Go in Nagoya

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The Game of Go

By Pieter Mioch


In Japanese it’s called “(i)Go” the Koreans call it “Baduk” and in China, the land where the game originally is from, Go is best known as “Weiqi”. Two players can play one game in 10 minutes but often games take well over an hour to complete. Professionals usually need one or two days to finish a single game!


Points are obtained by encircling any part(s) of the 19 by 19 grid a game is played on. By the way, remember to put your stones on the intersections, including the edge of the board, and not on the open squares.


The few rules Go has, make it look deceptively simple but the encircling business has a tricky complication: stones can be captured and taken of the board, they are counted as one point each at the end of the game.


In the end the winner is the player who has successfully claimed the most points, in newspaper game records it can for example say “black by 10”. Sometimes one side will have obtained such a big lead that the other player will resign without counting.

The problem during a typical game is figuring out how many stones you need to claim parts of the board as your own – successfully encircled intersections, in chunks or alone, are called “territory”. Leaving big gaps between your stones will make it easy for your opponent to play between them and destroy any claim you thought you had on a particular part of the board. Playing each stone next to a previous one in order to prevent this from happening, however, will result in a very small territory, usually not enough to win a game. The best way to make territory is to play 3 or 4 lines from the side of the board, separating your stones by no more than one or two open spaces. Even this strategy, however, is not perfect. Somewhere along the line your stones will meet your opponent’s and a fight is likely to result. These situations often come down to “capture or be captured” and can be highly exciting.
Actually, many players are so fond of these fights that they will skip trying to make territory and instead try to capture the opponent’s stone right from the beginning.

Go is a fascinating game and is being enjoyed by millions of players all over the world but especially in South East Asia. In Japan it has become popular among the youth again thanks to the hit-manga “Hikaru no Go”.


About the author –  Pieter is a semi-pro Go (Baduk, Weigi) instructor at the Nagoya and Gifu branches of Nihon Ki-in or Japanese Go Association. He teaches beginners as well as advanced players in English, privately or in small groups. If you are ready to pick-up a new hobby or breaking through to dan-level contact him at pmioch@ma.ccnw.ne.jp. Related articles and information can be found at http://gobase.org.


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