Page:Smith - The game of go.djvu/33

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9
HISTORY OF THE GAME

Sanyetsu held the rank of “Jo zu,” which was almost as high, but which, according to the rules, would entitle him to a handicap of one stone from his expert adversary; and these two men, being the best players, were selected to play in the Shogun’s presence. Honinbo, feeling conscious of his skill, disdained to accept the handicap, and met his adversary on even terms. The game was proceeding in the presence of the court nobles before the Shogun had appeared, and among the spectators was Matsudaira Higo no Kami, one of the most powerful noblemen of that epoch. Yasui Sanchi was a favorite of Matsudaira and as he watched the play he remarked audibly that Honinbo would surely be defeated. Honinbo Sanyetsu heard the remark, and pausing in his play, he allowed the stone which he was about to place on the board to fall back into the “Go tsubo” or wooden jar that holds the Go stones, gently covered the “Go tsubo,” and drawing himself up with great dignity, said: “I am serving the Shogun with the art of Go, and when we Go masters enter a contest, it is in the same spirit as warriors go upon the field of battle, staking our life, if necessary, to decide the contest. While we are doing this we do not allow interference or comments from any one, no matter how high may be his rank. Although I am not the greatest master of the game, I hold the degree of ‘Jo zu,’ and, therefore, there are few players in Japan who are able to appreciate my plans, tactics, or strategy. Nevertheless, the Prince of Higo has unwarrantedly prophesied my defeat. I do not understand why he has done this, but if such a comment were allowed to become a precedent, and onlookers were permitted to make whatever comments on the game they saw fit, it would be better