Monday December 26, 2011
A scene featuring 3-dimensional go was spotted in Andromeda, the Canadian-American science fiction television series based on unused material by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, which ran from 2000 to 2005. “In the Double Helix episode there’s a scene where the captain is playing (starting at 5:27), not tri-level chess like Spock and Kirk, but rather tri-level go and they even refer to it as ‘go,’” reports Fr. Mark Lichtenstein of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Camp Hill, PA. “The game (portrayed) doesn’t look like a real game though. Not that tri-level go is a normal variant like 9×9 or 13×13.” There’s a last glimpse of the game in the first seconds of this clip as well.
Sunday November 13, 2011
Neal Stephenson’s new novel Reamde has a reference to go, reports Ken Parel-Sewell. “On an iPad in portrait mode, the reference starts on page 271. The section starts with the words ‘Like any Russian, Sokolov enjoyed a game of chess.’ The next paragraph then starts talking about go. ‘He had heard somewhere, though, that mathematically speaking, the game of Go was more difficult than chess…’ It goes on to use go as a metaphor for a particularly difficult situation this character has found himself in. It goes on for a few paragraphs. Check it out.” Stephenson’s speculative fiction novel, set in the present day, centers on the plight of a hostage and the ensuing efforts of family and new acquaintances to rescue her as various captors drag her about the globe. Topics covered range from online activities including gold farming and social networking to the criminal methods of the Russian Mafia and Islamic terrorists, according to Wikipedia’s post.
Saturday October 22, 2011
Les Lanphear reports that he spotted go in the 2010 China-Hong Hong epic mystery film “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.” “Toward the end of the movie there is a go board that seems to have 19 lines and colored pieces on the board,” says Lanphear. “The colored pieces seemed to be in the shape of chocolate kisses and in a translucent colored substance. One of the general’s was playing with someone. It was too short to determine if the setup was real or not.” Tsui Hark directed the fictional account of Di Renjie, one of the most celebrated officials of the Tang Dynasty and the basis for the character of Judge Dee, made famous in the West by Robert van Gulik, who wrote 17 new Judge Dee mysteries between 1946 and 1967.
Sunday September 25, 2011
E-Journal reader Michael Albert spotted go in Fist of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection), the 1972 Hong Kong martial arts film starring Bruce Lee in his second major film. “When a scene came up with a go board in it, I was a little skeptical at first,” says Albert, “but then after reviewing the scene a couple times — and watching to go board get thrown at someone’s face — I realized that I was seeing the real deal. A previous scene shows to people placing stones on the board. I can’t tell you if they were playing a real game or just placing random stones on the board.”
Sunday August 14, 2011
Go makes an appearance in Season 2 Episode 22 of Star Trek Enterprise, reports EJ reader Michael Rhone. In this episode, “Enterprise encounters the Vissians, a more technologically advanced species, and Trip finds himself transfixed on the fact the Vissians are a three-sexed species, befriending one of them with tragic results.”
Thursday July 28, 2011
“Episode 49 of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple said a little about go,” reports EJ reader Asa Euster. “Not much,” Euster adds, “the show was just using go as an example of a game of territory.” Kenichi is an anime based on the Japanese manga by Syun Matsuena.
Night Train is “a low-budget thriller about how greed can drive a person to do terrible things, and it features go!” writes Will Lockhart. “The film (starring Danny Glover, Leelee Sobieski and Steve Zahn and available on Netflix) takes place on an overnight train somewhere in Northern Europe. A man commits suicide by overdosing on pills, and when two other passengers and the conductor discover that he has a box containing precious jewels, they hatch a plan to dispose of a dead man’s body and take the box. The film periodically cuts back to two Asian men on the train, playing go, though the game looks like a fairly weak kyu game. Not only is there go in the movie, but its presence actually may be symbolic of the greed that overtakes the train passengers.”
Tuesday July 26, 2011
Danish E-Journal reader Martin Liechti spotted go in the new film Mr. Nice, a 2010 crime film – now in limited release in the U.S. – about Howard Marks, a notorious Welsh drug smuggler played by Rhys Ifans (a friend of Marks in real life) and also starring Crispin Glover and Chloë Sevigny. Liechti sent us this screenshot of a scene in which a woman is sitting by a goban. The Danish subtitle says: What’s that?
Sunday July 10, 2011
When Frank Lantz thinks about games, he doesn’t play around. Lantz teaches game design at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, the School of Visual Arts, and the New School. He created games for Cartoon Network, Lifetime TV, and VH1 before becoming becoming the co-founder and creative director of Area/Code. His writings on games, technology and culture have appeared in a variety of publications. In a recent lecture on “Go, Poker and the Sublime” at a game developers’ conference (click here to view online), Lantz declared that games are an art form on a par with music, literature and film, perhaps even “the most important art form of the 21st century. Describing go to his mostly non-playing audience, Lantz comes up with some remarkably well-turned phrases, explaining how “Go is good at teaching itself to you,” “. . . at the border of the discrete and the continuous,” “. . . thought made visible to itself.” I especially enjoyed his riff explaining why “light” is better than “heavy,” yet “thick” is better than “thin.” Lantz goes on with a similarly eloquent description of poker, which he finds to be about “the alchemical transformative power of greed.” Looking at both games together, Lantz sees a contrast with video games that dominate today’s market. Go, poker and similar pastimes are more abstract, less reliant on make-believe – in short, they are games that grownups also play. They are infinite – players do not reach an end point as in narrative-based adventure and role-playing games. He exhorts the game developers in the audience to think big: “I want a game that I can play my whole life, that I can teach my son, and he will play his whole life.” Mostly known for the iPhone app “Drop7,” Area/Code has pursued other innovative “social gaming” ideas such as Macon Money, an alternative currency “game” conducted in “RL” (real life) in Macon, GA; and Budgetball, a physical sport that also requires a certain degree of fiscal planning. In January, Area/Code was acquired by Zynga, the social gaming giant behind Facebook megahits such as Farmville and Mafia Wars, giving Lantz an even bigger arena in which to realize his dream. With its emphasis on building, cooperation and balance, go has much in common with social media games like Farmville and Cafe World (another Zynga biggie) with the added spice of life-and-death struggle. If Zynga’s next games have bit more of a competitive edge, perhaps we’ll know why . . .
- Roy Laird
Sunday July 3, 2011
If you need another reason to read David Mitchell’s spellbinding new novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, the game of go plays a key and major role in the story. Indeed, one entire section of the book is entitled “The Master of Go” and not only does go strategy drive part of the novel’s structure, but the game itself — in fact, a specific game, the board and pieces — play a dramatic role at the climax of the riveting novel. Thousand Autumns is more than just a terrific read, though. Mitchell has “meticulously reconstructed the lost world of Edo-era Japan, and in doing so he’s created his most conventional but most emotionally engaging novel yet,” wrote Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times. Set in atmospheric coastal Japan, this epic story centers on an earnest young Dutch clerk, Jacob de Zoet, who arrives in the summer of 1799 to make his fortune and return to Holland to wed his fiancée. But Jacob’s plans are shaken when he meets the daughter of a Samurai. Thousand Autumns is now out in paperback, as well as available as an e-book.
Saturday June 25, 2011
Yojiro Takita’s next film has an interesting historical connection to the game of go. Takita (r) – who won an Oscar in 2009 for Okuribito (Departures) – is adapting the novel ‘Tenchi Meisastsu,’ about a 17th century astronomer and mathematician. The film is an adaptation of To Ubukata’s novel of the same name, based on the life of Shibukawa, who later took on the name of his father, champion go player Yasui Santetsu, first head of the Yasui house. The novel has won literary awards in Japan on its way to selling 380,000 copies. It was published by Kadokawa, which is collaborating with Shochiku on the movie. Tenchi Meisastsu — which roughly translates as “insights into the universe” — is being shot at Shochiku’s Kyoto studio until the middle of August, and is slated for an autumn 2012 release.
- based on Gavin J. Blair’s story in The Hollywood Reporter, with thanks to Ramon Mercado for spotting the reference.