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I first learned playing board game Go (Chinese 围棋, pronounce as Wei Qi) during my college years. I played a lot during my 20s, during which I had lots of free time. I was absolutely obsessed with this game. After I came to America, life as an immigrant became a survival struggle, I had no time for such luxury. Starting from recent months, as my general life condition gets better, I again indulge myself in this game.

The rule of the game is very simple: two opponents face an empty board with 19×19 grid (alternatives are 13×13, or 9×9, etc.), one side holds black stones, another white, place stones on board alternatively, each time one stone. The objective of the game is to occupy more space than your opponent when game finishes. Of course, there is certain rule of life and death, which means the stones on board have to stay alive, otherwise the space of dead stones would belong to opponent.

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Playing go, from The game of go, the national ...
Playing go, from The game of go, the national game of Japan book. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My passion to “Go” revived recently. For over three weeks, I’ve been play this game whenever I had time, whenever my physical condition permitted. Some time I played all day long. I even wonder, if my brain is strong enough, I wouldn’t mind to be a professional go player.

Fact is, my brain is not as strong. Playing too much Go give me headache. So I have to rest. I hope it is just due to the fact that my current physical condition restricts me from using my brain too much (reading also brings me headache).

I once said, if one day those extraterrestrial Aliens (if they ever exist!) ask us to show them a game that represents human intelligence the most, I have no doubt it should be Go. This game is just a beauty of simplicity. The rules are simple, the setting is simple, yet, through thousands years of history, there have not been one game that was the same as another. The variation of this game playing (strategy) is unlimited. By far, for what I know, this is the only game that cannot be handled well by computer. Doesn’t this make sense? Sure, because it really is a game for humans only.

I learned playing this game during my college time. Later, I was absolutely crazy about it. I fell in love with its elegance and simplicity. Probably this most charming character of this game is, that you cannot play this game just by logical reasoning, or calculating, but also intuition. That’s probably why this game is so human.

Now, after over 20 years, I am playing it again, I found it provides me something more than just exercise intelligence (my playing level – “rank” – is actually much lower than 20 years ago). It helps me to improve my personality. 20 years ago when I was obsessed with this game, I was not good at handling losses. Whenever I lost a game, I felt like I had to swallow a fly. Now, I am doing this with different manner, I pay attention to my emotion, try my best to control it, to understand that it’s only natural that I made mistakes, and each time I focus on game playing only. In this way, I can only laugh at my losses.

Here is a passage that I read in the forum, which I think describes very well about the essence of this game:

“GO is the game against yourself, while chess is the game between two players”, so says a proverb. – Overcoming the ego, getting rid of the self damaging selfishness… is already taught in the Vedanta (Indian philosophy) and other “spiritual studies” (e.g. Buddhism, Zen, Konfuzianism).

Go is an Asian game… which is same teaching as practicing martial arts… getting own (negative) emotions under control. – I trust, that Go can help us to become a better person… so far we understand it as challenge to fight against ourselves,,, for living a more balanced life.


I am not fond of my own culture (Chinese), but this invention of Go, really is one of best invention of humans. And I sincerely hope, it can elevate my personality, help me to become a better person. I also hope this game gets more popular in other places rather just in East Asia, because it’s truly awesome!


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