave their games to future generations thus contributing to the long way of the perfection of go.

    Thanks for the step you took in this long way Sensei!

  7. RIP Go Seigen

  8. Saddened when a master passes ,he left so much with us and he will always be remembered for that person he was,happy to be able to teach ,passionate to discover the changes from the old to the new

  9. truly a legend. RIP

  10. He was an inspiration for many go players, his games and ideas will live forever. Thank you, Go Seigen.

    Kind regards,

  11. RIP. Thank you, Go Seigen.

  12. afterbreak says:

    would be great to have some his game commented here in his memory, there are some events around kgs, made into this.

    In my country there is tournament with extra competition, where You need to reply most of games of Go Seigen on board from memory ofc.

  13. Thank you, Master Go Seigen. You were an inspiration.

  14. Well, I’ve got another 25 years to go to be bending over a go board, still intent and trying to figure out the right direction of play at 100 years old. May it be so! Definitely Go Seigen was an inspiration, and what changes he must have noted in his century of play. I wonder if I can talk him into being my ghostly sidekick? Thank you, Go Seigen, for all you have done to make this available to so many.

  15. See you in after life, Go!
    I wanna challenge you 😉