Saturday, July 28, 2007

Kyu Review: YMI's "Jade Luster" Go Stones

Click on image to enlarge.

"Jade Yunzi!" exclaimed my friend when I popped-open the reed basket. "Those must be expensive!"

As I explained to him, these Yunzi are not made of jade but they do appear as such, complete with subtle patterns. The "Jade Luster" Yunzi are among the latest additions to Yellow Mountain Imports's Go product offerings.

The light stones have slight variegations that resemble jade. Click to enlarge.

Contrary to my friend's first impressions, these stones are not expensive. They sell for US$45 which is just $13 more than their regular single-convex Yunzi.

Middle Kingdom Theme

We all choose our Go equipment to suit our tastes. Back in 2005, when frankiii and I were exchanging notes about gear, he expressed a strong preference for single-convex Yunzi for a couple of reasons:
  • Flipping the stones over made it easier to study variations.
  • Single convex Yunzi reminded him of China, where Go originated.

The game is Shusaku (B) versus Shuwa (W). Black has a 2-stone handicap. Click on image to enlarge.

If you want a set with a more Chinese theme, then single-convex Yunzi would be your first choice. However, the "Jade Luster" Yunzi really drive that theme home because few things shout "Middle Kingdom" the way jade does.

I wasn't sure if the light green shade of these stones would look alright on my board but, as you can see from the photographs, they work just fine. The flash and my digital camera tended to wash-out the lighter-colored stones so I took another photo outdoors.

Looking a little greener but still a somewhat washed-out. This is the set photographed outdoors. Click to enlarge.

The photo above better captures what the stones look like in natural light. Indoors, the stones have a deeper jade color which is pleasing and easy on the eyes.

I think the looks of these stones would be enhanced when played on a slightly darker surface like YMI's bamboo boards. YMI also had a laminated dark-cherry board at one time but it looks like they're currently out of stock.

Another Option: Old Yunzi

Today's Yunzi with whiter stones.

Old Yunzi with a yellow tint to the white stones.

Afficionados of course know that the original Yunzi had a slight yellowish tint to the white stones. These are now called "Old Yunzi" and YMI sells sets of these also for US$45. If you'd like to theme your set along traditional lines, these are an option to consider.


At 1:09 AM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Michelizza said...

Hi Chiyo and thanks a lot for your blog I have just discovered.
Your Yunzi stones look great. But where is your so nice go board from ?

Arnauld (aka. milouz)

At 1:45 AM, July 29, 2007, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Hello Arnauld,

Thanks for reading my blog. The goban in this post is from YMI. I acquired it back in 2005. The set came with biconvex Yunzi in Jujube bowls.

Best Regards,
- ChiyoDad

At 8:32 AM, August 08, 2007, Anonymous Yogenzaga said...

Hi Chiyodad!

I was just wondering, do you keep all the reid bowls from all the new sets of stones you buy? If so, maybe you could post a picture of them all just for fun!

At 12:50 PM, August 09, 2007, Blogger Dustin said...

Hi Chiyo, I was trying to decide whether or not to get a set of the jade luster stones and you're review had perfect timing, I read it right when I was considering it again.
I can't wait till they get here next week sometime :D. Now I can't wait!

At 7:47 PM, August 15, 2007, Blogger Dustin said...

Hey chiyo, mine came yesterday and I'd like to ask, how did they ship yours?
Mine came in the bowls just in a box but the black stones had spilled out of the bowl, a few were chipped and one was cracked completely in half...the majority were fine though, and the green were fine too.

At 8:31 PM, August 15, 2007, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Mine arrived the same way. If you have chipped stones, send an email to YMI and advise them of the situation.

Give them a specific count of all chipped and broken stones, and their colors of course. They will mail you replacements.

At 5:08 PM, August 19, 2007, Anonymous Brian said...

I see that, when you purchased the goban from YMI, there were some warping concerns, as it was made from a single piece of wood. How has it withstood the year and a half since then?

At 5:34 PM, August 19, 2007, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Hello Brian.

Thus far no problems with mine. It maybe be a combination of fortune and Northern California weather. A luthier recently told me that our area doesn't suffer from too many humidity extremes; which is good for fine classical guitars ... and perhaps for gobans as well.

I have however, in my guitar studies, learned more about woods and their unpredictability. If you have serious concerns about warping, then I would steer you to purchasing from Mr.Kuroki. Yes, his wares cost more, but his quality control is very high and he stands behind his products long after the sale.

At 7:37 PM, September 10, 2007, Blogger Dustin said...

I wish you'd update more often :D
I love your site!

At 10:57 PM, October 05, 2007, Blogger Garrett said...


I've had you on the RSS feed for now, but the title is always grayed out! I hope to see more of your insightful and informative posts soon. I also hope all is well.


At 8:23 PM, December 22, 2007, Blogger John said...

Hey Chiyodad,

Just wondering which of these stones you oiled. I just got a set from YMI for giftmas and oiled the black ones and am not sure if I should oil the jade/white ones or not.

At 12:39 PM, December 07, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Chiyo,

I live in Montreal Canada, and I recently bought some stones from a small art store in our Chinatown. The lady told me that they were Yunzi, but I was a little uncertain. The have the characteristic green tinge to them, but unfortunately, they seem to be too green...meaning if I hold them up to any dim light, a translucent green is visible. Does this mean that they are fake?

At 8:14 PM, December 07, 2008, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Difficult to answer without examining the stones and relying on experience. I don't know of any specific method of verifying real Yunzi from imitations.

I think the real bottom line matters are whether you like the look and feel of the stones, and if you feel you paid a fair price for them regardless of their pedigree. I know of some glass stones that I've enjoyed better than Yunzi.


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