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 Post subject: The First Teenage Meijin(Shibano Toramaru) by John Fairbairn
Post #1 Posted: Thu Jun 03, 2021 4:31 pm 
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To buy or not to buy? Do you like history, anecdotes, documentaries, game commentaries, Fairbairn's writing style, and Shibano Toramaru? Then buy this book. If you are only interested in the game commentaries themselves, maybe an online resource would suit your needs. Do you speak Japanese and have 90 hours to watch a video feed? Then head over here to watch the steam:


Introduction to the book:
Example of Fairbairn's writing on Shibano, which is also in this book:

My bias: I picked up The First Teenage Meijin because I was interested in the "Go Wisdom" format and I enjoy Fairbairn's posts but I wasn't sure about ordering a book as big and expensive as Games of Shuei. Of course, you get more games for your buck with Shuei. And while I'm interested in Shuei, games from 2019 playing the AI style are more relevant. I am 6-7k on OGS. I do study Go but do not really enjoy it. I enjoy reading game commentaries and replaying games on a board. I have a normal board and stones and a miniature set that I used to replay these games.

Some quick personal dislikes/issues, to get them out of the way. The book is large. I prefer smaller books. Despite being large, the font numbering the stones seems harder for me to read. There are a smattering of minor typos or informalities. Being paperback, the book does not stay open easily, but the introduction pages help hold down the front cover once you get to the games. Also, the "Go Wisdom" index is not as neat as I hoped (more below).

Now on to what I like. I am a fan of history and anecdotes and this book begins with a lot of them. The introduction to the accolade, title, and tournament of Meijin is well done. I imagine Fairbairn has written a lot more elsewhere but I have not even got my hands on the other books, let alone read them. I almost dare not mention Kamakura after reading the other thread on it.

The book is also part documentary, including details about the venues, the crowd, the commentators, reporters, what was said before and after the game, what commentary was made during the game, what was eaten, how much was not eaten, and so on. It's all really fun to read and it's Fairbairn's speech that gives character to the text. I would like to have read even more than the first 30 pages. But luckily the commentary continues into each of the 5 games.

Game 5 is jam packed with AI commentary unlike the other games, which only had bits and pieces. It's almost too much for me and so I have sort of avoided it. It goes from page 66 to 181 with extensive analysis of alternative moves and winning percentages. I have not personally played with AI besides the OGS tool. I do not know whether it is better or more limited than what Fairbairn was using in 2019. Either way, analyzing each move and winning percentages does not interest me as much as normal human commentary.

As for "Go Wisdom," I like the decision to exclude variation diagrams and just include the lettering on the board. This keeps the pages more condensed and I think it's easier to follow. There is a Go Wisdom index in this book but I get the impression that it is not as useful as in the other larger books. Maybe this book is too short to have many listings on a particular topic. But also, the index words are not color coded on the pages, so it becomes more difficult to spot the section discussing the topic. I could be wrong but this is not as easy to use as I hoped. Still, this is a minor complaint.

Writing sample. Move 123 is black's 5-2 point kosumi in the lower right corner in Game 2. Good thing this game didn't have a lot of ko-taking because I could not manage that on the mini board.

The video:

This post by CDavis7M was liked by: Shenoute
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