American Go E-Journal » Go Spotting

GO SPOTTING: “Dangerous Moves,” “Taste of Tea” & “Sanjuro”

Monday January 17, 2011

Recent go spottings in films by EJ readers include Dangerous Moves,  a 1984 French film (La Diagonale de fou) about a couple of chess grandmasters. “At minute 20, the elder is shown in the evening playing go with someone,” reports Bob Barber. “The board position looks quite cluttered, and they seem to be placing stones at random while talking.” And None Redmond just saw A Taste of Tea, a 2004 film directed by Katsuhito Ishii that features go as a major part of the plot and has been called a “surreal” version of Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander. EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock recently rediscovered Sanjuro, the great 1962 Akira Kurosawa film starring the magnificent Toshirō Mifune (r) in an exciting – and quite funny — sequel to Yojimbo, with Mifune reprising his role as a wandering ronin who in one scene halfway through the film naps next to a goban and then perches atop it to instruct his young samurai. All three films are available on Netflix.

Categories: Go Art,Go Spotting

Tron, Captured

Thursday December 23, 2010

The appearance of go in Tron: Legacy (GO SPOTTING: Tron: a Legacy of Go 12/20) has generated a lot of excitement and email from the go community. Several EJ readers sent in screencaps of the board position in the game (r). “It definitely looks like an actual amateur game, with 103 moves, black to play,” writes Linden Chiu, who notes that it doesn’t match any pro games in his database. “White seems to have an overwhelming lead in territory, especially with black’s top left group having only one eye. There’s some aji in the bottom left, and I think black’s corner group there can live in gote, but the moyo potential on the right is too thin. The black stone on the edge of the top right corner seems to have been moved a line, as I’m guessing it was originally an atari.” If anyone has insight into how the game wound up in the movie, let us know at

GO SPOTTING: Tron: a Legacy of Go

Monday December 20, 2010

Go makes a brief appearance in the new movie Tron: Legacy. “One of the players comments to an observer that her opponent’s patience usually overcomes her more aggressive strategy,” reports reader Alicia Seifrid. “What a great movie to incorporate go into!” The game’s being played on “a nice floor board,” adds Alf Mikula, “it was too quick to get a good grasp of the position, but it did look like a real game in progress.” Thanks to everyone who passed along this sighting!

GO SPOTTING: Go Makes Quiz Show

Monday December 13, 2010

The Double Jeopardy round of the quiz show Jeopardy for Monday December 13 had go as one of its categories, reports Joel Sanet. “The head of the column had a go grid and stones in the background,” Sanet told the E-Journal. “The answers in ascending order of value were China, black, samurai, atari, and liberties. The clues are left as an exercise for the student.”

YOUR MOVE/Readers Write: The Return of the Elegant Hedgehog

Sunday October 24, 2010

The Return of the Elegant Hedgehog: “I suppose that by now, everyone knows that in the recent best selling book The Elegance of the Hedgehog there is a mention of the game go as well as Hikaru No Go and The Girl Who Played Go,” writes None Redmond.
Though we did report this previously (GO SPOTTING: The Elegance of the Hedgehog 5/4/2010), it’s worth noting again. The mention is on pages 112-114 of Muriel Barberry’s captivating, lovely and philosophical novel, and includes this passage: “Any game where the goal is to build territory has to be beautiful. There may be phases of combat, but they are only the means to an end, to allow your territory to survive. One of the most extraordinary aspects of the game of go is that it has been proven that in order to win, you must live, but you must also allow the other player to live. Players who are too greedy will lose; it’s a subtle game of equilibrium, where you have to get ahead without crushing the other player. In the end, life and death are only the consequences of how well or poorly you’ve made your construction. This is what one of Taniguchi’s characters says: you live, you die, these are consequences. It’s a proverb for playing go, and for life.”

GO SPOTTING: A Thousand Plateaus

Monday June 21, 2010

”In chapter 12 of their book A Thousand Plateaus- Capitalism and Schizophrenia,” Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari use go in opposition to chess as a model to begin describing their concept of ‘nomadology’  (pp.352-53),” writes Marc Willhite. “Not the lightest reading to be sure, but it certainly gave me a new appreciation for the qualities that make go the confounding and fascinating game that it is.”

Categories: Go Art,Go Spotting

GO SPOTTING: ‘The Warlords’

Sunday May 23, 2010

“Recently I went to see the movie ‘The Warlords’ at a local arts movie house,” writes Les Lanphear III in San Diego, CA. “It was shot in China and Hong Kong in 2007. Of course there are battles and martial arts and a love triangle. Toward the end two of the Emperors’ officials are talking while playing go. They play a few moves but too quickly for me to get a layout of the position. The movie is set in the 1860s during the Taiping Rebellion.”

Categories: Go Art,Go Spotting

GO SPOTTING: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Tuesday May 4, 2010

”Chapter 15 of Muriel Barbery’s engaging novel ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ has an argument about the basics of go,” writes Franklyn L. Bullard. Hal Small adds that the 2006 French novel “presents an overview and a very accurate description of the nature of our beloved game.  It’s also a drop-dead funny book with scathing social commentary.”

Categories: Go Art,Go Spotting

Go Spotting: More Go Behind Bars

Monday February 22, 2010

Another tale of go behind bars – this one from Poland – comes from E-Journal European Correspondent Peter Dijkema. Seems that Slawomir Sikora picked up the game while serving a 25-year prison sentence for the brutal 1994 murders of two men who were blackmailing him and his business partner. The case became world-famous when the film “Dlug (The Debt)” came out in 1999. According to Dijkema’s sources (his wife is a Polish journalist), after learning go from a book his mother gave him in prison, Sikora and his fellow inmates made their own sets out of cardboard and paper, and when he soon had his cell-mates taking serious handicaps, they concluded he was the dan-player, while they were weak kyu’s. The film helped Sikora become a hero in the eyes of many and he was freed in 2005, pardoned by the President of Poland after many prominent Poles signed a petition on Sikora’s behalf. “We do not know of any of his games outside jail, nor how his dan-level would match up on the Polish ranking list,” Dijkema reports. Click here to read more about the case.

Categories: Go Spotting

Go Spotting: The Taste Of Tea

Monday February 8, 2010

Go figures prominently in Katsuhito Ishii’s 2004 film, The Taste of Tea (Cha no Aji). “Although go is not the only focus of the film, it is one of its essential ingredients and appears more often than in other films like Pi and A Beautiful Mind,” reports Pete Schumer. “It’s worth checking out!” According to Wikipedia, “The film is concerned with the lives of the Haruno family, who live in rural Tochigi prefecture, the countryside north of Tokyo. Nobuo is a hypnotherapist who teaches his son, Hajime, to play go. Hajime becomes an excellent go player, but he has a rough time with girls and puberty. Nobuo’s wife, Yoshiko refuses to be an average housewife, and works on animated film projects at home. She uses assistance from Grandfather Akira, an eccentric old man who is a former animator and occasional model. Uncle Ayano, a sound engineer and record producer, moves in with the family. He is looking to restart his life again after living in Tokyo for several years. Meanwhile, Yoshiko’s daughter Sachiko, believes that she is followed around everywhere by a giant version of herself, and searches for ways to rid herself of it.” “Katsuhito also directed the film Promises of August (1995) and Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (1999) as well as providing some animation in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill vol. I,” adds Schumer.

Categories: Go Spotting