Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Brillance of Go Seigen

After a long and spectacular life, Mr. Go Seigen (吴清源) passed away at the grand age of 100.

When I first read about his Ju-Bang-Go stories, I did not play Go yet. I couldn't help but wonder: what are these players spending 10+ hours a day, staring at the 19x19 board thinking about?

In the late 90's, I watched a Chinese TV documentary about 80+ years old Wu visiting his family house in Fujian, which he had left in childhood. It is very touchy to see Wu introducing himself gently to occupants of the house who were all strangers.

There are too many brilliant moments in Go Seigen's games. I remember two in particular.

Go Seigen taking white against Rin Haiho in Meijin league in 1963. There are more black stones than white stones on the right side. White's 1-3-5 moves seem random walking, to me anyways.

Continued from previous diagram. White's random walk continues, and it's still very hard to understand. What white achieves in the game is astonishing: even though white has fewer stones, through global correlation, white is able to pressure 4 black groups: two in the bottom, right and upper right corner! Any mistake by black is the result of great pressures from white's "global attacks". It is hard to imagine how much white has read and planned, from a peaceful and simple state in the game.

Go Seigen taking white against Sakata Eio in game 7 of their Ju-Bang-Go. Most people would feel upset when black triangle move gets the vital point and limits white's moyo. White 1/3 moves are pure stroke of genius. You may have exercised all the problems in Igo Hatsuyoron, but do you have such imagination?

Most would agree that Go's dedication to the game and his pure mind contributed to his longevity. If there is only one Saint out of Go players of all times, it has to be him. RIP Go Sensei!