Go – 囲碁

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 😉

  • alafista

    July 18, 2007 at 9:36 am

    When i learnt in high school, I though it was sooo boring until I started watching Hikari no Go, then I began to see the game in a different light. ^_^

  • sheerblade

    July 18, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Looks interesting and more fun than chess. I’ll have to look into it. Thanks Kirai ^_^

  • OsakaGuy

    July 18, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    I like to play 9×9 go. Short and sweet! If you google “igowin” there is a nice freeware version that is a good replacement for playing solitaire or minesweeper on your windows machine.

  • Edward

    July 20, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    I really want to start playing again. I played a lot when i was in university.

  • Siso

    July 20, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Why you use one hemisphere to play chess ant two for this? Never played, but i think it must be soo boring.

  • Dark

    July 21, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    I have recently been considering taking up Go. Thanks for the links.

  • John M.

    November 30, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Go is a very tuff game to get good at. There are far more possiblities than in chess that is considered a “good” move. Confucious said that boys play chess and men play go. I have been playing go for about 2 years and im just not improving as much as I would like. As you can see it is a very hard game to grasp and when you grasp it, it’s hard to get good at it.

  • Jackai

    December 22, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    People in Disney’s Mulan play this game!! lol

  • M

    January 9, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Can anyone recommend a good site or place to get a good board and bowl set?

  • cameron

    February 14, 2009 at 10:09 am


    good for boards, books, etc.

    be sure to check out the “learn to play go” book series. great and simple reading to get a grip on the game.

  • milenna

    May 17, 2009 at 5:19 am

    “The number of possible combinations at the beginning of the game is greater than the number of atoms in the whole universe.”

    Lol I hope that was a joke lol.

    Either way it’s a very fun game.