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 Post subject: Pure Go
Post #1 Posted: Tue Sep 29, 2020 2:15 am 

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I was discussing ancient Chinese rules yesterday with Chen Zuyuan, the world's premier rules expert, and he startled me by recommending the Japanese "Pure Go" to teach children go in the West.

I had heard of it, but only quite recently when O Meien gave it his thumbs-up, too, in his 2019 book on go rules of the word, along with an extensive write-up. But I had not bothered reading the detail, despite being in my second childhood, partly because it was for kids but mostly because it was about rules.

However, Chen's recommendation made me take a (brief) look, and it does appear to have a long pedigree, extensive support and much success. Which made me wonder: how come I've never heard of it in English? Of course I may have just missed it because I tend to look the other way as soon as I see the word "rules", but I have actually (and grudgingly) been involved with some attempts to teach go to children, not least some events organised by Peter Wendes in England. One such event (attended by Japanese pros Shigeno Yuki and Shinkai Hiroko) was at the Imperial War Museum in London. My involvement was to write a pamphlet for the museum on the Atomic Bomb game - the children played next to a replica of the delivery bomb! As with most things Peter did, it was a big success as regards numbers. I also discussed children's go in the a fair bit with Peter's excellent US counterpart, Ernest Brown, who was also familiar with the Taiwanese method of teaching go as a variety of fishing.

So there were several potential sources for me to hear about Pure Go: Japanese pros and Peter/Ernest themselves. Plus a third, perhaps, if you add that this was in the middle of the Hikaru boom.

Then, of course, there is the fact that I read a lot of Japanese books and magazines. I imagine there must have been something there and I just skated over it. In fact, though, I do have a vague memory of go being taught in a successful way in an old people's home in Japan about 40 years ago, but in my mind that's associated with capture go (another Japanese experiment). However, it seems now that that might have been Pure Go.

Does anyone here know about it?

There is a web site: You will see there that O Meien has a column and young female pro Hoshiai Shiho is involved (and through her, possibly, the great kids' teacher Kikuchi Yasuro, who was her teacher, may have some input). Even if you can't read the Japanese, the many photos will indicate the apparent level of success. Note that it is advertised as an introductory method, by which you can be up and playing within ten minutes. At some later point you can transfer to Japanese or Chinese rules, as your prefer, and as far as I can see from a quick glance it shares various attributes like that with AGA rules (which O Meien does not mention).

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 Post subject: Re: Pure Go
Post #2 Posted: Tue Sep 29, 2020 4:14 am 
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This might be because I can't read any japanese, but it does looks like a nice clean presentation to me.

So it's played on a 7x7 board.
The ko rule used is the so called 'basic ko' rather than the supernatural ko.
The winner is the one who has the most stones left on the board at the end of the game.
They show how to capture.
They explain which stones are connected to each other.
Nothing about having to wear a tie.

Certainly worth consideration for teaching juniors. I'd probably still prefer to start with atari go.

North Lecale

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 Post subject: Re: Pure Go
Post #3 Posted: Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:06 am 

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It seems to be equivalent to Stone scoring. The SL page mentions that it is "interesting ... for educational purposes. "

What a coincidence, I was reflecting on this topic today too.

In Strasbourg, France it's used extensively with children as the next step after 5-stone capture atari Go.

This video is very good (but in French):
l'enseignment du Go à l'école.

I watched it today it as some children attend my local Go club on Saturdays so we need to improve on how we handle them. I think we'll copy the people in Strasbourg!

 Post subject: Re: Pure Go
Post #4 Posted: Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:53 am 
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I don't really like atari go, so I just start with go right away.
I may start on a 6x6 board with 6-7 year olds and 9x9 with older children.

I first show some "castles" and count the size of the "courtyards" (empty areas inside the castles). These are points.
I tell them that you need to make more points than your opponent to win.

Then I tell that go stones are like living beings, needing air to breathe. And the stones can only breathe through the lines going out from the stones.
Then I show how black takes away all breath from a white stone to capture it (removing it from the board).
I tell them that these prisoners are also worth a point per stone, so you keep them until the end of the game.

Then I show how a stone can extend from an atari to gain new breathing places for the whole (connected) string of stones.
With older children (8+) I may show some more strings and let them count liberties (how many moves it takes to capture).

With a small group of children this introduction takes 5-10 minutes.

Then I let them play, against each other or against children that already know how to play (possibly with handicap).

 Post subject: Re: Pure Go
Post #5 Posted: Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:30 pm 
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Javaness2 wrote:
supernatural ko.
Interesting term you have coined there ;-)

(Not that I am criticizing - I would be rather pleased with myself if I had come up with it.)

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