I'm not so sure about the translation of the title from the Japanese. To me, it seems that the translation is "The Book to Increase your Strength at Go". There's nothing about fighting in there. -- Fhayashi

Bill: 力 (chikara) means strength in ordinary parlance. However, as a go term, chikara is more specific, referring to tactical and fighting ability. For instance, 力碁 means fighting go. That's why this is a book of tesuji and reading problems, and not a more general text.

Bob Myers: I don't think so. And I've never read the book but the description you give of it also doesn't seem to support a "fighting" interpretation.

Bill: Well, Bob, check out The Go Player's Almanac. On the web, see [ext] this site (Japanese) for a good explanation. And Segoe makes clear in the preface that he is talking about skill in tesuji, life and death, semeai, and reading. He mentions people who don't know joseki or anything else, but still get results because they are chikarazuyoi.

Bob Myers: First, let me say that I agree that "chikara" does not refer to go strength of the dan/kyu type--in spite of the fact that kiryoku 棋力 uses the same character. It's hard to convey this in English, since people use "strong" for both. Perhaps we could try "muscular" for "chikara"?

My intuitive sense is that "chikara" refers to the quality in a person that can play 強手, or strong moves, which maybe we could refer to as muscular themselves. For instance, one would rarely refer to a fuseki point, however well chosen, as a "strong" move. Nor, for that matter, to a great tesuji, or a beautiful shape point, or a fine yose play, nor would one refer, in Japanese, to the player who makes such moves as "chikara ga tsuyoi". A "strong move" is to some extent local in nature and leads to a number of variations, all of which are read out and yield positive results. It's in between a very local move--tesuji or shape point--and a strategic move such as a large-scale splitting attack, say. It's a mid-level tactical move.

All else being equal, then, I might translate the title of Segoe's book as "Adding muscle to your go." In any case, I think using "fighting" is potentially misleading. (Note that the web page you mentions doesn't say "chikara" means "strong at fighting" but rather "strong at reading".)

Bill: Thanks, Bob. My main concern is that chikara does not just mean strength in general. As for translation, my sense agrees with the Almanac.

You make an interesting point about kyoshu, but it is not just a strong move, it is also an attacking move.

Bob Myers: The almanac defines "chikara-go", not "chikara", and it is by no means obvious that the meanings line up perfectly. Chikara-go has a nuance of being overly aggressive, and depending excessively on your ability to read your way out of tight spots as you push your opponent around--hence the translation "fighting go". "Chikara" by itself would seem to mean "strong tactically", which does of course overlap with (certain types of) fighting, but is more general. That would make a better translation of the book's title something like "The Book to Increase Your Tactical Go Strength."

Bill: Well, we are into nuances, here. Chikara has a connotation of aggressiveness. And you also see chikara no go instead of chikara go. Also, the Almanac also translates chikara jiman as confidence in one's fighting ability.

Bob Myers: Nuances, and/or dead horse territory. In any case, I've found a number of occurrences of "go no chikara" on the web, none of which seem to mean anything other than "strength". (The normal caveat concerning things found on the web applies, of course.)


In an advertisement: "Your go strength (go no chikara) will grow overall ('sogo-teki)." Would seem to exclude a one-dimensional interpretation of go no chikara as relating to fighting only.

In a discussion of a mirror game: "In other words, the shape after mirroring stops is completely different from typical ones, making shape-based knowledge inapplicable. It becomes a battle of true go strength (go no chikara)--fighting strength (tatakai no chikara), conceptual ability, and in a sense creativity." (In other words, according to this writer, fighting strength is merely one element of go no chikara.)

In a discussion of young Kato: "As his go grew stronger (go no chikara ga tsuyoku nareba), unsurprisingly his grades at school dropped like a rock."

In a commentary on a pro match from Nikkei: "The go strength (go no chikara) of Cho Oza never varies."

Famous question by Yoshimune to the godokoro Dochi: "'If all these people have similar go strength (go no chikara), then will the player with Black always win?'"

One citation defines kiryoku 棋力 as go no chikara.

A ad for a book about counting says "positional judgment capability is precisely go strength (形勢判断力とは碁の力そのものである)."

Another citation says "Go strength (go no chikara) is the product of theoretical strength (棋力) and strength of will (気力)."

Yet another page says "you will not get stronger at go (go no chikara ga nobinai) unless you put together the abilities to think, to be patient, and to concentrate."

Overall, then, we have not a single example which would support an interpretation of go no chikara as "fighting strength". We know that "chikara" used in some contexts, such as "chikara-go", refers to tactical strength, but it would seem that go no chikara itself does *not*, and should indeed simply be translated as "go strength".

Bill: Sure. Go no chikara = kiryoku. That's different from just chikara.

Ah! I see what you are getting at. There does seem to be some ambiguity in the title. However, the use of tsuyoku seems more appropriate to the fighting strength reading, rather than the more general reading. Besides, Segoe makes clear in the preface what he means:


Bob Myers: Well, the book title you are translating contains exactly go no chikara. Which we have established means exactly "go strength". The translation of the book's title should therefore exactly be "The book to make you stronger at go", without additional editorializing.

Bill: I think that the translation should reflect what the author intended. (And I do not think that we have established the kiryoku meaning.) It is plain, both from the problems in the book and the preface, that Segoe is talking about chikara in go, and not about kiryoku in general. In the preface he talks a good bit about chikara and explicitly says that he is attempting to train the reader's chikara with the book. He also indicates that this is an unusual thing to do. (Which would not be true for kiryoku.)

TheBookToIncreaseYourFightingStrengthAtGo/Translation last edited by bugcat on September 29, 2021 - 22:35
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