Ten Thousand Year Ko / WME Discussion

Sub-page of TenThousandYearKo

Bill: Maybe Munisai's and Bildstein's stuff could go into the forum as is, but Dieter is right that the question of when to start a 10000 year ko is not so simple. Maybe that should get its own subpage, leaving the main page for a definition and example or two.

Also, I think we can drop the reference to 1,000 year ko. That's just a mistranslation. We need it as an alias, that's all.

Velobici: DANGER WILL ROBINSON...entering territory which I know very little about.

From this paragraph

Segoe built up a commanding lead but carelessly allowed a ten-thousand year ko to develop. In such a ko, the player with the stones on the inside has the option of taking the ko and then playing another move inside to make the position into a true ko. In practice, finding time to win two ko fights and sufficiently big threats to do so can take a long time - ten thousand years. He also has the option of winning the ko and connecting, creating a seki. At the time of the Segoe-Takahashi game there was a third option no longer available: do nothing." from an [ext] article by John Fairbairn

It seems that mannenko is a compound of mannen and ko indicating a ko that has some property that lasts a very long time, that mannen in this compound does not mean literally ten thousand years but rather a long time. The same may apply to the gold piece that some [ext] maneki neko hold, thereby indicating wealth rather than a particular sum of money.

If this is the case, then one thousand year ko may be the better translation into English based upon sayings such as not in a thousand years, face that launched a thousand ships, and thousand year reich.

I spoke, in English, to Mr. Yang Yilun about this position once calling it a ten thousand year ko. He laughed at the idea saying, to the best of my recollection, a thousand year ko maybe, but ten thousand years? Thats too much! I couldn't say that!

If this is so, then TenThousandYearKo should be the alias to ThousandYearKo with a note that the translation is figurative rather than literal.

unkx80: Yeah... no matter the language, the number is just figurative. But if you want to make it a more direct translation, then ten thousand year ko is the one to use. Up to you guys then...

Bill: Well, if we want an English phrase meaning a very long time, then maybe we should call it a Blue Moon Ko or a Coon's Age Ko. A thousand years is a very long time, but is not a figurative phrase in English commonly used to indicate a very long time. (What I hear and say is, Not in a million years.) OTOH, anyone new to the term 10000 year ko knows it has something to do with a long period of time, and is not meant literally. In addition, if you say, in English, 10000 year ko, to someone who has never heard the Engish phrase but does know the Oriental term, they know what you are talking about. That is not true if you say, 1000 year ko.

10000 year ko is the traditional translation, but 1000 year ko also appears in the literature. Since neither phrase is common in English to indicate a very long time, and 10000 year ko is intelligible across cultures, and Go is an international game, I prefer to keep the traditional phrase the main one.

Bob Myers: It's not the ko which takes a long time, of course, but the pre-ko situation. Here, "mannen" has the implication of "stuck" in that pre-ko status. 10,000 years is a translation which is almost certainly inappropriate, "mannen" in compounds meaning "perpetual" or "eternal" or "perennial." The problem is that any of these translations will will also imply that it is the ko (fight) itself, not the process leading up to it, that is prolonged. I'd love to find sone good English for this, but the best I can come up with is "someday ko", or "maybe-someday-ko" (the "maybe" part referring to the possibility of seki).


reluctant ko ? as in the players are reluctant to start
standoff ko ? ala mexican standoff


delayed ko ? just another suggestion

Bob McGuigan: In Kenkysha's New Japanese-English Dictionary mannen has "ten thousand years" as the first meaning listed. I don't mind the literal translation and I wouldn't be unhappy leaving this as a borrowed word, if the literal translation is unsatisfactory. Anybody know the origin of the phrase mannen kou?

Bill: I like standoff ko, and, were we providing an English name de novo, I could go for that. :-)

On other topics, I think we need to create a page about playing mannen ko, to address Dieter's question. That is a big topic, beyond my competence, anyway, but at least some simple examples can be given. (I have constructed one or two.) There is some truth to what the page says about such ko fights occurring relatively late in the game, as a rule, but I think the page should simply say that, despite the name, such kos should often be fought, and provide a link to the page about fighting them.

I think we can leave two examples on the page, the standard one provided and the example Bildstein provided, or another throw-in ko. The throw-in mannenko is rare, but it does occur.

Bob Myers: Trying to find English for "mannen-ko" seems a worthy enterprise, since no alternative has taken hold yet, and a good English word would seem to be out there somewhere, unlike, say, "hane". The problem with "standoff ko" is that standoffs are, well, standoffs, and remain so, whereas mannen-kos get worked out at some point. Which is why I still like "maybe-someday-ko". :-)

Velobici: Never seen a standoff that does not get worked out. How it gets worked out is not infrequently a climatic moment in film. Picture the three-way standoff in the Confederate graveyard at the end of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." ;)

Bill: I have started the revision, leaving the terminology alone for now. Comments?

I found the Korean on the web, but the Korean text was in graphics, so I couldn't enter it. The pronunciation is via Japanese, so might be somewhat off. Can someone locate the Korean characters and check the pronunciation? Thanks.

Bob Myers: Back to English alternatives, a direct translation would be "decamillenial ko", or we could drop back to 1,000 and go with "millenial ko" (or millenium ko).

Bob McGuigan: "Millenial" or "millenium" suffer from implying that these ko's only happen once per 1000 years. A novice seeing "10000 year ko" might think it refers to how long the ko lasts. As has been said before it is necessary to put attention on the reluctance of the players to start the ko. So how about "Reluctant ko"?

Bob Myers: Completely minor point, but...correct English punctuation style would apparently call for hyphens, as in "ten-thousand-year ko".

Bill: Well, punctuation is not all that standardized. If we were dealing with a phrase constructed on the fly, with ten thousand year modifying ko, it probably should be hyphenated. But it's a term, so I think 1) it probably should not be hyphenated, and 2) it's not hyphenated in the literature, anyway.

About the throw-in ko: I wondered for a long time whether such positions should be considered mannenko. Berlekamp does so in a couple of his writings, but he was a beginning go player at the time. Over a year ago I think I saw somebody else do the same, but I have not been able to find the reference. Ikeda, in Igo no ruuru ni tsuite talks about such a position, but I have not been able to locate the Japanese text. So I wrote to Prof. Nakamura, 6-dan, who is very well read in go, and he thinks they are not mannenko.

Charles Terminology: this has been a ten-thousand-year ko in English for 30 years, I believe. Look no further.

Bill: Thank you, Charles. :-) My reference for non-hyphenation is Fighting Ko by Jin Jiang, Sidney Yuan, trans., (Yutopian, 1995). Also, this [ext] British Go Association web site definition of mannenko.

Bob Myers: I assume Charles is making a point about the word itself rather than the hyphenation. As for the word, "ten-thousand-year ko" is firmly entrenched and is not going to go away any time soon, but the fact remains that it is an overly literal translation of "mannen-ko" and provides no help whatsoever to someone trying to suss out its meaning. In such cases, it seems useful to me to propose possible and/or recommended alternatives and let them fight it out with the established nomenclature. Language is a living thing. IIRC, "flower-viewing ko" was well-established before "picnic ko" came along, regardless of whether you view that as an improvement.

Speaking of "mannen-ko", to the extent we continue to use that term I'd like to recommend that we do use the hyphen here. To some beginners, including an earlier poster on this page, it was not even obvious from the non-hyphenated version "mannenko" that this was a type of ko; the hyphen makes that quite clear.

As for hyphenating the English "ten-thousand-year ko", I've found no style guidelines anywhere on the web that would indicate that the non-hyphenated version could be correct style. I find Bill's distinction between "constructed on-the-fly" and "term" unconvincing. I would also not base such a decision on existing English books, especially ones written by non-native speakers with the light editing typical of many go publishers. Note that the Go Player's Almanac hyphenates "thousand-year ko" (listing it as a "See Also" to "mannen-ko", which it also gives as hyphenated). Example rules from the web:

  • When a written-out number or a numeral is joined to a unit of measurement and the resulting compound is used as an adjective, use a hyphen to join the number and its unit of measurement. Ex: 100-yard dash, ten-day tour, two-minute speech, 40-hour work week
  • Hyphenate a cardinal numeral used with a unit of measurement if the compound precedes a noun. Ex: three-mile limit, 10-meter band, four-year-old boy
  • Do hyphenate modifiers composed of a number and unit: "a five-kilometer hike."
  • In a compound that is used as an adjective before a noun, use a hyphen if the term can be misread or if the term expresses a single thought (i.e., all words together modify the noun). EXCEPTION: If a modifier-noun pair is an especially familiar one, it is often unhyphenated when used to modify another noun (ex: high school band).
  • Use hyphens in adjectives that contain numbers. Ex: 16-ha field; 30-page book

And so on.

Bill: I don't want to make too much about a very minor question, but my point about the term is this. A term is a name, and names do not have to follow rules about a noun with phrasal modifier. In particular, multiple word names are frequently not hyphenated.

Charles It is of course possible that all the mistakes in the Jiang book are confined to the technical matter.

Bill: I have made further edits to the main page, in which I address -questions raised by present material below the ----. I propose to move that material to the new pages, to the forum, or drop it. My new material is sketchy, but I think we want the main page to be brief. Comments? Further edits?

Bob Myers: I also think you should make up your mind between "ten-thousand-year ko" and "10,000-year ko".

Bill: I have completed the subpage /Fighting the ko. I will add the subpage /Rules crisis. I have found a Japanese web page, [ext] http://www.igoclub.com/cgibin/LongEssay.cgi , that talks about the incident in some detail, even to purported quotes. I'll put up the final rules of the game and say something about what happened, citing both the Japanese site and the Mindzine site. I don't feel like doing that today, though, and I would be just as happy to replace the main page beforehand.

As for the English terminology, I do not know what to do. Should we talk about the issues discussed here? Make a different title? Create aliases? I would appreciate it if someone else will edit the work page for terminology. Thanks.

(Later): Thanks, Bob! Making a subpage is a good idea. :-)

Bill: Wednesday, Oct. 19.

I have finished the /Rules Crisis page. On the working draft I deleted the previous discussion, which I think has been adequately treated in the WME. Comments? Edits?

This has taken a while, so I think that if there are no more edits for 24 hours we can replace the main page and call it a day. Thanks to all. :-)

unkx80: Very nicely done, Bill. I would consider the WME done.

Bildstein: This is just my two cents' worth: Reading the /Rules Crisis page, it took me a while to see the ten thousand year ko. In fact, I was kinda surprised that it wasn't in one of the corners. I've circled the white ko stone to bring attention to it.

Also, can someone answer me a quick question: Why doesn't Black want to capture and connect the ko? I'm sure this is explained somewhere, but I think it would help me to understand if someone could explain specific to this situation.

Bill: Thanks! Marking the ko is a great idea.

If Black had captured and connected the ko, he would have had no reason not to let the game end. (I have added an explanatory statement.)

I find it interesting that there was a shared sense that for the game to end Black needed to resolve the ko. The referee didn't just say, "The game's over. Count 'em up." He told Takahashi to take and fill the ko first.

Bildstein: Finally I get it. Black was way behind, and was arguing, not that the white group was dead, nor that it was a seki, but rather that the game would not be completed and hence he couldn't lose. Hence the result, that White won (of course!) but Black did not lose. And of course White could not connect and make seki, because he would be dying in a rabbity-six shape.

Bill: I think that's worth spelling out for the wide range of readers we have. I'll do that.

Bill: Friday, Oct. 21. Main page replaced. WME finished. Thanks to all! :-)

Ten Thousand Year Ko / WME Discussion last edited by Bill on October 21, 2005 - 18:48
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