Ever since hearing about them and watching the promotional video, I've been quite curious about Yunzi stones. These wei-qi stones from China are becoming quite popular among go enthusiasts who appreciate their unique look and reasonable price.

In the US, they have been available for some time at Yellow Mountain Imports and while they ship internationally I had not yet seen any European store offering them. So when I saw on Sensei's Library, that some were available at WeiQiStore.com, a new online shop located in The Netherlands, I decided to order them and see for myself.

Both single and double convex stones were available. Single convex stones have a flat side and are preferred in China where people like to turn them upside down when reviewing variations. They are also half the price of double convex ones but still I preferred the later. I've never used single convex stones and I'm afraid that I would not get used to them. On the other hand, it would be interesting to try them one day.

So one week after ordering, I received my stones. I ordered the cheap straw baskets with them, since my purchase was more by curiosity than need, I did not want too spend too much and besides these bowls have the merit of looking different. Although I've seen similar bowls being totally destroyed by intense club use, I don't think that's going to be a problem in my case.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the stones to be mostly ready to use. The oil fanatics may want to re-oil them before use but if like me you don't like that too much, you'll be happy to know there was no need to spend time wiping them clean.

I find these stones to be quite elegant. There is no doubt that they are far superior to glass stones. The slightly greenish translucency of the white stones is just perfect. The black stones are less unique but just as good. It would be difficult to tell the difference between them and slate stones (EDIT: actually I now realize they have an intense green translucency but that's only visible with a really bright light). They seem to be the same diameter as Japanese stones, clearly they are meant for the international market, and almost 10mm in width (probably equivalent to a Japanese size 34). There are 181 stones of each color which I appreciate as this is not always the case.

My experience with WeiQiStore.com was totally positive. The shop is still new but they were quick to respond so don't hesitate to contact them if you need some information before ordering. Their catalog is still a little bit limited and I hope they'll have the opportunity to enrich it with more goods in the future.

But while I expected that ordering from a European shop would be cheaper than ordering from the US this was not the case. It turns out that shipping costs are about the same and with the current all-time high conversion rate of the euro, it looks as if it would have been actually slightly cheaper to order from YMI (but I can't say for sure and also don't know if the stones are really the same size). But that's probably only the case because I live in Switzerland which is not part of the European Union and I have to pay extra custom taxes in both cases. The shorter delivery time was also worth the difference.

So overall, I'm quite happy with my purchase even if it turns out I spent a little more than I first thought I would. Those Yunzi stones are really nice and I definitely recommend them over glass stones (which are often sold at a similar price anyway). Off course, they won't replace my shell & slate stones anytime soon but I did not expect them too. However they'll do find fine as a secondary set of stones that I'm not going to be afraid to transport if necessary.