John Fairbairn

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English Go translator and knowledgeable historian. Co-producer (with the late T. Mark Hall) and vendor of the "Games of Go on Disk" database collection (GoGoD).


Books available as print-on-demand via Kindle Direct Publishing or Amazon:

  • ''Brush, Ink, Go is the fourth book in my project entitled the Museum of Go Theory. It is a translation of Ji Xinxue's i?Yi Mo/i? 弈墨 which was published in China in 1662. It was the first truly significant book of go commentaries. 100 games are given, covering all the best players of the age (26 in all). This edition is presented both in the original classical Chinese and in English. Extensive notes on the players and the terminology (including Go Wisdom index) are provided.
  • ''Go Seigen versus Archers of Yue. From November 2021, available on demand from Amazon. Go Seigen (1914 ~ 2014) has a reputation, rightly, of being a go genius. Almost all commentaries on his games, however, relate to the times when he was in the ascendant. Times when he made very few mistakes. This creates a slightly warped view of his long career. He was not so dominant when he began that career. Indeed, he made a plethora of mistakes then. But that is not to diminish him. Seeing the kind of mistakes he made and how he learned to overcome them adds richly to a true appreciation of his enormous talent. Among the very first games arranged for Go when he arrived in Japan at the age of 14 in October 1928 was a series of 13 games in which Go (Wu in Chinese) was likened to Sun Zi, the "Art of War" military genius who helped the kingdom of Wu in their rivalry with the kingdom of Yue. His opponents. a different one in each game but all the rising stars of the Japanese go scene, were the archers of Yue. In all these games, now very rarely seen, Go, as a lowly 3-dan, took Black. In fact, he had Black in nearly all his games until 1933. We therefore get to see how Go mastered the art of having first move in no-komi games. Much of the time he followed Honinbo Shusaku, whose games he studied in depth in China. But we also see surprising new ideas clearly based on his equally avid study of the old Chinese masters. All the games are given with commentaries in Go Wisdom format, based on comments from pros of the time, including the players themselves. Anecdotal biographies are given for each opponent. A full, indexed Go Wisdom appendix is included, so that the reader can study the games to a depth well beyond that of the commentaries themselves, and also use the concept data in conjunction with data in other Go Wisdom books.
  • Wizardry from the Stone Chamber (c. 1590). A translation, with extensive notes, of a Ming dynasty go anthology attributed to Xu Gu. This is the second book in the series, Museum of Go Theory, designed to show how go theory evolved in China, but it can also be considered the foundation volume in that it appeared on the cusp of the main period coveted by the Museum series (1600~1900) and so presents a sort of benchmark of the level from which high-level theory evolved. The contents are old games (some with the first-ever inklings of commentary), old theory texts, an extensive openings (josekis and fusekis) catalogue, and a large life & death section (named problems, the names being explained by the translator),
  • Evergreen Go Records (1682). A translation of the commentaries of 66 master games by Wu Ruizheng, himself a master. Over 20 players are featured, including Huang Longshi. With extensive notes on old Chinese go and the players. The original Chinese is also included. This is the second book in the series, Museum of Go Theory, designed to show how go theory evolved in China.
  • Game Records from Evening Fragrance Pavilion (1754). A translation of the commentaries of 15 games by Cheng Lanru, one of the Four Great Masters of the 18th century in China and much admired by Hayashi Genbi in Japan. With extensive notes on old Chinese go and its players. The first book in a planned series, Museum of Go Theory, designed to show how go theory evolved in China, especially in the period 1600-1900.
  • ''The Incident Room: Transgressions on and off the go board. A collection of historical incidents of rules transgression, rules dispute, rules etiquette, go diplomacy, and sometimes just plain daftness.
  • ''Games of Shuei: with Commentaries: 133 commented games involving the Meijin of Meijins, Honinbo Shuei. In Go Wisdom format, a new colour enhaced format designed to encourage, facilitate and improve private study.
  • ''Meijin of Meijins: The Life and Times of Honinbo Shuei. A full-length biography of perhaps the past player most admired by modern pros. (This book is also available in e-form as part of the trilogy below, The Life, Games and Commentaries of Honinbo Shuei.)
  • ''Genjo-Chitoku: Friends and Rivals at the Pinnacle of the Go World. All the games between two players of Meijin strength during the Rfo Golden Age of Go. Almost all commented, in Go Wisdom format, a new colour enhanced format to encourage, facilitate and improve private study.
  • ''Peerless Pioneer: Games of the Great Senchi, Yasui VII Senkaku – commentaries on six games by the great Edo player hailed as the “Father of Modern Go.” There is also an authorised German edition - see below.
  • ''The First Teenage Meijin: a detailed account of the 2019 Meijin title match in which Shibano Toramaru became the first teenage Meijin. All the games are fully commented, with colour background, and Game 5 is also comprehensively annotated with AI evaluations. The history of the Meijin is also covered in depth.
  • ''Kamakura: There is now an Amazon n-demand version (in Go Wisdom Format) of the now out-of-print Slate & Shell version.
  • ''Ogawa Doteki: Go Prodigy: Doteki, the foremost pupil of Honinbo Dosaku, has the brightest reputation of all go prodigies. This books looks at him and some other prodigies and gives a commented collection of all his known games
  • ''Survivors: Matches between Go Seigen and Iwamoto Kaoru, 1948 ~ 1953.

Books available in e-form via Kindle Direct Publishing or Amazon:

  • ''The Life, Games and Commentaries of Honinbo Shuei (three separate volumes). The original source of the present paper book. As of April 2019, paper versions are being prepared, with almost double the number of games.
  • ''Inoue Genan Inseki. A short biography of one of go’s most fascinating characters.
  • ''Gateway To All Marvels. See the SmartGo interactive version below.

Books available originally published by Slate & Shell. As Slate & Shell have ceased paper publications, these are harder to track down. But several have been converted to digital form by them for SmartGo, and work on conversion or re-printing is continuing.

  • ''The Go Companion (with T Mark Hall). A pot pourri of articles on just about every aspect of go. A sort of bedtime book of go.
  • ''The Go Consultants (with T Mark Hall). Detailed coverage of a famous consultation game featuring the actual thoughts of the players, including Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru.
  • ''Kamakura. Extensive commentaries on the entire ten-game wartime match between Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru, with long biographical sections.
  • ''Final Summit. Similar treatment for matches between Go and Takagawa Kaku.
  • ''9-dan Showdown. Similar treatment for matches between Go and Fujisawa Hosai.
  • ''The Meijin's Retirement Game: Honinbo Shusai versus Kitani Minoru. Includes extensive discussion of the Kawabata novel Master of Go based on this game.
  • ''Old Fuseki versus new Fuseki: Honinbo Shusai plays Go Seigen. Includes extensive discussion of the famous Shin Fuseki-ho book.
  • ''Power/Brilliance. A combined ‘flip-book’ that includes commentaries and historical background on (a) The Insha Game: Honinbo Shusai versus Karigane Junichi, and (b) Jowa’s Three Brilliancies: Honinbo Jowa plays Akaboshi Intetsu.

Available (as of April 2019) for SmartGo ( interactive books on PCs, Apple and Android devices:

  • ''The Life, Games and Commentaries of Honinbo Shuei. This book combines all six books previously published on the Kindle: Life, Games (four volumes), and Commentaries.
  • ''The Go Consultants. A version of the original Slate & Shell paper edition.
  • ''Go Seigen's Ten-Game Matches, Volume 1. Four selected games from the original thirty games in the Slate and Shell paper edition of 9-dan Showdown.
  • ''Gateway To All Marvels. A major treatment of the most influential go book ever produced, the Xuanxuan Qijing. All 466 problems from every known edition of this ancient Chinese classic are given, their names are explained, the various solutions are given and discussed (including many mistakes by pros), and the ancient accompanying texts are translated and annotated, including the Go Classic in Thirteen Chapters. The themes and key techniques of all the problems are also discussed and indexed.
  • ''Unfinished Symphony. Extensive commentaries on the shortened ten-game match between Go Seigen and Karigane Junichi, with comprehensive historical background.
  • ''New Ways in Go. A complete translation, with notes, of Honinbo Shuho's classic Hoen Shinpo.
  • ''Today We Have a Splendid Feast. All the surviving problems from the 17th century graduated tsumego course devised by the Meijin Inseki, Dosetsu. An introduction describing Dosetsu and the story of the book is included.
  • ''Wonders of Life and Death. Honinbo Shusai's 1910 tsumego classic, Shikatsu Myoki, with an introduction by me as the editor. It includes 120 problems (with solutions), most original and many taxing and ingenious.
  • ''Honinbo Tournament – The Early Years. The Honinbo Tournament is go’s oldest annual tournament. This book describes in detail how it came about, and goes carefully through each of the early years in the 1940s and 1950s. The games of each title match up to Term 6 are given with rich commentaries (32 games), showcasing also the most famous players and anecdotes.

Book available in German:

Translated by John Fairbairn

John Fairbairn last edited by on March 13, 2023 - 10:46
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