Earliest taisha discovered

Having just gushed, in the previous item #68, at the joy of finding a new vista with a new move 5, we were delighted to find, the very next day, a new occurrence of a very old move. The first known instance of the taisha no less.

This discovery is due to the "old games detective" Fukui Masaaki 9-dan. The game below is from 1705 and features Honinbo Dochi against Ogura Doki. They were to become opponents of a different kind years later, but at this point Dochi was about 15. He was Dosaku's pupil, of course, and there was also a rumour that he was Dosaku's son. He certainly showed similar talent, becoming the youngest ever Meijin Godokoro in 1721. He was also the best middle shogi player of historical times.

Dochi's taisha here (move 16) is now the first known instance. There is a view that the taisha was first played by Aihara Kaseki, a younger contemporary of Dochi, but the grounds for that are unknown to us, and Kaseki's surviving games do not seem to offer any support. The previous oldest instance known to us - referring to the pattern as initiated here by White 16 with no nearby stones in the quadrant - is by Honinbo Jowa against arch rival Hattori Rittetsu (Inoue Genan Inseki) in 1812.

Incidentally, the joseki on the right, with White switching to 8, was popular with Genan, although it goes back at least to 1678, being played by Dosaku. But it does also still crop up very occasionally in modern professional play.

Just as they are today, fusekis and (especially) josekis were the favourite subject of books bought by amateurs in the past. Dochi's opponent, Ogura Doki, was an early leader in this field. He had been a pupil of Honinbo Doetsu and then of Dosaku. But when Dosaku died in 1702, he changed his name to Akiyama Senboku and moved to Sakai, then still separate from Osaka. In Osaka he published a stream of books and his Shinsen Gokyo Taizen, a sort of "modern openings at a glance", became a best seller. However, he seems to have got a little carried away by his success and in 1725 published a preface in which he claimed "only I have learned the secrets of Dosaku's style". He was only trying to justify his sub-title, Hiden Shusho (Secretly Transmitted Annotations), and the book was only an update of his 1720 best seller.

Honinbo Dochi seems to have been relaxed about it, but maybe rather naive. Honinbo Doetsu, though in retirement in Kyoto, was still alive (he lived to 90 or 91 and was the longest lived go player of historical times) and was furiously alert to the implications for the reputations of the go families. He pressured Dochi, then Meijin, to have Senboku arraigned by the Commissioner of Shrines and Temples, the government official in charge of go. As a result, Senboku was expelled from the house of Honinbo, imprisoned at home for 10 days, and his books were confiscated.

This rapid follow-up to item #68 does not mean we are focusing fully on New In Go, by the way. We have more books in the pipeline, and are soon about to be inundated with proofreading a massive new book (due in May), the story of the Kamakura ten-game match between Kitani and Go Seigen. Please bear with us.


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