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花より団子

"Hana yori dango", says a terse Japanese saying. A literal translation would be "dumplings are better than flowers", but the implicit meaning is that during the cherry blossom season, the point of sitting under the trees is not looking at the flowers, the point is eating dango and getting blotto on cheap sake.

Alas, dango 団子 aren't all that exciting either: they're little grilled balls (less than an inch in diameter) of pounded rice (mochi), almost entirely tasteless and all too capable of choking you to death. To alleviate the tedium, the dango are covered with either sweet anko (red bean) paste, or tare, a soy-based sauce that can be sweet or salty.

A dango is a structure that occurs in the game Go, made up of four pieces in the following form:
---------
----xx---
----xx---
---------

Dangos are weak structures. Eight of the opponent's pieces are required to surround and thus kill it:
----00---
---0xx0--
---0xx0--
----00---

Where as a different use of the four pieces:
---0-----
--0x00---
--0xxx0--
---000---

Reqires 9 of the opponent's pieces.

Any additional piece played on a dango:
---00----
--0xx0---
--0xx0---
---0x0---
----0----

Does little good, adding only one liberty to the structure, where as on the other arrangement, one stone placed provides two liberties.
---0-----
--0x000--
--0xxxx0-
---0000--


Incidently, Dango is also my ferret.

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