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A Promising Year for Go Ahead


2018 is the year of the dog. This designation originated in Chinese culture, but the Japanese and Koreans, among others, also honor the tradition. My Japanese ex-wife was born in the year of the dog, and felt a special affinity with dogs because of that. (I was born in the year of the dragon, so I do not know what I should feel an affinity for. On the other hand, in terms of astrology I am a Gemini, the Twins, and I worry that it is an indication of a tendency towards a split personality, but…) President Donald Trump was also born in the year of the dog, although ironically among all of the American presidents up to now, he is the only one who does not have dogs as pets.

However, none of this has anything to do with go. Every new year in the go world brings about fresh hopes and dreams. All players hope to improve at go, and dream of leaping up through the ranks. I would like to break out of the slump I have been in after stopping to play for ten years. I am starting to get back into form, but I still make foolish mistakes due to that lack of practice. I have been translating a lot of go material lately to try to rectify that. Visitors to GoWizardry will surely enjoy seeing this new work.

I also plan to spend a lot more time in Japan in the coming year. The first item on my agenda when I get to Tokyo is to visit the Nihon Ki-in (Japanese Go Association) in the Ichigaya section of the city, just a few blocks from the Emperor’s Palace in the center of Tokyo. I will renew acquaintances there and see what I can do to make resources of the Ki-in available to go players in the United States and in the West.

In case the reader wonders what kind of resources there are, it is suggested that the Nihon Ki-in’s website be visited. The English language section is so poorly written as to make one wonder if the organization has access to anyone who has an adequate command of English at all. This is not an idle thought. Not only is there fantastic professional guidance available through the Ki-in in terms of direct, personal tutoring and written study material about go, but the Ki-in takes great pains to promote go throughout the world. It provided funds to establish the Seattle Go Center, which is thriving, but did the same in New York. The latter go center failed due to lack of support by the American Go Association (AGA) and the go community there. However, the Ki-in is still determined to establish a go center in the eastern region of the United States, perhaps in the Washington, D.C. or Baltimore, Maryland area. Those plans might be finalized in 2018.


One of the exciting possibilities in prospect for me is meeting the most successful Japanese professional go player on the scene today, Yuta Iyama. He is now the possessor of all seven of the major Japanese go titles, Kisei, Meijin, Honinbo, 10 Dan, Gosei, Oza and Tengen, plus the NHK Cup lightning go television championship. That is quite an accomplishment, and Iyama is the only player ever to do so simultaneously in one year. Not only that, but this is the second time he has managed to accomplish the feat. Consequently, it will be interesting to meet him and discuss his perspectives about go. I hope to interview him on videotape and offer that via a new feature on the GoWizardry website.

Naturally, anyone who takes the game of go as seriously as I do would be eager to meet someone such as Iyama with the same interests in common. But there is something else that we have in common: we were born on the same day, May 24. That is an interesting coincidence, but it goes even deeper than that. Iyama’s wife, Io Murota, a professional shogi player, was also born on the same day! And my Japanese ex-wife was born on that day as well! So there is no wonder that I feel a kinship with Iyama.

In regards to Iyama’s play on the board, all through 2017 I eagerly followed his quest to win the 42nd Annual Meijin League and then recapture the Meijin title that he had lost to Shinji Takao. Those who have followed my career publishing go books know that in 2005 Hinoki Press published my translation of “Takao’s Astute Use of Brute Force.” (The Japanese title is “Takao’s Rikigaku [力学].” This word, 力学, if one were to encounter it without knowing the actual definition, might think that it means “power (力) science (学),” but it actually means, “dynamics.” However, I did not think that the word “dynamics” would convey much to go players looking for an interesting book to study.) Takao is one of the finest players of his generation, which includes Naoki Hane and Keigo Yamashita, and Iyama has met all of them over the board. With any luck, I will also be able to meet them.

In addition, I have spent a lot of time over the years with Michael Redmond 9 dan and I welcome an opportunity to meet him again to discuss various matters.

And as a professional Japanese interpreter and translator, there are other possibilities that I would like to explore. One thing in particular that I would like to do is to produce a video to explain the basic rules of go to people who know nothing about the game. Twenty years ago when the AGA was given a million dollars by the Nihon Ki-in to promote go, I presented a plan, along with a budget, for producing a videotape along these lines. The AGA ignored my proposal, not even deigning to give me the courtesy of a reply. Did the AGA do anything of lasting value with that million dollars? Nothing that I can see.

The Nihon Ki-in also prints and distributes a tabloid-size publication, Go Weekly. I would like to make that available in English. I have been exploring various ways of doing that, including using Computer Assisted Translation software to simplify the formidable translation work required, and in furtherance of that intention, I have examined the CAT software products on the market. Since there are many technical terms that are used in Go Weekly, there are surely ways to do that, such as creating a glossary of go terms the program can access. But doing that requires working closely with the Editorial Department of the Nihon Ki-in.

This is an ambitious agenda, but I look forward to taking up the challenge. I hope the reader has a similar agenda in prospect to make the New Year a productive and prosperous one.

Those who wish to comment on the opinions expressed here may send their thoughts to info@GoWizardry.com. The most interesting responses will be addressed in future postings.

Robert J. Terry

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