See the Power of the Stones: Takeo Kajiwara’s Direction of Play

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direction-of-play

Introduction

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee

I once read somewhere that reading 100 Go books once is inferior to reading one Go book 100 times. Like in martial arts, Go requires different skills before one can become formidable in the game. We players of this complex game can train and enhance our knowledge by reading books. Hopefully, the knowledge we consume will manifest into a skill that, hopefully, we can use in our matches. However, training one skill 1,000 times may not be sufficient to compensate the lack of training in other skills.

The best reply I read about the parable of one Go book read a 100 times is that reading ten books ten times each might be better. I agree on this proposition.

I believe that the principles of Go are as simple as its rules. The necessary skills needed in Go can be distilled in only 10 (or even less) skills, but that is for another article.

If I were asked what are the ten books I will read ten times, or even 100 times, Takeo Kajiwara‘s Direction of Play will be in my list.

Who should read it?

If you already know the basics of Go (read this book or these books if not yet) or already a dan player, I think you should read this book. The ideas distilled in this book are so important. No matter what level you are, you must appreciate and realize the power of every stone you put on the goban. Let me just use Takeo Kajiwara’s words:

“Well, in go, each stone, whether it stands alone or with others, is invested with a power all its own.”

Alpha Go‘s play style, in my opinion, emphasizes the importance of realizing and using the power of stones and proper direction of play.

What can I learn from it?

One should learn about direction of play and the power of stones. The book is mostly focused on the opening (the power of the corner stones, the power of the first few stones, and the proper use of joseki), but it also touches on the proper direction of play during middle game and fighting.

Why is it great?

Because you will realize the eternal wisdom of Takeo Kajiwara when he talks about the power of stones and direction of play and the burden set upon you as the master of stones:

“Every time you place a stone on the board, you are exposing something of yourself. It is not just a piece of slate, shell, or plastic. You have entrusted to that stone your feelings, your individuality, your will power, and once it is played, there is no going back. Each stone carries a great responsibility on your behalf.”

How can it improve my knowledge and gameplay of go?

Direction of play is an easy concept to understand, but a difficult one to apply during games. One must to learn it by heart and lock it in one’s mind. One must read it as often as possible to remind oneself of the power the stones carry. If one can see these powers and their relationship to each other, then one is three or five steps closer to dan level.

END

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