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Welcome! This is the shared fanfiction journal of readerofasaph (formerly assyrian) and thephoenixboy. Feel free to have a look around. Some WIPs, ficlets, drabbles are posted under members-lock; feel free to join the comm if you'd like to read those.

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May. 9th, 2006 @ 08:24 pm Twenty Diversions, G, [Isumi, Hikaru no Go] [REPOST]
Twenty Diversions: Isumi Shinichiro thinks about the Hand of God
Disclaimer: Hotta and Obata's.
Notes: Another non-drabble drabble request. For ai_ling, who wanted Isumi and computers. In return you get another pointless 20_facts meme. Also, I know nothing about go. Like really nothing, not like those HnG writers who do a stack of impressive research and claim to know nothing.
Thanks to: ampr, who has translated this fic into Russian.



1) The Hand of God does not exist.

2) The Hand of God will not be found in a computer.

Isumi is brushing his teeth one summer night when Yang Hai calls from a phone line buzzing with static and digital echoes. Isumi can barely tell Mandarin-accented Japanese from the warping of sound waves, for which Yang Hai apologises. He explains that he’s using a new software program to make the call, which involves going through a company in New Delhi that makes you stare at pop-under advertisements for lotteries in Denmark in exchange for free direct dialling anywhere in the world, no strings attached.

Soo desu ka, Isumi says, and ignores the jargon he didn’t recognize. Yang Hai understands these algorithms. Broadband plus European lotteries equals free phone calls to Japan. One million permutations times x number of Go-cognizant computer programmers equals the Hand of God.

Intuition is simply compressed logic, says the Chinaman. Give technology enough time and data and anything is possible.

Isumi knows that Yang Hai is courteous and intelligent and a more experienced Go player than he is. He also knows the feeling of Go stones - black, white, cold and living between his fingers – and the glow of a computer screen: warm, bright and dead.

Can a computer answer an opening komoku with tengen? Of course, Yang Hai says, given the right parameters.

They are both adults, and they will agree to disagree.


3) Because the Hand of God does not exist, it will not be found by Touya Akira and Shindou Hikaru.

4) He finds himself compelled to revise his first statement. It is not that the Hand of God does not (currently) exist; it is that it will never exist, whether now or in a thousand years when ten thousand Go programs and millions more players haunt computers all over the galaxy, playing joseki Touya Kouyou never dreamed of.

Isumi thinks this one afternoon while staring at the meteor-spangled screensaver on Waya’s laptop, mostly because Waya is surprisingly academic for a high school dropout, and doesn’t mince his definitions - not when it comes to igo, at least.

To be specific Isumi would say that the Hand of God has never been achieved, will never be achieved and in other words, is part of a mythology created to give Go players hopes and dreams as well as a feeling of significance – a mythology whose manifestation is about as likely as the resurrection of the dead.

Isumi thinks this but doesn’t say it because Waya is not the sort of person who outgrows believing in fairy tales.

5) Actually, igo players are mostly not the sort of people who outgrow believing in fairy tales, and perhaps this is why Isumi has noticed that Go players like to talk about the Hand of God: who comes closest, how close they’ll get in their lifetime, and what sort of game would be required to achieve it. Occasionally they even talk about whether they believe in it.

How do you play if you do not believe? says a wizened old pro in a salon one autumn evening.

Isumi smiles and scratches his head. I think we all believe, he replies, but he doesn’t specify in what.

6) If the Hand of God appeared one final day Isumi would like it to go to Waya who listens to Morishita-sensei and couldn’t wait for Isumi to turn pro; Waya, who loses to Fuku and helped Shindou get stronger amidst the smoke of Go salons. Isumi would like to believe in that Hand of God. Not Touya Kouyou’s Hand of God.

7) In fact, a Hand of God which belongs not only to Waya, but to Ochi and Nase and even Mashiba, to Ashiwara and Saeki and Yang Hai and maybe Isumi himself – perhaps a Hand of God which lies scattered across a hundred thousand gobans in communal ownership, a composite of every brilliant hand and elegant shape that exists/has existed/will exist – that Hand of God, he might be able to believe in.

8) Scientifically he would have to say that should the Hand of God arrive in their lifetime, Ko Yonha and Le Ping are closer to it than any number of the above-mentioned combined.

9) He still likes the communal theory better.

10) Isumi does not believe in the Hand of God because he does not believe in a God, and even if he did he would not believe in a God of Go.

11) He thinks this atheism is idealistic but not entirely practical, as Shindou Hikaru seems to believe in a God of Go, or at least a God of some sort, and within three years Shindou will defeat him three games out of three.

12) Shindou and Touya Akira will never find the Hand of God, but they will die trying.

13) On a hypothetical note Isumi would have to say that Touya Akira is closer to the Hand of God than Shindou is, because Touya’s Go is precise and deadly, graceful like a knife-sharp wire wielded by skilful hands.

14) Courtesy of Kuwabara Honinbou and several inquisitive reporters among others, it is now accepted fact that Touya and Shindou are rivals (Waya twigged to this a long time ago, in one of his unpredictable but typical displays of insight), but generally no question of who is the better player.

That Kuwabara-san, Kurata and at least a dozen other Go professionals seem to like Shindou’s Go better does not surprise Isumi because most of the time, he agrees with them.

15) This is a source of puzzlement to him until one morning as he is recreating a game by Honinbo Jowa. Touya Akira, he realizes, will produce the Hand of God, but it is Shindou’s Go, his unfolding patterns and fractal-like shapes of hope, that will make it possible.

16) This is of course supposing that the Hand of God were not impossible, which it is, but something about Shindou Hikaru makes people want to believe in these things.

17) “Do you think Sai could reach the Hand of God?” asks a female insei during the Young Lions’ tournament.

Isumi looks at Shindou. There used to be a time when you could look at Shindou during conversations like this and expect to see some sort of stifled reaction; these days there is rarely anything other than a flicker of green marble eyes. It is Waya who speaks: “I don’t think he will.”

“It doesn’t matter whether he did – whether he will,” - and there are all the junior high students, children staring; Shindou and Touya are the darlings of the inseis for more reasons than one. “I think we all need to aim for the Hand of God ourselves. For the players who came before us, and the players who will come after.”

18) “Do you believe what Shindou says?” Isumi asks Ochi afterwards.

Ochi pauses at the bathroom door and frowns through silver-rimmed glasses. “I believe in the Go I play,” he says curtly, and leaves the room.

19) He grasps the stone between a callused finger and a well-worn nail and slides it on the goban, sure and familiar. The shape takes form and twists in his mind’s eye.

20) This hand is enough, provided there is another.

About this Entry
assyrian:
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From:ee970
Date:May 10th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC)
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This is really nice! Very insightful... For someone who claims to know nothing about go you fudge it very well. ;) But yeah, this is a very nice look into Isumi, I can definitely see him thinking this through sometime after he's become a pro (since before, he is too--young? immature? stereotypical asian woman? :P You give him a good mix of hope and fatalism masked as pragmatism...rings true to the character yet is somehow less annoying.
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From:ee970
Date:May 14th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC)
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Ah, I enjoy everything you write, even when I am too lazy to comment (aka most of the time... v__v) Thing is, Isumi has all of these things to make him an interesting character...he's old to be an insei, so you know it's gotta be tough for him having to play kids like Fuku, you know? Plus, he's desperate enough to pass the pro exam that he's willing to compromise his morals as well as drop everything and spend two months in a foreign country he doesn't know the language of... He really ought to be really deep/cool/whatever. Instead, somehow in canon he just is really boring. So since in this piece he is NOT boring, I was quite impressed. 8D <3
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From:raucousraven
Date:August 11th, 2006 04:39 am (UTC)
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My God, this is amazing. I love the precision of your descriptions: focused, tactile, uncompromising. Number 7 is what I would like to believe. Number 20 is the truth that matters. Thank you.
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From:audny_albatross
Date:August 17th, 2006 06:55 pm (UTC)

Eeeee! Pretty!

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...And maybe you don't know anything about go, but it still worked. A lot. Really really well. And it was really beautiful. And if my brain weren't fried at its beauty I wouldn't type with such bad grammar.

Your characterisations are wonderful and probably some of the most accurate I've read.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 30th, 2006 08:22 am (UTC)
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Note: I am not the person leaving the anonymous PoT reviews.

It's so rare to see fic with Isumi.. and I like how you put forward the theories about the hand of God, and subtly characterise the characters. No 20 was the best. Nice fic
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From:fire_ban
Date:October 5th, 2006 06:41 am (UTC)
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Isumi smiles and scratches his head. I think we all believe, he replies, but he doesn’t specify in what. <-this line was practically Isumi incarnate. XD I like the way you wrote how he thinks, too. :D Quiet and subtle, and logical but not quite circular. 8D <-something like that.

I fretted upon going through my memories and realising the original post had been deleted. XD XD *had to trawl'n find it right away* <3 It's still one of my favourite Isumi pieces. :D Fact that they are rare as hen's teeth entirely aside <3

Eee~ |D
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From:fire_ban
Date:January 20th, 2007 04:38 am (UTC)
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Aww~ XD;; Damn, a year's a long time. (But then again, two months have already passed, here. 8D;) At the moment, I'm in Japan doing the intensive Japanese summer school thing, yeah. :D; It's been pretty crazy, so don't worry about lateness or anything~ XD I'm doing well, though <3 Hope you are, too! Don't die of your course, or you won't be healing anybody, ne~ :D;; <3
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From:thawrecka
Date:January 9th, 2007 06:02 am (UTC)
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I think that this is one of the best stories I've read in this fandom. The characterisation of everyone even mentioned in this story is tight and there is a lovely rhythm to the words and the way they flow together. It is so very Isumi. I especially like the last line.
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From:ampr
Date:March 4th, 2007 02:58 pm (UTC)
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I really enjoy this story! Beautiful fanfic. Thank you for writing this!
Would you mind if I translate this story into Russian language?
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From:ampr
Date:March 10th, 2007 07:58 am (UTC)
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Thank you!
A link to translation here
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From:aiwritingfic
Date:March 10th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
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Lynn, I keep coming back and rereading this. <3 I cannot thank you enough for writing it. I really really REALLY love it so much.
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From:aiwritingfic
Date:March 11th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
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*snuggles and loves loves loves loves LOVES* I would never have been able to read something this wonderful if you hadn't obliged me with the bunny. <3

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From:goldenagemod
Date:April 16th, 2007 04:10 am (UTC)
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This fic has been recced on goldenagefic.
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From:aiwritingfic
Date:June 22nd, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
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Lynn dear ... may I read this for ihikago?
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From:aiwritingfic
Date:June 25th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC)
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<3 *loves*
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From:shiorikazen
Date:December 18th, 2007 06:50 am (UTC)
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Was the anon here. Popped by again because I listened to Ai's narration of this fic and she asked me to tell you I liked it.

I've sent you a message via LJ as well, but I'm not too sure if you've received it.
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From:invitan
Date:March 28th, 2009 03:04 am (UTC)
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I totally love it. So insightful and mature of Isumi. I have always been looking for fanfiction of kami no itte.
I would love to translate this piece in to Vietnamese. Would you mind?
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From:gonrie
Date:March 29th, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)
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Wow... it just sounded so *true*
It rare to see this kind of flow, if you can imagine what I say...
Simple statements but so *right*.

Beautifully written!
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