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 Post subject: Genjo-Chitoku now available
Post #1 Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 10:12 am 
Oza

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I have now completed a major book giving commentaries in English on the games (almost 90) between Honinbo Genjo and Yasui Chitoku, the two players who stood at the top of the go world during the Golden Age of Go in the early 19th century.

It is available as print on demand via Kindle Direct Publishing: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/173128635X? ... _397514860 (ISBN 978-1-731-28635-2). No electronic version is planned.

I have here followed my usual practice of providing background history, biographies and commentaries based on as many professional commentaries as I can find - a lot in this case because Genjo and Chitoku (and the age they lived in) are so esteemed. But hitherto (e.g. in books on Go Seigen's matches) I have been concerned mainly with entertainment. This book includes all that, of course, but adds a major new element - an invitation and encouragement to you to study and work hard. This series of games between two players of Meijin standard who just happened to have sharply contrasting styles seems to offer the perfect platform for that.

By playing through so many games in chronological order, you get to see how their styles were formed and how they evolved. But more than that (and I think for the first time ever) you get to see exactly in what respects professionals improve.

Apart from a new colour-enhanced format for the commentaries, which is intended to encourage you to play the games over on a real board and to force you to visualise variations without variation diagrams (though ample help is still given), there is a very large appendix called "Go Wisdom" which contains discussions and proverbs not just on every topic that comes up in the commentaries but on others that may occur to you as you think about the games for yourself. In a sense you can thus add your own guided commentary, which is an ideal way to really learn. This "Go Wisdom" includes many topics not covered adequately, if at all, in English before, such as ijime (bullying), kakoi (surrounding), the various kinds of attack (e.g. aori, seriai, torikake, karami and yorituski), and the various kinds of probes and forcing moves.

Each of the topics on Go Wisdom is cross-referenced to each mention in the commentaries. It is this that enables you to track each player's improvement. For example, you will see that in their early games both players showed very few instances of probes but in their later games these had become second-nature. By the time they had reached Meijin standard, though, they were even able to throw in a few counter-probes! And while early on they were not specially concerned with overconcentration as a tactic, later in their careers it became a major concern.

They were in contrast always very, very concerned with forcing moves. Much more than amateurs. They were also very concerned with the various kinds of attack (especially karami), and quite a few of their games have been labelled master classes for such techniques. But quite a few things amateurs obsess about, such as invasions and sabaki, rarely feature!

You can spot other trends yourself by tracking these cross-references, but a further major use of them is to study tricky topics such as thickness. Where there are so many examples of the topic in actual play, you can compare each of them and so build up an intuitive understanding not just of the main principles (also fully discussed in the appendix) but all the nuances.

The entertainment aspects of the book include a new kind of ko and a detailed look at the Castle Games ceremony and the political manoeuvring behind it. And a photo of toorie-topped me on top of a mountain :lol:

The book is large in every aspect: letter size (8.5 x 11 inches) and almost 500 pages. It includes colour. It is good-quality paper, and so is heavy. It is therefore a little more than a pocket-money book. With postage I'd say it might cost about as much as 20 cups of coffee in London. If you buy one, you give me about one cup of coffee as royalty.

Printing absorbs most of the rest of the cost. And one concern there, if you're like me, is the quality of the binding. I've had plenty of books fall apart on me over the years. I can only say that I was astonished by the quality of the copies of this book I got. Despite being over an inch thick, the book opened flat throughout, and the paper texture was a delight to handle (with no see-through). Best of all, despite the severe manhandling of a proof-reading which included flipping backwards and forwards several hundred times to check all the cross-references, the spine not only stayed intact but didn't even show a crease! Because the book was such a joy to handle I played all the games over myself on a real board, the first time I've done that at home for at least two decades! I claim no credit for any of that - for once I tip my hat to Amazon (although I obviously can't say whether Amazon outlets outside the UK offer the same quality; I also can't speak for how long it takes for the book to propagate through the system outside the UK).

Now it's on to Shuei and a first paper edition of his games. I now have almost double the number of commented games compared to the e-version.


This post by John Fairbairn was liked by 13 people: Bill Spight, Calvin Clark, dfan, Elom, Ember, gowan, Javaness2, Marcel Grünauer, Shenoute, SoDesuNe, sorin, tj86430, Waylon
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 Post subject: Re: Genjo-Chitoku now available
Post #2 Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 10:25 am 
Gosei
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Bought!

And...

John Fairbairn wrote:
Now it's on to Shuei and a first paper edition of his games. I now have almost double the number of commented games compared to the e-version.


YES! Very much looking forward to it!

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 Post subject: Re: Genjo-Chitoku now available
Post #3 Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:43 am 
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I just ordered it! Thank you John for publishing these wonderful books.

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 Post subject: Re: Genjo-Chitoku now available
Post #4 Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:49 am 
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Nowadays it is such a strange feeling to actually buy a book from Amazon.com :)

Cheers,
Vesa


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 Post subject: Re: Genjo-Chitoku now available
Post #5 Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:51 am 
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I read the first post here and he sample pages and it sounds like a fantastic book! I already enjoyed your book on Shusai and Jowa, John, and the new approach on variations in this book sounds really interesting, too. My husband has just ordered it via Amazon Germany (which means I can tell you about the quality of the printing and binding here soon). However, I find it quite depressing how little money you earn from selling a copy after all the hard work you put into compiling the information and writing the actual book. All the more thank you for working so hard to bring such pearls to the English speaking Go world!

EDIT: By the way, at this very moment the book is number 1 in the ranking of books on board games in German Amazon.

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 Post subject: Re: Genjo-Chitoku now available
Post #6 Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:25 am 
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I played though some of these games years ago after reading a post of yours. It will be wonderful to learn more of the history of these great players.

US Amazon Link in case it's convenient.

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 Post subject: Re: Genjo-Chitoku now available
Post #7 Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:03 pm 
Gosei

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FWIW it is also available from Amazon in the USA.

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 Post subject: Re: Genjo-Chitoku now available
Post #8 Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:03 pm 
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I picked up my copy today. The printing is excellent. I have complained about some of the Amazon print-on-demand services before, so I am not sure if this is different but it's very clear, with a tasteful use of color and symbols that makes the commentary fun to read without being too distracting. I don't have a desert island to escape to yet, but this is the kind of book that makes me want to figure out how to retire early. Thank you for this wonderful contribution to the Go world!

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 Post subject: Re: Genjo-Chitoku now available
Post #9 Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:14 pm 
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Mine showed up today too, and I can second Calvin's comments about the physical quality.

I never like game commentary books as much as I think I will, because I get really fatigued by all the variations and end up just playing through all of them mechanically like a zombie instead of really engaging with the content. (I don't have this problem with live commentary, or replaying games on my own trying to guess the next move.) The lighter touch of these commentaries is a welcome contrast in that respect and I look forward to going through them.

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