In the Far East everyone knows about Go. Many people start to play Go already in the childhood. The most motivated and talented kids are studying really hard in Go schools to achieve a status of a professional player. The competitions of the top players are sponsored by national Go organizations and by big companies like Samsung, LG or Nongshim.
What makes Go so special?
Why is it such an important part of the Asian culture? The game of Go is very complex and deep. It is both - a strategical and tactical game. It is often said that Go is a mirror of the real life. When a player makes decisions during a game, their character will be visible in the moves they choose. Patience, courage, accuracy and analytical skills will lead a player to finding the strongest move. Lack of these traits will yield an inferior play which will get punished by the opponent.
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Go is a game played by two people on a square board. The players keep putting their stones on the board trying to surround a bigger part of the board (so-called territory) than the opponent. Moreover, once a player manages to completely surround the opponent's stones, the stones get captured and removed from the board. Thanks to the capturing rule a player knows that if they build a solid territory, it is safe. Even if the opponent tries to put their stones inside it, the player will manage to capture them. These rules are very natural and simple.
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Go is a very complicated game?
The main feature of Go is that at every moment a player has hundreds of available options. The size of the Go board is 19x19. A player can place their stone at any of not occupied intersections. Finding the best of all these moves is a very difficult task.
It is said that playing Go is like playing chess on five boards at the same time: one board in each corner and one in the center. However, this comparison is not quite accurate. In Go all the local fights are interconnected. A player not only needs to find a good local play but also needs to choose the correct direction of play.
When beginners play Go, their games usually have a lot of swings. One local fight turns out good for the player, the other turns out bad. The game is long and unpredictable.
The intermediate players have a bigger control over the game. If they got an advantage in one part of the board, they know their task is to keep the advantage. If they suffered a loss, they are playing more aggressively to catch up.
The advanced player has a plan for the whole game. They are making all decisions looking at the whole board situation. Most importantly, they are always flexible in their thinking. If they are striving for a goal (let's say, building a big territory) but the opponent is trying to prevent it, they will be open to switching to an alternative plan (for example, invading the opponent's territory). The game becomes a constant negotiation between the players.
A deep negotiation skill can be clearly seen in the games of the top players. In a fight the top player never plays a stiff move by which the opponent would know what they want. They don't show their cards too early. A perfect move is the one which asks the opponent a question, puts them in front of a difficult choice. The other impressive feature of the top players' games is the way they deal with bad situations. The top player will never try to go for an unreasonable attack hoping to seize a victory by getting lucky. Whenever a top player suffers a loss, they know they need to be very patient and prepare for a long game by building a long-range plan.
When a player studies Go, they start to understand the game on a different level and view the positions in a different manner. In Go every game is different and unique. The Go training develops both - ability of analytical thinking and creativity. To become a better player, one also needs to understand well their emotions, learn how to overcome their laziness, cowardice and impatience. All this characteristic makes Go a very deep game. Moreover, it makes the game very exciting.
- Read more | Why Children Should Study Go?
In the Far East it is widely recognized that Go is a complex and very interesting game. This is the reason the professional players in Asia have a high social status. In the past Go was considered as one of the main fine arts of the samurai. In the twentieth century the game of Go started gaining popularity in the Western world as well. In the age of the global partnership and cultural exchange between different parts of the world, the game of Go is becoming a cultural bridge between the East and the West.
- Read more | History of Go game.
Go game among other board games
Chess is often compared to a battle. Thus, the game of Go should be compared to the modern business relations. The analytical and negotiation skills achieved by learning Go can be used in real life in many areas. You can find the comparison of Go and chess in the article Board Game Go and Other Games.