Discovering My Master Wu

As most of you know, I’ve spent my fair share of money on this game. Perhaps one of my craziest purchases as a beginner was The Complete Game Records of Go Seigen. Yup. I bought it in September 2010 when I was a mere 15k. And though it may have seemed like the biggest waste of money at the time, I can only smile as I think about how funny the world works sometimes.

Since my first step onto the endless path of go, I have come to learn of many different professionals along with their various styles. And though I’ve come and gone between the various ones and learned from them, none of them ever really stuck with me. It’s not that I don’t admire their strength or am not a fan of them, but there was never one that stuck with me more than another.

For those who have read First Kyu, you might remember that Wook (the main character) studied endlessly from Game Records of Wu, which was the focal point of his study to become a professional. And as I was reading it again for like the fifth time, the following paragraph struck me.

“One day during his fifth month in the mountains, Wook suddenly experienced higher understanding. It was during his eight time reviewing the game records of Master Wu. The experience was the go equivalent of Buddha under the tree, or Jesus after forty days in the wilderness.”
Wook came to find his go through studying Master Wu*, similar to how Hikaru’s go is entrenched in Shusaku’s (ultimately Sai’s) go. And after reading that again, part of me wondered who my Master Wu would be. And as the fates would have it, my mind shot straight to my collection of Go Seigen books sitting on my bookshelf at my parent’s place.

I know that the more popular historical figures that most people study are legends like Honinbo Shusaku, Kitani Minoru‘s disciples, Lee Changho, and Lee Sedol because their style is much easier to understand and imitate. And in all honesty, I have tried to study most of them, but I never felt that inspiration that many people talk about when going through a professional’s games.

I’ve been told countless times that Go Seigen is very difficult to imitate and requires an immensely strong reading ability for his style to work. Yet, as I sat down with the first volume and my board and stones, a feeling of awe and inspiration came over me as I started playing out the moves on the board. And in that moment, I could feel it deep down: Go Seigen is my Master Wu.

*Fun Trivia: Apparently speculation is that Master Wu in First Kyu actually refers to Go Seigen. I had absolutely no idea. Isn’t that crazy?!