Japanese pros still seem to be reluctant to use databases and still seem sceptical about their value. Indeed, Nihon Ki-in staff have told us face to face that it is important for players to improve their strength by playing over games from books and magazines rather than clicking on a screen.
We think they've lost the argument about databases in general, but we do agree that ability to play over a game quickly from a printed record is a benchmark of strength. Trouble is, we've never seen much in the way of criteria. Until this month, the only concrete figure we'd encountered was that pros take 20 minutes to play over an average game. But what's an average game? And what about amateurs?
The first question can be answered easily with databases. An average game is a little over 200 moves. The second question can now be answered a little, thanks to an article in a recent Gekkan Go World.
You may wish to try timing yourself as a little test, maybe to tune the brain up for the autumn term or autumn season after the summer's excesses. This gives us a chance also to highlight a couple of other recent novelties.