July 18, 2007
Go or Igo is a very popular board game in Asia. The basic rule is “try to surround all your rival’s pieces”.
I took these two pictures in Beijing.
It seems easy, but it’s not! It’s much more difficult than chess. No computer program can beat the best go player in the world, it seems that even “normal” players can win against the best go software. The number of combinations in a go game is huge! The number of possible combinations at the beginning of the game is greater than the number of atoms in the whole universe.
I had the opportunity to learn the basic go tricks in Spain, and here in Japan I continued with my hobby. After many games, I’m starting to really see how deep is this game, and how much do players have to think to make your next movement. It is the oldest board game in the world that is still being played using the original rules; furthermore, it’s nowadays the second most played board game in the world after Xiangqi.
Go comes from China, but is also played professionally in Korea and Japan. If fact, Japanese were the best during almost all the twentieth century. In Japan there is a long tradition starting in the Edo period when the Tokugawa shogun created a government title called Godokoro. This position was covered by the best go player in the country. Dosaku was one of the most important Godokoros ever, his games are still used nowadays to study go, you can check some of this games at this site.
At the beginning I didn’t really like the game, but after you learn some tricks it starts to become addictive. If you want to start learning the basic stuff I recommend you this interactive site and wiki only about go.
There are many people playing go in Japan, there is even a manga-anime called Hikaru no go, there is a go TV channel and Saturday mornings there is a TV show on NHK second channel where professional players explain step by step interesting games. It seems that Go is very good for your mental health (health sells a lot lately), it helps kids to develop their mind and you have to use all your power. When you play chess you only use your right hemisphere. If you want to have both of your hemisphere in fit, play go! … I’m not playing go lately 😉