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AGA recognizes Thomas Hsiang’s Go career with Edward Lasker Award

Chris Garlock | Published on 7/8/2023

The highlight of the 2023 U.S. Go Congress opening ceremonies Saturday night was the awarding of the Edward Lasker Award to professor Thomas Hsiang. The Lasker Award recognizes “someone who has made a large contribution to the AGA and its Go community,” said former president Andy Okun (left), and “There can be no doubt that Thomas Hsiang has more than earned this award, for his remarkable contribution to our game, at home and around the world.”

“But not all of you will know him,” noted Okun, “because Thomas’ contribution has been, as one longtime AGA organizer put it, ‘Large and quiet.’” 
Among those have been the grant of equipment from the Ing Foundation 32 years ago that “have been the backbone of the Congress equipment supply every since.” Hsiang also secured the support that created the North American Ing Masters, inaugurating a relationship that led to the 10 year, $1 million Ing grant, “which supported so much of our youth activity in those years,” said Okun.

Hsiang also had a long career as the AGA’s VP of International Relations, a post he occupied for several decades, ensuring invitations for North American players to play overseas. In 2008, as AGA’s representative to the International Go Federation, Hsiang was appointed IGF Vice President, helping organizing support for Go promotions around the world and leading the IGF’s ongoing effort to secure IOC recognition for Go. He was appointed the same year as IGF’s representative to the International Mind Sports Association, where he served as secretary general, helping secure funding and venues for the World Mind Sports Games, The Sport Accord World Mind Games, the IMSA Elite Mind Games, and the IMSA Masters.

Hsiang was the founding executive director of the Iwamoto North American Foundation for Go, which helped fund the National Go Center in Washington DC and many other activities. He was also a founding director of the North American Go Federation, which coordinates North American activities with the Canadian Go Association. He’s a director of the World Pair Go Association, and helped secure sponsorship for the North American City League.

For his contributions to Go, Thomas was awarded the Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister’s Commendation in 2021, and also a seven dan certificate from the Nihon Kiin.

Despite all these national and international activities and responsibilities, Hsiang, a professor in opto-electronics and superconductors at the University of Rochester, has been for decades “one of the engines of Go in the Rochester NY region,” said Okun, “being a teacher and mentor to many, many players, lots of whom have gone only to be amazing volunteers, organizers, and players for the AGA and the rest of the Go community.”

For his part, Hsiang thanked the AGA’s leadership over the decades, for their support, making special mention of “my friend, Tom Urasoe, from the Nihon Kiin,” as well as the entire Go community. He urged the Congress attendees to “enjoy your games this week and go on to volunteer with the AGA.”
Hsiang is just the eighth recipient of the Edward Lasker Award.

- report/photo by Chris Garlock. photo (l-r): Okun, Hsiang, and AGA president Gurujeet Khalsa.
7/24/23: North American Go Foundation corrected to North American Go Federation. 

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