Sun 18 Nov 2007
I have a book on loan from my friend Bob entitled The Theory And Practice of Go, which is a translation from an original German treatise by O. Korschelt. Korschelt was an German engineer of one sort or another, accounts differ on what precisely he did while in Japan for over 20 years. He was employed by the Meiji Government to help Japan modernize during the early 1860′s. Chemistry, soil improvement, and so on…
Korschelt also fancied himself a writer, as he wrote many other “articles” (and I mean this in the classical sense, these works are more like brief outlines for a book or a masters thesis!) about diverse topics like Fortune Telling, Sake, and Lacquer. His book is also a counterpoint to another famous Go book, Hoen Shinpo, which was written by Honinbo Shuho. A man some call the father of Western Go, Honinbo Shuho (1838 ~ 1886) was the teacher of Korschelt while he was in Japan, and tutored him through what Korschelt describes as the “tedious elementary stages of the game” and “got on far enough to see what an excellent game Go really is and that its level of skill is a challenge to chess”. I was particularly fond of this passage from his book:
“Rather than being the image of a single struggle as in chess, Go is much more like the panorama of an entire campaign or complex theater of war. And so it is more like modern warfare where strategic mass movements are the ultimate determinants of victory. … As in modern warfare, direct combat, without supporting tactics, rarely occurs. In fact, to engage too soon in direct combat frequently spells defeat. Comprehensive strategy and only comprehensive strategy makes victory certain.” (emphasis mine)
This book has been source material for a large number of other key books to appear in English, developing and nuturing a growing population of interested Westerners in what has been until recent times a very Eastern tradition. Korschalt was writing in German, and his treatise on Go was rescued from the aging public record via microfilm made by the Library of Congress for the translators, under the title: DAS “GO” -SPIEL by The German Eastern-Asia Society. The Society was established in 1873 to study “the countries and peoples of East Asia and to promote in the world a knowledge of these.” Samuel King and George Leckie translated , supplemented, and retitled the work “The Theory And Practice Of Go” in order to better align the body of work with its given name in 1963.
The original source material could be considered public domain by now, although I have done absolutely no research into the matter whatsoever… I will be taking this book, as well as Technician Class: FCC License Preparation for Element 2 Technician Class Theory by Gordon West on vacation to see my family this week. I think sometimes I must have the most boring vacation reading of anyone on the planet, with the exception of investment bankers or political lobbyists.
I also went out of my way today to make sure to purchase my laptop in the “Give 1 Get 1” program being run by the OLPC foundation. You’d never guess, but I think it would be a neat idea to make a Go playing client for this device. I put up a thread about it on GoDiscussions.com back when the program was announced in October, but it turned into a much more heated discussion than originally intended and I stopped reading there as much. Anyway, The tablet layout as well as the mesh networking are both stand out features for a Go computer, and now I will have the chance to try working with both in developing an interface. If you are feeling charitable this holiday season and you have a budget for it, I could definitely recommend this particular group (the OLPC Foundation) for your donation, whether you want the hardware yourself or not. I will write about it here when I receive the equipment and let you know how it goes… There are already great open source projects available in Fedora 8 (I have an install DVD of this I just burned) that allow playing many board-style games, but the XO Laptops shown here run a modified interface in Linux known as Sugar which I will have to learn if I wish to contribute to the project.
Until next time, take care.
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