Monday, May 5, 2014

The Conversation of Go

Do you know the feeling of competition that ensues between two go players? Each player is clawing to get that little bit of extra territory. You can almost feel upset when the enemy player places a stone down, as you realize the area he is taking for himself, angrily you attack back trying to take that territory, out of envy.

I recently noticed this behavior in myself. This feeling that every game was an argument between two players, the only way to win was secrecy and betrayal. I didn't care how the other person saw the match, I just wanted to beat him. but did it have to be this way?

As I hit the "auto match" button, I decided to think about my game as though it were a conversation. Instead of taking territory away from me, my opponent was asking a question. When he played 3,4 he was saying "Can I have the corner, or the wall?" then I could respond. "I would like some of this corner, you can have the wall." Then he might respond by tenuki, playing at the other end of the map. That would be like saying "Hm, This side of the map looks nice, you could build up your position over there, or we could work on dividing up this side."

And what this did for me, was it made the game much more friendly. I started to feel like the person I was playing against was a friend, instead of an enemy. I also found myself understanding his movements better, and when he made unreasonable moves I would ask myself "what is he asking for? doesn't this seem unreasonable?" then I could offer a compromise "You can't take away all my territory there, see you wont be able to escape, but maybe you could use this move as a good ko threat later." Or I could just say "No, you can't have that."

I challenge you to try this out, or let me know if you already think of the game this way. Please comment and tell me how you think of your opponent and his moves.


  1. I agree about the feelings that cause people to play that way its very common for every go player to feel like that I like to think go is a strategic battle on the war zone or maybe a sword fight between two samurai's... it sounds a bit dorky but it is what makes me feel calm during a match

  2. Thanks for sharing Savannah, I don't think that's dorky at all, because I bet it feels really awesome while you are thinking of it as a samurai battle.

  3. Fascinating! That's a great analogy for how I've felt in my games in the past. Thanks for reframing games in a new light. Will have to try it out!

    1. Btw, thanks for your constant supply of comments Ben. They always encourage me. I'd like to know, did you end up trying this out? How did it go for you?