Shin Fuseki - Yasunaga's Brilliant Theory

    Keywords: Opening, Culture & History

(From Igo Hyakunen 2/252 - posting to r.g.g. by John Fairbairn)

Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru took first place in the Oteai and Go challenged Shusai with New Fuseki. This brought New Fuseki into everyone's consciousness. Pros debated it in terms of go theory and fans were attracted by its freedom.

The wave of popularity was strengthened by the book Shin Fuseki-Ho, written jointly by Go, Kitani and Yasunaga (published Jan. 1934 by Heibonsha). Yasunaga was then chief editor of the Nihon Ki-in. He was a pupil of Shusai no less. He went to Tohoku Imperial University but left in mid-course. He published "Basis for the Rationalisation of Go" relative to the Mannen-ko problem (Vol. 3) and in general was a thinker who blew new ideas into go journalism. It was his pen behind the theoretical basis of Go and Kitani.

To summarise his main points:

  1. A shimari (and therefore also any move such as komoku which sets up the shimari) is biased toward the corner. Similarly, moves on the third line are often disadvantageous.
  2. One must emphasise overall balance. Therefore, existing josekis that are only locally balanced are to be rejected.
  3. Areas of prospective territory (influence and speed) are more important than fixed areas.
  4. An organic integration of relationships between moves is desirable.

It was a passionate argument. However, there were quite a few ambiguities [shows it was rushed --JF] and it is difficult to understand it unless you take into account the fact that Yasunaga had some elementary Zen training. For example, the reason he regarded the corner star points as the acme of equilibrium was as follows:

"The star points themselves finish off the corners and at the same time one does not play even a little in the corners as secured territories. That is, if the opponent plays a stone at the 3-3 point it becomes not territory, and so it means the star point plays in the corner and does not play in [??= is not of] the corner. This fact is proof that the star points are not biased towards the corners."

Rewritten this might be:

"The star points occupy the corner with one move. However, if we take the standpoint of the old fuseki that the corner equals territory, then it is possible to say that in the case of a move on the star point, it is not playing in the corner. The reason/point is, if the opponent dares to play immediately at the 3-3 point, even if you make influence your territory is completely erased (the same relationship exists also with takamoku and mokuhazushi, but apart from the fact that their purpose next is a shimari, there is no suitable shimari, in other words if we compare it to hoshi which has eschewed a shimari, still the formula corner = territory applies). Therefore, notwithstanding that the star point does not have small effect on the corner, we cannot definitely say it completely occupies [invests] the corner. This signifies that the star point takes a position which is balanced relative to the corner. [arguments akin to astrology in west].

The last conclusion was something of a leap of faith and the way of putting it was idiosyncratic, but Go had lacked a forceful exposition of the system and his book provided it.

Yasunaga wrapped his system up in "feeling" (Kankaku) rather than logic. The promise of acquiring knowledge of New Fuseki through feeling rather than hard work encouraged sales of 100,000 books, which was a major boost for Heibonsha, then going through a period of restructuring.

The advertisements were bold:

A go revolution: a new fuseki method.
The two giant geniuses of the new school speak out!
KO to old fuseki!
Advance without knowing any joseki!
Reject form for content, for people who want to grasp the beauties of go quickly!

and so on, with lots of screamers. This was in marked contrast to previous books which offered (the traditional virtues of) hard work and training. Yasunaga continued to push his manifesto in Kido, allying his theory to the New Japan. Players in the Oteai supported him.

Pages 254ff give an example of New Fuseki (Kitani-Maeda) with both players' thoughts.

Shin Fuseki - Yasunaga's Brilliant Theory last edited by on February 16, 2004 - 13:23
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