The Renju World Magazine

Link to articles from old Renju World Magazines


Ants Soosorv from  Estonia, e-mail:, is the current chief editor of Renju World. The former chief editor Ando Meritee made a certain Web site Renju World Magazine Online. There you can read Renju World No 25-31.

Renju World is very important. If you are not a connection man of RIF (Then you have a free subscription) and have not a subsribtion you should subscribe. The fee of subscription is 15 US $ for one year (3 issues). If you want to subscribe you should  contact Stefan Karlsson, Sweden, e-mail:

If you are a new player in the renju world you should also try to get old issues of Renju World where you are able to find many interesting games commented and analysed and a lot of other information. 

Three articles from The Renju World

  1. A way to improvement of player's standard

  2. Once Again - Psychological Readiness

3. History

The battle spirit of Taizan Isobe

   From 1964 to 1973 , for the space of 10 years the Meijin
title in a 5-game match was contended for by two players: Toshio
Nishimura (Kumamoto town, Kyushu island) and Taizan Isobe
(Saitama town).
   Having suffered defeat from Toshinori Yamakita in 1959, Isobe
put himself a goal "to reach and overtake Kyushu. Combining the
traits of the best Kanto (eastern half of Japan) players with
"Garyukai" (which means "the club of peculiar styles"), he
elaborated a strong individual method, which allowed him in 1965
at the 4 tournament to overtake the Hakone town.
  Up to 12 tournament inclusive (with the exception of 7
tournament) Isobe was winning from Nishimura despite Kyushu
support of the latter.
  "Yamakita is the third, Nishimura - the second, Isobe - the
first" whom we're proud of - these were the words of Takeo
Miyoshi, 7 dan.
  He was called "magician of the board edges", he knew how to
lure his opponents into the mazes of middle-play and find a win
where none was possible. For persistence in play and
resourcefulness in difficult situations Taizan Isobe can be
called "a battle spirit", a great champion.

Enter Toshio Mitsumori (N 22)

 The Meijin-sen match everybody was dreaming about began in
1962; for the first time the opponents were two players
representing the eastern and the western halves of Japan.
   As was expected, the West presented Toshinori Yamakita, while
Toshio Mitsumori, age 26, 6 dan, a new star who managed to take
the better of a row of 8-dan players - became the East
   Prior to the match with Yamakita Mitsumori had his share of
defeats, which he explained by his "hot temper" in decisive
moments, but he could be proud for swiftness of his attacks and
sharpness of new tricks, which he threaded one over another.
   After defeating Yamakita, Mitsumori together with Isobe, who
joined him later, had become the nucleus of the army of
renjuists , which was giving West the hell.
   Aside from that Mitsumori was enthusiastic in propagating
renju as well as in tutorship over beginners: a lot of people
learned about renju from the books written by Mitsumori.
   Checking the answers to the tasks as a member of the
qualifying committee Mitsumori always sent them back with his
hand-written comments, taught not to distract players at the
playing time, always embellished the playing board with new
tricks - therefore he was very popular among the beginners.

Once Again - Psychological Readiness

"Well, in our country", said Alice
   still panting a little, "you'd gene-
   rally get to somewhere else - if you
   run very fast for a long time, as 
   we've been doing."
  "A slow sort of country!" said the
   Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes
   all the running you can do to keep in
   the same place. If you want to get 
   somewhere else you must run at least
   twice as fast as that!"
  (L. Caroll Through the Looking Glass)
   In RW N1 there was an article about such important aspects of
renju like theoretical and psychological training. Here I would
like to return to the problem and add some more strokes.
   We have to point out, that the last five years after creating
RIF are noted for a closer interrelation between european and
japanese schools of renju. It helps make some notions about
style of playing renju. Incidentally, even in Japan there exist
Tokyo and Kioto ways of renju development.
   First I shall say the main thing: after a lot of thinking
together with 12 years of practical playing I came to the
conclusion that your main adversary in the game is not your
opponent but yourself.  Only overcoming yourself you can get
satisfaction from the play and its outcome. The said is true
only if the result comes from the process of playing and not
from good homework in theory.
   More than 75 % of the games are lost due to ignorance in
debut continuations. We shall later return to this aspect of
playing, and now - about psychological training. 
   The main reason of painful defeats is underestimation of your
opponent. Many renjuists, when playing against someone, whose
"image" is not as high as their own, think that he will surely
make a mistake, or are frivolous in choosing not an optimal
   But when the said opponent doesn't make a mistake,
underestimation ends catastrophically. This hope for a mistake
won't let you concentrate only on the play, you'll be waiting
for it and not try to make him play your way.
  It might seem paradoxial but to win the game you have to be
not too eager to win it! When a player wants to win a game too
much, he has a thought inside his head "What have I got to win
it for?" The result - he can't reach the needed level of
concentration.  Moreover, when an eager-to-win player throws
himself into an attack, it very often happens, that he
undercalculates the reasonable risk. If his opponent is playing
correctly - he loses the attack and the whole game with it.  Not
only psychology but also your theoretical and technical
readiness are important in renju. They must go together.
   During the game the main thing is to get tuned on the battle,
concentrate all your thoughts on the play and not divert
yourself with walks in the hall, talks with other players, etc.
   Full concentration helps you reach utter clarity of your mind.
You'll easily calculate the long variants, control all lines and
intersections and their interrelations, see all the flanks, not
only parts of the board.  Catching your opponent's incorrect
reaction (e.g. on your move on the left flank), you can reach a
decisive advantage on the other flank.
  From time to time strong european and japanese players
experience this state of mind, which depends mostly on their
general condition.  It's like an inspiration, some feel it after
good drinking the day before - but that's not a controlled
 The strongest japanese players can order themselves to enter
this state .  Maybe, it's the result of a certain training. If
you watch their play, you'll see, that very often, somewhere by
the 15th move they take a long time to think. In the same debut
europeans just go on playing by the theory.  Sure, from the
rational point of view there's no sense thinking something over
the board, it's better to save time and use theoretical
knowledge you got while homeworking.
  It seems, the japanese, while thinking over the position and
calculating, at the same time are trying to concentrate i.e. to
reach the state of full psychologic alertness.
  "Maybe, they just don't know theory?' - an unsophisticated
reader will ask.  I can answer, that as a rule in the
after-the-game comments the strongest players point out that
their theory came to an end 8-10 moves AFTER they had taken this
long thinking interval.
  To enter the state of concentration you may try reading some
short ( two-three lines) japanese poetry, amazing in its depth.
Thinking over this or that verse a player enters a state of
concentration, and gradually all irrelevant thoughts fade away.
Then throw everything away with just one mental effort and let
yourself sink into the game.

    For example:

     Always I thought,
     that I knew how to win.
     But now I know - to win not more than to lose.

   However, the choice of poetry is strictly up to you - the aim
is to stop thinking of anything (victory, defeat, etc.) but the
game itself.

   The japanese also have a strong school of determining points,
from which to continue and develop an attack. True, the moves
they make are too elegant sometimes more elegant than effective.
With europeans the art of mise and yobi is a bit mechanistic,
but is mostly the result of calculations.
   A more encyclopaedic european approach to debuts workings and
theory of debuts helps materialistic-minded europeans avoid
mistakes in the initial stage of the game. The same approach in
debut building is also characteristic of japanese players, but
mostly of high-level ones. An average player here doesn't abuse
theory with dull studies.
   As we have already pointed out, 75 % games in renju end with
a defeat due to a wrong choice of a debut, a mistake in a
variant of development and, at last, an inexact move. So,
knowledge of debuts for the most part determines your
performance as a player.
   To facilitate debut studies the "Renju World Magazine"
ordered and made a computer program named RenBase 2.10 as well
as Base-3500. This computer program together with notebook
computers is a way to renju progress.
   Now every player, even a beginner, can use something like an
reference book. The program allows you to place stones in a
certain position (if it calls for permutation of moves, you may
use unnumbered stones), and then it will find all the games with
this initial position for you.
   If you play Swiss tournament then you'll your future opponent
15-20 minutes before the play so preparations along the lines
described in RW N1 are out of question - you have no time to
look through all the published matter in the playing hall. But
with RenBase you can do it.
   Giving the program your opponent's name you can:
   1. Look through all the debuts, used by your opponent - as a
rule, the repertoire doesn't change. It's hardly probable, that
he will use a debut, he never played before. Most likely he'll
use one of the debuts he successfully used at the latest
   2. Therefore pay most attention to his latest competition.
   3. Now look, what color you'll be playing against him with
and try to find a debut that you know better than he does. If he
will want to use the debut you have chosen for yourself then
you'll have to decide what type of this debut you prefer -
vertical or diagonal.
   4. With the help of the program choose the games where your
partner changed color and plan your strategy for the game.
Remember, if you have managed to find the debut you'll play and
made your opponent play the variant you can look at five minutes
before the game - it's 30 % of your success.
   5. But RenBase can add 20 % more: it'll take you minutes to
build on the left half of your monitor the position of your
variant and review all the games played with this initial
position.  Maybe, someone has already found a better
continuation and you forgot it. But don't you get the
impression, that the program will solve all your problems for
you. To have the program is not enough to play good genju - it
is only a good helping facility during your training process.
    Keep in mind that no one but you can correctly determine the
debut (the program will only quickly supply you with the needed
information!). Using the data you will be playing not some
losing variants, but variants which will be actual. When
entered into the RenBase your games will serve both you and your
opponents in developing your playing and renju.
   Remember, if you don't use RenBase - maybe your opponent
   So, using RenBase+Base together with a notebook computer will
help you intensify training during the competition.  Creating
analogous programs takes time and money. The heart of the
program is a database with 3500 games played last years.  RW
Magazine is the main customer of the RenBase and Base programs
and owns a copyright to them. We are now working at the Windows
version of the programs, which will be compatible with
Apple-type computers. Send your suggestions and orders to the
   We are ready to cooperate in converting the database to
another format, compatible for computers, used in Japan.
   But we're off the track - let's return to discussing
psychological aspects of renju. Renju technique by itself can't
bring much success.  Think over the epigraph to this article
about the country behind the looking glass. In fact, renju is a
country where you can stay where you are only constantly moving
forward. Just stop and let yourself a rest - and already you are
far behind. You must move forward in spite of yourself.
   A sophisticated reader can ask the author, what is to be done
if both players live according to recommendations of this paper
and achieved concentration at the game. There is only one answer
- it will only depend on you, which of you will better ask the
Got for a help.  If both players are equal - there is such
an ending called a draw.
               Alexander Nosovsky