American Go E-Journal » Your Move: Readers Write

Your Move: Famous Quote Mystery Deepens

Saturday November 28, 2015

The mystery deepens about the source of the quote about “if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play go”2015.11.27_Brettspiele der Völker (“Who Really Said Famous Go Quote? 11/21 EJ).

“I was a friend of Ed Lasker in the latter part of his life (we played chess together – I wasn’t playing go then),” writes Mike Ryan. “Although he told me a fair amount about his involvement with go, and various things he and his cousin Emmanuel did in that respect, he never once mentioned that quoted idea. I tend to think that neither he nor Emmanuel said that.”

Thomas Rohde in Germany thought that he’d tracked the quote to Emanuel Lasker’s 1930 book “Brettspiele der Völker: Rätsel- und Mathematische Spiele” (“Board Games of the Peoples – Riddles and Mathematical Games”), but had to order a copy of the book to confirm it. Meanwhile Erwin Gerstorfer, who has “Brettspiele der Voelker” in his collection “checked the complete chapter about Go (as well as the introduction chapter) and if I did not overlook something, then there is unfortunately no reference to the quote that we are interested in.” When Rohde’s copy arrived he confirmed that the quote isn’t there but in an online history of European go he found a reference to Emanuel Lasker that reads “In another publication he says: When there are other intelligent beings in the universe, than they maybe know chess, but surely Go.” “I wonder which ‘other publication’ this may be,” says Rohde.

“This is the original German quote,” Rohde adds: “Wenn es im Universum noch irgendwo intelligente Lebewesen gibt, dann kennen sie vielleicht Schach, höchstwahrscheinlich jedoch Go,” which Rohde translates as “If somewhere in the universe there are [other] intelligent beings, then maybe they know Chess, but most probably [they know] Go.”



Your Move/Readers Write: Who Really Said Famous Go Quote?

Saturday November 21, 2015

“I am a member of the AGA and enjoy your E-Journal,” writes François Lorrain. “I wonder about this often cited quotation: “While the Baroque rules of chess could only have been created by humans, the rules of go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play go.” which your go quotes page  attributes to Edward Lasker. I have searched far and wide and have never been able to find the source of this quotation. It isn’t from Lasker’s Go and Go-Moku; neither is it from Lasker’s Chess Secrets I Learned from the Masters,”which I read recently. Nor is it in Chess Strategy or in Chess and Checkers: the Way to Mastership. Could the quote be from the other Lasker, Emanuel, also a go-playing chess master? It isn’t in Chess Quotes by Emanuel Lasker, though AZ Quotes attributes the quote to Emanuel Lasker, but without any source. Would anybody you know have any idea about the source of this quote?”
Our best go expert sources — Peter Shotwell, Richard Bozulich and Erwin Gerstorfer — have not been able to track down a definitive attribution for this quote. A prize awaits whoever can do so; email us at


Your Move/Readers Write: McCallister, Not Boz; More Levels in Go Than Poker

Thursday November 12, 2015

McCallister, Not Boz: “Thanks for the interesting update about Kiseido (Bozulich Brings It All Together in New “Encyclopedia of Go 2015.11.11_einstein_go-goPrinciples” 11/11 EJ),” writes Frank B. “FYI the essay ‘Einstein and Go‘  was not written by Bozulich; it is by Robert A. McCallister.”
Graphic from the Science is Everywhere ‘Einstein a Go Go’ radio show in Melbourne, Australia, which — as far as we know, has nothing to do with the game of go, we just like it and think it works here.  

More Levels in Go Than Poker: “Notice that I have left the question mark off the subject line,” writes Roland Crowl, in response to More Levels in Go Than Poker? (11/8 EJ). “Many (~20-25) years ago I saw a rating of game complexity based a level being distinguished from the next level by one player being able to beat the other 75% of the time. Most games – poker in multiple disguises, backgammon, checkers (draughts for our British friends) – came in at about 3-4 levels, chess was 12, and go was 19 all to the best of my recollection.”


Your Move/Readers Write: Go Book Found; E-Journal Archives

Sunday October 18, 2015

Go Book Found: In response to a recent query, Richard Bozulich writes that “The book this gentleman is most likely saw was The Go Player’s 2015.10.18_go-players-almanacAlmanac 2001published by Kiseido.

E-Journal Archives: “Are old ejournal email attachments available in an archival area?” wonders Richard Solberg. “I am interested in looking at some of these in my studies.”
The general EJ archives are in two locations: the 2008-2015 archive is here, while older E-Journals — 2004-2008 — are here. Neither archive includes member’s edition content.



Your Move/Readers Write: A chess players discovers iGo; Searching for a go book:

Monday September 28, 2015

A chess player discovers go: “I was a chess player my whole life,” writes David Coffin. “I’m 31 years old and just starting out in the game of 2015.09.28_Cambodian_Chess_with_Western_setiGo. I call the game iGo cause I heard the Japanese call it iGo. I am amazed by the depth of the tactics in this game. It’s this tactical thinking and the great tradition of the game that keep me coming back. I’ve read a couple of the Janice Kim books and plan on finishing her series. I get the American Go eJournal every day and read about the game. Thanks for your commitment to this board game.”
We love to hear from readers! Write us at

Searching for a go book: “I discovered go in a local bookstore in Cleveland, where I also found a board and pieces, in a classic games book for kids,” writes Sharon Cenna. “The shelf also contained a wonderful, hard -back, oversized volume, with history of go in Asia, including many interesting art reproductions.It was quite large, with many pages. I couldn’t afford it at the time, circa 2006, and I’m trying to locate it now. If anyone knows which book this is, and where to find it, I would deeply appreciate any help you might offer.”
Email any tips/suggestions to


Your Move/Readers Write: Honinbo Sansa’s deathbed poem

Wednesday September 16, 2015

“Here is an example of another kind of verse, a famous kyoka (mad poem) attributed to Sansa, the first Honinbo and founder of that line,” 2015.09.16_Honinbo_Sansawrites Keith Arnold in response to Paul Celmer’s recent query (Searching for a literary go reference 9/9 EJ). “He is said to have composed it on his deathbed, which would date it at 1623. As a demonstration, perhaps, of mu-shin, and not without a touch of grim humor, he makes his own imminent death the subject.”

Go narabaya
ko ni mo tatete
iku beki wo
shinuru michi ni wa
te hitotsu mo nashi

If this were go
I’d start a ko fight
and surely live,
but on the road to death
there’s no move left at all.

This is from an article, Some Senryu about Go by William Pinckard who often contributed to Go World.  I found it on the Kiseido site, but I suspect it was originally published in Go World 15 and in the second edition of the Go Almanac.”
(Thanks also to Peter Schumer, who also sent in this poem)


Your Move/Readers Write: Kudos for Swift Ratings

Tuesday August 25, 2015

Kudos for Swift Ratings: “I’ve complained before about the timeliness of ratings updates, so let me be the first to compliment those responsible for getting it done swiftly this year,” writes Brady Daniels.
The following US Go Congress tournaments have now been rated: US Open, US Open Masters, Congress Self-Paired, Congress DieHard and Congress 
U16 AGA Girls’ Championship. Click here for latest ratings.


Your Move/Readers Write: Where Was Ben?

Tuesday August 18, 2015

Where Was Ben? “I enjoyed reading your story about Lockhart’s win,” writes Ted Terpstra. “But the story failed to say where the competition 2015.08.18_ben-lockhartwas held and where the next round will be. It is always interesting to read where our American players are playing.”
The prelim was in Seoul, Korea; the next stage starts on 9/7 in Beijing, China.

Your Move/Readers Write: No Japanese Pros?

Tuesday June 16, 2015

No Japanese Pros? “I see the E-Journal is reporting the pros coming to the Go Congress (Top Pros Confirm for US Go Congress 6/8)” writes Bill Chiles.  “I’m a bit shocked there are no Japanese pros coming.  Why is that?!  Maeda Sensei is almost always there at the very least.”
We should have specified that this was a preliminary list; the Nihon Kiin and Kansai Kiin in Japan and KBA in Korea have not yet provided the names of their pros who will be in attendance.

About the Liebniz piece: “Most of this information about Leibniz’s acquaintance with go (Go Spotting: Leibniz calls go “ingenious and quite difficult” 6/11) can be found in The Go Player’s Almanac (2001) in Jaap K. Blom’s essay, Go in the West in the 18th Century, pages 38 to 42,” writes Richard Bozulich from Kiseido.

Your Move/Readers Write: Portable Go Board?

Sunday May 24, 2015

Portable Go Board? “What kind of goban are the kids in your Chicago tournament story (Chicago Kids Compete in First Tourney 5/21 EJ) using?” writes Chris Uzal.2015.05.21-Chi-kids-cropped “Who makes it? And how did they make stones for it? It looks perfect. Right size for a backpack and a place for your fingers if you have to move the board. We need more of these in the United States and Europe. The traditional board size is due for a break in tradition.”
Small magnetic sets like that are readily available in the US.  Yellow Mountain and Yutopian both carry them.