rick filosofeert

elitair, elegant, arrogant, sinds 14 mei 1977

Go between Samba and Sampa
The link between Brazil and our beloved mind-sport may not be apparent on first sight, as Brazil is foremost the country of Carnaval, Samba and Futebol. Nevertheless, the metropolis São Paolo hosts the South American Go Center. Rick Lindeman went to have a look.
Early twentieth centry around 20,000 people lived in São Paolo. Rio de Janeiro, then the capital of Brazil, was twenty times as large. From São Paolo the number of inland expeditions did increase, and these “bandeiristas” formed the foundation for the modern city.

Railways were to be constructed to support the development of the quickly growing city. Poor Japanese were recruited for this, and they arrived in large numbers by boat at Santos, the nearby harbor city.

Nowadays São Paolo has 18 million inhabitants, and thus is the third largest city in the world, after Mexico City and Tokio. Although the railways have been dismantled, there are still around 1.2 million Japanese living there, mostly in their own area, Liberdade. According to the people that live there, this part of the city is even more Japanese than Tokio itself, and there are three daily Japanese newspapers.

In the early nineties Kaoru Iwamoto launched his plan for continental Go centers. The Nihon Ki-in must have quickly spotted “Sampa” as prime candidate for South America, and indeed in midst 1990 the new center was opened.

Last February I was in Brazil for my work, the ministry of economical affairs. When I heard that I was also to visit São Paolo, a bell rang somewhere. However, on the internet I could not find any references. With the help of Erik Puyt of the European Go and Cultural Center in Amsterdam, and Tokuko Uechi from the foreign affairs department of the Nihon Ki-in I managed to get myself invited. Henri Iamashita, and Mr. Hiramitsu, vice-president of the center, were honored to receive me.

Thus I left for the center from the garden where the Dutch Consul-general, Hans Glaubitz, has us served a wonderful lunch. São Paolo is such a large city that even a taxi driver cannot find an address that easily. The journey took a full hour during which the driver told us in a wonderful melancholically way about the unavoidable loss of his favorite football team Palmeiras in the game the next day against São Paolo FC.

When I arrived I found a room full with older Japanese gentlemen fixated at the boards. They used stones exactly the same as those used at our EGCC. In best Portuguese I asked for Mr. Iamashita, and was directed upstairs.

Iamashita was present at the Brazilian Championship. This doubles as a qualification tournament for the World Amateur Go Championship. The leading Brazilian, Ronaldo Yasuki, was eighth in 2000. This year was to be the year of the youth, and new talents would grab their chances.
Ten people took part, varying in strength between 1 kyu up to 6 dan. The rankings used were based on their internet rankings. The main battle appeared to be between Fabio (5d) and Alessandro (6d). Both are Brazilians with a touch of Japanese, hardly distinguishable in this melting pot of cultures. In the end Fabio Iamashita, 12 years old, won the tournament.

Iamashita told that around five thousand Paulistanos were playing Go. Next to this Japanese club there were also a Chinese and a Korean club. Once a year a tournament was held between these three clubs. In the remaining part of Brazil another thousand people played Go. The older generations Japanese played Go daily in the center.

There are also international tournaments. Once a year a delegation of the club goes to the Latin America tournament, for countries from Mexico to Chili,. Especially large delegations went when the tournament was held in one of the neighboring countries, Paraguay, Uruguay, or Argentina).

I also talked to Michele, who proudly told about how he earned his trip to the World Championship Go Pairs/Couples: he had taught his colleague Go, and won the national championship Go Pairs two days later. This appears to be a more common problem in Brazil, as also at football the number of men and women watching the game are equal, but for playing the game is quite the opposite.

After having been thoroughly beaten by a number of these new talents, I left the Nihon Ki-in. I was invited for diner the next day at Mr. Miramitsu’s was unfortunately y work commitments did not allow for this. Nevertheless, the sushi in São Paolo was excellent, as was the glass of Caiperinha.

Nihon Ki-in America do Sul
Rua Dr. Fabrícia Vampré, 116 (metrô Ana Rosa)
São Paolo
Tel. (0055-11)5571-2847

Photograph: sao-paolo-club.jpg (Copyright 2005 Rick Lindeman)