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Archive: Top Japanese pro Kobayashi Satoru, 9-dan banned by Nihon Kiin!
Archive, 2001

According to Chinese sources, not only have the Chinese go authorities appealed to the Nihon Ki-in for clemency for Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan, but now the Korean authorities have added their voice. Kobayashi was banned for a year after gashing the cheek of fellow pro Ryu Shikun 7-dan during a bar session in the recent Chunlan Cup in China. They were apparently not quarrelling, but Kobayashi was not entirely sober and seems to have forgotten he had a brandy glass in his hand as he gesticulated towards Ryu. The glass smashed and cut both players.

The Nihon Ki-in responded swiftly with a draconian ban but the Chinese immediately made it known informally that they would support clemency for Kobayashi. Some pros in Japan expressed disquiet at the Nihon Ki-in's actions - mainly feeling they had not been given full access to the facts - and a meeting was held in which Yamashita Keigo, who was at the bar session, detailed the events to his fellow pros.

Now it appears the Koreans have asked for a reduction in the punishment. Kobayashi has great friends in Korea, not least Kim Heuichung 9-dan, but the driving motive seems to be concern in Korea that lack of comment by them would be seen as an implicit comment. Since Ryu is a Korean national, even though he plays permanently in Japan, it could have been interpreted that a harsh punishment was sought or sanctioned by the Korean authorities.

In all the various comments we have seen, there appears to have been no criticism of the Nihon Ki-in's decision to punish Kobayashi. Any question marks are only on the length of the ban, but the Nihon Ki-in has left itself room for manoeuvre.

Update by Alexander Dinerchtein (2011):
Kobayashi was one of the top Japanese pros that time, but probably because of that story his recent results are not so impressive. Big tournament breaks on such a high level can play a big role ...

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