American Go E-Journal » Go Spotting

Go Spotting: Fujisawa Shuko Documentary

Monday November 4, 2013

E-Journal reader Zhiping You sent us a link to a terrific 2009 NHK documentary about Fujisawa Shuko that’s been posted on YouTube with English narration. The 26-minute video provides an excellent overview of Fujisawa’s fascinating life, with an emphasis on his role as a stern but inspirational teacher for many top players.

One of the best players of his era, Fujisawa was one of the “Three Crows” along with Toshiro Yamabe and Suzuki Keizo (and later Kajiwara Takeo). Even though he was known for controversial acts, such as a drinking habit, his go skill shone through. Besides go, he was known for gambling and was a successful real estate dealer. He was also known for his calligraphy and had several exhibits of his works.

Fujisawa, a student of Fukuda Masayoshi, began studying at the Nihon Kiin in 1934 and turned pro in 1940. Although he struggled at first, taking 23 years to reach 9 dan, he started a title run in the early 1960′s, continuing through the 70′s and 80′s. He won his first major title in 1962, the Meijin. He then won two Asahi Pro Best Ten titles in 1965 and 1968. He held the Oza for three consecutive years from 1967 to 1969. The same year that he lost the Oza, he won the NHK Cup. The Meijin title was Fujisawa’s again when he won it in 1970. He then went on a dry streak of titles. By 1976, he won his first title since the Meijin in 1970, the Tengen.

Perhaps the crowning achievement of his go career was winning the Kisei title on its inception in 1976, at the relatively advanced age of 51, and holding it for 6 straight years from 1976 to 1982. By 1980, nobody thought anyone else but Fujisawa would win the Kisei, but that was silenced when he finally lost it to Cho Chikun in 1982. He won the first three games, controlling each and every move Cho made. It looked like Fujisawa would hold the Kisei for the 7th year in a row, but Cho fought back and won four games, Fujisawa making a blunder in a winning position in the seventh game. After his run of consecutive Kisei titles, the Japanese Nihon Ki-in awarded him Honorary Kisei. He is known to play a very flexible fuseki but infamous in making errors, or poka later in the game.

Fujisawa was getting old now, and wouldn’t win another title until ten years later. Again he won the Oza and held it for two years at the age of 67. He had set a record for the oldest player to defend a title, a record which still stands to this day. In October of 1998, he decided to retire from the Go world at the age of 74. The following year Fujisawa was expelled from the Nihon Ki-in for selling unsanctioned rank diplomas to amateurs in protest against what he considered improper Ki-in policies. In June, 2003, the dispute was resolved and Fujisawa was reinstated in the Ki-in. Fujisawa died on May 8, 2009.
- report based on the YouTube video text

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Go Spotting: Distinguishing Between Skill and Luck on LinkedIn

Friday October 25, 2013

“How often do you gamble on behalf of your company?” wonders Bill Pieroni, Global Chief Operating Officer at Marsh in his October 11 post on LinkedIn. “It probably occurs more often than you think. The outcomes of most actions are often dependent on a combination of skill and luck. Skill involves impacting the outcome in a purposeful and measurable way. Luck dominates when an outcome is based on random, uncontrollable factors. It is useful to think about skill and luck on a continuum. For example, Wéiqí, a game of strategy, is dominated by skill, while winning the lottery is based on luck.”

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Go Spotting: “The Math Book”

Thursday October 24, 2013

Kelsey Dyer was “pleasantly surprised to find go” mentioned in Clifford A. Pickover’s “The Math Book,” which chronicles discoveries and advances in mathematics throughout history. Picover “gives a rundown of the object of the game and its mathematical facets” and Dyer says that his favorite line is “While powerful chess software is capable of defeating top chess players, the best Go programs often lose to skillful children.”

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Go Spotting: Videodrome & Mishima

Tuesday October 1, 2013

“I recently spotted the appearance of go boards in two films, ‘Videodrome’ and ‘Mishima’” writes Deke Gould. “Here are screenshots and approximate times in each film.”

32:00 in David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome”: there appears to be a folding go board buried on Max Ren’s coffee table, partially exposed.

23:28 in Paul Schrader’s “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters”: during the “Temple of the Golden Pavilion” segment.

 

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Go Spotting: “So simple, yet so deep”

Saturday September 28, 2013

“This is the pinnacle of game design. So simple, yet so deep.” “This was on the front page of (Reddit’s) r/gaming today,” reported djedi25 on September 28. “Expect a spike in go searches! There’s also a discussion going on here”

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Go Spotting: Ken Liu’s Mono no aware

Wednesday September 25, 2013

“Issue #37 of Lightspeed (an online fantasy & science fiction magazine) contains a short story by Ken Liu, Mono no aware, in which go plays a big part,” reports Ronald White. “A quote from the story: ‘Individual stones are not heroes, but all the stones together are heroic.’” The story was originally published in The Future is Japanese, a book of science fiction stories about Japan. 

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Go Spotting: The Key to Nintendo’s Success?

Saturday September 21, 2013

Hiroshi Yamauchi transformed Nintendo from a small maker of traditional Japanese playing cards into to a manufacturer of gaming consoles and software that delivered Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong into living rooms around the world.Yet “For all his success in popularizing computer games,” reported the Wall Street Journal, Yamauchi — who died on September 19 at age 85 — “didn’t play them much. He preferred the decidedly classical board game of Go, in which a player seeks to outwit and encircle his opponent.” Thanks to Fred Baldwin for passing this along. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images photo courtesy WSJ

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Go Spotting: New xkcd Comic

Wednesday September 11, 2013

Go was just featured again on xkcd, a popular web comic among mathematicians and physicists. Thanks to everyone who passed this along.

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Go Spotting: Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland

Sunday September 1, 2013

by Roger Schrag
On the way to Tacoma for the US Go Congress last month, we stopped for a few days in Portland, OR. Among other places we visited the Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown, claimed to be the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China. I had been here before – in 2008 while attending that year’s US Go Congress. A few of the displays had changed in the intervening five years, including this scene in the Scholar’s Study. According to the garden’s tour, this is a place “where the men of the family studied for civil service exams that would ensure the family’s prosperity. It served as a place of comfort for writing poetry, practicing calligraphy, reading and admiring art.” Is the position on the go board viable? How strong were the players? You be the judge.

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Go Spotting: Seattle Asian Art Museum

Thursday August 22, 2013

These go players are part of a new display at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Thanks to SAM curator Pam McClusky  for passing this along.

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