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The result of this is that the stones do not have quite room enough and lap over each other, and when the board is very full, they push each other out of place. To make matters still worse the Japanese are not very careful to put the stones exactly on the points of intersection, but place them carelessly, so that the board has an irregular appearance. It is probable that the unsymmetrical shape of the board and the irregularity of the size of the stones arise from the antipathy that the Japanese have to exact symmetry. At any rate, it is all calculated to break up the monotonous appearance which the board would have if the spaces were exactly square, and the stones were exactly round and fitted properly in their places.
In Japan the board is placed on the floor, and the players sit on the floor also, facing each other, as shown in the illustration, and generally the narrower side of the board is placed so as to face the players. Since the introduction of tables in Japan Go boards are also made thinner and without feet, but the game seems to lose some of its charm when the customs of the old Japan are departed from.
The Japanese always take the stone between the middle and index fingers, and not between the thumb and index finger as we are likely to do, and they place it on the board smartly and with great skill, so that it gives a cheerful sound, as before stated.
For use in this country the board need not be so thick, and need not, of course, have feet, but if it is attempted to play the game on cardboard, which has a dead sound as the stones are played, it is surprising how much the pleasure of the game is diminished. The author has found that Casino chips are the best substitute for the Japanese stones.
Originally the board used for the game of Go was not so large, and the intersecting lines in each direction were only seventeen in number. At the time of the foundation of the Go Academy this was the size of board in use. As the game developed the present number of lines became fixed after trial and comparison with other possible sizes. Korschelt made certain experiments with the next possible larger size in which the number of lines in each direction was twenty-one, and it seemed that the game could still be played, although it made necessary the intellect of a past master to grasp the resulting combinations. If more than twenty-one lines are used Korschelt states that the combinations are beyond the reach of the human mind.
In closing the description of the board it may be interesting to point out that the game which we call "Go Bang" or "Five in a Row," is played on what is really a Japanese Go board, and the word "Go Bang" is merely another phonetic imitation of the words by which the Japanese designate their board. I have found, however, that the "Go Bang" boards sold in the stores in this country are an imitation of the original Japanese "Go ban," and have only seventeen lines, and are therefore a little too small for the game as now played. The game which we call "Go Bang" also originated in Japan, and is well known and still played there. They call it "Go Moku Narabe," which means to arrange five "Me," the word "Go" in this case meaning "five," and "Moku" being the alternative way of pronouncing the ideograph for eye. "Go Moku Narabe" is often played by good Go players, generally for relaxation, as it is a vastly simpler game than Go, and can be finished much more rapidly. It is not, however, to be despised, as when played by good players there is considerable chance for analysis, and the play often covers the entire board.