Sun Ce (White) vs. Lu Fan (Black)

2011-08-12 11:29:02

I was hesitating which game should I review first. Then I recalled this game which seems to be a suitable first post in the Games section - since it is the oldes go game record in the world! It was played in the 2nd century in China. I hope that the differences between the style in the game and the style of today, but also the things those two styles have in common is what makes it so interesting. Enjoy!

Above, you can see the first 15 moves of the game. I will discuss just the most interesting ones here. Please note that the game starts with 4 stones on the Hoshi (star) points. This used to be the traditional way of starting a game. In Japan, this way was replaced by a blank board in the 17th century; in China, however, this custom lasted until the beginning of the 20th century.

Black 3 - this is a move we do not often see in the games today. It is not bad, however.
White 4 - please note that no matter from which side Black responds, White has a nice two point extension to both sides. It is thus the vital point of the fuseki (opening). White should have maybe put off this move for later as there were calmer places to play.
Black 7 - this move is instructive as it forces White to korigatachi - a frozen shape. White has to respond. And Black settles his corner for now.
White 10 - a good old fashioned move, as it strikes to the point where most of the players would want to play. I would consider playing one point further away from Black group though.

White 16 - as we can see, it is probably White's style to take what he can. This is the second move in this game when White plays a move to have a two space extension possible for both sides. It allows his opponent to press, though, and it cannot be considered as a pincer.
Black 27 - forces White in korigatachi again.
White 28 - this is hardly ever seen and it can result in an unpleasant fight later.
Black 29 - Black chooses to extend instead of fighting. A great example of the old style fuseki. White 30 - a well-timed invasion. What follows is an old joseki, I hope.

White 36 - is forced. If White descends to 37, Black connects the marked stone by playing at 36 and White then cannot capture 33 and 35 because of the atari at A.
White 40 - a good point for invasion. Black has to do something about the weak point next to 39 or his stones will be separated.
Black 41 and 43 - both of them are large scale moves. Black creates a moyo there.

Unfortunately, the game record ends here. I think, however, it will be enough for you to imagine how was go two thousand years ago! Any ideas about it, comparisons etc. welcome in the commentaries.

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2011-08-12 20:44:07

There were no go organisations like Nihon Ki-in or EGF back then, hence no ratings and no professionals. Go was played mainly for the joy of thinking. This game was somewhat different, though. The history knows that Lu Fan was an official of Easter Wu state and Sun Ce was a famous warlord. Lu Fan participated in the battles of Sun Ce. It is said that Lu Fan recommended himself to Sun Ce with this game. Sun Ce made a bad opening move (I hope White 4) and Lu Fan then managed to gain from the mistake. That impressed Sun Ce and he offered Lu Fan a post. Lu Fan refused the high post, prefering a lower post where he could easily manage the troops. That, too, impressed Sun Ce and the two players became good friends.

As we can see, go has had many meanings in the history.

2011-08-12 20:04:39

Illuminating to see Go played 20 centuries ago. Is it known what rank the players were? Were there professionals then - I suspect not!