Life In 19x19

New book: Brush, Ink, Go
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Author:  John Fairbairn [ Wed Mar 08, 2023 2:26 am ]
Post subject:  New book: Brush, Ink, Go

Brush, Ink, Go is the fourth book in my project entitled the Museum of Go Theory. It is now available on Amazon as an on-demand edition. As usual, it may take a little while to filter into all corners of the Amazon empire. The UK link is ... 47&sr=8-19.

It is a translation of Ji Xinxue's Yi Mo 弈墨 which was published in China in 1662. The story behind the title is too complex to describe here, but it was the first significant book of go commentaries. Significant in various ways: it was large (100 games), it covered all the best players of the age (26 are represented here), and the commentaries, though still on the short side, were insightful and more expansive than ever before. Go theory thus became identifiable in ways it had never been before.

A further major attribute is that the games were selected, from some 600, by a commentator who was a master player himself, Ji Xinxue. It is apparent that a major criterion in the selection was entertainment value. Kos, sekis, capturing races and sacrifices abound, and the quality matches the quantity. But, in addition, the compiler seemed to want to illustrate how go theory had evolved in his day from humbler beginnings. Both the kaleidoscopic games and the insightful comments support that. Whereas just a short time before, books concentrated almost entirely on corner openings, the games here take in the entire sweep of the board.

The book was published a decade after Huang Longshi's birth, and so does not feature him, but opponents Sheng Dayou and Zhou Donghou do appear. This will provide a solid base once the MGT project gets round to publishing something on Huang. Other famous names include Guo Bailing and Zhou "Lazybones" Lanyu. The other players may not be as familiar but the games show they merit their places.

Like other books so far in this series, Brush, Ink, Go far exceeds anything the Japanese had to offer at the time. Indeed, it was centuries ahead of Japanese equivalents.

This edition of almost 300 pages is presented both in the original classical Chinese and in English. Extensive notes on the players and the terminology are provided.

The title is also explained. As a clue, it harks back to the invention of the umbrella!

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