Long game fairness?

After digging into and reading about the past few hundred years of Japanese go history, it seemed to me that some of the games were results of researches and studies and even group intelligence - because the white has the right to pause the game. After going home, he can contemplate on board as many moves as he could, and he could also discuss with his peers or pupils.

This seems a bit unfair but it’s Ok because black can also do the same thing. But still…

This actually caused me to think about the many correspondence games here: one can analyze as many moves as possible on the board or even ask for higher-level player’s help. I know I myself tend to draw over the board. While this could lead to high quality games, does it work against improving because go is traditionally played physically and one of the qualities of good player, I think, is to be able to think about all the moves in his head, not lay out over the board.

What do you think? Thanks.

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I think historically this was the “counterpart” of today’s komi and therefore white’s priviledge (since black had the last move, white could theorize better), but unfortunately do not remember the source although I would like to read more about it…

my opinion (kind of repeating myself since I said the same thing elsewhere, but I think it fits here too) that as with everything balance is a good thing. In live games I make it a point to read only in head, trying to practice my reading or suffer the consequences.
In correspondence I like to analyze and play out variations, which lets me consider more interesting, more complicated moves and look for solution I would not normally “see”
I consider those two separate parts of the game and think it good to practice both.

Obviously this is dependant on “trust factor” and not really possible to enforce, but consulting stronger players before the game ends I personally view as cheating and would like to discourage.


Do you have a source for White being allowed to adjourn the game whenever he liked? I know Shusai did in the Game of the Century but I thought that was a special case and didn’t reflect general practice.

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I’m actually quite happy I can play correspondence games (thanks OGS!) and take my time to think about the whole board and try out multiple variations (sometimes really long ones). And even so I do make big mistakes all the time because after a few hours or days I forgot what was I aiming at with that weird looking sequence :smiley: But it changes your way of thinking about the game, when you have the time and ability to do this unlike live games, even online, where you have to trust and rely on your reading skills more.

I view them as different styles of game and it probably works differently in shaping your “whole” skills as a player. I’m thinking that after I reach a certain level, I should probably go back to play live games only to realize my rank will go down a bit. But once I play enough to compensate it will allow me to evolve in the long run. In a way, playing correspondence is no different than studying games on your own right?


I speak Mandarin Chinese so I read a book written by a Chinese author 日本围棋故事 (修订本)

There are many occasions in the book when white paused the game because of being in a really tough situation.

The book is based on a few Japanese books, one of which is 坐隠談叢―囲碁全史 (1955年) by 渡辺英夫


In olden days, white was always the stronger player (or at least believed to be stronger) and thus held a higher status in Go society . What you might think of as White’s privilege might actually just be the privilege of the higher hierarchy player using his status to take advantage of the situation. Unless there were games between even ranking players when this happened, I’m highly skeptical.

Could you kindly post a screenshot of that exact line that says it?


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From what I read, even though black had the “last move” (on the board), white had to write down his next move on a piece of paper and then seal it in an envelop before the game is paused. When the game resume the next day that move is revealed. So white doesn’t exactly have the whole night to think it thru before he makes his move.

Isn’t that the “modern” approach tho? how long has it been done that way?

I swear I heard or read somemwhere that white had an advantage of consulting to compensate for komi. But it is quite possible it was a different scenario or I misunderstood completely. It’s bugging me though :smiley: I will try to re-discover my source. Anyone who has an English source on this, please share :smiley: I would love to learn more.

I don’t know. I am a beginner and I just recall seeing this somewhere, yet quite unsure whether this is the modern approach or traditional approach.

Sealed moves are a modern invention, I think. Perhaps they were invented by Kitani Minoru? He insisted on their use in 1938 in his famous game with Shusai (the Meijin’s Retirement Game) in order to prevent Shusai from repeating what Kitani saw as his abuse of adjournment privileges to gain an unfair advantage by consulting his pupils. He had precedent for his objection as Shusai had behaved this way in the Game of the Century against Go Seigen in 1934.

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He may have been the first to introduce the idea to the Go world, but sealed moves have a much longer history in chess I believe

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This seemed to ring a bell but it took me a while to find it… In the preface to “Peerless Pioneer - Games of the Great Senchi: Yasui VII Senkaku” by John Fairbairn (based on a series on commentaries by Kato Shin) it says:

“…some modern readers may need reminding of a few aspects of the Edo go world in the three centuries up to 1868… The playing environment was of course vastly different. There were no chess clocks and not much time pressure, so that really serious games could last for days. Players took as long as they liked for each move, although it was the custom to allow White or the senior player to adjourn overnight (no sealed move). … There was no komi…”

Unfortunately there is nothing specific stated about what support either player could ask for overnight.


Here? I’m just an amateur player, playing ~50 simultaneus kyu-level games purely for recreational purposes. Been that a couple of years now, and so far i’ve played almost 1000 correspondence games here ^^
To be honest, at this point a single game ain’t that important anymore, of course i like all of them, but it doesn’t really bother me if some of my opponents cheats on me. I’d actually be somewhat impressed if some of my opponents were to use the effort to actually study our game, maybe that way i would be actually helping someone to get better. Every one of my games is just a random amateur game, so the outcome of it doesn’t really matter at all, not even on OGS, and even less anywhere else.
I think the beauty of correpondence games lays on the idea that players can study the game and get better while they play, i wouldn’t call it “cheating” if they are seriously putting some effort on learning how to win against me.


I have heard off some other people, though I couldn’t produce any text source as they never mentioned one, that Go professionals in the time of those long games (presumably the Castle Games was meant, rather than less formal though equally long encounters) were actually kept away from the outside world for the duration of their game. I guess that they were housed in some sort of state-owned dormitories or apartments close to the playing hall (rooms? I know so little of the details…) The intention would be to prevent either player from seeking external help, though it seems pointless if all the strong players were living together anyway.


I think you are talking about two separate issues. First, receiving assistance (from another player or software) is cheating and not solely a correspondence game issue, since it could just as easily happen in any live, online game,

Second, the analysis tool could also be used as a crutch in live games, and perhaps there plays a bigger role in assisting players with the difficulty of visualization given the presence of time pressure. However, it can be disabled for any game, and players can choose not to use it. I think the key difference with correspondence is just that you have the time to read deeply. You can carefully study the game and essentially self-review as you play, with added motivation of the game being on the line. In this way, I think correspondence games offer a unique opportunity to improve.