Genan's Supernova

ALTHOUGH never quite openly boastful. Inoue Genan Inseki was never backward about showing off his talents. Often this was as much concerned with showing rival Honinbo Jowa in a poor light as with stressing his own merits. But no matter what complexity lay behind his motives, his works, judged purely on their own merits, are outstanding.

Igo Shukairoku Innovation was one of his driving forces. On the board, he may have been the inventor of the Shusaku fuseki. Off the board, every book he produced had something startlingly new. The super-new example discussed here is his Igo Shukairoku, published in 1844, right. In modern English that would be How to Play the Endgame, which even today is a very rare topic for a go book. As Genan rightly claimed, until he came along there had never been such a book, and until modern times there has never been another.

There was, of course, the much earlier Guanzi Pu by Guo Bailing in China. First appearing around 1660, this had so many problems that were really examples of endgame play, that the phrase guanzi, which originally meant "managing the stones" came to be used for the endgame in more modern Chinese. However, Guo's examples were really about tesujis for encroaching into enemy positions which just happened to be at the endgame stage. Genan's book is about something very, very different - counting.

So, apart from rarity, his book is fascinating for its novel contents. With a little reflection, we will also see it can also tell us about go in his day - and about Genan himself.

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