Jared Beck / Development Of Go - Early History

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Following is my research on Development Of Go

(c. 700) Kibi no Makibi

Go was probably brought to Japan from Korea by artists, scholars and former officials who migrated to Japan to escape political turmoil in their own land. There are no written records verifying the precise date of Go's introduction into Japan, but according to the "Records of the Sui," the chronicle of a Chinese dynasty (597-618), Go was one of the three major pastimes enjoyed by early 7th-century Japanese (the other two were backgammon and gambling). (Bozulich, 1999)

In contrast to the documentary evidence from Chinese historical records, the popular belief in Japan is that Go was brought directly from China in the year 735 by Kibi no Makibi, popularly known as Grand Minister Kibi. He was sent to the Tang capital of Chang-an with a commission from Emperor Shomu's daughter, who succeeded to her father's throne as the Empress Koken, to bring the best of Tang learning back to Japan. After 18 years in China, Kibi returned with a cargo of artifacts representing his choice of the best of Chinese culture. He also brought back a knowledge of Go. (Bozulich, 1999)

While Go was undoubtedly one of many games enjoyed by the upper classes of early 7th-century Japan before Kibi's return from Chang-an, it is probable that when he informed those at the Imperial court of Go's popularity at the Tang court, Go was elevated to a special status, resulting in its establishment as a game worthy of the Japanese nobility. It is safe to say that while Kibi did not introduce Go to Japan, he was responsible for its achieving the great prestige it has enjoyed here. (Bozulich, 1999)

(1559) Honinbo Sansa

In 1588, Nobunaga's successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, organized a large-scale competition to systematize the rankings of Go players. Nikkai, a high-ranking Buddhist monk, who was Nobunaga's Go teacher, won this competition and Hideyoshi decreed that from then on all other players should take black or a larger handicap from him. Nikkai was also awarded a stipend which began the government patronage that enabled Go to flourish in Japan. (Bozulich, 1999)

(c. 1600) The Four Houses

At the beginning of the 17th century, four Go houses were established: the Honinbo (of which Nikkai became the head, changing his name to Honinbo Sansa), Inoue, Yasui and Hayashi. These houses competed in the search for the most talented players and devoted great effort to the study and development of Go theory and technique in order to surpass each other. Around the same time, in 1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu united Japan under the Tokugawa Shogunate. His government awarded stipends to the four Go houses, established the office of Godokoro, held by Honinbo Sansa until his death in 1623, and instituted the annual Castle Games played in the presence of the shogun. (Bozulich, 1999)

(1612-1940) Historic Meijin

The 10 who held the Meijin title prior to the 1960s tournament title:

 1. Honinbo Sansa         1612-1623
 2. Inoue Nakamura Doseki 1623-1630
 3. Yasui Sanchi          1668-1676
 4. Honinbo Dosaku        1677-1702
 5. Inoue Dosetsu Inseki  1708-1719
 6. Honinbo Dochi         1721-1727
 7. Honinbo Satsugen      1767-1788
 8. Honinbo Jowa          1831-1839
 9. Honinbo Shuei         1906-1907 *
10. Honinbo Shusai        1914-1940 *
   * Shuei and Shusai were Meijin, though by the time they achieved such status, the Godokoro had been abolished (1868).

There were also several Jun-Meijin or 8-Dan Edo players.

(1582) Inoue Nakamura Doseki

Regarded (retrospectively) as the founder of the Inoue house. Pupil of Honinbo Sansa and guardian of Honinbo Sanetsu.

(1617) Yasui Sanchi

Second head of the Yasui house. Effectively Meijin from 1668, though the full story of intrigue is murky.

(1645) Honinbo Dosaku Meijin

Was head of the Honinbo school and Meijin Godokoro, hence
also named Honinbo Dosaku or Honinbo Dosaku Meijin.

At 22 Dosaku became the 4th head of the prestigious Honinbo house. At that time, there were no players who could hold their own against him, even when they played the first move in a game. In fact, it is estimated that he was nearly two stones stronger than his nearest rivals. He was the master tactician in an era filled with strong tactical fighters, and his games are filled with spectacular sacrifices. Even today, his games are studied as examples of brilliant tactical technique. In opening strategy as well, none of his contemporaries could approach him, and he is credited with laying the foundations of modern opening theory. In 1678, at the age of 23, he was appointed to fill the highest post that a Go player could rise to, Meijin and head of the godokoro, the Go bureau that controlled all official matters related to Go. During his life, Dosaku had four great prodigies as his disciples. Doteki was the best of them and, at 13, was almost as strong as Dosaku himself. Unfortunately, Doteki died when he was only 21, and the others died at early ages as well. (From [ext] http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/igo_e/021.htm)

For a more detailed biography and some games, check out [ext] the Dosaku index(page does not exist anymore!) on the Momoyama? site.

Jared Beck / Development Of Go - Early History last edited by ProtoDeuteric on August 14, 2006 - 06:35
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