Page:Smith - The game of go.djvu/26

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THE GAME OF GO

game, it is perfectly certain that Go was already known in China in early antiquity. In old Chinese works, of which the oldest is dated about a thousand years before Christ, a game which can be easily recognized as Go is mentioned casually, so that at that time it must have been well known.

We are told also that in China somewhere about 200 B.C., poetry and Go went hand in hand, and were in high favor, and a poet, Bayu, who lived about the year 240 A.D., made himself famous through poems in which he sang the praises of the game.

It is remarkable that in the old books it is stated that in the year 300 A.D. a man by the name of Osan was so skilled in Go that he could take all the stones from the board after the game had been finished and then play it over from memory. This is of interest also as showing that in the course of time playing the game has had the effect of strengthening the memory of Go players, because there are now hundreds of players in Japan who can replace a game move for move after it has been disarranged. It is in fact the customary thing for a teacher of the game to play the game over in that way in order to criticise the moves made by the student.

Anecdotes have come down to us from the old Chinese times in regard to the game, of which we will mention only one, which shows how highly it was esteemed.

Sha An, a man who lived in the time of the Tsin Dynasty (265–419 A.D.), carried on a war with his nephew Sha Gen. Growing tired of taking life, they left the victory to be decided by a game of Go, which they played against each other.