The case of the missing moves

GoGoD began over ten years ago as a complete collection of the games of Go Seigen. Ever since then, though, we have discovered that "complete" is a dangerous word to use. That initial collection had 781 games. We now have 847.

Almost every trip to the bookshops of the Far East has yielded new games. Another trip this month (March 2007) gave us a new game with Oyama Toshiko in her Festschrift-cum-memoirs. Quite why it was missed in the main printed collections is unclear. It was played in 1937 for Igo Club and Oyama of course republished it, in 1980. Perhaps it was because Go was then going under the name Go Izumi.

We take more delight in finding new games of Go Seigen than of any other player, and so we naturally communicate the good news to each other as soon as possible. In this case that meant an e-mail from Tokyo to England. But what was doubly delightful was that an even more unusual discovery was being made back in England at the very same time.

Ploughing through his seemingly interminable pile of Oteai Bulletins, T Mark spotted a diagram out of sequence. It was a Go Seigen game tucked away behind the games of the B Section players. Investigation revealed that we had the game, but with only 138 moves.

In reality the game had 214 moves, but the editors of Round 3 of the 1936 Oteai Bulletin had boobed and omitted an entire diagram. It was reprinted in the Round 5 bulletin but it seems as if the compilers of Go's games had not thought to look at the back of the book when trawling through the old literature.

If you've ever wondered why Go's opponent, Miyasaka Shinji (the man who expected to succeed Honinbo Shusai), resigned in the following position, now you know - he didn't! And if you didn't wonder, well...!

It is not unusual for new moves to turn up in pre-20th century games, though even this number is rare. But for a modern game this is unprecedented in our experience.

Going back to the game with Oyama, that was on three stones and Go played his first move on the star point in the empty corner. That may not seem strange, but in fact out of 385 Japanese-style three-stone games in the GoGoD database, only 12 start like that (and 3 are by Go Seigen).

Anyway, all that that got us to thinking, and so we put together a small handful of some other oddities that have come our way recently.


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