Mystic Emperor, Go Seigen

In December 2002, the GoGoD team presented its first seminar. This was aimed at Britain's high dan players, and was meant to be hard.

Go Seigen by Pieter Mioch The focus was a new book called Igo no Shinri wo Saguru - Seeking the True Theory of Go. The book itself is hard. It is essentially a collection of elliptical conversations between O Rissei and Go Seigen, as O Rissei recorded his progress towards enlightenment at the feet of the master.

It was very Zen-like. You had to find your own path. Clearly, the many writings and television lectures by Go on 21st century go were part of the background, but if truth be told these are all rather woolly and hard, too. It seemed as if Go was exploiting his status as the grand old man of go to make provocative statements while skimping on the explanations. The title of the supremely gifted but go-mad ruler of Tang China seemed perfect for Go: Xuan Zong or the Mystic Emperor.

What we hoped to do in the seminar was to put together the best brains of British go, to add a generous dash of database research, and to see whether we could make head or tail of what Go Seigen was talking about. We hoped to hear the sound of one hand clapping.

We failed. Indeed, some esteemed dan players thought that Go had lost his marbles. The database results were enigmatic. We needed more help. Fortunately yet another new book by Go has come along, published early in 2005. If anything, it is even more provocative. In the first nine moves of one game between Yi Ch'ang-ho and Chang Hao, four are criticised. The difference this time is that Go adds some decent explanations for his comments.

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