Reminiscences of our son Hans
        by Kveta and Klaus Pietsch
        When he was born on the evening of September 27, 1969, it was a great joy for both of our families, since he remained the only grandchild for the next seven years, until the birth of his cousin in Bohemia.
        Hans made his first journey abroad at the age of 6 months, when he was introduced to his grandparents and his two aunts in what was then Czechoslovakia. Later he visited them regularly during summer vacation every other year. He grew up bilingually, with both German and Czech as native languages.
        In nursery school he was not happy, because the many noisy and sometimes thoughtless children made him feel insecure. He preferred playing alone with his Lego set or inventing all kinds of new games together with the little girl who was his best friend. When he was five years old he begun collecting minerals, and two years later he had assembled a quite remarkable collection. He entered elementary school at the age of six, and as soon as he was able to read he discovered a new passion in reading. Soon he was devouring not only childrenfs books, but also volumes about minerals, the secrets of nature, of the earth, and of outer space. Many of his hobbies, such as macrame and handicraft work using straw, he first discovered through books, and then he transformed his room into a workshop where he knotted, glued, and built things with great dedication. The results were attractive and practical presents for family and friends, some of which remain to this day to remind the recipients vividly of the giver. At the age of 6 he begun to take recorder lessons, later he took up the clarinet and in time became a member of Bremenfs Youth Winds Orchestra, continuing to perform with the orchestra until he was almost 18, in addition to music, Hans took up kayaking, and a little later, when he was 12 years old, relative in Hamburg introduced him to the games of Go. Of the many games he enjoyed playing Go was to became his favorite.
        From now on he sat every day with crossed legs on his bed and learned Go Of course, books on the game were obtained, and the quality of his playing equipment gradually improved as well. All his hobbies have enriched his life, extended his horizons, and brought him new friendships: his performances with the orchestra, both in Germany and abroad, kayaking tours on many rivers in Europe, Go tournaments in innumerable place. Hans always pursued his hobbies with great diligence; whether handicrafts work, collecting, kayaking, the architecture of medieval castles, or Go, he studied and explored everything thoroughly with the aid of the technical literature. Learning many things never presented Hans with any difficulties. He completed both elementary school, form 1974 to 1980, and then high school with such ease that we as parents almost did not have to take any notice or his studies. Athletics was his only somewhat weak subject in high school. In 1987 he graduated, passing his final examination, including geography and chemistry as honors subjects, with a grade average of 1.3 (A). Now the entire world of the university stood open to him, but first he had to perform his alternative community service as a conscious objector to military service. During this period Hans hoped to decide on his future course of university studies. The hospital in which he performed his alternative service offered him an extension of his employment, which he gladly accepted because by this time he had made his decision and needed the money. He applied for admission to the Economics and Sinology Program at the University of Bremen, and diligently studied the Chinese language in a course he was taking at night school because he was planning to invest his earnings from work in a trip to China. The bloody events in Beijing during the spring of 1999, however, caused him to abandon this project. Hans was now grown up and wanted to make his own way in the world to find out how far he could go. Although he was the top candidate chosen from among 300 applicants to the university program, he decided not to matriculate. Instead he invested his savings in an old Mercedes and disappeared into the Spainfs sierra with a group of friends.
        We were quite disappointed with his decision not to attend university, we let him go on his way when he first moved to Hamburg and eventually to Tokyo. Because we knew very well how much good was in him, we kept ourselves in the background and assisted him within our possibilities when he needed us.
        Following the European Go Congress in Vienna he made up his mind to try to become a professional Go player.

Message from his friends

by Sorin Gherman
Thank you, Hans!
Both Hans Pietsch and I were Kobayashi Chizu Sensei's students in Japan, but Hans had become an insei several years before I did, and he was already an A class insei when I came.
In the traditional Japanese Go schools, one is usually not getting instruction directly from the Sensei, but most of the times from a "sempai": an older, stronger student. ("Sempai" is one of those many Japanese words, which don't have an exact English translation, due to the culture difference. It means in general something like one's senior in culture, art, etc.)
Hans has been my sempai in Japan for one and a half years, while I was insei at the Nihon Ki-in (January 1994 - September 1995). He did take such good care of me while I was in Japan, from picking me up from Narita Airport and getting me to Igo Kenshu Center, where I lived, to showing me around, teaching me Go, Japanese language and Japanese customs, and last but not least sharing with me his delicious, impossible to get in Japan, German made candies he got from home....
He was living in Tokyo, but he came to the Go Center at least once a week, when we had the official insei games. He would review some of my games or would play fast, teaching games with me each time we met.
His Go was just like himself: very honest, solid and powerful. He wouldn't go for the obscure variations, or little tricks, but would choose the natural, apparently simple way to play. When we both were insei, he used to study mainly Takemiya Sensei and Kobayashi Satoru Sensei's games.
Hans was extremely serious about Go: his whole attitude showed that he lived for Go. It was crucial for him to become a professional after spending several years as insei, yet he devoted quite a lot of time for teaching Go to me and other students of Chizu Sensei. Hans was not merely following a tradition, but he was very dedicated to it: I think this was just a consequence of his natural generosity.
He told me several times, very enthusiastically, about his plans to spread Go in countries with little or no Go activity. It's such absurd and hard to understand what happened to him exactly during such a tour for promoting Go.
Hans will always be among us through his spirit and through his Go teaching and Go games. I am publishing here some of the games he commented for me in Japan (unfortunately I have only recorded a dozen of them or so).
Hans was not only my sempai, but he was also like my older brother in Japan. Thank you, Hans!


by Benjamin Teuber

From all of my memories of Hans, my sensei, the one I think of the most often is how we were wandering together near Mount Fuji, happily singing some funny German songs. He liked deals of a sailor, who travelled freely all over the world. I think, Hans somehow was this sailor deep inside. Maybe he was a sailor in his last life, and this is the reson why he went to live in a country as far away as Japan, or why he liked travelling, nature and water (doing kajak, swimming etc.) so much. He even died a sailor's death, far away from home (or better homes), family and friends, but in an exotic and interesting country, after the magnificant view of a great big lake under the morning sun.
I will never forget you and what you did for me.
May your soul rest in peace, Hans


by Csaba Mero

Hans was my sempai, he was living next door to me for 2,5 years. He helped me a lot to survive in a foreign country. For 2,5 years i saw him almost every day. For this it feels to me as if i had lost an elder brother. When i last saw Hans he was just leaving Japan for his last trip. He loved to travel. I told i envy him for going to such a  beautyful place as South America. He was laughing. He left life when he was happy. I will remember him all my life.
Well, that's it...

See you

Tomodachi - Friend
by Stefan Budig

"Go brought us together ? it was your life, for me it is a precious treasure. You were my best Go-friend. I loved you as a friend even when thousands of kilometers parted us, and now a whole life. You will remain my friend forever. And if there is anything I can do for you or for your loved ones, I will do it with pleasure!
I know that we will see each other again, in another life, at another time. I will still think of you many times, and in my thoughts the times we spent together will come alive again. I enjoyed those times so much! Our talks, our games, our walks in the mountains, our undertakings, our trips, our times together. I will miss you!!!"
These first lines I wrote shortly after I heard about the terrible occurrence.
When I asked Nakayama Noriyuki (a well known japanese Go-professional) a few years ago what he liked most about Go, he answered: "That I found many friends all over the world". And he was not the only one who gave me this answer. I know that this would have been your answer too.
I do not want to list all your successes in Go and your good deeds here. Your Gostrenght and the number of friends do speak for themselves. Besides that, the journal of the German Go-Federation will give a broad report on your career. But it is important for us to appreciate, one more time, what kind of person you were.
It was surprising that even people who did not have the pleasure of your company very often asked or called me to hear more details of the circumstances of your death. But most of all they wanted to tell me what a wonderful person you were.
We all loved your openness, your friendship, your kindness, your unpretentiousness, your readiness to help, and much more. You never turned loud or became angry.
You were in all possible ways a peaceful and tolerant person (unless you were forced to kill someonesf group on the Go-board, but even for that you were probably sorry).
You were ready to share your knowledge with others and always careful not to put your pupils down. Something for which some others envied you. Go was your life, but it never dominated you nor did you become fanatic about it. You kept your friendly way untill the end, and since days now I see your nice smile in my thoughts. The loss for the Go-world cannot be compensated. You were our best, our figurehead, our idol, our representative and link to Asia in matters concerning Go. You were always
responsive to all kind of questions and you always did what you could when asked.
Dear Hans, for all of us who knew you well your death is almost impossible to comprehend. Most of us could not and did not want to believe it when hearing about it. Every day one hears and sees the most terrible things that happen in the world, but that something like this could happen to one of our loved ones, a dear friend, for some an example to be followed and an idol ? this is something none of us would even have dreamt of. Yes, you were an adventurer and you had, like other people who are born under the astroligical sign of Libra, the dare-devil in you.
I accompanied you a few times on the bicycle in Tokio. I am not the most careful person, but you had your own traffic-rules and managed some pretty dangerous situations. You made difficult mountain trips on your own. You liked to bring yourself to your limits and to demand the utmost of yourself. Besides that, you also had limitless trust in the people who guided and accompanied you, but that it would end like this nobody would have thought.
Had I been told about your death only, I firstly would have thought of a trafficaccident or an accident in the mountains. But the truth is much more than just a bad joke. Something like this only happens in wildwest movies. How big is the chance that these things happen? 1:10.000, 1:100.000? It is really unprobable. And yet it did happened to you.
Almost everybody immediately remembers a situation in which he or she was pretty close to a bad end but where he or she survived or at least was saved from worse.
You did not have this luck. Why YOU? This is what your family and nearest friends must ask. To this question there is no satisfying answer.
As much as some people may trust that you will be reborn someday ? something of which YOU were convinced. But does that help us here and now? We cannot share any more time with you in this life. We cannot grow old together with you. We can no longer laugh with you about jokes, cannot play together anymore, not talk, walk nor do anything else with you anymore. We can only remember what it was like to do these things with you. All those beautiful moments we shared with you. Is that a consolation? I would have preferred to remember those times together with you, with a cup of green tea at hand, sitting in an armchair, with gray hair and a wise nod of the head. It is a real pity that this will remain a dream forever.
Hans, you definitely died too young. God knows why.
It can happen to anybody, anytime and some people get a second, sometimes a third or even a fourth chance. We do not know what the cosmic laws keep in store for anyone of us and we therefore cannot judge on what death means for somebody.
What we do know for sure is what death does to US when a loved one suddenly departs. For those who stay behind it is sad in any case.
I know that in time I will remember our mutual moments with happiness and some melancholy. But for now ? now I am only sad when I think that the only thing thatLs left is the past we shared. Unfortunately there will be no future with you as Hans Pietsch.
We have gathered here altogether to say goodbye to you for the last time and we wish and hope that you are here among us and that you are thankful to see all of us together for one more time.
As you were open to esoteric themes and especially interested in theories about reincarnation, you were actually not afraid of death. You rather saw it as a point of development which brings us to a higher level of consciousness.
We also know about these theories, have heard about death experiences, we marvel at the fact that buddhists see rebirth as something self-evident and obvious, and we hope that you will not be dissapointed. But WE stay here ? without you, and that is our problem. The loss of a loved one. What does it help us if we knew for sure that you will be among us again in a short time and new existence. It would not be our Hans Pietsch anymore and even if a part of your being returned, it would not be YOU.
The indians celebrate a festival for their dead ones because they are so happy for the person passed away that he or she or it is now free from suffering the earthly existence and will now enter the endless hunting grounds. In a being of total bliss.
That is where you belong, my dear friend, for you had so many wonderful qualities that it is difficult for me to see you anywhere else. You had such an admirable lightheartedness, which many would themselves have liked to have. Many people admired, honoured and loved you. The memories of you will from now on accompany us to our end. We will bring a toast to you in the good hope that you are well and we will meet again someday.
Finally, I would like to tell the story "Two friends" from the book "Die Mitte des Himmels", and after that let us remember you in silence.
Two friends At the time of the division of the empire into the northern and the southern dynasty in the year 465, there lived two good friends, Zhu Dao-zhen and Liu-Kuo.
They took care to play Go with each other every day.
After eight years of friendship, Dao-zhen died all of a sudden.
Some months later, Liu-Kuo was sitting in his study room reading a book, when he heard a knock on the door and somebody brought in a letter. This letter was obviously written by his old friend Dao-zhen. Liu opened it and read: "With every thought I am with our games, that made us so much pleasure. It is bitter here without my good friend. I now know where people go in the end. I take care of the Go-board and wait for you."
After Liu had read the letter he closed his eyes and joined his friend to play Go again.
Good bye Hans!
Stefan Budig - Hamburg, the 22.01.2003

From The magazine of the Bremen Go Club "WindmuehleKi"

        by Stefan Hruschka

The magazine of the Bremen Go Club "WindmuehleKi" (comment: in the Bremen area, there are many wind mills.) has followed the career of Hans Pietsch from his beginnings as 14 Kyu to his departure to Japan to become a professional. This is a collections of some of his career highlights as they were published in the Go Magazine WindmuehleKi (Stefan Hruschka).

WindmuehleKi 9/84
On July 14, 1984 the last Bremen League games of the year were played. In the win-% category Hans Pietsch scored an unexpected win with 75%, 15 wins against 5 losses in his first 20 games after joining the club. At the end of the season, Hans was promoted from 12 kyu to 8 kyu.

WindmuehleKi 2/85
cthe second excellent Bremen newcomer is H.P. (3 kyu) whose strength increased explosively. In the second half of the season he won 8 league games in a row.

Season Half-time 1984/85
"Who stops Hans Pietsch?" The excellent league results of H.P. are a challenge for all other players. His 8 wins in a row are not only a new record, four of them were against shodan players. H.P., at the beginning of the league season 14 kyu is now 2 kyu.

WindmuehleKi 5/85
H.P. leads the win-% tables at 100%

WindmuehleKi 9/85
In the win-% category all players felt the "iron fist" of H.P. whose victory was neven in danger. The best result for successive wins was 12, scored by H.P.

WindmuehleKi 11/85
H.P. wins the Bremen Meijin Title with a 4-0 score. The final victory came in a shocking 125 moves.

WindmuehleKi 11/86
Hans has done it! In the four years since the Bremen Meijin was first played, we have the first player to win two years in a row.

cc from 1987 on there will be a North German League. H.P. will be the first team captain of the Bremen team.

WindmuehleKi 2/87
More records from H.P. (4 dan, 2 dan at the beginning of the year): first 4 dan of the Bremen club, 105 tournament games in one year, win % in his 87 games outside Bremen: 60.9%.

WindmuehleKi 6/87
H.P. has clear lead in Germany Cup with 19-8 score.

WindmuehleKi 9/87
H.P. is old and new Bremen Meijin. At 10:45 am, in front of international journalists, winner H.P. proudly presented the winnerfs check of DM 1,000. Ok, ok, this is just a joke. No journalists and no prize money because we are still looking for a sponsor. But Hans did win the Meijin Title.

WindmuehleKi 11/87
27 Bremen players took part in the Germany Cup. The hardest worker was H.P. who played 8 tournaments. Highest number of wins: H.P. at 30 wins.

WindmuehleKi 2/88
Best Bremen player of 1987. Hans, 4 dan, but looking more and more like a 5 dan, finished with a record of 59-30 (66.3%) and also won the Germany Cup.

cH.P. was the first Bremen player ever to beat the European Champion in an even game. It happened at the London Tournament where he beat Matthew McFadyen (6 dan).

c.a juubango that was held between Ajeya (2-kyu) and H.P. this spring ended with a 9-1 record in favor of Hans. All games were played with 5 stones Chines handicap.

WindmuehleKi 9/88
Hans scored a 6th place at the European Championships and was interviewed by Radio Bremen after the tournament. A Hamburg newspaper published an article about him.

c. Hans won not only the Bremen Championship, but also the Bremen Hayago Championships.

c.Hans is offering Russian Chess clocks "Victorious October" for sale at DM 25 a piece.

WindmuehleKi 2/89
Best Bremen Player of 1988. More and more successes for Hans. In tournaments outside Bremen, Hans reached a 77.5% score. He was 6th at the European Championships and German Champion 1988.

c.. out of the 30 Chinese citizens who live in Bremen, 1/3 play Wei-Chi. The first German Chinese friendship wei-chi/go tournament was held on December 27 at Hansf place with 20 players.

c. Bremen players in the Germany Cup: most tournaments played by Hans (9 tournaments), best score went to Hans at 73.3%.

"The big Hans Statistics: 5 Years with Hans" or "Who can Beat 448 Tournament Games in 5 Years"
On February 7, 1984 Hans came to our club evening for the first time. During his first two evenings, I played 4 test games with him on an 11x11 board, starting with a 6 stone handicap. After every game I had to reduce the handicap because Hans won the first three games by resignation. Only in the fourth game (3 stones) I could squeeze out a 3 point win. Hans was ranked 14 kyu and played his first tournament only a few days later. Result: 4-1.
In the following 14 months Hansf strength improved by 1 kyu per month. At the Hannover tournament in 1985 he became shodan. Even in his first year he was mentioned frequently in the German Go Magazine as the "Bremen Shusaku Incarnation", but high-dans did not yet take this seriouslyc..

WindmuehleKi 11/89
In October Hans moved to Hamburg and generously gave away some of his go literature, "the books which I donft need anymore", he said.

WindmuehleKi 3/90
Best player of the year again goes to H.P. For the last time, though, because he is moving to Hamburg.

c. "Hans Pietsch, Player of the Decade"
Without doubt the most active and successful player of the decade. In a little less than 6 years, Hans played exactly 500 tournament games in 86 tournaments. His results were 369-130-1 (73.9%).

WindmuehleKi 11/1990
"Hans trying for a Go Career in Japan"
It happened on September 21: Hans flew off to Japan to make an attempt at being the first German Insei. The adventure was organized by Kobayashi Chizu (professional 5 dan). Hans is now Insei at the Nihon Kiin Go School in Chiba. At the Go School (he has to get up at 6:30 every day), Hans has to start in the lowest D class where he will have to fight with "little Go monsters" (super strong children players)

Hans Pietsch interview, Fall 1994
Our "sensei" is visiting his roots: Hans Pietsch is visiting Germany (from the German Go Magazine, Fall of 1994)

After spending four consecutive years in Japan, Hans Pietsch finally managed to take off one week, mainly to visit his family in Bremen, but also to see his old Go-friends.

Hans is the only German insei and his time is very limited. He plays in the insei league almost all year round and after this yearfs "honsen" (final tournament of the insei league, in which the best three players are promoted to 1st Dan) there was only one week before the next insei league began. This makes it even more special for us that he agreed to spend some of his precious time in Germany for an interview with the DGOZ (the German Go Magazine). The interview was conducted by Jochen Fassbender ("the official Hans Pietsch Historian"), Christoph Gerlach, and Wilhelm Lang.

Jochen: What is your daily training schedule like?
Hans: After I played my third honsen and was not successful, I go back to what I did in the beginning. I am trying again to memorize 100 games of professionals I like best.
Jochen: Who are they? Modern ones?
Hans: Takemiya and Kobayashi Satoru, who started last year to look after me a little bit, which means playing games and analyzing my games.
Jochen: Do Takemiya and Kobayashi have the same style?
Hans: No, they are different.
Jochen: Do you sometimes study the "Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go?"
Hans: Sure. Also, I do two hours of tsume go every day. No difficult problems, more easy ones, but a large number of them. I put them into a file and I use them to practice recognizing a shape at first glance without thinking much, which means to internalize the shape. Of course I do some difficult ones too.
Jochen: So the training happens at the Insei Center?
Hans: Training is up to each person individually. There is no professional at the Center.
Jochen: What about t he insei teachers?
Hans: There are three insei teachers and one of them is always present when we play. But that is more to make sure we play by the rules, to watch our manners and make sure we behave. The teachers donft stand in front of the class and tell us things. That only happens during official events. Before, Cho Chikun came three times a week to the center but he could not continue that.
Christoph: Who develops the training program for inseis?
Hans: There is no training program. I follow the advice of my teacher Kobayashi Chizu and do what she suggests. And many times I have bitterly regretted not following her advice.
Jochen: Such advice as learning 100 games?
Hans: Not only advice on go technique, but also about how to live my life day to day. For example how to do my household chores. She always found out when I did my chores badly like vacuuming, dish washing. Then she saw right away that the game on the next weekend would not be good. And she was always right. The concentration on the things you do in your life away from the board is also important. You have to concentrate on everything you do and follow a goal. Satoru said the same thing. Even when he goes out to eat, he has a goal. It can be something small like today I want to talk much or drink a lot. There is always a small goal. Eventually, 100% of the way you live your everyday life reappears on the go board.
Jochen: It reminds me of the idea of the Zen world to do everyday things with a conscious mind. Next question: In an interview four years ago you said: "My greatest weakness is quick and accurate reading and that is why I study a lot of tsume go." Have you done all the classical tsume go collections?
Hans: Many problems appear in more than one collection. But I have pretty much done most of the standard ones.
Jochen: Another thing you said was that "the script of your defeats is always the same. In the opening and early middle game I look pretty good but I need considerably more time than my opponents. Then, more and more, I donft know what to do with my stones and my game falls apart."
Hans: Yes, that still happens because people donft really change. What you can do is try to improve the level of your mistakes, but my handicap will probably stay the same until the end of my days.
Jochen: The young kids with fresh brainsc.
Hans: c.there is no chance I will ever be faster than they. The only way is to study more.
Christoph: Are your strengths more in the area of strategy?
Hans: My strengths against the young kids is probably in the opening and in finding the right direction of play.
Jochen: The young kids get stronger extremely quickly.
Hans: Sometimes they improve over night. It is unbelievable how quickly they get stronger.
Jochen: Then you beat the three strongest ones in one honsenc.
Hans: c but there are always new strong players coming up.
Jochen: What is your favorite fuseki, do you have your own style? How did you specialize?
Hans: I have been playing san ren sei for the last three years with black and ni ren sei with white. Which means I study a lot of Takemiya games.
Christoph: Do you really always play the same fuseki?
Hans: You play under conditions of short time limits and in the end you have to win your games. Short time limits means one hour plus one minute of byouyomi. The reason to memorize 100 games is to master the fuseki. Then you can use most of your time on the middle game.
Christoph: Does that not have the disadvantage that your opponents can better prepare for your games?
Hans: Sure they prepare and the stronger players try to take advantage of this, but that is why you study the fuseki. You know where the counter attacks come from and you have counters for the counters. Because I specialize on one fuseki I can control the game in familiar situations. In the end I have no choice. Only talented players can play everything. I am thinking of one example, a Chines player who turned professional at 14. But his style of playing is very adult, they donft do any dangerous stuff.
Jochen: Why did you chose san ren sei?
Hans: Originally I was a territory oriented player, but the san ren sei opening is very quick and a very aggressive strategy, based on benefiting from attacking the opponent. My teacher Kobayashi Chizu also plays san ren sei.
Jochen: Donft you have your own style?
Hans: I think that only really strong players have their own style. With me it still happens that in the middle game I make territorial moves that have nothing to do with the aggressive fuseki. I am not always in balance with my fuseki. That show especially when I am not in shape.
Jochen: Is it a psychological problem that you are not in form at the honsen?
Hans: Chizu says if I am in top form Ifd have the right playing strength. This year I did not train hard enough. I donft want to brag but I have beaten professionals, for example Abe (9-dan). My record is a jigo and once a 4 point win (even without komi).
Jochen: One question about the insei system. If you play well at the beginning of the season (December) but badly at the end, you donft automatically make it to the final tournament.
Hans: The system changed. This year the average of the final three months counted (May, June, July).
Jochen: So what good does it do that you were A1 in December?
Hans: Nothing.
Christoph: Probably you were very frustrated when the tournament did not go well.
Hans: Sure, I was very angry. And when I am angry I can win.
Christoph: So next year around July we have to make you really angryc
Jochen: What about Emil [Nijhuis] ?
Hans: Emil is at the bottom of the insei league. He is in the new D class.
Christoph: Has he improved a lot?
Hans: Emil certainly has gotten much stronger even though you may not realize that because he is still at the bottom of the D class. He will be around European 2 dan or 3 dan now. Now he has a rival, Dimitri Bogatski, 13 years, from Kiev.
Jochen: How are European inseis financed?
Hans: In my case, my parents send me money. for Dimitri his parents can not send anything because there is no money in Ukraine. Chizu is funding all the cost. Solin from Romania has a job that she found for him, teaching one of her students who wants lessons in English. But Chizu supports us all. I can live cheaply. Emil lives in the insei center where he is with others of his own age.
Jochen: Chizu said that in choosing a student she looks if someone can live in Japan, things like language and food.
Hans: More than that she makes sure that their character is suited for living here. That is the most important thing.
Jochen: And other factors, like Leszek Soldan (Poland) who is vegetarian and has problems with the food, or the sitting?
Hans: You get used to the sitting. I sat like that even in Germany.
Jochen: If someone of your playing strength can not win the honsen, doesnft that mean that other Western players donft have a chance? Michael Redmond in 1981 was the first and last player to graduate in the classical sense from the honsen. The others, Schlemper, Wimmer, did not have to play the honsen. What happened to Troy Anderson? The ex-football player, 2.05m?
Hans: Yeah, he was special. But he did not get very strong. He never got out of D class. And he was here only for one year.
Jochen: Back to my question: do Western players have a chance?
Hans: Sure they do. People who come when they are still young definitely have a chance. Guys like Emil can get very strong if they study right. Emil has the potential to be as strong as Michael Redmond if he can channel his energy towards go. Now he is still new and only 14. At that age you have to struggle with all kinds of other things on top of go. And with Dimitri it is a big rivalry. Incredible.
Christoph: Is the competition between inseis very hard?
Hans: Sure. This is no vacation resort. This is a bunch of hungry wolves and only three pieces of meat. You never get really friendly. Sure, there is exchange, but you always hold back a little bit. But of course you can also have friends.
Jochen: Do most of them go to the international school?
Hans: That is very expensive and nobody can afford it. Emil is going to a normal Japanese school.
Jochen: This will be your fifth attempt to become professional. And after that?
Ifll either be professional or I wonft. I have decided to make this my last year as insei. Whatever the results.
Jochen: But you will stay in Japan regardless?
I might. I have not decided.
Jochen: Could you imagine to live as teaching pro in Europe? There is a half dozen of them in north America. At the European Go Culture Center there might be the possibility to do that.
I am not thinking of that yet. I expect to become professional next year. If that does not work, I will seriously think about alternatives. If I start thinking about it now, I will just put pressure on myself and that does not make any sense.
Wilhelm: And if you become professional?
Hans: Then I will definitely stay in Japan and play.
Wilhelm: What will that be like when you start playing as professional? How often do you play? Are there fixed tournaments?
Hans: As a pro you can play the Oteai. You have to be at least 1 dan. In the Oteai you can be promoted up to 9 dan. Then there are 7 newspaper tournaments and a few small ones. About ten tournaments per year.
Wilhelm: And you can make a living from that?
Hans: Well, if you lose all your gamesc. In the beginning you donft make so much money as 1 dan. When you make it to 5 dan you can make a good living. Every professional tries to get to 5 dan as quickly as possible.
Jochen: Do all professionals play the Oteai?
Hans: All except the 9 dan.
Jochen: The higher you get promoted, the more difficult it gets. I am thinking of your teacher Kobayashi Chizu. She became Shodan in 1972, 5 dan in 1978, and since then?
Hans: Hard to tell. She has traveled a lot and done a lot of other things.
Jochen: Does your teacher mind that you play a lot against amateurs? Does that have a negative impact on your technique?
Hans: From time to time, I guess it does not matter. But when I get back to Japan it will take some getting used to.
Wilhelm: Get used to what?
Hans: Now I am in Germany and I speak German all day and I also will have to find my go rhythm again.
Wilhelm: What do you do except for go to stay in shape physically?
Hans: I do aerobics 2 or 3 times a week.
Wilhelm: Do you do Japanese things like Kyudo, etc?
Hans: Not in any organized way. For the final tournament I have started to meditate 15 minutes in the morning. And in the center there is a table tennis table. That is all.
Jochen: Did you meet Frank Janssen and Matthew Macfadyen in Japan?
Hans: Yes, they came to Japan at the beginning of the honsen to study go teaching methods in Japan. That is a wide area to cover in one trip. I hope they had a nice few weeks here. I donft want to be too critical, I am sure they learned a lot of useful things. But in order to really make a difference for European go, it will take more than just sending two people to Japan.
Christoph: How did you learn go and when did you start to study intensively?
Hans: That is hard to remember but I have always been interested in games, because I like to play. Before I started playing intensively in 1984, I learned the game from relatives when I was 9 or 10 (I was born in 1968). My school mate Gregor knew the rules as well, so we played at school. I remember making a little coordinate indicator to signal A1, D15, etc with little letters and numbers that could be flipped over like to points indicator at a table tennis match. That way we could signal each otherfs moves because in class we were sitting a little bit apart but wanted to play go anyway.
Jochen: I remember how Hans came to the club for the first time and immediately forced me down to a low handicap on the 9x9 board which we called the "Bremen Shusaku Reincarnation" in the German Go Magazine. When he beat Stefan Budig in 1986 in a friendly game, the German high dan players began noticing him.
Christoph: How fast did you make shodan?
Hans: In one year.
Jochen: In 14 months. February 84 to April 85. One rank per month. Then a half year to 2 dan and 1986 you made 4 dan, 1988 5 dan.
Christoph: How did you decide to go to Japan?
Hans: Chizu had approached me in Vienna in 1990 and said that I might have a chance. I remembered her from Budapest where I had asked her to comment some of my games. That is when we started talking. I told her how I had wanted to get information on how to become insei when I played the IBM tournament in Japan. But at the IBM tournament I did not find out very much. I did not know anybody and the stories I had heard from Rob van Zeijst had discouraged me. He had told me that it was very stressful and that he broke off his insei attempt for health reasons. That was in 1988.
Christoph: How come you played at the IBM tournament?
Hans: That was funny, I never qualified for it anywhere. It must have come as a surprise to the European Go Federation that they could send a participant and they needed to find someone quickly.
Christoph: So what was different in 1990?
Hans: Of course I had changed a bit and I was more open to suggestions. In 1988 I knew that I still had to do my Civil Service. 1990 I was finished with that but I did not feel ready to go to university yet, so I thought if I get a chance to go to Japan Ifd definitely do it. Back in 1988 I already knew Chizu because I had met her 1986 in Budapest. But when I went to Japan in 1988 it did not even occur to me that people like Chizu live in Tokyo. I clearly remember playing my first game against Frank Janssen in Budapest. It was over after 42 moves. Taisha Joseki, bad position, dead group, and I had thought about it for one and a half hours already. Afterwards I asked Chizu for a commentary. She later asked me how strong I was and she had to smile when I said 4 dan.
Jochen: How old were you when you started as insei?
Hans: 22 years old. At that age others are already Meijin.
Christoph: Chizu organized that for you. Would it have been possible for a European to become insei without having such contacts?
Hans: No. Chizu is one of the few go professionals who speak very good English and have an active interest in spreading go.
Christoph: How does it help the spreading of go if you become professional in Japan?
Hans: If I reach the professional level in Japan, many young players will think about going to Japan and trying the same thing. Actually, they are coming already. And they are coming in part because I came here four years ago. That is how I see my role. I myself will probably never reach the level of Michael Redmond. Of course i will try to be as strong as possible, I want to make at least 5 dan. After me, people like Emil will come to Japan at an earlier age and they will reach higher levels.
Christoph: Another aspect could be that the mass media get interested in go if we have a Japanese professional. So far, was your first year your most successful year in Japan?
Hans: I played the honsen three times and the results got a little worse each time. But I donft think that I am stagnating or getting weaker. One thing is that the other players are getting stronger. But also, as a European top level player you come to Japan with the confidence that you have a certain strength and you need to forget about that. You have to relearn go from scratch.
Christoph: What is wrong about the go we play in Europe?
Hans: The basic knowledge is missing. It is a difference like night and day. The basic knowledge is what you have internalized about go. When you start go at 4 or 5 years, tesuji and tsume go are internalized. It becomes like eating and drinking, a completely natural thing.
Go is very difficult and hard to describe. In Europe we have the additional disadvantage that only the Japanese language is suitable to describe go. Therefore there are more opportunities in Japan to learn go.
The overwhelming majority of professionals do not have a special talent. Only very few have that. It is all hard study.
Jochen: Your ideal and that of Chizu is Takemiya.
Hans: Takemiya is a very open, friendly type.
Christoph: What can an amateur player do to improve his playing strength?
Hans: From my experience, for amateurs, where there is still a lot that can be improved, the method to memorize games is very helpful. Of course it depends on how hard you are willing to work in order to improve. Memorizing means that you have to be able to play many games to the 150th move within 5 minutes. The meaning of that is not on a rational, logical level. You are trying to reach a deep point in your brain where you develop a feeling for shape and position. This is going to help you especially during the fuseki.
Jochen: Do you replay the games of other professionals?
Hans: I use both my right and my left hand to play both colors of a game quickly. To be able to have 100 games ready at all times gives you very good concentration. In the morning I learn three new games and at night I play 10 games in a row. Unfortunately I have been neglecting this a bit lately. Of course I play all recent professional games. Basically all that have a game recorder.
Jochen: Are there games without a recorder?
Hans: Sure. All the early rounds of the big tournaments, for example. What you see in the Kido yearbook is just the tip of the iceberg. But the training through memorization of professional games takes a lot of time and I can not recommend that to amateurs. Analyzing your own games is also important. During the honsen, for example, I play two or three games per week and in between I can expect to get a commentary from my teacher. Not all insei are so lucky to have a teacher who comments on their games. The only organized event is the insei league. Apart from that you have to keep your eyes and ears very wide open if you want to learn something. You have to ask for advice. The professionals are very open in this respect. If you are serious about go and ask the seriously ? a professional knows the difference, he or she can see it in your face ? then usually they are willing to play a teaching game with you. But you have to ask for it yourself. In that respect I am in a better situation because I have my teacher Kobayashi Chizu and her brother Satoru who has begun to look after me lately.
Christoph: What do you do in Tokyo when you are not playing go. Or does that not happen?
Hans: Every once in a while there is a day where I donft do so much go. But with western people I have little contact. I have to be careful about that. It is not like the are evil or smell badly, but they are bad for my concentration. Meeting western people would mean go players I know from the past. We would be talking about the old days and that would bring up emotions that are not helpful for me now. Doing things that are not connected with my studies is the exception. In the end everything has to be about my go now.
Jochen: No discos?
Hans: No discos.
Jochen: And no music?
Hans: I can listen to music.
Jochen: Hans, thank you very much and we hope to see you again in Germany soon.
Hans: When I become professional, I will have half a year before the Oteai starts on April 1st. Then I am sure I will come to Germany.