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  Jussi Ikonen's Blog
My opinions about the rule change2008-04-06 20:52:26
Hello friends,

For the last few months I have been debating whether or not to express my opinions about the current rule change process, here at my blog. A while ago I was fairly close on writing an article with a topic something like renju –a dying game. Most of you who have been in ...
Ando Meritee2008-04-06 22:34:53
Since blog is a place of personal opinions only, I will also just speak on my own behalf. I do not represent RIF, Estonian Renju, ORC, RenjuNet or any other organ in this blog. I represent only myself as a player and a fan of renju game.

Jussi wrote very good article. He pointed out many serious issues here. I personally do not like the idea of "official trial periods" either, because it will make the whole situation very chaotic. The modern renju world has its information on Internet. There are thousands of web pages mentioning renju game and renju rules. Some of them might be updated when rules change, but some never will. After 3 years, if another change will come (into what? Another good question by Jussi), the renju related information online will become even messier and contradictive - it is not good if we want renju game treated as a serious sport.

The reason why I have not finished my renju theory books yet is the anxious waiting of new rules, to be able to make the book be compatible with new rule. If the rule is just for 3 year test, it does not encourage book writers to spend hundreds or thousands of hours to make a book that might "expire" very soon. Without books, the game cannot make rapid popularization.

Long time ago I wrote that for the current top players it is more convenient to adopt Jonsson or Yamaguchi rules, because they can adjust to new situation with least effort. But it is just because these rules are "nearer" to current RIF rule than 5 swaps rules and many others.

But the "gap" between RIF and Yamaguchi/Jonsson rules is unfortunately in the wrong direction - further away from beginners.

The 5 swap rules have bigger gap from current RIF rule, but it is in a good direction - towards beginners. So we have to think about what is good for us - to have more newcomers or to keep the changes as small as possible.

For my own good, it is better to have smaller change, if I want to have good results in tournament with least necessity to learn new things. But such thinking would be very selfish. I think it is more important to let the game be popular by introducing simple rules.

I do not know how many ideas for simpler rules exist now, but I think Taraguchi rule is very simple. Maybe there can also be some modifications of that rule, to simplify it further (such as no need for swap after 1st and 2nd move, etc).

I think the main principle of simpleness of 5 swap rule has been repeat many times before - the beginners can ignore swap rules in their first months of renju study, while playing their games without violating official rules. The Jonsson/Yamaguchi rules require knowing all elements of opening rule from the very beginning, if the player does not want to make a rule violating move. And it is very difficult to tell the beginner all the rule elements at once. Which means, the player will first play "different game", and later "switch to another rule". That is not good. Whereas with 5 swap rule, if a new player later one knows about swaps, his games will have smooth transition - in fact even top players may sometimes ignore all 5 swaps.

I would compare this with learning table-tennis (a random example that just came to my mind). First you just learn the rules like how to serve (ball must hit board on both sides of net) and how to receive. This is enough to play for a while until you get better. One day you learn, there is actually an additional rule that says, one player can only serve 2 times in a row, after which the opponent will have the right for 2 serves. Having known these 2 new rule items, has no contradiction with previously learned things.. The player can apply all the previous knowledge and skill so far, and smoothly start using the additional rule item.

The 5 swap rule has been introduced to beginners in Europe, also here in Taipei, and I have seen any problem about it - they understand easily. So where is the problem then? Where is the resistance to the 5 swap rule which includes all the history and existing theory?

The only resistance today is the mystical "old Japanese men" somewhere, who never play renju as a sport and merely use renju as an entertainment in their retiring years. They are not interested to re-learn anything, because it is not convenient for them. The fact that the new rule does not let newcomers come to renju compared to easier rules, does not bother them much. However, somehow they seem to have some power of influence, and Japanese renju official organ gets their policy background from there.

As Jussi said, there are maybe a handful Japanese active players who support Yamaguchi rule and play renju as a sport. Mr Yamaguchi himself is no longer focusing on renju as a sport (you can see his latest writing about himself in RenjuNet Profile) and his passion is to help renju have more newcomers.

Seeing that I feel even more confused. Now that having more beginners is the main priority, Mr Yamaguchi could perhaps start supporting 5 swap rule instead. It would be nice.

If someone says that is is difficult to teach someone 5 swaps rule, it is ok, I am willing to spend my time to give that teacher some tips about how to teach easily 5 swap rules and let newcomers enjoy renju. There is no need to blame the rule or students for that. If a student has an interest towards renju, but thinks the 5 swap rule is difficult, then it is teacher's problem. That is what I can say with my experience as a teacher.

If the only obstacle of the rule change are those "mysterious old men who do not understand many swaps", then I feel very worried about the future of renju.

Before Mr Hayakawa was a Japanese renju leader. It was very easy to talk to him. He was very confident, and he always expressed his ideas to the world clearly, on his own behalf. His big passion was to let renju become world famous game. Maybe pretty much thanks to him, the renju is today a world-wide game. I respect and admire Mr Hayakawa very much!

Unfortunately, after he retired, most renju players today do not eve know who is the leader of Japanese renju now, and what is his vision about the future of renju. At least one thing is evident to me - whoever the decision makers are now in Japan, it is difficult to see how they care about the renju development, especially about the renju popularization worldwide. Their main focus is to keep renju tradition as unchanged as possible (It is a good thing in some extent of course) together with all its flaws. Maybe it is a wrong perception by me, but at least this is how I see things based on the limited information that comes from Japan.

It is a rare situation that the top leaders of national federation absolutely do not communicate directly with leaders of other renju nations. It makes me feel as if they do not really want to have an international organization any more, or furthermore, they see a threat in RIF to Japanese traditional game, and that is why they do not want to socialize with us. A language barrier cannot be a reason - Mr Hayakawa did not practically speak English either when he started to spread renju in world. Important was the willingness and passion to communicate.

Now the whole information about Japan comes to us mostly with the help of Kawamura, Okabe and Yamaguchi, also some others. They are the spokesmen of Japanese renju. Big thanks to them for keeping Japan connected to the rest of the renju world in the terms of information.

So from my thoughts above, I wonder, is it good to go into a "trial period" with a rule which is supported only by those "mysterious and anonymous old men who do not play renju as a sport", and which creator and main supporter Yamaguchi himself does not care about renju as a sport any more either.

So will renju just regress to be the game of old men who can entertain themselves in the retirement years? Or can it become a world-wide serious sport like Go or Chess?

I so wish I could just talk face-to-face to those mysterious lobbyists in Japan who are making or influencing the decisions of Japanese renju today. But it seems rather impossible, because they do not want to have a direct and open discussion with us.

I also wish that Mr Hayakawa could return to be a Japanese leader again. I know he cares about renju development so much and it would be so easy to communicate with him, because he is interested in (!!!) communicating with us.

I am sorry if my statement is too straight and critical. I have had these thoughts for so many years, and now seeing Jussi's article, I think it was a good timing to speak up and express my own position.
Aivo Oll2008-04-07 05:22:28
I will also speak on the behalf of myself and no one else. Yes, it was about time when someone would say it all out. Glad you did it, Ando. Only reason why the other RIF countries would/will accept this trial period is that at least the stronger players` situation gets a little bit (not sure if it will or not because unfortunately, right now we don`t have much knowledge about Yamaguchi rule since it has been overshadowed by other rules, therefore, any strong tournaments have not been held yet or at least we don`t know about it since Japanese players seem to have serious problems with getting to page)better. The main issue I see here is that RIF countries should think about all the renju players in the world and since the biggest group is beginners, this compromise does not make any sense at all. Mysterious Japanese old men > all the beginners in the world. Well, as I see it, it would be a rather stupid compromise (I would not even call it a compromise at all). Also, you can basically read the Japanese opinion (I wonder does it really represent the interests of all the players or even the majority) from RW nr. 54 and it doesn`t make much sense to me at all (maybe I am just too stupid or my English is not good enough). Only way I see right now to clean at least some of this mess is to start serious (by serious I mean that everyone would participate and they would say exactly what they feel about this situation) discussions and of course, finally there should be arranged at least a couple of serious tournaments with Yamaguchi rule (publishing the games on is a must of course). Then we will have a better picture what to do next and when to do it. If in this year`s GA in Helsinki Yamaguchi rule is accepted for 3 years as a second official rule, it will only be a benefit to some extinct for stronger players and mysterious Japanese old men. So, I urge every renju fan to ask from himself if that is the decision he/she would like to see as the outcome. If not, then raise your voice or at least do something. Just sitting around and crying about it doesn`t make a difference. I apologize beforehand for being so straightforward but that is just the kind of person I am and the current situation has troubled me for a while ( also, I would not have written this comment if I really did not care about renju and its future).
Stefan Karlsson2008-04-07 19:42:59
Thanks to Jussi, Ando and Aivo for discussing the opening rules in this blog! I think it was very nice words from Aivo stating that the reason for writing so strongly is because he really cares about the game! I would like to say some words from myself as well, also because I too really care aboth the game.

I am for the moment mainly concerned about the World Championship tournaments, which I think are losing in value and status because the current opening rules does not give enough "playable variants". We have all over the renju world had a long discussion for some years without being able to make a decision of new opening rules. There have been played some good tournaments with different opening rules, among them for instance Taraguchi rule in Tallinn Open to mention one. I have taken part there myself and I like what I have experienced there. There have also been other "test tournaments" with various opening rules that I have taken part in. I must say that common for all of them is that I would in World Championship tournament prefer whatever of those opening rules before the one we have!!!

I urge, I wish, I ask, I hope soooo much that we get a change! World Championship tournaments need a change! If we care about renju and our Championship tournaments we must have a change. The problem does not really exist within countries including national championships. There, nations can use whatever opening rule they decide themselves. The problem exist in international championships!

It is clear that Japan will only accept Yamaguchi rule, at least for the time being....

That's why I hope we can agree on Yamaguchi rule for the next World Championship! We don't need to remove the current rule. It can still be used in official tournaments.

Hopefull wishes,

Dmitry Epifanov2008-04-07 23:16:32
Dear renju colleagues,

As a referee of the Correspondence WC, I see that the number of players playing Correspondence renju is falling down while alternative tournament - WRL championship - is growing very, very rapidly. Lots of players migrate from RIF rules to WRL rules because of opening rules of RIF. I see that lots of players who participated in 2007 now play in WRL tournament...

If we will have the same opening rules next year... it is a pity, but the whole Correspondence WC may collapse.

And... I don't play on PBeM this year. With the same reason.

Best regards, Epifanov Dm.
Yuriy Tarannikov2008-04-08 12:47:22
>I urge, I wish, I ask, I hope soooo much

Stefan, you played in such many WCs that you have something like "WC dependence". In the present hard situation we must think strategically. We must not lose the future of Renju for minor improvements in few tournaments.
Stefan Karlsson2008-04-08 13:59:31
I believe there are both a short- and a long term perspective. In the long run there should be really good options. However, just now impossible to reach because we don't have Japan with us.

If we want a change in the short term perspective, we don't have any choice. And as also Epifanov clearly states, for the correspondence World Championship this is really crucial. So, I think there are a huge benefit also in the short perspective, at least for the World Championship tournaments!
finite2008-04-08 16:15:58

Dear friends:

For the conveniences of beginners, there are two points should be thought clearly.

Point 1: Is five swap rule easier for beginners? I think it is "yes". There are two major reasons: "the transitions from the beginning to experienced games are smoother", and "beginners are much easier to find a favor move than numbers of playable moves".  

Point 2: Are Yamaguchi and Jonsson rules easier for beginners since it is easier for writing Renju books about these two rules? I think it is “no". Although there are several books about RIF Renju, most beginners in the past do not care about the Renju theories. You might already observe that a lot of Renju players used to play the d4/i7 opening hundreds times without knowing the sure wins in the books. It is even more interesting that the existence of too many theories is actually one major reason that prevents Renju from popularity. And it is also the reason that people want to change the opening rule.


Jussi Ikonen2008-04-08 17:00:27
Thanks guys for commenting the article. Let me make a few notes and replies for your comments at this point.

Ando: Really impressive reply. I must say you pointed out many things at your writing with the spirit I would have wanted to. If your text doesn’t cause a reply from Japan I think they are not even listening or just refuse taking part with the discussion at all.

Stefan: Could you please have your blog account activated and make replies when logged in. This way we know it’s really you making the posts. I have seen your passion for renju and will to save WC tournaments. I believe we all share this passion. However, as Yuriy mentioned, we should look strategically more forward, instead of minor improvements just for a few tournaments. There are also really good explanations reasoning this made by Ando and Aivo. Could you please show us some similar arguments for why it would be good or better to change the WC rules for just a few years, instead of keeping the status quo? If I could say a sentence starting with “I urge, I wish, I ask, I hope soooo much…” I would complete it with “…that Japan would realize the severity of their actions (continuous usage of veto and refusal for discussion)”. At the last chapter you mention that: “If we want a change in the short term perspective, we don't have any choice”. Maybe we do. Maybe that change just requires a change for the setup of the international association structure.    

Please keep the discussion ongoing...
Ando Meritee2008-04-08 17:18:48
About VETO rights:

The rule investigation has become official since 2003. It is almost 5 years already. However, no successful decision has been made by RIF. It feels like it is not a democratic organization where the voice of majority is overturn by a veto of minority.

Renju is a peaceful game, not a war. RIF should not be like UN Security Council with veto rights for nuclear bomb owners. That may be the only place where veto rule is still suitable in the 21st century.

I have not really investigated the reasons why the veto rights of founder members (Japan, Sweden, USSR) were written into statutes of RIF at the first place. Maybe it was suggested by USSR delegation? USSR system itself in the past was control-based, and perhaps the choice of veto was inspired from there.

Today we live in the democratic world, even though we should respect the minority, listen the minority, and if possible, adjust decisions that could help minority voice too, but nevertheless, decisions itself should be done based on majority!

An non-profit organization of voluntary members, which wipes off the majority voice, is to be doomed in the long run. Sooner or later, it will collapse. As long as the minority/majority conflict has not occurred, the organization with the statutes flaws can have a normal life, but the day the conflict appears and the majority voice was turned down, the organization starts its way downhill.

RIF has already lost much of seriousness these years because it cannot make successful decisions. It seems to me that Japanese renju leaders do not even take RIF seriously any more. They do not talk to RIF directly. If RIF talks to them, such as asking their opinion, it will sometimes take months to reply, and even that reply comes through middle-men. It is impossible to have discussions that way.

Since RIF has no power to make majority decisions any more, and is not able to conduct fluent discussions with some member countries, it is about time to do something about it, to save the organization.

The first step, which is very urgent is to change the statutes by removing the veto rights there. Only then RIF can become a democratic organization again, where majority voice matters. I think the sooner the better. If possible, I hope RIF General Assembly can already make a decision about removing the veto from statutes this year, during TWC. Although the agenda has been published, but it is also possible to update agenda by the proposal of any members, and then voting during the beginning of meeting to accept this point into agenda of ongoing meeting.

If the decision of removing veto from statutes gets majority decision, and is then overturn by a veto, then the RIF will have no future, and we will then soon have to start thinking about alternative organizational solutions.

Somehow, I do not believe that the decision of removing veto will be blocked by veto. It would be too authoritarian, and very unsuitable to the democratic and modern world of non-profit organizations, where members have free will to participate, and re-structure themselves if necessary.

Since I only speak on my own behalf, I have no right to propose the removal of veto into this year's agenda. Only a member country or CC can do it, I think. I hope someone of them could actually do it then. I really hope.
Jussi Ikonen2008-04-08 18:50:11
We discussed about this subject among the board of Finnish Renju Federation and decided to make a proposal for the agenda. In earlier GA meetings there has also been subjects added to the agenda after it was published. For example in the last GA 2007 a new subject (about Correspondence WC funding) was added to the meeting agenda at the beginning of the meeting.

I just send the following message to RIF president:


Finnish Renju Federation would like to add a new subject to RIF Extra
General Assembly 2008 meetings agenda. We propose the statutes of RIF to be changed so that no country will have a right to use veto anymore in RIF meetings.

Bases and reasons for this proposal can be found at RenjuNet blog article:

Yours truly,


Jussi Ikonen
chairman, Suomen Renju ry
Stefan Karlsson2008-04-08 18:51:36
Thanks Jussi for pointing out that I should be online, to show that it's me. Guess I didn't really think of it that way....too new to the blog world perhaps... :-) So, now I ensure that it was me writing the "Stefan Karlsson" comments above.

My argument for change in what I call short term perspective, is that the World Championship tournaments are becoming less and less interesting for players. The reason is that the current opening rule is not enough for the strongest players. I have no other reason for the short term change. Just that I care so much for the World Championship tournaments.

Ales Rybka2008-04-09 04:40:51
I have nothing to add. I agree with you ideas and opinions and proposals. But I feel that we have to respect Japan as the country with the biggest tradition of renju. On the other hand I have been thinking since TWC 2006 that using veto has not been democratic princip anymore.
From these reasons I will talk to our board and I hope we will vote for cancelling of THE RIGHT OF VETO. More I will tell you during TWC.
Ants Soosõrv2008-04-12 03:45:02
Tomorrow we will have Estonian Renju Union meeting to discusse question of changing opening rules and other matters.

In this comment i would like touch shortly question of renju popularity.
Jussi wrote:"To become popular in Europe and in America, also many other things than just the opening rule must change."

I agree very much!

Of course, Jussi, Ando and Aivo are 100 % correct to tell that 5 swap rule is much better for beginners than Yamaguchi rule (really bad for beginners) or current RIF rule. Sure, if we could have clear situation with opening rule it could help with beginners and popularity topics as well. But i believe we can separate question of popularity from question of opening rules a bit.

Let me tell you some examples from some countries.

Slovenia has their own "5 in a row" site, i have been in touch of their players almost 2 years, encouranging them to take part in some gomokutournaments in middle-Europe. But so far they havent had even their own real life 5 in arow tournament, but just picnic together. OK, they are playing gomoku Euroleague and in some other internetplaces, but thats all.

2007 i took part in Polish Open. There were 13 polish players in gomokutournament.  Not in renju with RIF rules, but with simple swap 1 rules! We  know how many players they have in kurnik and how big work made organisers to get more players in tournament!

We have had many competitions in Finland and Estonia with 5 swap rule, but we cant tell about rapid progress of number of players. (of course , using new opening rules, it helps us at least to not lose current topplayers).

Btw, before friendship tournament started March 22. in Shanghai, several persons told me: "Ants, today have only few players, because weather is bad". Hmm, my english is not good, maybe such expression means anything special? :)))

Actually i think many people are just tired after long working or studying week, and lazy to come on weekend.

What to do to get more players?

Of course it takes long and tough work to spread our cozy game, but i have one suggestion to make one more RIF commision what will work straightly to make gomoku and renju more known in the world(it has idea, if it really start to work). With some last years we have got more and more young and active people with good english for renju . For example Alesh Rybka, Jussi Ikonen, Pawel Nowak, Sander Sulane, Igor Eged, Marcus Eriksson and many others. Maybe Alesh is already too busy, but we should try to catch Alexander Klimashin for example, who has very big potential to help us.

Tasks for such commision - for example to contact with Nokia, Ericsson and other such companies to get our games to newer models again, to make projects for big companies to have great show  like simutanous games for chlidren and so on. Here are defenetly many possibilities. I think Alesh is already using many of them in Czech Republic, we need more also international cooperation.
Norihiko Kawamura2008-04-12 15:59:36
Hello friends!

First of all, I must apologize to you because we have not written
our thinkings or opinins as renju assosiation. I was very shocked
Ando's opinion. However, I think there are many misunderstandings
for Japanese. I must explain our minds and situation in Japan(as a personal opinion).

Everybody said " 5 swap rule is for beginners".
In Japan, that is unbeliebable thing! Though I have not asked
manay beginners about it, I am sure most of beginners can
understand. If I told 5 swap rule for beginners or kyu-players,
they would say"How judge swap or keep at 4th and 5th move?"
We will only say" as you like". He/she will think it is funny
game and lose interest. I understand the essential meanings of
swap, so I think it is very difficulut to judge. It comes from
nationality or charactors of Japanese(maybe Chinese and Korean).
We like Shogi and Igo. Both game has no swap.
In Euroupe countries, they can recognize swap easy to understand
it. (for example I don't understand why Taranikov rule has 5
swap,swap starts from 3rd move enough, less swap is better!)
You might not understand, however,we can understand Yamaguchi rule
much more than 5 swap rule. Mr. Sakata suggested Sakata rule
before. But it is also only one swap. So first, please recognize
the difference about sense between Japanese and European.

Next, we tend to go forward unless the problem has solved
perfectly. Mr.Yoshizawa had never changed 15x15 rule from 19x19.
Why? Probably he thought 19x19 remined unsolved situation.
Mr.Nakamura never said rule will be changed. Why? He also thinks
current rule is not solved perfectly. (Of course both players can
adapt any rule and win.) I mean, most players like current RIF
rule and believe there are still lots of digging place. So if the
next rule were far from current rule, they would feel at a loss
and lose interest. We think changing is step by step, hope to be
5 swap rule AFTER some steps in future. Anyway, if we introduce 5
swap rule now, I am afraid Nihon-renju-sha will collapse. Please
understand our situation.

Ando said "The only resistance today is the mystical "old
Japanese men" somewhere, who never play renju as a sport and
merely use renju as an entertainment in their retiring years. "

Yes, I don't deny about it. But lots of old player exist, you know. And Japan will increase old person from now. We think it is also important to spread renju for both young people and old people. Old people have lots of time and money. They will pay
much money for us.

Ando also said,"A language barrier cannot be a reason - Mr Hayakawa did not practically speak English either when he started to spread renju in world. Important was the willingness and passion to communicate. "
I am very sad Mr. Hayakawa,Nisizono and Nara stopped renju and organized renju. Now the person who feel sympathy and has the same opinion is only Mr. Iio for me, honestry speaking. But Nihon-renju-sha is admitted by government as an official assosiation(the smallest assosiasion, I heard). That efforts was done by lost of old players. So except oversea problem, now we are all together for everything.(to publish renju-sekai and hold Meijinsen-tournament and other tournament) Now the relation between Japan and China(of renju, of course) is good. We traveled Shanghai every year and took part in the tournament.

Anyway, I think it is not good to show our sitaution at all so far, so I will show our thinking, news, game,etc. on this blog.
And I will tell our members your thinking. Talk each other!

Norihiko Kawamura
Jussi Ikonen2008-04-13 23:43:50

Today I received an email from Mr. Jonsson. This email included information about the topic discussed here. As this has been open discussion so far I would like to make an open reply for the subject concerning the veto right proposal.

The email had two sentences about the topic. I will quote them here to be able to make a reply. “I have just sent a letter to Central Committee, with a recommendation that we do not put Finnish federation's proposal about the right of veto to the agenda. The reason is that in such important cases such as changes of the statutes and elections of persons the time is to close to the GA.”    

I consider this fully as a plead of formalities. In RIF statutes at RenjuNet website it states following:

“4.5 In General Assemblies and Extraordinary General Assemblies no less than 50% of the affiliated federations (proxies included) shall be represented. It is also necessary that representatives from all member-founders with the right of veto are present.

If the quorum is not fulfilled at the beginning ofthe General Assembly, the Central Committee will decide which itemsof the agenda can be submitted for decision by the truncated General Assembly. The items put on the agenda shall not include changes of statutes or financial regulations.”

I must admit that my english is not sufficient enough to fully understand what that means, but it seems to me that it is already too late to make changes at the agenda that affects statutes or final regulations. This means also that it is too late to have a different kind of vote about the rule change, than what has been proposed by Mr. Jonsson.

In the statutes it also states the following:

“4.15 An Extraordinary General Assembly shall be convened by the President upon request of one third of the member-federation within two months of such a request. In urgent cases the President, with the consent of the Central Committee, also have the right to convene an Extraordinary General Assembly. The agenda for the Extraordinary General Assembly shall be sent to participants at least one month before the meeting is held.”

This clearly states that the agenda should be announced to the participants one month prior to the meeting. However, this point has not been fulfilled. The agenda was published April 4. 2008 and the meeting was stated to be held at May 3. 2008. Even if counted as days, it only adds up to 29 days and thus is less than one month of time. In most international association laws or regulations (I believe also applies in Sweden) it states that in such cases if anyone (doesn’t even have to be a member) remarks such formality error, any decision made in that meeting becomes void (illegimate).

I think it would be best for renju that in the following discussions during the TWC 2008 there would be serious approach for the topic, but it is too soon to make a decision to add Yamaguchi opening rule as a second official RIF opening rule. I reckon that using this kind of ways to manipulate rules and formalities looks a bit like coward, but so does continuous usage of veto also. I also understand that by stating this kind of facts at an open forum, I am also putting myself as a renju organizer on the line. Perhaps it is still worth it. I hope this post will be considered, as previous ones also, with a neutral feeling and not as personal attack to anyone.    

With Regards,

Yuriy Tarannikov2008-04-14 02:15:28
It is interesting that for proposals in Gomoku it is allowed to be delayed.

11. The Gomoku Commission asks for some extra time to prepare the proposal for an opening rule for Gomoku together with a suggestion how a European Championship can be arranged. The proposal will be published  by latest on April 10 2008.  

Also Mr. Jonsson violates the Chapter 4.12 of the Statuses of RIF. It states:
The president shall send the minutes of the General Assembly to the members and the RIF officials and organizations at the latest three months after the closing of the General Assembly.
In fact, the protocol of RIF GA 2007 was published in more than 4 months after the meeting. Already after 3 months such persons as Anders Henningsson and Ando Meritee asked by e-mail: “Where is the protocol?” I keep these e-mails.

I have to mention also that the joint propositions of Moscow players on opening rules were not included to agenda of RIF GA 2008 although it were well prepared, marked “for General Assembly” and sent to members of CC including Mr. Jonsson in 3 months before the assembly. Formally, Mr. Jonsson had reasons not to include these proposals since it were not from officials. At the same time, I remember, he included my personal proposition some years ago. Also these joint propositions were received by Mr. Jonsson in 3 months before the assembly and he could include it to the agenda as the RIF president or the chairman of the Rules Commission. Thus, the work of many players was completely ignored.  
Ants Soosõrv2008-04-14 03:22:37
Letter to Mr. Kawamura

Dear Kawamura-san,

Yes, we need to talk. We respect very much you and other Japanese renjuplayers. Defenetly we want to see our renjufuture together Japan.
But for that we need more information from Japan and discussions with them. Veto is really hard thing. I can understand, that veto can be useful for some really crazy situations. For example if 20 countries from Africa or somewhere else will somehow join  RIF and later want to use Bolotudu rules instead of renju rules or something like that .
Japan have put veto to serious renjuplayers suggestions. One of explanations have been that other countries have had different opinions too. Yes, thats formally correct. At the same time i am quite sure, that however most of players of other world have different ideas about tactics how should we continue process,   we have same opinion in point that its time to change rules. For example most of chinese players whom i have talked support change, swedish players support change, however Peter and Stefan are very patient,  i really admire how diplomatic they are. I want to be patient as well, but many players ask from me what is going on in Japan and what is going on in RIF, its really hard to explain with current level contact with Japanese federation.
Ando's comment was emotional, but there were emotions of person who have worked many years hard for renju. He have been neutral very long and actually we need also frank style speaking from someone to make things more clear. I dont have excatly same look to all thing as Jussi and Ando, but still i think  Japan should  answer them because  there very many players in world who have same questions.
Lately we have tried to play with Yamaguchi rule in Estonia. Yes, its more exciting because Yamaguchi rules are new. But to be honest, i believe (correct me if i am wrong)
Japan agrees with change  to Yamaguchi rule only because its made by their own player, who have made good lobbywork in Japan. Even if this rule doesnt give so many new playable equal variants for future, it is bigger step in the beginning than for example than Jonsson, Sakata or Taraguchi. If first player wants to make chaotic game it seems to be easier than with Taraguchi, Jonsson or Sakata.
I was surprised Norihiko, when you told "everybody said " 5 swap rule is for beginners".
In Japan, that is unbeliebable thing! Though I have not asked
manay beginners about it, I am sure most of beginners can
understand. If I told 5 swap rule for beginners or kyu-players,
they would say"How judge swap or keep at 4th and 5th move?"
We will only say" as you like". He/she will think it is funny
game and lose interest"

Hmm, if beginner plays with master, its always hard to make good decision, but probably easier than with some other rules. But with Yamaguchi  rules, if first player put i4 and says "6 5th moves please", will it be easy to decide, swap or not? Isnt it much more difficult for beginners?!
Japanese are so smart, how can you tell us that they will lose interest, if you really havent tried to explain them 5 swap rule? I guess cultural traditions and high intelligence cant disturbe to learn how to swap :)
So, please tell me where i am wrong and lets keep contact!

Friendly, Ants
Yuriy Tarannikov2008-04-14 04:49:23
I played some games with Japanese beginners by Yamaguchi rules at LLIO Renju Globe. Usually, independently of how many 5th moves I made (3, 4, 6) they kept the strongest 5th move. I guess, by the reason that they did not know other 5th moves. :)
Ando Meritee2008-04-15 16:00:58
Maybe Japanese players need a Japanese author of rule. Mr Kawamura suggested that the swaps on 1st and 2nd move are not important. Maybe then we can call a new "3 swap rule" as Kawamura's rule? If the rule version is announced by a Japanese, it may have more chance to become popular in Japan.

So it would be like Taraguchi rule, but no swap on 1st and 2nd move. The difference between 1 swap (current rule) and 3 swaps is very small, so it should not be hard to accept even by most conservative players. We already have swap on 3rd move, and what we change is that two 5th offers are replaced with 2 more swaps.

If we look at the history, the two 5ths were invented first, swap was invented later. It was just a matter of a chance or luck that the inventor first came up with the idea of alternative 5th moves to give balance. If by chance, swap had been the first rule, then years later, if there was a choice whether to add more swaps (easy rule because already exists) or add another different procedure (alternative moves), then I believe that the first choice would be accepted easier than 2nd choice.

Furthermore, renju used to be a turn based game from the 1st move in the history, and only the need for more balance interrupted this natural flow of game. After 1995, it was even decided that white cannot self make the 2nd move (to increase playable variants).

Now, with 5-swap (or 3-swap) rule, we can go back to the natural situation of the game where players make and choose own moves, turn by turn. It is a very important condition for making renju popular and be easily acceptable by gomoku players and renju beginners.

If we look at whether the 3-swap rule gives playable variants for top level players and can be balanced - then yes, even openings like i7 or d4 can offer so many playable situations.

I would also like to comment on some thoughts:

Everybody said " 5 swap rule is for beginners".
It is very hard to believe. Any player who is above 1 dan can already understand the seriousness and usefulness of 5 swap rule. And the player is not in dan level yet, how does he dare to say a rule is for beginners (when he is just near beginner himself!).

I have renju 9 dan and I think 5 swap (or 3 swap) rule is a serious rule. So either me or the "everybody" is wrong.

Anyway, if we introduce 5 swap rule now, I am afraid Nihon-renju-sha will collapse. Please understand our situation. We fully understand. And I think active players like you, Iio, Okabe, Yamaguchi and many others, can help introduce this rule. You can call it Kawamura's 3-swap rule, for example. If the top players of the country accept this rule, then the weak players and the renju association officials can also accept easily. I think renju is facing the risk of world-wide collapse, not just Nihon Renju Sha collapse. In many countries renju is regressing because of rule problem, and within 10 years the renju will start seriously collapsing there (in Hungary, Latvia, Belarus and many other countries the organization already collapsed, only some individual players still play).

Next, we tend to (not) go forward unless the problem has solved perfectly. Yes, I understand that. And this is the biggest threat to the evolution of the game - the inability to forecast the future trends based on current findings. I fear, by the time Japan "solves renju", the game is already extinct everywhere else.

If we want renju to become a big worldwide game like Igo, we need to find a way to make it more popular, and not wait until game is fully solved, when there is a fast trend towards the reduction of playable variants. This Next, we tend to (not) go forward unless the problem has solved perfectly concept is also so dangerous because no matter what top players think in Japan in the future, there may always be some old retired men, who insist that "for them, the game is still not solved, so there is no need to change anything!". And I believe most of them will never reach the level to understand the actual problem. So, as long as those old men are the force behind "decision makers" in Japan, the rule will never change! Not even 100 years later. Because they will never see a need for that in their whole life until they die. And the same thing goes on with many generations.

As we know, there are two big problems with existing rules - one is the rapid reduction of playable variants (serious players lose interest and quit), and second is the difficulty of opening procedure (hard to get more beginners to join).

Thinking of all these, I seriously want to ask following questions:

- What is the goal of Nihon Renju Sha?
- Do they care about renju becoming a big worldwide sport?
- Do they need RIF?
- If there are two extreme choices to choose from: a) several retired men are unhappy about new rules and leave the organization (together with their money), or b) the renju will stop being a worldwide sport in 10 years, and will shrink down to be just a local and isolated entertainment of Japanese old men; which one will Nihon Renju Sha choose?

I hope to get more or less direct answers to my direct questions, if possible.

If they think "b" is more important, then I think we are facing a catastrophic situation, where the legacy of Mr Hayakawa (to spread renju as a worldwide sport) has been totally thrown away by current leaders of Nihon Renju Sha.

I am sorry for my frank words, but this how I the situation is today. I am very tired already. All the efforts to make renju a big worldwide game are hindered by the idle attitude of Nihon Renju Sha.

Renju game even with 5 swap (or 3 swap) rule would preserve the history and traditions of the game - the existing theory, the principle of starting from center, forbidden moves, board 15x15. It will just add 2 more wonderful things - to let beginners easily join the game (even can ignore swaps) and play just like in gomoku, and to let strong players have an exciting and creative games. Having these conditions fulfilled, renju can make a huge progress in next 10 years. And it would then always be considered as a Japanese game of forbidden moves worldwide. This is what Mr Hayakawa would have wanted most.

Maybe it is possible to agree on 3-swap rule.....
Norihiko Kawamura2008-04-16 18:41:30
I must answer a lot... First, for Ants.

Yamaguchi rule has an advantage because of such reason.
We are classifying if Yamaguchi rule is introduced;
*beginner~kyu player: current rule without 5th altenative
*1dan~4dan player:current rule
*more than 5dan player:Yamaguchi rule
It means all rule are the same start,"One show pattern, the other choose color".
Becuase every rule is the color decision at 3rd move.
That policy is easy to understand for everyone.So we tend to regard fully connect from beginner to expart. And we think it is enough for top player to use Yamaguchi rule in order to avoid dull game.Unfortunately we have not shown the next step. However, we think Yamaguchi rule can be adapted at least 10 years just like current rule continuing more than 10 years. If the rule changes 5swap or 3swap rule in Japan, what happens? As Ando pointed out (good observation!, I admired), we are accustumed altenative custum so we will teach Yamaguchi rule for beginners with very ease.  If we introduce swap rule, I guess top players use it at first, then teach it for lower level plaryers with an easy tool. Now we are not ready and it will take long time.

Next, answer for Ando.
- What is the goal of Nihon Renju Sha?
To spread renju all over the world and to become more popular in the world
- Do they care about renju becoming a big worldwide sport?
Of course we want to be a big worldwide sport.
- Do they need RIF?
Of course Yes
- If there are two extreme choices to choose from: a) several retired men are unhappy about new rules and leave the organization (together with their money), or b) the renju will stop being a worldwide sport in 10 years, and will shrink down to be just a local and isolated entertainment of Japanese old men; which one will Nihon Renju Sha choose?
I won't answer such a desparate question. We choose both Japanese retire men happy and become worldwide sport.

I personally feel that we have been talking about new opeining rule, but not successful. I think both any player thinks of renju future and want to be more worldwide game. The problem is different  the direction or way. I found it that Japanese(and some Asian) players and European players never comprehend each other for opening rule.

The only solution is RIF has more than one rule or some option.
For example, RIF official rule is XX , sub(or certified) rule is XX....
However, I don't agree rejection system. One tournament should be used one rule.The rejection system would NOT be popular in Japan.(it comes from cultural backgraound, I guess)

Ando Meritee2008-04-16 21:37:48
Thank you for answers.

Your answer to my a/b question was:
We choose both Japanese retire men happy and become worldwide sport.

It is a nice wish, we all wish so, but in reality, we are facing the situation were a and b exclude each other. Why don't you want to face this situation?

Please tell me, how does Nihon Renju Sha plan to do it - We choose both Japanese retire men happy and become worldwide sport. ?? What are the concrete steps of popularizing renju world wide now? How do they plan to stop the organizations in other countries collapsing because of rules problem (not enough new players, and strong players lost interest)?

If there is no concrete plan, then the We choose both Japanese retire men happy and become worldwide sport. is not a serious answer, because the problem we are having is real, and it is happening already now.

We have tried so much to do something about letting renju become popular world-wide, trying to find solutions to the existing problems of how to let renju be more popular among beginners, and how to keep strong players motivated. What has Nihon Renju Sha done about this matter in past 5 years? Where are the concrete actions?

You know, Power and Responsibility must be balanced. If somebody uses big Power (like veto), he will also have Responsibility. Currently, we only saw Power, and no Responsibility. Who will take the personal responsibility in Nihon Renju Sha if 10 years later, several renju countries do not have renju players any more because all the concrete solutions were blocked? Will they just say "sorry, we could not predict this would happen!"? Or will they say "We tried our best to popularize renju, but somehow it didn't work."

When I gave the choice between a) and b), it was not just to give a "headache", but a serious scenario we are about to face in reality. I repeat once more - with current policy of Nihon Renju Sha, (a) and (b) choices cannot be chosen same time.

At the end of my previous comment, I gave a small hint about which way we could move to, but unfortunately it did not even get any smallest attention.

One more remark:  rejection system would NOT be popular in Japan.(it comes from cultural backgraound, I guess)  It is not the issue of cultural difference. I do not think rejection system would become popular either, and I will not support it. It is only fun for some strong players.

Thank you very much for reading. I will keep this frank tone. Please understand its necessity. The "round talk style" will just encourage Nihon Renju Sha leaders to be more idle about this problem. I am frank, but with respect at the same time. I appreciate all the efforts you and many Japanese have done in the past about renju. Above all, I am thankful to Mr Hayakawa, mostly thanks to him, the renju has spread to other countries.
Dmitry Epifanov2008-04-16 21:51:44
>The only solution is RIF has more than one rule or some option.
>For example, RIF official rule is XX , sub(or certified) rule is XX....

So high level tournaments (like World Championships) should be held by the most advanced rules (i.e., Taraguchi), intermediate international tournaments by intermediate rules (maybe Yamaguchi), local events with beginners - with the third rules...

I see a flaw in this system. It is harder for player to advance because playing in lower class he gains much less opening experience. And it is really bad for the beginners because they can't participate in any renju event but only in a part of them because there is a lot of opening rules being actual.

And once more. If no decision in opening rule will be made at this GA, Correspondence WC will collapse exactly next year. Please, think about it.

Best regards, Epifanov D.
Finite2008-04-17 21:43:25
I think Kawamura's proposal will also work well! It will renew renju for ten more years. Some fans will come back and renju will get also some new fans. It will keep a warm family, but a small one!

I think that this proposal will prevent it from a popular sport. The nature of renju does not change that who know more theories will get "significant" advantages and skills play a minor role. It is too professional that Yamaguchi rule is not easier than existing RIF rule.

Although it has some disadvantages, it is still charming for me and many fans. The attractive essential of renju does not change that there are 4x4, 3x3, overline, etc.

What is your prediction for renju after ten more years? Will stagnation comes back? Is the situation "most variants are known" a nature of renju? I should tell you sincerely that I do not know the answer? If "most variants are known" is the nature of renju, I think renju is and will always be a un-popular and beautiful game. In this situation, Kawamura's proposal is a good one! If the nature of renju is that people can play renju seriously depending major on skills and minor on theories, we lose our chance to populate renju with Kawamura's proposal. For some cases, renju will even die.

I have mentioned the above issue by perfect renju or free renju?

If renju is perfect, we either have to change rule every time when we get stagnation or do not change rule any more. In this case, do you brave enough to spend another ten years for another stagnation? Do you brave enough to spend a lot time to learn a lot of new theories and have to face another rule change? I think people should propose the new “new rule” responsibly in this case.

Is renju free? Can human evaluate any “five-stones” on a 15x15 board? Is there theory that can help people to play free renju? This issue is a forbidden move currently. There is no serious discussion and experiments although we can find answer easily by test games in internet. Any way, if renju is free, what is the free-renju-version Yamaguchi rule? For any “four-stones” on a 15x15 board, do you know how many playable “fives”? Thus I would say we lose our chance to populate renju.

5-swap rule will be a smart choose if we do not know the answer about perfect renju or free renju.

Tsai, Chia-Cheng

Kawamura's proposal:
*beginner ~ kyu player: current rule without 5th alternative
*1dan~4dan player: current rule
*more than 5dan player: Yamaguchi rule
Jussi Ikonen2008-05-09 19:03:08

Last Saturday an extra GA was held in Helsinki. Prior to the meeting a few hours of discussion about the rule matter was done in Friday evening. I was absent of the discussion due to the closing ceremony preparations.

First of all, I would like to note that I find the published meeting protocol quite inaccurate. As I remember, at least the point six happened not quite as it says at the protocol:

“Finland Renju Federation suggested that Veto rights for founder members will be taken away. The suggestion affects the statutes and came in too late according to rules. After a short discussion, it was decided that this item will not be decided on this Extra General Assembly. “

First correction: Finnish Renju Federation (only small mistake)
Second correction: We proposed to discuss and decide, not to take the veto away totally, but to change it as Estonians have proposed. (Two countries should agree with using the veto, not just one).
Third correction: As I understood this issue was agreed to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. Later, before the discussion about the rule matter we discussed about it and even voted. Sweden, Czech, Estonia and Russia voted against a change, Finland voted for the change and no vote from China or Japan.

If the situation was misunderstood by the secretary and people who signed the protocol I am in awe. Moreover, if this kind of thing is intentionally left out of the protocol just to make it look better, it really makes me wonder about the function of the organization.  

Here are my thoughts about the current rule situation:

- Perhaps this blog message with all the comments had a concrete influence about the matter, after all (otherwise we could well be standing now with Yamaguchi as the only official renju rule)
- I am surprised that the suggestion that GA was able to reach to a “temporary” solution and no veto was used this time.
- Every other country except China voted for the change. China did not vote either yes or no.
- As I see it, Andos proposal about 3 swap rule was totally ignored.
- The suggestion which was agreed in the meeting was introduced only a few days prior to the meeting. This fights against the statutes of RIF as it should have been introduced at the protocol at least a month prior to the meeting.
- Four more years of testing is ahead of us. How will the situation be any different after it? I believe it will be impossible to choose any other rule as official rule, except Yamaguchi, if Japan is allowed to use veto as it has done.
- “For all RIF World Championships the Yamaguchi opening rule should be used. It means WC 2009 and WC 2011, TWC 2010 and 2012.” It is really amazing that a rule which has not been in any serious test (big serious tournaments) before is now chosen as the rule for the most important championship tournaments!
- For Taraguchi enthusiasts, a positive thing about this situation is a possibility to organize official tournaments and events with this opening rule.  

I have heard other opinions about the matter and I continue to encourage people to write them as comments to this blog. Other than that, I feel 90% disappointed and 10% relieved about the situation.
luwenzhe2008-05-09 20:31:33
From one article posted on, I have a feeling that China supports a rule change but not Yamaguchi-rule. I guess that's the reason they didn't vote (partialy yes partialy no). Correct me if I am wrong.
Andry2008-05-10 03:23:56
- “For all RIF World Championships the Yamaguchi opening rule should be used. It means WC 2009 and WC 2011, TWC 2010 and 2012.

Yeah.. it is really amazing that there haven`t been any tournaments with yamaguchi rules in recent years and it is already an official WC rule. I found only 1 game played with Yamaguchi rules in
The situation is quite rediculous because If I have understood correctly then most European players want to play with Taraguchi rules. It`s funny when some players get first experience with Yamaguchi rules in WC=)
Dmitry Epifanov2008-05-12 15:12:22
Concerning the rule changes. Now the situation is totally different then two weeks ago. Now any Taraguchi-rule event (as far as Yamaguchi and Soosorv) became official event with international rating applied and 'that-is-how-it-should-be' status granted. So the only compromise step taken from 'any tournament by any rule' is Yamaguchi in WC and TWC. Maybe it's really quite funny, but it seems to me that everything is possible after 4 years: when players get involved into every rule, they will definitely choose the best fit for WC and TWC, but let them have some time to try and decide.

Other strong events like EC, AC, YWC, CWC are free and may be held by any opening rule from those 4 ones. That is a really great step ahead from RIF opening rule. So this GA was a real break-through.

I can try to explain why this change was so strange. It seems to me that GA was only an official coverage. The real decision was a very, very hard work before in mail discussions between countries (especially Japan). Deep bow to every side who have made this decision possible. So it is easy to explain why the compromise was introduced so lately, why some things were excluded, why no veto was used, why most of the countries voted 'yes'. Perhaps China and Finland wasn't involved into pre-GA discussion.

Please, Jussi, be patient that the final decision wasn't introduced earlier because we are not interested in invalidation of this decision and putting ourselves into the stone age with only RIF opening rule available.

China did not vote either yes or no.

Afair, China voted 'no' (Mr. Chen Wei did), am I wrong? My memory was quite unstable that moment =)

As I see it, Andos proposal about 3 swap rule was totally ignored

Yes. I think Ando offered his 3-swap rule just for polemic. I'm sure he understands that plain-Taraguchi is easier for novice than 3-swap, so there is no real need in it when it is possible to have Taraguchi accepted.

... As to me, I feel 100% relief. The RIF rule is no more. I can even make a voting among correspondence players on which rule to be implemented for the next year championship
Yuriy Tarannikov2008-05-12 20:08:32
Dmitriy, I think, at first, you must connect with Richard Rognlie with the question which certified rules he is ready to implement in recent time. (RIF and Yamaguchi are already available at PBeM.) The following voting must be based on possibilities. Maybe Richard will be even able to implement the rejection system?
Jussi Ikonen2008-05-12 21:23:50
Hello Dimitry,

I can see you are happy with the situation and I like your comment. Good to have a bit of positive breath here also!

If my last post can be prescribed as a pessimistic one, yours on the other hand an optimistic one. I agree that it is great to have an official status for Taraguchi rule, but I am not as certain about what will happen in four years. Maybe it's really quite funny, but it seems to me that everything is possible after 4 years: when players get involved into every rule, they will definitely choose the best fit for WC and TWC, but let them have some time to try and decide. Yes, everything is possible. And it would be great if this is the case! However, is it really realistic to think that players will end up deciding their favorite rule as the official rule? It wasn’t the case this time, right? I must also say that I am a little pessimistic that these rules will be explored in certain countries more than they have been so far. For example I am doubtful (based on the writings from Japanese) that there will be any serious tournament in Japan with other than Yamaguchi rule. On the other hand my best guess is that in Finland, we won’t see too many tournaments, except with Taraguchi rule.    

Perhaps China and Finland wasn't involved into pre-GA discussion. In my opinion all RIF member countries should have been evolved with the discussion loop.

About China’s vote, I am not sure anymore. Most likely this happened as you said. :)
Dmitry Epifanov2008-05-12 23:31:12
Yury, as far as I know PBeM is an open-source project. And I used to be a programmer. So if there will be nobody to implement those rules, I'll do it myself. Anyway, thank you for this reminder, I have to focus on this issue as soon as possible.

And of course it is possible. It might be quite complicated, but it is definitely possible.

... will you play this tournament by your rule? =)

Jussi, that doesn't seem to be an official discussion so we can't dictate anything like 'I want to participate in it! Put me in the carbon copy!'. Anyway, it has a result, so it was exactly what was needed.

On the other hand my best guess is that in Finland, we won’t see too many tournaments, except with Taraguchi rule.

Maybe you are too fast in decisions =) Every rule is worth trying =) And you have to train in Yamaguchi a little... just to make TWC title easier to fetch =)

As to us, we will try all rules, I hope.
Dmitry Epifanov2008-05-12 23:33:06
P.S. Jussi, I'm Dmitry, not Dimitry, these names are different in Russia =) Could you please print it correctly next time I'll play in Helsinki =)
Jussi Ikonen2008-05-13 01:15:08
My deepest apologies, Dima.. ;)
Jussi Ikonen2008-05-13 01:46:34
Jussi, that doesn't seem to be an official discussion so we can't dictate anything like 'I want to participate in it! Put me in the carbon copy!'.

Dmitry, thats my point exactly! During the lest few years Finland has participated in the EGA06, GA07 and EGA08. Since the dicussion moved from online meetings to cabinet discussions, as I see it, the email exchage has perhaps mainly been among the central committee (a very few countries). To response to your comment: As a private person I would naturally not "dictate" that I want to be added as a carbon coby. As you can see at my post I was talking on keeping Finland at the loop, not just myself. Iin my opinion countries that will be voting for for such a matter matter should have been in the loop. I can not speak on behalf of China, Estonia, or Czech, but I feel Finland has not been in it.

I also wonder if other RIF member countries (Canada, Chinese Taipei, Korea and Uzbekistan) were even consulted about the matter.
Jussi Ikonen2008-05-18 06:26:24
Earlier this week I got an invitation to Czech Open 2008 tournament. At the tournament web site ( it said that the tournament rule was the RIF rule. I thought it was just a mistake and today I asked Ales about it. He responded that it was due to the fact that many players will participate in YWC, which is also held with the old RIF rule. I then asked Ants about the matter and he confirmed this to be the case.

It seems the old RIF rule is still a official and valid tournament rule. This was a big news to me! I thought that there was a rule change at the Extra General Assembly just two weeks ago!!

If it is really so that future tournaments can also be with the old RIF rule, then I wonder what the actual rule change we achieved was. Did we just decide to have four more years of trial period, with Yamaguchi rule is the rule for the most important tournaments as a certified rule with Taraguchi and Soosőrv rules, whilst RIF rule is still an official renju rule? If so, it has not been communicated properly! The assembly protocol ( does say nothing about leaving the old rule still available for organizers to choose. I know that many players have been celebrating the change and that the old rule is now history. For example in this thread a few posts earlier Dmitry concluded: .. As to me, I feel 100% relief. The RIF rule is no more. .. Interestingly enough, this was fully ignored from those who thought RIF rule is still the official renju rule!

If it is allowed to use old RIF rules at renju tournaments during the next four years, what guarantees are there that Japanese will try the new rules, except Yamaguchi rule for the championships?? If this is really the case, I ask you;

- Was it worth to “sacrifice” the WC and TWC tournaments in order just to get a few rules to certified, so the results of these tournament could be added to the RIF rating list?
- Can this really be called as a rule change after all?
- Was this really as big of a compromise from Japanese part, as it was introduced?

Oh well.. I don’t know whether laugh or cry now. I feel I am about done with this topic. Getting so tired of these constant surprises and now it even seems we didn’t actually make any substantial rule change this year, even as it was so announced!

Sure, at this moment this is still speculation, since the protocol does not give a straight unambiguous answer. I hope we will get an answer for this matter from the rules commission or the central committee soon.
Yuriy Tarannikov2008-05-18 16:53:54
If some players want to play by some rules then it is impossible to prohibit them to do it. If such a prohibition will be official decided then such players could leave Renju (or only RIF structures) or continue to play illegal. So, the allowance of new certified rules is the great event but many players like old (classic) rules and they must have possibility to play by these rules.

For Youth tournaments the using of classic rules is very reasonable since for young or newcomer players the theoretical preparation and school background is very important whereas where are no still good textbooks on new rules.

The RIF GA protocol is written not quite accurately, indeed. It was proper to mention that the classic rules are still allowed. At the same time, there are no words that old rules are not valid already. Therefore, since the old rules are not cancelled, they are still valid. Some indirect reference to classic rules is given in Appendix D where old rules are mentioned like main rules.

Concerning Appendix D on rejection system, the words that one of three set of rules must be the classic rules are not very actual now when it is allowed for the games by separate certified rules to be rated. Moreover, in the RIF GA protocol it is written that all games played by the certified rules can be counted on the RIF rating list. These phrase follows that if some games were played by certified rules in some tournament (maybe even together in a combination with some noncertified rules) then it can be calculated for RIF ratings.

Concerning the question what guarantees are there that Japanese will try the new rules, except Yamaguchi rule for the championships??, of course, such guarantees are impossible in any case. The only chance is to play interesting games in variants that are impossible by Yamaguchi rules and publish them with detailed fascinating comments. But now, when different certified rules are allowed, these rules have a chance to win the most popularity if they are really nice. The situation that the world championships are fixed on Yamaguchi rules is not an unavoidable problem. If some rules will be much be attractive for players than Yamaguchi rules then the tournaments by these rules will become much more popular than WC. In many serious sports WC is not the most important tournament. For example, now in Canada the ice hockey WC is going in parallel with NHL playoff, and NHL playoff takes much more interest, and strongest players play there. So, it will be quite natural that after some years if Japanese will try to stagnate Yamaguchi rules at WC then some “Renju Grand Tournament” will be more important than “Renju WC”. It is necessary only to take all tournaments with coordination with RIF, communicate actively inside of Renju community, to exchange ideas and variants (in fact, there are many joint variants for all rules.) Then the problem of “the splitting” will not be actual.

Generally, to avoid different ideas of “the splitting” it would be preferable for players, who are able and agree to do it, to play by the rejection system as much part of tournaments as possible. Then the supporters of different rules will be together. The using of many different rules gives more different positions. So, our Renju life will be richer. Even Yamaguchi rules give some interesting variants in i2(6), d2(6), i4(6), i7(6) that are nonoptimal under other certified  rules.

The only pity event at RIF GA was that Sakata rules were not certified. So, we lose many interesting “wild” positions that were possible in Sakata/Tarannikov rules. Somebody does not want to meet them in an official game but it was possible to allow such rules for enthusiasts. I heard some explanations why Sakata rules were not certified but these explanations seem to be quite strange for me. Maybe, somebody knows more details?
Epifanov Dmitry2012-03-28 19:00:41
So this TWC was supposed to be the last WC-like tournament to be played by Yamaguchi rule.

Where will we move now? Maybe Taraguchi-8?
Jussi Ikonen2012-04-28 00:03:36
Impressive bump Dmitry.

It´s been four years since this this thread was active. As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I finally got really tired of the topic. Soon after I distanced myself from the rule change process. Seing how it´s going (or went down), I´m glad I did so.

I could do some bashing, venting and pointing fingers. But I choose not to. Instead I just state the obvious: if renju and/or RIF is to survive, much less prosper, major changes are needed.  


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