The Game of Go

By Maya Schenne

When someone says, “the game of Go,” what do you think of? Most people might say Pokemon Go. But the game of Go is completely different from Pokemon Go. For starters, Go originated in ancient China, about three to four thousand years ago. That’s even older than chess, almost two times older. Chess was played only a mere thousand and a half years compared to Go. The game is played with two players who choose either black or white. The board is similar to a chess board, only you play on the intersections, not in the squares. The rules are simple, but the game itself is complex. It is one of the oldest board games that you can still play today.

The game is played as follows. Two players each chose their color, the “weaker” player choosing black.The game contains 181 black stones and 180 white stones. The stones are called Yunzi stones. Black always goes first. Once you choose your color, black places their stone at an intersection. White follows, placing their stone. The object of the game is to control more territory than your opponent. You can “capture” a stone by cutting off all of its supply lines: the lines that connect it. There are many different techniques to use in this game. It is all about strategy. There are many different terms involved in this game. An Atari is a move that makes a stone, group, or chain only have one “supply line” left. An aji is a weakness left behind in the opponent’s position. You can find more terms at https://senseis.xmp.net/?CommonGoTerms.

The American Go Association (AGA) has lots of information that is useful for anyone wanting to learn the game. They describe Go as an “ancient board game which takes simple elements: line and circle, black and white, stone and wood, combines them with simple rules and generates subtleties which have enthralled players for millennia.” They also have a place where you can find places to play Go. One thing that was interesting is their list of Top Ten Reasons to Play Go. Here is the list:

  1. Go is the simplest of all games.
  2. Go is the most complex of all games.
  3. Go is the most popular game in the world today.
  4. Go is about building, not destroying.
  5. You always know where you fit in.
  6. All players are equal.
  7. It’s easy to learn from mistakes.
  8. Ancient rituals impart important values.
  9. Every game has a winner.
  10. Go is the oldest game still played in its original form.

You can find more information about the AGA at http://www.usgo.org/what-go

Under this, they say, “Go is the ultimate mind sport. It has no equal in the strategic gaming world. The learning path can seem steep at first, but it gets better as you go along. We welcome you.” Now, you know all about the game of Go. You can find games online, or play against a computer if you don’t have the equipment. The price of the actual game board and stones can vary between 20 and 200 hundred dollars, depending on the quality: although they do make small travel size ones for around ten dollars.

Many people have played the game of Go. Here are a few quotes about the game from people who have played it.

“Chess has only two outcomes: draw and checkmate. The objective of the game . . . is total victory or defeat – and the battle is conducted head-on, in the center of the board. The aim of Go is relative advantage; the game is played all over the board, and the objective is to increase one’s options and reduce those of the adversary. The goal is less victory than persistent strategic progress.” — Dr. Henry Kissinger, quoted in Newsweek, 11/8/04

“In chess, you start with everything you have on the board. In Go, you start from nothing and build.” — Tim Klinger, quoted in the New York Times, July 29, 1997

“Studying Go is a wonderful way to develop both the creative as well as the logical abilities of children because to play it both sides of the brain are necessary.” — Cho Chikun 9-Dan, among the world’s strongest players

Go is the most popular board game in the world, even though it is not played as much in the United States. There are about 60 million Go players in the whole world: most of them in China, Japan, and Korea. Hopefully, more people will be aware of it in the United States. It is a very enjoyable game that uses strategy and creativity together. Maybe you will be the next Go player at Tri-City Prep.

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