Classic Go Games: Yasui Chitetsu vs Honinbo Dosaku – Castle Game

This is a castle game, between Honinbo Dosaku and Yasui Chitetsu, from early Edo period Japan (17th century).

The four houses

Castle Game: Yasui Chitetsu vs Honinbo Dosaku.

Castle Game: Yasui Chitetsu vs Honinbo Dosaku.

During this time, the strongest Go players in Japan were usually part of an organized school or ‘house’, which they represented when they played.

The four most successful and powerful houses were the Honinbo, Yasui, Inoue and Hayashi houses.

The members of the houses were like a family (iemoto system), even though they weren’t always blood relatives.

Honinbo Dosaku

Dosaku was the 4th head of the Honinbo house, but at the time when this game was played he was still in his twenties and was the heir of the 3rd Honinbo, Doetsu.

However, later in his life Dosaku became the Honinbo and was also appointed as Meijin – an official position which was reserved for the strongest Go player in Japan.

Dosaku’s legacy

Dosaku was acknowledged as having been stronger than practically all of his contemporaries, and was later referred to as a Kisei (Go Saint) along with Honinbo Shusaku.

He’s also credited with having invented the concept of tewari analysis and innovating in many other areas, such as the effective use of three-space pincers.

Yasui Chitetsu

Yasui Chitetsu was the third head of the Yasui house. He wasn’t as famous as Dosaku, but he was probably the Yasui at the time when this game was played.

In the period just before Dosaku, the Yasui’s had been the strongest house for awhile, even though the Honinbo house was the oldest and most prestigious.

The Castle Games

Castle games, like this one, were played in the presence of the shogun. They were the most important games for Japanese Go players during this period.

There was no komi at the time when this game was played, so black gained more of an advantage from playing first and white had to play more aggressively to catch up.

Commented game record

Yasui Chitetsu vs Honinbo Dosaku


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


For another perspective on this game, you can read Otake Hideo’s commentary in the book Otake’s Secrets of Strategy from the Heart of Go Series (Hinoki Press).

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About Younggil An

Younggil is an 8 dan professional Go player with the Korean Baduk Association. He qualified as a professional in 1997 and won an award for winning 18 consecutive professional matches the following year. After completing compulsory military service, Younggil left Korea in 2008, to teach and promote the game Go overseas. Younggil now lives in Sydney, Australia, and is one of the founders of Go Game Guru. On Friday evenings, Younggil is usually at the Sydney Go Club, where he gives weekly lessons and plays simultaneous games.

You can follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.


  1. Thank you for another interesting game analysis, I really enjoy them a lot.
    Just a small note: ‘iemoto’ (家元) refers to the current head (or founder) of the school or house, not the house as a whole.

  2. Thanks Mr Younggil for commented this game. In the Otake’s strategy book this game is also commented. He has not always the same opinion as you of course. I hope you continue with commenting old and classics games, as your commented games are always wonderful.

  3. Thank-you for the game Mr. Younggil.

    A few other details about the players and events:

    Honinbo Shusaku was referred to as a saint for different reasons than Dosaku. You can read about the transfer of the sainthood title from Jowa to Shusaku here:

    Most games were ‘re-played’ in front of the shogun at a quickened pace, being played privately the one or two days before — this activity was called “shitauchi.”

  4. Many thanks for excellent commentary. I hope you continue to publish also commenteries to classic games in the future. I enjoy them and also feel that the different viewpoint, compared to contemporary games, has given me some new insights into go.

  5. Thank you very , it’s a very very interesting game. We can learn many things in dosaku’s games.

  6. Nice game nice review

  7. Very interesting game. Curious shapes and lots of tesuji, and explanations help to understand what’s really going on.

  8. What I gather from these old games is that today’s professional players are stronger than Dosaku was. Even if he was incomparable in his time and may have had more raw talent (whatever that may be), the game of Go has evolved a lot and professionals have collectively become smarter. I know many pros will refrain from drawing such explicit conclusions but the fact of the matter is that modern pros find many flaws in old games, especially in the opening.

    Thank you for this analysis.

    • This game doesn’t demonstrate Dosaku’s strength, which wouldn’t blossom for another two to three decades. In this game, he hasn’t yet developed his tewari analysis, amashi strategy, global vision, or three-space pincer.

  9. Thank you
    I like your comment for this game
    Dosaku is my the most favorites player
    I play go (baduk) for 15 years but cannot improve my style
    until I download and see Dosaku games in last 2 years
    then I can more enjoy to play go (baduk)
    and can understand your comment