Page:Smith - The game of go.djvu/28

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4
THE GAME OF GO

number of Go players among the nobility (and to them the knowledge of the game was entirely confined) was very small indeed.

In the period called Kasho (848–851 A.D.), and in Nin Ju (851–854 A.D.), a Japanese prince dwelt in China, and was there taught the game by the best player in China. The following anecdote is told in regard to this prince: that in order to do him honor the Chinese allowed him to meet the best players, and in order to cope with them he hit upon the idea of placing his stones exactly in the same way as those of his opponent; that is to say, when his opponent placed a stone at any point, he would place his stone on a point symmetrically opposite, and in that way he is said to have won. In regard to this anecdote it may be said that the Chinese must have been very weak players, or they would speedily have found means of overcoming this method of defense.

We next hear that in the year 850 a Japanese named Wakino became famous as a great devotee of the game. He played continuously day and night, and became so engrossed in the game that he forgot everything else absolutely.

In the next two centuries the knowledge of the game did not extend beyond the court at Kioto. Indeed, it appears that it was forbidden to play Go anywhere else than at court. At all events we are told that in the period called Otoku (1084–1087 A.D.) the Prince of Dewa, whose name was Kiowara no Mahira, secretly introduced the game into the province of Oshu, and played there with his vassals. From that time not only the number of the nobility who played the game increased rapidly, but the common people as well began to take it up.