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Who would trade a hundred years for a game of Weiqi?
According to the legend, 'One day in heaven is equivalent to a hundred years on earth.' Go or Weiqi has been regarded as a favorite of the fairies. While the fairies are battling out in a game of Go in the mountains, the earth had experienced great changes from one generation to the other. There is a famous legend from Jiangnan, known as the story of the 'Ranka Mountain'.
The story of the 'Renka Mountain' was first recorded in 'Shu Yi Zhi' written by Ren Fong of the Nan Dynaty. The story was recorded as follows. During the Jin Dynasty, there was a mountain in the Zhejiang province where fairies resided. One day, a woodcutter called Wang Zhi went up this mountain, looking for wood to cut. He saw a few fairies gathering around a rock, playing a game of Weiqi and singing songs. As Wang curiously got closer to the game, he was mesmerized and totally forgot about wood cutting. (See cover art, with Wang Zhi observing the game between two fairies). Suddenly, a fairy got up and quickly stuffed something into Wang's mouth, which was soon discovered by Wang to be a prune. After eating the prune, he became energetic and did not feel hungry at all. The game was extremely interesting, full of unexpected turns. After a while, before the game was ended, one of the fairies lifted up his head and said to Wang, 'Why don't you go home? How long are you planning to stay here?' Being startled, Wang tried to pick up his axe to leave, and was shocked to find that the handle of his axe had rotted. When he returned to his village, he was surprised that there were no familiar faces. After inquiring, he found out that a hundreds years had passed while he was watching the game in the mountain. This story is known as the story of the 'Ranka Mountain'.
Although the Ranka story was only a legend, it has been very popular among Weiqi players. It has also become a theme that poets and painters like to use in their works. Zhang Jiang of the Ming Dynasty wrote a poem. "…like a dream to Wang Zhi, as he watched the game played on the rock. It's better to be drunk for 3,000 years than having the axe rotted before your eyes but falling short of becoming a fairy." Zhang Yiling wrote a poem on his painting, the Ranka Mountain, "People envy the life of fairies, but life of a fairy is quite pitiful- Who would trade a hundred years for a game of Weiqi?" From this, one can see that not everyone envies the life of a fairy. However, the ability of Weiqi in allowing people to forget their troubles is fascinating.
In ancient game collections, there is a game record called the 'Ranka Diagram', as seen in 'Wang You Qing Yue Ji', written by Li Yiming, of the Song Dynasty. A note next to the game record, says 'Wang Zhi went up the Ranka Mountain, looking for wood to cut. He ran into a few fairies playing Weiqi, and recorded the following game. White plays first and black wins by one point.' Looking at the position, both sides start the game with star point opening with 150 moves each. Black captured 22 stones and white captured 9. Black has 18 points and white has 17. The story mentioned that Wang left the mountain before the game ended. So, why was this game recorded to the last play remains a puzzle. It takes a fairy to figure this one out.Copyright Yutopian Enterprises 1999.
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