GO: Nine Minutes to Learn… a Lifetime to Master
Name a board strategy game that has more technical complexity than Chess? This same game usually takes less than one hour to learn and a lifetime to master. Unlike the game of Chess, the top masters of this game have not been defeated by a computer. This game was developed in ancient China and refined in Japan. It is called WeiQi in Chinese or more popularly known by the Japanese word Go. The literal meaning is to surround. (As a side note, Go is called Baduk in Korea.) For this article, the term Go will be used to describe this mysterious but ancient Asian board strategy game.
Playing the Game
- Surround territory.
- Reduce their opponent's territory.
- Capture enemy stones.
- Protect their own stones.
The goal is to influence the opponent to say, "‘I pass," meaning there is no way of achieving any or all of the above goals. The game is then over.
Passing presumes that all claimed territories are completely surrounded (all fence sections are in place) and no stones are in atari (a position to be captured) along the borders between opposing live groups.
Controlling a minimum of 181 territory points of the board is the only way one triumphs in this game, . Does it sounds simple?
After hundred of games, one gains the experience by spending too much time looking at the small-scale tactical side of a confrontation which can cause one to miss the large picture and as a consequence, lose badly. On the other hand, if one sets up patterns of safety or executes attacks without caring to examine and adapt to the changing situation, the other player can prevail. In both cases it becomes difficult to win.
The consummate Go players are those who don't waste a move or a resource. Every move that is executed should serve a small but continuous move toward their long-term objective of meeting their grand goal. It has been said that the three attributes of a consummate Go player are patience, persistence and the ability to adapt to any game situations.
Playing Against Go Computer Software
As a result, Go is a much more interesting computing problem than Chess. Go programmers must try to replace exhaustive search with expert knowledge, as human players do. They must approximate human perception judgment and reasoning. So far there has been little success: the best Go computers today play at the level of an experienced beginner.
Comparing the Game of Go to the Game of Chess
Compared to Chess, Go is a total technical paradox. A typical Go game starts with an empty board and usually ends with a full board with the occupation of pieces by both sides with some exchanges of pieces for the control of selective territory. What makes Go more distinguishable from Chess is that all of the pieces possess equal importance.
Someone told me that comparing the technicalities of Go to that of Chess is like comparing philosophies of two different cultures - Asian and Western. This quote from Descartes describes an aspect of the Western culture and the game of Chess: "I think, therefore I am." Where the quote "We think therefore I am…" illustrates a basic of Asian culture and the game of Go.
The success of a winning Go game is when all of the pieces can work together, whereas in the game of Chess an uncertain number of pieces are usually sacrificed for the single aim of victory.
Associations and Other Resources
You can also learn Go by playing it online at
- IGS(Internet Go Server) - The biggest Go game server. At times, there are hundred games that are being played simultaneously. !
- Online-go.com - A modern web server with a large friendly community of cyber go players. This web site provides the visitors the option of playing both live and correspondence games. (That is so cool)
- KGS - Free and easy place to play .
- WING - Go servers in Japan.
One other interesting link is John Fairbairn's essay on "Go in Ancient China" (http://www.pandanet.co.jp/English/essay/goancientchina.html)
To succeed in life as in the game of Go, one must start by occupying a strategic corner, then develop a strategic sphere of influence by focusing on continuous progress toward long-term strategic supremacy.
- Original Source: http://www.jadedragon.com/entertainment/go.html