Excerpts from the AGA E-Journal

It is definitely fun to win. Recently I won all of my games in a tournament and I have to admit it was a lark. There’s a danger in winning, though. It’s a moment in go when you can easily get caught up in yourself and your own feelings and forget that there’s more to this game than just your own winning and losing. Go naturally creates a wonderful community of cooperative and supportive players, which is one of its main attractions.

But when you get excited about a win you can lose sight of the importance of the community and forget about the person you were just playing with. There’s an ancient tradition in go that the winner owes the loser a lesson, which the loser is eager to receive. This practice aims at helping both the winner and the loser continue to have a positive attitude toward and involvement in the interactive community that is the go world. So as the winner you have a burden. You can’t just indulge your glee and dance around happily.

Your job is to help the loser find a positive dimension in the experience. Be generous as well as helpful. Focus on lifting the loser’s spirits as well as improving his or her understanding. If you remember that the community of players is what makes go such a marvelous game, you’ll know what to do.

The Burden of Winning, William Cobb, 12 July 2004

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There are some interesting awards mentioned in Bill Saltman’s report on the 2004 US Congress (2 August edition).

Leaders as of Sunday night:

Champion (greatest excess of wins over losses): JEREMIAH PARRY-HILL;
Giant Killer (kyu player with most wins against dan players): NICOLE CASANTA;
Sensei (player with most games against weaker players): MARTIN LEBL;
Philanthropist (player with most losses): MARTIN LEBL;
Grasshopper (player whose rating increases most during the tournament): ALBERT GUO;
Straight Shooter (player with most wins against players of consecutive ranks): MARTIN LEBL;
Hurricane (player with most wins): MARTIN LEBL;
Kyu Killer (dan player with most wins against kyu players): JAMES BENTHEM;
Dedicated (player with the most games): MARTIN LEBL;
Faithful (player with the smallest rating change): JAMES CARTER;
Optimist (player with the largest ratings decrease): GUTHRIE PRICE.

CRAZY, MAN: Crazy Go was crazier than usual this year, reports organizer Terry Benson. Played as traditional on the night before the mid-week day off at the Go Congress, Benson says there were two full setups for Rengo Kriegspeil (blind, partner go played on five 11x11 boards - only the referee’s central board counts).

Bob Hearn brought the delicate lattice for 3D go. Anders Kierulf provided the computer for color blind go (aka mono go, aka single color go) where all the stones are white, but the computer knows.94 Four-color go used pente glass stones (and lots of diplomacy), and there was Spiral Go, Hex Go and a new version, Grille Go, played on some kind of metal grate which neatly fit small marbles on a true hexagonal grid in which each stone (except the edge) has 6 liberties. “Don’t even try a ladder!” Benson warns. And Ron Snyder came for his traditional game of Oki-go (aka 23 line go).

Two games were busy from the start at 7:30 until long after I went off to bed, reports Benson. Joker go was popular with kids and adults. Many asked if the specially printed cards could be bought and creator Mike Samuel said Maybe. The other was Blind Go, played on a set given to None Redmond years ago. The 9x9 grid of pegs fits slightly conical stones drilled with holes to fit the pegs and nails on the black stones to distinguish them. Players wore blindfolds and really had to feel out their positions. The AGA web site last week featured a photo of this variation.

At least 80 players were crazy enough to try and dozens more walked over from their self-paired games to smile at the craziness of blind go, marvel at the patterns of 3D Go, or laugh as the Rengo Kiegspeil players gave new meaning to the term “bad shape”, concludes Benson.

9 August 2004

Asian Games: The Art of Contest that opens in New York City next month (…) is the first major exhibition to explore Asia as a source of games including chess, Parcheesi, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, playing cards, polo and, of course, go and other games. A highlight of the show is an exquisite early 18th century set with a highly decorated, lacquer board and agate pieces, from the Kozu Kobunka Kaikan Museum in Japan. The set is decorated with the crest of the Tokugawa family, the military rulers of the Edo period, and is thought to be part of the bridal trousseau of a member of the Tokugawa family.

27 September 2004

The expanding world of computer go now includes Hikarunix, the only operating system dedicated to go, according to creator Karl Sigler. Hikarunix is a live Linux CD dedicated to learning, playing and studying go [and] features an interactive tutorial for beginners, while more advanced players can record and organize their SGF games for study and comment.

With Hikarunix you can study from an included library of nearly 7000 historical and professional games, 500 of which are reviewed and commented. You can practice Joseki with “Guess the next move” programs, try to solve nearly 5000 go problems ranging from easy to dan level, and play online with thousands of go players, or start your own go server to play private games, says Sigler.


An unusual tournament, called the Fuseki Follow-On, was held in Guildford, England, on October 17th. Participants had to complete one of Shusaku’s games, starting from move 30 of the original game and playing twice as Black and twice as White. Twelve players took part and those winning three games got prizes.

18 October 2004

After 30 years of trying, Francis Roads 4d finally won the Wessex Tournament, held at the Marlborough Town Hall in Marlborough, England.

8 November 2004

In last week’s item on the Mingren title in China we incorrectly reported that winner Gu Li collected a $300,000 prize; the actual purse was $3,000 US. The error occurred during editing when an EJ editor mistakenly assumed the reported $3,000 prize for a major professional tournament must be a typo.

Westerners are more familiar with the huge prizes attached to the major Japanese tournaments: the Kisei pays out an impressive $400,000 US, and the Meijin winner receives about $350,000. With a bit of luck a Japanese pro can win over a million dollars ina single year. Things are different in other countries.

Besides the Mingren, in China the Tianyuan, another top event, provides $6,000 and the CCTVCup goes up to about $10,000. In Korea, the Kuksu, their oldest pro tournament pays out $28,000 and the Myungin about $26,000. Some of the international events come up to the level of the top Japanese events: the Ing Cup champion gets $400,000, and the winner of the Toyota-Denso World Oza Cup gets about $375,000, counting the value of the fancy car. The winner of the American Pro Ing Cup in 2004 received a prize of $5,000.

10 January 2005

… it’s actually Cho Chikun who’s the only player to have been among the top ten prize winners in Japan every year since 1981 when records starting being kept.

11 February 2005

IIt’s interesting this was still true that late in his career.

Cho famously “crumbled” at the turn of the century, losing the Honinbo in 1999 and both the Kisei and Meijin in 2000, leaving him without major titles. He won the Oza once in 2001, and his final major big seven run was the 2005-07 Judan.

I guess he challenged unsuccessfully for several matches in the early part of this century. Posts I’ve read on Sensei’s Library from around 2004-06 do suggest that he was still a top-flight player on the domestic circuit.

In the final of the 1st Pandanet Open Professional and Amateur Internet World Go Championship, Hane Naoki 9p beat Kobayashi Koichi 9p and became the first ever Internet World Go Champion. Although the tournament was open to amateurs and professionals alike, the final eight players were all professionals.

The most successful amateur player was RoseDuke (Victor Guan Chow, 6-dan amateur from South Africa, IGS 7d*) who entered the 6th round and defeated two pros on his way. Instead of playing on the Internet, the final eight met face-to-face in Tokyo to play three more rounds of 30-second-per-move fast games to decide the champion. Hane Naoki 9p beat Zhou Junxun 9p, Kono Rin 7p and Kobayashi Koichi 9p to take the championship and the $28,000 US first prize.

25 April 2005

Victor beat two professionals in that championship, only losing to the very strong Kono Rin, who won the Tengen that year.

He had previously represented South Africa at the WAGC in 1995, -6, -9, and 2002.

Sensei’s Library identifies this event with the one it calls the Pandanet World Open Internet Rapid Go Championship, which has a Canadian time control of 1m + 25 / 10m.

SLUGGING IT OUT: Your next opponent may be three feet tall, bright yellow and named after a slimy invertebrate. David Doshay’s SlugGo program was one of two go-playing computer programs playing in the 2005 Cotsen Open (Anders Kierulf’s SmartGo was the other). Named after the Banana Slug because it’s the mascot of the University of California at Santa Cruz, where Doshay is a Research Associate in computer science and physics (his students wrote the original version according to his specifications). SlugGo also earned its moniker “because it plays so slow,” Doshay told the E-Journal yesterday.

Powered by 24 Mac minis and a dual G5 Mac tower, SlugGo is a portable version of Doshay’s main cluster, which boasts 72 powerful CPUs. The slimmed-down version weighs in at a hefty 200 pounds, with the computers housed in a 3-foot tall bright yellow plastic cart that squats next to the table on which Doshay and SlugGo’s opponents play out the games. The Cotsen was SlugGo’s debut performance and human opponents had the choice of not being paired with either computer program (AGA rules stipulate that games with computers are not rated), although most agreed to play; SlugGo competed at 9k and SmartGo at 10k. After Saturday’s three rounds, the score was Humans 6, Computers 0; on Sunday SlugGo scored one victory so the final result was Humans 9, Computers 1.

“We didn’t come here to win,” said Doshay cheerfully, “playing in the tournament was just a statement of our existence.” Doshay, who says “there’s a chance this is the strongest go-playing computer program,” hopes to try it out soon against Go Intellect, the Chapel Hill NC-based program that won last year’s Computer Olympiad. He’s also considering bringing it to this year’s U.S. Go Congress in Tacoma, Washington.

The SlugGo SL page, founded the following year, specifies that “SlugGo is a shell over GNU Go that adds global search to GNU Go’s local evaluations.”

Also, in the same issue was this announcement:

AGA MEMBERSHIP PASSES 2,000: Marking a major milestone, membership in the American Go Association topped 2,000 for the first time ever last month. Membership rose in nearly every category, from both Full and Limited members to Youth, Sustainers, Life Members and Chapters. AGA President Mike Lash credited the April membership drive – which offered a free copy of the 2004 American Go Yearbook to new or returning members – with helping boost membership to a record 2,017. The April increase also extended to five months a recent streak of membership increases.

Interestingly, at the time the E-Journal was claiming to “reach over 7,000 readers every week”. This suggests that the AGA thought that there were 5,000 non-members reading the publication.

AGA = Australian Go Association
AGA = American (USA not actually all of the Americas) Go Association

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“I must chime in on the poker article flap,” writes Paul Celmer of the Triangle Go Group (NC), “I enjoyed the article and feel it in no way detracted from the E-journal.” However, Celmer, continues.

"The article and the reaction to it revive a line of inquiry I have often wished someone would pursue. That is, what is the mysterious and intriguing connection between go and poker? Many go players are passionate poker players, as can be seen by a post-midnight visit to many a Go Congress (our own go club here in North Carolina was founded by a fellow who had a weekly poker game for over 40 years).

Also, there is at least one pro-level go player that is also a professional poker player (and there was a strong AGA 7 dan here in North Carolina who left town two years ago to pursue a pro poker career. Wish we knew what happened to him…). In our local club, at least half of our go players are avid poker players."

“So what is the connection? Love of games and competition? That seems too broad, as there are many games that would fit this criteria. Love of gambling? Hmm. Possible. Of course, a gambling style can only take one so far, at least in go. I suspect it has something to do with the fact both games appeal to the holistic-thought habits of the typical go player. Unlike most games, both poker and go present a stimulating puzzle to both the mathematical and the intuitive sides of our minds. But this should be investigated further. And I bet I can figure it out if you will give me a hand. Who has a table, board, chips, stones, and cards?”

16 May 2005

The “pro-level go player that is also a professional poker player” alluded to was very likely Cha Minsu, aka Jimmy Cha, who “routinely earns $1,000,000 a year at poker”. In the process of research, though, I discovered that Janice Kim “placed 4th in the World Poker Tour Ladies Championship in 2008”.

By Rick Lindeman

(…) in the early nineties Kaoru Iwamoto set up continental go centers in Amsterdam, Seattle, New York City and Sao Paolo. Like Seattle, Amsterdam, and New York, Sao Paolo turns out to have a strong connection to Japan. When the city’s growth took off in the early twentieth century, Japanese workers were recruited to construct the railways that supported the development of the quickly growing metropolis, and they arrived by boat in large numbers at Santos, the nearby harbor city.

Today, with 18 million inhabitants, Sao Paolo is the third largest city in the world, after Mexico City and Tokyo. Although the railways have been dismantled, there are still over a million Japanese living in Sao Paolo, mostly in an area known as Liberdade. According to Paulistanos (as Sao Paolo residents call themselves), this part of the city is even more Japanese than Tokyo itself, and boasts no less than three daily Japanese newspapers. (…)

When I arrived at the Center I found a room full of older Japanese gentlemen at the boards, using the exact same go stones as those used at our own European Go Center back in Amsterdam. Upstairs from the playing room, I met Mr. Henri Iamashita of the Go Center, who was presiding over the Brazilian Championship, which doubles as a qualification tournament for the World Amateur Go Championship. The leading Brazilian, Ronaldo Yasuki, took a very respectable eighth place in 2000.

Around five thousand Paulistanos play go, according to Mr. Iamashita. In addition to the Go Center, where older Japanese gather to play go daily, there’s also a Chinese and a Korean club, and an annual tournament is held between these three clubs. Another thousand go players are distributed through the rest of Brazil. Brazilian go players also participate in international tournaments. Once a year the Center sends a delegation to the Latin America tournament, which includes countries from Mexico to Chile. Especially large delegations have gone when the tournament has been held in one of the neighboring countries, Paraguay, Uruguay, or Argentina.

CALVIN SUN TAPPED FOR KOREAN KID’S TOURNEY: Calvin Sun 3d has been chosen to represent the United States at next month’s children’s tournament in Korea, sponsored by the Korean Baduk Association. The 8-year-old is a recent top qualifier for the World Youth Goe Championship. “Calvin’s outstanding results in the 12th Redmond Cup Junior division confirmed that he is playing at his best right now and we are pleased to have him represent the AGA,” says AGA President Mike Lash. The annual Korean children’s championship is usually limited to domestic Korean players, but this year the KBA extended invitations to seven additional countries, the US, China, Japan, Taipei, Thailand, Russia and the Netherlands.

26 June 2005, nine years before Calvin became a professional (iirc one of the founding professionals of the fledgling AGA system)

By the way, in the process of looking through one of the July editions I discovered that

The Agon Cup, of which there is also a Chinese version, is sponsored by a Buddhist sect

This sect is Agon Shu, founded in 1954.

… scholars (…) have studied what they believe is a transformation of Agon Shū after the death of [founder] Kiriyama in 2016 by his successors, senior priest Fukada Seia and chief female disciple Wada Naoko, into a cult of its founder, with Kiriyama’s relics becoming increasingly more important than those of the Buddha, and with his messages from the spirit world received by some of the movement’s leaders becoming normative sacred texts.

Did someone say cult? No? I must be hearing things…

(Oh, and Shoko Asahara, organiser of the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack, was also once a member.)

GO LONDON: Go players planning to be in London in August will want to drop in on a 4-day go event at the Imperial War Museum. “The centre-piece will be a contemporary goban with the famous game set up as at the moment of detonation of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima with photos kindly supplied by the Nihon Ki-in and a dan certificate signed by Iwamoto,” (…)

“There will be workshops for beginners and stronger players. Yuki Shigeno 2P and Hiroko Shinkai 5P will be visiting.” Just a five-minute walk from Big Ben, the event runs from August 5-8; admission is free. The week before, the British Go Association’s 50th Anniversary Picnic in Green Park, London will be held

I think this event was organised by the Go promotion group ZenMachine, who have supplied photos from it on their site, which I’ve reposted in various threads.

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PRO INTERVIEW: Nakayama on Starting Late
By Solomon Smilack
[8 August 2005]

Nakayama Noriyuki 6P wears a fishing hat and a smile wherever he goes. He is, in a word, jovial. Now in his 70s, Nakayama’s interest in go continues unabated, as if he is still making up for a late start. These days, travel is Nakayama’s only diversion, and he’s been a frequent and much-loved visitor to the U.S. Go Congress, where I caught up with him for an E-Journal interview.

Nakayama sensei began playing go when he was 15 years old, just after the end of the Second World War. He had watched the game often, and knew the rules, but had never held the stones himself. “Go was not a children’s game. Of all the Japanese pros, I probably have the latest start.” It was a serious time, Nakayama says, with the wide-scale destruction brought on by the war: “It was very hard at that time. There weren’t even buildings for a while.”

In his home town of Nagano, his mother’s father was known as the weakest player in the area. In spite of this, or perhaps because of this, his grandfather’s home had become the gathering place for the strong local players. One summer day, it was raining so hard that no one came to play. Nakayama pouts, imitating his grandfather. Glum, moping, and bemoaning the bad weather, his grandfather sat at the lonely board, then, lifting his eyes from the board to the young Nakayama, smiled, and eagerly motioned him to sit down. “You know how to play, don’t you? Let’s play.”

That day, his grandfather gave him nine stones and beat him ten games in a row. They played well into the evening, and Nakayama finally won the 11th game. “Come back tomorrow,” said his grandfather, “and I’ll give you 8 stones.” The next day they played with 8 stones, the following day with 7, and by the end of summer vacation Nakayama was holding white. His rank increased slowly but steadily, rising by a dan rank once a month, until he was the strongest player in Nagano.

Coming from a poor family, Nakayama had no means of traveling to Tokyo to pursue his go future. When he asked for his father’s bicycle, he was hard pressed to answer why he needed to go to Tokyo. “Are you going to go to Tokyo to get a job? Are you going to university?” It was hard to find work in Tokyo, and for a while he didn’t even have a place to live. Finally, he found a job recording professional games. So proud of his work, he switched to English to tell me, “I was a supreme game recorder.”

Nakayama began taking the Pro Test each year, and each year he failed. Finally, he pas sed on his ninth attempt, just before his 30th birthday, becoming the oldest player to pass the Pro Test. After a quick ascent to 3P, his rank increased slowly but steadily. Unlike most professionals, who peak by age 30, Nakayama’s rank increased once a decade: 4P when he was 40, 5P at 50, and 6P at 60.

Having passed 70 without a jump to 7P, he says he isn’t holding his breath for a promotion. While he still plays professionally, most of his income now comes from his work as an author. Between writing go articles for monthly publications and writing go books, he stays very busy both at his home in southern Chiba Prefecture and abroad. In his own words, “I live so far south, I almost live at Narita airport.” And it’s not far from the truth: Narita is almost a second home for Nakayama sensei, who has traveled overseas every year since he was 49.

Nakayama’s tale is living proof that dedication overcomes hardship and that hard work is rewarded. Like many, I have often thought that only those who learn go as children can grow up to be pros, and that even their careers will be over by 30. Nakayama’s story shows that the game can last a lifetime, and that careers can begin at 30. When’s the next Pro Test?

The 12 August edition offers some more context, as Aria von Elbe reports on bringing up the topic with Maeda Ryo. It’s strange to note that Aria, who was 17 at the time, will be around the same age now as Maeda was then.

Now 33, Maeda is a 6 dan professional with aspirations of one day winning a title, though he says he started trying “too late.” Reminded that Nakayama Noriyuki 6P, a fellow Japanese pro from the Nihon Kiin in Tokyo, started his pro career at 30, Maeda just laughs and replies in English, “Rare case. Only one.”

… surprised to hear the pros talking about Hikaru no Go. They were amazed at the series’ effects, noting how it has encouraged a return to proper manners among young players.

Nakayama sensei regaled us with a classic story about Tetsuya Kiyonari, who turned shodan over 25 years ago, and was keeping time for a professional game when Yutaka Shiraishi came back from lunch five minutes late. Yutaka apologized for being late and then proceeded to chide Kiyonari for not being more strict in discouraging tardiness. That evening, Kiyonari sat by Shiraishi and counted down the dinner break as if it was byo-yomi.

9 August 2005

“Go is making big footsteps in the world,” Tadashi Sasaki told the assembled go enthusiasts, “and is now played in 68 countries around the world.”

10 August

Solomon Smilack: It’s not only my first Congress, but my first time at a go tournament. As such, I was amazed by how endless the tables seemed, as they ran end to end across the main playing room. It was as if I was viewing a huge goban, where every intersection was marked with an Ing board, clock, and set of stones. The Ing tables are smooth. Very smooth. I was very confused by how the bowls function, but once someone revealed their secrets to me I marveled at their design. When a tournament begins, the loud buzz of conversations disappears, and is replaced with a quiet chorus of Ing clocks beeping away.

Same edition

What do you want? A friend of mine who is a strong player constantly reminds me to ask myself that question as I play. The idea is to contemplate the whole board situation, but the question is not only important while you’re playing a game. It’s also useful to ask it before you start playing. From listening to conversations here at the Congress, I’ve gotten the impression that ma ny players would answer by saying that their aim is “to get strong, to improve my rating.”

I think that’s a limited goal, which ignores some important aspects of go. Having “getting stronger” as your aim makes you focus strongly on winning. Go is designed so that almost all of us are going to lose about as often as we win. So if getting stronger is what we want, we’re going to experience a lot of frustration. It would be nice if pl aying go were – at least most of the time – a pleasant, satisfying and enjoyable experience. Since it’s difficult to experience go that way when it becomes very important to win, perhaps a different aim would have a happier result.

What if the answer to “what do you want?” is just “to play go”? If just playing becomes your aim, you’ll find many more ways to make the experience a good one. Undoubtedly, winning is fun, and getting stronger helps you to win, bu t perhaps becoming stronger should not be an end, but a means; a means to enjoying the game more, whether you win or lose. So when you sit down to your next tournament game, remember to ask yourself “what do I REALLY want?”

William Cobb, 11 August 2005

And a response published on the 21st:

“In response to William Cobb’s question, I realized there were a number of things I enjoy other than just ‘to win’ during my go games,” writes Dennis Sustare. "Aesthetics: I love the feel of the stones, the sound when I place the stone on the board, and the look of the board, especially during the middle game before things get too resolved.

A successful invasion: It is very satisfying to see an opponent’s area that I simply must reduce, then to throw some stones in there and actually make them live! The right tesuji: So often, it seems like there are several suggestive ways to play in a local tactical situation. When I look back later and decide that the play I made was the correct one, it fills me with joy.

Maintaining sente in the end game: It is just great to make a long series of end game moves that my opponent answers (and so depressing when it works the other way!). Especially when the margin of victory turns out to be just a couple of points."

Last week’s coverage of the US Go Congress included live broadcast of all three Masters games, Boards 1 & 2 for every round of the Ing and US Open, plus bonuses like the Pro-Am and Pro-Pro games, as well as the Pair Go championship g ames, for a grand total of 32 games broadcast on the IGS and KGS. (…)

We’re tremendously proud of this historic accomplishment

20 August 2005

Apparently there are black clams in India … and in Sweden …, and white slate from India … [however] no one was aware of any go sets made out of this stuff.

5 January 2007

The Long Island Go Club’s Andy Segal is not only steadily improving - already a strong 3k - but is also the world’s #3 ranked “Artistic Pool” or trick shot player … Among his many titles, Andy was the 2005 World Artistic Pool Masters Champion, and just recently was a member of the 4-man US team that competed against Europe in the 2006 Artistic Pool World Cup at the famous Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.

15 January 2007

The first [of the classical Japanese go houses] to go was Hayashi, which merged with the Honinbo house in 1884, when Shuei, head of the Hayashi house, became the Honinbo heir. Yasui bit the dust in 1903. The Honinbo house continued until 1924, when it ceased to exist as a house with the founding of the Nihon Kiin. Shusai held on to his title of Honinbo until his retirement in 1938. The Inoue house vanished in 1961, with the death of Egeta Inseki. …

[This was due to] the house’s relocation to Osaka, which insulated the house from competition from the more modern go organizations sprouting up in Tokyo. This, combined with Egeta’s refusal to join the Nihon Kiin and his long life is the best explanation

CAN’T STOP THE MONKEY JUMP: A Beginner Studies the Pros: Go Vocabulary
by Motoko Arai

Go has a special vocabulary all its own. As my husband and I were going over masters’ games, at the same time we were also trying to read the commentary. But for beginners like us, the commentary just didn’t make any sense. Okay, so maybe we couldn’t understand certain things because of our skill level - that’s natural enough. However, the really shocking thing was we couldn’t even understand the words themselves. (We thought this was strange, but as beginners we decided to just keep reading. However, the more we read, the more we ran into these unknown words.)

“Umm…this black stone is called a nobi (extend), right? In the book?”
“Yeah. From the point of view of this stone attached to it, this stone is extending out. I guess that’s why it’s called nobi, right?”

“That’s what I thought too. If you attach a black stone to a black stone behind it, it’s called nobi. But I think that’s wrong.”

“Here’s the same situation - a black stone attached to the one behind it - but this time it’s not called nobi. They didn’t write nobi.”
“What do you mean?”

“It’s extending out just like before, but in the commentary this stone is called sagari (descent).”
“Okay, so what’s the deal with that?”

“That’s what I’m wondering. And look at this diagram. Again, the same situation with one black stone attaching to a black stone behind it, but this time they don’t call it nobi or sagari.”
“So what do they call it?”

“Narabi (stretch).”
“But that’s a completely different word.”

“Exactly! And here again - the same situation with the attached black stone, and here they call it hai (crawl). Hai!”
“What does hai mean here?”

“Who knows? And another… attach one black stone to another black stone and call it…oshi (push).”
“Hold on - hai and oshi? These are greetings! And wait - if it’s a supporting group or something like that, it’s not called oshi, but osu (push).”

“Yeah, there are books that call it osu as well.”
“What’s with these greetings - yes’s and welcome’s and thank you’s?”

“Thank You is also a Go word. In this book it says ‘Here, rather than a Thank You, the best thing is to tenuki (play elsewhere).’”

“You’re kidding! What on earth does that mean? Of course Go is a polite game and when you start you’re supposed to wish your opponent good luck and when you finish you should say “Thanks for the game”, but are there other little courtesies throughout the game as well? In the middle of a battle, do you really have to stop and say something like “Here’s to your health” or “My, it’s a lovely day”? Should we do that? Are we supposed to do that?”

Okay, so maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration. But still, it feels this ridiculous when you see all the Go words written in your own language and, as a beginner, you have no idea what they mean.

5 February 2007

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