Title: Yasui Chitoku Games Collection [4 volumes]
Author/Editor: Kenkichi Takanashi 高梨健吉
Publisher: Omata Kosei 小俣光生
Published: 1986 昭和61
Format: traditionally bound
Publisher Recommended Price: JPY35000
I recently acquired a copy of this collection of the games of Yasui Chitoku. It seems to be privately printed so it is very rare to see this set on the market. It definitely cost me more than the publisher recommended price.
Yasui Chitoku (1776-1838) is one of the Four Sages of Japanese Go (the others being Honinbo Genjo, Gennan Inseki, and Honinbo Shuwa) who were of Meijin class but unfortunately were not able to become Meijin. He had a spectacular rivalry with Honinbo Genjo and together they built up the foundation of the golden age of Japanese go. He was born the son of a fisherman but rose to become the greatest Yasui player. His style is described as being territory-oriented and he is known for his shinogi (saving weak groups).
The English book “Appreciating Famous Games (Ishi Press)” spends a whole chapter (ch 4) covering a game of Chitoku vs. Genjo under the title “One Meijin Too Many”. It also includes a bonus game between the two rivals under the title “A Brilliant Waste Of A Move”. Please refer to that book and enjoy the commented brilliance of these two great players in English.
As to the present set, there is an interesting story about it’s importance. In a Chinese article dated from 2003, we learn that Chang Hao was frustrated with his string of losses to Yi Chang Ho. It seems that no matter how evenly they played throughout the game, Yi Chang Ho would always manage to find victory during the endgame. Chang Hao turned to his good friend Yoda Norimoto for some advice. For a time Yoda was once the arch-nemesis of Yi Chang Ho and during that period Yoda used the endgame as his main weapon against Yi Chang Ho who is most admired for his endgame skills. Yoda told Chang Hao that during the Edo period in Japan, Chitoku played the endgame with such amazingly strength that it would do wonders for Chang Hao’s game if he dug up the treasure trove within Chitoku’s game records. Yoda went on to lend his precious 4-volume set of Yasui Chitoku Games Collection 安井知得全集 to Chang Hao who studied it diligently thereafter. Alas, Chang Hao was still unable to overcome Yi Chang Ho in their next tournament game.
Yoda’s great admiration of Chitoku is evident in his book “Calm Yasui Chitoku” in which he provides detailed commentaries on some of Chitoku’s games.