GO, and the Art of War


The game I played was “Go” an originally Chinese strategy game that is played throughout Asia and worldwide. This is a board game played by two players. The board itself has a matrix carved into it the pieces, oblate spheroids, are placed on the parts of the board where these carved lines intersect. In Go, the pieces do not move in the Chess sense but are placed and remain unless captured by your opponent.
The point of the game is not to capture the most pieces as in Chess (with the goal of capturing the King) or even Checkers but to control the most territory on the board itself. Pieces are captured when they are totally enveloped by enemy pieces, and it is possible to take more than one piece at a time if the player is able to surround them. Depending on the shape of the formation chosen by the player a winning Go player can control large portions of the board in a defensive manner while still being able to take enemy territory.


There are very few rules and learning the game itself takes little time even for a first time player. However, as is the case in certain circumstances this simplicity of constraints and rules masks a game deep in complexity and nuance.

This game brings all types of people together, “from the new to the experienced, from the unskilled to the highly skilled, from the slightly interested to the addicted, and everything in between, is accommodated in the same space” (Gee & Hayes, p 11, 2012).

This influences game play and presents challenges. As a result of a game where there is not as much of a tangible form to how to play and win, not to mention no two games are the same, it almost is a situation of excessive freedom becomes a challenge itself.

It would seem that board games in particular tend to have excessive rules and constraints which ads an element of predictability. Go on the other hand seems to lack many of these frame works and as a result the game play varies from person to person and game to game. It is for these reasons that Go has been regarded as a superior game for learning military strategy when compared to Chess (in a more formal setting). The idea of there being no set moves or formations tends to have more in common with military strategy than more restrictive types of games. Further, as is the case in real military conflict capturing troops or a leader do not necessarily mean victory.

As in Go victory is typically bestowed to those who are able to capture and maintain territory. Some of the limitations of the game are also the aforementioned strengths. The lack of rules and freedom of play can be overwhelming to the new player and a tit for tat type of game play seems to always be a go to for a lesser experienced player. However, as we played more focus on strategy and less on just capturing pieces seemed to develop. In this sense the game was very challenging and fun to play. It would seem that to truly appreciate or learn using this ancient game one would have to practice often.

To view a YouTube tutorial on how to play click here.

3 thoughts on “GO, and the Art of War

  1. Claudia Carlotta says:

    My acquaintance with the game named Go is a rather superficial one. Besides, it is important to note that there figures a board game. For me personally, this note is pleasant because of the fact that first association with “game” refers to video games. The rules of Go is quite simple, although, for the beginners, it might seem to be a complicated task. The most important thing in this board game is that it is designed to focus on socialization, as well as on the development of strategic thinking, which might be useful in different aspects of life. Military services could serve as an example of one of the aspects, and it proves the efficiency and the importance of this game. It is great that Go helps to gather different people at one table, and, therefore, it contributes to the socializing. At the same time, this game could be an example of the effective implementation of the trial and error approach during studying rules and principles of playing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • anniemelzer says:

      I completely agree with the strategic thinking that you described. When I was trying to learn how to play this game, I read that you can play this for an hour or it can be your way of life. While I know that this was not meant to be taken literally, I do feel how you play this game can be a reflection of your personality. You cannot play in a hasty greedy fashion to win Go. There must be patience and balance throughout the game play. This is what makes the game difficult. It is not as easy as capturing the king like in chess. To me, waiting is perhaps the most difficult thing to wrap my head around.


  2. darrenblackman says:


    Thanks for sharing, your blog post was a nice introduction to the game Go. I thought you did a great job keeping your analysis conversational and your visuals were perfect for the tone, an inspiration for me to stop neglicting the visual components of my posts.

    Have a nice day,



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