Paths: <= Historic Meijin =>   ·   <= Honinbo =>
    Keywords: Culture & History, People

Honinbo Dosaku (本因坊道策)

Honinbo Dosaku (本因坊道策, Yamazaki Sanjiro, Hon'inbō Dōsaku, 1645–1702) was a Japanese professional go player from the Edo period. He became head of the Honinbo house in 1677 and Meijin Godokoro in 1678. He helped establish the professional ranking system and regularized the Castle Game system. His strength and pioneering theoretical work laid the foundations for the future prosperity of the Honinbo house and go. He was later conferred the title of Go Saint.

Born in Iwami, Shimane prefecture in 1645 under the name Yamazaki Sanjiro, he learned go at the age of seven, and became disciple of Honinbo Doetsu at the age of 15 or 16. At this point he acquired the name Dosaku. When Doetsu retired in 1677, Dosaku became the 4th head of the Honinbo house and was recommend for position of Meijin Godokoro. Prior to this, the Yasui house, under the leadership of Yasui II Sanchi (Meijin Godokoro from 1668–76), were the Honinbos’ main rival. However, in a unique event Dosaku was appointed Meijin Godokoro in 1678 without a single objection from the other Houses.[1][2][3]

At this time, there were no other players who could hold their own against Dosaku. Nevertheless, it was only after becoming Meijin-Godokoro that his skills would truly blossom. He became the master tactician in an era filled with strong tactical fighters, and could control the flow of a game through skillful sacrifices and brilliant tesujis. Tied to these features was his pioneering work in a kind of analysis called 'tewari,' innovation in the skill and strategy of amashi, and development of opening theory through the use of his famous three-space low pincer. Once incorporated, his strength was said have become about two-stones stronger than his nearest rivals.

Unfortunately, Dosaku appears to have never had the opportunity to demonstrate his full, mature strength in an even game. This meant that he was playing a large number of handicap games and rarely as Black. Additionally, his only two losses in the Castle Games appear to have been contrived for a one-point loss. Dosetsu was noted as saying that if he would take White in 100 games against Dosaku, he would lose all 100. Future generations would say he had developed the strength of a 13-dan (at the time each two rank difference meant a one stone handicap difference (source?)).


Honinbo Dosaku was known for instructing a wide range of influential pupils, including a group known as the Five Tigers (Hoshiai Hasseki, Inoue Dosetsu Inseki, Kumagai Honseki, Ogawa Doteki & Sakugen). He was even said to have had over 30-pupils living in at once.

Several of his star pupils also predeceased him: Hoshiai Hasseki (age 24), Kumagai Honseki? (23), Ogawa Doteki (21), and Sakugen (25), probably from tuberculosis.

List of Pupils:

English Commentaries

Date Opponent Resource
1668-07-10 Yasui Chitetsu Go Review Nov. 1970
1670-05-06 Kikugawa Yuseki Masterpieces of Handicap Go Vol. 2, Redmond's Reviews Episode 2
1670-10-31 YasuiChitetsu Redmond's Reviews Episode 4
1670-11-29 Yasui Santetsu II Go Review Summer 1974[4], Redmond's Reviews Episode 24
1674-08-30 Yasui Chitetsu Go World Iss. 11
1678-10-17 Fukuo Genko? Masterpieces of Handicap Go Vol. 2
1681-11-10 Honinbo Doetsu Go World Iss. 11
1682-05-24 Peichin Hamahika Go World Iss. 18
1682-12 Ogawa Doteki Appreciating Famous Games, Go World Iss. 5
1684-01-05 Yasui Shunchi Appreciating Famous Games
1687-12-12 Ogawa Doteki Go World Iss. 12
1688-1702 Hinaya Rippo? [5] Masterpieces of Handicap Go Vol. 1

[5] Hinaya Ryuho, painter. French Wikipedia has an article on him under the name Nonoguchi Ryuho. Rippo seems to be a misreading.

Games and Books

About 150 of his games are known today.

or in the archive [ext]


[1] Go World Iss. 11, pp. 63-5.

[2] [ext]

[3] Yasui II Sanchi feigned illness in order to avoid attending the meeting to elect Dosaku. Had Sanchi attended, then previous touchy relations with the Honinbos would have caused pressure for him to challenge Dosaku’s application, whom he knew would likely accept and win.

[4]This game is regarded as the first Tengen game.

  • Many of his games were only rediscovered in the 1990s.

Paths: <= Historic Meijin =>   ·   <= Honinbo =>
Dosaku last edited by Jono64a on July 18, 2024 - 19:38
RecentChanges · StartingPoints · About
Edit page ·Search · Related · Page info · Latest diff
[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library