SL Conventions / White vs Black Discussion

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This is part of the SL Conventions / Discussion.

Charles: I was asked (by JF) whether there was a convention about player order: if the game is Sakata-Takagawa, then is Sakata Black or White? Well, I read this as Sakata (Black) - Takagawa; often one sees the Japanese convention of White player given first in Japanese books, and Gogod adopts it too. But I don't find that a decisive reason to do that here.

I wonder therefore if it would be OK to state a convention on that matter here.

Some of the discussion below is inconclusive: would it be time to sift out some of the ideas thrown around that have generally been adopted, to summarise this page?

Hu: Seems to me that a summary would be: Adopt your own convention, but attach a B (or Black) or W (or White) or both to the players' names to make it unambiguous.

JF: In case anyone wonders whether there is a doctrinal reason for order of players, the answer is no as far as I'm concerned. There is no absolute standard in the Far East, but White tends to come first (for respect, usually) and I like to follow that because it leads to fewer errors when transcribing games. In writing I often insert a (B 2st) or (W) as in Shusaku (W)-Ota Yuzo.

As to events, I have evolved a standard for myself where events as far as possible are given Oriental names. This is partly because I have noticed wide acceptance of these among modern western players, but also the prevalence of similarly named tournaments in the three big countries is a problem. If you said Go Sage Tournament would you mean Kisei, Gosei, Qisheng or Kiseong? It nowadays seems a bit disrespectful to use the old practice of referring to the Korean Kisei, etc.

Within this framework, I usually omit "Tournament" (and you will never get me to say sen (or zhan or ch'eon), but I tend to add Cup, so 21st Meijin but 50th NHK Cup.

I say Round 1, ... Semi-final for the early rounds of the main KO challenge section of an event, but use Challengers' Final for the last game, to avoid confusion with the title match (for which I use the style 49th Honinbo Final). I use quarter-final instead of Round X because it seems to carry more information about how well a player has done in getting to the later stages,

I swallow the Japanese misuse of the word "league". I also accept the general usage of "world championship" to mean international tournament, though it's usually omitted anyway, as in 12th Fujitsu Cup.

I use 9d, not 9-dan or 9p and I convert if necessary (i.e. the Taiwanese 2p becomes 8d). The reason is that dan is Japan specific but d covers the Japanese, Korean and Chinese words (and also Taiwan now, as it happens). For kyu I say k. For amateurs I usually say 5d ama, but sometimes 5a. Incidentally, Orientals often mark the difference by using kanji numerals for one and arabic numerals for the other (plus "dan" of course).

I always follow the Oriental practice of surname first, and the Japanese custom of using the personal name of school heads (e.g. Shusaku). I'm inconsistent about people like Ota Yuzo, but I think on balance I tend to say Ota. There are esoteric considerations for names like Inoue Inseki I won't go into here.

You may not agree with my choices, but they are the product of a long and wide-ranging learning process. They are certainly not random choices.

Dave Sigaty: On game names, I think that there is a convention, just not on SL :-). As far as I know, all the servers generate their game files using something like PW-PB-xxx.sgf, no? At least I think that IGS, NNGS, and WING do. Can anyone say what KGS does? Personally, since I think there is no convention here, I try to make it clear by adding the color to the first name. In other words I write Sakata (Black) - Takagawa since I do not expect that the average reader is clear on how to read it without help.

dnerra: For the record, I also favour using the traditional Japanese convention of naming White first. If IGS, NNGS, WING and JF agree on this matter, I think we have sufficiently many authorities to follow on this.

Hu: KGS puts the White player first. I think this convention makes sense as a mark of respect to the nominally stronger player (and most often stronger in fact).

BobMcGuigan: I like and use the convention of naming the player of the white stones first, though clearly this is simply a matter of choice. I think there have been enough official (e.g. SGF) decisions for White-first that it should be the SL custom as well. I know that some people don't like the rank abbreviations like 6d and 6p. I used to think that the "p" was a little silly, but there are more and more tournaments in which both amateurs and pros play now and it becomes a little awkward if a 6-dan pro is playing a 6-dan amateur. And what are we to make of cases like that of Guo Juan who has both a pro rank and a (different) "amateur" rank? Dave remarked that in a large wiki conventions are likely not to be used (or even found) by casual contributors. But that doesn't mean there should be no conventions, which are not, actually, requirements. Finding them could be made easier by linking to them from the pages with information for beginners. Having suggested conventions for editors might reduce the amount of "clean-up" editing needed.

TimBrent: As to whether White or Black is first doesn't matter. However, I do feel listing such would be good, i.e. Genan (White) v Shusaku (Black) or Karigane (Black) v Shusai (White).

Robert Pauli: It should be plain simple, like in chess, that is who starts is to be mentioned first. Unfortunately this isn't standard, forcing everybody to qualify the names with B and W: sad.

Charles: Well, that's why I have consistently put Black first, in all my writing.

Robert Pauli: My full support, Charles.
Second, before someone asks who starts in a handicap game: To prepare for their liberation, handicap stones should be labeled 1a, 1b, 1c, etc. - so again Black starts (and White keeps even numbers).
Third, anyone who prefers mentioning the more honorable player first, tell me this: If the game isn't even, you'll mention White first, but will you be consistent and mention Black first if it's an even game and Black happens to have the stronger rank?

Hu: In the rare case when the stronger ranked player takes Black, the player playing White has an "honorary" status which has been granted at the discretion of the stronger player, and I would suggest that the common convention of listing White first be consistently applied even in this case. However, the over-riding consideration is that there is enough confusion, whatever the convention one writer or another adopts, that the only way to resolve it is to attach a "B" or "W" or both to make it crystal clear.

Charles: Whatever my feelings about this, I'm now adding names in Ishida-Rin (B) style. I don't think we can have W-B order as default: too confusing for those who aren't in the know.

tderz: Could we

  • produce an overview table for the (different?) colour conventions on the Go servers?
  • the add this information to the respective pages on Senseis?

SL Conventions / White vs Black Discussion last edited by MrTenuki on July 9, 2006 - 01:11
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