New Year's Poetry


Illusory Go

Dragons don’t breath flame,
The magic sword is rusty;
Tombstone’s just a name,
Like taisha or nadare:
Go is more than what you see.

Ode to Molluscs

The history of Go:
No-one ever really lost
(except for the clams.)


It’s Been a While

It’s been a while
Since I last played a Go game:
Reading is fuzzy,
Fluffy like a dust bunny.
How do the stones move again?

Old Joseki

An old joseki:
John Fairbairn says it was found
In a pyramid.


Enter the Board

The board’s four sides are
Four gates to a mandala
Of intertwined paths
Lined with black and white pebbles.
Let’s explore it together.

It’s a Modern Style

Brutalist Go set:
The board is made of concrete
And the stones are square.



Fate will not be moved.
Three hundred sixty-one points
Become null and void.
Seemingly infinite chance,
And again it comes to this.


Ode to Dangos (Dumplings)

A clump’s called “dumpling”
But it also looks like snow
Or a floating cloud,
Or a pile of blossoms
Fallen on the board.

What to Work On When

At 30k eyes,
10k fights, 5k counting,
Dan shape – 9p eyes.


Next time you’ll die!
Maybe …

I felt in love with my sensei moves.
I just played that flat move with my sticky fingers.


What’s a techu?


Poem From a Kaya Tree

Once an old kaya,
Now a thick goban with legs
In the NHK.
But my games still have branches
For the players to climb up.

Ode to the London Go Centre (Which is Underneath a Car Park)

Brits play underground:
Hidden dwarves who only leave
To get a curry.


Iron pillar


Newspaper Go, Old-Style

Read all about it,
Two great legends fight it out –
Biggest ever match!

Go is Change, Playing is Opinion

(Paraphrased from Meditations)

I play from nature
Until I shall fall and rest
Upon the Go board
Which has supplied me with peace
And I use for many games.


Round Robin or
The Happy Hour

The clock says begin.
Clackity-clack fills the room.
We raise another.

Dreams of Empire

Seven stones no less,
And it might have ruled the world.
There’s your influence.
Fighting spirit somehow fled,
The great wall so beguiled me.


Woops, looks like I missed a day. Going to need to make two days’ worth now…

Final Musing of a Dictator for Life

“Funny, it’s just like
That pleb’s game latrunculi
(Wisely called “brigands”) –
See how many are needed
To kill but a single one!”

That one’s going to take a bit of explaining, so bear with me. The speaker is Julius Caesar, its a mental monologue, and he’s referencing a real Roman game as he’s assassinated by the gang of senators. Latrunculi was similar in some aspects of its equipment and rules to Go but was probably more like the modern Japanese game hasami shogi.

When I Played a Pro

“Choose how many stones,”
he said. I took the board and
Covered it in sand.

Ing Cup, 280th Edition

The stone vorpal-glowed,
Held by the spined insectid,
Humming patiently.
The holo-pundits looked on
(Still dressed for the '70s.)

The Birth of European Go

Splitting with the Pope,
Henry made new rules, claiming
Himself England’s Meijin.



Samurai soldiers,
It is said, worked off tension
With the game of go.
Bloodless war welcome relief
From carnage, from mounting grief.


That’s your best yet.


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In the City of the Blind

My group has no eyes
So there’s a lot of bad aj.
Nothing works: atar
nor nob. Not even a sek…
Can’t make life without any —


Thanks. I think I’m more of a tanka man. It seems you can stay on point, whereas haiku requires an intuitive leap. ( I wonder if I’ve actually written one).



The goban is flat
Like one page of an old book,
Or a treasure map.
Like a huge unexplored plain
Stretching away out of sight!

Aliens Play Go, They Say

With one tentacle
Thraag the Annihilator
Played self-atari.

The Sage’s Game

“These are just pebbles!”
(The Emperor to the Sage)
“Where’s the jade and gold?”
The Sage took a coconut:
“Would you judge this by its rind?”

Go A Journey

Airport plane Japan
Tokyo metro kanji signs
Door club table board –

The Old Izakaya

In Kyoto, it’s said
There’s an old izakaya
Where the lights are warm
And the Go players gather.
Clicking stones and cicadas…

Leave the Rug Where It Is, Says Jowa

"Leave the rug right there,
We have the whole night ahead –
Now, another game?


Go According to McCluhan?

Is it hot or cool?
Such density of info,
Such space to explore.
Like a roadmap that leads you
Everywhere yet nowhere.


Gollum and the Goban

“Riddle me this, then:
Three hundred doves and ravens
On a cornfield.
Two blind snakes are there fighting:
One-eye will swallow No-eye.”

A Message from Shin Jinseo, on Becoming the Champion of the World

Go is my father
Lover friend companion
My sun moon sky world –


The Goban and the Tomb

The oldest goban:
Was it carved for a dead king
For eternity?
Or the rough-scratched floor tile
Used by the guards of his tomb?

[Stone Go boards have been found as grave goods in the tombs of Ancient Chinese nobility. As for the tile board, there’s some speculation repeated at :

"Chinese archaeologist have discovered a porcelain chessboard [read goban, probably a translation error] from the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.- 24 A.D.) in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. This is the earliest discovery of a chessboard ever unearthed in China. The Chessboard was found at the ruins of a watchtower at the tombs of Emperor Jingdi of the western Han Dynasty. The chessboard, slightly damaged, and unequal measuring 28.5 cm to 5.7 cm long, 19.7 cm to 17 cm wide and 3.6 cm thick. the chessboard is carved with 17 ordinate and 17 transversal lines, Li Gang, a researcher with the Shaanxi Provincial Archaeological Research Institute, said that this chess board might be made from a floor tile and it does not belong to the royal family since the carvings on the chessboard are too rough. Li said the chessboard could have been made by the tomb guards who played chess to pass the time. “That proves that chess had been played not only by nobles, but also by ordinary people like tomb guards more than 2,000 years ago, " li noted.”]

Games with the Kami

Playing with kami,
Centuries passed quietly
Like wandering clouds.