Until April 1999, Paul managed to play Go
most weeks. He played at the local club, which
conveniently met in Guildford. For a while, he
occasionally managed to get to the Bristol club; but more
recently, this has not been possible.
Go is the simplest and yet the most difficult board game yet
devised. It originated around 4,000 years ago in
China. It is now very popular across most of Asia, and is
increasingly played all over the world.
How to Play
How do you play? Each player has a supply of
pieces, all the same, called 'stones'. One has black
stones, the other white. They play on a board marked
with a 19x19 grid. They take it in turns to place
one stone on one of the intersections, and at the end of the
game the player who has surrounded most intersections entirely
with his stones is the winner.
And that, very nearly, is the entire game.
The other rules? A stone, or connected group of
stones, which is entirely surrounded by the other player's
stones, is captured, removed from the board, and counted as
territory by the capturing player. You cannot commit
suicide. You cannot repeat the same position on the
board twice in a game. And that is the lot, until
you get to the really obscure rules about how to score very
So you simply take it in turns to place stones on the board -
they never move. Occasionally you may capture a few
stones. And when neither player wants to place any
more, the game is over. A weaker player is given
some stones on the board to start off, so even in an uneven game
each player has a fair chance of winning. The
handicap system is really effective, so you can get a good game
no matter who you play - one of the biggest advantages over
games like chess where a strong player will simply wipe the
board with the weaker player, who does not learn from the
The game is fascinating from a number of perspectives.
There is pure joy in the wonderful complexity which arises
from such simple rules.
The game requires a rare combination of logic and
feeling. You discover logic and feeling working in
harmony, not in opposition to one another. Aspects
of the game can be worked out with total precision, but even the
greatest experts depend on their intuition.
In a strange way, it is a game of co-operation, rather than
conflict. You play with another person, not
against them. Neither
player controls the direction of the game. You
do not seek to destroy the other player or gain an absolute
victory as in chess. You aim only to score a few
points more than the other player. If you aim to
inflict a humiliating defeat on them, you will usually
The game is a mixture of battle and dance, conflict and
harmony. You have to defend your territory and
destroy the other player's territory. You have to
play close to your other stones for safety, and far away from
your other stones for territory. Each player
develops their own style, but the one secret of success is to
discover the correct balance between all the conflicting demands
in each situation. They probably say this of a
number of games, but it really does take a minute to learn and a
lifetime to master - except that even the professionals who
spend all their lives playing never get close to mastering the
And, finally, there is a real physical pleasure in playing the
game, especally with a good quality set - a thick board and
heavy, solid stones. The click on the stone on wood
becomes incredibly satisfying.
There are many web sites which promote the game. Here
are just a few.