One of the greatest players ever.
Honinbo Dosaku, the 4th Honinbo, Meijin and Godokoro of the Japanese Shogun is regarded by many as one of the greatest players of Go who ever lived. Even though only 153 of his games remain known from rediscovered records, all of them masterpieces that show his extra-ordinary skill, treasured for their exemplification of genius at the game of Go. Born under the name of Yamazaki Sanjiro in Iwami on 1645, he was the third child in a noble family that included three boys and two girls, all of which were exceptional Go players. In fact, his younger brother is better known under his name Inoue Inseki III, head of the Inseki School of Go. Still, Sanjiro was the strongest player of his time, and thus upon becoming the fourth head of the most prolific of the houses of Go, Honinbo, he followed the custom and changed his name to Dosaku. His contributions to the theory of Go and to the invention of new moves make him one of the most famous players of all time, well earning him his fame as the first Kisei (Saint of Go, a title only attributed to one other player, Honinbo Shusaku).
Learning Go aged seven, he was sent to Edo to study under Honinbo Doetsu when his family realized his enormous talent. It had originally been recommended that he be sent to the Yasui school that was seen to be the rising star of the Go world since taking over the post of Meijin, but as they preferred to be associated with the prestige of the Honinbo family, they thereby helped ensure the leading position of that school throughout the Edo period.
Doetsu recognised the talent as well and soon adopted Dosaku, and then appointing him as his heir. When Doetsu resigned as head of the Honinbo School in 1677 due to forcing the curent Meijin to resign by winning a game of Go against him, Dosaku became the schools' fourth head, aged 22. As the post of Meijin was vacant now, Dosaku soon applied, being appointed by the Commissioner of Shrines and Temples without objection, and was appointed as Godokoro in 1678, becoming the youngest Meijin and Godokoro ever, and one of the only ones who's career was not marred by intrigues or challenges.
But his true skill will probably never be known, as he was never pushed to his limit: Of the 16 castle games
Dosaku played with white, he won 14 by huge margins, and lot two games by a single point, games in which he had given his opponents a two stone-handicap
. His surviving game records hint at his greatness, but his true contribution that is still alive today, beside his legend, is his contribution to go theory
, being the first player recorded to have a global view
of the goban
, inventing joseki
such as the three-space pincer
, pioneering tewari
analysis (an analysis of the efficiency of positions by removing superfluous stones) and amashi
strategy (inviting an opponents attack and then having him end up achieving nothing but muscle-bound, ineffective shape). Most of these contributions were made during his "reign" as Meijin
He is also noted for discovering and developing numerous great players, such as Ogawa Doteki, Hasseki Hoshiai, Sayama Sakugen and Kumagai Honseki, all of which could have succeeded Dosaku as Honinbo, had they not died in their early twenties,most of them due to tuberculosis. The most famous of his surviving pupils was Kuwabara Dosetsu, who became the head of the Inoue house as Inoue Inseki IV, the successor of Dosaku's brother.
He was so successful that he could afford taking 30 pupils into his house, being able to once pay the enormous debts of his feudal lord of more than 300,000 ryo (3,000 ryo back then were about 100 million of todays yen). Who says you can't get rich playing games?
Dosaku died suddenly of natural causes in 1702, three-hundred years ago, aged 57.