Zen Garden

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I am originally from the French speaking part of Switzerland but am now living in England.

I play on the DGS as "Zengarden".

I've known about the game for many years but have only started exploring it seriously for the past few years. When I was about 16 (many more years ago than I care to think about!) my mother bought me a set but back in the early 70s, there were hardly any Go books and no-one I knew played Go, so my sister and I read the instructions that came with the set, had a few rather crude games and then put the set away, preferring chess instead.

Work takes me to Japan on a regular basis and the wonderfully old-fashioned hotel I stay at (the Okura in Toranomon district of Tokyo) has a good bookshop with some intelligent go books and a Go centre. Later I found out that the original owner of the hotel was the Baron Okura, a wealthy figure who was an active patron of Go scene before the second world war and up to his death in 1963. I became more and more interested in Go, although Chess has remained a very strong interest. The books I found in Tokyo gradually revived my interest in Go. I still play both games, but Go with its deep strategy, subtle manoeuvering, infinite variety is slowly but surely matching chess.

I think the entire Go playing community should thank the efforts of Richard Bozulich, John Power, T. Mark Hall and John Fairbairn for bringing Go in an accessible form to the Western public. When I first came across the game in the early 70s, there was almost no literature available: a generation later, the Western public has access to a wonderfully rich literature uncovering the beauties of this extraordinary game.

I am particularly interested in Go history, especially Chinese games from the past using the cross stone opening pattern, which produces such extraordinary fighting games! I am currently studying the games of Fan Xiping and Shi Ding'an, the famous games at Danghu. If anyone has any information about these two players I would be very grateful. I have, of course, read John Fairbairn's excellent short article on the two players on the Mindzine website. More material can be found in Pecorini's pioneering 1929 book "The Game of Wei-chi", which I highly recommend as a good introduction to Go from a non-Japanese perspective; Pecorini was an Italian aristocrat working for the British customs service in China, where he got to learn to play Weiqi. I am also working (slowly) through Chen Zude's study of the Games at Danghu, played by Fan Xiping and Shi Ding'An in 1739 (in Chinese).

More recently, I've managed to get Xue Zhi Cheng's commentaries on the games of Huang Longshi, Xu Xing You (his pupil) and Fan Xiping and Shi Ding'An. The quartet of books forms a treasure trove of fantastic Chinese games using the traditional cross hoshi starting point. In my opinion, the players of the Ming dynasty period were the greatest tactical fighters Go has ever known. Go Seigen thought that Huang Longshi was probably the best player who ever lived and he may well be right. It is time he was better known in the West!

Some time ago, while visiting Shanghai, I have acquired a 6 volume edition of the games of Huang Longshi, Fan Xiping and Shi Xiangxia (Shi Ding'An's other name) by Ma Zheng, published in Beijing 2009. These books contain limited commentary but present on average 20 moves per diagram. The printing is good and on good quality paper (unlike some PRC publications!). And at only c. US$ 25 for the six volumes they are an extraordinary bargain. In case anyone is interested, details of the three books are as follows:

Huang Longshi game collection:

Qi sheng Huang Longshi quan pu / Ma Zheng bian zhu 棋圣黄龙士全谱 / 马诤编著 by Ma, Zheng 马诤 Beijing Shi : Ren min ti yu chu ban she, 2009 北京市 : 人民体育出版社, 2009

Fan Xiping game collection:

Qi sheng Fan Xiping quan pu / Ma Zheng bian zhu 棋圣范西屏全谱 / 马诤编著 by Ma, Zheng 马诤 Beijing Shi : Ren min ti yu chu ban she, 2009 北京市 : 人民体育出版社, 2009

Shi Ding'An/ Shi Xiangxia game collection:

Qi sheng Shi Xiangxia quan pu / Ma Zheng bian zhu 棋圣施襄夏全谱 / 马诤编著 by Ma, Zheng 马诤 Beijing Shi : Ren min ti yu chu ban she, 2009 北京市 : 人民体育出版社, 2009

Zen Garden last edited by on December 24, 2015 - 17:11
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