Page:Smith - The game of go.djvu/25

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The game of Go is probably the oldest of all known games. It was played by the Chinese from earliest antiquity, and has been played in its present form by the Japanese for over eleven centuries, but while the game originated in China, the Japanese have far surpassed the Chinese in skill at the game, and it has come to be regarded in Japan as their national game.

In the old Chinese works three persons are named as the originators of the game, but in Japan its invention is commonly attributed to only one of these. This man is the Chinese emperor Shun, who reigned from 2255 to 2206 B.C. It is said that this emperor invented the game in order to strengthen the weak mind of his son Shang Kiun. By others the invention of the game is attributed to the predecessor of Shun, the emperor Yao, who reigned from 2357 to 2256 B.C. If this theory is correct it would make the game about forty-two hundred years old. The third theory is that Wu, a vassal of the Chinese emperor Kieh Kwei (1818–1767 B.C.) invented the game of Go. To the same man is often attributed the invention of games of cards. It would seem that this last theory is the most credible, because it would make the invention more recent, and because the inventor is said to have been a vassal and not an emperor.

Whatever may be the truth in regard to the origin of the