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    Part 4

    Suddenly Losing Cool Over Losing Weiqi

    Go lovers will tell you that the attractive power of Go is not less than that of money, wine or sex. People who are gentle and layback may suddenly become rude and aggressive on the Go board. A lot of people in history were composed and gentle, but they were not good losers. There were countless examples of weird stories that happened on the Go board. Because of this, a famous poet in the Qing Dynasty, Yuan May wrote in one of his poems, "Suddenly losing cool over losing Weiqi" The thought of these well composed famous people in history losing their cool over a game is quite funny indeed.

    It was mentioned in Nan Shi- Ji Gao Di Ben Ji (Biography of Emperor Ji Gao Di of the Southern Kingdom), Emperor Ji Gao Di (479-502 A.D.) was very good in Go. His strength was 2 pin (Note that the pin system is still used in Taiwan. Nowadays, a 2 pin is about 8 dan in professional strength, and a 1 pin is 9 dan. However, whether the ancient ranking system is equivalent to that of today is not clear. Go Seigen once commented on a Chinese player, Huang LongShi of the Qing Dynasty; if Huang were alive today, he would be 13 dan!) Any rate, Emperor Ji Gao Di loved to play Go with a general called Zhou Fu. General Zhou was a big Go fan and was totally absorbed in the Go game while he was at it. One day, while playing a game with Emperor Ji Gao Di, the emperor made a bad move and tried to retrieve it. Zhou frantically grabbed onto the Emperor's wrist and won't let go, not letting him to take back his move. Zhou actually forgot that he was playing against the Emperor. (Note: Chinese Emperors in history were regarded as of divine nature; the Chinese word for Emperor actually means Son of Heaven. Thus touching an Emperor could result in a death penalty, not to mention grabbing on the Emperor's wrist and refused to let go.) After the game, it must have sent cold chills up Zhou's spine when thinking about this incidence. On the other hand, Emperor Ji Gao Di must also be a righteous person not to punish Zhou for showing no respect for his kingship.

    Stories like this are both interesting and funny, thus they have been passed on from one generation to the other. Although funny, the outcome might have been a sad one if Emperor Ji Gao Di was also absorbed in the game like Zhou. There was another story in which the Emperor had confused the issue about killing stones and killing a person, because he was mesmerized in the game of Go. Emperor Liang Wu Di (502-557 A.D.) was crazy about Go as described in XiYang ZaZu- Fu XiuZhi. There was a famous and knowledgeable monk called the Kowtow Monk, whom the Emperor respected highly and summoned him often to chat with him. One day, Kowtow Monk paid a visit to the palace when the Emperor was playing Go with an official. The Emperor surrounded a big group of stones on the board and was so excited that he yelled, "Kill!" All of a sudden, guards rushed into the palace, seized the Kowtow Monk and executed him outside the palace gate. Unfortunately, the Emperor was so absorbed in the game that he didn't even know what had transpired. After the game, he remembered the monk and summoned him. The Emperor's guards reported to him that the monk was executed per his order, and the Emperor regretted deeply. On the other hand, Kowtow Monk didn't know why he was executed, and thought that it was the judgement for killing an earthworm when he was young.

    The talk of retribution is nonsense. The monk should put the blame on the Emperor, who was too absorbed in the game to rescue his life. After chasing his opponent's stones around the board, the word "kill!" was half way out of the Emperor's mouth. It would have been okay if it did not involve the life of a human being. Actually, the conduct of the Emperor wasn't too bad besides the yelling part. As far as bad conduct is concerned, a good example is Wong AnShi of Bei Song (960-1126 A.D.). As recorded by Fan ZhengMin in TunJiXianLan, Wang often made impulsive moves when playing Weiqi. However, when he saw that the game was not going his way, he will wipe all the stones off the board with his sleeve and said, "One plays Weiqi to relax, and might as well forget the game if one has to concentrate and waste so much effort." Wang was the Prime Minister of the Song Dynasty. Prime Ministers are known for having big hearts. There is a Chinese saying, the heart of a Prime Minister is so big that one can sail a boat in it. However, it's obviously not true while the Prime Ministers were playing Go.

    An interesting point is that people who lose their cool in playing Go can be classified into two categories, those who did it in style and those who did it with no class. People who did it in style got their names into the history book, while people who did it with no class became laughing stocks.

    Copyright Yutopian Enterprises 1999.

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