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 Post subject: Takagawa Kaku
Post #1 Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2023 12:43 pm 
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I thought I'd written something about this, but the search function disagrees.

I keep finding suggestions to study Takagawa Kaku. It's one of those names that comes up relatively often but, also, relatively in second term. It's also a pro that keeps being sidelined. Besides John Fairbairn's 'Finnal Summit', van Zeijst/Bozulich's 'Dawn of Tournament Go' and a couple of chapters in Jim Yu's 'Go on Go' there's very little about him. Some peppered games in Go World and Go Review, but, by and large, very few games have been reviewed. Some books even stop just short of him entering the scene (Honinbo, the early years). Online videos are... few, and scattered (in period covered, in players, in...)

I suppose that he wasn't one of the players that sparks curiosity. He didn't forget to check his clock, or entered gambling debts; he wasn't an exile, or from a noble family in dire straits. He didn't have a style that was explosive, wide or narrow.

Still, if he's a good player for new players to check, I'd suggest that a video on one of his games could be more useful than (yet another) video on AlphaGo or Nakamura 3p. Ideally, a review tailored to new players...

By and large, I find it exhausting that everybody and his dog keeps recommending the classics (wether "classic" means Godokoro times or XXth century), and doing videos on the latest sensation.

Just my 2¢, and excuse my ranting.

Take care.

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #2 Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2023 1:47 pm 
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All is not lost. Takagawa based his own style closely on that of Honinbo Shuei. There's a lot of Shuei commentaries.

For those who don't know what Ferran is talking about, Takagaw was famous for a beautifully balanced style, with a fondness for simple moves such as caps. He liked thick play even though this led to thick games. He himself said, "My go manifests itself in some ways in my liking for Shuei. Basically, it is rational go. It emphasises balance based on counting. I hang on closely in the opening, middle game and endgame and try to sustain thickness and keep counting to the very end."

This can possibly be accused of being the source of westerners' obsession with counting territories, although in general he most often meant merely evaluating, i.e. positional judgement.

You can also glean a lot about his style from his books. Vital Points of Go is still worth perusing.

If you want to study his style by yourself, the game he regarded as his masterpiece was probably the 7th Honinbo League playoff against Sakata. However, I'd say that was not entirely typical of his style in that (a) it involved a large trade, though for that reason it does involve territory counting, and (b) he said Sakata's style tended to make his own play look "brittle." (GoGoD 1952-04-23a). I'd say you might get a sense of his style most easily in his games against Fujisawa Hosai, and in particular those games where Hosai played mimic go as White (e.g. GoGoD 1957-07-22a), because by definitiuon Hosai was not interfering with Takagawa's opening moves.


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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #3 Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2023 2:10 pm 
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Michael Redmond did a video on one of Takagawa's games with Sakata.



His games are certainly worth studying. He is someone that played solidly and was rarely provoked to start the fight, as such his games are very good study material if you are interested to study how to play less chaotic games and more normal games. Other good players from the same period that are good to learn from are Segoe Kensaku, Fujisawa Hosai, Fujisawa Hideyuki and Go Seigan.

One doesn't really need commentaries to study how these players approached their games and learn something one can try to imitate but an hour of Go video commentary is fantastic!

Btw this is the game in the video:


Maybe the reason for less interest in Takagawa now is not AI but the fact that 1952 (when he became Honinbo for the first time) is as close to the present date as 1881 is to 1952.


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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #4 Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2023 3:29 pm 
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Glad to see Vital Points of Go mentioned. It was published in English 1n 1958 by the "Japanese Go Association" which I suppose was the Nihon Ki-io. I have a first printing copy, spiral binding and paper covers. It was one of two books published, the other one being How to Play Go, intended to help spread go outside of Japan. Interestingly, Takagawa is described as the national go champion of Japan. Of course there have been many collections of his games in Japan. I like his style. Masters make things look simple that turn out to be difficult for the less talented. Of course, Takagawa held the Honinbo title for nine consecutive years at a time when it was the most prestigious tournament.


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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #5 Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2023 1:35 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
All is not lost. Takagawa based his own style closely on that of Honinbo Shuei. There's a lot of Shuei commentaries.


I have a little booklet, in blue, wavy spine colors and a brownish stripe...

BTW, I kinda miss Kim Ok-kyun's game in there... Sure, he had to take 6 stones... Against Shuei. Possibly with rules different to the ones he knew from home.

Quote:
You can also glean a lot about his style from his books. Vital Points of Go is still worth perusing.


I have some of his writings (in Kiseido "DVDs"), but none of his books.

Quote:
If you want to study his style by yourself, the game he regarded as his masterpiece was probably the 7th Honinbo League playoff against Sakata.

[...]

I'd say you might get a sense of his style most easily in his games against Fujisawa Hosai, and in particular those games where Hosai played mimic go as White (e.g. GoGoD 1957-07-22a), because by definition Hosai was not interfering with Takagawa's opening moves.


...just with his kiai... ;)

Those are the ones in Go World 41 and Go Review 76-Summer, right?

Thanks; take care.

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #6 Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2023 1:40 am 
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kvasir wrote:
Michael Redmond did a video on one of Takagawa's games with Sakata.


Yep, I have it.

Quote:
Other good players from the same period that are good to learn from are Segoe Kensaku, Fujisawa Hosai, Fujisawa Hideyuki and Go Seigan.


Thanks; that helps. I do have something on Hideyuki and Go Seigen. Very little on the other two.

Quote:
One doesn't really need commentaries to study how these players approached their games and learn something one can try to imitate but an hour of Go video commentary is fantastic!


Yeah... Still. One only needs a bad of lentils and peas and another person to play Go. But having a guide helps; at the very least, it does give a certain confidence.

Quote:
Maybe the reason for less interest in Takagawa now is not AI but the fact that 1952 (when he became Honinbo for the first time) is as close to the present date as 1881 is to 1952.


By that same reason, we shouldn't be studying ANY of the Honinbos (as a family name).

My... gripe is that his name keeps popping up in "players newbies should review" and yet... I mean, Go World and Go Review are not exactly the first thing a newbie will reach for, or even have access to.

Take care.

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #7 Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2023 2:21 am 
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By the way... Does anyone have the original audio for this? Or know if the Japanese diplomatic service still lends it?



Take care

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #8 Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2023 7:51 am 
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My memory may be off [*], but I have read somewhere, possibly in one of John Fairbairn's works, that Takagawa Kaku was one of the few players (perhaps the only player) to ever defeat Go Seigen in a jubango. I think it occurred in 1958.

(It did not last. They had a rematch the next year, 1959, and Go Seigen returned to his winning streak. And Go had also defeated Takagawa in an earlier jubango. But Takagawa did show that Go was not invincible.)

It is curious that some accounts of Go Seigen's jubangos stop at 1957, and never mention the 1958 match :)

--------
Edit: [*] It was badly off. See the next two posts.

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Last edited by tundra on Sat Aug 19, 2023 9:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #9 Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2023 8:57 am 
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Takagawa lost his jubango with Go Seigen :)

Only one to beat Go Seigan in jubango would be Fujisawa Hosai but he was playing with black and no komi throughout :)

Hashimoto Utaro came close losing 5 games, winning 3 and drawing 2. That was with black in 2 / 3 of the time. But then it did overlap with a three game match that Go won 3-0. Their two jubango matches sum up to 11 wins for Go, 3 draws and 6 wins for Hashimoto. Hashimoto did beat Fujisawa Hosai in jubango.

Kitani was 3-3 when their first jubango was abandoned, that was a bit earlier then the bulk of Go's jubango matches. Which gives him some leg up if you want to add up the jubango result against Go and that was all without handicap (I think).

Go Seigen was just above everyone in match play and showed it again and again. He also had streaks when he didn't lose with black for more than a year.


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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #10 Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2023 9:11 am 
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It seems you are quite correct, and I was wrong. I should have checked my sources before posting :(

However, he did have some success against Go Seigen, in a three-game match. Here is the relevant excerpt from GoGoD, which I had badly misremembered:

Quote:
Even less well appreciated was his record against Go Seigen. At first he was humiliated - though not the first to suffer that fate. With Go outside the Nihon Ki-in but still seen as the leading player, a series of three-game matches with Go was set up in October 1952 at no komi but at B-W-B. Takagawa lost 0-3. In August 1955, with the match re-styled "Go versus the Honinbo" and now on an even basis with 4.5 komi, he again lost 0-3. In October 1956 he lost 0-3. In February 1958 he finally won a game, after 11 straight losses, but still lost the match 1-2. At this point Takagawa's stock with the public was rather low. In his own assessment he was 3 points weaker than Go in no-komi games. He had also been beaten down to B-W-B handicap in his 1955 ten-game match with Go, though it is often overlooked that his final score of 4 wins to 6 losses was among the best of those who had been beaten down by Go.

Yet in February 1959 Takagawa decisively turned the tables against Go with a 3-0 victory (at even), and in February 1960 followed up by winning 2-1. In February the following year he went down again 1-2, but by then he had shown that Go was not invincible.

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #11 Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2023 3:54 am 
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If Takagawa beat Go Seigen down a rank, he would be called worthful succesor of Shuei and i guess sth close to sage. But it didnt happen.

5 cents about different topic. If someone say Shin Jinseo beat Ke Jie 3-0 in match (even), all ppl would be sure, that it means that match was played with 6,5 or 7,5 komi depends on ruleset. But if someone write that Takagawa beat Go Seigen 3-0 in match (even), i am not sure, if they played B-W-B (no komi), or with some komi (4,5 or different). Just a mention, that lack of precision can lead to confusion. Yeah, i am from west, and i am not only obsessed with numbers, but with precision too (except my go games which are just poorly played).

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #12 Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2023 6:32 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
. . .

He himself said, "My go manifests itself in some ways in my liking for Shuei. Basically, it is rational go. It emphasises balance based on counting. I hang on closely in the opening, middle game and endgame and try to sustain thickness and keep counting to the very end."

This can possibly be accused of being the source of westerners' obsession with counting territories, although in general he most often meant merely evaluating, i.e. positional judgement.

. . .


Darn you Takagawa sensei haha

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #13 Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2023 9:54 am 
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AloneAgainstAll wrote:
If Takagawa beat Go Seigen down a rank, he would be called worthful succesor of Shuei and i guess sth close to sage. But it didnt happen.

5 cents about different topic. If someone say Shin Jinseo beat Ke Jie 3-0 in match (even), all ppl would be sure, that it means that match was played with 6,5 or 7,5 komi depends on ruleset. But if someone write that Takagawa beat Go Seigen 3-0 in match (even), i am not sure, if they played B-W-B (no komi), or with some komi (4,5 or different). Just a mention, that lack of precision can lead to confusion. Yeah, i am from west, and i am not only obsessed with numbers, but with precision too (except my go games which are just poorly played).


Maybe their first Go vs. Honinbo 3-game match was without komi (Takagawa taking black in two games) and the rest was with 4.5 komi? I checked a few games and it looked like it was like this. These were 3 game matches (not best-of-N) and they always played all three games even if the score was 2-0 before the last game. Probably they would do nigiri for the first and last game when it was supposed to be even; that is the usual (if not universal) practice today for title matches in Japan.

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #14 Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2023 12:43 pm 
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The first three-game match was supposed to b at -B- because Takagawa was only 7-dan and Go was 9-dan. But Takagawa was given a special uplift because he was the Honinbo. In the following match, Tokugawa was by then 8-dan but he still got an uplift ans ot he handicapping was B-W with the "Honinbo" komi of 4.5. In Match 7, Takagawa was 9-dan.

Apart from the grade discrepancy, another complication was that Matches 2 and 3 in this series were interwoven with the uchikomi games in the 10-game match, which spanned July 1955 to November 1956. So, you can have accuracy, but you can't have precision!

See Final Summit for all these games, commented.

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #15 Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 2:25 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
See Final Summit for all these games, commented.


Post says I might be able this weekend, indeed. I surrendered last Sunday.

Take care.

PS: Using the typo as an excuse... How many Tokugawa games are known to have happened? I find it quirky that, considering the way the Japanese register data, we don't know more than the 1905 game. Do we have any games against nobility? Real nobility, I mean.

Take care.

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #16 Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 11:03 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
So, you can have accuracy, but you can't have precision!



Sire, i am not sure, but i think in some magic way, i just got very precise information! :D
Thank you for still being with us, very appreciated.

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #17 Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 6:38 pm 
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https://senseis.xmp.net/?TakagawaKaku

The SL page has a neat account by Sakata and also a list of resources where Takagawa's games have been reviewed. I would say he's rather well studied, perhaps more so than his idol Shuei, until John F. embarked on Shuei's anthology.

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #18 Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 12:30 pm 
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Knotwilg wrote:
The SL page has a neat account by Sakata and also a list of resources where Takagawa's games have been reviewed.


Yes. It's a nice encyclopedia article.

Quote:
I would say he's rather well studied, perhaps more so than his idol Shuei, until John F. embarked on Shuei's anthology.


Hmm... we're using different... requirements?

I don't claim he's not well studied. Or that there aren't some classic players in a worse situation. Damn, we don't have a single booklet on Honinbo Sansa. We just got our first on a female player. I don't think even Rui Naiwei, back when, got a book.

I *do* claim that there's very little information available for a player that's actively recommended for beginners to study. You can get Lee Sedol-Gu Li's jubango in severel formats, at least one of them a free book. Not so Takagawa.

There's at least two levels of beginners. And the very first one is, kind of, served. Learn the rules, get a 9x9 A4 paper board and some coins, practice.

The second one... is still materially served, of sorts (cheap 19x19 sets). And there are some nice channels (pre-CoViD Sibicky, for my preference), tsumego collections, and books.

But, at that level, a meme (in the original sense) keeps popping up, for people who like to follow pro games, because their brain works that way. Well, two memes. One is "don't bother, git gut". The other is Takagawa.

And there're basically no vids on him. There're games commented on Go Review, Go World, Modern Masters and Final Summit. Not ONE of those is available through my local Amazon. Sure, they're somewhat available through some online retailers. Retailers a newbie doesn't know to trust. Not yet. Also, I don't think the comments in those books are geared to a contemporary beginner. Not the magazines, for sure, but I haven't read the books yet.

So... I think my point stands.

Take care

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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #19 Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 2:05 pm 
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You can review Takagawa's games on your own. They were handedly arranged by aeb at https://homepages.cwi.nl/~aeb/go/games/games/Takagawa/takagawa.html.

It could be interesting to hear what your own observations are on some the games :tmbup:


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 Post subject: Re: Takagawa Kaku
Post #20 Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 2:54 pm 
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Quote:
So... I think my point stands.


To tell the truth, I'm not sure quite what your point is. You have made an observation you have heard quite a few people say "study Takagawa" but no-one can point to a significant body of material on him that is readily available. I'm inclined to say that doesn't follow my own experience, as I don't think I've heard a recommendation to study Takagawa for decades. As to how easy it is to get available material, I can't comment as I don't have to go looking for it.

But if we accept the observation is an accurate one for a lot of people, it seems to me that at least two points can be inferred. One is that people who recommend Takagawa for study are either fibbers or bampots. Fibbers because if material really is scarce, what did they use to study? Maybe they are just lazily repeating what they think is received wisdom, in which case they are bampots.

Another inference is that they did study Takagawa themselves at a time when material was available. But it's not now, so they are smug cads.

As far as I can tell, you are making one or both of these points, or something like it.

But there is a third possible point we can infer. I imagine you are not making this particular point, however. But we must consider it. There are over 1200 games by Takagawa in the GoGoD database (virtually all transcribed by T Mark Hall) who famously improved two grades just by transcribing Go Seigen's games. There are no comments, of course, but when you have that many games, you can learn a lot just by comparing the games - what openings does hie like or avoid, and so on, how did he change over time, etc. Are these go "influencers" advising you to do that?

But if the gripe does come down to the lack of commented material pure and simple, you can't blame the guys who want to write the material or the publishers who would like to publish it. Most of the go world has decided they don't want to buy books or go magazines. They have learned to count up to "free" and stopped there. Or they prefer the bling of videos, where it is usually a case of "never mind the quality, feel the width".


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