The Elwyn Berlekamp Controversy

For the past 27 years, The Ishi Press has been the world's leading publisher of books and computer software pertaining to the game of go. The Ishi Press never made much money doing this and often operated at a loss. The primary purpose of The Ishi Press was not financial gain but rather to spread the game of go to the West and to the English speaking world.

In furtherance of this objective, separate companies, which were originally intended to operate as branch offices of the main company in Japan, were established in 1986 in San Jose, California and in 1991 in London, England.
Elwyn R. Berlekamp

Unfortunately, what has happened is that the operators of these two "branch offices" have discovered that the credit worthy name and reputation of the Ishi Press which has been built up over 27 years in business enables the "branches" to borrow money and use the credit facilities of the original company in Japan. These "branch offices" have now broken off and no longer have any connection whatever with the Ishi Press in Japan. More than that, these former branch offices are now engaging in illegal practices such as the pirating of books and computer software and the selling of magazine subscriptions to which they have no right. Innumerable individuals have sent in their money to these entities, expecting to receive books and magazines in return, only to find that their money has been lost and that they are not getting what they paid for. They even have difficulty communicating by FAX, e-mail or phone. They then write letters to The Ishi Press in Japan, complaining about this, not realizing that The Ishi Press in Japan has no connection with and no control over these entities and individuals.

To cite one example of this, there is a two volume work entitled "All About Life and Death" by Cho Chikun, which many of you may have bought. This is a pirated work. Not only has Cho Chikun not received royalties for the publication of this book, but he never signed a contract and never consented to the publication of this book by Ishi Press International of San Jose, California.

This book was originally published in Japanese by the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo in 1984. James W. Connelley of Ishi Press International in San Jose found out about this book, hired someone in California to translate it into English, and published and sold the book in America, all without consulting Mr. Cho. This book, which was published in the Summer of 1994, is popular and has virtually sold out.

Mr. Cho found this book while browsing in a bookstore and, on October 26, 1995, wrote a letter to Ishi Press International complaining about this. On January 16, 1996, Hartland "Sweet" Snyder of Ishi Press International wrote back to Mr. Cho a letter which, in part, stated: "IPJ and Bozulich entered into an agreement granting rights to reprint all IPJ books."

This is absolutely untrue. There has never been any agreement giving Ishi Press International in San Jose the right to publish the books of The Ishi Press of Japan. Moreover, any such agreement would not affect this book, because "All About Life and Death" was originally printed and published by Ishi Press International in San Jose. The Ishi Press of Japan never published that book.

The letter from Hartland "Sweet" Snyder (his actual legal adopted name) goes on to state: "If you send us a contract similar to that which you have with Bozulich we will sign it and honor it at our next printing. If you attempt to assign your books to which we have the rights to another company ... with whom Bozulich is associated we will take appropriate legal steps. ISHI-US never had a contract with you: we only had the rights to the fruits of a contract IPJ had with you. ..... We look forward to hearing from your attorneys and cooperating with them in every possible way so that you can recover your money from Bozulich and IPJ."

Note that not only does Hartland Snyder refuse to pay anything at all to Mr. Cho for the publication of his book, but he tells Mr. Cho that he, Hartland, has the rights to that book and that Mr. Cho will get sued if he goes to another company to have his own book published.

Hartland Snyder's letter also states: "Until we received your letter of October 26, 1995 we had no knowledge of" the problem. Anybody who has been reading the newsgroup will know that this is a lie. This subject was fully aired on back in July, 1995 and Hartland Snyder and Anton Dovydaitis actively participated in that discussion.

This only one example of many manifestations of this problem. Mr. Takagi, a famous go player, was browsing in a book store last year when he discovered that he too had a book published by Ishi Press International in San Jose in English which he did not know about. That book is entitled "Beyond Forcing Moves."

Takagi and Cho Chikun share exactly the same problem. These are world famous go players, among the top players in the world. They have big incomes in the half million dollar range from appearance fees and exhibitions and from writing articles and teaching go. They cannot afford to drop what they are doing and come to America, fight a long and protracted court case against Hartland Sweet Snyder and then to hire the sheriff as I have done to chase him around and collect whatever few dollars he can find.

You say that these are criminal charges and that these people should be arrested. However, here in California, juries let men off scott free who kill their wives. No district attorney is going to bother with a little case of petty white collar thievery. Of course, if the tables were turned and a Japanese, Chinese or Korean company pirated an American work, they would get really excited about that.

The end result is that Hartland Sweet Snyder is continuing to print and sell books to which he has no right, with no intention of paying the authors anything, and there is nothing which can be done about it, except possibly to post this information on a discussion group on the Internet.

Hartland Sweet Snyder is known to be insolvent, with a mountain of debts from court judgments against him and from scams which he has pulled in the past. He has been charged with domestic violence and abuse. On November 8, 1994 an Oakland, California woman named Linda Louise Davenport obtained a court order against Hartland Snyder ordering him not to approach within 100 yards of her for the next three years.

Her written complaint to the court dated October 27, 1994 stated that "Hartland Snyder was very violent in his behalf. He broke into my house at midnight, refused to leave, battered and bruised me. I was bleeding from the cut on my sholder & face (brutally). He tried to sexually assault me on this day also.... He constantly exhibits a volatile behavior, bullies and tries to control me with temper fits. He threw a hammer at me. He causes duress in my present relationship. He has been told never to come back or disturb me but continues to harass me with letters & garbage.

After a trial of this matter on November 8, 1994, Superior Court Judge Dawn Girard ordered that Hartland Snyder shall not contact, molest, attack, strike, threaten, sexually assault, batter, telephone, or disturbe the peace of the protected person and family or household members and shall stay at least 100 yards from the protected persons and protected persons residence and protected persons workplace or the vehicle of the protected person until November 8, 1997. Copies of this order were ordered to be delivered to the Oakland Police Department and to the Richmond Police Department. The name of this case is Linda Davenport v. Hartland Snyder, No. 742260-5, Alameda County Superior Court.

Hartland Snyder is also a former securities and commodities broker whose former employers say that they want nothing to do with him. It is apparent that for precisely this reason he has been selected by as the front man for Elwyn Berlekamp, a world famous mathematician with an impeccable reputation. I and almost everybody else would prefer to believe that Professor Berlekamp is not really involved and simply does not know what Hartland Snyder has been doing. However, it has now become abundantly clear that Professor Berlekamp does know and indeed is directing his activities on a day to day basis.

On January 20, 1995, just two months after the three year restraining order was issued against Hartland Snyder, Professor Berlekamp and his associate, Nathaniel Berkowitz, who himself has been criminally charged with failure to dispose of toxic waste in Solano County, appointed Hartland Snyder as the "acting president" of Ishi Press International.

Several readers have asked about a reference to "my distributor in Holland." The Ishi Press distributor in Holland is:

Schaak en Gowinkel het Paard
Haarlemmerdijk 147
1013 KH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tel: +31-20-624-1171
FAX: +31-20-627-0885

I believe you will find that they have a full line of Ishi Press products. All of these products are authorized by the real Ishi Press. This is the company which received a threatening letter from Graeme Bruce of Ishi International in London demanding that they cease and desist from all distribution of Go World Magazine. They have taken the courageous stand of continuing to distribute the magazine in the face of these threats (although not very courageous since there seems to be no legal way that Mr. Bruce could carry out his threats) and everyone is encouraged to patronize Schaak en Gowinkel het Paard.

A problem which continues to affect many people concerns Go World magazine. Previously, Ishi Press in California and Ishi International in London acted as distributors of Go World, although they were never the publisher of that magazine. Subscribers sent their money directly to them and they ordered the requisite number of copies from The Ishi Press in Japan.

However, when Ishi Press International stopped paying for the magazine, The Ishi Press in Japan naturally stopped supplying them. When legitimate subscribers to Go World Magazine started complaining about not receiving their magazine, The Ishi Press in Japan supplied free of charge copies of Go World to these subscribers, both to preserve the name and reputation of Go World magazine and because these subscribers had done nothing wrong.

This practice continued throughout most of 1995. However, now The Ishi Press has been forced to stop this practice, because Ishi Press International in San Jose and Ishi International in London have continued to solicit new subscriptions, ever though they have no connection with the magazine and no capability of supplying the magazine. They take money from new subscribers on a fraudulent basis by claiming to be the publishers of Go World magazine when they are not. Then, when the subscriber finds out the true situation and demands a refund of his or her money, they refuse to pay. Obviously, the actual publisher of Go World magazine cannot afford to keep giving away free copies of the magazine under these circumstances.

I hope that you can now understand how serious this situation really is and that this is not just a case of petty bickering. This situation will not go away. It will get worse. However, Hartland Snyder and his other backer, Nathaniel Berkowitz, have no permanent connection with the game of go. They have never played a game of go in their lives and do not even really know the rules. After they have burned out all the lines of credit of Ishi Press International, they will move on to some other scam in some other field. However, we will still be here and will have to spend the next many years trying to pick up the pieces and explain what really happened here.

I also want to add that I welcome the entry of Yutopian Enterprises into the go and computer go markets. It is important to remember that the primary purpose of the Ishi Press in Japan is to promote the spread of the game of go. It is readily apparent that Yutopian Enterprises has a similar goal and that Mr. Sidney Yuan will still be here and will be actively promoting the game of go five, ten or even twenty years from now.

The reason I mention this is that Hartland Snyder has been circulating a libelous letter, which perhaps some of you may have seen, implying that there are serious differences between Yutopian and The Ishi Press of Japan. This is another fabrication of Hartland Snyder. Hartland Snyder is trying to turn what he perceives to be his two main competitors against each other. However, not only is The Ishi Press of Japan on good terms with Yutopian, but The Ishi Press of Japan has started to distribute Yutopian books on a small scale, something which Ishi Press International refuses to do.

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