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    Go Stories

    Part 1

    Don't Feel Sorry for him Who Gave Up his Life Over a Hobby

    Go is a game with the longest history. Once addicted, most people cannot shake the hobby. Its addicting power is not less than that of alcohol and sex. Thus Go has a nick name which passed on for generations, known as the "Wooden Fox". There is a saying that, "the game of 19 lines subdued countless people."

    According to the legend, the second Emperor of Bei Song Dynasty, Guang Yi (976-997 A.D.) loved the game of Go, as mentioned in many unofficial historical events. A monk called Wen Ying of the Song Dynasty wrote in "Xiang Shan Ye Lu", that Emperor Guang Yi had a Go Servant called Jia Xuan who was known to supply the Emperor with exquisite Go game records to please him. Because of this, most of the high ranking officials were unhappy. Some even suggested to impeach Jia Xuan for leading the Emperor astray by indulging the Emperor in Go. The officials urged the Emperor to give up Go and pay more attention to the administration. The Emperor knew that he could not ignore these officials, and found an excuse saying, "I know exactly what you mean, I was simply using Go as an excuse to stay away from my concubines of the six palaces. There is no need to discuss this further. Wild sex is worse than Go; and indeed only Go can help to resist the temptation of three thousand concubines from the six palaces." After hearing this, the officials weighed the pros and cons between wild sex and Go, and decided that Go was indeed better than wild sex and thus put the issue to rest.

    Actually, Emperor Guang Yi did not lie entirely. He was so busy with Go that he hardly had any time left for his concubines. Throughout history, there were countless examples of people indulging in Go to the extent that they neglected their daily affairs. For example, Zheng Xia of the Song Dynasty loved Go so much that he would force any visitor of his to play Go with him. In case the visitor did not know how to play Go, he would still insist that the visitor stay behind so that he could put up a show of his left hand playing Go against his right hand. Of course, a lot of stories about the addiction of Go have been exaggerated. The longer the history of the story, the less credible the story became. Some stories even made their way into the literature. For example, Pu SongLing wrote in "Liao Zhai Zhi Yi" that there was a ghost who loved Go so much that he lost his life over it. One day, the ghost couldnt find any body to play Go with in Hell, so he decided to look for a Go partner among the living. As soon as he started the game, he couldnt stop playing. When the morning came, this ghost was arrested by the Hell guards and as a punishment, he was thrown into the 18th Hell, with no chance for reincarnation. This ghost loved Go so much that he lost his life. Po wrote a poem in "Liao Zhai Zhi Yi" to record this incident, "For him who spent all day on one game of Go. For him who neglected his daily job. Dont feel sorry for him who gave up his life over a hobby. His fate was decided before his game was."

    And yet, there were those who thought Go was more important than money. They picked the world of black and white over gold and silver. The father of Fan Xi Ping, the top Go player in early Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 A.D.) was an example. Fans father so indulged in Go that he overlooked the importance of making a living. As a result, the family was in poverty. This was reflected in Fan Xi Pings biography as written by poet Yuan May on Fans tombstone. Incidentally, the top player in the late Qing Dynasty, Chen ZiXian had an almost identical background. Both Fan and Chen were from Hai Ning. Chens father was also crazy about Go and did a poor job in making a living. During later part of his life, he was homeless and had to live in a rundown temple. Yet Chens father still indulged in Go, until the day he died.

    Both Fan Xi Ping and Chen ZiXian brought honor to their fathers, and became rich. Go was very popular during the Qing Dynasty and good players had many ways of making money. Celebrities, high ranking officials, or wealthy merchants often paid hefty salaries for top players to stay at their houses to play Go. From this we can see that Go itself does not cause poverty, but its the addition of Go that makes people poor. Not all top players are addicted to the game of Go, just as not all players can become top players. Fans father remained a poor player regardless playing Go his entire life, as recorded by Yuan May. The differences between top players and amateur players are as follows. Amateur players play Go for fun, and can often get addicted to the game. Top players search for exquisite plays and perfect shapes, and pay more attention to winning than having fun.

    In summary, amateur players have fun in playing Go, and top players get fame and wealth.

    Copyright Yutopian Enterprises 1999.

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