Master Hirai Yoshimatsu’s “Cat’s Paw Assembly Goban”
Hirai Yoshimatsu (平井芳松) was a master maker of go boards from Osaka born in the early Meiji era. He was said to possess possibly the best board making techniques in history. He is well admired by Japanese go board makers even today. I have seen other pictures of his boards signed up to the Showa era so he must have lived to at least the latter parts of the Twentieth Century. I think the pictures show a date for the go board as being made in 1917 (Taisho 6 大正六年).
Most boards made are not signed by the maker unless the maker really thinks it is something special. So this is an exceptional board from an exceptional maker. It is so compact with the legs fitted within the bottom of the board and then the four pieces residing in the nice box. Such a clever construction.
From the pictures above you can see that it was once featured in the May 2006 issue of the go magazine Igo Mirai (囲碁未来). Unfortunately I don’t have the magazine and it’s very difficult to make out from the picture what the article says about the board.
Anyways, I’m very happy to be able to find such a full set of pictures of this masterpiece, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to dig up more information about this board or the maker.
It would be wonderful if boards like this were available in stores today. Can you imagine taking such a special board with you to your go club? I’m sure it would easily be the conversation piece for that evening. This is what I would call a really nice slotted go board.