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Chinese Board Game Go

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The board game Go

The basic concept of this fascinating board game can be picked up easily however, mastering the game is another story.

Go players take turns placing their Go stones on the game board once a stone is laid on the playing surface it can no longer be moved.

They can, however, be removed when they are surrounded by game pieces of your opponent, hence the name it has been given the surrounding game.

The ultimate goal is to end up with more stones on the board than your opponent therefore it is a game of intense strategy defensively as well as offensively.

A winner is declared when you dominate the board with more game pieces than your opponent.

Where did the board game Go originate?

There are several different theories above the origin of the game from Emperor Yao to Chinese tribal warlords and generals.

An early written reference to the board game Go was mentioned in a book of Confucius and it was referred to as Yi.

In modern China, it is referred to as weiqi meaning the encirclement board game.

Earlier versions of the game were played on a 17” x 17” line grid board which was replaced by today's standard 19” X 19” board.

It was considered one of the arts along with painting, calligraphy, the musical instrument guqin that was often associated with Chinese scholars.

Rather than having a book of rules, they were passed on from player to player verbally.


Is Go more complex than chess?

The concept of Go is much easier to grasp but far more complex than chess.

One element of the game that is simplistic is the game pieces are all the same size and only two colors black and white.

Go game pieces do not move about the board like they do in chess and there is a handicap element that allows an entry-level player to compete with an advanced player.

Sorry, chess fan that is not something that happens in chess.

There are a staggering 10 to the power of 170 possible Go board configurations that is more than the number of atoms in our known universe!

So that yes to the question is Go more complex than chess!

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Go is a strategy board game.

The game has been used by the military leaders to teach battlefield strategy by looking at the big picture (the whole board) during a small battle and other components that may affect the overall outcome.

This is where the term you can lose a battle but win the war comes into focus by strategically loses game pieces you can create an advantage.

Just randomly placing game pieces on the board is not going to work out very well since this is not a board game of chance.

For a player to be successful they must understand how connecting stones for more power is done and develop an opening game strategy.

If a player is going to be given the title of Kiai or fighting spirit they must first be able to handle adversity while being aggressive very much like a commander on a battlefield.

One opening strategy is to try to gain territory on the corners of the game board first because it will require fewer game pieces to capture and surrounding territory.

Like chess, the opening game is going to require a great deal of thinking because it will lay the groundwork for the middle and endgame.

The opening is the most theoretically difficult part of the game and takes a large proportion of professional players' thinking time.

In most cases, the first game piece or stone is going to be placed on the 3rd or 4th line from the edge of the board.

It is a fine balance too close to the edge does not allow for controlling more territory whereas too far from the edge leaves a player too vulnerable.

Playing nearer to the edge does not produce enough territory to be efficient, and playing further from the edge does not safely secure the territory.

The Go middlegame and endgame

The middle portion of the game is intense and very combative which may involve up to a hundred or more game pieces being placed or removed.

It is during this phase of the game when the players are on the attack and are invading their opponent’s territories.

It is at this point that players may sacrifice game pieces for the greater good it is also a time when it is very ruthless.

It is at this stage where a player could capture an entire group that has been left weak and vulnerable therefore being a quick end to the game.

When it appears all is lost a dead group can revive and go on the offensive it is not all about killing but rather creating territories.

The transition from the endgame from the middlegame is often very noticeable by the appearance of local fights.

Both game players at this point are destroying or making territory by capturing or saving the Go stones for skilled players of the game this often occurs at the same time.


Some Go game etiquette.

The acceptable way to place a Go stone is to take one from the Go bowl, grip it between the index and middle fingers, with the middle finger on top, place it directly on the desired intersection.

It is considered rude if a player runs their fingers through their bowl of Go stones the sound is considered disturbing to an opponent.

Also striking one stone against another Go stone or the game board, table, or floor is very much frowned upon.

It is unacceptable to hover an arm over the game board when deciding where to play because it blocks the view of the board from an opponent.

The Go game stones.

When you are selecting a Go game set you have several different options when it comes to the size and material of the Go stones.

The skilled Go players will usually prefer the glass Go stones and will often have a container to secure their game pieces.

A Go game consists of 180 white and 181 black stones carefully constructed for the right weight and uniform in size.


The Go game boards.

There is a plethora of different sizes and materials used for the boards.

When you are a beginning player it is to your advantage to start with a smaller grid board and as your skill level improves invest in a larger board.

There are reversible boards that feature two different size grids depending on your skill level the beginner can use a small grid and then flip over the board to a larger grid as their skill improves.

There are also game boards that provide storage for your stones as well as a vinyl roll-up Go mat for the Go player that is also a road warrior.

Also if you are Eco conscience there are bamboo boards that are available in a lot of different sizes.


The board game Go in the modern age.

AlphaGo is a computer program developed by Goggle that features advanced search trees with deep neural networks.

AlphaGo’s neural network examines the Go board as an input and processing it through different layers containing millions of neuron-like connections.

There was a match referred to as the DeepMind Challenge where AphaGo challenged master Lee Sedol (18-time champion)to five matches for one million dollars.

AlphaGo won all the matches until the fourth game which Lee Sedol won; all games were won by resignation.

© 2020 Steven


Steven (author) from Las Vegas on October 29, 2020:

Sangre actually the board game is easy to learn, however it would take years to master.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on October 29, 2020:

I admit that I'm intrigued as I have never heard of this before. I think it would take me a while to grasp the aim of the game to even win a round.

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