Page:Smith - The game of go.djvu/15

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INTRODUCTION

The game of Go belongs to the class of games of which our Chess, though very dissimilar, is an example. It is played on a board, and is a game of pure skill, into which the element of chance does not enter; moreover, it is an exceedingly difficult game to learn, and no one can expect to acquire the most superficial knowledge of it without many hours of hard work. It is said in Japan that a player with ordinary aptitude for the game would have to play ten thousand games in order to attain professional rank of the lowest degree. When we think that it would take twenty-seven years to play ten thousand games at the rate of one game per day, we can get some idea of the Japanese estimate of its difficulty. The difficulty of the game and the remarkable amount of time and labor which it is necessary to expend in order to become even a moderately good player, are the reasons why Go has not spread to other countries since Japan has been opened to foreign intercourse. For the same reasons few foreigners who live there have become familiar with it.

On the other hand, its intense interest is attested by the following saying of the Japanese: “Go uchi wa oya no shini me ni mo awanu,” which means that a man playing the game would not leave off even to be present at the death-bed of a parent. I have found that beginners in this country to whom I have shown the game always seem to find it interesting, although so far I have known no one who has

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