The Game of Go - The National Game of Japan

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The Game of Go
By: Arthur Smith
Publisher: Charles E. Tuttle and Company, October 1956
224 pp.

Introductory book by Arthur Smith, published in 1956 by Charles E. Tuttle Company, Rutland Vermont and Tokyo Japan. It was originally published in 1908 by Moffat, Yard and Company, New York, New York. It continued to be republished until at least 1983.

The Arthur Smith book is over 100 years old, and mostly of interest to collectors and historians. Over the years since this book was written development of the game and scholarly research in the history have made parts of the book out of date or even incorrect.

A fully proofread copy of the 1908 edition is available on [ext] wikisource, and a [ext] scanned copy is available free on Google Books.


David Carlton's [ext] review.

Table of Contents

(*) Incomplete

Sample Material

to be added

Copyright issues

Malweth: When did Arthur Smith die (I'm assuming he did) this is important information for both US and Japanese copyright. This was the first book I purchased long before I took up go seriously. I got this book before I had Internet access.

PatG: My local library has a re-print. Their online catalog gives his dates as 1870- with no date of death. I will pursue further. The 1908 publication date does meet the public domain requirements (see: The Gutenberg Project [ext] I am not a lawyer but it would appear that it is now public domain. No hits found on Gnutella at this time.

[ext] Gives Smiths dates as 1870-1929. Unfortunately I can't read kanji.

Malweth: US copyright law before 1978 gave a term of 28 years and could be extended by 67 years. This puts the maximum date at 2003.

This book also has a copyright of 1956 under Japanese law according to my printing. This allows for 50 years past the death of the author or date of printing (if owned by a corporation). As the copyright is by "Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc" the latter probably comes into effect anyway.

In either case it seems as though the copyright on this book has expired.

Malweth: It seems definite that this book has passed copyright. I am working on inscribing this book. Currently the sections linked in the TOC are available.

User comments

Naustin--I disagree with this (earlier statement about it being only of interest to historians) some. The book is interesting and actually contains a reasonable amount of information especially at the beginner and high kyu level. The book contains a short history, rules, basics of play, something like 7 example games, joseki examples for 5 different aproach moves to komoku as well as takamoku and mokuhazushi. Hoshi joseki are also considered as handicap joseki. The book also contains a collection of basic endgame maneuvers, and a large collection of problems.

There are several drawbacks to the book though. It is dated and so some information is a little bit dated. As the game was new to the West at that point, there was little in the way of precedent. The author and Oscar Korschelt, author of a book he refers to, were not strong players, did they have deep understanding of the game, and did not have much precedent for expressing the ideas in English. As an aside, my edition also had something like a 30 page section bound out of order.

On the whole though it is somewhat dated it is an unusual work in that it brings a lot of material together in one place and the theoretical prejudices of the author are fairly minimal. I am 12k KGS and have been reworking through my copy of it and feel I am still gaining/learning from it.

Blake: I find it interesting that most of the comments by Honinbo Shuei (Shuye?) in the illustrative game are quite negative towards Black, even though the game ends, as far as I can tell, B+2. He repeatedly refers to moves as "useless," which seems like a somewhat indelicate way of saying it, compared to most pro comments I've seen. Is this a problem with translation? An artifact of the times?

Chris Hayashida: dame translates to useless in everyday Japanese. My guess is that the last few moves were dame.

kmr - Chapter 1 has many stupid mistakes, like Gennan had black against Shuwa when fighting for Meijin title, or Sanetsu played Sanchi 2nd during his meijinship.

The Game of Go - The National Game of Japan last edited by kmr on February 18, 2021 - 21:47
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