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 Post subject: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #1 Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:54 am 
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Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei is a book in which a top professional go player shows fans and amateurs how he thinks about the game. In it, O Rissei presents and describes 20 of his games from the mid- to late 90's through 2000, including a number of decisive games in his quests to win the prestigious Oza and Kisei titles. The book is divided into three main parts, which can loosely be described as focusing on crucial situations on the path to victory in the opening, middlegame and endgame, plus a last chapter detailing his go record.

O Rissei's approach to the game is both calculating and instinctive. In his book, he presents his strategies for getting a game off to the right start, shows his decision process in assessing variations, and discusses the professional's ability to scent out negative aspects of an opponent's move that may even elude the eye.

The first chapter,“Rissei Style Strategy in the Opening,” shows how he thinks about creating the structure of the game. In it O Rissei show the opening phases of 16 games, and characterizes them by a particular move or formation that he sets up in the fuseki. As one might expect from a professional go player showing his own games, these are not run-of-the-mill moves, and do not necessarily follow the wisdom embodied in go proverbs. Many of the positions appear to be innovative, first appearing in my database during the period that the games were played. By presenting such concepts, O Rissei encourages the reader to try out new ideas. He goes on to discuss his reasoning for choosing the move, and describes the consequences both as they occurred in the game and in detailed variations that illustrate the depth of professional thinking.

The second chapter, entitled “Starting One's Sensors to Take Advantage of a Good Opportunity,” shows the continuations of 8 of these games, plus two other complete games. Here, O Rissei comes up with marvelously descriptive names for each game, such as: “Entering the Tiger's Lair,” or “Dripping Cold Sweat,” and his descriptions of the game situations are both insightful and evocative. Each sub-chapter begins by presenting a board position from the game for the reader's consideration, in the form of a full board problem. He then shows the moves leading up to that position, typically starting from the point where he had left off in chapter 1, and follows up by showing how the game turned out. The emphasis of this chapter is showing how games can be decided in the middlegame.

The structure of the third chapter, “Sharpening One's Sense of Smell for Victory,” is fairly similar to that of the second chapter. Again each sub-chapter starts by presenting a crucial board position from a game, and continues with a thorough analysis . The focus of this chapter however leans more toward endgame situations.

Although O Rissei repeatedly shows in variations the calculations he made during and after the game, his emphasis throughout the second and third chapters is on sensing potential turning points, moves that he sometimes describes as “reverberating” their power across the board, and the necessity of sharpening one's senses for the shortcomings of an opponents move. O Rissei states in his introduction that the best way for amateurs to improve their ability to sense the chances inherent in a position is to replay professional games, and the ones that he has included along with his insightful commentary provide valuable and enjoyable study material for anyone interested in professional go.

Of the 20 games, 8 are played against Cho Chikun and the others are played against such strong and influential players as Kato Masao, Kobayashi Koichi, O Meien and Rin Kaiho, among others. O Rissei's presentation provides both a fascinating insight into the mind of a professional go player as well as showing the depth, dynamic and drama of his games. I found the book both riveting and informative, and it has expanded my appreciation for the game.

Catching Scent of Victory is the second in the Heart of Go Discovery series published by Hinoki Press. The Heart of Go series was originally published in Japanese by the Nihon Ki-in. The book is about 5 ½ by 8 ½”, printed in paperback and has 270 pages.

My Rating: rating <--means I like it alot.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #2 Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:08 pm 
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I have the first book of the series, and the binding is so bad that it stops me from buying anymore of the series. Now the book is cracked.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #3 Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:32 pm 
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Excellent and informative review - thanks Daal.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #4 Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:23 am 
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LokBuddha wrote:
I have the first book of the series, and the binding is so bad that it stops me from buying anymore of the series. Now the book is cracked.


While it won't stop me from buying another book in the series, I have to agree that the quality of the binding is deplorable.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #5 Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:46 am 
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binds are also bad in volume 5 :(

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #6 Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:40 am 
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daal wrote:
LokBuddha wrote:
I have the first book of the series, and the binding is so bad that it stops me from buying anymore of the series. Now the book is cracked.


While it won't stop me from buying another book in the series, I have to agree that the quality of the binding is deplorable.


The book bindings may become irrelevant soon… ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #7 Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:07 pm 
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imabuddha wrote:

The book bindings may become irrelevant soon… ;-)


... pity.


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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #8 Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:29 pm 
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kex wrote:
... pity.

As someone who owns many paper books I can't agree.

Yes, I'd love it if go books never went OOP, and were available in leather-bound hardcover on thick acid-free paper with a proper binding. Unfortunately the "traditional" book market for English language go books makes that impossible.

The market is changing, and the result will be greater access to go books, lower prices, no issues with poor bindings, and some other improvements over paper books that many people will find compelling.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #9 Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:21 pm 
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I assume you are saying by inuendo that electronic "books" will be the modality for publishing in the near future. If that is the way things will go it's a terrible shame and I'm glad I have enough real books to last me two lifetimes. Knowing how unreliable computers are, how you have to keep everything backed up, I don't see how Kindle and whatever other electronic "book" holder you may have can be a practical substitute for your own personal library. And speaking of libraries, what will happen to them? You can't lend a "book" from a Kindle.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #10 Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:39 pm 
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imabuddha wrote:
The book bindings may become irrelevant soon… ;-)


As far as I know, they still have books in the 51st century, so not too soon.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #11 Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:07 pm 
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The market is changing, and the result will be greater access to go books, lower prices, no issues with poor bindings, and some other improvements over paper books that many people will find compelling.


You might be right, but my first impression is that you don't understand the western go market.

Greater access to go books? How? Authors, translators and publishers have to be convinced that hard work is worth their while. The early signs from people I know in the field are that they are far from convinced that there are many benefits to them from e-books. Three factors seem to dominate. One is that the market is a small niche and most people who are willing and available to buy books will happily buy them in paper form anyway, even if they would prefer e-form. In other words, e-books are unlikley to expand the market much (may even shrink it, as not everyone goes online). A second problem is that, because go books are heavily diagram dependent, much extra work has to be done to prepare an e-book (and the results are very disappointing on gadgets like the Kindle). Even a small increase in the market would nowhere near compensate for the extra amount of work necessary. Third, there is the increased risk of piracy. This can be partly overcome by signing up to a proprietary format, but that reduces the already small market.

Maybe I'm the one who doesn't understand the market or the coming changes, but I haven't been bowled over by my Kindle, even though it's not quite as bad as gowan makes out (e.g.I believe you never lose any books because they are stored for you on the Kindle site). And that is a conclusion I've come to on just plain text books.

Maybe someone will write software that makes e-go-book making easier, but since the programmers haven't even sorted out sgf properly after a couple of decades, that's unlikely any time soon. Maybe there will be a shift towards movies with the author just talking and demonstrating on a board. Fine as far it goes, but in real life you still have to spend much more time reading books than listening to lectures if you want a good degree.

The only real problem with the current situation seems to be poor bindings. Surely that can be solved more easily by insisting on good bindings, and being willing to pay a little more for the improvement.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #12 Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:24 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Greater access to go books? How?

…snip…

A second problem is that, because go books are heavily diagram dependent, much extra work has to be done to prepare an e-book (and the results are very disappointing on gadgets like the Kindle). Even a small increase in the market would nowhere near compensate for the extra amount of work necessary.

Third, there is the increased risk of piracy. This can be partly overcome by signing up to a proprietary format, but that reduces the already small market.

1. Paper books go out of print. Please tell me how I can get access to a copy of Sakata's "Tesuji and Anti-Suji of Go" for less than $100. :(


2. My admittedly very limited knowledge of paper go book publishing is that the diagrams for modern books, such as the ones you've written for Slate & Shell, are created using programs such as SmartGo. This is noted on the page with the copyright, isbn, etc.

Those programs can store the diagrams in sgf format, which could also be used to create a kind of interactive electronic book… For about the same effort currently required to create static diagrams for paper books one could create dynamic diagrams which would be easier to understand.

In addition, the limitations on the number of diagrams are essentially eliminated for an electronic work.


3. Paper books are not a significant barrier to copyright infringement.


I'm not saying paper books are doomed. I am saying that in the near future people will have the choice of buying in electronic format. I think that's a positive change.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #13 Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:09 pm 
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gowan wrote:
You can't lend a "book" from a Kindle.


Actually you could (and still can on the Nook). The only thing to blame for not being able to is copyright law and the fact that it is actually enforceable with digital content. Trust me, if companies could find a way to prevent you from lending your paper books to people, they would.

The flipside, 'piracy', is that when the restrictions placed on digital media to prevent copyright infringement are bypassed, content can be disseminated to a much greater degree. My one e-book can be placed on a website and 'lent' to millions of people.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #14 Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:57 pm 
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imabuddha wrote:
Those programs can store the diagrams in sgf format, which could also be used to create a kind of interactive electronic book… For about the same effort currently required to create static diagrams for paper books one could create dynamic diagrams which would be easier to understand.


Excellent point. I personally can't envision an original board position when 5 or more additional moves are shown in a diagram, so while I was reading the book, I loaded up every game from my GoGoD database so I could replay O Rissei's sequences. It would have been nice if I could have rewound and replayed the sequences in the "book."

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #15 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:30 am 
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imabuddha wrote:
Please tell me how I can get access to a copy of Sakata's "Tesuji and Anti-Suji of Go" for less than $100. :(

Find a good library :)

If you are in the USA, there should be a copy at the Cleveland Public Library and at the Library of Congress.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #16 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:14 am 
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Those programs can store the diagrams in sgf format, which could also be used to create a kind of interactive electronic book… For about the same effort currently required to create static diagrams for paper books one could create dynamic diagrams which would be easier to understand.


No, the point is is that it is not the same effort. People who have tried so far have found that the amount of work required for e-books is much, much higher. I agree that on paper (as it were) it shouldn't be much different, but the reality is that it is very different, which means there is a lot of work in redesigning and rewriting. This has largely to do with the way variations and current readers work in sgf, and the fact that conventionally written text or pointers to variations disappear at crucial moments. There are also difficulties such as being able easily to compare one diagram to another int he same view. The upshot is that text for e-books really has to be written ex novo, and that is just not worth while at present.

Of course a current paper book can be converted to a pdf file if you count that as an e-book, but that is tantamount to giving it away free. The pirates affect the go market much more than most people realise. It is one of the most important reasons books are not reprinted, for example. But actually the quite legal business of re-selling or lending go books is also a deterrent. People sometimes complain about the high price of go books, but again it is a special niche market and you have a high chance of recouping some money by re-selling. But that also works against re-printing.

The implication behind a question like where you can get an out-of-print book for less than $100 is that you have a right to such a deal. You don't. And remember also that the author gets no benefit from the second-hand price. There is one minor book of mine where a re-seller gloatingly made more on his one copy than I made on the entire (small) print run. If you want a steady stream of good books that stay in print at reasonable prices, you need to ask whether enough is being done to help the producers. The biggest single way to help is easy and free. There are virtually no advertising outlets, so actively talking more about specific books (as in this thread) would be a major boost.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #17 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:35 am 
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imabuddha wrote:
The market is changing, and the result will be greater access to go books, lower prices, no issues with poor bindings, and some other improvements over paper books that many people will find compelling.


Actually, some of the novels I bought recently had more expensive Kindle versions.

There are new issues with ebooks that paper books don't have. A paper book always "works" as long as you treat it gently (as you would an electronic device) and once you have it, you actually do have and own it. (As opposed to having a revokable license to read it.) An ebook needs a reader (the hardware) that supports the format the ebook is in. What happens if, say, Amazon shuts down tomorrow? (I'll use the Kindle as an example here.)

In the past few years, there have been multiple new versions of the hardware, all costing several hundreds of dollars a piece. It adds a recurring expense to the hobby of book reading if you want to stay up to date or if the reader breaks. There is also the dependency on a power source and the actual reader is expensive. If you lose a book, you can usually replace it (rarities aside, but you'd not take those on a bus trip), if your Kindle drops, dies an artificial death, gets stolen or is lost, you face a significant expense and waiting time before you can read your books again.

What about in 20 years? The ebook format then will have changed. How do I keep my books "updated"? At which point will I no longer have access to them unless I use an antiquary to read them on? Can I make myself independent of the whims and fate of one specific company?

After 25 years of PC video gaming, I made the switch to digital distribution a couple years ago. This was a pretty big thing for me. Now all my (new) games are bought from Steam. It's convenient, I can re-download games on demand, I get some good deals, they are automatically updated. However, if Valve closes down, all my games will be gone. I depend on the software and internet access. Steam can, so says the TOS, close my account, in which case I lose literally lose access to all my games, and I won't get a refund. I can't sell the games. I'm okay with these downsides because video games are usually short-lived entertainment items. Sure, I'll sometimes go back to an old title, but it's rare, and a game is considered old after two years, and plenty of titles that came out just ten years ago won't even run properly on modern hardware or the latest OS.

So the risk is low. But books? I have shelves full of books that are much older than ten years, and most of them are still "current", e.g. novels and many go books. They don't go out of date or fashion, unlike video games. That's the main source of my concerns regarding ebooks. There are some practical issues too, like the whole "feel" of books and their flexibility. A book doesn't break when it falls off the bed because you snoozed off while reading. A Kindle may well break. Books are quite robust and, as said, work pretty much always as long as you have a source of light and a pair of eyes.

I would -like- to switch to ebooks, but as long as only some titles are released electronically and they frequently cost more than a paperback copy, plus all the concerns above, I'm very hesitant to go that route. It's different from adapting a new technology. With books, there is more at stake. (I can't afford to buy every book twice.)

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #18 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:53 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
The implication behind a question like where you can get an out-of-print book for less than $100 is that you have a right to such a deal. You don't. And remember also that the author gets no benefit from the second-hand price. There is one minor book of mine where a re-seller gloatingly made more on his one copy than I made on the entire (small) print run. If you want a steady stream of good books that stay in print at reasonable prices, you need to ask whether enough is being done to help the producers. The biggest single way to help is easy and free. There are virtually no advertising outlets, so actively talking more about specific books (as in this thread) would be a major boost.
Really, it doesn't imply that you have a right. All it implies is that there is an inefficiency in the market. Current book buyers want Sakata's book more than they want (most) contemporary books. Perhaps they'd be willing to pay a premium over what current books cost, albeit not enough to reach the $100 price.

Consider the person who holds the rights to the book. Would he like to sell that book with the premium included? Yes, except that he probably can't feasibly print and sell just enough copies to match the current demand. With e-publishing or print on demand, he might be able to do so, and turn a profit. Consumers win, as do the folks who own the rights to Sakata. Contemporary authors lose a bit, but they also gain in that their books might be sold after conventional print runs are exhausted.

So there's a good outcome that's blocked by current publishing models. Maybe those alternate models are unworkable--no one intelligent ever said that every inefficiency in the market can be removed.

P.S. That claim about what the rights holder would do obviously abstracts from some details--particular rights holders may be indifferent, perverse, absentminded, or possessed of more important priorities. But so far as they are interested in making money, the claim holds.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #19 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:24 am 
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According to this lengthy article, e-books seem to benefit authors. Even traditional publishers apparently give higher percentages to the writers for e-book versions (vs. hardcover editions). And if the authors go for more direct form of publishing (skipping the conventional publishing houses), the margin is even larger.

I don't know how this applies to a very small niche market like Go literature, though.

On a related topic, while I do buy relatively many go books, I would purchase more if the prices (at least in Europe) were lower. Vicious circle, I know, but 20-30 Euro for a 220p, small-format book doesn't invite to spontaneous purchases and forces me to carefully pick the titles that I do spend money on.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #20 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:44 am 
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Really, it doesn't imply that you have a right. All it implies is that there is an inefficiency in the market.


It can signal an in efficiency, or you can change tack to another economic theory with rather different overtones and say it shows a lack of incentives. But here you mustn't ignore the pre-existing context. Some people have justified piracy (or photocopying) of go books simply by arguing a book is out of print, arrogating a right to themselves they haven't got.

Quote:
Current book buyers want Sakata's book more than they want (most) contemporary books.


Strictly we should probably distinguish between buyers who are go players and those who are collectors. Collectors seem more likely to distort markets.

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