The Master of Go

The Master of Go

by Yasunari Kawabata

Go is a game of strategy in which two players attempt to surround each other's black or white stones.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.85
  • Pages: 189
  • Publish Date: May 28th 1996 by Vintage
  • Isbn10: 0679761063
  • Isbn13: 9780679761068

Read the Book "The Master of Go" Online

Anyone who knows anything about the game can see immediately that Kawabata was a decent player. A few days ago, Not and I watched the rather fine movie The Go Master - which, it might surprise you, isn't based on this book at all, but is a dramatization of the life of a different player, Go Seigen. Go Seigen, a genius who is widely believed to be the greatest Go player of the 20th century, also played a match against Honinbo Shusai, the real-life prototype for "the Master" in Kawabata's book. As the nominally stronger player, he had the right to adjourn the game when he wished, even when it was his turn to play. It is widely believed that the move was actually found by Shusai's student Maeda, later a top player in his own right. As Kawabata recounts in the novel, Kitani understood the implications of the Western-style adjournment rule better than Shusai. I have read the novel three times, and I believed it was clear that Kawabata was presenting Kitani's pragmatic action as unworthy and almost despicable.

The frail and ill Master who revered the tradition of Go as a way of life and art , painfully observed the transition of his beloved painting into the commercial entity bound by scientific regulations and competitive aggressiveness. An inhabitant of the Meiji Era, the Master finds himself standing on the edge of modernity that challenges traditional mores and progress in a strange world with cries for equality. Were the long recesses and the venue changes between the games, a defense from the fury of the Black stones? Mr. Uragami take this territorial battle further into the lives of the players and the existence of Go as a traditional art and as a embedded culture of a nation. The threat of this game being captured by foreign territories becomes conspicuous when Mr. Uragami expresses his skepticism over whether a foreigner (Dr.Dueballs Germany- the game had attracted players from America) would do justice to the game of Go as he will be unaware of the history of the game and would treat it is a sheer game and not art that had become a way of life to many Japanese Go players. The striking of the stones was echoing the violence of a tragic chasm of a competitive world that had bestowed the title of invincibility to the Master crafting a grand super-powerful figure. When does the move Black-69 strike like the flash of a dagger piercing into the safeguarded territory of the player capturing his stone wall? Like an isolated stone that becomes less powerful, did the seclusion of his artistic prowess in the modern world made him defenseless? Mr. Uragami contradicts the play of contiguity by illustrating a breakage brought by modernity in the world of Go and its players. In the play of black upon white and white upon black, the threat of forfeiture prevailed right from the personal feelings of the players to the fate of the game in the altered Japanese landscape. In the war like game the stones and the players amalgamate into one whole existence. As a true artist sculpting the Go art, the Master resisted from judging the persona of the opponent as it perverted the sanctity of the game. The Master calculated his every move even when he played a game of chess, billiards and mahjong. When the Master played his moves and the game consumed his life, at times making him lose the realization of his own identity. The stones had sealed his destiny as a Go Master in a can of loneliness and the shrewd game has made him a sort of a martyr. Mr. Uragami who himself was an ardent fan of the Master, infers that there are two types of players: - one who are complacent with their game output and the other who meticulously enhance their art; the word satisfaction being a rarity in their game. Once again, the game of Go begins , deciding a new destiny for its Master.

(Actually, the book itself didn't win the prize - Kawabata the author did, but this book is widely regarded as his best, and probably the one that sealed the Nobel for him.) You have to read this book to understand what it's really like. Kawabata, an amateur as he repeatedly reminds us, but still pretty good by amateur standards and familiar enough with the game to report on it for Japanese newspapers, describes not just the game between the Master and his challenger, Otake, but how it reflects the arc of their personalities and the Master's past and Otake's future. Reading this book, you are getting a deep, nuanced view of very traditional Japanese mindsets at a time of great change, when the country and the world was moving beneath them. And keeping in mind that not being Japanese, not being a master go player, and reading a translation, you're really seeing third-hand ripples reflected through a fuzzy lens. And yet you can still follow Kawabata's thoughts and see the contrast between the Master and his opponent. It's a very literary novel and if you don't like Japanese literature, you probably won't like this book. However, while an appreciation for go will enhance your enjoyment of it, you don't need to know the game to read this book.

Cette édition présente des diagrammes de l'évolution de la partie.

3.5 stars I've just read an interesting article in The Japan Times entitled "An exploration of the great game at the heart of 'the Master of Go' by Tyler Rothmar, informing his readers that the battle took place nearly six months and the victor finalized exactly 78 years ago today (December 4, 2016). One of the reasons is that it primarily focuses on the ultimate Go competition between the Master (Shusai) and the challenger (Otake) of the Seventh Rank from June 26, 1938 in Tokyo to December 4 in Ito (p. I think this is a good remark from Go experts that need pondering and applying from both the challenger and the master. Indeed, I think if the Master could play Go and happily lost, like Sakine, Master of Chess, he could have enjoyed living longer. Finally, from Chapter 40, I'm a bit disappointed due to its lack of action/words from the great victor Otake, so I guess he may have spoken humbly, if need be, in honour of the Master. Comparatively, Otake is the opponent the Master can see and plan to play the game, however, it's better if we'd rather have a few challenging us in the open for the face-to-face battle so that we know who they are and keep this in mind too.

Met tekeningen van het verloop van de langdurige kamp, voor wie die wil naspelen.

Though Kawabata's ideals doesn't strike me as those which are sensible, for some reason this book touches me more deeply than I've ever expected.

The Master of Go records an old generation v.s. younger generation, tradition v.s. modern contest between one old Master of Go (actually, he was the last person to hold this title) and an up-and-coming one, and the actual event took place in year 1938.