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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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I’ve been teaching myself Go on and off over the last year or so. I’m completely terrible at it, but I find the game very interesting. There’s something appealing about the simplicity of its rules (which are easy to explain, in a mathematical sense, but hard to comprehend, in an intuitive sense) and the complexity of the play.

I ordered a board and stones from Yellow Mountain Imports. Like all things me, it ended up being way more complicated than I’d hoped, and ended up taking way too long. The board was, I thought, the easy part. I’m not into Go yet that I can justify a Kaya board, and I don’t like the looks of Shin Kaya boards. A bamboo board looked like it would do the trick; it was cheap, still substantial in size and weight, easy to maintain, and looked relatively nice, if a bit darker than I’d like.

For stones, again, I can’t justify slate and shell stones, as beautiful as they would be. So, I ended up with 9.2mm Yunzi stones in jujube wood; again, I’d love larger stones, but just no way to justify it. Maybe if I’m still into board games in five years I’ll dump some real money on a real board and real set of stones.

I wait a bit, I get a “your order has shipped” notice and a tracking number.

I wait a bit.

Then I get contacted by YMI; I’m informed that my board was found to be damaged when they went to pack and ship it. They don’t have any more of them, and because of the nature of their business (stuff arrives, slowly, via container ships), it might be a while. Do I want to cancel my order or select something else?

I indicate I’d just go ahead and get a thin Shin Kaya board, and wait patiently.

Week passes; I keep waiting. Eventually, I follow up, because my original tracking number is sitting dead, and I haven’t heard anything. Am told I never responded.

It takes all the restraint I have to not forward the confirmation I’d received from YMI that they received my response.

So I trade half a dozen emails after that, and end up settling on a (short) floor board instead, which is fine. They apologize and toss in a go scoring book as an “I’m sorry.” Nice touch. It ships the next morning and takes a week to get here.

It shows up, and there’s a bamboo board in the box. Weird, but okay; that’s what I wanted originally anyway.

One white stone is broken, and there’s a half of a black stone in the jar. I think nothing of it, because the literature with the stones indicate “they send a few extra in case any are broken.”

Later that night I wash all the stones, dry them, oil them, and polish them. My fingers still hurt, but now they’re pretty.

And when I count them, double-checking, I discover I have 180 black stones (plus a broken half), and 178 white stones (plus a broken stone).

Those familiar with the game will realize there should be 181 black stones and 180 white stones. And in theory, according to the literature, a few extras in case some are broken.

So, I email again, and they ship out some replacement stones.

All told, YMI has been very responsive and courteous, beyond the mysteriously dropped email somewhere in the middle of the process. Now that (most of) the stuff has arrived, and I’m pleased with it. It’s not perfect, but not bad for the money. The lines on the board are not perfect (one of the corners is distorted slightly). There are a couple of white stones with small brown surface marks, but I don’t really care about that so much. Probably the most disappointing aspect is the jujube bowls; they are not finished very well; the exterior portions of the bowls that expose end grain are quite rough. Either they were finished before the wood had fully dried, or they were not appropriately sanded and coated during the final finishing stage(s). Oh well. They still look nice.