BEFORE WE BEGIN...
Let me tell you a story. An old story, a really old story. Do you know how to play go?
You do? First kyu, a player of the first rank? Really? Have you ever competed in a professional qualifying tournament? No? Then you are not, I repeat, NOT first kyu!
I know, I know. Nowadays all kinds of bad players call themselves first kyu. This story is, however, not about those fake first kyus. It's a story of the real first kyus. There is a guy who runs a smoke shop near Niagara Falls. His name is Shin. On rainy days he keeps staring at the falls and mumbles something like this: "I'm sure they must all be playing for bangneki stakes happily somewhere..."
Can you even guess what he is talking about? If not, just hold on and listen to what I'm going to tell you. Only about a handful of people know this story. So listen up.
THUS BEGINS A COMPELLING, INSIGHTFUL AND HAUNTING TALE OF LOVE, SACRIFICE, THE SEARCH FOR EXCELLENCE, AND "GO" - THE WORLD'S OLDEST GAME.
There are some who believe me to be a mediocre player. Jimmy Cha and Hoon-Hyun Cho often laugh at my weak moves. There ire some who believe me to be a fantastic player. For Mr. Kim, Brother Park, and Sucker Lee, it is their life-long dream to become as strong as I am. I am both strong and weak. I am a first kyu. When I first wrote this story in Korean in 1992, my goal was to allow people to read a story about first kyus. When I was given the opportunity to translate the story into English I was reluctant for two main reasons.
First, though it seemed a formidable task for a non-native speaker to translate a book into English, I did not want anybody but me to attempt the translation in the fear of losing the flavor I instilled in the original book. Second, I did not believe the English speaking readers would enjoy or appreciate the story due to the differences in cultures. Janice Kim, professional go player and publisher, however, encouraged me to take up the work. She insisted the book would at least introduce the Korean Culture to the readers in a natural way, unlike government propaganda.
So here it is. I must confess that translating the novel into English was in fact more difficult than writing the original in Korean. I would like to thank Janice and Richard for their efforts to make this book a reality. I also thank Roy Langston, a good friend and fellow go player, for his advice and support throughout the time of agony of translating.
I almost wonder if the ever-mystical gods of go are smiling down on me. All my life, I gave my unconditional love to this game, and have never received anything in return. And yet....
It is my love of this game that has allowed me to write this book and share my ideas with my fellow go players. Yes, I'm sure they are smiling.