Invincible: The Games of Shusaku
by John Power
published by Kiseido
This book has been widely acclaimed as a masterpiece on one of the greatest Go players who ever lived. Now available in SmartGo Books.
Invincible in SmartGo Books
The SmartGo Books edition of Invincible includes the complete text, games, and diagrams of the print edition, painstakingly converted to digital format. Unlike a PDF, it takes full advantage of the digital medium to take it to another level:
- Replay moves in figures and diagrams; play out your own variations.
- Fewer moves per figure, with the appropriate text for each figure.
- Inline diagrams for move sequences embedded in the text.
- Tappable links to referenced games, chapters, and diagrams.
- Adjustable font and layout.
- Always with you: read anytime on your iPad or iPhone.
Even if you already own the print edition, we are confident that you’ll get much more out of reading and studying this digital edition. And it’s not just better: at just $19.99, it’s also significantly cheaper. (Buy the print edition.)
The Saint of Go
Shusaku was the leading player of the golden age of Go in the mid-19th century. He has become known to later generations as the Saint of Go ('kisei' or 'gosei') and is recognized by modern players as one of the greatest geniuses in the history of the game. His victories over his contemporaries in a number of matches contributed to his reputation, but its main foundation is his perfect record, not even approached by any other player, of nineteen successive wins in the annual castle games played in the presence of the shogun.
Shusaku is considered the best model for aspiring professional players to study, especially his games with black. He was unexcelled in his complete mastery of the strategic principles and the practical techniques of Go. His games are a treasure house of all the varied elements of the game, from the fuseki to the endgame, but in particular they provide amateur players with ideal material for studying the art of fighting in the middle game.
Some 20th century views of Shusaku
“Shusaku simplified the complexity of Go, concealing his great strength and profound analysis beneath the smooth surface of his game… It is not an exaggeration to say that all the principles and all the techniques of Go are embodied in concentrated form in Shusaku’s Go.”
— Segoe Kensaku 9-dan
“The speed and forcefulness of Shusaku’s play with black are like lightning striking the Go board; his skill at finishing off his opponent once he took the lead is unrivalled.”
— Hayashi Yutaka, Go historian
“Shusaku would read out all the possible variations, then play straightforwardly, making the simplest move, if he thought it ensured a win. This way of playing is only possible if one has a clear understanding of the principles of Go and is blessed with superb positional judgement, and it also requires considerable self-confidence. On those rare occasions when he got into a bad position, he would display tremendous strength in fighting his way back into the lead. The castle game with Ito Showa in 1850 is a good example of a game in which he reveals his latent strength… Another feature of his Go is his flexibility and willingness to experiment. Modern Go is still far from surpassing Shusaku.”
— Ishida Yoshio 9-dan, former Meijin, Honinbo.
Inside the Book
This book presents a wide range of Shusaku's games, with commentaries by leading modern professionals, together with a description of the historical background and a biography of Shusaku. An additional selection of games without commentary or with only minimal commentary is provided in the second part of the book, while other important games from the period are also introduced in the text. Apart from the castle games mentioned above, highlights include:
- Shusaku's precocious triumph over Gennan Inseki, the arch-enemy of the Honinbo house. Their series in 1846 produced the most famous move in Go history, 'the ear-reddening move of Shusaku'.
- All the games from the famous twenty-three game series in 1853 in which Shusaku finally defeated his main rival, Ota Yuzo.
- Shusaku's games with his teacher, Shuwa, which contain some of the most interesting and subtle Go of the period.
- Shusaku's twenty-game series, played at the rate of a game a day, with Sekiyama Sendaiu, the strongest 'amateur' player of the Edo period.
The wide range of games and the depth of the analysis presented in this book make it the definitive work on Shusaku. It is also the first such detailed treatment of a Japanese Go player to be published in English.
John Power was the editor of Go World from 1977 to 1994. He was born in Armidale, N.S.W., in 1946. He received a Ph.D. in modern Japanese literature from the University of Sydney in 1973 and has also studied at Tokyo University (1967) and Waseda University (1973-75). He is a professor of English at the College of Law at Nihon University in Tokyo. His previous translations include Ishida Yoshio's Dictionary of Basic Joseki, Nakayama Noriyuki's The Treasure Chest Enigma, and Tournament Go 1992.