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Published, July, 1908
The Plim pton Press Norwood Mass. U.S.A.
This book is intended as a practical guide to the game of Go. It is especially designed to assist students of the game who have acquired a smattering of it in some way and who wish to investigate it further at their leisure.
As far as I know there is no work in the English language on the game of Go as played in Japan. There is an article on the Chinese game by Z. Volpicelli, in Vol. XXVI of the “Journal of the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.” This article I have not consulted. There is also a short description of the Japanese game in a work on “Korean Games with Notes on the Corresponding Games of China and Japan,” by Stewart Culin, but this description would be of little practical use in learning to play the game.
There is, however, an exhaustive treatise on the game in German by O. Korschelt. This can be found in Parts 21-24 of the “Mittheilungen der deutschen Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens.” The student could readily learn the game from Herr Korschelt's article if it were available, but his work has not been translated, and it is obtainable only in a few libraries in this country. In the preparation of this book I have borrowed freely from Herr Korschelt's work, especially in the chapter devoted to the history of the game, and I have also adopted many of his illustrative games and problems.
Herr Korschelt was an excellent player, and acquired
his knowledge of the game from Murase Shuho, who was the best player in Japan at the time his article was written (about 1880).
My acquaintance with the game has been acquired from Mr. Mokichi Nakamura, a Japanese resident of this country, who is an excellent player, and whose enthusiasm for the game led me to attempt this book. Mr. Nakamura has also supplied much of the material which I have used in it. Toward the end I have had the expert assistance of Mr. Jihei Hashiguchi, with whom readers of the New York Sun are already acquainted.
Wherever possible I have given the Japanese words and phrases which are used in playing the game, and for those who are not familiar with the system of writing Japanese with Roman characters, I may say that the consonants have the sounds used in English, and the vowels the sounds that are used in Italian, all the final vowels being sounded. Thus, “dame” is pronounced as though spelled “dahmay.”
New York, April, 1908.
The game of Go belongs to the class of games of which our Chess, though very dissimilar, is an example. It is played on a board, and is a game of pure skill, into which the element of chance does not enter; moreover, it is an exceedingly difficult game to learn, and no one can expect to acquire the most superficial knowledge of it without many hours of hard work. It is said in Japan that a player with ordinary aptitude for the game would have to play ten thousand games in order to attain professional rank of the lowest degree. When we think that it would take twentyseven years to play ten thousand games at the rate of one game per day, we can get some idea of the Japanese estimate of its difficulty. The difficulty of the game and the remarkable amount of time and labor which it is necessary to expend in order to become even a moderately good player, are the reasons why Go has not spread to other countries since Japan has been opened to foreign intercourse. For the same reasons few foreigners who live there have become familiar with it.
On the other hand, its intense interest is attested by the following saying of the Japanese: “Go uchi wa oya no shini me ni mo awanu,” which means that a man playing the game would not leave off even to be present at the deathbed of a parent. I have found that beginners in this country to whom I have shown the game always seem to find it interesting, although so far I have known no one who has
progressed beyond the novice stage. The more it is played the more its beauties and opportunities for skill become apparent, and it may be unhesitatingly recommended to that part of the community, however small it may be, for whom games requiring skill and patience have an attraction.
It is natural to compare it with our Chess, and it may safely be said that Go has nothing to fear from the comparison. Indeed, it is not too much to say that it presents even greater opportunities for foresight and keen analysis.
The Japanese also play Chess, which they call “Shogi,” but it is slightly different from our Chess, and their game has not been so well developed.
Go, on the other hand, has been zealously played and scientifically developed for centuries, and as will appear more at length in the chapter on the History of the Game, it has, during part of this time, been recognized and fostered by the government. Until recently a systematic treatment of the game, such as we are accustomed to in our books on Chess, has been lacking in Japan. A copious literature had been produced, but it consisted mostly of collections of illustrative and annotated games, and the Go masters seem to have had a desire to make their marginal annotations as brief as possible, in order to compel the beginner to go to the master for instruction and to learn the game only by hard practice.
Chess and Go are both in a sense military games, but the military tactics that are represented in Chess are of a past age, in which the king himself entered the conflict - his fall generally meaning the loss of the battle — and in which the victory or defeat was brought about by the cour